Several years ago, a visiting Circuit Overseer suggested that,
should we desire to do more personal study, we try to learn
as much about the Great Flood as possible. I wrote to you
previously requesting information concerning the passenger
list of the ark, and I thank you for the information that
you provided me.
Further research I have done on the subject has, of course,
led to more questions. My main question is this: Is
it possible that the flood of Noah’s day was not literally
an earth-wide deluge? It seems that there are two
items that need to be addressed in answering this question:
First, what does the bible say, and second, what does God’s
book of creation reveal?
The book of Genesis states that the flood was earth wide.
The Hebrew word for ‘earth’ is ‘erets’.
Other occurrences of erets include:
Exodus 9:33: this verse states that the “rain did not
pour down on the earth”. Here, the word earth
must be understood to mean only in the area of Egypt.
2 Chronicles 36:23: here, Cyrus’ empire is said to include
“all the kingdoms of the earth”. But
surely this scripture is not meant to include empires in the
Far East, Africa or in the Americas. At other times, the word
erets is not even translated as earth, making
it even more obvious that the word does not necessarily imply
the entire physical globe. Examples of this include:
Genesis 12:1. That reads: "Go your way out of your country...to
the country that I shall show you".
Genesis 19:31: here Lot’s daughter’s state that
there is “not a man in the land (earth,
King James version) to have relations with us”. Obviously,
they are not referring to the entire physical globe, only
the general area in which they live.
And Genesis 20:1 states "Abraham journeyed from there
to the land of the Negeb”.
Thus, it appears as though the word erets can be translated
as earth, land or country.
What about the book of creation? If the flood was literally
planet-wide, where did the waters go? If there was enough
water to cover all the earth, where could it drain to? It
couldn’t simply drain to the oceans, because they would
have already been full. If the water covered even the highest
mountains, then the waters’ height must have been more
than six miles above current sea level. And remember, the
mountains were formed by this time, so this cannot be explained
by stating that the earth was ‘flatter’ when the
flood waters were draining. If there is six miles of water
sitting on top of the oceans, where does it drain
to? Additionally, if this amount of flood water fell from
the sky in only 960 hours (40 days and nights), this would
mean the rain fell at a rate of at least 15 feet per hour!
Plants native to land require oxygen and carbon dioxide, which
they remove from the atmosphere. Terrestrial plants cannot
survive under water for long periods of time. Even if the
plant life was able to obtain these gases from the water,
most of them need sunlight. Water depth exceeding six miles
would block out sunlight entirely.
Fish, which obviously did not need to be brought onto the
ark, would also have had a difficult time. Those requiring
freshwater would suddenly find the water too salty, as a rise
in sea level would cause the ocean salt to mix into freshwater
Prior to the flood, Noah would need to bring representatives
of each kind of animals into the ark. The incredible number
of animals needed (if every kind, earthwide, was to be represented)
would be impossible for Noah and his family to care for. Modern
zoos employee dozens, sometimes hundreds, of employees to
care for only a portion of the animal kinds in existence.
Although some sources indicate that ‘only’ a few
hundred kinds of animals would be needed to account for the
earth’s present day variety, this does not seem plausible.
For example, two cats would not be sufficient to produce all
the species of cats we have today. A minimum of 36 pairs of
cats would have needed to board the ark. Any less and it would
be impossible to account for the variety in existence today,
unless they rapidly evolved from some sort of proto-cat. Additionally,
Noah would need to board 27 pairs of seals, 34 pairs of deer,
44 pairs of rabbits and hares, 951 pairs of bats and 1,137
pairs of rats and mice.
After the flood, many animals would have the difficulty of
getting back home. How did the kangaroo get back to Australia?
How did the dodo get back to Mauritius? How did the sloths
return to the Amazon? How did the emperor penguin return to
Antarctica? And how did the giant tortoises get halfway around
the globe to the Galapagos?
In view of the foregoing, it appears as though there is sufficient
evidence to suggest the flood was perhaps a localized event.
I realize we may not know the answer to some of these questions
until a future time. However, the flood was a major event
in biblical history; much hinges on it. Later bible writers
discussed the flood, and all subsequent human history is built
upon it. Friends of mine have discussed these issues with
me, and it has caused considerable consternation for some.
Your thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time and effort. I eagerly await your response.