That depends on what one thinks the bible is teaching. In other words, is it trying to teach history and science? I think it is trying to teach theology, and any history or science you may find is incidental. If said history or science turns out to be completely accurate, then great. If not, then okay, because those aren’t the baskets I am putting my eggs in, so to speak.
The specialized human activities of history, science, and theology did not even exist at the time when Genesis was composed. Before such specializations and particularly when such things were put together in oral traditions, all the purposes of history, natural philosophy, theology, and entertainment tended to be all mixed together.
That is great Mitchell, now find a flood within the past 10,000 years that matches the details as described in the Bible. This means, finding the widespread sedimentary deposits left behind by the flood; avoiding physics problems like a floating boat going from southern Iraq uphill to the Mountains of Ararat, and explaining a full month of rain. Such a description WOULD leave evidence of itself, but in the Mesopotamian basin where everyone wants the flood to be, there are NO widespread Holocene flood sediments; the dip of the land would carry a floating ark into the Persian Gulf within a week or two, which presents problems for landing the ark in Turkey.
So, if you think you can find a place for the flood demonstrate that the geological evidence actually matches your scenario without at the same time violating the laws of physics.
I have two problems with the idea that the Bible is only teaching theology. First, any religion out there that has the most absurd factual statements, like the statement in the Bahai Kiti-i-iqan where copper left in the earth for 70 years becomes Gold, --any religion out there like that can claim that they too are only teaching theology not science. Such an approach to religion makes a religion not only unfalsifiable but also unsupportable by evidence.
The second problem I have is that one could extend this theology only not history or science approach to the resurrection itself. If Jesus’ resurrection is nothing more than a theological tale, and not a bodily resurrection, then Christianity is false and would be of no interest to me. The question such a “never have science or history in our Bible” approach raises is how does one know when to stop? Is every miracle in the bible just a theological fairy tale, an Aesops fable for our betterment? If so, there is nothing worth listening to in Christianity in my opinion
And that means that people were totally incapable of describing what happened to them? Only historical specialists are able to tell us the truth??? Really???
Again, one can take that view but it makes a mockery of the claim that God is working in the world for our salvation. How else is God to work except through miracles? And if Biblical stories like the creation, the Fall and Flood are merely ‘entertainment’ of a past age, then why should we pay any more attention to them than we do to the antics of the Greek Gods? They too were the entertainment of the Day. Either Christianity has something real to it or it doesn’t. If we say nothing it says is real or historical or scientifically true, then we are reducing it to nothing more that cultural fables with no power to save us at all. Such a god who tells such falsehoods is not to be trusted in any way shape or form.
I see no reason to accept your premises about where Noah landed, or how widespread the flood was.
No, that would be another one of your confusions of the facts of what people have said and the fictions you concoct in your head.
The only mockery I see here is the use of childish literalism in understanding the Bible in order to contradict the objective findings of science, just like what Jesus describes in Matt 13.
There is a difference between using entertainment methods to liven up a story in order to keep the attention of the whole family or tribe and “merely entertainment.” Is your black and white approach really how you think about everything or is this just a technique of deceptive rhetoric you use to muddy things up?
Well, then let’s hear your flood story. It is easy Mitch to sit and throw rocks at the work of others, indeed, I kinda think that is the ‘seat of the scoffers’. If you really meant what you said," he fact is, that I think it is very clear that Genesis has an historical intent." in this thread about the flood, which is obviously going to be interpreted as you agreeing that the flood is historical, then show us where a flood is that matches the account. I will be the very first to stand up and applaud if you can find such a place in Holocene times. I would be quite happy about it. So put up, my friend, it is time to stop throwing rocks and present your view.
I believe that the resurrection was a real historical event. I also believe that there was a flood (although not a global catastrophe).
As we look at the gospel accounts, especially in regard to the resurrection, the details in the accounts do not sync up perfectly. This is okay. I would expect each writer to have their own voice and interpretation of the events.
I would also expect the writer of the flood account to have their own voice and interpretation of the events.
And I think all of these writers have something in common: They are placing their theological interpretations of these events at a higher priority than leaving a perfectly historical record.
Wow, @gbob, I didn’t realize how old you were!
And now I’ll bow out… :) except to say it is a pretty neat theory.
