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Hmm, why would the Lord say he would flood the WHOLE earth, and then NOT flood the whole earth?
Parse your text. “The scriptures report that the Lord said that he would flood what the audience understood to be the whole earth.” Within those parameters, there is room for many viewpoints.
Those are some pretty black and white choices. How about “I believe there was a universal flood but there is NO WAY Noah got two (male and female)of every species in the world on that ark. But someday, in the afterlife, we’ll all understand just how it all worked.”
Life is full of gray issues.
With all due respect, your scenario doesn’t seem all that gray to me. If you believe in a literal reading of “the whole earth was flooded” why do you not take the other bit literally: “two by two* of every kind”? That’s not a case of the issue being gray, that’s a case of having your cake and eating it too. I mean, if you believe in a trickster God who could flood the earth and remove any trace,** why can you not believe that the ark was something like Dr. Who’s Tardis? Take the whole thing as literally true, or follow that reason-staring Spider Sense to different conclusions
But to be honest, I don’t care what you believe as long as you do your home teaching
*Or was it 7 clean/2 unclean as suggested by the J half of the story (Gen 7:1-5)? Yikes!
**Not only that but also plant contradictory geological and archaeological evidence.
RonanJH – I guess it’s just my wierd logic about many spiritual issues but it seems logical to believe the flood actually happened, just like so many other things happened (the parting of the Red Sea, etc.) but not fully understand how they happened or that it is possible to understand such things with our limited human capacities. It doesn’t lessen my belief in the scriptures but I suppose I will remain skeptical about many things until the day when they are explained to me in understandable terms. To me that is why faith is such a challenge but that challenge makes faith all the more facinating.
NO WAY Noah got two (male and female)of every species in the world on that ark.
Well, it only took 15 cubits of water to cover the mountains, and the ark was 300 cubits long, so the boat was pretty big.
Dan (#1) said:
It’s not that straightforward. How do we know that the Lord said he would flood the whole earth? Remember, we’re dealing with a copy of a copy of a copy of a redacted source that seems to have been written centuries after Noah lived . . . the Old Testament is not exactly a transcript of the words of the Lord.
My option wasn’t available: I’m agnostic on whether the flood was local or universal or even allegorical, but I still believe in miracles.
I’m with you there, except that the only way I could see the Flood as universal is that I do consider it possible that the only humans left on the earth were in the ark. I believe that (for now) in that I haven’t been told otherwise, and it seems consistent with the last couple of chapters of Moses.
Let me give you another reason why I do believe it was the entire world that was flooded. The scriptures tell us that the earth itself must go through a baptism of water and then a baptism of fire. When we are baptized, we are fully immersed in water, for a full cleansing of our sins. Why would the earth get shorted? Why would only one section be “baptized?” That’s too Catholic for my taste.
Besides that, gravity will never let you flood one area of the world to a point where mountains would be covered in water. It is not possible according to the laws of physics.
Hey, when someone is baptized, he only needs to be under for a split second, right?
So, what’s to stop the whole earth (including the mountaintops) with being covered with water for a split second in the midst of the deluge, but then the plains at sea level got the 15 cubits treatment? Besides, how could Noah have known that the mountains were covered up to 15 cubits–did he sail the ark over the tops and throw out the lead line? Did he even have a lead line? Did he know what a fathom was?
And what about trees? Are they like long hair in the baptistry, and they have to go all the way under? Or are they not a “part” of the earth, so covering them isn’t required?
In Moses Chapter 8 we read the very last verse:
30 And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth.
God promises to destroy ALL flesh from off the earth. Not in one section, but all. God had that propensity back in those days for mass killings. He did after all tell the Israelites as they entered into Canaan to wipe out every single living thing, man, woman, child, animal. Why shouldn’t we take him at his word?
So, what’s to stop the whole earth (including the mountaintops) with being covered with water for a split second in the midst of the deluge, but then the plains at sea level got the 15 cubits treatment?
You come up with a problem though, and that is that the Genesis account in chapter seven says the following:
17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and ball the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:
22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.
