Anyone who has any familiarity with my weekly columns during the past almost 25 years is aware that I don’t profess to be an authority on the Christian Bible — familiar, yes, authority, no.
I have enjoyed reading Bishop John Shelby Spong’s “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Karen L. King, professor of New Testament studies and history of ancient Christianity, Harvard University, writes: “Bishop Spong’s book should be required reading for everyone concerned with facing head-on the intellectual and spiritual challenges of the late twentieth-century religious life.”
Also, I’ve enjoyed Spong’s book, “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism — a Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture,” which was a national bestseller.
Today’s column, however, is not about these two books, specifically. My main source of statistics is from the writings of one of my favorite authors, Edward O. Wilson, and I would like to relate those statistics to the story of the flood and Noah’s ark in the Old Testament.
Dr. Wilson is a professor of entomology at Harvard University. In addition to two Pulitzer Prizes, he has won many scientific awards, including the National Medal of Science.
Dr. Wilson’s special interest is the natural history of ants. He speaks of several collecting trips focusing on ant biology.
He writes of a collecting trip in the Peruvian rain forest (“Journey to the Ants”) in 1994. In one site alone of 20 acres, Wilson and other collectors identified more than 300 species of ants. They identified 43 species from a single tree.
A grand total of 750,000 species of insects that have been recognized by biologists as of this date. That includes ants. About 2,000 species of termites are known to science.
The above figures are about ants. They range 20,000 or more species from the Artic Circle to the tip of South America. But what about the number of other species on Earth?
According to Dr. Wilson the number could be close to 10 million or as high as 100 million (So — if you should be interested in taxonomy (scientific classification of plants and animals), there is plenty of work out there for you. My main interest in biology was plant classification.
The literal account in the Bible says that the flood covered the whole earth (Genesis 7: 19, 20). For the flood waters to be literately true, the waters would have to be five miles deep. “A universal flood that covered the whole earth is not factual in human history. It exists only in our mythology.”
Yes — Noah had to be a very busy man, a great collector of plants and animals with a place to put them.
I have enjoyed reading Bishop Spong’s books, and, also I have tried to collect and read the books of Edward O. Wilson, including “The Future of Life.”
Written by Robert McGowan, a Bartlett resident, former professor of biology at the University of Memphis and regular columnist for The Bartlett Express. Contact him at (901) 828-6039 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.