My theory about the Flood

My explanation in the context of the Flood and Noah’s Ark (I)

To answer the different objections in the preceding posts and avoid misunderstandings I first show how my explanation works in the context of the Flood and Noah’s Ark.

1.Truth of Revelation
In agreement with BioLogos I believe that the Flood was an actual historical event (although interpreted and retold in Genesis in the rhetoric and theology of ancient Israel). The basis of this belief is the teaching of Jesus Christ himself and the Apostle Peter (Matthew 24:38; Luke 17:27; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5), who support the following statements:

  • Noah is a real historical person who was righteous and saved from the Flood through the Ark.
  • Noah’s family (seven persons) was also within the Ark and became saved.
  • All other human persons existing on earth at this time perished in the Flood.

Since Jesus Christ is “fully God and fully Man”, the Incarnated God’s Son and Word (John 1), His interpretation of the Old Testament should be taken seriously by any Christian believer, and not be thought to be merely a myth or fable. Accordingly one should accept the two verses Genesis 6:18 and 8:18, where it is stated that in the Ark sojourned 4 couples (Noah and his wife, together with their three sons and the three sons’ wives), and Genesis 7:23 stating that only Noah was saved, and those with him in the ark. By contrast other things in the narrative of the Flood in Genesis 6-9 which are not taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter may be considered parable or hyperbole.

2.Truth of Science
The context of Genesis allows us to date the Flood not much earlier than 3000 BC, and therefore, on the basis of the results in evolutionary genetics, we are led to the conclusion that today’s humanity cannot be genetically descended from the 4 couples saved through Noah’s Ark.

As a scientist and Christian believer I feel the necessity of giving a logically consistent account integrating the Truth of Revelation (Point 1) and the Truth of Science (Point 2) above. For me this is not “concordism” but simply a matter of intellectual honesty, and in my opinion also an inescapable moral duty of Christian scientists and theologians toward believers.

The account I propose describes a Flood which is both, regional and global:

  • Regional in the sense that the geographic area which was flooded can be considered limited to the region around the five antediluvians Sumerian cities in Mesopotamia.

  • Global in the sense that all Noah’s contemporaries living in this region died in the Flood (the 8 in the Ark excluded), where I assume that these some tens thousands of people were all the human persons existing on earth at this time.

At the same time, millions of non-personal human animals lived outside the flooded region (that is, almost the whole planet). They were Homo sapiens animals which had not yet been transformed by God into persons. Obviously outside the flooded region lived practically all the other animal species we know today as well.

The key point of my explanation is that after the Flood God transformed all non-personal human animals living on earth into persons with awareness of moral responsibility and sense of law, the same way as He did to create the primeval human persons (I will come to this later in a separate post; for the moment I refer to my Essay and my Article with References therein).

If one accepts this account, then it becomes clear that the “Ark” was not only the wood vessel which Noah built and entered in with his family, but also the part of the planet outside the flooded region: It was really a huge “Ark” (much bigger than the AiG’s one in Kentucky) with more than enough place for all animal species living today!

Additionally, after the Flood a new humanity arises descending from Noah’s family and several millions of new created human persons. To this extent the account fits well with the data of evolutionary genetics.

This account is supported by Genesis 9:3-6, where for the first time in the Bible appears the prohibition of killing any creature belonging to humanity because mankind is made in the image of God: “Every single violation of this limit, be it based on national, racial or ideological grounds is here condemned” [Wenham, G.J. p. 251]. Thus Genesis 9:3-6 establishes the universal brotherhood of all humans and the foundation of morality and law: The living human body is the visible, empirical and distinguishable basis for ascertaining personhood and assigning rights. One can also note that the remark in Genesis 9:3 concerning food indicates a degree of distinction between humanity and the animal kingdom that was lacking in the vegetarian diet of Genesis 1:29 ” [Wenham, G.J. p. 263-264]. All this means that since the moment of Covenant between God and Noah the possibility of non-personal human animals on earth remains definitely excluded.

