Monthly Archives: June 2012

TSoA: Chapter 7: The First Ark Lecture

Well, it’s that time again.  Michael Murphy is actually going to TEACH A CLASS.

This is like when Indiana Jones teaches a class, in the sense that it hardly ever happens.

Turns out that Preston University is a bit of a party school, and Monday morning classes like Biblical Archeology Again don’t tend to have a high attendance rate.

But this lecture was being given by Michael Murphy, and somehow the word had gotten out over the weekend that he wasn’t going to be speaking on the designated topic: How to map out an archaeological site.

He was going to be talking about Noah’s Ark.

Emotions ran the gamut when this word got out.  Most of the partiers at Preston smirked in relief, realizing that once again, Murphy was going to be lecturing on his current pet project rather than an item in the actual syllabus.  These students knew that all they had to do was feign interest in the Noah story, and they would get the easy A they had heard was all but guaranteed in Michael Murphy’s “Jesus for Jocks” course.

Meanwhile, the students who had actually hoped to learn something about archeology rolled their collective eyes, and wished there was an archeology class at Preston that wasn’t taught by a self-obsessed evangelical blowhard.

So, Murphy has a full house for his lecture.  Ha, take THAT, Evil Dean Fallworth!  I know how to make my classes popular—just lecture on topics that have absolutely nothing to do with the substance of the course and won’t be on the final.  Ha-HA!

We zoom in on Shari and Paul talking before class, which I guess means that they’ve at least tried to patch things up since last we saw them, when they weren’t speaking to each other.

Weird detail:

[Paul’s] left foot was still in a walking cast, the explosion at the Preston Community Church having severely damaged his leg and foot.

It’s been OVER SIX MONTHS since the explosion.  So YEAH, I guess his leg and foot wereseverely damaged.”  Even though we read nothing about that in Babylon Rising, which confined discussion of his injuries to his COMA and a damaged (or possibly just dislocated) arm and/or hand and/or wrist (there wasn’t a lot of specificity).

IANAD, but my understanding is that if you broke your femur or something (and very badly), you might be in a cast six months out.  But the foot?  Hell, my mother suffered a Lisfranc injury, and despite it being awful and no fun AT ALL, she was not in a cast for six months.

So I am left wondering if Bob Phillips Did Not Do the Research, or simply forgot how long ago the last book took place.

Then, at exactly nine o’clock, Murphy strode into the hall and the chattering ceased almost instantly.  His magnetic presence was such that he never had to raise his voice or ask for quiet.

Aw man, Murphy is awesome.  Never mind that I have two graduate degrees, and have never in eight years of post-high-school education seen a professor have to raise his voice or ask for quiet.


Murphy blows away the first ten minutes of the lecture relating the Bible story of the ark, then goes on to his awesome POWERPOINT SLIDES OF LISTS OF THINGS.

Please bear in mind that this list is supposed to be “plenty of pieces of recorded evidence in the historical record to conclude that a global flood did indeed occur on our planet more than five thousand years ago.”

Also please bear in mind that I am showing these slides exactly as Murphy does…that is, these are the totality of the citations:

The Samaritan Pentateuch – 5th century B.C.

Talks about the landing place of the ark.

Targums – 5th century B.C.

Talks about location of the ark.

Berossus – 275 B.C.

A Chaldean priest: “It is said, moreover, that a portion of the vessel still survives in Armenia … and that persons carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they use as talismans.”

Nicholas of Damascus – 30 B.C.

“Relics of the timbers were long preserved.”

Josephus – A.D. 75

“Remains which to this day are shown to those who are curious to see them.”

Theophilus of Antioch – A.D. 180

“And of the ark, the remains are to this day seen in the Arabian mountain.”

Eusebius – A.D. 3rd century

“A small part of the ark still remained in the Gordian Mountains.”

Epiphanus – A.D. 4th century

“The remains are still shown and if one looks diligently he can still find the altar of Noah.”

So, anyone notice anything about these PowerPoint slides?

For one, they are just lists of names and bits of quotes, with no citations OR context.  In other words, the students are given no easy way to check these quotes for themselves.

Second, I AM GOING TO DO SOME OF MURPHY’S WORK FOR HIM, because as you can see, none of the items on this first list mention a flood.  They just discuss bits of the ark.  Without context.  (And some of the sources do in fact discuss a worldwide flood, but we wouldn’t know it from the information given.)

Let’s deal with a few of these.

The Samaritan Pentateuch is basically the first five books of the Bible, as used by the Samaritans.

Turns out that Berossus was a Babylonian priest, who did write about a worldwide flood and a boat that survived it.  Of course, if Murphy thinks Berossus was an authoritative source, does he agree with him that “a mysterious creature called Oannes -half fish, half man- came from the sea and showed mankind writing, farming and the arts“?  Just wondering.

On to the next vague slide!

Isidore of Seville – A.D. 6th century

“So even to this day wood remains of it are to be seen.”

