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From Age Seven

By the time kids are seven they it is common for them to be full of questions, and questions suggest considerable thought. By the time I was seven my mother had often described to me people having erroneous ideas. According to my mother, neighborhood kids who believed in Santa Claus were in error, and she told me of people who didn't believe as she did about matters religious were in error. I was impressed at my early age by the capacity of people for error, and I took a very easy step further. If so many people had erroneous ideas how could I be sure that my mother did not also embrace an erroneous idea or two, or more.

My mother was a Jehovah's Witness. She viewed the Bible as inerrant. The Bible was her source of truth. It was The Truth. Were the ancient Hebrews the first humans? Was the one and only god of the universe, Jehovah, focused primarily on them, their interests and whether they obeyed Him adequately? Was there a flood that covered the entire earth, and what year would that have been?

My mother was devout and honest. She talked straight. And I gave her a bad time, asking why the great flood didn't wipe out Egyptian civilization, which I thought must have existed before the great flood and existed with some cultural continuity after the flood. My attempt to even roughly attempt to date the flood was hopeless. Speculations drawing from geological evidence and history brings up a major flood in flood-prone Mesopotamia, and some big floods elsewhere in the world, but no flood that covered the entire globe. That was something I studies many decades later. Historial perspective does make it easy to believe the flood story of the Hebrews as mythology derived from the Sumerian story of Gilgamesh. Hebrew writing was borrowed, and with the borrowing came stories of other than Hebrew origin. These details were unknown to me at age seven. I would never be able to present them to my mother. When she was in her sixties I did ask her whether the Armageddon she expected would arrive in her lifetime. She said with an emphatic certainty that it would. She died about fifteen years later, in 1989.

Copyright © 2017 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.