Was the Genesis Flood Too Cruel?

When creationists talk about the Flood, it’s usually to declare how wonderful it was for Noah to build his miraculous boat to save his family and all the animals. But they rarely discuss the incredible cruelty of a global flood.

We didn’t directly mention cruelty when we wrote Top Ten Reasons Noah’s Flood is Mythology. But we mentioned it indirectly when we said:

And the Number One reason the Flood is mythology is: It didn’t work! We’re told that the purpose of the ghastly planet-killing exercise is that mankind was wicked. That’s the reason everything was cruelly destroyed — except for Noah, his righteous family, and their chosen menagerie. Okay, fine, but there’s one little detail — the whole business was a colossal futility! There is still wickedness in the world, which means the planetary slaughter was not only cruel beyond imagining, it was also stupid.

We’ve mentioned the Flood’s cruelty in other posts by saying stuff like:

Yahweh killed everything on the face of the Earth (except for what was in the Ark). Pregnant women — dead. Their unborn babies? Dead. Little children playing with puppies? Dead. Butterflies and songbirds? Dead. That goes far beyond “mere” genocide. It’s deliberate death on a planetary scale — global slaughter.

Today, however, the cruelty issue is being confronted head on by the creation scientists at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the granddaddy of all creationist outfits, the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. Their post (or article, or something) is titled Was the Global Flood Too Extreme? It was written by Brian Thomas. At the end it says: “Dr. Thomas is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in paleobiochemistry from the University of Liverpool.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Bible critics have long claimed the God of the Old Testament was unjust and mean. Some cite Noah’s Flood as an example: If God is really good, then why would He drown all those humans? The best answer to give depends on the attitude of the questioner.

That’s odd. There should be one best answer, regardless of the attitude of the questioner, but Brian says:

Most who say God is unjust probably have little interest in the truth. Those with bad attitudes don’t listen well, and Christians shouldn’t waste time trying to defend our good God to people with closed hearts. But how can we be sure of another person’s attitude?

Huh? Aren’t folks like Brian supposed to teach people The Truth? He’s saying that some people aren’t worth the effort, and he explains how to identify them:

One way is to ask questions that test their intention. For example, if they express a problem with the way they think God handled something, then ask which book, chapter, and verse from the Bible they object to. Often this is all it takes. A scoffer may just walk away. [Because he’s a fool!] They may even offer unkind words as a parting shot. If that happens, your kindness will speak more than words.

Brian seems to be speaking from experience. He continues:

But someone may actually take you up on the offer to discuss Bible verses. That rare person may want a real answer to why a good God would flood the whole world. What would you say?

Ah, now we’re getting to it. What’s the answer to the question of whether the Flood was cruel? Let’s read on:

You could ask how they know that the pre-Flood people’s punishment was more than their crimes deserved. Does your friend have some special insight into the good behavior of those ancients that suggests they didn’t actually deserve the divine death penalty? [Ask: “Were you there?”] Of course, such insight is impossible without a time machine to reveal how the ancients behaved. Without that machine, we access the past through reliable eyewitness accounts. [Hee hee!] The Genesis text the skeptics want to dismiss has just that. It says about pre-Flood man: “Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

That’s what the bible says, and you can’t challenge it. After all, you weren’t there! But what about the infants, the unborn children, the puppies, the song birds? Brian doesn’t discuss any of that. Presumably, they were evil too. He goes on for a few more paragraphs, and ends with this:

Was a worldwide flood judgment too extreme? Only to those who don’t want to acknowledge the just penalty for their own sins by pretending that God lacks love.

Well, dear reader, whatever you may think of it, that’s the official answer. The Flood was the right thing to do, and if you don’t agree it’s because you’re evil. Your reward will be to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Was the Genesis Flood Too Cruel?

  1. Now, let’s apply the same reasoning to the question whether we can expect that the Bible tells us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
    BTW, let’s note that nowhere does the Bible say that it tells us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Just to get that out of the way. The closest that it comes is in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” But this does not say anything about the truth. It tells us that it is profitable. It is pragmatism.
    Now, we all can agree that when a man intent on murder asks us where he can find victims, we may – indeed must – give him false information. And we sinful humans are far worse than murderers – we are deserving of eternal punishment. We cannot expect to be told the truth. Christians shouldn’t waste time trying to defend our good God to people with closed hearts.

  2. Holding The Line In Florida

    I always thought that AIG was as dumb as you can get, I now realize that there are even dumber ones. I mean how stupid can you be? Wait I forgot. Creatards are all the same. Stupid is as Stupid does.

  3. Dave Luckett

    Holding The Line: I don’t know about stupid, so much.

    Thomas has realised that there’s no defending Noah’s Flood from a humanist perspective or the assumption of knowledge of its cause. The only approach to a defence is from Divine Command Theory, a la Job, plus the assumption of ignorance. That is, whatever God does is Good, because He’s God (Job’s response to the Euthyphro dilemma); and the Bible tells the Truth (capital T) but perhaps not the whole truth, (which ignores the fact that not telling the whole truth is the best way to tell a lie). In the immortal words of Col Nathan Jessup, USMC, “You can’t handle the truth!”