Accordingly, my explanation supports beaglelady:

It supports Brad as well:

And supports the principle that human embryos, unborn children, disabled people are fully human, and therefore also for them we should with Stephen

In coming posts I will continue addressing other raised objections and comments (in particular Al Leo’s epigenetic hypothesis) with reference to the precedent scenario of the Flood.

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Are you sure about this? In the BioLogos article it says,

“The Genesis Flood story contains many literary clues that its writers (and original audience) were not intended to narrate an actual series of events.”

Thanks for this remark.

The statement I quote is the following:

“There is good scriptural and historical evidence that the Flood story is an interpretation of an actual historical event retold in the rhetoric and theology of ancient Israel.”
[2nd Paragraph in the Section “The Bible in its ancient context”]

In my view there is no contradiction between these two statements, but Brad could confirm.

In any case I think we have to keep to the interpretation of Genesis given by Jesus Christ, the 2 Letters of Peter and the Letter to the Hebrews: Though two millenniums later, the Incarnated Word of God should probably have memories of what He had inspired to the author of Genesis [see BioLogos, what we believe, Point 1]. This is authoritative the rest may be parable, allegory or hyperbole.

By the way, what the New Testament teaches about the Flood and Noah seems to fit well also with the teaching of the Quran.

It does seem that the BioLogos essay contradicts itself. Historical floods are a dime a dozen. The biblical account has great similarities to the earlier ANE accounts.

Yes, the Qur’an does copy from the Bible, as well as from late apocryphal “gospels,” and Gnosticism.

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My explanation in the context of the Flood and Noah’s Ark (II).

This post continues implementing my explanation in the Flood scenario in order to address objections raised by sfmatheson and beaglelady, and comment on Al Leo’s inspiring epigenetic hypothesis.

Let us now focus on the population of human persons living with Noah before the Flood. They were mostly (I will explain in a coming post why I do not say ‘all’) descendants from the primeval persons God created.

Regarding this creation I share BioLogos What we believe 10.:

“God created humans in biological continuity with all life on earth, but also as spiritual beings. God established a unique relationship with humanity by endowing us with his image and calling us to an elevated position within the created order.”

Whichever way you look at it, this cannot mean other than at a certain moment God transformed existing Homo sapiens animals into human persons, and that there was no biological discontinuity between the non-personal human animal before God’s intervention and the human person after God’s intervention.

If you accept that humans were created by God as spiritual beings and you don’t endorse Intelligent Design, you can’t help admitting that at a certain time of history there was a large number of non-personal human animals which were biologically indistinguishable from us in every way.

However it would be a fallacy to extrapolate this situation at the origins and state that today “it still could be so”: Today we are under the principle established in Genesis 9:5-6 i.e.: the foundation of law. Once again, before the first human persons were created there was no sense of law, none clamming for rights, and consequently no rights to assign. Therefore it is completely flawed to interpret my explanation as if I would claim that there was once a world where some humans were “intrinsically dehumanized”, and suggest I am denying personal rights to “others” who actually are persons. Once the first human persons are created, moral responsibility and law appear, and then the human body becomes the fully detectable empirical basis to assign rights and human dignity: Any creature exhibiting a human body should be considered not an “other” but a brother by everybody. And if you dispose of the human body as the basis for ascertaining personhood you will always be tempted to draw racist conclusions while meeting cases like Helen Keller, Australian Aborigines, or Fuegians.

As I explain in the Essay the intervention on the part of God is not something you can directly see and detect like you see the sun or hear the alarm clock of your mobile. However in such intervention there is not more “magic” than in the quantum nonlocality ruling the most elementary physical phenomena. God’s influence happened at the spiritual level and induced the awareness of moral responsibility and the sense of law, which led to the emergence of the civilizations.

Vestiges revealing sense of law we find at the origins of civilization about 3500 BC. That is the reason why I set the creation of the primeval human persons (‘Adam and Eve’ and likely some others) at this time. However I am ready to predate this divine intervention if one finds vestiges before. Such vestiges are lacking for the time being: Neanderthals have sense of fashion, but not sense of law. By the way chimps have sense of fashion as well!

