By Blogger Dr. Karin Heller
I’ve got a couple of questions for you. If Noah took two of every kind of animal on the ark, what happened to the dinosaurs? Were they alive before Noah’s time or did Noah decide not to take them? Is the week that God took to create the earth actually a span of over thousands of years? If so, does that mean that the dinosaurs were all killed because of the flood instead of a meteorite like kids are taught in school?
The Noah story has been handed down in two versions, one from the 5th century B.C. and the other much older (perhaps the 8th century B.C). At this time, people did not know about the dinosaurs and a meteorite killing them. This is a 20th century hypothesis. The biblical authors wrote with the knowledge of their time. Their purpose was not to cover such hypotheses. The Noah and the creation stories come from the writers’ imagination. They are similar to Walt Disney productions with one exception – the creation and the Noah stories contain a highly theological message. We are called to explore this theological message and embrace it with FAITH!
The week spoken about in Genesis 1 is symbolic for ALL the time which exists between the beginning of this universe and the end of time. God creates EVERY WEEK and EVERY DAY and stars, plants, animals and human beings! Every day he has his lights overcome the darkness of the night. Even at the end of time God will create a new heaven and a new earth (Is 66:22; Rev 21:1). The question if this week was 1,000 years long or something else is not a good question because the biblical authors think in other categories than we do today! The narratives of creation and Noah’s ark have THEOLOGICAL meanings. Therefore, if you want to dig deeper into the message convened in these narratives, you’ll have to change your reading method and come to the Bible with the RIGHT questions. Often in the gospels, Jesus corrects people when they do not come to him with the right questions! For example the young rich man comes to Jesus and asks, “Master what good deed must I do to possess eternal life?” Jesus does not give him an answer right away, because he is off track with his question! To put him on track, Jesus confronts him with another question and says, “Why do you ask me about what is good?” (Matt 19:16-17). Learn to come to the Bible with questions that are on track!
Dr. Karin Heller is a professor on the theology faculty at Whitworth University.Her blog, Table Talk with Dr. Karin Heller, features her responses to questions that students have asked her over the years. Check back each week to see new posts, and if you have a question leave it in the comment section below!