The collection of verses that really stump me

As you know I have been questioning and trying to figure out why if Genesis 1-11 were not meant to be taken literally they are referred to literally in later books. Most of these verses can be explained away as having theological significance. But one set of verses stumps me completely regarding this topic and it’s not a collection verses many thinks of when asking this question. The verses are 2 Peter 3:3-7 quoted below.

2 Peter 3:3-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. 6 Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. 7 And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

So to summarize Peter is saying that scoffers will claim that Jesus will not come back because as far back as anyone can remember everything has always been the same. And Peter’s response is, “uh… remember the giant flood that killed everyone in ancient times?”

Peter’s argument does not seem to make sense unless there was a literal worldwide flood. I ask that you not give me the argument that “well Peter was an ancient Israelite and he didn’t know science etc.” No, this is in the Bible and if it is in the Bible God wanted it to be there.

Many people on here seem to want to strip away all divinity from the Bible and make it only a work of man. If you do that you might as well be an atheist. I will never be an atheist as the God of the Bible has spoken to me clearly at least twice in my life. If I were an atheist i’d be a flat earth atheist. This isn’t me struggling with my faith, this is me struggling to make sense of it. I would go back to fundamentalism if need be because in the end I trust the word of God over scientists.

Anyways, does anyone have a plausible explanation for this?

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Those verses seem literal, because they are literal.

Please note that whenever the word “earth” is mentioned, insert “land”, as per the NIV Genesis 1:
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.”

So the ground was formless and empty, and was under the oceans, then it appeared, meaning the planet was ancient and marine, then land arose much like we see a volcanic island forming overnight.

Regarding worldwide floods, geologists have a term for it, it’s called a “major marine transgression”. Never listen to those who argue that there was never a worldwide flood, when geologists have recorded many in history. The only argument against a biblical flood, is the question if one of these major marine transgressions actually covered the highest peaks or not.

Those verses seem literal, because they are literal.

Please note that whenever the word “earth” is mentioned, insert “land”, as per the NIV Genesis 1:
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.”

So the ground was formless and empty, and was under the oceans, then it appeared, meaning the planet was ancient and marine, then land arose much like we see a volcanic island forming overnight.

Regarding worldwide floods, geologists have a term for it, it’s called a “major marine transgression”. Never listen to those who argue that there was never a worldwide flood, when geologists have recorded many in history. The only argument against a biblical flood, is the question if one of these major marine transgressions actually covered the highest peaks or not.

Okay, so you’re on Biologos. How do you reconcile the Bible with modern science or are you a fundamentalist? I know that there are all types here and I like to hear their views so I know where they’re coming from.

Blessings be upon you, my friend.

Good catch.

Does Peter’s reference to the flood necessitate that it be a worldwide flood? As far as I know, there is some good evidence for an ancient, localized flood in that region, which is why there are multiple flood accounts in ANE myths. Maybe this is unconvincing to you, though. I understand.

This might seem similar to what you don’t want, but I think it’s important to state.

Remember that the Word of God is both from God and written by humans within specific contexts and with specific limitations. Let us suppose that Peter, being human, composed this part of his letter believing in a worldwide flood. What would God’s purpose for its presence be? The answer lies in verses 3 and 7, namely that God is telling us that mockers/scoffers who follow their own desires, aka ungodly people (as other Scriptures indicate, the godless follow their own passions, such as is seen in Romans) will face judgment and destruction.

The focus of the passage is not even specifically on the flood, but in the fact that the ungodly will be destroyed.

I don’t know about that. This seems unfair to the people here at BioLogos.

For my part, the Bible is divine, and written by humans too. This latter point has important ramifications for the texts. It means that there is authorial intent, audience, and cultural-historical context for these writings.

I don’t know about that.

Praise God! I’m very happy for you, my friend. :slight_smile:

Why?

I’m Covenantal, so this may not work for you, but remember that Israel, the people of God (which we are), means one who wrestles with God. Wrestling is fine, and is, I think, a necessary part of faith. It’s one of the things that makes us Christian. Faith doesn’t have to be free of doubt–it just needs to persevere.