I am ancient. I first published this idea in the early 1990s. But feel free to stay in on this; old men need help. lol
I can agree with this, but such an interpretation isn’t incompatible with facts that actually happened. This is where the modern ‘intellectual’ Christians go wrong. They think that if they agree with the Academy and other smart people that the Bible doesn’t contain truth, they can get a bit of applause from them, and have a foot in both worlds. This is actually what the ‘double-minded’ in James 1 means–having a plan B. But the academy of intellectuals will never applaud anyone who believes the bible even a little.
No, you and so many others have such a wrong view of the fossil record. It is one reason why I posted what I did on Leviathan. Your objection is based upon a presupposition that we have a complete or relatively complete inventory of fossils of the creatures alive at any given time. Are you aware that 90-97% of all living creatures are NEVER fossilized?
" Logic dictates, too, that the oldest known fossils cannot possibly be the oldest representatives of their kind. Fossilization is a rare event, after all; and when animals first appear, they are rare. The earliest fossil bones are therefore likely to date from a time when their erstwhile owners were already common. Logic similarly dictates that if an animal is particularly unlikely to form fossils–as primates seem to be–then paleontologists are particularly unlikely to find the very earliest types. In fact, this logic can be translated into a mathematical formula (see Robert D. Martin, ““Primate Origins: Plugging the Gaps,”” Nature, May 20, 1993, pp 223-234). The fewer fossils there are (relative to the calculated number of extinct species), the older the group is liable to be, relative to the number of fossils found. " 2
So, how rare is the fossilization of a species ? To answer that, we must ask look at how many species alive today are found as fossils. Consider what Foote et al,
" The number of living species that have been described is about 1.5 million…If we focus on the paleontologically important groups, present-day diversity is about 180,000 species. …Suppose we assume that the present-day level of diversity was attained immediately at the beginning of the Cambrian Period and has been maintained since then. Then 25 percent of 180,000 species, or 45,000 species became extinct and were replaced by new species every million years. In rough terms, the Phanerozoic is 550 million years log. this leads to an estimate that there have been 180,000+(45,000 X 550) or about 25 million species. Comparing this with the 300,000 described fossil species implies that between 1 percent and 2 percent of species are known as fossils. " 3
So,98-99% of species were never fosilized. That means the critics can’t be sure Leviathan didn’t exist. Regardless of this, one might say I cherry picked a quote, but this concept of the rarity of fossilization is wide-spread. Prothero goes through the calculation in other ways:
" Let us start with some simple estimates. We have already estimated that there are 1.5 million described species, or as many as 4.5 to 10 million described and undescribed species of organisms alive on Earth today. How many species are known as fossils? It turns out that there are only about 250,000 described species of fossil plants and animals presently known, or only 5% of the total for species living today. " 4
He then goes on to focus on marine invertebrates. Marine invertebrates are the best animals to get fossilized. They can’t run from a landslide of sediment(turbidites) coming to cover them. Such things happen at earthquakes and when sediment accumulates so much that the pile sloughs off some of its mass.
" Let us just focus on nine well-skeltonized phyla of marine invertebrates and see if we come up with better estimates. These nine phyla are the Protista, Archaeocyatha, Porifera, Cnidaria, Bryozoa, Brachiopoda, Mollusca, Echinodermata, and Arthropoda (excluding insects). In these groups, there are about 150,000 living species, but more than 180,000 fossil species. To translate these numbers into completeness estimates, we need to know the turnover rate of species and the number of coexisting species through time. Different values have been used for each of these variables, but the results of the calculations are remarkably similar. Durham estimated that about 2.3% of all the species in these nine phyla were fossilized. Valentine gave estimates that ranged from 4.5% to 13.6%. No matter which method we use, we must conclude that 85% to 97% of all the species in these nine well-skeletonized phyla that have ever lived have never been fossilized. "5
No matter how one estimates this, the number of species that are fossilized is quite small.
