Was Noah’s Ark Real?

Noah’s Flood (image by Uriel Vidal)
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Last Wednesday afternoon (1/12/11) at a middle school Christian club I work with we were reading Genesis chapters 6-8 and studying the account of Noah and the flood.  One student raised her hand and asked, wasn’t the flood just local?  I said there are basically two camps on this issue within Christian circles; those who think it was global, the flood waters covered the entire earth or universal (worldwide), in that the waters covered a more localized area but was universal in that it killed all the humans that lived on the earth; the only survivors were on the ark.  In our discussion I left the issue of whether the flood was global or not unresolved.

That evening I was looking at the Stand to Reason Blog site and I found Christian apologist and speaker Greg Koukl spoke on this issue; actually, he was answering the challenges of a skeptic concerning the flood.  So I decided to send you the link to his video.  Watching this video will be a good exercise in not only dealing with critics who discount this Biblical account but also on how to analyze and respond to what appear to be tough questions.

The following was taken from the Stand to Reason Blog site for January 11th, 2011.

No Global Flood?

[Questions asked by a skeptic] Isn't it obvious from the scientific data that there was no global flood (Noah's ark)? And if the flood was local, why save animals like birds, since they could easily fly away? Either way, it seems like there was no real Noah's Ark.  [Here is the link to the video:  Global flood]

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Tom Wright January 23, 2011, 7:02 pm

    Steve;
    Interesting video which prompts more questions.
    I understand Noah lived 600 yrs. Correct? Evidence?
    Did all the species known today fit onto the Ark? They would have to if this is in keeping with your view of no macroevolution.
    Tom

  • Steve January 31, 2011, 5:37 pm

    Tom,
    As far as Noah’s age we have the testimony of the scriptures. Remember Adam and Eve were created genetically perfect before they broke God’s law. Once humanity was stained with sin, there was a slow genetic breakdown. Plus God set the lifespan for humans once he judged all the evil people were doing. Genesis 6:3 (NASB) Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” After this point, by His grace, God only allowed a few exceptions to live longer than 120 years. Yet, this lifespan was established by God over 4,000 years ago. Interesting how accurate that number is when we look at longevity today. With all the medical advances, 120 years plus or minus a few years, is the maximum.

    As far as the ark and the animals I believe in a universal flood (killed all humans except those on the ark) that covered a limited but very large area. Therefore, all the species of the earth don’t have to be on the ark and macroevolution is a non-issue. However, most young earth believers have to get all animal species on the ark. Books have been written (I haven’t read them) on how that was accomplished. Since I don’t believe the entire earth was flooded I cannot answer for their view. On this issue I actually have some of the same questions as you do for young earth believers.

    Steve

  • Tom Wright February 21, 2011, 7:57 pm

    Steve;
    If the age of Noah is verified by the “testimony of the scriptures”, why is there equivocation on the length of one “day” of creation?
    Tom

  • Steve February 23, 2011, 5:38 pm

    Tom,
    The difference is the definitions of the terms. No controversy surrounds the Hebrew word “shanah,” which means years. In context when Genesis 9:29 says Noah lived to be 950 years, then that’s how long he lived. Now there is some difference in a Hebrew calendar and the one we use today but it isn’t that big of a deal. Noah lived a long time and no one disputes that.

    However, there are at least 3 legitimate literal definitions for day. The Hebrew word “Yom” can mean sunrise to sunset, sunset to sunrise, 24 hours, or an extended period of time. How you tell which is the correct rendering is by the context. This is no different from how we write or speak English. The word “area” can have multiple meanings. It can mean a mathematical number or it can be a region or county, it all depends on context.

    I hope that helps, Steve

  • clay July 25, 2012, 11:43 am

    The word ‘yom’ (as Steve points out) is very similar in the way the English word ‘day’ is used. With that in mind we should consider the following: the days in Genesis 1 are numbered sequentially (‘ the first day’ etc). Every where else in scripture where this occurs, along with the phrasing ‘morning and evening’, it always is referring to a 24 hour day. Plus, Koukl and Ross ( who both believe in a local flood) do so in order to justify the millions of years they want to force into the text. We don’t have to put our faith in the atheistic and/or naturalistic theories of secular scientists when God’s word speaks clearly on this matter. The creation took place in days. We don’t need to engage in eisegetical gymnastics. With that in mind, lets consider the text in English. Any 10 year old can read this and understand we are discussing days not millions of years (context not withstanding).

  • Steve July 26, 2012, 5:53 pm

    Clay,
    I would like to thank you for expressing you opinion on the age of the earth/universe. This is an inside the church discussion and we can agree to disagree on this non-essential teaching.

    As I approach this issue I take the stance that God has revealed Himself in two places, in the record of the Bible and in the record of His creation. These two revelations of God cannot contradict. I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and according to Psalm 19 where it says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands…” we see much of Psalm 19 proclaiming that God has revealed Himself through His creation. When the Apostle Paul was answering the question about belief and if certain people had heard the message in Rom. 10:14-18, he answers affirmative that they did hear based on Ps. 19:4 that the message of God’s creation had gone out to the ends of the world. The problem we have with God’s two revelations is in the area of interpretation.

    The Hebrew word in Genesis for day is “yom” which could stand for a 12 hr. period (sunrise to sunset or sunset to sunrise), a 24 hr. period or a long period of time. The reason for the multiple meanings is the small number of nouns in the Hebrew language, especially when compared to English. My stance is that the meaning for the word day utilized in Genesis 1 stands for a long period of time. In my view, the current scientific stance is correct, that the universe is 15 billion years old and the earth 4.5 billion years old.

    Another argument for interpreting day as an extended period of time is day 6 of the creation account. Here we see a number of duties that Adam is asked to do that will take a longer period of time then 24 hours. There were at least 11 duties, some of which (naming all the animals) would take a long period of time.

    My last point has to do with day seven. Each of the first 6 days had the words morning and evening to signify the beginning and end to each day. Day 7 doesn’t have those closing words. Hebrews 4:1-11 talks about enjoying God’s rest in the present. If the rest day (7th day) has not ended then it is longer than a 24-hour period of time.

    Part of the rationale for interpreting day as a long period can be found in the usage in Genesis 2:4 where we see a summary of the creation days stated as, Genesis 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven. Here the word day is to be interpreted as an extended period of time, not just 24 hrs.

    You said, “We don’t have to put our faith in the atheistic and/or naturalistic theories of secular scientists when God’s word speaks clearly on this matter.” Are you saying all secular science is wrong? Do we need to hear from only the young earth scientists? Do you realize there never has been on record a single old earth scientist, who upon looking at the evidence for a young earth, changed their mind? Koukl, Ross, and I don’t put our faith in atheistic/and or naturalistic theories but we examine the evidence. It is overwhelmingly in favor of an old universe/earth. You have to reject all science and say their conclusions are wrong. The problem of starlight taking billions of years to reach the earth is huge.

    I believe I have justification for my interpretation of the Genesis account and the rest of the Bible for believing the earth is old. I have tremendous scientific evidence for the earth being old. Therefore, my conclusions are not based on “eisegetical gymnastics” or faulty science but on sound exegetical principles and solid scientific evidence.

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