Local vs global flood

Here Ortlund lays out the case for a local flood

Seems to have stirred up quite a bit of controversy. I just started watching it but wanted to share.

I’m gonna do something totally out of character and lazy by dropping an unambiguous and unqualified statement.

This is dumb.


I don’t think it’s a terrible video or argument. But around minute 40 he undercuts his position by pointing out that people all over the world (literally… :slight_smile: ) have a shared memory of this cataclysmic event. Why would people in South America have a memory of this event if it didn’t affect them? They wouldn’t even know about it. Unless I’m missing something, this is very contradictory to what he’s been saying earlier.

I view this question the same way that I view creation. We’re given Scripture, which includes miracles. We’re given the world, and the job of subduing it, which includes science. And there’s what scientists today think. Science today generally has no room for miracles, so many people reject the Bible.

I’m 6/24 regarding creation and universal concerning the flood. Because it doesn’t seem to me to solve many textual or scientific problems to switch. Either way you have to believe in miracles. So why try to save God from having performed some miracles and not others?

But at the same time, I don’t have much patience for the YEC habit of attempting to prove my views by science. Furthermore, I think they generally have accepted a very faulty presupposition: that if God created things with an appearance of age that makes Him a liar. And all their effort seems to be focussed on trying to prevent that from happening. This means every. little. thing. needs. a “scientific” explanation. But what is the point? Who is it for? Secular scientists don’t even bother to laugh at many of these YEC “scientific” explanations. So it isn’t in order to convince secular scientists that the Biblical history is tenable. Which means it must be for people who already believe the Bible. But what purpose could it serve for us? I think the answer is that it serves to show us that the Biblical history is “scientifically” tenable. But aren’t we people who believe in miracles already anyway?


This never made sense to me. If I say that the earth was created 10k years ago over the course of 6 days with the appearance of age, many YEC say I’m calling God a liar. What? Do they think that Adam was not created as a man? Would they not then have the same issue. It’s disingenuous on their part.

I question the whole concept of ‘appearance of age.’ On what basis do we claim to know what age looks like? An oak tree is one thing, because we can observe its formation, but defining the age of a mountain? That strikes me as rather presumptuous on the part of scientists.

But I’m done with well educated pastors continuously telling their audiences (are they even congregations?), ‘You’ve always thought this, but did you know that the ancient Hebrews text and a minority report of biblical interpretation actually say…’

It seems so close to trimming the edges off of the biblical data, and almost always in the direction of the prevailing winds of culture.


The assertion that there is apparent contradiction between Genesis 8:5 and 8:9 is so silly – the idea that “the tops of the mountains were seen” somehow can’t jive with “the waters were still on the face of the whole earth.”

If an acne-faced teenager were to slather bacon grease all over his face, and the tops of some pimples happened to be protruding through the bacon grease, it would be no less true to say that his whole face was covered in bacon grease. I have no idea why that’s the ridiculous analogy coming to mind, but I’m going to stick with it.

In addition, just because you can see mountain tops on the horizon doesn’t mean the dove can fly that far. This should be obvious to any reasonable reader who isn’t coming to the text with an agenda to stray from the obvious. The text is simply saying, “The world was still pretty much totally covered with water, with the exception that some mountain tops could be seen.”

But that’s the issue. There’s an agenda at play. Gotta be wiser than the Scriptures. Gotta sound more sophisticated for our podcast than what’s been held as obvious orthodoxy for thousands of years. Gotta set ourselves apart, and show that we’re not like other Christians. And so forth.

And then to bring up the existence of the Nephilim after the flood as if that’s some sort of gotcha as well. Somehow, they survived the flood! There are other very simple explanations to account for this. If you subscribe to the view that the Nephilim were the offspring of fallen angels and men, then the conundrum can be satisfied by observing that we know nothing about the lineage of the wives of Noah’s sons. For all we know, they carried the blood of the Nephilim.

Torpedo the doctrine of the flood and you erode the doctrines of judgment and hell. You undermine the fact that there is one Name given under heaven through whom mankind may be carried through the flood of God’s wrath. Did eight persons survive the judgment of God by the singular means of God’s salvation (1 Peter 3:20), or was there another way? The mere suggestion of another way, I would argue, introduces the suggestion that there is another way under heaven by which men may be saved. The ark of Jesus Christ is merely one way, but there could be others. Heretical notions like this begin to gain legitimacy when you reinterpret the New Testament references to the flood through the lens of a novel view of the Old Testament.

Simply put, tom-foolery like this threatens the gospel. I don’t have much patience for it.


Yes, exactly what I’m getting at. Well said.

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Agreed. That stood out to me as particularly dumb. Perhaps I’m too tolerant. But at the same time, I want to be careful to distinguish between gospel and secondary issues. And there is room for disagreement on the precise meaning of various parts.

For example, I think a good case can be made for day/age textually. I just don’t understand why anyone would bother, since we still must reject the evolution of man when you get to the end. Yet, although most people who hold this view are trying to shoehorn the evolution of man and scientific respectability into the Bible, nevertheless, there are some men that aren’t. Furthermore, the most hardline YECers often seem to be just as guilty of trying to shoehorn scientific respectability into the Bible.


I’m sorry, I thought this was Dane and didn’t watch it. Now I know about Gavin, starting with he’s a part of the Keller thang. Different. Apologize for the mistake. Strangely, my following point would be the same.

The words never matter with these guys other than demonstrating where their finely tuned nose tells them they’ll be most likely to improve their name recognition among those they have chosen as their market niche.

