The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

GeoScriptures — Genesis 6-9 — Reading the account of Noah’s (local) flood

Some scholars within Christianity insist that the only way to understand the account of Noah’s flood in Genesis 6-9 is that it describes a worldwide flood, which at its climax covered even the highest mountains on the planet. They point to apparently universal statements in the passage, such as where it says that the flood covered all the earth, or that the mountains themselves were covered by the floodwaters.

But is that what the Bible really says to us about the extent of Noah’s flood?

The Hebrew text of Genesis is considerably more ambiguous than are our English translations, as the vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew is not as precise as that of modern English. In English, for example, we distinguish between “hill” and “mountain,” whereas in Hebrew the same word can mean either hill or mountain. The translator has to make a decision how to translate the word, often based on the context. Sometimes the context makes it clear how to translate an ambiguous term; in other cases it is not so obvious.

There are three ambiguous words in the flood story that I would like to highlight.

  • The word traditionally translated as “earth” could be just as legitimately translated as “land.”
  • The word traditionally translated as “mountains” could be just as legitimately translated as “hills.”
  • The word traditionally translated as “heavens” could be just as legitimately translated as “sky.”

Making perfectly valid substitutions, Genesis 6:17 changes from

I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. (NIV)

to

I am going to bring floodwaters on the land to destroy all life under the sky, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on the land will perish.

When reading the text with these modifications, the account of Noah’s flood sounds considerably less like a global cataclysm, and more like a flood that was vast from Noah’s perspective, but still possibly of a limited geographic extent.

I encourage you to read the passage with these substitutions in mind. In the parallel translations below, I have highlighted the changes, and made one other change based on the NIV footnote to 7:20. The NIV text of 7:20 reads

The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits.

The NIV footnote says that the verse could also be translated as

The waters rose more than fifteen cubits, and the mountains were covered. [And one could substitute “hills” for “mountains”]

The first translation makes it sound like the highest mountain on Earth was covered by at least 15 cubits (about the draft of the Ark), whereas the second translation says that the water was at least 15 cubits deep. Either translation works fine in the context of a local flood; all it is saying is that the Ark did not scrape bottom during the flood.

Here is the alternative translation of the flood account in Genesis, with the modified translation on the left, and the unmodified NIV to the right.

New International Version, with valid translation substitutions in bold

6:1 When human beings began to increase in number on the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

4 The Nephilim were on the land in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the land, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the land, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the land the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

9 This is the account of Noah and his family.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

11 Now the land was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the land had become, for all the people on the land had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the land is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the land. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the land to destroy all life under the sky, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on the land will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

7:1 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the land. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the land every living creature I have made.”

5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the land. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the land.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. 12 And rain fell on the land forty days and forty nights.

13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the land, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the land. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the land, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the land, and all the high hills under the entire sky were covered. 20 The waters rose more than fifteen cubits, and the hills were covered. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the land, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the land was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the land. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

24 The waters flooded the land for a hundred and fifty days.

8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the land, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the sky had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the land. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the hills of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the hills became visible.

6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the land. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the land; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the land. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the land. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the land was completely dry.

15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the land and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 “As long as the land endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the land. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the land, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.

7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the land and increase upon it.”

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on the land. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the land.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the land. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the land and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the land.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the land.”

New International Version (2011), without modifications

6:1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

9 This is the account of Noah and his family.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

7:1 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.

7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Conclusion: Genesis 6-9 is ambiguous as to whether the flood covered all of the Earth, or was limited to a smaller area.

Grace and peace

——————————————————————————–

Notes

The 2011 NIV text for Genesis 6:1 to 9:17 is from BibleGateway.com.

The Hebrew word that can be translated either as “earth” or “land” is ‘erets. According to Unger and White, ” ‘Erets does not only denote the entire terrestrial planet, but is also used of some of the earth’s component parts. English words like land, country, ground, and soil, transfer its meaning to our language. Quite frequently, it refers to an area occupied by a nation or tribe.” (from Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament entry for “Earth”)

The Hebrew word that can be translated either as “heavens” or “sky” is shamayim. Unger and White (in their entry for “Heavens”) state that “shamayim is the usual Hebrew word for the ‘sky’ and the ‘realm of the sky.’ This realm is where birds fly.” They go on to list other meanings of shamayim, such as the higher atmosphere where rain and snow come from, the realm of the sun, moon, and stars; and the dwelling place of God. The combination “heavens and the earth” in Genesis 1:1 refers to the entirety of creation.

