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Is God “not a very nice guy”?

Published: 6 February 2021 (GMT+10)

B.B. from the US asks:

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In discussions with a friend, he says the God of the Bible is “not a very nice guy” because of all the people He has killed. “A good, perfect God would not be so terrible.”

After the great flood one can reasonably add up the number that He directly and indirectly “killed.”

My question is how many were killed by the flood? What was the earth’s population at the time of the great (Noah’s) flood?

Thanks for your time.

Lita Cosner, CMI–US, responds:

Thanks for writing in. This is actually a very common question, and a common reason why people want nothing to do with the God of the Bible.

First, most normal people feel viscerally that the mass slaughter of human beings is wrong. Where does this value for human life come from? From an evolutionary view, life is just nature’s way of keeping food fresh, and people are just meat sacks who developed advanced self-consciousness. What value do self-conscious meat sacks have? From a Christian point of view, it makes sense why we would value human life. People are created in the image of God and thus have inherent value. It is a tragedy when someone dies, and a murderer deserves to forfeit his own life.

Because God created humans and gives us life, He also has the right to take it away from us when we rebel against Him. All people have sinned, therefore all of us have been under a death sentence. Even those who die before they are born, or in infancy before they have the mental development to be able to act on their sinful nature are still infected with that sinful nature they inherit from our first forefather, Adam. If someone enjoys a long life, every good thing they experience is an undeserved gift from God, and if they continue in rebellion even after enjoying these good gifts, their sin is compounded even further.

Notice, God doesn’t have the option not to deal with sin, because God is absolutely good. To fail to judge sin would be to fail to be perfectly good. All of us can think of sins that outrage us and if they were done to us, we would demand justice. We get that instinct from God’s perfect justice, so God must judge all sin.

How many people did God kill in the Flood? All but 8. It doesn’t matter how big the population had grown by that point; it could have been up to millions. The point is that sin had become so overwhelming on the earth that the only response was to flood the entire world. But think of the mercy involved in God saving our ancestor Noah on the Ark. All of us are direct beneficiaries of God’s mercy in sparing Noah, because we are his descendants. But because Noah survived the Flood, sin survived as well, and we see that in the continuing narrative as humanity again bands together to rebel at the Tower of Babel.

Yet God did not destroy the world again when the whole world rebelled against Him. Instead, a few generations after splitting up the nations by confusing their languages, He chose an idolatrous Chaldean man and called him to a land He would show him. He built that man’s descendants into a great nation. Unsurprisingly, that nation also rebelled against God; so much so that He sent them into exile. Yet because of His love He persisted in His plan of salvation and sent His very own Son; God became man to save us. He lived a perfectly righteous life without sin, and then died the death that we deserve so that we could be forgiven. His resurrection on the third day confirms God’s acceptance of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice.

Whenever someone says, “A good God wouldn’t … ” a sinful, fallible person is criticizing a being who is infinitely more wise, good, and moral than any sinner could even imagine. A good God must judge sin, and our merciful God has gone out of His way to provide a way of salvation by Jesus’ sacrifice. The cross shows us God’s kindness in a way nothing else could.

Sincerely,

Lita Cosner

Helpful Resources

From Creation to Salvation
by Lita Cosner
US $14.00
Soft Cover
Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
US $17.00
Soft Cover

Readers’ comments

Bob I.
Hello Lita and CMI.
I believe the Bible presents the true and correctly emphasised view of history (its presentation of history is perfect in all respects it touches upon). In a number of places in the Old Testament God uses his people to bring judgement (e.g. on the Canaanites during the conquest). God's people killed others. The issue I am pondering, that might cause consternation to non Christians, is could that happen today? Could Christians be called to the same role? My thinking is 'no' because the New Covenant is different to the Old, but I am not clear as to why. Could you give me some guidance on this issue, please?
Thank you
Bob Irving
Lita Cosner
You are correct; the New Covenant is different from the Old Covenant in ways that exclude any possible command from God for personal or group violence against God's enemies. Rather, our 'call to war' is the Great Commission which commands us convert, not kill, the enemies of God. Since each one of us is a former enemy of God, we should all be very thankful for that!
J Q.
I have been thinking recently that the consequences of humans sinning is bad stuff happens. Elohim created this world with absolute, complete perfection. He invented the laws of thermodynamics and gravity, he wrote the chemical equation for every substance we don't even know about yet. He crafted the genetic code that gave us so much amazing, incredible diversity and decided upon laws, rules and designs we haven't and may never, in this time, come to understand. Laws of goodness, love, gentleness, kindness and self control. When the evil one then humans chose to sin, those laws were broken resulting in what exists today.

