The Flood


Do Catholics believe in a literal world-wide flood?


Are you asking whether there are Catholics who believe in a literal global flood, or if the Catholic Church teaches it as doctrine?

To the former, I’d respond “I’m sure there are”… :wink:



I’m asking whether the Church teaches it as a doctrine. I tried Google and found this on Christian Stack Exchange:

The Catholic Church does not have an “official” position on the literal interpretation of the Old Testament (including the great flood narration). Whether they are literal or not has no bearing on whether the lesson they impart is true. Catholics are free to understand them as literal or not. The Church only insists that the Bible is inspired and inerrant and that what it teaches is the truth.


BTW I also found this from Augustine:

It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation

See: The Faith of the Early Fathers: St. Augustine to the end of the patristic age


Here’s a scholarly article which says that the Catholic Church teaches that the flood need not have covered all the land of the earth, but it destroyed the human race except for those few who found favor with the Lord:
Deluge (article in The Original Catholic Encyclopedia)


Thanks for the link.

Very interesting.

Is this the official teaching of the Catholic Church in the sense that a Catholic has to believe it?

Or is it the opinion of some scholars?


JakeG, no the Catholic Church does not require that we believe the story of the flood literally. The story is interpreted figuratively in the New Testament. The story of the Flood alludes to Baptism.



I’d suspected that.


JakeG how do you view the story of the flood? Is it literal or something else?


I would find it very hard to believe in a literal flood that wiped out the whole of humanity.

I would also find it hard to believe in a literal ark that carried two of all animals.


I’m not going to argue with anyone who thinks differently; merely stating my personal beliefs in response to your question.

So what do you believe about the flood?


I believe that it is a distant memory of the end of the ice age when the ice sheets melted and caused major floods. California’s cost line extended 25 miles further than where it is now before the end of the ice age. The Genesis writers told that story in a very pretty way. But their intention was not the history lesson but some life lesson or spiritual lesson that would benefit us.

I have no clue what the ark represents but on the New Testament, the Ark is a metaphor that represents the Church…I think.


Interesting timeline you sent me iohannes13.

Some of my thoughts.

Imagine you’re writing a computer game. You write the code for the people in the game first; then the code for the territory they occupy.

From the perspective of the people in the game the territory had to come first. Where were they if there was no land?

But in a sense the people came first because that’s the order in which you coded it.

So you might get a very bright “game person” who says “The Great Coder in the Cyber-sky made us before the land”.

This is a crude analogy. But in fact we have no way of knowing in what order the Creator of the Universe did His creation.

For people who don’t like evolution I have this question:

What is a bigger achievement?

For the Creator of the universe to assemble animals the way we assemble cars?

Or to create a universe in which life can emerge from inanimate matter with no further intervention?

Not to be taken too seriously. Just some idle speculation.


God also said: Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature having life,

It could be viewed as a creative act immediately or a creative act that evolves or progresses.

About the Flood. I will only consider a global flood at a very early point in time. Which would make Genesis a continuous history of the universe and of the early planet but where does that leave Noah. Do we have to believe in a real Noah like Adam and Eve or is Noah a focal point in a history of nature.

Every part of every land except for a bit of Mongolian desert was at some point in its history under the sea or ocean.
There were mass global extinction events in earths history the last prolly being the dinosaur extinction plus much of everything else.
There are mass dinosaur burial grounds which I suppose if someone was interested enough could be mapped to the topology [landscape] of their time. Perhaps the continents moved and oceans and seas sloshed across them alternately driving massive numbers of dinosaurs together under impassable cliffs where they perished.

Maybe Noah was a figure of this new earth which emerged when the dove returned with the olive branch. A world not of giant coarse reptilians, but a new world of birds, domestic animals, and mammals of every type, as well as man and the olive branch of agriculture.

But my thoughts wander and its for someone else to gather them up.


See link. The Church does not have a teaching on the Flood.


Have you read the theoretical physics that thinks that we are in a simulation. Well that’s how they describe it using today’s language. I think that the science advisor for President Obama has done research and he claims to have found computer code (0s and 1s) in reality (based on formulas). These theoretical scientists say that the material then had to come from some “other” (non-material world). But see how we all use language that makes sense to us as to how reality might work (i.e. video games, the matrix, computer code, etc.). Now pay close attention to what the ancients taught, from all cultures. Basically that everything came from nothing. Material from non-material (i.e spiritual). In plain English, most teach more or less that the non-material world where the material originates from is some consciousness. So in today’s language, if we live in the Matrix, then that means somebody had to build the Matrix.


Thistle, doesn’t the Church have a allegorical/metaphorical teaching that the flood represents Baptism? Am I wrong?


I think it would be more fair to read thistle’s statement as “the Church doesn’t have an official teaching on the historicity of the Flood narrative”… which is what the question was, wasn’t it? :wink:



The story operates on different levels:

Scripture constitutes a dialogue between God and humanity,
the means by which He has spoken with His church throughout the ages
and each of us individually.

It can be understood as the ongoing revelation of the Word,
from His role in creation and subsequent history of the world and
His being at the Centre of our relationship with God,
through His incarnation and the sacrifice which redeemed and saved mankind.

In this light, the wood of the arc,
as does the wood of the cross,
the wood carried by Isaac,
and the wood covered in the lambs’ blood at the time of the Exodus
protects the goodness within us, His holy people, from death and gives us new life.
The flood does so washing away sin, as in baptism.
Our relationship with God is re-established as a new order comes into being.
The arc carrying the family of mankind, His church, with all the animals represent this new world,
ultimately to be found in the resurrection of the dead,
but also here and now as we grow in love and in Christ.

On an individual level, we all go through difficult times when we are caught up in situations and activities that are not good for us.
We succumb to sin, which begins to disharmonize our lives, and ends in a turmoil, a sea of negative emotions, but from which we can subsequently pick up the pieces.
Finding our refuge in God, the sin is washed away and we are made whole again, reborn.

The history, the actual events that transpired and people involved, while seemingly mundane and far from legendary, brought all man to the possibility of a deeper relationship with God.
I don’t know, but it seems reasonable that this happened to a particular group of human beings in a particular location.
If it is a very, very, very old story, it could have involved all humanity near our beginnings, but it need not be so.
Unlike the story of Adam, where one individual shapes the nature of humanity, in the story of Noah, it is God who establishes a new covenant.
So, we don’t need everyone to participate, but just a few souls, true to God.

We can bring this all together considering that we were created to tend God’s garden, the universe, in right relation to Him, loving Him and each other.
While scripture reveals the here and now nature of our relationship with God,
it also speaks to historical events which contributed to its formation,
through the intervention of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Word in time.
Having fallen, we could not contain sin within us.
In the story of the flood, we hear how the Word appears in history, within each of us and as the Centre of His church, in the image of the arc which embraces the holiness within the individual and humanity, destroying sin and bringing us to new life.


Yeah you are right Gorgias. That has been answered for him.



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