Noah: One of the Most Moral Stories Ever Told

Next week, the film “Noah” opens.

Having taught the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) from the Hebrew for more than 40 years (hundreds of hours are available by download through my website), I consider the biblical flood story one of the world’s most profound moral teachings. As I will show, it means that God cares about goodness more than anything else.

Let me explain by answering the most frequent challenges to the story.

Q: Why did God destroy the world?

A: Because “The Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth. … And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth and His heart was saddened” (Genesis 6:5-6).

When God created the world, He announced after each day’s creations, “It was good.” But only after His final creation — the human being — on the sixth day, did God say, “It was very good.” God was particularly pleased with, and had the highest hopes for, this creation, the only one created “in His image.” This is not about man having God’s physical attributes (God is not physical). It is about humans being infinitely more precious than all other creations; and only man, like God, has moral knowledge and therefore moral free will.

When God saw how cruelly human beings treated one another, He decided that He would start over. Once people reach a certain level of widespread evil, life is pointless.

Q: Why did God destroy animals as well?

A: In the biblical worldview, the purpose of all creation is to benefit man. This anthropocentric view of nature, and indeed of the whole universe, is completely at odds with the current secular idealization of nature. This secular view posits that nature has its own intrinsic meaning and purpose, independent of man.

All of creation, in the biblical view, was to ultimately prepare the way for the creation of man. But one does not need the Bible alone to hold this view. A purely scientific reading of the universe is in keeping with this view. Everything — every natural and physical law — is exquisitely tuned to produce life, and ultimately man, on earth.

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; 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 only know the Noah of “Noah.” We can only hope that the film offers even a fraction of the wisdom of the original.

Dennis Prager’s latest book, “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph,” was published April 24, 2013 by HarperCollins. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of


  • ARJ127

    Noah’s Ark was a fairy tale. I think that Dawkins’ debunking of the Noah’s ark tale makes more sense than the BS presented in the Bible. There’s no evidence for the monotheistic myths in the Bible.

    Hitchens was a guest on Prager’s show. He was the most intelligent part of the show. Here’s a link to one of the interviews:


  • Josh

    Hard for me to see the morality in it, but to each their own.

    Maybe a single lightning bolt to strike out individual “evil”?

    As a fable, the person(s) who thought it up didn’t seem to have a very moral mind, IMO.

  • Brian Fr Langley

    Most folks are happily unaware that the fount (source) of earths water remains quite a mystery. The reason? Modern science has fairly well disproved it came from comets or asteroids. (different and measurable hydrogen molecules) If it was here early, then earth’s heat should have burned it off? So then, from whence did it come? (theories abound, but so far none are definitive) And while it’s often said there is NO way a flood could encompass the whole earth. Many scientists agree the earth, may have at one time been 100% covered in ice? (you know, hard water) There is also evidence that ice age ice sheets were actually many kilometers high. The thought is (and was) they receded like glaciers, BUT, modern observations (and discoveries, like the Washington State scab lands) demonstrate that many of these super gigantic sheets, melted from the top, thus creating vast lakes, held back only by the ice sheet walls they formed. If (when) these walls broke, the resulting floods could have been of epic (or one might say of Biblical) proportions.

    • Josh


      • Brian Fr Langley

        PBS documentaries.

      • Brian Fr Langley

        PBS Snowball earth. PBS the mystery of the mega flood. And a series on earth (not sure which one) called something like the mystery of water.

        • Josh

          I’m familiar with the snowball earth hypothesis, if that’s what the series covers. I was asking more in line of “modern science has fairly well disproved…”

          But if I can watch a TV show to see how modern science has “disproved” a hypothesis, it’s far more entertaining than typing.

          • Josh

            As per usual, upon checking things out for myself, what you say and what others say are different things. I knew at the “twice” mark that it was shame on me. But after three, it became quite a fun little time-killer to compare what you say here to the sources I find saying something different.

            I suppose one doesn’t need to put on better boots when visiting a friendly place. It’s like home. No need for shame over holes in the soles. And I reckon that’s especially true for someone who believes those boots are just fine and dandy.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            So then are you saying, There is definitive proof of where earths water comes from? Is it true that no scientist ever posited “snowball earth”? and did not the scablands flood mystery turn out to be a real flood afterall? (despite the ignominy given to it’s proposer)? What I said here is factually accurate. There are scientist’s who posit “snowball earth” The Washington scablands it seems really was caused by a giant flood, and the Hydrogen atoms in earths water DO NOT match the (the albeit small sample) of hydrogen atoms found in extra-terrestrial water. Notwithstanding how many scientists just don’t believe earth could get that much water (as fills our oceans) from extra-terrestrial sources.

    • Wheels55

      The question remains as to where all of this moisture came from in the first place. God – you gotta love the Bible’s explanations.

  • gold7406

    are modern day “floods” used to cleanse the population? like a real estate or dotcom bubble burst?