Was Noah's Flood Local or Global?

Posted by MEYER on September 14, 1998 at 22:42:24:

Many of you have said the flood was a real event but only happened at a localized area. Some say it is a borrowed story from the Sumarians.


First Response

Posted by Frank on September 14, 1998 at 23:12:18:

I have no problems with that. In fact that is what I make of Noah's Flood.  In a major flood, which I'm sure plagued the Tigris-Euphrates river valley more often than the people there would like, a devastating flood could happen easily. That would leave those behind thinking they must of lived because (insert favourite diety(s) here) saw that I was worthy.


Response to Frank

Posted by MEYER on September 14, 1998 at 23:21:04:

You choose words carefully don't you Frank.
OK, I take it you don't think God caused the localized flood of Noah.


Response to MEYER

Posted by karl on September 15, 1998 at 02:50:34:

I believe there is a chalk strata in the area under question that clearly indicates the flood was not local.

  Response to karl

 

Posted by gallo on September 15, 1998 at 09:53:01:

How do localized chalk strata indicate, clearly or otherwise, that a flood was not local?


Response to MEYER

Posted by Deb on September 15, 1998 at 08:58:51:

Nice try, Meyer. (-:    Who knows if "God did it"? How could we investigate such a thing?


Response to Deb

Posted by MEYER on September 15, 1998 at 11:12:27:

The evidence doesn't matter Deb. Do you believe God caused the local" flood? The evidence doesn't support a resurrection, but we believe it, so what do you believe about the flood. Did God do it?


Response to MEYER

Posted by Deb on September 15, 1998 at 12:38:03:

 

Then why even ask if it was local or not, Meyer? What could it possibly matter, if "evidence" doesn't matter? If God did it, he did it.


Response to Deb

 

Posted by MEYER on September 15, 1998 at 12:46:03:

All I want to know is do you believe God caused a flood. If you don't want to answer say so.


Response to MEYER

 

Posted by Deb on September 15, 1998 at 22:36:41:

Ultimate causation? Yes. Proximate causation? No.


Second Response

Posted by The Dire Puppy on September 14, 1998 at 23:37:18:

The filling of the Black Sea by a breach of the Med. through the Bosporus Strait? As far as I know, this has got to be about the worst natural disaster ever witnessed by western man. And at ca. 5500 BC, would have been documented by the Sumerians, and a number of other peoples.
There is also physical evidence to back this up, as opposed to the lack of for a global flood.

As far as more worldly flood stories are concerned, a few other things were going on.

As little as 3000 BC, sea levels were still much lower than today. Florida Bay (as well as a lot more of the gulf coastal plain) was still dry land. There are indian middens off the west coast of Florida in 20-30 ft. of water.

Areas such as the Grand Banks and George's Banks off New England and the Maritime Provinces were islands (if not peninsulas) hosting critters like mastodons (personal obs.). Same goes with the North Sea. Mammoth parts as well as other material is commonly dredged up. Australia was colonized ca. 40,000 ybp. How many may had gone on to islands (that are now guyots) in the Pacific?

A sea level drop at over 500 ft. at the last glacial maximum would have caused them to be islands by way of lesser weight on the Pacific Plate, causing it to rise, as the land areas from the weight of ice, are depressed to below sea level, in Antarctica and Greenland. Not to mention breaches in late Wisconsinian ice dams that caused such major devastation such as the Scablands of the Pacific Northwest and areas in Siberia. Local maybe, but in the context of several thousand years of years time, perhaps global too.


Third Response

 

Posted by Helen on September 15, 1998 at 00:08:06:

If it was local, then the whole account is simply a lie.

1. No possibility of forewarning
2. No time to build a boat
3. No reason to save any animals
4. Since Mesopotamia is located west of the Zagros Range and south of the Turkish Ararat Range, the Mesopotamians knew about those mountains and lied about "all the high mountains everywhere" being covered.

Yes, localized flooding, such as that which produced the Pacific Northwest scablands and cut the Columbia Gorge can be devastating. We see flooding in China and India and the various monsoon countries that are awful. Flash flooding in dry areas can be deadly. But these are all missing the elements of THE flood story which is found in so many cultures around the world: all men were killed except a family who survived on a boat and saved the animals with them; a family who was forewarned so they could build that boat for that flood.

The Noah story really has to stand or fall as a worldwide flood due to those elements in it. There is too much "wrong" with it for it to be a story of a local flood, no matter how bad.


esponse to Helen

 

Posted by SeeJay on September 15, 1998 at 00:52:24:

Why could one not:

1. be forewarned about a localised flood;
2. build a boat before a localised flood;
3. save local animals from a localised flood?

I fail to see why these are impossible.


Response to SeeJay

 

Posted by Helen on September 15, 1998 at 01:13:39:

1. Even in our modern day, we can only warn of flooding being immanent or possible. In neither case do we find people building boats to ride it out. When one is warned, one presumably goes to higher ground!

