CREATIONISM VS EVOLUTION, (CONT.)
II) SCRIPTURAL TESTIMONY & PHYSICAL EVIDENCE OF A RECENT CREATION, (cont.)
B) SCRIPTURAL TESTIMONY & PHYSICAL EVIDENCE FROM EARTH WHICH TESTIFY TO A RECENT CREATION, (cont.)
5) PERIOD OF A WORLDWIDE FLOOD, (cont.)
b) SCRIPTURAL TESTIMONY OF A WORLDWIDE FLOOD
"...The Deluge was a global catastrophe and therefore, must have had a global cause and produced worldwide geological effects. It is clearly the greatest physical convulsion that has ever occurred on the earth since the creation of life itself, and in fact all but obliterated everything living on the face of the earth! There is no escaping the conclusion that, if the Bible is true and if the Lord Jesus Christ possessed divine omniscience, the Deluge was the most significant event, geologically speaking, that has ever occurred on the earth since its creation..."
(v. 37) "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.
(v. 38) For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
(v. 39) and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."
"...With the Deluge, several factors combined to destroy the antediluvian geophysical equilibrium. Great masses of water and other materials were ejected from below the surface. [Especially great quantities of molten volcanic rock]. On the other hand, equally or more voluminous masses of sediments were formed and deposited in great beds, possibly often corresponding to what are now called geosynclines [great downward folds of the earth's crust]. A general redisposition of the predeluvian topography took place, placing the crust for a time in a state of isostatic instability...
...Intense compressive stresses must have been generated in the crust, as previous surface materials began to settle into the voids left by the escaping magmas [molten volcanic rock] and water... ...The less competent and less dense, newly-deposited sediments would have been easily deformed and uplifted under the action of such forces. The heavier simatic materials would tend to sink, forming deep basins, the lighter materials therefore rising and forming the continents.
The trigger mechanism that set in motion the forces of isostatic readjustment may well have been the great wind, with the gigantic waves and strong currents certainly generated thereby, as the Biblical accounts (Genesis 8:1-3 and Psalm 104:5-9).
(v. 1) "But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and Bod caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.
(v. 2) Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained.
(v. 3) and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased."
(v. 5) "He established the earth upon its foundations,
So that it will not totter [move our of place] forever and ever.
(v. 6) Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment;
The waters were standing above the mountains.
(v. 7) At Thy rebuke they fled'
At the sound of Thy thunder they hurried away.
(v. 8) The mountains rose; the valleys sank down
To the place which Thou didst establish for them.
(v. 9) Thou didst set a boundary that they may not pass over;
That they may not return to cover the earth."
"Finally, in view of the global nature of the catastrophe and the magnitude of the geophysical phenomena accompanying it, it follows that the Flood constitutes a profound discontinuity in the normal processes of nature. Any deposits formed before the Flood would almost certainly have been profoundly altered by the great complex of hydrodynamic and tectonic forces unleashed during the Deluge period. The fundamental principle of historical geology, that of uniformitarianism, however valid it may be for the study of deposits formed since the Deluge, can therefore not legitimately be applied before that time. This factor is of special importance in the consideration of the so-called absolute geological chronometers, which have been interpreted as giving ages for the various strata and for the earth itself."
2) SCRIPTURE DESCRIBES THE FLOOD AS CATASTROPHIC & WORLDWIDE - NOT BOUND BY TODAY'S NORMATIVE PROCESS
a)THE FRESH OLIVE LEAF WHICH THE DOVE RETRIEVED DOES NOT INDICATE A TRANQUIL FLOOD AS CRITICS MAINTAIN
"The Scriptures tell us that 'the dove came in to him at eventide; and lo, in her mouth an olive-leaf plucked off [A.S.V. margin: a fresh olive leaf]: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth' (Gen. 8:11)...
This olive leaf could not have been an old one floating on the surface of the water, for the Hebrew word 'taraph' means 'plucked off' or 'fresh'; and furthermore, it would not have given Noah any indication that 'the waters were abated from off the earth.' J. P. Lange quotes Delitzsch as saying:
The olive tree has green leaves all the year through, and appears to endure the water, since Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. IV, 8, and Pliny, Hist. Nat. XIII, 50, give an account of olive trees in the Red Sea. It comes early in Armenia (Strabo), though not on the heights of Ararat, but lower down, below the walnut, mulberry, and apricot tree, in the valleys on the south side.'...
