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Of Floods and Arks and other Nonsense

Not surprisingly, sitting here in Rockhampton for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking of floods.

Most of the creation myths around the world seem to be accompanied by a flood myth. At some stage humanity falls out of favour with its god or gods, which results in a wide scale destruction which requires us to make a new start. Such a myth is found in the ancient writings of the Greeks, Babylonians, Sumerians, Hebrews, the Aztecs to name but a few. Whilst it was significant, our flood was not cataclysmic so I assume Rockhampton has only mildly offended the gods.

Such floods are supposed to be associated with cleansing and renewal. (If you could see the colour of the water in the Fitzroy it is hard to imagine that this flood has got anything to do about cleansing!)

I have been sitting here impatiently, driving my wife mad, for three weeks waiting for the waters to recede. Imagine Noah being afloat on the waters for six months! And in such congested quarters also! We only have to share with a neurotic cat. Mrs Noah must have been made of stern stuff to have endured all that. How would she have ever slept with the cacophony of her expanded menagerie and Noah pacing up and down wondering when to send out the dove?

Since the flood peak we have been plagued by sand flies and I can’t venture out into the garden unless liberally dowsed in Aerogard (happy to do product promotion with a little monetary incentive)! But you have to hand it to Noah (or perhaps credit should go to his divine adviser) – he got one thing right. He would have only to deal with two sand flies.

But Noah was a magnificent engineer and most skilled at logistics. It is beyond my imagination how he could have assembled all those living things, got them on to the ark in twenty four hours and then managed to provision them. Even worse once the ark was closed up, there seemed to have been only one aperture – a window, perhaps a hatch – and that would have been the only aperture through which all of the animal waste could have been disposed of. There must have been some difficulty in managing that feat seeing how genesis records that the aperture was a mere cubit in width! (It is taken that a Hebrew Cubit was slightly less than 0.5 of a metre). [So maybe the flood didn’t last for six months but down there in the unlit, poorly ventilated, teeming hold it must certainly have seemed like it!]

His engineering feat though is a truly astonishing one! The ark was reputedly made of Gopher wood and was a legendary 300 cubits in length, 50 cubits in width and 30 cubits high. This translates to an impressive 133.5 x 22.2 x 13.3 metres. Naval historians record that the longest wooden ships (apart from the ark of course!) were launched between 1900 and 1909. The largest of these was the USS Wyoming which was 329.5 feet long (approximately 100metres) which is only three quarters of the ark’s length. The Wyoming was a six masted schooner made from 6 inch planks of yellow pine. The construction of such ships was discontinued. Because of their length they tended to flex in heavy seas opening up the planks and allowing the ingress of seawater. It was reported that the Wyoming could only be maintained seaworthy by continually using its pumps to keep the hold free of water. Because of its unseaworthiness it was restricted to short coastal routes and not used for major ocean journeys. Despite this in 1924 in Nantucket Sound it foundered and sank losing all hands. And unlike the ark to increase its structural strength the Wyoming had 90 diagonal iron bracings.

Thus Noah accomplished an engineering feat which today, despite superior materials and manufacturing techniques, has never been surpassed. It would be good to find some of this “Gopher wood” – you could probably build sky scrapers with it.

So then it is plain to see that the ark was a truly remarkable vessel – so much so that many would like to discover its remains. Many such dedicated enthusiasts have sought to do just that. They call themselves “arkeologists” (True! I am not making this up.) They are largely creationists who work from the not-unreasonable assumption that the Bible is the literal word of God. They take issue with that very unreasonable thesis of Darwin’s that hoards of irrational scientists seem to believe and that we commonly call evolution. Many believe that evidence of the ark’s existence would settle the argument once and for all, providing indisputable proof of the Bible’s literal truth. Despite making more than 40 exploratory trips to Mt Ararat since World War II the unfortunate arkeologists have had the same outcomes as the Toothfairyologists, the Easterbunnyologists and those who have been searching for the lost city of Atlantis. It’s difficult to understand really.