Al-Masudi – A.D. 10th century

“The place can still be seen.”

Ibn Haukal – A.D. 10th century

“Noah built a village there at the foot of the mountain.”

Benjamin of Tudela – A.D. 12th century

“Omar Ben Ac Khateb removed parts of the ark from the summit and made a mosque of it.”

Okay, right away—if Noah built a village and Omar built a mosque, how was there anything even left of the ark?

Now, maybe I’m being a bit hard on Murphy.  After all, a list of things on a slide can be made interesting by the lecturer adding commentary and context.

Murphy let the words on the screen speak for themselves.


But Evil Atheist Paul is not letting that shit stand!

“I noticed on your slides, Professor Murphy, that several different mountain ranges were mentioned. … Doesn’t that prove that the information was made up and no one really knows?”

Man, oh man, if Shari and Paul were actually Doing It, they wouldn’t be doing it tonight, that’s for damn sure!

[Murphy answers] “With regard to calling it the Gordian Mountains, you have to remember that these writers each came from different areas and wrote in different time periods.  The names of places change over time.  Istanbul, Turkey, was once called Constantinople.”


“Mount Ararat is also known as Agri Daugh, which means painful mountain.”

That’s nice, Murph, but as far as I’m concerned, Paul’s point still stands.  As I mentioned a few chapters back,  the Bible doesn’t talk about Mount Ararat, but the MountainS OF Ararat.  So yeah, when Murphy tells Paul that “the writers were all referring to the same general area,” he is only making the point for me: it’s a general area, one (or more) ranges of mountains, not one particular peak.

Paul, with the one-two punch of being a wuss and not having access to the actual quotations, is momentarily silenced, and the silence is filled with a bunch of Noah’s ark jokes by several students, because Murphy’s Magnetic Presence allows him to always effortlessly retain control of his classroom.

Finally, Murphy gets to the next item on the agenda, ANOTHER SLIDE OF A LIST OF THINGS:

Other Historical Authors Writing About Noah and the Ark

Hieronymus – 30 B.C.

The Quran – A.D. 7th century

Eutyches – A.D. 9th century


The Quran?  Murphy is looking to the Quran for Biblical back-up?  How about that winged horse, bit, Murphy?  Believe that, too?

Actually, this brings up an important issue: At no point does Murphy use these Lists of Things to explain how the study of history works.  How researchers determine the accuracy of sources, the ideas of oral tradition, or second- or third-hand knowledge, etc.  Nope, somebody wrote it down long ago, so it must be true, and each of these sources is the equal of all the others.  Great teaching there, Murph.

Just to give one example: the writings of Hieroymus have not survived.  We know about them because Josephus wrote about them.  Teachable moment?  Not for Murphy.

Nope, he goes on to (gasp!) read some actual firsthand accounts of people who totally claimed to see bits of the ark, fer reals.  One guy found a piece of wood (yes, that’s right, one piece of wood on Mount Ararat, at about 13 thousand feet.  The conclusion is that the piece must have “washed down from the ark.”

And then Murphy goes on and on about Fernand Navarra, who claimed to find pieces of wood from the ark in the 1950s.  Strangely, although Murphy goes on and on and quotes Navarra twce (and at length), he fails to mention that the whole Navarra was a gigantic hoax.

Go figure.

Murphy ends the lecture on the Navarra note, which you’d think would be the perfect invitation for Evil Atheist Paul to do some independent research.  Go Paul!

As he watched the students making their way out of the auditorium, he wondered if he would soon have a story of his own to tell.

Good to know that you admit that it’s all about you, Murphy, and not about teaching anything to your students.

Forever in Hell

For anyone who follows the deconstruction of Elsie Dinsmore and the Amazing Adventures of Bo the Dog, Forever in Hell is now at a new location:

TSoA: Chapter 6: Re-Introducing Agent Baines

As I linked in the last installment, Agent Hank Baines was the Nice FBI Guy from Babylon Rising.  Despite his manners and deferential behavior at every turn, Murphy responded with the “righteous” anger and pointless bombasity that we have come to know and love.

Now, Agent Baines has purposefully sought Murphy out, for reasons currently unknown.  So it makes sense that Murphy would take out his frustrations on an innocent man who was only trying to do his best.

It’s the Christian thing to do, right?

“…you’ve come to apologize on behalf of the FBI?  After all this time?  How nice.”


And Baines actually does apologize (not that he has anything to apologize for), and tells Murphy that he wanted to see him for “personal” reasons.

Alone, and on the wooded path surrounding the lovely Preston University.


Probably not.

No, instead, Murphy “take[s] pity on him,” and actually acknowledges that nothing that happened was Baines’ fault.  Wow, big man, eh?

Then we get some explanation of why in the world Hank Baines would seek Murphy out for “personal” reasons: Baines has a daughter named Tiffany.  This is the girl whom Murphy and Bob Wagoner have decreed shall be mentored by Shari (who still doesn’t know that this has been decided for her).  Anyway, Baines is at the end of his rope with Tiffany…so he decided to call Michael Murphy.

