Is Genesis real history? (new Common Questions page)

(Antoine Suarez) #81

If I understand well you are claiming this:

By accepting that Genesis 6-9 is “Hyperbole inspired in a real regional flood”, one equates Noah’s Flood to the Mesopotamian myths.

Therefore Genesis should not be considered as being more “historically true” than the Gilgamesh epic or other Mesopotamian myths.

Am I right in this interpretation of your post? Thanks in advance for clarifying.

(Jay Johnson) #82

Sorry that I wasn’t more clear the first time.

Not exactly. I’m not really talking about the interpretation of Gen. 6-9, but the attempt to establish some kind of historical basis for it. To do that, many interpreters point to one of several Mesopotamian floods that fit the time frame for Noah’s Flood. I am simply saying that such a procedure does not establish the historicity of Gen. 6-9. If it did, the same reasoning could be applied to the Mesopotamian myths to establish their historicity, as well. Make sense?

(Matthew Pevarnik) #83

I am? I mean you might as well go with some kind of runaway greenhouse effect that occurs due to human induced climate change. That is a bit more pressing than a possible event billions of years in the future though nobody can really say exactly what the Scriptures are referring to here. Certainly prophetic literature has had its fair share of interpretations over the past two thousand years.

I appreciate you thinking about it in depth and enjoy our interactions on here. I do tend to hold a perspective that Jesus, Peter, etc. spoke and probably also believed things about the natural world that were ‘known’ at the time like the world being created ‘from water’ and being destroyed ‘by fire.’

What do you mean exactly? Could you elaborate? They probably had an idea that the earth was round though likely thought that species didn’t change or maybe thought that the mustard seed was the smallest of all the seeds in the world.

They do? They certainly spoke to people in ways that they could relate to and understand, something using cultural idioms or other ideas that make a lot of sense if you were there. Like Paul referring to idols in the marketplace or something along those lines.

Okay. I think that’s a pretty standard part of most Christian theology.

What experiment are you referring to here? Are there some publications where at the quantum level, a spiritual being has shown his ability to break the ‘laws of nature?’ I’m not sure what you’re getting at with Max Born’s Nobel lecture quote but I don’t quite see how the statistical probabilities of the quantum realm in anyway whatsoever support the breaking of laws of nature when they themselves can be characterized and seen as acting within clear boundaries.

Okay… so he was writing in accordance with how people thought about the creation of the world and in a way that is not scientifically accurate by today’s standards.

So God turned the Earth into a quark plasma during the flood? Certainly, from my understanding of cosmology, in most models of the universe, a quark plasma is not going the be the future state of the universe but rather a slow cosmic heat death where all thermodynamic processes (like thinking, eating, consciousness, etc.) will eventually cease.

It seems quite a bit of a stretch to go from ‘Peter spoke according to the science of his day’ to ‘it was actually referring to a quark-gluon plasma.’ And again, in the timeline of the early universe, this certainly was nowhere close to being similar to how the earth would have been in any kind of flood.

I understand your theological argument here as I agree it seems hard to reconcile Peter’s warning if there really was not a worldwide global flood where everything was destroyed. To make matters even worse, certainly anyone today has a lot more evidence that there definitely was not in anyway whatsoever any global deluge. It was clear by the late 1800s that the global deluge (if there was one) did not cause any of the geological features we see today.

This highlights an interesting tension that we have today. So Peter was mistaken when he speaks of a global deluge and his argument made a lot of sense when everybody knew that there was the world destroying flood. I don’t think that today you can hold this Scripture in the same way. Unfortunately probably my statements here qualify me as a ‘scoffer’ according to most people. This is interesting though and I look forward to possible future discussions.

(Antoine Suarez) #84

These claims by Jay and Matthew seem to entail the following important conclusion:

If one accepts the explanation of the Flood as “Hyperbole of a local real flood” (as advocated by Walton and Longman in this interview), then one acknowledges that “Peter was mistaken” and thereby gets rid of Jesus’ and Peter’s theological statements regarding the End Times and Final Judgment (Matthew 24, 25: 31-46; Luke 17: 20-37; 2 Peter 2:4-10; 2 Peter 3:3-13).

