The love of God and unquestioning reverence for His Holy Word was impressed upon a generation of children in the late-1960s via a rigourous program of indoctrination known as Religious Instruction.
The purpose of Religious Instruction, if faulty memory serves, was to redraft key stories from The Bible in a manner so interesting and exciting to a classroom full of six year olds that they would forget they were missing out on their Saturday morning cartoon shows.
This never worked. It had nothing to do with any disrespect for The Church, nor was it a case of early-onset atheism but because the descriptions proffered by a wide assortment of nuns and priests – supplemented by glossy pamphlets with full-colour illustrations – of the great biblical stories that formed the bedrock of our Devotion and Faith just didn’t ring true.
Almighty God might have been an omnipresent Being of unimaginable majesty, but if The Bible was, indeed, His Word, it seemed that the architect of all Creation wasn’t much of a yarn spinner.
Take the story of Adam & Eve, for instance. From what we could gather from the pictures shown to us, the Garden of Eden was immaculately maintained, right down to the meticulously pruned hedgerows and total lack of weeds. Yet nowhere in The Book of Genesis is any mention made of Adam and/or Eve being qualified horticulturalists. Was there a team of landscape gardeners in the Garden of Eden we weren’t being told about? Did God periodically come down to do some branch lopping?
Then there was the whole bit about The Land of Nod, the bustling city to the east of Eden where Cain was sent after he knocked off his brother Abel. Huh? Where did all these people come from? Who built the place? If Adam & Eve and their sons were the first people in all Creation, how did this biblical suburb suddenly spring into being? Oh, but it was Cain who built the city, the nuns explained. Yeah? So, from where did the contractors come? Who did the plumbing? The building inspections? Where did they get their tools? The Bible says nothing about hardware stores. It didn’t make any sense.
But the big one for us was the legend of Noah and his Ark.
For those who haven’t seen the film, this was when God, angry with how naughty humankind had become, decided to flood the land and start over. He told Noah to build a huge boat (aka, “The Ark”) to house a mating couple from every species of animal, along with his immediate family. They would survive. Everything and everyone else would die.
Wasn’t that a slight overreaction? Rather than speaking only to Noah and destroying the world, surely God could have issued an all-person memo telling everyone to pull their heads in and smarten up or else He’d do them all in with a flood.
As for saving all the animals, Noah was only tasked with providing safe passage for land-dwelling critters. But what about all the fish? Their numbers would have thrived during the flood, putting them at a huge advantage when the other animals hit land and tried to repopulate. Sounds like the beginning of a big bio-diversity problem resulting in fish taking over the planet.
Then there were the sheer logistics involved in Noah building a giant ark – in effect, the world’s first ocean liner – in his front yard. Imagine what a headache such a massive construction job must have been for Noah’s neighbours, not to mention his local council. How many permits would Noah need to build a boat that big? It must have caused havoc with overhead power lines and access to on-street parking.
We admire how God got all the world’s creatures to file into The Ark two-by-two and in such an orderly fashion. Lions didn’t eat lambs, rats didn’t bring disease, mosquitoes didn’t bite anyone, and elephants politely did their business over the side.
What we, as kids, really wanted to know was why Noah didn’t seize upon such a huge business opportunity when he landed on Mount Ararat by opening the world’s first open-range zoo.
Admittedly he wouldn’t have had many customers for the first few hundred years, but just think of the market dominance.
Wow. No commercial competition. What a gift from God.