Insight on the News
Flood Not Exaggerated
The Biblical account of a global flood has long been criticized as based more on fiction than on fact. The New Catholic Encyclopedia asserts: “It is generally agreed now that the episode of Noe and the ark is not a piece of historical reporting but an imaginative literary creation of another form entirely.” Some skeptics have argued that all the moisture in the atmosphere would cause only a few inches of global rain.
But according to the Genesis account, the source of the floodwaters was not simply the moisture in the atmosphere. At Genesis 1:6 we are told that the Creator decreed: “Let an [atmospheric] expanse come to be in between the waters and let a dividing occur between the waters [of the seas] and the waters [above the expanse].” The waters suspended above the expanse evidently remained there until the Flood. According to the apostle Peter, the atmospheric “heavens” and the waters above and beneath them were the means by which “the world of [Noah’s] time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.”—2 Peter 3:5, 6; Genesis 1:7.
The devastating effects of a watery deluge were felt recently in South Africa when a flood struck the province of Natal and claimed more than 300 lives. Commenting on the disaster, conservationist K. H. Cooper observed: “I have often wondered what would happen in this day and age if it were to rain for 40 days and 40 nights non-stop. . . . Could such a rain have obliterated almost all life on earth? Having recently seen what happened after just four days of rain in Natal,” Cooper continued, “I’m now convinced of the authenticity of the Old Testament story.”
Concern for the Poor?
How can the gap that separates the poor from the rich be bridged? This was the issue considered by Pope John Paul II in a recent encyclical entitled Sollicitudo rei socialis (The Social Concern). The pope held that the church should feel obliged to relieve the misery of those who are suffering. How? “Faced by cases of need, one cannot ignore them in favour of superfluous church ornaments and costly furnishings for divine worship; on the contrary it could be obligatory to sell these goods in order to provide food, drink, clothing and shelter for those who lack these things.”
However, commenting on the pope’s encyclical, Vatican expert Domenico Del Rio observed in La Repubblica: “It is clear that people will now be waiting to see the . . . pope himself, and those round about him, set the example. The Vatican basilica and the basilicas of Rome are full of ‘costly furnishings,’ perhaps also of ‘superfluous church ornaments.’” Yet, according to Fortune magazine, “Vatican officials bristle at the idea of parting with so much as a Grecian urn to raise cash.”
When Jesus instructed a wealthy ruler to ‘sell all his belongings and distribute the money to the poor,’ that man was unwilling to do so. He “went off grieved, for he was holding many possessions.” Rightly, Jesus warned: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”—Mark 10:21, 22; Matthew 6:21.