The Religious Right Needs to Get Over Noah

NoahLarry Stone, author of Noah: The Real Story appeared on Fox News recently to set the record straight. Did you know there is a Noah expert? I did not know you could have a Noah expert. I did not know you could need a Noah expert.

After all, the entire story – the sum total of everything written about Noah that you are supposed to read (an important disclaimer) – is contained in chapters 6-9 of Genesis in the Old Testament. If you made a movie, using only what is given in the Bible, the film would be about five minutes long. And that is even if you use both flood stories from Genesis. If you exclude the contradictory information, your film will be much shorter (you can see for yourself here).

It is difficult to imagine anybody bothering to do that. Sure we can talk about the Sumerian flood story that inspired the Noah story, or we can talk about the science. But fundamentalists don’t want to do that.

So the move makers used other material as filler and they didn’t just make it up, as fundamentalists would have you believe. According to Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, writing at Haaretz,

Many of the gap fillers are borrowed directly from Midrashic literature firmly anchored in the Jewish tradition. Other plot elements not found in scripture are adapted from the Midrash, other sections of the Bible, and fairly well known Jewish mysticism. The strangest addition to the cinematic story is a lifted directly from “The Book of Enoch,” an ancient Jewish text.

The film is, concludes Fink, “a very Jewish retelling of the story.”

That seems fitting, since the oldest version of the story of Noah and the Ark is found in the Jewish Bible. How, you might wonder, did fundamentalist Christians end up owning the story?

Really, I don’t think fundamentalists ought to complain. The sheer complexity of the task set out for Noah beggars the imagination. And it could be a lot worse than Russell Crowe. Check out my favorite version below:

Really, think about it: this stuff is important. These videos are hilarious, but at the same time, they make a striking point, that all these various logistical details had to be dealt with for the whole ark scheme to work. The few verses covering the flood story in Genesis certainly don’t provide any clue as to how Noah worked the required magic.

Fundamentalists are so concerned with finding the ark that they don’t think about the actual logistics of making it work. What happens when a giraffe steps on a cockroach? Who carries within them the various things we’d all like to do without, like ringworm? All these things and more have to be considered. We are supposed to believe that animals from Australia and South America, that nobody in Noah’s time had ever heard of, found their way into the Ark. It’s difficult to believe the biblical writers didn’t find a verse or two for the Kangaroo! And then, having made its way to the Middle East, the intrepid pair of Kangaroos had to somehow make it back to Australia.

If the Religious Right has a right to be upset at a film about Noah (and I won’t even get into Muslim objections here) then the rest of us have a right to be upset that they want us to become suddenly stupid enough to take their objections seriously.

The whole brouhaha is just another example of how one-directional is the Religious Right’s conception of free speech.

The solution seems easy enough: don’t like the movie? Don’t see it. Some Heathens got bent out of shape by Marvel’s Thor and I don’t understand that either. It’s a movie; it’s entertainment. It’s not meant to be religion. I don’t get my religion in a theater any more than I get my history.

I knew a lawyer once who was very excited about the film Gladiator – until he saw it. His sense of Roman history was violated by the story. Again, it’s entertainment. Being entertained calls for suspending reality for a couple of hours. Stay out of the theater if you can’t do that. And don’t, like so many fundamentalists have done, complain about a movie you not only have not seen yet but don’t plan on seeing. That’s just dishonest.

As for Thor, the story has the essence of Thor down: he is the defender of Earth. In the poem Völuspá, Thor is said to be the “warder of Earth” and he is quite vocal about this duty in the films. That’s good enough for me.

As for Noah, he saved the human race (forget about the resultant incest) and he saved every species known to us today, at least according to the Bible. He does the same thing in the film. Are the details really that important, especially when there are so few of them?

In the end, as James Tabor writes on his blog, Bashers of the Noah Film Should Re-Read Their Bibles. It would be time better spent than complaining about a movie they have never seen not being true to a story they have never read.


40 Replies to “The Religious Right Needs to Get Over Noah”

  1. My favorite version of the Noah story is Bill Cosby’s:

    (Noah sawing wood.)
    Voopa, voopa, voopa.
    “This is the Lord, Noah.”
    Voopa, voopa, voopa.

    “What’s a cubit?”

    And so on.

