Curt Sewell is the author of God at Ground Zero

The Great Flood of Noah

Author: Curt Sewell
Subject: Creation Overviews
Date: 11/8/1999

What was the Flood like? The Bible teaches the following points:

  • Noah spent a hundred years building the ark, following God’s detailed plan,
  • The “fountains of the great deep” were broken open,
  • It rained for 40 days and nights,
  • There were eight people in the ark — Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives,
  • God caused pairs of all air-breathing animals to come to the ark. God closed the door himself.
  • The water covered the entire earth, with all its mountains (by at least 20 feet),
  • All air-breathing creatures drowned except for those that were in the ark,
  • They were in the ark for about a year. Then the ark came to rest on “the mountains of Ararat,” and they disembarked.
  • The ark was 300 cubits (450 ft.) long, 50 cubits (75 feet) wide, and 30 cubits (45 ft.) high. This is about the size of a four-story building about a city block long.

These basic facts are told in Genesis 6 – 9. But many teachers, even pastors, have questioned them, saying that it couldn’t have happened the way the Bible described. Their doubts spring from the secular teachings about evolution, uniformitarianism, and the materialistic philosophies that dominate most of the “scientific establishment.” Let’s look at a few of the questions these doubters raise.

Was the Flood actually world-wide? Yes, the Bible is very clear about this, and the world’s deep sedimentary rocks confirm it. The Bible uses the Hebrew word mabbool and the Greek word kataklusmos when talking about Noah’s Flood, and both mean a huge catastrophe. There are other words they could have used if it were just a local flood. Genesis 7:19-22 says:

“And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. … And all flesh died that moved upon the earth … All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.”

If it had been just a local flood, why would God have told Noah to build such a huge boat? Why should Noah have spent 100 years building it? Why not just tell Noah to take his family to another area?

Genesis 9:11-17 says that God made a covenant with Noah and his sons — never again will He send such a destructive flood, to destroy all flesh upon the earth. If the Great Flood of Noah was simply a local flood, then God must have broken that covenant, because we’ve certainly had many very destructive local floods, that killed many people.

Where did all that water come from? Most creationists believe there was a water vapor canopy surrounding the earth. This would make the early climate more moderate than it is today, reduce cosmic radiation (the source of many mutations), increase barometric pressure, all of which would make for a more healthful climate and longer lifetimes. But this couldn’t furnish enough water to make more than a few inches of rainfall over the entire world.

The bulk of the floodwater almost certainly came from the “breaking open of the fountains of the deep,” as told in Gen. 7:11. The map on the next page shows the great rift that was discovered in the 1950’s. It begins near the north pole, runs down through the middle of the Atlantic ocean, curves around Africa and India, passes south of Australia, and comes up near the west coasts of North and South America. When this broke, it would most certainly have blown huge amounts of lava, steam and sediment high into the sky, triggering massive rains and tsunamis..

This could well be the trigger that separated the original Pangea land-mass into separate continents, and began the process of plate tectonics. Today’s continents are “drifting” an inch or so per year, as these movements subside. Many creationists believe that most of the continental movements must have happened during the year of the Great Flood, tapering off duriing the years since then.

Could the ark have held all those animals? Yes, the ark was huge — its volume was some 1-1/2 million cubic feet — equivalent to over 500 railroad stock cars.

Today there probably are about a million species of animals. But many of these have developed in the years since the Flood. “Species” is a modern term, different from the term “kind,” as used in the Bible. The “dog kind,” for example, includes all the modern dogs, wolves, coyotes, some foxes, and others. So there weren’t nearly as many kinds of animals for Noah to load. The majority of today’s species are aquatic — the ark only carried “air-breathing” kinds, and many of these are small. Most likely its load was equivalent to about 50,000 sheep-sized animals. This would leave lots of room for Noah’s family and all the food required.

Were there dinosaurs on the ark? Yes, of course. They were created on Days #5 and #6, just before humans. Probably the ones on the ark were juveniles, as were elephants etc. The idea that dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago is widely discussed, but the evidence for such numbers is not solid — there’s much circular reasoning involved in most of the dating used by naturalistic scientists.

Where did all that water go? The original earth didn’t have mountains nearly as high as we have today. And scientists all agree that at one time there was only one large continent. When this separated (probably during the Flood) tectonic movements began (probably much faster at first).As plates bumped into each other, the crust buckled, causing mountains to be formed. Water began to run off the lower parts of land. Surely there were volcanic eruptions for many years, as the land and water surged back and forth, reaching a new state of equilibrium. This was also the time when the Ice Age occurred, for a few centuries. And this is the time when the Neandertal people lived.

We must remember that most scientists reject any supernatural intervention, and believe the idea that uniformitarianism ruled all processes. That’s where the millions of years comes from. That’s because of their preconceived beliefs, not the force of evidence.