Because a widowed, childfree Biblical archeologist is always the first person you should call when your teenager rebels!

Please note: I am not saying for a moment that the childfree cannot have valid and worthwhile views on parenting.  I don’t have any kids, and I have opinions on parenting.  We were all kids at one point, so we all are capable of giving advice on the trials and tribulations of being raised/growing up.

But that still doesn’t explain why Baines would seek out Murphy.  He mentions that even though Murphy went through “all that stuff” six months ago, he “seemed to have an inner stability.”  Now, we know from reading Babylon Rising that this is far from the truth, that Murphy was in fact prone to flying off the handle at the slightest provocation and was utterly unwilling to listen to any ideas other than his own.

But even were this not the case, even if Murphy had been a model of stability, why would Baines want to talk about raising his kid with a man he barely knows, the former subject of a FBI investigation, when he could have talked to a friend or a counselor or even the PASTOR OF THE CHURCH HIS DAUGHTER ATTENDS?

Most of the answer is that Murphy is the center of the universe, and so who wouldn’t want to open up to him about any and all problems in life?  But this also has to do, I think, with a common feature of LaJenkinsian characters: their utter lack of friends.  The best examples of this phenomenon are Rayford Steele and Buck Williams in the Left Behind series, neither of whom have anyone they care about (outside of immediate family, and kinda not even then) affected by the Rapture.  Paul Stepola of the Underground Zealot series has no friends at all until Stuart “Straight” Rathe befriends him, and Straight only befriends Paul to convert him and recruit him to the zealots’ cause.  (Straight even lampshades Paul’s friendlessness!)  Joshua Jordan of The End series could be argued to have friends, but these are less friends and more his co-conspirators in a campaign to run a shadow government of the United States, so I’m not sure if that really counts.

And finally, Michael Murphy himself could be argued to be “friends” with Levi Abrams, but as I pointed out in the first book, this is less a friendship and more a contract wherein Murphy lets Levi punch him whenever he wants, and Levi in turn smooths the way for Murphy to quasi-legally enter other countries to hunt for treasure.

So, since Hank Baines, like any good LaJenkinsian character, has no friends, I guess it almost sorta kinda makes sense that he would call on Murphy, if you squint at it.

Right away, Murphy proves his sensitivity:

“So Tiffany’s the problem?”

Yep, that’s my kid, THE PROBLEM.

Actually, she is:

Baines nodded wearily.  “I’ll say.  The last straw was when she got arrested with some of her friends.  [AN: Well, at least Tiffany has friends!]  They were riding in a car, drinking beer and tossing the empty cans at people on the sidewalk.  For someone like me, who spends his time trying to catch criminals, trying to keep the streets safe for people like Tiffany and her friends…”

Baines: …I wish I had some friends…

“…it’s tough to deal with.”

Um, okay, Baines, but I kinda think that underage drinking, drinking and driving, and assaulting pedestrians would bother just about anyone, not just law enforcement.

And Tiffany could have been hurt!  I would think that would be the main concern of any good parent (not the only concern, but the main one).  She was in a car with people who had been drinking and were obviously not paying attention to the road.  She could have been hurt or they could have hurt someone else.  She could be dead or seriously injured right now, Agent Baines.  How about concentrating on that instead of on how this insults your career?

Murphy actually asks a decent question:

“When did you first think there was a problem?”

To which Baines gives an appropriately stupid answer:

“…it started with her room.  She wouldn’t clean it up, it was always such a mess.”

Basically, Baines’ complaints about Tiffany center around Typical Teenager stuff (“…loud, excitable, argumentative, always changing her mind…”), and Murphy eventually zeroes in on the fact that Tiffany is the creative, artistic type, and Baines both is not, and has no use for such people:

“I like to deal with facts, logic.  Everything in its right place.  Details.  Structure.  Artistic people seem so messy and undisciplined to me.  And they let their emotions take over.”

And so, Murphy the Parenting Counselor makes his diagnosis: Baines and Tiffany are different people, so they clash!  And that completely explains why she went drinking and driving with her friends!

Not only does this completely ignore Tiffany’s relationship with her mother, but I need look no further afield than my own experience to dispute that.  As a teenager, I clashed much more with my father than with my mother.  And my father and I have very similar personalities: organized, driven, down-to-earth.  I didn’t clash with my artistic, free-spirited mother much at all, certainly not in my mid- to late-teens, Tiffany’s age.

Baines rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  “So what should I do?  Is there some self-help book that’s going to tell me how to act around my daughter?”

Wait for it…

Murphy smiled.  “There’s only one book that’s guaranteed to help—whatever the problem.  And that’s the Bible.”

“The Bible has stuff about parenting?”

Jesus?  Who’s that?

At Unfollowing Jesus.

