Literal belief in the flood story
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04-04-2014, 08:21 AM
Literal belief in the flood story
A while back, I got into this argument with someone on RRS. If you believe in a literal account of the flood story, the take home is that God willingly killed children because he wanted to, and there is no other possible conclusion.

So, to start with this, if we assume there exists a god that is powerful enough to create universes out of nothing, then it's certainly plausible that there exists a god who could summon a bunch of water out of nothing, leave it on earth a while, and then magic it all away. It's not that difficult to accept once we've made the initial assumption. That being said, there are a lot of other problems with the flood myth that don't jive with the really real world:
  • The mixing of fresh and salt water would have killed countless fish.
  • Most or all terrestrial plants would have died.
  • The herbivores wouldn't have had enough to eat when they came off the ark.
  • The carnivores would have quickly killed all the herbivores when they got off the ark, then starved when there was no food.
  • Every species on the planet would have had a genetic bottle neck 5,000 years ago.
So, if we assume God can magic up universes from nothing, and magic water up out of nothing and magic it away, then presumably he can magic up some solutions to those problems. So he uses magic to keep the fish alive. He uses magic to keep the plants alive or simply respawns a bunch of new ones later; it's all the same. He either magically sustains the carnivores and keeps them from reproducing while herbivore populations increase to where they could sustain the carnivores, or he holds them in suspended animation during this time. He also makes sure that none of the species get wiped out by a single disease until the species can become more genetically diverse.

Again, this isn't hard to accept in terms of feasibility if he's out there creating universes. We can certainly question why he'd go through such a convoluted plot to kill all the wicked people when a bunch of well-aimed lightning strikes would have done the job. We can question why he magiced all the evidence of the flood away and later based admittance criteria for heaven on belief. Still, it doesn't prove that he couldn't have done it.


The problem is: the children. The whole notion is God was mad at the wicked people, so he killed them and their kids to make things right. Now, there's no way that the children who were sufficiently young would have been wicked, so why did he kill them? Given all the hoops he had to jump through that I outline earlier, he could have totally saved them; he saved all the fish and terrestrial plants. Also rock formations. He took the time to save fragile geological rock formations, but not the kids. The take home message here is God wanted to kill the children; he had other options. Literally, according to the apologetics, an infinite number of other options.


Now, I've heard Christians respond that the other kids were going to grow up wicked, so that's why he killed them. Two problems:

1) Couldn't Noah have raised them in a moral manner while God fed them manna from heaven, or something?

2) Doesn't this completely violate the concept of free will? Whoops! There goes most of your contemporary apologetics for the problem of evil and the reason for the flood in the first place!


This myth is stupidly contrived and terrible. When people accept it as true, they make some of the most creepy, and morally bankrupt excuses for God I have ever heard.
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04-04-2014, 08:34 AM
RE: Literal belief in the flood story
I had a long running debate with a theist mate about the ark story.
A turning point was when (after I said there is zero evidence for it) he claimed many cultures have a recorded history of a great flood "so there he says smugly".
rebuttal:
So If only Noah and his family survived how were they (all the other cultures) able to document a record of the flood ?

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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04-04-2014, 08:34 AM
RE: Literal belief in the flood story
I have found that gullible people can literally believe anything.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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04-04-2014, 09:24 AM
RE: Literal belief in the flood story
(04-04-2014 08:34 AM)sporehux Wrote:  I had a long running debate with a theist mate about the ark story.
A turning point was when (after I said there is zero evidence for it) he claimed many cultures have a recorded history of a great flood "so there he says smugly".
rebuttal:
So If only Noah and his family survived how were they (all the other cultures) able to document a record of the flood ?

I think the less stupid response is "Descendants of Noah, who eventually became other distinct cultures all had stories of the same flood".

Granted, no one actually says it this way, and in that case, it's really just a copy-of-a-copy problem; there's nothing to say that it's not just a myth derived from an older myth. Stories can obviously get passed down. It doesn't make them true.

But yeah, in order for his point to actually mean anything, he has to say that they were actual contemporary cultures witnessing the event and then, as you said, they'd all be dead. Did they carve it onto tablets write before dying?


