Creation Science


Taking a Fresh Look at Genesis 1, 2 and the Genesis 6 Flood

The Case for an Old Earth

Four Basic Issues

Kenneth J. TerBeek

In this paper I will seek to look at Genesis and attempt to examine why an Old Earth position is a reasonable viewpoint which can be constructed from Scripture itself.  Old Earth and Young Earth proponents are separated by four basic issues.  The first is the age of the earth.  The second is the period of time referred to as day in Genesis 1. The third issue is the belief that there was no physical death before the fall.  Lastly, was the flood of Genesis 6 a global or local event?

General Comments

Since the original book of Genesis was written in ancient Hebrew, not Greek or English, in this paper I will also look at the ancient Hebrew language of Genesis which helps identify where differences in intent and meaning have been incorrectly translated or lost because Hebrew does not easily convert into English.  It is important to recognize that the Hebrew mind functions differently than the Greek mind.  This is to say, Greeks think abstractly while the Hebrew mind thinks more concretely.[1]  Culture affects the way a particular group thinks and therefore how it perceives concepts such as those presented in these four viewpoints. These values are reflected in the way people communicate and record history.  For Scripture to be accurately translated from one language to another the values of the culture must be taken into account or the translation will weigh heavily on the values of the translators.

The first issue is developing an accurate picture of the age of the earth.  This has been a long standing point of difference between the Old Earth proponents and the Young Earth group.  The young earthers are committed to an age of thousands of years rather than billions of years because they feel that an old earth viewpoint opens the door for evolutionary concepts to become more palatable.[2]  They clearly see this as a way the whole redemptive work of Christ could be rendered useless because an evolved man would not be a special being created by God with a soul.  The Old Earth position bases its time-frame upon interpreting the statements in verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1, as God working on a mega scale to form the basic building blocks of matter and life.  Some old earthers have taken an evolutionary viewpoint, but this requires not only long periods of time, but also that non-life morphs into life and lower forms of life into what we see now.[3]  In my judgment, and of others, there is little evidence evolution in the macro sense ever occurred, while there is ample evidence the age of the earth is not 6 -10 thousand years old, but actually 4.5 billion years old.

Beginning with Genesis verses 1 and 2, we see the earth was called into being before the use of the phrase the evening and the morning were the first day (Genesis 1:5).  These verses show that God was in the process of gathering and forming the earth from raw materials much like the master builder of a house would create a staging area where he would gather the foundation blocks, lumber, other necessary materials and schedule specialized contractors to do the detailed work.  The Hebrew language would indicate not an ex nihilo, out of nothing event, but something from something event.  This is where the Hebrew and Greco-Anglo mindset and viewpoint differ.  Translators have created the idea that creation just happened.  This is the way the English versions read.  The Hebrew language expresses a formation from something, while the English translation attempts to say God created the earth from nothing.  Taking this viewpoint, the creation account is turned into something of a magic trick and the reader is asked to believe what he has never seen or experienced anywhere else.  Rather than attempting to find an explanation of where the initial matter came from, the Hebrew mind says, 'I don't know, while the Greek or English mind tries to find an explanation.  So we in the Western world have settled in on the idea out of nothing, something, ex nihilo.  As stated before, something from nothing does not occur anywhere else in Scripture or in our life experience.  What we do find from science is that living cells are packed with detailed information, so a seed can be planted and a tree eventually results.  A sperm is united with an egg and nine months later a baby is born with personality, talents and all.   This miraculous event is hard to explain.  However, the baby did not come from nothing.  It resulted when a transfer of information occurred from the male to the female.  The amazing fact that a nucleus of an element stays together is yet another phenomena we observe but cannot explain.  We note with great amazement that when a bombarded nucleus breaks apart, it releases tremendous amounts of energy.  We can harness it to some extent, but even the brightest minds can only speculate on a way to explain it.  So again, something does not come from nothing.  Rather, information is present which we do not as yet completely understand.  From this energy is released.

Why do the scientists and those of us who hold an Old Earth position see the earth as 4.5 billion years old?  Why can't we just accept the elementary statements that Genesis appears to present?  There is now irrefutable data that shows the rocks of this earth are very, very old.[4]  Young earthers have tried to say that the radiometric dating techniques are based on faulty assumptions and that deceitful men acclaim an old earth so God and sin can be ruled out.  That is, if there is no God, then man makes the rules.  If the church continues to hold to a Young Earth position and continues to cast dispersions on scientific evidence that suggest otherwise, sooner or later this will effectively drive a permanent wedge between the church and the scientific community.  This will be very harmful because it seeks to undermine, rather than understand another's position.  Currently the scientific community is more open to religious expression and questions the tenets of evolution.  However, scientists are leery of religious zealots, who they remember were the ones who placed Galileo under house arrest when he stated that the earth traveled around the sun.  In addition, the number of secular scientists who believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old is essentially zero.[5]  What is worse, our Christian youth as the data shows,[6] are leaving the church in droves[7].   It is my firm belief that one of the main reasons for this is the evangelical church's unwillingness to consider other viewpoints of Genesis chapter 1.  Our youth have simply left the church as a way to escape the embarrassment of identifying with a position no one in their peer group believes.