“Sure.  In the Book of Colossians, Chapter Three, it says, Fathers, don’t aggravate your children.  If you do they will become discouraged and quit trying.”

That’s true.  Colossians 3:21 basically does say that.

Of course, Colossians 3:18 says, “Wives submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

So perhaps advice should be taken based on how good it is, rather than the fact that it was written in an old book.

“…why not pick up the Bible and see what else you can find that’s relevant to your life?  It’s never too late to start reading the Good Book.”

Murphy:  For example, Proverbs 22: 15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”  And Proverbs 23:13-14 says, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.  You shall beat him with a road, and deliver his soul from Hell.”  Hank, have you considered beating the ever-loving crap out of Tiffany?  It’s never too late to take a lesson from the Good Book, after all.

On that note, Hank thanks Murphy for his AMAZING ADVICE and heads on his way.  Murphy watches Baines’ retreating form, no doubt sighing for the romantic tryst that might have been:

Nothing like focusing on someone else’s problems to get your own in persepctive, he thought.

Yeah, my wife may have been brutally murdered and her killer may still be at large, and the Dean may have it in for me, but at least I don’t have some bratty teenager to raise…SCORE!

TSoA: Chapter 5: Back with Shane and The Seven

Time to check in with Shane Barrington, rags-to-riches media mogul and bitch to The Seven, who will Stop at Nothing to create a one-world government and put the Antichrist (as yet unintroduced) into power.

Well, they’ll stop at nothing except killing Michael Murphy.

The Seven have had Shane in their power ever since they killed his son, the Ambiguously Gay Arthur, and gave Shane billions of dollars to cover up his unscrupulous dealings in his quest to become the biggest television tycoon in the world.

Now, Shane is on his way to Switzerland at The Seven’s collective command, to visit them in their spooky castle.

Shane reminds us immediately what a ruthless bastard he is by firing his pilot (“when we get to Switzerland“) for the crime of asking him if he is okay.  I wouldn’t think that such impulsive stupidity would be indicative of a successful businessman, but I guess that’s why I’m not one.

Then we get a very weird series of reflections from the pilot, Carl:

…he wondered how he was going to tell Renee.  They’d have to change their plans about moving to that big house in the hills, and maybe that would mean she’d change her plans about the two of them.  The twenty-grand diamond engagement ring was definitely out of the question now.

Ha!  Because women are flighty, materialistic things who only care about the size of a man’s wallet, amirite?

Well, maybe not.

Carl then fantasizes about flying the plane into a mountain and KILLING THEM ALL BWAHAHAHAHA

But he knew he didn’t have the guts to do it.  No, he thought with a wry chuckle, the only way the plane was going down was if the believers in Christ got snatched up to heaven in midflight, like in that book Renee kept telling him to read…


I guess if Renee is a Left Behind fan, she must not be flighty and materialistic after all.  Or at least, no more than all silly women are.

…and the bad guys like Barrington were left to fend for themselves.

Ha! Goes to show what a dumb nonbeliever Carl is, thinking that getting to heaven has anything to do with being good or bad.  See, he has to read Left Behind to know that all you have to do is say the Magic Words.

Death is also on Shane’s mind as he finishes his plane ride and is driven to The Seven’s castle by the tongueless chauffeur.  He thinks The Seven want to kill him for something (he has no idea what it might be) that he did wrong.

But that is not the case.  After some preliminary moustache-twirling and some vague but ominous talk about their “great task,” they tell Barrington their big plans for him:

They want him to hire Michael Murphy as an “archaeological correspondent” for Barrington Communications.  Shane brings up the fact that The Seven aren’t exactly in sympathy with Murphy’s RTC-ity, but they explain their plan:

“You see, Mr. Barrington, Michael Murphy has a knack for finding archaeological objects that are of…interest to us.  It might make life a little easier if we were all on the same team.  Even if Murphy doesn’t know it.”

I guess that’s as good an excuse as any for them to keep Murphy alive, when it is abundantly clear that they could kill him at any moment they chose.  (And it’s not like Murphy takes any steps to keep himself safe, living in his little college town, in exactly the same manner he did when a powerful international cabal didn’t want him dead…)

(I deleted a bit above this, because I misremembered The Seven’s motivations in the first book.  They did not want Murphy killed then, either—they wanted him to find the Serpent because of the powers it supposedly had.  Thanks to Ivan for reminding me!)

So, that’s why The Seven wanted Shane to come all the damn way to Switzerland.

Continuity Error Alert: The Seven are described here as six men and one woman.  This is NOT THE CASE in subsequent books, where the group is comprised of five men and two women.

Oh, and as a little favor for Shane, The Seven had Talon go and kill Carl the pilot during their little meeting.

Yeah, real big favor.  Let’s see, if Carl was left alive, all people would know is that Shane Barrington is a huge jerk who fires people on a whim.  So, nothing new under the sun.

