Most of my problems with religion can be traced back to when I was a small child and no one would give me a clear answer about Noah’s ark. I went to church every week with my family but church isn’t set up so that you can get answers. The Catholic mass is all about the priest standing up on the altar and reading you stuff. Then he explains the stuff he just read to you and that is his sermon. At no time can you raise your hand in the air and say, “But last week you told us something totally different”. It is all about them telling you stuff and not about you asking.

Since I attended public school I also went to catechism classes. Once a week I would go to the local Catholic school and get instruction in the basics of Catholicism. This is how the public school kids get to make all of the necessary childhood sacraments that the Catholic school kids make. Still no one had an answer about Noah’s Ark.

I was a pretty savvy kid story telling wise. I had watched plenty of TV just like everyone else and I was a huge fan of comic books. In my youth it was Marvel Comics in particular that I liked and a big part of Marvel Comics was continuity. All continuity really means is that the stories have to make sense. They have to make sense not only in the context of the issue you are reading immediately but with last issue and an issue from a year before. So if Spider-Man has can stick to a wall in issue fifty he should still be able to stick to a wall in issue fifty two and if he can’t there should be an explanation. That’s all continuity is. Consistency. So inconsistencies were always noticed by me.

Enter Noah’s ark. What is the most basic question on any ten years old’s mind about Noah’s ark? How did he get all those animals on the boat? You know what I am talking about; two of every animal. That is a big task and knowing how big the world is, even at ten, I knew it was an impossible task. So how did he get all those animals onto the boat?

The one thing I learned growing up in the Catholic church is that it is a very authoritarian structure. No one votes on anything and proclamations are handed down from on high. As a consequence most answers are, “because I said so”. This is true for a child more than any other. No grown up wants to discuss theology with a kid and answer messy questions about the nature of God. There are plenty of messy questions about religion in general but, for me, they all start with, “How did Noah get all of those animals onto the boat”?

The most common answer given to my young self was, “God helped him”. Now we are back to continuity. If God helped him then why did he have to build the boat in the first place? Why didn’t God help Noah by building the boat in a flash with all the animals already on it?. Because building the boat was a test of faith. A test of faith? Tell Noah that there is a flood coming so he should build a giant hammock. Now that would be a test of faith. Why build the boat at all? Couldn’t God have just lifted up a hunk of land with Noah and all the animals on it and suspended it safely above the flood water. The hammock could be on that hunk of land too. If God is going to give a hand to Noah by bringing all of the animals onto the ark than why didn’t he lend a hand by putting a giant bubble over Noah and the animals to protect them. There are plenty of ways God could have lent a hand that would make a lot more sense to me. Continuity problems. Even as I kid I could see the continuity problems with plenty of stories in the bible and no adult was willing to do any more than pat me on the head and patronize me. That was on the few occasions when there was even a chance to ask questions.

Of course the truth is that Noah’s ark is a story that was made up to teach people a lesson. The lesson was that they should be good people and not bad people. No one is going to tell you this truth as a child, at least no one in my parish told me, and it made me look elsewhere for truth. If they were going to BS me about that most obvious made up story in the bible what else were they going to BS me about? No, I never got along well with the authoritarian approach to the truth. And as college semantics teacher told me,”Ask the same obvious questions that your average five year old would ask and you’ll just get labeled a troublemaker”.