(08b) 21/12/2012 and Noah
There is a real hype going on: it is almost 21/12/2012, the Maya calender. E.g. in China 500 followers of the Almighty God Christian group were arrested for spreading doomsday fear while some people were attacked; the shooting in America may have links to someone who flipped over that date. Even at work people speak about it. Will it happen or will it not? If it happens then there is kind of proof more than one god exist because even the gods of the Mayans knew the date (not the most friendly gods). If it doesn't happen, many will be disappointed.
What I find unbelievable is that many people focus on certain days: e.g. the year 2000, people calculating when doomsday may be and when nothing happens, they calculate another day and so on until a disaster may happen. Some of these people are dangerous: people who are hopeful it will happen may indeed become very angry when things don't happen and try to make it happen, kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. Of course, one day an earthquake may happen and then people may follow the person who predicted it correctly and thus the person becomes powerful. But will the person be able to predict the next event? If scientists become knowledgeable enough they may start to predict future events before they take place and thus save many lives. But many people who believe those doomsdays deny what scientists say.
The problem is that certain people who speak about these days appear in the media, i.e. newspapers, television, arts, ... . Some people believe, others ridicule. But it is a problem that those religious people always talk about the day disasters may happen (although their own god told them he will not reveal the day before it will happen) but claim to deny climate change science. It is almost as if they want that people don't believe what scientists are telling so troubles will arise and they can gain power. Because many people use religion to gain power.
The irony is that they succeed: ignorant religious people believe whatever religious extremists tell them to do in the hope to go to heaven (can you imagine even today people believe they can go to heaven for not using their brains?). On the other hand, many other people turn away from religion because of those extremists and as a reaction even deny climate change to proof gods don't exist and thus couldn't predict the future. They also say that as nothing happened in the past nothing will happen in the future and thus they can continue as before (e.g. in the UK they used the slogan "God probably doesn't exist, now stop worrying and enjoy your life"). The result is that both groups make things worse by denying.
A third group are people, often younger but also an increasing number of older people, who are worried. This group grows very slowly. Many of these people lived a certain life in the past but acknowledge our behaviour has to change in order to survive. E.g. we can't kill all fish if we want to eat fish in future, nor can we destroy all landscapes if we want to find peace in nature. And thus they try to change their behaviour. But their actions are reversed by an ever larger destructive greed to have it all.
But these "special days" distract from the real issue: climate change. Scientists should have changed tactics long ago. Indeed, climate scientists describe what is written in holy books: there will be disasters such as floods or draughts and the behaviour of people towards each other will be bad. Natural disaster we can't stop, but what I fear most is the human reaction when things go wrong.
I think many scientists feel like Noah: climate scientists warn people of future events while what they predict happen at quite a slow pace and so many influential people deny (e.g. sometimes it is colder while a warmer climate was predicted) and people believe those who promise heaven on earth. These scientists are the new Prophets: warning people but they are not believed or they are ignored and people even do the opposite. I can imagine what happened if Noah's story was true: he built such a large boat that people surely asked why. After a while I think he became fed up with explaining as people found him funny. Then disaster struck.
By the way, the same for the financial crisis: of course the crisis is not that bad because financial institutions tell us it isn't and we want to believe them as the crisis continues and life goes seemingly on because many people hide their poverty while everyone who knows something about being a human and a society that becomes too imbalanced understands how revolts start.
Therefore, when people speak about the Mayan calender I let them speak because either they believe in it as fanatics or they ridicule it. For me, natural disasters can't be stopped. But for me it is more about science that warned about things that we could have avoided. I find it boring to talk about something if we don't want to change our behaviour; I think in silence about ways to have a better future because I no longer want to be ridiculed by family, friends and others when I speak that we can't continue living as we do. On the other hand, I would prefer not to think too much about this, then I would be able to enjoy life much more; thus I try to stay silent so I don't remove the fun of life although we could learn again to enjoy life in small things. But sometimes I feel like a traitor for not speaking more after reading another article while I continue to be upset with those causing the financial and climate crisis because that could be changed if people were less greedy and more willing to share. Nevertheless, I hope I am wrong and that next year will be better than ever before.
Noah - possible interpretations.
|Noah's ark? Is that a pigeon in the sky? On the right the olive branch?|
As I wrote earlier, also Greek mythology mention a story about a large flood that wiped out humanity because humans were very evil, always making war.
