Board index Noah's Ark & the Flood

Hard questions about Noah's Flood

Postby Skin is In » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:30 pm

i’ve been studying the bible seriously for about 2-3 years, and i have gone to christian school for all my life, but only recently i’ve been really analyzing everything about the religion. But the biggest problem i’ve had that makes the bible feel like a fairytale is the story of Noah’s Ark. the bible is supposed to be inerrant and infallible, but looking at the story from a non biblical point of view seems very unrealistic and impossible, and i was wondering if it is true. Is there any geological that we can prove today and is it even possible to have all the animals (about 6000-12000 according to the bible) and feed all of them, and also many animals are carnivores, herbivores, or have special diets such as pandas and bamboo and if it really flooded the whole earth with freshwater from the sky, wouldn’t that cause the salt water from the ocean and the freshwater to merge and make it uninhabitable for both saltwater fish and freshwater fish. please help
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Re: Hard questions about Noah's Flood

Postby jimwalton » Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:03 pm

There is presently no archaeological or geological evidence of a global flood, but I don't believe the Flood was global anyway. It doesn't have to be global to conform to what the Bible says. Akkadian texts estimate the land surface of the "whole earth" to be equivalent to a diameter of about 3,000 miles: southern Turkey to southeast Iran, deep in Egypt, and west into the Mediterranean. That's what they considered to be "the whole earth" and "all life under the heavens." It's simply impossible that it was global on many counts, one being the number of species of animals on the whole planet. (There are many many many more reasons and insurmountable evidences why this cataclysm is not even possibly global.) Plus the fossil record shows an abundant animal population with no evidence of sudden destruction. There are many scientific reasons not to believe in a global flood.

But I don't think the biblical record requires one. Let's talk about the "every" and "all" stuff. In Deuteronomy 2.25 (traditionally written by the same author), the Lord says, "I will put the terror and fear of you on al the nations under heaven." Few, if anyone, would argue that this refers to anything other than the nations of Canaan and perhaps a few others. I don't think the Native Americans were trembling. That's not what it means, nor what was expressed by it. In Genesis 41.57, Joseph opens the storehouses of Egypt, and "all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain... because the famine was severe in all the world." I do not know of anyone who contends that therefore the Eskimos must have been included. We need to understand words the way they intended them, not what seem to us on a shallow reading. Words have nuances and contexts that must be taken into consideration.

What about "covering the mountains"? Well, Numbers 22.11 says "a people so vast they covered the land." Prov. 24.31 speaks of weeds covering the land. 1 Ki. 1.1 talks about clothing covering someone, and something can even be covered in the sense of being overshadowed (2 Chr. 5.8). So "covered" can certainly be used with different nuances and senses. But what about covering with water? In Job. 38.34, Jer. 46.8, and Mal. 2.13, covering with water is used figuratively. If we were to take this in the the same way, it suggests that the mountains were drenched with water or coursing with flash floods, but it does not demand that they were totally submerged under water. One can certainly argue that the context does not favor this latter usage, and I am not inclined to adopt it. The point is that it is not as easy as sometimes imagined to claim that the Bible demands that all the mountains were submerged.

But in Gn. 7.20 in says the waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than 20'. But remember that "covered" can mean different things. It can mean "above"; it can mean "upward" or "upstream." If this were the case in Genesis, it could suggest that the water reached 15 cubits upward from the plain, covering at least some part of the mountains.

In 8.5 it says "the waters continued to recede until ... the tops of the mountains became visible." But the Mesopotamians didn't consider the mountains at the fringes of the world to be part of their geography. These mountains were the places of the gods and would be impervious to floodwaters sent by the gods. The local mountains are what are inundated, and the ark drifts to rest against the foothills of Ararat.

I hope you understand. Linguistic, archaeological, and scientific discoveries have motivated a far more realistic understanding of what happened there, hopefully setting aside drastic notions of a global flood. I'm not twisting reality to fit; I'm adjusting perspective to fit reality. It's a good biblical and scientific mindset. The scope of the flood is the scope of Noah's worldview. The words are to be interpreted in his cultural and linguistic understanding. As you can see, it becomes a real problem as it comes into English, because people just read it shallowly and simple verbatim rather than in nuance and perspective. It's an understanding of a matter of speaking. In Romans 1.8, Paul said that the faith of the Roman Christians "is being reported all over the world." This isn't rocket science. He's talking about "the whole world" as "the Roman Empire." It's not a twist; it's a reasonable understanding. A person of reason shifts their understanding to the weight of evidence, which is what I feel I have done.

Whatever the flood was, it wasn't global. I could give you about 20 scientific reasons off the top of my head as to how that's impossible. Being scientifically and linguistically minded, then, I search for better answers and a deeper understanding. I consider that to be responsible, not absurd or cheating. Maybe it was something like the Straight of Gibraltar giving way and the Atlantic Ocean submerging massive amounts of land. Maybe it was something akin to the Black Sea deluge that submerged thousands of square miles of land. Whatever it was, it accomplished its goal. Justice was served, Noah and the animals of the region were spared, and civilization continued on.


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