Released from Paramount Contract, ‘Noah’ Bible Guru John Snowden Responds to Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Brian Godawa

Released from Paramount Contract, ‘Noah’ Bible Guru John Snowden Responds to Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Brian Godawa April 3, 2014

Editor’s note: John Snowden was a youth pastor in the Los Angeles area when Rob Moore of Paramount approached him about a project. Snowden came aboard Noah as Biblical advisor and we know the rest. As of April 1, Snowden is no longer under contract with Paramount pictures and now gives his full reaction to the controversies swirling around Darren Aronofsky’s film.

John Snowden on the set of NOAH.

photo: Niko Tavernise. (c) 2012 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

I knew some wouldn’t appreciate Noah’s liberties, for sure, but I didn’t expect the level of ire I’ve heard about the now apparently controversial Bible movie. Ken Ham, along with Ray Comfort, and similar disagreement from Brian Godawa, have led an all-out assault on the film. Here is my response to a few of their thoughts, which hopefully will also be an opportunity shed more light on what I firmly believe is very positive theology in the film. (Warning: There may be spoilers if you haven’t seen the film!)

Objection: Humanism!

Godawa in particular focuses on the fact that Aronofsky is allegedly a “humanist.” I put that in quotes because I don’t actually know that Darren is such. He might be. He may even “probably” be. But Godawa presumes that Aronofsky’s worldview has compelled him to tell a subversive story undermining God, and the proof is not what is in the film, but that Aronofsky is a humanist. This cynical view (and cyclical argument) assumes no person can tell any story that they don’t wholeheartedly embrace. So a humanist, for example, could never put into his film critical Christian theology such as that man was created in God’s image, because that would undermine his humanist agenda.

The only problem with this is that the film clearly holds this very important piece of theology front and center, that God created people in His image. Despite Godawa’s clearly false claim, the film repeats it many times from many characters. It is said by Noah twice, The Watchers said it once, Lamech said it, and it is perverted by Tubal-Cain. Throw in the bonus that Noah clearly says “we get our power from The Creator” and the whole humanism thesis quickly dissolves.

Objection: Veganism!

In an ongoing criticism of the film, Godawa vents that the depicted sin of humanity is all about meat eating in the film. When one reads through Genesis, there are two ways to read it regarding meat eating. First, the most literal way is that God never blessed eating anything but plants until after the flood – thus meat eating is a sin to Noah in scripture for the timing of most of the film. Or there’s the more “nuanced” way – which we’d naturally assume is Hollywood’s tendency: “Nuance it” to justify an agenda, right? Well, the nuanced way is: Sure, God never really gave permission to eat meat until after the flood, but since God did kill animals for Adam and Eve (but did He?), and since He gave Noah instruction to bring 7 of each clean animal onto the ark, and since we can read into that statement the Torah’s definition (that Noah hadn’t heard) of “clean” certainly implies kosher food laws it must mean that those animals were for eating, therefore Noah eats meat in Genesis.

For what it’s worth, I think both are actually viable ways to read the text. And since there are two ways to read into vegetarianism in Genesis, maybe we can give “Hollywood” a pass on taking the more literal interpretation as their own.

Objection: Creation From Nothing!

Creationism in the film was allegedly subverted too – because it starts with “In the beginning there was nothing.” That’s Pagan, they say! Atheists believe that!

So do I. I’ve taught the Bible plenty. My favorite part is creation and Genesis 1:1 – 12:3. The Hebrew verb for “created” in Genesis 1 is a word that is only used with God as the subject and it means to create from nothing. And in the creation sequence the film follows that very line with God speaking light into existence on “the first day and it was good.” The creation narrative in the film then goes on to name the six days one by one (albeit with an evolving-animals sequence), yet then on the sixth day, God distinctly creates humanity in his image. While I wish it said it was “very good” at that point, the fact that God created us in his image on the sixth day is very clearly in the film. Adam and Eve didn’t just passively evolve in the film. How can an atheist tell an atheistic version of creation with “The Creator” as the creator and still be pushing an atheist’s agenda?

Objection: No Rebellion Against God!

In the most head scratching criticism from Ken Ham, he suggests that the film doesn’t depict “rebellion against God.” It’s head scratching for two reasons. First, never are those words a part of Genesis 6 – 9. Second, more importantly, Tubal-Cain’s speech as the rain starts is so so overtly personifying rebellion against God: Tubal-Cain’s arrogant comparison of himself to god, giving and taking life, that men united are invincible, or that Tubal-Cain cries that he will build a new society in his own image are all manifestations of rebellion against God. Even just yelling at God to do what Tubal-Cain wants God to do images such rebellion. Tubal-Cain says to Ham “A man is not ruled by the heavens but by his will.” These are the same themes of Biblical rebellion against God that we find throughout scripture including at the Tower of Babel, which the story of Noah (and the lineage of Ham) feeds.

Ham got on the boat. Ken Ham missed it.

Objection: Environmentalism!

But the most important sin in this film is supposedly the environmental “agenda.” It’s pretty much unanimous after all, since almost every American right-wing Christian who’s seen the film has completely objected to the environmental undertones in it. It’s honestly not my favorite part either, but this is where grace (and not even that much is needed) toward a non-Christian director has to come into play.

But even with such grace, and to be clear, I’m a right-wing homeschooling Ken Ham-VBS-curriculum-teaching conservative-talk-radio-listening Christian myself (I really am), I defend the fact that the film clearly depicts primary sin as the violent arrogance of man time and again. It doesn’t depict “property rights advocates” in a bad way like Godawa claims, it depicts a bad guy subjugating his fellow man and taking the land that others are living on. It’s man’s inhumanity to man – the very thing Ken Ham alleges the film didn’t depict. And it most certainly doesn’t explain the flood as anything but man’s wickedness – which is partly environmental as depicted but is so overwhelmingly shown as violence (threatening, intimidating, killing, selling women in the mob scene, stealing, and people fighting over, yes, natural resources). You’d think from the reviews Tubal-Cain is the non-violent CEO of the Exxon corporation (yet carrying a “gun”).