2. Again, why build a boat for a localized flood? That does seem a bit silly to me. Move, if you know ahead of time. Get to higher ground!
3. Save local animals? Maybe some livestock -- by driving them to (ahem...grin...) higher ground.... Carry a pet with you or loaded in the wagon or something. But all the birds of the air, too?


Response to Helen

 

Thanx, I see now. These things are not impossible in the context of a local flood, just pointless! (nt) SeeJay 01:57:33 9/15/98


Response to Helen

 

Posted by Deb on September 15, 1998 at 08:55:17:

Gee, Helen--I wonder if it has ever occurred to you that the story was not meant as a straightforward historical account of a real event, but may, just may, have been dressed up a little to make a point. And the point was not the historicity of the event!!
You may call it a lie.

I suggest that to try and read the Bible absolutely literally is what turns it into a lie. And my Bible doesn't lie to me.


Response to Deb

 

Posted by Helen on September 15, 1998 at 09:45:27:

That's GOT to be one of the strangest posts I ever read. If one reads the Bible simply as it is written, then it is a lie. One must reinterpret it to prevent it from being a lie. Isn't that what you just said?

Very honestly, I do not consider myself smart enough to reinterpret God's Word. The way I see it, if our Lord could call fishermen to be His followers, and if they understood, I can, too. Jesus referred to the Flood as factual ("as it was in the days of Noah...") and so I am willing to take His word for it. Peter, also, referred to a world destroyed by water. One has to discard the words of both to reinterpret the Flood story, don't you think?


Response to Helen

  Posted by Joe Meert on September 15, 1998 at 09:58:59:

Stories are wonderful tools for teaching. Sometimes historical events have a tendency to be exaggerated to make a point. If Noah's flood was not a local flood, then it didn't happen since no evidence exists for such an event in the geologic record (and no, you can't make that evidence up either). Lying about the event to help make the Bible true doesn't help…. Having looked at geology on 5 continents, I can tell you that there is no evidence for any global flood.


Response to Joe

 

Posted by Helen on September 15, 1998 at 20:10:07:

It's not that there is no evidence, Joe, it's just that there is no evidence you are willing to accept.


Response to Helen

 

Posted by Joe Meert on September 16, 1998 at 09:10:39:

You also speak from ignorance, sorry for the harshness, but it's the facts.


Fourth Response

  Posted by Deb on September 15, 1998 at 08:51:14:

If we believe the story was based upon something that actually happened at one time, then given the physical evidence, it could only have been local (whether or not it was a "borrowed" story I don't see as a separate issue--I don't see why it couldn't have been a borrowed account of a real local event that happened somewhere else--but I ramble). This is not to say that it was not a devastating event to those it happened to--anyone who lives along the great North American river valleys in the past decade can probably affirm that huge (but local) floods are incredibly devastating, both physically and emotionally.

The apparent flooding of the Black Sea at about the right time sounds to me like an excellent candidate for the germ of such a story, considering the enormous extent such a flood would cover, and the different cultures it would have affected.


Fifth Response

 

Posted by Mockingbird1 on September 15, 1998 at 10:25:38:

PK: 2) things.

PK: 1) The point of the flood was to destroy human civilization, rather than to destroy almost all life. If, at the time, all human civilization was in one valley (perhaps the future Black Sea and the surrounding area), it may be possible to flood the entire human world, w/o flooding the globe. Nowwadays, the globe would need to be flooded to drown human civilization. Regardless if local, or global, God's warning to Noah surely indicates the miraculous happening w/ the flood.

PK: 2) Abraham is regarded as a Patriarch because all the Hebrews were his descendents. Abraham was from Ur, which was the capital of Sumer about the time that Abraham left. If the Bible is correct in both the flood narrative and biography of Abraham, the cullture whose flood story most closely approximates the Hebrew flood, should be Sumer. For now, that seems to be the case. Though some may imagine they have challenged the credibility of the Bible, they are in fact validating it.


Response to Mockingbird1

  Posted by Helen on September 15, 1998 at 15:15:12:

On your first point, PK, about the purpose of the flood being to destroy human civilization, I agree, but I think there was a deeper, if you will, purpose. That was to change the ecosystem so that man could not live as long as the antediluvians. The average lifespan seems to cut in half immediately after the flood and then in half again (decreasing to a top of about 120 years) at the time of Peleg. No localized flood would cause this to happen. But what interests me about the age of man being so drastically shortened is that I can see in my own life that those people who have chosen early on to refuse God and suppress the truth that they do know end up becoming more and more a product of that kind of thinking as they become older. A rebellious heart does not stay at the beginning level of rebellion. I sometimes wonder if we could even possibly imagine the depths of degradation and evil that could be present in a civilization in which people lived almost a millennium.
On your second point -- thank you. That is well-put.


Response to Helen

 

Posted by SteveS on September 15, 1998 at 15:33:57:

Helen wrote: On your first point, PK, about the purpose of the flood being to destroy human civilization, I agree, but I think there was a deeper, if you will, purpose. That was to change the ecosystem so that man could not live as long as the antediluvians.

