Words have meanings, and words are definitely weapons. People, like Marshall Brain at his website, “God is imaginary” has to use the most colorful and abusive of words to attempt to make his point, like he does in proof 45, “Consider Noah’s Ark”.
Now, the entire episode comes from Genesis 6 thru 9. It’s one of the most hotly debated topics among Christians, because we like to debate about the extent of it, whether it was global or local. I, personally believe that it was a local event, and have discussed it here in part 17
of my response to this site. But here, he comes with his most virulent of attacks.
Have you ever taken the time to read the Bible’s story
of Noah’s flood? And have you ever pondered what this story’s position in the Bible might actually mean? While there are many people who consider the Bible, and therefore Noah’s story, to be literally true, most educated and intelligent people understand that the story of Noah’s flood is a myth. They understand that Mt. Everest was never covered in flood water, they understand that the ark could not hold the millions of species that are now found on earth, and they understand that there is no DNA evidence to show that all animals on earth came from single breeding pairs just a few thousand years ago.
Well, for one, if we actually read the text, I don’t think that we would ever come to the conclusion that Mt. Everest was under water at the time of the flood. We have to take time to understand that Hebrew words have multiple meanings and we have to look at a preponderance of evidence that is conclusive with the text.
But, he continues,
But there is one part of the story of Noah’s Ark that deserves special recognition. It shows us something about God that is quite unsettling to any intelligent person who takes the time to consider his actions. That special section is this:
God senselessly murdered millions of humans and billions of animals in the flood
How do we know it was senseless? Because “God” is supposed to be “all-knowing” and “all-powerful.” If God were to exist, God would know what was coming when he created Adam and Eve. Therefore, God knew he would be murdering millions of people.
God “senselessly murdered millions of humans
”? I’ve argued here
that no one actually can die. Further, given that God is the maker of all things, therefore he cannot “murder” anyone. Marshall is simply engaged in a category error
as well as a non sequitur
: his category error is that he puts himself in a position to judge God, his non sequitur is that because God knew he would have to do something that he is wrong for allowing it play out. God, being sovereign, delegates, to those whom he delegates he gives responsibility, and to those whom he gives responsibility, he holds accountable for their actions, therefore God did not “senselessly murder millions of humans”, but judged them rightly.
But the Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth. Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds as only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and he was highly offended. (Genesis 6:5-6 NET)
The word translated as “regretted” has an interesting meaning in Hebrew, it can mean “to comfort oneself”, he did this because he was grieved (rendered as “offended”) by the descent of his most beloved creature. Everyone seems to miss the statement that “Every inclination of [man’s] thoughts of [his] mind was only evil all the time.” What would such a state be like? I imagine it would be one of fear and loneliness, because who could you trust? God was grieving at the fact that his creature was living in torment, so he decided to bring an end to it.
But then Marshall asks,
This realization leads to an obvious question: Why didn’t God simply speed up Jesus’ arrival to avoid the atrocity that is the flood? Or why didn’t God program Adam and Eve when he created them to completely circumvent the need for such a horrendous atrocity?
Those are all good questions. The problem is that we can only guess at what an answer will be. Paul gives us something of an answer,
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
The real “atrocity” is not the flood, but what was going on before it. Jewish sources describe Noah’s time as a state of total rebellion, giving indication that the problem was that murder and sexual licentiousness was rampant, which is why both man and beast were to be destroyed. But Marshall represents this like it just happened, but the text indicated that it had been coming for some time: Jude 14, tells of Enoch’s prophesy, Methuselah picked up where his father left off 300 years later, then Noah partnered with his grandfather who died as the Ark was completed. So for the better part of a thousand years people had been warned, then they saw Noah building the Ark for 100 years. Then they saw Noah go inside, the door close and seven days pass and the flood comes, just as it had been predicted. I think the real “atrocity” is that people didn’t listen, but persisted in their sin.
But because people like Marshall do not want God, because they love their sin, because the truth smacks them in the face. God gives plenty of warning for people to repent, for people to believe, but like a thief in the night, judgment comes.
Proof 45 is another consistent straw man argument built to place man in a position to attempt to judge God rather than for man to look closely at himself and see his sin and rebellion and what it truly deserves and will receive if he continues to refuse to accept responsibility for his actions and seek God.
For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37-39 ESV)