But then even looking closer we can find that it would undermine its own ostensible “environmental agenda.” For example Noah scolds young Ham (played by a pastor’s kid, no less) for picking a flower, he uses environmental jargon to teach his son a lesson. An environmentalist “agenda” would leave that flower dead, destroyed, and irreplaceable. It would be the final action that sets in motion the ball rolling that will actually clinch the destruction of the entire planet – right? But that’s not the story told in that scene nor in the film as a whole. What happens in that scene is that God immediately and miraculously replaces that flower, clearly demonstrating that God is going to take care of things – just like he does in the end of this film, and in the end of Revelation 21-22. True story – an executive for one of those environmental organizations saw the film and was not happy with it. Why? Because the film showed that the “Almighty” (his word) fixed the environmental problems in the end, which is contrary to environmentalist’s messaging. There you have it.

Naameh says in the film to Noah, “We are surrounded by darkness, yet beauty survives even in this barren ground. Maybe it is a sign he comes to heal.”

God makes all things new. God restores the broken, grows gardens from deserts, and brings fertility from bareness. That is good theology, and that is in the film.

Objection: Unrighteous!

Nearly every rejection I’ve read mentions that Noah was righteous yet the film allegedly depicts Noah as anything but. Instead of being righteous he was sinful, mean, and focused on killing his grandchildren believing that God wanted him to kill off humanity. While I wouldn’t make the theological case that the Biblical Noah was blind to God saving humanity through him (nobody is claiming that’s the Bible’s position – it’s simply a movie’s dramatization of God wanting to wipe out humanity which IS in the Bible), and probably in a million years wouldn’t have dreamed up that plot for my own Noah’s Ark movie, it is clearly a choice they made in the film. But it doesn’t make Noah not righteous. Hold on, you say? You object? Let’s think it through – how can a person who almost kills children thinking it’s God’s will be righteous? Well, you can ask Abraham. How can a person be a prophet of God when he doesn’t obey God and wants people to die? Ask Jonah. How can a person be after God’s own heart but also be a murdering adulterer? Ask David. Why do we protect Noah as proto-Jesus by assuming righteous means anything other than Noah trusted God? In the film, Noah wasn’t taking pleasure in the idea of killing humanity, he was angry about it, and he was assuming it was God’s plan just like it says in Genesis 6:5-8. I also, for the record, believe that in the end the film does not communicate that it’s God’s will for Noah to kill the babies, but it is God’s will (as Ila explains) to help Noah learn God’s mercy in contrast to the stark justice he just witnessed.

Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Where does Noah’s come from?

Objection: Paganism!

But all of these aren’t the real issue. No, as I see it, the core of the criticisms I read boil down to the fact that a person who is not of the Christian worldview is making a Bible film. Or perhaps if Christendom allowed this, why on Earth did they let him have any ability to have any creative control over his own film? Either way, I’m reading between the lines that this is what is truly and fundamentally intolerable. How could a non-Christian possibly get it right? Is there a line that would have been “right enough?” No, I don’t believe we would allow it. Rather any creative choice that strays too far from the text (if from a non-believer’s mind) should be rejected. The text stands alone – and I believe it does. Maybe that means we should actually reject any depictions of a Bible character? Or maybe only if it’s done by a non-believer. This is all sounding awfully similar to a fatwa, and it grieves me.


Let’s wrap this up. ”Love your neighbor” is our charge. That is expected of us even if we think he’s a secular liberal vegan pagan atheist humanist environmental whacko Hollywood director. Vilifying him (and effectively his whole team) will not get us any closer to God. And to me, he was personally quite a kind, thoughtful, creative, hyper-intelligent colleague with whom I had incredibly fruitful conversations. I’m thankful that he took a huge risk to tell a Bible story in a very creative way, and did it quite impressively. You don’t have to like the movie, love the movie, or see the movie. But we really need to respond better than this when we have objections.

John Snowden served as the Biblical Consultant on Noah from April 2012 until March 31, 2014. After six years of vocational youth ministry in West Los Angeles, John moved with his family to Kathmandu, Nepal, where he is a Vice President of CloudFactory, a tech company seeking to connect a million people in the developing world to basic computer work while raising them up as leaders to address poverty in their own communities. He is not related to Edward.

Read More:

Rebecca Cusey on An Invitation to Listen: How the Church Should Think about Noah

Rebecca Cusey’s Review: A Bible Movie That Doesn’t Preach or Browbeat

Rebecca Cusey’s Interview with Aronofsky and Handel

Peter Chattaway’s Extensive Noah Coverage

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66 responses to “Released from Paramount Contract, ‘Noah’ Bible Guru John Snowden Responds to Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Brian Godawa”

  1. And God said to Noah… Genesis 6:13 ff
    Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did. Genesis 6:22

    To be honest, the biggest issues for me are the attack on the character of God as depicted in the film and that there was really no answer to the pagan and Gnostic elements in the film in this article, though there was a heading. God was clear with Noah at the time of the building of the Ark that He intended to save the animals and Noah’s family. God is not silent. God doesn’t use a bad trip to communicate to His prophets (peyote paganism?). God doesn’t use the very sign of evil to convey a blessing (snakeskin relic paganism?).

    You can talk about all the broad themes of the Bible if you like, but those themes are rooted in truth, not mysticism, paganism, and a silent God. God has revealed Himself to Noah and to us through the Bible.

    As the biblical consultant to the film, I would really appreciate Mr. Snowden’s explanation of the snakeskin talisman and the silent creator (not to mention demons helping Noah and then getting “saved”).

    Further, while I don’t pretend to know the director’s motives in every area (he has revealed some of them), the clearly Gnostic elements are very troubling. Several have been exposed by Dr. Brian Mattson’s article “Sympathy for the Devil” (and the followup video and article).

    And, yes…I have seen the movie.

  2. I’ve seen the movie twice, Roger, and I’m at a loss for these so-called attacks on the character of God. Are there some particular points in the film that specifically do this beyond what can be readily found in the Psalms (e.g., 83 and 109) and Job? You know … the passages that cry out to God, wondering where He is, asking why He’s silent, and begging to hear from Him?

    As for the Gnostic elements, I would advise you to read Proverbs 18:17 and then move on to this review:

  3. I would argue that Snowden was woefully underutilized — there is so little relevance to the Bible portrayed in this finished film that a Bible consultant wasn’t needed on the payroll. Hopefully, working with film was a great experience though.

