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My Story So Far...


MrBungle
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Hey everybody, I read this site almost daily but post only rarely. Not sure why, probably because most of you usually say what I’m thinking anyway. Anyhow I’ve never really posted my story here and I’m starting to feel like I should, I kind of want to get it out anyway.

 

Like most of you I went to church as a child, while my parents didn’t go my sister and I were taken to church by our grandparents and as early as I can remember we went to Sunday school and vacation bible school. I accepted Jesus for the first time when I was 5 at vacation bible school, at the time I knew it was important but I did not fully understand what I was doing or what I was committing myself to… I’m not sure that anyone at the age of 5 really has the ability to grasp any sort of life changing decisions.

 

At about the age of 6 my family moved north away from my grandparents and my sister and I stopped attending church except a few times a year when my mom felt she needed to go. I really have no recollection of my dad being too committed at that point in time. It would be another 6 years before Christianity would really take hold of my family and change all of our lives forever. While my dad was away on deployment for 6months on the USS Nimitz he became a Christian and changed his life drastically. I remember when he left he was like every other dad I knew, drank beer, cussed when he got mad. When he came back it was like he had started a transformation into a new person. He read the bible for hours on end, and started taking the whole family to church every weekend. It was then that things started changing; we were raised to believe there was a god but never really taught anything about God, so we were all easy targets. It wasn’t long before I recommitted my life to Christ, and started reading the bible myself. I read the New Testament through probably 4 times that year, I felt like it was my duty and that God was speaking to me so I enjoyed it.

 

As the years progressed we always went to church, and In high school we had gotten to the point where we would go several times a week, Sunday morning and night, Wednesdays, and any other times when there was a service or church activity going on. My dad became a deacon and I at the tender age of 16 was put in charge of running and setting up the sound system before every service since our church didn’t own the building we met in. I was active in the church youth group and met my high school girl friend there. Looking back that’s when things started to level off, we were both young and for the first time in our lives we were exploring our sexuality… we basically did everything but have vaginal intercourse… At 17 years old the hormones are raging as you all must know and it is nearly impossible to control yourself, however it seemed like every time we would act on our impulses afterward we would be overwhelmed with guilt and this horrible feeling that we were ruining our future relationship(s), polluting our souls with sexual sin, and hurting God all at the same time. Eventually the guilt got the best of us and we broke up.

 

Not long after I went away to college and attended church regularly there just as I had when I was in high school, except I traded in Wednesdays at church with a Christian fellowship group on campus. I never really felt I had the caliber of connection with any of the people there that I did with my friends from church back in high school, and eventually my attendance there waned away.

 

At the same time I was starting to be exposed to things like alcohol that I had been sheltered from before college, I experimented and found that I liked it but always had this underlying feeling of guilt that I was somehow hurting God, by dragging Jesus through sin since he lived in my heart after all. Eventually, the guilt started to fade, and my desire to go to church did as well, I was starting to become myself, no longer under the guiding influence of my parents. As I progressed in school, I got into higher level math, science, and electronics courses and the world started to make more sense. I was amazed at the complexity of the modern world around me and armed with new knowledge I could explain how things that used to have an almost magical quality about them worked. As I became more knowledgeable, I slowly became more cynical. The cynicism is what drove me to start questioning the literal interpretation of genesis that I had held dear for so long.

 

