Millions of Dead People Floating Past the Ark. (Genesis 6-9)

We Christians love our misplaced outrage.

[Caution: this Card Talk contains extra snark]


We first began writing this during the initial “ARHGFGHHGHSHSHSH!” from too many in the “Christian” community who were outraged by Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (Yes, back in 2014). At the time some of our favorites comments included:

“Truly a sad statement on our world. When it is acceptable in America to blaspheme and mock God and the Bible, you know America has rejected God.”
“It was a complete mockery. It was awful. Embarrassing. Nothing to do with the true story from the Bible. My husband wanted to see for himself so we saw it. We had a gift certificate, thankfully. It was the worst. Even if it had been another movie, nothing to do with the Bible, it would of still been awful. Poor taste. Everyone walked out pissed, to be honest.”
“Apparently there is far more heresy and blasphemy in it than I ever could have, in my worst nightmares, imagined there could be.”

All in all it was a firestorm of “THAT’S NOT IN THE BIBLE! How DARE he make this movie?!


Recently Ken Ham successfully (?) completed his geological-Bible-knowledge, the-flood-may-come-again, pay-admission-and-learn-about-Jesus-who-wasn’t-on-the-ark, theme park, the Ark Encounter. Thus, while we have a few Noah cards (including Noah's Awkward Sexual Encounter with his Son.) our attention was drawn back to this one. 


Back in 2014 we were confused. Why would the people who are currently throwing away good money to enter a religious mock-up of the Ark, walk into a secular movie theater and expect to see a shot-by-shot remake of their Sunday School version of the story?  Especially by a man who explicitly said that he was not sticking with the Torah story, but was providing a midrash on the text? And beyond the fact that he borrowed from Kabbalah, midrash, targum, and a host of other sources most “good Christians” have never heard of (or pronounce) we bet most of them didn't (and still don’t) even know what’ s in the Biblical story found in Genesis. So we made a quiz.

 The Noah and the Ark Quiz

How many animals did Moses bring on the Ark?

None. Moses didn’t bring any animals on the Ark. We’re talking about Noah here(Youth pastor joke that never gets old).

How many pairs of animals did Noah bring on the Ark?

Did you say one pair? Oh we hope you didn’t.  Yes, Genesis 6:19-21 says that Noah took one (1) pair of all animals, clean and unclean; however, Genesis  7:1-3 says that he took seven (7) pairs of clean animals and only one (1) pair of unclean animals.

Where did the water from the flood come from?

Was it below and above the earth (7:11), or just above the earth (7:12)?

How long did it rain and the flood last?

Another tough one.  Gen 7:24-8:5 says that the waters subsided after 150 days, while 8:6-12 leaves one with the impression that it was 40 days. But others more dedicated to adding up every number and month in the story come up with a total of 1 year and 10 days!

When it was all over, what was the promise symbol that the flood won’t happen again?

Did you say “a rainbow”?  Yes? Sweet because that is what Gen 9:12-17 says. Of course that is after Gen 8:21-22 says that the promise-sign actually the consistency of the seasons.


So how did you do?

[If you're familiar with the Documentary Hypothesis you probably did better than most.  If  you want to know what the DH is and what it has to do with this story, check out this link.]

Okay, two final questions:


Who does the Bible says survived the flood?

Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their three daughter-in-laws. 

Who did Noah warn about the impending destruction of the world by watery wrath?

No one.  Not one soul. And there is the rub.

For there are two stark facts that reader or hearer of this story must come to grips with before they attempt to learn a lesson from the story or critique a movie based on it.

First, whether you want to advocate a local or global flood, with tens, hundreds, millions, or billions of people, the fact remains that people are dead. Waterlogged bodies cover the literary landscape. They were destroyed by God because the people were being too physically violent and corrupt (6:11-13), or because of the evil in their hearts (6:5-6). This does not even begin to cover all the animal corpses, and really, what did they do wrong? God was concerned above destroying Nineveh when talking to Jonah, in part because of all the innocent animals: what happened here? Apparently the ancient baby fawns were so evil God needed to hold their velvety heads under the water until the bubbles stopped. Considering this, what is this quasi-educational, vaguely biblical theme park dedicated to?

According to their website, the Ark Encounter is “full of world-class exhibits designed to answer your questions about the biblical account of Noah’s Ark,” (but do they answer any of the questions above?), so visitors can learn about Noah and his family, and that “God’s word plainly teaches that the flood of Noah was global in extent.” 

We find it ironic that part of their intent is to prove that the flood was a global event, highlighting “world flood myths” and both "biblical" and "scientific" evidence. But they do this without also highlighting the obvious:


Hence our other card, "A rainbow promising that God can genocide you through other means." (Genesis 9:13). [We'll have another Card Talk on that later.]


Second, Noah did not attempt to save one person outside of his family, or talk God out of His divine wrath.

Be struck by Noah's inaction. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim clerics and scholars have bent over backwards trying to redeem Noah on this front because he is called a prophet by some sects of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

However, he does not meet the biblical requirement for being a prophet. He neither attempts to turn (shuv) the people toward God, or turn (shuv) God from His anger with the people.

He just takes care of his family. The other lives didn't matter.

In these regards, Aronofsky stuck with the text perfectly, while raising another, more poignant, more biblical issue:

the silence of god. 

Watch the movie again: Both Noah (the hero?) and Tubal-Cain (the villain?) cry out to God, both attempt to save their families, both claim to be a child made in His image, and both heard nothing from on high. The word of the LORD was absent from their ears and eyes. 

Take away your complaints about the age of Noah’s children, or their (lack of) wives. Remove the nephillim (which you were already unaware are in the Bible). Return Tublan-Cain to (Gen 4), even though we could assume that he was alive at the flood. What are you left with? A Noah who did not preach to those destined to die. A man who drunk himself into a stupor after the ark touched ground.  A man surrounded by dead, water-logged bodies and haunted by their gurgling death knells. Families pondering silence from heaven; hero and villain calling out to a silent God for direction.

A God who did not answer when asked 

“Am I not also made in your image?!”

Weren’t all of those who died-- in the movie, in the Flood, in the world today?

And the sacrifice of the children in the movie: How different is that than the adekah-- the near-sacrifice of Isaac--, or the Crucifixion for that matter? But these are questions we aren't supposed to ask in polite church company. So, of course, we posit two final questions:

What do we do with a silent God who kills His creation?

What do we do when a supposedly righteous man remains silent?

Perhaps these questions, coupled with the bloated bodies he stacked, burned, or buried upon exiting the ark, are the cause of his planting a vineyard and getting drunk.

Perhaps we should do more than be offended by a secular movie because it didn’t match our inaccurate, Sunday School flannel graph, my-pastor-said version of the story we have hidden in our heart.

Perhaps we should do more to seek answers to the former question, and striving to never be guilty of latter. 

But what do we know: we made this game and you probably think we're going to a watery Hell.

The Deluge  - Gustav Dore (1866)

The Deluge - Gustav Dore (1866)