A Thought Experiment
Here are just a few things we could expect and some links showing how they're demonstrably wrong:
1.) We would expect every humans mitochondrial DNA to share a common ancestor around 6000 years ago. And we would expect to see this in the Y chromosome as well. Instead, we see our common ancestors being much older than that. In fact, we have to go back 150,000 years before we all share the same grandmother.
2.) We wouldn't expect humans and apes to share any endogenous retrovirus. Instead, we share at least 19.
3.) We wouldn't expect any Bristlecone Pine trees to predate the biblical flood (2304 B.C.). Instead, we see some of these trees that were supposedly under miles water for 370 days predating the flood by 500 years.
4.) We would expect there to be no written records of the Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans, Grecians, Chinese, etc. before 2304 B.C. In fact, we would expect them to have no cultural history before that time at all. Instead, we see records of their societies forming long before the flood and continuing for thousands of years after the flood.
5.) We wouldn't expect humans to have any atavisms or vestiges. Instead, we're chock full of them.
6.) As birds were made on the fifth day and land animals weren't made until the sixth day we wouldn't expect to find any land animals in the fossil record before birds.
The evidence here is so common and overwhelming I won't bother posting any links. Birds don't show up until the late Cretaceous Period (about 65 million years ago). This would mean that we shouldn't see any land animals (like dinosaurs) before then. But that's not the case at all. We find them far earlier in the Jurassic Period (145 million years ago) and even earlier than that in the Triassic Period (200 million years ago). We also see other land animals (like amphibians and reptiles) living before long before dinosaurs in the Carboniferous Period (300 million years ago).
The idea that birds came before land animals is one of the most obvious blunders of the Genesis account. If the story is meant to be literal - then it's literally wrong. If it's metaphorical - then it gets the metaphor wrong.
If as the wt believes, the flood covered the entire earth to the height of Mt Everest for example, then every living thing aboard the ark would have died from lack of oxygen and/or pulmonary embolism at close to 25,000 ft.I'm not sure this is true. I would just expect the atmosphere to continue sitting on top of the water and Noah and friends would be at sea level pressure. You can still breath even if you're floating over the Mariana Trench (36,000 ft deep - deeper than Mt. Everest is tall). It's not the distance from land that determines pressure. It's the distance from sea level.
Not only is the "vapor" or "water canopy" (as we JWs called it in the 1980s) not representative of the original reading of the ancient Hebrew view of the universe (demonstrated in the chart I uploaded on my last post on this thread), the whole idea that "it never rained on earth until Noah built the ark" and that "the flood was historical" are further Watchtower nonsense that has no support from Biblical scholars, including the majority of those in so-called Christendom.
The idea that the "expanse" or "firmament" was some envelope of water that was later punctured to create the flood and allow the "waters above the expanse (firmament)" to flood the earth in Noah's day would have meant that all of outer space would have flooded down on earth. We wouldn't be here if that was true.
Remember, according to the chart, the cosmological model of the ancient Hebrews did not include a vacuum of space. The vacuum of space was just an ever-extending sea of water in their eyes. The "heaven" where God lives is above this "outer space" of waters. That is why you often read things in the Scriptures such as:
"The Lord sits enthroned over the floodwaters; the Lord sits enthroned—king forever!"--Psalm 29:10.
Even with the latest revision, the New World Translation is still very stilted and the translators apparently didn't care to make the text read as easily as they could (to likely perpetuate the "vapor canopy" belief). NWT has Genesis 1:6 as "'Let there be an expanse between the waters, and let there be a division between the waters and the waters.' Then God went on to make the expanse and divided the waters beneath the expanse from the waters above the expanse. God called the expanse Heaven." Confusing, no?
The Common English Bible on the other hand renders it: "'Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters to separate the waters from each other.” God made the dome and separated the waters under the dome from the waters above the dome. And it happened in that way. God named the dome Sky."
