The flood account in Genesis is a very interesting thing to discuss because, even among most evangelical Christians, there is a debate as to whether it was a global or local flood. The traditional belief in the church is that the flood was a completely global and it covered the entire earth and consumed everything in it. I know I have shared some of my views on the book of Genesis in past blog posts, so I want to start off by saying that I do believe that the flood was a real historical event. This was probably one of, if not the biggest floods in all of history. Let’s dive into the biblical part first.
First of all, I am concerned for the authority of Scripture, however I am even more concerned for the interpretation of Scripture, for without proper interpretation you cannot have proper authority. If you read Genesis and take it at face value, you get the idea the the flood covered the whole earth. However, like I have said before, we cannot integrate modern science with the Bible. This is called concordism and it is not a proper way to go about reading the Bible. Today, we view everything from a global perspective. However, back when this book was written the people did not view things from a global perspective. Nobody had any idea just how big the earth really is, nor the shape of it or anything else. The english translation of the Bible says “all the earth” which, in Hebrew is translated into “kol erets.” “Kol” means “all,” and “erets” means “earth,” “ground,” “land,” or “country.” In almost every single instance in the Old Testament, kol erets is used to describe just one particular area of land. Also, when talking about this issue, using the phrase “whole earth” is often referring to just the people of the earth, in this specific area of land.
A good question to ask is, “how could the text have referred to a global flood?” Well, there is a Hebrew word, “tebel.” This word is found 37 times in the Old Testament, and it is NEVER used to describe any part of the flood. Proper interpretations shows nothing about the earth ever being completely flooded with water.
There are also way too many scientific problems with a global flood. Animals such as sloths and penguins would not have been able to travel over land. Animals like anthropods can’t survive in less than 100% humidity. These are just a couple of examples of animals being able to travel by ark. Also, increasing the quantity of animals by more than 5% would overload the ark.
Other problems would be the ages of the mountains. The flood wouldn’t have covered the highest mountains, and all of them date back to several million years ago, which is what the rest of the earth dates back to. Also, a global flood would have left traces of sea floors all over the earth, and such a thing does not exist. Finally, the geologic column would be all mixed up, and it is in the perfect order that we would expect it to be in. These are just a few of many scientific problems with a global flood.
The Genesis Flood was one of the biggest in all of history, however it did not cover the entire planet. God didn’t flood the entire earth, because that would have been too much damage and He simply didn’t need to flood the whole thing to get His point across.