Getting back to the actual thread title . . . . We're pretty certain that Abram, (Abraham) and Isaac were a real persons. Lot quite probably was too. At least we know from whence Abram came and where his grave is said to be along with also Sarah his wife. It is quite likely that Joseph also was a real historical character along with all his brothers. The 12 tribes of Israel need an explanation and seem to have taken particular care to record their family histories for quite a long time back. Jacob and Easu, Leah, Rachael and Laban are also fairly firmly fixed in that family record. and there is no good reason to doubt their actual existence as historical characters. It is less likely that whole list of characters between Gen.10:1-32 and Gen.11:10-28 are actual historical figures, though there is no logical necessity for them to be either real or fictitious either. Until proven by actual archaeological evidence we simply cannot know. The Tower of Babel story is almost certainly a constructed folk tale passed down by the descendants of those Hebrews who returned from the Babylonian Exile, and later weaved into the narrative by the editors who constructed Genesis from the fragmented stories of the Tribes of the Hebrew Nation either during their exile or shortly after their return. The tower itself is an archaeological reality and was a substantially large Ziggurat in all likelihood. It would have been the biggest man made thing that Hebrew slaves had ever encountered and existing legends concerning the reason for its construction, plus the fact that it was used for astronomical and astrological observation would have left them with the impression that it was an attempt by man to reach the heavens to 'make a name for themselves'. The Babylonians certainly had 'made a name for themselves' by the time the Hebrews arrived in Babylon. Genesis chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, are probably a legend that has been spiritualised to explain certain key facts concerning the origin and legitimacy of the Hebrew Nation, as opposed to the other nations which surrounded them in the country they had settled in. There is no essential reason to believe the whole of the story is anything other than a mythic tale containing deeply embedded national identity information intended to give the returning Hebrews an acute sense of identity and a national sense of purpose in the plan of God Almighty, by that time, their own personal God. The Ark of Salvation even becoming a symbol representing the Christian Church in a later era still. There is even the possibility that an Ark exists and will one day be revealed to us, but so far there is no tangible evidence for either a world wide flood, an actual Ark with the exact dimensions stated in scripture or a scientific explanation for why rainbows apparently, according to the story, did not exist before the diluvian event described, took place. (There is a perfectly good scientific explanation which would indicate that the phenomenon has existed since both light and water have existed). There have however been extremely large flooding events which took the lives of extremely large populations, during the end of the Ice age. A relatively slow event. And at the breaching of the land bridge across the entrance to the Black Sea about 10,000 years ago. A catastrophically fast event taking a matter of only a few days or weeks and drowning many stone age civilisations under what is now the Black Sea. An event likely to have had a deep effect on the psyche and tribal memories of anyone surviving it. By the time we get right back to Adam, Eve, Cain and Able we have gone back so far into the mists of early myth and legend that all we have is 'story' which in spite of the way it is held in contempt as a means of conveying truth, by both atheists and Biblical literalists alike, is actually extremely informative for those who know how to decipher the genre in which the 'story' is couched. The problem for atheists it seems, is their insistence that the story is 'a myth' meaning it is not true. They prefer to ignore any spiritual truth in it. The problem for the Biblical Fundamentalist is the notion that if it is a 'myth' it can't be 'true'. This leaves them with only one way to interpret it's truth; historically. History is usually boring and irrelevant to modern life, so that puts Genesis Chapters 1-9 in the, 'Returned (graduation day) history Books', library bin for both atheists and Biblical fundamentalists alike, it would seem. .