But I’m sure that the death of this man in a foreign country will arouse absolutely no suspicion whatsoever in anyone’s mind.  (“So, why did you go to Switzerland by yourself with no notice to anyone, Mr. Barrington?  And how and why did your young, healthy pilot die, anyway?”)

I don’t get it, but again, that must be why I’m not part of a Stop at Nothing cabal on the verge of taking over the world.

We’re almost done re-introducing the cast for Book 2!  All we have left now are intrepid reporter Stephanie Kovacs, and not-so-intrepid FBI Agent Hank Baines.

Next time.

TSoA: Chapter 4: Back with Bob

In Chapter 4, readers who skipped Babylon Rising can become acquainted with Pastor Bob Wagoner and Murphy’s backstory.

Murphy heads over to the newly-rebuilt church for a lunch and whine session with his pastor.  There, he can reflect on the events of the last book: the bombing of the church, the role played by Shari’s stupid brother, and the murder of Murphy’s wife, Laura.

And we can reflect on the paranoia and stupidity of Murphy’s pastor.  You may remember that when his own church was bombed, Wagoner was flabbergasted to learn that the building would be considered a crime scene.  But he wasn’t so shocked that he couldn’t go on and on about the suspicious activities of the United Nations: the most nefarious and powerful organization IN THE WORLD!

Murphy also reflects on how much Bob loves golf:

…Wagoner was often heard to say that you could learn as much about the frailty of human nature and the need to put your trust in a higher power while standing on the first tee with a driver in your hand as you could listening to preachers in church.  He’d often tried to persuade Murphy to take up the game, but Murphy doubted he had the spiritual strength to survive a round without bending the driver round a tree.


I find myself drawing a comparison between Murphy and the newest Tim LaHaye hero, Joshua Jordan, when it comes to the game of golf.  Joshy approaches the game with a level of ultra-competitiveness rarely seen outside the Olympics.  His bloated ego and need to WIN AT FRACKING EVERYTHING mean that he is constitutionally incapable of simply hanging and enjoying a game on a beautiful day.

Michael Murphy, on the other hand, acknowledges that his anger issues are SO BAD and his frustration tolerance SO LOW that he literally would not be able to learn how to play the game, let alone complete a round.


So Murphy isn’t there to play golf with Bob.

“Good to see you, Bob.  Thanks for agreeing to meet up.  Are you hungry?”

Wagoner grinned.  “Is the Pope Catholic?”


WHEW.  Oh, man, excuse me while I wipe away a few tears of helpless laughter.

Wagoner’s appetite and resulting paunch were also referenced in Babylon Rising.  The Evil Dean Fallworth also has a paunch, but his is worthy of ridicule, because Fallworth is a pale-faced, pansy-ass, ivory-tower intellectual type who dislikes Michael Murphy.

Wagoner, OTOH, can be forgiven for wolfing down a chili cheeseburger and fries before even talking to Michael at all, because once he does talk, the only subject he is interested in is…Michael Murphy.

First, Wagoner brings up the superficial injuries Murphy sustained in the cave.  And, just as he did with Shari, Murphy…um…Tells Not Quite The Whole Entire Truth.  (But doesn’t LIE, mind you, because lying is wrong.)

“A few bumps and bruises are par for the course when you’re digging for artifacts.  You know that.”

I wonder if Wagoner would take exception to Murphy receiving clues about treasures from an EVIL ATHEIST.  Especially because Murphy always ends up using the artifacts to make himself famous, even though he has no way to verify that they really came from where Methuselah says.

Anyway, what Murphy really wants to talk about is Laura: how Talon murdered her, and how angry he is, and how the pain never really goes away…

All of which would be just fine if Wagoner didn’t respond to the mention of Talon’s name like this:

“The man who killed Laura.  And all those others.”

All those others.


Dude, those were YOUR PARISHIONERS.  Five people who died in the church bombing, who had come on a weeknight to listen to you talk (about Michael Murphy), and six months later, these people are ALL THOSE OTHERS.

Yeah, I really feel that I’m missing something by not going to church.

Not that we should be surprised by this statement.  This is how the Laura’s death has been treated since the moment it happened: as more important, and a much worse thing, than the deaths of ALL THOSE OTHERS.  (Not to mention the destruction of the church, the numerous injuries sustained by other parishioners, and those sustained by Paul Wallach, who was in a coma for several days.  AND Shari, who I normally feel little sympathy for but who does have to deal with the fact that her own brother was part of the bombing conspiracy.)

Wagoner gives Murphy the standard “let God take care of things” spiel, and Murphy responds that he has a feeling he’ll meet Talon again, what with going to search for another mind-blowing treasure and all.

Suprisingly, Wagoner basically shrugs off this revelation, because it’s time for the next plot point: Hank Baines, the Nice FBI agent from Babylon Rising.  Seems Hank’s wife and daughter have been coming to church, but not Hank, and his daughter has been in trouble with the law, and Wagoner wants Shari to “spend some time with her,” AND Wagoner wants to know what Michael Murphy thinks about all this, because Wagoner is apparently utterly incapable of making any decisions about his own parishioners without Murphy’s say-so.

