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Monday, February 21, 2011

A rebuttal over whether god is justified in killing all of mankind in a flood.

Here is another conversation with a theist over the idea that god was justified to kill everyone in a worldwide flood. I had actually initially said that god murdered people, allowed slavery and allowed rape. You tell me who has the better argument. There was some minor back and forth without much meat in the initial statements when we first started communicating, so I have left those out for the convenience of space and time.


Jeff, Okay, I’ll watch the condescending attitude. Thanks. I’ll answer your question directly then. To keep things from getting over complicated, I’ll take the most serious charge: Murder.

Most of us understand the principle that one has the right to do what they think is best with that which is theirs. We also understand, though less so in recent years, that true authorities are just when they met out appropriate punishments for offenses. God is justified on at least two counts for His extermination of the entire human race, less Noah and his family.

First, God is the maker of all things, including us. As the apostle Paul argues in the New Testament, a potter may do as he wishes with the things he creates from his clay. Vessels that he considers to be inferior or flawed he is free to dispose of and no one can rightfully say to him, “You have no right to do this.” It’s his stuff. God made us and we belong to Him. He is free to unmake us if He chooses because someone can do what he wishes with that which is his.

Secondly, God is justified in that the pre-flood population had become exceedingly corrupt and turned their backs on God. They were in fact hostile toward God. Most people would still understand if a man raising hamsters as pets destroyed one that turned out to be vicious. He arranges to bring it into the world. He carefully feeds it and provides everything it needs. If it refuses to be handled, turns and bites him every chance it gets, it’s gone, and few outside of PETA would say he acted wrongly. It is ungrateful, displeasing (dangerous actually), and altogether useless. Most men wouldn’t think twice about stepping on a scorpion if he found one in his home. A vile, insensible, unloving, and unlovable creature that would send him or his children to the hospital as soon one of them unknowingly contacted it. Crush it underfoot without guilt or remorse.

Read the Bible from cover to cover and the crux of the story is that God created man, man turned on God, but God arranged a way to rescue man from his corruption and rebellion. This is nevertheless offensive to mind still set on human autonomy. What few understand is that the gap between humans and God is far wider in every way than the gap between humans and scorpions. That message lowers us, and offends the pride of man. It is nevertheless true.

But what about God’s love, you’ll say? That’s where the gospel comes in. Ungrateful, hateful wretches that we were and are, God’s love found a way to satisfy holy justice (offences demand punishment) and extend mercy without compromising justice. He sent His own Son to suffer and pay the penalty that was due to us. It is like I had committed serious crimes that demanded incarceration and/or a fine so large that it would ruin me for life, and a man suddenly stepped forward and offered to pay my fine so that I would not suffer the punishment rightly due to me. If we understood how perfect, magnificent, and holy God is, and how terribly far we’ve fallen, we would understand that it’s the best deal of eternity. Which is why the apostle wrote: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation.”

Here is my response-

Perfect, thank you for being direct. Here is the flaw in your post.

First, You claim that god has complete dominion over mankind. Fine, let us accept that premise. Now the standard model of the biblical god is that he is all knowing, all powerful and omniscient. If god is all knowing, he knew before he created us that he would destroy all of mankind in the Flood. Our free will is meaningless, because the game was rigged. It did not matter what choices we made, what progress we achieved, god already knew before mankind was created that we would become depraved and he would wipe us all out in a flood. That is premeditated murder.

Second, You claim that god is justified in that the pre-flood population had become exceedingly corrupt and turned their backs on God. However, god did not just kill adults, or adults and teenagers or adults, teenagers and children. He sent a flood that killed every single person in the world, which includes one week old infants. Have you ever had a child? I have had two and I can guarantee you that a one week old infant is not capable of turning his back to god. (Actually, how does anyone turn their back on an omnipresent deity?) Ah, but all of mankind was so full of sin, including one week old infants that god had no choice, right? Have you ever looked into the eyes of a one week old infant? There is no sin, no deception, no evil thoughts. Besides, god allows Noah's family to live. Now Noah was allowed to live because he was a righteous man. But why was his family allowed to live? They were not righteous. They were as sinful as all the rest of humanity. Are you going to try and argue that a one week old infant was sinning more than Noah's family? Because you and I both know that is completely absurd. It is actually absurd to say that Noah was more righteous than a one week old infant, but lets just stay with Noah's family. Why did they get a pass? In what way, was their sin acceptable to god, while every single other person deserved to be killed in a flood? God is now playing favorites. He is allowing one entire family to survive, even though all but one of the family deserved to die the same as the rest of humanity. In what what way does this confirm that god is just?

Third, you use a comparison that god is justified since he is killing bad people, similar to killing rabid pets. (Yes, I know you did not say rabid) Here is your statement. " Most people would still understand if a man raising hamsters as pets destroyed one that turned out to be vicious. He arranges to bring it into the world. He carefully feeds it and provides everything it needs. If it refuses to be handled, turns and bites him every chance it gets, it’s gone, and few outside of PETA would say he acted wrongly."

