Given that the universe is only six thousand years old, all that superstitious nonsense about millions and billions of years is just so much nonsensical superstition.
Oh, you believe all that? Oh. Well, uh, sorry. I didn't mean to insult your religion, stupid though it is. I mean, how anyone can believe that life just randomly "evolved" over millions and billions of years is beyond me. There wasn't any Dr. Frankenstein grafting together body parts, after all, and looking for lightning. But you just go ahead and believe that if you want to. Makes no difference to me.
You think I"m the one who's wrong? You think the "so-called Bible" as you put it is just a collection of tribal creation myths, some of which actually contradict each other, and most of which need to be drastically reinterpreted to make sense to a non-primitive mind?
My, that is a rather harsh assessment.
Oh, you think, say, the Noah flood myth is ridiculous on the face of it? How could the entire face of the globe be utterly covered with water? Haven't I ever heard of such a thing as a mountain range? Don't I know that Everest rises 29,028 feet above sea level? Don't I know that if the globe were utterly leveled and the continents inundated, the Ocean Sea would be less than a mile deep? Don't I see the problem with that? And haven't I ever heard of continental drift? Don't I know about the geologic column? Do I know what Precambrian strata are?
Well, first, I don't think your tone is entirely appropriate. Perhaps it's just a reaction to my saying your religion was stupid. I suppose I started it. Sorry. Let's start over.
No, the Bible nowhere states the age of the Earth. The "6000" years is derived from calculations involving the genealogies of the patriarchs. There is room for reasonable people to derive different results. We might even include "gaps". We might even suppose those gaps involve millennia, ages and eons. "In the Beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth... [and then there were some intervening millions or billions of years, during which, say, life evolved and comets struck the world] ...and the Earth was without form, and void." Certainly we might assume this. A fair-minded reading of this passage and a few others might certainly support such an interpretation. Another reading, using the same and additional biblical evidence, might tend toward a more literal reading, and one less willing to compromise with the geological innovations that started with Hutton and Lyell and moved through Darwin unto the present day. Every religion must have its prophets, and you with your snotty tone have taught me to show them all due respect.
No, the Bible certainly doesn't say that Noah gathered into an Ark all the species of the biosphere. Oh, you want to argue this point? You feel yourself competent to contend my assertion? You think that Gen 6:19 is clear? "And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every kind shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female."
Hm. So your argument hinges on the word "kind"? And you suppose you are competent in the Hebrew? Then you will know that this Hebrew word, min, is not identical to the modern taxonomic word "species." You will know that an analysis of its biblical usage indicates that it is used solely as a term for technical enumeration, and is never used in some other, more conversational way in scripture. It has the force but not the exact meaning of our species. Each term is an effort at systematic identification, but each system uses different criteria for making classifications.
How is this difference in terms significant? Well, per our system, there are many species, and genera and families of owl. But there is only one kind, one "min" of owl: the owl-kind. This is how we find owls referred to, as in Lev 11:17. But you must have known this. The upshot is that Noah did not take in every kind of owl, nor every species of rat or dog or horse. He dealt at the level of true breeding pairs. Donkeys and zebras and horses -- different species, same genus, Equus -- same kind. The same with elephants and mastodons and mammoths -- one kind. That's the level the old man would have had to deal with -- sometimes genus, sometimes family. Thus, the only member of the family Ochotonidae are the pikas; Tarsiidae has only the tarsiers, and Daubentoniidae has only the Aye-aye, of Madagascar.
The sole relevant criterion would have been the ability to produce fertile offspring, from which all modern species would have differentiated from the complexity of the pre-existing gene pool. But you must have known that, expert in Hebrew and in logic that you are. You would be capable of apprehending the distinction between differentiation and evolution. One uses existing genetic potentialities. The other assumes that information is alchemically created if you have enough time, and, uh, electricity or something.
But you still suppose that there are too many such kinds for all these old people to have cared for, on an Ark for a year? There must have been millions of families and genera over the course of evolutionary time? Well, as for the time span, let's just skip it. As for taxonomy, you will be aware that even when we factor in the fossil record, there are fewer than 20,000 genera of all animals, from worm to man, living or extinct. Of mammals there are a total of only about 1130 genera known (430 of them extinct) -- and there are, as you must know, 39 orders and 125 or so families, past and present.