My assumption is perfectly compatible with Al Leo’s epigenetic hypothesis about the Great Leap Forward (GLF) he postulates at about 40,000 BC. In my view the interest of introducing “epigenetic” factors here is not so much explaining a sudden improvement of the functioning of human brain, which Sy_Garte questions:

The epigenetic hypothesis rather suggests how deletion of intermediate varieties may have occurred through highly complex processes involving environmental changes, anatomical features, alteration of gene-expression-regulation, SNPs, quantum randomness, etc. I dare to insist in the message of my Essay: The main mechanism of evolution is not “selection” but “deletion”: natural selection is the remains of natural deletion. By the way, Darwin’s racist description of Fuegians might reveal that he didn’t realized what evolution is all about in the end, i.e.: A smart way to lay the groundwork for assigning rights by means of deletion of intermediate varieties.

Anyway in my view, if vestiges proving sense of law are lacking, genetic or epigenetic changes whatsoever would not suffice to prove that God created the primeval human persons at a certain time.

To the Flood scenario I am proposing one could still object:

What would have happened if some non-personal human animal coming from outside Mesopotamia had joined the community of human persons living here, that is, Noah and his contemporaries?

Well this is explained in Genesis 6:1-4, but this post has already got too long and so I postpone the discussion of this exciting question for a later one (which also clarifies why above I have written ‘mostly’ instead of ‘all’).

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Hi Antoine -

At a time when so many believe that you have to choose a side in the supposed war between science and faith, it is good that you are exploring how God’s word and God’s works are both true. You have undertaken a noble project.

My word of advice would be to give the literary forms of the Scripture their due. This requires considerable study of the ancient Near East (ANE) cultural background. I think you would enjoy reading the works of John Walton.

Best regards,
Chris Falter


How do you know they had no sense of law?

Have you thoroughly looked into whether ‘on earth’ is best translated as universal or regional? The things I have read indicate it should be understood as “in the land,” in the same way that the famine in Egypt was all over the land (earth) but did not mean, say, the Americas.

I just went and looked up the New Testament references to the flood that you cite. Luke 17:27: “They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them.”

“Destroyed all of them”! My, that certainly sounds definitive, does it not? But then I read the next sentence. Luke 17:28-29: “Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them.”

Does Jesus want us to believe that all humans except Lot were destroyed by fire and sulfur from heaven? Or is there another, more reasonable interpretation?

I do not think it follows, from the quote you cited, that the transformation from animal to person must occur suddenly, at “a certain moment.” However, I don’t believe in immortal souls, which is perhaps the only reason I can think of to insist on your view here; either an individual has a soul or they do not, without very tenable in-between ground. Perhaps others on this board can weigh in on how they think about this question?


Good idea. Last night I saw the gorgeous “Beauty and the Beast,” based, of course, on the French fairy tale. In this fictional tale, the author teaches important lessons about family, loyalty, love, and redemption. Good people are rewarded, evil ones are punished.

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My explanation in the context of the Flood and Noah’s Ark (III)

Many thanks to Brad Kramer for having created the new topic “My Theory about the Flood”.

Tanks also to all, who are posting Comments.

Before I meet raised objections and questions I would like to post Part III of my Theory so that we can see things in a wider perspective.

A crucial question in the scenario I am proposing is this:

What would have happened if some non-personal human animal coming from outside Mesopotamia had joined the community of human persons living here, that is, Noah and his contemporaries?

As said, I think the answer to this question is given in Genesis 6:1-4, which is likely the most enigmatic episode in Genesis.

The “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2,4

On the one hand, the “sons of God” referred to in Genesis 6:1-4 really mate with human wives, to the extent of generating real children. The term “daughters of humans” highlights the humanity of the “sons of God”. Therefore they must be considered humans.

