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Scientists look and turn away from scriptures. Christians believe their tradition and also turn from scripture. Could saving Noah from the flood be a miraculous work of God if the flood was not world wide? Does scripture allow for a local flood? Does it mandate local or worldwide? Only careful study will show.
Sometimes we want an amazing miracle but this is not necessarily Godís way. Jesus condemned people who sought miracles. Saving Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was a great miracle, though it was only a local event. Scientists have supported the destruction in a variety of ways, though they have not found the event itself. Even if it is scientifically believable, the event shows exactly what God wants it to: God can save righteous people from his wrath. Godís message of being able to save Noah makes its point whether He destroys all people living in the world or all people living in the region. Thus we see that it can be a miraculous work of God even if it a scientifically believable localized flood.
At first, I had major problems with a year long flood. The tsunami in Indonesia killed 100,000 with a flood that lasted a couple of hours. 100 years ago, a hurricane slammed into Bangladesh and killed millions with its storm surge where the flooding lasted a couple of days. River floods in the Yangtzee or the Mississippi can last for a week or two and kill many thousands. These, though never lasted a year. Even Glacial lakes formed during the Ice Age that caused floods the scientists had trouble believing never lasted over a month. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the Black Sea flood. Many wrongly believe it to be Noahís Flood due to the book. It doesnít fit scripture. It lasted thousands of years. I almost despaired until I found another type of flood.
Swamp floods have a yearly cycle. Whether it is the Sudd in Africa, the Mekong Delta in SE Asia, or the Pantanal in South America, each year the Swamps fill with water and drain during the dry months. In a wet year, the swamps never really dry out until the end of the next rainy season. Thus the Swamp floods can last 14 or more months just like Genesis 8 says. But is this possible in the Middle East?
The Tigris and Euphrates pour into the flattest land in the world. Southern Iraq used to be a maze of reed lined waterways before Saddam Hussein drained the swamps. After the Swamps, the two Rivers join and flow into the Persian Gulf. Three thousand years ago, it was different. The world was warmer than now. Oceans were higher (called the Flandrian Transgression) and the Persian Gulf reached into the swamps a little. The two rivers never joined then. Ur was right on the Gulf back then. This helps set the scene for the destruction.
The Bible says that the rain poured down, the floodgates of Heaven opened, the springs of the deep opened and the flood came. Rain for forty days would cause a massive flood as we have seen on the Mississippi. The surge would flow down to where it had not even rained. This surge could be the meaning of the floodgates. The Sumerians had to block the yearly flood because it came when the wheat needed it dry. Their system of irrigation canals were controlled by gates owned by the priests. They called them the floodgates of heaven. By overwhelming the system as Katrina overwhelmed the system in New Orleans, God would be witnessing against the religion. But what are the springs of the deep?
It could be the transgression I mentioned, but it could be something else. Imaging people filling sandbags and putting them on top of the Levees. Day and night they race the rising waters. Slowly they begin to win the race. Joy settles as they sit safe in their city surrounded by a sea of high water when disaster strikes. It might have been storm surge. A meteor struck Southern Iraq around then. A landslide might have hit the gulf from Iran. An earthquake could have generated a tsunami. The ocean sprung up and doom rolled in from the deep with no escape for anyone. Sumerian records of the flood says all cities were destroyed all the way up to near Baghdad. This part of scripture allows for a local flood.
The main problem is with the word Earth. The Hebrew word is used for the whole world. It is also used for region and country. It is the best one to use if you want to mean world, but it is not exclusive used for world. Another hint of Godís thinking is found in Peter. Peter talks of three events. When he talks about the creation of the world, he uses the Greek word Ge, the best word for whole world. When he talks of the destruction of the whole world by fire, he uses the same word Ge. He also talks of the destruction of the world by Noahís flood but uses the word Chronos. We think the Greek word means time from its use in words like Chronology, but it really carries the meaning of organized. Peter seems to indicate that it was only the organized world that was destroyed. In three thousand BC, the only civilization was in Southern Iraq. Sumer extended from Ur on the gulf up to an area just south of Baghdad. The only organized region in the world was completely destroyed according to archaeological and historical records, and the Bible allows for this interpretation.
Though other issues that need to be addressed later, like the highest mountains. So far, the answers result in a powerful condemnation of the false religion and destructive culture of the time. For now, we are left with a scientifically believable flood that says every word of scripture is true and God preached His message. Who doesnít believe?
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