" About 300,000 species of fossil organisms have been described and the number is growing steadily. However, this number is only a tiny fraction of the species that have ever lived. We do not know how many species lived in the past but we have ways of making reasonable estimates. Of the present-day biota, approximately 1.7 million species have been named. The actual number of living species is probably at least 10 million, because most species of insects and mites (the animal groups with the largest numbers of species; see Chapter 32) have not yet been described. So the number of described fossil species is less than 2 percent of the probable minimum number of living species." 6
Now, lets be logical here. If 85-97% of well skeletonized marine species are not ever preserved as a fossil, what do you think the chance is for the fossilization of a hominid in a terrestrial environment. These statistics mean that species can live for millions of years on earth AND NEVER LEAVE A TRACE OF THEIR EXISTENCE. Thus, while you want to denigrate the idea, and that is your prerogative, you are actually showing a lack of knowledge of the fossil record. Terrestrial animals are well documented to have lived on earth for 10s of millions of years between fossil examples. Because of this, H. erectus very well could have lived far longer ago than we have fossils for him.
Again, logic. The earliest fossil we have a species, a genus or order is NOT the very first member of that species, genus or order to have lived on earth. If it was, the species, genus or order likely just went extinct. We know that fossilization is more likely when 1. the species is numerous and 2. widespread geographically and thus exposed to numerous environmental catastrophes capable of burying and preserving the creature. Secondly we know that even being widespread fossilization is quite rare as shown above with highly skeletonized marine species. Because of this, you can’t claim that the only candidate for Adam was an ardepithecus. It very well could have been something far more advanced, like an H. erectus, but who lived in a tiny localized population which left no record of themselves, just like 90% of other species. To say otherwise is to be unscientific and ignore the facts of geoscience, a discipline I spent 47 years in…
2.Colin Tudge, The Time Before History, (New York: Scribner, 1996), p. 172
Michael Foote et al, Principles of Paleontology, (New York, W. H. Freeman and Co., 2007), p 23
Donald R. Prothero, Bringing Fossils to Life: An Introduction to Paleobiology, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), p.21.
5 Donald R. Prothero, Bringing Fossils to Life: An Introduction to Paleobiology, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), p.21.
- David E. Sadava, H. Craig Heller, William K. Purves, Gordon H. Orians, and David M. Hillis, Life: the Science of Biology, (MacMillan, 2008), p.472
Just to be clear, I’m not young either at 48–but I was just kidding. I initially misread as saying you had published back 5.5 million years ago. I love this stuff. Thanks.
If you don’t mind, I’ve always wanted to engage with someone who believed in a (likely) historical flood but not necessarily worldwide. I’ve never found that position compelling but would very much like to hear your thoughts… can I shoot some questions to you, if you don’t mind?
If the flood was local (and severe), I can understand God ordering Noah to build an ark to save he and his family, and perhaps bring some livestock so he could re establish his herds. But why in the world require Abraham to bring birds and snakes? Surely they would have simply eventually re-migrated back into whatever land Noah ended up in eventually, and it isn’t like he needed them right away. Did we really need snakes immediately in the land that Noah was going to settle?
Did Noah believe the flood was worldwide? The language God used with him sure gives that impression. It to me, the requirement to bring all the creeping things and birds seems to give that impression?
Did Moses (or whoever wrote Genesis) believe that it was a worldwide flood?
What sense does this glorious promise, covenant, and rainbow make… I will never again send a flood that will destroy all life under heaven…? Um, what?
What, specifically, is your objection to a worldwide flood? Is it theological, scientific, geological? Do you think there wouldn’t be enough water to cover that much land?
Have always found these questions perplexing. Appreciate your (or anyone else’s) thoughts on these?
Phew. That was a lot of extra verbiage to try and claim Homo erectus lived 5.5 million years ago but didn’t leave a trace. Since Homo Erectus making vineyards and drinking wine is so much more biblical than Ardipethicus Kadabba making vineyards and drinking wine especially when we have zero evidence for your claim yet you claim you are using data to make your claims.
No, it is called science, not verbiage.
Sure! I’m still ironing out what I believe on this, but I learn from discussion too.
(assuming “Abraham” was unintended…) Perhaps it was simply because God wanted him to have a raven and a dove to send out after the flood. Or wanted to keep the biodiversity in the area preserved – I honestly don’t know. Of all the commands of God in the Old Testament that I have a hard time making sense of, this one isn’t really all that high on the list.
It seems likely that he/they would have thought that way, but possibly because he didn’t know what “worldwide” really meant, and likely had no concept of a globe. Some, such as Reasons to Believe (I think) contend that the flood was not global but still universal in the sense of wiping out humanity, assuming humanity was still operating out of one particular region on earth. I’m not sure I’d go with that view or not, but I can see why the language God used would still seem “universal” to Noah given his limited knowledge of geography.
