Answers to Creationists arguments
Noah's flood is the keystone in the belief system of the young-earth creationists who believe the flood was global and created massive geological changes in the earth's crust. But there was no global flood. Creationist arguments are printed here in boldface:
According to Genesis 7:19-20 all the high mountains under the whole sky were covered with flood water. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them 15 cubits deep. The reference to 15 cubits (22 feet) refers to the draft of the ark.
Mountains is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word harÓm meaning hills in this context. The King James Version of Genesis 7:19 translates hills correctly. There is no mention of draft or deep or depth in the Hebrew text of Genesis 7:20. A literal translation from Hebrew is "Five ten cubits upward rose the waters and they covered the hills." Note that "hills" is not in the same clause as cubits or rose. The 15 cubits was how much the water rose, not how deep the water was. The depths would be different at different places. The tops of the hills in the clause "and they covered the hills" were less than 15 cubits above the normal water level during the annual inundation and were therefore covered when the water rose 15 cubits higher. "Under the whole sky" means within Noah's visible horizon. All of the hills within Noah's visible horizon were covered by the water when the river rose 15 cubits. If the flood water had been more than ten thousand cubits deep, the authors of Genesis would have said so. Fifteen cubits is consistent with a local flood.
The flood continued for more than one year. This cannot be reconciled with a local-flood theory. If nothing could be seen but the tops of mountains after the waters had subsided for 74 days, we must conclude that the flood covered the whole earth.
All commentators have assumed that the flood mentioned in Genesis 7:6-17 was the same as the deep "waters" that lasted more than a year. But nowhere in Genesis 8 is the word "flood" mentioned. Noah's encounters with deep water were in two phases: a river flood phase that lasted less than a week and a deep water phase that lasted a year. The river flood floated Noah's barge down into the Persian Gulf and the barge floated about the deep water of the Gulf for a year. The deep water that Noah experienced for a year was not a flood; it was the deep water of the Persian Gulf. The "tops of hills" above the water surface are commonly called islands. If only islands could be seen after the water became more shallow for 74 days, it means only that Noah's barge was still several miles or more from the shore and dry land beyond the horizon. Deep water in the Persian Gulf for more than a year is consistent with a local river flood.
According to Genesis 7:11, all the fountains of the great deep were broken up. The great deep refers to oceanic depths and underground reservoirs. Presumably, the ocean basins were fractured and uplifted sufficiently to pour water over the continents. This continued for five months. Such vast and prolonged geologic upheavals in the oceanic depths cannot be reconciled with a local flood theory. Instead this upheaval was global.
The Hebrew word baqa translated as "broken up" in the King James version is translated "burst forth" in the Revised Standard Version and New International Version. The Hebrew word mayan for "fountain" can also mean a well or spring which share a common meaning: a source of water. References to sources of sea water breaking or bursting may have meant only that water from the Persian Gulf was bursting onto the shore during a storm. This frequently happens along a seashore during a storm. Noah and the others could not report on oceanic depths because they would have no way of knowing what was happening at oceanic depths. Bursting of Gulf water onto the shore during a thunderstorm was a local condition.
The Ark was unusually large. For Noah to have built a vessel of such huge magnitude simply for the purpose of escaping a local flood is inconceivable.
It is conceivable that Noah built a large river barge for hauling cargo. When a local river flood occurred, it is conceivable that Noah used the barge as a lifeboat. That may not have been what Noah had planned, but it certainly is conceivable that he used a large river barge to escape a local river flood.
There would have been no need for an ark at all if Noahs intent was to escape a local flood. How much more sensible it would have been for Noah to move to an area that would be unaffected by the local flood. The great numbers of animals could have moved out also. The entire story borders on the ridiculous if the flood was confined to some section of the Near East. The fact that he built the ark "to keep their kind alive upon the face of all the earth" (Genesis 7:3) proves that the flood was global.
The story would be ridiculous only if you accept the myth that Noah knew the flood was coming and built the barge solely as a lifeboat. Alternatively, if he built the barge to transport cattle and grain to market and had no inkling that a flood was coming until the rain began to fall, then using the barge to escape a local flood makes sense. When the river overflowed the levees, it was too late to evacuate to the foothills of the Zagros mountains which were 110 miles away. The phrase "all the earth" did not mean the planet earth, it meant all the ground, all the land in the flooded region known to Noah. He would have had no way of knowing what was happening to the land outside his local region.
The Apostle Peter in II Peter 3:6 refers to the "world that then existed was overflowed with water and perished." Peter's reference to the flood would have no value if the flood were only a local inundation.