But you insist that the number of reptiles and birds would vastly inflate the matter? Well, reptiles are indeed problematic. We will never know the true number of reptile genera, given the large number of extinctions that have ravaged this class. But of the 17 identified orders -- those of which we know, only 4 have survived: turtles, snakes and lizards, crocodilians, and the lone, beaked, tuatara. How are we to be fair in this matter? Well it seems like it would be fair to think of all turtles as just turtles, and all lizards as lizards. I mean, they sure look the same. Seems like the taxonomic level of order is the appropriate one, here -- the min. But that must be ignorant and biased. So how can we be fair?
Oh, I know. Let's just assume, simply for the sake of estimation, that the ratio of order to genus is the same for both mammals and reptiles. If this is the case, then we would guess that there have lived about 492 genera of reptiles (39 orders to 1130 genera of mammals = 17 orders to 492 genera of reptiles). Of course everyone knows that there were only about 350 kinds of dinosaurs. As for birds, there are 32 orders, 4 of which are extinct. Since the taxonomy of birds is as vague as that of reptiles, again using the ratio of mammal orders to genera, we get an estimated 927 genera of birds.
You're not confused by all this math. Cuz you're so smart and skeptical and well-informed. So you will be pleased to agree that we might be talking about something like 1130 known genera of mammals, and 492 supposed of reptiles, and 927 supposed of birds on the Ark -- for a total of one less than 2550 possible genera. Could 8 people care for something just over 5000 caged and organized animals, male and female — after many many years of careful preparation? Especially when we must consider that these pairs would have been juviniles? -- smaller, healthier, and subject to torpor or dormancy? But, again, perhaps this is too easy an answer.
Let's work at the species level. Just to be perverse.
We'll notch it up to 20,000 species. Let's make it forty thousand individuals that this supposed Noah had to care for. Ridiculous. They wouldn't even fit in any supposed Ark. Right? Well, contemporary sources count 4,000 mammalian species. Of these, there are perhaps 500 animals larger than sheep, 1200 between sheep and rats, and 2200 smaller than rats. Let's again assume that this pattern holds for the reptiles, although we know that many dinosaurs were actually only the size of birds. Birds need not be a concern, since they are characteristically small. So overall, the average size of land animals is about that of a cat. Fair enough?
The smallest estimation for the biblical Ark has a floor area of 101,250 sq. ft., with a volume of over 1,500,000 cubic feet. That is the equivalent of about 570 railroad stock cars (at a standard of 2,670 cu. ft. each). A standard double-deck stock car carries some 240 sheep. If we take sheep as the average size of 40,000 animals on the Ark -- although we know that the average is much smaller -- then all of them would have used some 167 of the available "cars" on the Ark -- about a third of the available space ... one of the three decks.
But the feeding and watering and cleaning must have been overwhelming. Right? Even if we assume that Noah had the intelligence that we have? Even if the tiers of cages in the Ark were fitted with automatic feeders and water dispensers, of a very simple gravity type, where a small portion is maintained from a large store above. Even if animal waste were to fall through grated floors, to be swept up on a regular schedule. Even if such simple machines as wheel barrows and shovels and brooms, and chutes and ramps and troughs, and any such labor-saving devices were employed. Even if we assume that the animals did then what they can do now -- estivate, hibernate, go dormant, go torpid.
It's all just too stupid to consider. Isn't it. We've inflated the number of animals by a factor of either 8 or about 60. We've made their average size 10 times larger than it is likely to have been. We can exclude the likelihood of any divine intervention, and also the natural adaptations that confined animals can make to their captivity, of dormancy. If we assume that the Ark was a survival factory -- well, that's just too stupid for words.
Why would God do such a thing? What possible purpose could there have been? What metaphor, what symbol, what type might have been fulfilled, through this elaborate arrangement? Why would every creature possessed of the breath of life be taken into the body of a great and all-sufficient craft, the work of a carpenter, that they might survive a fierce judgment that destroys an irredeemably corrupt world and every creature in it that does not enter in to its safety? Why? Why? It is a mystery. Unfathomable mystery. But wouldn't it be edifying if there were some consistent reason for it all? If there were some even greater and far more urgent and eternal verity, that this silly flood story pointed to?
The whole idea is ridiculous, though. I'm sorry. I've just been wasting your time. I might do for every other objection to this odd thesis what I have done with this objection -- about ice ages and continental drift and orogeny and red shifts and the Big Bang ... and, brr, Evolution ... in fact, I have done just that -- and we would still just know that the whole idea is impossible and ridiculous. It's just ridiculous.
I'm sorry. I've wasted your time. You know I can't be serious. Because we will not believe ridiculous and impossible things. Not even if they are true.