April 5th, 2014
08:56 AM ET

When God plays the villain

Opinion by Joel S. Baden, special to CNN

(CNN) - Most modern people tend to distinguish between the wrathful God of the Old Testament and the merciful God of the New Testament.

In our age, the merciful God reigns - or so we like to think.

But every so often, stories or books or natural disasters summon visions of a wrathful God, and nowhere is that more in evidence than in the biblical story of the Flood, now brutally depicted in Darren Aronofsky’s new film “Noah.”

With our notion of a God who loves us all individually, especially the little children, we struggle with a deity who would wipe out all of humanity. Surely there were many innocent people, children, who died in the Flood?

But let’s be clear: This is our problem, not the Bible’s.

According to the biblical story of the Flood, it was not individuals who were wicked; it was humanity as a whole, a wickedness encoded in humanity’s very nature. Young, old, male, female, “every plan devised by humanity’s mind was nothing but evil all the time,” says the Book of Genesis.

Nor is the Flood intended to eradicate humanity’s wickedness so that we might begin anew as a peaceful species, as the film “Noah” seems to suggest.

In the Bible, Noah and his descendants don’t promise to behave differently after the flood. Rather, God learns to accept their inherently evil nature: “Never again will I doom the earth because of humanity, since the devisings of humanity’s mind are evil from their youth.”

We are who we are.

In fact, according to the Bible, the reason that God accepts human nature is because we are the only species that can give him what he wants — which, in the view of Genesis, is bloody, burned animal sacrifices. (So much for the pro-vegetarian angle of Aronofsky’s film.)

MORE ON CNN: Does God have a prayer in Hollywood?

The God of the Old Testament is not uniquely protective of children. After all, this is the same deity who commands the Israelites to slaughter their enemies, “man and woman, young and old.”

The same God who accepts without comment Jephthah’s sacrifice of his own daughter, who allows children to be mauled by a bear for taunting one of his prophets, who threatens Israel with such devastating famine that they will be forced to eat their own infants.

Innocent lives are rarely a moral problem for Israel’s God.

Consider the debate between Abraham and God over the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham asks his maker, “Will you sweep away the innocent along with the guilty?”

Abraham succeeds in talking God down to sparing the city for the sake of 10 innocent lives. When the city is then destroyed anyway, we are left to surmise that there must have been fewer than 10 good people there. But there might have been nine — and they burned with the rest.

Aronofsky must have recognized our modern moral conundrum: His depiction of humanity outside the family of Noah is almost entirely negative, so that we feel very little compassion for them. Even as they clamber for space on mountaintops as the waters rise.

MORE ON CNN: Noah's Ark discovery raises flood of questions

The one exception to humanity’s general wickedness, a young woman who does not make it onto the ark, stands in for all the innocents swept away in the Flood.

But how innocent is she, really?

The film hews close to the Christian notion of original sin: Noah states quite forcefully that humans have all been corrupted since the expulsion from the Garden.

From that perspective, there are no truly innocent humans, regardless of how innocently they may behave.

In the film, the only real innocents are the animals. They remain so, one character says, because they behave as they did in Eden. Which, of course, is more than anyone can say for Adam and Eve. Notably, Aronofsky does not show any animals drowning or struggling for life, though they also must have.

Again, this is not a problem for the Old Testament: The animals are as inherently guilty as the humans. “All flesh” — animals included — “had corrupted its way on the earth,” we are told in Genesis.

So, we have to separate our notion of innocence — and of God’s nature — from that of the Old Testament authors.

The God of the Old Testament does not love humans; he barely tolerates them. The relationship is not one of affection but one of necessity and of obedience.

We are promised that there will never be another Flood because God wants and needs our sacrifices.

The family of the patriarchs is chosen out of all humanity not because they are somehow more righteous but so that they can exemplify correct obedience for the other nations of the world.

Israel is saved from Egypt not out of love but in order that they will be uniquely beholden to God and will serve him — again, with sacrifices — in the way that God most desires.

Israel’s God is not a beneficent one. He is, in the words of his prophet Nahum, “a passionate, avenging God; vengeful, and fierce in wrath.”

It is not his job to keep us happy and comfortable; it is, rather, our job to make ourselves uncomfortable that he might be appeased.

