Global flood?


#1

In Genesis 6-10, a record is given of Noah and the flood. I have a few questions about it.

a) Should this be interpreted literally, symbolically, or both?
b) If literal, was it a global flood? (Please see note at bottom of post before answering this question)
c) Did it rain before this point in history?
d) Was there a “canopy” of water around the earth before this? (The canopy theory is popular with fundementalists.)

Note on question b:

The Hebrew word for “world” used in Genesis 6-10 does not always mean the entire globe. It can mean land mass, continent, and a number of similar concepts.


#2

The story of Noah is not about a boat ride with animals

It is about, amongst other things; trust in God, submission to His will, perseverance in your beliefs in the face of adversity (and derisive neighbors) and an answer to the age old question of why doesn’t God just destroy all the evil in the world.

It is an allegory

While floods happen all the time in many regions, there is no evidence for a global flood.


#3

[quote=steveandersen]The story of Noah is not about a boat ride with animals. It is an allegory
[/quote]

Amen! And there is no church teaching requiring or encouraging anyone to believe otherwise.

It can also be seen as an attempt to answer the puzzling question “How did these seashells get way up here?” Ancient answer: “This land must have been underwater as a result of a great flood…”


#4

[quote=trumpet152]In Genesis 6-10, a record is given of Noah and the flood. I have a few questions about it.

a) Should this be interpreted literally, symbolically, or both?
[/quote]

Both. Literally as a historical event and used by Sts. Peter and Paul to symbolize and explain the reality of baptism.

[quote=trumpet152]b) If literal, was it a global flood? (Please see note at bottom of post before answering this question)
[/quote]

As you point out there may be some contextual elements that didn’t make it into the story. I’ve been in floods and there was water everywhere! I think you could understand the context of my statement without further explaination.

[quote=trumpet152]c) Did it rain before this point in history?
[/quote]

Of course…

[quote=trumpet152]d) Was there a “canopy” of water around the earth before this? (The canopy theory is popular with fundementalists.)
[/quote]

Not a clue… Although wouldn’t cloud cover be considered a canopy of sorts?


#5

“Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah’s Ark…” (a) Don’t miss the boat. (b) Remember that we are all in the same boat. © Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark. (d) Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. (e) Don’t listen to critics. Just get on with the job that needs to be done. (f) Build your future on high ground. (g) For safety’s sake, travel in pairs. (h) Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. (i) When you’re stressed, float a while. (j) Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals. (k) No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

Phil P


#6

[quote=PhilVaz]http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/NoahsArkHumor.jpg

“Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah’s Ark…” (a) Don’t miss the boat. (b) Remember that we are all in the same boat. © Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark. (d) Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. (e) Don’t listen to critics. Just get on with the job that needs to be done. (f) Build your future on high ground. (g) For safety’s sake, travel in pairs. (h) Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. (i) When you’re stressed, float a while. (j) Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals. (k) No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

Phil P
[/quote]

Thats funny.


#7

trumpet << d) Was there a “canopy” of water around the earth before this? (The canopy theory is popular with fundementalists.) >>

Canopy theory has been abandoned by mainstream creationists. AnswersInGenesis.org lists it as “doubtful” and “inadvisable to use” on this page here

Canopy theory was invented in 1874 by Isaac Newton Vail, an old-earth creationist, but came to prominence in the young-earth creationist book The Genesis Flood (1961) by Whitcomb/Morris. Vail had other bizarre ideas that his icy “rings” around the earth also contained gold and limestone, extended to 100,000 miles away from the earth’s surface, and formed a solid covering like that of Saturn or Jupiter. Glenn Morton’s article documents this.

I accept a local flood, the Bible can support that interpretation, and science is not opposed to that. The global or literal worldwide flood idea was abandoned by Christian creationist geologists themselves over 150 years ago.

Phil P


#8

I happen to think that Noah’s flood was a local flood.