On the other hand the same term “sons of God” is used in other pericopes of the Old Testament for the angelic court surrounding Yahweh (Ps 29:1; 89:7; Job 38:7), and 2 times in the book of Job it is even used for the fallen angel Satan (Job 1:6 and 2:1).

Consequently we are led to this preliminary result:

The term “sons of God” is used in the Old Testament as well to refer to angels (even demons) as to human beings; any consistent attempt to define this term has to cope with this fact. Thus the proposed definition must be apt to describe both holy and fallen angels, and the human “sons of God” referred to in Genesis 6:2,4.

Interpreting Genesis 6:1-4 in the light of Luke 3:38 and Evolution

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture I first claim that the term “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-4 is used in the same sense that Adam is called “son of God” in Luke 3:38. Accordingly, the term means human persons who are begotten independently of any creature’s decision and therefore cannot be called son of another human person. By contrast, names different from Adam in Luke 3:23-38 are called “son of someone”: “son of David”, “son of Abraham”, son of Noah” etc.

In Part II I have assumed that God created the first human persons through transformation of human animals into human persons. From this I infer that the “sons of God” of Genesis 6:2,4 were created directly by God through a similar transformation independently of any human father’s decision.

Finally, I note that also angels can be said to be “persons who are begotten independently of any creature’s decision”, since they originate from God independently of any angel’s decision, and therefore this meaning of the term “sons of God” is suitable for angels too, no matter whether they are good or evil. And one could analogously even say that the Second Person of the Trinity is the proper Son of God since He is begotten from the Father independently of whatever decision, even a divine one.

In Conclusion:

According to Scripture “sons of God” means “persons who are begotten independently of any creature’s decision”. All angels can appropriately be called “sons of God”, but not all characters called “sons of God” in the Bible can appropriately be considered angels. The “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1,4 are undoubtedly human, and it is fitting to consider that they were created directly by God through transformation of human animals into persons.

From this Conclusion the answer to our initial question follows as a Corollary:

When non-personal human animals living outside Mesopotamia were about to join the community of human persons living there, God transformed them into persons: these are the “sons of God” referred to in Genesis 6: 2,4.

The “sons of God” and the Nephilim

In Genesis 6:4 the Yahwist connects the “sons of God” with the Nephilim, and is interested to stress that these were on the earth not only in “those says” but “also afterwards”, i.e.: “in the post-diluvian period”. Since the Nephilim before the Flood were supposed to disappear in this catastrophe, the Nephilim after the Flood could not be the offspring from the former. Thus the Yahwist is implicitly telling us that the episode of the “sons of God” took place once more after the Flood [for details see discussion in Wenham, G.J. p. 195].

Accordingly, Genesis 6:4 backs our Conclusion in Part I that immediately after the Flood God transformed all non-personals human animals living at this time into human persons. These post-diluvian “sons of God” also “went to the daughters of humans and had children by them”, and their offspring were the new Nephilim of Numbers 13:33 and many other people in the post-diluvian humanity.


Although many questions remain still open and further work is undoubtedly necessary, the account about the Flood presented in Part I-III shows that it is possible to integrate scientific data, revealed truth, and theological reflection coherently. Evolution is a smart process of boundarisation which lays the groundwork for assigning rights through deletion of intermediate varieties. As such evolution can lead us to a deeper understanding of the Bible and novel theological perspectives. The Origins of humanity are a privileged field of study where scientists and theologians of all religions can fruitful inspire each other.

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Frankly I think there are two reasons.

  1. It’s hard to put together the kind of harmonies to which you refer. Pushing the text into the realm of uncertainty (or even unreality), is easier than the hard work required to build a model of harmony. I see a lot of lip service given to the truth that science and Scripture are in harmony, by people who then turn around and interpret Scripture in such a way that no actual harmony is required anyway, because (apparently), the passages under question were never intended to describe historical events or people. Personally I think the text criticism principle of the “harder reading” (lectio difficilior potior), should apply to Bible interpretation; if an interpretative reading smooths over difficulties extremely easily, it should be considered less likely to represent the original meaning than a reading which actually preserves those difficulties. Very grand sweeping claims are made about what the original audience of Genesis 1-11 would or would not have considered historical or literal, with very little substantiation in the form of actual evidence.