And yet there is no question that the Old Testament God is not the same God we know and worship today, in modern America.

How, then, do we, who still hold the Bible dear, reconcile our idea of God with God’s actions, in the Flood story and elsewhere?

One possibility is simply to take the Bible at its word: All of humanity, and indeed all of the animals too, was wicked, and even Noah was not entirely righteous but only the most righteous of his wicked generation, as an ancient Jewish tradition stated.

The moral problem is then not why everyone perished, but why — as the movie version asks — anyone was saved at all.

Another possibility is to attribute a shift in personality to the deity: from wrathful to merciful, in line with the division between the Old and New Testaments.

For those who believe in a new dispensation with the arrival of Jesus, this option seems relatively easy. For those who don’t, not so much.

A third choice is to fall back — quite easily — on the essential unknowability of God.

We are not granted the same understanding or perception as is the deity. Which is to say: We have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Whichever of these paths one takes — and there are surely others — we are struggling with the same basic problem, trying to find some solution that will bring the God of the Old Testament into line with our modern God.

In other words, it is our changing concept of God, over two millennia, that is responsible for the moral dilemma. It’s our problem, not the Bible’s.

Joel S. Baden is the author of “The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero,” and an associate professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. The opinions in this column belong to Baden. 

Box office report: 'Noah' wreaks Old Testament havoc on its competitors

A flood of reviews for 'Noah'

Is 'Noah' film sacred enough?

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Death • Faith • Judaism • Media • Movies • natural disasters • Opinion

soundoff (1,259 Responses)
  1. new-man

    Mr. Baden,
    1. God doesn't need to "play villain". He is Judge.

    2. It's the same God that's in the OT that's in the NT; He hasn't changed-" For I am the Lord, I do not change; that is why you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed."
    King David – "For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations."

    3. You said – " Surely there were many innocent people, children, who died in the Flood?" = NO
    Book of Jasher tells us that all the men who walked in the ways of the Lord died in those days, before the Lord brought the evil upon man which he declared, for this was from the Lord, that they should NOT see the evil which the Lord spoke of concerning the sons of men.

    4.You said – "God accepts human nature is because we are the only species that can give him what he wants — which, in the view of Genesis, is bloody, burned animal sacrifices." THIS IS COMPLETE RUBBISH!
    The entire creation was created for GOD'S GLORY. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows and proclaims His handiwork.

    5. You said – "Innocent lives are rarely a moral problem for Israel’s God."
    I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.
    Hey look! Joel, In case you don't know which to choose, He gave you the CORRECT ANSWER = LIFE!

    6. The conversation between Abraham and God has been lost on you. This conversation shows the type of relationship God wants us to come into with Him. One of friendship! One in which He shares what He's doing with us, and even gets our opinion on the matter.
    And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham [My friend and servant] what I am going to do.
    Most importantly, do you know why Abraham was a friend of God – And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

    And there is the all important word mr. Baden – BELIEVE.
    A friend believes and trusts without question, because at the heart of it, is not just OBEDIENCE, but ABSOLUTE LOVE. when we walk in full belief and trust in God, we are His friend!

    April 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
    • lewcypher

      belief is not truth, if it were there would have been only one god, one religion

      April 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • new-man

        true, belief is not truth.

        April 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
    • Salero21

      Well said!! Clearly Mr. Baden IS NOT the brightest bulb in the Lamp; Or is it Biden?

      April 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
    • kudlak

      How can God judge us? God's own behaviour cannot be the standard by which he judges us as we are a separate species. We don't judge rabbit behaviour on what we would do in that situation, and we don't judge our behaviour on what a shark would do in our situation, so why does God get to judge us?

      What kind of context can God even have for judging his own behaviour? Does he live in a community of other gods? Did he ever look upon Isis with lust in his eyes, or feel tempted to steal Neptune's trident? He lives alone, and basically does whatever he wants to do and calls that "good", right? He's more like some lady shut in with her 150 cats and disciplining them for not using the toilet like she does.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
      • blessed137

        God created man in is own image. – Genesis

        Then the eyes of both of them were opened..."The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil". – Genesis

        April 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      new-man: your god is a vindictive, petty pr1ck. thanks for playing

      April 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
    • Akira

      He most likely come up with the headline, new-man. Headlines are generated for maximum impact, outrage, and to generate mouse clicks.

