24 January 2009

The Flood of Noah: All flesh died that moved upon the earth

God's first killing is hard to beat. He killed everything. Here's how he described it:
The LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. Genesis 6.7
 Behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. 6.17 
Every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. 7.4 
All flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. 7.21-23
So the killing contest is over. God, in his very first killing, wins the prize. The guy who killed everything "on the face of the earth" is the world's top killer. He beats Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ghengis Khan. All those guys. Maybe not in terms of the number killed, but certainly in percentage. You just can't beat 100%.

Of course, God had his reasons. God always has his reasons.
God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man. 6.5-6
 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. ... The earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 6.11-13
Humans were wicked, they had bad thoughts, and the whole earth was violent and corrupt. So what's a good God to do?

Well, you might think he'd start a school to teach people how to behave, have them go to counseling, get them interested in other stuff -- like baseball or something. Anything to get their minds off their bad thoughts.

But no. God decided to drown them all. It was the best he could think of at the time. (He was having bad thoughts.)

The whole earth was filled with violence, so God killed everything on earth. (At least he found a nonviolent solution to the problem.)

Still, I don't quite get it. Did God drown the animals because they were too violent? Didn't he make them that way in the first place -- either at creation or after the fall of Adam?

But here is the excuse that I like the best:
God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man. 6.5-6.6
And here's what God says after he finishes the job and smells the burning flesh of Noah's sacrifice.
The LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. 8.21
God regrets making humans because they have bad thoughts. So he kills them all. Then he regrets killing them all because they (still) have bad thoughts. (At least he fixed the problem!)

The mind of God is a frightening thing.

Okay so God drowned every person on earth except for Noah and his family. How many would that be?

Well, the flood was supposed to have happened about 2400 BCE, and the human population was somewhere around 20 million at the time. (McEvedy and Jones 1978)

Not a bad start for a serial killer. 
Estimated number killed: 20 million
Everyone on earth (except for Noah and his family)

God's next killing: Abraham's war to rescue Lot
List of God's killings


busterggi said...

The more I re-read the Bible the more I think Yahweh is just an older name for Azathoth.

Markus Arelius said...

I guess the big question is why to Christians conveniently sweep such passages of the Bible under the rug or suggest that they don't exist. It's right there in black and white and they shrug it off as though God became a changed man after the virgin birth of his son Jesus.

I think it's good that we all begin to ask why it is the Christians consider the Bible their rock, their symbol for morality.

STA said...

I agree. Excellent post, and I look forward to the rest.

v_quixotic said...

This story is so much better in the Quaran.

As KafirGirl relates it, one of Noah's sons misses the boat and Noah is pretty broken up about it. So Allah just says, "Noah, dude, don't worry about it! He's not really your son because you wife is a slut..."

No wonder Noah had a drinking problem!

I Am said...

You guys are all missing the point. Those people and animals did not die in vain. God killed all those millions of people and animals so that kids could have storybooks with cute little animals so they could learn the names of different animals and learn about how wonderful God is! God committed the biggest massacre of all time so our kids could sing songs about "Elephants and kangaroosies" and giving God the "glory-glory"!

Markus Arelius, I think the problem in this case is that they DON'T try to sweep it under the rug. It's taught in Sunday School like it's something wonderful!

As a kid, it didn't occur to me that if the story were true, it'd obviously mean that millions of God's creatures, big and small, were drowning to death outside. They left out those verses of the song, I guess.

That's why religion is dangerous, especially for children: it warps people's minds so that even the completely obvious doesn't occur to them.

Timothy said...

I've just read this, and I have to say the way you put it just gets me to laughing. How you can make a serial murderer funny is a miracle, I don't know how you did it, but it was worth it.

It brings to mind something I heard awhile ago, can't remember where from. It went something like "the entire OT is a testament to God's incompetence." This story just emphasizes how true it is...

Fragged Mind said...

I know you have to approve posts so You can deny this one. I made a video on this called God's First Kill.


If you think it is worthy to mention I would be honored.



vp said...

Since those on the ark were spared, the estimate should exclude them. According to Genesis these were "Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them". I make that eleven people.

If we estimate that the entire population of the earth was 3 million, the estimate for the death toll should be 3 million - 11 = 2,999,989

Steve Wells said...

Yes, I suppose you're right about that, vp. Except it seems to me there were 8 not 11 people on the ark.

But when your estimate is as crude as mine (30 million plus or minus a few million), it seems a bit silly to say, 29,999,992, which implies that we know how many were drowned down to the last baby.

I know, I start with my rough estimate of 30 million and start adding from there, which suffers from the same significant digit problem. But I don't know any way out. Does anyone have a suggestions?

vp said...

Ahh, yes: eight people not eleven. Sorry about that: I was fooled by the comma.

