Noah/Flood: Best proof? Do you believe the Biblical story?


#1

Dear friends at Catholic.com, I come to you once again because I am in a “debate” with an unbeliever (son-in-law), and know that I can speed up the search for info (I’m short on time–once again). Our family was discussing the new movie, “Noah”, and I told them about the article I had read which says it deviates from the Biblical account, so I don’t want to vote with my money.

His reply was:
“noah is a biblical story that changed as it was passed down in generations. if you dont want to see it then thats ur choice. i know u only want to see biblically accurate stories told. i want to see proof of Noah’s ark found somewhere to be honest with you”

  1. What, if anything, is the best scientific proof? I’m somewhat aware of Ballard’s Black Sea expedition, but don’t have time to wade through all the articles.

  2. Just to satisfy my curiosity, do you believe the Biblical account of Noah and the flood? I’d appreciate it (if you don’t mind, of course) if you would state your religion (and denomination, if Christian).


#2

I tend to take it this way - whether or not every waking detail in the story is scientifically accurate is not my primary concern. To do so may well go beyond the assertion the inspired text is trying to make. The purpose of the story contains theological truths, about a “reset” of creation after Adam and his descendants worsened over time. The waters foreshadow baptism, as Peter tells us in his epistle, making us a new creation. Your friend, I think, may be imposing a little onto the literary options of the text. He seems to insist that if the story is in Scripture, it must pass criteria X-Y and Z that he demands without regard to literary genre––of which inspired Scripture is entirely unique.

To put it in another analogy, take the story of the tortoise and the hare where the hare brags about how he will beat the tortoise and we know how the story ends up. The point of the story is to teach persistence. But some obtuse reader unaware of the literary genre might reject its truth because tortoises and hares can’t talk, therefore the story is bogus and without truth. But such a reader would have missed the point because of a specious demand he imposed on the text.

That being said, there are scientists that claim evidence of a flood in that area that could have been seen from the perspective of the Biblical author as overtaking “the world.” But I do not think a Catholic is required to believe any specific scientific calculation as to the nature of the flood simply because the authors and God did not intend to assert such things.


#3

I believe it 100%.


#4
  1. What, if anything, is the best scientific proof? I’m somewhat aware of Ballard’s Black Sea expedition, but don’t have time to wade through all the articles.

there is evidence all over the world of former civilizations which were (a) flooded in a “great flood” or (b) once above water and are now underwater. There are ancient cities off the coast of the Bahamas, Japan, etc. There are also signs of cities which were buried and destroyed in Spain, the Black Sea, etc.

In regards to finding an Ark, it would have been built out of wood. The chances that the Ark would have survived are slim to none. I’m sure Noah would have used the wood from his Ark to build things, like what happened with some one-way voyages in ancient times.

  1. Just to satisfy my curiosity, do you believe the Biblical account of Noah and the flood? I’d appreciate it (if you don’t mind, of course) if you would state your religion (and denomination, if Christian).

I am Catholic. I believe that Noah built an Ark and that Noah collected all the animals he could two by two. And that everyone in Noah’s world died. But it’s possible that this was isolated to the world Noah knew and not actually the entire planet. However, it also possible that most (if not all) of Humanity did die in a flood. After all, in ancient times cities were always built on the major waterways. If there was a major earthquake (for example) or an asteroid strike in the ocean tidal waves may have come and destroyed most or all of human civilization. If Noah was near the Black Sea or Dead Sea it may have taken some time for the waters in those areas to recede enough for Noah to see land.


#5

Whether Noah and the flood actually happened completely misses the point of the story.

The Bible was given to us for the sake of salvation, not for the sake of historical or scientific accuracy. The story of Noah and the flood is the third creation story - a reordering of creation to be more like it was before sin entered the world.

What the story teaches us about salvation is the point. Whether it happened or not is not the point.

-Tim-


#6

As a Catholic who went to a Catholic school, the events described were global and literal. I don’t need science to explain it to me. However, civilizations around the world have global flood stories which serve as the only confirmation I need.

Peace,
Ed


#7

The black sea used to be a dry plain which was likely settled. I would not be surprised if one day we find that to be the cradle of civilization and not between the tigris and euphrates. When it comes to flooding the “Known World” vs the “World”. I think it was the known world.


#8

I believe it literal, there is too much evidence to not take it literally.

Im in RCIA.


