Destroying Creation With A Flood


Why Would God Kill Almost All of Humanity?

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. 

God (Genesis 6:17, KJV)


Girl (Age 10): “It’s stupid to think all the animals could fit into the ark.”

Research: Most Americans endorse a conservative belief about the Genesis flood (Bishop et al., 2010).

“There was a flood within the past 10 000 years that covered all of the earth and was responsible for most of the rock layers and fossils that are seen across the world. True, 60%.”

Science: There is no scientific or historical evidence of a flood that covered planet earth (BioLogos, 2023, November 20).

Have you ever seen a flood up close and personal? 
Have you seen the muddy mess? 
Have you seen the dead?

A few years ago (2015), my wife and I embarked on a river journey in China shortly after a devastating flood. Our small boat was filled with Chinese passengers, and we were the sole English speakers. As we gazed at the breathtaking scenery on either side, we couldn’t ignore the remnants of the flood – mud still clinging to bushes and leaves, evidence of the water’s force.

Then, our attention was drawn to the right. There, on a flat rock, lay a man. His body seemed suspended in time, as if he were mid-swim, yet utterly motionless. Far from any visible towns or villages, he had met his end in this remote location. The weight of that moment hung heavy in the air, a silent testament to the power of nature and the fragility of life.


One thing you don't get from the Genesis story is the stench of death. When I was preparing to provide mental health services to disaster victims, we learned about managing encounters with the dead. Do you remember hurricane Katrina and the horrible flood in New Orleans? News services usually spare us the images of the dead witnessed by first responders like my friend Bob who asked if I could come and help. Massive, people-destroying floods, produce sensory overload for survivors. Some people never see a rainbow.


Moral Matters Again

It’s beginning to look like a pattern of concern for morality in Genesis:

 (1) Created in the image of God—knowing Good and Evil

 (2) Eve, Adam, a talking serpent, and a tree - shame; 

 (3) God, Cain, and Abel - a murder; 

 (4) and now a life-destroying flood. 

The ark and cute little animals fade as our tree of knowledge grows revealing people and animals crying out as the waters of the earth suck their life away. What is going on?

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the flood in the context of problems integrating faith and psychology (Sutton, 2024). In preparing for that book, I learned a lot about what biblical scholars and scientists think of the flood story. On the one hand, it’s comforting to know biblical scholars have offered explanations that do not paint God as a monster keen on the destruction of babies and cute defenseless animals. As the scientists tell us, a global flood didn't happen. 

On the other hand, there are plenty of people who believe in this mass destruction as an historical event and view God as willing to kill off nearly all of humanity. In fact, you can visit a model ark next to a creation museum in Kentucky. So, Christians are a house divided once again. With that division in mind, let's consider some of the issues raised in this story of a stormy cruise during one helluva storm that purportedly cleansed the earth--that is, until people began to sin again.

How do Some Christians Justify God’s Violence?

I found several explanations. I’ll summarize these from the longer version in the book. See what you think.

1. Divine Justice.

Two reasons from evangelical scholar, Craig Keener (2015).

“Because God has been so benevolent, people by this point are ignoring altogether his warnings of judgment. God ultimately makes matters stricter: those who kill others who are made in God’s image must die (9:6). That’s not because God really wants anyone to die (Ezek 18:23, 32), but because without this rule there would be more bloodshed.”

“Another reason for the flood was the sexual immorality noted in Gen 6:1-4.”

2. Human Ignorance

In any case of human wrongdoing, we rarely know all the relevant facts. A good and all-knowing God would know the relevant moral facts and make the right decision in terms of an appropriate punishment. Related to human ignorance is a view that God is different from us. Such a view places God outside our understanding of morality. This can lead to the conclusion that there is no clarity about what is right or wrong. God has one standard and humans have a different standard. This double standard approach seems inconsistent with God’s statement in Genesis 3:22 that man is “like one of us knowing good and evil.” This verse suggests we humans share the same sense of morality with God.

3. Reframing Killing as Conditional

Christians may reframe horrific acts like the Genesis flood by considering other biblical texts that remind us of God’s willingness to forgive those who repent as in the story of Jonah. In this view, people had time to repent while Noah was building the ark.

Other Christian Perspectives on the Story’s Message

1. Exaggeration and Hyperbole. The flood is a story using exaggeration and hyperbole to teach a lesson about the seriousness of sin and taking the warnings of the prophets seriously.

2. Metaphor. Death in the Bible can serve as a metaphor for being cut off from God as in the ouster of Adam and Eve from the garden, who did not literally die soon after eating the forbidden fruit.

