Biblical Perspectives Magazine, Volume 24, Number 38, September 11 to September 17, 2022

The Catastrophic Flood

Was It Historical, Global or Local?
How Did It Happen?

By Billy C. Sichone

Central Africa Baptist University


The Noahic flood is thought by some to be a mere poetic fairy tale, allegoric, symbolic or folklore generated or adopted by the Hebrew people from the Near East (Thompson, 1986; Craig 2021; Cahill 1999). For this sort of people (whether Theologian or not), the first eleven chapters of Genesis are mere poetic stories that one may read for leisure but should never be believed or considered as fact (Burge, 2005). This cohort goes further to assert that any rational mature intelligent Academic dares not believe the Bible in totality or even at all (Cahill 1999). Scientists, on the other hand, are always seeking answers, ready to change when fresh evidence or better theories become available (Kuhn, 1996). They refuse to accept any subjective claim in the absence of empirical evidence. Faith claims such as the Genesis flood just will not do. Worse if Scientists detect apparent contradictions or inconsistencies (Burge, 2005),they will distance themselves as if a deadly plague has broken loose within the lab! However, despite these sustained ferocious attacks against the Biblical Flood narrative, it remains strongly believed by others, including creationists. What is the explanation for this? Is there sufficient evidence for the fiat, immediate creation and indeed, Flood event, having actually occurred? Why would someone dare take the plunge to commit intellectual suicide? This paper explores some recurring thoughts relating to the global flood that the Bible narrates. It demonstrates that the flood indeed actually took place and was in fact global in outlook rather than a localized event.

Why the discussion?

The fact that some key Scientists as well as religionists boldly assert that the flood is an impossibility flanked by some so-called Christian rationalists (e.g. Hugh Ross, John Clayton, Jamieson, Fausset among others) 1 claiming that the flood was local rather than global, why should we spend time exploring this matter? Why waste time on an issue whose outcome is clear and evidence is there for all to see? Well, it is important to consider this crucial matter for various reasons including the following considerations:

* The Global flood story has been written about by many people from different cultures of the world. It cannot be thus simply dismissed.

* The Flood is one of the accounts written in God's word and as such must be believed and upheld by all Bible believing Christians as factually historical: it actually happened.

* To deny the story is to reject God's word as well as strike at the very foundations of the Christian faith. Some however, even within evangelical circles trivialize this claim.

* If the story is mere folklore, then how much of the Bible would be thus true or untrue? Towering theological or philosophical greats like the famed William Lane Craig (2021) erroneously have embraced this deviation from plain scriptural teaching. They have bowed at the rank rationalist alter.

* The evidence on the ground points more to the global deluge (catastrophism) rather than the Uniformitarian evolutionary view. Some assumptions of evolution cannot hold in some instances thus giving room for further enquiry.

There certainly are other equally potent reasons but the above should suffice for our purposes. Francis Schaeffer (1972) has argued well in his book 'Genesis in space and time' when he addresses the issue of the Flood (pp127-146), that the Flood indeed happened and God was involved. The date and timing of the flood may be debatable but this is a fact.

Nature and Source of the Flood

The Genesis flood is believed to have taken place thousands of years ago when flood water came and enveloped the world. From different sources, they seem to suggest, that the flood came and covered the entire world thereby rendering some species to die or be extinct. The source of this water could be the rain water, ice melting or water released from the depths of the earth. It is equally possible that an impact with some celestial body could have brought water or triggered some chemical combinations that produced the water, given that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, according to current scientific facts. These and other sources could be a possibility. Patten (1966) has argued that an astral catastrophe could have occurred where a stray body of a given mass strayed into the Earth's orbit, triggered some gravitational as well as cataclysmic event to take place on the planet, there by causing the tides to rise and cover the entire earth. He also suggests that extra-terrestrial ice or other elements could have been introduced to the Earth resulting in altered atmospheric gas composition while ushering in the Ice Epoch. Patten makes a reasonable good case for possibilities in the past. His is a great, commendable attempt.