In my view this conclusion is coherent, all the more if one considers that to date there are no compelling reasons to pin a connection between any of the archaeologically evidenced local floods - at Ur, Kish, or Shuruppak - with neither the Flood of Mesopotamian literature nor Noah’s Flood. The reported archaeological data look somewhat paradoxical and raise questions: It is for instance unexplained how a massive Flood at Ur could have happened without letting any trace 11.81 miles away, in Eridu (see map).

However, before deciding to become "a faithful in the church of scoffers”, it may be worth investigating the explanation of the Flood as miracle more in depth.

The option “miracle” has some clear advantages:

  1. Miracles mostly happen without leaving any trace observable for us today, as in case of Pentecost, Resurrection, and Ascension. I this sense the recent “Miracle of the Sun” in Fatima on October 13, 1917 (The Washington Post) is paramount and may provide a good key for interpreting Noah’s Flood.

  2. Nonetheless miracles are real historic events we believe on the basis of trustworthy eyewitnesses.

In any case the option:

“historic narrative of a real miraculous event qualified by eyewitness accounts and divine revelation”

seems preferable to:

“hyperbole narrative of a presumed ordinary event without coherent geological evidence”.

A.Suarez's Treatment on a Pope's Formulation for Original Sin's Transmission!
(Phil) #85

I think the difference with the flood as compared to other miracles, is the fact that while no physical evidence is present that it may have happened as with those miracles, overwhelming evidence is present that it never happened, but rather that actual events were considerably different for which there is abundent evidence. This casts God not as just a miracle worker, but as a deceiver.


Remember this requires the removal of all physical evidence that it did take place and the creation of false evidence that it did not happen. Please explain how you could address this.

(Phil) #87

Thanks for cleaning that up. My comment was written at a family reunion on my phone, and was a little disjointed,


I loved this article. Thank you for putting it together.

One of our other members, Vicki Lee, has posted her book in the Homeschool forum when she was looking for a Christian publisher for a book she wrote for children.

She self-published and you can find her book on Amazon. Billions of Years or Six Days

It answers some of the questions in a similar fashion. She used her Scientific background to create a well-explained approach to Scripture, specifically the first two chapters of Genesis.

I love this place…so much creative spirit and thoughtful reflection.

(Jay Johnson) #89

The conclusion that “Peter was mistaken” doesn’t necessarily follow from the premises. @pevaquark might draw that conclusion, just as Pete Enns draws the conclusion that Paul was mistaken about Adam being an actual person. I won’t endeavor to put words into Walton’s or Longman’s mouths, but I strongly suspect they would not agree that “Peter was mistaken,” and I don’t necessarily agree with it, either.

There is apparently a small ridge between the two locations, but it does call into question exactly how “massive” that flood was.

You are talking about a bunch of miracles, not just one. The miracle of making such a quantity of water appear and then disappear from the earth, leaving no trace. And what of the rest of the story? The animals in the ark. Also a miracle? The list just goes on and on.

If we’re going to appeal to miracle, why are we even bothering to wrestle with evidence? I appreciate the thought you’ve put into it, but I find it a completely unsatisfactory conclusion. To me, it looks like a slippery slope to full-on YECism. :wink:

Actually, I vote for “Neither of the Above”.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #90

I’d probably like to emphasize perhaps ‘mistaken’ is the wrong word. I though might be more sympathetic to a viewpoint as Jay mentions:

I suppose a more accurate wording for myself at least could be more so that Peter spoke according to cultural understanding that didn’t quite happen the way the people believed it did. That is, if people imagined a worldwide global deluge, they were wrong, but at the same time it is perfectly acceptable for anyone to reference such an event because it was as good as “fact” for that society.

From a theological perspective, if a global flood did not occur, the meaning of the verses in 2nd Peter can still have as much significance as they did to ancient readers. I am currently re-reading through some of the series on the main BL site, perhaps you can join me?

I appreciate your exhortation! Let me see what you propose here.

This seems to great a terrible problem with the flood today. And indeed you are correct that there is no evidence anywhere for a worldwide global flood. Certainly it is a problem that God sent a global deluge and then hid all the evidence of it ever happening.

Nobody who wrote the Bible actually lived during the flood. Even if we go with Moses as an author of the Pentateuch, we can’t date him anywhere close to such an event. Not sure what you mean by these statements.

What do you mean by ‘without coherent geological evidence?’

