God Has No Regrets

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Full Question

In Genesis 6:5-7, it says the Lord regretted making human beings. If God is omniscient, why would this be the case?


Here is the passage to which you refer:

When the LORD saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil, the LORD regretted making human beings on the earth, and his heart was grieved. So the LORD said: I will wipe out from the earth the human beings I have created, and not only the human beings, but also the animals and the crawling things and the birds of the air, for I regret that I made them.

It is important to remember that the Scriptures are meant to help us understand God. When we are young in our spiritual development, things are explained to us differently than when we are more mature in our spiritual development (1 Cor. 3:1-2). Similarly, Scripture over time revealed more and more as the Jewish people matured in their relationship with God (Heb. 1:1). And so the Scriptural authors occasionally use anthropomorphism to help the reader understand their larger point.

In this passage the key phrase is “his heart was grieved.”  In ancient Jewish culture the heart is not necessarily a place of emotion and feeling, rather it is a place of thinking and judgment (Wis. 9:3). This expression is telling us that God is rendering a negative judgment upon humanity. It is not a cruel and cold judgment but a true and honest judgment that creates a tension with God’s love for his creation. The “regret” that God is described as experiencing is the author’s way of explaining that God does not act arbitrarily or with malice.

The author of this passage was not rendering a philosophical treatise on the nature of the divine essence. The author was explaining to the readers that God does not want to destroy his creation but in justice he must pass judgment (Ezek. 18:23, Lam. 3:33-40, 2 Pet. 3:9).

By Fr. Charles Grondin


1 comment

  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    You just have to love how the Church cherry picks those passages that must be taken literally and those that were meant to be taken allegorically (like Gehenna – later translated to the pagan word “Hell”).
    The bible is pretty clear. God’s not omniscient or he would have know what was going to happen in the first place. He’s not all-good, as he committed the mythical act of mass genocide, destroying everyone including innocent women and children, not to mention all animal and plant life (without which those on the Ark would have starved). He’s not all-powerful, as he can be hurt, and this causes him grief and regret.
    Isn’t it interesting that passages that have to do with sex are taken literally. Homosexual relations are an “abomination” and of course the Church provides no leeway whatsoever for any “allegorical” interpretation of passages like that. They even insist on Mary’s virginity, when the original word was “alma” which means “young maiden” but this word was translated to “virgin” when the OT was translated to Greek, and it was the Greek version the author of Matthew was using when he made up the story. If the author of the passage in Isaiah had meant to use the word “virgin” he would have said “betulah.”
    You just can’t trust the Church when it comes to interpreting scriptures. You have to trust that you have the intellect to interpret them yourself, but that means you first have to read it all yourself. Many of you, like I was, will be surprised to find that the bible doesn’t say what the Church told us it said as kids.
    Note the admission that this story is allegorical. The Church knows there was no global flood, no six day creation, no mass exodus from Egypt and no conquest of Canaan, and though they deny it, they know there was no two-person DNA bottleneck ,which also eliminates the mythical Adam and Eve story, and with it any pretense of an “original sin.”

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