Extent of the Flood

The flood, according to scripture evidence, was global. A straight and natural reading of the Hebrew text leads in that direction. In Genesis 6-8, the Bible tells a story of a righteous man, Noah, that took over 100 years building an Ark exactly as instructed by Yahweh. While building, Noah is said to have been preaching the message of the ensuing flood but no one listened till the day he and family entered the Ark. God closed the door and then unleased the flood! The torrent poured out while the forceful waters came! In time, the water level was raised as did the fountains of the deep break, releasing huge water volumes to flood the entire planet, not the known world as some would argue. The flood was of global proportions rather than a local or regional context as some claim or assert. The Bible records the waters (levels) kept coming (and rising) for more than 120 days scaling over the highest peak (of course not today's mountain heights of Himalayas sort of thing but before the mountains reached the present heights resulting from tectonic shifts in the Earth's crust) in the world and then begun to recede. Everything that had breath whether animal, insect or human perished in the catastrophe. According to Patten, this flood changed the planets' climate for ever, including collapsing the water blanket that had covered the planet. As the waters receded, Noah initially sent a raven to establish the water level then later a dove until the Ark settled on the mount of Ararat. The representative animals and humans survived the flood and eventually disembarked from the Ark to begin the great work of replenishing the Earth. God, having promised never to destroy the world through a global flood, through a rainbow covenant, gave the charge to animals and humans to multiply. The animals then spread around the world and so did humans. It is probable that the earth was one land mass that eventually split and spread across the world explaining how animals have found themselves in different locations. Patten suggests that the planet once had a uniform climate and temperature but due to cataclysmic events from both within the planet (i.e. magnetic and tectonic forces) and cosmic (i.e. disruption from space by say, a terrestrial body) caused the mountains to be formed, vapour canopy to collapse, break the fountains of the deep, raise the water tide as well as deposit ice and gases from space to the planet. This resulted in the global flood, rapid fossilization and the ice freezing of the caps. The Earth's axis could have shifted in the process too. Collectively, these could explain the mechanics but the Bible never gives any details except to declare what happened. Secondary testimony to the global nature of the Genesis flood is from the over 100 folklore stories of the global flood spread right across the world (Thompson, 1986). Internal evidence from both Old and New Testament sources attests to the reality of this Global flood. 2 Peter 3:6 for instance shows that the flood was a major event that occasioned the death of all living things in the world as much as all people in Sodom and Gomorrah perished, not just some.

Possible Mechanics of the Flood: Additional insights

As has been mentioned in the previous section, the mechanics cannot be explicitly stated for certain except to mention that the Bible does state that water came from at least two sources, the water canopy (in the form of rain) and the broken fountains of the deep. These continued to bring water until the earth was filled. Donald Patten (1966) has attempted to explain these Mechanics as have Drs Henry Morris and John Whitcomb in their 1961 legendary work, The Genesis Flood. Although dated, the book is a great resource shedding light into the hydraulics that took place. For one thing, all these authors state that the current conditions on the planet are vastly different from what they were in those pristine antediluvian days prior to the flood (Whitcomb, 1972). The authors further point out that the planet once had a water vapour canopy that enabled a uniform temperature on the planet, kept away deadly cosmic rays as well as had a higher amount of CO2 reducing the metabolism rate thus allowing longevity. For some reason, the vapour blanket collapsed, releasing water as well as allowing more of the direct deadly sun rays which have progressively shortened life spans. After the Biblical flood account, longevity seems to progressively reduce. In addition, the forces in the earth, as well as an unknown magnetic field probably caused a terrestrial body to disrupt the Earth's orbit, axis, tide as well as fragmentation resulting in the rise of the mountain ranges. Interestingly, a second terrestrial body dubbed Earths' second moon has been discovered in recent days though it's mass could not possibly disrupt the Earth's orbit. It none the less could be a pointer to other possible body masses including asteroids intruding into the Earth's orbit with possible disruptive effects. We leave it there for now but return to our main argument. A combination of these forces could have occasioned the global flood as well as the extinction of animals such as the Dinosaurs among others. The unknown celestial body could have come with its own baggage, such as Ice or gases like Nitrogen, Hydrogen. As earlier stated, the Bible does not set out to explain or prove any scientific fact but merely states what was and became. Henry Morris and Whitcomb have equally put forth some very useful arguments on the matter. The reader does well to familiarize themselves with these sources.

