29 February 2008

All Ceatures Great and Small: The Lord God Drowned Them All

You'd think that when God repents, he'd behave better afterwards. But not the God of the Bible; he's at his worst after making a public confession.

Take the flood, for example. God creates all creatures great and small and declares them "very good" in Genesis 1:31. He then makes them not so good in 3:17-18 (either immediately in an evil re-creation or through 1656 years of God-directed super evolution), repents of ever having made them in 6:7, and finally drowns them all in 7:21-23.

What was the point of all that? If God was trying to punish people for misbehaving, then why did he drown the animals, too?

4 comments:

Berend de Boer said...

I hope Steve you put a different value on the life of an animal than on a human.

But God didn't drown them all as you say in the title. Ever heard of the Ark?

Animals are not punished as they do not sin. But they have to suffer the consequences of sin.

XXX said...

But God didn't drown them all as you say in the title. Ever heard of the Ark?

Genesis 8:21 quotes God as saying to himself "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake[...]; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done."

Obviously the flood story in the Bible indicates some living things were spared. Yet God is quoted as saying he smote every living thing, even though he spared some. Do you think Steve should be held to a higher level of precision when talking about the flood than God himself?

Animals are not punished as they do not sin. But they have to suffer the consequences of sin.

Why would they have to suffer the consequences of sin? If he wasn't trying to punish sinless animals, God could have killed just humans, right? By striking down all humans (except Noah et al.), turning them to salt, simply making them vanish, etc.

Steve didn't say he valued animal life the same as human life, but obviously animals have some worth, otherwise God wouldn't have commanded Noah to save them. So why not just spare animals in the first place and get rid of the humans, who were the intended target here?

RationalMuscle said...

Berend;

I've been reading some of your posts. With all due respect, your understanding of hermeneutics and context are sorely lacking. This I can understand. I am a (former) theologian, ex-apologist, and ex-youth minister, so a large portion of my life was spent wrestling with the quagmire of the Bible.

However, "reason" is another story.

You said, "Animals are not punished as they do not sin. But they have to suffer the consequences of sin."

So, suffering consequences is not a form of punishment? This is meandering wordplay.

To fully grasp the context of the day, you'd have to study a lot more Jewish history. (I do not recommend it as its dreadfully boring.)

While you are correct in saying "animals do not sin", although humans are animals (but that's another post), you fail to see the historical connection between Jewish property and one's spiritual worth. A man cursed by God, or any of the other deities of the day, would usually have the story exaggerated and wind up with everyone and everything he owned (his wife, his children, his animals -- all his property) cursed as well. It was part of the Jewish idea of responsibility.

Sick, but true.

This is why you find equally asinine scriptures about how the sins of one generation "follow" into the next. This dogma even makes its way into the NT, although at least Jesus bothers to sidestep the question via a clever rebuttal.

Oh, and concerning the flood? While I could write a book on the subject (fear not, I won't), you can start by explaining how penguins, koala bears and bison made it on Noah's Party Barge.

Hopefully you'll have something more clever than "catastrophic plate tectonics" to toss my way.

mariolandblog said...

What bothers me the most about the flood story - besides of course the genocide - is that every believer seems to be Okay with the fact, that there are TWO of every kind. That would mean the second post-flood generation of every species are brothers and sisters. Then what?
The humans at least got to get together with their cousins...

Allthough, to be precise, in Genesis God asks Noah to bring 7 pairs of some animals. But Noah forgot or something, so he only took 1 pair each.

Of course it is possible to build a species on one pair but it is not healthy. You can't build a species on one animal however.
So Noahs first act after the flood - animal sacrife - meant extinction for that whole species.


But humans and animals are not the only living things...
In the old days, there were also giants (which were offspring of the "sons of god" and "daughters of men", also famous, says Genesis). It was never mentioned that there were giants on the Arc, so I guess they drowned too.

The giants mentioned later must be some new kind of giants, perhaps even unfamous ones (at least I don't know any famous giants today)



@RationalMuscle
I would read that book, seriously.

@Berend
"Animals are not punished as they do not sin. But they have to suffer the consequences of sin."

But what about justice, what about equality. The fish did not have to suffer anything. Damn Fish!