In late June 2012, The Skeptic Zone, the podcast of the Australian Skeptics society and one of my favourites, held a religious limericks competition. I played around with the idea of a limerick about the story of Noah, one of my favourite barmy bible stories, for about a week before I wrote it down anywhere. There quickly followed several more in the space of a couple of hours and before I knew it I was hooked.
While the aloof haiku form constrains one to a set pattern of syllables and an unjustified air of smugness, the limerick not only has a very definite meter and length but it also has to rhyme and be funny and so it is – by any measure – superior to the pretentious haiku.
I won the competition with my first limerick, the one about Noah – but the judge later emailed me to say that he actually preferred my limerick about choking the chicken instead, but it wasn’t PG enough.
In Sodom lived Lot, the goat farmer
The model of a biblical Father.
To a mob bent on slaughter
He offered his daughters
And ‘lay’ with them both shortly after
God sends a couple of angels to visit Lot, the only good
paedophile man in Sodom. A mob comes to Lots door and rather brazenly demand that he send out his house-guests so that ‘they might know them’. Guess they were really attractive angels. Anyway, Lot is a stand-up kind of guy and won’t brook this kind of treatment of his guests. To appease the mob, he instead offers them his two virgin daughters so they coud ’do.. to them as is good in your eyes’ – nice chap.
A little bit later, as most people know, God decides to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah – after giving Lot time to flee with his wife and daughters. The bible doesn’t mention the inevitably awkward conversation between Lot and the two daughters he just offered to a ravenous mob but he is only just getting started in messing up father-daughter relations. But first: Lots wife gets turned into a pillar of salt for being just slightly curious about the fate of her home-town.
Recently bereaved Lot and his two daughters, who remain with the cowardly old fart, shack up in a cave and mope for a bit. What we read next leaves us in little doubt who got to write their version of the story for posterity. Apparently, Lots scheming, sex-crazed daughters plan to get their dear old dad drunk and ‘trick’ him into having sex with them, one after another until they are pregnant. Lots daughters fall pregnant by him, and all we hear is that their children become the founders of a couple more tribes… and that’s it – an old man has sex with his two daughters (they get the blame too, naturally), knocks them up and God is all of a sudden not in a smiting mood anymore. I’m sure there’s some sort of moral lesson hidden in here somewhere – really, really hidden.
Yet another thing angers Yahweh
What is this sin? you might say
It’s called Onanism,
The spilling of jism
And don’t even mention bukkake
God kills Er, first born son of Judah for no reason worth mentioning – all we hear is that he’s wicked in the eyes of the Lord and apparently that’s reason enough for any omnipotent, omnibenevolent immortal being. As is tradition, it then falls to Onan, Er’s brother, to knock up his widow but he’s not really that into it and pulls out at the crucial moment. This really ticks off Jehovah and he gets busy with the smiting stick again.
This little cautionary tale is the main reason that the catholic church is so down on contraception and so keen on forcing women to carry foetuses they don’t want.
Funny Awful thing is, Onan’s big sin wasn’t coughing his yoghurt on the ground – but his refusal to give his brother’s widow an heir and passing on Judah’s line – really important in a patriarchal society that hands down property in the male line.
There once was a man named Noah
Who built an Ark for Jehovah
Though when built to spec
Its size is suspect -
‘Cause the mammals alone overflow her
In Genesis 6 God commands Noah to build an Ark 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide by 30 cubits high. Into this 41,000 m3 space he is supposed to cram ’every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort’ on the planet – and all the food necessary to feed them (the account is silent on what the carnivores on the Ark were supposed to eat – probably unicorns, manticores and mermaids) . Indeed, as any good creationist will tell you, every living species we see today was represented by a breeding pair on Noah’s ark (although these were only the ‘unclean’ ones – of the ‘clean’ ones there were seven of each). Fossil remains of animals that no longer exist are taken as evidence that, contrary to what God promises, some species of animals were left behind and thus we no longer have dinosaurs, trilobites, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs.. in fact the 99.999% of all species that have gone extinct in the history of life on the planet were all wiped out in ‘the flood’.
Leaving aside God’s really bad logistical management of a situation he was fully in control of, being omnipotent and all. The given size of the Ark truly reflects the world view of a loose affiliation of nomadic desert tribes around the fertile crescent a couple of thousand years ago. The estimated displacement of the ark, given the dimensions in the bible, is around 40,000 tons. It’s big, but not THAT big – certainly not big enough to contain a pair of each current animal species on the earth – and the food necessary to feed them all for over a year. In contrast the largest ship built in the 20th Century, the Seawise Giant had a displacement of over 564,000 tons
Some Creationist apologists have argued that when the bible states that Noah carried a pair of each ‘Kind’ of animal on the ark it means that the animals on the Ark were ancestor species of all of our current species and therefore he needed to stable far fewer animals than would first appear. Ironically the rate of change required to get from this hypothetical breeding stock of a few kinds or ‘Baramins’ to todays diversity of species in less than 6,000 years is far in excess of any observed or predicted rate of change from evolutionary theory.