What the Bible states about the Flood

As hinted at earlier, the Bible does mention the Genesis flood of global proportion. In fact, the flood is a major event covering at least three chapters (Chapters 6-8) and is referred to in several other parts of the Bible as a fact rather than a fairy tale or poetic story meant to demonstrate God's threat to punish people in a local context. The Bible states the fact but does not give the details or the mechanics thereof relating to how the flood took place.

It is important to note that the Bible takes for granted several things such as the availability of sufficient water to cover the earth, the existence of mountains, existence of organisms and the building of the Ark which eventually saves not only the animals but humans too. It further assumes that the animals survive in the Ark and that the said Ark has sufficient capacity and integrity to undertake its mandate. It may be prudent to visit the Creationist Museum in USA to get a glimpse of what the Ark might have been (Ham 2012). However, the Bible does mention some key details of what was, the process and the after effect. For instance, the Bible states that the waters rose for 120 days, covered the entire planet by a certain level of feet and then eventually receded. In total, almost a year of flooding waters covered the planet and then organisms are let free on dry ground to roam the earth (Genesis 6-8).

What Young and Old Earth Creationists have Written or Said about the Flood

Young Earth Creationists such as Henry Morris and Whitcomb, among others have contended that the Earth as we know it was created in six literal 24 hour days by God and is not more than 10,000 years old. They argue that the Genesis flood was of global proportions covering the entire planet, occasioning the rapid death and fossilization of species in the process. They also argue that evidence right across the world points to a cataclysmic event proving the Genesis account true rather than the Uniformitarian geological ages as has been put forth by the evolutionary scientists, including Hugh Ross or Lane Craig (Philosopher) claim that either God could have used Evolution to create over billions of years or things simply evolved from chaos rising from a happy accident over and between 14-16 Billion years ago. These pundits further argue that human beings evolved (or, in some cases, were created as claimed by John Collins, for instance) and came on the scene sometime after 4.6 Billion years when the earth was formed but impacted 65 million years ago by an explosive high impact asteroid resulting in the wiping out of the Dinosaurs. Those holding to the gap theory place this impact between Genesis 1:1 & 2 before God begins to recreate (verse 3). That all sounds equally like a statement of faith in many senses!

What Others have Said or Written about the Biblical Flood

Many have written on the subject of the flood. Equally many have vigorously attacked the story of the flood, worse, it having been of global proportions. They have largely argued that this would not have been possible or at best a flood of local or regional proportions. Within the Christian fraternity, the Young and Old Earth creationists have been at daggers drawn for many years. The tussle continues. Dr Henry Morris, Dr John Whitcomb, Donald Patten, Dr Bert Thompson, Timothy Snelling, Ken Ham and Poythress Vern among others have argued for a Young Earth that experienced a global flood not more than 4,000 years ago. They further argue that the Biblical account is to be believed as literal and historically true because it definitely took place as attested by scripture and secondarily, external evidence. This external evidence, though, is not the determining factor despite being important. For instance, Dr Thompson has written an insightful paper on Noah's flood which clearly states what the Flood was, its nature and why it should be believed. To achieve his end, he first objectively states the current trends in thinking and attendant reactions to the flood story by both non-Christians and Christians. He then proceeds to positively state what the Bible declares ending by urging Christians to boldly assert the fact of the Global flood as taught by the Bible. This is a pithy, well thought out and well-argued piece of work to come from the Doctor's pen. Another, Prof Werner Gitt (2001) has written a whole book refuting the idea that God used evolution to create the world. In the said seminal work, Gitt proves that God could not have used evolution, given the external and internal evidence of scripture as well as Science itself. This work is important because many Christians are deceived into believing that whether one holds classical historical Creationism or not is inconsequential. What could be further from the truth! But then we have the other side of the Old Earth creationists arguing that God either used Evolution to create or things simply evolved over a long period of time, in billions of years! The said proponents argue that Science and the Biblical account should be harmonized with the former (not the latter) the determining factor of what is true. These, in effect, reject the Genesis Biblical Flood account, seeking to impose what they think should have been the correct picture. Among these would be included names like John Wright Hugh Ross, Lane Craig and Ted Burge among others. But as though that were not bad enough, Thompson (1986) refers to multiple evolutionists/naturalists that clearly reject the Genesis Account as not only nonsensical but absurd as well. We have names like Asimov, Hawkins and Dawkins among others. These claim that the mention or inclusion of a supernatural being in the scientific endeavour inhibits free investigation, being unscientific in itself. In short, they reject the mention of a deity in preference for naturalistic processes whose genesis is really based on faith (i.e. the Big Bang theory). As for the fossils, they claim that the Uniformitarian evolutionary mode makes more scientific sense rather than the faith based pronouncements of creationists.