[J.P. Lange, op. cit. 6, pp. 310-311.]
...It is upon the basis of these facts that some argue for a Flood so gentle in its movements that not even the trees were disturbed, and the fact that the dove brought back the freshly-plucked leaf of an olive tree was supposedly an indication to Noah that the waters had subsided to the level where olive trees were accustomed to growing.
Charles Lyell, in advocating the 'tranquil theory,' had claimed that 'the olive branch brought back by the dove seems as clear an indication to us that the vegetation was not destroyed, at it was to Noah that the dry land was about to appear.'
[Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology, IV, 216]
[But] the Bible does not say that a dove brought back an 'olive branch,' but merely an olive leaf... The importance of this distinction may be seen from the fact that 'even if every olive tree in Armenia had been uprooted and covered with diluvium, it is evident, that sufficient time had elapsed to allow for the germination of the seed on the rising grounds, although the plains were still lying under water.'...
[Ibid, p. 8.]
...Nor is it necessary to suppose... ...that the new olive plant would have to have grown from a seedling. Just as much of modern horticulture is carried on by the use of cuttings from older plants, so also much of the postdiluvian plant life probably began from broken branches buried near the surface. It is significant that the olive leaf is mentioned, since it is well known that this is one of the hardiest of all plants and would be one of the first to sprout again from such a cutting after the Flood. Even full-grown trees can be subjected to extremely harsh treatment and yet survive.
'So indestructible [is the olive tree] that it can survive in the poorest soil through drought, pests, grass fires, or years of neglect, it revives when fed and irrigated and pruned, and yields prodigious crops... By pruning back the branches to blunt stubs, chopping off the roots and digging out the burl, an olive grower can lift and transplant a full-grown tree anytime. After a year to recover from this shocking treatment, the burl sends out new roots for moisture, grows new roots, and bears crops anew...'
[F. J. Taylor: "California's Strangest Crop," Saturday Evening Post, October 2, 1954, p. 56]
Neither does the tree have to grow in the plains; it could have sprouted high on the barren hillsides long before the Flood waters retreated to the lowlands.
'The adaptable nature of the trees permits them to be grown in soils of high lime content and on rocky hills unsuited for other crops.'
[Arnold Krochmal: "Olive Growing in Greece." Economic Botany, July-Sept., 1955, p. 228]
It must be kept in mind that even mountain peaks would have been only a few hundred feet above sea level during the weeks immediately following the grounding of the Ark. Consequently, climatic conditions could have been most favorable at that time for the rapid sprouting of leaves from an olive tree cutting even on the highest mountain.
That only a few months would be needed from the time of implantation of cutting until the sprouting of leaves is indicated by... [the fact that even today] ...Cuttings are therefore almost universally used for olive tree propagation... Thus the record of the dove and the olive leaf harmonizes perfectly with what is known of the nature of the olive tree and with the Biblical account of a great world-destroying Flood.
[Furthermore] the fact that 135 days elapsed after the waters began to assuage before the dove could find a living leaf is eloquent testimony in itself to the vast destructiveness of the Flood."
b) MARINE LIFE DID SURVIVE THE UNIVERSAL CATASTROPHIC FLOOD
Kenneth B. Cumming states, (Impact brochure #222, Dec. 1991, 'HOW COULD FISH SURVIVE THE GENESIS FLOOD', Institute For Creation Research, El Cajon, Ca):
"Water life has specific physiological and ecological requirements just like terrestrial life. A catastrophe the size of the Flood would certainly bring with it gigantic problems affecting the very survival of many species. Indeed, the fossil record indicates that many taxonomic groups became extinct during the deposition of the geologic sedimentary layers. Some organisms would have simply succumbed to the trauma of the turbulence. Others would have found suitable living space destroyed, and hence died for lack of appropriate habitat. For example, too much fresh water for obligate (bound to) marine species or vice versa would have led to death of those unable to adapt. Not only are there salt-concentration problems, but also temperature, light, oxygen, contaminants, and nutritional considerations. These must all be evaluated in discussing survival of water-dwelling creatures...
Fish have a problem in balancing the fluids outside their bodies with those inside. In general, freshwater fishes are constantly getting too much fresh water in their bodies from food, drinking water, and tissue transfer. On the opposite side, marine fishes get too little fresh water to maintain fluid balance due to the large input of salt in the drinking water and constant osmotic pressure to draw fresh water out of these tissues into the surrounding sea.
