If a literal reading of Genesis flood and destruction of Sodom and Gomorah is false, how should we explain direct New Testament references to the Genesis accounts?

With respect to a literal reading of Genesis flood and destruction of Sodom and Gomorah accounts, I claim that I am not interpreting the bibles statements here.

Individuals on these forums are equally convinced that a literal reading of Genesis is wrong.

It seems to me that the main reason why they are certain that YEC are errant is because…“well we can see the evidence.”

Now we all see the evidence, however, the evidence that is consistent with the bible just so happens to be the very evidence used to condemn YEC scientists.

So that leaves a dilemma…if what we see proves Old Age Earth, as apparently, it does according to the TEist and secular naturalists, what are Christians specifically, supposed to do with the scriptures that directly reference Moses writings, passages that come from a variety of different biblical writers one of whom is the founding father of the Christian Church (The Apostle Peter)?

Can someone here show exactly how a YEC is “interpreting” (with a modern spin) the New Testament texts referenced below that very obviously agree with Genesis 7?

Moses wrote of the flood in Genesis 7:23

And every living thing on the face of the earth was destroyed–man and livestock, crawling creatures and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth, and only Noah and those with him in the ark remained.

Matthew wrote 24:37-39,

37As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. 39And they were oblivious, until the flood came and swept them all away.

Luke wrote 17:26-30,

26Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man: 27People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28It was the same in the days of Lot: People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

2 Peter wrote 2:4-9,

4For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them deep into hell,a placing them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5if He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, among the eight; 6if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction

Hebrews (probably written by Apollos a cotemporary of the Apostle Paul) 11:4-10

4By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous when God gave approval to his gifts. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

5By faith Enoch was taken upa so that he did not see death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”b For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in godly fear built an ark to save his family. By faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

The Faith of Abraham and Sarah
(Genesis 15–22; Romans 4:1–12)

8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, without knowing where he was going. 9By faith he dwelt in the promised land as a stranger in a foreign country. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

One way forward would be to treat them like parables. We don’t require there to be an actual Prodigal Son or an actual Good Samaritan in order for those parables to hold importance or wisdom.


I think people in the first century probably considered these real events and real people that happened in the past. I am not saying they were inerrancy advocates or strict literalist but I’m guessing they thought Moses, David, Noah, Sodom and Gomorrah, and so on were real people and real places that experienced something similar to what their ancient tradition tells them they did. Paul also considers Adam real in Romans as does Luke’s genealogy. His arguments make little sense otherwise.

I don’t see how these are just “literary references.” I think us modern Christians who take the Bible and science seriously have to contend with this. It is a significant issue.


You have this all backwards. We don’t require there to be an actual prodigal son because it is a parable. If it was all a parable there would be no need to tell us to treat these seemingly “historical” narratives as parables because there would be no distinction.

1 Like

No one is saying to treat the entire Bible as a parable.

If these seemingly historical narratives turn out to be contradicted by mountains of evidence then what should be done? You could just ignore the evidence, I guess. However, that’s not going to work for a lot of people. Some people choose to recognize the contradiction, but hold to the creationist view anyway(e.g. Todd Wood). Again, that’s not going to work for a lot of people. One other option is that the authors of these narratives really did think these events happened at some point in the past, but were wrong. Even with this error, God is still able to pass on the theological truths he inspired in those authors. As before, this isn’t going to work for a lot of people. It seems to me that one rather obvious solution that could work for a lot of people is to consider that we were wrong when we classified them as historical narratives.

I will admit that there isn’t an easy solution, and this is reflected both in the spectrum of views within modern churches and as seen throughout the history of the Christian church. If Christian theology was easy they probably wouldn’t have seminaries and Bible schools. It is similar to what the church hierarchy faced when they had scriptures on one hand that said the Earth doesn’t move, and a fiery astronomer named Galileo that said the Earth really does move.


The point here is that theologically they do not have t be actual events. Jesus used the beliefs of the day. people knew what he meant. It does not mean He was actually confirming them as real. it just means that He was drawing meaning out of the narrative.

IOW what was considered real at the time was all that matters. it does not mean that we have to believe they were real now. We can still draw out the meaning given by Jesus (et al)

All this insistence on historical precision is diverting away from what Scripture is supposed to be. It is not

A precise authenticated history text
A journalistically accurate report.

It is Scripture.



Or Jesus actually believed them to have occurred and didn’t deceptively pretend they did.

For me it is okay if the lowered and self-emptied Jesus doesn’t know all the facts of history or science. Knowledge limits are clearly found in part of our tradition. What I cannot correct Jesus on is morality, the character or God or what he uses these ancient stories to teach.

No, you are just deflecting tough questions. Most Christians don’t read the Bible as you do or accept your model of inspiration. This is a very valid question.

Christianity is a historical religion. Salvation history is intertwined with real things and events in the past.