      This is an opinion piece...and "Prof. Joel Baden is a specialist in the Pentateuch, Biblical Hebrew, and disability theory in biblical studies...." Tell me why you think he is unqualified to give an opinion, much like you just did?

      April 5, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
  2. Salero21

    Why is it that atheists Fascists are moderating my comments? JAJAJA... oops.... pardon me... I meant to say HAHAHA I miss being able to use my favorite emoticons/smilies!!

    April 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
  3. ugetthefacts

    why does the bible lack credibility? It's like reading little kids made up stories of grandeur.

    April 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
    • CS

      What do you have against little kids?

      April 5, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
  4. readerpan

    Watch any of the dozens of videos of Christopher HItchens or Richard Dawkins and many others on You tube.

    April 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
  5. Salero21

    I'm going to get Filet Mignon with potatoes at the nearest Restaurant. That's because AFTER the Great World Wide Flood, God granted us to eat meat.

    April 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
    • CS

      I enjoyed a delicious rib eye last night. There are no gods.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
      • Salero21

        gods and idols that are not God there are and have been a plenty. Men in posts of great authority were called gods because they held power of Life and death over people, and administered justice. The Bible says so!!

        However there is only One God and only ONE Mediator between that One and Only True God, and is the Man Jesus, the Christ the Son of God.

        April 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
        • CS

          There are no gods. Sorry Salero21

          April 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • Salero21

          As I said!!

          April 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
        • CS

          As I said, no gods. Nopers.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • Salero21

          Like I said; "The Bible says so" Even Jesus said so!! However Only ONE is Truly God and Creator. All other "gods" were man-made.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
        • CS

          The bible, gods....all man-made. No gods. Sorry Salero21. No gods.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
        • igaftr

          "All other "gods" were man-made."

          Really. So you go against the alleged words of your god to say that? Even your god believed in other gods, at least according to the man-made story.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      ... and since the "Great World Wide Flood" as described in the Bible did not happen, I assume you are still a vegetarian, correct?

      April 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
    • Salero21

      The DINO SAURUS from the Latin/greek for Great/terrible Lizard, all died in the Great World Wide Flood. Alligators and crocodiles are also Terrible Lizards, Iguanas are not. You can eat Iguanas and crocodiles too.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
      • igaftr

        There was no world flood. It never happened, not since life began.
        That is just a story they tell children.

        April 5, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • Salero21

          Even in a place such as Hollywood they don't believe you.

          That's because even them know that atheists are extremely Hypo.cri.ti.cal and compulsive pathological and pathetic LI.ARS. History has proved so and almost everybody knows it!!!

          April 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • igaftr

          "Even in a place such as Hollywood they don't believe you."

          Hollywood has never been a place where they take science seriously...they take stories and make entertainment, so Im not really sure why you weakened your argument by saying hHollywood is on your side...they make stuff up, like the writers of your bible.
          Do you believe ALL of the stories Hollywood makes?

          April 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
    • kudlak

      I thought that violence was the tragic result of man's sinning, not some "gift" that God gave us? Of course, YHWH did have a fondness for barbecue smoke going all the way back to Cain and Able. So, maybe he really does enjoy death and dying to some extent, eh?

      April 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
      • G to the T

        Good point – why did they raise sheep if no-one ate the meat? What kind of fresh madness would think everyone was vegetarian before the flood? Our systems are based on an omnivorous diet – pretty clear-cut really.

        And if all the dinosaurs died in the flood, and animals/humans pre-flood didn't eat mean... why does T-Rex have such HUGE teeth?

        April 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
        • kudlak

          Makes you wonder about that "good shepherd" imagery, eh? Sheep aren't kept as pets. The good shepherd is being greedy in abandoning the 99, risking all for the one. And, afterwards, that sheep will still be fleeced throughout its life and finally consumed, like all the rest.

          Is that really how Christians see themselves being treated by Jesus?

          April 5, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
        • kudlak

          OOps, wrong spot for that one.

          It's not the flood that supposedly brought violence into the world, it was original sin in the Garden.

          The Creation Museum, I believe, had an explanation for T-Rex's teeth: God designed him to eat pumpkins, of course!

          I'm not sure what vegetables the Great White Shark was eating before man's sin corrupted him, however.