And Murphy is all for it, because it’s not like Shari has her education or her job or two puppies to occupy her time.  OR a “boyfriend” who has been talking to atheists.

As for Hank Baines, he gave his business card to Wagoner to give to Murphy.

Even though Hank doesn’t attend Wagoner’s church.

Because this is by far the most efficient means of contacting a professor at the local university, who no doubt has a page at that university’s website, complete with contact information.

I just…why???

I don’t know, and neither does Wagoner.  All Baines told him was that he “was quite impressed with how you conducted yourself during the investigation.”

Yeah, Murphy was a real model of politeness and restraint during that whole process.

But we’ll have to wait to see what Baines wants, because next time, we’re going to catch up with Shane Barrington and The Seven.

They’ll stop at nothing!

TSoA: Chapter 3: Noah’s Ark, Baby!

Sadly, Isis doesn’t grant our collective wish and let Murphy twist in the wind for months before using the carbon dating equipment at the Parchments of Freedom Foundation.

Not that Murphy isn’t keeping busy:

Over the next few days, Murphy concentrated on getting up to speed with his lecture notes, knowing that Dean Fallworth would be looking over his shoulder, just waiting for an excuse to boot him off campus.

Dean Fallworth, you may remember, is Murphy’s on-campus arch-nemesis, a man who actually publishes REAL RESEARCH.

So you can see how such a man might be slightly pissed off by the likes of Michael Murphy, who gallivants off around the globe whenever he damn well pleases, never publishes anything, and (oh, yeah) is a colossal tool to boot.

On the other hand, doesn’t Murphy have tenure?  (I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think we are ever told.)  Could Dean Fallworth really “boot him off campus” for the crime of delivering one lackluster lecture?

Either way, no worries, because Dean Fallworth won’t show up in person until Chapter Fourteen.

But hey, if his evil spectre makes Murphy actually PREPARE FOR FRACKING CLASS, I guess we shouldn’t knock it.

In the meantime, Shari is busy Not Speaking to her “boyfriend,” since he disagrees with her about evolution and is reading books by atheists.

She is also busy raising two puppies, and “beginning to hope an offer of a good home wouldn’t turn up.”

I doubt she’ll be singing that tune when Shem and Japheth grow up into the giant monster German Shepherds that they will.  Shari, just to let you know: it will soon be impossible to keep their existence a secret from your landlord.  Hope you’re ready for all those extra pet fees, honey!


(Hey, remember when Isis used to use her massively awesome language skills to solve problems, instead of just being the Girl Friday who happens to have access to carbon dating equipment?  Man, I miss those days.)

The piece of wood found in the cave is between five and six thousand years old!

“Meaning,” said Murphy [to Shari], drawing it out, “that our little piece of wood just might be a chunk of…Noah’s Ark.”


Speaking of wow, if Murph is a creationist and thinks the ark is five to six thousand years old, I suppose that makes him a Young-Earth creationist, someone who thinks the Earth itself is about ten thousand years old.

Which in turn makes me wonder why Murph puts so much stock in carbon dating.  Isn’t that the same method that dated the paintings in the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in France as being around thirty to thirty-five thousand years old?  So, Murph, anything wrong with those results?

What was it that Shari was just saying about “preconceived views”?

But since these particular results lined up with his initial wish assumption, Murphy puts the Noah’s ark puzzle together for Shari: piece of old wood, two of some kind of animal, watery trap…

And Shari FINALLY catches on to the fact that Murphy was off on a Methuselah-adventure.

Nobody ever said Shari was the sharpest knife in the drawer, but let’s not forget that Good Christian Murphy LIED to her:

“I didn’t want you worrying, is all.”

That’s nice, but no excuse for fakey-keeping-the-truth-from-someone-who-cares-about-you.

Now, all of these pieces of the puzzle don’t quite add up to Noah’s Ark for me, and Shari points out one of the many holes in Murphy’s idea:

“…Shem and Japheth are two little boy dogs,” Shari said with a smile.

“You’re right.  Methuselah was cutting corners a bit there.  But he made his point.  He was trying to tell us that the biblical artifact at stake had something to do with the ark.”

So, Murphy’s telling us that the guy who managed to procure a LION was thrown for a loop by the challenge of finding a German Shepherd bitch?


I guess.

Methuselah should have put a pair of DUCKS in the cave with Murph.  They would be more likely to survive than puppies, totally adorable, and easily released into the wild (or even the campus of Preston University, come to think of it) once Murphy rescued them.  And boy ducks and girl ducks look totally different, so the Noah’s Ark theme would be much more clear.

“If it really is a piece of the ark, where on earth do you think Methuselah found it?” [asked Shari]

Yeah, and while we’re at it, why didn’t he just report the discovery to the world, instead of forcing Murphy to retrace the steps and rediscover it himself?  After all, we know that even though he gives Murphy shit for his “Bible Boy” ways, he really wants the biblical artifacts to be found.

