Can the Noah story be made even worse?


When I wrote about the major Hollywood film Noah starring Russell Crowe as the arkmeister that is being released next month, I suggested that the filmmakers would have a tough time making Yahweh acceptable to the many religious people whom they need to buy tickets because there is no question that the story reveals him to be a monster. I said that I would be curious to see to what extent the filmmaker would go to sanitize Yahweh.

From reader Gordon, I received a link to an article written by someone who is also concerned about how the film will portray god but her concerns are opposite to mine. She is worried that the well-known story of Noah actually gives too benign a picture of god.

When I was in Sunday School as a wee little child, I remember being taught the Biblical account of Noah and the flood. I remember being taught that God was going to flood the world and he commanded Noah to build a massive ark. So Noah and his family built the ark and along the way they warned people that there was a great flood coming and they only way to be saved was to be on the ark. But the people mocked Noah and his family, not believing him one iota. So when the rains finally came and God flooded the earth, they all perished because they didn’t believe Noah.

I think this story paints god in a pretty bad light but the writer says that this story of god giving people a chance to avoid disaster is misleading and glosses over the fact that god set out from the beginning to kill everyone. She quotes chapter and worse to make her case, concluding:

So the world had no idea that the flood was even coming until it was already upon them. And this was obviously by design. God intended that all should die except Noah and his family.

She ends by saying that what she perceives as the contemporary idea of a namby-pamby god needs to be changed.

After all we live in a day and age where many people think that everyone will be welcomed into the gates of Heaven no matter how foolish they were on the earth. They believe that God can’t be so unloving that he would send people to eternal damnation just because they didn’t know Him. Surely, they think, He will have compassion on his own creation.

But this doesn’t represent the God of the Bible and I think people have a hard time with this.

There is a reason a film about Noah has not been made before. People are going to dislike it from all sides. Let’s see how director Darren Aronofsky makes his way through that minefield.

Comments

  1. raven says

    Not only is the OT god a monster, he is incompetent.

    1. The Big Boat Genocide was supposed to fix his mistakes creating humans. It didn’t work. We are still the same humans we always were. His plan B fix was to kill himself as jesus. That didn’t work either.

    There is a plan C. The Apocalypse where he kills 7 billion people and destroys the earth. When your only tool is murder, every human looks like a potential dead body.

    2. Noah was supposed to save the animals. It was a near total failure. We now know that 99+% of all life that ever existed is extinct. Including all the nonavian dinosaurs. We miss our dinosaurs!!!

    This was despite heavy, supernatural support, with god poofing miracles whenever the plot bogged down in silliness.

    If god couldn’t save even one nonavian dinosaur species, then why call it god!!!

  2. says

    Why didn’t he just snap his whatever and make all the bad people disappear, again? Was it because he was so bored and mean he wanted to watch them all drown?

  3. raven says

    Obvious really: ‘Cause it’ll smite you…

    Well, there is that competence-aiming problem again. The OT god is notorious for his lack of targeting skills.

    He would probably fry some fundie in Mississippi with a lightning bolt instead.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    Yahweh was a bit more benign than the Sumerian god Enlil, who really wanted to kill everyone, because we were too noisy. I understand, while not entirely approving.

  5. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Why didn’t he just snap his whatever and make all the bad people disappear, again? Was it because he was so bored and mean he wanted to watch them all drown?

    Yeah, it’s baffled me for some time that the same being who earlier on had the power to create the universe was now nothing more than a rain god. Another occasion where it looks like a story from polytheism (i.e. competing deities of limited power) that got shoehorned into monotheism by some people who didn’t really think it through.

  6. says

    The animals could talk.

    And be made out of bad CGI.

    And the donkey could be voiced by Eddie Murphy.

    (Not that I think Eddie Murphy is bad. Far from it. But his donkey in Shrek was one of the most annoying creatures ever in any movie.)