 

Doesn't this directly contradict Gen. 8:21? Also, Gen. 6:3 indicates the reason lifespan was supposed to decrease to 120 years. It had nothing to do with ecosystems.

Helen wrote: The average lifespan seems to cut in half immediately after the flood and then in half again (decreasing to a top of about 120 years) at the time of Peleg.

 

Incorrect. Recorded lifespans did not go below 120 years until Joseph.


Response to Steve S

  Posted by Helen on September 15, 1998 at 15:48:48:

This has to be fast, but your post is good and I want to answer something quick before I have to get back to my "real" world....
Gen. 6:3 indicates to me that man's lifespan will eventually, at least, be cut to 120 years. Both before and after the flood, as you noted, the judgment of man's heart was that it is evil, and every tendency, in its natural state (See Romans 8 for the changed heart) will be evil. So the flood was not to wipe out evil per se. What the flood DID do, according to the Bible, was not only wipe out the extant civilizations, but drastically cut man's lifespan immediately. Although there are certainly other ways God could have done it, it can be considered that an upset of the entire world's ecosystem which might have resulted in a much higher percentage of UV radiation reaching the ground could have accomplished just that.

In other words, the change in the world environment might have been the means by which God fulfilled Gen. 6:3.
Regarding hitting 120 years with Joseph, right. That is why I added the "decreasing to 120 years" in parentheses. I was not being clear I guess. The lifespans were cut in half (approximately) at the time of Peleg and then kept decreasing from there until they reached a top of 120 years. In fact, Abraham is listed as dying at, I think, 175 and is referred to as being of ripe old age at that point! Quite a difference!


Sixth Response

 

Posted by SteveS on September 15, 1998 at 13:02:41:

Is God a low pressure system?

The best Biblically-based argument I know of that the Flood in Genesis was not merely some exaggerated local event but a world-wide one is Gen. 9:11. There God promised never to use a flood to destroy all flesh or the earth again. The argument continues by saying that since we still see deaths from localized flooding, God must have been talking about something truly global - or else Genesis is a lie as Helen suggested.
The problem with this argument is that it presupposes that God is a direct causative agent in all storms. I call this the "God is a low pressure system" conjecture.

However, one can still have a localized flood exaggerated to make a point (mythologized) and still maintain God's and the Bible's integrity by claiming that all storms that have caused localized flooding since the time that the Flood myth supposedly took place are due to naturalistic or demonic causes rather than by God's direct intervention - thus leaving God's hands clean, so to speak, and the covenant unbroken (i.e. Insurance companies are wrong to call them "acts of God.").

BTW, does anybody else read Gen. 9:14 as indicating there should always be a rainbow when God sends a cloud over the earth? Perhaps God only causes the storms in which rainbows appear.


Response to SteveS

 

Posted by Helen on September 15, 1998 at 15:36:40:

No, -- I don't think God is a low pressure system....:-D

Regarding God's involvement with nature, I think there are a couple of Bible passages that speak to that:

Colossians 1:16-17 -- For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

 

Zechariah 10:1 –  Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone.

I do not see anyplace in the Bible where demons are considered the causes of even natural disasters. Always, it seems to be pointed back to being the results of man's rebellion against God. This would take us back to the judgment of the Flood and the changed ecosystem. The word of both comfort and encouragement we are given, though, can be found in Romans 8:28 – We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

To me, this means God is always in control, no matter what happens, and that He won't allow anything to happen that will not, in some way, benefit those who love Him.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't see where the Bible allows for a localized flooding at the time of Noah. Not just the narrative itself, but so many other points in the Bible indicate a one-time disaster which inundated the entire world. Joe says there is no evidence of this geologically. Others say there obviously is. They all seem well-educated and smart, so I guess the answer is in how you interpret the geologic record.....

In the meantime, about the rainbow. I don't see it as saying that God is only involved in those storms that result in rainbows. I see the verse as saying that when there is a rainbow it will be a reminder of the covenant.


Response to Helen

 

Posted by SteveS on September 15, 1998 at 21:18:32:

Zechariah 10:1 -- Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone.

 

**Aha! God is a low pressure system! I offer the following verses to further support this view:

Gen. 1:2 -- the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. (NRSV)

Job 38:1 -- Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:

Job 40:6 -- Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:

Isa. 66:15 -- For the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to pay back his anger in fury, and his rebuke in flames of fire.

 

Jer. 30:23 -- Look, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked.

 

Nahum 1:3 -- The LORD is slow to anger but great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

 


Response to SteveS

 

Posted by Helen on September 15, 1998 at 21:34:20:

I have to laugh!  You must have known I would.   What about the Lord being our rock or hiding ourselves under His wings?  He is also the light in the darkness and the Creator of the universe.  Man, some low pressure system!


Response to Helen

 

Posted by SteveS on September 15, 1998 at 23:50:30:

I thought you might enjoy that.  It is pretty silly to try to limit and define God.

 

 

 

 
 
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