Also Mesopotamian mythology mention a flood in the Epic of Atrahasis and Epic of Gilgamesh. It is thought Gilgamesh lived in about the 26th century BC and he was the first king of Ur. His story was written down for the first time around 2100-2000 BC and describes him as a man, two-third god, one-third human. The story also speaks about a large deluge killing human kind because the world became too overcrowded and humans too bad behaved. Here too one man and his family were saved; his name was Atrahasis, meaning Extremely Wise. The main difference is that more gods were involved, one destroying humankind, the other saving one person and his family who could repopulate the world. But then, each society had its own gods that gave their blessings or curses.
Even scientists now think flood stories may have happened (it would be strange if they didn't happen; e.g. in Pakistan last year an area as large as Germany and France was flooded, that means the whole world if you're in the middle). I heard two explanations of what may have happened. Indeed, not many historians believe the whole world flooded but there is evidence the region experienced large floods.
* It seems three major floods occurred in the region between 3500 and 2600 BC. A documentary reconstructed what could have happened to produce the Mesopotamian stories. The film mentions a powerful man, a trader who had a boat to transport his goods. The boat was on a river and very loaded; the owner waited for the melt water to come from the mountains after winter so the boat could float. However, one year there may have been a storm together with the melting of the ice, causing heavy flooding, certainly if the bad weather lasted for seven days according to the story. Archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley found evidence for flooding around that time. During this flood one can imagine many people died while the boat drifted away over the river and sea. The story of Noah is written around 500 BC during the exile of the Jews. One can imagine them rewriting the story for themselves. More can be read here. Others think early Hebrews lived in that region during the floods and thus described the events.
* A few years earlier I saw a documentary about another possible explanation, and this was due to climate change. Indeed, almost 10,000 years ago came the last ice age to an end. This caused large amounts of ice to melt that flooded into the oceans. Back to the Mediterranean area. Here we have the Mediterranean Sea and a little further the Black Sea, at that time a Black Lake filled with freshwater. Between both was the Bosporus valley. This article describes it well. It describes that melt water increased water level in the Mediterranean Sea until it flooded over the land into the Black Lake, filling it with sea water. The article describes the flooding will be less severe than the biblical flooding; however I can imaging that the flooding caused water spreading over a very large area before retreating back to lower levels. And if people lived close to the lake, they might have been surprised. Water doesn't need to rise too much to kill many as tsunamis teach us. In New Scientist I read that over 8000 years ago a large glacial lake in Canada burst and the water rushed suddenly in the Atlantic Ocean, shutting down the Gulf Stream and cooling the earth. All this water coming into the Ocean would have caused tsunamis and increased water levels, maybe causing flooding in many parts of the world. The problem to connect both stories is the time difference of more then 1000 years, although one can image that at the end of the ice age similar events happened. Further, although in the past people past stories from one generation to another by telling them, it is quite a large time frame before writing them down. Maybe that explains why so little details are written down as large parts were forgotten. Further, the Bible describes that afterwards people wandering about in the East later moved towards Babylonia. If this event occurred then certainly people in the East could replace the people that died in the West. Although such an event was probably too powerful to survive in a boat. Nevertheless, for those who don't believe in gods, we can image Noah as the first scientist, thinking that the water on the other side started to become quite high while people lived at the lower area.
Whether or not these events happened, I find it interesting how these stories encourage humans to research, ask questions and try to find answers, either to proof the stories are correct or to proof them false. I love these stories as often mythology tries to find an explanation in beautiful stories how things unfold although today we think those people were stupid because they believed in gods and strange animals and therefore we forget that gods were used to explain why certain things happened. We can read those stories and enjoy them and try to find what was real and what was not. It informs us of disasters and how people lived.
Those stories also show our evolution: great people in the past could certainly not be humans and thus they had to be gods. But, real gods can't die and wouldn't like to live amongst mere mortals, thus later powerful people could only be halfgods. Then, important people were send by gods, either to do good or bad. Later on some people were born with a gift they could use for the good or bad. Today people work hard to become important, helped by others and having a gift while maybe in future, as already happens, people will claim they became important by means of hard work without any help (the so-called Masters of the Universe). But people forget that circumstances also determine our future: being born in the West was an almost certainty of being wealthier and having more opportunities. Further, we have forgotten to thank others for their help to become who we want to be. E.g. without teachers we wouldn't be able to read or calculate and thus our future would be much bleaker.