(08d) Noah - understanding the story?
A few months ago, the film 'Noah' came out in cinemas. I haven't seen the movie but the film started some discussions about Noah's role whereby people question whether he was 'the good guy' as I ones did. And although I wrote already about Noah, as I think I now start to understand the story I write something more worked out (I never imagined I would ever feel the need to try to explain these stories in the hope it may prevent some people from following extremists although, it can be dangerous reading others explanation in some countries). Of course, my interpretation can be wrong (up to you to decide). Here I go ...
|Ark of Noah?|
Summary of the storyThe story of Noah is about a person who built a large boat to survive according to the story the biggest flood ever on Earth and this together with some family members and seven pairs of ritually clean and one pair of ritually unclean animals of each species. The flood was ordered by God to destroy the 'wicked'. Similar stories are told in other cultures (see an earlier post), thus we can be quite sure sometimes major disasters struck earth although it may be 'only part of the Earth'. But, as other people do, I always wondered why it seems Noah didn't warn other people about what was going to happen. If indeed, as suggested by the Old Testament, he was a good person, why didn't he warn everyone to change their behaviour so the punishment of God could be prevented? I always thought he was a selfish guy who only thought about his own escape. But, I may have been wrong.
The pastImportantly, it seems not many people survived, first the wars and later, as what is described as punishment for the wickedness of most people, The Flood. Therefore, not many could inform us whether Noah warned the people or not and what exactly he told them. But if indeed he was building the largest boat ever build in those days, people surely would have asked him why he was building it so he had to explain and maybe others too started building (i.e. the people who were able to describe some of the story). Probably many helped him building the boat (unless you believe he built it alone during his very long lifetime of 950 years (is a comma missing?)) but as today, ordinary people were probably not mentioned. It is also possible he didn't build anything; then it is only a story that never happened and thus people should not waste time questioning why he didn't warn the people of the coming danger; they should simply enjoy the movie. Still, other stories of floods in that region exist while during human history major wars erupted, often together with natural disasters such as plaques, famines and flooding or draughts.
Assuming the story happened then I think he probably worn his fellow people but they didn't listen and thus he might have given up warning them and simply went ahead building his boat while most people continued their daily business until the coming disaster became obvious to everyone. Maybe he even stayed quiet because he didn't want to disturb people too much as the disaster couldn't be stopped although he may have warned the leaders to prepare who may have refused and even try to benefit. Indeed, although the references to the events leading to the flood are very short in the Bible, extra pieces of the story are written in what is known as the 'Book of Enoch'. Enoch is only briefly mentioned in the official books as a good person. But when reading the other stories about Noah's great-grandfather Enoch and his family, one can wonder whether people were not warned (although if people only stick to books that are officially approved then of course they can never accept that other stories may exist that explain more). It seems Enoch already told people to behave differently, still people followed their kings and their siblings in the destruction of the Earth and wars against cousin kings for more land and power and thus many men died in war; even kings mourned their children as the elder didn't fight and thus died after their own children (similarly with stories in India). Because, during wars ordinary people can't choose although often support their leaders: they have to fight and kill others with the risk of being killed or they are killed by their own people if they refuse to fight. And I can imagine that when people noticed things started going wrong, people started fighting.
Earlier (Gen. 6.1), the Old Testament mentions that heavenly creatures descended to Earth and had off-spring with human women who became leaders while this should not have happened as they did this for their own benefit. Read the stories of many civilisations (e.g. Greece, India, ...) to know that these half gods (or giants, often kings) often abused ordinary women (and men) while they started wars as they wanted to expand their own powers and thus didn't protect people but used them; in addition they taught humans to do evil such as cheating for own benefit but also to serve the master, even in war. Gen. 6.4 mentions 'In those days, and even later, there were giants ...', indicating that also others than Noah survived the flood. Also later in history, emperors, kings and queens and nobility but also religious leaders mostly married family members so power remained within the family while they abused people. Still, they continued fighting each other to gain more power, often encouraged by the religious elite and this in the name of their God. As a result, ordinary people suffered as they had to fight or suffered from abuses by soldiers but also because of food shortages as they could hardly farm while soldiers took the food instead of protecting the people.