“Traditionally, the ark is supposed to have finally come to rest on Mount Ararat, in Turkey.” [Murphy answered]


This is WRONG, and one of the most enduring WRONGS of the book.

The ark did not “traditionally” come to rest on Mount Ararat, it came to rest on the mountainS OF Ararat, which means something quite different.

Mount Ararat is one mountain.  The Mountains of Ararat can refer to a much larger number of mountains, and there is no specific reference in the Bible to any particular one.  Indeed, as I pop open my New King James, it says right here:

Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.

Genesis 8:4



Notice that a specific mountain peak is not named.  There is no mention of a “Mount Ararat.”  Instead the Bible clearly states “the mountains of Ararat,” implying Ararat to be a region or nation within which there was a mountain range on which the ark came to rest.  The Anchor Bible translates the phrase as “the Ararat range.”

If further Biblical evidence is needed that Ararat is a region and not a mountain, it can be found in the fifty-first chapter of Jeremiah.  The prophet is reporting God’s promise to destroy Babylon, which at that time was on the point of conquering Judah:

Jeremiah 51:27 … call together against her [Babylon] the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz …

In Assyrian times there was a kingdom among the mountains in which the Tigris and Euphrates rose, in what is now eastern Turkey. … This kingdom extended from the lake to the Caucasus Mountains, and in Assyrian inscriptions is referred to as the kingdom of Urartu—of which name Ararat is clearly a version.

Despite all evidence, most people insist on thinking of Ararat as the name of a definite mountain peak and indeed the name Ararat was eventually applied to one.  Mount Ararat is a mountain in the eastern-most region of Turkey about seventy miles northeast of Lake Van.  It has two peaks, Great Ararat and Little Ararat, the former being the higher, reaching 16,873 feet (3.2 miles) above sea level.  The tradition remains firmly fixed that Noah’s ark came to rest somewhere on Great Ararat and every once in a while there are expeditions to find traces of it.

–Isaac Asimov, Asimov’s Guide to the Bible

Michael Murphy is one of those “most people.”  Throughout this book, he will never even consider the possibility that the ark might be anywhere but Great Ararat.

Funny attitude from a character and author who rely on “the literal truth of the Bible.”

And the funnier thing is, this could be solved very simply by the following conversation:

Murphy:  I’d love to cancel all my classes and go searching for Noah’s Ark.  But the Bible says that it could be on any of a number of mountains…

Shari:  Look, Professor Murphy!  Methuselah just Fed-exed you this handy map, showing that he found the piece of old wood on Greater Ararat!

Murphy:  Shari, cancel all of my classes and buy some more piddle pads—we’re off to Turkey!

See?  Easy.

TSoA: Chapter 3: EVIL-ution

During Murphy’s phone conversation with Our Isis, Shari takes the opportunity to run out of the room in a snit.  Turns out that all the lying and manipulating and plying-with-puppies had distracted Shari from what was really on her mind: an argument with her “boyfriend,” Paul Wallach.

Yes, Paul Wallach, Poor Little Rich Boy turned Poor Little Poor Boy from Babylon Rising, is still with Shari.

Why?  Hell, I dunno.  Self-destructive tendencies?  Low self-esteem?  (Remember, his daddy never hugged him enough, and never took little Paul to church.)

This whole relationship just bugs the hell outta me.  Paul, from the beginning, was interested in and attracted to Shari.  Shari, however, only ever seems to see him as a conversion prospect.  To add insult to injury, when Paul accepts her invitation to church, it just so happens to be the evening that THE CHURCH IS BOMBED, injuring Paul to the point that he is in a coma for days.

And then Shari is a total jerk to him as he recovers.

And yeah, I can see how a guy with really low self-esteem, who has never known real nurturing and has no other family or friends (remember that he transferred to Preston just that semester, so he hasn’t had time to make new friends) would cling to this relationship long after it should have been declared dead in the water.  “She took care of me!  She must love me, even though we disagree on almost everything and she doesn’t respect me at all!”

Poor sap.

I mean, we know why Shari is sticking with this relationship—Paul hasn’t said the Magic Words and become a full RTC yet.

In fact, he’s dancing with the devil.


“I don’t know who he’s been talking to, but he’s been reading some books.  He keeps quoting someone called Dawkins.”

Wait…Paul has been betraying his Good Christian Girlfriend by reading the writings of Richard Dawkins???



And undoubtedly he has been “talking to” people.  You know how those perfidious atheists are, talking to people … writing books.

(And I find the other implication of the “who he’s been talking to” line to be very creepy—that Shari seems to think that Paul should be socializing with ABSOLUTELY NOBODY AT COLLEGE EXCEPT HER.  Seriously, very disturbing idea.)

And it’s all the work of Satan, no doubt about that.