If Jesus lived, died, and was raised from the dead, then evolutionary theory being fact or otherwise does not destroy Christianity, because Christianity is founded on Jesus. Remember this, my dear friend. :slight_smile:

God be with you. I will have you in my prayers tonight.

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Why?

The term “flat earth atheist” means that for me being an atheist would be akin to believing the earth is flat or that 2+2 = 5.

Good catch.

Does Peter’s reference to the flood necessitate that it be a worldwide flood? As far as I know, there is some good evidence for an ancient, localized flood in that region, which is why there are multiple flood accounts in ANE myths. Maybe this is unconvincing to you, though. I understand.

As for your question about Peter’s flood having to be a worldwide flood, he compares the worldwide flood to the destruction of the heavens and earth in the future so I think logic would dictate that he’s talking about the entirety of the earth.

As for flood myths, they can actually be found in a similar form in every type of culture of the planet, not just the Near East and they are surprisingly similar from what i’ve read actually.

This might seem similar to what you don’t want, but I think it’s important to state.

Remember that the Word of God is both from God and written by humans within specific contexts and with specific limitations. Let us suppose that Peter, being human, composed this part of his letter believing in a worldwide flood. What would God’s purpose for its presence be? The answer lies in verses 3 and 7, namely that God is telling us that mockers/scoffers who follow their own desires, aka ungodly people (as other Scriptures indicate, the godless follow their own passions, such as is seen in Romans) will face judgment and destruction.

The focus of the passage is not even specifically on the flood, but in the fact that the ungodly will be destroyed.

I would disagree. The point of the passage is to destroy the argument by the scoffers that Jesus isn’t coming back because the earth always has been the same and always will be the same. He’s saying that no actually it hasn’t always been the same, there was a flood that killed everyone.

I don’t know about that.

I do. If the Bible is just a work written by man unguided at all by God than it is just a work written by man. Yes, the human element is important and yes they speak from their own cultural milieu which is why the old cosmology is in there. But God almighty guided them by providence to write down these words. God is the ultimate architect of the Bible.

I’m Covenantal, so this may not work for you, but remember that Israel, the people of God (which we are), means one who wrestles with God. Wrestling is fine, and is, I think, a necessary part of faith. It’s one of the things that makes us Christian. Faith doesn’t have to be free of doubt–it just needs to persevere

This does work for me. I’ve been praying to God for answers and I do expect him to give one. I post on this forum because perhaps God will answer through one of his children as he often does.

I believe that science and the Bible agree, I just believe that the science is currently badly interpreted, and rather points to a literal creation event. I also believe Genesis 1 is badly interpreted, it points to an old earth, but a recent creation event.

I am not like the majority here, who are evolutionists, I believe in a literal creation event, and a literal flood.

I believe that science and the Bible agree, I just believe that the science is currently badly interpreted, and rather points to a literal creation event. I also believe Genesis 1 is badly interpreted, it points to an old earth, but a recent creation event.

I am not like the majority here, who are evolutionists, I believe in a literal creation event, and a literal flood.

Yes, i’ve seen the arguments against evolution and they do raise some very good points. Looking at your other posts you seems to believe that the watery chaos mentioned in the Bible refered to some other existence before the seven day creation week? To me even in a literaistic view of Genesis 1-11 you must admit there is some symbolism to the thing. The numbers in the geneologies for example are highly symbolic. In the Ancient Near East water and the sea were symbolic of chaos. I think this is just referring to God creating order out of chaos.

Thank you for explaining, my dear friend.

I don’t think that logic follows, namely because I don’t think he’s comparing the worldwide flood to the destruction of the heavens and the earth. Remember, he starts by saying that God made the heavens by the word of His command, and did the same thing with the Earth. So, too, has the word that created the heavens and the earth stored them up for fire. He’s comparing creation with destruction, not the destruction of the heavens and the earth with the flood.

You could say that a global flood is why those myths exist. You could also say with complete reasonableness that flood myths exist from all over the world because floods happen all over the world.