What makes old earthers so sure of their position?  It is the overwhelming evidence that when radiometric dating has been checked and cross checked, it shows 4.5 billion years as an age for the earth.  Sincere Christians have written papers on this data and have confirmed the data as correct.[8]  Some young earthers have disingenuously attempted to make it appear that radiometric dating gives erroneous numbers leading to an old earth age.  This was brought to light, but not until it was used in publications, which has left many Christians believing that radiometric dating is invalid and cannot be trusted.  Sadly, young earthers have not had the integrity to admit this deception.  Only truth can be used to reach the lost and keep our youth from leaving the church.  Another piece of evidence substantiating an old earth comes from dinosaur bones.[9]  Young earthers have often stated that dinosaurs and man were on the earth at the same time.  From a six-day creation event this would have had to be the case.  Since dinosaur bones have no carbon 14 in them while human bones do, these animals could not have lived at the same time as man.[10]  In summary, we see that radiometric dating supports an old earth of millions of years and does not support a young earth age at all.

A completely different aspect of the age of the earth comes from looking at Genesis 1:1-2.  Here we see that God appears to have some building blocks rather than just a creation out of nothing.  If we pull apart the phrase in Genesis 1:1 that God created the heavens and the earth and that the earth was void and without form, we can imagine some time-frame before the classic six, 24- hour day chronology.  Our Creator shaped, separated and brought form to his work.  If it was an ex nihilo creation, then we would expect to see an earth fully formed and functioning.  In other words, if everything that was created just happened, why not make it happen all at once?  There is no need to have a six-day event.  Looking at some of the miracles performed by Jesus, it is evident that He always started with something: wine from water, five loaves and two fish to feed 5000, a blind man healed with mud salve, etc.  In addition to this, Genesis records that God created animals from dust along with man and He created Eve from Adam's rib.  Think of it this way.  The basic building blocks of life: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and phosphorus were present to form amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids, enzymes, DNA, RNA, fats and steroids.  Special conditions were present to bring these basic building blocks together such as a master craftsman would do in building a house, but the house did not come from nothing.  One could say that it came from information, power and intelligence, but not random chance.  This is exactly how we describe creativity today.  Someone sees a need, designs a solution and a device to fill that void, creating a product.  These people are creative.  Now God doesn't have any needs, but He did desire to express His creativity in this master piece of art, science and beauty called the world.  Like most creative artists He didn't just throw things in a bowl and splash it on a canvas, but painstakingly worked out every detail!  Doesn't this make sense?  Isn't this why we and our world have value?  If it was just splish splash, what value would that be?  This to me explains God's righteous anger when man chose to sin.  God created the whole world for man and this was the thanks He got.  I would be upset too.[11]  If it was just an ex nihilo[12] event, Satan would not have seen it as having high value to God.  This is why we need a new heaven and new earth because this one has been spoiled by Satan and man.

In conclusion, Scripture never states the age of the earth. The young age of the earth is put forth by those who believe they must have a young earth to pre-empt the idea that evolution could have had a part in the world in which we now live.  Radiometric dating clearly shows an earth's age of at least 4.5 billion years old.  Evolution as a way of explaining how life arose must stand or fall on its own merit, not on the age of the earth.  As will be shown in the next section, Genesis 1 shows a significantly different picture when one looks at the ancient Hebrew text rather than the English versions alone, which are now used to establish a creation event of six, 24-hour days.

The second issue where Old Earth and Young Earth thinkers differ, centers around the period of time referred to as 'days' in Genesis 1.  Christians have looked at the Genesis account of creation for literally ages.[13]  They have argued amongst themselves as to whether the days were 24-hour days or time periods with gaps in between or something else.  The center of the argument is the Hebrew word Yom interpreted as 'day' in the English versions.  Positions have been formed because the term day can be a specific amount of time, 24 hours, or be used to describe time generally, as is found in other Scripture.  Some have argued that even within Genesis 1 and 2 the term is used in at least 5 different ways so that context defines the meaning for the use of the term.  Literalists state that the obvious use and meaning of the term in the Genesis account is specific to 24 hours, thus making up the six days of God's creative handiwork.  The sun along with the stars were created on day 4, therefore days 1-3 and part of day 4 have no time frame associated with them since the earth is not orbiting around the sun or turning on its axis.  In this paper I will attempt to look at both the Old Earth and Young Earth positions, but settle in on an Old Earth position from an examination of the ancient Hebrew text.  It is here that Scripture suggests a poetic portrayal of the Genesis 1 account.

