Paleojudecia links to an article in The Guardian about the latest quest of Robert Ballard (the guy who found the Titanic in 1985). He’s about to dive in to the Black Sea in search of another historically significant boat. The new object of his ambition is not another sybol of human hubris, but rather the ark that preserved human life through the great flood. The Guardian, as usual, does its comical best to caress the enlightened ego of its readership:

Like George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell, the authors of Genesis are not writing history, but are engaged in an imaginative investigation of the human predicament.

and (they forgot to credit Jessee Ventura for this quote)

But humans are also meaning-seeking creatures, who fall very easily into despair. When faced with tragedy, reason is silent and has nothing to say. It was mythology and its accompanying rituals that showed people how to acquire the strength to go on.

And just in case we didn’t get the point,

But the biblical writers would have been astonished to hear about a scientific expedition to find the “real” flood. In the premodern perspective, mythos and logos each had its own sphere of competence. If you confused them, you had bad science – like that of the creationists. You also had bad religion. Until we recover a sense of the mythical, our scriptures will remain opaque, and our faith – as well as our unbelief – will be misplaced.

The author accidentally makes a good point here. Much like the author, we do often put words in to the mouths of biblical writers. I, for one, wish that our collective goal as believers was less legal and scientific and instead more mystical (ok, the author used the word “mythical”). Right living is important, but is pointless in the absence of a relationship with the holy creator of this universe. How differently is our faith expressed when our eyes are focused on the mysterious nature of God rather than encouraging a populus to listen to the right radio stations, vote for the Republican candidate and give plenty of money to the church? Our right living is a testimony, but only if it is inspired by an awe of He who taught us how to “number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

This project is likely to stir loud, angry and pointless responses on both sides of the science-religion chasm. Who really cares? There’s not going to be a single non-believer led to Christ because a boat was lifted from the water. No one will renounce their faith because if Ballard finds nothing more than a few pair of shoes and spent bottles of Stoli.

Solomon commented on this one a long time ago.

I thought to myself, “Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone… before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.