2 Peter 3:3-7 - Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." 5For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7But the present heavens and the earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Was the flood which took place in the days of Noah a big flood or a little flood? Was it a worldwide event of cataclysmic proportions or was it a relatively small and localized event confined to the ancient Mesopotamian valley? According to the biblical account in Genesis 6-9 it appears to have been a big flood! The Bible says that "all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens" were covered with water and "all flesh that moved on the earth perished" and "only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark" (Genesis 7:19, 21, 23). So that settles it! The Bible says it was a big flood. For many Christians no further discussion is necessary. The Genesis account of the flood is literally accepted for what it says: there was once a big world-wide flood. But some Christians don't accept the concept of a worldwide flood. Their thinking parallels the prevailing scientific schools of thought which do not allow for a universal flood as recorded in the Bible. We are not speaking here of "liberal Christians" who dismiss the biblical story of Noah and the flood as just one of a number of ancient Jewish legends contained in the Bible. No, we are referring to evangelical Christians who say that they believe the Bible and that the Bible alone is God's Word. They say that they believe the whole Bible is inspired, that they believe all the Bible teaches, and that they have no problem with the idea of an omnipotent God who could have caused a worldwide flood. But they don't believe that there is evidence for a flood of such magnitude. These Christians say that since there is no evidence other than the biblical information, the Genesis account of the flood must have been written in relative terms. They feel that "all the high mountains" and "all flesh" means that only all the hills and all the life in the localized area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers were affected by a small and limited flood. They say that the purpose and intended teaching of the flood account in Genesis is not to give us the size of the flood, but to show us God's judgment on the unrighteous and His care for the righteous. Well, you may say, what difference does it make? If some Christians want to believe in a local flood, so what? Why make a big deal about it? Because it is a big deal! Although the size of the flood may seem like a minor point, the major doctrines of the inspiration and authority of God's Word are involved! Let's pick up on the point that the intended teaching of Genesis 6-9 is only to show God's judgment on sin and His preservation of the godly. Certainly this is a major theme of Genesis 6-9, but the size of the flood is also indicated by the inspired text. Even if the extent of the flood were only an incidental point of this portion of Scripture, does the Bible verge on deceiving us in factual matters in order to get across the moral lessons it intends to teach? Does Scripture teach historical untruths along with the moral truths it intends to teach? To accept such a concept of divine inspiration opens the door for all kinds of problems and questions about the authority of the Bible. Doesn't the Bible speak the truth on every subject it touches--including ancient history? And for that matter, since the text includes information about the extent of the flood, doesn't it seem that the Bible intends to teach us something about the magnitude of the flood in Noah's day? To take the Genesis story of the flood as a description of a local event given in relative terms not only overlooks a number of obvious problems in the account itself, but logically such a position must disregard the view of the flood in the rest of the Bible. Questions such as, "What was the purpose of the ark?" and "Why all the concern about the animals?" and "How could a localized flood last so long?" and "What about God's promise that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood?" are hard questions for the local flood advocates to answer. But a much greater problem for these Christians (who claim to have a high view of the Bible) is how to handle the other Scriptures that speak of the flood. Reference to the flood of Noah's day is made in several Scriptures besides the account in Genesis, and in each case the context seems to suggest that it was more than a little localized flood. Christians who subscribe to the idea of a local flood are hard-pressed to provide a satisfactory explanation for these Scriptures. The primary flood Scripture in the New Testament is 2 Peter 3:3-7. In this passage three different cosmographies are in view and the magnitude of the flood is one of the essential points that is made by the author. There was a former "heavens and earth" system up until the flood of Noah's day (v5). The flood was so catastrophic that it resulted in great changes to that heavens and earth system (v6). There is now a present heavens and earth system which will be catastrophically destroyed by fire (vs7-12). And then a new heavens and a new earth will be set up which will never be