Genesis Flood... More than just an interesting story?
Who doesn’t love a good story? Charlotte's Web, The Swiss Family Robinson, Huckleberry Finn, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc. And then there’s Noah’s ark and the flood… you gotta love that one, right?
When you think of the word “story”, what comes to mind? Generally, it’s an interesting conveyance of something made-up, a myth, a legend or a fairytale. The Genesis flood is often seen by many Christian adults as nothing more than just an interesting story; it’s not necessarily perceived as a real historic event. Between what they hear from modern scientists and skeptics, and what they visualize learning about the flood while in their youth, it just doesn’t seem like it could actually have occurred as described in the Bible. The issue is usually resolved by writing the flood account off as “just a story”. That way, they can still claim to believe the Bible, but also retain some semblance of respectability from most of the general public. “No, I don’t think it was ever meant to be taken literally,” some might respond when asked about their belief in the Genesis flood.
Once again, as with many of my articles, I am approaching this from the “bigger picture” angle. This will not be an article listing all of the tremendous physical evidence for the historicity of the Noachian Flood. Instead, it will focus on the significance of this event.
We’re going to take a look at one very interesting passage in the New Testament which sheds some light on this subject… II Peter 3:3-6:
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”
Here’s a summary of the above… Peter is saying that in the end times, there will be skeptics who doubt the return of Christ. He goes on to say these skeptics are “willingly ignorant” regarding two major factors: (1) God created this world miraculously out of water, and (2) He later used those same waters to destroy the Earth and mankind because of sin.
Take a moment to think about this. Let’s say you are a scientist studying the origin of the Earth, and you choose to reject the idea that God created the Earth initially, and later destroyed it globally with water. You would come up with a lot of wrong conclusions when you attempt to interpret the physical evidence around you. In turn, many Christians take these fallacious explanations and use them to decide how to properly interpret the Word of God! The proclamations of the largely secular scientific community are rarely, if ever, questioned, but Scripture is continually stretched and twisted in an effort to capitulate to whatever the latest secular thoughts are. (This is a dangerous and blatantly wrong approach to interpreting the Bible.)
Let’s think about this a bit further. Consider the layers in the Earth and the geologic column. Here’s one undeniable fact no one questions… those layers are really there! We’re all in agreement. How they got there, well, that’s another question altogether. None of us were around when the layers were deposited, so we can only hypothesize what happened. Here are the two different lines of thought. First of all, the prevailing view amongst secular geologists (and many Christian geologists) posits that strictly natural processes we observe today operating over vast amounts of time (hundreds of millions of years) account for what we observe. A competing view is that it was not a small amount of water over eons of time, but rather massive amounts of water over a short period of time. These two views are vastly different! So how do these views comport with what we read in Scripture, specifically Genesis 6-8 which describes a worldwide flood? After reading the biblical flood account, we find it was recorded as a literal, historical narrative, not poetry or allegory. This type of event, if it were truly real, would deposit sedimentary layers all over the Earth. We would also expect the sedimentary layers to contain huge amounts of fossils, having buried many lifeforms which existed at the time. This phenomenon is exactly what we do see… billions and billions of fossils in sedimentary layers all over the Earth.
There is so much evidence for rapid deposition and a global catastrophe, but time and space limit me from elucidating these in any detail. The point I am making, however, is that when we look at these layers, they do not give the impression of hundreds of millions of years, but rather of a global, catastrophic event which happened in a relatively short period of time. (The Bible indicates that the flood lasted just over a year.)
So what’s the big deal? The big deal is this… if these layers, which secular geologists say were deposited over about 540 million years, were actually laid down during the flood, there goes a major, indispensable pillar of evolution. And if these layers represent a single global catastrophe, there goes a major, indispensable pillar of the Big Bang which has the Earth forming about 4.5 billion years ago!
Most Christians who believe God used the Big Bang (and maybe even evolution) as His method of creation have to reject a belief in the worldwide, globally catastrophic flood of Noah. (One reason why is that if the Earth truly did form over billions of years, then the Grand Canyon and Mt. Everest were already complete when Noah arrived on the scene. Well, you can’t have a global catastrophe then because it would greatly disrupt and partially erase the geologic formations which had previously formed over millions of years. However, there is no evidence of such a cataclysmic event having occurred after these and other formations had been shaped.)
Interestingly, most Christians who accept the standard secular views of the age of the Earth are unaware of this conundrum. They are usually quick to tell me they do believe in a global flood, but the more I describe why it doesn’t fit with an old Earth, the more they start to see the problem and aren’t always sure what they are willing to change about their thinking. Often, they reluctantly decide that maybe the flood was just a story intended to convey some larger spiritual meaning, even though a flood never actually occurred. They just can’t bring themselves to consider that maybe the secular scientists are wrong about the Big Bang, primarily because it’s all they’ve heard their entire lives (not because of any actual evidence they know themselves).
We need to heed Peter’s warnings, even within the church, because it’s not just secular skeptics who question Scripture, it is often Christians as well. We could listen to Paul as well when he stated, “let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). But most importantly of all, even Jesus Himself took the flood literally (Matthew 24:37) and also said, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4). We need to trust God with what He has revealed in His word to us, and it is very exciting to know that true science also always confirms Scripture rather than being in opposition.
As with all of our other articles, much more could be said about this, but if you have any questions related to this month’s article or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us!