In Defense of Noah’s Flood

Intro: When it comes to the Bible, Hollywood rarely gets it right. In fact, the seldom get even close. When the movie, Noah, was announced, it was advertised as an accurate depiction. In fact, the co-screenwriter, Ari Handel, came out and said they did not want to present “anything that contradicted the letter of the text.” Well, if you have seen the movie (I have not) or heard reviews, you know that they missed their mark just a bit. (I don’t have to see a movie to come to the conclusion that it is not accurate – Abraham Lincoln was a vampire?)

Just a few contradictions:

  • Noah is not a righteous man of faith; but becomes a psychotic murderer of his own family on board the ark.
  • God is portrayed as a pagan, vengeful, distant God.
  • There were no wives on board the ark for two of Noah’s sons but a stowaway who tried to join with Ham to murder Noah.
  • Fallen angels were the good guys who helped Noah build the ark.
  • God was not destroying plant and animal world, only mankind because man had abused the planet
  • There is a boat, a flood, and a man named Noah, but everything else is amiss.
  • It is not my purpose to review a movie or convince you to see or not see it. But the story of the flood is a vital part of the story of God’s people and redemption. It is certainly important to the history of the earth, God’s creation.

I. The Importance of Noah’s Flood: Next to Creation, the Flood of Noah’s day is the greatest single geological event in the history of our Earth. Nothing has so transformed the earth geologically than this cataclysmic event. There are repeated references to the Flood account in numerous books within the Old Testament. Even Jesus and the writers of the New Testament allude to Noah and the flood as true historical events. (cf. Matthew 24:36-39; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Hebrews 11:7; 2 Peter 3:5-7).

  • Alfred Rehwinkel wrote: The flood marks the end of a world of transcendent beauty, created By God as a perfect abode for man, and the beginning of a new world, a mere shadowy replica of its original glory. In all recorded history there is no other event except the Fall which has had such a revolutionary effect upon the topography and condition of this Earth and which has so profoundly affected human history and every phase of life as it now exists in its manifold forms in the world. No geologist, biologist, or student of history can afford to ignore this great catastrophe. (1951, p. xv).

II. The Downgrading of Noah’s Flood: Ironically, this most familiar and loved Bible story is also one of the most criticized accounts in history. Although in previous years, scientists almost uniformly accepted the Biblical account of the flood, and attributed many of the earth’s features to its effect, that is not the case today.

A. Those who have embraced the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin have been led to denounce the Biblical account of the flood. Robert L. Whitelaw has commented: “Long before anyone knew of the carbon 14 clock and up until Darwin’s day, the scientific world recognized the abundant evidence of a worldwide watery catastrophe such as the Genesis Flood” (1975, p. 41). But now there is no room to accept both evolution and Noah’s worldwide flood in Genesis 6. It has been downgraded in the teaching of many religionists as just a local flood or characterized as merely a myth or legend.

1. Popular writers such as Robert Jamieson (In the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary), John Smith, Edward Hitchcock, Bernard Ramm, and John Warwick Montgomery, have defended a local flood interpretation of the Genesis account.

a. Old Earth vs. Young Earth: A common influencing factor among all those who reject or reinterpret the Biblical account of the flood the evolutionists geological time table. When one accepts a uniformitarian view of the earth’s history (the geology of the present earth is the result of millions, or billions of years of soil deposits and evolution), there is no room for a worldwide cataclysmic event. “These all [local flood proponents] accept the so-called geological ages as the approved record of Earth history, recognizing that a global hydraulic cataclysm would have destroyed any evidence for such geological ages. The geological ages concept and a worldwide devastating Flood logically cannot coexist.” (Bert Thompson, Ph.D.)

b. On the other hand, “young-earth creationists” accept the Biblical record of the Flood as depicting a literal event, accompanied by great tectonic upheavals, that completely changed the earth’s surface over a very short period of time. It was the sudden appearance of a very different earth.

III. Did the Flood Really Happen? Was the Flood an actual historical event? To those who accept the integrity of the scriptures this is an easy question to answer. This event cannot be denied without bringing the reliability of the rest of the scriptures into question.

A. The O.T. prophets, Jesus, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews all referenced the flood as an actual event. They did not consider it a myth or fanciful story.