I rather like the spurious precision of the death statistics. It adds to the surrealistic humor of this exercise.

documentn said...

It seems unfair to use 30 million when that number comes from the real world, where man was 8 million years old instead of 1600 years. Is it possible to get a number using the average birth rate and lifespan in Genesis, or something like that?

Steve Wells said...


Yeah, it's not easy to come up with a good number no matter how you look at it.

If I try to get an estimate of the actual human population at the time the mythical flood supposedly took place (~2400 BCE), then 30 million seems reasonable.

If I start with the mythical Adam and Eve and try to estimate the population 1600 years later, I would get something else. (I have no idea what.)

If the flood happened like it is described in the Bible, then the human population went from 8 to 200 million or so by the time of Christ (about 2400 years after the flood). If it could do that, then there would be no problem going from 2 to 30 million in 1600 years.

I would be interested, though, in what Bible believers (particularly flood believers) have to say about this. How many do you think drowned in the flood?

Fragged Mind said...

The original estimate was 30 million...what happened to it? Also I would really trust a U.S. government census site for accurate information...at least not without seeing their sources.

Steve Wells said...

Fragged Mind,
I reduced the estimate to 20 million, since this is agrees with the US Census Bureau number (taken from McEvedy and Jones). They have 14 and 27 million for 3000 and 2000 BCE, respectively. So 20 million would seem about right for the time the flood supposedly occurred (2400 BCE). I found several estimates that were larger, but I am trying to keep my estimates on the conservative side.

Corrie said...

Oh my God! I love reading this website! no really i like it no sarcasm...really

Corrie said...

thank you for the reading..so comforting to think other people feel this way

Tommy said...

I think your number is probably reasonable, but is it fair to ascribe this as simply a mass-murder?

Your own SAB clearly states in vs. 6:5, 11, & 12 that all the people on the planet were consumed in wickedness. V. 6 says that their wickedness was so bad that God actually regretted creating them, and that that very regret was cause for grief in his own heart.

The Flood is a sad, sad story, one which illustrates the incredible capacity of humans for evil. The only bright spot in it is that God decided not to do away with humanity entirely, but to give it another chance.

You probably won't approve this comment, but I do hope that you realize there are at least some Christians in the world who don't choose to simply ignore the uglier and harder to understand parts of the Bible. That there are at least some Christians who critically examine their own beliefs daily and ask tough questions and refuse to accept cliche Sunday School answers as irrefutable truth. They do exist, though belief in that existence may be harder to accept that belief in some unseeable, untouchable God.

Thank you for your words and may they continue to inspire others to think.

Barry said...

It really saddens me (and even scares me a little)that when Christians are confronted by the immorality of god drowning people in a world wide flood, that their response is often "God can do what he wants."

Most Theists believe that their god is omnipotent and omniscient, yet the best that Yewah can come up with is to drown everyone? All the children, babies and most animals.

What is even scarier is when they ask me if I don't believe in god, where do I get my morals from along with this gem, "If I didn't believe in god, I would go around killing and raping and doing whatever I wanted"

Remnant Soldier said...

I have one word: NEPHILIM... do your research

Steve Wells said...

Nice word, Remnant Soldier!

But could you elaborate just a bit. (I haven't done the extensive research that you so obviously have done.)

Andrei said...

hmm, interesting that noone really thinks of what God was doing until the people got to the 20 million in number... and maybe after He let them "do thier thing" and be patient with them for this long, decided that they aren't getting any better but worse and worse till it was insufferable. This story is said to be very close to the Sodom and Gomorrah one where people got so bad that if you went to that city they would strip you of your clothes and spread your legs and give you a nice welcoming and it is written that "all the men of the city came, young and old" so you would have had quite a bit of fun until they were all done with you. so my understanding is that you insinuate that God should sit and just watch to a situation like that, right? if you're in a society where they bust in and rape your daughters and sons, your guests and you as well, eh, just let it be... God shouldnt interfere, right? oh no, cuz then you would cry out: "where is God?" how can he allow a thing like that to happen? how can he allow these rapists and fornicators to live like that?!" do i understand this correctly?
notice it was after they became like that they were punished,.. noone made them to become like that.. they chose themselves, as opposed to Noah, etc.

worker11811 said...

Actually, the big picture is that God did not provide any rules, written or verbal, and no priests, to the people prior to Genesis Chapter 6. Therefore, they had no definition of what was wrong and what was right to avoid punishment. So they were killed by God because God never told them what not to do.

To paraphrase Monty Python:
"Why did they nail your head to the floor?"
"Because I had transgressed the unspoken law."
"Which was....?"
"Well, he didn't tell me, but he gave me his word, and that's good enough for me!"