  2. I have never understood fundamentalists’ inability (or unwillingness) to understand literary deices such as parables, metaphors, allegories and so on to make a point.

    They understand the word parable. They talk about the parables of Jesus, but can’t grasp that the writers of the various books used the very same means to make their spiritual points.

    In their little world of biblical literalism, the parable of the Good Samaritan must be Jesus relating a crime story he heard on the nightly news. No more, no less.

    What a stunted, tiny, God they have, one that they have made in their own puny human image.

  3. They are nuts. In SC, a girl wrote and asked that the wooly mammoth be named the state fossil. They did that, but not before one of the fundamentalists reps decided that God had to be inserted in the bill. So the cockamamie amendment states..twice..that ‘the wooly mammoth was created on the sixth day.’ Just to be sure that no school child thinks about real science, or..horrors…Darwin!

  4. It would seem to me that it would be a torturous life forcing yourself to believe, accept and live by what you know in your mind is a fallacy. I assume that is why religion always dictates that you have blind faith.

    You would think that people would have been more upset at the fact they had Russell Crowe play Noah. I guess this was atonement for his anti-semetic rants of the past.

  5. So basically the jews approve of the filler material, so our fundies are denying the jews. Unable to understand creator is also god, the fundies go into a tailspin then cant remember why. Say the word god, we cant have a creator! oh wait, wasnt god a creator?

    I just want to thank all the little fundies who helped prove the creator(also known as god)is full of hate

  6. Forget about Noah. We all know that Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse are the “real-thing”. That’s because we can all pay the money required to buy the tickets needed to get into the Disney Land and Santa’s Village theme parks to see them. I have been there and I have actually seen both of them (Santa and Mickey Mouse). Trust me. Believe me. Buy your tickets and go and visit them any time (during regular park hours of operation).

  7. This nontroversy reminds me of when Monty Paython’s Life Of Brian release back in 1979. Fundamentalist preachers declared the movie sacreligious without even seeing it. They organized pickets, protests. I tried to get my date at the time to see it, wouldn’t see it because “it was sacreligious” (hadn’t seen it)

    The main message of the movie is that people get led down a bad path when they blindly follow groups, where it is an all-talk, do-nothing group such as the People’s Front Of Judea or a man who accidentally gets branded a Messiah in a huge wave of religious fanaticism. (Which was what was going on in the first century CE)

    Years later John Cleese, in his book, 20 Years of Monty Python was asked about the American fundamentalists. He said “preachers organizing against a movie whose main message was ‘think for your self’ says all that needs to be said about the protestors.”

  8. It never ceases to amaze me how the left attempts to attach their own views on things they do not even believe in, The religious community is only saying that they would have preferred the movie follow a more Biblical story line since the entire base of the movie is from the Bible. Think of how the left would be up in arms if someone made a movie called MLK and made him out to be someone he wasn’t by just ignoring his real life and making crap up just to add a little controversy in the movie.

  9. The religious right are just upset.
    They thought ‘Noah’ was actually
    newly discovered video……

  10. isnt it funny how the Jewish people liked the movie as the filler material came from Jewish history, but the American so called christian fundamentalists have people like you wetting their pants over it?

  11. Noah:

    A fairy tale film, based on a fairy tale story, from a fairy tale book.

    An enjoyable film experience!

  12. In an age where mysticism reigns interesting that the unbeliever and unsaved are so mystified. In the Acts age a man was transported from one geographical area to another. Jesus Himself walked through a wall into the room and in fact without any other means necessary rose into the sky to the Jewish God’s right hand, “waiting from that time onward for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet.” Jesus walked on water and if that is not enough picked up a grown man and put him into the boat because he was afraid and unbelieving. Jesus fed thousands with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish.
    If you bother to read the NOah story you can see that Noah and his fam went on board first and the other critters came into him. It was God Himself who brought and herded those living things He commanded to be brought on board onto the Ark. As believers we understand that with God, “ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.” Unfortunately for those who continue in their unbelief regarding His Son Jesus Ch…

  13. So what happened to the humans born before Jesus? Were they out of luck?

    What about the 3 year old Chinese kid, who unfortunately dies? Is the kid out of luck?

    What about the Jews, who are the chosen race, they don’t believe Jesus is the son of Jehovah?

    Are the Jews out of luck? How can they be the chosen race if they are out of luck and don’t believe?

