Q: Which is preferred, the local or the global flood theory for the Genesis flood? Featured

Monday, 12 February 2018 15:47

Question:

I would like to hear your thoughts in regards to the matter of Noah's Flood. In the past, I embraced the idea that the Flood was a global event and that the local flood view was unbiblical. However, after reading some articles by various Christians, I've come to approve of the local flood view. From what I have read on your website, it seems that you hold to the global flood view but don't see the local flood view as heretical. However, you seems to have issues with the local flood view, which I understand.  I have decided to send a link to an article that deals with the issue of Noah's flood as I think you will find it quite interesting. It is by James Rochford on his website: http://www.evidenceunseen.com. In his article, he examines the global and local flood viewpoints. He argues that the global flood view is unbiblical. He cites Psalm 104:9, and relies on the meaning of certain Hebrew words, and utilizes various evidences to support his view. What are your thoughts on the claims of these articles? 

 

Answer:

I hate to say this, but I am afraid that my actual personal position is somewhere between the local and global positions as they are described in the article by Rochford.   I definitely do NOT buy the use of Psalm 104:9 as proving the flood was not global.  “You set the boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth.”  This could just as easily be a statement that the whole earth WAS covered in the past as a statement that it NEVER HAS been covered.  This would be a rather obvious example of eisegesis (reading meaning into the text).  The same can be said for the other scriptural “proofs” that the flood was not global that I found in Rochford’s article.  Each of these amounts to a statement which could potentially be taken more than one way, being forced to specifically teach something which is debatable.  Those who say that a global flood is unbiblical are definitely wrong, in my opinion.  It may not be the correct view, but it is not disproved by the Bible.

My view is that a massive flood of the sort described in Genesis could not be strictly local.  Flood water cannot rise for 150 days to many meters in height without spreading to the neighboring areas—probably not without actually spreading across the globe.  Yet, I definitely buy some of the arguments used by the local flood advocates in claiming that the extent of the flood and its damage were not as all-encompassing as a strictly literal interpretation would imply.  To me, most likely the water fell over all the earth, affected the entire earth, bringing damage and destruction to the entire earth, yet obviously (obvious to me!) did not cover the earth to the top of Mt. Everest.  Many meters of water fell everywhere, all areas were affected (all were covered up to a depth of 20 feet, to use the NIV), but I do not believe that duck-billed platypuses waddled from Australia to Mesopotamia, or that they waddled back to Australia afterward, leaving none behind in the Middle East.  I believe that there was destruction everywhere, but there were also remnant survivors everywhere, as this flood was many meters, not many miles of water.  This explains the global accounts of a flood, including North and South America, where surely people still existed after the flood, as there is no evidence of these areas being repopulated after the flood from South Asia.

It is not that I am a conflict avoider or that I hate choosing between two opinions.  It is that, based on the biblical evidence and the historical evidence, I believe that a strictly local flood does not make sense, both because of the science of what happens to water, and because of the world-wide accounts.  I believe that the local flood people are probably correct in pointing out that a local flood is a POSSIBLE interpretation—allowable using reasonable interpretation of Hebrew literature and Jewish vocabulary, but I do not agree that it is the BEST interpretation.  I believe that the language of all and every and so forth is SO strong in the Genesis flood account, that this argues for (but does not prove) the flood did not merely affect Mesopotamia.  This is not my strongest argument, but it is a contributing argument.

On the other hand, I do not believe that water literally covered the entire earth miles deep, or that all animals everywhere else other than on the ark were destroyed.  This would be rather obviously not consistent with the scientific evidence.

I believe that my view, although not the normal one—in fact I am not sure I have seen it outlined anywhere, although I have not done a careful search on that—it does a reasonable job of not trying to minimize what the Bible says, which is that the judgment was on people generally, not just residents of Mesopotamia.  It explains the obvious problems, such as fitting “all” animals in the ark, requiring irrational travels, and extremely unlikely repopulations.  It also explains the fact that there are records of a world-wide flood in all parts of the earth.

So, to be specific, I believe that a miraculous event occurred.  It involved an amount of water that can only be explained as the result of a miracle.  There is no “natural” explanation of the flood, any more than there will be a natural explanation of the destruction of the earth when Jesus comes back.  It affected all parts of the earth.  Yet, the amount of rainfall was more in the tens of meters, or perhaps at most hundreds of meters of water, which had a massive effect on peoples and environments all over the earth.  Every kind of plant and animal was affected, but some humans and individuals of other animals survived this global judgment, scattered across the globe.

That is my view.

John Oakes
www.evidenceforchristianity.org

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