Lessons Gleaned from the Biblical Flood Consideration

There many lessons to be gleaned from the global deluge that took place in Noah's days. We here highlight some key lessons drawn from a consideration of the subject matter.

* The flood story is real, historical and actually happened.

* Despite many attempted explanations by Uniformitarian evolutionary scientists against the Biblical flood, God's word remains true.

* Some within the Christian circles (e.g. those associated with Biologos for instance) however do not subscribe to the global flood narrative account (e.g. Hugh Ross) but have instead decided to side with the world. These Christians hold that the flood was either local or could not have happened in the manner stated in/by the Bible. Robert Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, John Pye Smith, Hugh Miller and Edward Hitchcock stand in this tradition. Others claim that it is a Hebrew allegorical, poetic fairy tale or folklore. That is a clear rejection of God's word.

* There is need to teach the fact of the Flood even in Academic circles as a viable option.

* Donald Patten (1966) as well as Drs Henry Morris & John Whitcomb (1961) have offered potent arguments for the Flood as well as attempting to give the possible mechanics alongside some evidence in various forms. They have gone a step further than the previous champions before them in attempting to explain what could have happened to trigger the global flood.

* Noah's ark had the capacity to host all the relevant organisms, despite what sceptics say or claim. A visit to the Creation Museum, USA is advised.

* For over 120 days, the flood waters came and eventually covering the entire Earth as written in Scripture.

* The source of the water that eventually covered the Earth is mentioned in scripture, the rain/moisture as well (probably from the water vapour canopy covering the planet) as the springs that opened in the Earth (Genesis 7:10-12).

* Despite arguments against sufficiency of water to cover the Earth, the scripture states rather than explain what could have happened clearly. Further, Patten (1966) and others suggest that the gravitational as well as astral catastrophic events could have caused the tides to rise as well as usher in the Ice age. Some elements such as Nitrogen, Ice and others are suspected to be of extra-terrestrial origin, probably beyond the orbit of Mars or the asteroid belt. This is a possibility given what is evident within the solar system around the Neptune, Saturn and Jupiter system.

* Creationism does not agree with Naturalistic modes of thought.

* Creationism, especially the Global flood narrative, has suffered sustained attack for many years from all angles but still has stood firm.

* Creationism is ridiculed at every turn both from within and outside the Christian faith. It is abhorred by some and have effectively prevented its teaching in some contexts.

* The 'golden age of creationism' is from the reformation period to the middle of the 19th century. The Biblical narrative was taken literary (Vlach 2020, Thompson 1986). For centuries, Creationism was the generally accepted standard reference of truth in relation to origins till uniformitarianism came along ejecting any notions of the divine.

* Many early Scientists were Creationists and worked from that assumption while investigating God's created order.

* As earlier hinted at, the rise of evolutionary geology turned the tide in the 1800's.

* There are several views on creation including the idea that the Genesis account was mere Hebrew allegory, folklore or poetry as well as that the narration is not to be taken literary but meant to communicate some truth, values (Collins 2018).

* Some people think fiat creation is absurd, naïve and unscientific.

* The following religionists have opposed the Biblical literal narrative of the Genesis global flood: Bernard Ramm, John N. Clayton, Arthur C Custance, John Warwick Montgomery, Davis A Young, John T Willis, Clyde Woods, Neal D Buffaloe, Patrick N Murray and more recently, Hugh Ross.

* The following have been young earth creationists holding on to the Global flood as taught by the Bible: Theodore Epp, Henry Morris, John Whitcomb, Donald Patten, Edwin Jones, Bert Thompson, Steve Austin, John Woodmoraplle, Walter Brown, John Morris among others.

* Correct exegesis of the Biblical account yields absolute accurate information from scripture.

