In the interests of thorough and unbiased research on the foundations of creation “science,” I recently subjected myself to the Book of Genesis. I had to clear my mind of all evidence – supporting or un- – and take the thing at face value for the purposes of my quest. I can now tell you from experience that a literal reading of the Bible is not half so much fun in the New Revised Standard Version. It’s no wonder fundies plump for the KJV.
Let us begin with mountains.
The NRSV assures us, in Genesis 7:19-20, that the waters of the Great God-Will-Fuck-Your-Shit-Up Flood were very deep indeed:
19The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; 20the waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.
Well, gosh, that seems pretty deep. But how high were the mountains in those days? The NRSV provides no clude. And so, we turn to the Authorized (King James) Version for our answer, which I am assured by fundamentalists must be there.
19And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. 20Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
Now remember: we are reading literally. And the fundamentalists assure us the meaning of the Bible is plain and clear. You just read those words on the page, and they are the truth of God, who can’t ever be wrong.
And damn, does that water sound deep. Fifteen whole cubits, enough to bury the mountains. I mean, it says right there, the water prevailed upward fifteen cubits and the mountains were covered. So now we know how high the mountains were: just under fifteen cubits. Stands to reason.
Right. So what’s a cubit?
Well. According to most young earth creationists, it’s about 17.5-18 inches. Let’s be all generous and use the larger measure. That means the highest mountains were – drumroll please – a whopping 22.5 feet (6.8 meters).
Short damn mountains.
“But wait!” I hear a creationist cry. “You’re so not fair. God obviously meant the long Hebrew cubit, not the short one!”
Fine. That’s 20.4 inches. Multiply by 15… calculating… and the mountains are: a whopping 25.5 feet high. A whole 7.8 meters. Wow. Jeffrey! Fetch me my mountain-climbing trousers! You can leave the oxygen tank.
It’s about now our dear imaginary creationist begins babbling about Babylonian cubits, and so I recalculate using that extra-long 24-inch cubit, and arrive at towering peaks of thirty whole feet (9.1 meters). Jeffrey, I’ve changed my mind – you’d best fetch that oxygen tank, too.
Now, the Ark was 30 cubits tall, so by any cubit measure, it towered to twice the height of the highest mountain.* Which, perhaps, explains this illustration from the Schedelsche Weltchronik.
Not such majestic mountains, then. And lest ye think I’m being less-than-considerate of our Bible-believing brethren’s beliefs, note that many creationists like to say the world was different before the Flood – it allows them to avoid the pesky problem of Mount Everest. Also, they play with the idea that even a sloth could make it over the stubby mountains of Noah’s day in time to catch the boat, no problem.
You may also note in the above illustration the abundance of fishies beneath the Ark. If you read your Bible literally, you’ll not that God was rather forgetful of fish, neglecting to specifically mention them as passengers Noah should take on the Ark (Gen. 6:20, 7:8), even forgetting to murder the poor bloody things (7:21-22), until suddenly recalling them several chapters later, when he’s ttelling Noah & Sons that every single creature on earth, including fish, will be shit scared of them forevermore, not to mention there to be eaten (9:2). That seems kinda harsh, considering these blokes just spent over a year shoveling shit in a wooden box to keep all these poor animals (sans fishes) alive. I’d’ve thought a little universal peace, love and understanding, perhaps vegetarianism, would’ve been nice after a genocide of those proportions, but no. This is the Old Testament God, and he’s all about the fear, loathing, and feasting on flesh.
*It amuses me to consider that if Noah were building the Ark on the Earth’s current surface, God would’ve asked him to make it 58,058 feet (17,696 m) tall….