(04-04-2014 08:34 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  I have found that gullible people can literally believe anything.

This is true. Demonstrably so.
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04-04-2014, 09:41 AM
RE: Literal belief in the flood story
As a christian, you aren't really taught beyond the bible. The story of Noah doesn't get analysed, just taught and told to believe. It wasn't until I started researching things for myself and found a lot of crap that just didn't make any sense, that I started really analyzing the stories/words in detail. Only then, does it not make sense anymore. But when you're in that "christian zone", you don't even think to look deeper. What a waste of a brain. Glad I've gotten mine back. Smartass
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04-04-2014, 09:54 AM
RE: Literal belief in the flood story
(04-04-2014 09:41 AM)DarkHorse Wrote:  As a christian, you aren't really taught beyond the bible. The story of Noah doesn't get analysed, just taught and told to believe. It wasn't until I started researching things for myself and found a lot of crap that just didn't make any sense, that I started really analyzing the stories/words in detail. Only then, does it not make sense anymore. But when you're in that "christian zone", you don't even think to look deeper. What a waste of a brain. Glad I've gotten mine back. Smartass

Luckily, there are some churches where at least groups of Christians will analyze it (in a Bible study, perhaps, but not in a sermon). When they do so, they tend to reject the story as anything more than a parable for [whatever] purposes. I still think they're being more credulous than they ought to be, but at least they stop trying to get things like "omnibenevolence" and "willful child torture/murder" to work together.

But yeah, I took it as literal for quite a while. This was the first thing I can remember giving real though to and being concerned back when I was a Christian. I wanted it to be true in some capacity because I didn't like the thought of lies being in the Bible, but I hated the story the more I thought about it. This was the first time I can remember thinking about a part of the Bible and not being able to give an honest answer as to whether or not I believed.
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04-04-2014, 10:16 AM
RE: Literal belief in the flood story
You are absolutely right. It totally obliterates the free will argument. Of course the whole thing is utterly ridiculous and anyone who believes it is literally delusional.

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04-04-2014, 10:20 AM
RE: Literal belief in the flood story
There are many instances in the Bible where God has no problem killing children. Sending a plague to kill babies, sending bears to kill children for making fun of a bald guy, etc. It's amazing how people just look at these things and simply shrug their shoulders and turn a blind eye to it. They'll always excuse it with "Well, we can't hold God to our laws/standards." Really? Because the thought of somebody murdering children makes me sick. The thought of actually worshipping somebody who murders children is disturbing on another level.

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04-04-2014, 10:49 AM
RE: Literal belief in the flood story
There is a reason that they are called "apologists." There is much to apologize for in that collection of Iron Age mythology.

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04-04-2014, 11:01 AM
RE: Literal belief in the flood story
First point, there was a flood after the glacier covering most of Europe melted. It flooded the area known as Doggerland between Scotland and Holland which is now a shallow sea. It also created the English Channel and flooded cities that now lie beneath the Mediterranean.

It is possible that someone back then got the idea there was going to be a flood simply by being suspicious about the behavior of worms: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/...-true/131/

The idea that someone took all the animals on earth is just a mistranslation. It is likely that if a farmer decided there was going to be a flood he would take breeding stock of his animals, so, a couple of goats, sheep, pigs. I think they all lived in the same house anyway.

Maybe he already had a boat!

The more interesting point is, was there a flood, the fact of which was passed down orally? That seems likely. All the rest is speculation, embellishment and attempts at explaining, how did people and animals survive it, it it was such a massive flood. Perhaps most people, at that time lived in low lying areas which are now underwater rather than on higher ground. Perhaps the planet was more forested in those days.

Surely the more interesting aspect of this is that ancient historical facts are passed down orally and that people do have ways of passing down history using stories. For me, the less interesting aspect is analysing the truth of the fables and stories passed down. Of course they aren't true in their details as they are the product of generation after generation of handing down of these stories. When they are found in religious texts, then there is a huge element of using them to terrorize people into believing a particular religion...or else, look what happens!
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