The first thing to go was my literal belief in the 6 days of creation; I explained away the lack of evidence for a young earth by saying the “days” were long periods of time, and that the pause between Gen 1:1 and 1:2 was billions of years… Just as I see many Christians doing today. Believing that that part of the bible was symbolic allowed me to explain away any other problems I found when trying to reconcile the bible with reality. But it also got me thinking about the topic of origins in general, the more I studied the more evolution started to look right. Geology, and astronomy were easy to explain away, but evolution… that was a tough one, the unexplained questions ate at me I could not understand why vestigial body parts would exist when God created everything, after all why would a perfect god put useless parts on something that he designed? It didn’t add up, and none of the answers that the apologetics could offer added up. I still held onto my faith hoping that some day I would get an answer, the final straw came one day while looking through a Christian forum, and someone had made a post about Noah’s ark which had been replied to by an atheist. The atheist went through all the problems with the story, and in great detail tore down the plausibility of every part of the story, they brought up problems with the story that I had never even thought of everything from specialized species, to viruses. I tried so hard to refute what they were saying, it was so logical, so realistic, and I could find no fault. It was then that I started to look at what I was doing, what I was trying so hard to make myself swallow, and I had to be honest with myself at that point. I asked myself If God wrote this book then why didn’t he just come out and say things that described things like they were? Why did it have to be so cryptic? Why is it that I have to bend and twist the words of this supposedly infallible book to the point where what they say has nothing to do with what they are supposed to mean, just to get it to fall in line with what is? I had had enough, I could lie to myself no more, I have since studied evolution, and astronomy with great interest practically every night until later than I should have been up, soaking up every bit of knowledge I could get my hands on. I started reading replies to apologetic arguments from scientists who would back up their arguments with real evidence and who weren’t afraid to lay the math on the table either. This entire transformation took me about a year and a half. All the guilt I once had about “sins” I committed faded away, I was free from theses supposed crimes I had committed by simply being curious about experiencing new things.

 

Meanwhile this is going on my parents have gone deeper and deeper into the maze of Christianity, I fear that they are hopelessly far in. My dad could easily be called a fanatic, I’m not sure that fundy is a strong enough term to describe him anymore, to make it worse he is taking my mother with him. It seems that no matter what happens, no matter what the topic of conversation he brings it back to something about God, or the bible. He has some totally whacked ideas about how things should work, it scares me that there might be more people that would take such an extreme view of the world as he. Most of the time when he talks I bite my tongue, but sometimes I can’t take it and speak up, recently he tried to tell me that this country would be better off if women weren’t allowed to vote, or hold positions authority because they have a tendency to be too compassionate. I refuted that one by saying that the general public is apathetic, uninformed, and that the real problem is that we let the uninformed make decisions on things they have no real grasp of… (I won by the way). For awhile he would try and use apologetic arguments that he would hear in church, or synagogue now (he has went from mainstream Protestantism to messianic Judaism) but what he doesn’t know is that I have heard them all before, I’ve seen both sides, and his makes no sense. I always know I’ve beaten him because when he gets backed into a corner and has no answer, rather than face the facts he changes the subject. He doesn’t try to pick too many arguments with me anymore. I’ve never explicitly told him that I’ve de-converted but I think he knows. Someday I hope to break my parents from their prison of religion but as time goes on and they go farther in, I wonder if it will ever happen.

 

I now consider myself to be a strong agnostic, while I do not explicitly deny the existence of a god(s) I hold the probability that there is a god(s) to be so low that it is practically not even worth considering.

 

In the end it seems that Martin Luther, the founder of the protestant movement was right when he said:

 

~~~"Whoever wishes to be a Christian, let him pluck out the eyes of his reason… We must give reason a vacation and enter a different school. We must refrain from consulting reason. We must bid reason hold its peace; we must order it to be dead. We must gouge out its eyes and pluck its feathers." ~~~

 

That it seems is the philosophy of modern Christianity and I cannot live like this, willful ignorance is no longer in my character, I will NOT accept “I don’t know, I think god did it” as an answer, it explains nothing and offers nothing. I can’t do it, and I won’t lie to myself anymore.

 

Sorry this is so long but it’s hard to compress 19 years into a few paragraphs.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Thanks for sharing man! My de-conversion started with my older sister when I was about 13. She bacame disillusioned with the bible and voiced her doubts to me. That seed of doubt grew and grew the more I thought about things. :scratch:

 

I really resented my sister at first, for shaking up the world in which I had all the answers and plunging me into a world of uncertainty. I now think of my sister as my liberator, and am grateful for her blasphemy! :thanks:

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Howdayy MrBungle, welcome and very cool post.

 

I liked your comment: "I asked myself If God wrote this book then why didn’t he just come out and say things that described things like they were? Why did it have to be so cryptic? Why is it that I have to bend and twist the words of this supposedly infallible book to the point where what they say has nothing to do with what they are supposed to mean, just to get it to fall in line with what is? I had had enough..."

 

You said exactly what I've thought many times listening to my evangelical family. Thanks for the insightful words. ;)

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Welcome MrBungle, what an incredible testimony.

 

Its wonderful that you are able to engage in conversation with your father and he actually listens to you. I know that you believe that your dad is getting sucked further and further in but when I read what you wrote about him...IMHO, he could be very well on his way out. He started out very much like a few of us here...first a protestant believer, then church goer, then church doer, BUT you wrote that he has now entered into Messianic Judaism. This EXACTLY what happened to me and at least two other members here. My guess is that your dad had problems with contradictions in the NT with the Law and started feeling that he wasn't obeying god properly. Is he doing holy days and Friday sundown to Saturday sundown Sabbath as well? Is he practicing monotheistic messianism or trinity? I'm going to remain hopeful that the bible will lead him away from this harmful cult.

 

You seem to be very strong, that is great. Congrats on escaping from the cult of christianity. Don't apologize for the length of your post though...the more you share, the better it is to understand. :-)

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Noah's Ark - amazing how the logistics of that story can start such a ball rolling. Did the same for me.

 

Welcome!

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Its wonderful that you are able to engage in conversation with your father and he actually listens to you. I know that you believe that your dad is getting sucked further and further in but when I read what you wrote about him...IMHO, he could be very well on his way out. He started out very much like a few of us here...first a protestant believer, then church goer, then church doer, BUT you wrote that he has now entered into Messianic Judaism. This EXACTLY what happened to me and at least two other members here. My guess is that your dad had problems with contradictions in the NT with the Law and started feeling that he wasn't obeying god properly. Is he doing holy days and Friday sundown to Saturday sundown Sabbath as well? Is he practicing monotheistic messianism or trinity? I'm going to remain hopeful that the bible will lead him away from this harmful cult.

 

 

I hope you're right, i would like to see nothing more than for my parents to see the truth.

 

I'm really not sure about what kind of messianic jew he is, He talks about it constantly which drives me nuts, and I hate asking questions about his religous practices because it just eggs him on.

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I enjoyed your story, and it was an easy read in that it didn't really seem long, and felt I got a idea of what you've experienced.

 

Thanks and welcome!

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the final straw came one day while looking through a Christian forum, and someone had made a post about Noah’s ark which had been replied to by an atheist. The atheist went through all the problems with the story, and in great detail tore down the plausibility of every part of the story, they brought up problems with the story that I had never even thought of everything from specialized species, to viruses. I tried so hard to refute what they were saying, it was so logical, so realistic, and I could find no fault.

 

Thank you for your story, MrBungle, and welcome. You don't by any chance have access to the atheist's reply about the Noah's ark story, do you?

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He read the bible for hours on end, and started taking the whole family to church every weekend. It was then that things started changing; we were raised to believe there was a god but never really taught anything about God, so we were all easy targets.

