Christianity and Science, Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, Science, theology, Young Earth Creationism

Resource Review: “In the Days of Noah: A Deeper Look at the Genesis Flood”

Reasons to Believe is a science faith think-tank dedicated to showing that Christianity is true. Recently, I had the opportunity to view their resource, “In the Days of Noah.” The video features a lecture by Hugh Ross regarding the extent, location, and timing of the Noahic (Biblical) Flood.

One of the central points of Ross’ argument is that people must take an integrative approach to the question of the Genesis Flood. It is not enough to look at just one verse or one chapter or even one book of the Bible and declare the question closed. Instead, Ross argues, one must take the entirety of the Scriptural data and see what it tells readers about the Flood. Not only that, but the relevant scientific findings must be taken into account as well.

For many Christians, the extent of the Flood is taken as a test for orthodoxy. Ross argues convincingly, however, that the Biblical account does not necessitate that the Flood covered the entire surface of the planet. He goes over a wide range of texts that discuss events that are said to be “world wide” or to “cover the whole earth” or that are supposed to bring “every nation” to a certain place and shows how the usage of the term was relative to the author. Ross cites a number of texts to back up this claim and shows how in many places–the Joseph narrative, writings about Solomon, etc.–the words taken as universals generally (“whole earth,” “all nations,” etc.) are used specifically to mean the whole immediate/relevant world.

There are a number of texts describing creation that go into greater detail about specific aspects of the Genesis account. Ross outlines his argument via these texts by specifically noting a number which discuss the limits set for the waters. For example, Proverbs 8:29 states quite explicitly that God gave the sea its boundary. Ross continues through the Bible and cites numerous examples wherein it talks about God setting boundaries for the waters. From there, he makes the argument that these verses give us a principle: God has set the oceans in their boundaries from Creation. He then utilizes this as an argument for a local flood as opposed to a global flood.

I think that this may be the weakest part of Ross’ argument, because it is possible to counter this reasoning by saying that just because there are a number of texts talking about the boundaries set for the water, it does not mean that the water can never cross these boundaries. In fact, one might counter by noting that Ross’ view entails a kind of uncertainty over what exactly is meant when the Bible discusses the boundaries or limits for the oceans. After all, even on Ross’ view, some body of water covered a vast expanse of land–indeed, the whole inhabited world at the time. In fact, one may argue that due to what we know about plate tectonics, the oceans have not, in fact, had clear boundaries from the beginning but have instead been shifting as the continental plates drift.

Of course, Ross could counter by noting that those continental plates themselves act as boundaries for the oceans. Even though these plates shift, they remain ‘fixed’ in the sense of constant. Regardless, it seems that the rebuttal given above must be given at least some weight in considering Ross’ overall argument. However, even if one denies the force of his argument for the Scriptural notion of fixed boundaries as being a limit for a global flood, one must still contend with his argument to open up the possibility of a local flood by noting the difference between general and specific uses of the notion of a “worldwide” event.

That said, Ross turns to the scientific evidence and notes a number of evidences against a global flood. First, there are such things as unambiguous signs of a flood. He points out the possibility of checking ice cores and sediment cores for the continuous record of the last several hundred thousand years, so if there was a global flood there should be a signal in the ice layers evidence for a global flood. These layers are annual and we know this by looking for volcanic eruptions lined up in the layers at the correct times. These can therefore be calibrated by lining them up with volcanic eruptions that we know of historically. Moreover, the ice layers line up with the ellipticity of the earth, so there are multiple independent ways to test these ice layers. However, in these layers there are none of the telltale signs for a global flood.

So where was the flood? Ross notes a number of verses in the Bible to narrow in on the location of Eden, and then extrapolates from that where civilization would flourish. Due to some geological evidence for there having been a blockage on the end of the Persian Gulf which would have, combined with the melting of ice and the extreme amount of rain noted in the Biblical account, flooded a huge portion of the Mesopotamian Plain. The region is surrounded by mountains which would have blocked in the water for the flood. Such a flood would have wiped out the extent of known humanity at the time, argues Ross.

There are a number of arguments that young earth creationists, who often rely upon “Flood Geology” to explain a number of features of the geological past to maintain their view of the history of the earth, would raise to Ross’ presentation. For example, the image on the right was created by Answers in Genesis to parody the notion that a flood can be local when the Bible says that even the mountain-tops were covered (Genesis 7:18-20) [all credit for the image to Answers in Genesis, I make no claim to having produced it in any way]. Ross answers this argument by noting that the word can also mean hills and that with the extent of the flood he proposed, there would be no visible hills or mountains from the Ark. Thus, Ross’ argument is much along the lines of his integrative approach: that we must take into account all the relevant Biblical texts as well as noting the scientific evidence.

It would be remiss to have a review of a video without looking into the visuals. The video is a lecture divided into chapters, so a decent portion of it is spent watching Hugh Ross talk. However, there are also a number of very useful images and slides presented which will provide viewers in groups with opportunity for discussion and individual viewers with valuable resources to discuss the Biblical Flood.

“In the Days of Noah” is a great resource for those interested in the Noahic Flood. Hugh Ross is a lucid thinker and clearly lays out his perspective on the flood in terms that listeners will easily comprehend. Ross’ case is based off a holistic approach to natural and special revelation. Although Ross does not answer every counter-argument which those opposed to his view may present, the video can act as a valuable way to open discussions and perhaps come to a better understanding of God’s truth.

Source

In the Days of Noah: A Deeper Look at the Genesis Flood” (Reasons to Believe), 2010.

Image Credit for the second image goes to Answers in Genesis.

SDG.

