Global or Local?

Let me start by saying that I don’t want this thread to turn into an argument. I’ve been PMing someone about this topic and was curious what others think.

Do Catholics have to believe the Flood was global or are we free to believe it was a local flood?

The flood is the third creation story. That’s the point. Whether it was global or local is not relevant and completely misses the point of why God tells us about it.


This is a LOOOOONG and difficult read but is it saying we must believe that only Noah’s family survived the Flood, or are we allowed, according to this, to believe more that the eight on the Ark survived?

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To say that “eight survived the flood” doesn’t necessarily mean that only eight people were alive on the earth following the flood.

For example: if I said that only eight people survived the 2004 tsunami, would that mean that only eight people were alive on earth after the tsunami? :wink:

I agree, but after reading what I linked to, I’m uncertain if the CC teaches or has the position that we must believe on my 8 only survived.:o

*must believe only 8 survived.

The Catechism has four paragraphs about Noah (56-58 and 71). None of these stipulate the number of survivors.

But, if only eight survived, Noah and his wife would be the Most Recent Common Ancestors for the entire human race (it would be like Adam and Eve all over again). But genetics tell us that the actual MRCA for the human race lived long before Noah.

So, scientifically speaking, more than eight survived (a lot more).

What about the CCC that says 8 survived through water? CCC1219

Also, maybe I need a translation, but the article I linked to above sounds like they’re saying only eight survived. Am I wrong?

The article, from the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia, asks the question, “are we talking about a flood that affected all of the earth, or only part of the earth (but all of the people living at the time)?” Its answer is interesting: it asserts that the current (at the time!) state of science was that science couldn’t refute the story of the flood, but that it could only point out that – if the flood actually killed off all but eight people – it would have had to have happened a long, long time ago. Therefore, the article asserts, since there’s no conclusive science, we have to go with the authority of Scripture in the matter; and therefore, it says, from a theological viewpoint, it must mean that all but eight of the people alive at the time died in the flood.

Here’s the thing: the article’s conclusions explicitly say “science doesn’t offer any refutation, and so we’ll use Scripture to address the ‘science’ of the flood.” The situation has changed since 1907, though. Current scientific evidence (i.e., genetic evidence, gleaned from DNA) suggests that there was never such a severe bottleneck in human populations. Therefore, the article’s logic is outdated. Can we use a 16th or 17th century interpretation of Scripture – unchallenged, as it were, by scientific evidence to the contrary – to ‘prove’ that the flood killed all humans but eight? Not by the logic of this article… :shrug:

So what it’s saying is that at that time there was no science to refute Scripture, so they’ll go with what Scripture says – but 100+ years later science does refute what Scripture says about it?

Can anyone find anything for this era that says we don’t have to believe the flood left only eight people, since, you know, it didn’t?

I’ve been looking and looking and can’t find anything Catholic that tell us one way or another.

You are not wrong, but you assume too much (so you COULD be wrong). Eight survived the Flood. The problem is when we say ONLY eight survived. This is not supported by Scripture or Catholic theology.

Some 705 people survived the sinking of the Titanic. Of course, a lot of other people were unaffected by this tragedy, and continued to live.


Ok, so as Catholics we’re not required to believe only 8 people survived the Flood?

The one guy at the non denominational church I corresponded with said he wouldn’t have a problem with me believing in more than 8, but a second guy was very fundamental about all their beliefs… 6 day creation, OT all literal, etc.
Ill stay Catholic. Now, if we could only do something about the music in my church. :slight_smile:

If we are required to believe it, the Church has done a good job of keeping that requirement a secret.

Thanks :thumbsup:

Whether eight or eight hundred survived the flood is irrelevant.

The flood and what happens after it is a new creation. God begins to reestablish the original order of creation after man sins and the entire earth turns to evil. That’s the whole point. It is God’s first step in bringing mankind back to the way it was in the garden before sin entered the world. It is mankind’s first hint that God loves us and has not abandoned us, that he will come to be one of us and he will redeem us, eventually.

God begins to put things right…

Adam: cursed is the ground because of you; (Genesis 3:17)
Noah: I will never again curse the ground because of man, (Genesis 8:21)

It is a new covenant with man…

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you, (Geneis 9:8-9)

The covenant is with all Noah’s sons who populate the whole earth. The covenant is therefor with the whole earth - “every living creature of all flesh” - not just the Jews. It is a new creation. God says the exact same words as when he first created man…

*Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." (Genesis 1:28)

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. (Genesis 9:1-2)*

You can debate the flood itself and number of survivors but whether the flood was local or global completely misses the point. Whether eight or eight hundred survived misses the point. The point is that it is a new creation, a new covenant, a reversal, and the first sign that God intends to set things right in spite of ourselves, that he has not abandoned us, that he loves us. It’s the first hint that Jesus will come to redeem us.

God told Noah not to consume blood because he was reserving the consumption of blood until Jesus…

*Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Genesis 9:4)

**So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; *(Jesus 6:53)

That is the point.


Do you agree that the CC has no position on whether there were 8 survivors or more and that we are free to believe either way?

I believe the flood was global, Noah could either spend 120 years in hard yards building an ark, or he could spend 20 years relocating himself and family to the non-local constraints. Local flood, move away. Global flood only one option.

Or, I suppose, God could have simply redeemed mankind without the whole Incarnation and sacrificial death of the Son.

But we have some evidence that would suggest that God does not always follow the most expedient path.

That evidence actually has a name: Jesus.

I don’t believe we could have been redeemed without the whole Cross thing either. The relationship to the flood though is … ? The answer is none.

Darryl, Darryl , Darryl .

OK. God created the universe in “seven days.” Of course, God could have done it in an instant. God led Israel to the Promised Land after 40 years in the wilderness. Of course, God could have just transported them.

If the flood was local, God could have simply told Noah to get out of town (like he told Lot).

But God told Noah to build a big boat. Does that imply that Noah and his family could NOT have survived had they simply left town and headed for higher ground?

Is it possible that the Jewish people were undergoing a protracted period of formation (which would culminate in Jesus), and the whole flood-and-ark-thing was meant to be an archetype of Baptism?

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