What is being described here is not just a torrential downpour, but, it seems the water table from underground seeped up. It seems the Lord raised all the water from the ground up, past 15 cubits above the highest mountain until all life was destroyed. We’re not talking about just a huge storm now. We’re talking about a flood that lasted one hundred and fifty days.
Dan (#10) wrote:
The scriptures tell us that the earth itself must go through baptism of water and then baptism of fire.
Where in the scriptures does it say that? Is it in the standard works? I know that this idea was discussed during the Talmage era of the church, but it seems a bit whimsical, based on over-literal assumptions about Genesis.
This idea is based on the assumption that the earth is a living being, and that every living being must be baptized to be saved. But are animals baptized? Plants? Does this only apply to “accountable” living beings? In what way is the earth accountable that other creatures are not? Would other saving ordinances (e.g. endowment, sealing) need to be performed for the earth as well? For other living creatures?
Choice E — I’m still waiting for my freaking Dialogue to arrive.
Having said all that (in #11), I don’t deny that the story of Noah and the flood may be a symbolic reference to baptism. The “whole earth” (as the writer knew it) was washed clean from sin, and we can be too. To the extent that this is what Talmage (or Widstoe or whoever it was) meant, then I agree.
My reading of “all flesh” in Moses is all human flesh.
Dan (#12) wrote:
Why shouldn’t we take him at his word?
See my previous response in #7. This is not necessarily a transcript of the “words of God.” The Book of Moses is part of the JST translation of Genesis, so it is essentially an inspired emendation of a “copy of a copy of a copy of a redacted source that seems to have been written centuries after Noah lived” and would suffer from many of the same source problems as the original text.
This is not the place to discuss the meaning of the JST, but suffice it to say that it does not seem to recreate an “inerrant” Bible.
Just remember that current geological theory is based on Gradualism and other theories exist and have increased in favor since the 80′s.(Not that I necessarily believe them)
Here’s what I want to know:
If the earth must be baptised, must it also be endowed and married in the temple? If so, is there a Mr. Earth?
Oh, and if 1 day = 1000 years and if the earth had to be 8 years old to be baptised, does this mean that the earth was at least 2,920,000 years (365*8*1000) old when Ut-NapishtimNoah built his ark?
And finally, did it snow before it rained so that the Earth was wearing white?
Dude, is there even enough water, including ice-caps and what-not, (considering the self-leveling properties of water)to cover the likes of Everest, Denali and Machu-Pichu?
Oh, those mountains were just molehills then.
For those getting hung up on the “all” language: hyperbole is one of the favorite tools in the biblical writers’ toolkit:
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”
Yep, those Australians were lining up left and right.
“And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.”
Evrey single person in Judaea?
Wait, wait, I have an idea…
I’m still working out the math, but I there would be enough water to cover all the mountains and trees and everything, if the Earth were FLAT.
(I think this might fix the dinosaur problem too.)
Incidentally, the Earth-baptisers should take note that the same scriptures that contain this idea also say that rain is God’s tears, and that the earth has an audible voice.
These are beautiful, figurative allusions; dogmatic literalists strip them bare with their insistence on a mechanical God with his sticklerish ways. Tell me that when it rains God is literally crying and I’ll ignore you; tell me that when it rains we can be symbolically reminded of God’s grief over our wickedness, and my heart leaps at that beautiful, sad image.
And for those who look forward to the Earth’s baptism by nuclear fire (burn, baby, burn!), consider J. Stapley’s (PBUH) thoughts instead.
Where’s the option for “I don’t know or care?”
I don’t think there was a literal flood. I am not thrilled that this puts me in what must be a minority position in the church if Donald Parry’s 1998 Ensign article is taken to be the correct. It reads, in part:
There are “those who accept the literal message of the Bible regarding Noah, the ark, and the Deluge. Latter-day Saints belong to this group. In spite of the world’s arguments against the historicity of the Flood, and despite the supposed lack of geologic evidence, we Latter-day Saints believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, who preached repentance and raised a voice of warning, built an ark, gathered his family and a host of animals onto the ark, and floated safely away as waters covered the entire earth. We are assured that these events actually occurred by the multiple testimonies of God’s prophets.”