destroyed (v13). Certainly Peter, the human author of this Scripture, believed in a big flood, and he obviously expected that his readers believed the same. In fact, Peter characterized people of future generations who wouldn't believe in a world-wide catastrophe as not only short-sighted (v5), but as taking the same position as the unbelieving mocker (vs3-4)! In light of this Scripture, local flood believers must fall back on the idea that Peter, the inspired writer, did not know that the flood was only small and localized, or if he did know it, he "went along" with a worldwide flood for the sake of his argument and audience. Such a view of inspiration allows an inspired writer of Scripture to be ignorant or deliberately deceptive regarding the very point he intended to teach. This is devastating to the doctrine of the inspiration of Holy Scripture. Because the ultimate Author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit, it is blasphemous to say that the inspired human author was mistaken in what he intended to teach. A Christian who believes that the Bible is the Spirit-inspired Word of God must logically conclude that the flood was a big flood. What about the "other evidence" which local flood spokespersons say is non-existent? Certainly we should expect some kind of extra-biblical evidence to remain from a cataclysmic worldwide flood. Well, there is other evidence for the big flood. Lots of it! How are the ancient flood legends of peoples all around the world to be explained, for example, if there is not the basis of an actual historical event of catastrophic worldwide proportions? The legends, of course, are corrupted accounts of what actually happened, but at least they point to the fact of a big flood in earth's past history! The descendants of Noah, and later the dispersed peoples at the Tower of Babel, would have carried these memories with them and eventually written them down with the various distortions that had crept in along the way. Only the inspired biblical narrative preserves the true account of the big flood. At the present time it is not known for sure whether the ark is still in existence. There certainly have been many unconfirmed "sightings" over the years. It may be that God will someday let this "other evidence" be uncovered from its place of preservation in the ice of Mount Ararat. The recovery of Noah's ark in its place of "rest upon the mountains of Ararat" (Genesis 8:4), would certainly be Exhibit A for the big flood. However, until that time Christians would be wise not to get carried away by the sensationalism that accompanies every modern expedition for the ark. The record found in the geologic strata is by far the best evidence for the big flood, other than the biblical account itself. The geologic strata are the layers of sedimentary rock that cover most of the earth's surface. Anyone who has been to the Grand Canyon in Arizona has seen the various layers of sedimentary rock that have been exposed in the walls of the canyon. One can also observe layers of sedimentary rock when they are exposed along a roadway that is cut through a hillside. Sedimentary rock, by definition, is rock that was formed from sediments that settled out of water and then later hardened into rock. The fact that there is so much sedimentary rock on the face of the earth would indicate that the whole world was under water at some time in the past. And the fact that most of the fossils, including those of mankind, are found in the geologic strata is good evidence that the sedimentary rock is the result of a worldwide catastrophic flood which occurred in human history. The idea that the different layers of sedimentary rock and the fossils they contain represent millions of years of gradual accumulation, during which the stages of evolution took place, is beset by many inconsistencies. All over the earth marine fossils can be found in strata at high elevations. Shells of so-called lower forms of life can be found on mountaintops around the world. This type of evidence does not support evolution but rather suggests a worldwide flood! In fact, the idea that the fossils in the geologic strata are neatly lined up in ascending evolutionary sequence from "lower life" to "higher life" (as some textbook diagrams suggest) is far from the truth. Not only are marine deposits found in the mountains, but "lower life" fossils are frequently found above "higher life" fossils throughout the geologic strata. Geologic faults and thrusts cannot explain away all of these findings, which are obviously inconsistent with evolutionary theory. Often fossils of "lower and higher" forms of life of all kinds are found mixed and buried together in what are called fossil graveyards. All of these variations are exactly what we would expect to find as a result of a worldwide catastrophic flood. Even when the general sequence from "lower to higher" is found in the strata, the big flood model is logically supported. As the flood waters "increased upon the earth" (Genesis 7:18), the less mobile simpler forms of life, which thrive in the ecological zones at lower elevations, would naturally be inundated and buried before and below the more complex forms of life. These more mobile species, including mankind, would