A Full-Scale Replica of Noah’s Ark May Fail by Not Taking the Bible Literally Enough

Aug. 11 2016

Located in a small town in Kentucky, the 510-foot-long recreation of the great biblical vessel opened to visitors last month, complete with 265 cages containing models of the animals Noah might have brought with him on his journey. The Ark Encounter, run by an evangelical Christian ministry, also presents theories about how Noah might have disposed of the animals’ waste during his voyage, imaginative details about his family, and explanations fitting the story into the designers’ creationist worldview. To Edward Rothstein, the exhibit was imposing but unsatisfying:

The problem isn’t that it takes the story literally, but that it doesn’t take it literally enough. Leon Kass, in his analysis of Genesis, The Beginning of Wisdom, notes that for over a half-century before Noah’s birth, all nine generations of humanity, including Adam, appear to be alive simultaneously. Then, suddenly, the first natural deaths occur. Despair, confusion, and nihilism run rampant. Then comes Noah who is, Kass notes, “the first man born into the world after Adam dies.” Everywhere he looks, Noah sees death: first, humanity in frenzied rebellion against death; then, humanity perishing in apocalyptic catastrophe; and finally, after the Flood, humanity getting divine sanction to devour animal flesh and execute murderers. The account of Noah’s post-Flood drunken stupor—ignored here—makes sense. Noah has seen too much. After the Flood, humanity’s powers expanded, but so did awareness of its own limits.

Seen in this light, the Ark story is not a simple tale of sin and salvation, but a complex tale of human mortality and human primacy, issues that soon lead to the hubris of the Tower of Babel, as men seek to re-establish their own permanence and prominence. There’s something hubristic about Ark Encounter as well. But while seeming to enlarge its subject, it ends up shrinking it instead.

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More about: Evangelical Christianity, Genesis, Hebrew Bible, Museums, Noah

UN Troops in Lebanon Don’t Just Ignore Hizballah. They Protect It

Dec. 18 2018

Two weeks ago, IDF officers showed the commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) the tunnels that Hizballah has dug into Israeli territory. UNIFIL, whose primary mission is to keep Iran-backed jihadist group from using southern Lebanon to attack Israel, responded with a statement that failed even to name Hizballah. Not only is UNIFIL useless at doing its job, writes Evelyn Gordon, but its very presence helps Hizballah, since countries that contribute troops are afraid to put them in harm’s way by aggravating the terrorists they’re meant to contain.

It’s no coincidence that the major contributors to UNIFIL . . . oppose listing Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. The only EU country that does blacklist the entire organization is Holland, which has exactly one soldier in UNIFIL.

The EU and its other member states blacklist only the [organization’s] military wing, not the political wing. And that’s fine with Hizballah because, as the organization itself admits, any distinction between its political and military wings is purely fictitious. Thus, so long as the political wing is legal, Hizballah can still fundraise and recruit freely in Europe.

A complete ban, however, would genuinely hurt Hizballah. According to a 2017 German intelligence report, Germany alone has [on its soil] some 950 Hizballah operatives actively fundraising and recruiting for the organization. Much of that money is raised through charitable donations, but another significant source is organized crime. An EU report published in August described “a large network of Lebanese nationals offering money-laundering services to organized crime groups in the EU and using a share of the profits to finance terrorism-related activities. . . . An EU ban on Hizballah would thus put a serious crimp in its operations.

UNIFIL, by contrast, hasn’t put the slightest crimp in them. . . . To be fair, expecting UNIFIL to stop Hizballah was never realistic. As a senior Israeli official acknowledged this week, few countries would be willing to contribute troops to a mission that actually involved fighting Hizballah. . . . [Yet] UNIFIL has no problem making accusations against Israel. [A] November report that couldn’t “substantiate” Hizballah’s [illegal] arms transfers declared that UNIFIL had recorded 550 Israeli violations of Lebanon’s airspace and demanded their “immediate cessation.”

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More about: European Union, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Lebanon