  4. As well, Roger, you claim: “God doesn’t use the very sign of evil to convey a blessing (snakeskin relic paganism?).”

    Do you forget Moses made a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so that everyone who looked upon it would be healed of their snake bites?

    The shiny snake skin clearly represents the pre-Fall state (notice the snake is no longer green but black as it sheds its skin) and is, to the line of Seth, a precious reminder of God’s intent for his kingdom of priests to be earth’s caretakers.

  5. Mike, Thank you for taking the time to reply, but I had already read Chattaway’s article and Mattson’s reply. I am unsatisfied and there is a clear blending of the Gnostic and Kaballic elements with God’s Word. That is a shameful perversion and should not spawn the endorsement of Christian leaders, in my opinion.

    As to a distant God, I understand the sentiment in other places in the Bible and I have experienced those feelings personally, but that was not the case with Noah as I quoted at the beginning of my post God gave him clear instructions and directions and he knew his family was to survive when he got the call to build the Ark. To say God seems distant in a psalm and to compare that to what actually happened with Noah is not handling the text well.

    The creator depicted in the film is silent when giving Noah a very harsh and dire task. That is not the character of God as depicted in Genesis 6-9. That is a distortion that will lead many who watch this film and do not take the time to read the account in Genesis a distorted view of the account and of God’s character and role in the account. I work in apologetics full-time, so I deal wit the effects of those distortions in people’s minds on a daily basis.

  6. Roger,

    Thanks for your response. I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree on a filmmaker’s right to poetic license regarding how God speaks. (I have a feeling though that “the way it really went down” is much more complex than a straight-forward reading of the text would suggest.)

    From what I perceive to be your perspective, any movie purporting to base itself on the Genesis account is doomed to failure from the start. Simply not enough material to work with to be worthy of the medium.

    I’m not sure I agree with your assertion that Noah will “lead many who watch this film and do not take the time to read the account in Genesis [to] a distorted view of the account and of God’s character and role in the account.” If someone is going to base their theology on a film produced by a publicly-admitted non-believer, they’ve got an entirely different set of issues with which we must deal. In the big scheme of things, most folks would never crack open the Bible had it not been for the movie.

  7. Why does it have to be based on the Bible anyway. I don’t believe the Bible story, I like the Urantia Book tale. I’ll have to go read that again because I forget it. I think it had something to do with irrigation and perhaps Noah’s Godliness.

  8. I’d just like to say something about the “Objection: Veganism!” paragraph. Concerning God killing animals to clothe Adam and Eve, it seems to me that this would be the very first occurrence of sin requiring the death of something to cover the sin. Most Christians seem totally miss the significance of this, I did not notice it myself until last year at the age of 30 when one of my pastors pointed it out.

  9. Hi Roger,

    In general I’ve noticed that you folks at AiG have pointed out a couple times that I use literary words like “themes” when I talk about scripture. I sure do, and it has a lot to do with my love of literature, theater, film, and story. To clarify who I am and my meaning behind “Biblical themes”, all truth’s starting point in my world view is scripture – the greatest story. Everything I see and interpret in life is through the lens of truth via scripture. Scripture is my interpretive framework of how I understand how to be a parent or change occupations, or watch a film. So if I’m talking about “themes” you can know that the intent of my words is holding those Biblical themes as a repetition of a Biblical truth throughout scripture. Maybe I ought to just say “truth” though admittedly in the extreme post-Christian communities I’ve lived I have admittedly contextualized my language at times.

    What would you see that specifically “attacks the character of God?” I don’t see it that way. I always sought to find the right balance to make sure God was affirming human life and that Noah’s choice of mercy at the end reflects God’s mercy. So that’s where I saw it end up – which the ending is the most important message in most movies.

    The Paganism heading of mine, you’re right, was on the wrong paragraph I just realized because you pointed it out. I was specifically addressing Ken Ham’s Time article where he says that “In the beginning there was nothing” was his first indicator of “paganism”. I addressed this specific issue with a different heading. “Paganism” is a great catch-all can-mean-anything (non-Judeo-Christian) sort of accusation, however, so anything we dislike in the film could be pinned to that label.

    The Snakeskin is a great question. I’ve honestly never been fond of it because as you say it’s almost universally (at least in the West) accepted as a bad symbol. However, there are at least two positive snake/serpent references in scripture – Jesus recommends we be wise as serpents; and Moses hoists the bronze snake on a pole which looking at it gives way to supernatural healing. (Side note – if that particular Moses story weren’t in scripture and someone had it in a movie, I have little doubt it would be accused of being “paganism” “Gnosticism” or “devil worship” because of the common snake interpretations – yet it becomes the central referent of John 3:16!) Secondly and most importantly, the filmmakers very clearly set it up as a relic of the last moment before creation experienced rebellion and sin – the snake sheds its skin, turns black (symbolically taking on sin) then heads to the temptation moment. So the relic (something that makes non-Catholics uncomfortable, myself included, I know) is a symbol of creation prior to the fall. So even if I didn’t personally appreciate it, I believed they had a decent approach to it. It was definitely not empowering anyone (Mattson is, intentionally or not, completely reconstructing the plot sequence to make that interpretive move).

    I haven’t written much in response to Dr. Mattson’s Gnosticism article, this wasn’t intended to be a response to that, though it’s worth considering a write up at some point in the future as Gnosticism is typically on my radar. Generally though he’s fairly self-contradictory (the whole film is very pro-creation where Gnosticism is very anti-matter), and leaves little room for using other Biblical stories to find basis for things done in the Noah film. So, yes, glowing Adam and Eve are not in the Bible, ARE in a particular Gnostic text, but to suggest that people don’t glow in God’s presence isn’t a valid artistic visualization isn’t fair – we hardly condemn the halos around the disciples and Jesus in Renaissance art as “Gnostic” (though they could suggest Docetism as well) – but more importantly scriptural precedent exists for glowing in God’s presence with Moses (who was my basis for not raising issue with Adam and Eve’s glow in the script) but also as Peter Chattaway points out, the Transfiguration is another occurrence. “The Creator” is hardly a leap as a valid translation of Elohim for Noah’s point in Genesis, so if Dr. Mattson believes that it’s suggesting an evil Gnostic god of matter that the film is talking about, it’s hard to reconcile the positive talk of The Creator throughout the film by Noah, his family, The Watchers, and Ila. The specific allegations aside, Dr. Mattson though falls into the same trap as many of the reviewers of dehumanizing and assailing the character and intentions of Darren Aronofsky, and it frankly disturbs me that we as a church think that’s alright to do. I appreciate you recognizing that you’re unsure of his motives.

