I woke this morning to an AOL headline, “Evidence Suggests Flood, Noah’s Ark Existed, Says Robert Ballard, Archaeologist Who Found Titanic.”
I wish I could gather all the people who want to “prove” the Bible into one place at one time. I would like to beg them to stop wasting their lives and setting their readers on a wild goose chase. If the Bible is true, it is symbolically true about the here and now. If the truth of the Bible is about something that happened long ago somewhere else, then it would be history or science, not revelation.
“Revelation” as the word for a kind of poetry that “reveals” aspects of our experience as human beings in the universe. Our lives are so short, and we are so small, that symbols can be very helpful. Symbolic poetry can reveal our interconnectedness with all. It can share with us the experience of many lifetimes to illumine our own brief span. The poetry of revelation can bring us face to face with experiential truths we may not want to face. For example, that choosing power over love may feel safer, but domination carries the seeds of its own destruction.
Aesop once wrote a fable about a fox who was hungry. The fox saw a cluster of grapes in a tree and repeatedly jumped to reach them but each time fell short. Realizing he would never reach the grapes, the fox muttered, “they were probably sour anyway.” Now, the point of that story isn’t really about foxes at all. The story is about rationalization. So, even if we could find the remains of the fox to “prove” the story was true we would still be missing the whole point of the story.
To answer questions about “what” or “how” we must turn to science, but questions about “who” and “why” are subjective and require a different vocabulary, that of poetry and symbols. Even if someone finds Jesus’ face on a shroud, or Mary’s face on taco, even if they find the ark with Noah still in it, we would still come back to the question “who am I in the universe?” And to answer that question we need poetry and symbols, not science or history.