What if the story of Noah and the Flood is "a parable"?

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If the story of Noah is a parable…

  1. Then you are free to believe there is no actual danger of evil growing to consume the entire world… that people would never actually be that bad.

  2. Then no matter how evil people and the world becomes you can believe that God will simply love and forgive them, or possibly just change them to good people with a little abracadabra.

  3. Then you don’t have to take seriously the claim in that story that God was sorry He made mankind.

Gees… it is almost as easy and comforting as the atheist belief our existence simply ends with the death of our bodies and there is no need to worry about anything after.

Guess somebody hasn’t seen the Netflix documentaries Earthstorm

Screenshot 2023-08-16 at 23-07-49 Watch Earthstorm Netflix Official Site

  • And thinks that the first rainbow in earth’s history appeared after the Flood.

I haven’t either. What has it got to do with the price of fish?

Perhaps you should explain the parable so that we understand where you are coming from.


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I don’t understand, so do you have to take it literally to accept moral warnings contained in it?

Surely not on everyone? :wink:


No… I never said anything that extreme.

I have actually run into people who don’t take that seriously. I do take it seriously. The theological implications are enormous. It means God is capable of doing something He later regrets. This implies that God does not automatically know everything that is going to happen. It means God can and does take risks. And personally I think this is a necessity for an authentic relationship. Knowing everything we do before we do it, is too much like the relationship between and author and the characters in his novel. It is not what I would call an authentic relationship with another living person.

The point is that taking this story as historical has some important implications.

  1. It is possible for evil to grow and dominate all of mankind.
  2. God will take drastic action to save the world from evil, like a cattle farm putting down all of its cattle to keep dangerous diseases from spreading.
  3. God really did regret His creation of mankind, and everything which happened was NOT all according to some plan. God did not look down on a world full of evil with glee, happy that now He could show them how great He was by sending His son as a blood sacrifice to save them.

‘Later’ also means he is not omnitemporal, or in any case, it means he is constricted and limited by time.

Incorrect. It just means He interacts with the earth in a time ordered manner, willing to write history together with us in a real relationship with people.

It does indeed mean I don’t buy into your “omnitemporal” magic word rhetoric.

Actually, that’s not a bad characterization of how he relates to us in his omnitemporality, not that we can really get our heads around it. Thanks.

That is only you using your buzz-words like ‘necromancy’ etc. and not much of an argument.

Shall we talk about relativistic physics and spacetime slices. And oh, God’s omnipresence.

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and doesnt know that it is believed that prior to the flood it never actually rained…no rain no rainbow…the bible tells us how the earth was watered and it makes no mention of rain …you knew of this right?

  • You first. Which pope changed “Sabbath worship” to “Sunday worship”?

None of this really follows. It’s just you projecting.

  1. The story may warn of that danger of growing evil and the OT is replete with examples of Israel bringing on its own destruction and God saving them. This can just be ancient Mesopotamian myth teaching the same thing. In other words, even though completely non-historical, the account warns against the effects of sin, exactly what you seem to think it could lead us or make us free to not believe.

  2. God murdering and drowning millions of children (of a few thousand if you think the global flood of Genesis was just the size of a Lake) just doesn’t fit in your narrative or with things like Genesis 18. The good or innocent were wiped away with the evil. Not to mention saying every person was evil strikes me as hyperbole and just justification for how God could do such a thing. Its an ancient attempt at theodicy ad much as anything. It’s changing theological interpretation of a global flood which was background knowledge to the people of that time. The flood simply didn’t happen as the details are narrated.

  3. If you believe the verse is in your sacred and inspired scripture you can still use it whether the account happened or not. That passage is extremely profound and raises tons of thought. The Bible has little interest in strict history though. It’s interest is in theology and it uses well known mythology to make its points. Unless you actually think the sun was made after grass as Genesis 1 narrates? Or humans were made mature as bone golems and there were talking snakes and magic trees of eternal life etc. Maybe Indiana Jones will find the fountain of youth next…

The story could be used to point to the idea that God risks, took a chance with humans and sometimes regrets His decisions when we sin. It could also point out that sin is punished by God. How do you think a person during or after the exile would have understood this story? The same way we do?