And thus, although members of one family ruled different kingdoms, people often didn't benefit from this. According to the stories of Enoch, God seems to have told Enoch that those who should have looked after the people for their well-being and use new knowledge for the good of the people and not to suppress them, they and their off-spring will never find peace in their heart and suffer for eternity for what they caused to ordinary people, although many ordinary people learned willingly. Indeed, powerful people often used new knowledge for their own advantage during power struggles between family members of (different) kingdoms and not to advance society and often even blocked progress as that would reduce their powers (e.g. the Church condemned many scientists because knowledge would liberate people and reduce the Church's powers). Also ordinary people can block progress although this is often because they are not educated and listen to those who abuse their powers to remain in power. In addition, many nobility have to tolerate each other while ambitions prevent many become real friends.
The present - and compareMore importantly, it is quite similar with our society. Indeed, if God exist, then in the past He warned people via prophets about coming disasters as people didn't have enough knowledge yet to know what could happen. One of the last prophesies about the future were the Revelations. Today we know and thus no longer need prophets to warn us about climate change and the destruction of the environment as scientists warn us via media while the knowledge allows us to change our behaviour. But, as in the past, many people prefer to listen to deniers.
1. EnvironmentIndeed, for at least 20 years scientists (today's prophets who collect the knowledge to understand for ourselves) are warning politicians and everyone else about climate change and the environmental loss and warn we should change our habits because we can't continue living like we do. They predict we have to stop the further warming of our planet because otherwise there will be disasters although scientists also try to develop solutions. They predict wars because land will disappear as sea levels rise while harvests will be destroyed and thus migrations of large numbers of people will happen (what many won't like but may already have started while a storm forces a million people out of their homes, something difficult to repeat each year). In the end, the number of people will reduce until a new steady state is reached in a warmer world with cleaner oceans due to the waters from the melted ice. Still, many continue as before, denying that the worst may come upon us (although it may already be too late) and prefer to listen to oil, gas and nuclear companies that claim there are no alternatives for centralised energy (even uranium is limited and what about its waste?). Indeed, often the problems are certain powerful people (leaders) who should give the example by accepting science and by changing their behaviour so ordinary people will follow instead of denying the science and celebrating more profits. But scientists are often called boring who live in an ivory tower while the rest of the people claim to live in the real world. Indeed, many scientists are more introvert and often not very good communicators but that doesn't mean they do not enjoy life while they even study the world in more details. Worst are the scientists with business interests (or those linked to religious institutions who speak about "the-end-of-the-world-is-near" - see further) as they know the statistics and thus are guilty of giving people ill advice by claiming scientists are manipulative and liars or blame others (such as animals or even human rights) so they can continue to enrich themselves. Some may do this because they really convince themselves nothing is happening but many don't mind because when the poles are melted there will be many benefits for some, such as easier access to fossil fuels. As they are rich and powerful, they may hope they will be able to continue buying food when prices are high or escape wars and disasters while continue business-as-usual afterwards and thus many hope others will suffer when destruction comes. Probably in Noah's time, people also destroyed their environment (earlier Adam and Eve had to leave Paradise after they destroyed it) and when people were told of the coming dangers, people may first have denied it while later may have panicked and done even more evil by fighting each other instead of working together. As in Noah's time when people saw him building his boat, today people know via news and science but refuse to listen.
And leaders do know as the article about Miami shows although also other cities have a similar fate. Although its leaders already experience the city becomes more difficult to manage, they pretend they don't know so people from outside continue to move to the city and buy property; as a result house prices continue to increase and the leaders get richer. The complete absence of anything to slowdown the coming disaster shows they have given up the city and area. But in the (near) future, when salt water from the ocean may mix with drinkable water (thus even without flooding), you can be sure many leaders will abandon the city except probably those who warned about the future but were ignored because those people love their city and thus may try to help the people for as long as possible. Elsewhere the destruction of the Amazon is probably already resulting in less rainfall such as in Sao Paulo.