Was Noah’s Flood Local or Global?
geocities.com/darrickdean/noahsflood.html

Problems With “Flood” Geology
fsteiger.com/flood-report.html

The Vapor Canopy Hypothesis Holds No Water
talkorigins.org/faqs/canopy.html
geocities.com/osarsif/flood03.htm
talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-flood.html

How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
talkorigins.org/faqs/hovind/howgood-add.html


#9

[quote=PhilVaz]trumpet << d) Was there a “canopy” of water around the earth before this? (The canopy theory is popular with fundementalists.) >>

Canopy theory has been abandoned by mainstream creationists. AnswersInGenesis.org lists it as “doubtful” and “inadvisable to use” on this page here

Canopy theory was invented in 1874 by Isaac Newton Vail, an old-earth creationist, but came to prominence in the young-earth creationist book The Genesis Flood (1961) by Whitcomb/Morris. Vail had other bizarre ideas that his icy “rings” around the earth also contained gold and limestone, extended to 100,000 miles away from the earth’s surface, and formed a solid covering like that of Saturn or Jupiter. Glenn Morton’s article documents this.

I accept a local flood, the Bible can support that interpretation, and science is not opposed to that. The global or literal worldwide flood idea was abandoned by Christian creationist geologists themselves over 150 years ago.

Phil P
[/quote]

I just knew you would have a short response, laden with citations, that pretty much put this issue to rest, Phil. Thanks!

Peace,
javelin


#10

Affiliation of Christian Geologists
wheaton.edu/ACG/links.html
wheaton.edu/ACG/index.stm

asa3.org/ASA/topics/Bible-Science/index.html

natcenscied.org/link.asp?category=12

asa3.org/

google.com/search?hl=en&q=christian+geologists+asa&spell=1

What is known as “global geology” was made popular by SDA,

The Recent Rise of New Flood Geology

Just as many are completely unaware of the great antiquity of a regional flood view, most are also completely unaware of the recent origin and ultimate source of what we now recognize as Creation Science…Most of the basic ideas we recognize today as flood geology were originally formulated by Seventh Day Adventists early in the 20th century.

Bernard Ramm explains how Adventism (a hyper-futurist sect) would forever reshape the world of flood geology ultimately giving birth to the Creation Science movement in America:

Now we shall pass on to the great revival of flood geology in the twentieth century. This revival was carried on principally by the Seventh-Day Adventist apologists and was termed the new diluvialism or the new catastrophism to distinguish it from the older flood geology of Cuvier and Agassiz [theories of successive floods over the ancient past which explain geological layering – T.M.].

Ramm continues:

One of the strangest developments of the early part of the twentieth century was that George McCready Price, a Seventh-Day Adventist with very limited professional training, became American fundamentalism’s leading apologist in the domain of geology. Even this had a most peculiar quirk, because most fundamentalists accepted the gap theory as taught in The Scofield Bible, a theory which the Seventh-Day Adventists vigorously reject. At any rate, the influence of Price is staggering… It is not at all uncommon to find the most lauditory praise by fundamentalists of Price’s The New Geology (1923). It forms the backbone of much of fundamentalist thought about geology, creation, and the flood. Byron Nelson’s The Deluge Story in Stone and A.M. Rehwinkel’s The Flood are deeply indebted to Price, and adopt his major premise. Another disciple of Price has been H.W. Clark, who expressed his views in The New Diluvianism (1946). (43)

A cursory look at The Genesis Flood reveals Whitcomb and Morris reference H.W. Clark, (44) A.M. Rehwinkel, (45) and Byron Nelson. (46) Whitcomb and Morris also briefly reference George McCready Price. (47) The chronology of the publishing of these books suggests a disturbing conclusion for anyone dedicated to both Creation Science and preterism. The modern Creation Science movement was spawned by Seventh Day Adventism from as early as 1923. Here is one more example of the symbiotic relationship between modern, radical futurism and Creation Science ideology. This connection does not disprove Creation Science ideology by itself, but it should foster caution and careful discernment when we examine its claims, particularly dogmatic claims on biblical interpretation.