          April 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
  6. thefinisher1

    Atheism was invented by a bunch of goat herders. It's a myth and a fairy tale.

    April 5, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • CS

      Are you religious?

      April 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Are you my stalker?

        April 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • CS

          Are you my real mother?

          April 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
    • CS

      Using your own logic, you posting all day on the blog means that you fear your "insert belief system here" is false.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Lol. Wrong. You don't know what I actually believe. I'm here to question your atheism as it has no proof to hold solid ground. If anything, it's you who fear to be wrong.

        April 5, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
        • CS

          Wait, what? I said I don't know what you believe, you disagreed and then you told me I don't know what you believe. Huh? Are you religious? That is all I am curious about. As for me, I am not. See, simple.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          My belief has nothing to with why I'm here. I'm here to question your atheism as you claim it's true and all other beliefs are wrong. Wait...that seems to familiar!

          April 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
        • CS

          It is a two way street, but you are only interested in trolling and refuse to engage in a serious conversation about anything. Why are you so frightened?

          April 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Lol, I don't fear your atheism. Your atheism is nothing more than you whining and complaining because the answers aren't in a form you deem acceptable and nobody listens to your demands on what you think faith should be.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
        • LinCA


          You said, "You don't know what I actually believe."
          True, as you seem to be too chicken-shit to admit to it.

          You said, "I'm here to question your atheism as it has no proof to hold solid ground."
          Since you are deluded into thinking that atheism is without merit, that means you must believe in some god, because if you don't you would be an atheist. The only other possibility is that you are completely incapable of even simple logic, or likely both.

          You said, "If anything, it's you who fear to be wrong."
          Most atheists don't fear being wrong and are open to the possibility of being shown wrong. So, if you have a rational argument in support of theism, please share. Just make sure that you verify that whatever argument you make for whatever god isn't also equally valid for other imaginary creatures.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • CS

          "Lol, I don't fear your atheism."

          I never said you did.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • fhillscitizen

          so, what is your question about athiesm? And, for the record, I lean more toward being a "anti-religionist" – Im more than willing to accept there might be a God, but I am 99.99999999% sure that all organized religions are complete hokem.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
    • Salero21

      I don't think so, goat herders like shepherds are smart enough to know there is a God/Creator.

      Atheism on the other hand is absolute, complete and Total stu.pi.di.ty!!

      April 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
      • kudlak

        But are the sheep smarter than the shepherds?

        Aren't you gathered into a "flock"?

        April 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
    • CS

      So for the third time, are you religious?

      April 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Atheism was invented by a bunch of goat herders. It's a myth and a fairy tale."
      You must be mistaken. That wasn't atheism. It is judaism, chistianity and islam that are based on the fairy tales of goat herders. The gullible still cling to that nonsense, even now.

      Atheism is not being gullible.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Lol!!! And atheists claim to be superior in logic and reason yet you can't see what I reversed...

        April 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
        • igaftr

          That's because when you reverse it, it no longer makes sense. It is like tring to make a palindrome out of Bolton...it becomes Notlob, so it does not work. Same with your "reversing" logic...it does not work that way.
          Your lame attempts to make it work, simply show you have no idea of how logic works...It is not a two way street.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • Akira

          Yes, yes. You used the common slurs atheists use to argue About God and the Bible against them. You are so clever.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • LinCA


          You said, "And atheists claim to be superior in logic and reason yet you can't see what I reversed."
          Your nonsensical post is completely void of logic. It shows that you are completely clueless about what atheism is. You appear to be stuck in a typical thought pattern of a believer. You seem to see everything as a believer sees his or her religion. Atheism is fundamentally different.

          You've been provided with numerous explanations of what atheism is. That you still completely and utterly fail to comprehend it shows how ignorant you truly are. I suspect your ignorance is willful.

          April 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
    • a4mrtheist

      I believe its the other way around. Dah. I can see the results of science. Have you ever seen god, jesus or any of the bable authors?

      April 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        If atheism is correct, religion would be gone already since it hasn't, one can conclude that atheism is indeed wrong. Always has been and always will.