As humans we have incredible brains to discover and discern, as sinful creatures we often get too full of self and sin. Nobody in that state has joy and peace. During the time before the flood we sinful creatures were a miserable lot, not knowing that we were poor, blind and naked. Our knowledge was growing as fast as our unknowing slide into the depths of sheol. In Elohim's MERCY He halted the rapid descent and chose good men to start over, to bring hope and life and slow the decay. It wasn't His nastiness that caused the flood, it was our sin. It is always OUR sin that breaks the rules that brings the consequences of those sins. He warns us over and over and then in His MERCY, says enough.
Danny E.
In the physical saving of the eight due to their belief, God also physically saved the rest of their descendants that followed so that they might believe and be saved spiritually as well. Mankind was down to eight believing souls. How much longer with how much evil carnage would it have taken for mankind to have destroyed themselves physically and spiritually if God had not intervened in His creation. I believe God's judgement was an act of mercy as well, so that humanity could/would continue and that I/others could and would experience His grace and mercy and believe all these years later, after the flood.

I have been to the Ark Encounter - hosted by another creation ministry. And, even with all that was in the ark (displays, models, etc.), I came away with the idea/feeling of how empty it was. We think of the ark as a safe haven for "all" the animals and for the saving them for their purpose of repopulating the Earth after the flood. But, the ark was made to be salvation for mankind as well (the eight and more). How many more could have experienced God's mercy and fit on the original ark except for refusing to accept His salvation by His gracious provision? I believe there are more than eight believers on the Earth at this time, but the call to accept His gracious provision is the same as it was in the days of Noah.
Lita Cosner
We should also remember that Noah took decades to build the Ark. This massive vessel would have attracted a lot of attention. Noah was also called a herald of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), which indicates that he witnessed to those around him. The people killed in the Flood thus had an opportunity to repent and believe, and the Ark would have been plenty big enough to carry any who had turned from their sin.
Bill P.
God is very clear on this. Before HE judges a people for their sins HE has ALWAYS given them time to repent & return to HIM. In HIS Word HE has in some cases even begged them to turn from their evil ways & return to HIM. "Come let us reason together, though your sins be like scarlet I WILL make them white as snow", "I take NO pleasure in the death of the wicked, HE wishes ALL men would repent & come to the saving knowing of The Lord"", & so many more such statements from GOD Himself. Noah preached for over 100 yrs the judgement that was coming upon the whole earth & I bet my right arm if ANY had believed & repented The Lord would have put them on The Ark along w/Noah & his family (but none did). There are many many places in Scripture where GOD was very merciful to anyone who would repent. Jonah is another good example walking through the streets of a city where some of the most evil people that ever existed on the face of the earth lived. There is a very good example of a people from the King to the lowest repented & GOD held back HIS wrath.
The 2 BEST examples are the nation of Israel & we the gentiles from ALL the nations of the world. In the end HE will save ALL of Israel, & for us in the nations GOD has extended HIS grace & mercy to anyone of us who believe on HIS Unique Son. Even in the "Time of Trouble" that is coming on the entire earth "Even in the midst of HIS wrath GOD remembers HIS mercy" so many that no man can count will be w/The Lord because they will refuse to worship the beast & have been washed in the "Blood of The Lamb". HE does this not because we earned it BUT for "The sake of HIS HOLY NAME",
When ALL is fulfilled NO ONE will be able to accuse HIM of being unfair. Look upon The Cross. YET If they do not believe His Word they won't understand.
Christian M.
The enquirer would have to have a better understanding of the words 'good', 'perfect' and 'terrible' in relation to the subject ie the Biblical God, Who is perfect goodness, love, light, truth etc. As such, He will not allow anything not those things to penetrate His redemptive plan of salvation. The enquirer needs to understand the terrible effect of sin. Potter and clay springs to mind..
Cristian P.
Hello CMI,

I have an inquiry about these two statements which are opposite of one another:
" He (Jesus Christ) lived a perfectly righteous life without sin"
And
"All people have sinned, therefore all of us have been under a death sentence. Even those who die before they are born, or in infancy before they have the mental development to be able to act on their sinful nature are still infected with that sinful nature they inherit from our first forefather, Adam."