Even though Creation Science traces its lineage back to Seventh Day Adventism through George McCready Price, there is one glaring omission in The Genesis Flood (1961). Their overall thesis is by no means new in the history of 20th century flood geology. Whitcomb and Morris rely heavily on the new flood geology writers who preceded them by decades, but they never, not one time, give credit for their ideas to George McCready Price. Nor do they give credit to anyone else who would be logically linked to him. Nor do they give credit to anyone, period. …

truthinliving.org/Book/Ch%203.htm

google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=global+geology+SDA++McCready+Price


#11

javelin << I just knew you would have a short response, laden with citations, that pretty much put this issue to rest, Phil. Thanks! >>

Why thank you, I am nothing if not consistent. Been posting the same darn links on these subjects since May 2004. And will continue until May 2044. :smiley:

Phil P


#12

The Truth Behind Noah’s Flood - Scientific American Forntiers

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1207/images07/popup.gif

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1207/images07/popup2.gif

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1207/images07/noah6.gif


#13
  1. One MUST believe that some catastrophic event led to the death of all HUMAN beings on EARTH other than Noah and his family. That is what scripture says and what the Church and Fathers have always taught.

  2. IF it was a LOCAL flood then we must believe that HUMAN beings, at that point in time, had NOT spread all over the Globe and thus were killed in the flood.

St. Augustine declares that one MUST interpret scripture BOTH LITERRALY and Spiritually. However, the spiritual interpretation was not to deny the LITERAL.

The “myth” of a universal flood which virtually killed all humans is almost UNIVERSAL. Not only in Mesopotemian myths, but Egyptian, and even North American Indian myths. Something so universal CAN NOT be just symbolic; it must have taken place at some point in time.


#14

[quote=buffalo]The Truth Behind Noah’s Flood - Scientific American Forntiers

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1207/images07/popup.gif

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1207/images07/popup2.gif

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1207/images07/noah6.gif
[/quote]

The Bible says the water rose above the highest tips of the mountains.


#15

[quote=Catholic Dude]The Bible says the water rose above the highest tips of the mountains.
[/quote]

This is mostly a reply to steveanderson. A challenge that this may be in fact the flood of the Bible and not simply allegory.

It is a start and more may be learned in the future.


#16

[quote=Mercurius]1) One MUST believe that some catastrophic event led to the death of all HUMAN beings on EARTH other than Noah and his family. That is what scripture says and what the Church and Fathers have always taught.

  1. IF it was a LOCAL flood then we must believe that HUMAN beings, at that point in time, had NOT spread all over the Globe and thus were killed in the flood.

[/quote]

Yes, this is key.

Those proposing local floods and “allegorical” dimensions of Noah’s ark are either not Catholic or not troubled enough to bother to believe what the faith teaches and what the Bible says.

It is of note that, throughout the Bible (I don’t have one open with me right now, but the verses should not be hard to find), there is constant reference to the fact that this flood wiped out “every living thing on the face of the Earth.”

Unless you subscribe to the more-unlikely idea, as Mercurius stated, that the whole of the rest of the Earth had not even been populated, one must accept that this flood encompassed more than a “local” area.

This problem highlights 1 important point:

The Church, in my opinion, really needs to make a definitive statement–or at least something MORE definitive–about these matters where faith and science clash. I’ve seen fantastic expositions of exactly how the Ark’s dimensions could fit every animal, how the Earth could have been repopulated in such a short time, etc. I’ve seen equally fine explanations of the local flood theory.

But theories about matters of the origins of the known universe and the results of Original Sin and God’s covenant with man are worthless. More than theory is needed. What is needed is actual teaching, something definite, something clear, and then we will not need 15 threads every day with faithful Catholics all over the theoretical globe about this sort of thing.

Here’s hoping that one of the cardinals reads Catholic Answers and will put forth a suggestion to define this. Unlikely, but possible.


#17

[quote=Mercurius]1) The “myth” of a universal flood which virtually killed all humans is almost UNIVERSAL. Not only in Mesopotemian myths, but Egyptian, and even North American Indian myths. Something so universal CAN NOT be just symbolic; it must have taken place at some point in time.
[/quote]

