I came across this very well done post by Nick Norelli from Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth. In it, he discusses the Flood from the Old Testament, and why Fundamentalists/non-believers have had trouble with his perspective. I really enjoyed this post, I hope you do as well.
Last night while speaking with a skeptic I was asked if I believed in the flood as recorded in the book of Genesis — of course I said yes — but I qualified the statement by saying that I am open to the possibility that it could have been either local or global. Well this statement drew a funny reaction from the skeptic — in fact his reaction was the same as the fundamentalists in the room. He began to argue for a global flood because then and only then upon getting me to accept a global flood could he argue for the absurdity of the account and accuse the Bible is being fiction (at least in that part).
You see he wasn’t prepared for me to be open to different interpretations or for me to say that I genuinely don’t know — he (being a fundamentalist himself [of the skeptic persuasion]) had a cookie cutter argument that he wanted to use but couldn’t because I didn’t immediately jump on board with a global flood interpretation. He actually had to argue in favor of a position that he really wanted to refute! Such is the irrationality of radical skepticism.
Likewise, the fundamentalist Christians in the room had cookie cutter arguments of basically the same variety that the skeptic was using. But my reluctance to accept them on their face drew charges of heresy and not being a Bible believer, etc. It was even enough to draw a series of emails from a group that shall remain nameless but seem to love talking about me. Here is an example:
the flood could have been global,or it could have not….thank you,oh thank you,mr prophet for that incredible superfluity….i could not in my mind have ever reasoned a conclusion as such…i am glad such prophets exist to open the doors of truth to us….looking at the context of the dialogue,it shows once again the error of latching on to one word,and running with the words meaning to prove a point….so,roofer,in this dialogue,”world” doesn’t mean world,it means…uhhh..local?…
I don’t know what the reference to ‘roofer’ means and all the ad hominem aside – yes… the flood could have been local. This is a distinct possibility. I’m not sure exactly what word this individual feels I ‘latched onto’ or what meaning I have ignored, but I can say this — hyperbole is very common in Ancient Near Eastern literature (to include the Bible) and I can see no reason that would exclude the possibility of it being used here. There are plenty of examples in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures of ‘world/earth’ having reference to local regions and not the entire planet (e.g. Gen. 41:56-57; 1Ki. 10:24). But again — I don’t know if the flood was local or global. I’m open to either possibility — I’ll go where the evidence leads.
Another email in response to this one said:
There is evidence of a global flood everywhere you go. I sit in Capetown South Africa and there is a big mountain twenty minutes from here. On the top of the mountain …and it is way up there….you can see what looks like a beautiful beach….the mountain looks strange…..how did all that white sand get on that mountain way up there and it is covered in twenty to thirty feet deep of brilliant white sand.
I mean white sand on a mountain top in South Africa must mean that the flood was global, right? There are no other explanations for how such a thing could possible be, right? It seems to me that fundamentalists have their answers before they ask their questions and this is something that led me away from fundamentalism — it dishonors God in not seeking the truth — I genuinely question whether these men (or women) have wrestled with the alternatives to their theories — I seriously doubt that they have.
In any event, you’ll have to forgive me for not placing the flood as a doctrinal priority and for admittedly not knowing whether it was local or global. You’ll have to forgive me for not accepting cookie cutter arguments that only make sense to young earth creationists (such as sand on mountains or claimed ‘literal’ readings) — but I stand here as a man whose theology is shaped by his Trinitarianism first and foremost — and my Trinitarianism doesn’t demand a global or a local flood. It can go either way.
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