    Thus, all human beings except Noah and his family were ineluctably and universally depraved. The Bible says this, so it must be true. But Jesus remarked that there is some good in everyone. Even the rich man in the flames of Hell had thought for his brothers, and wanted to warn them, a request he was denied. We love those who love us and do good for them. Jesus’s point was not that this isn’t good, but that it isn’t enough. We have no conception of what a completely wicked society might be, one composed exclusively of completely evil people. We cannot even imagine how that might be possible. But the Bible says it was so. We were not there. We cannot say otherwise, merely on the theoretical basis that human beings are social animals and their societies cannot function that way.

    We might recognise that Psalm 14 says exactly the same about the society of the Psalmist’s day, but strangely, God didn’t smite it with universal genocide. Atheists and unbelievers (horrors!) might assert that the Genesis account is probably younger than the Psalm, and therefore echoes it, rather than vice-versa, but what would they know? They weren’t there, either. Subtle sophists, inspired by the Prince of Lies, might even argue that Genesis says that God regretted bringing the Flood and promised never to do it again, which rather contradicts its absolute necessary rightness – but beware the traps of Satan. Don’t go there. Don’t think about it. Better yet, don’t even think.

    The rest follows, in a manner of speaking. We don’t know what could move God to such wrath. We do know that whatever God does is good. Therefore the Flood was neither cruel nor unnecessary. Selah.

    Thomas is intelligent enough to realise that he must argue this way. He is not exactly stupid. More in the nature of blind, blinkered, and completely close-minded. You may say that this is functionally indistinguishable from idiocy. I beg to differ. It is idiotic, but has an additional function: it’s clever enough to impress fools. In the world of literal-Genesis creationism, that’s more than enough.

  4. AiG basically sees all of human history as a cinematic bank robbery hostage scene in which the robbers kill a few hostages right at the start as a warning that everyone else only gets to live at the robbers’ discretion. And like a hostage who has been captive so long he’s forgotten to exercise free thought, AiG sides with the hostage-takers against the other hostages.

  5. “Your reward will be to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.”

    Ah, the Lake of Fire! Let’s think about that for a minute. It’s easy to understand why this would be used as a threat to keep us all on the straight and narrow — after all, we have an inborn fear of fire, thanks to millions and millions of years of evolution. Fire kills. Just think of Bambi in the forest fire.

    But it makes no sense to fear a punishment of fire after we are already dead — we can only die once. So if you find yourself in that situation, just do a lazy backstroke and enjoy the warmth!

    Oh — if you’re not already a swimmer, it may be a good time to learn… before it’s too late!

  6. “That’s odd.”
    Not really. See, when I (re)read ” the planetary slaughter ….. was also stupid” I immediately thought of that important creationist law:

    1. Something good: praise the lord.
    2. Something bad, blame Homo Sapiens.

    Brawny Brian’s “depends on the attitude of the questioner” is actually a mild version of this law.

    “Christians shouldn’t waste time …..”
    Does this mean ICR will quit their internet activities? Of course not, but one can always dream, even if for a splitsecond.
    The other side of this medal though is that Brawny Brian apparently thinks it’s only useful to defend creacrap to creacrappers.

    “That rare person may want a real answer to why a good God would flood the whole world.”
    Rather I ask why the fundagelical god has ordered genocide that often. The answer invariably includes “god has the right blah blah blah”. Then I conclude that if this god orders them to kill me off they’ll think it justified too. It’s usually at that point that they realize that I’m a lost case.

    “the just penalty for their own sins by pretending that God lacks love.”
    Such a comfort that Brawny Brian will kill me and/or my loved ones, when ordered by his fundagelical god, and that way expresses the love of this god. It’s an easy conclusion: I’m better off without such love.

  7. @FrankB
    A little less drastic: keep in mind that one need not be concerned about telling the truth.
    The Omphalos Principle. Applied to the Bible. God can dictate the Bible with the appearamce of telling us the truth. Or with all the appearences of being the product of being the product of an Ancient Near Eastern culture.

  8. Michael Fugate

    What about the babies?

  9. Dave Luckett

    Michael Fugate: Look at it through Heaven’s eyes. Innocent, they are gathered to God. They suffer a little, as we all must, but it is soon past, and eternal life is theirs. What more can anyone have, or want?

    Please don’t assume I believe this, or would approve it if I did.

  10. @DaveL: I surely don’t – the problem is fundagelicals and other christians believing it. If you feel like vomiting I can recommend you WLC’s “Reasonable” (scare quotes are mine) Faith on the Canaanite Genocide.

  11. @ Paul D. notes:

    And like a hostage who has been captive so long he’s forgotten to exercise free thought, AiG sides with the hostage-takers against the other hostages.

    Good point! I hadn’t previously considered that fundamentalist religious faith is in fact an instance of Stockholm Syndrome

  12. Don’t worry. At the current rate of Jesus’ return, by the time we’re supposed to be cast in the Lake of Fire (which, of course, is a tar pit) all fossil fuels will have been depleted.

  13. Eric Lipps

    The Genesis text the skeptics want to dismiss has just that. It says about pre-Flood man: “Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

    So how did “pre-Flood man” hold together any sort of society? Let alone one with the magnificent technological skills needed to build Noah’s Ark, which (Ken Ham notwithstanding) cannot be replicated today? How, in fact, did humanity keep from killing itself off entirely before there even was a Flood?

    Of course skeptics want to dismiss the Flood account, just as we do the Creation story. We know it’s nonsense.