Mark Twain, in his Letters from the Earth, points out the obvious flaws in the Biblical story of Noah's Ark. Naturally there would have been many practical problems that would have sunk the story. How could a farmer, for example, conjure up the technical ability to build a ship so large- yet not large enough- for the purpose of saving all his family and countless couples (and possibly hermaphrodite singles) of the entire world's animals?
Noah would never have had enough time to collect what Mark Twain had modestly estimated to be 146,000 species of animals and two million species of insects. In the allotted time it would have been an impossible and absurd task for an enormous team of the greatest natural scientists and biologists in the world, and Noah was just a simple farmer who was fond of wine. As Biblical history records that he died 350 years after the Great Flood at the ripe old age of 950, it would seem that he thrived on it.
No one, including Darwin, would have ever succeeded in cataloguing millions of insects, many of which would also have a genetical mutation capacity. And in his, 'On the Origin of Species,' his allusion to human evolution was mainly limited to "light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history".
Mark Twain also observes that a second Ark would have been required just to carry the necessary supply of fresh water. But one appreciates that amongst other Biblical parables and fables, the American writer refers to this one especially, with floods of irony, incredulity and sarcasm.
Nevertheless, the story is symbolically intriguing. Couldn't it also be interpreted as a recurring fatality, or solution, which would also explain man's uniqueness in relation to other terrestrial creatures?
Darwin's theories thoroughly disturbed the ecclesiastical conviction that God had made all creatures great and small, and most of all regarding the Darwinian theory that man originated from a species of ape (instead of from Adam and Eve). Since then however, such an idea seems less likely. Human skulls have been discovered that are older than those previously thought to belong to our apish ancestors. And there are no existing species of ape on earth who need to develop their intelligence in order to survive. If there were, then wouldn't this evolution be constant, and not just a unique, inexplicable case as ours seems to be?
We thus return to religion, as scientists also tend to, because if God or Nature made all creatures great and small, He or She made the whole universe and its incredibly intricate mechanism. And the further we try to reach, the more we are conscious of the existence of other mysterious galaxies coaxing us ever onwards and outwards.
In relation to all this we and our life span represent nothing, specs of life and a bat of an eyelid, yet
we must still be an integral part of it all.
When one admires the paintings of Lascaux, estimated to be merely 17,300 years old, it's very difficult to associate them with primitiveness. They're too sensitive and sophisticated. Relatively recently, further research suggests that the Lascaux paintings incorporate astrological charts corresponding to the constellations of the Palaeolithic period.
Where then did we come from if natural science now seems far less sure about the idea that we descended from apes? How does one explain the Nazca lines in the Andes Mountains of Peru and an image there which apparently resembles an astronaut? And if it's true, that we came to Earth from another endangered planet, couldn't this be a recurring cycle that spans across many thousands, if not millions of years? One then wonders how many times man, or a similarly intelligent life-form, has been obliged to build 'Arks' to save ecological systems, lives, souls and humanity, or an intelligent counterpart?
The obvious question that would then spring to mind, would be- why was primitive man then primitive? But wouldn't this be a natural consequence when knowledge and technology are lost, when nothing can be effectively recorded, (if we discount cave paintings and 'primitive' drawings of astronauts, etc.) when the raw materials or resources that one is used to, are no longer available in a new environment, and when the laws of survival are once more reduced to the rudimentary? From generation to generation wouldn't there be an initial, mental and even physical regression? The whole process of education and technological evolution would have to start all over again.
Across recorded history our own basic capacity of reasoning has remained relatively constant. It's interesting to note that human nature has never really changed at all. It has only adapted to the progress of 'civilisation', science and technology. Occasionally, which would include the present period, we are confronted with examples of irrational, social regression, yet we are nevertheless developing increasingly sophisticated means of communication, extraordinary technological means to reach the stars, and highly potential means to totally destroy our precious planet.
Text © Mirino (PW). Image by Mfikretyilmaz (slightly modified). The structure claimed to be Noah's Ark near Mount Ararat in Agri, Turkey. (With thanks also to Wikimedia Commons). January, 2011