But the Bible also says bad things happen and that is not always due to sin. And within the primeval history there are two flood accounts, two genealogies preceding them, two creation accounts, two names and extremely different images of God. One is majestic and calls things into being like a proper Greek Omni-God. The other doesn’t know before hand if any of the animals will be a suitable partner for Adam before he parades them all in front of him. None work so he puts Adam to sleep and makes woman from his rib/side/splits him. This one is human and anthropomorphic. Maybe the details are meant only to show us the truth of Genesis 1, that we are created in God’s image and the climax of creation. God risking and being sorry he made us doesn’t make him like us, anthropomorphic, but instead we are like him.

The author of the Pentateuch put all these traditions side by side and let their glaring contradictions stand. I’m not sure claiming we have to believe the flood or all it’s details are factual means we want to claim there are no consequences for sin or the theology behind its narrative is or is not true. Maybe we just don’t consider fairy tales history like some other Christian’s and don’t believe in a magic boat made by a 600 year old man that survived a global flood that covered the world’s tallest mountains. Some of us wonder what the lions ate after they got off the ship or how kangaroos made it back to Australia. And those poor penguins.

The mere fact that so many Christian’s advocate for a local flood tells me one thing: they don’t believe the flood account is historical either because that is not at all what the Bible narrates. The whole need for an ark which Noah and his family board twice, and the two (or 7???) of each animal is to repopulate the earth since the account so elepquently describes creation as being undone and all life being destroyed. None of which is necessary for a local flood. The whole story loses its punch when it becomes about a few thousand people and not the world. The NT thinks only Noah and company survived. So yeah, magic boats, trees, talking snakes, 600 year old men etc… rejecting all that does not mean we reject the consequences of sin.

To put things more logically:

  1. I don’t share the idea that the Bible intends to describe some small scale flood.

  2. I see the enormous scientific and logistical impossibilities with the biblical account as it’s narrated.

  3. The story is one of the world’s most well known and part of my sacred scripture.

What are our options if we believe these three? I’d guess we can force the Bible to describe a local flood or we can just say it didn’t happen and wrestle with the text and it’s theological implications.

The one thing I will say though, there are two images of God in Genesis 1-11. One who is your typical Omni—-in control… and one who doesn’t seem to have it all figured out yet. I think you might be on to something. For too long Christians have ignored that second image of God in the primeval history because we have been influenced by Greek philosophy. The God who risks, who changes his mind, who maybe hadn’t had humans all figured out beforehand is something to discuss.

Not only that but you paint yourself into a pickle. If God’s actions were truly just, why does He decide to never do them again? If his action was completely appropriate why is it not the same response if humans do it again? Instead he promises not to do it. God changes throughout the narrative and learns. Again, there are two streams of thought running side by side.



I said nothing of the sort. It’s just you projecting.

What I said was regarding what you are free to believe and not take seriously. And yes that freedom does follow from taking the story as a parable rather than an historical event.

Which is clearly not the case in this particular story – quite the opposite.

Indeed! Which makes it quite clear that this was not a fictional account by the author of the text, but merely recording the stories passed down in an oral tradition.

To put things more honestly:

  1. I don’t share your delusion that the Bible EVER describes the earth as a globe or a planet, therefore there is no reason whatsoever to identify the use of the word “earth” in the Bible with the entire globe. It is as nonsensical as claiming that the flood refers to a flood affecting all planets and intelligent aliens in the entire universe.
  2. I don’t share your delusion that the Bible has any conception whatsoever of the scientific and logical problems you are imagining and therefore I see no need for treating the text this way, which has no intention of describing such technical details. It is just people telling the story of what happened to them in the way they remember it.
  3. The story is indeed well known by other people in the Bible and universally treated as an historical event by them.

What are our options if we are honest in this way. We can accept the Bible’s description of a flat earth as referring to only a portion of the planet and not try pushing later understandings of the earth and universe onto the text.

It is the way things are in an authentic relationship. Where participants learn what it takes to influence the others in the relationship in the way they want them to go. You have to learn about them in this way because they are not static entities but constantly changing according to the choices they make.

Like putting down livestock to prevent the spread of a deadly disease, it is not about justice but about necessity. And one can decide never to do that again by taking precautions to avoid the same situation, which is exactly what God did in the story which immediately follows in Genesis 11.

