Noah & Natural History

Like Cecil B. DeMille's past epics, the new film, Noah, brings a Bible story to the big screen.  Initial reviews praise its special effects but, as one might expect, the Hollywood version is controversial, not strictly in line with the biblical plot.

Unfortunately, such films lend credence to the historical value of Scripture, placing its narrative on a par with the scientific investigation of natural history.  Those who favor the literal interpretation of ancient scripture and accept the doctrine of creationism will criticize the film for its artistic license while  biologists, geologists and anthropologists will recognize it as just another product of man's potent imagination.  Many of us are inclined to ask if South American tapirs, polar bears, giant pandas, Emperor penguins and other non-natives of the Middle East were in the arc.  Others might question whether human cultures on other Continents were wiped out by the flood; after all, they had dispersed to those regions long before Noah is purported to have lived.

Religion is most dangerous when it masquerades as science and its simplistic stories, not subject to scientific investigation, have a powerful influence on large segments of human society, especially on those who, for whatever reason, are poorly educated.  The producers of Noah will surely rake in substantial profits from this film but it will only serve to inflame the ongoing war between science and religion.