An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Archive for the ‘Mathematics’ Category

Genesis 7

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on December 10, 2007

1 The LORD then said to Noah, Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.

Were they really the only ones that qualified here? If this is the case does it not mean that we all trace our bloodlines back to Noah, his wife and his three daughters in law? Adam end Eve would surely become a little irrelevant now with this sort of convergence?

2 Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate,
3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.

This is a little like one of those old Saturday morning cinema sequels (a la Flash Gordon or Rocket Man) where the hero died a tragic death at the end of one episode and at the beginning of the next, the following week, they showed a slightly different version of events to recap, where the hero magically got his cigarette lighter out and burned through his bonds to parachute to his escape before the plane crashed into the mountain.

Why does he have to take seven of some animals now? It doesn’t say if it’s seven animals or seven pairs but at this point it’s a little irrelevant as we haven’t yet been told what a “clean” animal is. For that we have to flash forwards to Leviticus where we find that it’s a cloven hooved animal that chews the cud, which does restrict the numbers somewhat.

It’s probably also worth mentioning that Genesis defenders often maintain that there were not that many species around at the time, suggesting that since, for example, horses and zebras come from the same ancestor, that we only need to count about 8000 species.

Apart from the fact that over 16,000 animals is a hell of a lot for eight people to look after for a month and a half that argument si rather self-defeating, as by using it they are admitting that all the animals were not created “in the beginning” and named by Adam.

4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.

Tabula Rasa, with only Noah’s innocent family and all those innocent animals (that haven’t eaten from the tree of knowledge) surviving.

5 And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.

Now we’re done with the recap. That’s where genesis 6 finished.

6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.

Since Noah had the kids around 500, they would be around 100 by now. You would have thought they might have some kids themselves?

7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.
8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground,
9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.
10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month— on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.

That is very specific. Obviously we’ve skipped the bit about somebody inventing the calendar.

12 And rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights.
13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.
14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings.
15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.
16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in.
17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.

Just in case you weren’t clear what’s happening that was another recap.

18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.

As arks are wont to do. We have to give Noah some credit here. There’s nothing to suggest he’d built anything like this before, and almost certainly not on this scale, yet he managed it with only the sketchiest of instructions from god.

19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.
20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.

Mt. Everest is 20,035 feet, meaning the water was 20,055 feet above normal sea level. Considering we talk in terms of inches for sea-level rises associated with global warming that’s a huge volume of water. In fact, let’s calculate that.

The volume of the earth is 1.0832 x 1021m3.
20,055ft = 6113m
Equatorial radius of earth + water = 6,378,135 + 6113 = 6,384,248
Polar radius of earth + water = 6,356,750 + 6113 = 6,362,863

Using the same formula used in that link for the volume of the earth plus the water at that height, we have an equatorial radius of 6,378,135m and a polar radius of 6,356,750m we get a volume of 1086327265578564090274.1622957933m3, or 1.0863 x 1021m3.

That leaves a volume of water of 3.1 x 1018m3.

Now that might seem like not so much compared to the volume of the earth, but to put it another way it is 3,100,000,000,000,000,000, or 3.1 billion billion, or 3.1 quintillion square metres of water.

So how much water do we have on earth?

According to here, which states :

“Water is not only fascinating, but it is also one of the most important and ubiquitous substances on Earth. There are 1.3 × 109 km3 of water in the oceans, 3.3 × 107 km3 in the polar ice caps, 2 × 105 km3 in glaciers, 105 km3 in lakes, and 1.2 × 103 km3 in rivers. In addition, 2.2 × 105 km3 of water fall annually as precipitation.”

We have 33 × 106 km3 of water floating around the earth in various forms, that leaves us with a shortfall of 3.067 x 1018m3, or 93 times the total amount of water that exists on the earth.

To quote this by depth (of 6113m over 40 days) gives you an average daily rainfall of 152.82m.

Hmm …

21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished— birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.
22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.
23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

Not entirely surprising with that amount of water, although I would have expected a waterbound creatures to get through it. This also assumes that Noah took all the sea and freshwater life with him on the ark, making for one huge aquarium – more work for those 8 people and a pretty big tank for that pair of blue whales.

24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

And then this amount of water magically evaporated?

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