I’m uncomfortable that a BYU professor feels so secure speaking for the entire church in this issue, but my sense is that he echoes the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of LDS.
Nibley’s view is that Noah was speaking from his own viewpoint and that you can’t separate the viewpoint of the prophet from the scriptures. All the world that he could see was thereby flooded. Overall I used to wonder about this but now I can say that I really don’t care all that much.
I did wonder how all of the marsupials ended up on Australia after the flood was over though.
Moses 1:29 And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof.
I think many of you are expecting too much of a modern view of the planetary globe from the ancient prophets. They knew nothing of a spherical earth. To them, the earth was the known world around them. If everywhere they look they see water, then the whole earth has been flooded.
I would think so, seeing that the earth is not only 70% water, but that you’ve got all that water in the water table. I’m not a scientist, but I don’t think that we’ve calculated just how deep and expansive those water tables really are. I am probably wrong though. In any case, I’m not going to put it past God to be able to flood the world he created.
think about physics. Laws of physics are pretty immutable. Gravity will constantly pull you towards the center of the earth. You cannot have localized flooding to such an extent that mountains will be covered. It is physically impossible. Unless you are saying that the Lord did a parting of the Red Sea miracle, where he held the water up over a localized area and killed off all life in just that area.
That just doesn’t make any sense. it also has no scriptural backing. What we see in the scriptures is that the Lord meant the whole earth. What we see in science is that the laws of physics states that water will be pulled by gravity to the lowest possible point. Unless held up by extraordinary means, it will be impossible for water to flood a localized area to such an extent that it covers mountains for one hundred and fifty days.
Unless you guys can offer more evidence than the evidence you’ve given now, about how it is all symbolic, I remain convinced it was a full on flood of the entire earth.
You cannot have localized flooding to such an extent that mountains will be covered.
Well, of course. But I don’t get your point. I imagine that the people who believe there was a localised flood precisely don’t believe the mountains were covered.
Moses 7:52 is nonsensical if the flood was universal.
The scriptures tell us that the earth itself must go through a baptism of water and then a baptism of fire.
Really? Where? It’s another pseudo-scripture that people think is in there, but doesn’t exist.
What we see in the scriptures is that the Lord meant the whole earth.
Where in the scriptures is ‘earth’ in Noah’s flood defined as a planetary globe?
Look at the prophecy of the darkness covering the earth in the Book of Mormon:
Helaman 14:27 And he said unto me that while the thunder and the lightning lasted, and the tempest, that these things should be, and that darkness should cover the face of the whole earth for the space of three days.
From scriptural and historical evidence, it is clear that this darkness did not cover the entire planet for three days.
The following was my contribution to the thread on that other site:
fwiw, even in this day and age, *many* people take what they understand and assume it is applicable to all – or would be if only everyone else were as enlightened as they. Also, our scriptures are *full* of hyperbolic statements that either express the perspective of the utterer or are exaggerated to make a point. Perhaps the easiest example of this is the idea that Caesar sent out a proclamation that “all the world” should be taxed. I have to assume that he might have been egotistical enough to think that his decree was going out to all the world, but I doubt it; I believe he knew there were parts of the world that would not hear his decree. Nonetheless, he worded it as he worded it for practical and political reasons – probably to reinforce his official status of ruler of the entire world to his subjects who had no idea of the greater world around them.
“All the world” can be interpreted consistently, IMO, as “all the known world” or “all the land”. I know I’m beating my favorite life-support horse, but people who reject such an interpretation usually do so because of what they have been told the scriptures mean, not necessarily by what those scriptures actually might be saying – or might have said in their original form.
No matter what interpretation earlier prophets held, it is reasonable to allow for different interpretations in light of new scientific information – especially for a Church that believes the Bible to be the word of God “as far as it is translated correctly.” For us to insist that a literal reading of *an interpretation of a translation* the Bible (”world” vs. “land”) is the only option completely defeats the message of that Article of Faith, IMO – and that is coming from a hardcore parser in instances where we can be sure we have exactly what the person actually said.