Another example is Owen Paterson who blamed the 'green blob' for his removal from his position as environmental secretary, claiming PM Cameron bowed for their pressure. Indeed, he denies that climate change is human-made (even after the worst flooding in decades at the start of 2014 in his country but also in other countries) and is a strong advocate of fracking (= more gas) who doesn't like people who oppose this while he refuses to accept there may be better solutions. Even now he continues preaching against the UK's Climate Change Act although he also faces resistance. But also other leaders seem to start to ignore the warnings by scientists and even nature as e.g. the EU no longer considers the oil sands in Canada more polluting than other oils and thus the pressure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline will further increase until it will be built and we remain dependent on fossil fuels but also continue to contribute to climate change. Or tax breaks are given to oil companies in return for their support. In addition, developed countries demanded during recent climate talks that developing countries also contribute more to tackle climate change and thus probably little will happen while developed countries should give an example by investing more and not less in new energy technologies as proof we believe in them so that developing countries will also embrace them (but it may also be a way to continue keeping those countries poor). But even if climate change is nonsense, we still should protect the further destruction of the environment before even more species disappear.
2. Economic crisisSimilarly with the financial and economic crisis. Many independent economists say we can't continue as we do and that we have to change the way we do economy. They say resources are limited while incomes become too imbalanced, therefore we should rethink our economy such as redistribution. But others claim we should continue spending (even when debts were one of the reasons for the crisis) because otherwise our economy will shrink while they claim governments should reduce their spending. They continue to claim that there should be no cap on what the rich can earn while making it more difficult for smaller companies to get a loan for investments or to pay bills. They claim that the unemployed should find a (low paid) job (or two) or their benefits should be removed while at the same time they continue firing people to maximise their own profits; still, many people prefer to listen to them and may suffer as a consequence if they loose their job. As many people are unsure, they stop buying and going to bars or restaurants, slowing down the economy even further. During the past six-seven years, we could have forced changes to the financial and economic system, and the European Parliament and other countries tried (a little) including changes to the banking system but also a cap on bonuses. But this was not enough as the financial system continues to look for ways to continue cheating (legally) to be able to pay a few even more while advises other big businesses how to cheat (legally). There are also politicians who defend that only a few receive large bonuses (for their failures) while explain why ordinary people should make sacrifices. As nothing changed (including the reasons for the first financial crisis while those who misbehaved are not in prison and many are even richer than before the crisis), we may be heading to another one as at this moment (again) shares are going down and even the British PM warns us about a second global crash. At the same time, investments in for instance healthcare and research are being reduced as some economists demand (ill people are too expensive) but during a next crisis, we may spend again more money on saving banks (that do not live) so that even less may remain for further healthcare while a global fear for pandemics is growing, which may or may not happen. But also benefits, pensions, education (for living people) may receive further cuts while they need to be reformed - on condition everyone contributes by paying their full taxes, thus also the powerful.
And these financial troubles are having an effect even on countries. Indeed, a number of countries are starting to fall apart because of increased tensions between different groups of people who have to find compromises on how to solve the problems. In Ukraine people are already killing each other while Scotland organised a referendum on independence and Catalonia is planning to do so. Also in Belgium there were a number of strike actions because they disagree with the policies of the current government whereby the north-south divide becomes clear again. Greece needs to organise new elections as disagreement with Europe about austerity causes divisions within the country and this already caused knock-on effects in other European countries. Badly managed, this can lead to severe civil unrest and even dictatorships. Also the USA starts to have civil unrest because unequally becomes too large.