#9

I do believe that the story of the flood actually happened and one of the reasons why I think so is because every ancient civilization, from the mayas to the babilonians to China has a story that relates a worldwide or universal flood. Many of those stories are very alike others have some differences (one of The Asian flood stories points at it as a natural disaster) but the basic idea is the same, and again many of them reflect the story of humans being evil and a flood coming and killing almost everybody and just a couple of just people surviving. There is no way in the world that the ancient people of Israel who had no possible way (or even knowledge of the existence of the mayas) to communicate with the ancient Chinese or the Incas in Peru to give them the story of Noah so they could replicate it in their civilization. And the fact that all flood stories are similar tells me that a flood had to happen. Now it may be possible that the writer’s style of writing may have used some kind of symbolism to transmit a message but I am pretty certain that there was a major flood that affected all earth and that God choose Noah.


#10

Thomas got to touch the holes where the nails were, why can’t we have some cornerstone stories from the Bible validated, it would be nice to have something to fall back on when we’re tempted to think the Bible is just a bunch of fairy tales for simple-minded people.

Yesterday, I saw a homeless man begging for food. Actually I did not, so you’re entitled to calling me out on my lie. You’re also entitled to take everything I say with a grain of salt. If you say the flood may or may not have happened, on what ground do you say Adam and Eve were actual people, that they breathed the air that you and I breathe etc.? If the flood and Noah’s ark are myths, why is there nothing in the Bible that, at least subtly, alludes to it?

If a flood did happen, if everyone and every animal unable to swim for 40 days did not survive, then it automatically means that the dog I own has one remote ancestor in Noah’s ark? Its lineage could be traced back to Noah’s ark if all the puppies’ birth certificates down the millenia could be found? Find me prominent Catholic theologians prior to the 1900 who voiced the idea that the flood may not have happened, same with the ark, obviously. Now that the ark is nowhere to be found, it’s so easy to say, “Oh, I said x happened, but actually it may or may not have happened”. At least with Jesus’ parables, we knew we were in for a fairy tale with a lesson to take home.

Why couldn’t the ark be found, why couldn’t it be dated to a time period compatible with Bible chronology, why couldn’t even the most hard-hearted/headed atheist deny the flood/the ark without being tarred and feathered by the whole scientific community? Satan believes in the existence of God yet he has rejected him, Adam and Eve most definitely believed in God yet ended up rejecting him, why all of a sudden having some evidence that points to the existence of the Christian God would totally annihilate the sacro-saint free-will?


#11

I’m not sure a movie can capture the truth contained in scripture.
It would be better to ascertain the essential meaning of the Biblical account and to integrate it into a fictional account, to make it something like the Narnia or Lord of the Rings stories.
To make a movie portraying what is written in scripture is bound to create a distortion of what it reveals about man and our relationship to God.

In terms of your questions:
I don’t think you can look to science for any kind of answer. I even don’t agree with their definition of what constitutes man. IMHO we were created very, very long ago, and we’ve been here maybe 250 times longer than the oft quoted 6K years. The flood would have been before we set off to populate the planet, so a local flood would have been disastrous and encompassing the entire known world at that time. If you think about your own earliest memory, you will note that they are like a composite of interwoven experiences and feelings that make sense of a world that was simple and without the complexities of that we grow to understand. I have to make numerous unfounded suppositions in order to make sense of the story as it would have happened to real people. So I believe Noah was a real man at a time before human races existed, before we left Africa. The story itself would have taken different forms until we are left with the one that holds the greatest spiritual truth. That’s what I think and I will definitely think otherwise if something else makes more sense.

I’m not sure how far you’ll get with your unbelieving son-in-law. It’s good to hear about people discussing such things.


#12

Yes, but my son-in-law might say that the Israelites simply borrowed the story from an earlier account. He also might say that the various stories from other civilizations have differences, so which one is accurate?

The recent discovery of some clay tablet (or some such) has a flood story, but the ark is round. Now, I do not believe something just because an archaeologist publishes it. I remember all too well director James Cameron tried to fool everyone, saying he had discovered the sarcophagus of Jesus.


#13

Sorry, but I have heard this argument before–from a deacon whom I otherwise respect greatly, in a Little Rock Scripture Study session–and I have great difficulty with it.

The LRSS and the deacon posit that the Israelites borrowed and modified stories from other civilizations, and/or made them up on their own, in order to tell “a larger spiritual truth.”

(The following is not directed at you specifically, TimothyH, but at the general “you”. Obviously, I don’t know all your beliefs. I am directing this towards my deacon, the LRSS author(s), and others who share their beliefs.)