    Silent Creator? I never saw it that way. God speaks to Noah in the film through visions and dreams, again perfectly valid Biblically even if it’s not the specific mode stated in the Noah story). At one point Noah is asking for God to speak more but doesn’t hear Him – have you ever wanted God to speak to you in a certain way but not received the answer the way you wanted? I’ve had that experience.

    The boundaries I felt for the film’s interpretation of The Nephilim were that (since Biblical scholars hardly agree on their nature – though every scholar who disagrees often is sure he’s right) they are created by God, created on or after the first day (i.e. they’re not pre-existent), they have free will, and are not “gods” themselves. Since they were punished for their rebellion and given a path to redemption by recognizing and helping God’s call to Noah, I saw them as extra but not offensive. The only non offensive way to have presented the Nephilim would have been to have them be really tall people walking around fighting and maybe sexually charged. I can make a case for why that may have been a worthwhile cinematic choice, but I saw no hidden agenda to subvert us into worshiping “The Watchers” or building any sense of “truth” that we should hunger and pursue in them. They were a sci-fi fantasy element within my boundaries.

    While a conversation like this won’t “convert” many to embracing the film (and that’s fine by me, really), I do value your inquisitive and respectful tone, and hope it finds you well.


  10. Roger – sorry, I started from the top and worked my way down, so clearly you answered my question about the character of God that I asked.

    My response is that yes – I agree that the narrator of Genesis 6-9 makes it pretty clear that Noah should see the big picture and know what’s going on. The film definitely bends the timeline to reveal that to Noah throughout – culminating most importantly at the end as Ila helps interpret it for him.

    My challenge to you is that I hear you saying “character of God depicted in Genesis 6-9” but I don’t see character as something that would be context-specific. So I believe using our understanding of the character of God and how He speaks throughout scripture as a valid move. Of course it’s a liberty taken in the narrative structure.

    Further, there’s a reason for it – not that a “reason” justifies, but certainly can explain the viewpoint. They felt very strongly that they needed to dramatize Genesis 6:5-8 as much as anything, as they’re the core lines that reveal God’s purpose (and character) with regard to man’s wickendess and the need to start fresh. The challenge is that those verses are spoken not by God or by a character in scripture, but by the narrator. Some movies have narrators, but most don’t. This one doesn’t. They wanted to dramatize the experience of Noah’s family coming to terms with this reality.

    I think it’s very easy to dramatize Gen 6.5 (man is wicked) and Gen 6.8 (Noah found favor) but vv6-7 are quite challenging to dramatize.

    So there it may be that you still don’t appreciate or like the choice to dramatize those verses, but I hope understanding their intent sheds some light on the film – especially because so much of our discomfort with the film is about that whole sequence in “Act 3” of the movie.


  11. It was a great experience for me, thanks. Sorry to hear it didn’t resonate as well with you. I suggest we take what we’ve learned and write some new Bible stories into screenplays and see what we come up with. (I definitely got a taste for the potential and all the challenges.) So many great stories in the Bible are yet to be told on film.

    Though I’d be lying if I hadn’t been wondering if it’s a road that may be better left untraveled given the reactions, and is tempting to just leave scripture to book form for us to read.

    And I can only imagine that it’ll be hard to convince a studio to go through that firestorm again.

  12. I literally have no idea what this means, but it made me laugh. They definitely feed you well in that industry.

  13. Aronofsky is an atheist, so we can assume he doesn’t believe the
    Bible is the actual inspired Word of God. In his worldview, either God
    doesn’t exist, or he might say there’s no evidence for God (what some
    refer to as a “soft” atheist). Aronofsky can’t be “blamed” for making a film
    that contains some unbiblical elements because he wanted to add ideas from
    the book of Enoch and other Jewish writings, and change things to suit
    _his_ artistic vision. He has nothing to apologize for because he
    never said his movie was going to be 100% in agreement with _everything_
    in the book of Genesis.

    You can bet that after watching the movie, there will be atheists, agnostics, and people of other faiths going to check out what the book of Genesis actually says. And that’s a good thing!

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  14. Yes, I agree, and it is, to me, the most important takeaway of that piece of scripture.

  15. Awesome – it’s nice to see someone counter the knee-jerk reactions we’ve seen in Christian media

  16. I enjoyed the movie, and I’m happy you are defending it. There are really powerful things to ponder about. For instance; The movie’s account with the evil of men “eating” each other, ripping at each other reminds me of our day and age.(I’m thinking of abortion, greed, lust and what have you). It shows how depraved men were, and why God wanted to start anew.

  17. Mike, I am all for filling in the details to tell about an account from Scripture in a film or other presentation. (I have written as such in an article on the Noah movie.) In fact, I used that as a discussion point with my three children the other night at the dinner table. We read Luke 19:1-10 (the conversion of Zacchaeus) and I asked them how they would make a 20-30 minute film depicting these 10 verses. It was a fruitful discussion and we connected many other ideas from Scripture to this account seeking not to contradict anything that was stated in Scripture as we did so.

    However, if Zacchaeus was a ninja and had to defeat six demons who came to stop his interaction with Jesus, I think that would go too far. My boys might come up with that and I would ask them to reconsider. We all have different lines and I admit mine are relatively conservative…definitely more conservative than those drawn by the Noah consultants. Same goes for the Son of God/The Bible miniseries consultants.

    As to people getting their theology from movies…I monitor Facebook pages of an apologetics ministry, so I am speaking from experience based on many who troll the site. I would just prefer to see truth proclaimed in a much clearer manner. In all of it, I trust we are all seeking to honor Christ and proclaim Him. I just don’t know that this film is helpful to that end. But, I will surely seek to use it to that end with those who have seen it.