Doesn't this mean that Jesus Christ was also infected with a sinful nature? Thus, he didn't really live a life entirely "without sin", having that ancestral sin from birth.

God bless.
Lita Cosner
Jesus is the only exception to the universal sinfulness of humanity, because His conception was brought about supernaturally through the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary. So Jesus was holy from conception.
Chris M.
Very Good,
Looking at the amazing righteousness of God when humans are so prone to judge with our imperfect judgement
Peter H.
Great answer, Lita. Thanks for writing it so clearly. I have had doubts along that line myself.
Richard L.
Thank you, Lita! If I may be allowed to expand on your central remarks...

1. Thank you for focusing on the central issue of the integrity of a God of justice. The more that we have import of that, the more that we stay stable in God, even if the pre-flood population was enormous. (Rehwinkel, a creationist in the 1950s, estimated that that population might have ranged up to possibly over a billion people. (A believer relative of mine was highly disturbed by that possibility; he had earlier 'coped' by assuming that the population was very small. An unstable foundation.)

2. About 15 years ago, I addressed a joint meeting of all Sunday (Friday) School classes at my expat church, talking about the Flood. The children ranged from about 4 or 5 up to 12 years old. I attempted to provide an integrity answer to that event. Relief showed in faces as young as 7, regarding these 3 points: (a) Gen. 6:5, about thoughts tilted always only to evil. Women and children can get badly treated today. It was even worse then. More hurting of kids. They cried out to God for help. God had to act. (b) But God was very sad. Ez. 18:23,32; 33:11, taking no pleasure, wishing that people would repent. (3) They--or their children, growing up over the 120 years of warning--could get on the ark (Woodmorappe's data), because there was room for them. Sadly, none did. Children under the age of accountability should meet us in heaven.

