An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Genesis 8

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on December 17, 2007

1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

You’d damn well hope that he remembered him, I mean who put Noah in that situation in the first place? Here it’s made to sound like god was doing him a favour by remembering that he’d killed every person on earth except for eight of them, and those eight were cooped up with thousands of animals in a confined space.

(Incidentally, I wonder how many species we lost because they were eaten by the lions, or a mammoth sat on them?)

2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.
3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down,
4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.
5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.
6 After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark

Opened the window?

Opened the window?

You mean to tell me they’d been stuck inside this ark with no fresh air for 40 days, plus 150 days (to the 17th June) plus 105 days up to 1st October. 245 days in a confined space with that stench. Is it even possible to survive that? And how did they dispose of the waste?

7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.
8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground.
9 But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.
10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark.
11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.
12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

I do wonder what the purpose of the raven was here. If I was overly cynical I might think there were some racial undertones here but I’m sure that’s not it at all. In any case the dove gets a number of chances to find land and, sensibly, buggers off at the first available opportunity, probably to escape the stench of life on board the ark.

13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.

It seems it’s a lot easier to flood the earth than it is to drain it. I wonder where all that excess water is going?

14 By the twenty- seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
15 Then God said to Noah,
16 Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.
17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you— the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground— so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.
18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.
19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds— everything that moves on the earth— came out of the ark, one kind after another.

Form a line please, nice orderly fashion.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.
21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

So Noah burned some of god’s pets, and god was happy because he realised he didn’t have to burn them himself in future. Good news for the unclean animals though.

(Isn’t killing small animals one of the early signs of a serial killer?)

In fairness it doesn’t say god asked for this, just that he was happy about it when Noah went ahead and did it anyway.

22 As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.

Well, erm, duh. So as long as the earth is around there will be seasonal and diurnal cycles. I’m not sure we needed god to tell us that.

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