People still search Mount Ararat in Turkey, looking for the remains of a giant boat. But this isn’t a meaningful question, says Finkel. The Mesopotamian landscape is essentially a flood plain. “In that landscape, mankind’s vulnerability to flooding is explicit,” he says. “There must have been a heritage memory of the destructive power of flood water, based on various terrible floods. And the people who survived would have been people in boats. You can imagine someone sunbathing in a canoe, half asleep, and waking up however long later and they’re in the middle of the Persian Gulf, and that’s the beginning of the flood story.” There are, he says, geological and archaeological suggestions that there was an especially cataclysmic flood around 5,000BC.
The most interesting revelation from the Simmonds tablet is that the Ark, as originally conceived, was not how we picture it. “We all know what Noah’s Ark looked like – a boat, with a house on it, and a high prow and a high stern,” says Finkel. “You could sail to New York in it if you liked. But the Ark didn’t have to go in a direction, it just had to survive the flood.” In essence, it would have been a giant life raft: circular, and almost impossible to sink. “It was a coracle,” says Finkel: a kind of round boat of rope around a wood frame. “Half the people in Mesopotamia were professional boat people, so when someone told them this story, and said, imagine the biggest boat you ever saw, they must have asked: what did it look like?” What is incredible is that the tablet has detailed instructions how to build this enormous coracle, 70ft across, six yards high, even down to the length of rope required.
The fortunes of 1,300 newlywed same-sex couples in Utah were thrown into turmoil on Wednesday after the governor’s office announced that it would not recognize their marriages while it presses its legal efforts to limit marriages to one man and one woman.
It was the latest twist in the 19-day tale of same-sex marriage in one of the country’s most socially conservative states. Last month, a surprise ruling by a federal judge overturned Utah’s voter-approved ban on marriage among gay couples, prompting hundreds to rush jubilantly to county clerk’s offices to obtain Utah marriage licenses.
After unsuccessfully petitioning two lower courts to halt those weddings, Utah succeeded Monday in persuading the United States Supreme Court to issue a stay while the state appeals. The ruling blocked any additional same-sex unions from taking place and effectively reinstated Utah’s disputed ban.
Perhaps it is time to boycott the state. Tourism is a big source of revenue.
How do you teach science in a society where some (many) of the students have been brought up with creationist beliefs? A video produced a few years ago to mark the 150th anniversary of the "Origin of the Species"
The state was operating with a double standard and part of the oral arguments are amusing (Lott is the poor guy who has to represent Utah)
THE COURT: Is it the state’s position that it would be constitutional, if the state chose to do so, to enact a regulation or law requiring that individuals who wish to marry submit to fertilization testing to prove that they’re capable of procreation? Is that constitutional? Because marriage — you’re relying on procreation as an essential characteristic of that union or that right? [...]
LOTT: I don’t believe it would be constitutional, also because there is Supreme Court precedent saying that the right to not procreate is a fundamental right. So the state would not do that and would not be able to do that. [...]
THE COURT: Before we leave that last hypothetical, let me pose it a different way and see if the answer is any different. Could the state of Utah constitutionally restrict marriage — deny marriage licenses say to post-menopausal women?
LOTT: I think the answer again is that the state’s interest in fostering procreation within certain parameters is not intended to exclude other relationships that potentially are going to involve raising a child. If you have a post-menopausal woman, she may not herself be able to have a child, but that doesn’t mean that she’s not going to have a grandchild that she may be in a position to need to raise or a niece or a nephew, and so the state’s interest is still present.
THE COURT: So is it something different than an individual’s actual ability to procreate? That’s not the fundamental characteristic? It’s the likelihood that the person may find themselves in the position of raising a child?
THE COURT: Okay. How are same-sex couples different in that respect?
LOTT: Well, a gay or lesbian person obviously can reproduce, but it’s not going to occur within a same-sex marriage. [...] The simple answer to that is that procreation is the difference. A same-sex couple is not going to produce children.
THE COURT: Okay, so post-menopausal women in the state of Utah do not have a constitutional right to marry, as an example, or people who by virtue of surgical operations or genetics or whatever reason — if they can’t procreate, there’s not a fundamental right to marry. That’s the state’s view about the defining difference between the fundamental right that the plaintiffs are seeking here and those that are recognized by the Supreme Court?
an nterestng read...
Recently our friend Henry was married to his long time partner Ray. Such great news.