It would be more credible if on could show that these myths were tied to a single particular period in time. At the moment I would say there is little if any scientific evidence of a universal flood. We have a fairly recent ice age when a fair amount of what is sea bottom today was dry land, we have cities like Sacramento, California built on what is an ancient seabed( it would take a lot more than 40 days and nights to create a seabed.), we have studies made by scientists on the Glomar Challenger which indicates that about 12,000 years ago the Med was a desert. Similar studies showed the Black Sea as having been a fresh water lake about 500 feet shallower than it is today as a salt sea(Cf a book titled “Noah’s Flood”). When certain rock structures around Gibralter collapsed the Atlantic rushed in. A similar obstruction in the Bosphorus broke down and led to a flash flood as the Med rushed into the Black Sea. Would such things give rise to flood stories? No doubt about it. So bottom line I don’t think it is entirely symbolic, there was or were vast floods, but the reality is probably quite different than what the story in the Bible describes. As far as hoping some Cardinal would go off “half cocked” and make a final definition it would seem to be to be more destructive to the Faith than helpful. We have enough misinformation in dealing with the Galileo story.


#18

MikeO << Here’s hoping that one of the cardinals reads Catholic Answers and will put forth a suggestion to define this. Unlikely, but possible. >>

Cardinal Schonborn has implicitly rejected the global flood since he explicitly rejects young-earthism. The global flood idea is normally associated with young-earthism, although there are exceptions (evangelical Norm Geisler is old earth, but in a debate I saw on John Ankerberg he defended a global flood).

I guess one of the main difficulties with my local flood idea is that modern science (archeology, paleontology, genetics, etc) tells us that Australia was populated by homo sapiens around 50000 years ago, North/South America was populated by homo sapiens around 13000 years ago, and of course homo sapiens probably originated in Africa long before 50000 years ago, etc but the flood probably occurred between 5000 - 10000 years ago (most young-earthers date it to less than 5000 BC).

If limited to the area where Noah and his family lived (Mesopotamia), all “people” (i.e. homo sapiens) were not killed by this regional or “local flood.” In addition, unless the flood covered the North and South poles (e.g. Antarctica, etc), Penguins and Polar Bears weren’t killed by the flood, and a pair of them didn’t walk to Noah and back too! :confused:

Phil P


#19

The Catholic Encyclopedia allows for a PARTIAL Flood but states that it is a matter of FAITH that ALL men perished (except Noah…) in that Flood.

newadvent.org/cathen/04702a.htm

“But if the reason advanced for limiting the Flood to a certain part of the human race be duly examined, they are found to be more specious than true.

"The question, whether all men perished in the Deluge, must be decided by the teaching of the Bible, and of its authoritative interpreter. … We turn, therefore, to authority in order to arrive at a final settlement of the question. Here we are confronted, in brief, with the following facts: Up to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the belief in the anthropological universality of the Deluge was general. Moreover, the Fathers regarded the ark and the Flood as types of baptism and of the Church; this view they entertained not as a private opinion, but as a development of the doctrine contained in I Peter, iii, 20 sq. Hence, the typical character of both ark and Flood belongs to the “matters of faith and morals” in which the Tridentine and the Vatican Councils oblige all Catholics to follow the interpretation of the Church. "


#20

[quote=buffalo]This is mostly a reply to steveandersEn. A challenge that this may be in fact the flood of the Bible and not simply allegory.

It is a start and more may be learned in the future.
[/quote]

True, we are always learning more and it may very well be The Flood. How we are to distinguish it from some other calamitous flood such as the Persian Gulf Hypothesis or even a typical local flood I don’t know.

But I always hate to hang matters of faith on scientific studies since if the study gets revised next year then there is a conflict.

In particular with the Black Sea hypothesis there is competing work on the Sea of Marmara that contradicts the speculation of sudden water inflow
(I won’t even mention that the Bible explicitly mentions rain and not just a rising water level…that would be more of a literalists’ concern)

I’m no oceanographer or climatologist so I really don’t know which study is stronger.
Underwater archeology is still a new field. Fortunately the anaerobic conditions in the Black Sea are very good for preserving certain human artifacts so who knows what the next few decades will bring.

I feel more comfortable in the knowledge that there can be no conflict between faith and reason. I feel that stridently holding to positions that are contrary to observation is potentially scandalous to the faith by discrediting it in the eyes on non-believers. I don’t know, but I’ve been told that serious Christian scholars abandoned a literal global flood 150 years ago.

Let me ask you this; what do you think the story is about and if the story was allegorical how would that change the lesson that it was trying to teach?


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