1. Our conclusions should not be based upon the latest findings of the scientific community, but upon the inspired revelation of God.

There are a number of common objections to the historic accuracy of the flood account:

B. Was the ark big enough to accommodate all the animals?

In their tremendous book, The Genesis Flood (1961), Whitcomb and Morris put the matter in focus (and their work has not been refuted by the critics to this day).

        • The dimensions of the Ark are given in Genesis 6. Roughly the vessel was some 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. With its three decks, it had a storage space of some 100,000 square feet, or the capacity equivalent of 8 freight trains consisting of 65 cars each—a total of 520 cars.
        • It is estimated (by evolutionary authorities) that there are approximately 1 million animal species (Dobzhansky, p. 166)—which includes everything from mammals to protozoans. Many of these, of course, would not even need to be inside the Ark; others are exceedingly small.
        • There are only about 17,600 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians altogether. This means there were, at most, about 35,000 vertebrate animals within Noah’s ship.
        • And note this: Noah brought into the Ark classifications designated as “kinds.” A “kind” (genus) is a broader category than a “species.” Moses spoke of “the owl … after his kind” (Lev. 11:16), and yet there are more than 500 different sorts of owls. So the number of Ark-dwelling creatures can be reduced even further.
        • The average animal-size within the Ark is estimated to have been about that of a sheep. A standard railroad freight car can accommodate approximately 240 sheep. Thus only about 146 cars would be needed to facilitate the number of inmates of the Ark—considerably less than the 520 cited above.

IV. Was the Flood a Global or Localized Event? The downgrading of the Genesis flood to a local, rather than a worldwide event is a very common interpretation today, even among so-called religious scholars. Those who hold to a worldwide flood are ridiculed as being backward and unlearned. But there is strong evidence in favor is such an event. External Evidences of a worldwide Flood:

A. Flood Legends: The cultural memory of the event is evidenced in the numerous “flood stories” that exist. Legends have surfaced in hundreds of cultures throughout the world that tell of a huge, catastrophic flood that destroyed most of mankind, and that was survived by only a few individuals and animals. Most estimates range into the 200’s, but evolutionary geologist Robert Schoch writes… “Noah is but one tale in a worldwide collection of at least 500 flood myths, which are the most widespread of all ancient myths and therefore can be considered among the oldest” (2003, p. 249, emp. added). He calls Noah’s story a myth, but here is the point. These narratives are many and varied, yet they almost unanimously agree in the content:

1. James Perloff noted: In 95 percent of the more than two hundred flood legends, the flood was worldwide; in 88 percent, a certain family was favored; in 70 percent, survival was by means of a boat; in 67 percent, animals were also saved; in 66 percent, the flood was due to the wickedness of man; in 66 percent, the survivors had been forewarned; in 57 percent, they ended up on a mountain; in 35 percent, birds were sent out from the boat; and in 9 percent, exactly eight people were spared (p. 168).

2. Alfred Rehwinkel concludes that this is as we would expect if the flood actually occurred. “If that awful world catastrophe, as described in the Bible, actually happened, the existence of the Flood traditions among the widely separated and primitive people is just what is to be expected. It is only natural that the memory of such an event was rehearsed in the ears of the children of the survivors again and again, and possibly made the basis of some religious observances” (1951, pp. 127-128).

B. Fossil Graveyards: The global existence of what are called “dinosaur graveyards” is troubling to some evolutionists. The mass burial of countless dinosaurs in various locations all over the globe demands an adequate explanation. Evolutionists explain most of the largest dinosaur graveyards in the world as having been caused by some kind of a flood (though they are quick to include words such as “seasonal,” “flash,” and “regional”). The global Flood of Noah’s day provides the best explanation for many (if not all) such graveyards throughout the world.

C. Marine Fossils Everywhere: Fossilized aquatic arthropods known as trilobites “have been found on every continent and subcontinent”. Many thousands of these fossilized marine animals have been unearthed in arid areas. (Even in the Himalayan Mountains, Mt. Everest). In Kansas, scientists recently discovered the jawbone, teeth, and scales of a 32 ft. shark. What scientists know is that Kansas, Oklahoma, and many other arid places on Earth, were once covered by water.

V. Textual Evidence of a Worldwide Flood: Although it has been popular of late for even religious scholars and teachers to interpret the flood as a local event, there are real textual problems with that conclusion. A local flood does not fit into the Biblical account.