        April 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • igaftr

          There you go again, jumping to false conclusion again. You CAN conclude that, but since you haven't taken many factors in, your conclusion is wrong.
          It is far more likely that belief in various baseless things have been passed down, and those traditions are difficult to break free from. Those old traditions are breaking apart as more and more people have access to more information, showing religious belief to be baseless.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • kudlak

          Religion has been around since the cave man. Atheism has only started to gain ground since science has started to replace superstltion, and it's growing rather quickly.

          Give it time.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
    • readerpan

      A myth involves belief in supernatural beings and mystical events. Try to explain how a refusal to believe in those things can be the same as belief in those things. Does reason never invade your thoughts?

      April 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
  7. new-man

    Joel Baden,

    1. God doesn't need to "play villain" when He is Judge.2. It's the same God that's in the OT that's in the NT. Just ask King David – "

    April 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
    • CS

      It is clearly not the same god.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
    • ausphor

      How are you newman?
      How pray tell does someone ask King David anything?

      April 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
      • CS

        Hey ausphor, what's up? You like Korean BBQ?

        April 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
      • ausphor

        Great killing time until the golf comes on TV, and you on top of the world I hope. Never tried Korean BBU, must be a remarkable difference between the styles of the north and south. Anyway Korea in general has bad vibes for me as some of my relatives were involved in the police action back in the day and of course the crappy cars they first started to make. The earth isn't moving under your feet with all the seismic activity?

        April 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • ausphor


          April 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • CS

          I love Korean BBQ. Having it for lunch today to celebrate my birthday with a friend. Try it, it's great! You get lots of little goodies too before the meat. Have a good one!

          April 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
    • Akira

      Happy Birthday, CS.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
  8. thefinisher1

    Atheism is used to lie to kids and make them submissive to their atheist parents who brainwash them.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
    • CS

      Yes, that only completely different.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
    • CS

      Hey finisher, are you a religious person if you don't mind me asking?

      April 5, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Does my questioning your atheism make you feel uncomfortable? Is your atheism that weak that you can't stand it being questioned, ridiculed or mocked?

        April 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
        • CS

          Sooooo, are you a religious person?

          April 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
        • CS

          Sorry my posts got out of order. No to the first thing you said and my question still remains unanswered.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Answer the question or I call troll.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          You keep following me so it take that you hate your atheism being questioned. It's ok. Your atheism can't last the test of time! ^_^

          April 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
        • fhillscitizen

          Finisher – Questioning anything, athiesm in this example, is a step in the right direction for seeking truth. If, during that voyage, a traveller needs fantasies and fairy tales to keep them acting civilized, to do the right thing, to treat others as they would themselves like to be treated, then I welcome those fantasies. If, on the other hand, the fantasies are used as cause to harm others, or to stop people from seeking truth, then I pity those lost fools and I cry for humanity.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          So you claim to know the truth? Evidence for your positive claim? You can't wiggle your way out of this troll since you claimed a positive claim!!!!!

          April 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
      • CS


        April 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
      • zendraxus

        Nah...just gets kinda boring under the bridge at times punctuated by extreme frustration when some sawed off grass burners send him packing...when he finally makes it to a computer ...look out ....

        April 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
        • CS

          Nicely done.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      Who said that copying is the sincerest form of flattery.. thanks.

      Fyi, Atheism is a lack of acceptence of the proposition of god(s); it does not in itself provide rationale for a position. In other words, Atheism does "do" anything, let alone brainwash anyone.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Reversing your logic back to you is logical because it forces you to see how you really act.

        April 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
        • Akira

          "Nyah Nyah"

          April 5, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        As I explained, the logic does not apply. Religion prescribes beliefs and behavior whereas for many atheists atheism is simple the rejection of a proposition, not a doctrine.

        April 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
  9. 1n2n3n4n

    Ahhhh... the "red jew" khazar lizards. Yes, you're definitely born evil. It's in your damned reptilian brains... marked for the beast.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      Since when are reptiles "evil", they're just acting on instinct... that supposedly God gave them.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
  10. MidwestKen

    "In other words, it is our changing concept of God, over two millennia, that is responsible for the moral dilemma. It’s our problem, not the Bible’s."

    I'm confused. If the "Bible is taken at its word" then there is no rationale for benevolence in the NT and yet the author seems to imply that the other rationales are some less worthy.