To me, once you go down that road, you can discount the historicity of any Biblical story. There was no real Adam and Eve, there was no real Noah/flood, there was no real Abraham, no Jonah swallowed by a fish, no King David, etc. They were all simply stories to tell the greater truth about God’s strong and loving hand in the history of the Jews.“Oh,” you say, “we have physical, archaeological evidence that David existed.”

So you can only believe the Biblical stories if they’re backed up by hard evidence? Okay, then what about the miracles that Jesus and his apostles supposedly worked? What about Jesus’ resurrection? Where’s the hard evidence for that?

I used to be a hard-evidence guy like my son-in-law. But then my wife told me about various encounters with ghosts/spirits, etc. For years, I assumed she had a vivid imagination, because she’s not a hard-science person and is somewhat gullible in some ways. Later, her stories were corroborated by her well-grounded brother, who is not prone to exaggeration, and a cousin, who is an engineer. My mind began to be opened to the idea that some things (no, not all) can be accepted on the testimony of “two or three witnesses.”

I’m not saying that hard evidence is not important, but I am saying that you cannot quickly denounce something as true, simply because the hard evidence doesn’t exist to prove it. Pope JPII’s “Faith and Reason” is a great encyclical which addresses such matters very well.


#14

All of that may or may not be true but it does not change the fact that Scripture was given to us by God for the sake of salvation, not for the sake of historical or scientific accuracy. This is not my teaching but the teaching of the Church.

***DEI VERBUM
November 18, 1965

…since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation**.*

The whole point of Scripture is our salvation. Whether it actually happened or not is besides the point. I did not say that any particular event in the Old Testament was myth. I don’t get bent out of shape over whether these things actually happened or not. I don’t concern myself with it. It isn’t really relevant to me. What matters to me is what it teaches me about salvation.

-Tim-


#15

I think you should read this article
I didn’t know about this movie until your thread. It sounds good to me. If you only go to biblical movies that are biblically accurate than you wouldn’t see any.

I believe there was a Noah who experienced a flood that he was saved from by God. I don’t know if it was world wide flood or a localized flood.


#16

As to your first question:

catholic.com/tracts/is-catholicism-pagan

Peace,
Ed


#17

Thanks for the link to the article. I’m not sure that I agree with some of the author’s statements, but it’s good to read a different perspective.

As for not being able to see any movies because of my desire for Biblical accuracy, what I desire is for the producers, etc. to be motivated to tell the Scriptural story, as intended by the Bible’s Author (God), and those through whom He wrote. I realize that there will be unintended inaccuracies, editing for time, fillers for flavor, etc. Cecile B. Demille and others did all that. In “The Ten Commandments,” for instance, Moses spoke to Pharaoh, when in fact the Bible says it was Aaron.

However, I don’t want to pay money to see a “Biblically themed” movie which is intentionally used for some politically-correct indoctrination about overpopulation, global warming/climate change, etc. Maybe this movie does, maybe it doesn’t. From what I’ve read so far, I’m reluctant to pay to see it. I still might, primarily to be on good terms with my son-in-law (and to prevent him from using my refusal to see “Noah” as an excuse to avoid seeing “Son of God.”)


#18

I scanned the article (I don’t have time to read the whole thing right now), and I didn’t see anything that related to Noah. It all dealt the contention of Chick and other Fundamentalists that the Catholic Church and its rites were derived from pagans. I see the parallels, but nothing specific that I could use to convince my son-in-law.

Did I miss something?


#19

Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI

  1. What are the first stages of God’s Revelation?

54-58
70-71

From the very beginning, God manifested himself to our first parents, Adam and Eve, and invited them to intimate communion with himself. After their fall, he did not cease his revelation to them but promised salvation for all their descendants. After the flood, he made a covenant with Noah, a covenant between himself and all living beings.

vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html


#20

I believe it to be an allegorical story. Virtually all Middle Eastern cultures had a similar flood story – the Noah story was most likely “cribbed” from the “Epic of Gilgamesh”; the Sumerian account of the flood which, I believe, is older than the Noah story.

I definitely agree with other posters that all across the world, there seems to be some sort of flood-type story that survives in the folk traditions of most peoples and cultures. The stories are all very similar, but I think all are allegorical in nature and were/are used to teach (a) moral lesson(s).

To me, to suggest that the entire world was at one time flooded and only one extended family (or in many of the myths, only one couple) survived with (or without, in some cases) multiple animals in tow can only be taken as allegorical. That said, I do believe parts of certain countries/lands may have flooded here and there over the course of history and there certainly could have been great loss of life which may have been more the historical basis for many of the flood stories.


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