If you grew going to Sunday School like I did, you probably know the tale. Just in case you don’t, it goes something like this:
God is mad because people are evil, so He decides to end humanity. Well, mostly. He finds one good man, Noah, among all the bad men. God tells Noah to build a giant boat and get himself, his family, and a bunch of animals onto the boat. Everybody thinks Noah is nuts because they’ve never seen rain before, let alone a flood. Then God floods the entire world killing EVERYTHING except the people and animals on the boat. So all the naughty people learn their lesson, but far too late. And Noah and his family start the world over again. The end.
Granted, that’s a simplistic telling, but that’s the basics of the Biblical version of the Flood. Thing is, that unlike many tales from the Christian Bible, there isn’t just one tale of the Flood. Nearly every ancient civilization in the world has a Flood story. The earliest written story comes from Sumeria.
In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, several gods form a secret plan to create a great food. But the god Ea is a good god, so he tells a man called Utnapishtim to demolish his house and build a boat. So, Utnapishtim does what he’s told, then right before the appointed time for the flood, he loads into the boat all his relatives, the animals he has, the craftsmen who helped build the boat, and anything and everything else he can. Then he seals the door. Six days of horrible storms and floods destroy the land and turn all the people into clay (except those in the boat). Finally on the seventh day the storms quiet and the people on the boat find land. They are the only ones left in the whole world. Because of his faith, Ea awards Utnapishtim and his wife with immortality and takes them into the heavens.
The Chinese have their own flood myth, as do many countries in Africa, South America, Asia. It’s such a universal tale, there has to be something behind it, doesn’t there?
The experts say yes. Except the experts can’t decide what that “something” is.
Some say that the “Great Flood” was really just an ancient flood, much like what we saw in 2004 with the tsunami. This flooding covered a large area of land (the most heavily occupied at that time) and killed many thousands of people. That it was such a horrific experience, our ancient primitive ancestors saw it as an apocalyptic event and that it covered “the whole world” – but only as they saw it.
Others believe the Biblical account of the entire world actually being covered in water and a small number of people and animals surviving on a boat is a literal one. That this happened exactly as described in the Bible right down to the ark building.
Still others believe that pre-flood, the world was highly technologically advanced. Perhaps even more so than it is now. And that through perhaps some kind of cataclysmic technological meltdown, those ancient advanced civilizations destroyed the planet. That a few of them managed to escape and rebuild civilization and that is not only where we get our flood stories, but also tales of advanced civilizations and vanished continents such as Atlantis.
And then there are the Ancient Alien theorist that believe the “gods” were really aliens mistaken for gods and that they either caused the destruction, or were aware it was about to happen. That these aliens managed to save some portion of humanity (and animals, plant life, etc) by bringing them into their space craft to wait out the flooding.
Frankly, we’ll never know what really happened. You can choose a theory to back either because of your spiritual faith or because you believe logically one theory makes more sense. But the reality is, currently there is no proof. And for me, that’s half the fun.
Why do I find the not-knowing – the speculating and theorizing – so much fun?
Because great stories come from one place …