naturally escape the flood waters longer and, in general, be entrapped in sediments from later stages of the big flood. Thus they would be found higher up in the layers of sedimentary rock. Many of the layers of sedimentary rock are quite thick and widespread--covering many thousands of square miles. This is further evidence of the big flood. Such fossil-bearing formations would have had to be formed by water disasters on a scale much larger than any disaster observed today. Only a giant flood as described in the Bible can explain such widespread deposits. Some of the layers of sedimentary rock are "turbidites" and their presence rein-forces the big flood scenario. Turbidites result from turbidity currents which could be called "underwater mud flows or ava-lanches." They are caused by earthquake activity and are formed in a very short time--hours, not thousands of years. The fact that around the world there are many large turbidites throughout the geologic strata is easily explained by the upheaval of the earth at the time of the big flood, as described in Genesis 7:11. Some turbidites are several hundreds of feet thick and extend for hundreds of square miles. They are impossible to imagine or explain apart from a worldwide catastrophe. The many parallel layers of sedimentary rock are further evidence of the big flood of the Bible. Whether these layers are horizontal or tilted from later uplift, they are parallel with well-defined contact boundaries which indicates that they were laid down one after the other in a relatively short period of time, not over millions of years. This conclusion is further supported by the observation that there is far too little evidence of erosion between these parallel geologic strata. If the geologic column (the sum total of all the layers of sedimentary rock) indeed represents millions of years of earth's history, one would expect to find much more evidence of erosion in the geologic strata. Polystrate fossils (fossils that extend between two or more layers of sedimentary rock) are further evidence of the rapid buildup of these sediments. If the sediments accumulated only gradually, why didn't the specimens "wear away" before the next layers of sediment completely encased these fossils? Polystrate fossils are exactly what would be expected from rapid sediment buildup during a big flood. All fossils of any significant size are evidence of catastrophic action. Fossils are never formed by gradually accumulating sediments--they are always formed by quick burial. The fact that many large and intact fossils are found in the geologic strata throughout the world suggests more than many little floods scattered over millions of years. It takes more than a "little catastrophe" to fossilize an elephant! Such fossils strongly support a worldwide catastrophe such as the big flood of the Bible. Radioactive dating does not support the evolutionary scenario. Radioactive carbon dating, which dates former living matter such as bones or tree trunks, shows a relatively recent age for anything and everything that's been tested. That is, the date of every excavated sample that's been tested, including trees, plants, dinosaur bones or human bones has measured only in thousands of years. (All samples show radioactivity and the halflife of radioactive carbon is only 5,700 years!) This means that these organisms didnot live millions of years ago. An explanation given by evolutionists is that these samples were "contaminated" by radioactive carbon which seeped in from ground water. The possibility that this could be true of every sample that has ever been examined is highly unlikely. While there are certain questions concerning the accuracy of radiocarbon dating, "corrected" readings would most likely give even more recent dates! Other radiometric methods used for rock dating are very speculative, especially when it comes to determining the age of geologic strata--that is, the date when the layers were precipitated out of water. In summary, the fossils and geologic strata are not the record of millions of years of evolution. They are convincing "other evidence" of the judgment of God upon this earth with a worldwide flood! 2 Peter 3:5 states that the evidence for creation and the flood is available to the mocking unbeliever, but it "escapes their notice." It is unfortunate that some Christians feel that they must compromise in this area. As a result, they actually end up in the camp of the enemy. Both the biblical evidence and the extra-biblical evidence for the big flood are hard to miss, but unfortunately it also "escapes the notice" of these Christians who reinterpret both areas of evidence. It is not heretical to speculate about things such as the mechanisms God used to bring about the big flood or to wonder whether high mountains such as Everest were here before the flood or came about as the result of the big flood. But to deny the big flood is to deny God's clear communication! If God wanted to communicate that there really was a big flood, could He say it any more clearly than the way He has already said it in His Word? And what "other evidence" could God give than what He's already given in the geologic strata to show beyond the shadow of a doubt that there really was a big flood!