  18. John,
    I understand the dramatization. I have tried to think about how I might have done the same and remained more tightly bound to the text of the Noah narrative. (I came up with a clever device to dramatize the delivery of the task to Noah but I don’t want you to steal it ;-). It is the distortion within the context of the narrative that bothers me. I know God is silent in some cases, but He speaks clearly in others. He did speak clearly with Noah according to the text. So clearly that Noah was able to do all that God commanded him. I don’t think that can be said of the Noah character in the film since he clearly believed God intended for him to kill everyone off. Those are distortions I am not willing to accept as faithful to the essence of the Bible’s narrative.

    God speaking through drug-induced trances as in the Methuselah cave scene has nothing to do with a truth or a theme in Scripture. Dreams and visions, surely. Drugs, not so much. That is what the Gnostics and pagans do to commune with their gods. Hence my charge of the blending of biblical and pagan/Gnostic (I know those are broad terms) ideas of receiving revelation. We are warned throughout Scripture to avoid those practices and this is an anti-biblical depiction in my mind. I can’t wait to respond to the mockers who will come and ask us at AiG what we were smoking when we decided to build the Ark Encounter. The Noah character got his idea from the Ark in that way, so I am just waiting for those accusations. (At least we don’t have any offices in Colorado.)

    Thank you again for taking the time to explain these things. I am still of the opinion that I would do better to proclaim and explain the truth of Scripture as plainly s I can rather than shrouding it in so many layers of interpretation. The fact that so many are interpreting these elements in so many ways validates, in my mind, that this film has done more harm than good in advancing the Kingdom. I know there are many who disagree with me.


  19. Mike, I said the snakeskin from the serpent/devil was a sign of evil, not that snakes are always evil. If “the shiny snake skin clearly represents the pre-Fall state,” then why have so many misinterpreted it? Are you sure that is what Aronofsky intended of it?

    That is the problem with blending so many different views together–everyone gets to decide which truth they want to believe. I prefer to teach in a different way.

  20. I don’t think “Christians” were trying to vilify the making of this Noah but warning of deception (twisting of the truth) and then being told it’s an acceptable practice and not only that, but please “buy into it.” In the last couple of years and specifically right now in real time, movies are coming out with Biblical reference that are hugely twisting of the Truth from that which it is being derived. Question, Who is FAMOUS for twisting God’s Word with “Has God Really Said?” Then you wonder why Biblical believers are begging for people to not “buy into” what the Author of Confusion is selling.”

  21. John,

    (I responded to some of this, especially the attack on God’s
    character, in the post below in the hopes of keeping ideas connected as others read. I don’t expect a response. I write to process my thoughts, so this is partially exercise for me to think through these elements as well as interacting with you and others.)

    I really do appreciate you taking the time to respond to my
    questions. I primarily asked them for others to think about, but your responses, especially at length, are appreciated. I still understand this film to be blasphemous (as I have written elsewhere), but I understand how others have come to a different conclusion. I do intend to be gracious and truthful, though that does not always come across when we only hear one another through the clattering of a keyboard.

    The rock people, as far as I can discern, are not the Nephilim but are derived from First Enoch and other mystical Jewish sources as a conglomeration (geology pun!) of the Watchers and the rock golem. If they are intended to be the Nephilim of Genesis 6:2, they only point of biblical contact I can find is that they were created during the creation week (never minding that it was a big-bang-nebular-hpothesis-evolutionary process that defied the
    biblical order) and are fallen. The fallen angels in the Bible have no hope of redemption, so the moral character is flipped on its head when they are saved through their self-sacrifice. However, as you point out there are multiple interpretations of who these sons of God in Genesis 6 are. Regardless, it is clear they are not sci-fi—they are based on characters of a text. The sci-fi comes when we see stars in the daytime (I picked out Orion very clearly in one daytime scene) and none at night. That was a clever otherworldly flair, but a further proof that this story was not intended to represent the Bible’s narrative of Noah in a faithful manner (despite the disclaimer).

    To touch on the “creation” of Adam and Eve, the scene was
    vague, at best, and could be easily understood to represent the evolution of the couple from the final ape-like creature that swung out of the tree. As many Christians today are saying, Adam and Eve could have evolved and still be “created in the image of God” in some sense. That is definitely not outside of what was
    depicted in the film. Of course, I find that explanation anti-gospel in light of Romans 5 and 8 and 1 Corinthians 15.

    While I am no expert in the nuances of Gnostic or Kaballistic thinking, there is clearly a blending of those elements with the biblical ideas. (I discuss the drug-induced revelation in a post below.) Seeking revelation in an altered state is a pagan practice in my understanding. It is a practice of witchcraft in both Testaments. While each of Dr. Mattson’s connections might not hold up perfectly, there is no denying that Aronofsky has used those elements in this film and others (Chattaway acknowledges this point in his response to Mattson). The idea of persons (Moses and Jesus) becoming radiant in the presence of God is not the same as the Gnostic/Kaballah view. Either Aronofsky intended Adam and Eve as luminous beings as a biblical allusion or as another allusion. It comes right out of a Gnostic text, so it seems a stretch to say it is a biblical allusion. Again, the blending of truth and error is what troubles me deeply. I could not, in good conscience, guide my fellow believers to embrace this film for that reason. Use it as an opportunity to witness of Christ to those who have seen it, surely. Embrace it, no.

    I discussed the artistic license issue in a response to Mike
    Beidler below, so I will refer to that. There were so many intentional changes to the biblical text that had no real bearing on the storyline of the film that it is very hard for me to accept that the writers did everything they could to not contradict “the letter of the text” as Ari Handel claims. (Lamech dies way too early, Japheth is the youngest and releases the birds, big bang and evolution contradict the order and “letter of the text” of Genesis 1, the animals are innocent, etc.) To me, it is irreverent and blasphemous to intentionally change so many things that are clearly presented in God’s Word. But then, to Aranofsky
    the biblical account is just a fable (as he has said himself).

    Can good come from this film? Of course! God saved a wretch
    like me by His grace and mercy in Christ when I deserved nothing but His judgment. He can surely make bad things good, but only through what Christ has done. That is where I hope I can orient my thinking in light of this brouhaha.


  22. Very well said John. I think your point about rejecting it simply because Christians can’t accept a non-christian “getting it right” is spot on. Every proclaimed Christian was at one point a non-christian. But it often seems that once they “convert” they can no longer wrestle with the tough stuff, at least not publicly.

