Some answers to questions that won't get answered

One of the things I try to do with this blog is to vent a little bit before and after I speak at Large Group. I can write things on here that will end up getting cut from a talk (either to make the talk more clear or less long).

Tomorrow night, we'll be looking at the Noah story from Genesis 5-9. We'll be focusing on God's wrath and mercy, so I'll be cutting out a lot of the more familiar apologetical material. If you're curious, here are some answers to questions that won't get answered in tomorrow night's talk:

What's the deal with the sons of God and the daughters of men?
The inter-mingling of the sons of God and the daughters of men is mentioned in the run-up to the flood, possibly as one of the reasons for God's flooding of the earth.

There are three commonly-held theories as to why this inter-mingling might have prompted a response from God.

First, some say that the sons of God were fallen angels and that their pro-creating with human women led to the creation of giants, the Nephilim.

Second, some say that the sons of God were the leaders of the ancient world (who were evil men) and that their reproducing was leading to more and more evil being spread throughout the world.

Third, some say that the sons of God were the descendants of Seth and that they were mixing with their God-disrespecting Cainite distant cousins.

So, what's the deal? We don't know for sure. I lean toward the second option, but could be argued to the first pretty easily. What do you think?

What does it mean that man's days will be one hundred and twenty years?
There are two theories on this. One theory is that the flood will come in a hundred and twenty year, the clock's ticking.

Another theory, paying attention to the fact that men's ages are dwindling, proposes that God sets a lifespan limit on humanity: no one gets to live past 120.

I lean toward the first, since there are clearly lots of people who lived past 120 in the post-flood Biblical record (although the life-spans do dwindle rapidly and significantly in the Biblical record).

How did Noah fit every animal on the ark?
Well, no one knows for sure, but here are some things that might help...

First, he didn't have to fit every animal, only two of every kind of animal (plus the one's for sacrificing). Speciation could take care of the rest.

Second, he didn't have to take mature animals on the ark. A baby elephant takes up much less room than an adult (a dinosaur egg, even less so).

Third, average animal size is probably smaller than we think. The average dinosaur was Cinco's size (our beloved puggle). Some estimate that only 20% of the animals on the ark would be larger than a sheep.

Fourth, the ark might be bigger than you imagine (or see in kids stories). At 450ft long and 75ft wide and three stories tall, it'd have (break out the calculator here) over 101000 sq. ft. That's a lot of space for what proves to be, if you bank on speciation, a small number of animals (something like 30,000).

How big was the flood?
Some say it was a local flood, others that it was world-wide. Logically, it's a lot easier to believe in a local flood. Exegetically, that doesn't make a lot of sense. God promised that he would do whatever he did again. That makes it sound a lot more epic and cataclysmic than a local flood.

What about other flood stories in ancient literature?
So what? If it really happened, wouldn't you expect other cultures to write about it? Gilgamesh should be seen as confirmation, not competition.

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