TSoA: Chapter 10: Because I Say So

Sorry for the longish break, everyone.  Things have been busy of late.

Not to worry, though: the plot isn’t going anywhere.


It’s time for another Michael Murphy lecture about Noah’s ark!  (When is he going to get around to teaching his actual course?)

The amphitheater was filled and all eyes were on him.  There were nearly one hundred fifty students in his controversial class on biblical archaeology.

Yeah, it’s quite controversial, because he just spouts off on his latest pet project every week, instead of teaching what he is being paid to teach.  C’mon, Evil Dean Fallworth, where are you when we need you???

This week, in his lame lecture about his ark project, Murphy is going to talk about some slightly more modern people who claimed to have seen the ark.

There was an audible buzz of anticipation as Murphy flipped on the first PowerPoint slide.

Sure there was.  It’s Monday morning at a party school.  There wouldn’t be an audible buzz of anticipation even if the lecture topic was “Ten Foolproof Ways to Get Laid Tonight.”

First up, George Hagopian fer reals saw the ark when he was a kid.

He didn’t bring back a piece of it, because it was made of special God Wood and couldn’t be broken.

He couldn’t tell anyone where it was, because he wasn’t good with maps.


When I was a kid, I was abducted by aliens.


I was spending the summer with my grandparents, and aliens abducted us one night.

I couldn’t bring back anything from the alien craft, because it was made of special Alien Technology and was impervious to taking.

I’d show you the ship, but it went back to its planet.

What?  You don’t believe me just because I have no evidence whatsoever?  Are you calling me a LIAR?

Next, a couple of Turkish soldiers claimed to have seen the ark in 1916.  Like Hagopian, they kept this little tidbit of information to themselves for decades.

Oh, and in my Google Adventures, I found this awesome chart, which is much better than any of Murphy’s PowerPoint slides.

Next, more soldiers.  Russian, this time.  This story seems like it just might have legs, because a whole expedition was sent, and there were measurements and fracking PHOTOGRAPHS, and it all seems very cool until you learn that all of that data “disappeared” and has never resurfaced because hey, Russian Revolution.

By the way, Murphy quotes part of the Russian soldiers’ tale in which it is stated that “at the door-hole at the side of the ship…the wood was porous and it broke easily.”

Man, if only George Hagopian had found this easily-breakable, apparently not-God Wood part of the ark, eh?

Finally, the tale of Ed Davis, who claimed to have seen the ark in 1943 while working for the Army Corps of Engineers.  Davis’s driver takes him to his village at the base of Mount Ararat, where there is a cave where people have stored ark artifacts in order to “protect” them:

That night, they show me the artifacts.  Oil lamps, clay vats, old-style tools, things like that.

Well, I’m convinced!  After all, old-style tools could never come from anyplace except Noah’s ark, and most certainly would never be shown to some gullible American.

(And no, just in case you’re wondering, Davis didn’t get to bring back any of this old shit so that he could prove his claims.)

Davis and his driver’s family trek onto Mount Ararat for well over a week (I guess Davis declared himself on vacation from his supply-route building duties) and finally they get to see the ark.  No, Davis didn’t think to bring a camera.  No, he didn’t bring back any pieces of the ark or any other artifacts, even though the ark was “broken into three or four big pieces.”  (Remember this last part for later in the book!)

So, that’s it.  Anyone sold on any of these accounts?

Lest his students are not, Murphy gives them an assignment:

“I want you to do a study and see what you can find in history about Noah and the Flood.”

Then he quotes the Bible at them and concludes in his own words:

“Noah’s Ark is a testimony that God will not let wickedness run unrestrained forever.”

Yeah, I can’t imagine that anyone, especially the dean of the department, would ever have a problem with Murphy saying stuff like that in class.


Posted on July 28, 2012, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy

    We now have the first John Galt single-run-on-sentence chapter, breaking the fourth wall to preach directly to the reader.

    The first of probably many. Even Atlas Shrugged had only one.

  2. hidden_urchin

    Do we have an awesome chapter when one of the students comes back and compares the stories in the Bible to the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Enuma Elish?

  3. “Noah’s Ark is a testimony that God will not let wickedness run unrestrained forever.

    Odd. I could have sworn that last time *I* read the book, the *rainbow* was God’s promise that no matter how bad it got, he’d never send another flood like that again… (But apparently, he never promised he wouldn’t send earthquakes, tornadoes, and eventually TurboJesus.)

    • Well, you see, even if God does promise never to do something, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. After all, anything God does is Good by definition, so if he later decides to flood the world again and commit world genocide… well. That’s just God’s will. And it must be Good. Because God says so. His morality is so infinitely beyond us that we can’t even hope to comprehend it. And he is completely justified in everything he does to us, Good or Bad, and we can’t even argue about that.

      … What? I’m making God sound like the sort of thing Commander Shepard should be assembling an alliance to defeat when it attacks in the third game of a trilogy? Nonsense.

      • Well, you see, even if God does promise never to do something, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. After all, anything God does is Good by definition, so if he later decides to flood the world again and commit world genocide… well. That’s just God’s will.

        Oh, granted. I just find it odd that someone reads that text and thinks not “okay, so in theory that’s one way that the big guy has promised NOT to destroy the world” but instead thinks “oh, goody, we can count on the big guy to do just this much devastation NEXT time people get too uppity and bad”…

    • I found that interpretation of Noah’s Ark both telling and disturbing. It seems to underline the revenge fantasies that apocalyptic musings have become in the evangelical culture.

  4. After considerable time, I have finally caught up on a significant portion of the archive in general and all of Michael Murphy in particular. I tentatively announce my intention to engage in the making of pointed comments and assorted witticisms. And possibly, with time, to sit at the cool kids’ table.

