Noah’s Flood

By Will Barlow

Noah’s Flood

• Considerations
• Global or local?
• Evidence for Noah’s Flood
• Implications of Noah’s Flood

Considerations

• Rain before the flood?
• Plate tectonics and evolution
• Scope and evolution
• How big was the ark?

Rain before Noah’s flood?

Many have taught that, before Noah’s flood, there was no rain:

Genesis 2:5-6   When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up--for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground--

Scholar Mark Futato suggests that “mist” should be translated as “rain.”

• In the context, there are two “problems”

• No rain
• No man to till the ground

• Thus, “mist” could equal “rain”

Reasons why “mist” could be better:

• If you hold late tectonic shift, mist would be required (“land” singular in Genesis 1:10)
• The sign of the rainbow — the rainbow is only physically possible with rain
• Possibly rain kicked off the modern water cycle - this answers the objection “where did the water go?”

Plate Tectonics and evolution

What we believe about plate tectonics impacts our view on evolution and the extent of Noah’s flood

• A small minority has proposed a more recent tectonic shift, which could account for mountain building after Noah’s flood
• The flip side is that there would likely be a need for fast evolution in this view

Scope and evolution

What we believe about the scope of Noah’s flood also impacts our view on evolution

• Localized flood proponents can handle the scientific side with much more ease
• Global flood proponents have some difficulties, including a potential need for fast evolution

How big was the ark?

Genesis 6:15-16   This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks.

Depending on how you reckon a cubit, that translates to 450 - 510 feet long.
John Whitcomb and Henry Morris estimate that the ark would have held the equivalent of 522 railcars.

They then go on to estimate that 1 such railcar could hold 240 sheep.

Global or local?

This is perhaps the most important question we can ask about Noah’s flood.

Global — impacted life around the world

Local — impacted all human life (all dwelling in Mesopotamia) but not all life

Arguments for a local flood:

Psalms 104:9   You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.

If God set a boundary to the waters in Genesis 1, then how could Noah’s flood have been global?

“Land” in Genesis 6-7 refers to the land of Mesopotamia, and even more specifically, to the inhabitants of the land.

Genesis 7:20 (KJV)   Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains [hills] were covered.

Genesis 7:20   The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.

To get around the language in the Bible that seems to state that all humans died in Noah’s flood (other than Noah and his family), some local flood proponents say that all humans lived in Mesopotamia when this flood took place.

There is evidence of a Mesopotamian flood around 5,000 years ago.

Arguments for a global flood:

Genesis 6:17   For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.

Genesis 7:19, 21   And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered.

And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind.

• Has anyone heard of a localized flood that lasted 40 days and 40 nights that kept a boat floating for around a year?
• Why wouldn’t the people of Mesopotamia just flee the area when the rain started?

Genesis 9:11   I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."

Luke 17:27   They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

Evidence for Noah’s Flood

One of the strongest pieces of evidence for Noah’s flood is found in the historical record — basically every ancient civilization has a flood story.

“Scores and even hundreds of such traditions have been found in every part of the world, in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres; and common to most of them is the recollection of a great flood which once covered the earth and destroyed all but a tiny remnant of the human race.”

“Many of them, even those who have been found among the American Indians, tell of the building of a great ark which saved human and animal seed from total destruction by the Flood and which finally landed on a mountain.”
— John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, page 48.

Geological evidence for Noah’s Flood:

• Seamounts - old islands that have now been submerged by water
• Submarine canyons

Implications of Noah’s Flood

How could Noah’s Flood impact life on the planet?

• Increase amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and decrease oxygen - this could explain the change in the length of life of people from before Noah’s Flood to after

• Change in atmospheric pressure could impact longevity as well

How did the humans, animals, and plants travel to their current locations?

• Land bridges
• Floating on air
• Recent tectonic separation

“In the year 1883, the island of Krakatoa in the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra, was almost destroyed by a volcanic explosion that shook that entire part of the world. For twenty-five years practically nothing lived in the remnant of that volcanic island.”

“But ‘then then colonists began to arrive—a few mammals in 1908; a number of birds, lizards, and snakes; various mollusks, insects, and earthworms. Ninety percent of Krakatoa’s new inhabitants… were forms that could have arrived by air.’”
— John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, pages 84-85.

Conclusion

There are a lot of things to consider in dealing with Noah’s Flood.
Take time to read the account and the references later in Scripture. Determine your perspective on global vs. local.
There are many ways to interpret the scientific evidence. However, the historical evidence is clear: there was an ancient, massive flood.

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