What is to stop us from viewing the whole incarnation as a metaphor for God’s love and see Jesus as a purely human individual? If fiction is as good as the real thing who really cares if God died for our sins or became man? I mean the nonsense of fully God and fully man? The nonsense of 3 Gods as 1 God? Virgin births and absurdities like walking on water? Might as well view it all as a parable.

As long as the story of Jesus is theologically true and shows God’s love isn’t it correct and useful even if Jesus was just an ordinary man who never said or did a lot of the things the Bible claims?

At some point when we keep chopping this just stops being Christianity.



Well, what are we supposed to not treat as a parable and how do we distinguish between them? Born of a virgin, walking on water? Real or parable? I’d say there is far more “evidence” you can’t walk on water than there is historical evidence against any Biblical narrative having occurred. This becomes a question of method and hermeneutics and once we start chopping, where do we stop?

That is superficial to me. On the right track but not as helpful. I don’t think the genre is history—certainly not modern history— but Christianity is a historical religion and the people at the time and our own sacred scripture treat these events as real. I’m not reading strict history for sure but I’m also not reading Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings either.

1 Like

If there are mountains of evidence contradicting what is claimed to be a historical account, then that might be one criteria.

There is no evidence contradicting those events. There is no evidence we would expect to see today that could contradict those events. Those events are accepted based on faith. However, a global flood 4,000 years ago would leave rather obvious evidence that we should see today, and it isn’t there. The same applies for life being created 6,000 years ago, and a young Earth as well.

Labelling Christianity as a “historical religion” sounds like something born of our modern biases. I think we define history in a much more technical and objective view compared to people in past cultures. Moses is the traditional author of Genesis, so he would have been writing those passages thousands of years after they occurred if we are treating it as a strictly literal historical account. These weren’t events the biblical authors lived through, and would certainly be viewed as cultural mythology. Just on the face of it, this is very different from the gospels which contain accounts that were contemporaneous.

We even have modern myths that we understand to be historically inaccurate at some level, even if we treat them as true in a philosophical sense. It turns out that we humans like stories, and we don’t always let accuracy get in the way of teaching wisdom, ethics, and morality.


Your question still betray yours (and Adam’s) totally blind spot … that the only teachings worth learning or paying attention to must first pass your modern (and non-biblical) historicity tests. You apparently grudgingly accept things like the story of the Prodigal because … Jesus, after all … but you still consider it something of a 2nd class status, because you reserve the highest status only for events that literally happened; and this drives you into the “chopping” dilemma, then, of wanting to parse scriptures out into the “true stuff” and the “false stuff”. Yes - there are things for which historicity is essential (like the resurrection), but just as a general principal - I’m not sure where you all get this as a driving concern for all approaches to anything in the bible. I’m pretty sure you aren’t getting it from the bible itself. Can either you or Adam fill me in on where that priority does come from?


In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul writes “and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.”

I have read that Paul was refering to the speculations of some learned Jews that wondered how the people following Moses could get water in the desert. Torah tells about two cases where Moses stuck a rock and water flowed. But what happened between these cases? I read about wild speculations that the rock that gave water followed Moses through the journey.

If Paul was refering to these speculations of learned Jews and turned them to teaching about Christ, should we conclude that there indeed was a mountain or rock following Moses during the exodus because Paul mentions it?
Could it be that Paul, a learned Jew, utilized several stories and beliefs to tell the gospel about Christ without confirming the historical reality of these beliefs?

I assume that Paul believed there was a creation, a person called Adam and a flood during the time of Noah. However, the teachings of Paul did not depend on the historical reality behind these stories because Paul utilized the beliefs to teach about Christ. Historical reality or not, the beliefs were turned to teachings to the audience of Paul. What we have now, is the spiritual truths told by Paul, not comments about the historical reality of certain stories and beliefs.


If there is anything in Christianity I hold as sacrasant and immutable it is:

The virgin Birth (AKA God in human form)
The death of (human) Christ
The resurrection of (the dead) Christ

They cannot be metaphors for Christianity to have any meaning

However, we are not talking of known history

We are talking pre-history (Creation)
and Preliteracy (Noah ff Moses)

Much of Genesis , probably all, is oral tradition, There was no one at the time writing it down.

That in itself allows for both deliberate and forgotten inaccuracies.

The Creation and Garden are pure folk lore, as in traditional stories. There was no one there to witness who could write.

That does not mean that the references He used have to be real.

There is no reason for God or Jesus to access knowledge that was not known. If Jesus started talking about round worlds floating in space around a star he would have been laughed out of the country. He had to be both famous and a follower of Judaism. He had to live in the period.

We do not live in that period. We live in the 21st century and cannot ignore what is now known or understood. We cannot live in Biblical times.

No, I am disagreeing with you (Heaven forbid!)


