Bill Maher closed Real Time last Friday with some hysterical observations about the Noah story and what it tells us about God—namely, that the God of the Old Testament is a psychotic mass murderer. Christian conservatives are upset. While they prefer the psychotic, vengeful, murderous God of the Old Testament—they love to talk about divine judgment and God's wrath—they don't want folks to connect the dots and see their psychotic God for the psycho He is. But it seems to me that if Christian conservatives are going to be upset with Maher—and they're always upset with Maher—they should at least as upset with the eternal soul of Mark Twain. Because Twain's take on the Noah story is even more scalding:
He created all those infamous people, and he alone was responsible for their conduct. Not one of them deserved death, yet it was certainly good policy to extinguish them; especially since in creating them the master crime had already been committed, and to allow them to go on procreating would be a distinct addition to the crime. But at the same time there could be no justice, no fairness, in any favoritism—all should be drowned or none. No, he would not have it so; he would save half a dozen and try the race over again. He was not able to foresee that it would go rotten again, for he is only the Far-Sighted One in his advertisements. He saved out Noah and his family, and arranged to exterminate the rest. He planned an Ark, and Noah built it.
Then at last, Noah sailed; and none too soon, for the Ark was only just sinking out of sight on the horizon when the monsters arrived, and added their lamentations to those of the multitude of weeping fathers and mothers and frightened little children who were clinging to the wave-washed rocks in the pouring rain and lifting imploring prayers to an All-Just and All-Forgiving and All-Pitying Being who had never answered a prayer since those crags were builded, grain by grain, out of the sands, and would still not have answered one when the ages should have crumbled them to sand again....
With these facts before you will you now try to guess man's chiefest pet name for this ferocious Commander-in-Chief? I will save you the trouble—but you must not laugh. It is Our Father in Heaven! It is curious—the way the human mind works. The Christian begins with this straight proposition, this definite proposition, this inflexible and uncompromising proposition: God is all-knowing, and all-powerful. This being the case, nothing can happen without his knowing beforehand that it is going to happen; nothing happens without his permission; nothing can happen that he chooses to prevent. That is definite enough, isn't it? It makes the Creator distinctly responsible for everything that happens, doesn't it? The Christian concedes it in that italicized sentence. Concedes it with feeling, with enthusiasm.
Then, having thus made the Creator responsible for all those pains and diseases and miseries above enumerated, and which he could have prevented, the gifted Christian blandly calls him Our Father!
It is as I tell you. He equips the Creator with every trait that goes to the making of a fiend, and then arrives at the conclusion that a fiend and a father are the same thing!
I would go farther than Maher. No, wait: I've gone farther than Maher. God has the morals of Nazi war criminal—at least according to his most vocal followers.