I see two very plausible ways to interpret the Book of Jonah, and I’m not sure which is better.
- It is a parable. Like all parables, many of the details are true-to-life.
- It is an historical account that includes miraculous aspects.
As for Genesis, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI) would lead me to believe that
The Bible speaks truth when it touches on matters pertaining to nature, history, or anything else.
If the account of Noah is deemed to be an historical account of a global flood, rather than some other literary form, then I have to accept the whole account as historical, and not just pick and choose between the parts that I like and the parts that I can’t nimbly explain. It’s right there in black and white: the windows of heaven opened, the waters above the heaven flowed through, and a global flood ensued. Indeed, the CSBI also states:
WE AFFIRM that Genesis 1-11 is factual, as is the rest of the book. WE DENY that the teachings of Genesis 1-11 are mythical and that scientific hypotheses about earth history or the origin of humanity may be invoked to overthrow what Scripture teaches about creation.
WE DENY that Scripture should be required to fit alien preunderstandings, inconsistent with itself, such as naturalism, evolutionism, scientism…
So yes, acceptance of factual historicity in Genesis 1-11 necessarily implies literal windows of heaven were opened. Science says there are no windows and no dome of heaven over the earth? According to the CSBI, such science is an alien preunderstanding, a mere hypothesis, and Scripture is not required to fit it. As the CSBI states further:
“Genuine” science will always be in accord with Scripture. Science, however, based on naturalistic presuppositions will inevitably come in conflict with the supernatural truths of Scripture.
So some conflict between Genesis 7 on the one side, and the worldly scientists and philosophers on the other, is inevitable. Am I worried that some unenlightened scientists might suppose that a heavenly dome and windows in that heavenly and a worldwide flood 6 kya and a 7 ky universe are religious myth? No! I can accept the scientific observations, but just apply different, Biblical presuppositions.
Q: How did the Apollo astronauts get to the moon?
A: That’s easy! The windows opened for them.
Q: And NASA’s interplanetary probes?
A: You’re having a hard time accepting the plain meaning of the Bible, I see. But the windows opened for them, too.
Q: The Apollo astronauts took pictures of the earth. There was no dome of any kind visible.
A: According to the rabbinic tradition, the dome of the heaven was formed of ice. The ice layer is very thin, so it’s for all practical purposes transparent.
Q: How thin would the ice of the dome of heaven have to be to be invisible?
A: The burden of proof is on you, if you don’t want to believe the Bible.
Q: Given the amount of water that is needed to flood the earth to a level that would wipe out villages in the Andes and Himalayas, how would such a thin layer support that weight? Wouldn’t the ice crack long before the windows opened?
A: You just explained rainfall!
Q: Seriously, if you want me to listen to you, you’re going to have to produce some physics equations from the fields of optics and mass/gravitation that explain how the ice dome of heaven would be thin enough to be transparent, but thick enough to support the weight of the water.
So it should be very clear…
…I can adhere to the CSBI if I just apply Biblical presuppositions instead of man’s naturalistic presuppositions to the observations.
EDIT: Added italics.