I don’t think that’s what Peter is getting at. It seems clear, based on verses 3 and 7 which serve as the bookends for this little section, that destruction of scoffers and other ungodly people is the point. And this is tied to a greater point, namely that the Lord will return, even though He seems to tarry, and along with this return comes destruction of what was. Try not to get hung up on Peter’s mention of the flood when there is a far greater point being made here.

This is where my point about the Scriptures being God-inspired and humanly-written comes into play–God is teaching us overarching truth (the Lord’s return and destruction of what was) through Peter, who is writing according to his limited scope (belief in the global flood, akin to ancient cosmology found in the Old Testament).

Yes, you’re right. But that does not necessitate atheism.

The Word of God is divine and human.

:slight_smile:

I’m glad it works for you. I hope that I have served both you and God well with my responses. As it is, the time is well after 2:00 a.m. and I should go to bed.

I meant it when I said I would remember you in my prayers tonight. Take care of yourself, friend.

I wouldn’t say there’s another existence.

Before conditions were suitable for creation, the world was marine and dark, possibly very volcanic and anoxic too. The thick mists had to thin a little and lift for enough light for photosynthesis etc.

Regarding symbolism, as you say, later biblical writers refer to those events as literal. The literal events do have symbolic undertones, but I believe actually occurred.

We often underestimate the intelligence of those early biblical writers. When I read the books of the Bible, I see intelligent reasoning men, able to understand a range of concepts and philosophies.

God chose to speak to them as if these events were literal, I therefore believe they were literal.

Early this morning I came across this video.

There was a global flood of a sort that probably destroyed the ancient world and its society at the end of the last Ice Age. This came out yesterday. Perhaps this is the hand of God at work.

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I don’t see unintelligent men, not at all. But they are humans who write and think within their time. Hence the vital importance of God’s work in communicating His truth to us through the Scriptures.

I don’t think that God deceived them. I think He revealed His truth to them within their cultural and historical contexts. We don’t believe that the Earth is flat, yet there is good reason to believe that the earliest Biblical writers did. It’s nothing different from progressive revelation. More and more was revealed, and then God gave us His greatest revelation via His incarnation as Jesus, and all that comes with that.

We are unimaginably tiny compared to the vastness of the universe, and our minds are not God’s. Why should God reveal to us what we cannot yet understand? Yet God considers us. In fact, we are of great value to Him, so much so that He purchased us with His blood. God is unchanging, but we are not. We grow, individually and collectively. And as we go through history, God works around and through us.

I believe that the Bible is the Word of God. I believe that the writers of the Scriptures were human, but that God also played a vital, central role to the revelation of His truth in them. In fact, He played the most important role.

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Here is how I take it. Pointing to creation is not about the specifics of how the world was created, but that God is the sovereign creator and it’s his world. He is the rightful judge. The main point of the flood narrative is to remind people of the theological truth that you cannot escape God’s rightful judgment, you need to avail yourself of the means of grace and mercy he provides. Peter’s main communicative point then is to remind people that there is a coming judgment. God has the right to judge the world because it’s his world, and unless people throw themselves on God’s grace and mercy (provided through the cross), they won’t escape the judgment. I don’t think people were saying “Jesus won’t come back because everything has always been the same.” I think they, like the “scoffers” in Noah’s time, were saying “There won’t be a judgment.” The argument Peter is making is a theological argument about God’s right to judge the world and the foolishness of denying that a final judgment is coming and the foolishness of refusing God’s means of mercy and grace when you have a chance.

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Here’s a very interesting book that I’m reading and nearly finished. It is written by a geologist from the University of Washington. His initial focus was a mere refutation of the young-earth position, but as he continued his pursuit, he began to formulate a hypothesis as to why so many people groups embrace a global flood narrative, and how that narrative could be based upon the observations from their own specific surroundings. It is a very enjoyable read and may aid in helping you to add some valuable context as you wrestle with these verses:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/0393346242/

image

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Paul also said that all of creations has heard the gospel and that the good news had spread throughout the whole world. Our concept of the world is not the same as the concept they had. For them it was probably was literal. A giant flood killed many. I believe a giant flood did happen and that flood destroyed their world but that their world and our world conjured two different images.

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

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