“Okay Noah. I’m going to imprint all of the information you’ll need in your brain. This should make it unnecessary for you to ask any more of these exasperating questions. Now can you please concentrate on building the boat?”
Noah replied to God, “I know exactly what you’re talking about. You want me to build a boat like the one you had them build in Mesopotamia described in the epic of Gilgamesh. They put two of every animal on board and rode out the great flood that you made back then. If that boat is still sitting on top of a mountain someplace can’t we just use the same boat?”
God asked, “How did you hear about that, on MSNBC? That’s fake news. It never happened.”
Noah answered, “Come on, I wasn’t born yesterday. There must be one of the old boats available. How about the boat you used in the great flood of Atrahasis in Mesopotamia just 500 years before the Gilgamesh boat? What about the boat you had Ziusudra the king in Babylonia build before that? It isn’t as if this is your first rodeo. The Gilgamesh flood only happened 1500 years ago. My grandfather told me his grandfather recounted the story to him. Get real. I don’t know how to build a boat that big. If the Gilgamesh boat or any of the others are available let’s use one of them. All of them were built to your specifications to carry the builder, his family and a sampling of all the animals.”
“None of those boats are available. I’m going to have you build one that will be world famous called Noah’s Ark. It will be 300 cubits long and hold all the animals needed to repopulate the earth. I want you to make it with gopherwood, with three decks and a roof. Make it 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high leaving one cubit between the top of the walls and the roof.” (Note: In case you’re not into cubits that would be 525 feet long, 87 feet wide and 52 feet high.)
“Hold on a second. I never built a boat before and you’re throwing these measurements at me and you expect my wife and I with our three sons and three daughters-in-law will be able to handle the project. I’ll need some detailed plans if you really expect me to pull this off.”
Spoiler alert! If Noah and his family did build the ark to God’s specifications it would take them 100 years to complete it. We’ll get back to that later in the story.
“How do you expect me to give you plans, paper won’t be invented for a long time yet.”
“How about giving me that info on clay tablets like you are going to do with Moses later in the story after Moses is born.” Noah began to laugh. “Excuse me for laughing, God, but I know there’s as much chance of your giving me clay tablets as your sending me that stuff in an email.”
“Stop clowning around. Keep in mind who you’re talking to. I’m going to print detailed plans on your limbic system.”
“Sorry, I keep forgetting you’ve never been to school, can’t read or write or do math so I can’t use big words with you. Your limbic system. That’s the ring of interconnected structures surrounding the hypothalamus in your brain that’s involved with emotion and memory. You won’t forget it. But don’t tell anybody about how we’re doing it. I don’t want genuine scientific stuff to get into the Bible when they get around to writing it.”
God then printed the blueprints for the ark on Noah’s limbic system the same way he printed the information about the clean and unclean animals on Noah’s limbic system. Noah gathered his wife and sons and told them of God’s plan. Because Noah had no idea how to build a boat or had any experience reading blueprints he used a pointy stick to scratch parts of the blueprints onto the ground to show his sons what they were supposed to do. Noah told his sons to begin building the boat according to the specifications he had scratched on the ground and he told his wife to begin rounding up animals to load on the boat.
Noah sent his son Japheth to get the 1.2 million board feet of square gopher wood timber the blueprints called for. To help him with the job he gave him a brand-new bronze ax. Japheth complained about carrying all that wood. He pointed out to Noah that would be more than a million pounds of lumber. Noah sent Shem along to help him. Noah poured over the plans for the boat in his mind to find out how many nails and screws he should tell Ham to get, but nails and screws weren’t invented yet. So he told Ham to sharpen a small piece of bronze and start carving a million or so wooden pegs. Shem had to butt in and mention that a million wooden pegs would weight about 75,000 pounds.
Noah didn’t know how long this project was going to take but he sensed that it was a big job. He told his family God expected all of them to complete the ark with as little delay as possible. Noah and his family discussed the project, taking into consideration the amount of work that this loving God was directing them to do in light of the fact that he was about to drown all the other men, women and children living on the planet. And yes, that included all the pregnant women with their unborn fetuses. They decided to work as diligently as possible.
Noah’s wife started the next morning by taking some of her own sheep and goats and locking them in the pen they had behind their house. Shem’s wife tried to put a chicken and a rooster in the pen along with the sheep and goats but realized the foul wouldn’t stay there. Noah sat on the ground in front of their little house scratching in the dirt with his sharp stick trying to figure out how much food he would have to carry to feed the animals. This was difficult for him because he had never been to school.
At Noah went into the house to get lunch and found his wife and Ham’s wife sitting at the table crying. “What’s the matter?” He asked.
“We just can’t do it,” blurted out his wife. “We got the sheep and the goats with no trouble. We couldn’t get the chickens to stay put so we will need a little cage to put them in. We put out some breadcrumbs to try to catch birds but we couldn’t get close to them. Then we decided to start with something easier. We thought we’d catch a couple of ants. We went to that anthill by the spring and found thousands of ants. The first one I grabbed broke. I guess I held it too tightly. Then we each grabbed one and held it very carefully. We spread their little legs apart and compared the two of them but they both looked the same so we figured we either had two men or two lady ants. We tried catching some more and comparing those to the two we had but they all looked the same. So, we collected 10 more and put them in the jar that’s on the table, figuring we’d show them to you and maybe you could tell us which one was a man and which one was a lady ant. I looked in the jar a few minutes ago to see how they were and they’re all gone. What should we do now?”