In summary, I agree completely that whenever we ask non-scientists to give us the “how” instead of the “why” and the “so what” we open ourselves up to the possibility of interpretation and error – even from those who are legitimate prophets and oracles for God. When we start from the supposition that we can’t be sure we have the actual words of the ancient prophets translated correctly, the whole discussion changes dramatically.
Just to add something else, Genesis 10:5 makes absolutely no sense if the flood was universal and killed every human on the face of the entire planet.
My point? Where the Biblical text itself is inconsistent, I believe we must allow for more than one interpretation. (“No man hath seen God at any time and lived.” vs. “God spake unto Moses as a man speaketh unto another man.”) Might the flood have been universal? I will grant that possibility, given the power of God. Might it have been local? I think the evidence and the scriptures support that version better.
I personally think the whole deluge thing are attempts to describe why events like Katrina happen. Surely if you wake up one day and it’s begins to rain and flood like mad you’re going to think “Ah God’s mad.” from there it’s just a hope skip and a jump to the whole deluge idea. So I take any deluge myth with a grain of salt.
I remember in church when they got to this lesson, man there some crazy theories including that the animals all ate hay even the carnivores. Also that they only needed 19 species to propegate the whole world and the rest would evolve from that (which was great because it came from the creationists who previously said there was no such thing as evolution) and my personal favorite, everything hibernated until the flood was over.
Perhaps the inner geek in me can’t get over the ingrained variation of Occham’s razor that the simplest answer is usually the best.
A friend of mine who has a doctorate in one of the sciences on this lesson was asked, “Brother, you’re the scientist. Can you tell us how Noah would have done it all?” My friend replied, “Oh yes. It was very simple. It didn’t happen.” I can’t imagine the uncomfortable silence that followed that reply.
btw, for anyone who can’t get past the “earth needed to be baptized” idea, there is a comment on that other blog that gives an intriguing response. Here it is:
“I see it [a local flood] as more akin to baptism by proxy. If one person can be baptized on behalf of hundreds of people who never saw the inside of a font, then it seems logical that a portion of the earth could be baptized on behalf of the rest of it.” (comment #29; VeritasLiberat)
I really like the symbolism of the baptism of the earth, and I like this way of holding on to that symbolism no matter how extensive the flood itself actually was – universal or local.
So much for the Garden being in Missouri. Internet Mormonism strikes again.
Why take the flooding of the whole earth literally but not the boarding of all the animal species onto the ark?
Why even take the flood as local/historical if you reject the various aspects that go along with it (i.e. institution of the rainbow, universality of the flood, destruction of all flesh, boarding of the animals, landing on a mountain)? Isn’t this as much a case of having your cake and eating it too as lamonte’s suggestion?
The whole shebang sounds like a fish story to me… (oh wait, that’s Jonah, not Noah…)
Yay! More polls.
How can you have localized flooding that is so huge that it lasts for one hundred and fifty days? The laws of physics says that is impossible. Gravity is a killer.
So much for the Garden being in Missouri. Internet Mormonism strikes again.
Nibley once made a statement about a ship’s compass being destroyed and the crew members getting together to vote on which way was North.
I won’t vote.
Now these mysteries are not yet fully made known unto me; therefore I shall forbear. Alma 37:11
One day we will see which way is true north as far as the flood goes.
Dan, you need to read more physics books!
The Ensign article presumably passed through a review process before publication, so it seems that key people in Salt Lake City felt secure allowing Parry’s article to articulate the church’s position.
Gravity is a killer.
There should be more laws against gravity.
Sort of like Dihydrogen Monoxide.
I’m sure that’s true.
A write-in vote for, “I don’t know and I’m pretty sure you don’t either.”
I like Eric’s answer. Any chance of adding that option?
In #13 Dan wrote:
“It seems the Lord raised all the water from the ground up, past 15 cubits above the highest mountain until all life was destroyed. We’re not talking about just a huge storm now. We’re talking about a flood that lasted one hundred and fifty days.”
