But that then begs the question: if God was able to lift a pair of Kangeroos out of the Australian outback, a pair of orangutans out of the jungles of south-east Asia, pairs of tapirs and llamas from South America, along with thousands of other species, and deliver them all effortlessly and safely across the globe to Bibleland, why was it then necessary to build an Ark to put them in?
It was a test of Noah's faith and a test for humankind as a whole.
The story doesn't make any sense at any level.
Sure it does. It makes complete sense as a moral tale about a new god emerging within a cult in Mesopotamia. The relationship between man and this new god were told through age-old stories that already existed in the area, namely Babylonian myths. But in a historical, factual sense, no it doesn't make any sense at all.
Test for humankind as a whole? You mean he tested how long on average it took for a human to drown, or did he just want to see who would survive the longest? Did the strongest guy at least receive a prize?
If Noah had not built the Ark then humankind would have come to an end. Noah's actions were based on faith, and that was the test.
Newer than the Mesopotamian gods. Given the lack of any evidence for the Exodus it is much more likely that the Hebrew religion originated in Babylonia. Given that the Bible borrows heavily from Babylonian religious myths this would seem to make sense. The Noah myth is a blatant copy of the Babylonian flood story. The Babylonian god Lilith makes an appearance in the Genesis creation myth in the form of the talking serpent. There are simply too many parallels to ignore.
But the story still doesn't make moral or practical sense, even if it were a test of Noah's faith to see if he would build an Ark if he were warned about a flood.
I don't see it that way. When it is put into historical context and compared to the myths of the time it makes a lot of sense. You might as well ask why it was necessary to sink the Titanic just to get a couple of horny kids together. It's a moral tale writ large, an epic story. If it was just about a small event that happened to just one family what fun would there be in telling the story around the campfire?