    I could say plenty more, but you said it so well, there’s no need. Nice work.

  23. I think Mr. Snowden has to defend this film no matter what. He was likely paid as the film’s consultant (nothing wrong with that), and he will certainly support his work. It’s good hear from him, however.

    For critics of the film, comments from Godawa and Dr. Mattson are obviously more interesting and insightful. I’ve written my own film critique as well, that is just another point of view.

  24. I know this is a stinky can of worms, but I would like to ask Mr. Snowden (if he is “listening” to this thread) why there are no black people or other people of color in this film?

  25. It appears that Mr. Aronofsky is mocking Bible-believing Christians. From published Interview April 5, 2014

    “The problems arose because the studio were trying to serve religious literalists,” says Aronofsky. “Because there is a big part of the population in America who don’t want anything to contradict their view of the Bible, and are never going to be open to this type of interpretation.”
    For him, the Noah story is something metaphorical and mythic, a beautiful fiction that points towards truth, rather than simply reporting it.
    “To argue about it as if it was a historical event is ridiculous. Which, by the way, goes for atheists, too – the people who do the math and say, ‘Well, all of the animal kingdom couldn’t fit into one boat.’ The whole conversation is ridiculous.”

  26. Haven’t seen the movie (maybe will, maybe won’t, not sure) but doesn’t Aronofsky’s own statement that this was the “least biblical Bible movie” ever made point out Aronofsky’s own stance on the movie? Your defense of the movie being an adviser (no matter how involved) really pales in comparison to the Director’s own proclamation that he set out to pervert the truth.

  27. I don’t think he was saying he wanted to pervert the truth. I think he was trying to differentiate between Noah and old school movies like The Ten Commandments. It’s a big leap from that quote to saying that he admits he hates the Bible.

  28. To be honest, there is nothing in those quotes you post that make me think he’s mocking Bible-believing Christians.

    I see people taking that way, but is the fault with the speaker or the hearer?

    I am a Bible-believing Christian and a) I do not feel at all mocked either by the movie or by Aronofsky when I talked to him. and b) Find the Noah story to be one of the most difficult in the Bible on many levels.

  29. hmmm….

    How about it’s a challenging and beautiful work of art to be taken for what it’s worth? That’s neither “buy in” nor vilifying.

  30. I suspect it is because if the premise of a world-wide flood is correct, then all races came from Noah. It makes the movie intellectually honest and consistent.

  31. Good response, but intellectual honesty might not conclude that humanity began as european/caucasian—which is one of the “races” that purportedly “came from Noah.”

  32. You gotta choose one, right? You can’t have diversity if that scenario is correct. I guess they could have had an all-black, all-Polyenesian, or all-Hispanic cast.. (?)

  33. “Creation From Nothing!”

    That is exactly what Creationists like Ken Ham/Ray Comfort/Eric Hovind believe. That was even used in Latin as the name of a creationist magazine.

    “That’s Pagan, they say! Atheists believe that!”
    They like being dishonest, see above. They also love to claim that we then claim something as nothing. When we know that Nothing doesn’t actually exist.

  34. Thank you for responding:

    Equally, in all honesty, some of us think he is dismissive and mocking Bible-believing Christians with statements like, “..religious literalists”.. “…To argue about it as if it was a historical event is ridiculous…”

    I define “mock” in this instance as “treat with ridicule, or derision.” I know that many believers are perfectly happy with Mr. Aronofsky’s version of Noah and the flood. I certainly recognize that someone like yourself who has spoken with him, is in a far better position to assess the motivations of his heart/mind.

    I don’t find that the story of God’s dealing with humanity in Noah’s time difficult to understand, as heart-wrenching as it was. We don’t need to understand Noah. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” (Deut. 29:29) Exploring the unknowable is what filmmakers do. Registering one’s displeasure and disagreement with screenplay decisions concerning the Scriptures is what Bible teachers do (which I am.)

    I deeply respect the necessity of creative license in moviemaking, but seeing how people distort the Bible to their own end is troubling for many believers.

    How some of us view the Noah movie might be the same as an historian seeing a movie that would change facts about events/people in history such as The American Revolution, George Washington, the slave trade, etc.

    For example: Mr. Aronofsky could have accommodated Genesis 7:13 and still delivered a good story: “On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.”

    Noah and his sons all had wives when they entered the ark. Why distort something so plain and simple within a story every one says is so “difficult?”


  35. Not thinking about diversity, just curious about the thinking of the writers. I shared my opinion on my blog. Link posted elsewhere in this thread.

  36. Good response, but intellectual honesty might not conclude that humanity began as european/caucasian—which is one of the “races” that purportedly “came from Noah.”

  37. I’m glad I read your comments before seeing the movie. Many of these nuances would not have been obvious to me otherwise. Most people only see the most basic things when viewing a movie. I think the depiction of Noah as a more barbaric person than Bible readers normally see from reading the text must be what is driving much of the criticism. Also, it’s often hard to pick up subtle meanings in dialogue in the midst of so much chaotic action as the film apparently has. Now that I know more of what to look & listen for, I should be able to enjoy the film better than the critics did, (although I will probably still balk at the violence in the depiction of Noah himself).

  38. If the movie had featured better storytelling, better editing, and focused on redemption instead of destruction + cramming a silly teachable moment in at the bitter end (young girl/Noah chat), I think discussion boards like this would have a different tone.

    What people are objecting to, I believe subconsciously, is how much of a mess this piece of art really is. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just a dud of a film. It violates most every rule of great storytelling, has no satisfying characters (perhaps the lead Watcher excepted), and worst of all, requires the audience to be reliant on extra information with which to come to the story. THAT is unacceptable. I shouldn’t have to know the Bible to understand and enjoy the film. Amen.

  39. If you want to see a fictional film with a great story and message, go see Capt. America! Don’t bother with the fictional Noah film.