The kidneys and gills are the two organs used to manage this balance. If a freshwater fish gets too much water, then the kidney is called upon to dump as much water as possible while retaining the circulating salts. Marine bony fish have to get rid of the excess salts largely through the gills and conserve the internal water through resorption.
Sea-run trout move from sea water to fresh water to spawn, while eels do just the opposite. Both have to be able to reverse their removal of water and salt according to the amount of salt in their environment. Sun fishes and cod remain in fresh water and sea water, respectively, for their whole life cycle. Salt content might range from nearly zero in freshwater to 35 parts per thousand (x103 ppm or 35,000 mg/l) in sea water. Obligate freshwater fish typically have an upper lethal level of seven parts per thousand (7,000 mg/l). Obligate marine species have a very narrow limit of salt tolerance. Dromous (running/migrating) species are able to adapt to the new environments by osmotic regulation...
I see no reason at all to postulate that the salt content of the ocean at the time of the flood was as high as it is now. In fact, on the basis of the canopy theory, we would most certainly expect that the salt content of the ocean before the flood would be diluted, perhaps by one-half."
The range of temperatures tolerated by fishes varies from species to species and the assorted habitats. Some fish have a very narrow range of tolerance at the cold, warm, or hot temperature parts of the heat scale. Others show a wide range of heat tolerance from freezing to hot waters (0-32?C). Developmental stages are frequently limited by narrow temperature requirements within the overall range of the adult.
Most species, including cold-water types, can tolerate at least brief exposures to 24 degrees C and low temperatures approaching 2degreesC, as long as there are prolonged acclimation periods (several days to weeks). Preferred temperatures for the representative adult fish are as follows: Trout, 16-21 degrees C; sunfish, 16-28 degrees C; catfish, 21-29 degrees C; eel, probably 16-28 degrees C; codfish 12-16 degrees C.
Particulate matter that is in suspension in natural waters is measured photoelectrically as turbidity. It consists of erosional silt organic particles, bacteria, and plankton. Such materials adversely affect fish by covering the substrate with a smothering layer that kills food organisms and spawning sites. In addition, the molar action of the silt damages gills and invertebrate respiratory structures. Fish combat such materials by secreting mucus that carries the particles away. Indirectly, turbidity screens out light and decreases the photic zone for photosynthesis. The range of turbidity might be described as: clear <10ppm (mg/l), turbid 10 to 250 ppm, and very turbid >250 ppm. Wallen found that many fish species survive turbidities of 100,000 ppm for one week or more.
RUNOFF TO THE OCEAN
Heavy rainfall over the land would quickly fill the river basins with torrential flows. These in turn would empty out onto the encroaching coastline as a freshwater blanket. Odum5 refers to situations similar to this as a 'highly stratified or '''salt-wedge''' estuary.' Such a massive freshwater outflow from the continents would join with the oceanic rainfall to form a halocline or strong density gradient, in which fish flushed out from the land aquatic systems could continue to survive in a freshwater environment. Stratification like this might even survive strong winds, if the freshwater depth was great enough to prevent internal current mixing. Thus, a situation might be envisioned where freshwater and marine fishes could survive the deluge in spite of being temporarily displaced.
[After which, through the draining out of the flood waters into subterranean basins, many new bodies of fresh water would be formed on the new geography: streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, etc. Note that only one male and one female of each kind needs to survive in order to continue that kind]
Eugene P. Odum, 'Fundamentals of Ecology', (Philadelphia, W. B. Saunders Co., 1971), pp. 328, 354.
On the other hand, large turbid particles and enormous bedloads could move into the ocean as settleable particluate rain and ground-hugging slurries. Heavier particles would fall out in the slower-moving coastal waters, and the mudflows would sediment out over the ocean floor. Although there would be turbulence at the freshwater/saltwater interface, the particle insertion would probably occur without appreciable mixing. With the range of tolerance given above, many fishes might be able to survive extended exposure to high turbidity.
SERENDIPITY AT MOUNT ST. HELENS
The biotic recovery at Mount St. Helens after the May 18, 1980 eruption demonstrates rapid and widely ranging restoration. Obviously, the Flood would have been one or more orders or magnitude(s) greater a catastrophe than that eruption. But such an event does help us to see ways of recovery. With regard to the three factors of interest (salinity -... [approximate] ...alkalinity in the sense of dissolved solutes, temperature, and turbidity), significant changes were seen in the affected areas (data transformed to units used previously).