(George Brooks) #91


Could you explain how eliminating the Global Flood invalidates Peter?


That is an interesting perspective, which I have never thought about before. You are saying we have no proof or evidence of a fire pillar (no “glass trail” in the desert). There is no proof of a bush that was on fire, but was not consumed. No proof of Egyptian chariots in the water. It is almost as if when God performs a miracle, He then erasing all evidence that would have made it known.

Which is also interesting that the ANE didn’t know what a miracle was, there was no such thing as supernatural and natural, it was all God or the gods. God made it rain, God turned the Nile into blood. But when something ‘supernatural’ occurred, it was referred to as signs or wonders of God. Rain was of God, but it was a bit more ‘mundane’ then the seas standing up allowing passage.

In Jesus’ time, they asked for signs. So when something supernatural was occurring, it was thought of as a sign, as a ‘flexing of muscles’. You see a guy who is strong, he picks up 20 lbs, but sometimes you want to see him pick up that 1000 lbs you know he can. It was in observance of these miracles that one was able to see God ‘flex His muscles’. But it was only a sign to those who observed it, they left no trace of evidence. They asked Jesus sometimes to flex His muscles, and at times many didn’t believe He could lift something and wanted to see it done for validation, and He would not do it, because they didn’t believe He could and were testing Him for their own benefit/appeasing.

Though the miracle of the full display of the loving, redemptive power of God in Jesus has plenty of evidence in my heart as well as many across the world. But this ‘miracle’ can and does effect the whole world, were as the other ‘local’ miracles did not, so there was no need for evidence of such.

Maybe this is a bridge or an opportunity of biologos and AIG to build. Maybe we can admit there was a literal global flood that was a miraculous account, and they can admit their “proof” of the flood is all pseudo-science? They will probably still be YEC and we will still be EC…but the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

I am not sure if I fully subscribe to it yet, but thanks for sharing that idea, it is an intriguing one.

Although I still don’t buy into this line of thought.

People spoke to their audience. The ANE didn’t know what a brain was, the word for mind translates to guts or entrails. Jesus didn’t correct or update them when told to love God with all our heats. He didn’t say “that is actually just a blood pump, you need to use your brain, not your heart”. He related to them, speaking a message they understood. Same with a mustard seed being the smallest. Maybe Jesus thought it was the smallest, maybe He knew it wasn’t, but He was trying to convey a message to them, using terminology they would understand. If the flood was global or local, and Peter, Paul or Jesus did know, he would still use what they knew to be truth to get his message across.


The problem is not the missing evidence for a miracle. The problem is the real evidence a miracle DID NOT happen. This would have to have been another miracle.

(George Brooks) #94

@Jay313, That’s about as well worded a response as I’ve ever seen. I’m envious. I wish I had thought of these words.

I have long maintained that the Noah story is the perfect miracle story … because once you let one plank in, you have to continue on until the very end:

  1. God speaks to Noah - - well that’s unusual, right? That’s miraculous.
  2. Noah, who has never built a boat, builds the Ark perfectly, and with hardly any workers. That’s a miracle.
  3. Noah doesn’t have to catch the animals, they come to him. Yep, another miracle.
  4. There is enough room in the ark, and enough food. Totally miraculous!
  5. There is a crazy amount of water to cover the whole world. Yet another miracle.
  6. Then the water disappears… and apparently the entire Egyptian civilization is back in place… the best miracle of all!

I like your admonishment!: “If we are going to appeal to miracle[s] to explain the Global Flood, why are we even bothering to wrestle with evidence?” < < < AWESOME

Let’s form a partnership and sell bumper stickers!

(Phil) #95

Just looking at it, other miracles did not hide the evidence that they had occurred. The tomb was empty, the rock moved, the graveclothes folded, people saw Jesus resurrected. With the flood, not only would there have to be evidence removed, but false evidence would also have had to be planted.


That is just it right? Don’t all miracles have evidence they did not happen? Isn’t physics telling us fish could not become many from a few, ‘evidence’ that Jesus could not have fed 5000?
All miracles could have been a story made up (other than to those who were there) there is no difference in a made up story, or actually happening, with no evidence of it happening, and evidence of it actually not happening.

This is the one miracle I said that benefits all humans, there is why there is proof of it still. But who was benefited of the water turning to wine? Those at the wedding. Who benefited of the red sea parting?, Those who crossed. Ect.