——

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

10 thoughts on “Resource Review: “In the Days of Noah: A Deeper Look at the Genesis Flood”

  1. I claim it all to be a mystery. As C.S. Lewis describes in some way, that creation is a myth that is true. It is true, not necessarily literally, but logically. Since Jesus is logic, it was created by Him. Paul told us not to make endles genelogues or extra-biblical myths in addition to the truth is. What I am left with is a type of poetic, true creationism – that says no to the extra-biblical almost gnostic or at least rebellious endless books of young and old earth creationism. I reject the intellectual and the literal creationism and have my own poetic creationism: It is true as it is writteb, do not add anything, do not take away, just read it and wonder, and worship the creator.

    Science is true up to a certain point, we are not threathened by it, because all is good, which is true. If science threathens, it is not humble enough. I respect humble science, but not the simplified tv science, which noone should give much notice to.

    Posted by thinknorway | January 10, 2013, 8:08 AM
  2. I understand Ross’s treatment of texts that describe “the whole world” and “every nation,” but it does cause me to wonder about other texts and their meaning. What about “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation…” in Rev. 5:9? 1 John 2:2? What about “all the earth” in Exodus 9:16 and 19:5? I understand that context is indispensable, but is it possible that context could be twisted to fit a particular belief? Of course, and that is why Ross’s argument is still troubling to me. But I’m an amateur scholar, so what do I know (humorous attempt at self-deprecation)?

    Posted by Anthony Baker | January 10, 2013, 8:51 AM
    • Mr. Baker, while I understand your larger point, I would like to point out that your examples have all been fulfilled in their global context. You state that context is indispensable. Indeed it is. Exodus 9:16 – God’s name has indeed been proclaimed in all the earth. Exodus 19:5 – Just looking in modern times, they have won every war since their modern inception in 1948. Even the US has not clearly won every war since then. As for Revelation 5:9, it has also been fulfilled, as the capital ‘C’ church has missionaries throughout every nation.

      Posted by Mike | January 11, 2013, 10:23 AM
  3. I think it is really interesting that multiple cultures in a relatively localized geographic area have texts or stories referencing a flood or floods.

    I’m not an anthropologist but I think it should be noted that the function of flooding was very critical to early civilizations’ survival, due to the irrigation effect it had for growing crops. So, floods would have been a very important life-giving force.

    Posted by Andrew Marburger (@AndrewMarburger) | January 10, 2013, 10:22 AM
  4. I believe the flood has to be considered locally distributed to the area know to the people at that time. New world monkeys and their ancestors (fossils) along with the many other biological specimens in the Americas would be hard to explain in the post flood time-frame. I was glad to hear the ice core explanation and look forward to seeing the video.

    Posted by faithinreason | January 10, 2013, 12:51 PM
  5. Your rebut to Ross’s use of Proverbs 8:29 was interesting, but I have an answer for you. In my opinion, Proverbs 8:27-29 are a creation account of days 1 to 4. I write about this topic on my site and blog in great detail. Verse 27a is when God created the heavens and the earth, an earth that was covered by ocean and a hazy atmosphere the sun could not penetrate. 27b is when God allowed the light to reach the ocean (“let there be light”), basically letting the atmosphere begin to clear up. Verse 28 is when God separated the waters above (the skies) from the waters below (the oceans) — the atmosphere cleared up more. Verse 29 is when plate tectonics began, and the lands were first thrust out of the waters. So in my opinion, Ross is correct that the oceans were given their limits during creation, though I part from Ross on the date and cause of the flood itself.

    Posted by Mike | January 11, 2013, 10:05 AM
  6. I agree with your comments about Proverbs 8 and the problem Ross has if he presses that text to hard as an indicator that the seas couldn’t transgress those boundaries. I do, however, find Psalm 104:9 to be a bit more concrete, in that it specifically states, “You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.” (ESV) The passage in Proverbs specifically says that the waters would not transgress His command, so there’s a different shade of meaning there that I think needs to be taken into account, once again confirming the central point Ross makes and you mention at the outset: the whole counsel of God must be integrated.
    It’s a subtle point, but I do think it provides some good evidence that after God separated the dry land from the waters that He was declaring that the globe would never again be covered by water. In any case, at the very least it ought to give us reason not to be dogmatic about how to interpret the extent of the flood.

    I think there are some syntax problems with his interpretation of “all the high hills”, but I’m not trained in Hebrew and haven’t sufficiently studied the matter to say with any authority. However – and this is pure speculation and I usually am loathe to engage in such thinking, esp. since it’s a rampant problem with AIG’s approach to filling in the historical record – that graphic you borrowed from them has always been unconvincing to me for one reason: wouldn’t the parting of the Red sea have looked quite similar? Exodus 14:22 describes what it looked like as literally “the waters being a wall to them on the right hand and on their left”. Granted, the text in Genesis makes no mention of the flood being like that, but that sort of speculation has never been an obstacle to YEC’s before (i.e. light source prior to day 4), and all this is is a response to their charge that such a phenomenon vis a vis the flood is ridiculous on its face.

    As for the abundance of flood legends across cultures…several ways to explain it that do no damage to a local flood theory. 1. If Noah and his family were the root of all subsequent generations, then flood legends would simply be the story being passed along and altered as people moved further away and became isolated. The extent of the flood is irrelevant to that. 2. Massive local flooding is a common natural phenomenon, so most people groups would have experienced them and thus developed stories about them. They’re not really a source of verification for Noah’s flood per se except that many have common traits that might confirm point one above. Also, these stories are not really as similar as some have suggested. Once you actually start reading them one really wonders if they’re talking about different events after all.

    Posted by Jim | January 11, 2013, 12:34 PM

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