Friday, 5 June 2009

God and the Flood

As I was reading the Flood story, two things struck me.

The first was the extreme unlikelihood of it. My mind is not closed to miracles, but really! Can we believe that "all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered" (Gen.7:19)? In order to cover Everest the water would have to be more than five miles deep. There isn't that much water on the planet! And where did it all drain off to afterwards? And how could all species that live on the land be accommodated in the ark, including all the food they would need for 120 days, bearing in mind that many animals can only survive by eating other animals? There would need to be a lot more than one pair of some species, or even seven pairs.

The other thing that struck me was: what kind of God is this? He creates the world and the human beings in it. He then regrets creating them (does God change his mind?), so he decides to send a flood to destroy them all, and to destroy all the animals, reptiles and birds at the same time. What wrong had they done to deserve this? And what makes the fish so innocent? Then, when Noah comes out of the ark and offers a burnt offering of some of the birds and animals whose lives he has saved, God smells the pleasing odour and says "I won't do it again". The reason he gives is that "the inclination of the human heart is evel from youth" (Gen.7:21). Didn't God know that already? The story sounds like the experience of some abused women with their husbands - he's got a vicious temper, but the smell of a nice dinner in the oven soon cools him down! Is God really like that?

No doubt conservative Bible believers will think I am just a scoffer. But not so. My point is that if we tie God's authority to every story in the Bible we are idolising the Bible at the cost of belittling and insulting God. The Bible is a very mixed and earthy collection of writings, some of them by people whose view of God was rather primitive. If it is in any sense the word of God, it must be because God in his grace is able to use even wrong ideas to serve his purpose.

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