The Hebrew word that can be translated either as “mountains” or “hills” is har. Henry Morris, in The Genesis Record (p. 200) states that ” ‘hills’ and ‘mountains’ are the same word in the original.”

There is more to a Biblical case for a local flood that just these minor translation changes.

I have written previously about making these modifications to the Flood passage of Genesis: The YEC “Did God really say…?” tactic.

My alternative translation given here is only a thought-provoker. I am not saying that each and every instance of ‘erets in the passage should be translated as “land” rather than “earth,” and so forth.

May 19, 2013 - Posted by | Creation in the Bible, GeoScriptures | ,

19 Comments »

  1. A Facebook friend of mine (Jason) asked,

    Hey, Kevin. I’m certainly not a Hebrew scholar, but one thing confuses me about making the changes you suggest? Why make a Covenant after, and what did that Covenant really comprise? There certainly have been some pretty massive floods in the past 6000 years.

    Is the argument that the Earth was so sparsely populated at the time that literally everything did die, and so now a similar flood wouldn’t achieve the same results?

    As always, thanks for the indulgence!

    My response was,

    Jason — Great question. I think part of the answer is that covenants in the Bible are usually made with an individual who acts as a representative of a larger group. For example, God made covenants with Abraham, which extended to his descendants, and led to blessings for the entire Earth.

    In Genesis 9, God made a covenant with Noah, his family, and the animals that had been on the Ark. They acted as representives of all Noah’s descendants, as well as all animals on the Earth. Floods that have occurred since that time have not been judgmental, nor have they been on the same scale as what happened in Genesis 6-9. The flood of Noah’s day did not have to be worldwide for this to be true.

    Some old-Earth, local flood advocates, such as Hugh Ross, believe that humans had not migrated beyond the flooded area, and so all humans (but not all animals) were killed by the flood, except for those on the Ark. Other local flood advocates believe that the flood only affected those descendants of Adam (or descendants of Seth) who were part of the covenant story as it had unfolded so far. The table of Nations in Genesis 10 hints that the whole story had been only about nations of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterannean. I don’t know the answer on this one.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | May 19, 2013

  2. Humans at that time were present on 6 continents, I would imagine that this is a local event.

    Like

    Comment by Lisa Keith-Lucas | May 19, 2013

  3. Kevin’s use of the word LAND instead of the word EARTH is biblical and correct. But what is hardly known or accepted is that the same LAND appeared from under the waters of a global ocean (Gen.1:10) on the third day of the Genesis account and the very same LAND was flooded completely in Noah’s Flood in Gen.7:17 and the same LAND was divided into continents in Gen.10:25. This means that the LAND in Gen.1:10 was in fact a low lying super continent with numerous hills but prone to flooding from the ocean. The word Heaven is defined in the bible in Gen.1;6 and it refers to something even fewer people understand which was the FIRMAMENT. This was a hemispherical yet global dome of ice that was created in Day 2 of the Genesis account in Gen.1:7. YEC’s tend to explain the firmament as a vapour canopy and OECs tend to dismiss the firmament altogether as being the sky or atmosphere but the Bible refers to the breaks in the Firmament in Noah’s flood as the ‘windows of heaven’ I am not a YEC in that I believe the facts uncovered by geological sciences over the last few hundred years are true and verifiable. The Earth is undoubtedly very very old but this current generation of life only began about six to ten thousand years and only hundreds or thousands of AFTER the Earth was destroyed by a flood similar to Noah’s was was far more severe in that the Sun was also affected and the flood waters froze. (Gen.1:6). The remnant of this frozen water became the Firmament- and this melted away and came down as massive slabs of ice at about the same time as the LAND was divided into the present continents we have on the Earth today. I accept that all this will be too much for both YECs and OECs but it is what the Bible is telling me and Kevin has prompted me to share this. Blessings

    Like

    Comment by Leander | May 20, 2013

  4. For the record – Which Bible translation uses the suggested changes?

    Like

    Comment by Marsha Arnold | May 21, 2013

  5. Hi Marsha,

    No major English translation uses the changes, but all Hebrew scholars—young-Earth or old-Earth—agree that the three terms are ambiguous. Young-Earth scholars claim that the context demands earth, heavens and mountains, while many old-Earth scholars believe that the context is not all that clear, and that the main reason it isn’t land, sky and hills instead is tradition. That’s the way it has always been translated, so it must be true.

    The modification to Genesis 7:20 is in the NIV footnotes. The Orthodox Jewish Bible translates this verse as “Fifteen cubits upward did the waters rise; and the harim [hills or mountains] were covered,” which is consistent with the NIV footnote.

    Just an aside — all senior pastors I’ve had in the Evangelical Free Churches over a span of 28 years have been either open to or have openly advocated an old Earth. The same is true in the Presbyterian Church in America church we are members of now. These pastors do not advocate an old Earth because they have “caved in to science” as some young-Earth leaders want us to believe. They have studied the Scriptures, in some cases very deeply, and have concluded that Genesis does not require the young-Earth interpretation.

    [5/22 — Oops. I had a EFCA pastor in Colorado who was an ardent young-Earther. The associate pastor was neither here nor there.]

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | May 21, 2013

  6. This YEC sees no reasonable reason to not understand the flood story as it was meant to be understood by the earliest audiences.
    Only the ark collected man and beast because otherwise they would perish off the earth.
    Thats a simple idea. If local then five counties over would of saved the bother. God knew the earth was full of creatures. Why take birds?
    If one beliecves the bible one must see the flood as a world event meant to destroy all life off the dry land.
    The evidence of nature shows the world was covered by water everywhere anbd this is the origin of the sedimentary rock below the k-pg line.
    All dinos ever found were killed in the first days/week of the flood.
    It all makes sense. local flood doesn’t wash.

    Like

    Comment by Robert Byers | May 22, 2013

  7. “If one beliecves the bible one must see the flood as a world event…” [sic]

    I believe the Bible and don’t see the flood as a world event. 60-70% of Christians in the world don’t see the Flood as a world event. I suggest that only to a YEC must one believe in a global Flood if one “believes the Bible”. It’s sort of like a hard-core Calvinist saying one must believe in Predestination if one believes the Bible, or a Baptist saying one must believe in immersion Baptism if one believes the Bible. It is taking a secondary (or tertiary or quaternary) idea from the Bible and elevating it to where anyone who disagrees “must not believe the Bible.”

    Ken Ham and most of the rest of the YEC groups do this constantly, even going so far as equating people who disagree with YEC to worshippers of Baal. It is a wrong-headed (at best) thing to do.

    Let’s look at a couple of your lines.

    “If local [flood] then five counties over would of saved the bother. God knew the earth was full of creatures. Why take birds?”

    Because God was making a sign and warning. Signs that God is sovereign, and the people of the area were practicing great sins against Him, and everyone around should see the warning. We see God doing this constantly throughout the OT. A local flood fits perfectly with the things we see throughout the Bible – God warning people through signs and punishments, but always saving those who honor Him. Wiping out everything on the entire globe is quite a bit OUT of character with God’s actions as evidenced and stated throughout the Bible.

    “The evidence of nature shows the world was covered by water everywhere anbd this is the origin of the sedimentary rock below the k-pg line.”

    Not even remotely true, and YEC groups do NOT universally declare the K-PG boundary as the end of the Flood. Evidence does NOT show the world was covered by water everywhere. There are deserts, extensive tracks and numerous nests, intact surface biomes, fully-developed reefs, developed river system remnants, and a hundred other things in those “Flood” layers that couldn’t possible exist during a Flood. Not only that, but many YEC Flood theorists are moving away from the K-Pg boundary being the demarcation of the end of the Flood and moving toward the Paleozoic being the end of the Flood. (WAY below the K-Pg boundary)

    The K-Pg boundary as the end of the Flood is an idea that, from what I can tell, is on its way out among YEC researchers. I can see why they do this, because the K-Pg boundary being the Flood dramatically doesn’t work with evidence, and they can get around some of the problems by having the Flood end earlier. I think they still have major problems, because they’re stacking up more and more “stuff” that needs to happen in the three hundred years (as they count it) between the end of the Flood and Abraham.

    “All dinos ever found were killed in the first days/week of the flood.”
    This one is so far outside the current YEC views of the Flood and dinosaur extinction that I’m not even going to touch it since it’s apparently your own invention (or gotten from some tiny YEC group). All the major YEC groups disagree with you here. I’ll leave it at that.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | May 24, 2013

  8. I would ask how this relates to this passage in the Bible – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20peter%203:17%20-%2023&version=NIV
    1 Peter 3:17-22

    New International Version (NIV)

    17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive,[a] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.[b] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

    To me – if you start changing mountains to hills – and worldwide to local – than you will have problems throughout the other passages.

    And – Here is a question to ponder – Would you say you believe in Absolute Truth? (hint this is a formula-not mine)

    … If you say” yes” than read no need to read further

    … If you say “no” then ponder this –

    Would you say the phrase “There is no such thing as Absolute Truth” is a reasonable statement….

    If you say “yes” –

    then do you belleve it is true alll the time or sometimes?

    If you say “All the time” then do you mean “Absolutely, all the time”?

    … but you don’t believe in Absolute Truth …. so try again …..

    Do you believe that the phrase “there is no absolute Truth” is true sometimes?…

    then if it is not true all the time then sometimes you would say “Sometimes I do not believe the statement – there is no such thing as Absolute Truth” which then ceates a double negative so it cancels itself….

    and that leaves you believe that it has to be true absolutely all the time that there is no absolute truth

    …..which means that it is and that proves ….. there is absolute Truth!!

    Like

    Comment by Marsha Arnold | May 27, 2013

  9. Marsha,

    1 Peter 3:20 does not say anything one way or another about whether the flood covered the entire globe. It simply says that eight people were saved from the flood in the ark. It doesn’t even directly say that all other humans were destroyed by the flood; one would have to go elsewhere in Scripture to support that position.

    What the passage you quoted from 1 Peter 3 shows us is how Noah’s flood is a picture of judgment towards those who disobey, and of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ for those who trust in him. For this purpose, it is irrelevant whether the flood covered the entire Earth and was responsible for all of the fossil-bearing layers of Earth’s crust.

    And of course I believe in God’s absolute truth.

    One of my objectives here on The GeoChristian blog is to demonstrate to the Evangelical community that there are other ways to read the introductory chapters of Genesis than what is presented as “absolute truth” by the young-Earth creationists. I don’t claim to be presenting anything original in terms of biblical interpretation; my ideas come from theologically conservative biblical scholars. Much of what is presented by the YECs goes far beyond what is written in the Bible, but they hold their interpretation forth as the only true way to read God’s word, and hold all others in disdain. This is divisive and tragic.

    Kevin

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | May 27, 2013

  10. Webmonk
    i didn’t mean one must believe in the world flood to be a bible believer. I’m not one who says that or thinks that. i was, poorly put, saying one is forced to believe in the global flood by what the bible says. i mean this as a aggresive intellectual point. I’ll watch my words.

    I understand at least 70% of the planet, dry land, is covered by sedimentary rock. This means it was placed by water moving sediment before turned to rock. The rest is areas defined by being shattered. tHerefore the sed rock was knocked off later or prevented from being laid.
    therefore the whole planet shows it was covered by water. They say it too by divid it up in time.
    i do insist that the k-pg line is the flood line by the observation of the fossils.
    i find it works fine. I know YEC thinkers differ on this. fossils should be the great clue and then how powerful the rock layers needed to be deposited. After the flood there was less power from events.

    I mean by the dino thing that all dinos ever found in fossil were killed in the first days/week of the flood.
    I think YEC folks say this. there was no way to fossilize them after the flood until several centuries by which time they were gone and it was the mammal world we live in.
    I am certain every dino ever found lost his life while Noah was newly on the ark.

    Like

    Comment by Robert Byers | May 27, 2013

  11. I am not arguing your logic or your salvation – I would just say the Mr Ham teaches that the Bible read literally shows a young earth – he quotes many of those famous Christians that disagree with him and lets his audience decide – If you don’t have time to listen in it’s entirety then start at the intro and then proceed to the 44 min mark of this you tube video on how the earth was made from Ken Ham. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dHyVU6Gv0s

    Like

    Comment by Marsha Arnold | June 3, 2013

  12. Robert, like I said – feel free to generate your own theories, but I’m not going to bother dealing with them since your own YEC people vehemently disagree with you. Apparently you are completely unfamiliar with YEC theories of how the Flood happened and how animals died in it.

    People can make up a billion different theories, and people could try to answer them all individually, or we can point out that your OWN group of YECs, the experts in YEC theory, specifically disagrees with you.

    They very, very specifically state that animals died at different times all around the world across the entire year of the Flood, and that even very late in the Flood there were still animals walking around, leaving tracks.

    Go disagree with your own experts. Go tell Dr. Snelling, and Paul Garner, and the other YEC geological experts that all their ideas are wrong, but that you have the accurate knowledge of what happened. I’m sure they would be delighted to be enlightened by your knowledge.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | June 4, 2013

  13. I know you Kevin are a very intelligent scientist, and know that you want to defend your faith in Christ I know you are gifted and that your heart is in your work, and this passage is not pointed at you – but here is another passage that you would need to reconcile. . – 2 Peter 3:3-6
    New International Version (NIV)

    3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

    Like

    Comment by Marsha Arnold | June 14, 2013

  14. Hi Marsha,

    I watched a bit of Ken Ham’s video as you suggested in comment #11.

    One of Ken’s basic problems is his false dichotomy of God’s perfect Word vs. man’s fallible opinions.

    God’s Word is trustworthy. For example, it accurately records events that really happened. But sometimes we correctly understand it, and sometimes we don’t. The diversity of opinions on biblical and theological matters among Christians is clear evidence that most of us probably get parts of the Bible wrong.

    Science also examines truth. For example, something really happened that formed an iridium-rich layer that marks the upper limit at which we find dinosaur fossils in the rock record. Geoscientists, for a number of reasons, interpret this as evidence of an asteroid impact. Could the geoscientists be wrong? Yes. But that doesn’t change the fact that something really happened (absolute truth).

    As I’ve written before:

    Fallible people misunderstand God’s Word.

    Fallible people misunderstand God’s world.

    Therefore great humility is required as we study the Word and the world,

    and great humility is required as we interact with those with whom we disagree.

    Ken Ham only gets part of this right.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | June 14, 2013

  15. Marsha,

    In regards to 2 Peter 3:3-6 (comment #13):

    verse 3 — Scoffers will scoff whether Christians believe in an old Earth or young Earth, global flood or local flood. It is in their nature to scoff.

    verse 4 — What Peter is telling us is that scoffers mock the idea that God intervenes in the creation; they believe that God is unnecessary. They will scoff at Christians’ beliefs about creation and Christ’s incarnation, resurrection, and second coming whether Christians believe in an old Earth or young Earth.

    verse 5 — Old Earth Christians believe that God created the heavens and the Earth. Like many biblical scholars, I don’t know exactly what “out of water and by water” means, but young-Earthers don’t know either, though some of them speculate that God could have created a universe that was entirely water, and then he transformed this into all other substances.

    verse 6 — I believe that Noah’s flood really happened. I also believe that it was local rather than global. This verse could be one more biblical example of when “all the earth” doesn’t mean “all the earth” (and in a majority of instances in the Bible, “all the earth” is figurative). Certainly the world of Noah and his contemporaries came to an end, but that doesn’t mean the floodwaters covered the entire sphere of the planet.

    Scoffers will scoff and mockers will mock. The young-Earth creationist movement, despite their good intentions and because of their history of using bad arguments, has just given the scoffers an easy target to mock.

    I hope this helps a little.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | June 14, 2013

  16. Another way to look at ‘the world at that time’ is to view the world as the ‘inhabited’ world or even the known world. ‘the world’ in the Greek is often used in this way as in luke when it says a census was taken of the ‘whole world’. No need to use it figuratively to come up with that definition, literally the Greek word for ‘world’ could mean ‘known world’ just as in Hebrew the word for ‘earth’ could literally mean land, country, locality, or known world amongst other usages. eretz is the Hebrew.

    Like

    Comment by Dan | June 17, 2013

  17. As a simple believer – It is my understanding from the book, “More Than a Carpenter,” by Josh McDowell – that something is a theory unless it has at least all of these ..which can be recreated in a lab, there is manuscript evidence, archeological evidence and eye witness testimony. And I ponder – according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population – we should be around 7 billion people on earth now – so here is my logic – in the book, “One grain of Rice,” by Demi – the reward for the servant is that he would be given one grain of rice on the first day of the month and that every day of the month they would double the amount of rice given from the day before – then in the end of the month when you add together all the days you would come to 1 + 2 + 4 +8 +16………+536,870,912, – it would equal, “1,073,741,823. – more than one billion grains of rice!”, in one month. I am no expert in math – but it seems that if man were around as long as you believe the earth was around then there would be no room to move. I don’t want to discuss Josh McDowell or Demi’s beliefs – just how long it might take to get to 7 billion believing that Noah was surrounded by other peoples?

    Like

    Comment by Marsha Arnold | June 20, 2013

  18. Marsha,

    Human population is not a problem for either old-Earth or young-Earth Christians. In either case, it is clear that population growth over the past 4500 years (the time since many young-Earth creationists place Noah’s flood) has not followed the “One grain of rice” pattern.

    During most of the 20th century, human population on Earth doubled every 35-40 years. If this had happened for the entire time since 2500 B.C., starting with a population of eight (Noah and his family), the planet’s population would be astronomical:

    Year Population
    BC 2350 = 8
    BC 2310 = 16
    BC 2270 = 32
    BC 2230 = 64
    BC 2190 = 128
    BC 2150 = 256
    BC 2110 = 512
    BC 2070 = 1,024
    BC 2030 = 2,048
    BC 1990 = 4,096
    BC 1950 = 8,192
    BC 1910 = 16,384
    BC 1870 = 32,768
    BC 1830 = 65,536
    BC 1790 = 131,072
    BC 1750 = 262,144
    BC 1710 = 524,288
    BC 1670 = 1,048,576
    BC 1630 = 2,097,152
    BC 1590 = 4,194,304
    BC 1550 = 8,388,608
    BC 1510 = 16,777,216
    BC 1470 = 33,554,432
    BC 1430 = 67,108,864
    BC 1390 = 134,217,728
    BC 1350 = 268,435,456
    BC 1310 = 536,870,912
    BC 1270 = 1,073,741,824
    BC 1230 = 2,147,483,648
    BC 1190 = 4,294,967,296
    BC 1150 = 8,589,934,592
    BC 1110 = 17,179,869,184
    BC 1070 = 34,359,738,368
    BC 1030 = 68,719,476,736
    BC 990 = 137,438,953,472
    BC 950 = 274,877,906,944
    BC 910 = 549,755,813,888
    BC 870 = 1,099,511,627,776
    BC 830 = 2,199,023,255,552
    BC 790 = 4,398,046,511,104
    BC 750 = 8,796,093,022,208
    BC 710 = 17,592,186,044,416
    BC 670 = 35,184,372,088,832
    BC 630 = 70,368,744,177,664
    BC 590 = 140,737,488,355,328
    BC 550 = 281,474,976,710,656
    BC 510 = 562,949,953,421,312
    BC 470 = 1,125,899,906,842,620
    BC 430 = 2,251,799,813,685,250
    BC 390 = 4,503,599,627,370,500
    BC 350 = 9,007,199,254,740,990
    BC 310 = 18,014,398,509,482,000
    BC 270 = 36,028,797,018,964,000
    BC 230 = 72,057,594,037,927,900
    BC 190 = 144,115,188,075,856,000
    BC 150 = 288,230,376,151,712,000
    BC 110 = 576,460,752,303,423,000
    BC 70 = 1,152,921,504,606,850,000
    BC 30 = 2,305,843,009,213,690,000
    AD 10 = 4,611,686,018,427,390,000
    AD 50 = 9,223,372,036,854,780,000
    AD 90 = 18,446,744,073,709,600,000
    AD 130 = 36,893,488,147,419,100,000
    AD 170 = 73,786,976,294,838,200,000
    AD 210 = 147,573,952,589,676,000,000
    AD 250 = 295,147,905,179,353,000,000
    AD 290 = 590,295,810,358,706,000,000
    AD 330 = 1,180,591,620,717,410,000,000
    AD 370 = 2,361,183,241,434,820,000,000
    AD 410 = 4,722,366,482,869,650,000,000
    AD 450 = 9,444,732,965,739,290,000,000
    AD 490 = 18,889,465,931,478,600,000,000
    AD 530 = 37,778,931,862,957,200,000,000
    AD 570 = 75,557,863,725,914,300,000,000
    AD 610 = 151,115,727,451,829,000,000,000
    AD 650 = 302,231,454,903,657,000,000,000
    AD 690 = 604,462,909,807,315,000,000,000
    AD 730 = 1,208,925,819,614,630,000,000,000
    AD 770 = 2,417,851,639,229,260,000,000,000
    AD 810 = 4,835,703,278,458,520,000,000,000
    AD 850 = 9,671,406,556,917,030,000,000,000
    AD 890 = 19,342,813,113,834,100,000,000,000
    AD 930 = 38,685,626,227,668,100,000,000,000
    AD 970 = 77,371,252,455,336,300,000,000,000
    AD 1010 = 154,742,504,910,673,000,000,000,000
    AD 1050 = 309,485,009,821,345,000,000,000,000
    AD 1090 = 618,970,019,642,690,000,000,000,000
    AD 1130 = 1,237,940,039,285,380,000,000,000,000
    AD 1170 = 2,475,880,078,570,760,000,000,000,000
    AD 1210 = 4,951,760,157,141,520,000,000,000,000
    AD 1250 = 9,903,520,314,283,040,000,000,000,000
    AD 1290 = 19,807,040,628,566,100,000,000,000,000
    AD 1330 = 39,614,081,257,132,200,000,000,000,000
    AD 1370 = 79,228,162,514,264,300,000,000,000,000
    AD 1410 = 158,456,325,028,529,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1450 = 316,912,650,057,057,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1490 = 633,825,300,114,115,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1530 = 1,267,650,600,228,230,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1570 = 2,535,301,200,456,460,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1610 = 5,070,602,400,912,920,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1650 = 10,141,204,801,825,800,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1690 = 20,282,409,603,651,700,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1730 = 40,564,819,207,303,300,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1770 = 81,129,638,414,606,700,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1810 = 162,259,276,829,213,000,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1850 = 324,518,553,658,427,000,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1890 = 649,037,107,316,853,000,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1930 = 1,298,074,214,633,710,000,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 1970 = 2,596,148,429,267,410,000,000,000,000,000,000
    AD 2010 = 5,192,296,858,534,830,000,000,000,000,000,000

    It is clear that this has not happened. For most of human history, there has been an equilibrium, with roughly the same number of people dying as being born. This is true irregardless of the timing and extent of Noah’s flood.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | June 27, 2013

  19. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population says that in 1350 A.D. – there were about 370 million people – after 100 million people died due to black plague – spread these out by 27 sections of time going backwards to 2350 BC is 3700 years –
    Year Population
    BC 2350 = 8
    = 16
    = 32
    = 64
    = 128
    = 256
    = 512
    = 1,024
    = 2,048
    = 4,096
    = 8,192
    = 16,384
    = 32,768
    = 65,536
    = 131,072
    = 262,144
    = 524,288
    = 1,048,576
    = 2,097,152
    = 4,194,304
    = 8,388,608
    = 16,777,216
    = 33,554,432
    = 67,108,864
    = 134,217,728
    = 268,435,456
    (1350 AD – 370 million approx)
    A.D = 536,870,912
    AD= 1,073,741,824
    AD= 2,147,483,648
    AD= 4,294,967,296
    (2012 – 7 Billion approx)
    = 8,589,934,592

    That being 3700 years – divide by 27 sections would be about 137.03703 years to double – it is estimated by wikipedia that there is a 1.1+ growth rate and considering people do not live past 90 usually – I believe it works out.

    Like

    Comment by Marsha Arnold | July 8, 2013


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