BTW, water changed into wine has gained vintage. Love


I saw this on FB:

A local Great Flood:


That seems to be a very cynical view of Creation Science. Maybe it’s a difference between AiG and CMI, but I don’t recall the appearance of age being considered a problem.

I have loved reading and listening to scientific theories around Creation and, in particular, the Flood. I never got the impression that they were attempting to explain away God’s miracles. Instead, they have given explanations for what happened around and after those events. They delve into how language develops, the rise and decline of cultural groups… It’s fascinating stuff, and - at least in what I read and heard from CMI - they readily admit that these are theories and open to correction.

Actually, I think there is a wonderful opportunity for fiction writers to create stories in the time after the Tower of Babel when various langauge/family groups were forming nations.

But we were talking about Gavin Ortlund’s video.

I haven’t seen it. I began it, but didn’t finish it. :slight_smile:

I’ve appreciated Walter Brown’s hydroplate theory as the most compelling flood model.

Link here from a Mike Snavely presentation, starting at the Walter Brown excerpt.

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I hesitated to write what I did, in part because I do like science from a Biblical viewpoint.

But here’s the thing. I don’t think it’s worth wasting time on explaining how the light from stars millions of light-years away got here in 6000 years—even if it’s possible, which it might be. I was fascinated to read a paper from AiG (I don’t know anything about CMI) that explained that the speed of light away from you and toward you need not be the same, even quoting Einstein in support. But I don’t believe such a “solution” to the “problem” is necessary.

Even more importantly, to quote my grandfather out of context, “Reason, we believe, is a deceptively weak crutch for faith.”

The number of people who are shocked to find their supposedly “scientific” answers to problems of faith don’t stand up to today’s science and find their faith shaken or fallen is tragic.

I hope that explains why I’m pretty sharply critical of the philosophy of the endeavor as I see it. Add to that the fact that employees at the Creation Museum and the Ark (they’ve been in my church) are forced to work Sundays and miss church, and you can imagine I feel a bit jaded toward the whole thing.


The number of people who are shocked to find their supposedly “scientific” answers to problems of faith don’t stand up to today’s science and find their faith shaken or fallen is tragic.[quote=“Joseph Bayly, post:13, topic:3861, full:true, username:jtbayly”]

Sure. I don’t know what people find in particular that doesn’t stand up to today’s science, but faith based on reason is a dangerous stance in any field. Any amount of knowledge is finite and theories constantly shift whatever is practiced. Moving away from that understanding is a sometimes extremely painful step toward greater maturity.

Having said that, I am not willing to cede science to the ungodly. It is a cultural tool that God gave us, and I am very happy that Christians are doing science at a high level from a biblical standpoint. John Hartnett for one.

CMI is the creation group that Ken Ham started with, but split from taking the US & UK “division” (and keeping the name “Answers in Genesis”) in another direction. I have found CMI almost uniformly solid and humble. Sadly, Jonathan Safarti - to my mind - is often an exception when it comes to showing humility, which is doubly sad to me because he’s a fellow Kiwi.

I certainly agree that forcing Christians to miss church is a red flag indicating very messed up priorities. I think, though, that our different experiences have led to our differing attitudes. I remain excited about Christians doing God-honouring science using the Bible as one of their sources.

Thanks for the chat, Joseph.

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So … perhaps we’re on better ground by arguing from history, especially the Resurrection; and from a Bible reading point of view, not getting the texts to say more than they actually do. They were written down at the time to answer different questions from ours.

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As shepherds, we need to teach skepticism towards The Idea of Progress. We need to put on display and call out philosophers’ superciliousness. Calvin did so relentlessly; read his first sermon on Genesis. We need to put on display and decry scientism’s priesthood requiring for ordination the atheist confession of faith. We need to teach our sheep somewhere around forty percent of studies are not reproducible. We need to teach the nature of paradigm shifts, and that they’re constant. We need to point out regularly the Academy’s never-ending promotion of moral decadence, and so on.

In my judgment, this is more helpful than trying to come up with a Christian Theory of Everything Creational. I’m not opposed to debunking evolution, particularly in the particular, but truth be told most of Creation belongs to the secret things of God we defend by not trying to open up.

In our post-Endarkenment world, I find myself wondering if there is any area of knowledge we consider one of God’s secret things?


Nor am I!

I am too! I think the thing I’m concerned about is people assuming the Bible can be a lot more of a scientific source than it can actually be. For example, if the world is just 6k years old, must there be evidence of that for science to see? I think not.

History seems like a lot better place in general to use the Bible as a source, which might be what @Hobbit is saying? Having said that, I then must acknowledge that a universal flood does seem like it would leave evidence we could study. :slight_smile:

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History seems like a lot better place in general to use the Bible as a source, which might be what @Hobbit is saying?


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But, to be honest, I think pitting “reading the Bible as history” against “reading the Bible as a science text book” is largely a false dichotomy. The science I’ve seen done, as far as presenting hypotheses about unrepeatable events can be science, takes the Bible seriously as a record of actual historical events and works through what happened around those events (e.g. how the Flood waters receded) based on what we know about the world.

I’m not actually sure how you would use the Bible as a science text book.

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Amen. I like to remind people when some of the speculative conversations get too intense that we ought not forget that the central commitments of our confession involve the virgin birth of the Son of God, and the resurrection of a crucified man who then flew off into heaven.

Good luck with your science on those claims.

God has deliberately arranged the faith in such a way that it involves commitment to beliefs that are squarely beyond the realm of science. To try to pretend otherwise diminishes the entire point.

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom [science!], it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom [science!], but we preach Christ crucified…” 1 Cor. 1:20-23