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Jesus and 20 Billion Others Died to Save (a Few of) Us | Righting America

by William Trollinger

A large, stationery rock in the midst of a tumultuous sea with a tigress and her cubs and four children on top as adults drown in the water below them.
Image from The Bible Panorama, or The Holy Scripture in Picture and Story (1891). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

“Off the rails” doesn’t begin to describe the state of fundamentalist apologetics.

Take, for example, young Earth creationism. Its entire “scientific” apparatus rests on the notion that a global flood four millennia ago created the geological formations that we see today. With this as the starting point, the apologetics enterprise consists of providing answers to a myriad of obvious questions, including:

It probably goes without saying that only a person completely ensconced in the fundamentalist bubble could find answers like these persuasive or reasonable or intelligible: 

  • Noah may have employed cranes? (Why not computers?) 
  • Elephants rode logs thousands of miles across the ocean? 
  • The Earth’s population grew from 2 in 4004 BCE to 20 billion in 2348 BCE? 
  • The pre-Flood population was 12.5 billion higher than the Earth’s population today? 
  • Upwards of 20 billion dead, and no human remains?

Of course, all of this raises theological questions, including: What sort of God drowns upwards of twenty billion people (including children and infants and – not included in the 20 billion – the unborn)?

Of course, the folks at Answers in Genesis (AiG) have answers for this question. At Ark Encounter there is a placard entitled, “Was It Just for God to Judge the Whole World?”:

  • “Since He is the one who gave life, He has the right to take life. Second, God is perfectly just and must judge sin. Third, all have sinned and deserve judgment!”

This is not, well, the most theologically robust answer to the question as to the justice of divine genocide. But an AiG contributor named Mark Etter has stepped into the breach. In his May 29 AiG article, “An Act of Grace”, Etter asserts that those who “picture the flood as a vindictive action . . . fail to see the mercy that God showed humanity.”  He then elaborates: 

  • In the time of Noah all human beings – presumably including children, infants, and the unborn – were thoroughly wicked, except for Noah and his little family.
  • Noah and his family were helpless to hold back the forces of wickedness.
  • If/when Noah and his family were killed by the evil forces, there would be no human beings available to bear the Messiah, as (apparently wickedness is a genetic trait) the wicked people would only produce more wicked people who would only produce more wicked people. 
  • In a divine act of grace, a grieving God stepped in at the last moment to drown everyone on the entire planet – except Noah and his family – to ensure that someday in the future Jesus could be born.
  • “It is a comfort to know” that God will repeat this act of grace in the future, preserving the faithful remnant while sending the wicked – including those who tolerate or practice “abortion,” “unbiblical sexual behavior,” and/or “living together” (as an unmarried couple?) – to hell.  

This theological “argument” is a head-scratcher. Much could be said, but I will limit myself to this: Is wickedness an overpowering genetic trait, so that wicked people only produce more wicked people who produce more wicked people, and thus none of these wicked people could bear the Messiah? This is biblical? And are there genetically wicked and genetically righteous people?

Once again, AiG loves the binary!

I have no idea who Mr. Etter is, or his qualifications – as is often the case with AiG contributors, there is no information provided about him. But I do have one suggestion for Mr. Etter: find some adult outside of the fundamentalist bubble, preferably someone with at least a high school education and some familiarity with Christianity. Read this article to them, and ask them if they find it persuasive or reasonable or intelligible. Ask them if this article convinces them that the drowning of upwards of twenty billion people was an act of mercy.

Off the rails, indeed.