Chill Out, People! Noah’s Ark is a Story.

The reaction to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is predicable. Fundamental Christians have denounced the movie as a fable that doesn’t accurately portray the Biblical story or characters. Mind you, this shows ignorance for Hollywood’s tendency of creating sensationalistic movies generally; the producers are quite happy with the movie. Hollywood producers remember how The Passion of the Christ raked in cash, and they are mass-producing Biblical movies this year based on the ratings that the History Channel’s The Bible garnered recently. Whether Noah was accurate or not, church groups predictably gathered in their buses and filed numbers into the theatres. The Christian community hasn’t been this disappointed in a Hollywood product since Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation of Christ.

According to multiple articles, reviews, and internet ramblings, the movie would have been better served telling the story as it actually happened. My question to these reviewers might be, “What version of the Great Flood is correct?” Would it be the story of Noah found in the Hebrew Torah, which preceded the Bible and upon which the story in Genesis is based? Would it be the multiple stories of Great Floods told in Egyptian mythology, all of which precede the writing of the Bible? Perhaps we should include in our research those flood stories found in Babylonian, Sumerian, Indian, or Native American lore. Many Christians are not aware that Noah’s story is also told in the Qu’ran, further demonstrating that there are more similarities than differences between Islamic and Christian religions.

Of course, the answer to my question from fundamental Christians would be the version from the Bible is the correct recording of the word of God. Never mind that it is not the oldest literary version of a great flood, and the book of Genesis was recorded about the same literary period as Aesop’s fables from Greek mythology, another set of moralist tales. Christianity excludes all other literature and faiths in favor of the Biblical account, and fundamentalists promote that every story happened exactly as it appears in the tome, despite any evidence to the contrary.

I might suggest the story of the Great Flood has been told throughout history as a literary representation of God’s power through nature, and I would be labelled a heretic for doing so, even in today’s modern culture. Tremendous weather events have historically destroyed humans, beyond man’s control or understanding, especially in times before we had scientific explanation. In the Bible, a rainbow symbolizes God’s promise that He would never destroy humanity in such a manner again. Might this be a literary explanation for a tremendous phenomenon before a time when humans had knowledge of prismatic light refraction? God created nature and science, and man historically recorded stories about God’s natural creation, as we continue to do with scientific knowledge of God’s natural order. God also created humans and their capacity for understanding. Do we honestly think God would favor Christians holding fast to fundamentalist readings of his literature, collectively? Apparently so, as this movie has been skewered as secular, dangerous, and radical by the Christian community, because it is not true to what actually happened. More importantly, Americans mutually deny scientific explanations based on this literary mythology, and our policies and laws are being written by these dogmatic faithful.

I admit I would be more interested in reading a more revolutionary story, based on a Great Flood. I would like a movie that expands further upon Biblical prophecy, perhaps a futuristic, apocalyptic plot: After the world’s countries continue to drill away for fossil fuels, spewing noxious pollutants into the air and ignoring their obviously-changing climate, the glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica melt, causing sea levels to rise over 200 feet. Humanity is nearly wiped out, and the few remaining people have to build flotation platforms. Food and clean water are a scarcity, so bloated corpses riddle the landscape, floating everywhere as a reminder of man’s folly. One remaining Christian remains, floating on a wooden raft, close to death, yet unable to abandon his faith. Let’s call him Noah, for symbolic reasons.

Noah sits upon his floating raft, viewing the chaos about him, when a rainbow appears in the sky before him. There are no hints of rain; there is no logical, scientific explanation for the appearance of this rainbow. Noah weeps and pleads to God: “Why? Why have you reneged on your promise, my God?”

God appears before Noah, and answers, “I have done no such thing. I promised that I would never destroy the Earth with a Great Flood ever again. Man ignored my gift and destroyed my Creation through his own machinations. Man did this to himself…because he was ignorant of my Word.” With that God turns his back on Mankind, perhaps to pay attention to another improved world in another galaxy, where he could create a more humble, benevolent sentient being than Man…a creature that is better-formed to represent God’s image.

It probably wouldn’t do too well in box offices. Christians would certainly denounce any of its prophetical merits. In fact, I anticipate that I will be condemned thoroughly just for suggesting this in my blog. Unlike my other writing, this is probably the one that will receive some comments, as the internet has become such an environment to cast stones at those who “attack” Christianity. For the record, I study the Bible and enjoy faith in the existence of God; I choose to represent my faith as I have interpreted it, not as Christian organizations have erroneously propagated it throughout history. There are too many examples of Christians supporting human cruelty, discrimination, and evil, from before American history to America’s present, for me not to take this approach with my Christian faith and interpretation. While I will dismiss any antagonistic attacks of my agnosticism, I will invite rational theological or scientific discussion in any comments.

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Scott C. Guffey
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