Yes, I hear that. I was raised a laid back Catholic not consumed in religion at all until I was 12 when my mother became the same sort of extreme, fully obsessed fundy Protestant as your father. I think one is an especially easy target in these circumstances at this stage while young enough to still be vulnerable, but not yet old enough to really question his parents' authority and think for himself.

 

MrBungle, thanks for a great post!

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MrBungle, I too enjoyed your post. I don't have the brains for science so I appreciate it when people who do have the brains for it explain things simple and easy like you did. You didn't get into the technical details, you just said that you used science to refute stories like creation and the Flood. I trust the methods of science and I trust the scientists. Thus, I think I don't have to be able to explain evolution myself.

 

About your Dad. Made me think of other things I've read on this and other sites. Some people would say your Dad traded in one addiction for another. He traded in alcohol for religious fanticism. I hope our friend Jubilant is correct and that he is on his way out. It may take some years because a person his age has to think things through differently from a young person like yourself.

 

I was touched by your sensitivity, by how much you cared about how Jesus felt. It shows up in other things, too, for example your obsession with learning all you can about the fine details of evolution. It seems like it was this sensitivity for the exquisite details that convinced you not just to let it go but to investigate much more deeply.

 

Thanks for sharing.

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the final straw came one day while looking through a Christian forum, and someone had made a post about Noah’s ark which had been replied to by an atheist. The atheist went through all the problems with the story, and in great detail tore down the plausibility of every part of the story, they brought up problems with the story that I had never even thought of everything from specialized species, to viruses. I tried so hard to refute what they were saying, it was so logical, so realistic, and I could find no fault.

 

Thank you for your story, MrBungle, and welcome. You don't by any chance have access to the atheist's reply about the Noah's ark story, do you?

 

Unfortunately no, but I'll write you my own version of the problems with Noah's ark.

 

ehemm!

 

Why I can't believe in Noah's Ark

 

By: MrBungle :)

 

The bible describes the ark as a wooden vessel 450 feet long, by 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, and it was to be constructed of cypress wood. The ark was said to have 3 separate decks to store animals. The ark had to store 2 of every un-clean animal and 7 of every clean animal, and every type of food that is to be eaten by Noah and his family and the animals they were taking care of. Noah’s family consisted of him his wife, and his 3 sons and their wives; 8 people.

 

The first thing that must be done is the ark has to be constructed. To build the ark Noah and his family must collect enough wood to build the decks and hull of the ark, a surface area of which would have been 216,000 square feet. The bible makes no mention of Noah having access to any power tools so every square inch of this wood must be collected by hand. Mediterranean Cypress trees grow to be 60 – 70 feet high and have a trunk diameter of around 1 foot. Given that the trees diameter shrinks as you move toward the top I’ll assume that you can get a board 6” x 6” x 35’ long out of each tree, or you can get two boards 3” x 6” x 35’.

 

To build the hull of the ark you probably wouldn’t need 6” thick paneling on the outside 3” should be fine assuming that you are bracing everything properly, so to build the hull we will need to build a skin with a total surface area of 81,000 sq. feet. Requiring the harvesting and processing of at least 2315 trees. Braces will need to be put in to the ark to for a skeleton for the hull to be built around, assuming that each section of the skeleton is a rectangular structure going all the way around the outside perimeter of the ark each containing a volume of wood equivalent to a 6” x 6” beam 240 feet long. By this measure each one will require harvesting at least 7 trees. How many of these will be required? If one is placed every 5 feet from bow to stern we will need 90 of them. Meaning we need 630 trees to build the skeleton for the hull. The lower middle and upper decks must also be constructed and to build them will require the harvesting of an additional 3858 trees. In all 8 people will need to harvest and process at a minimum 6803 cypress trees, this is assuming that the sides of the ark will be used to give the ship front to back strength, if a keel needed to be made it would require more trees, so this is a conservative estimate.

 

Cutting raw trees into a usable board with a modern axe would be quite a chore, but using the primitive tools available at the time of Noah, would make this task far more difficult. Increased failure rates of the equipment caused by using inferior materials, and waste caused by imprecise cuts and human error would become a huge factor over time. Assuming that the 8 people laboring on this project could cut process and install the wood from 2 trees a day (quite a feat with stone axes, and no trucks to haul them around) it would only take 9.3 years to construct the ark! This of course assumes that all their food is brought to the people working, that no wood decays or warps, that no one steals the boards, and that they have access to the trees needed and that they are relatively close to the construction site. If you were to add in these factors the ark would likely never be completed. So I’m going to be nice and say that this construction project took 45 years.

