Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Traditions Today #2: Noah and the Flood

Considering the heated and in depth discussion that my last post got going (thanks Mike D.)I would say that this series is a supreme success. 

Seriously though, I doubt that I have enough readers to get something like the discussion I would like but I think I’m going to run with it anyway. I also realize these may be exhausted topics for some of the more active apologists, and disbelievers alike, but I hope some will find it worth a read, and a comment. Maybe at some point these will prove a useful collection of musings on the morality and relevance of the Bible. That has a much better chance of being true if it’s more than just my meager thoughts being documented here. 

Up next, one of the worst stories of them all, Noah and the flood. 

Not that most people need a summary of this one but I thought I would hit the highlights. There are a couple things here that often get overlooked in Sunday school:

1.       Genesis 6:2: The sons of God marry the daughters of man – this is an affront, there are different thoughts on how but let me just point out they marry. The only real way this could be an affront that I see is that those who were worthy (angels, or worthy men chose to commit themselves to the unworthy women of the land). Note that we are only in the 6th chapter of this book and the women once again are the vessels of destruction for worthy men. Poor, silly men.

2.       Genesis 6:3-6: More discussion of the evil and wickedness of men. “the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. Giants are mentioned here for the first but not the last time. 

3.       Genesis 6:7:: God decides to destroy all man, beast and foul – “for it repenteth me that I have made them.” God regrets making man? Is he second guessing himself?

4.       Genesis 6:8: God looks on Noah and finds favor in him decides not to kill him or is family. 

5.       Genesis 7 & 8: The ark, the flood. Since this is a discussion of the morality/relevance of this story we don’t need to get too much in to the logistic arguments for or against the possibility of the flood. Let’s just assume it could have happened. Everything but Noah and his family and preserved species on the ark dies, horrifically. Children, infants, kittens everything. The thought of any child panicked and gasping for air is monstrous, but all the children of existing humanity?

I have a really hard time with this one. Not just this one, but it makes my top 5 for sure. I will be less antagonistic on most topics but on this one it’s difficult to strike even the pretense of objectivity. It might have to do with the fact that I personally took part in the teaching of this story to my children, and other children, toddlers on up.

This is one of the first stories children learn. This is the one that invariably is depicted in cheery cartoon scenes.  We teach children that God’s morality is perfect and that he was directly responsible for the most complete genocide ever to occur. They are too young to question so they simply accept that it makes sense that some people deserve to die, if they are wicked enough. 

This is a story that should give them nightmares (and for some it does) but most children take it in stride, why?
What is the moral lesson here? Death is better than wickedness? Was God sparing those innocent children before they could be corrupted? I really would like someone’s perspective on this one. Is this defensible? If so, how?

Secondly, aside from the morality of it, is there anything to take from this story that is relevant to us today? If so how do you apply the lessons of this story in your life?

I look forward to your comments, I really hope people are willing to participate in a discussion on this one, sooner or later.

Little Mormon trivia: 
According to Mormon Doctrine Noah was also the angel Gabriel. Gabriel lived his earthly life as Noah.

Little belated Mormon trivia that should have gone with last post: 
According to Mormon Doctrine the Garden of Eden was actually located in present day Missouri. The references to Ethiopia and the Euphrates River, is explained by these landmarks being located there prior to the super continent Pangaea being split up buy the great flood (so I guess it’s a little topical) and the renaming of geographic areas and landmarks after. 

I guess this brings up a bonus question. For someone to believe in this Eden revelation by Joseph Smith, doesn’t the flood have to be a literal, historical account? If it was more metaphorical how then would the names be preserved? I can see how the creation story might be allegorical and therefore not present a challenge to a faithful LDS member that also accepts the science of evolution, but this little tidbit doesn’t seem to work the same way. This one pretty much requires young earth theory. If I am wrong in this, I preemptively apologize and I look forward to being set straight.   

Thank you for making it through all that. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you.

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