Recently, I’ve been reading the book “A Biblical Case for an Old Earth” by David Snoke. In it, he challenges the traditional notions of young earth creationism from both a Biblical and scientific viewpoint. When I’m finished, I’ll give you a full report on it, but for now, I wanted to focus on what he said about Noah’s flood.
Snoke claims that to believe Noah’s Flood covered the whole earth, one has to accept that 15 separate miracles took place, and that God not only flooded the earth, but erased the evidence. He claims the flood was local AND that it killed all of humanity BUT did not cover the globe -not without miracles at least.
Now, it is true that the Biblical account of Noah’s flood contains some miracles. Of course it does, we’re talking God here. When the children of Israel were wandering around the desert, God performed all sorts of miracles, including miracles of preservation: Manna appeared on the ground every morning, their clothes didn’t wear out, water came out of rocks, and more. To say that God had Noah build an ark, and then flooded the earth without also preserving and protecting Noah, would be to not pay attention to God, and not read the story very closely. There ARE miracles in it.
But are these miracles bordering on the unreasonable? Snoke thinks so, and so believes in a local flood (and there is abundant evidence of a gigantic flood in that part of the world), and believes that’s how it should be interpreted.
One thing I’ve learned in all these evolution/creation/intelligent design arguments is that what seems like a conclusive argument, can be shot down by new evidence, and what seems logical today, is a silly notion a decade from now. In other words, we’re always learning and finding new information and evidence. It’s like the weather in Missouri, if you don’t like what you’ve got right now, just hang around, it’ll change. So I am not writing this post in an effort to silence all disagreement for all time. I’m writing this to discuss Noah’s flood, with the understanding that this is an open-ended conversation.
So this post is mostly just me off the top of my head, with a couple of books nearby. And for the record, I have enjoyed David Snoke’s book. He makes some very good points, and at other times, I disagree with him, such as with Noah’s flood. Still, I hope you don’t think I’m attacking him. I’m simply disagreeing with him on this. Here’s the rundown:
THE MOVIE “EVAN ALMIGHTY” WAS RIGHT ABOUT SOMETHING
First, Snoke says, (remember he’s skeptical of a world-wide flood) for a global flood to be true, there must have been a miracle that transported millions of animals to the Ark from Australia, the Americas, Antarctica, and the islands.
Well, most creationists do believe the continents were different, and more connected at the time of the flood, but regardless, I think Snoke is probably right that it would have taken a miracle to bring all the animals to the ark. The thing is, however, the Bible says this miracle happened. Despite what is commonly assumed, the Bible never said Noah gathered the animals, it says God brought them to Noah. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. -Genesis 7:8-9
Remember the movie, “Evan Almighty?” You don’t? You see there was this guy, and he mysteriously got this material to build an ark, and then God showed up, only he looked like Morgan Freeman and…. alright nevermind.
So in the movie (take my word for it), the animals just showed up and followed Evan everywhere. When he got the ark finished, they were surrounding it, and they walked in on their own. Well, that’s pretty much what the Bible describes -not the part about Morgan Freeman, but the part about the animals showing up and walking in on their own. THAT miracle did indeed happen according to the story. So if you believe God flooded the earth, well, you SHOULD believe that God miraculously transported animals to the ark. It says He did.
FITTING ALL THOSE ANIMALS IN A TEENY-TINY ARK
The second miracle evidently comes from a disagreement over how many animals were actually in the ark. Snoke writes that to believe in a global flood, you must believe that the Ark could hold millions of animal species plus the food and fresh water they would need for 150 days at sea.
I have another book on my desk called “Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study” by John Woodmorappe who says we are really just talking about 16,000 genus, which means a family of related species. Before you ask, yes Woodmorappe included extinct animals at full-size proportions, including dinosaurs. But really, between me and you, if you’re going to take a dinosaur, take a little one. They were ALL very, very small when born, while many of them were very, very NOT small when grown. Go with young ones. You know, if you ever need to transport dinosaurs….
So…. The Bible says the animals came on to the ark after their “kind.” According to Woodmorappe, a study of this term, using some of the animal lists in Leviticus for instance, is often broader than what we term as species. “Kinds” would usually refer to a family of species, which later branched into various species (speciation) as they reproduced and traits were isolated here and there. But the point seems to be that the genetic potential for all of those species, were in the two animals who entered the ark.
That’s not really arguing over a miracle, that’s arguing over genetics and reproduction. If Woodmorappe is right (and he actually came up with 2000 animals, but purposefully increased it to 16,000 by adopting the official “genus,” just to make it harder) then the ark had plenty of room, without any need of a miracle.
HOW MANY REFRIGERATORS WERE ON THE ARK?
Snoke claims that to believe in a world-wide Noah’s flood, you have to also believe in some sort of miraculous way to feed carnivorous animals on the ark. Either you needed more than two of all the other animals, or else Noah and his family would have had to somehow refrigerate enough meat for a year to feed them.
Evidently Snoke believes a localized flood would allow Noah to leave behind the carnivorous animals. Of course the story itself says Noah took pairs of “every kind” and “all creatures that move along the ground.” So even if the flood was localized, and the Bible was just talking about the land around Noah, that would undoubtedly still include some carnivorous animals since the same passage says “every kind” and “all creatures,” not just some of them. In other words, localized flood or global flood, you have the same problem explaining how the carnivorous animals were fed.
It would be easy to laugh it off (many people do) and again point out how this would require a miracle! And again, yeah? So? A miracle of preservation no doubt, but it also happens to be the same sort of miracle God claims to be able to do. In speaking about the future reign of Christ, the Bible says this:
The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
To say nothing of the whole “manna incident” or “quail singularity” (my terms, I just made them up, -like them?) when God fed the Israelites in the desert.
Any miracle that would allow Noah to feed the animals, even the carnivorous ones, would be consistent with many other miracles in the Bible. So if the story is true, this miracle is in the no-big-deal-for-God category because He has done this sort of miracle more than once.
Having said this, Woodmorappe makes a great case for two things: One that the ancients knew how to salt, smoke, pickle and otherwise preserve meat to eat. Honey is used to preserve meat for long periods of time, as the Romans used to do it. AND back in more ancient times, sailors on long voyages used Giant tortoises for meat because you don’t have to feed Giant tortoises (they can go without food, sometimes for a year), and probably because they aren’t so hard to catch when you’re hungry.
There were many other options, including fish… but to say God didn’t help in this area, would probably be unreasonable since in the Bible, God usually DID help with this sort of thing. Even Jesus fed 5000 men, plus women and children with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
Whew! There’s a lot more to go! My next post I’ll tackle whether or not a miracle was needed to feed all the animals, clean out the dung, ventilate the ark, and more…