* We know for sure that what is from scripture narrative and testimony is absolutely true.

* Scriptures that refer to the Global Genesis Flood include the following: 2 Peter 3:5-7; Matthew 24:36-39; I Peter 3:18-27; Hebrews 11:7 among others.

* Generally, people are taught evolution rather than Creation. This is an ever present danger to the Christian faith.

* Today, many renowned scholars do not believe the scriptural flood or even creation account, let alone the historical Adam & Eve. Many enter these tertiary educational institutions and soon their faith is lost to the wind. The loss may however not immediately happen but much later. We have some prominent contemporary Theologians and Philosophers in mind that have trashed literal Genesis 1-11.

* According to the Bible, the reason for the Genesis flood is because of the wickedness and sinfulness of man. Genesis 6 gives the narrative behind why God decided to destroy the world but preserved Noah and his family. Of course we know that sin entered the world through Adam and thus all became sinners in Genesis 3. By the time we reach chapter 6, sin has multiplied to the extent that God decides to destroy the world. This is key to the Christian Theological frame work. Remove historicity in this narrative and the entire Christian theological framework crumbles. Never minimize original sin as some have, effectively walking in the ways of Pelagius.

* The Bible warns about indiscriminate interactions with unbelievers who eventually negatively affect our character (I Corinthians 15:33), in addition to bringing about compromise. Sadly, and tragically, even within the household of faith, some theologically deadly elements exist, tossing out the historicity, nature and global extent of the Genesis Flood.

* It is noteworthy that man was beyond one locality at the time of the great flood.

* Noah was a different (unique) man from the sinful rest, hence God did not immediately bring the watery grave. See Genesis 6:9; I Peter 3:18 ff. From the scripture, it would appear his only converts among people were his immediate family.

* The flood had both natural and supernatural elements to it. Some however, object to the supernatural elements of the flood. Byron Nelson brought this fact to the fore in his classic book 'The Deluge Story in Stone' One example of an objector is Bernard Ramm. This is sad because Ramm was a Theologian. He has been joined by others in recent years. The list only gets longer as deception grows (Ham 2012).

* Some of those that object basically hate God or allusion to Him in relation to creation or the Flood.

* Thompson states "God miraculously superintended the entire Flood Process, and Bible believers should not be ashamed to admit it. "

* John Whitcomb pointed out at least six areas where supernatural activities took place during the flood process namely design of the ark, animals coming in pairs, animals gathered in the Ark, sustenance in the Ark during the flood for nearly a year, the release of the waters during the flood (rain and Fountains of the deep, formation of present ocean basin, formation of present continents and mountain ranges. There could be others (Thompson 1986).

* As earlier alluded to, the flood story has been told in more than 100 countries across the world. This includes the Epic of Gilgimesh narrative. These mentioned stories may be folklore but each has an element of truth. Truth is knowable not otherwise. Post modernism suggests truth is constructivist in nature and not absolute.

* God reveals himself in clear terms.

* There are allusions to the Genesis global flood from both the Old and New Testaments.

* As earlier mentioned, some skeptics within the Christian faith reject the global flood story in preference for the local.

* According to Patten, both supernatural and natural processes worked side by side to advance the Flood.

* Interestingly, many teach that the flood was both local and limited. Biblical evidence shows a different picture, in its natural logical reading. The water vapour canopy once covered the earth according to Whitcomb, Morris, Rehwinkle, Joseph Dillow and Patten. In antediluvian times, this could have enabled the planet temperature to be uniformly warm, no winds (since temperature and pressure were uniform) and entire planet covered with great vegetation. The picture is vastly different today. Some people such as John N. Clayton object to the canopy proposal.

* Interestingly, some evolutionists speak of (i.e. agree with) the possibility of uniform warm climate. E.H Colbert, W.J. Arkell, Samuel Kinns and Albert R Wallace are such examples. Others even go further to argue that the hot deserts such as Sahara were once flourishing forests. There is abundant evidence of a previously warm planet, including in the Arctic Circle! Furthermore, there is an argument that the water vapour canopy could have contributed to the previous longevity as this trapped the deadly sun rays as well as slowed down metabolism thereby enabling longer life span. It is also possible that the earlier creatures could have been bigger or more gigantic than today. It is believed by many that the Great flood brought with it great changes on the planet climate balance. Others however such as Clayton claim that the ages stated in the Bible are not actual to the system we use today. He suggests that years stated were equivalent to months and thus the ages would significantly come down. The scriptural claims however need to be accepted as claimed or stated, literally.

