Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. For the past several days we have been examining some of the questions people have. Today we will look at two modern misconceptions about the flood.
Did the Ark come to rest on Mount Ararat? The answer to that question is “no!” Genesis 8:4 says that the Ark came to rest “upon the mountains of Ararat” which is not modern day Mount Ararat. This is of little interest except that the claims of some people that they found the Ark on modern-day Mount Ararat are clearly erroneous.
Was the Grand Canyon caused by the flood laying down strata and then carving the canyon by erosion? The answer to that question is also “no.” The rocks in the canyon are not of one deposition and are not flood strata. Floods leave a tangled mess of debris. The majority of rocks in the Grand Canyon are limestone which is a chemically precipitated rock. The limestone is interspersed with conglomerate, shale, desert deposits of sandstone, and some volcanic deposits. A flood would produce none of those except shale.
Do fossils in the Grand Canyon verify the flood? No, a flood produces a tangled mess of all kinds of remains of plants and animals. The rock layers in the Canyon have different animals at different layers. Each animal or plant grouping is a function of the environment in which they lived. That is not what a flood would do.
The question is not whether the flood happened, but rather what a flood would do and what remains from the flood. There are dozens of flood layers in the stratigraphy all over the American southwest, but which one might be related to Noah’s flood cannot be determined.
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. This week we have been examining some of the questions people ask. Today we will look at the question, “How extensive was the flood of Noah?”
Taking the Bible literally does not mean a superficial reading of the King James translation of the Bible. You have to look at who wrote it, to whom it was written, why it was written, and how the people to whom it was written would have understood it. The language of Genesis 6-8 certainly seems to indicate that the waters of the flood covered the whole globe.
Many times biblical passages sound like the event was global when it clearly was not. Luke 2:1-3 says “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed…” Was that the whole globe or the Roman world? Did Rome collect taxes from the Incas, the Hopi, or the Denali? The people of the time would have understood that to mean the entire Roman world. In Colossians 1:23 Paul says that the gospel of Christ “was preached to every creature which is under heaven.” I have visited with the native people at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and they have no record of the gospel ever having been preached to their ancestors there. Clearly, Paul was talking about the world that he knew.
The message of Genesis 6-8 is that humans discarded God and became corrupt to the point that God destroyed them by a flood. The one person who stayed faithful to God was a man named Noah who was warned that the event was coming. God gave him time to construct a way to save his family and the animals of his area. There is evidence to verify this that we have considered in this series of posts and which is available on our website.
How extensive was the flood of Noah? It ended the lives of all but the few people on the boat. The Bible tells us that a flood like that will not happen again. However, it also says that the Earth will be destroyed by a fire that melts the very elements of which we are all made ( 2 Peter 3:8-13).
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. This week we have been examining some of the questions people ask. Today we will look at the question, “Where did the water go after Noah’s flood?”
If the flood covered the whole Earth so that the highest mountain was under water by 15 cubits (Genesis 7:19-20), what happened to all that water? Genesis 8:1-3 says that “God made a wind to pass over the Earth” and stopped the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven. That indicates three methods of removing the water. If the fountains of the deep involved underground springs that gushed massive amounts of water, that water could be removed by flowing back into the caverns from which it came. If “the windows of heaven” indicates an extraterrestrial source, it is difficult to suggest any significant return. High winds which the Bible mentions would maximize evaporation, but there are some other factors to consider.
It is important to point out that nowhere in the Bible is there an indication that the waters were level. We will discuss the extent of the flood in our next post, but the known earth at the time of this event was a limited area. At the Straits of Gibraltar, there is a normal fault with the downthrown side to the west. At the base of that fault is a large waterfall gouge. The Glomar Challenger Oceanographic Research Vessel has documented what appears to be an opening of the Straits with the whole Atlantic Ocean having access to the Mediterranean Sea at a time in the past, which was a desert before the flood. It is reasonable to propose a model where hydrostatic pressure could drive water up the western shore of the Mediterranean which is of course where the biblical story takes place.
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. For the past two days, we have been examining some of the questions people ask. Today we will look at the question, “How could all those animals fit in Noah’s ark?”
The Bible gives the dimensions of the ark, and it indeed was huge, especially for that time. How do you get the 25 million or so species of animals on Earth today into that ship? The answer is that you couldn’t.
