The Flood

The Flood

Flood narratives of a worldwide destruction of life on earth are common to many cultures around the world and com- mon threads run through all of them. The Biblical flood account, with Noah as the central figure, is written as a historic narrative whilst the other accounts are largely mythologized. The hero of the Babylonian story is Atra-Hasis, the Sumerian hero is Ziusudra and the Neo-Assyrian hero is Utnapishtim. These names do not seem to bear any resemblance to Noah, but there is a Mesopotamian story, the Hurrian story of which the hero’s name was na-ah-ma-su-le-el. It has been suggested that this name could represent a combination of Noah and Methuselah with the ‘el’ at the end of the name be- ing the word for God.6 In the Biblical and Babylonian accounts many of the names associated with the antediluvian culture are similar, and the differences can be accounted for by phonetic shifts in the pronunciations. Both accounts thus seem to refer to the same events and William Shea summarizes these similarities as follows:

If an event such as the Biblical flood ever occurred, then it is to be expected that ancient cultures should bear testimony to such an occurrence, and this is indeed the case. However, such an event would undermine the very essence of the evolutionary paradigm, which requires continuity of life from its inception to the present time in order to allow for evolutionary change over time. There is no room in this theory for the total destruction of terrestrial life in the relatively recent past, let alone the story of the survival of repre- sentatives of antediluvian life having survived in the ark. Attempts at compromise have tended to minimize the Biblical account and to relegate the events described to a local flood in Mesopotamia. The Biblical description is however very clear on this point, with both the Old and the New Testament referring to a worldwide destruc- tion of the earth by the flood. Relevant texts are:

And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6: 6-8

And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. Genesis 6:13-14

And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Genesis 6:19

There then follows a detailed description of the flood events, which together with an analysis of the chronological data on the flood and the genealogy of Noah can be summarized as follows:

The chronology of the flood from the time that Noah en- tered the ark to the time that he placed his foot on dry land spans a time of 1 year 17 days (the exact time may vary somewhat in some manuscripts). It describes the week before the flood waters came, the 40 day rain, the fountains of the deep bursting forth and the waters peaking and covering the antediluvian mountains after 157 days. This is followed by the receding floodwaters, the drying of the earth by wind and Noah finally leaving the ark in the region of the ‘mountains of Ararat,’ obviously in an area of high relief. The time frame presented in the Scriptures does thus not preclude the possibility of the flood waters continuing to recede for a much longer time after this period in areas of lower relief. Moreover, since the flood waters rose for a longer period of time than the rain fell, there must have been other sources of water involved than just the water from above, and the waters of the ‘great deep’ that are mentioned in the Biblical account are thus of particular interest. The waters for the flood came from two sources, the rain from above and the fountains of the great deep from below.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great (rab) deep (tehôm) broken up (baqa), and the windows of heaven were opened. Genesis 7:11

What exactly do the fountains of the ‘great deep’ refer to? The Hebrew for ‘great’ is ‘rab,’ and for ‘deep’ it is ‘t@howm’ Strong’s concordance defines the word ‘great deep’ as follows:

07227 rab {rab}: – many, great, much, captain, more, long, enough, multitude, mighty, greater, greatly, 1a) much 1b) many 1c) abounding in 1d) more numerous than 1e) abundant, enough 1f) great 1g) strong 1h) greater than 1i) much, exceedingly

08415 t@howm {teh-home’} or t@hom {teh- home’}: – deep, depth, deep places 1) deep, depths, deep places, abyss, the deep, sea 1a) deep (of subterranean waters) 1b) deep, sea, abysses (of sea) 1c) primeval ocean, deep 1d) deep, depth (of river) 1e) abyss, the grave

This implies not only much water, but can also refer to many sources such as subterranean water and the oceans. The term ‘tehôm’ oc- curs in the Old Testament 35 times of which 21 of them are in the singular as in the usage in the Genesis flood story. In Genesis 1:2 the word ‘tehôm’ is used in the sense of the waters of the ocean and

this agrees with its usage in Psalm 104:6 and Amos 5:8

Thou coveredst it with the deep [tehôm] as [with] a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

Psalm 104:6

[Seek Him] that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea [yam], and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord [is] His name. Amos 5:8

As Gerhard Hasel points out,7 the word ‘tehôm’ also refers to subter- ranean waters in the Biblical narrative. In Deuteronomy 8:7 Moses describes the land Canaan as a land of water-brooks, fountains, and springs or ‘deeps’ (‘tehômôth) or a land watered by wells. In Psalm 74:15 we read:

Thou didst cleave [baqa] the fountain and the flood:

thou driedst up mighty rivers. Psalm 74:15

The Hebrew word baqa is defined in Strong’s concordance as:

01234 baqa‘ {baw-kah’}- cleave, …up, divide, rent,

… out, break through, rend, breach, asunder, hatch, brake, burst, cleft, break forth, pieces, tare, tear, win

  1. to split, cleave, break open, divide, break through, rip up, break up, tear 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to cleave, cleave open 1a2) to break through, break into 1b) (Niphal) 1b1) to be cleft, be rent open, be split open 1b2) to be broken into 1c) (Piel) 1c1) to cleave, cut to pieces, rend open 1c2) to break through, break down 1d) (Pual) 1d1) to be ripped open, be torn open 1d2) to

be rent 1d3) to be broken into 1e) (Hiphil) 1e1) to break into 1e2) to break through 1f) (Hophal) to be broken into 1g) (Hithpael) to burst (themselves) open, cleave asunder

According to the context in which the word is used in Psalm 74:15, this implies that God split open the earth so that waters could come forth to feed the rivers. The same word baqa is used for the splitting of the rock by Moses in Exodus 14:16. The use of the same word in Genesis 7:11 for ‘broken up’ thus seems likely to refer to the breaking up of the earth’s crust to allow subterranean water to burst forth. Accordingly, the sources of water for the flood seem to have come from waters above, subterranean waters and waters of the antediluvian seas, thus accounting for the vast quantities required for this catastrophic event which not only covered the antediluvian mountains but also destroyed all the animals that had lived on dry land before the flood.

And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that [were] under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry [land], died. Genesis 7:18-22

The New Testament describes the same events, and in Matthew 24 and Luke 17, Jesus Christ also refers to the flood as a literal event, which destroyed all mankind excepting those on the

ark. The apostle Peter also refers to the flood as a literal event.

For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:38,39

And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly. 2 Peter 2:5

These plain statements of Scripture leave no room for com- promise for those who wish to harmonize the Biblical account with the scientific evolutionary paradigm; neither do they leave any room for minimizing the extent of the flood to an isolated local event. Moreover, the events described in Scripture testify to a worldwide calamity of such enormous proportions as to dwarf even the greatest geological events advocated by science. It is interesting that Peter in his epistle alludes to a disbelief in the flood account, which will undermine the faith in the last days.

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store,

reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and

perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3: 3-7

According to this verse, issues which will be considered contentious in the last days would be the veracity of Christ’s second coming, the creation account, and the belief in a worldwide flood. Moreover, the belief that ‘all things continue as they were from the beginning’ alludes to a faith in uniformitarianism, which is a cornerstone of the evolutionary paradigm.

Amazingly, in spite of the total onslaught and persistent ef- forts of evolutionists to promote their model at all levels of society, only 9% of the general population in the United States of America believed the purely evolutionary model according to a Gallop Poll conducted in 1991.8 At tertiary institutes, the picture is somewhat different, Feder’s (1986) study at Connecticut State University in the USA showed that 18% of students attending an introductory course believed that God created the universe in six literal days, a view that he considers to be based on pseudoscience.9

It is typical of evolutionary scientists to regard any alternative scientific approach to the study of origins, other than the evolution- ary one, as pseudoscience. Even more amazing, in the light of the theological barriers to compromise discussed above, is the fact that even religious organizations will conduct efforts to convince students to incorporate evolutionary principles into their religious thinking. One such effort was conducted at the University of Cape Town by Anderson of the organization Campus Crusade for Christ. 10

This study was conducted on Zoology students, and the researchers were pleased to record an increase from 47% to 70% acceptance of evolutionary ideas from their first to their third year of study. Belief in six-day creationism declined from the first to the third year from 13% to 0%. It was concluded that knowledge of evolution brought about this change, but of course no counter- arguments were ever presented to support any counterclaims. In the light of this rather one-sided approach, it is not surprising that the students were persuaded to undergo paradigm shifts. After this

very biased approach to the education of student in evolutionary theory, it was concluded that compromise theology was the way to retain religious convictions.

The Anderson study particularly singled out students who believe in a six-day creation as students most likely to lose faith when confronted with lectures on evolution. A further study conducted by Fulljames (1991) on adolescent pupils showed that those who hold to a six-day creation had greater difficulty com- bining science and religion.11 The Anderson study consequently points out the absurdity of believing in a six-day creation in the light of the evolutionary evidence and concludes that all pastors should relent from attacking evolution. They should furthermore emphasize, that whilst the Scriptures teach that God is the Crea- tor, it is open on the question of which natural processes He used in Creation. Theistic evolution is thus propagated as the means of retaining students in the faith whilst people believing in a literal creation are categorized as largely illiterate. Clearly the battle lines in the conflict between evolutionism and creationism are thus drawn between the six-day creation view and the naturalistic view; the one advocating total faith in the Word of God and other excluding God.

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