    "In fact, according to the Bible, the reason that God accepts human nature is because we are the only species that can give him what he wants — which, in the view of Genesis, is bloody, burned animal sacrifices. "

    Seems to me that the author hasn't resolved the dichotomy at all.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
  11. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    "Israel’s God is not a beneficent one. He is, in the words of his prophet Nahum, 'a passionate, avenging God; vengeful, and fierce in wrath.'"


    As fas as I know some states of the US still apply death penalty. The death penalty is imposed, if somebody has committed a very heavy crime.

    Conclusion: Even we as sinful human beings punish our fellow human beings, if they extremly get out of line. That is simply the reality.

    We should not accuse God for something we are also doing. God is not beneficent to the evildoers. We are not beneficent to the evildoers. Therefore God is not "guilty".

    Some of us may claim that they are no evildoers but loving people, and refuse to be designated as sinners. But true love is unbiased. I claim that 99,999999... % of us only practice biased love but no unbiased love. We consider the wealth of somebody, his colour, his belief, his nationality, his intelligence, his rank, etc. Through our misbehaviour (biased love) we keep the disadvantaged people in unhappy state – we give them no chance to get out. Ain't that almost hatred? Ain't we responsible for the misfortune of many innocent people.

    Don't make a mistake: The next judgement will come: It will be no flood but eternal fire.

    Repent right now, and start to practice unbiased love towards everybody through the releasing power of Jesus Christ. Experience the rebirth through sacramental baptism.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
    • ugetthefacts

      how sad your post is. You are proof man is easily brainwashed

      April 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
  12. lean6

    I was raised as a Pentecostal Christian. I grew up. I got educated and experienced in this world and in critical thinking. Things just don't add up at a very basic level. Yet, I have my own experiences and perceptions that simply won't allow me to dismiss the concept of a greater power completely. But, I'm leaning more and more towards the feeling that religion (rituals and practices) and everything about it devised by mankind is...inaccurate and fabricated.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
  13. lewcypher

    Funny that this allegedly omnipotent god whipped up all this drama surrounding a flood when it could have just snapped it's fingers and evil humanity, bad kangaroos and insolent pigeons would have just vanished.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
    • ausphor

      Cull the pigeons.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
    • zendraxus

      Yeah – could have....but that'd made for an awfully short book....

      When you are trying to beat tribes of highly mobile hunters and gathers into submission so that they don't stray from your authority no matter what kind of fantastic deities they encounter as they trade or war with distant lands, you want as much bloody detail as possible....and shown in as many different ways as an ancient, ignorant set of minds can imagine. The ancient world was a brutal place – to scare these people you needed a god that was more brutal than any other.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
  14. Vic

    I don't understand why some people track others on here! That makes it difficult to read through the blog comments.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
    • Akira

      What does this mean?

      April 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
    • Andy

      Most of us ignore comments by the resident trolls.

      This is how it works, it's quite simple, once you figure it out – you spot the troll; you skip the comment.

      Case it point the one that responded to you above.
      I would skip the comment as soon as I spot that one here, same goes with the other handles that responded to you earlier.

      It's as simple as that!


      April 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
      • Akira

        I'm not a troll, Andy. I just asked the meaning of Vic's post. I have no idea of what he meant by "tracked".

        Perhaps Vic would be so kind to answer, as I was talking to him?


        April 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
      • CS

        Andy, F off.

        April 5, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
        • LinCA


          You said, "F off."
          It's OK. There's no need to be coy. You can say "fuck".

          April 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
        • CS

          F off just had a better ring to it than fuck off...

          April 5, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
  15. ugetthefacts

    I like the beginning of the bible where primitive men guessed how the universe was created. They actually thought the sky was water being separated by a vault. And they thought the earth was the center of the universe. It's not even in the center of its own galaxy.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
  16. haylettc

    Read Hosea and you'll see that 'the God of the Old Testament' is the same God throughout all of Scripture. The thing is, he is both righteous and loving, just and merciful, wrathful and graceful. Of course his actions are going to seem paradoxical when we have a limited understanding of such a range of characteristics. But constantly we see that God's primary characteristic is His love for each and every one of us. 1 John 4:8

    April 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
    • ugetthefacts

      I see,, a perfect god with human emotions. Sounds like man's own writings all over that one.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
    • lewcypher

      Quoting the bible doesn't make it true

      April 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
  17. Doris

    RB: "The cause for their bad behaviour was their lack of faith in the Redeemer.