  40. It’s a movie for crying out loud! Go get some popcorn, sit back and see what you can get out of it . . . if you don’t like it – then fine. This discussion about Bible accuracy involving the Noah movie is like Harry Potter fans complaining about movie versions, or Lord Of the Rings fans complaining about movie versions . . . just give it a break. A movie is a form of entertainment. You want Biblical accuracy – then read the Bible. I know of NO movie based on any book that is 100% literal – it can’t be in order for the story to be told in an “entertaining way within a couple of hours” (remember this is a Hollywood movie) . . . That all aside, I applaud the motion picture industry for cranking up the Bible-based themes recently. It, at least, helps foster Biblical discussion. It just sickens me when “Christians” argue about the “accuracy” of the content rather than simply taking advantage of the movie and sharing the truth with an unbeliever.

  41. Personally, I do think to argue about it – or any other miraculous event in the BIble – as an historical event is ridiculous. Either you believe God is God and intervenes in human history in ways that are outside nature or you don’t.

    To argue, as he says, how all the animals fit on the boat is silly because obviously something has to explain how that could happen. And either things were very different (i.e.: fewer species) or God worked a miracle.

    If the answer is God worked a miracle, then it’s foolishness to argue about the nature of that miracle or try to explain it in human terms. Either you believe He does and can or you don’t.

    Same for the virgin birth, the sun standing still, and the resurrection. If you rule out divine intervention, they are impossible. So their reasoning is circular (It can’t happen therefore it didn’t) as is ours (God made it happen, so therefore it did happen)

    In any case, that argument is fruitless 98% of the time and the 2% it bears fruit is due to the Holy Spirit, not our argument.

    So I imagine that’s what he’s getting at. Exploring very challenging questions is not the same as mockery.

  42. Curious. From a casting perspective, what actor of color would you cast as Noah that could carry the role the way Russell Crowe did and who could, from a business perspective, fill theaters the way RC does? I can think of maybe one or two but am interested in readers’ ideas.

  43. I’m really only interested in the thinking of the film writers and consultants like Mr. Snowden regarding their biblical perspective on race/ethnicity. Not even looking to complain or condemn, just curious. I’m not holding my breath to hear from Mr. Snowden, Mr. Aronofsky, or Paramount on the matter. Everyone has been paid…mission accomplished.

    For what it is worth, and SINCE YOU ASKED, I’ll offer my opinion:

    From a business and cultural perspective I know that a great black character actor like Denzel Washington would not have been acceptable to play Noah….though he could have certainly done it. (But who would have played his wife?)

    It was easier to have an all-white cast. It helped to keep focus on the story and on Crowe. Having a couple of black folks or minorities would have drawn too much attention and criticism. Having no people of color on the Ark, and then drowning black folks in the flood would have looked bad.

    We black folks are accustomed to being made “invisible” even though this treatment is unacceptable. A great film like “A Beautiful Mind” (one of my all-time favorites) did not need to cast African Americans because of the subject matter. One would think that a “biblical” film produced in the 21st Century, absent segregation and racist biblical ideas of the past (like black folks being considered “cursed” and “servile” because of Ham), would take on the challenge of representing biblical anthropology.

    Given the financial option to please a white audience or please a small (well…insignificant) black audience, Paramount chose the former. They got a couple of black pastors to endorse the movie, so they managed to get some black folks’ money too. It’s also well known that most white folks don’t want to pay money to see a bunch of black folks on the big screen. These are simply inconvenient truths, even among some Evangelical Christians.

    In the end, after seeing how unbiblical the film was, I’m actually glad that no black folks or minorities were associated with it.

  44. Rebecca: Mr. Aronofsky would be proud of the words you’ve put in his mouth. 🙂 Why carry water for the man?

    From other accounts, interviews, in addition to the fact that he is an atheist/humanist, it is clear that Mr. Aronofsky considers Bible accounts such as Noah/Great Flood to be a fable, mythical, allegorical, etc.

    Inductive Bible study yields a lot of insight. It helps us to embrace both God’s miraculous work, which requires no explanation, as well as how He empowers His servants to do his work using natural means– which we can explain. Deductive reasoning of the Word of God, however, yields a lot of confusion.

    Mr. Aronofsky’s views, his Noah movie, and its fictional/mystical framework is not the context for serious discussion about biblical matters. It seems to me that people who embrace this film tend to take the Bible less seriously, ask baseless questions, and make odd assertions (2 Timothy 2:23, 2 Peter 1:20). One believer who posted on another blog actually thanked God for using Darren Aronofsky for helping him understand the Bible and God better.

    Let’s just move on and go see Captain America again!

  45. Repost of my response:


    I’m mainly interested in the thinking of the film writers and consultants like Mr. Snowden regarding their biblical perspective on race/ethnicity. Not even looking to complain or condemn, just curious. I’m not holding my breath to hear from Mr. Snowden, Mr. Aronofsky, or Paramount on the matter. Everyone has been paid…mission accomplished.

    From a business and cultural perspective I know that a great black character actor like Denzel Washington would not have been acceptable to play Noah….though he could have certainly done it. (But who would have played his wife?)

    For what it is worth, and since you asked, I’ll offer my opinion:

    It was easier to have an all-white cast. It helped to keep focus on the story and on Mr. Crowe. Having a couple of black folks or minorities would have drawn too much attention and criticism. Having no people of color on the Ark, and then drowning black folks in the flood would have looked bad.

    We black folks are accustomed to being made “invisible,” though it is an unacceptable practice. A great film like “A Beautiful Mind” (one of my all-time favorites) did not need to cast African Americans because of the subject matter. One would think that a “biblical” film produced in the 21st Century, absent segregation and racist biblical ideas of the past (like black folks being considered “cursed” and “servile” because of Ham), would take on the challenge of representing biblical anthropology.

    Given the financial option to please a white audience or please a small (well…insignificant) black audience, Paramount chose the former. They got a couple of black pastors to endorse the movie, so they managed to get some black folks’ money too. It’s also well known that most white folks don’t want to pay money to see a bunch of black folks on the big screen. These are simply inconvenient truths, even among Evangelical Christians.

    In the end, after seeing how unbiblical the the film was, I’m actually glad that no blacks folks or minorities were associated with it.

  46. Denzel Washington comes to mind… The Book of Eli was a much better biblical film BTW… Lawrence Fishburne would have been Awesome! How about Morgan Freeman? He’s played holy before (heck he was God himself as memory serves…)

  47. Ok. Here’s my 2 cents: I’m a Bible believing Christian. I see danger where Biblical accuracy is not even attempted. This movie COULD have been much more Biblically accurate.