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Chapter 11? What the heck is the point of saying all people had one language if you are only talking about one little small area? Again, the local— I love mental gymnastics—harmonization model of the flood shows itself to be absurdly bankrupt. Humanity was spread far and wide at the time. It did not have one language. So God couldn’t actually do what you said he did. The problem remains and the problem is reading myth as history then chastising others who don’t follow suit in reading the text with uncritical naïveté.

Was God scared they would climb to heaven and bust through the firmament?

The whole earth is meant. What’s the point of saying one little local community had one language and narrating such a story? The account is prescientific and has no idea what the earth looks like but it is using its language and knowledge to unequivocally describe everything and all humans. If you disagree with this I’d say you disagree with what the text ever so plainly narrates. The narrative of these stories makes little sense otherwise. I wonder how many Christians who accept a local flood think the “fall” was local too.

And yes, the later NT authors probably thought the Noah account was “historical.” I can’t prove they did because I can’t read their minds, cross reference their thoughts and their conception of “history” is vastly different from ours (apples and oranges) but 1 Pet 3:20 is clear only 8 people survived.

Harmonizing scripture (with science) to say something it doesn’t then complaining that others think the flood is mythological because we might want to revel in sin or believe everyone gets a puppy in heaven or something silly like that jumps the shark. I get it, you can’t let go of a mythological narrative. Some of us have been able to.

  • Given your inability to understand the relevance of the Netflix documentaries, I believe any effort on my part to explain the parable would be insufficient and a waste of your time and mine.

The species was spread far and wide. But humanity is more than just a biological species. Though Adam we also have an inheritance of the mind from God. The point of Genesis 11 is that God was preventing mankind from establishing a singular unified human culture which could be dominated by evil.

No, the text said no such thing. What it said was…

“Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do

In other words, God already saw what would happen if they maintained a singular unified culture.

“The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

That was the situation which made the flood a necessity. So God prevented mankind from doing the same thing.

So why didn’t God do this in the first place? A divided humanity meant the world would have wars. It is not ideal… but it is better than the alternative.

The whole earth as THEY understood it. Which was NOT a globe or a planet – that is impossible! Equating the whole earth with the globe, just because we do, is as nonsensical as equating it with the whole universe, just because we happen to understand God’s creation is far far bigger than just the earth.

Which is what you are doing when you equate “the earth” with a globe or planet.

I get it, you want to use the words “mythological narrative” to get people to let go of the Bible. You can’t accept that the story in the Bible has any historical content. But the fact is that we can see very clearly that myths are born from historical facts. Sure there is no Santa’s workshop on the north pole. Doesn’t mean that Saint Nicholas didn’t exist. Sure there are no magical fruit, talking animals, or golems of dust and bone. Doesn’t mean that Adam, Eve, Cain, and Noah were not real people.

And the main problem with the story of Noah is when people take its words out of context to mean things that the Bible couldn’t possibly mean because there was no idea of the earth as a globe or planet in the Bible.

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Before responding, can you answer this question:

How old was Noah when he started building his half titanic sized floating boat out of wood?


I couldn’t resist. So how many myths are there throughout the world that you have studied and how many of them are born of actual historical events closely resembling the gist of their stories? How many specifically from ancient Mesopotamia? How much of the Enuma Elish is based on real events in the past? How much of the Gilgamesh epic actually happened?

Your one data point Santa argument means nothing. Because some historical events led to legendary events all legendary stories are based on historical events? That is a stunning logical fallacy and I am
not interested in such uncritical thinking.

Not to mention are you saying the ark story is as fanciful as Santa Clause and that there is just some core in there about a guy and a boat? Don’t confuse your delusion and imagination with reality.

According to the text Noah was younger than most of his ancestors when they died, but older than Enoch when God took him. LOL

Like I said, I don’t believe in magical fruit or talking animals, so I don’t take everything in the text literally. We have no explanation for the enormous ages of the people in chapter 5. The consistency suggests to me a different way of measuring time or the ages of people (or even a different numerical system) might have been used at some point in the oral tradition which was passed down.

I fail to see the relevance. Do statistics determine the reality of a particular case? No. Does the lack of historical accounts mean a myth has no basis in historical events? No.

I made no such argument. Your strawman tactic is an actual logical fallacy. Your responses are so lacking in decorum and grace as well as critical thinking, I would not be surprised if nobody is interested in them.