Except that once again, you gloss over the fact that god is all knowing. If the man in your example "knew" beforehand that the hamsters would turn on him and he would have no choice except to kill them, then they would question why he brought them into the world in the first place. What your argument completely neglects is that god "knew" everything before it occurred. As I said, this was premeditated murder. Also, it is not just that god killed the bad hamster. To complete your analogy, you would have to admit that he also kills all but 8 hamsters in the entire world because they were all depraved. People would certainly question if EVERY SINGLE HAMSTER in the world deserved to be wiped out. Which takes us back to the idea that one week old infants or hamsters are not doing anything that deserves complete annihilation.

Finally, you ask about gods love. Well, what about it? The god of the bible does not show any love, he demonstrates vengeance. And I am sorry to say, those two words are not interchangeable.


Jeff, I will do my feeble best to reply to the first score which is the dilemma of man’s free will and responsibility and God’s omniscience. As a critic you’re to be commended for finding what is perhaps the most difficult and divisive issue of the Christian faith. If one can successfully diffuse this, the other objections are comparatively easy. The pursuit of the answer to this has probably created the deepest divisions in the Christian world. So, my answer will probably only reflect the views of some Christians.
We know that man’s will must be real and important otherwise the frequent call for repentance would be meaningless. God has given man a will and the responsibility to exercise it rightly. At the same time you are correct that the Bible does describe God has being omniscient and sovereign over all things. It is a deep and difficult paradox. We can also say that it is something of a mystery, a mystery being something that God understands but man can not. The Bible speaks of “the mystery of iniquity.” Iniquity is not sin, but the deep propensity to sin.
So, then, having admitted that even if I do my best, there is likely to be some mystery, I want to say first, that the fact that God knew beforehand that man would sin, does not logically negate man having the free will to choose and therefore be responsible for his choice. This is especially true before sin came into the world, for Adam could not claim to be unduly influenced by a sin nature. Nor must it logically follow that God is implicated in man’s failure. The Bible says God created man “upright, but he has found out many devices.” The fact that God knew beforehand what man would do, does not excuse man for doing it anyway. Put simply, foreknowledge does not logically negate responsibility. If I know my son well enough to know that he’s probably going to steal change off my dresser, he’s still morally responsible for committing the act. Of course, this analogy like all analogies, breaks down at some point.
I have four children and I understand what you are saying about small children. The Bible itself seems to acknowledge this to some degree in that it uses phrases like “before the child is old enough to choose good or evil.” On the other hand I think there is ample evidence to say that the idea of complete innocence of children is a myth. While very young children may not have the same responsibility as adults, it should be clear to any observant parent that even infants are capable of having a sin nature. Infants needn’t be taught to exercise selfish rage, for example, and anyone who has run a day care can tell you that toddlers are capable of cruelty. I’ve seen two year olds bite, gouge, and otherwise savage other two year olds. I am persuaded by this and other things that, while full responsibility may not come till later, iniquity, or “the sin nature” begins at conception.
I think it’s important to realize while thinking of this question of the judgement on the prediluvian race, that though God ended the temporal lives of the entire population, the Bible does not say that God damned the entire population. Understanding this and that fact that temporal life is but a very short chapter in human existence could help solve the part about the children. In other words it is possible that though God ended the temporal lives of the entire population, children who were not yet morally accountable could have obtained eternal life. And this would actually be a great mercy if those children were otherwise doomed to grow up in a pagan culture that would lead them to adult transgressions and adult consequences.
Noah was indeed a very righteous and obedient man. He exercised incredible trust and obedience, building a huge vessel in a location where there was no large body of standing water in an age before there was even rain! And over a period of probably hundreds of years, he continued laboring on what seemed like a huge farce to his neighbors. while trying to persuade them to change their ways. And all this while the all his neighbors abused and ridiculed him. His sons, were apparently faithful as well as they helped him through the entire ordeal. This perhaps explains why Noah’s family “got a pass” as you say. It wasn’t an arbitrary choice on God’s part, but an acknowledgment and recompense for their manifest faith and love toward God. As for week-old infants, God sees not only the heart, but knows perfectly the trajectory that a person’s heart will take him. Experience tells us that when a man is corrupt, his corruption is usually transferred to his children. When that is magnified over generations, the situation grows far worse. When an entire nation, or in this case, an entire RACE (except Noah and his family) goes bad, the thing reaches a negative, synergistic critical mass. It seems that there was nothing left to do but wash away the entire mess and start over. If it had continued, perfect justice would have demanded more severity over a ever widening population. The destruction was merciful.
Going back to the hamster analogy, in our case the entire population of hamsters save one line, DID go bad. Yes, I too wonder why God didn’t arrange things differently. I wonder why He didn’t tweak the creation so that all that carnage would have been unnecessary. But for myself and others who have true faith, the things we don’t understand do not overwhelm our trust and confidence in the things we do believe. If a child has good and loving parents, there will nevertheless be times when he does not understand or agree with some of their decisions. For most children that’s putting it mildly. But if the child has come to love and trust his parents because of the many good and trustworthy things he has seen in them, he will suspend his disbelief, trusting that his parents’ reasons will someday become clear to him. You choose to look at reasons to doubt; I look at the reasons to trust and believe.
Concerning the love of God, the Bible does not say that God loves the entire human race. It says that all mankind has fallen and become profoundly hostile toward Him. It says that He made a way, a very costly way, to save some of them (Some Christians, including me would say it will be the overwhelming majority of mankind.). “While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.” If you disparage God’s love, then let me ask you: Are you that loving? Would you give your life for your enemies? I hope you don’t consider me an enemy, but if I needed a heart transplant and there was no other way, would you offer yourself or your son to save me? Such is the love of God to the elect who love and place their trust in Him.
To those who pledge their enduring hatred toward Him, there is vengeance. How can we understand this? As I intimated previously, all human analogies fail to comprehend the breadth and depth of the situation, but we still try. If you were the most worthy of human fathers who raised your children treating them with nothing but love and kindness, and some of your children subsequently disavowed you, became corrupt and abominable, completely disrespected you and looked for ways to openly offend you and your deepest values, we’d all say those children where ungrateful wretches who deserved every bad thing that would surely come upon them. But, “Aha!” you’ll say. If that would happen I (Put “I” in bold, red letter, underlined italics here.) wouldn’t seek to kill them!” And this is where the analogy, and all human analogies break down when it comes to understanding God’s judgement. We would all agree that the children spoken of in the story have acted badly and are deserving of consequences, But because God is infinitely more worthy than any human father could be, our treachery is infinitely worse and calls for infinitely higher consequences to satisfy justice. Our problem is that we have difficulty understanding, or perhaps don’t WANT to understand that God is not just one of us guys. We want to drag Him up to the bar of HUMAN justice, impose upon Him HUMAN standards, and condemn Him if He doesn’t conform to OUR human conceptions of right behavior. If He were one of us, if there were no moral distinction between us and Him, that might be appropriate. But that most emphatically is not the case. So much is this so, that I am uncomfortable about speaking in His defense, as if He needed a human to defend Him. I hope you’ll mark it well — The root or our failure to apprehend the truth on this score is our failure to apprehend His infinite worthiness and how evil this makes our rejection of Him.

