Thinking back to my early childhood, there are only a few vivid memories left that I can recall. One of these involved a seemingly innocent craft I made in Christian preschool.
We were to create a picture of Noah’s Ark using those little foam cutouts that seem to be a staple in every kid craft. I remember being so excited to glue the little foam tiger and elephant to the ship. I was a bit of a perfectionist and had to place every strip of the rainbow an exact distance from the other objects, and they of course had to be in the correct order of ROYGBV. When I finally finished my masterpiece (presumably after everybody else), I contently sat on a little mat on the floor, for it was story time! Finally, I’d get the scoop on what Noah’s Ark was really about. Elephants and other zoo animals in a giant ship? Such a compelling story.
It started off rather dark. People wouldn’t stop sinning, so God told Noah to build a ship, for he was going to flood the world and kill everyone besides Noah and his family. We obviously didn’t emphasise the gruesome aspects of it, because we were 4 year olds, and who glorifies the destruction of the human race to a 4 year old? Anyways, on with the story. God instructed 2 of each kind of animal to enter the ark to be spared, and to regain population after the flood. This is the part where my budding skepticism began.
I understood that humanity had sinned, and therefore deserved to perish. But what about the rest of the animals? They weren’t capable of sin, right?
So I sat there on my little mat and envisioned giraffes, lions, dogs, and other animals suffering in agony as they drowned in the flood. It was obviously a very traumatic thing for me to think about, so I became very upset about it and started prodding my teachers with questions like “if animals didn’t sin, why did some of them drown?” “Why only 2 of each? Why not all?” “How did God choose which animals to save?”
It gets a little fuzzy here, but I’m sure that I made my teachers extremely uncomfortable with those questions. I remember that they shrugged off my questions with a confident, reassuring attitude, which ended up calming me down and allowing me to forget about the incident (and apparently every other memory until about the 2nd grade).
Although it may not be directly related to my journey of losing my Christian faith, it is a very important moment for me. It marks the very first moment I thought critically about what I believed in.