Can the story of Noah be literally true?

I am not sure of the facts of dating of when the Noah flood was said to have taken place but I guess it must have been within a few thousand years ago, if indeed it occurred as written.

A question that arises for me is how many animal species would have been in existence at the time. Bearing in mind today there are about 9-10 thousand bird species, about 6 thousand species of mammals, among a total of 8.7 million total species (insects etc included). I doubt very much that Noah could have built an Ark big enough to have them on board.

A second question would be related to the extent of the flood and how Noah could have obtained species from across the Atlantic Ocean and from Australia etc.

This all casts doubt on the story being historically accurate .
So how instead should we see the story and any theological messages that arise from it?

No the story of Noah cannot be 100% literally true. To cover the mountains across the land would take a lot of water. Water sea level would have to have arose 5 miles or so. For that much water to come out of earth, or from the sky, it would result in the death of everything including fish. A ark would not save you from being boiled or steamed to death as superheated water under high pressure ripped the surface apart and a few thousand years ago we know more than 8 people was alive.

It could be a combination of hyperbole, mythology, and how God saved some family from destruction of the rest of their tribe through a flood. Maybe some farmer and his family lived in a flood zone and them, their pets and some wildlife manage to live on a boat and over time the story was turned into what was in the Bible.

But I believe that it can’t be a 100% literal and factual story of even the mountains being covered with water and one family survives.


The best option I have encountered is of a large-scale regional flood: specifically the Persian Gulf.
If it had been a closed off basin a few tens of thousands of years ago and people, including Noah, had lived there, and it then began filling in, then they would have seen something that flooded all the land familiar to them, and all the land in sight from a boat.

I think it is a prequel to Jesus’ salvation story. There is a warning that judgment is coming, but God will provide a way of salvation. All who take advantage of the salvation provided will be saved and will live faithful to God in a “new” creation/kingdom.

It depends on what you mean by literally. I think perhaps from the standpoint of the author, a “worldwide” flood could well be a large regional flood, and would encompass the world as he perceived it. Problems of translation could account for other difficulties. But literal as written in modern translations and interpreted as global, no.
This doesn’t bother me a bit, outside of the frustration with those who can’t let go of it being literal, as the message was never about the rain and floodwaters. I agree with Christy’s statement that posted as I am typing. It is about the judgement of sin, and the provision of salvation by God. This is nothing new, as Augustine wrote of it some 1700 years ago, but in modern times we push it off into a children’s story.


Flood geology has loads of problems - agreed. That said, they do have an answer they provide for this: that (in a young-earth scenario), mountains were not nearly so tall as the tallest mountains today; so the water would not have to have been 6 miles high etc. I’m not giving this reply to say they’ve solved all the challenges to flood geology - It doesn’t begin to resolve all its inconsistencies and contradictions. But I do mention this just to show - they do give (selective) thought to some of these things and at least trying to generate some internal consistency.

It happened 2348 BCE when it left no trace whatsoever. Jesus alluded to it repeatedly. The plain reading of that is that He believed it literally, not allegorically and therefore believed God’s - His! - reasons for doing it: human violence. The only theology worth having is about Jesus’ transcendence of His feet in clay.

Maybe some type of tsunami-flood thing happened there. After all we have the infamous flooding of the area (persian gulf i think its called) beign recorded down by various cultures. Anyway unless there is someone here with a phd on geology no one can answer the question. So all the given answers above are just speculation

Hi there!

Not sure how familiar you are with BioLogos resources, but we do have a full categorical Tag on “The Flood” in which you can read various pieces about the flood narrative.

Here are a couple good places to start:

1 Like

Ive read stuff by AIG and about smaller mountains but then they dead ended with their other arguments about marine fossils on top of mountains as evidence of a flood that covered them.

But even if regional, I bet the same issue arises with water temperature from coming deep enough to cover even 1/2 a mile of mountains.

Even when they bring up issues of upheaval and mountains forming after the flood you then run into issues of anatomy of whales turning into sea creatures from land creatures super fast and ect…. No matter what they say it falls short and contradicts something else.

Hm, interesting–but how would they posit the mountains were shorter, if they don’t believe in plate tectonics and the slow rise (which would require millions of years)?


No they are not. ANE civilizations were thriving at the time, except Sumerian which was almost certainly crippled by the 2350 BC Middle East Anomaly, hence Akkad’s rise under Sargon and the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh two and a half centuries later, used in Genesis at least fifteen hundred years later in the time of the Babylonian (Sumer’s heirs) Captivity. No Ph.D. required.

I think that, just as the YEC is obliged to believe not only in evolution - but in hyper-accelerated evolution in order to get even their different varieties within their “kinds”, so also they are obliged to believe in some accelerated form of plate tectonics. I.e. - nearly all of it must of happened with the cataclysmic flood. And so also with accelerated nuclear decay that would release enough heat to vaporize the entire earth - or something like that. So it goes … miracle after miracle.

1 Like

Last I heard, the flood happened when Pangea was a supercontinent, thus allowing all the animals to walk to the ark, then possibly disperse as it broke apart. Ad hoc infinitude

1 Like

Not quite, it would turn the earth into a ball of 15 Mk plasma that emits as much light as the rest of the galaxy .


It astounds me that until just recently, our best astrophysicists didn’t know anything about the two most plentiful “things” composing the universe, Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

1 Like

That is what we call a red herring.


That would be relative, and we didn’t know anything about relativity until early last century.

I disagree.
Mars used to have a magnetic field. It is gone now along with most of its water. The forces at play in the universe are dynamic and we’ve barely scratched the surface of all the mysteries that distort and conceal our understanding.
The word “all” in the bible does not always equal “all” as in every single one. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.”
Back in the day people regularly lived for hundreds of years. The sun stood still for 24 hours, or the earth did in relation to the sun.
The theory of relativity upon which modern physics rests is incorrect. C is not the speed limit. Entanglement has proven that certain particles travel the span of the universe instantaneously.
If Jesus was God, and if He rose from the dead, all the recorded miracles in the N.T. pose no challenge to credulity, not for me, anyway. I don’t have to believe or even know of most of the NT to be eligible to join Jesus in paradise. Jesus didn’t rise from the dead for three days, yet He promised his new friend he would be with Christ in heaven that very day.

The sun stood still “in the sky”. I tend to be more of a concordist than many here, but a massive temperature inversion extending over the horizon causing a superior mirage would have sufficed. I am all about God’s providential timing and placing.

What are you disagreeing with, anyway? Or are you just being disagreeable. :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.