If you open any English Bible beginning with Genesis chapter 1, you are confronted with some obvious questions:  Did God really create the earth in six days?  Were the sun, moon and stars created on day 4?  What light was provided in days 1-3?  How did light from the created stars that are multiple light years away, reach the earth in such a short time?  When did the earth begin rotating every 24 hours?  Why does the Bible say that God created two great lights, one to control the day and one the night, when the moon gives no light?  When were the other planets created?  According to the Bible, day 6 was crammed with activity.  Plants and animals were created, man was formed out of the ground, man named the animals, but he found no suitable helpmate.  A rib was removed from the man after being put to sleep and a woman was created.  Both were placed in the garden which God specifically created for man.  Plants were created for man to consume and he was given a simple command not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  God was able to look at all of His work and declare it to be good.  This assumes that Genesis 1 and 2 describe all the activities God undertook in day 6.  How could all of this take place in 24 hours?  Subscribing to a literal 6-day creation requires addressing these questions.  Literalists attempt to explain this amazing phenomena by employing some special effects and supernatural creative actions[14] that are no longer used and hence can no longer be observed.  To be fair, even the most ardent atheistic, evolutionary cosmologist would have to admit that the earth and all its wonders and complexities are far beyond the wildest imaginations of man.  We can imagine certain scenarios and extrapolations, but they have little actual fact to back them up.  So any attempt to throw stones at the literalist reminds me of the old adage, 'people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.'  In our search for answers to these questions, we must avoid resorting to clichés such as, God said it, I believe it, that settles it, or assign derogatory epithets to the other side's ideas or people.  We must realize that we are not going to be able to answer every question nor are we capable of having an acceptable answer for every question raised.  This should not surprise us.  Most people do not understand how a computer works, but they can use it.  In fact, we cannot explain why a seed planted in the ground causes a plant to grow in a predictable, repeatable fashion.  The same seed left in a dry bag does nothing for years.  So if we are trying to undermine the Bible as God's revealed Word we are playing a game well beyond our capabilities.  That doesn't mean however, that we do not attempt to find answers.

Let's see if we can understand Genesis 1 as a picture of how God worked, rather than 24-hour time slots for God to fill.  Scripture was written over a long span of time and by many different authors and different cultural settings.  This makes some portions more difficult to understand.  Well-meaning believers will differ on the intent and teaching.  Moses is the accepted author of the Pentateuch, but he lived over three thousand years after Adam.  It is not clear how all of the information was available to him.  We know that some of the portions indicate a clear conversation with Yahweh.  Other passages do not say how the information was passed along.  Whatever form, they would have had to survive the flood, Egyptian captivity, and forty years in the wilderness.  When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, they were etched in stone, or likely clay tablets.  It is likely that some form of records were kept, although we are not told.[15]  So, we might suppose that these records of Genesis were written at different times or transmitted orally, but preserved and protected by God.  It is clear that God had his hand on Moses until he was ready to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt.  It is amazing that we are not told how Moses actually wrote or verified the information found in Genesis.  Moses does not even claim to have written Genesis and our Lord only mentions Moses as an author that the Pharisees did not believe (Jn 5:45-47).  In this reference it is not clear what books Christ was referring to.  All of this suggests that taking a literal approach to Genesis chapter 1 cannot be supported if the ancient Hebrew authors did not intend it to be taken that way.  We should at least try to understand the text from the Jewish mindset.  I do not see any way that doing less would be intellectually honest.  Leaving our understanding of this passage to the English translation alone cuts us off from understanding and applying the cultural differences and ways of thinking of the original author.  For example, issues like slavery, multiple marriages, David and Bathsheba living while Uriah and the illegitimate child die all occurred in a context very foreign to us. Today, we would look at such events as horrific.  We quote Psalm 139 as to how precious life is.  We look at Solomon as having great wisdom and the book of Proverbs as rock solid teaching on parenting, yet Solomon had more than 700 wives.  These events make no sense in our Christian worldview today.  Remember, these men were the leaders during their time. Yet, even the most liberal church would have problems with their behaviors.  Arguing about whether a day in Genesis 1 is 24 hours or longer and by-passing these issues seems to be majoring on the minors.  It is culture, context and style that play a significant role in how we understand Scripture.  Another case in point is when Paul referred to Jewish Christian men as mutilators because they considered circumcision necessary for Gentile men to be Christian.  Later he circumcised Timothy in order for him to be acceptable to the Jewish community because he is half Greek (Acts 16).  So again, it is important that we understand the culture in which this Scripture was written.  Otherwise Paul is being hypocritical and inconsistent.

Must we really have six, 24-hour days for creation or are we given some latitude here?  We are far from understanding the culture and intent being conveyed in the original Hebrew text.  God chose to use the Hebrew language and the Hebrew lifestyle to communicate His message to us.  The Hebrew mind does not attempt to unravel the issue of when something started or stopped, only that it did start and will eventually stop.  The Greek and English mind must know specifics.  When and how did the earth begin?  This difference immediately comes into play because the Greek and English translations are trying to answer a question that the Hebrew mind does not attempt to answer.  So in the English we try to explain the beginning as out of nothing, something.  This is in fact, no answer at all, but we are so used to hearing it, that we don't think about what is being said.

If we are going to understand Genesis 1, we need to approach the passage from a Jewish perspective rather than our English way of thinking.  I think this is really quite freeing since it lays the ground work for understanding faith and science as complementary rather than adversarial.  If we can take a different approach to the chronological six, 24-hour day creation event and lift this constraint laid on our understanding of Genesis 1, something far different appears. The Hebrew construct of the first chapter shows us a poetic portrayal of creation where we see two sets of three days paralleling each other.  The Hebrew mind is not looking for an ex nih

ilio event, but rather a fattening or widening of the days that already exist.[16]

The ancient Hebrew authors see God operating not in six, 24-hour consecutive days, but as God taking existing raw materials and organizing them into the world in which we live.[17]  No version mentions a 24-hour day.   Time-oriented theologians have placed this view point into the mind of readers!  The chart below shows how the Hebrew mind sees a poetic parallel, where days 1-3 balance days 4-6.[18]  Looking at the chart below, we see that on days 1-3 God is separating light from darkness, the sky from earth and land from water.  Days 4-6 go back to a filling in of days 1-3.  Day 4 complements day 1 with the sun and moon, day 5 birds and fish with day 2 and day 6 plants, animals and people with day 3.  This is not original with me, but I reference Jeff Benner of the Ancient Hebrew Research Center.[19]  His research has done much to give understanding to Genesis 1.  Go to the web site for much helpful information which is highlighted in his YouTube videos.

Chart of Genesis Chapter 1






light / darkness


Sun / Moon


Sky/ water


Birds / Fish


 Water/ earth


Animals /



In conclusion, I have tried to lay the case for looking at Genesis chapter 1 as it appears to be written from the Hebrew mindset. This allows us to enjoy the beauty of God's handiwork rather than focus on the length of the so-called creation week.  If we look at the passage as poetic Jewish harmony, balancing days of separation by days of filling, we see a portrait of what God did rather than a historical recording.  This may not answer the question of how long creation actually took, but it helps us focus on the magnificent beauty of God's matchless work.  Here is another way to think about it.  Michelangelo is to be appreciated for the beauty of the painting on the cathedral ceiling, rather than how long it took or how much he completed each day.

A third aspect of the Old Earth, Young Earth debate is the issue of physical death before the fall.  A cursory look at Genesis 1 and 2 seems to say that no physical death of animals and humans took place before Adam's sin.  The Young Earth position is that physical death was not in God's plan.  It was instituted after the fall and as part of the initial redemptive work of God when he took the lives of several animals and used their skin to cover man's nakedness.  Since no one likes the thought of death, it fits well with our psyche and our concept of a perfect world without physical death.  Ken Ham,[20] author and longtime Young Earth advocate, states that the discovery of piles of dead, decomposed carcasses of animals is more in line with results of a global flood than billions and billions of years.  He often follows that up by saying, 'What kind of a world would it be that God calls good if it was based on the death of countless creatures?' 

The first use of the word death was given by God when He stated the punishment that would result if Adam were to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Basically, God said that Adam could eat of any tree except that one and if he did he would surely die.  One has to wonder if Adam understood the concept of death if nothing around him had actually died.  To us the words are all too clear, but what about Adam?  As the picture unfolds, we see the famous encounter of the serpent with Eve.  She also seems to understand the concept of death as she speaks to the serpent.  It is interesting to note that she didn't say, 'death, what is death?'  Furthermore, the serpent took the position they would not die, but rather gain the wisdom of God.  In other words, God is keeping something from Adam and Eve.  So let's step back and ask some questions.  First of all, the cursing of the whole world rests upon God's statement to Adam that on the day you eat of the tree you will surely die.  Are we to believe Adam completely understood the concept even though nothing around him had died?  How could God expect Adam to have a clear understanding of the stated consequences if he had never observed anything die?  Even in our fallen state we try to make sure people understand the negative consequences of an action if they choose to take it.  Would God choose to give a punishment that man didn't understand?  Secondly, Adam never said he did not understand what God meant by death.  Rather, he tries to blame God for giving the woman to him.  Some believe from the narrative that Adam was right there observing the encounter.  I'm not sure this is true, because he did not try to step in to protect his wife from the deception that was taking place.  Remember, this is supposed to be a perfect world.  What man would let his wife get drawn into a life- ending event and not even chase the serpent away or kick the fruit out of her hand?   It only makes sense that Eve had already eaten the fruit and then handed it to Adam who could see that she had not yet died.  I am going to assume Adam knew what God meant and God knew Adam understood what He meant. Furthermore, I am going to assume that Eve was also fully aware of the consequences.  She even embellished the command from eating the fruit to looking at it as well.  We are told that she did, in fact, look and see it was good for eating.  We don't know if Adam gave her this wrong idea or if she may have invented it herself.   I am trying to build the case that Adam knew full well what physical death was, as did Eve, and they knew it was not part of the punishment for eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The death God was talking about was the death of an intimate relationship with Him.  This was something of far greater value than physical death.  This, to me, makes more sense when we look at the serpent's statement, 'You will surely not die, but you will become as God knowing good and evil.'  In essence, Satan is saying to Adam and Eve, God wants to walk with you in the garden, but He is really keeping secrets from you.  Your relationship is not as special as God wants you to think it is.  For us, it may be helpful to look at the situation from another viewpoint.  When two people meet and fall in love they begin to share intimate details.  In general, nothing is excluded.  Then, after the relationship matures, information is shared from a third party, that may in fact be an attempt to break up the relationship by indicating that one party hasn't told the whole story.  This leads to suspicion and distrust.  The third party may have ulterior motives for causing the breakup.  This was clearly Satan's motive. 

So I think we can say that all parties knew the consequences of violating God's law.  It was and is separation from Him: spiritual death.  Physical death was not part of the punishment.  I come to this conclusion because physical death was something Adam and Eve observed, and the fact that Adam did not die immediately after he sinned.  He lived for 930 years.  If physical death was part of the punishment, then God has a different concept of death than we have.  We know death.  Adam knew death.  What was lost in this transaction was something far greater, the magnanimous relationship with God.  The loss of a perfect relationship with God occurred on that day and man did not get it back.  I think one must do contortions with the Scripture to include physical death as part of the punishment.  I am not saying physical death is not part of the universal result of sin, only that it was part of the picture God called "good".[21]   We do not know what life span God had in mind for Adam.  We do know the life span of man was shortened because God wanted to minimize the amount of evil man could do.  I am trying to establish that there is no reason to make the broad brush statement that no physical death occurred and all creatures would have been vegetarian.  If one takes the position that initially all the animals were herb eating, then all of the species clearly designed for eating meat, which includes their teeth and the digestive system, must have changed dramatically after the fall.  Animals that sting, poison or strangle their prey were either not around or again underwent significant modification. What would birds such as vultures eat?  The vegetation must have had an unbelievable growth rate to have fed all of the animals.  Vegetables alone do not provide all of the necessary protein needed.[22]  Bacteria are required to digest food.  Is not the process of digestion essentially something like dying since bacteria die as they break down food into useful components?  As you can see, to hold to the no physical death position, there would have been some very unusual circumstances.  All God said was that the herbs were for man to eat.  This does not translate to me, that all were vegetarian or that man didn't enjoy a steak with his potatoes and corn.  Furthermore, what about milk, eggs, honey, etc.?  Are they off the menu too?   As soon as man sinned God ended the life of a couple of animals and used their skins for clothing, covering Adam and Eve's nakedness.  One must assume animals were used for that purpose from then on. What did they do with the carcasses if they did not eat them?  Also interesting was the fact that God accepted Abel's sacrifice of animals and rejected Cain's of plant life. Young earthers take the position that physical death was and is bad.  They believe that all the carnage of animal life was due to the flood and not death, as part of the normal course of life.  I think there is room for the real possibility that prior to sin, physical death was not painful and prolonged but simply a way to process the necessary food to sustain life.  To me it all comes down to the fact that young earthers will do almost anything to make the Scripture fit their viewpoint of the origin of life.  This goes back to the whole point of translation from the ancient Hebrew to Greek and then English.  If we miss this, then all other premises will be faulty or diluted in the process of translation.  We must go back to the original language to understand these writings in the context of the Hebrew culture and mindset.  Otherwise we are likely to make the Scripture take on the likeness of a fanciful tale rather than what it is: God's Word.

 In conclusion, I do not see any real reason to invoke the stipulation that all were vegetarian just to support the concept of a global flood as the cause of the large amounts of animal bones being found in one place.  I believe this position creates more problems than it solves.  Physical death had to be part of the complete picture of the cycle of life.  The result of the fall was that death as well as everything else became laden with pain, deterioration, fear and separation from God.  

The last issue deals with the flood, whether global or local. The English reading of Scripture seems to make it clear that the flood was global or at least that it appeared to Noah as such.  What I would like to do is demonstrate the difficulty in believing the flood was global, just from the statements in Scripture alone.  First of all, let's assume the whole world was flooded, Mt. Everest and all.  Now, let's assume we have to get rid of all the water.  Where is it going to go?  There are only two choices.  It can evaporate or drain to a lower level.  If evaporation was the process by which the flood water dissipated, once the air became saturated, it would start raining.  So evaporation would not eliminate much of it.  If it was going to drain to a lower level, wouldn't that level already be filled?  What about the North and South Pole?  What would make the water go there?  Furthermore, it is estimated that if all the ice from the North and South Poles melted today, it would only flood about 10% of the land that is now not covered.  So in order for all of the earth to have flooded above the tallest mountain top, we have no practical way for the water to drain away.  It simply could not happen.  But let's look at the passage and think about it.  If the ark was placed somewhere in Iran and God caused a tremendous local flood to occur, it would appear to Noah that the entire world was flooded.  When he released the dove she brought back an olive branch.  Olives don't grow in areas of high altitude and they need a long, hot growing season.  Furthermore, this would not be the first type of vegetation to grow if the whole world had been flooded.  If the ark was high on a mountain top, the dove would have had to fly a long distance and back.  What would she have lived on?   So we could assume it was a large flood, but not a global one.  Circumstances do not favor a worldwide flood no matter how much one might want to make it happen.  In addition, God would not have had to flood the whole world to destroy all existing mankind.  For those who say that people could have moved to higher ground, this assumes they would have known where that was and how to get there before being overtaken by the flood water.  The latest tsunami showed how fast and devastating a local flood can be, especially considering there would have been no warning or plan.  Fast moving water would have destroyed most people right away.  For those who survived the initial on-slot, lack of food, clean drinking water and shelter would shortly have taken its toll.  People would not have known which way to run and no doubt would have waited until it was too late.  Remember that God's objective was to end the violence and sinful activity of the people he had allowed to propagate since Adam.

The second issue involved in the extent of the flood was the number of people on the earth at the time of the flood.  We must remember there were only 10 generations[23] from Adam to Noah given in Genesis.  The actual population of the world at the time of the flood has estimates ranging wildly from 3 billion to less than 2 million.[24]  Scripture gives us no basis for developing an accurate estimate of the earth's population at that time.  Young earthers want a high population because that would support the need for a global flood to destroy everyone.  We do know the world population today of 7 billion had to come from eight people who left the ark.  How could there have been half as many people then, as now?  Think of the logistics that would be involved with that many people.  There was not one modern convenience, no waste disposal, no modern refrigeration and on and on.  By looking at growth rate curves over the last 8000 years, we can estimate that from Adam to Noah the earth's population might have been about 5 million.  This number easily could have lived in the area from southern Turkey to eastern Iran, south to parts of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  So if all the rivers in that area flooded from a torrential, continuous rainfall with land aquifers breaking open along with water from the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the Indian Ocean that area could have flooded catastrophically.  This would have been a local flood, but big enough to drown all the living of that day.  Still, this is merely speculation and nothing more. There is no reason to believe the population would have had the time, energy and inclination to migrate any further over the rest of the earth.  Even after the flood, people didn't want to leave the area (tower of Babel), and God had to cause them to scatter by multiplying their languages.  Otherwise they were quite content to stay in one location.  If this is what happened, then the flood water could have drained away over the time as stated in Scripture.

Third, we must consider the construction of the ark. The construction and the weight load the ark would have had to bear, create additional problems that make surviving a violent global flood difficult to envision. With all due respect, a barge made of wood and covered with pitch would not easily survive the fast moving waters of a global flood.  The length would have been made from trees joined together and if twisted in violent seas would simply have broken apart at the seams.  It would have been necessary for wooden ships this long to be banded together by metal to have any chance of staying in tack. As far as we know, metal works would have been in its infancy and metal tools a rarity, if available at all.  Once the pitch covering cracked, the ship would begin taking on water.  After that it would only have been a matter of time before the bottom portion of the ship was uninhabitable.

Next, there is the question of the general management and care of the ark and its inhabitants.  Consider the care and feeding of the animals, removing the waste, the need for fresh air and water, not to mention that the bottom decks would be very dark.  Even if many of the animals were taken on as babies or hibernated, they would not have stayed that way and it would have taken only a short time before the stench would have been overwhelming.  Eight people would have had a very difficult time keeping up with the care of these animals.  Additionally, when these animals were released from the ark, the meat eaters would have shortly devoured the herbivores.  They would have had to scurry fast and furious to get away.  Where would they have gone to hide?  The soil would be barren, at least initially.  They would not have had adequate food unless they remained on or near the ark.  They would have had to procreate at a prolific rate just to keep the species alive.  This would have been difficult under any situation, but extremely so if they were the only animals on the earth.  Noah may have let them out slowly, but even then the problems would have persisted.  Also, Noah and his family would have needed to eat.  It takes at least one growing season to plant and harvest food.  It seems reasonable to me, they would have been able to find land that was not destroyed by the flood and use that area for growing and harvesting food.  Otherwise, you must imagine they were able to store up enough food in the ark until several growing seasons had passed.  All of this points to a local flood.  But, the Bible says that the whole world was flooded.  Does the Scripture allow any room to view this passage from something other than a global flood?  One possibility is that the translators missed this when translating from the Hebrew to the Latin or Greek.  As stated before, the Hebrew language does not deal with abstract concepts but seems to always go back to specific, agrarian reference points.  Jesus used parables to teach or illustrate a spiritual point.  The woman at the well and the sower of seed on four types of soil, are examples.  We understand the sun does not rise or set, but it appears to do so.  We know the moon has no light of its own but reflects light from the sun. Yet Genesis says God created two lights, one to rule the day and the other the night.  Must we assume what Noah perceived as the whole world was the whole world?  Could it not have been his perspective?  We seem to want to make Noah speak as if he had complete understanding of the whole world when his field of vision was limited to his surrounding area and experiences.  All humanity uses terms that are meant to express an event we know was limited, but we express it in much wider terms.  For example, 'we caught a whole boat load of fish', it was hotter than fire', that movie made me cry my eyes out and on and on.  In fact, we only try to be precise when describing something such as a scientific experiment or how to do something.  We usually find that a very boring way to speak or write.  So here we have Noah and his family trying to tell his progeny what happened and we expect him to state everything precisely.  Yes, I am familiar with the descriptions God gave to him about the size and the materials for the boat.  But consider how little information was really given.  Make it this long and this wide and cover it with pitch.  That's about it.  How would you like to be directed to build a boat with such limited information?  As far as we know, Noah had never built a boat, seen a flood or herded that many animals into a confined place.  There was no information given on air exchange, how to store food and water or for how long.  Yet some want to say, when we read that the whole world was flooded, it could only mean the whole world or else God was lying!  I just don't think that makes sense.  Why can't we accept the account as true without having to have specifics that are not required for us to communicate the message?  Why not appreciate that God was so disappointed with the sinfulness of man He decided to wipe out the known population, except for Noah and his family, and that the local animals and vegetation were simply collateral damage?  Is not this what happens when we sin today?  We commit adultery and our family suffers along with us even though they had nothing to do with it except being related to us.  This, to me, communicates the message that God has a right to judge us and if we choose to disobey, the consequences will be catastrophic. The message to mankind remains intact and there is no arguing about the extent of the flood because it is not important. 

In conclusion, the likelihood of a global flood really hinges on the ability of all the excess water to recede.  No other reasonable answer exists.  It would have been a supernatural removal which the Bible does not suggest.  The credibility of  scripture is not compromised by considering a huge, but not worldwide flood. One should not be asked to believe in a worldwide flood as a requirement for belief in the inerrancy of Scripture.  I wonder how many people will remain unbelievers because they rejected this teaching and subsequently rejected the Savior's offer of eternal life.  Let's go back to Genesis and use the ancient Hebrew version as a starting point and make sure we factor in the culture, context and style of the writer along with the people for whom it was first written, before we make a water shed issue of the flood and the other issues we have discussed in this paper.


[1] These statements are found in the web site.  See culture and assorted You-Tube videos. The Hebrew language is much smaller in volume than English and one word can have several to many meanings, whereas in English we have more choices to express ourselves.

[2] In my way of thinking, using the Young Earth Model of cramming all of the species into a short period of time is evolution on steroids.  Young earthers claim that Adam only had to name the species, not every animal.  After the flood the absolute proliferation of plant and animal life occurred in a very short amount of time.  Multiple variations occurred of both plants and animals.  We do not see this today.  Only in highly controlled environments are biologists and breeders able to create different types of plant life or breeds of animals.  In the natural environment we are not observing new species being formed, but we are observing extinction.  This indicates to me that God is done creating just as Genesis states.  

[3] Although not addressed in this paper, it is my scientific opinion that for non-life to form into even the most elementary form of life by chance alone, is so unimaginable and unobservable as to not be worthy of scientific thought.  However, scientists have largely bought into this scenario and defend it as sacrosanct.  Life is so complicated with so many systems required to be working at the same time that without a designer and former outside of the system it could never happen in any amount of time.  Rana, Fazale, E-book edition 2010, Creating Life in the Lab, Baker Books

[4] Wiens,  Roger, (2002), Radiometric Dating, A Christian Perspective,  American Scientific Affiliation

[5] Hugh Ross, (2004),  A Matter  of  Days, Navpress

[6] It has been well documented by a Barna survey, used in a book by David Kinnaman titled You Lost Me: Why Young Christian are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith that over 59% of the youth are leaving after age 15.  Of the six reasons given, number 3 is that churches come across as antagonistic to science.