Noah scratched his head. “I don’t know how to tell the difference either. God told me to get one of each kind but the ants are so small that maybe we should just put in a handful of them figuring there is bound to be one of each kind in the bunch and they won’t take up much room. No one will notice a few more ants on the boat.”
Naamah replied, “the big problem is going to be how to hold all these animals until we put them on the boat. We need cages for all of them to keep them from running away and from eating each other. Are you going to give me cages for all of them as I go catch them?”
“No, it would take almost as much time to build cages for all of those different animals as to build a whole boat because the boat has to have all the cages built in. That’s the easiest way. We’ll have to wait until the boat is built before we start catching the animals so we’ll have a place to put them as we catch them.”
Naahma asked, “Then what you want me to do in the meantime?”
“You can start collecting the food for all the animals. Figure will need to feed them for about a year and a half. That will take care of the 40 days and 40 nights of rain and the year for the water to go away with a little left over for emergencies.”
“Okay. The goats and sheep are easy. But some of the animals are fussy eaters. For example, a koala eats about 1 pound of fresh eucalyptus leaves a day. So two koalas will need about 1100 pounds of leaves in a year and a half. I don’t know how many pounds of leaves a eucalyptus tree will grow at a time so I don’t know how many trees we’ll need on board. How much space are you going to give me to grow food for the animals?”
“Are you nuts? I’m worried about having enough space just to fit the animals on board let alone having a farm on there too. We can’t grow trees on the boat.”
“The koalas are just a small problem. The two pandas will need about 70,000 pounds of fresh bamboo leaves for a year and a half. The pandas will also eat a little meat from time to time. If we loaded it on the boat it will probably be spoiled by the end of the week. How can we keep getting fresh bamboo leaves if the world is covered with water?
“I was hoping you could take care of all the food without bringing any of the problems to me so I could just concentrate on building the boat. What the hell is a koala and a panda anyway?”
“Please don’t get mad at me for trying to explain this to you. I know how religious you are and that you would believe in the Bible if there was one but it hasn’t been written yet. Let’s make believe for a moment that the earth isn’t flat the way it’s going to say in the Bible. Let’s make believe the earth is shaped like a ball and we’re sitting on top of it. The koala and the panda are animals that live on the other side of the ball from where we are now. That’s a fact. Don’t ask me why they don’t fall off the bottom of the ball or how we’re going to get them to come here to get on our boat. I don’t have a clue.”
“I’m not mad at you. There’s lots of things I don’t know. For example, I don’t know what a kangaroo is let alone how you’re going to get it here or what it eats. I don’t know when an elephant or a giraffe is, what they eat, or how you’re going to get them here either.”
“That’s not all you don’t seem to know.” Naama seemed angry. “How about knowing who’s going to support your family while you and your three sons are building this boat. Where are we going to get the money to buy the food we need to feed your animals? How do you propose to get all those animals onto the boat? Are you just imagining a ramp going up onto the boat with thousands of animals walking in an orderly line going on to the boat and walking to their respective cages? When you first told me about this I thought you were joking. Then you told me that God was behind it and I just blindly started to accept it. Now that were actually thinking about doing it it’s obvious that either you or your God are both stark raving crazy.”
“I’ll admit the plan has a few rough edges but it’s all God’s idea. Surely he’ll make something happen anytime we run into a problem that we can’t handle.”
“Okay, tell him we want him to show he’s serious about this and to put a few animals from the other side of the firmament into our animal pen along with a year and a half supply of food for them.”
Noah decided to wait a couple of hours before he approached God with the questions. He wanted to give himself a chance to calm down and get his thoughts together. Then he looked up and said, “God, I need to ask a few questions.”
“I know. I’m God. I know everything. I was afraid your wife was going to be a problem. Okay. I can get all the animals here and I can keep feeding them while they’re on the boat. I can do miracles. But if I was going to just use my magic to make everything happen I don’t need you or the boat or the flood. I could just kill everybody except you and your family or just make all the bad people disappear. I was hoping you and your family could take care of all the boat and animal stuff because it would make a much better story for the Old Testament. If the story was published in the Old Testament it would be believed by three big groups of people who don’t exist yet. They will consist of three similar religions believed by people called Jews, Christians, and Muslims.”
“I’m sorry to throw cold water on your idea. No pun intended.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll put that story in the Torah exactly as I told you we were going to do it. The Jews, Christians, and Muslims are going to believe it anyway, even if it didn’t happen. They will have faith. It’s a great story.”
“Will that be okay?”
“It will be fine. The theologians of the future will list my attributes as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. There is nothing in there that prevents me from telling a little fib now and then to advance the storyline. Besides, I’ll get a little chuckle watching some idiots in the future claim they have found the remnants of the ark on some mountaintop or explaining to a congregation of faithful believers how you and I saved all the animals in the world while we cleared the world of all the evil people.”
And that’s the story of Noah’s Ark.