Is Noah's Ark and the Flood a Myth or Biblical History?
The Genesis flood narrative is a reliable historical record found in the Bible, the wholly inspired word of God.
Sunday, December 03, 2017
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Three weeks ago, "Genesis: Paradise Lost," a new faith-based documentary was released in the United States bringing the Bible to life on over 1200 screens across the country. This movie is another effort to promote the Genesis record of the Bible with life miraculously created by the power of God in six literal days, in contrast with a naturalistic explanation of life’s origin, as the product of slow evolutionary processes over millions of years. While we do not subscribe to all the church doctrines that appear in the movie’s message, we commend the producers for clearly setting out a contrast between an explanation for the origin of life based on the authority of God’s word the Bible, and the explanation found in school textbooks based on man’s word. Both groups, creationists and evolutionists, examine the same evidence. One group interprets the evidence through man’s word and a lens of millions of years, and the other group interprets the evidence through God’s word, the explanation provided by the Creator Himself.
This contrast is well presented in the publications of Answers in Genesis, as well as the Creation Museum and since last year the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky (as already noted we do not subscribe to all the church doctrines these organizations promote). The overall message is clear: we ought to challenge the assumptions of “modern science” based on naturalistic processes over millions of years without being intimidated by so-called Christian scholars and scientists who advocate for this interpretation. Although some claim that an “evolutionary creation” worldview can be harmonized with the Bible, we do not believe this is possible so long as we maintain that the Bible is the wholly inspired word of God, and not the invention of man (2Tim. 3:16; 2Pet. 1:19-21). Genesis is part of inspired Scripture (Gal. 3:8; Rom. 4:3; etc.).
For example, relying on current scientific and historical evidence (which is itself evolving), it is claimed that the Biblical narrative cannot have described a global flood, and all modern animals and humans cannot have descended from the occupants of the ark. Yet, according to Genesis, God said:
“I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die… For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made… And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive… Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.” (Ch. 6:17; 7:4, 21-23; 9:18,19 NKJV).
The New Testament record is in harmony with this picture:
“Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” 1Pet. 3:20-21.
Therefore, the testimony of the Biblical record is clear and unambiguous. “All flesh in which is the breath of life died.” “Every man.” “All living things which were on the face of the ground” were destroyed, and Noah’s descendants were saved and repopulated the earth. We may not have all the extra-Biblical evidence we would like; however, even though spiritual lessons are drawn from the flood narrative, there are no references to the flood in later Scriptures to support anything other than a literal interpretation of the Genesis account. Noah was a real person, who along with his son Shem, are found in the genealogy of Jesus Christ which traces his family tree back to Adam (Luke 3:36-38).
The flood narrative is said to be limited by what scholars imagine was the understanding of primitive Israelites based on modern knowledge of the beliefs of other ancient near east civilizations. For example, these scholars falsely claim that Israelites believed the sky was a solid dome (see “The Deception of Theistic Evolution” written by Mark Allfree and Matthew Davies available from Amazon). At issue is the suggestion that God’s word must fit within the limits of current scientific and archaeological knowledge and theory. We believe that since the Bible is the inspired word of God, and not a work of human intelligence, it should not be limited by contemporary understanding. It should be noted that Biblical people and places have been denied by critics and scholars until archaeology has later proven their existence. The historicity of King David was denied, as there was no record of him outside the Bible. Yet in 1993, the Tel Dan victory stele was discovered referencing “the house of David.” The existence of Abraham’s hometown, Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31), was denied until Sir Leonard Woolley uncovered the temple tower at Ur during his excavations (1922–34).
Rather than being limited by contemporary understanding, the Bible has proven to be ahead of its time as demonstrated by the modern hygiene laws God gave the Israelites, for example, washing (Lev. 15:4,5,13) and burying of excrement (Deut. 23:12-14). In his book, A History of Preventive Medicine, Harry Wain writes:
“One has but to read the Bible carefully and thoughtfully to conclude that the wisdom expressed therein regarding health, hygiene and sanitation form the groundwork of today’s public health rules. As one closes the book he must realize that these biblical rules on health and hygiene were far in advance of, and superior to, any which then existed in the world. Many of these hygienic precepts have been little improved upon to this day, and are as worth following now as when they were first promulgated.”
Therefore, Christian scholars and scientists should consider their position very carefully before applying limits on interpretation based on modern knowledge. Paul writes:
“my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1Cor. 2:4,5).
Recently we visited the new Ark Encounter park in Kentucky and were very impressed by the creativity and belief in the Biblical record that was on display in the demonstration of the Biblical narrative. Extensive research and thought has been given to the variety of animal kinds (land dependent species) including housing, feeding, and watering them, as well as to the living quarters of the human passengers, ventilation and waste removal. Everything from bedrooms and kitchen to workshop and library have been included. Exhibits also explain flood geology, the ice age, the origin of languages, people groups, the intelligence of ancient man, and more. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the level of knowledge that ancient man would have had at the time of the flood (c/p Gen. 4:17-22). This is in harmony with the construction of the ark itself and preparation for the voyage, the plans for which were given to Noah by the Elohim, i.e. the angels (Gen. 6:14-22) just as Moses, Bezalel and Aholiab were given the plans and skills necessary by God’s spirit to construct the tabernacle and its furnishings (c/p Exo. 31:1-6; 35:30-35).
We highly recommend visiting both the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, separated by only 45 minutes drive, to consider origins based on the authority of God’s inspired word, particularly the early chapters of Genesis. If you visit with young children they will also enjoy the outdoor attractions including petting zoo and zip lines!
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7.
“…as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah 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 24:37-39.
Here the New Testament writers refer to the history of the flood event and the faith of Noah. He was a man who believed God even when naturalism suggested such a global catastrophe was impossible! What of us? Do we believe God will bring the judgments he has said he will on our society? If so, what should our response be? The Jews have been restored back to their ancient land as God promised. We have every reason to believe He will fulfill His promises to us as He did to Noah.
So keep watching for the Bible in the News, so that together we can prepare for the coming of the Son of man. This has been Daniel Billington joining you this week.