  2. It’s sometimes an apologetic strategy to place the text outside the realm of history, where it could be tested. Removing it from reality (or at least attenuating considerably its connection with history), places it beyond the realm of the skeptic, and helps “future proof” belief by basing it more on faith than evidence. I love a lot of what Enns writes, but I think he resorts to this strategy all too often. The irony (and the danger), as I see it, is that this ends up encouraging Christians to have a faith which is less based on evidence and more based on faith. So it’s actually a step back to the position of a YEC; decidedly retrograde, in my view.

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This image speaks volumes about the problem with taking Genesis at face value:

When I see pictures like this, I always wonder who did their hair.


Hi Darius
As a career scientist who has spent a great deal of time switching specticals to view Truth as seen by Faith (via scripture) vs. Truth as seen by Science (via nature), I would like to respond to your praise of Antoine’s essay and further posts. I agree that he deserves a great deal of praise for a thoughtful presentation, but I am still looking for the “bifocals” that will allow me to view both comfortably.

[quote=“Dpiiiius, post:11, topic:35366”]
This is a beautifully thought-out model [Antoine’s] that seemingly effortlessly harmonizes scientific evidence and biblical truth.
[/quote]You then follow this with:

As a Christian who upholds the authority of Scripture, but insists that a literal reading is NOT inerrant, I maintain that any exegesis of the Genesis Flood story is bound to be flawed and damages the credibility of the entire O.T. On the other hand, Antoine’s approach to explaining human origins can be comfortably accepted by science:

@AntoineSuarez Whichever way you look at it, this cannot mean other than at a certain moment God transformed existing Homo sapiens animals into human persons, and that there was no biological discontinuity between the non-personal human animal before God’s intervention and the human person after God’s intervention.

Of course these are just my personal observations, but I do think they reflect the positions many scientists take on any controversies that arise between religious doctrines and scientific methods. Speculation about the exact interpretation of “sons of God” and “Nephilim” and whether the latter survived the Flood seem to me to be just that–Speculation–and of negligible importance in what I need to do to please my Creator.
Al Leo

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Thanks Lynn for fostering the discussion in this positive and stimulating way.

Your quotation of Luke 17:28-29 should be completed with Luke 17:30:
“so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.”

In the same sense:

Matthew 24:37 reads:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

And 2 Peter 3:6-7:
“By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

One should additionally take account of 2 Peter 2:2-6 and Hebrews 11:7.

Thus it seems reasonable to interpret Jesus want us to believe that:

  • all human persons living in Sodom and Gomorra except Lot were destroyed by fire and sulfur from heaven;
  • all human persons living in the ancient world except Noah and his family were destroyed by the Flood;
  • the same way as all human persons living in the world at the coming of the Son of Man will be judged by Him.

From all this I conclude that the New Testament supports my hypothesis of a Flood which was both:

  • Regional regarding the geographic area affected, i.e. the region around the antediluvian Sumerian cities.

  • Global, regarding the destroyed human persons: At the time of Noah all human persons in the world were living in Mesopotamia and all of them died in the Flood excepted Noah and his family; several millions of non-personal Homo sapiens animals living outside Mesopotamia were not destroyed, and were transformed by God into persons at the end of the Flood.

Anyway my preceding posts show that with this hypothesis it is possible to make a theory which fits well with the data of evolutionary genetics and allow us to interpret the enigmatic periscope of the “sons of God”.
Note that I am not using the Bible to explain Evolution (“concordism”) but rather the other way around: I use Evolution to understand the Bible more in depth, and even explain things considered mysterious to date.

Nonetheless I would like to suggest that you develop an alternative theory with the following assumptions:

  • All Noah’s contemporaries living in Mesopotamia (except Noah’s family) died in the Flood.

  • Several millions of other human persons living spread all over the planet outside Mesopotamia were not affected by the Flood.

