Could the biblical account of the global flood actually be true? Here are some points to consider.
Firstly, the Bible clearly intends us to regard the global flood as a literal historical event. This is evident by the fact that the New Testament writers consistently referred to Noah’s flood as actual history. For example, the writer of the book of Hebrews describes the flood of Noah’s time and commends him for his faith in building an ark in response to God’s command (Heb 11:7). The Apostle Peter mentions the flood three times in his epistles. For example, in 2 Peter 3:6, he writes:
“the world at that time was destroyed by the flood waters.”
In the following verse, Peter then goes on to say that, in the same way, God’s judgment will come upon the Earth at the end of history.
Even more significantly, Jesus himself spoke of Noah’s flood as real history and made a similar connection to the coming day of judgment. In Matthew 24:39 he says:
“they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
There is also the significant evidence of the genealogy of Jesus. The genealogy in Luke’s Gospel traces Jesus’ lineage back through the generations to Noah (and, finally, even to Adam). If Noah and the flood are mythical, we must ask ourselves at what point in that genealogy does this list of ancestors cease to be factual and become mythical? The Jews in antiquity were meticulous in keeping records of their ancestors and Jesus’ genealogy is presented to us as a historical list of real people.
So, the first important point to be made is that the Bible treats the flood story as literal history. If we categorise the Genesis flood narrative as being merely mythological, we must then regard a number of key statements by the New Testament writers and even Jesus, himself, as fallacious and misleading.
The second thing to consider is the evidence of geology and palaeontology. Sedimentary rock and fossils can only form as a result of the deposition of sediment from water inundation. In other words; flooding. Yet the fact remains that fossils and / or sedimentary rock are found on every part of the earth’s surface, including on the highest of mountains. Mount Everest, for example, contains sedimentary rock with fossils at its very summit! Geologists explain this by theorising that even the highest mountains were once part of a seabed which was eventually forced upwards over millions of years as a result of the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates – the geomorphological forces shaping the Earth’s crust. This is the only way scientists can explain how the entire Earth is covered with fossils and sedimentary rock.
The biblical account of the global flood, however, provides us with a simpler (in one sense) explanation: the global flood of Noah is the primary cause of the proliferation of fossils all over the Earth. Indeed, the Bible tells us that the flood waters covered the entire earth, even the highest mountains.
How can this possibly be true? Surely there is not enough water to cover the whole Earth?
Did you know that if the Earth was a perfectly smooth sphere, with no depressions or mountains, there is enough water on Earth to cover the entire planet to a depth of over two kilometres? It is possible, indeed highly likely, that the geology of the pre-flood Earth was significantly flatter, and that God reshaped the Earth’s surface in order to make the flood waters recede, as the book of Genesis says. Thus, the deepest part of the earth’s oceans is now 11 kilometres deep and our mountains are much higher than they once were, allowing (in the words of Genesis) “dry ground to appear”. You see, the same explanation of the malleable nature of the Earth’s surface that is used by secular scientists to explain the presence of fossils on the highest mountains can also be used to explain the process of dry ground appearing after the flood. The only difference is that in the biblical account, the geomorphological changes to the Earth’s surface occurred over a period of months, not millions of years.
But if the biblical flood did occur, surely the story of Noah’s Ark can’t be true? How could all the animals fit on one boat?
- Firstly, the ark was very large. In Genesis 6, God gives specific instructions to Noah for the building of the Ark, including its dimensions. Taking into account its many decks, it would have had a floor area of nearly three times the size of an Olympic-sized football field!
- Secondly, Noah did not need to have every breed of animal on board. For example, he would have needed just two dogs. In each “kind” of animal that God created there was a complete set of genetic information incorporating all the possible variations. Genetic re-combination, through sexual reproduction was all that was necessary for two dogs to eventually develop into the large variety that we see today. The same is true for all major species. Noah didn’t need lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, pumahs, panthers, etc. He just needed two cats, or four at the most. (Geneticists believe there are just two genetic families of cats). Thus, Noah didn’t need nearly the number of animals that we once thought he needed. The science of genetics has helped us to see what the Bible has been saying all along; that God sent Noah “two of every wild animal according to its kind” (Gen 7:14).
- Thirdly, The average size of even the dinosaurs was about the size of a dog. Even the very large dinosaurs were born small. In those cases, God probably sent babies rather than senior citizens. Remember, too, that as with all other living things, God only needed two “of every kind”.
Thus, I have no trouble believing the biblical narrative of the global flood and the account of Noah’s Ark. The Bible portrays those events as literal history and I see no logical or scientific impediment to regarding them otherwise. Furthermore, as I explained in my last post, the existence of literally hundreds of ancient flood stories among many of the world’s ancient people groups and cultures, most of whom would have had no contact with each other, points to an ancient, universal cultural memory of this monumental event that shaped our planet and our history.
Kevin Simington (B.Th. Dip. Min.) is a theologian, apologist and social commentator. He is the author of 12 books, and his latest, “7 Reasons to Believe”, is now available. Connect with Kevin on Facebook or his SmartFaith Blog.