Syphilis, Leprosy & Noah’s Ark

This is one of the most extraordinary articles we’ve ever seen at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. The title is How Did Infectious Diseases Get on the Ark?

It was written by Andrew Fabich. AIG provides some information about him here. They say he has a PhD in microbiology, and he has taught that subject at Liberty University. The last time we wrote about one of his AIG articles was Answers in Genesis & the Zika Virus. He informed us that the Zika virus probably became pathogenic as a result of the Fall, and the best way to deal with it is the power of prayer.

We’ll skip much of what he says about “bad germs — pathogens that seem to exist only to make us sick,” because there are better sources of information. Instead, we’ll give you only the fun stuff, with bold font added by us and scripture references omitted. Our post may seem to wander, but we attribute that to the raw chaos of the AIG essay. After a long beginning that meanders all over the place, Fabich finally says:

By inference, Adam and the patriarchs leading up to Noah very likely did not live in a world with very many pathogens. The infectious diseases during the time of Genesis 3–11 must have been only a fraction of a percent (based on current known mutation rates and observed rates of emerging infectious diseases). However, there are lingering questions about just what kinds of germs were aboard the Ark.

Since the bible is silent about bacteria and viruses, there are certain to be lingering questions, but the creation scientists at AIG are somehow able to deal with such issues. Fabich tells us:

Skeptics often cite the presence of pathogenic germs on the Ark as a reason not to believe the biblical account. Skeptics will point out that there are a number of disease-causing bacteria that only exist inside of humans as a host. It is not uncommon to find the same diseases in animals and in humans, but the diseases that are found only in humans can seem like a problem if there was a global Flood because diseases found only in humans means that these diseases would’ve had to have been inside Noah and his immediate family to exist after the Flood. Furthermore, the Flood lasted for an entire year, and that could possibly mean that Noah and his family would have carried these germs with them for an entire year.

That’s an excellent point! How does Fabich handle it? He makes an amusing digression:

In a Darwinian worldview, there is no reason to practice medicine because the unfit should be left to die; however the biblical creationist sees value in all life that God gives.

Then he gets down to business:

First, we must restate that God created all microorganisms. Even though the word germ does not appear in Scripture, that does not mean that God didn’t create them. Many other modern words such as trinity, dinosaur, or Pixar [Huh?] are not in the Bible but we know that they exist. Bacteria were created early in Creation Week and were part of what was pronounced “very good” [scripture reference]. Due to Adam’s sin, all of creation was cursed to varying degrees; the genomic deterioration of microbes began at that time. We cannot know for certain that microbes immediately became pathogenic and began to kill living things right after the Fall, but we do know that the origin of “molecular” thorns and thistles could have happened at that time because of the thorns and thistles on plants [scripture reference].

After that he returns to the original question:

If you visit the Ark Encounter today, there isn’t an exhibit dedicated to showing gruesome infectious diseases because there likely weren’t many infectious diseases during the days of Noah. While the number of infectious diseases were likely low, we know that there are some very ancient diseases still affecting mankind, such as syphilis, cholera, typhoid, pneumonia, tuberculosis, the plague, and leprosy. These infectious diseases could pose a problem by being on the Ark, seeing that these germs are extremely infectious with high rates of mortality. Furthermore, some of these infectious diseases are only found in humans. Therefore, either these germs were on the Ark in hidden form or skeptics are just grasping at straws to discredit God’s Word.

Well, what’s the answer? Fabich first discusses pneumonia:

Noah and at least his son Shem lived a long time after the Flood. Each of them likely were carrying some kind of infectious disease, but their bodies were in such good health that even minor disturbances like living on an Ark did nothing to their overall health. The possibility exists that Noah and his family were carrying a number of potentially harmful germs, but Noah and his family had bodies that were not as affected by cumulative years of sin and its effects as ours are today. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that the mutation rates sped up drastically after the Flood so that normal germs would also be changed into disease-causing germs in just a few generations.

Then it gets interesting:

The final category of germs on the Ark is the most difficult to explain. They are the ones that only make humans sick and are only found in humans. What makes these germs particularly difficult to understand in light of the Ark is that they cause sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Of the list of ancient diseases, STDs such as syphilis might initially seem difficult to explain in terms of how were they on the Ark. However, we have two likely explanations for diseases like syphilis being around during the time of the Flood.

Syphilis? Egad! Moving along:

The first possibility for how STDs got a boarding pass on the Ark involves the wickedness of Noah’s day. We know that Noah found grace, but all eight people on the Ark were still sinners and (more importantly) Scripture is silent on the purity of the seven other people on the Ark (admittedly, this is biblical conjecture on my part, and an argument from silence is not as strong as an argument directly from the text). The days of Noah also included the days leading up to the Flood. During those last days before the Flood, many people were living impure lifestyles [scripture reference].

