Q: Isn’t the Biblical flood story just a fairy tale?
A: Two responses:
First, this is so only if you believe that the Biblical flood story states that the entire earth from the North Pole to the South Pole was flooded and that every living creature from penguins to polar bears, except for the animals and the people on Noah’s ark, was killed. But that is not what the story says. The narrative speaks of the world where Noah lived: It is expressly stated in Genesis 9:10 that there were other animals in the world that were not killed by the flood.
Second, the primary purpose of the flood story — like other stories in the Bible, such as the Creation story — is to convey enduring wisdom and moral insight, not geology or science. And the lessons of the flood story influenced civilization for millennia.
Q: What are these lessons?
A: One has already been mentioned: If evil becomes widespread enough, there is no longer a purpose to human existence.
Second, God values goodness more than any other human trait. Thus, the only reason Noah was saved was that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:9). This alone renders the Biblical story unique among the flood stories of the ancient world. In those stories, a very common reason the gods saved a man was that the gods found him physically, not morally, exceptional.
Third, God hates evil. And so should we.
A fourth lesson is the moral necessity of divine revelation. God created man without giving him a Ten Commandments or any other revealed moral instruction. The only moral code was the one God built in to the human being: the conscience. Clearly this was not enough to make a good world. The world sank into evil. This is another Biblical lesson that runs entirely counter to a dominant belief of the modern age. The secular world holds that religion and God are morally unnecessary, that the individual’s conscience is sufficient to guide moral behavior. The Bible, as usual, knew better.
After the evil that led to the flood, God decided to reveal basic moral rules — such as that murder is wrong. So wrong that one of the moral rules revealed after the flood is that murderers must be put to death (yet another way in which this story runs counter to the prevailing doctrines of our time). No wonder the secular world ignores the Bible and the Left largely loathes it.
Given the unprecedented ignorance of the Bible in contemporary America, it is likely that more young Americans will know only the Noah of Noah than that of the Bible. We can only hope that the film offers even a fraction of the wisdom of the original.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.