The Great Flood

As many of you no doubt know, one of the most recurring claims from skeptics these days is the notion that the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, is nothing more than a collection of “fables” and “myths”. In fact, no story has been more widely ridiculed and mocked by modern skeptics than the story of Noah and the Arc. Such a response from skeptical non-believers should come as no surprise, however, it is not just skeptics these days that deny the biblical account of Noah and the Great Flood. Just as with the Creation account (see my earlier post on The Serpent at Eden), many Christians today who profess to believe the Bible as God’s Word, are nonetheless real quick to abandon the biblical account of Noah and the Great Flood. Demonstrating once again the power that conformity has over society today in its ability to influence our collective thinking. Since the story of the biblical Flood is largely scoffed at these days, and often disregarded by many believers, in this post I will offer a brief defense of the biblical Flood account.

First, for those who are people of faith, one must admit that the Flood account is a prominent story in the Bible. In fact, the story of Noah and the Flood is given more attention in Genesis than even the account of Creation. Once more, there are repeated references to it in numerous books from the Old Testament. Furthermore, the writers of the New Testament also mention it, and with the understanding it was an actual historical event. For example, Hebrews 11:7, 1 Peter 3:18-22 and 2 Peter 3:5-7. Even Jesus as recorded in The Gospel of Matthew (24:36-39) mentions the events of Noah and the Flood. Therefore, for those who profess to believe the Word, this alone should be sufficient support for the historicity of the biblical account of the Great Flood.

Furthermore, many of the great scientists of the past firmly believed and accepted the biblical account of a global flood as factual. Scholar Michael Oard has observed:

“More than 150 years ago, many scientists believed the rocks on the earth’s surface were laid down and fashioned by the Genesis Flood”.

Likewise Robert L. Whitelaw has noted:

“Long before … and up until Darwin’s day, the scientific world recognized the abundant evidence of a worldwide watery catastrophe such as the Genesis Flood”.

In fact, there was no dispute at all between the scientific community and the biblical record of the Great Flood. However, sadly today this is no longer the case, as naturalism has become the dominant religion and prism in which everything is now viewed – leading many modern scientists to discard previously accepted evidence. Although this is not the case for everyone, and ample scientific evidence is available that supports the presence of a global Flood from the ancient past. To that point, there have been entire volumes of books written documenting such evidence, i.e. The Genesis Flood by J. Whitcomb and H. Morris, The Early Earth and The World That Perished by J.C. Whitcomb, The Flood by Alfred Rehwinkel, Fossils, Flood & Fire by Harold Clark and the Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe by Steven Austin, just to name a few. These numerous volumes speak to the mass amount of scientific evidence that supports the biblical record of a global flood. For example, geologic evidence suggests that virtually all known mountains have been under water at some point in the past due to the existence of sedimentary deposits and marine fossils found. Additionally, much of the earth’s crust is composed of sedimentary rocks generally known to form under the water. Once more, numerous fossils of trees and plants standing erect have been discovered across the globe while having to pierce through successive beds or layers of polystrate fossils (water-laid stone) to get to them. Therefore, we can say there is solid scientific evidence supporting a Great Flood from the distant past.

Then we come to the overwhelmingly strong anthropological evidence for the Great Flood. In case one does not know, anthropologists are scholars that study ancient cultures and societies. What numerous anthropologists who study these various cultures scattered throughout the globe (and in many different geographical locations) have learned is quite fascinating. In their studies they have found that one legend is common to virtually every ancient civilization throughout the world – that is the story of a catastrophic flood. Specifically, hundreds of ancient cultures and civilizations recount legends of a huge flood that destroys most of mankind, with only a few survivors and animals. As stated previously, these legends have been reported from all across the globe — ranging from Babylon, China, Egypt, Syria, Persia, India, Norway, Ireland, Sudan and even precolonial America (Native Americans). For instance, Aztecs told of a global flood where two people (a man and his wife) survived by floating in a boat that came to rest on a mountain. Then soon after, giants constructed a great pyramid in efforts to reach the clouds – an endeavor that ultimately angered the gods who sent them scattering. Does this not remind one of Noah and the Arc, and the subsequent Tower of Babel? To that point, not only does the vast number of such legends surprise and amaze anthropologists, but the similarity in content between them leaves many equally amazed.

As author James Perloff has observed:

“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.”

Likewise scholar Alfred Rehwinkel has noted:

“Traditions similar to this record are found among nearly all the nations and tribes of the human race. And this is as one would expect it to be. 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”.

So what does this evidence prove? After the variations of each legend are stripped away, one arrives at the kernel of truth (or agreement) at the core in all these various Flood accounts. There was a universal destruction of the human race and all living things that occurred by a Great Flood; an ark (or craft) was utilized as means to escape the flood by some; and the few survivors perpetuated the human race after the flood. Therefore what is significant from these various flood accounts should be obvious. These traditions agree at too many points to have not originated from the same historical event. There are just too many legends (over 200) across different ages and from such separated civilizations that one cannot possibly have copied from another. In fact scholar Wilhelm Wundt, a man who had no love for the Bible, sought to find another reasonable case for the independent origins of these various legends recording a Great Flood. In his conclusions, he had to at least admit (and concede) the following:

“Of the combination of all these elements into a whole, however, we may say without hesitation, it could not have arisen twice independently”.

This naturally raises the question: How did we get so many variations of the story? One most remember the earliest books of the Bible, the books of Moses (or Torah) were not recorded until centuries later (after the flood). Therefore, those living after the Flood did not have the Bible to read to their children and grandchildren. Thus, as the Flood account was passed down (orally) from one generation to the next, and some descendants began to stray once more from God, the stories began to change – but not the core truth of the colossal Great Flood.

But enough bloviating on this topic, it is time to wrap this post up. The temptation for many believers today, in our secular culture, to reject such stories as Noah and the Arc and conform to modern scientific dogma, is great and growing. However, for those of us who profess belief in God and the scriptures, this is simply not an option – and it should concern us that so too many professing believers today readily capitulate on these issues. Nevertheless, as discussed in this post, there is ample evidence for believers to affirm the account of Noah and the Great Flood. First, that the story is contained throughout scripture and affirmed by Jesus should be enough. Second, there is a great amount of scientific evidence that lens support to the Flood account as recorded in Genesis. Finally, there are simply too many independent stories of a Great Flood found across the globe from different cultural groups speaking different languages to dismiss the account as a myth. Therefore, anyone who wants to argue that the Flood account is mere myth must ignore a lot of evidence to the contrary – evidence that includes multiple scriptural references, supporting scientific evidence and numerous anthropological evidence. As geologist John William Dawson concluded in his book “The Historical Deluge in Relation to Scientific Discovery” published over a century ago:

“We know now that the Deluge of Noah is not mere myth or fancy of primitive man or solely a doctrine of the Hebrew Scriptures. … Not only is there a mass of geological evidence – it has left an indelible impression on the memory of the entire human race. … No historical event, ancient or modern, can be more firmly established as matter of fact than this”.

In closing I can think of no better statement than that. Thank you for reading, I hope some may have found this post insightful.

JDN

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