Scientific Perspectives

1. Human memory is so fallible that stories like the Genesis flood, which are dependent on human memory, should be read with humility and caution when it comes to details. We can expect variations from one culture to another.  [Read more about memory.]

2. Attribution and nature. People continue to attribute acts of nature to acts of God. People see effects, then they search for causes. Outsized events must have a powerful cause, some think. Of course, the fact that people make such attributions does not mean the events are indeed acts of God. [Read about Divine Attribution Bias.]

 3. As mentioned above, science does not support a worldwide flood (See BioLogos, 2023, November 20). No doubt ancient people knew how destructive floods can be! So, is there more to the story than little animals and a few people being saved in an ark? Such discussions are beyond the purview of science.

4. Meaning-making. People are meaning-making creatures. It seems almost universal to find people creating meaning for life events. This idea of meaning may be captured in the common phrase, "Everything happens for a reason." It seems people have a hard time living with the idea that some events are just random. For some, there are no accidents. Christians often seek to understand God's will behind a life event--especially a tragedy. We may be able to predict tornadoes and hurricanes better than in the past and offer naturalistic explanations for these events, but many people attach spiritual or other meanings to these and other life events. Again, the spiritual or other meaning linked to life events is beyond the realm of science.

Other Elements in the Genesis Flood Story

1. Sons of God. Scholars have lots of ideas about these supernatural beings that reportedly had sex with earth women. Interestingly, the idea of God’s sons continues to be of concern to NT writers (read 1 Corinthians 11:10 and Jude 6). This ancient story has had implications for women for centuries--including today. Adding to God's command about Adam ruling over Eve is the apparent need for women to have protection from supernatural beings. Regardless of reality, Christians have kept women under the authority of men from the early church until today. Only a minority of Christian groups come close to making no distinction between women and men in God's kingdom on earth--that is, the church. The stories of Genesis or, more precisely the interpretation of the stories, have been used by  Christian men to control women's lives.

 2. Massive lifespans. There is no evidence for people living for centuries as in the Genesis stories. Cultural studies suggest the numbers may represent ways to honor great people.

3. Noah the righteous? God declares Noah to be a righteous man in stark contrast to the wicked who are about to be annihilated. Ironically, after being chosen to father the rebirth of humanity, he gets drunk and is part of a quizzical nude scene that results in the curse of Canaan. Perhaps you would have to be an ancient Israelite to fully appreciate this part of the story and the associated curse. What does this scene mean? You will find all sorts of speculation on the internet. Possibly, Ham was disrespectful in telling of his father's shame and not acting to cover it up, but the curse seems a bit strong for a simplistic view of what Ham did. More likely, the uncovering of Noah's nakedness may be a euphemism for a taboo sexual act, possibly involving Noah's wife; hence Noah's outrage. If the author was looking back to consider what happened to the Canaanites, then this curse might be a way of explaining the fate that would eventually place the Canaanites at the mercy of the Israelites. One more point: Why do people think one person's curse on another has any influence on their life?

Discussion Questions


1. How do you understand the story of the sons of God having children by the daughters of men? Consider the New Testament references to this part of the story.


2. Does your understanding of history, science, literature, and the Bible support the view that the flood in Genesis 6-9 was a God-caused worldwide historic event that destroyed all people on earth except for those in the ark?


3. How do you understand God’s justification for killing children and animals in the flood story?


4. How do you understand the Bible’s reference to people like Noah who lived hundreds of years?


5. Do you believe the Genesis flood story is based on perfect memories and unbiased accounts of people who lived during the time of events like the story of the Genesis flood?


6. What do you believe about people attributing natural disasters to God’s punishment?


7. Do you support the death penalty? If so, what crimes deserve to be punished by death?

8. Do you view the story as God's account of the flood or a story passed down by ancient Israelites?

9. From Genesis to Revelation, there are images of God as violent and as a loving father figure. How do you view these different images?

10. What's your take on women in need of protection and the related NT references?

11. Noah cursed a man. So what? Does a person's curse have a measurable effect?

12. Do you believe everything happens for a reason? Are there somethings that are just a matter of chance?

NOTE: Do see your spiritual advisor, pastor, or a psychotherapist if you are struggling with problems in this story or any problem. Spiritual struggles are real and affect many people. So many people benefit from counseling and psychotherapy.

Flood Notes

1. Jesus and the Flood. In addition to the gospel of John, other New Testament texts place Jesus as present at creation (1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2). These texts by different authors suggests Jesus' presence in the beginning was a common belief among the early Jewish Christians. If Jesus was one with God, then a literal view of the text implies that Jesus destroyed the world aside from Noah and those in the ark. Such a view of Jesus seems so far out of character with the compassion he showed in the gospels and his teaching about a loving heavenly father.