Again, a ‘miracle’ is a display of God’s power, a flexing of the muscles. When you flex in US, do those in China see it? You flex to show a target audience of your power. And when you are done, only the target audience saw what you did, the rest is hear-say after that. But when you want the world audience to see your ‘loving muscles’, you display that to them in an everlasting way, which all can see, know, and experience.

What false evidence planted? I think if you see it as a ‘real’ flood, that was miraculously erased, then yes. But I think if you see this is a ‘false flood’, or a ‘hologram’ flood, then there is no evidence that it needs to be erased.

Like I think of the Star Trek hologram, that virtual reality they lived in, and once they left, it was back to the real world, all though that was fake. It is almost as if all miracles (sans Jesus) occurred in a ‘virtual reality’ of sorts, though I do believe it was a real-reality for them. So when the flood came, it wasn’t ‘real’ to the outside observer (us and those in the future, to whom weren’t affected), but it was real to those who were there. So when it was over, there is no need for evidence, as it never 'really happened (as we see it), it only happened to those that were there.

Like the paralytic that was healed. People saw him healed, they were affected, he himself was healed, he was affected. But after those eye witnesses and the subject itself was gone, was it not a ‘story/myth’ at that point with no more evidence?

But the love of God manifested in Jesus on earth is something that effects all mankind, so we are all still in that ‘hologram’, that is how we still exhibit proof that it Jesus did in fact come here to save us, as we are now saved, we were blind, but now we see, the miracle lives on.

If you follow me? I am not saying this is what I believe, more food for thought, devils advocate, but I am thinking this is how @AntoineSuarez sees it? Maybe I am too open minded?

The one problem I think we fall into if the flood was global, is we are back to all of humanity spreading my inbreeding again and all mankind spawning from a very small group of people. Which though I am no expert of the genome, I believe is in dis-agreeance with that as being possible? Or is that possible, as long as there were millions of other humans that evolved from the past, and this is just the first and only bottleneck of the genome?

(Phil) #97

Well, busy at work, but in short, the evidence “planted” would be the rock layers that support an ancient earth with multiple lines of evidence, the fossil record, radiometric age results, layers in ice cores and lake sediments, erosion rates and forms. With other miracles, you would have to say, yes, they are not in line with known physics, but that is a given with miracles.


But I think you are referring to YE vs OE? I still think Genesis is a literal 7 day function/order/purpose account, not a material account. I do believe the universe is billions of years old and all of that is evidenced. I am speaking of an EC account where " ancient earth with multiple lines of evidence, the fossil record, radiometric age results, layers in ice cores and lake sediments, erosion rates and forms" are truly there and the Bible doesn’t say anything contradictory to that, or make any claim with regards to the material world in the creation account.

I don’t think the Gen 1 account was a ‘miracle’, there was no one to observe the signs, no-one to ‘flex’ to. It was rather God taking His time, enjoying building and watching His creations grow, culminating at the ‘temple inauguration’, where God makes everything ‘exist’, and gives everything purpose and function and order, and then rests/rules, The literal 7 day creation story. Giving purpose to the ‘building’ that was already here, that became a ‘temple’ when God rested.

What I am referring to above as a possible ‘miracle’ is the flood account only. If that worked in the sense of that ‘hologram’ logic, there is no false evidence planted. Only what AIG ‘finds’ that ‘proves’ it was global…….in other words, no evidence of a global flood.

(George Brooks) #99


If the Earth was created, and a global flood occurred, all less than 10,000 years ago, there would be virtually no fossils anywhere on the earth.

And yet we find hundreds of thousands of them… and they are found in a distinct pattern, where the unfolding of life in its various nested hierarchies, creates the distinct pattern made possible by speciation and common descent.

None of this would be suggested by a genuine global flood; it would have to have been created specifically for the purpose of convincing humanity of speciation.

(Phil) #100

I see your point, I was thinking more of evidence of a global flood, which is not only not there, but the ample evidence that is there is against it, and is pretty much the same evidence for an old earth (which is why AIG is so intent on fighting the age of the earth battle) If you look to a local flood, and subsequent effects, then there is certainly no issue with the evidence, but it also is not a literal account. I think we are pretty much together with that possibility.