Ahh — they were all fooling around. Maybe Noah’s wife was the Whore of Babylon! Let’s read on:

Syphilis is the commonly cited ancient sexually transmitted disease to consider in light of both proposals for the origin of STDs and the Ark. We know syphilis was present in “ancient” man because Neanderthals had syphilis. … Neanderthals were completely human; therefore, knowing when, where, and how they lived, it is entirely reasonable that Noah’s descendants may have been similar to Neanderthals in their sexual behaviors. … The days of Noah within a couple short generations after the Flood could have been similar to today’s standards of sexual promiscuity and immorality. … In all honesty, neither evolutionists nor creationists can definitively conclude the origin of something like syphilis because there are too few clues. However, we can be certain it spread in a post-Flood world and is very ancient to the extent that it could date back as far as Noah’s family.

Okay, so they all had syphilis. What about leprosy? Here’s what Fabich says:

Throughout Scripture, especially in the books of Moses, we see that diseases like leprosy are compared to the spiritual illness called sin [scripture references]. The irony of pointing out apparent problems with certain diseases coming on the Ark is simultaneously a dismissal of God’s judgement of sin by the Flood and by His ultimate judgement of sin on the Cross.

That’s nice, but we’re not told whether Noah and his family had leprosy. Fabich ends his long essay with this:

The ultimate issue is one between man’s word and God’s Word. When we align our will with His, we will accept that our sinfulness is worthy of judgment. Our only salvation from the spiritual disease of sin is to accept the sin payment made by the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord for His provision of an Ark of salvation in the Lord Jesus. We can also praise the Lord that, though there were trillions of bacteria and microbes on the Ark, there weren’t more infectious diseases at that time or mankind would’ve been wiped out shortly after stepping off the Ark.

Now, dear reader, you know all there is to know about pathogens and Noah’s Ark. As we understand it, Noah and his family were syphilitic lepers. If you disagree, please explain it to us.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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26 responses to “Syphilis, Leprosy & Noah’s Ark

  1. How can anyone claim do rely on scripture alone, and admit that scripture has nothing to say about microbes, and then have much to say about microbes from the distant past?
    And not have anyone question about it?

  2. Another arkload.

  3. Help me! I can’t stop laughing!

  4. michaelfugate

    Jesus + syphilis = syphilis. With or without Jesus, the nature of the disease is indistinguishable.

  5. This has to be one of the strangest posts to appear on the AiG website, and that is a pretty high bar.

    Maybe Noah had syphilis. Priceless.

  6. I’m failing to come up with a word that conveys something that is beyond silly. Instead, I’ll go with Monty Python and call the article a pediculous mass of parrot droppings.

  7. michaelfugate

    From his biography at Liberty U….”Dr. Fabich did his dissertation on understanding how good and bad E. coli colonize the mammalian intestine to cause disease. ”

    “Good” bacteria cause disease?

  8. MR Fabrich ( I reserve the term doctor for actual scientists) should know a lot about germs, being one. Failte !

  9. “Noah and his family had bodies that were not as affected by cumulative years of sin and its effects as ours are today.”

    Here’s hoping the sin gene is recessive.

  10. There are literally hundreds of infectious diseases that affect humans, and a similar number of parasitic diseases (protozoans, parasitic worms, etc.). Are we to assume that the eight people on the Ark carried all these diseases, but they were just able to survive because they were less affected by cumulative sin? (What does that even mean?)

    And what about other animals? Wikipedia lists dozens of canine diseases. Were the two canids on the ark infected with all of them?

  11. Why should anyone be interested in the diseases that attack different kinds? It is as irrelevant as studying diarrhea in locusts or viruses in tobacco plants or eyes in flies!

  12. In a Darwinian worldview, there is no reason to practice medicine because the unfit should be left to die; however the biblical creationist sees value in all life that God gives.

    Rubbish. “In a Darwinian worldview,” the “unfit” don’t have to be left to die; they are shown to be unfit because they die with fewer offspring than do the “fit.” And it should be noted that altruism can be, and has been, incorporated into Darwinism: the species as a whole benefits if individuals are protected. Therefore, there is a Darwinian rationale for practicing medicine after all.

    The ultimate issue is one between man’s word and God’s Word. When we align our will with His, we will accept that our sinfulness is worthy of judgment. Our only salvation from the spiritual disease of sin is to accept the sin payment made by the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord for His provision of an Ark of salvation in the Lord Jesus. We can also praise the Lord that, though there were trillions of bacteria and microbes on the Ark, there weren’t more infectious diseases at that time or mankind would’ve been wiped out shortly after stepping off the Ark.

    And how does any of this prove anything . . . about anything? Witch-Dr. Fabich isn’t making an argument; he’s preaching a sermon.

  13. Again, this is just another variation of “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin”. Like middle school boys arguing over the supposed super powers of some Dungeons & Dragons characters.

    All these convoluted arguments to support their favorite fantasy story! What a supreme waste of time, energy, and brain resources! Makes one want to shake them by the shoulders and say, “Get real, people! There are real, serious problems in this world that perhaps you can help solve, rather than trying to convince the rest of us that your fantasy is actually fact.”