Peter received his information on the flood from the same texts that we have and was therefore limited by the same ambiguities in the text that we can see for ourselves. Just because Peter referred in broad terms to a world that was overflowed with water, does not prove that the "world" in the original story was anything more than the local world known to Noah. Peter was using the flood story as a metaphor; he was not giving a discourse on geography.
Genesis 7:21-23 teaches that all mankind perished in the flood. Only Noah and his family were left. Since the human race had spread around the planet by the time of the flood, it follows that the flood was global.
If Noah and his family were the only survivors, then they would be the only source of information on the flood. There would be nobody from other parts of the world to report on conditions there. Noah would have had no way of knowing what was happening on the earth beyond his local area. It would have been impossible for Noah to travel all over the earth or even to all the cities of the Ancient Near East checking on whether anyone else survived. Noah and the author of his story cannot be used as a source of information on facts about which they could have no knowledge. The other survivors of the flood near where Noah lived were ignored by the author of Noah's story, because they were beyond the scope of the story. A modern news report about people who survived a local river flood does not mention the billions of people who were not in the flooded area.
There are many places in Genesis where the words "all" and "every" must be understood in the literal sense. The constant repetition of universal terms throughout Genesis 6-9 shows conclusively that the magnitude and geographical extent of the flood was of primary importance in the mind of the writer. Unlike the limited scope of the word "all" in Genesis 41:57: "the people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain", the word "all" in Genesis 1-11 deals with universal origins (the material universe, all plants, all animals, etc.) Genesis 1-11 contains many such superlatives which lose their meaning if limited to a local area observed by the narrator.
When a modern news reporter writes that everyone died in an airplane crash, readers are expected to understand that "everyone" does not apply to the entire planet. Likewise when the narrator of the flood story wrote in Genesis 7:21 that "every man" died, the reader is expected to understand that the scope of "every" applies only to the flooded region. People living outside the flooded region were not included in "every" and were not mentioned, because they were not affected by the flood and were beyond the scope of the story.
Many ranchers in the flooded region survived the river flood by climbing to hills or buildings that were higher than 15 cubits, but most of their livestock drowned. In contrast "every beast according to its kind, and all the cattle" that Noah owned or were in his custody were saved in his river barge. In other words, Noah did not leave any of his animals behind.
The scope of Genesis 1-11 is not all global. Genesis 2:14 refers to the river "which flows east of Assyria and the fourth river is the Euphrates." This limits the scope of the story to a local region, the Tigris-Euphrates valley.
Not all species of animal were in the ark. There was need for no more than 35,000 individual animals on the ark. Many of the animals could have hibernated and therefore needed no food or drink. We do not really know how all this was accomplished.
Genesis 7:2 does not say "all animals" or "all land animals." It says "all clean animals." We do not have to guess at how many clean animals there were because Deuteronomy 14:4-5 lists them. Similarly with the unclean animals. About 270 animals would satisfy the totals implied by Genesis 7:2-3. There could have been enough food and drink for 270 animals on Noah's modest size barge and therefore there is no reason to suppose that any of them hibernated.
If we accept the Biblical testimony concerning an antediluvian canopy of waters (Gen. 1: 6-8, 7:11, 8:2), we have an adequate source for the waters of a global flood.
The "canopy theory" was thoroughly discredited by Soroka and Nelson who did the physics calculations to prove that the canopy theory is physically impossible. Which is more likely, that an ancient scribe mistranslated an ambiguous word or that three quintillion tons of water mysteriously appeared and disappeared?
The ocean basins were deepened after the flood (Gen. 8:3, Psalms 104:6-9) to provide adequate storage space for the additional waters.
The writer of Genesis had no way of knowing whether the ocean basins were deepened or not. Genesis provides no direct evidence that the ocean basins were deepened. The deep waters of Noah's experience did not drain into a deepened basin, the waters became shallow because Noah's barge drifted into shallow water. Psalms 104:6-9 refers to a thunderstorm: "the waters [storm clouds] stood above the mountains; they fled at the sound of your thunder." This is mythic metaphor for a thunderstorm: that the sound of thunder frightened away the water-filled clouds above the mountains.
If the flood was global, then all air-breathing animals not in the ark perished and present-day animal distribution must be explained as migrations from the mountains of Ararat. The kangaroos in the ark migrated in all directions. Some of their descendants reached Australia and only those kangaroos survived. They could have floated across the ocean on natural rafts of vegetation or on boats manned by Noahs descendents.
Genesis does not mention kangaroos. Genesis 7:2-3 specifies seven pairs of each kind of clean animal and one pair of each kind of unclean animal. Deuteronomy 14:4-18 lists the species of clean animals and the species of unclean animals. Kangaroos were not listed and therefore were not in the ark. Likewise with giraffes, elephants, lions, etc. Genesis 7:2-3 is consistent with a local flood.
