Q&A: Flood Discrepancies

Flood Discrepancies

Question

I can easily believe all of the miracles in the Bible except the Flood. Was it just regional? One of the biggest problems is that the Bible says that the whole world was covered. I don't mean to sound facetious, but how many penguins have you seen in the Middle East?

Answer

The details that the Bible gives us on the Flood are somewhat scant. Some scholars believe that it may have been regional. On the other hand, the Bible really seems to present the Flood as a global cataclysm (e.g. Gen. 6:17).

Many scholars have rightly argued that Hebrew categories of animals were not the same as ours. Noah brought two of each kind of animal category he recognized, not two of each kind we recognize. For example, he probably brought two dogs; he certainly did not bring two of each breed of dog recognized by the AKC. The great variety of breeds today probably descended from the original pair through "specialization" (sometimes called "micro-evolution" — changes brought about by a reduction in the gene pool, not by cross-species mutation). Probably, however, this would not account for penguins.

Another possibility is that polar animals like penguins were not on the ark. The flood destroyed everything on the "earth," meaning the "land" not the "planet." Everything that lived in water survived on its own (fish, etc.). Polar animals frequently live on ice, and ice floats on water. Even if many of them died, some certainly could have survived on icebergs. The Antarctic has land under it, so it may have flooded, but there is no land under the Arctic — the entire northern polar cap could have floated, or at least large portions of it. This could explain the survival of seals, walruses, polar bears, penguins, etc. Even in the Antarctic floating ice could have preserved many animals.

Finally, it is certainly possible that God drove the required animals to Noah so that Noah could include them in the ark. Many polar animals are capable of surviving in non-polar climates (many zoos in warm climates have penguins, for instance) and could have made the trek to Noah's locale (even over several years), especially if God providentially aided them. If Noah began his journey in the Middle East (as most scholars believe), he would have been ideally situated for gathering animals from Europe, Asia and Africa. The mild climate of the Fertile Crescent could well have been cool enough for animals that thrived in cold climates, and warm enough for animals that thrived in hot climates. Again, modern zoos provide good examples of how many animals can survive in non-native habitats.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.