Morality of the Flood and the Conquest of Canaan

I want to consider the morality of certain things in the Bible that are often criticized as immoral by critics. For example, the flood and the conquest of Canaan. Some critics say that it was immoral for instance for God to command that every person including children be put under the ban. Also, people may find it difficult to accept that the flood would also have taken out innocent people like children for instance. So their question is how does God justify this?

Recently I asked the question about abortion and asked if it could ever be justified as self defense. Which we determined it could not be. (*see forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=998455 ). I had always believed and taught others that abortion could never be justified as the church teaches. However, I also had always believed that killing an innocent human person could never be justified, as part of my basis against abortion. (This is the definition of murder). But, then I thought of the example of how it could be justified to kill innocent human lives. The example was an airplane overtaken by terrorists and how it could be shot down to prevent it from crashing into a building full of people. This was justified by the fact that the intent was not to kill the innocent civilians on the plane but to stop the terrorists from crashing into the building. The people on the plane would be harmed as an indirect effect by the principle of double effect, but it would still be moral in order to save the lives of the people in the building. In the case of abortion however, it would involve the taking of a life in order to save the mother. And, since the end does not justify the means, ie. an evil can not be done to produce a good effect, it can not be justified. We looked at other morally justifiable means to save the mother (and the child if possible) in an ectopic pregnancy, that did not involve abortion. For more info see the thread above.

Having established that, one of the moral difficulties the flood and the conquest of Canaan provide is the taking of innocent lives. However, as we have seen it can be morally justified to take innocent lives as an unintended secondary effect, provided it is not necessary to do so and the intent is not to do so, but rather that it is a secondary effect of taking an action to produce a good outcome that outweighs the bad effects. ie. the good of saving the lives in the building is takes precedence over the indirect bad effect of killing innocent lives from shooting down the plane, who would have died anyways from crashing into the building.

So in the question of the flood for example we see that God looked on the earth and saw that all were evil except Noah. Of course it is hard to imagine that there would not be more righteous people than just Noah’s family. But, at any rate at least young children and babies would still be innocent victims. So I am wondering if this would be similar to the plane example. In that God wanted to save Noah and future generations from the ‘crashing’ of humanity into sin and evil; to save a remnant for himself. And, thus his intent was not to kill innocent babies but to save mankind, and thus the killing of innocents could be seen as a secondary effect of the intention to save a human remnant by taking out evil mankind, which was largely corrupt. I suppose this argument could also be made for Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as the Conquest of Canaan. What do you think of this argument? Is it adequate or do you have a better one? Thanks.

God is sovereign over human death. As with the victims on a 9/11 aircraft, everybody involved in the flood or the conquest of Canaan would have died in time in any case.

We are **not **sovereign over human death, which is why we need moral laws to govern our actions in situations that would cause it.

ICXC NIKA

God is not a moral agent. His actions are NEVER to be morally evaluated. They are always good, because it is against God’s nature to do something bad or evil, since He is the principle and measure of Goodness to begin with. GEddie got it - God is the Master of life and death, no matter who’s life He takes, when He takes it, how He takes it, or why He takes it, it is good, just, merciful, righteous. People understandably have a hard time with that, but there is just not anything to discuss once one gets a grip on God’s goodness.

The larger debate is over natural law and divine arbitration, whether they are both true, or if one is true. We basically say they are both true.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.