The story of Noah and the Ark is told in Genesis chapters five through eight. Chapter seven verse seventeen states, the flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth (Genesis 7:17).
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For many believers of Christianity, this story is taken literally. Many believe that water truly flooded the surface of the earth for forty days and forty nights. Yet, what if this was not the absolute truth? Would these believers’ overall faith be destroyed? Over the course of this semester, we have examined an array of topics, but one comprehensive question that can be asked is what gives up and what holds in one’s faith? This question can be asked about concerning topics such as religious truth, doctrinal entanglement, and the afterlife.
When evaluating religious truth, the individual has to find out where the line is drawn??”what has to be true for him or her? This conclusion involves acknowledgement of the continuum and an evaluation of oneself and one’s beliefs. One must decide whether he or she takes the belief literally or is willing to value more the affect the belief has on his or her life. Religious truth can involve three realisms which are not mutually exclusive. The first, coherence realism, displays a situation in which there is something that makes the beliefs true, but that can be described in many ways. The truth of the story is determined by its effects on the lives of the believers. The second, lifeworld realism, displays the values that affect one’s life and touches the heart of religious truth. It constitutes a truth beyond human lives, represented in different ways in different cultures. The third, simple realism, describes a situation in which the story must be translated into statements that either depict what actually occurred or not. It may have moral, emotional, or aesthetic value, but it may not be true unless what is depicted truly happened.
When considering doctrinal entanglement, the individual has to consider what gives up and what holds in their belief, truth, and experience. Being doctrinally entangled comes in multiple degrees. Some people would be shattered if they found that what they believed in was a lie. What would constitute a lie would vary from any statement in a sacred book or sermon being less than literally true to only a few central beliefs being questioned. When considering the importance of the reality of the flood to a Christian, that believer would have to decide whether the literal truth to that one story legitimizes all the other stories in the Bible, or if it serves a better purpose as to shed light, hope, and share the characteristics of God and creation which could add value to one’s life. Some would be devastated if they found out that their belief was a lie while others would primarily value the experience and feelings.
With beliefs, truth, and commitments one inevitably discovers what he or she is committed to. An example of this is how a bet is waged. If a person bets on who will win the Kentucky Derby, they have to go through the process of placing their bet, watching the race, and paying the winner. The cases have to be determined to make an accurate prediction and steps must be followed after the bet is placed. These commitments can be viewed empirically, formally, or can be valued. In empirical commitments, one has to look. They can combine empirical evidence to determine the bet by visual examination. In formal commitments, one has to appeal to the rules of the procedure. With value commitments, one can see what commitment is more important to him or her. This kind of commitment makes it tricky to pay off the bet. A person will either agree to disagree, or they will fight for it. We can believe in any of these commitments and any of them can lead to the truth, they are simply justified in diverse ways and involve different beliefs and truths. Depending on the statement a person will take different actions.
When considering the afterlife, the individual has to ask themselves what would sway them in their beliefs. If a person was crushed to discover that the literal truth of a story in the Bible, such as the flood, was not valid, how would he or she interpret a topic such as the afterlife or the resurrection? Words have meaning, and when words are used in contexts that do not have explicit meaning, we get confused. The concept of an afterlife is difficult because it involves death and is a term that goes beyond science. Once the body is gone, we are talking about the spiritual self. Yet, we cannot conceive what life without a body is like. No one truly knows what the afterlife will be like or if it truly exists, yet it can serve as a goal. The afterlife can be seen as a state, or a meaningful spiritual life. It can motivate one to devote themselves to something much larger and allow that person to push past pleasure and pain.
At the beginning of the semester, I would have immediately assumed that the story of Noah and the Arc was literal, intended to show believers the depth of God’s love, holiness, and compassion. Now when I look at images such as the flood, Kali and Shiva, or any other religious story, I can see more than just the black and white. I realize that these stories can have a deeper meaning and I can to relate to them more clearly through techniques such as simple realism.
Tolerance is involved as a factor regarding the truth of a religious subject. An individual has to find out what is critical to them and make a choice. This choice reaches beyond yes or no and can bred more meaningful discussion. All the options make the individual find the data and meaning in the in between. Tolerance allows a person to think over religious stories, like the flood, or topics, like afterlife, so that they can develop discipline. Although it may be hard to make sense of and be truly confident in what one hopes for, researching and opening dialogue about these things can allow a person to find goodness in life and personal truth in religion.
Genesis. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Crossway Bibles. Good News Publishers.
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