This is reasonable if you consider that according to the bible Noah had his 3 sons when he was 500 and left the ark at the age of 601. This gives ample time for the sons to mature and for them to construct the Ark.

 

Now we come to the problem of loading ark with the animals and their food. Even today we have no idea how many different species of creatures there are on this planet. Scientists estimate that there is somewhere around 10 million species of animals alive today, and that 99% of all life that has ever been is extinct. Since according to the bible all life was created roughly at the same time give or take 4 days that means there would be 10 billion different species of animals on the ark… which is a problem because there are only 218,000,000 cubic inches of space, meaning that everyone gets a state room that gives you .021 cubic inches to stretch out. Granted many of these creatures are aquatic, and at first you would not think they would need to be on the ark, but as you will see later they actually do.

 

Now we come to the problem of how do the animals get to the ark’s construction site? This will be no big deal for large animals that are native to the Middle East, but for insects that live far away like the ones in South America (which happens to have the largest number of insects which are native to that area only) this presents a problem. Even if the Bering Straight land bridge did exist at this time it is impossible for creatures with life spans many of which are measured in days to make it under their own power to modern day turkey. I could be argued that the ones that didn’t make it are the ones that are now extinct but this is fallacious because many species of insects that are alive today have short life spans. So we have the problem that many creatures simply won’t live long enough to make the journey.

 

But wait couldn’t they make it a multigenerational effort to reach the ark? The answer to that question is a resounding NO. Many creatures live in specialized environments, if it gets too cold or too warm, or if it’s too wet or dry, or they don’t have access to specific foods they die. Koalas for example live on a strict diet of eucalyptus leaves, and consequentially would not make it across vast stretches of land where the trees don’t grow. Cold blooded creatures all but shut down if the ambient temperature gets too low and conversely arctic mammals would not survive in the deserts. All of these situations would become issues for animals trying to make to any specific location. There is no area on the globe that is habitable for all species… making a journey for all creatures to one location under their own power impossible. To make matters worse, the creatures requiring special foods that don’t grow in turkey will have to bring enough of the food to survive the journey live for a year and return to their native lands, this is a logistical impossibility for any creature not intelligent enough to build complex tools and devise means of preservation.

 

I’m going to assume that somehow all the species made it to the ark alive, and that they have food, and that they actually fit into this relatively small space. So now we come to the business of flooding the world. Mt. Everest is currently 29,035 feet tall and is getting taller at a rate of 2.4 inches per year. Lets once again use conservative numbers and run the clock back 6000 years to creation time farther than we need to go but I’m being nice. That puts Everest at a still respectable height of 27,835 feet. The bible says that the tops of the mountains were crested by 20 feet of water meaning that we need to raise the sea level to a minimum of 27,855 feet. I’ll save you the math; we need to increase the volume of water on the planet by roughly 4.5 times. That’s right, there is not enough water on the planet to do this, not even close, not to mention there is no evidence that the entire planet was ever completely under water either, we find no fossilized aquatic life at the tops of volcanoes.

 

That aside we’ll assume that it happened anyway, ok so all this water is going to come down in a span of 40 days, so sea level needs to rise roughly 696 feet per day, that’s 29 feet per hour, which means we would need to have a constant torrential rain dumping half an inch of rain on every square foot of the globe every minute non stop for 40 days. Rain at this rate will strip the continents of any soil and dump it into the ocean; fragile aquatic environments will not survive. Coral reefs will not survive under 200 feet of mud at a depth of 27000 feet so they must be on tanks in the ark if they are to survive, the same is true for every aquatic creature that will not survive in brine water. Salt water would dump into the lakes as sea levels rose; killing freshwater fish not on the ark, and eventually the ocean would become too fresh for the salt water fish. I do not see how it is possible for Noah to maintain a live able level of water quality and temperature using the technology of the day. Even today we find it nearly impossible to keep some aquatic creatures like the giant squid alive in captivity. Additionally, air quality in the ark would quickly deteriorate; some form of ventilation would need to be installed to constantly pump fresh air to the creatures in the lower decks to keep them from choking on their own carbon dioxide. There are other life forms that will need special attention while on the ark; they don’t live long outside of their natural habitats… Viruses, many of them will die in minutes if they are not inside a host. Noah will either need to store these life forms in cryostasis like the CDC or provide them with hosts