When I look down over the Fitzroy flood plain and out towards the mouth of the river there is a very impressive volume of water. How much more impressive though was Noah’s deluge – it covered the whole earth. I’ve been doing some very serious thinking about this. The question I feel compelled to ask is where did it all go? As far as water is concerned, the earth and its atmosphere is to all intents and purposes a closed system. The water in this closed system includes the water in our seas, rivers, lakes, dams, ponds, water pipelines, and receptacles like baths, toilet cisterns, pots & pans, water in our aquifers and retained in our soils, the ice in our polar icecaps, in our refrigerators and martinis, and water vapour in our atmosphere. If that water is no longer over all the land it can’t be back in the seas because the seas would have to have risen and flood all the land again. It can’t all be piled up in the ice caps because they would need to be gazillion metres high now to accommodate it. I am sure our early explorers like Shackleton, Scott and Amudsen would have noticed it! Come to think of it the peaks would be so high you could probably see the Antarctic from Hobart. It can’t have all evaporated in to the atmosphere, because the atmosphere would be full of clouds and saturated with water and it would be always raining and the earth would flood again and once more we would be back where we started.

What is the answer? Well I can only think of one plausible answer. So here goes.

About six thousand years ago (it must have been then because those who have special knowledge in interpreting the received word of God, tell us so) in a nearby constellation there was a planet that was under stress. Because its inhabitants had access to advanced technology but hadn’t used it well, a phenomenon called planetary warming had arisen. As a result a great drought occurred. They did all the smart things technologically advanced beings do to “drought-proof” their society like building desalination plants and pipelines, digging their bores deeper and imposing increasingly more stringent water restrictions. Whilst there was some temporary respite, the situation continued to worsen.

Then one day one of their spacecraft reported it had found a small planet which was almost entirely covered in water. Here was a source ripe for them to mine. So they dispatched their largest intergalactic space tanker (which coincidentally had the dimensions of 300 tibucs x50 tibucs x 30 tibucs). It was placed into orbit at a convenient distance from the planet’s surface. They then sent down an unmanned exploratory craft which would install the teleporting mechanism required to transport the water up into the tanker. Through the video equipment on board the commander of the tanker was pleased and surprised to see a small area which was devoid of water. It would make the job so much easier if they could locate the teleporter’s intake on dry land. As the craft approached more closely it became apparent this was a mountain peak of some sort but right on top of the peak sat what appeared to be a rather large box, right where the craft needed to land. This of course was the ark.

Noah and his menagerie had abandoned the ark pleased to be able to stretch their legs. The sound of the approaching craft attracted their attention. Surely this must be another intervention by God. Still uncertain what might ensue they huddled by the water’s edge waiting to see what would develop.

The tanker’s commander, needing to commandeer the mountain top, zapped the structure with the disintegration ray gun with which the exploratory craft was equipped (don’t all intergalactic travelers have access to disintegration rays?). Noah and his entourage were gobsmacked. It would be hard to imagine a more Godlike sign. Then the craft landed on the mountain. A robot rolled a long hose out down to the water scattering some of Noah’s animals and waterfowl as he did so. Then the teleporter did its work. It was so effective that Noah could watch the waters receding before his eyes. This event was repeated many times with the supertanker coming and going on a regular basis. As the water levels fell the animals dispersed. I suspect some of them might have got help with a lift in the alien spacecraft. Otherwise I can’t understand how the koalas got back to Australia, the lamas to South America, the bison to North America etc because there were still some pretty large oceans to cross.

So there you have it. That’s where all the water went and that’s why the arkeologist’s searches were always doomed to failure.

I leave it to the gentle reader to judge whether my story is as credible as theirs.

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  1. 14 Comment(s)

  2.   By asavage on Jan 18, 2011 | Reply

    This gentle reader wills not to judge, having been too distracted by such enjoyable nonsense.

  3.   By tedscott on Jan 18, 2011 | Reply

    You are so lovely Anne Savage! Being effected by the floods more than most; how can I deal with such a one who is beyond what this world can deal with her?