In #34 he wrote:
“think about physics. Laws of physics are pretty immutable. Gravity will constantly pull you towards the center of the earth”
Now how is it that you raise water UP 15 cubits while gravity is pulling it DOWN?
I don’t know why the point Dan brought up is being mocked. The flood in Genesis doesn’t match any local flood. No flood covers everything in sight and takes months to recede. So global or local, we’re still faced with the story of an unphysical flood; shifting from global to local only changes so much. We’re still stuck with either a miracle or a fable. If a fable, then the flood in our story may as well be global.
If the point of the flood was to cleanse the earth of the wicked, would that not include everybody but Noah and his family? Or did the Lord figure he’d let some wicked escape? Why? So that they could taint Noah’s family when the flood ends? What would have been the point of the flood then?
I just can’t get past the physics of it, and maybe Steve Evans is right that I ought to go back and read some more physics books, but something tells me that you just cannot have a localized flood that lasts for five months. It is impossible. And when we talk of localized, just how local are we talking? For it to have the intended effect of wiping out all life in a large enough radius to not affect Noah’s family when the flood recedes, we’re talking about a pretty large “localized” flood, aren’t we? As in hundreds of miles.
Steve Evans, perhaps you can enlighten me with some physics. Tell me, is it possible for a flood to remain with such strength and depth as to flood a region several hundred miles in diameter that covers the mountaintops for FIVE MONTHS?
The evidence still points to a worldwide flood over that of a localized flood.
And yes, I can easily believe that Noah really did get two of each kind of animal to place into the ark. Why would that not be more incredible than a localized flood that defies the laws of physics?
sorry, more credible, not more incredible than a localized flood that defies the laws of physics.
John: You might want to check out New Orleans for a flood that covers everything in sight (from certain vantage points) and takes months to recede. Now I’m no literalist, but a local flood described in Genesis as the background of the myth (which could leave room for some exaggeration obviously) is certainly possible. If the Black Sea suddenly increased as Duane Jeffries has documented, then a memory of that event would certainly qualify.
Floods have happened throughout history. Even catastrophic ones. Isn’t the real question whether any of them had the significance for redemptive history that is ascribed to the flood in the scriptures? If the flood is local, it seems we have to answer “no”.
I’m just delighted that you and the biblical fundamentalists who vote for the evil, stupid Republicans have found something in common… (Wink)
Wouldn’t fitting 2 of every animal into the ark be geometrically impossible?
I’m not sure what physics has to do with it. What does water covering earth have to do with the laws of physics that would make it impossible? Exactly which law would be defied?
“I don’t know, and I’m sure you don’t either.” I still like that answer.
#58 – My main point is that there are lots of ways for intelligent, dedicated, faithful Mormons to picture the flood as global, regional or local (or collective) and still attach a redemptive meaning to it. There are so many questions that simply can’t be answered that, IMO, there is little that dictates we “have to answer no.” For example, how tall were the “mountains” in the story (really mountains as we envision them?); how isolated and enclosed was the valley they might have surrounded – which would affect water flow and “drainage” rates; what was the general condition of the water table in that area – which would affect “absorption” rates; etc. ad infinitum. Not one of these questions can be answered from the text, yet each is critical to understanding if it could have been a local event. (In Ohio, we have areas where we have standing water for months and months and months, since the water table generally is so high. I never would have believed it growing up in Utah, but it really is amazing to see.)
As to the redemptive value, go back to #41. If we allow that the flood might have been a local experience that wiped out all life in the world as Noah knew it, and if we extend our concept of vicarious work to the event, it is very easy to maintain a redemptive element for the flood – no matter how extensive it actually was.
I am far more comfortable with someone saying, “In light of all of the scientific evidence we now have before us, we ought to be willing to consider that the flood *might* not have been global,” than when someone says, “Scientific evidence be damned, our theology insists that it just had to be global.” These are ancient stories, and, again, our own Articles of Faith say that we don’t know if they have been recorded, translated and handed down to us in purity. That tells me we need to keep an open mind about other possibilities than the orthodox interpretations. To me, there is absolutely no difference in the significance of the story and its symbolism no matter its scope.