As with other places in this story, the word for “earth” (which we seem to automatically substitute “globe” for) could also mean “land” or “region,” which alters the scope quite a bit.
Theologically I don’t see much stake in going one way or another – I think local makes sense given the fact that even a local flood would have seemed “worldwide” to those who experienced it. I always assumed it was global as a kid because that’s what I was told by YEC thought leaders who needed a catastrophic, recent global flood in order to (attempt to) explain away the fossil record. Now that I’ve become less afraid of the fossil record and other aspects of geology and other branches of science, I don’t see any reason to try and make the flood be “global” if doing that would require minimizing or hand-waving away so much scientific evidence.
I don’t have any other story than the one told in the Bible. There is no concept of a planet so there is nothing to contradict the clear scientific and logical exclusion of the idea of a planet-wide flood. But neither is there any support or consistency with this being an event which happened millions of years ago. It is just not credible to me. I frankly don’t think creatures which develop civilization that slowly should be called human beings. Millions of years is more the scale for biological evolution of species and while you may equate humanity with a biological species, I do not.
It is even easier to make up stories about other people throwing rocks to prop up an absurd martyr complex. But I would suggest something even easier… simply accept that I do not and will never accept your Gibraltar explanation of Noah’s flood.
[quote=“Daniel_Fisher, post:35, topic:41052”]
- If the flood was local (and severe), I can understand God ordering Noah to build an ark to save he and his family, and perhaps bring some livestock so he could re establish his herds. But why in the world require Abraham to bring birds and snakes? Surely they would have simply eventually re-migrated back into whatever land Noah ended up in eventually, and it isn’t like he needed them right away. Did we really need snakes immediately in the land that Noah was going to settle?[/quote]
I think you mean Noah, not Abraham. The Bible doesn’t specify given species, just birds, clean and unclean animals Genesis 7: 2 says: Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth
- Did Noah believe the flood was worldwide? The language God used with him sure gives that impression. It to me, the requirement to bring all the creeping things and birds seems to give that impression?
If I had been in Noah’s shoes in the flooding Mediterranean where I think the flood was, I would have thought it was global. But that said, it isn’t important what Noah thought, just what facts can be brought to the issue, and a global flood is out of the question given the data in the geologic column which could not possibly be the deposits of a one year flood.
- Did Moses (or whoever wrote Genesis) believe that it was a worldwide flood?
The word used for earth is ‘eretz’ and it means land or country. I think a case can be made that the Hebrew word doesn’t mean planet earth
- What sense does this glorious promise, covenant, and rainbow make… I will never again send a flood that will destroy all life under heaven…? Um, what?
This only works for the place I put the Flood, the refilling of the Mediterranean basin. Because of the topology and the lack of rain a bow could never have been seen from that valley floor. All other flood suggestions can’t explain the rainbow
*Because of the lack of rain in the basin before the flood, there would never have been a rainbow in the sky. They might have seen the colors in the mists, but they would have appeared to be between the observer and the ground. The mists might would have been close to the ground, and thus, that too limits the prismatic effect in the dried Mediterranean basin to be towards the ground. But once they were out of the basin, in a normal meteorological setting, rainbows could be seen high in the sky. *
Again, this scenario fits the Biblical descriptions exactly. But again, will point out that the Hebrew writer didn’t understand all this. God needed to speak to him and us, with truth. Just because the ancient Hebrew didn’t understand what he wrote correctly doesn’t mean that God communicated badly.
- What, specifically, is your objection to a worldwide flood? Is it theological, scientific, geological? Do you think there wouldn’t be enough water to cover that much land?
My objection is every piece of geologic data there is says the flood wasn’t global. All beds have features that couldn’t be deposited in the flood, from burrows, to footprints to desiccation cracks, to nests, and nests dug into by predators, etc. If the geologic record is the record of a flood all fossils should be at the bottom of the rock pile, they are spread out. Physics shows that the latent heat of condensation of even a 50 ft world wide rain would leave the earth burned up. Speeding up continental drift would cause such friction as to vaporize much of the mantle. Everything says the flood wasn’t global