  4.   By desleyabsolon on Jan 18, 2011 | Reply

    What a wonderful explanation. I would suggest that said aliens must have had access to large quantites of rum also.

    Thanks Ted. I am still giggling.

  5.   By Father Robin on Jan 19, 2011 | Reply

    Goodness me.

    A human Father Ted!

    I presume you meant ‘affected’

  6.   By Greg Brown on Jan 20, 2011 | Reply

    Old Testament is low hanging fruit though Ted, although it does demonstrate the point and in a very entertaining way. I suggest that to approach the New Testament in the same way really would cross a line for many otherwise rational, common sense folk. It is one of those areas where for no good reason you loose 75% plus of a typical Western audience just for having the audacity to point out the absurdity of what they already struggle to believe. In your past few blogs the quote I like the most was from Mark Twain “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so”. A large part of society however still rely very much on faith to get them through the fears that a mortal existence presents. Take away faith and the crutch is pulled out and they can’t function emotionally.

    Speaking of Mark Twain. Have you heard that a publisher is re-writing “Huckleberry Finn” to remove all reference to niger. Apparently it is offensive to many people and as a result can no longer be taught or included in many libraries. Niger becomes slave apparently. I could be wrong but I expect Twain would be appalled with the censorship of his novel. Racist or not the book is just a book and it depicts a time and a way of thinking at that time. Of course slave will become unacceptable eventually as in reality it means the same thing as niger in the book. It is a bit like the Opportunity School that became the Special School that became the Special Education Unit. Or Jail being replaced by Prison to be replaced by Correctional Facility. Some things we don’t like so we blame the innocent words we previously assigned to them. Classic example of how we confuse the maps with reality. Changing the map will not change reality.

    Sorry about getting off topic Ted. Just thought poor Mr Twain deserved a hearing 🙂

  7.   By Mark Brookes on Jan 20, 2011 | Reply

    Ted, you have distracted me from the floods to remind me of my youthful reading of Erik Von Daniken’s “Chariot of The Gods – Was God an Astronaut?” I’d forgotten all about that book, I’ll go and see if I still have it.
    As for Greg’s apposite observations on political correctness, I recall reading one extremist local government in England (the now abolished GLC) forbid children being taught “Baa Baa Black Sheep” at school, and replaced it with “Baa Baa Green Sheep” (Whatever next! I do not believe God was an astronaut, but perhaps the sheep are aliens).

  8.   By tedscott on Jan 20, 2011 | Reply

    You are entirely right of course Greg, that challenging the literal truth of the Old Testament is indeed quite easy. (It was part of the criticism of Richard Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion”). But I didn’t really set off to challenge anyone’s beliefs as such. I just thought in this trying time it might be a relief to share a little humour about something so topical. I could easily have been more disparaging and more strident but I thought I was pretty gentle!

    As for rewriting “Huckleberry Finn” that is a preposterous idea – political correctness gone mad! As you rightly say it is an accurate portrayal of the culture at the time. Maybe the next step will be to change Thomas the Tank Engine into an electric train because of the offensive nature of being a coal-fired steam train with all the implications about global warming?

  9.   By tedscott on Jan 20, 2011 | Reply

    Yes, you are right Mark – I remember reading that in the sixties. Just goes to show I have no original ideas!

    Can you imagine what the PC police will do to Enid Blighton? Fancy having a character called “Big Ears”!

  10.   By Father Robin on Jan 20, 2011 | Reply

    Can you imagine what the PC police would do to the Bible?

    Poor old Lot’s wife!

    Turned around and was made into a pillar of salt.

    Would stretch the imagination of a few Dawkin’s followers too.

    Humans being organic and salt inorganic.

    Miraculous.

  11.   By Father Robin on Jan 20, 2011 | Reply

    I suspect Nonsense suits us both.

  12.   By tedscott on Jan 21, 2011 | Reply

    I think you got that one right Father Robin!

  13.   By Father Robin on Jan 23, 2011 | Reply

    The Soul revels in Nonsense like a pig in mud.

  14.   By Father Robin on Jan 23, 2011 | Reply

    Which I trust is receding.

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