So one could compare both theories and see which of them explains better the available observations, Scripture and Redemption. In my opinion this would be extremely useful to progress.

Your model is of a flood which was geographically local but anthropologically universal. Have you considered the flood may have been both geographically local and anthropologically local? Not only is there evidence in the text that the flood did not kill all human beings, but some of the earliest Jewish and Christian expositors interpreted the flood as both geographically and anthropologically local, and they certainly weren’t doing this to try and harmonize the text with science. And of course the archaeological evidence shows that although there was a Mesopotamian mega-flood at around 2900 BCE, it certainly wasn’t anthropologically universal.

That is my hypothesis.


Correct. Not only can you find those same phrases elsewhere in Scripture when describing events of a limited scope. there is a clear indication in the text that there were survivors of the flood outside the Ark (the Nephilim). As I mentioned previously, Jewish expositors as early as Josephus (first century), interpreted the flood as anthropologically local, and so did some of the early Christians.

Where does it say human persons? I missed that bit.

My point earlier was that Jesus in no way specifies “in Sodom and Gomorra,” yet he uses the exact same words in that account as he does to talk about the flood. So really he is not saying anything one way or another about whether or not the Flood was universal. At most you can argue that Jesus said Noah was saved in an ark from a flood that destroyed a lot of people around him.

“The world” may or may not mean every human on the planet. I looked up the various meanings the word can have here: Strong's Greek: 2889. κόσμος (kosmos) -- order, the world

I think it’s particularly interesting that Peter qualifies it (twice!) with the words “of the ungodly.” So if the people were not ‘ungodly,’ they would not have to be included in the destruction of the flood.

There’s also a common thought (though I’m not finding it in Genesis) that Noah’s building of the ark served as a witness to the people around him that the flood was coming and they ought to pay attention to God. But how could this ever apply to people far away from where Noah lived? It doesn’t make any sense that it could apply to anyone too far away to hear of or visit the ark. Did God wipe them all away anyway?

Genesis 4:20-21 says of Cain’s descendants, that Jabal was the ancestor of all those who live in tents and have livestock, and Jubal was the ancestor of all those who play the lyre and the pipe.

Why are ‘live,’ ‘have,’ and ‘play’ in present tense? The most natural interpretation is that these two populations continued uninterrupted to the time when it was written—long past the time of the flood! Clearly, a flood which wiped out all descendants of Adam, or all people, is not supported by the text.

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Dear Jonathan and Darius,
I think this is becoming a really valuable discussion!

In order to avoid discussing about ‘words’ it may be convenient that you define precisely what do you mean by ‘anthropologically’

Jonathan, as you may have seen, I pretend that the Nephilim pericope supports my theory:

I think that Josephus account supports my theory as well.

So I would like to ask you to quote the precise text of Josephus you are referring to, and eventually also to comment on my interpretation regarding Genesis 6:1-4 (the “sons of God” and the Nephilim).

This may help to clarify misunderstandings and progress in our common search.

Thanks in advance!

I’m not clear on how that meme “speaks volumes”—unless you mean that it is based on the scripture-ignorance of the average Bible critic??

After all, if one takes Genesis “at face value”, that includes Genesis 5:3-4 and its mention of Adam’s daughters:

3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. 4 After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.

Also, all modern humans descending from Adam and Eve does NOT require that they were genetic bottleneck. To me, nothing in the Genesis text precludes other non-Adamic Homo sapiens being our ancestors. Indeed, there are plenty of hints in the Genesis text about other contemporaries, including the Nephilim/Sons of God. [The phrase “Sons of God” is exactly the kind of description people naturally apply to some other tribe which is significantly larger/taller. I’ve never seen any need to assume the term refers to angelic beings or some “supernatural” offspring.]

Anyway, I’m just not sure if @gbrooks9 is referring to the general public’s lack of scripture-literacy when referring to “taking Genesis at face value” or if something in this meme is flying right over my head. (I can be pretty dense sometimes.) So please elaborate.