    For those who are not understanding this let me explain: When someone years from now or even right now is looking for the truth, and they read this story from the Bible and then look at this movie, they will see that they don’t really match up. When someone seeks truth from the Bible and they have to wonder if the Bible is true, movies like this can lead them down the wrong path. Suddenly the Bible can’t be trusted anymore. There is a step beyond faith, when one realizes that the Bible really is true and accurate, at which point Biblical inerrancy becomes fact – this is when one grasps how incredible God really is and far one can really trust in Him.

    Are the miracles all true and real? Yes. Every last one of them? Yes. Six days? Yes. Global Flood? Yes. God as man? Yes. Died on a cross and 3 days later rose from the dead? Yes. Complete forgiveness of sins? Yes. Coming back to judge the world? Yes.

    Once you start chipping away at the solid foundation in the first chapters of Genesis, you lose solid footing. I think many see this movie as a laughable joke. I think Satan probably had his hands all over this thing with the hopes that he would get exactly what was portrayed here. Did God really say – that is a fantastic quote that completely explains this whole movie.

    Now no movie could ever get it exactly right, but it could have been done far better justice. Those who give this movie a pass on it’s very clear errors, are not defending God or His word, and I believe Jesus had a rather clear warning for those who would not defend Him before men…

  48. I am still looking forward to seeing the film. I am happy to see that it is doing well despite the fundie objectors. Let’s face it, though. Some of those folks are so blinded by their dislike of “Hollywood” and so ill-informed about science, history and the nature of the world around them that they would condemn the movie because Noah didn’t load a pair of dinosaurs on the Ark.
    As is said, “there’s no accounting for taste”. That’s why movies appeal to some audiences and not others. In the case of Noah, there’s another dimension at work, too. . . “there’s no accounting for the warped, extreme ungrounded fundie belief system”.

  49. Hmm… I don’t really see it as the same thing as Bible study. I think Aronofsky really got into the work, got into the emotion of feeling like God has given you a very difficult task, got into the feeling of trying to follow God wherever He leads.

    I think that is the value. The heart.

    I think we live too much in our minds. Our minds, our inductive reasoning and deductive studies, are important.

    But emotion, especially love of God, love of man, are equally important. And I think that’s what this movie offers so very well.

  50. I think you’re right about a lot of this and it’s very interesting and very sad.

    Ok, say they had taken Denzel, who I agree could have carried the film, or maybe Will Smith, and made him Noah. Those are the only two black actors I think who could open a big blockbuster like this. (and note:we’re not even considering asian, hispanic, etc right now which says something too)

    Then who are the wife and children?

    You pick a black woman to be the wife and then it becomes an African-American film and loses a big portion of the audience. Those are just the facts, sad as I think they are.

    OR you pick a white woman to be the wife and that’s even more daring and probably loses an even bigger audience.

    Keeping the cast all white is something that unfortunately Paramount had to do. If you cast another race, the movie becomes ABOUT race. If you keep everybody white, other races are, as you say, invisible.

    I don’t like that this is the system, the way things work. I wish that the family could have been multi-racial. that’s probably what I would have chosen if I were in charge.

    But we both know that would have a) become the story and b) kept people from the theater.

  51. “Why have so many misinterpreted it?”

    I could ask the same question about the Bible. Fault Aronofsky, you might as well fault the Holy Spirit, too.

  52. The more Rebecca comments, the more I’m beginning to like her!

    A Christ-centered faith can weather any storm. A faith centered around bibliolatry is bound to be shipwrecked.

  53. Roger, I’ve been reading this thread and I first have to commend you about your writing skills, secondly and foremost, commend you on your conviction to the Word of God and your apparent command of it. You and I agree that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that’s why when people who hold the Bible as anything less than that, attempt to debate anything relating to it, it usually becomes an excercise in futility. Although I must say that you have done a masterful job of attempting to connect with people who don’t hold the Bible in the same regard, I would not have spent as much time and effort as you have during this exchange.
    I hope you are having a wonderful and blessed day.
    P.S. No, I have not seen the movie, nor do I have any desire to help fund this obvious propaganda film. I’ve said it before, why not call the movie “Sinbad and his big boat”?

  54. Interestingly, though, there are Jewish traditions which say that God used the skin of the serpent as the basis for Adam and Eve’s “garments of skin” precisely because no animals had died yet, and because snakes can shed their skin without dying! This seems to be the basis for the snakeskin in the film (though feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, John), and the fact that so many Christians have reacted so negatively to that snakeskin seems, to me, to be just another example of how some Christians simply don’t “get” where the film, written and directed by Jews, is coming from.

  55. Mr. Aronofsky certainly “got into the work.” But as it turned out, the movie is a work of fiction and mysticism, with some great special effects and A-List actors. It’s already fading off the cultural landscape and the box office.

    I would like to emphasize (mostly to the readers of this thread) that inductive Bible reading/study is an important method for properly understanding the Bible. Inductive study does not involve reasoning in the first instance. It involves discovery of what the text is actually saying. The first standard of proper Bible interpretation is this: “Seek to understand the original, plain meaning of the text.” For example, Genesis and other Scriptures describe Noah as “righteous” and a “preacher of righteousness.” He had a personal relationship with God. God spoke to him on many occasions. At no time did Noah become unrighteous, as shown in the movie. He did not receive instructions about the flood while “hopped up” on a drug induced dream. These are not examples of art, creative license, or “literalism.” These are direct contradictions of Scriptures.

    You can’t ask believers to respect a movie that disrespects the Bible to this extreme extent. I don’t understand how believers embrace the story of Mr. Aronofsky’s version of Noah and the Great Flood more than the Bible. One certainly cannot have it both ways.

    Beyond great special effects and good acting by Russell Crowe, the film has no redeeming value, in my view. As I wrote before, Mr. Aronofsky and his Noah film are not the context for a serious discussion about biblical matters. There is no connecting the fantasy of the film with the reality of the Bible and real world living.

    Loving God and loving one another has nothing to do with this movie. People who never see the film are missing nothing important to their lives.

    Now…can we go before we miss the last matinee showing of Captain America? 🙂