For instance, Argentina is for the second time in a few years almost bankrupt, not because it doesn't pay its debts but because an American judge decided who should be paid first (i.e. a hedge fund from his own country) while those psychopaths refuse any restructuring of debts as they don't mind the collapse of a whole country as long as they get their money. It seems President Obama can interfere to help Argentina but either is too weak or plays the game of the psychopaths although probably thinks he defends the US interest. However, why is it not the independent International community who decides how Argentina should pay its debts, or at least a country that is not involved? Indeed, the UN should be the highest authority on this planet who can judge who is to blame, who should pay who and how while all countries should have decision power (thus no veto). Why are misbehaving bankers (I use bankers to indicate high-level people working in the financial sector such as traders) not stopped so the good ones can continue working for society because now they all get a bad name? At least a woman, i.e. the Argentinian President Fernández de Kirchner, dares to stand up against these hedge funds, even when she may know it may have serious consequences (for herself and her country). Read above and this article well to understand that also other countries (including European) and even normal banks and investors are suffering from those hedge funds packed with psychopaths who can only think about nobody else than themselves and therefore behave in this way to make themselves richer at the expense of others. It is normal that (developing) countries have debts as they need money in order to develop (compare with ordinary people who need a mortgage in order to buy a house). Thus, after Argentina, which countries will follow - Greece, Italy, Portugal, ... ? Still, because few in the financial sector demand reforms of the sector, they accept that certain individuals continue to misbehave and disturb the overall markets and even endanger the existence of banks and thus the savings of people as well as the jobs of ordinary people working at those banks - as long as bonuses are paid. In the end, the whole financial sector may end up under the authority of society to prevent any future misbehaviour.
What is happening with Argentina may become something every country on this planet may face ones TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) may come into force. Maybe Argentina is simply an experiment to understand where the system needs further improvement. What I understand when I read about it is that TTIP is designed to destroy democracies as corporations (big businesses) can overrule democratic decisions when they consider they are bad for their business by suing governments before an arbitration panel composed of corporate lawyers, i.e. lawyers who work for companies. It seems they already forced countries to pay large compensations when e.g. oil companies are forced to stop drilling when they break the law (while of course, companies should be forced to pay when they break the law) or because companies are not allowed to pollute drinking water. Of course, also countries need to act within the law. This Partnership seems to be written behind closed doors, maybe brainstormed during Bilderberg meetings when many of the powerful come together for what I can't believe is only for fun. And be sure, if those concerns are real and some politicians and businesspeople continue working together and agree to destroy the jurisdiction of countries in favour of arbitration panels, then we can be sure they will one day be accounted for it. If Europe agrees to this, big businesses will destroy small companies and this will result in the final chapter of Europe. Because if this goes wrong and causes troubles in many countries, than never ever will other countries allow Europe to rise again because that would mean again troubles. But also the USA will be kept much less important than it is now. There is indeed nothing wrong that judges from other countries or even international organisations such as the EU or UN judge deals between companies and countries, but no private person or organisation should be able to be larger than countries or even international organisations.
3. ReligionsBut also certain powerful religious people don't want to listen, on the contrary, they hope all evil will come on this planet because they believe they will profit from it - how wrong they probably are. They talk about the will of God and that we will be punished for not following it while He warned us not to behave stupid so a good planet can arise. They talk about God's will but over the millenia, each time someone was born who could explain things differently (e.g. the Earth moves around the Sun instead of the reverse), religious people tried to destroy those people because the new knowledge ridiculed their believes. Of course, there were mavericks amongst scientists - after all they too are only humans with ambitions - still many continued finding the truth, even when it could cause their death and as a result, there was progress although often progress was stopped and sometimes even reversed. Even today some religious people prefer to (human) sacrifice their own child in the name of religion instead of allowing doctors to cure it (e.g. give life-saving blood) because they hope for a miracle although society no longer accepts the death of a child so its parents can go to heaven. Already in a number of countries religious fundamentalists are fighting as they notice their powers are slipping away but also to proof their god they don't mind dying for him instead of embracing everyone.