Christianity has been a historical religion for the last two thousand years. Viewing much of the Bible as a “true myth,” including the seemingly “historical” narratives is very recent thing. I agree the Bible is not really concerned with history itself as moderns are and we can find allegorical interpretations but they mostly coincided with literal ones as well. This is the great history of our church and why we are in this dilemma. I think the other prong is our sacred scripture, and Jesus seems to take itself seriously in this sense. So Christians feel the need to follow suit.

Why? Why do you say the resurrection must be true? Why can’t the story of Jesus be a true myth as long as the gospel stories are true, theologically? As long as the story of Jesus in the Gospels gives us a correct image of God why does any of it need to be true? If there is an actual spiritual afterlife, why does it matter if Jesus rose form the dead or not? Unless you believe in a physical afterlife, this is irrelevant. Why do you say the resurrection must essentially be historical? We can still believe in God and be saved by this true story either way.

Not to mention, if things like the Exodus didn’t happen, are Jewish people celebrating a fictional liberation during Passover which never happened? I’m not interested in a yearly celebration of a fake liberation from bondage. There has to be a balance here. Clearly God had to do some of the things in salvation history, yes? I mean, praising God for a bunch of things he never actually did and heeding the warnings in stories that never actually happened? Sorry, but this is stretching things a bit for me.

That is way off the mark.

And why can’t many of the stories about Christ be fictional and simply teach about the reality of God? It is interesting that this is just a “where we choose to draw the line” issue.

Tell that to the Popes and most Christians the last 2,000 years. Tell them they have been Christianing wrong and we moderns finally figured out the truth.

“For it is the very essence of biblical faith to be about real historical events. It does not tell stories symbolizing suprahistorical truths, but is based on history, history that took place here on earth.” Jesus of Nazareth (XV). – Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

At the very least, the major events of salvation history needs to be true in my mind.

I am not thinking about Genesis 1-11 in my comments. The flood has to be local if it happened. I am thinking about the rest of the narratives.

Moses did not write Genesis.

Most consider the gospels anonymous and written by 2nd and 3rd generation Christians in a different language from the one Jesus spoke. They are not deemed “historical” either though they are closer to the events they purport to describe. We can know things like Jesus was crucified and some of his original followers believed he rose from the dead shortly after whereas we can’t know anything historically about Noah, if he existed, his actual name etc…

For many Christians, the Bible, and therefore their faith, loses its meaning if you start making all these narratives non-historical. We can disagree with them but the way you feel about those three sacrosanct and immutable facts is the way people feel about the Bible narratives. Their faith loses its meaning when you take that away.

I’m not talking pre-history. None of that is historical to me. I can’t rule out God saving a family in a flood or even choosing a special couple but I cannot demonstrate that either. If there is any history in the Bible it starts with Abraham. Even then these narratives are not concerned with the past but their present.

Which is exactly what I said. He could have mistakenly thought they were real. If Jesus thought stars were small enough to fall to the earth–that is not a deal breaker. I cannot correct him on the issues I raised though. Those are immutable and sacrosanct to me: morality, the character or God or what he uses these ancient stories to teach.

This is a question many Christians have. That you don’t deem it important or made peace with it long ago does not make it unimportant.

I think Paul answers that one for you.

If the resurrection is a lie then we are the most to be pitied because God has no power over death. Theology is not enough. We reach a point where reality must stand.


PS It is not whether I deem it important or not, it is whether it matters to the faith. If it matters to you then Romans 14 comes into play.

Not seeing it. I could just answer your proof-text hunt with “Paul was a Pharisee and just believed in Physical resurrection.” Paul was just wrong on that like he and Christians were on the immediate return of Jesus.


1 Like

Then I am sorry for you.

Pauls logic has nothing to do with him being an ex Pharisee. It is standard human logic. If you are going to believe in resurrection, any resurrection, it has to be more than just theory.

God’s power over life and death is demonstrated. not theoretical.


That’s most likely what PB XVI was talking about, the gospel story. I think we would need some context for that quote before we extend it to the entire Bible cannon.

But Moses is the traditional author of Genesis. My only point was to establish a time frame for when the Genesis account was written.

The Synoptic gospels also show that they are products of earlier traditions. The gospels are about as contemporaneous as it gets for that period in history. This is starkly contrasted by Genesis which is as far away from contemporaneous as it gets.

The big question is how much time separated the Torah authors and the events they write about. That’s a subject I don’t have expertise in, so I won’t even try to guess. However, I think it is fair to say that there could be big time gaps in many cases outside of the Eden and Noah stories.

1 Like

That is more to do with how people view the bible> it seems that for some the “all or nothing” view applies. But that is a very narrow view. There is no need to use the bible as a crutch for faith. If you understood it, then there is no need to go back again and again to it. Christianity is about following Christ not the bible.


I don’t disagree but the issues are connected since you learn about Jesus through reading the Bible. And that Bible was put together by the church with its own historical beliefs. These problems are all intertwined and appear to me much more difficult than the superficial answers I see so frequently.