Genesis 6:20 lists the same groups that are described in Genesis 1. Those are (1) fowl, (2) cattle, (3) “creeping things,” and (4) fish. We pointed out in our lessons on evolution that the word “kind” in Hebrew is not the same as “species” in modern scientific terms. The word “kind” is the Hebrew word “min,” and the Bible tells us in both the Old and New Testaments that there are four kinds: the flesh of fish, the flesh of birds, the flesh of beasts, and the flesh of man. First Corinthians 15:39 identifies these four and Genesis 1 identifies them as well. The same groupings are used in Genesis 6 to describe what Noah took on the ark.
The Hebrew word “remes” is rendered as “creeping thing” in some translations of the Bible. “Sherets” is also translated creeping thing (see Leviticus 11). “Remes” was an animal the Jews could eat, but “sherets” was not. “Remes” clearly refers to goats and sheep – animals that could be eaten by the Jews. But “sherets” refers to things like snakes and lizards which they could not eat.
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. Yesterday we looked at the question of whether it really happened. Now let’s consider when did Noah’s flood happen?
People have suggested many dates for the flood. The instructions given to Noah indicate that fabricated metals had not yet been invented. Genesis 6:14 indicates that the ark was made of “gopher wood” and covered with pitch. We don’t know what gopher wood was, but some wood expands when it is wet, and pitch can be used as a waterproofing sealant. The planing of wood to make planks had not been invented yet, so the construction of the ark is doubly amazing and modern portrayals are wildly misleading.
The Bible doesn’t answer the question of “When did Noah’s flood happen.” All calculations must be based on many assumptions that may or may not be correct. Therefore, there is no way to date the flood accurately. The one thing we can say is that it was very early in human history.
The instructions God gave to Noah suggest that the flood event happened before the smelting of metals and machining of wood. The stone age is the label we have given this time period, and scientists call it the Neolithic period. Our modern calendars would put that age at around 10,000 years ago. Noah would have used the primitive tools available at that time.
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis 6–9. Atheists have portrayed it as a myth which came from ancient cultures but with no scientific support. Young earth proponents have used it to explain everything from the age of the earth to the geologic column to the origin of the races. In the next few days, we hope to provide some brief answers to questions people raise about the flood. To begin with, did Noah’s flood really happen?
There is massive evidence that the flood did happen. The fact that even skeptics point out that every culture has a flood account is strong support that it occurred. The flood stories of various cultures are remarkably similar although usually enhanced with local cultural flavoring. The Hawaiians have a giant canoe, the Denali in Alaska have a giant raft. But there is a global idea of a massive flood which only a few humans, who were warned in advance, escaped. To suggest that this was due to a myth being circulated among all cultures is difficult to support. Communication between these geographically separated cultures is not as likely as the fact that there was a common event.
The biblical description of the source of the water is “the fountains of the great deep” and the “windows of heaven” (Genesis 7:11). Two different Hebrew words can be translated “window.” The common window in your home is indicated by the Hebrew word “challon” and that word is used in Genesis 8:6 to refer to a window in the ark. The word used in Genesis 7:11 and 8:2 is “arubbah” which refers to an opening in heaven. (See Malachi 3:10 and 2 Kings 7:2.) The word “fountain” is the Hebrew “mayan” referring to a spring – an underground source of water. Massive underground pools of fresh water have been found all over the earth, and astronomical sources of water are also known. The fact that Genesis does not describe normal sources of water lends support to the notion that this was an unusual addition of water to the Earth.
It never ceases to amaze me how some skeptic attacks never seem to go away. One of the more bizarre has to do with Noah’s son Ham. Some atheists claim that the story of Ham was invented to justify the persecution of people of color and the use of slaves.
They base their attack on the story recorded in Genesis 9:20-29. After the flood of Noah, Ham discovered his father drunk and naked. Ham told about it, exposing his father to ridicule. Noah’s other sons, Shem and Japheth, discretely covered their father to avoid embarrassment. When Noah recovered his sobriety, he cursed Ham and blessed Shem and Japheth. Some skeptics claim that the name Ham means “dark or swarthy” and that this is an attack on people of color.
However you interpret the story of Ham, it has no relevance to Christianity. Jesus did away with all such boundaries. Passages like Galatians 3:28 make that clear by telling us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” It is highly unlikely that the intent of the name of Noah’s son Ham referred to skin color or that such characteristic would be passed on to all his progeny.