  7. Cuttlefish says

    Raven @#1–

    According to at least some creationist accounts, of course Noah saved non-avian dinosaurs! The Creationist Museaum says about fifty “kinds” of dinos were on the ark: http://www.defocus.net/2010/05/creation-museum-4.html

    So, will Russell Crowe’s pic be dinosaur-accurate? Or will this be one more group headed for disappointment?

  8. raven says

    According to at least some creationist accounts, of course Noah saved non-avian dinosaurs! The Creationist Museaum says about fifty “kinds” of dinos were on the ark:

    Yeah, I know Ken Ham says that. As well as real dragons.

    His whole claim fails spectacularly. So where are these dinosaurs? We never see them.

  9. Matt G says

    It could be made worse by being made into a musical by the people who wrote Phantom of the Opera. Hard to believe they also wrote Jesus Christ Superstar, which I love.

  10. One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login says

    I give the “Right Scoop” blogger credit for being a lot more aware of the text than I ever was in Sunday School. When I was taught the Noah story a number of decades ago, the idea that people actually died in pain and panic went right over my head. Perhaps I just took it as another fiction, placing it in that parallel world where where spear-carriers die like flies but you focus on the protagonists and cheer for them. The story, or its Sunday School version, invites the hearer to invest in Noah and his family, and cheer for their idealism, hard work and hairs-breadth escapes. All others are extras whose deaths are not worth consideration, even when they number in the millions.

    After decades of not giving Noah a thought, I edited an online etext of Byron’s works and read his Heaven and Earth. Only then did the awfulness of the story came home to me. Byron gives voice to “A Chorus of Mortals” facing death:

    We deem our curses vain; we must expire;
    But as we know the worst,
    Why should our hymns be raised, our knees be bent
    Before the implacable Omnipotent,
    Since we must fall the same?
    If he hath made Earth, let it be his shame,
    To make a world for torture…

  11. raven says

    Oops something happened in the Tubes. Once again

    If he hath made Earth, let it be his shame,
    To make a world for torture…

    That was the bible god’s first screwup.

    Supposedly we were created by him in his image. And placed in a magic garden.

    Things went off the rails almost immediately with a talking snake (where did it come from and why was it in the Garden anyway?), and a Tree of Knowledge. It’s quite clear from the text that we were set up to fail.

    And why were two brainless humans in a magic garden with the Tree of Knowledge? An idiot could see that wasn’t going to work. The Tree should have been on Jupiter or Kpax IV, 50 million light years away.

    God’s been blaming his creations for his mistakes ever since.

  12. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Huh. I just read the relevant parts of Genesis, and there is indeed no mention of Noah trying to warn anybody. All that is just a made up bit.

    Ken Ham, in his Answers book, says that Noah preached long and hard to warn folks. But, Ham says, it had not rained before the Flood, so nobody knew what he meant. Which would have been another case of God telling people stuff they were not equipped to understand, I thought. But realizing that Noah didn’t even try, but everyone thinks he did, is strange.

    I will give that blogger credit for honesty and for reading skills, and for extra evil.

  13. hyphenman says

    Good evening,

    Years ago I remember coming across a print to Gustav Dore’s The Deluge and feeling a sick ache in the pit of my stomach, strangely enough, not for the humans in the picture, but the tigress and her cub.

    Do all you can to make today a good day,

    Jeff
    Have Coffee Will Write

  14. Mano Singham says

    @mnb0,

    I had no idea that such an animal existed. It is truly wonderful the variety of life we have. As Darwin said at the very end of his On the Origin of Species:

    “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

  15. Rob Grigjanis says

    Menyambal @18:

    I just read the relevant parts of Genesis, and there is indeed no mention of Noah trying to warn anybody. All that is just a made up bit.

    It might be made up, but not recently. Jewish tradition has lots of commentary which expands the story, and the director has a Conservative Jewish background.

    So;

    At God’s command they both announced that one hundred and twenty years would be given to men for repentance; if in that time they had not mended their evil ways, the earth would be destroyed. But their plea was in vain…

  16. doublereed says

    Floods don’t make good movies. Just ask Evan Almighty.