My reply-

Opponent says: "We know that man’s will must be real and important otherwise the frequent call for repentance would be meaningless.

We actually do not know that man’s will must be real. You need to believe that is the case in order to maintain a certain worldview. If the biblical god is a myth, as I believe, then the concept of free will as accepted by Christians is simply fiction. All your other arguments fall apart if the biblical god is a myth. So, at the end of the day, we are faced with the real question. Is the biblical god real?

There are numerous reasons why I can say with certainty that he is not real.

First, the stories of the bible have been shown to be false from biology, history and astronomy. If the stories are false, then they did not come from god, but men who made them up. Jesus said he confirmed the stories. Therefore, we know he is not all knowing and is not god.

Second, there are many stories in the bible that can be sourced to older religions and cultures. Instead of the bible being the written and inspired word of god, it is simply a rehash of stories created by men. The Epic of Gilgamesh, is the basis for the much of the story of Adam and Eve as well as the Flood of Noah. The stories of Jesus come from a number of different and older man-god religions, such as Buddha, Krishna, Horus and Mithra. The story of Moses came in part from the story of Hammurabi.Christians act as if these stories are new and original. A thousand years ago, when people could not read and the church was in control of all knowledge, this idea was easy to promote. However, it does not take much time to Google search these stories and find out that their origins are man made.

Third, as I mentioned, the story of Jesus is a retelling of other god-man myths from other, older religions. Stories repackaged for a new audience. Krishna, Buddha, Mithra and Horus are all examples of the man-god myth from different religions. These are all from older religions, yet they encompass many of the same elements as Christianity. It seems odd that so many other religions describe the elements of Christianity before Jesus was supposed to have existed. Christians try to explain this away by stating that these other religions actually copied Christianity. A rather odd explanation when the other religions are older than Christianity. My favorite is when they say Satan created the other religions to confuse mankind.

Fourth, there is no evidence that Jesus even existed. No one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All claims about Jesus derive from writings of other people. There occurs no contemporary Roman record that shows Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus. Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus. All documents about Jesus came well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings

If there is no Jesus, there is nothing to base Christianity on. He has to be real and god for all of this to be true. It was easy to promote the idea that Jesus existed when the church was in complete control of the western world. They simply killed dissenters. However, it is more difficult now. So, the ball is in your court. You need to prove Jesus existed and is god.

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