Few biblical teachings are as controversial among evangelicals as that of the global nature of Noah's Flood. If Scripture is our guide, however, it could not have been just a local flood covering the Mesopotamian River Valley, as taught by most leading evangelicals today, but must have been worldwide in extent and effect.
For instance, Scripture lists the primary mechanisms for the Flood as the wrenching open of "the fountains of the great deep" (Genesis 7:11). Such cataclysmic faulting as Scripture indicates on the ocean floor (the great deep) would trigger continual tsunamis racing onto the continents. Similarly, "the windows of heaven were opened" for six straight months. At the very least, the "heavens" implies the atmosphere, signifying global torrents of rain.
The depth of the flood waters, covering the tops of the mountains, also implies a global flood, as does the length of the flood--over one full year. A mountain-covering, year-long, tectonically-controlled flood could not be a local flood.
If the flood was merely local, Noah could have easily escaped it simply by migrating out of the valley. Nor would there have been any need for an Ark. Animals certainly lived in outlying areas, so representatives wouldn't need to be rescued. Those restricted to the valley could have migrated to safety. Why was Noah commanded to build such an immense boat, a brutally difficult task, if it was not truly needed?
The primary purpose for the Flood was the destruction of all mankind. Population calculations indicate men had increased in number far beyond the capacity of one valley. Furthermore, Genesis repeatedly employs terms of global extent to describe the Flood and its impact: "all the high hills...the mountains were covered...all in whose nostrils was the breath of life...everything under the high heavens," etc. It seems like God went out of His way to remove every possible excuse for thinking that the Flood was only local.
After the Flood, God issued an unconditional promise not to send another such flood. If the Flood was not global, He has broken that promise, for there have been many local floods since Noah's day. But God keeps His promises. He cannot lie. The Flood must certainly have been global in extent.
Why is this point important? If you ask an evolutionist "Where is the evidence for evolution?" his answer will most likely include the rock and fossil records. If the Flood was global and geologically, tectonically significant, it laid down the rock and fossil records of the earth. "The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (2 Peter 3:6). If the true origin of the rock layers and fossils is the Flood, they cannot be the remains of ordinary processes acting over great ages. On the authority of God's Word, the Flood was global and restructured the earth's surface, thus the earth is young. Few doctrines are clearer in Scripture, which contains no evidence that points to an old earth.
There have always been challenges to Scripture from within and without the church. My late father, Dr. Henry Morris, kept in the flyleaf of his Bible a quote from Martin Luther that motivated and encouraged him as he unswervingly called the church to account for its compromise. It has been used in these pages before, but it bears repeating, for we all need encouragement and motivation.
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
*Dr. Morris is President and Director of Research of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris, J. D. 2009. The Vital Doctrine of a Global Flood. Acts & Facts. 38 (4): 6.