Finally, given the existence of catastrophic flood stories in nearly every ancient culture, might this be a case of Hebrew historians realizing that God had destroyed “all the earth” collectively, over time, by multiple, essentially identical floods – taking such stories and “likening them unto themselves” – assigning spiritual and redemptive meaning to “the collective acts of God” – and creating a central flood narrative to reflect this meaning and transmit it to a people who hadn’t *yet* experienced it themselves?
I tend to place that option beneath a local flood narrative, but our traditions and scriptures certainly would allow for it – and I personally think there is a lot of power in that view. I don’t want to debate that option, because I’m not willing to put it at the top of the list of possibilities, but I don’t think it would destroy the validity of the spiritual message we can take from it. In some ways, I think it even can strengthen that message – that God is no respecter of persons and will do unto all what He does unto some. It’s at least worth considering, IMO.
You left off at least one other option: that the flood stories have more to do with circumstances around the the last ice age. There have been a few recent studies suggesting that the worldwide human population was nearly wiped out by the last ice age.
Along those line, the antediluvian (post-Adam, pre-Noah) period may well have been between the next-to-last and last ice ages (cf. Helaman 8:18; “a great many thousand years” sounds like a lot more than just four thousand years). ..bruce..
OK, this comment thread (and the Dialogue article) has led me to finally pull together my thoughts on a possible LDS approach to the Flood. Comments are welcome.
What does water covering earth have to do with the laws of physics that would make it impossible? Exactly which law would be defied?
Seriously, how would the law of gravity make a universal earthly baptism impossible?
OK–I read your comments earlier and understand what you meant. I also noted that others already countered your argument, so I won’t bother.
There’s another issue here that needs to be addressed — one of geography. If we believe that Adam, Enoch, and all the patriarchs up to Noah lived on “this the American continent” following Adam’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, then how did Noah’s ark end up in the Middle East if it was only a local flood? It had to cross the Pacific somehow in the interim, which is not accounted for if it was a local flooding of the Black Sea, as some researchers have suggested.
But to be honest, I don’t care what you believe as long as you do your home teaching
I’d have to say I agree. Otherwise, My comments are at this location.
BTW, how does the earth sin? Does it need baptism the same way sinless children before the age of six or seven do?
Anyway, interesting stuff.
BTW, catastrophic flooding, such as the formation of the Black Sea, does cover things hundreds of feet deep and for massive areas.
True, but notice one very important thing about the Black Sea. It’s still here. Gravity and drainage have taken all they could from the sea. The Black Sea is at sea level, not above sea level.
Newton, Einstein, and the laws of physics: 0
Flying spaghetti monster: 137
I’ve been reading for a month now, and I have finally gotten the nerve to voice an opinion.
On a global flood – Simple geometry tells us that in order to cover the Earth completely by 5 miles (the height of the tallest mountains) would require an enormous volume of water, in excess of 500 million cubic miles. Granted that the land (which only cover 30% of the Earth’s surface) should be subtracted from that sum, the total amount of water required might be on the magnitude of 300-400 million cubic miles.
Some have posited that this water might have come from the quick melting of ice caps. The Arctic ice actually floats, which displaces water, so that doesn’t count. Total volume of Antarctic ice and land ice in the Arctic is estimated to be 7 million cubic miles.
Others have posited that the water came from below ground. It seems that would require massive changes in the geology of the earth which would leaves some trace. As it is, water in the ground currently only adds up to 6 million cubic miles.
Other have suggested there was an enormous water vapor “cloud” over the Earth. Such a cloud with that much water would create atmospheric pressures which would have rendered the Earth utterly uninhabitable.
Beyond the question of where the water came from, a bigger question may be where did it all go? Current estimates put total water volume of the Earth, including oceans, lakes, water table, etc. at 300-350 million cubic miles, with 95% already visible in the oceans.
Understanding that estimates are certainly not accurate, one could figure that even at a ten-fold error level, you can’t even come close to filling the Earth with existing water, if indeed the Flood covered all land, everywhere.
