Does Noah’s Flood Explain Everything?
by Jack Hoehn
As I finish these 13 comments on the ORIGINS Sabbath School Lessons, there is a Young Earth Chronology “elephant in the room” that author Dr. James Gibson and his editor Clifford Goldstein have left relatively unexplored during these past 13 Sabbaths, and that is the key YEC concept of a single, massive, recent, worldwide Noah’s Flood.
Accounting for the huge number of fossils found across the world, including massive dinosaurs only 2,000 years from a perfect creation, requires of Young Earth Creationists a very large flood, very recently in history.
Young Earth Chronology doesn’t give much time to bury deep in the earth the worldwide coal formations from plant bogs, or the crude oil from massive amounts of dying diatoms and desmids—zooplankton that fuel our cars and trucks and many of our electric conveniences. Modern life is not possible without the fossil fuels so kindly prepared for us by past fossilization events.
I take it that avoiding of the flood issues in these lessons suggests that silence may be golden on a difficult-to-support aspect of YEC theory?
GC Theologian Decides the Flood was Global
But it appears that former General Conference official theologian, Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, unlike our more cautious scientists, doesn’t seem very concerned about the difficulties suggesting that the entire globe was uniformly covered by 22 feet of water above the tallest mountains. Elder Rodríguez recently tackled the flood with his theological points of view for the worldwide SDA audience of a recent Adventist World magazine. (1.)
Our world church membership is asked by our theologian to accept a 19th-century version of Noah’s Flood, instead of a more realistic and plausible version. There is a lot of evidence supporting the likelihood of a real Noah and a real flood event. Noah’s Flood is known to many ancient cultures, which all came through the Middle East during the migration of modern humans across this planet during the last 60,000 years. (5.)
DNA Supports a Male Genetic Bottleneck That Could be Noah
DNA genetic studies support a single “Eve” timed 10 or 40 thousand years older by genetic clocks than the single male (called “Adam,” but more likely a Noah) from whom all males have descended. This supports a genetic bottleneck where one man with three sons survives extinction, along with four unrelated females, whose ancestry can be traced back to an earlier female progenitor, an Eve.
Is God trying to reveal the truth to us through modern science? The same month that Ángel Rodríguez wrote his article, news organizations were promoting oceanographer Robert Ballard’s findings of evidence supporting the fact that there was a huge flood of biblical proportions in the Mesopotamian world. Science is supporting, not denying, the possibility of a real Noah and a real huge flood (3).
But instead of proudly claiming that good science now offers more evidence supporting the Bible our official church organ says, no, there had to be a Universal flood involving Australia, China, Greenland, South America, the Himalayas, Denali, Mt. Whitney, the North and South Poles, and 16,854-ft. Mount Ararat under 15 cubits (22.5 feet) of water at the same time?
Geology Supports a Local Noah Flood
Christian geologists point out that there is not enough water in the oceans and ice caps to accomplish that. And many, many areas show geological events not explicable by a one-year flood event. Of course there have been many floods many places, but not at the same time, and not simultaneously, but sequentially with large volcanoes and ice sculpturing events in-between. (6.)
What if our theologians instead of homing in only on the words, tenses, and genders of the Bible text while ignoring the physical realities in the world about them, could talk to our Adventist geologists and geographers about what is possible, and then restudy the Bible texts to understand what they might be telling us? What if biblical interpretation was given balance and credibility with balanced and credible scientific evidence? Why we might end up with a biblical understanding that was both inspiring and true! Imagine that!
The Dove Flew Over “All the Surface of the Earth” (Genesis 8:9)
Since the General Conference theologians make their arguments for a worldwide flood based not on physical evidence, but on Bible-interpretation arguments, let me offer biblical evidence of a localized flood, based on aerial reconnaissance.
We can easily accept that Noah’s Flood is no myth but describes real events happening to real people. The point of view in Genesis 7 then is that of Noah and his family. Everything within the range of human observation was covered with water, all the animals, and all the humans within their range of observation died.
The modern reader easily rushes to the conclusion that “everything under the heavens” (Genesis 7:19) means the entire round globe was covered with this huge flood. But the globe is not “under” the heavens; earth is in space, not under it. Only the part of the world an observer stands on was Noah’s world, “under the sky” the observer could see. “Under the entire sky” would mean as far as you could see, the earth from horizon to horizon was water covered.
