Noah's flood: Local or worldwide?

Noah’s flood – local or global?

Years ago I held to an old earth position and also to a world-wide flood. I was always troubled that NO-ONE else that I could find held to those 2 positions. Everyone else (referring to Christians) either held to…

young earth and world-wide flood
old earth and local flood

So the issue of the extent of the flood has always intrigued me.

Hugh Ross, as a leading proponent of the local flood position, says the flood was localized to at least 200 miles in diameter and also smaller than the Roman Empire in total area.

Yet his reasoning puzzles me. Here are some verses and then I will look at his view.
Gen 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.

Gen 7:12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights .

Gen 7:19 And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered.

Gen 7:20 The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.

Gen 7:24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.

Gen 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.

Gen 8:2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained,

Gen 8:3 and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of 150 days the waters had abated,

Gen 8:4 and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

Gen 8:5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

Extent of the flood (according to Ross):

By comparing the distance to the horizon a dove could see (presumably flying near sea level for some reason) and Noah in the ark could see (about 30 feet higher than sea level according to Ross), he concludes that the minimal diameter of the flood is 200 miles (since Ross says Noah saw tops of mountains that the dove did not see). Then he speculates that distant mountain ranges held the water above any local hills during the duration of the flood.

Since the Bible has the flood staying above the mountains (or at least local hills according to Ross) for many months, how did all that flood water stay there that long? Note: The heavy rain apparently stopped after 40 days. The only way is either if there is a complete ring of (distant) mountains higher than all local hills or else there is a steady inflow of water into the area that is at least as great as the outflow. Neither choice seems even remotely possible.

Also, a major source for the flood water is said to be ”the fountains of the deep” which sounds like some source of water from down in the ground. Ross never mentions that water source (unless I missed it in his talk).

Promise of the rainbow – to whom? [What life was destroyed in the flood?]

Gen 9:8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
Gen 9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
Gen 9:10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
Gen 9:11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
Gen 9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
Gen 9:13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
Gen 9:14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
Gen 9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
Gen 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
Gen 9:17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

What life was destroyed in the flood? Hugh Ross and most local flood proponents say all humans lived in a localized area such that all of them were destroyed except the 8 on the ark. But note that the rainbow covenant is not just between God and humans. It is also between God and every living creature that is with you – birds, cattle, and every beast of the earth.

To me, if the covenant requires that all humans except those on the ark were destroyed, then it also requires that all birds, cattle and beasts of the earth except those on the ark were also destroyed. Further, if the animals were NOT all destroyed, then why put so many of them on the ark? A few years after the flood the ones beyond the area of the flood could just migrate back into the land formerly covered by the purported local flood.

So my questions for those who hold to a local flood are…

  1. If the flood was local, how did the water stay above the local hills for so many months without draining away between the mountains of distant ranges? [And where in the world is there a complete ring of distant mountains without an opening in the ranges?]

  2. If the covenant with humans required that all humans on the earth except those in the ark died, then didn’t it also require that all of the birds, cattle and beasts of the earth, save the ones in the ark, died during the flood as well?


Further question…
3. If the flood was local, why put so many animals, including “unclean” animals on the ark?

What was the purpose of that? The animals beyond the boundaries of the purported local flood would soon migrate back into the area after the flood. Bringing some for food and some for sacrifice makes sense. But especially why bring “unclean” birds (like ravens)?

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Mel, these are things people like to ask and to find answers for. But you are asking the right questions about the question its self. Logic must be part of the answer.
What I do know is 1. People look for all kinds of stuff to cloud the truth. and
2. I can find sea shells in the hills of Waco, Texas, not fossils. So, mister local flood, how did they get there?

God bless you my friend, interesting stuff…

thank you…

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@kenyamel Hey Mel, good question :slight_smile: Since this is not a core Christian doctrine, it is okay to agree to disagree. I originally believed the flood was global and now my opinion is that it was likely local, but I think there are also plenty of unknowns here… While I am sure @Hugh_Ross could provide much more detailed answers to your questions, here are a few initial thoughts:

  1. Think about an actual flood like the one in Houston, Texas a while back. When it floods for a few days, the water can remain for a few days or even weeks (see link below). You would not need a giant mountain range - an area of land that was lower in elevation and bowl shaped might do the trick. Not an expert here - just trying to throw out some thoughts.

Also, there have been some really large floods other than Noah’s flood:

  1. No, God’s wrath was only on mankind; not on the animals. At least in the case of the flood, it was the humans who were acting wickedly, so there would be no need to kill off all of the animals. Even in the global flood model, plenty of fish survive the catastrophe…

  2. Could have been better for the local ecosystem and for the flourishing of mankind? Aided in fast repopulation?

Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate them.

  1. The key point is that the water remained ABOVE the mountains (or hills if Ross is right about the range of meaning of the Hebrew word). Unless the elevation is minimal for the mountains (or hills), we would expect most of the water to quickly drain away through gaps in the mountain ranges or very quickly if the location Ross gives for the flood is correct since it does NOT have a complete ring of mountains. Keep in mind even a local flood person like Hugh Ross has the flood covering a minimum diameter of 200 miles. This is not 10 to 30 feet of water on the ground like during a Texas flood. This is thousands of feet of water on the ground somehow not draining out of a supposed ring of mountains hundreds of miles away.

  2. Since God’s covenant rainbow was a promise to the animals (and not just humans) that God would never AGAIN destroy them by water, that strongly indicates they WERE totally destroyed in the flood (other than those on the ark). (See Gen. 9:15-17 above)

  3. Why build such a huge boat (which could hold so many animals) just to speed up the repopulating of the local ecosystem? But then again, ecosystems are important! :slight_smile:

Anyway, I know full well that holding to a worldwide flood brings its own difficulties, which is why the local flood position is so widely held among Christians.

God bless!


I am a world wide flood kind of guy…

thank you…