Still, a little more than a month after the eruption, the lake most exposed to the catastrophic event, Spirit Lake, had tolerable alkalinity, ambient temperature, and low turbicity. This is not to deny that all the endemic fish were killed in the event and probably could not have survived if replanted in these waters on June 30, 1980 due to large organic oxygen demands from decaying tree debris and seeps of methane and sulfur dioxide. But within ten years, the lake appears to be able to support fish, as many other aquatic species are back and well established. If the lake were connected directly to the Toutle River, then salmonids probably would have made their reentry by this time.
Perhaps the most significant observation, though, in examining the post-eruption history, is that a variety of habitats within and adjacent to blast zone survived the event with minimal impact on the continuity of the ecosystem. Meta Lake, within the blast zone for example, had an ice cover at the time of the searing blast, which protected the dormant ecosystem from experiencing much disruption from the heat, anoxia, and air-fall tephra. Fish and support systems picked up where they left off before the onset of the winter season.
Similar experiences were observed in Swift Reservoir, in spite of massive mud and debris flows into the lake by way of Muddy Creek (personal conversation with aquatic biologist on duty at that time). Fish were displaced into the adjacent unaffected watersheds or downstream into lower reservoirs. However, within two years, massive plankton blooms had occurred and ecosystem recovery was well underway with migrant recruits.
Such a confined catastrophe (500 square miles) enables one to project expectations from a major catastrophe, such as the Flood. First, in spite of the enormous magnitude of such events, there appear to be refuges for survival even in close proximity to the most damaging action. Second, recovery can be incredibly fast - from one month to ten years. Third, recruitment from minimally affected zones can occur with normal migratory behavior of organisms. Although some animal and plant populations or even species might be annihilated in such events, remnant individuals can reestablish new populations."
c) PLANT LIFE DID SURVIVE THE FLOOD
"With respect to the survival of plants through the Flood, we have this comment from Walter E. Lammerts, consultant in the Horticultural Research Division of Germain's, Inc.:
'I am convinced that many thousands of plants survived either as floating vegetation rafts or by chance burial near enough to the surface of the ground for asexual sprouting of new shoots. I am, of course aware that objections could be raised on the idea that long exposure to salt water would be so harmful to any vegetation as to either kill it or so reduce its vitality as to make root and new shoot formation impossible. However, I see no reason at all to postulate that the salt content of the ocean at the time of the flood was as high as it is now. In fact, on the basis of the canopy theory, we would most certainly expect that the salt content of the ocean before the flood would be diluted, perhaps by one-half. Naturally, during the first few hundred years after the flood the salt content of the ocean would again be rather rapidly raised because of the much above normal drainage of the land surface.'
Marsh further suggests that:
'There was doubtless a considerable number of plants which were carried through the Flood in the form of seeds which composed a portion of the large store of food cached in the ark. But most of the vegetation sprang up here and there wherever the propagules were able to survive the Flood.'"
[Frank L. Marsh, Evolution, Creation, and Science (Washington: Revies and Herasd Pub. Assoc., 1947), p. 213]
3) BIBLE FLOOD ACCOUNT IS ORIGINAL & NOT DERIVED FROM THE BABYLONIAN FLOOD MYTH AS CRITICS MAINTAIN
a) BIBLE ACCOUNT & BABYLONIAN MYTH: TOO DIFFERENT TO PROVE DERIVATION
[ pp. 38-42]
"...There are so many important differences in detail between the two accounts (the Biblical being far more rational and consistent than the Babylonian), that it is quite impossible to assume that Genesis in any way depends upon the Gilgamesh Epic as a source."
i) THE 'gods' OF THE BABYLONIAN FLOOD ARE NOT THE ONE TRUE GOD OF THE BIBLE
"In Genesis it is the one and only true God Who brings the Flood because of the moral depravity of mankind; in the Babylonian account the Flood is sent because of the rashness of [the god] Enlil and in opposition to the will of other gods."
ii) ANNOUNCEMENT OF BABYLONIAN FLOOD KEPT SECRET
"In Genesis God Himself warns Noah to build an ark and gives mankind 120 years to repent; in the Babylonian account the Flood is kept a secret by the gods, but Utnapishtim (the Babylonian Noah) is given a hint of the coming disaster by Ea without the knowledge of Enlil."
iii) BABYLONIAN ARK & ITS OCCUPANTS DIFFERENT
"In Genesis the Ark is 300 x 50 x 30 cubits with three decks and carries eight people, two of each unclean animal and seven of the clean, and food; in the Babylonian account the Ark is 120 x 120 x 120 cubits with nine decks and carries all of Utnapishtim's family and relations, the boatman, all the craftsmen (or learned men), 'the seed of all living creatures,' and all his gold and silver."
iv) CAUSES & DURATION OF BABYLONIAN FLOOD ARE DIFFERENT
"In Genesis the Flood is caused by the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep and the opening of the windows of heaven, and these conditions continue for 150 days followed by an additional 221 days during which the waters abate; in the Babylonian account rain is the only cause mentioned and it ceases after only six days. After an unspecified number of days, Utnapishtim and the others leave the Ark."
v) BIRD SCENES DIFFERENT
"In Genesis a raven is sent out first and then a dove three times at intervals of seven days; in the Babylonian account a dove is sent out first, then a swallow and finally a raven, at unspecified intervals. The Babylonian account does not mention the olive leaf."
vi) THE SACRIFICE AND BLESSING DIFFERENT
"In Genesis the Lord graciously receives Noah's sacrifice, gives him and his family power to multiply and fill the earth, emphasizes the sanctity of human life, and promises not to destroy the earth again by a flood. In the Babylonian account hungry gods gathered like flies over the sacrificer because they had been deprived of sacrifices for so long. A quarrel ensues between the gods Enlil and Ea, and Enlil finally blesses Utnapishtim and his wife after being rebuked by Ea for his rashness in bringing the Flood. Utnapishtim and his wife are rewarded by being made gods and are taken to the realm of the gods.
The gross polytheism and confusion of details in the Babylonian account seem to indicate a long period of oral transmission. Nevertheless, since the Book of Genesis contains God's inspired record of the great Flood, the remarkable similarities of the two accounts make it extremely difficult to assume that the Babylonians received their Flood account from a tradition that was transmitted orally for over seven thousand years from the time of the dispersion of nations from Babel to the late fourth millennium B. C., when, at long last, it could be written down for future inclusion in the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic. But this is exactly what we would have to assume if Indians have been inhabiting North America continually since around 10,000 B.C. and if writing was not invented until around 3000 B.C.
The fact that we have the names of some of these men, together with their ages at the birth of their first sons and their total life-spans, indicates that a genealogical record was kept somewhere throughout the entire period...
...because of parallels between the Babylonian and Biblical Flood accounts, the Flood itself (and the judgment of Babel) could not have occurred before 10,000 B.C. We found this premise to be true, not only because of the problem of accounting for the remarkable Babylonian Flood tradition as the end product of millenniums of purely oral transmission but, even more important, because of the impossibility of fitting the Biblical picture of postdiluvian civilization and the line of post-Babel patriarchs into such a chronological framework. Genesis 11 can hardly be stretched to cover a period of eight to ten thousand years."
b) SUMMARY: THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT IN GENESIS IS ORIGINAL
[Marvin L. Lubenow states, "Bones of Contention", Baker Books, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1992, pp. 214]
One of the arguments used by critics of the past century in their attack on the historicity and integrity of Genesis was that the art of writing went back only to the time of David, about 1000 B.C. Hence, no portion of Genesis could have been in written form before that time. It is now known that they were not only wrong but very wrong. By the 1930's our museums were rich with cuneiform writing on clay tablets dating back to 3500 B.C. Excavations of the royal archives at Ebla, in northwest Syria, possibly dating as far back as 2700 B.C., reveal that writing at that early date was commonplace. Whereas it was not necessary in that era for the average person to know how to read and write, writing was readily available to everyone through a class of professionals known as scribes. In fact, the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians seemed unwilling to transact even the smallest items of business without recourse to a written document. This characteristic is dramatically seen at Ebla.
It may surprise some to learn that a clear reference to writing is found in Genesis 5:1...
[Gen 5:1 AMPLIFIED]:
"This is the book - the written record - of the generations of the off-spring of Adam..."