    We have inherited Adam's nature: His doubts in God's love, and the inclination to follow our lust.

    .... we have inherited the inclination to sin ....

    I guess that at Noah's time all embryos, infants and little children and the rest of the mankind had turned apostate.


    Don't delay Rainy. Go ahead and get started on your self-flagellation today. You and I both know it's the only thing that will quell your propensity to lament ad nauseam over mythology.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
    • ugetthefacts

      sounds like the perfect god was insecure.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • fhillscitizen

      For the record, we would still be in the garden of Eden if it wasnt for Eve.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
      • Akira

        Why would God need the Tree of Knowledge?

        April 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
  18. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    "The film hews close to the Christian notion of original sin: Noah states quite forcefully that humans have all been corrupted since the expulsion from the Garden."


    Concerning the original sin:

    We will never be punished for the sin Adam and Eve committed, but for our own sins. Adam and Eve committed a very heavy sin, nearly the most heavy sin of all times because they abondoned a state of perfect health in God without reason. Through God's presence who is life, love, health, fellowship, light, truth, happiness in Himself, they had got everything, and this is expressed through the marvelous kind of place where they were allowed to live: The Paradise. Despite their enormous well-being they started to scrutinize, and doubted God's love towards them (that was really idiotic). Finally they believed the lie of the evil one, and believed that God would something withhold. They submitted to the powers of death, and degenerated biologically (the became slaves of the lust).

    We have inherited Adam's nature: His doubts in God's love, and the inclination to follow our lust. The inclination to follow the lust we have even inherited biologically. Muslims have a certain faith in God but they get not released from their sinfulness. This is because we have biologically inherited the sinfulness of Adam. From this intrinsic sinfulness we can only get set free through faith and sacramental baptism (sacramental baptism is the rebirth). The Muslims lack the rebirth. To accept something as true is too little – we need also the rebirth through God himself where we get a new nature which shall gradually replace our old selfish ego which we have inherited from Adam.

    Gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen.

    In a word: From Adam and Eve we have inherited the inclination to sin, but we will not get punished for the sin of Adam and Eve nor for our inclination to sin but for the real sins we have committed in daily life. That is the meaning of original sin. We cannot justify ourselves saying: I have inherited from Adam because there is an outlet: Jesus Christ, the crucified one.

    April 5, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
    • Akira

      In a word, nonsense.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
  19. CS

    Noah's Ark is a story adults used to scare babies. That is what grown-ups do to kids for some reason.

    April 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • doobzz

      It works even better than Santa Claus. With Santa, you just lose out on a few toys once a year. With God, you get pain and punishment at a moment's notice AND for all eternity.

      Busy parents need something to keep the kids in line.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
    • lewcypher


      All it takes for a Christian to ruin the life of another person is for rational people to do nothing.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
  20. Vic

    There is no mystery to it, we've been saying it all along, God made several covenants with man, e.g. Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, etc.

    That's the difference, God made the Old Covenant with Israel through Moses and then replaced it with the New Covenant through Jesus Christ.

    Those are Time Dispensations by God. The "Dispensation of the Law," the Old Covenant, through Moses ended, and the "Dispensation of Grace," the New Covenant, through Jesus Christ commenced and is reigning till the end of time.

    April 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • Doris

      Vic: "There is no mystery to it, we've been saying it all along, God made several covenants with man, e.g. Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, etc."

      Translation: The reshaping of God to best suit man's view of himself in a particular part of the world.

      April 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
    • lewcypher

      Guess this god wasn't so omniscient

      April 5, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
    • Andy

      You're right. Added to that list is Adam.

      The author's message is quite deep, you have to read through and sift through it carefully to understand what he's trying to say.

      You will understand it once you've read the entire commentary.


      April 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
      • ausphor

        Each sect will have its own interpretation, would you care to share yours with us?

        April 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • ausphor

      When visiting Niagara Falls I often see a rainbow above the falls which reassures me that god may not flood my area of the world anytime soon, although He seems to be trashing other areas of the world on a regular basis. Got to love those old timey covenants have been replaced and of course jesus is only 2000 years late on the new covenant, such tardiness. What a pant load.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.