The Biblical Flood – Was It Worldwide?
Of all things in the Bible, the flood of Noah is often regarded as the most ridiculous and impossible to believe. It is often asserted that the Biblical deluge is simply a severe but local flood exaggerated to legendary proportions. However, when we actually look at the text in Genesis chapters 6-9 we find that every aspect of the text addresses the worldwide scope of the flood. In 6:1- 7:5 the Lord says exactly what He is going to do and why and gives Noah corresponding instructions. In 6:17 (emphasis added) we find God saying,
Gen 6:17 NASU
“Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish.
This destruction is nearly all-inclusive, and it is given from the Lord’s viewpoint, not man’s. God does state some limitations: the action was to include only those that had flesh, and breath, and were on earth (or land), that is under heaven. All such were to perish. From verses 7:6 to 8:20, we have an unidentified but all seeing narrator describing the events of the flood process that the Lord promised. In verses 7:19 – 24 we find another example of the kind of all-inclusive language the Lord God used (bold emphasis added):
Gen 7:19-24 NASU
19 The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountainseverywhere under the heavens were covered. 20 The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.
21 All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and everyswarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. 24 The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.
This passage describing the flood itself from God’s perspective makes the worldwide scope of the flood and God’s judgment unmistakable.
Not only is the local flood assertion contrary to the many specific claims of the narrative but it is also contrary to the basic themes involved. If the flood was merely local, no ark would be needed because man and animals could simply be told to migrate temporarily to surrounding areas, or alternately, the men and animals from surrounding areas could easily repopulate the area after the flood. Also, God’s promise to never destroy the earth with such a flood again would make no sense because there have been very many large and devastating but local floods since that time.
A problem for the conventional sciences is that a worldwide flood is not reflected in some particular strata of the geologic column. Also, there is little similarity in the order of events of the Creation and Flood and the events of historical geology and evolution. Moreover, there is nothing in common with these time scales. The foundational difference is that the Bible gives a dominate role to supernatural acts of creation in the beginning and later, some major supernaturally initiated interventions such as the Flood. In contrast, standard historical geology and evolution deny any supernatural role at all and presume that uniform natural processes, similar to those being observed today, must explain all things.
YECs assert that much of the strata above the worldwide discontinuity in strata called the Great Unconformity are Flood strata. The water of the flood mostly came from the oceans. The complex flooding sequence was driven by the ‘fountains of the great deep’, which alludes to eruptions on the ocean floor. One possibility is that these eruptions may have been caused by a concept known as catastrophic plate tectonics (CPT). Thus, the Flood is a complex of events nothing like floods we observe in the world today. Therefore, the conflict comes from the assumptions we make about past and processes that brought the past events about. Of course, the object of science is to develop a system of analysis that can explain all of the observable physical evidence. When all of the evidence is considered, the conventional wisdom is far from achieving this goal. Other articles in this series will point out many of the shortcomings.
The YEC’s goal is to explain all of the available evidence, and to do so in ways consistent with God’s Word. Nevertheless, much progress has been made in the last couple of decades and much more can be expected as YEC institutions develop research projects staffed by multidisciplinary teams of professional scientists. An excellent example is the RATE (radioisotopes and the age of the earth) research project, which has produced two strong lines of isotopic evidence that indicates the entire geologic column is quite young. It seems the only way to tie this evidence with isotopic evidence seeming to demand long ages of slow decay is some kind of process of accelerated isotopic decay in the past. Other areas of great promise are CPT and the new cosmologies that include a distinct center. These and other research efforts are detailed in other articles in this series and we encourage you to check on new progress periodically. YECs look forward to future developments with enthusiasm.
Also, see the following articles with related information: