Review by Ruben Baron
First Published February 2009
Chapter 5 turns to questions about the great Flood of Noah. Chapter 5 will present the YEC case for a universal Flood, while chapter 6 will present the defense of a local Flood.
The beginning of this chapter makes it clear that YEC’s contend that Genesis clearly teaches a universal Flood, that is, a Flood that covered the entire planet earth. The point is made that the extent of the Flood has to be clear, because some OEC’s, such as Dr. Hugh Ross, use the expression “universal Flood” to mean that it was universal in its judgment of mankind, but not in its extent over the entire planet earth.
The main reason for a YEC universal Flood is actually given on page 82. Namely because this is the only way to account for fossils and sedimentary layers, if the age of the earth is young. This chapter will mainly deal with the biblical evidences for a universal Flood.
Before summarizing the Biblical evidences, it is important to keep in mind the following points:
Most importantly, the word “earth” that appears in most English translations is also the same Hebrew word translated as “land.” To most modern readers the word “earth” implies planet earth, while “land” implies a local region anywhere on the earth. So if there were a better understanding of the words used in most English translations, this alone would resolve much of the confusion regarding the extent of the Flood.
Also there needs to be a the proper understanding of the word “all”. The word “all” always has a context, and almost never means “all” in an absolute sense. There are many examples of the use of “all” in the Bible that everyone agrees does not have an absolute meaning.
It is also important to remember that the perspective of all of these events is the earth, not outer space! All of these events were written from a perspective of human beings on earth, and not from an observer in outer space, as is commonly assumed by modern readers.
A more detailed discussion of these and many other points is beyond the scope of this review, but is summarized in other articles on a local Flood in places such as the Answers In Creation web site.
1. All Flesh. There are several verses in Genesis 6 that point to the destruction of “all flesh,” especially Genesis 6:7, 13, 17; 7:21-23. Keeping in mind the meanings for the words “earth,” “face of the earth,” and “all,” summarized above, it is clear that these verses do not necessarily point to a universal Flood. It is simply wrong to impose our modern knowledge of geography and astronomy upon the simple meaning of these verses.
2. The Size of the Ark. The size of the ark is described here with the question “Why would God tell Noah to build such a large boat… ?” On page 83 and in other places it is mentioned that a local Flood would be in Mesopotamia, but this is not necessarily the view of all OEC’s. Another question is also asked “Why did God not tell Noah to move instead?” Another similar question raised later in this section is about the option of birds and other animals to leave the area, if the Flood is local. Finally it is asked “Why would God cause Noah to spend years of his life building an enormous and completely unnecessary ark?”
On page 84, the answer of Dr. Hugh Ross to these questions is ridiculed as not having any basis in the Bible. It is true that the specific answer of Dr. Ross may not be clearly found in the Bible, but the point here is that we cannot speculate on the “why” of anything God instructs men to do. To assume that the reason for God’s instructions to Noah was to allow for a global Flood is just as much speculation as Dr. Ross’ answer might be. In fact the argument for the size of the ark could be used just as much to justify a local Flood, since even an ark as big as described here could not hold every living thing, nor could it survive a truly violent worldwide Flood which had enough force to cause all of the geological sedimentary layers that we see today. I realize that there are YEC answers to these points, but the answers come across as speculation or “forced” answers that are not natural to the text. But again the point here is that any or all of the answers to these questions is just speculation not clearly found in the Bible.
3. The Flood Waters. The focus on this section is the description of the Flood waters themselves. Several verses from Genesis are quoted here, but the main point brought out is the covering of the mountains. Again the question is from whose perspective? Did the Flood cover all of the mountains as viewed from outer space, or as viewed from Noah on the surface of the earth? Putting the question this way does not make the YEC answer so obvious as is presented in this book. Again it is assumed here that the local Flood would be in Mesopotamia, which is not the view of all OEC’s. In fact the Old Earth Ministries web site provides some interesting alternatives to Mesopotamia.
What is interesting is that the same verse that talks about covering the mountains (Genesis 7:20) also uses the expression 15 cubits (about 23 feet) to describe the depth of the water. If the Flood were truly worldwide, this number would insignificant compared to the thousands of feet deep a global Flood would have to be. Furthermore a more literal rendering of Genesis 7:20 would be (my translation) “The water increased upward by 15 cubits, and the hills were covered.” That is, if this text is taken more literally it could easily be interpreted that the depth of the Flood was 15 cubits, and as a result of the increasing water level, the nearby hills were covered.
Also the Hebrew word הר (har — hill or mountain) can have a wide variety of meanings which are determined by context, and also by the relationship of the hills or mountains to location of the Flood itself. In fact, since the height of the ark is 30 cubits, then the water depth of 15 cubits would be about right for the draft of an ark that size to clear the bottom.
The landing place of the ark after the Flood is also mentioned in Genesis 8:4 as the mountains of Ararat. We do not know exactly where this was, but it could include any region in the area of modern-day Turkey, Armenia, northern Iraq, or even Iran. To say that it had to be on the very high mountain today called Mount Ararat is simply speculation. It is stated dogmatically with no citation on page 85 that “many scholars believe that it [Mt. Ararat] is the most likely candidate for the final resting place of Noah’s ark.” I would like to know who many of these scholars are, besides obviously YEC “scholars.” It is interesting here that the authority of scholars is cited when it suits YEC goals, while at the same time YEC’s strongly criticize scholars that are not YEC’s for accepting “non-Biblical” viewpoints.
Also on page 84 is a picture of a flood on top of mountains with nothing holding it up, as if to ridicule the local Flood viewpoint. But this drawing does not at all fairly represent the local Flood viewpoint, as is typical many times in this book.
Finally this section concludes by pointing out that the duration of the Flood was 371 days. With 371 days it is argued that this is too long for a local Flood. But this argument could just as easily be used against a global Flood. To drain the entire earth of water that is thousands of feet deep in 371 days is simply beyond comprehension, and just as unreasonable. That is, a global Flood would require much more than 371 days to subside. Even if most floods today have only a few days duration, it is still relatively easy to conceive of special geographic conditions that would allow a local Flood to continue for a year or more.
In this section many arguments were used to defend the global Flood which were simply arguments from logic or what is “reasonable”. This chapter was introduced as presenting arguments just from the Bible and not from logic or “reasonableness,” but yet that is exactly what is being done here, when it is speculated as to why God would or would not have done something.
4. The Rainbow. The promise of God in Genesis 9:12-17 is quoted here, in which the rainbow is a sign that there will not be a Flood again. The question is then raised that if the Flood is local, then God has broken His promise many times since the Flood. The answer to this from OEC’s is quite simple, especially since in the introduction to this chapter it is admitted that OEC’s describe the Flood as “universal” in judgment, but not in extent. That is, OEC’s are saying that the Flood was a special judgment of God upon mankind, but simply was not global in extent. This does not mean that any flood we see today that kills animals or people is the same as a local Flood in the time of Noah.
Had this been the only point in this section, this would have been enough. But this section goes even further on page 87 and accuses OEC’s of “attacking the character of our holy Creator by implying that He has lied repeatedly,” and needing “to carefully examine the grave consequences of accepting such an anti-biblical concept.”
Again, as is characteristic of this entire book, there is a crude attempt here to emotionally manipulate the reader with something that simply has no basis in fact. These charges are simply an inference from a misunderstanding of the OEC viewpoint. Even though it is conceded in the book that this charge is probably done by OEC’s “inadvertently,” these are still very serious charges to make toward fellow Christian believers. These charges only reinforce the impression that YEC’s do indeed tend to cause division among Christian believers, simply on the basis of disagreement with the YEC interpretation of the Bible.
5. Big Changes. The main point of this section is to describe the changes on the earth after the Flood, with the idea that if these changes are big enough, they would have to come from a global Flood. Changes in diet are mentioned by comparing Genesis 9:3 with Genesis 1:29, but again, as reviewed in the earlier chapters, these verses cited do not mean necessarily mean a major change in diet. Even if they did mean a major change in diet, this has little to do with a global versus a local Flood.
What mainly follows in this section are arguments, which are not very convincing, as to why at least two of the rivers mentioned in the garden of Eden, the Euphrates and Tigris, are still here today, since a global Flood would have completely changed the geography of the world. As usual in this book, the responses of Dr. Hugh Ross are again ridiculed when he tries to respond to these points. Despite the premise of this chapter having only a focus on the Bible, the same old arguments about uniformitarian assumptions in science are still brought up. Even if Mt. Everest did rise up after the Flood, as is argued on page 89, this still does not change the points against a global Flood.
The last paragraph of this section is especially troubling with many unfounded assertions, such as “When one starts from the Bible, all of these so-called difficulties can be answered,” along with a several statements on the accuracy of His word. This entire paragraph is very misleading, since the issue is not the “accuracy of His word,” but the interpretation of His word. But as usual, this book presents the issue as an issue of accuracy of the Bible, not as YEC interpretation versus OEC interpretation. As already mentioned several times in this review, it seems here that YEC’s think that if they repeat something often enough, then it will be automatically accepted as the truth.
6. Special Words. This and the following sections deal with evidence from other books of the Bible besides Genesis. The focus is on the special words used for flood both in Hebrew and Greek, but the use of these words is not really relevant to the issue of a global Flood. This distinction of words only indicates that the Flood of Noah was special in its judgment of mankind, as compared to other everyday floods. Citations from 1 Peter and 2 Peter are likewise irrelevant to the issue of the global Flood, since they focus on the judgment of mankind, which is what advocates of a local Flood would also say.
7. Jumping Ship. This section deals with the fact that some OEC’s do accept a global Flood. The book then charges OEC’s who do this with inconsistency in their thinking, especially if it is accepted that geologic sedimentary layers were already deposited before the Flood.
It is then stated on page 90 that:
“The inconsistency lies in the fact that a worldwide Flood would easily be capable of depositing the sedimentary layers of rock that are observed.”
How can such a statement as this at all be justified? First of all, this is just speculation based upon the perceived nature of the Flood, and is definitely not a point from the Bible itself, as this chapter promised to be. Secondly, is it really that obvious that a global Flood would do such as thing as create sedimentary layers? We know almost nothing about the actual physical conditions of such a Flood to make such a statement. Thirdly, almost any geologist would say that a global Flood just cannot provide a simple explanation all the rock phenomena that we observe today. It just does not fit the experimental observations.
The end of this section deals with the alternative of a “tranquil” Flood, which would allow a Flood, but not one that would create all the sedimentary layers. It is then pointed out that most floods today are not tranquil. Based upon the observation of floods today, it is concluded that a worldwide Flood could not at all be tranquil. But again this is simply speculation, and could more likely point to a local Flood rather than a tranquil global Flood.
8. The Ark as a Type of Christ. This last section deals with the comparison of salvation in the New Testament with the salvation of Noah and his family from the Flood. The book then tries to draw a conclusion that if the Flood was local, then this subtly teaches that there are multiple ways of salvation apart from Jesus Christ, because not every creature on planet earth boarded the ark in a local Flood.
This is yet again an example of what is so typical of this book. Every attempt is made to discredit OEC’s theologically because their viewpoints on creation do not agree with a YEC viewpoint. The book admits that evangelical OEC’s would not teach multiple ways of salvation, but yet YEC’s still make the charge of inconsistency to those who hold a local Flood view. However even this is a misrepresentation of OEC. OEC’s acknowledge that the local Flood was a judgment on all mankind, in which Noah and his families were saved in the ark. But salvation is for human beings, and not for animals! So the situation of animals in other parts of the world not flooded by the local Flood is simply irrelevant. So how can YEC’s claim that animals in other parts of the world not killed in the local Flood imply multiple ways of salvation? This statement demonstrates the extreme desperation of YEC’s toward anyone who threatens their viewpoint.
This chapter claims to have made a good case for a global worldwide Flood, but a careful examination of the arguments in this review demonstrate otherwise. The next chapter will examine the arguments for a local Flood. It goes without saying in this book that the examination will be not be made by OEC’s, but through the eyes of YEC’s.
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