[Originally published as part of The Noachian Deluge: Does Scripture Say Global, or Local?]
Potential Problems for the Global View
While it is my conviction that the Bible obviously teaches a global flood, there are many who’d disagree for a variety of reasons. And while I think I’ve shown pretty definitively that a local view faces very difficult issues, that does not mean the global view doesn’t face a few of its own.
One important caveat here is that there does not seem to be any problem scripturally speaking.
Thus far I’ve not encountered a legitimate interpretation of Scripture which would prove difficult for this view. In any apparent cases, we must be sure that we are not making the error of interpreting a historical event using poetic hermeneutics. As we’ve already demonstrated, this is fallacious exegesis.
Perhaps a second important caveat is that we must avoid placing our understanding of Scripture on par with a particular scientific model. All science—creation science included—is malleable. The Bible is a book of history, but science changes all of the time!
If a scientific model proves to be untenable, that does not discount the teaching of the historical record. In this sense, they are unrelated. Many flood models have come and gone over the years, and better ones advanced. This is how science works, and creationists need not fear this process.
The above two “caveats” will actually help to fend off most objections to this view.
Nevertheless, over the years, many more objections to the global flood narrative have been raised. It is not my intent to course through these again, since there is a plethora of information available covering the basics. This article is derived from one of the Answers Books, which does a fairly good job addressing the most common objections.
Here, I am going to mention two legitimate difficulties, one scientific, and one dealing with ANE mythology.
First, current flood modeling exudes heat issues that needs to be reconciled.
Dr. William Worraker spent his career as a professional computational physicist, and now is a part-time Research Associate for the Biblical Creation Trust in the UK. He is working on this so-called “heat problem.” Dr. Todd Wood succinctly summarizes the issue:
If plate tectonics is accelerated during the Flood (which we think it is), then it would generate an enormous amount of heat, more than 30 times as much heat as you would need to boil off the oceans! So that’s a problem.
At a recent ICC, Worraker provided some potential modeling solutions to alleviate this issue and is likely headed in the right direction, but there is nothing definitive established yet.
This is a perfect example of a creation scientist recognizing a problem and working toward a solution! We don’t just sweep these under the rug; rather, we evaluate them on a case-by-case basis and strenuously attempt to solve the problems with the model. When and if a model becomes untenable for whatever reason(s), it is discarded in the literature.
The second potential issue has to do with flood myths and other ANE cultures.
It is no secret that almost every ancient culture we know of has a flood myth, including cultures that extend past the ancient Near East. Traditionally, this has served to confirm the biblical notion of a global flood; that is, if a global flood as described in the Bible actually took place, we’d expect the memory of this event to be preserved—even loosely—across ancient culture.
Also, as we actually find, we would expect the “story” to be less similar the further removed from Babel these cultures traversed. But more recent suggestions (enjoying much wider evangelical acceptance due to the work of John Walton) employ the idea that this flood might not have happened at all—not globally, or even locally.
Increasingly, more evangelicals are on board with this suggestion, which is striking since Jesus himself affirmed the historicity of this event! The idea, of course, is that the Genesis Flood was simply “copied” from allegedly earlier documents—such as the Gilgamesh Epic—and is not authentic in the least.
The reason I mention this to be a “problem” is that there really is no robust treatment on this subject from a young age believing expert in print, yet new resources come available almost every day in support of this alternative view.
My contention is that many creationists are dismissive of it because, starting with the Bible, there does seem to be a reasonable expectation for the similarity. But those who argue the alternative view have some pretty convincing reasons, and I think it’s time they are addressed and taken very seriously.
As someone who spends a lot of time exploring these issues, the above two difficulties are, I think, the most pressing we face at the moment. The other “classic” objections:
- size of the Ark,
- the population of animals, etc.
are not difficult to overcome, despite how often they are repeated by critics.
In sum, I believe the local flood theory faces many more practical issues than the global view, not the least of which is the lack of support from Scripture.
Any support found for the local view seems to be based on spurious hermeneutics and fallacious exegesis, and the same is true of passages leveled against the global view. Further, as we saw, the local view faces what I think to be insurmountable difficulties both scripturally and scientifically, and the assumptions involved are the real crux of the matter.
Once we abandon uniformitarian assumptions, the global view is not only possible, but seems to best and most reasonably explain the data from science, Scripture, and even culture.
I, therefore, conclude that, with respect to the Noachian Deluge, Scripture emphatically says “global!”