    You want to do Asteroids hitting the Earth? Go for it. Volcanoes erupting? Sounds awesome. Tornadoes? Badass. Swarms of bees? I’m all for it.

    Floods? Earthquakes? Nah. Not entertaining. Don’t bother.

  17. says

    I predict this will be a lousy movie, because it’s a lame story: the bad guys are 100% TOTALLY and UNREALISTICALLY evil, and there’s absolutely no suspense because we all know how the story ends, and there’s no other way it CAN end because God is totally omnipotent so there’s no risk of anything really going wrong. So why bother seeing the movie at all?

  18. says

    After all we live in a day and age where many people think that everyone will be welcomed into the gates of Heaven no matter how foolish they were on the earth.

    Well, we can’t blame atheists for pushing that belief, can we?

  19. raven says

    just read the relevant parts of Genesis, and there is indeed no mention of Noah trying to warn anybody. All that is just a made up bit.

    Jewish tradition has lots of commentary which expands the story,…

    Xians do that a lot. Claim the bible is inerrant truth. And then rewrite it by retranslating it. And also by just making stuff up and hoping no one will actually read their magic book. Which they usually don’t. And quote mining passages out of context to mean what they didn’t mean. Most of the time, if they say it is in the bible, you better check it and most of the time it’s not what they said it was.

    A common fundie myth is that god destroyed all but 8 humans because those humans were evil. They were evil because fallen angels bred with human females to produce the Nephilim. The Nephilim were abominations and had to be destroyed.

    The key points are just modern fiction. The angels were there but it never says they were fallen angels. The Nephilim were there but were not evil. They are described as “might men, men of renown”, more a compliment than an insult.

    Another myth is that the earth will be destroyed in the Apocalypse. In fact, in two places at the end of the Noah myth, god promises that the earth and humans will last forever in one of the few worthwhile poems of the bible. Well, they can make up their way around anything with handwaving and lies.

  20. raven says

    Genesis 8 NIV

    21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though[a] every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.
    And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

    22 “As long as the earth endures,
    seedtime and harvest,
    cold and heat,
    summer and winter,
    day and night
    will never cease.”

    For fans of bible trivia, here it is.

    Much of what xians believe isn’t in the bible. And ironically, despite their hatred of the word “evolution”, xianity evolves and quite rapidly. Their defining of the fundie version of xianity as centered around gay hate is relatively recent, not even a decade old.

  21. leni says

    mnb0- I think sloths are surprisingly good swimmers!

    And I dunno. I could watch them for hours. There is a very good chance that would make the movie watchable for me.

    Also, if you you are going to subject yourself to the Bible, you might as well do it in style ;)

  22. birger johansson says

    To create a flood film the audience will like, we can simply combine footage from this film with footage from the Conan films, creating a new Fantasy film with an interesting story line.
    Enlil the Mesopotamian badass god wants to drown the people of the Mesopotamian flood plain. Gilgamesh (Noah) sets off to save aI many as possibly. To distract the gods from the rescue plan, Conan fights the gods and has an affair with Ishtar.
    The funny sidekick is played by Rowan Atkinson.

  23. birger johansson says

    …Or, the people on Noah’s boat/raft come from a parallel world that is being flooded by the collapse of massive glaciers. Zod , a relatively benign minor deity has enough juice to squeeze a single boat through a dimensional gate and rescue them, landing them on our world.
    Lots of paradoxes fixed, just like that.

  24. says

    Floods? Earthquakes? Nah. Not entertaining. Don’t bother.

    Are you kidding?! “Earthquake” was a CLASSIC!! Where would the ’70s be without it?

    …Lots of paradoxes fixed, just like that.

    Well…there it is then. Problem solved.

    Can the Noah story be made even worse?

    They could have put Mel Gibson in it. Think “Signs” with a big flood at the end…

  25. anthonyallen says

    They could have put Mel Gibson in it. Think “Signs” with a big flood at the end…

    I can see Robot Chicken’s M. Night character saying “What a tweest!” at the end of that trailer.

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