    What about the Muslims? Are they out of luck too?

    How about Adam, Eve, Cain and Able?

    Cain and Able, who did they impregnate to propagate the species? Incest?

    What about the men in the bible who had hundreds of wives? Are they against god?

    And why didn’t Jesus ever discuss homosexuality if it is such a sin?

    The bible says “slaves be true to your masters” so does God endorse slavery? He must.

    So the bible got slavery wrong, so what’s up with that?

    What about Leviticus? The writers of Leviticus has serious mommy issues.

    The bible, and religion is a joke, and there is no invisible sky wiza…

  14. “How long can you tread water.” Hey, Cosby has as much right to the Noah story as anyone. Maybe even more than some.

  15. Scott, many on the “left” go to church every Sunday and believe in Jesus, not every Democrat is an atheist just as every person on the right is not a Christian.

    Get out in the world and see for yourself.

  16. I heard about one place in far deep South, there is a certain small group of extremely religious people picketed outside of the movie theater during Noah’s premiere.

    They’re joke. They’re embarrassing us. They’re kidding themselves for acting like they’re expecting the special treatment from the government, from us, and from the world. Its as if we owe them everything but nothing from them for us…

    No wonder Catholic is taking realistic steps to get attach with reality and move on forward.

  17. In the Jewish faith its considered a sin to take the bible literally -that’s why we find fundies so completely dumb

  18. Are you suggesting that the story of Noah and his Ark is true?

    If so, are you also suggesting that Methuselah lived 969 years? How does that work if the world is only 6 thousand years old? Did he date your mother?

  19. Do they also boycott The Ten Commandments on ABC every year. Oh, wait. ABC is Disney, and therefore – teh gayz. Never mind.

  20. It’s nice that you have your faith in the Bible. That’s what faith is. An absolute belief in something that is otherwise not tangible. I think you have every right to believe what you do even if I might not agree with your beliefs or your faith.

    What I don’t understand is that you are upset that other people have faith in things that are different than what you have faith in. How does my faith in my beliefs harm you?

    Prayer in school? We probably disagree. If we’re going to say “yes” to it, then we need to say the “Hail Mary”. That works for you, right?

  21. If all things are possible for your god, why do children starve to death? What kind of monster watches children starve to death if he has the power to feed them?

  22. As always, the religious reich starts to scream “Persecution!” whenever anyone disagrees with their horrible distorted version of reality.

    It’s time to stop worrying about putting christ back in Christmas and start putting christ back into christians. But that would destroy their entire world view and vanquish their “religion”.

  23. God is far too busy responding to conflicting prayers for sports teams to bother with starving children.

  24. He doesn’t micromanage man. At worst it’s because He is a machination of humanity. He does instruct us to care for the poor.

  25. Its just a movie for Gods sake, get of your high horse and join society for improving life for everyone instead of tearing everyone down, There are a million porn movies made every year I didn’t see any one, single even one of them out, hypocrites!

  26. Well I see by the weather report ol’ God is really punishing Mississippi today! Must be because of their new set of racist backward laws they just passed.

  27. Scott, yes and it never ceases to amaze me how the right demands that this fantasy they believe must be accepted without any debate whatsoever. There is no proof of any kind of what this whole controversy is about yet all the Christian Reich wing continues to keep making up more and more excuses about a FANTASY!.And your claim that the left keeps commenting and complaining about “things they do not believe in” is an asinine assumption because you are unable to accept the fact that the left can be just as religious but they don’t force it on others.

  28. Not only the Bible but any and all religious texts are nothing more than mere fabrications of minds who at that time had no other way of explaining the world around them. If these so called “miracles” or “acts of God” were to happen today “as some do” then we with our superior knowledge and science could without ANY doubt see them for exactly what they are. Belief in this fantasy of God and the divine is simply and positively the easiest refuge of weak minds who lack the humanity to accept humanity. Those who believe are easy to deceive!

  29. And most of the right wing rejects taking care of the poor. They are too busy making a big deal about nothing like stupid movies that are not meant to be taken seriously and gay marriage.

    But you have to your priorities straight though, right? Those heathens don’t deserve help anyway.

    (I am not accusing you personally of anything since I do not know you. However this is the attitude that most right-wingers have.)

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