The dome was meant to allow the space for air and life to exist for earth under the vast cosmos of waters that the ancients believed space was filled with. Most eastern cultures even believed water contained all the elements for life and that life was actually drawn from the great cosmos of seas.
This is why 2 Peter 3:5 states: "Heaven and earth were formed long ago out of water and by means of water. And it was through these that the world of that time was flooded and destroyed."
There is circumstantial evidence that because the ancient Mesopotamian cultures were subject to floods that a common flood legend circulated among them. It appears that each claimed the story as original to their own particular ethnic group, and the Hebrews were no different. Subject to a series of doublets, it is quite evident that the Noah story in the Hebrew text developed from a series of redactions that occurred over time.
But it was after the Babylonian exile that the story appears to have become set as we have it today. While it is unclear if the Hebrew's "Noah" figure was a literal man who survived one of the great Mesopotamian floods with his family and a few farm animals (and scholars believe the original story, whichever culture it actually came from, is as simple as that), the Babylonians had a twist that was borrowed and altered the Jewish tale the most.
The official Roman Catholic Bible in the U.S., the NABRE, states the following in a footnote in Genesis 6 about the flood: "The biblical story ultimately draws upon an ancient Mesopotamian tradition of a great flood, preserved in the Sumerian flood story, the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, and (embedded in a longer creation story) the Atrahasis Epic."
The scholarly view is that the Jews recognized the Babylonian tale as their own "Noah" story, and once Babylon fell and they returned to their land, the Jews incorporated the Babylonian details to poke fun at the now defunct Babylonian gods (who were viewed as defeated with the Jewish return to the Fertile Crescent). The details that atheists (and yes, many believing theists too) often point out are impossible to justify (the building of the ark, its size, the idea that two of each animal were saved within, etc.) are the details from the heathen tales added by the Jews to their own after the return from Babylon.
Why would they do this? The theory goes that the idea that the Babylonians would worship gods responsible for destroying the earth by flood (why worship a god who will kill you at whim?) was ridiculous to the Jews. These points got woven into the story to include not only some universality but as a response to these ideas, and with a different ending to make a religious point. In the Jewish story (unlike the others) their God is "sorry" or "regrets" the idea of flooding the world. God promises never to do it again, and even gives the sign of his "bow" hung up in the heavens (showing he will never strike humanity with "arrows") as a promise. Noah and his family, representative of all humanity now, then give God worship in response. The flood story is no longer so much a story of a literal flood therefore as it is a demonstration of the differences between the Hebrew God and that of the Gentiles. The Jewish God is not the kind that destroys like heathen gods. The Hebrew God saves, makes promises to, and cares for creation.
While it appears the Jews and early Christians saw some historical significance to the story, it is difficult to say exact what that could be. Even the comments about it by Jesus and Peter are brief and in connection with a moral lesson in eschatology, employing apocalyptic language in all cases. Though the allegorical view (mixed with a chance of history) won out among Jews and Christians over the generations, the Second Awakening in the United States gave birth to a new "Dark Ages" among the new religious movements, Adventism (the father of JW religion) being one of them.
With this came the literal reading among these new movements that no rain came down on earth until after the flood (since no rain is mentioned in the Bible until then). Rejecting thousands of years of previous theology, the Jehovah's Witnesses are too self-centered in their being "the only true channel" of interpretation to test their exegetical conclusions with both history and critical scholarship.
That makes sense in the face that Jehovah's Witnesses are so uneducated that they believe the word "critical" in this sense means disapproving instead of "analytical" as it is in reference to a method of study.
InjusticeSystem - "What would the evidence show if the Jehovah's Witness' literal reading of Genesis was true?"
A completely different planet.
(This is not a joke.)
InjusticeSystem - "...the idea of trying to prove out the Jehovah's Witness belief system in order to disprove it is something that I have flirted with in the past..."
This, IMO, is one of the more effective ways of debunking WT (and frankly, pretty much all of fundamentalist Christian) theology. It certainly worked for me.
What does it say about a given belief system when virtually all legitimate scholarly efforts to defend it end up actually refuting it?