When things go wrong, we can almost be sure that even today, those who ridiculed scientists will claim God punishes the world because than they don't have to admit mainly humans are guilty for the collapse of the system as already today some religious people claim God will punish because we defend human rights. Then, many people may turn again to religion and pray day and night to their gods to end the nightmares (as people do in Ebola hid areas) while fight those who don't agree with them, certainly when troubles may suggest God exist. But, history has to happen as predicted when we don't change our behaviour as no god wants to change the rules of nature. And thus climate change will happen as it should happen while during that time, many humans will blame others or settle businesses. Also not acting against corrupt bankers will teach us rules need to be obeyed. In the end, things will probably calm down and we will live in another world while understand even better the laws of nature and change our behaviour to prevent that similar disasters will happen again in the near future. And thus we will work on a sustainable future based on well build houses and use of solar, wind and water energy at a local level that will make us almost independent from producers and will benefit the whole planet. Already many people are changing by accepting that climate change and its consequences may be our own making; this also means that in future we can do something about it while if the change is only due to a natural process than even a change in our behaviour can't prevent it happening again. Indeed, many people already install equipment that is able to produce renewable energies although, since the crisis started, a number of governments reduced investments in renewables (so that those who may be able to save us are loosing their jobs) while promoting 'clean' fossil fuels such as fracking and other gasses so the big industries can continue earning money. If only religious people may survive, they may write a similar story as people who wrote about Noah although the ending may be different as in those days God promised He would never flood the whole world again. Indeed, when climate change hits, landslides may break gas pipes, resulting in major fires. So yes, God may exist and may have warned us in advance as He knows the sciences but also understand humans; as some of us will never listen to reason while many will follow those idiots, the end result can be predicted, as God but also scientists do. Still, religious people may be furious because of what may happen while non-religious people, those who became angry with a God who allowed so much evil on this world, may again believe.
But not all religious people are similar as the remarkable new pope Francis is planning to release an encyclical about climate change but resistance is expected from leading Catholic conservatives but also from powerful evangelical groups in the USA. After his earlier unexpected criticism for the refusal of quick change by the Vatican Cury, he is making enemies who may one day ask his conservative predecessor (and still pope) to lead them again (resulting in a chasm that may destroy the RCC; indeed God's ways are inscrutable ...). But maybe even pope Benedict may have softened or everyone may follow him.
For many years people who know much more than me about climate change and economy have warned about the explosive mix where we are heading to. But because religious fundamentalists have scared people so often with warnings about the-end-of-the-world, people are fed up with it and no longer believe it may happen as the progress is slow. Unfortunately, wherever we read the news, there are flooding as well as droughts and species disappear at an unprecedented scale while the economy is in titters worldwide and probably will only get worse because little changed, certainly when the numbers of revolutions and destruction by climate change continue to increase. We should reorganise and redistribute work so most have work while workload decreases, and of course, the big earners should redistribute more than others. But who listens? And thus now I understand Noah when it seems he was silent and continued building his boat. I no longer try to talk about it with family or friends because they are fedup with it but also because I can't change it and thus let people enjoy their life until troubles start. When I tell people it is too risky to buy a house as the economy is in too much troubles, they say investors claim it is not that bad and indeed, prices go up. So, I stay silent and hope the others are right when they claim everything can only get bigger and larger and our resources will never end and ... . Thus, I try to keep silent, also because I don't want to be known as 'doomsday man' because I didn't cause the crisis, that were the 'doomsday men'. In addition, I am only a little person who gets his information from specialists and via reasoning and when people even don't listen to them, why would they listen to me. As many people don't want to change their behaviour until they feel the punishment, I try to think about the organisation of a sustainable future, the time after both the change in climate and humans may have killed many as well as have destroyed economies worldwide (although climate change may also rescue ordinary people from the powerful). Still, the change in people's mind has already started, especially with younger people who are calling for a fairer society.