* The word 'Ark' appears only twice in scripture, according to Dr Thompson. The first is in Genesis 6-8 and second is in Exodus 2:3-65 (the basket in which baby Moses was kept alive).

* God promised never to destroy all things again akin to the great flood of Noah, though smaller floods still extant today. The divine rain bow covenant still stands.

* Both sides of the argument around the Flood of Noah need to be cautious and not claim things not true. It should be noted that the local flood argument is unconvincing in many senses both biblically or evidentially.

* The cataclysmic nature of the Flood cannot be denied because fossil evidence points to a recent and sudden death and formation of the fossils. Fossils are formed by sudden compaction at high pressure of organisms (Morris, 1974). Patten further suggests that some fossilized or frozen organisms have been found with fresh undigested food in their mouths suggesting they perished suddenly. Further, these fossils are littered all over, including marine ones found at or near the top of mountain ranges. This militates against Uniformitarian claims.

* Christians need to be ware because some seem to make Science above the scriptures. Current science rejects the miraculous or any suggestion of the divine. That said, it must be stated that there is no neutrality because even the renowned scientist interprets data before them using their default world view. Care must be taken either side.

Further Ideas on how to enrich the Consideration

This is such a potent point of discussion that clearly states the Biblical account as stated in scripture. The primary reference sources we consulted, though brief (26 pages only in one case) is a potent argument by Dr Bert Thompson. Additionally, the paper is best appreciated after reading our other discourses on Evolution and Creationism in relation to Bibliology. Only then will this consideration make bigger sense. Christians do themselves great service if they acquaint themselves with trending matters such as interpretation of Genesis 1-11. In a separate paper, we aimed at arguing that the Flood indeed took place but in this particular paper, our thrust is to explain possibly how (i.e. mechanics), extent and why the Genesis flood took place, of course, covering ground we already did in the mentioned earlier paper. This is no trouble. These are definitely controversially relevant and lively issues of the times. It is however suggested, that if possible, The Genesis Flood (1961) or The Early Earth (1972) and The Earth that perished (1971) could be prioritized on the saints' reading list because much foundational creational apologetic thought is unleashed there from. Additionally, readers are encouraged to remain current by frequently reading Journals, it only helps.


The story of the Global Flood as recorded in the Bible is real and historically true. It happened. Many witnesses, best of all the Bible itself attests to this fact. The Christian needs to hold this truth and needs not be ashamed or afraid to talk about or defend it. They have the God given right.


Burge T.(2005). Science and the Bible-Evidence based Christian Belief, Templeton Foundation Press.

Cahill T.(1999). The Gifts of the Jews: How a desert tribe of Nomads changed how everyone thinks and Feels, Anchor Books.

Collins C. J.(2018). Reading Genesis well: Navigating History, Poetry, Science, And Truth in Genesis 1-11, Zondervan Academic.

Craig W.L.(2021). In Quest for the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Investigation, Eerdmans.

Gitt W.(2001). Did God use Evolution? Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung e.V.

Ham K.(2012). The Lie: Evolution/Millions of years, Master Books.

Kuhn S. T.(1996). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The University of Chicago Press.

Morris H.M.(1974). Many Infallible Proofs, Master Books.

Patten D.(1966). The Flood and Ice Epoch,……………………..

Schaeffer F.A.(1972). Genesis in Time and Space, Regal books.

Thompson B.(1986). Noah's Flood, Apologetics Press.

Vlach M.(2021). The Old in the New: Understanding How the New Testament Authors Quoted the Old Testament, Kress Biblical Resources.

Whitcomb J.C. and Morris M.M.(1961). The Genesis Flood, Presbyterian & Reformed, Philadelphia, PA.

Whitcomb J.C.(1972). The early earth, Baker book House.

Wright J.(1994). Designer Universe: Is Christianity compatible with Modern Science? Monarch Publications.


  1. As cited by Bert Thompson, 1986
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