Obviously, the story of a catastrophic flood and Noah’s Ark in chapters 6,7,8, and 9 of the book of Genesis is not a description of a specific world-wide event that actually happened. There was no such event recorded in any archeological finding. It might have been based on a historical experience in a place like Egypt, Babylon (present day Iraq), or Armenia (Mount Ararat is in Armenia). In highschool history lessons, I learned that experience of frequent flooding caused rapid development of civilization in places like China and Egypt. They had to cope with and survive repeated natural disasters, thus helped them to develop science and technology in the earliest human history.
Algebra and Trigonometry were invented and developed in Egypt in order to ensure property rights after devastation where everything was wiped away. Food production was enhanced enormously because floods brought fertile soil from high-lands. Food became abundant. Economy grew fast and population as well. People became affluent. Thus many forms of culture a mark of the civilized society such as artistic and literal culture developed consequently. This is the reason the earliest civilizations were found in flood prone regions of the world, such as China, Egypt, India, and Mesopotamia.
Noah’s Arc represents such a development; building of a big ship and food production. The dove brought back an olive branch when rains stopped. Do you know that this story is the earliest mention of ‘wine’ in the Bible? Olive and grapes are still major cash crops in the Middle East. Noah got drunk and boys were so ashamed of their father’s drunken nakedness. He probably left the left-over grape juice over-night, which became alcoholic. He probably didn’t know.
I want to encourage you to think about the meaning of what the Bible deals with natural disasters. The insurance industry calls it “Act of God”. Why God allows such tragedies to happen Or does God have anything to do with it? Think about the recent catastrophes: earthquakes in Haiti, New Zealand, Japan, and Turkey; or tsunami in Indonesia and Japan, or hurricane in New Orleans. Was God responsible? Were they the sign of the wrath of God for corruption of people?
The ancient Hebrews obviously thought so; the act of God, or punishment. Some fundamentalist TV evangelists like Jerry Falwell suggested that: “Indonesians are Muslims. So God punished them.” Or “New Orleans is a sinful city.” Etc, etc. Do you really believe that natural disasters are punishments from God? How do you answer people who ask, “Why does God do this to me?” If you don’t, how should you understand Noah’s story?
There are other tidbits that may be interesting to think about. What about angels (or heavenly beings) falling in love with beautiful human girls, which God obviously didn’t like? Were the animals who perished with sinful people in the flood also sinful? It sounds so unfair! Or what about the ages of people. Did Noah actually lived more than 600 years? If you believe the account of the Bible is the historical facts, you have to struggle also with the question of incest. How did Cain and Abel produce their children? There was no other humans other than their parents, Adam and Eve.