[7] There are numerous studies to show that our youth are leaving the faith or at least basic Christian doctrine. Some suggest that this is not a new phenomenon while others feel that those who leave stay away longer and return to a less structured church setting.  The Barna study referenced above shows a significant impact from the young earth position.

[8]Wiens,  Roger, (2002), Radiometric Dating, A Christian Perspective,  American Scientific Affiliation

[9] Wiens, Roger, (2002)

[10] Wiens, Roger, (2002)

[11] Ph.D. Thesis of Kenneth J. TerBeek (1974) Synthesis of Aminodisaccharide nucleosides,  Analogs of Amicetin As a chemist I was able to synthesize 4 isomers of  a complex amino disaccharide nucleoside starting from the common sugar maltose, a myriad of other chemicals and applied intelligence.  It took me four years to accomplish this, and several times I had to start over.  If someone would have destroyed my work, I cannot imagine how angry I would have felt towards them.  I can sort of understand God's anger at the decision of Adam to join Eve rather than obey Him.

[12] It is important to state that the rest of Scripture is not silent on the creation of the world.  Job 38 and following chapters, Isaiah 40 and following chapters and Hebrews 1:10 refer to God laying the foundation of the earth thus indicating a project over time, not an instantaneous creation out-of-nothing event.  There are many other passages that speak about creation.  A solid doctrinal statement on age and time must consider all of the Scripture, not just Genesis 1.

[13] Hugh Ross, (2004),  A Matter of Days, Navpress Chapter 4

[14] Examples are that creation was brought into being with apparent age and that light from the stars was created on its way to earth.  These explanations put scientific study out of the picture since our world doesn't function under these conditions today and therefore science cannot speak to the creation event.

[15] Genesis is broken up into 11 sections by the phrase "these are the generations of suggesting that someone collected the information in time segments and passed it on.  See 2:4, 5:1, 10:1, 11:10, 11:27, 25:12, 25:19, 36:1, 37:2 

[16] (You Tube video collection and sections on culture and language) These videos are teaching caliber and presented clearly.  To capture the concepts taught one must view at least a number of them.

[17] As stated in reference 8, numerous places in Scripture refer to creation as a project.  For example, in Job God asks, Were you there when I laid the foundation of the earth?  God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from one of Adam's ribs.  This is not an ex nihilo creation event but one that occurred over time.

[18] This approach is exactly what some scholars refer to as the Framework Model.  It is referenced here for the reader to review from the Wikipedia source.  The description will help the reader understand this interpretation and a number of the references within this article give opposing viewpoints, strongly denying the Framework Model, stating Genesis 1 can only be read as a literal chronological account.


[20] Ham, Ken, 2000, The Lie: Evolution, Master Books, (and numerous public speaking engagements)

[21] It may seem like splitting hairs, but it is interesting to note God used the word 'good'.  He did not say perfect or some other descriptor.  This suggests that at a future time something far better than good is going to take place.  This to me indicates while the creation was good, it was not perfect.  We do know Satan was able to move about freely.  That in itself is less than satisfactory.  Who would want to be tempted and lose out on the promise of God for eternal life?

[22] The body needs to get eight amino acids from foods which it cannot make on its own.  It is difficult, but not impossible to get these from fruit, vegetables, and nuts.

[23] Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan,  Mahalelel,  Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah

[24] I refer the reader to several web sites that I list here.   All of the growth formulas are based on assumptions that may be only wild guesses to more accurate.  Young Earth advocate Henry Morris has a lengthy argument for 3 billion people at  World population estimates in this paper come from logic and Wikipedia under world population.  Morris is generally trying to establish that if evolution is true and the earth is old, billions of people should be on the earth.  I think his estimates of the large number of people drowned in the flood plays into their hands.  Simple logic here is better than mathematical formulas run amuck with wild assumptions.  Studies of human population growth show that they do not follow the normal patterns observed, for instance,  the growth of bacteria.  We note, thankfully, that at some point the actual growth of everything changes erratically, then slows down or hits a limit.  Human growth patterns follow a formula developed by Professor Marcus du Sautoy.

It is P' = rP(1-P/m).  P' is the future growth, P is the current growth, r is the growth rate or replacement growth and m is a particular population's capacity.  P' is therefore dependent on the rate of growth which is a variable that can be whatever you want it to be, and the population capacity is also an estimated number.  This makes for interesting discussions on growth because one can use this formula or a variation of it to arrive at any desired figure one might wish.



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