2. Older flood epics. Religious scholars are aware that the biblical flood account appears similar to the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is an older story from Ur in Mesopotamia (American Historical Association, n.d.). The Genesis story may be based on other stories, but it was revised and told to the Israelites to explain how God works to save the faithful.

3. Just World Hypothesis. The just world hypothesis, according to Lerner and Miller (1978), “...states that people have a need to believe that their environment is a just and orderly place where people usually get what they deserve (p. 1030).” Stories about some people living and others dying as a result of natural acts may illustrate this common human belief that people get what they deserve.  [Read about the Just World Hypothesis.]

4. Sons of God (benei ha-elohim). Depending on one’s interpretation about the sons of God and earth women, the concerns of crossing boundaries may be at the heart of the matter. Recall the story of Sodom and the men of the city that wanted sex with the angels as a boundary violation in addition to the gross indecency of attacking a man’s guests. In the New Testament, Paul advises women to wear a head covering because of the angels (1 Corinthians 11:10) and Jude (6) also refers to the angels. Outside the Bible is the Jewish book of Enoch, which has a section called the Book of the Watchers. Here, the author refers to the sins of angels having sex with earth women, which produced the ancient Nephilim, which in turn prompted God to rid the earth of this evil. [Read more by Dr. Miryam Brand at]. Again, as mentioned above, Christian men have kept women under men's authority for most of 2,000 years and they are still under men's rule in most Christian groups. So, do you accept the teachings of Paul and Jude as inspired guidance for how men of the church should protect women?


 After only a few chapters into Genesis, 

it is easy to see why Genesis is a gateway to atheism. 

In fact, you will find the stories in Genesis 1-11 and 19 are favorites of popular atheist writers like Richard Dawkins,   Christopher Hitchens, and  John Loftus .  Paul spoke of Christ as a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1.23) in the first century, but to scientifically minded moderns, Genesis is a stumbling block. In the beginning, we are confronted with one scene after another of stories taught in churches as historical events and portraying God in a most unfavorable light. If one begins to read the Bible in Genesis, it is a long time until reaching the gospel message of God as a loving heavenly father who loves the world (John 3.16) and even cares for the birds of the air (Matthew 10. 29-31).

On the one hand, evangelicals remind us that there is hell to pay. God is patient and offers mercy, but there is a judgment day (e.g., Billy Graham). For evangelicals, the Bible is God's Word, which is without error, inspired, and authoritative. On the other hand, other Christian scholars teach that the Bible is a collection of works written by fallible human beings who shared their understanding of God, questioned God, and presented stories that challenged people to think about the path of righteousness. The way for Christians to read the Hebrew Bible is from the perspective of none other than Jesus, the founder of Christianity, and the one who presented a gospel of love and compassion. Jesus used stories and parables as people have done for thousands of years. Stories teach us about life in overt and covert ways.

Sadly, like Jesus' disciples, it is easy to be confounded by biblical literalism like Nicodemus who asked Jesus if being born again meant entering his mother's womb again (John 3). And so it is with other stories--taking them literally makes no sense. Some readers give up and leave the faith, other readers scratch their heads and seek to learn the meaning of an ancient story, and still others repeat what they read or heard as if most of life on earth could really be restarted a few thousand years ago when a few people and a menagerie of animals disembarked from a wooden boat after a rainy cruise. Could the whole earth be born again?

While some religious folks pontificate about right beliefs, others offer a convoy of hope to those who are drowning in literal or metaphorical floods. 


BioLogos (2023, November 20). How should we interpret the Genesis flood account? BioLogos. Retrieved from

Bishop, G. F., Thomas, R.K., Wood, J.A., & Gwon, M. (2010). Americans’ scientific knowledge and beliefs about human evolution in the year of Darwin. Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 30, (3). Retrieved from

Keener, C. (2015, June 8). Why would God send judgment?—Genesis 6—9. Craig Retrieved from

Lerner, M. J., & Miller, D. T. (1978). Just world research and the attribution process: Looking back and ahead. Psychological Bulletin, 85(5), 1030–1051.

 Sutton, G. W. (2024). Irreconcilable differences? Apes, Adam and an ark: Relating Christianity and psychology. Springfield, MO: Sunflower  [ON AMAZON]


In April 2024, this book was included with AUDIBLE.

Related Posts

Links to Connections

Checkout My Website


See my Books





FOLLOW me on


FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton  






Read many free articles at:


  Academia   Geoff W Sutton   


  ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton