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March 07, 2016


The following make it more probable that it covered a region rather than the globe:

[1] Covenant Theology
[2] Language of the text
[3] Physical evidence

Of course, a global catastrophic event isn't improbable given that our planet seems to have had a few such events most likely, and one certainly.

"Destroying the Earth" would mandate God creating a new Planet, though the Critic seems to cherry pick where he applies such literal semantics.

Covenant Theology mandates God's interfacing with Noah and his regional influence as per the Noahic Covenant. Israel's Covenant did not immediately impact, say, people in North American (etc.) for all the same reasons of *how* God's modes interface with Man inside of Covenant Theology (prior to Christ).

So, oddly, whether it is global or regional, well either way it seems plausible on Scripture's terms, although the former (global) option seems to require a less "straightforward" exegesis.

My retired pastor told me that with things requiring a literal reading of the Bible, it was first of all a personal decision whether to believe or not. After all, how could my interpretation of the flood (isolated from other theological thoughts) impact any decision furthering God's kingdom?

But he and I both think, to ourselves, that a person does well when he believes what God passed to us through scripture rather than disbelieving it. He went further to say, "the things God said are true in every sense." Again, I think this is an acceptable personal notion albeit one that really can't be proved until after.

I would categorize Noah's flood with Joseph's leadership of Egypt, the Exodus, and Joshua's invasion of Canaan as things that are on the fringe of acceptance. It seems that everybody acknowledges that Israel was a thing at the time of Nehemiah, but it seems like people don't agree on how it got to be a thing, since its origin was in fact miraculous.

I think this is a good tension and analogous to the Big Bang, the beginning of life, the beginning of individual human life, and a bunch of other ideas where rational thought leads from everyday life to the naked question of whether God really exists.

It's also good to remember that even seeing wasn't good enough for the Egypt-born Israelites who died in the desert. It's OK that this tension exists here, in my opinion.

I recently heard this question and had no good answer for it: Didn't other people have boats in those days besides Noah?

When the flood came, lots of other people could have thrown a bunch of food and water into their other boats and survived for 40 days and 40 nights. Why do we assume only Noah and his family survived?


I've never heard that question before. It's a good one. My answer is obviously based on mere speculation, but maybe it was only Noah's boat which was sturdy/big enough to withstand the storm and waves.

Back when I was an evangelical Christian I was a global flood guy until I studied it and then I converted to a regional flood guy. As Greg points out the “world” in the Bible is often referring to the known world, not the entire planet. Its been a long time since I did my reading so I’m a bit rusty but here are some thoughts…

Some problems pop up with the known world flood theory. One is that not even the entire known world was completely flooded as far as the geological records show for the time frame attributed to Noah’s flood, somewhere between 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Also the entire known world would have included some very high mountains, such as Mount Damavand which is over 18,000 feet above sea level, and if it was covered then the flood would have been global. So many people have advanced the theory that Noah's flood was limited to the Euphrates and Tigris river and the associate flood plains, which is geologically supported. However that leads to other problems such as God promised not to destroy all of life again with a flood but there are lots of local floods and people drown all the time. So then you need to limit God's promise to not flooding the same geographical area again and that doesn't seem to work because the area in question has been subject to numerous floods over the millennia. Another problem is why the huge ark for a regional flood? What was the localized animal population? I don’t know but probably wasn’t some massive amount and even so the area would have repopulated without any of the local wild life entering the ark, albeit it would take time. Also if the flood was only the Eup/Tigris rivers and the surrounding flood plains Noah could have been simply instructed to move to higher ground.

As one study’s the situation more and is objective the conclusion is that Noah’s flood is based on earlier flood stories and probably a mixture of truth, exaggeration and myth making, which interestingly, describes the entire Bible.

Given that the entire known world was not subsumed by the Noahic Covenant with respect to Covenant Theology, we need not fuss over the entire known world. No one can assert that Israel and the entire continent of Africa, and the entire continent of.....and of.... which were surely populated to some degree, were all subsumed with respect to Israel's Covenant with respect to Covenant Theology. Besides, destroying the earth and creating a whole new planet is the sort of literal semantics Critics like to insist on over in one place and then drop in some other place. That God destroyed the earth and was then compelled to create the planet again is, well, the sort of application of linguistics and genre and covenant theology wherein Critics like to engage in said cherry picking.

The lens zoomed in on a few verses can do that. Zooming out just a little bit to a few chapters can do that too, though less often. Zooming the lens still further out will allow one to see the wider, and singular, metanarrative, which describes the entire Bible. Entire books, however, seems far too much for the average Critic to digest all at "once".

Only in and of and by Christ do we find all men subsumed vis-à-vis Covenant Theology.

There are two major problems I see with the local flood view: (1) “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the water prevail; and the mountains were covered.”

So in Gen7:19-20, the water levels are described as 15 cubits higher than the highest mountains. If this were a local flood, the water would spill over the highest mountains and run off to the surrounding areas. I can imagine a runoff that was so large, but it wouldn’t last very long. Certainly not 110 days after the rain had stopped (see #2 below).

I also note the use of the words “all” the high hills under the “whole” heaven. I have to ask myself, if God wanted to be super-duper clear about the fact that this was a world-wide event, what else could He have said? Perhaps this is a translation issue?

(2) “And the waters prevailed upon the earth for an hundred and fifty days.” (Gen 7:24)

A local flood would not take 110 days to run off. And it doesn’t simply mean that the ground was wet, right? There was nowhere for the bird to land when they set it free. It had to come back.

So the local flood view, regardless of whether “world” meant world or “all” meant all or “whole” meant whole, it has to deal with the fact that the water was running off like mad 15 cubits above the highest (local) mountain for 110 days after the rain had stopped. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Can someone explain?

Not being a linguist or an ancient near east scholar, this is just a question.

Could mountains, mean high places as in ziggurats? Were they not sometimes referred to as representing holy mountains?

Could we not be talking about local flooding that covered man made structures?

There are some who think the flood was an event when water pressure at the end of the last ice age broke through barriers at the mouth of the Persian Gulf or the Black Sea. Could this not be an account of the rising water levels covering man made structures and the boat eventually coming to rest in an area that was at the new water line?

Just asking.

A few more avenues through which Covenant Theology, linguistics, scripture's terms, and physical facts allow for a localized or regional account:


“One possible explanation is that the flood was local in geographic scope. Noah in that case would only have to repopulate the local area and have animals to eat and sacrifice. As evidence that the flood was not universal, it is noted that the same “universal” language of Genesis 6 through 9 is used elsewhere when something less than the whole world is meant. The people on the day of Pentecost were said to be “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2: 5), yet the nations listed are restricted to the Roman world. Paul said in Colossians 1: 23 that “this is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.” Paul’s itinerary in Acts 13 to 28 shows that he went only to the Mediterranean area. Also, the silt deposits that a flood like Noah’s would have left are found only in the Mesopotamian Valley, not over the entire world. There is not enough water in the world to cover the highest mountains (7:20). Some mountains are several miles high. Waters that high would have caused problems with the rotation of the earth. The mountains in the Mesopotamian area are not nearly so high. Finally, the size of the ark would restrict the number of species. Those from a localized region would have been more manageably housed.”

(From Geisler, Norman L., “The Big Book of Christian Apologetics: An A to Z Guide”)

D. Hochner and R. Anthony make the following observations:

Erets (#776 in Strong's), is the Hebrew word that translated "earth" throughout the flood account and it does not require a world-wide meaning. This word translated "country" (140 times) and "land" (1,476 times) in the Bible. Many of them are often of limited land areas.

a. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot's daughters said "there's not a man in the earth (erets) to come in unto us" (Genesis 19:31) We know that not every man in the world was killed ... only those in the area of the destruction.

b. Exodus 9:33 "the rain was not poured upon the earth" #776 (erets)... Of course we understand it is just speaking about a certain area in Egypt.

c. In Jeremiah 34:1, "all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the peoples, fought against Jerusalem." There the phrase "of the earth" is limited to "his dominion," i.e., the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar.

d. In II Chronicles 36:23, Cyrus' empire is said to have encompassed "all the kingdoms of the earth." But there were kingdoms in the Far East which were surely not included.

e. Acts 11:28 speaks of a similar famine "throughout all the world," yet it is not likely it really meant over the whole globe including the New World.

f. Luke 2:1 refers to a decree which went out to tax "the whole world." But this only refers to the territories that the Romans controlled.

g. Cain was cursed by God and driven from the "face of the earth" (Genesis 4:14) We know Cain was not driven off the planet... but out of the land he knew as "home" ...

And as noted by the earlier quote of Geisler:

“…….the same “universal” language of Genesis 6 through 9 is used elsewhere when something less than the whole world is meant. The people on the day of Pentecost were said to be “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2: 5), yet the nations listed are restricted to the Roman world. Paul said in Colossians 1: 23 that “this is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.” Paul’s itinerary in Acts 13 to 28 shows that he went only to the Mediterranean area…..”

The Christian finds himself in a very comfortable position given that whether there was a worldwide flood or a regional flood (regarding Noah etc.) the trio of Covenant Theology, linguistics, and geology permit his exegesis the room to land on the side of a regional event whereas if we in fact found convincing geological evidence of a singular worldwide flood, the less (IMO) straightforward exegesis supporting that could be employed. The debate here seems to be a purely theological debate of some duration through time which is wholly immune to scientISM though fully compatible with the physical sciences.

I believe the Genesis account is a historical record of the supernatural event of God bringing a cataclysmic event into the world. It would not simply be an enormous rain. Prior to the flood there had been no rain, but the earth was surrounded by the waters above the firmament (atmosphere)and below. Only a mist, rivers and seas existed. It was not just a flood, but a series of events that changed the topography of the earth.
With the loss of the water vapor around the earth, the ability to maintain a tropical environment disappeared. The earth went from being uniformly warm due to the protection of the water vapor canopy, to suddenly exposed to cold at the earths poles.
Before the flood, Genesis reports that we can tell the signs and seasons by the lights in the heavens, after the flood, it is reported that the earth will continue with summer and winter, heat and cold.
There are numerous records of the flood story that are reported from different cultures, but how could it be that they all had the same story handed down to them, if not that their ancestors had known of and past down the event of the one true flood.
I highly recommend "The Genesis Flood" by John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris. Whitcomb a theologian and Morris a past professor of Hydraulic Engineering and Chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering at the Virginia polytechnic Institute. This is exhaustively well written and has been a positive influence on my understanding of how Genesis should be read.

Would just like to point out here that the text might imply that it had never rained before. The text implies that everything was watered by springs, and then the "springs of the deep" were released, and it also rained. Now, we see in Genesis 1 that a separate "expanse was created", one a watery expanse above (called the heavens), and one below. The indication in the text is the this expanse "broke" and all the water came down on the earth.

Now that could just be the ancient way of interpreting what happened. We have to remember that ancient peoples did not have the understanding about the way the world was physically constructed like we do. So they would couch it in the language they would/could interpret. For instance, there's no word in Hebrew for a billion years in the ancient Hebrew. So they might have used the word yom (day) to describe a long period. There is too much we just don't know in the texts. On the other hand, it would be stupid to dismiss it as ahistorical. I think Adam and Eve were real people, and Noah, too. Trying to make the Bible to do scientific reconstruction is tough. It wasn't written in that manner, because the people who wrote it were fairly primitive. Heck, they didn't know the sun revolves around the earth or that the earth was round.

That also doesn't mean they were stupid. It does mean that God would communicate with them in simplistic means they can understand.

Just to finish, language in Hebrew is often exaggerated to make a point. For instance, if we say an army was too large to count, that's not technically true. It means it was huge.

It is possible the flood was regional. But it might have been a worldwide thing as well. We should probably take a hard look at the scientific data, and try to make the two fit together as best we can.