“He had a copy of Darwin’s The Origin of Species…”

That’s On the Origin of Species, Shari.  Since this is your Most Despised Work and all, you may want to know the actual title.

Okay, before we get into the meat of Shari’s arguments (so to speak), let me express my doubt that Shari would call The Evil One “someone called Dawkins.”  Going to the church she goes to, working for the guy she works for, Shari would no doubt be well-versed in RTC propaganda about Richard Dawkins and his lies (LIES, I TELLS YA) about evil-ution.

To the “meat”!

“I mentioned that my research into the early pioneers of evolution showed that many of them were simply trying to force science to fit in with their preconceived view that God didn’t exist.  So they came up with this theory that species somehow transformed themselves into other species, in order to take God out of the equation.  Yet not one valid transitional fossil has ever been found, despite claims to the contrary.  And with the discovery of the DNA code, which actually prevents one organism from changing into another organism, the theory of evolution today is in shambles…Although I doubt you’ll hear too many evolutionists admit it, especially after all the trouble they’ve gone through to get it taught in schools.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Gish Gallop.

So, since we have Shari’s official Gallop here, let’s take the points one at a time:

I mentioned that my research into the early pioneers of evolution showed that many of them were simply trying to force science to fit in with their preconceived view that God didn’t exist.

Hmmm…early pioneers of evolution, eh?

Like Etienne Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire, a deist?  Like Asa Gray?  Yeah, I can tell you’ve done oodles of research, Shari.  What did this “research” consists of: a conversation with your pastor?

(Oh, and as for Darwin himself, although he became a self-described agnostic later in life, his religious views were complicated and changed many times throughout his life.  He could hardly be described as someone with a “preconceived view that God [doesn’t] exist.”)

So they came up with this theory that species somehow transformed themselves into other species, in order to take God out of the equation.

But of course, creationists would never latch onto the “theory” of creationism because it allegedly squares with what the Bible tells them.  No, sirree.

Yet not one valid transitional fossil has ever been found, despite claims to the contrary.

This is just lying bullshit on Shari’s part, unless you believe in Our Buck’s definition of a “transitional” form:

Here is a list of transitional fossils.  And check out Iron Chariots for more information on the apologetic “no transitional fossils” “argument.”

And with the discovery of the DNA code, which actually prevents one organism from changing into another organism, the theory of evolution today is in shambles…

Well, except for silly Christian scientists like Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and an Evangelical Christian, who points out that DNA is actually better evidence for evolution than fossils:

And it’s breathtaking that you can actually look now at the DNA sequence, which is a fossil record of its own, of an organism that we’re all descended from. And so are all the other mammals because we have enough evidence from today that we are able to look back through history to see what that must have looked like.

Maybe because I’m a geneticist and I’m particularly interested in genomes, but that is more interesting to me than having a fossil record of that individual common ancestor because the genome is much more detailed and gives you a richness of information about that organism. And we can do that. So that fills in a lot of the holes. Again, evolution may seem from the outside to have a lot of complexities and components and, certainly, lots of details—some of which we haven’t worked out—and for anybody to say there are no arguments would be a total mistake. There’s lots of stuff we don’t agree upon. But we do agree upon descent from a common ancestor, gradual change over a long period of time, and natural selection operating to produce the diversity of living species. There is no question that those are correct. Those are three cardinal pillars of Darwin’s theory that have been under-girded by data coming from multiple directions and they are not going to go away. Evolution is not a theory that is going to be discarded next week or next year or a hundred or a thousand years from now. It is true.

-Francis Collins, quoted at The BioLogos Forum, Francis Collins and Karl Giberson Talk about Evolution and the Church, Part 2

So, frankly, I don’t know what Shari is on about with the “DNA disproves evolution” argument.  Unless, of course, she is still talking about crocoducks.

And honestly, creationists are in worse shape than I thought if crocoducks are their A-game.

Although I doubt you’ll hear too many evolutionists admit it, especially after all the trouble they’ve gone through to get it taught in schools.

Yeah, really!  Those silly evolutionists, trying to make sure that science is taught in SCIENCE CLASS.

And creationists never care about getting the Bible taught in science class!

Murphy responds to Shari’s Gallop as follows:

“That’s a great answer, Shari.  Paul’s still unsure of where he stands.”

1.  That is not a great answer.  It is just standard creationist anti-science.

2.  Murph has no idea if Paul is “unsure of where he stands” because Shari doesn’t tell Murphy what Paul said in response.  If Paul has been reading Dawkins and the original On the Origin of Species, I think the odds are pretty good that Paul had a better answer for Shari’s speechifying than, “Duh…”

And here is the point of the whole thing:

“Let’s wait and see what Isis McDonald can tell us about our little piece of wood.  If I’m right, it could open Paul’s eyes in a big way.”

This is the crux of the matter, the theme of the book: Noah’s Ark disproves EVIL-ution.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Shari, those puppies aren’t going to housetrain themselves, you know.