while they are on the ark. This presents a problem, many viruses will kill their hosts very quickly, and they are also one of the most specialized species on the planet. The AIDS virus for example will live in one type of creature (primates) and not only that can only reproduce in one type of cell in that creature (T-cells). So either Noah had advanced refrigeration and he stored and cataloged viral life forms while on the ark and infected animals after the flood was over and their populations had recovered to a viable size, or he, his family, and all the animals were very sick while on the ark. For example between just the 8 people they would have been hosting AIDS, 3 strains or Ebola, TB, polio, 4000 strains of the common cold, a couple hundred strains of Influenza, and a hundred or so strains of HPV to name a few. Neither of these options is really viable, they would either all be dead, or simply did not have the technological capacity to make it work.

 

So now its time to get off the ark, some how 1,141 million trillion gallons of water have disappeared, or they’re around here somewhere and we just haven’t noticed them. The problem is that we have no evidence that all the creatures came off an ark. What would we expect to find in the fossil record after this has happened? We would expect to find a ring pattern of completely mixed and evenly distributed animal populations all coming from a central location. With the oldest ones all in the vicinity of Mt. Araat. Hmm… NOPE! We don’t see that anywhere. My take, this entire story is impossible for numerous reasons and is without a doubt BS.

 

So there you have it, I’ll recap.

 

1. There is no way Noah and his family could have built the ark, too big of a project not enough people and inadequate tools.

 

2. There is no way they would fit given that the bible places all species that have ever lived on the planet at the same time the ark is simply too small.

 

3. The animals would not survive the journey to the ark, or back to their respective homelands for that matter.

 

4. There is not enough water on the planet, and there is no evidence that the entire world was under water either.

 

5. It is a technological impossibility for Noah to keep sea creatures, and other specialized species including viruses alive on the ark for 1 year.

 

6. There is no evidence of all life spiraling out from a central point of origin in the fossil record, showing that life as we know it did not originate from a single land based location.

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Great job, MrBungle! I had thought of some of these arguments but not all of them.

 

what do you say to the people, like Catholics, who maintain that an orthodox believer is free to take such stories, esp. from Genesis, as teaching theological truths and not as recounting history? These people hold to the doctrines from the bible as they or their church interpret them but maintain that there are different genres of writing within scripture and different ways of reading scripture, with the theological level as the one that counts.

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A very nice write-up. The flood myth is perhaps the most egregious example of all of an absurdity we were expected to believe that's physically impossible and totally contradictory to any science, the simplest math or the simplest of things we know about our world. This one story alone had to be a factor of the deconversion of a great many of us, myself included.

 

Your analysis of the problems with Noah's ark reminds me of the well publicized proof on the impossibility of Santa Claus completing his annual one night mission of delivering presents. I just googled it, and included a link (http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/santa.htm) from a site that looks (from my first cursory glance) like it has other good/interesting stuff, too. Both analyses have the same effect, impressing whoever reads it with just how preposterous the claim is. Just to imagine that it is considered perfectly acceptable to distribute the Santa Claus piece (albeit to an adult audience), yet this sort analysis doesn't receive equal press (imagine the backlash if it did), and crazily, many people over six years old, having been indoctrinated and having thrown away reason, actually believe this story!

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Great job, MrBungle! I had thought of some of these arguments but not all of them.

 

what do you say to the people, like Catholics, who maintain that an orthodox believer is free to take such stories, esp. from Genesis, as teaching theological truths and not as recounting history? These people hold to the doctrines from the bible as they or their church interpret them but maintain that there are different genres of writing within scripture and different ways of reading scripture, with the theological level as the one that counts.

 

I think that they are making a last ditch effort in desperation to hold onto a belief system.

 

What I was taught and from what I've read of the bible and the way it tries to get its ideas across i think its the right way. Each passage in the bible except where it says that something is a parable or story, has a literal truth, and a spritual truth. So since Genesis is written as a highly detailed narrative it is meant to be taken literally, and it can be analyzed later for spritual symbolic truths. This is backed up implicitly by this verse:

 

"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:37-39).

 

Jesus clearly believed in the literal Noah's ark, so every christian should also believe in a literal truth of Noah's ark.

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