Is the story of the great flood and Noah’s ark a myth? Or are there good reasons to think them to be true? Previously we looked at the first challenged leveraged against the story of the flood and Noah’s ark. We continue with challenge #2: God is irrational for whimsically exterminating all humanity and wiping away all life for some immoral acts of a few individuals. Since God is demonstrated to be irrational and God cannot by nature be irrational, then it is said that God does not exist, and therefore, the biblical account of the flood is simply untrue.
This claim is charged with quite a few preconceptions. First, God is not so capricious in His judgment of humanity and nature to suddenly call for a mass extermination of all living things without any warrant, and this is precisely what we find in the flood account. What had humanity done to deserve this judgment?
Well, for one, in the initial chapters of Genesis after Cain slays Abel, he is banished by God, perhaps not only for practical reasons of being away from the victim’s bloodline but also because it was not God’s intent for the two bloodlines to intermarry. Ironically one interpretation of Genesis 6:2 (“the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose”) suggests this to be one of the final straws for the reasons for judgment. This interpretation, which also echoes other interpretations of its kind equates “sons of God” with godly men (perhaps Abel’s worthy line), and “daughters of men” with the wicked line of Cain.
Another plausible suggestion is that the “sons of God” refers to royal figures (kings were closely associated with gods in the ancient Near East) who proudly perpetuated and aggravated the corrupt lifestyle of Lamech, son of Cain (virtually a royal figure) and established for themselves royal harems.
However one interprets this passage, what’s clear is that God was greatly patient with humankind before the decision to exact judgment. How do we know? Because we read, “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever…’” (Gen. 6:3). Additionally, the principle that Scripture is to be understood as a consistent whole applies to reveal to us that God’s nature is unchanging and in other parts of the biblical account we know God to be a God of grace and mercy. Thus, we have very good reason to think that the act of the judgment by a flood was not as capricious as some will maintain. And how bad was human depravity? We read, “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 5, emphasis added). “Every inclination of his heart was evil all the time.” The bottom line is that the early history of humankind led to such pervasive corruption that God was moved to bring a radical judgment on His creation.
Furthermore, God is the moral barometer and so, His justice is perfect. Mankind is imperfect in its most gracious description. Can a fallen, imperfect, immoral being judge the very giver of his moral laws? Can a mere child question the decisions of his parents when they punish that child for some wrong he committed? How much more unreasonable is it to deify oneself to the point of making God’s moral order subservient to personal whims? It is a wild claim that man can judge God’s moral dealings with humanity in any context, but in light of the context given to us by the biblical account, it’s fairly clear that judgment was absolutely timely and warranted.
And was God maniacal in destroying humanity? Did He do it with spiteful vengeance and hatred? Not at all. God loves all of His creation. He hates only the perverse actions of his created beings. Genesis 6:6 tells us, “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain” (emphasis added). His heart was filled with pain. Yes, even God grieves. God grieves when mankind deifies itself above the moral precepts of its Creator. He was sorrowful that He created all living things, which were now corrupted by human beings, the crowning jewel of His creation. God’s repeated insistence in His moral order is indicative of man’s consistent rebellion.
Arthur is an author, a former agnostic, and current ambassador of Jesus of Nazareth who loves to share the best of reasons for God's ultimate reality. His love and passion are helping skeptics and Christians grow in their faith and knowledge of God through accessible materials.