WHY DID NOAH GET DRUNK
Rev.Timofei Alferov, Sergei Golovin, Dmitri Pobersky
When Jesus in Cana Galilee turned water into wine, He repeated in a wink a great wonder of transformation that takes place every year all over the world since the days of Creation. An amazing mechanism in the grape vine absorbs water with its roots and sunlight with its leaves and then turns them into grape juice. Until recently (when pasteurization, preservation and refrigerators were invented) wine-making was the only way of storing drinks. As a rule it was a simple wine that was obtained by means of natural fermentation and had a strength around 12% vol.
"And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without... And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren."
From the description given above we can get an impression that the effect of taking wine was very unexpected both to Noah (we know "Noah was a just man and perfect", and that in every kind of society this means moderation and temperance) and to his family - only this assumption can explain such an inappropriate reaction of his younger son, for he already had children of his own. More than that, this trouble with Noah was the first registered evidence of alcoholic intoxication.
Let's try to find some reasonable explanation of this fact. First we shall consider a mechanism of alcoholic (ethanolic) influence on a living organism.
All effects that occur in the human organism as a result of ethanolic influence to great extent depend on the degree of acetaldehyde accumulation that occurs when ethanol is oxidized 1.
We can show metabolism of ethanol in such scheme:
ethanolèacetaldehyd èacet acid è acetilcoenzyme A è Crebb's cycle è ÑÎ2 + Í2Î + energy
lipoid acids and cholesterol synthesis;
different biosynthesis reactions
Acetaldehyde is a very toxic substance and thus the grade of alcoholic intoxication as a rule is measured by the ethanolic concentration in blood, namely the acetaldehyde quantity in blood and the rate of its utilization can show us a clinical picture of alcoholic intoxication. An organism strives to get rid of free acetaldehyde as soon as possible through the oxidizing reaction with the resulting production of acet acid. This reaction requires ferment aldehyddehydrogenase as a part, which uses NAD+ (nicotinamid adenin dinucleotide):
NAD+ receives electrons from oxidized substrata (in particular, from acetaldehyde) and by means of a number of carriers transfers them to oxygen accompanied with generation of energy stored as ATP (adenosine triphosphate) 2. The process called biooxidation takes place in the cells' muthohondrias. Carriers of electrons are: NAD, FAD (flavic ferment), coferment Q (ubiquinone), citochromes b, c1, c and a.
Oxygen is a final acceptor of electrons. When oxygen is insufficient (for instance, when its partial pressure in taking in air is reduced), the whole fermental system of biooxidation does not work at full strength. And a result is the moving of the reaction's (1) equilibrium leftwards with further accumulation of acetaldehyde in the organism and the developing of the effects peculiar for alcoholic intoxication, which are even stronger than with the normal quantity of oxygen.
Lots of tourists visited the highlands of the Southern Caucasus and have personally experienced the burden of native "hospitality." Natives often involve them in a kind of a game that has became nearly an element of their culture. When you reject the invitation to accompany them in matching their drinking of wine, they call it disrespect for ancient folk traditions. The final aim of the fun is to drink the guest under the table, to get him to pass out in order to demonstrate the superiority of highlanders in comparison with lowland weaklings. The hosts, whose organisms are adapted to highland conditions, subconsciously use the effects of hypooxygen influence on alcoholic metabolism that appear when the atmospheric pressure decreases due to an increase in elevation of around two thousand meters.
How did natural conditions change during the Flood? The majority of experts share the point of view that antediluvian Earth's atmosphere (which is called "firmament" in Genesis 1:7) was covered with a vapor canopy equal to 12 meters' layer of liquid water. Consequently, the collapse of that vapor canopy caused the rain to fall upon the earth for forty days and forty nights during the Flood 3. Due to the waters which were above the firmament that caused the greenhouse effect, atmospheric pressure was 1.14 atmospheres higher than it is today - more than twice as high! So before the Flood the alcoholic effect of dry wine may not have been any stronger than the effect of common milk fermentation products of today.
The collapse of the vapor canopy surrounding antediluvian Earth's atmosphere caused the reduction of atmospheric pressure (and the partial pressure of oxygen dropped as well) more than twice. That certainly had an effect on alcoholic metabolism. So, alcoholic intoxication would have been at least a great surprise to Noah, if not the first such experience for all mankind. This is another indirect evidence of the Genesis record's credibility.
1 Rubin E., Cederbaum A.I. Effects of chronic ethanol feeding and acetaldehyde on mitochondrial functions and the transfer of reducing equivalents. - In: Alcohol and aldehyde metabolizing systems. New York, 1974. P.435-455.
Published by: Christian Scientific Center "Parthenit", 1995
Pamphlet #5. WHY DID NOAH GET DRUNK (English).
Rev.Timofei Alferov, Sergei Golovin, Dmitri Pobersky
Translated from Russian by Helen Booklersky
Reprinting of this tract is allowed on the condition that a reference to the source is included