Some Thoughts on “Noah”
If you have read all or part of my new novel Noah (available here), you probably have some questions. Let me go ahead and try to answer some of them now. If you have additional questions, please write to me and I will try my best to answer them and work them into a blog. (Though I won’t mention you by name, just the usual “D.B. from Des Moines asks … “)
How are they so technologically advanced?
When most of us think about the pre-flood world, the first images that come to mind were probably put there by either Sunday School or elementary textbooks. For the former, it’s this picture of a dude in a full-length robe, probably holding a shepherd’s crook, and with a beard that’s long enough to tuck into his belt like Gandalf. For the latter, it’s a picture of a swarthy fellow with a thick brow and “tools” that consist of a club and maybe a rock.
But there are some realities that ought to be addressed, one of which I will (probably/maybe) get to later but suffice to say now that we have almost no record of life before the flood. The answer I want to propose right now, though, is that I don’t think either of the above pictures is correct. Even if they were basically agrarian, a farmer or rancher who lives for 900+ years is going to discover some short-cuts and he’s not going to be doing the job the same way he did it eight centuries before.
And that’s not all! I firmly believe, as proposed by Noah in the novel, that ancient man was way more intelligent than us. Before the inbreeding, before the diseases, and—most importantly—before the degradation of compounding sin, I think mankind could think circles around us. Oh, we have great inventors now and an incredible store of knowledge that has been recorded from experience, but I think they were just smarter than us.
Imagine, then, if Leonardo da Vinci, instead of inventing for 50+ years, had had 800+ years to come up with things! And what if he had had the favor of the powers that be and could have experimented with and manufactured those wonderful things he drew? I don’t think it’s any stretch at all to think that the technology in Noah’s day was at least on a par with ours, if not far beyond.
Doesn’t Your Book Have Way too Many People in It?
Maybe you have never thought about this, but another oft-assumed feature of antediluvian life is that the world was sparsely populated. But look back in Genesis 5. With every person listed there, after having the child that is the focus of the tree, it mentions something like, “After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.” If we take the grammar literally there, it means that Jared had at least five children. (Enoch, then sons plural and daughters, plural.) It says that for every single generation.
So if every person on the planet averaged five children, the population of the planet in Noah’s day could be well into the millions. “But some of them would have died! Or not had children at all!” you object. True. But look again at that genealogy. Enoch is the youngest to have a child, at the age of 65. Noah is the oldest to have a child, at the age of 500. Now, it doesn’t tell us anything about how old their wives were, so maybe Noah’s wife is considerably younger than him. Still, if the average “gestational range” for humans was even just a couple hundred years, you know there are going to be families who have ten and twenty—or even fifty—children. If it works out that the average person has only ten children apiece, then the population in Noah’s day could be in the billions.
[I’m not saying there absolutely were that many people, but I am saying it is mathematically possible, so I went with that possibility for my work of fiction.]
Now, imagine that an inventor like a da Vinci gets to not only live and invent for 800+ years, but also gets to overlap and even mentor an Edison and a Tesla. What wonders would they come up with?!?!
The Bible doesn’t mention anything like this!
Why would it? The issue at stake in the Biblical account is man’s depravity. Maybe that was in a simple, agrarian society where Noah’s boat is the greatest and most astounding thing ever seen. Or maybe it’s in a technological world where a guy building an old-fashioned wooden boat is kind of a curiosity. To not tell us which is not exactly out of “character” for the Bible because the key issue throughout is man’s relationship with his creator God.
I do not believe technology is evil. Any more than any tool from a hammer to a computer is evil; they are just tools. But I have noticed that, the more sophisticated we think we are getting, the less we think we need God. So I placed the story of Noah in a world not too dissimilar from our own, where we seem to be more and more under the impression that we have outgrown God.
Okay, So Where is All that Stuff?
If a flood of the type the Bible describes happened (and I believe it did), there would be nothing left of the civilization(s) before said deluge. Everything would be wiped out. Those “fountains of the deep” that Genesis told us broke forth? That might not be water, but lava. Psalms speaks of the mountains rising up and the water flowing away. Such a thing would scour the country-side clean. Buildings, roads, books, you name it: they would all be gone.
Why haven’t we found any graves, though? One, that’s assuming they took care of their dead before the flood the way we take care of them now. Two, even if they did bury them much as we do now, with all the turmoil and layer upon layer of ash and silt, who knows how deep such graves might be now? If they cremated … you get the picture.
But over all …
Please remember that: this is a work of fiction. I took the Biblical account, which I believe, and ran with it, Maybe I ran crazy. Still, that’s the point of fiction: sometimes it shows us ourselves and sometimes it shows us what might be—for good or ill—but it’s not an exact replication of what is or was.