As for local flooding – the experience of New Orleans has been suggested as an example of a potential condition. I’m up in Seattle, so I don’t understand the full ramifications, but as I recall, from visits and readings, the bulk of New Orleans is below sea level. That’s why the dikes were built in the first place. When they were breached, the water flowed DOWNHILL into the lowest lying areas fo the city. Both the Black and the Mediterranean Seas would have to flow uphill in order to get to any of the Middle Eastern land areas (assuming that is where Noah might have been).
Bottom-line – My training in faith tells me it was a magnificant story that happened because God needed some level of righteousness to exist on the Earth. My “training” in science (using the term very loosely) tells me the the facts cannot be rationalized.
So I am left reconciling the two. For me, it seems that the lesson to be learned by faith is just as powerful whether there was a flood or not.
Response to comment #20
The earth will have to get endowed and sealed in the temple – but no other planet has chosen to marry it.
So long as it fills the measure of it’s creation and remains chaste, it will be rewarded with a planet-mate in the resurrection.
[for some reason I suddenly feel like I'm trying to channel a Mormon version of Douglas Adams here ...]
Donald Patten proposed that the Flood followed by the Ice Age were caused by another celestial body that passed very close to the earth. Patten follows the tradition of catastrophist, Imanuel Velikovsky but give us the added benefit of many diagrams. His book, “The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch” is available free of charge:
Before he gets to the good stuff Patten gives a useful overview of the history of catastrophism and the prevailing view today, uniformitarianism. Ever since Velikovsky first started suggesting that all ancient cultures witnessed other bodies from space wreaking drastic changes on our earth, castastrophism has been ridiculed by most mainstream scientists.
Interestingly, the tradition of catastrophism has found unexpected allies in plasma physics:
and in certain teachings of Joseph Smith and other early Church leaders researched by Anthony Larson:
Larson argues that understanding the ancient symbols of earth catastrophy sheds much needed light on some really odd things in the scriptures like Joshua’s long day and even helps us better understand the the temple ceremony. I greatly enjoyed his Prophecy Trilogy books and magazine articles which are available through his website.
The only thing harder to believe than the impossible flood, the impossible wooden boat with primitive tools, the impossible task of gathering and feeding two or seven or every animal is a God vengeful enough to destroy the inhabitants of the whole earth.
A very good point. Certainly problematic for those of us who prefer our modern deities less prone to violent outbursts than their primitive counterparts. But at least God’s excuse wasn’t as fishy as that of the gods of the Mesopotamian original: teeming humanity was just too damn noisy!
…castastrophism has been ridiculed by most mainstream scientists.
This is in no small part to the fact that it is actually ridiculous.
Ronan: It fits a pattern in the OT, though. God was more cantankerous then. Witness his confounding of all language just cuz people were building a tower to get close to him.
BTW, the earth is female and a mother, therefore, it must already be married. Since it has been baptized, it may now already be endowed, though I don’t know when that occurred. I have heard a rumor that it will soon be a guest blogger at FMH, describing how it came to be a mother.
I heard that the earth was promised exaltation as payment for having to put up with housing us for so long. If a landlord knew what we tenants were going to do in advance and still agreed to let God sign a few billion year lease, I think exaltation is the least it should receive.
Also, this explains why the earth has to be female. No male landlord would let his emotions get in the way of rejecting such a lop-sided financial arrangement. It would have to be someone more innately spiritual – thus female.
a God vengeful enough to destroy the inhabitants of the whole earth.
Why is that more difficult to believe? He was perfectly willing to have every living thing destroyed in Canaan. Why would it be that difficult to believe that he could have the propensity to destroy all life on earth save but the few in the ark? He’s shown not to stop the deaths of nearly 60 million people during World War II.
I think i like an option E.
E: A, B, and C. The deluge was a localized flood that through oral and prophetic retelling became a larger religious myth to teach important gospel truths. However, this myth never involved a flood covering the entire globe because the ancient prophets had not concept of Earth being a planetary sphere.