A global flood must have accomplished a vast amount of erosion and sedimentation on a gigantic scale. Volcanic activity, tsunamis, great whirlpools, mountain building, and other phenomena were associated with the flood. The vastness of this geological activity must have been in proportion to the huge depth of the flood.
Such massive changes in the surface of the earth would have destroyed all traces of landmarks in the Euphrates River valley where Noah's ancestors lived (Genesis 2:14) and where Noah lived (according to the Sumerian king list). And after all of this destruction of landmarks, Noah supposedly was able to find his way back to the Euphrates River valley where his descendants lived (Genesis 11) and find the exact spot where some writings were buried (according to Berossus). For Noah to be in the southern Euphrates valley before and after the flood, indicates a local flood in the Euphrates valley.
Flood stories can be found in every part of the world and common to most of them is the recollection of a great flood which destroyed all but a tiny remnant of the human race. Many of these traditions tell of the building of a great boat which saved humans and animals and which finally landed on a mountain. This indicates that Noah's flood was global.
Flooding is experienced in every region of the earth where there are rivers. Myths about flooding can therefore arise independently around the world. Over time, story elements from one local flood story gets mixed with other flood stories in distant lands. If one story had an unusually memorable story element, such as a boat saving a family from a flood, eventually some other local flood legends would absorb that story element. Similar stories in different parts of the world were the result of travelers and missionaries taking the Noachian story to different parts of the world. No single worldwide flood is needed to account for these flood stories, many of which are unrelated to Noah's story.
Attempts to harmonize Genesis with modern geology by proposing local-flood theories have been discredited. There is no trace of such a local flood in the Euphrates River valley. The flood layer found by Leonard Woolley at Ur was not even in the same century with the flood layers found by Stephen Langdon at Kish.
Just because the Ur flood and the Kish floods were different floods does not imply that neither of them was Noahs flood. One of the Kish floods occurred at about the same time as flooding at Shuruppak and Uruk and could have been Noahs flood, a local flood that occurred about 2900 BC.
One hundred and fifty days after the Flood began, the waters started to subside and the Ark grounded on Mount Ararat, one of the highest mountain peaks. Another thirty-one weeks were required for the waters to subside. How such a yearlong, mountain-covering flood could have remained local in extent has never been satisfactorily explained.
The Hebrew word for mountain in Genesis 8:4 can also mean hill and is translated as hill in the King James version of Genesis 7:19. A local flood covering a few hills is consistent with Genesis 7:19. Genesis 8:4 says "mountains of Ararat" not "Mount Ararat." If Noah's sons visited one of the mountains of Ararat and story tellers mistakenly assumed the barge had landed there, such a simple error could explain why the mountains of Ararat were mentioned as the landing place. Noah's barge grounded at sea level in an estuary near some low hills of the Euphrates River delta. If Noah's barge was floating about the deep water of the Persian Gulf for a year, then the prior hill-covering local flood need not have been more than a few days.
Mountain peaks several miles high did not exist before the flood. The mountains covered by the flood were less than seven thousand feet high. After the flood began, the mountains rose to their present height and the ocean basins subsided to their present depth. According to Psalms 104:8 "The mountains rose, the valleys sank down."
Where is the evidence of such recent mountain rising? How would the psalm writer know if they rose or not? In the same poem he also wrote "You set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never shake" (Psalms 104:5-6). The poet believed that the earth was flat and rested on a shaky foundation. Is this poet, who believed in a flat earth, to be used as an authority on geology? Missing from his poem is evidence to support his statements, examples and identification of which mountains rose, and data on how high they rose and how many years ago and over how many years the mountains rose. This poem is primitive nature myth to explain earthquakes and thunderstorms.
Could Noah have been so ignorant of the topography of southwestern Asia, where the highest mountains of the world are located, as to actually think that the Flood covered "all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens" (Genesis 7:19), when it really covered only a few foothills?
Noah may have known about the Zagros Mountains 110 miles east of Shuruppak. But since he could not see beyond the horizon, he would have no knowledge of whether the Zagros Mountains were flooded or not. He reported only what he could see and he could see only sky and water, because he was several miles from shore. From Noah's point of view, the whole world was flooded and all the high hills (less than 15 cubits high) were covered. Note that the word "hills" is used in the King James Version of Genesis 7:19. "Mountains" is a mistranslation in other versions of Genesis 7:19.
A flood in Armenia 17,000 feet deep while Egypt or India were not flooded would be a more incredible miracle than anything implied by the traditional understanding of a universal flood.
The flood water rose 15 cubits (Genesis 7:20) and had no connection with a 17,000 foot mountain. Mountains is a mistranslation. The flood covered hills not mountains.
Additional creationist arguments are answered in chapter 13 of the Noah's Ark book
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