A. Peter’s Testimony2 Peter 3:3-73 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. We noticed this verse earlier in connection with power of God’s word and the coming judgment of the world we live in today.

1. But Peter deals a death blow to the uniformitarian, who does not take seriously the promise of God’s interaction with His creation and the coming judgment. All things have always continued as they do now. The apostle discussed and connected two events that form a parallel concerning what God did and what God is going to do. Just as God brought judgment in the flood, so He will in the last day.

2. Peter describes the pre-flood world as “the heavens  … of old and the earth standing out of water and in water… This “world that then existed perished, being flooded by water”

3. Peter compares the flood to the second coming of Christ and subsequent destruction of the world: “so the “heavens that now are, and the earth” have been “stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

a. It is obvious from the language that both of these judgments are universal in scope. If the flood of Noah had not transformed both the heaven and the earth it would not have served as a type of the coming judgment of Christ. There can be no doubt that Peter’s argument (i.e., there is a coming universal destruction awaiting this world) is an argument framed from the historical fact of the Flood of Noah. His words provide inspired testimony as to the universal destruction of the Genesis Flood.

B. Jesus’ Testimony Luke 17:26-3026 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

1. In this passage, the Lord predicted an impending doom that was to befall the Jews of His day who would not listen to, and obey, the Word of God. But the point I want us to notice is that Jesus upheld the comprehensive nature of God’s judgment, both in the flood and in the destruction of Sodom. He said they all were destroyed.

            • John Whitcomb remarked: In exactly the same manner, Christ’s warning to future generations, on the basis of what happened to the ungodly in the days of Noah, would have been pointless if part of the human race had escaped the judgment waters…. Therefore we are persuaded that Christ’s use of the word “all” in Luke 17:27 must be understood in the absolute sense; otherwise the analogies would collapse and the warnings would lose their force. A heavy burden of proof rests upon those who would maintain that only a part of the human race was destroyed in the Flood, in view of the clear statements of the Lord Jesus Christ (1973, p. 22).

C. The Rainbow Covenant – Consider the implications of a localized flood with the promises of God in Genesis 9:11-1511 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said:”This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. God made this promise 3 times – never again to destroy everything living by a flood.

1. If the Genesis Flood were merely a local event, then it is obvious that God has broken His covenant repeatedly since there have been countless local floods upon the face of the Earth in which multiplied thousands of people have perished. If the Genesis Flood were local, but God promised never to send another (local) flood, then why have local floods continued?

D. The Logic of the Event – There are several aspects of this event that make no sense if the flood was localized. If the flood was local then…

        • Why build an ark? Noah could have been saved from the flood by moving to another place.
        • Why build such a large vessel and put all the animals in it? The animals could have survived by relocating, and there were no doubt, animals living elsewhere that were not affected.

One writer suggests that the whole ark building project was just to test and strengthen Noah’s faith, and that if he had just moved away, the other folks would not have gotten the message of judgment. He goes on to say: And the inspiration for this undertaking was given to Noah by leaving him in ignorance of the exact limits of the Flood. He was assured that all mankind would be destroyed, and probably supposed that the Flood would therefore be universal. This supposition may have been quite essential for him (1958, p. 18). So God was not really honest with Noah and left him in the dark for 120 years!

Note: interestingly some of those who are convinced that the ark is presently sitting on top of 17,000 ft. Mt. Ararat (Dr. John Montgomery) are also proponents of a localized flood. How can we believe that?

        • How could a localized flood be a worldwide judgment on sin? If some people survived the flood besides Noah and his family, then God’s words concerning “why” He brought the flood are meaningless. It conveys the final picture that some can escape the judgment of God.

Conclusion: To the unbeliever, the story of Noah’s flood will always stand as an affront to the cherished, but false, theory of evolution and man’s arrogant speculations about the ancient world. Satan will continue to intimidate even some of God’s people to judge the accuracy of God’s word by scientific dogma, and thus elevate Science above scripture. We must adamantly resist that temptation.

To the believer, the flood of Noah’s day stands as an eternal testimony to the willingness of God to judge the sin of this wicked world, and His gracious mercy to every righteous who stands in opposition to it. Are you ready for the judgment of God? Do not mock God by your reluctance to believe and repent.