I’m a little bit infatuated with the Noah story – probably because it’s the first biblical story I really questioned while sitting in bible study class as a child. I still remember the teacher telling us about all the animals filing onto the boat, and I wondered if the dinosaurs were on there too, and I wondered at how big that boat must have been, because there sure were a lot of animals.
As I got older, I revisited the Noah story and realized it’s really a story about genocide. Of course, my old bible study teacher (who was a sweetheart and probably had the best of intentions) hid these portions from us, but all you had to do was pick up the bible and read it for yourself and it was plain as day. Other parts of the bible also feature genocide and God killing babies, but the Noah ostory is so obvious that I couldn’t believe other people believed it was a moral story.
“Was I missing something?” I asked myself.
Turns out that since the release of Noah the Movie starring Russel Crowe, lots of Christians have come out to defend their favorite genocidal story.
Like this one called: Noah: One of the Most Moral Stories Ever Told
I read it. The title was just too good to resist. I was genuinely curious to see how someone justifies the murder of practically every living thing on Earth. Let’s have a peek, shall we?
When God created the world, He announced after each day’s creations, “It was good.” But only after His final creation — the human being — on the sixth day, did God say, “It was very good.” God was particularly pleased with, and had the highest hopes for, this creation, the only one created “in His image.” This is not about man having God’s physical attributes (God is not physical). It is about humans being infinitely more precious than all other creations; and only man, like God, has moral knowledge and therefore moral free will.
When God saw how cruelly human beings treated one another, He decided that He would start over. Once people reach a certain level of widespread evil, life is pointless.
So if God had the ‘highest hopes for’ his creation, doesn’t that imply that He didn’t know the outcome? Was he unsure of the outcome? I thought God knew everything, including the future. This line alone calls into question this Gods omnipotence.
The second part I bolded is basically saying God decided to cure this cruelty we were doing to one another by being even more cruel and killing everything, including innocent children, infants and animals. I guess this all-powerful deity could see no other way around the problem. I mean, of course he had to cruelly murder everybody – we made Him do it.
First, this is so only if you believe that the biblical flood story states that the entire earth from the North Pole to the South Pole was flooded and that every living creature from penguins to polar bears, except for the animals and the people on Noah’s ark, was killed. But that is not what the story says. The narrative speaks of the world where Noah lived: It is expressly stated in Genesis 9:10 that there were other animals in the world that were not killed by the flood.
Second, the primary purpose of the flood story — like other stories in the Bible, such as the creation story — is to convey enduring wisdom and moral insight, not geology or science. And the lessons of the flood story influenced civilization for millennia.
Just where Noah lived, right?
Thankfully, we can check this claim by going directly to the bible. The portion Dennis Prager is referring to says this:
and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. (NIT)
and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. (ESV)
and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. (KJV)
Looks to me like God is saying every living thing on Earth. Either that, or the animals that aren’t in Noah’s vicinity are not part of the covenant and God can go ahead and kill them with another flood.
The second part seems to be saying that there is some moral insight to be had from genocide.
I’m still waiting to hear his rationalization for that part. I’m sure he’s going to get to that soon.
Oh look! There it is.
One has already been mentioned: If evil becomes widespread enough, there is no longer a purpose to human existence.
How widespread does this evil have to be before God decides to drown everybody on Earth? There have been some very sad times in recent history, such as WWI and WWII, but I didn’t see God descend to murder children.
Second, God values goodness more than any other human trait. Thus, the only reason Noah was saved was that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:9). This alone renders the biblical story unique among the flood stories of the ancient world. In those stories, a very common reason the gods saved a man was that the gods found him physically, not morally, exceptional.
So this God values goodness, but can’t seem to manage it himself. This deities idea of ‘goodness’ is to cruelly snuff out the life of every living thing on the planet.
And Christians need to stop saying the story of Noah is unique. It isn’t. The Epic of Gilgamesh predates Noah and is almost exactly the same story.
Third, God hates evil. And so should we.
Hate is a strong word. I guess that gives Christians permission to hate people they consider evil.
A fourth lesson is the moral necessity of divine revelation. God created man without giving him a Ten Commandments or any other revealed moral instruction. The only moral code was the one God built in to the human being: the conscience. Clearly this was not enough to make a good world. The world sank into evil. This is another biblical lesson that runs entirely counter to a dominant belief of the modern age. The secular world holds that religion and God are morally unnecessary; the individual’s conscience is sufficient to guide moral behavior. The Bible, as usual, knew better.
After the evil that led to the flood, God decided to reveal basic moral rules — such as that murder is wrong. So wrong that one of the moral rules revealed after the flood is that murderers must be put to death — yet another way in which this story runs counter to the prevailing doctrines of our time. No wonder the secular world ignores the Bible and the left largely loathes it.
Wait a second…I think Dennis is saying that God didn’t provide instructions on moral behavior until after he’d flooded the Earth and completed his mass genocide.
Of course, the handing down of the Ten Commandments didn’t happen until long after the flood. I guess God wasn’t in a rush to offer instruction, even after his mass killing, which He supposedly didn’t want to have to do again.
So we have a story about mass genocide. We can justify it by saying this all-knowing God with all the power in the universe was forced to destroy life on Earth (except for a select few) because he had high hopes for his creation, but didn’t know that they’d fall prey to evil….the evil He would have created in the first place. This God then waited to hand down instructions to Moses, after he’d wiped out life, because that seemed to be the best solution to prevent another drowning.
Sounds perfectly reasonable.