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The Ark, Mercy, and Those You Love

By Carl S. ~

A large painting hangs in the foyer of a local church. It depicts pairs of large animals ascending a ramp into a huge ark. I doubt that there is any member of our society who has not heard the story of Noah's ark.

Every child who is taught that the tale is true knows its details. This story is dropped into their laps, and the story-tellers move on to other subjects, avoiding any questioning or analysis as to what it signifies for good behavior in children and their parents. Illustrated children's books including the story, and toy sets with ark and animals, are sold in secular stores, further supporting the story as actual fact. So great is its influence that not only paintings but stained glass windows and TV “documentaries” present it as a real event, as the “Search for Noah's Ark” programs attest. (Why the search for Noah's ark and not the search for the Emperor's New Clothes? You may notice that story is not in the bible. If THAT story WAS in the bible, you can bet your paycheck the same people would be searching for THEM.)

The ark is as familiar as the cross, and the two are immorally connected. Both symbols represent horrendously extreme solutions to relationship problems. One might compare them to the “solutions” of WW II, with bombings of thousands of innocent civilians on both sides of the conflict, culminating with the destructions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Except, those solutions were by desperate men who believed that “all is fair in war;” Men who saw and found themselves with limited alternatives under the circumstances. What if there WAS an alternative, as offered in H.G. Well’s “Things to Come,” of putting everyone to sleep for long enough to take over peacefully? Would not someone with the power to actually implement such a solution do so as an alternative? In fact, this would be the MERCIFUL solution.

I would like a believer, or better yet, the pastor, to stand before me as I look at this painting, because I want to ask, “What is the LESSON of the Flood you are teaching children?” Or more specifically, “Just what IS the MORAL lesson of this story?“ Because, the lesson of the story has nothing to do with humans in material conflict, at war with a god. There is no way a god of mercy would be threatened by their actions, to evoke such a “revenge” as mass genocide. What is the purpose of drowning children and pets and all animals and vegetation?

Are God believers teaching children that this genocide is a morally acceptable response; that it is morally a better solution than negotiating? Are they telling them that even the innocent were guilty by association, as they tell them THEY would be by merely associating with those who thought the opposite of what they are being taught? Do they tell the children that, according to the text, humanity had no warning and that after this alleged event the god admitted he made a mistake; that he should have realized human nature was not going to change simply because he drowned mankind? Or do they, instead, tell them that he knew all along what he was doing and not to question his “wisdom?”

When it comes to a choice of punishments and tests of trust in him, this God will pick the most horrendous: volcanic fiery eruptions (Sodom and Gomorrah), earthquakes swallowing unbelievers, the trials of Job, mass drownings, crucifixion, hell, all the total opposite of merciful. Because of all of these stories that are taught to have moral lessons, and the punishments in them, I can only conclude that the entire book has lost all claims to morality. The main lesson I can conclude is this: THIS GOD LOVES HAVING HUMANS SUFFER.

When we think of MERCIFUL, the Ark and the Cross are symbols contrary to mercy. Whether the prolonged drowning of the human race or the torture and killing of an innocent man, these are the preferred solutions of the biblical deity. (I've been thinking of merciful solutions to even the most heinous of crimes. Opposition to cruel and unusual punishment is not on this particular deity's - nor many of his disciple's - list of alternatives.)

Only psychotics and the fabricated God depicted in scriptures can keep killing without mercy or feeling bad about itMy mother used to have a saying she repeated whenever she heard of someone dying from a stroke, being struck by a car or lightning bolt, etc. She said, “He never knew what hit him.” Sixty years ago, as a monk, I walked with two other monks inside a building under construction. Moments later I found myself in the arms of one of them, outside the building. I was told that a scaffold broke loose, swung down and hit me in the head, and knocked me unconscious. I was informed that if there had been a structural part of the building behind my head, it would have been caught between the two and I would be dead. Years later it dawned on me: I would have “never known what hit me!” That would have been a “merciful” way to go. (Now, some will say to me, “God wanted you to live; he had plans for you.” Well, I'm living and writing this anti-God commentary, “mysterious-way” style.)

The day after the funeral for Edna, my brother's common-law wife of over thirty years, my wife's relatives went out to dinner with him, my wife, and me. Across from me at the table was my sister-in-law, Sue. I described to her how Edna had died at the hospital; it was up to my brother to terminate medical support for her at a certain stage, with the advice of her physicians who were in attendance, and as per her will. Before he did this, he said, ”Goodbye, Edna.” She looked at him and, with a smile, said, “Goodbye.” Sue smiled at me and said, “That was a blessing.” This is the same woman who was in a hospital room when her 30's - aged nephew, Tony, died spewing blood in agony. I was tempted to ask Sue, “Would you then say that Tony's death was a curse?” Where was the ‘blessing’ for such a fine man? (She probably would have said, along with the Catholic bishops, that his suffering was “redemptive.”) Such B.S.

The reason it should be against our natures to accept Bible-god “solutions” has to come from the fact that we normally love others too much to accept such cruelties. Soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious emotional problems; it ISN'T normal to kill another human being. Only psychotics and the fabricated God depicted in scriptures can keep killing without mercy or feeling bad about it.

You and I will be described, because we are gods-less, as immoral, by those who believe in this God. I hope the examples I've given will show just the opposite to be true. If we were gods, you and I could come up with more merciful ways to die: euthanasia (should I be any less caring on this decision for another human being than I would be for my pet?), being struck by lightning , or a stroke ( especially after intercourse), i.e., ”never knowing what hit you?” Why make “explanations” for the “merciful God,” playing games with lives? Pure claptrap. No, I'll take god-free Nature over making matters worse for others with such “explanations.” For no matter what, reality will out: you can depend on reality to be honest. Unlike Christianity.

It's time to pack up this god, like previous cruel ones, and his ark, his precious cross, genocides, and “mercy.” With “friends“ like Bible-god, who needs enemies?