Noah and the ArkQUESTION: Noah and the ark - Did it exist?ANSWER:
Of all the stories in the Bible (Genesis chapter 6 and 7), the one about Noah and the ark is among the most difficult to take literally.
Our scientific minds question: How can it rain enough to flood the entire earth? How would it be possible to gather every life form plus the food to sustain them? How could all these species live on an ark for 204 days? If God wanted to destroy all life on earth, how would a flood destroy fish and ocean-going mammals like dolphins and whales?
And could Noah really be 600 years old?
Then there are the theological questions that arise: If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, He surely knew His creatures were going to rebel and sin and force Him to bring down this flood when He created the Universe. Why didn't He just create perfect beings to start with?
The only way out of this quagmire is to stop looking at it through our own eyes and start looking at it through God's eyes.
If God is God, then Creation is EXACTLY the way He wants it. He didn't make any mistakes He had to go back and "fix." So it was part of His plan from the very beginning to wipe out certain life forms, shelter others in an immense ark and - most important - provide a covenant with those men who survived to be fruitful and multiply across the earth and to have dominion over all its creatures.
The miraculous way all of this was accomplished is also by design. In fact, it is designed to stimulate our awe of God, just like the parting of the Red Sea, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Instead of getting caught up in the questions posed by our own limited minds, we are called to gasp in astonishment that Almighty God was able to flood the earth, that He called all species to report to Noah at their appointed times, that He caused them to live graciously together for the better part of a year.
Are any of these things more amazing than the feeding of 5,000 people with a handful of loaves and fishes?
In recent years, there have been reports that the ark may have been found under a glacier on Mount Ararat. Some religious scholars behave as if this discovery would somehow lend credence to the Bible. But proof of the ark does no more to validate this story than proof of a carpenter named Jesus validates His resurrection.
If we believe the story of Noah and the ark, we are acknowledging that we are live in a universe administered by a truly awesome God; a universe in which miracles happen all the time.
If we doubt this story, we don't shake the tiniest atom of Creation. But our doubt radically alters our perception of the world in which we live.
God wants us to live in His world - a world of wonder and miracles and blessings - but on His terms, not ours.
That brings us back to theology. Why didn't God make creation "perfect" to begin with?
God is light and God is love. His highest ambition for us is to love Him and to love one another. But love, by its very nature, cannot be forced. We can never say we truly love if it is only because God zaps us with a magic wand and forces us.
So each of us is blessed to play out our lives on a stage created by God to help us become loving creatures. And the miracles sprinkled throughout the Bible should be signposts shouting: "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).