The destruction of Canaan was for the preservation of His covenant people. Perhaps in His wisdom He saw that only one of these groups would survive and a preemptive strike was the best way to ensure victory while minimizing loses. I don’t know really. I wasn’t there. I do think there is a difference in allowing the destruction of a few thousand people and actively destroying all life on the planet. The [in]action of God during WWII is immaterial to this discussion. Agency and allowing the wicked to condemn themselves are the quick and dirty answers.
Feel free to dismiss my thoughts, though. Among other things, I also believe in evolution (death before the fall, pre-adamites, dinosaur bones are not remnants from other planets), and I don’t believe that Job was the subject of a wager between God and Satan.
The irony of our political leanings vs. views on the flood is thick.
It’s my belief that the flood gives us true insight into the nature of God.
It seems to me that God’s destruction of wicked nations is the the rule, not the exception. When a nation has been deemed “fully ripe”, they have never been permitted to continue.
This is seen in Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah, the scattering of the Jews, as well as with the Nephites. The only thing that keeps wicked societies from destruction is the handful of righteous living among them. So the righteous are usually asked to leave (e.g. Noah, Lot, Abraham, Lehi) beforehand because God won’t permit the wicked ones to continue.
Not to be a pessimist, but that’s what I’ve always seen it.
Sodom and Gomorrah and the flood are the only instances in the scriptures that I can think of off the top of my head where God takes a hands on approach to destruction. In the other cases, God withdraws his protection to a covenant people because of their wickedness. God himself doesn’t do the dirty work. I don’t equate that with God killing babies all over the world because the people in Noah’s neighborhood won’t listen to him.
MCQ: we will also find out how Mother Earth feels about breastfeeding and make a devotional pilgrimage to the Grand Tetons.
Is it too threadjackish to talk about Gilgamesh?
At last, Gilgamesh!
Alas, Ronan, my baby has decided today is a 10-minute nap day so anything i have on the subject will have to wait: by all means, though, expound! It’s been years since I read it anyhow.
But such discussion does seem warranted!
We could also get into the Book of Enoch’s justification for the flood as a way to get rid of the Nephilim (giants) who were offspring of the Sons of God and the daughters of men. What’s up with the Nephilim anyway? That’s another threadjack for you!
Regarding Gilgamesh, if we accept that Noah was in fact a prophet who did exist, he lived before the Sumerians, so I would suggest that Gilgamesh’s story is based (very loosely) on Noah’s flood account, whatever it actually was. The Gilgamesh story has many similarities but also has many more dis-similarities.
The Sumerian Flood tales were written without doubt long before Genesis.
True, the Sumerians may have generated the first written account of a flood, but assuming that whatever written/oral traditions existed between Noah and the Sumerians, it’s conceivable that they borrowed the actual event into their mythology.
Since Moses wrote the account that we’re familiar with (of course at a later date than the Sumerians), we have to assume that it was revealed correctly to him at the time. And if we believe the Book of Moses as given in the Pearl of Great Price, we have to assume that this was revealed correctly to J.S. as an actual event, not one borrowed by another culture.
Janet, not the Grand Tetons; Chomolungma!
Ray: She’s our mother, not our landlord (except to the extent that every mother is a landlord!). Also, haven’t you heard? Women are NOT innately more spiritual than men! Sheesh.
Here’s a timely article on this very subject:
Sorry, its’ HERE
For this survey are we to assume that the bible is historically accurate? It is one heck of a story though!
All of your assumptions have more room for alternative interpretation than you are probably aware, but I don’t have the energy to deal with them right now. I might write a post later.
You are right, I did put many assumptions there. I actually am in the “localized flood” camp myself, I just am raising the question that if the entire flood story was a myth, and ASSUMING that Joseph Smith received the PoGP as revelation (as most of us do), why would the Lord propagate a myth based on Gilgamesh rather than straightening out the story? Should we begin casting doubt on the PoGP as canon scripture? What are your thoughts?
One day, my man!
Hasn’t anyone ever imagined Cain clinging to the side of the ark? I mean, how else could he have survived it? (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.127-128) He must not have counted as flesh either.
Please no one take me seriously- just wanted to add a thought that I felt had been over looked.
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