  5. I like that last story best. The locals showed him stuff that alegedly came from the Ark, and then promised to take him there a few days later. And he never thought of bringing a camera, or for that matter, a truck. The Murphy’s of this world could explain why the other people just didn’t happen to have a camera handy when they stumbled on the Ark, but this guy seriously has no excuse. Ammusing also that their tales of the state of the Ark are mutually exlusive.

    Somewhat off topic, Diamanda Hagan recently put her reviews of the 4 movies in the Apocalypse series on thatguywiththeglasses. I felt now was as good a time as any to plug it. The reviews are pretty funny, and especially the first movie might be a fun palette cleanser for Ruby after this book, assuming Ruby has no objections to re-reviewing. She summed up that one with “Everything about Left Behind (the movie) that was bad, this movie does worse. Everything about Left Behind that wasn’t bad… – Stop laughing. There was some good there. Probably.- Anyway, anything about Left Behind that was good, this movie does worse.”

    The second movie I found notable because y’know how we talk about ‘abelism’ in terms of the careless usages of words like ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’? (Content warning, Diamada does that. Among other things. Her review schtick is that she poses as an evil overlord with disposable minions) Well, the second movie is to abelism what Birth of a Nation is to racism. The third movie is more run-of-the-mill bad, and the fourth one is mostly interesting because Mr T. is in it.

    The four movies are here:

    And in case you’re curious, her Left Behind review is here:

  6. I saw a fairy when I was a kid. I can remember exactly what it looked like. It was by a stream under a willow tree in our backyard.

    Michael Murphy should take this as incontrovertible evidence that fairies exist, right?

    • Grammar Police

      Otherwise intelligent people can get taken in by riduculous stories. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes) was convinced fairies existed because two little girls said they did. But at least in his case there was photographic evidence of fairies. Laughably fake photos but photos nonetheless. See, Murph? Providing “evidence” in addition to testimonials isn’t hard! All you need is a few cut-outs from a magazine, some straight pins, and a disposable camera. Voila!

      “I want you to do a study and see what you can find in history about Noah and the Flood.”
      1) would that be Really Truly History, or your personal brand of “history” there, Murphy?
      2) Um, as a “professor” trying to prove the existance of the Ark, isn’t it YOUR job to do that kind of research, Murphy?
      3) If your students were taking good notes, Murphy, all they would have to do to complete the homework to your satisfaction is regurgitate what you’ve already lectured on. That’s not homework. That’s an open-book pop quiz.

      • There was, and is, a heaping helping of sexism in Doyle et al believing those girls too. (Some people still insist it wasn’t a hoax.)The girls were 16 and 10, and the 16-year old had been an assistant in a photographer’s studio. But the people who believed their hoax thought of them as “little girls” who would never do such a thing, not just because “little girls” were oh so innocent, but because they couldn’t possibly have the skills to do it. Since they were girls.

        I’m mostly very happy that I didn’t live in that era, but when I think of the Cottingley fairy hoax, I get a twinge of regret. If I’d been lucky enough to have been born into the middle or upper class, I could have gotten away with so much stuff.

        • Not just sexism, but classism too (They were too lower-class to know how to fake such things) coupled with the assumption that girls wouldn’t lie to people of a superior class and all sorts of other biases.

          I don’t know how much such biases played into Doyle’s endorsement (he lost his son in one of the world wars, and went from being a skeptic to super-credulous as a result of that, becoming a spiritualist out of a deep desire to be able to talk to him again) but it’s pretty much the only reason the story got believed at all in the first place.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            After Doyle’s son was killed in WW1, if you came up to Doyle and said you were channeling his dead son, he’d believe anything you told him. Doyle and his friend Harry Houdini had some knock-down drag-outs over it.

            When I related this to a litfan who knew something about Doyle, her response was “That’s sad.”

      • Word.

        I don’t know if Jenkins even realizes he’s doing it, but he’s writing the kind of professor people laugh at when he’s not around, take his class for the easy A, and then forget about after exams are over. Seriously, settng up an assignment so students can just download the Powerpoint and restate the argument? Why even have one?

        Why not, if he’s a true believer, cast the argument like this?

        “There have been mythical objects people have claimed to find throughout the centuries. For your assignment, find one particular object people have claimed exists and discuss the authenticity of the claims for the object’s true existence.”

        Then after the assignment’s handed in, discuss Noah’s Ark and show that as a case study, it ranks right up there as #1!

        I mean, sheez, then he could legitimately claim to impress students with his mad skilz.

  7. Noah’s Ark is apparently a testimony that God will let stupidity run unrestrained forever.

    As for believing children’s stories… look up the history of spiritualism some time.

  8. I like that chart. The fact that so many different people over the centuries could find the same artifact in the same place and not /one/ could bring back the slightest shred of proof or lead other people back to it obviously proves that it exists.

  9. Okay, so this is completely unrelated to this post, but I’m trying to track down a specific post from somewhere in this general Slacktivist-community-overlapping deconstruction group. I want to find it partly because this particular point was very well-written, partly because I want to give the proper credit, and partly because half-remembering things pisses me off.


    All I can remember is that there was a scene with an organized (political? protesting?) crowd, and the author described a “girl” doing something like handing out drinks or pamphlets. The deconstructor’s response was along the lines of, “oh my god, who let a young child wander around this huge crowd and — oh, wait, the author is just referring to a woman in her early 20’s as a ‘girl’ because he sucks.”

    So, yeah, any help is appreciated. Thanks!

  10. Oil lamps? On an enormous pitch-covered wooden boat tossing about in the middle of the ocean, full to the brim with animals and the accumulated poop from said animals and the accumulated methane from said poop. I should think God would maybe spare a couple of continual light spells for Noah instead.

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