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states, (Moody Press, Chicago, R. Laird Harris, Editor, 1980, p. 633):
"The noun seper 'writing,' 'book' came to be used [in Scripture] also of important legal documents (Deut 24:1, 3; Isa 50:1; Jer 3:8) or official letters (2 Kgs 21:8ff; 2 Kgs 19:14; Est 1:22; Jer 29:1ff)...
...Several source books are cited in the Old Testament such as: The Book of the Wars of the Lord (Num 21:14), The Book of Hasher (Josh 10:13; 2 Sam 1:18), The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (eighteen occurrences), The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (fifteen occurrences and the books of various prophetic histories, 1 Chr 29:29; 2 Chr 9:20, etc.).
Several source books are mentioned as being woven into the Scriptures: The Book of the Generations of Adam (Gen 5:1), The Book (concerning Amalek, Ex 17:14), The Book of the Covenant (Ec 24:7; II Kgs 23:2), and The Book of the Law of the Lord/Moses (Deut 31:24)."]
..This suggests that the art of writing was known within the lifetime of Adam, which could make writing virtually as old as the human race. To a creationist, this is not surprising. It is obvious that at the time of their creation, Adam and Eve knew how to speak. Yet, language is incredibly complex, and no one understands its origin. The ability to write is in the same magnitude of complexity as the ability to speak. Since God created our first parents with the ability to speak, it is reasonable to suggest that he created them with the ability to learn to write as well. A naturalistic, evolutionary origin of language stretches credulity...
....Not only does the Hebrew word :'sepher' [taken from the Scriptural phrase, 'This is the written account of Adam's ancestry.'] mean 'book' or 'a complete writing' but the presence of Adam's name suggests that it was a written account owned or written by
Adam, not just a written account about Adam. Genesis 2:4 to 5:1 gives evidence of being a firsthand, eyewitness account of the experiences of Adam, possibly written by him on a clay tablet...
...The implications of this evidence for the origin of Genesis are staggering. Rather than Genesis having a late date, as is universally taught in nonevangelical circles, it implies that Genesis 1-11 is a transcript of the oldest series of written records in human history. This is in keeping both with the character of God and with the vital contents of these chapters [in Genesis]. It is reasonable to expect that the first humans created by God would have had great intelligence and language capabilities, and that God would fully inform them as to their origin.
This research also confirms the idea that the Genesis creation and Flood accounts are the original accounts of these events and were not derived from the very different and polytheistic Babylonian accounts. It also supports the fact that monotheism was the original religious belief and not a later evolutionary refinement from an earlier polytheism.
This research further serves to falsify the widespread idea that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 give conflicting accounts of creation. It also suggests that the higher critical theories on the comparison and date of Genesis are factually bankrupt.
Just as God has not left us in doubt about our destiny, so he has not left us in doubt about our origin."
4) TERMS DESCRIBING THE FLOOD IN SCRIPTURE ARE UNIVERSAL TERMS
a) SCRIPTURE, BEING INSPIRED BY GOD IS TO BE TAKEN IN CONTEXT & IN THE LITERAL SENSE THE AUTHORS INTENDED
[Giving the Bible the benefit of the doubt until proved otherwise... that its own testimony is true, (Ps 19:7-9; Mt 5:17-18; 24:35); and that every word is inspired by God and without error, (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21); ...then the most important principal of interpretation becomes: 'Let the words of Scripture say what they literally mean', i.e., 'Let the words convey their original normative meaning at the time they were originally written.' One need not imagine or make up meanings in Scripture. It is just a matter of carefully examining God's Word to find the intended meaning. One may determine the meaning of a symbol or figure of speech, for example, by utilizing context and a careful examination of the relative passages in the Bible. For example, the symbols contained in the parable of the sower and the soils in Mt 13:3-9 are explained in Mt 13:18-23. So take the words literally, using their normative literal meaning in the original language at the time the words were written many years ago. The many many prophecies that have been perfectly fulfilled to the last literal detail testify to this rule]
[Critics maintain that] "universal terms, such as 'all' and 'every,'[in Scripture] need not always be understood in the strictly literal sense. For example, [critics point out that] when we read in Genesis 41:57 that "all countries came into Egypt to buy grain," we are not to interpret this as meaning that people from America and Australia came to Egypt for grain. And thus, by the same token, the statement of Genesis 7:19, that "all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered," may be interpreted as referring to only some high mountains under part of the heavens...