“The face of the earth”; “Every Living Creature that I have made”; “Every wild animal”; “ all the high mountains” ; “every living thing on the face of the earth” – all these things are delineated as “under the entire sky.”
To know how big Noah’s earth was, and to know how big Noah’s flood was, and to know where every wild animal and every living thing on the surface of the earth, under the entire sky, was, we need to know how big Noah’s sky was? Did Noah’s sky run to Mt. Everest, and Denali, to Australia, and the Sahara?
Well happily the size of Noah’s earth and sky is described in the Bible, because Noah used a drone to measure it. In fact he had two separate aerial reconnaissance runs to check it out. He sent out a raven, and he sent out a dove. And the Bible clearly states the dove “could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth” (Genesis 8:8).
How Big Was “all the surface of the earth?”
As far as a dove could fly in one day.
A week later the dove went out again, and this time brought back a fresh olive leaf. Then the text says, “Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.” “The earth” is everything Noah could see, and everything that a dove could fly over in one day. “All the surface of the earth” was everything a dove could fly over in one day.
All the birds, all the creatures that move along the ground, everything that moves on the earth, was Noah’s earth. The earth as big or bigger than as far as Noah and his family could see—as far as a raven and a dove could fly in one day.
No one in Noah’s day, no one in Moses’ day, no one in the University of Egypt, no one in Canaan, or Sinai, and no one anywhere for 1,000 years would know that the earth was a globe. “The earth” to them meant the land under their feet, the land that ended at the ocean’s shore; their earth was a flat disc surrounded by oceans. All the earth, all the animals, all the people were all they could see, to the limits of their observation. As far as a raven could fly or a dove in one day, and perhaps much farther…but not necessarily Everest!
The Bible tells what a real Noah could have seen. The sky is above him. All the mountains that he can see in any direction are under it. All these mountains were covered with 15 cubits of water in one form or another. For a distance more than a bird could fly in one day.
The Bible simply does not say whether the flood covered the entire globe or not, for it knew nothing of a globe at that time.
Didn’t Noah’s Flood Cover the Whole Earth?
Perhaps it did. But you can’t use the Bible to prove it.
This is a wonderful question for earth sciences to study. Floods leave evidences. Check it out, and decide, based on the scientific evidence. (3.) (4.)
You can argue that the Flood was real from the Bible, but you can’t argue about its extent beyond Noah’s world from the Bible. Careful interpreters of the Bible have recognized the ordinariness of God’s descriptions of the created world. John Calvin on Genesis 1:14 said:
“It must be remembered that Moses does not speak with scientific acuteness on secret mysteries, but relates those things which are everywhere observed, even by the uncultivated, and which are in common use.”
God was not providing the Israelites with technical information about planetary relationships, the shape of the globe, or the extent of Noah’s Flood. Inspiration spared the Israelites from technical details they did not need to know and would not understand.
As we study how the Creator made the earth, when the Creator created, and how long His Days were; as we study what the extent of Noah’s flood was and how much or how little of earth’s geology, fossils, and crude oil it explains, let us remember this wise counsel of the mature Ellen White: (Ministry of Healing, 483)
“Every association of life calls for the exercise of self-control, forbearance, and sympathy. We differ so widely in disposition, habits, education, that our ways of looking at things vary. We judge differently. Our understanding of truth, our ideas in regard to the conduct of life, are not in all respects the same… So frail, so ignorant, so liable to misconception is human nature, that each should be careful in the estimate he places upon another.”
ONLINE SOURCE FOOTNOTES:
1. Ángel Rodríguez article: http://www.adventistworld.org/article/1373/resources/english/issue-2012-1012/a-universal-flood
2. Robert Ballard News: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/evidence-suggests-biblical-great-flood-noahs-time-happened/story?id=17884533" http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/evidence-suggests-biblical-great-flood-noahs-time-happened/story?id=17884533
3. Eden and Noah’s Flood in Persian Gulf?: http://www.reasons.org/articles/lost-civilization-beneath-the-persian-gulf-confirms-genesis-history-of-humanity
4. Noah’s Flood in Black Sea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_deluge_hypothesis
5. Human Cultures All Migrating Through Noah’s Earth: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/07/genographic200707#
6. Other Christian Arguments for Local Noah’s Flood: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/localflood.html