  14. Man, this ark episode is getting complicated. Good thing Liberty University has a microbiologist to straighten it all out for us.

    Come to think of it, somebody should remind him about armadillos. It was armadillos that harbored leprosy. They are one of the very few–perhaps the only–animals besides humans susceptible to it. Their role in preserving one of God’s precious infectious agents would have lightened the microbial load that had to be carried by the eight human beings on board and should simplify things for Fabich.

  15. “The ultimate issue is one between man’s word and God’s Word.”

    By inference
    Must have been
    Would have had to have been
    We cannot know for certain
    Could have happened
    We cannot know for certain
    There likely weren’t
    Likely low
    Could pose a problem
    Likely were
    The possibility exists
    Likely explanation
    Biblical conjecture
    Could have been
    It could
    We can be certain

    Isn’t this Fabich telling us we should reject everything he’s written in this article other than the scripture quotes?

  16. Holding The Line In Florida

    Giving sermons? Isn’t that the only thing these people do? Regardless of the subject it always comes to “Our way is the only way, everyone else is doomed to the lake of fire!”

  17. @retired prof

    Leprosy in armadillos? It’s a good thing we have the automobile to keep the armadillo population in check.

  18. Yes, Ed, automobiles are deadly to armadillos. Also squirrels.

    The reason? The Intelligent Designer built them to evade agile predators but not huge clumsy machines thundering along highways. Armadillos startle their natural enemies by leaping straight up, and then, when they come down, taking off in an unpredictable direction. That sudden leap sends them crashing right up into the undercarriage of a speeding vehicle.

    Squirrels fake out foxes, hawks, and owls by zig-zagging two or three times, then darting away. The “strategy” looks like nothing more than blind panic, and it may be; it’s just that squirrels that went all squirrely in a crisis tended to outlive stolid contemplative ones. The number of squirrels we see flattened on pavements shows how ill their behavior serves them on roadways.

    You’d think a Designer that was truly intelligent and truly cared about all his creatures would have built in alternative escape behaviors the animals could hold in reserve till human beings developed automobiles, as He (being omniscient and all) knew they would eventually do.

  19. Eddie Janssen

    It is almost impossible to believe that even Ken Ham would agree with everything that Fabich introduces here.

  20. Retired Prof:
    “The Intelligent Designer built them [armadillos] to evade agile predators…”

    Looks like you’ve solved a problem for the Discoveroids, Prof — the true identity of The Intelligent Designer. None other than Mother Nature herself! Now, if we still are driving vehicles on highways well into the future, Mother Nature will certainly favor the armadillos, squirrels, opossums, skunks, raccoons, and deer that develop new survival strategies for cars. After all, a Buick at 70 mph is not deterred by the threat of a bad odor.

  21. michaelfugate

    Also if armadillos were designed by the Designer with forethought wouldn’t he/she/it have known that humans would invent cars and that the jump/sprint strategy wouldn’t work to escape cars?

  22. You’re all supposing that the intelligent designers are anything like humans. Their purposes, methods, anything about them is not known.

  23. michaelfugate

    But isn’t that the whole assumption of ID that the Designer is like humans? How else is the analogy supposed to work?
    Not to mention that they all believe that the Designer aka God made humans in his image.

  24. There is an oldie

    What is green, hangs on the wall, and whistles

    A herring

    You may complain that a herring isn’t green but I painted it green.
    A herring doesn’t hang on the wall, but it nailed it to the wall.
    And whistle? No analogy is perfect.

    What we are told of ID is that there is a better explanation for some things in life than a naturalistic explanation (like natural selection).

    We are not told what that better explanation is.

    As far as I know, no one has offered an explation for certain well-known and accepted features of the world of life which does does make reference to evolution. Forget about it being better, or even adequate, or having evidence or reason. The most that ID can point to is a difficulty with the standard explanation, or something which has no accepted explanation. Even if evolution were deemed a complete failure with no possibility of recovery, that does not mean that ID is better off.

  25. I’d expect a real bacteriologist to come up with a better story. Like, suppose one of Noah’s relations was an early bronze age bacteriologist and went around collecting samples of pathogens for fun and stored them in little glass vials from Egypt. When the boat struck a rock on the mountain after the flood the vials fell off the shelf and shattered, spreading diseases far and wide. See, an interesting fictional story.

  26. The variety of nasties is astounding to a layman like me. There are the various beasties which actually cause harm to humans, by various means, actually destroying cells or just producing poisons or whatever. Then there are the various vectors of the disease causers. And then there are the reservoirs of the aforementioned.
    None of which get any mention in the Bible. But, so it seems, somebody can’t let that be.
    How much is not mentioned in the Bible that nobody worries about? Helium,
    Antartica, calculus, English grammar, surfing, …
    Why try to make the Bible an object of derision, as Augustine warned so long ago?