[But]...In the first place, not even the most fervent local-Flood advocates would deny that there are many places in the Bible where the words 'all' and 'every' must be understood in the literal sense. For example... Matthew 28:18-20. 'Jesus came to them and spake unto them saying, all authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you...' ...[So] there are cases where all means all, and every means every, but the context tells us where this is intended...."
b) THE CONTEXT OF THE FLOOD ACCOUNT IN SCRIPTURE DEMANDS A LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF TERMS SUCH AS 'ALL' AND 'EVERY'
"...the constant repetition of universal terms throughout the four chapters of Genesis 6-9 shows conclusively that the question of the magnitude and geographical extent of the Flood was not a merely incidental one in the mind of the writer, but was rather one of primary importance to the entire Flood narrative. In fact, so frequent is the use of universal terms and so tremendous are the points of comparison ('high mountains' and 'whole heaven'), that it is impossible to imagine what more could have been said than actually was said to express the concept of a universal Deluge!
The Book of Genesis is clearly divided into two main sections: chapters 1-11 deal with universal origins (the material universe, the plant and animal kingdoms, the human race, sin, redemption, and the nations of the earth); chapters 12-50, on the other hand, concentrate upon the particular origin of the Hebrew nation and its tribes, mentioning other nations only insofar as they came into contact with Israel. This sheds much light on the problem of the magnitude of the Deluge, for the Biblical account of the Deluge occupies three and a half chapters in the midst of these eleven chapters on universal origins, while only two chapters are devoted to the creation of all things!
From a purely literary and historical perspective, therefore, we are perfectly justified in coming to the account of the Noahic Deluge in Genesis 6-9 with the expectation of reading about a catastrophe of universal proportions. And if we thus approach the Flood narrative from the perspective which the Bible itself supplies for us, unencumbered with scientific and philosophical presuppositions, we shall not be surprised to discover that the number of Hebrew superlatives used to describe the magnitude of the Flood are entirely proportional to the amount of space allotted to it in the first eleven chapters of Genesis.
Most advocates of the local-Flood view would maintain that 'the deluge was universal in so far as the area and observation and information of the narrator extended.' But even if we were to assume, for the sake of argument, that the mountain ranges of the world were as high before the Flood as they are now (as most local Flood advocates would claim), then what are we to say of the idea that Noah's 'observation and information' about geography was limited to the Mesopotamian valley? Even if he were a man of only average intelligence, he could have learned a great deal about his own continent of Asia (where the world's highest mountains are found today) during the six centuries that he lived before the Flood came. And assuming again, for the sake of argument, that Genesis 6-9 depicts the Flood from Noah's standpoint, and not from God's, could he have been so ignorant of the topography of southwestern Asia as to think that the Flood covered 'all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven' when, as a matter of fact, it covered only a few foothills?...
...Actually, there is nothing in the entire passage to indicate that Noah is recording his personal impressions of the Flood. Instead, it is all seen from God's viewpoint. God looks down upon mankind and sees that it is corrupt; God chooses Noah and commands him to build the Ark; God calls him into the Ark and shuts the door; God remembers Noah and the animals and gradually brings the Flood to an end, and God commands them to leave the Ark and gives them His special covenant. In fact, Noah does not speak a single word in the entire passage, until the very end of the ninth chapter, when God puts into his mouth the remarkable prophecy concerning his three sons."
c) THE PHYSICAL PHENOMENA OF THE FLOOD DESCRIBED IN SCRIPTURE WOULD BE MEANINGLESS IF NOT LITERALLY INTERPRETED
"[The] ...most compelling reason for interpreting the universal terms of Genesis 6-9 literally is that the physical phenomena described in those chapters would be quite inconceivable if the Flood had [been] confined to one section of the earth....
It would not have been possible for water to cover even one high mountain in the Near East without inundating Australia and America too! Another famous Hebrew scholar of modern times who wrote a commentary of Genesis was Samuel R. Driver, Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University and co-author with F. Brown and C.A. Briggs of 'A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament.' Driver insists that the local-Flood theory 'does not satisfy the terms of the narrative of Genesis' and then goes on to say:
'It is manifest that a flood which would submerge Egypt as well as Babylonia must have risen to at least 2000 ft. (height of the elevated country between them), and have thus been in fact a universal one... a flood, on the other hand, which did less than this is not what the Biblical writers describe, and would not have accomplished what is represented as having been the entire raison d'etre of the Flood, the destruction of all mankind.' "