Monday, February 11, 2013

Noah's Ark is a Problem

As promised, here is my Firefly inspired, anthropological blog post. So I've talked before how much anthropology and philosophy is in the 'verse but the episode "Jaynestown" has my favorite example. In this episode River has a conversation with Shepherd Book (who is a preacher) about "fixing the bible." Here is the exchange* they have:
Book: What are we up to, sweetheart?
River: Fixing your Bible. 
Book: I, um... What? 
River: Bible's broken. Contradictions, false logistics... doesn't make sense. 
Book: No, no. You—you can't... 
River: So we'll integrate non-progressional evolution theory with God's creation of Eden. Eleven inherent metaphoric parallels already there. Eleven. Important number. Prime number. One goes into the house of eleven eleven times, but always comes out one. Noah's ark is a problem. 
Book: Really? 
River: We'll have to call it "early quantum state phenomenon". Only way to fit 5,000 species of mammals on the same boat. 
Book: River, you don't... fix the Bible.
River: It's broken. It doesn't make sense.
Book: It's not about... making sense. It's about believing in something. And letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It's about faith. You don't fix faith, River. It fixes you
From a young age I questioned the concept of Noah's Ark I was told that it just worked and not to question it. When I asked why they answered "you just have to have faith."  Now yes, I understand that this isn't limited to Christianity, that most religions rely on faith to answer their questions but how is that an answer? When asked why the grass is green one doesn't give the answer "just believe that it's green", no there's an explanation behind it. Shepherd Book sums it up greatly: "It's not about making sense." Frankly nothing about the bible makes sense.

When further asking about other "contradictions and false logics", as River says I was always told that it was just hyperbole, or that I wasn't supposed to take it literally. Okay... well then if I'm not supposed to take it literally then why are we quoting bible verses to show us what's right and wrong? Am I just supposed to pick and chose what I want to believe? These were all questions I had floating around in my head when learning about these stories.

So then what is the bible? Is it a book that was written as a set of strict  rules for Christians to follow, or just a piece of literature that tells stories that may or may not be exaggerated accounts of things that happened? What I settled on it's the latter. There are some historic accounts that back up stories in the bible but for the most part it's just a bunch of mythological stories, no different than the accounts of Loki and Thor in Norse Mythology.

*Quotes from WikiQuote


Alexis Kennedy said...

Love this.. and, Noah's ark story.. comes from ancient Sumerian flood story.. Jewish parts have some historical accuracy.. mostly not- no evidence of Moses, or of David uniting the kingdoms.. most of Christianity's alleged history=non-existent. When I first heard River make that statement, I wanted to memorize it and quote it every time someone began quoting from the bible.. did you know Thomas Jefferson did exactly what River started doing?

Sam Curtin said...

Yep, I do exactly that. I recited this entire scene one time to someone who wanted to argue that the dinosaurs died on in the flood. (and yes that's a WHOLE different blog post entirely, lol)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think the bible has secret language in it, and those its for understand it for what it is saying. Then again, I think trees and branches and leaves can spell out words and teach us. Soooo, by that logic what is real and what isn't? Nice mention of whatever that was. Is it a book or movie? Sounds like something up my alley. :) Nice blog, by the way. I found you on twitter. I plan on reading some more around here. :)

Eliora said...

Brilliant, Sam, just brilliant!

Sam Curtin said...

Well welcome! This is from Joss Whedon's show Firefly (I'm just slightly obsessed with it)

And you're completely right, by this logic we really don't know what is real and what is not. The bible just never resonated with me. I was brought up Christian, went to Christian school for most of my life but I just didn't "get" it. There were too many unanswered questions for me. I think you're right and there is some sort of "secret language" that some people get. And hey more power to them if they want to believe in it! It's just the fundamentalists that I can't stand, of any religion.

Sam Curtin said...

Thanks, Lori! I have my moments every once in a while ;)

Anonymous said...

How do you describe one as being a fundamentalist? I've never defined this word before.

Unknown said...

Love that episode, and this post!

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