3. We can also look at the multiple warnings that God gave: (a) early--969 years early, the prophetic naming of Methuselah, (b) clarification 120 years before (with a world-record prediction of his lifespan, newsworthy), (c) the orderly embarking of animals. (Thanks, Dr. Whitcomb.) God's love gave multiple warnings, but... sinful blockage of input (Mt. 24:37-39).
George H.
Very well stated, praise God for his Son Jesus, or we would all die!
Michael R.
A very good answer Lita. When people start saying things like "A good God would not do such and such", they are actually committing the sin of pride, because basically they are saying that they know better than God what is the right thing to do. Unfortunately for many people, their way of thinking has been formed by the ways of the world, and not by the Word of God. It is vital for everyone, Christians included, to show a little humility and accept the fact that God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We must never forget that God is completely righteous, and therefore He always does what is right, even though we may not like it.
Paul N.
Thanks Lita for your excellent response on this subject. Miroslav Volf, (Yale theologian) also said this:
"I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God. Isn’t God love? Shouldn’t divine love be beyond wrath? God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. That’s exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry. Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century, where 800,000 people were hacked to death in one hundred days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandfatherly fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators’ basic goodness? Wasn’t God fiercely angry with them? Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.”
Norman P.
"For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment" (Job 9:32).
We are all frail children of dust. The wonder is that God even bothers with us. The fact that he does, and the way that he does, speaks of his eternal wisdom and love. We hardly realize it, but we are a work in progress, of which Christ was the first-fruits. We cannot please God except though faith. And we must walk by faith, and not by sight. Sometimes it comes down to: 'to whom else can we go Lord, for you alone have the words of eternal life.' In my early days of faith, I had many questions, which I used to put to him direct in prayer, crying Abba, Father! Fifty years later, I can look back and see that he never failed me. I still ask him about things, and in one way or another, spiritually discerned answers are always forthcoming. How great is our God And how good it is to know him!
Mike S.
Thank you, Lita. As you noted, a very common question we are often faced with in gospel work. You have answered so thoroughly graciously and ultimately biblically. The point about how a good God must judge sin is very well made. Thank you again for strengthening our thinking in this area.
Robert H.
Thank you for all you do to answer questions in a God
honoring and reasonable fashion.
Lucas W.
Excellent article. Another detail that is not oft thought of is God's mercy in His mode of judgment. Noah preached for many years that God would flood the earth, and none listened...until it began to rain. It was too late to enter the ark, but a merciful God gave time between the first drop from Heaven until the last mountain was covered. This is physical judgment, and we know that our lives here are but a temporary state; a prelude to the eternal. Noah's family was physically saved from the Flood, but God knows how many repented and were saved from eternal judgment.
Dan M.
Every time someone criticizes God for wiping humanity, (accept eight) from the earth, they are saying, "if I were God". Well, you're not God! Furthermore, you lack the perfect love, morality, intelligence, and patience that our God possesses. God would be a moral monster if He just thru up His spiritual hands and said, well, I guess they are just a lost cause and abandoned us to our self-induced suffering? Can you imagine a world without restraint? What a horrible scary thought, (Nazi Germany comes to mind)! And that is another good point. God doesn't cause our suffering, WE DO! Soon God will remove the restrainer and things are going to get worse beyond imagination and many will cry out to God, (no atheists in fox holes). People criticize me when I tell them not everyone is going to heaven. They criticize further when I tell them I don't want everyone there. Why would I want a bunch of God-haters in heaven along with me, (not that God would let them in any way)? We have to put up with it here. Why would I want to put up with it there? Only those who truly love God and want to be with God will be there. I wouldn't let a bunch of murders, haters, rapists, thieves, and drunkards into my home unless they chose to clean up their act first. Why should God? Not that I also wouldn't want everyone to go to heaven, (2Pe 3:9) but hell is a self-induced sentence. It is a personal choice! Heaven is going to be a glorious place for those of us who love God!
Chuck R.
"A good god wouldn't..." is simply a version of the original sin in the Garden when Adam decided he knew better.
Tom T.
Well explained Lita. When the Beatles sang of how "all you need is love" they forgot about the other of side of the coin (so to speak) - God's holiness!
Alan B.
Excellent reply Lita
Dan B.
Lita, Hello and thank you for this wonderful answer. I would like to add that God is love and all He does originates in love. But, since we cannot understand God, neither can we understand perfect love. I believe all the questions starting with "How could a loving God do or allow..." originate in our misunderstanding of the very concept of love. The only answer to this, as far as I can see is faith. By faith I accept that God loves the world and that the decisions He takes are the best ones, even if in my narrow vision they do not seem to be so. Be richly blessed in Christ, Dan
Yvonne R.
Praise to GOD - GOD created so HE is at liberty to remove in HIS righteousness those who are sinning. As a non Christian I was not inclined to go the way of the world but due to being naive I could not discern so I was influenced by the self interest of those I knew. Having sought to know JESUS at the age of twelve years but not committed due to immaturity, GOD protected me so no one succeeded in their attempt to deny me my virginity. Now I am a Christian I look back with horror at the way I was in my Naivity. Ever grateful and thankful to GOD that by who HE is within me, I will never return to the life I knew prior to being a Christian. The light of the LORD JESUS makes for an extraordinary difference to the darkness. The darkness was a time of insecurity, immaturity, lack of discernment, making wrong decisions. Thank you LORD JESUS always.
Philip P.
A very good response Lita and one we can all endorse when you put it so clearly. Thanks
Phil P
King T.
The unbeliever simply runs into a brick wall when accusing God of being a mass murderer, genocidal, infanticidal and so on. On the hand they freely judge God by their own low moral standards, all the while neglecting to even mention their own sins or that of the people whom God JUSTLY terminated. Furthermore, I've had quite a few of them say that there is no such thing as sin and because God doesn't exist they don't care about the charges the bible makes against them. But then they still go on to berate the God of the bible for His monstrous acts and condoning slavery and polygyny....thereby negating their belief that there is no such thing as sin!

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