Obviously – as per my earlier comments – it seems the far more straightforward exegesis describes a regional event rather than a global event. However, just to mix it up a bit, it is interesting that the water canopy over the Earth explains and accounts for pretty much the entire show as well as the reason behind the fact that so many cultures and civilizations report a massive flood “event” of some “sort” as such would easily be accounted for by the water penumbra above the Earth coming down to the Earth nearly all at once (40 days for such a massive volume). Needless to say the physical topography before/after such an event would be radically different to say the least. There’s no telling what such an event would do to the topographic contours of Earth. Fossil records indeed lend support to a far more tropical milieu globally. Further, migration of animal “X” over to land mass “A” becomes a sort of moot point in the context of radical cooling and ice combined with such massive topographic changes which doubtlessly took decades if not a century or more to “settle down”. Further yet again, the criteria in Genesis as to which animals are to be included (on the Ark) means many things to us but we must be careful about projecting our perspective onto and into the minds of an entire genre we are still learning about and, therefore, such easily leaves margin leaving out (of the Ark) an array of species which such climate changes essentially doomed. The debate here is purely a theological debate, as noted earlier, wholly immune to scientism all while being wholly compatible with the physical sciences. That is why the Christian finds himself in such a comfortable position on this topic (as noted in earlier posts). Though the regional event seems more scriptural vis-à-vis a more straightforward exegesis (IMO) here’s a bit more with continuing with mixing it up a bit and playing it from the other side:



The next big problem for our theological forefathers concerned the animals on the Ark. Continuing worldwide exploration discovered numerous large animals that were previously unknown in Europe, and multitudes of previously unknown small animals as well. Fossil discoveries compiled a similar list of extinct animals. The number and volume of these animals are staggering. It seemed to skeptical Bible students that there was simply not enough room on the Ark to transport and care for all of these species. Their reaction was that Scripture must be wrong, and that the writer(s) of Genesis simply didn’t know the implications of what science had recently discovered.

We are told in Scripture that Noah was to take two of each land-dwelling, air-breathing “kind,” male and female, onto the Ark for the purpose of survival (Genesis 6:17-19). This provision didn’t apply to fish and other marine organisms, for they could survive, at least in representative numbers, outside the Ark. He was told to take seven (or seven pairs) of the clean animals. Perhaps this was because clean animals would soon be permissible as food for humans, or, more likely, because clean animals were fit to serve as sacrificial animals in worship while on the Ark and afterward. But how many kinds needed to be on board? A kind differs from a modern species, which usually represents a separate breeding population. However, many species can hybridize (when similar but somewhat different species mate) and produce fertile offspring, and thus should be classed in the same species.

A kind may be better approximated by our modern designation genus or family. All taxonomic categories are somewhat arbitrary and do not necessarily reflect separate creations. Depending on many factors, each one may contain many species. Obviously, the number of species far exceeds the number of kinds. For instance, several species of dog, including domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, etc. (which are labeled as separate species in the modern classification scheme), can and readily do interbreed. Thus, all are obviously one kind. The same could be said of bear, cat, deer, cattle, or rodent species, and many other groups. There are hundreds of species of hummingbird, for example, many of which are known to be interfertile, but there is probably just one hummingbird kind.

Research may one day determine just how many kinds there really are and thus how many needed to be on the Ark, but in lieu of that knowledge it might be helpful to construct a “worst case scenario” and ask if the Ark was large enough to house today’s known number of species. To do so, we need to know much about the various animal types, their number, their average size, their transport on ships, their food needs, etc. This is inexact speculation, but working with what we know, we wonder: Could the Ark hold two of each species? If so, it certainly could handle two of each kind, a far lower, and more likely, number.

There are well over one million species of animals on earth today (some speculate up to six million), but only some of the animals must be accounted for on the Ark. “All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land” (Genesis 7:22) needed to be protected from the floodwaters. Representatives of various fish types would survive outside, and so would corals, whales, clams, and marine arthropods, like lobsters. They died by the trillions, and we have their fossils, but some survived and perpetuated their kind after the Flood. Those kinds had no need to be on the Ark, and were not required biblically to be protected.

Insects, which make up the majority of arthropod species, would not have to be on board either. Even land-based insects can survive extended periods in water, some on floating debris, and others in egg or larval stages. Possessing neither “the breath of life” (insects absorb oxygen through their abdomen, not by using lungs) nor blood (their bodily fluids are quite different from blood), their presence on the Ark was not mandated, and we can surmise they were omitted. The turbulent, sediment-filled floodwaters were devastating to life in the sea, as evidenced by the abundant marine fossil record, but pockets of all kinds would have survived to continue the kind.

Furthermore, certain mammals could have survived outside, such as whales and dolphins. Floodwaters were deadly and many individuals died, but at least two of each kind survived somewhere, somehow. Among the birds, perhaps penguins could have made it outside the Ark, but most birds would have required the safety provided on the Ark. Survival outside could also be possible for some reptiles such as sea turtles and sea snakes, and certain of the amphibians, as well. Some could perhaps survive outside, but most needed the Ark.

An approximate listing of Ark travelers could be pared down to [the following species] (not all of which require land (the Ark) to survive) this list:

Mammal 3700

Birds 8600

Reptiles 6300

Amphibians 2500

Fishes 20600

Tunicates 1400

Echinoderms 6000

Arthropods 838500

Mollusks 107000

Worms 34700

Coelenterates et al 9600

Sponges 4800

Protozoans 28350

Total 1,072,300

[Far less needed to be on the Ark for the reasons stated earlier]

For fairness, in this hypothetical worst-case scenario of species on the Ark, we should add extinct species, bringing the (generous) rough approximation to 25,000 or so. Double this number to account for both genders and you arrive at only about 50,000 animals for the Ark’s passenger list. (Allowing for seven of the few “clean” kinds doesn’t add much.) This number represents the outside maximum number of individual animals that needed to be on board. Working with the number of “kinds” as we should be (i.e., groupings of related species) instead of species themselves, the number decreases dramatically. Creationist researcher John Woodmorappe concludes the outside maximum number of animals aboard the Ark was on the order of 16,000 (but more likely just a few thousand, equating kind with the modern family), not 50,000.

New species are regularly discovered, but these are mostly bacteria or insects or marine invertebrates, thus not required to have been on the Ark. All of these are quite small and usually similar to known species, thus probably fall within one of the biblical kinds already considered. Rarely does a new land mammal or bird or reptile turn up. Adding a small number to the total doesn’t alter the implications of the study.


To answer this question, we must first answer several other questions. To begin with, we must calculate the volume of the Ark. The Bible’s description of the Ark’s size is given in cubits—approximately the distance between a man’s elbow and fingertip, about eighteen inches—and was specified as 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. Thus, the Ark calculates as about 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high, and yields a volume for the Ark of 1,518,750 cubic feet.

For comparison, this volume is equivalent to about 569 double-deck railroad stock cars used for transporting animals. How many animals that many stock cars or that size ship could hold can be answered by knowing the average size of the animals and how much space each needed.

Most animals are rather tiny. Only a familiar few are large: cows, horses, giraffes, and elephants. The dinosaurs that were alive when the Flood occurred could have been represented by young adults, not necessarily the largest specimen of each type. Most of them were rather small and don’t change the average size. An exhaustive study demonstrated that the average size of the animals on the Ark approximates that of a rat. For ease of comparison, John Whitcomb and Henry Morris earlier assumed an average size estimate as that of a sheep, for it is known how much space it takes to transport sheep. A railroad stock car can comfortably transport 240 sheep on a long trip.


[50,000 “sheep” / 240 “sheep”/car] = 208 stock cars needed

208 stock cars needed = 36% of the Ark’s capacity

569 stock car equivalency

Thus, the Ark was at least two times bigger than it needed to be, given these reasonable assumptions. Remember, this is the worst-case scenario. We have assumed a number of animals on board much greater than it probably was. And we have generously estimated the average size of the animals and found the Ark was still big enough. The Ark was certainly large enough to do the job.

End quote.

(From Morris, John D., “The Global Flood: Unlocking Earth's Geologic History”)

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