Was Noah’s flood geographically local or over the entire Earth?
Speaking last week on an episode of the apologetics group Reasons To Believe YouTube channel, the acclaimed astrophysicist and Christian apologist stressed that when considering the flood of Noah, like any other biblical event, it is important to take into account the entirety of Scripture, not just the specific chapters in Genesis where it is recounted historically.
“2 Peter addresses it, the poetic books address it, so you really want to look at everything the Bible’s got to say about the flood of Noah,” Ross said.
2 Peter 2:5 states that the “world of ungodly people” was destroyed with a flood. An important distinction, he pointed out.
The Greek word for “world,” cosmos, is also qualified with an adjective in that passage and earlier in 2 Peter, meaning that text is speaking of less than the whole globe.
“And from what we see in the first 11 chapters in Genesis, by the time of Noah, human beings had yet to build cities in Antarctica and Greenland and, therefore, there would be no need for God to flood Antarctica and Greenland,” Ross elaborated.
Ross, a proponent of old earth creationism, argued against the claims of young earth creationists that the flood covered the entire Earth.
The most explicit texts about the flood, he said, come from Job, Psalms, and Proverbs.
Psalm 104 — the longest of what are called the Creation psalms — speaks of the third day of creation, of God transforming the planets from a world of water without continents or islands to world of continents, islands, and oceans. In verse 9 of that Psalm it is established that never again will water cover the whole face of the earth.
“So there’s an explicit statement, once we’ve got continents on the face of the earth, never again are we going to return to a water world,” Ross said.
Thus, that would allow a world of ungodly people to be flooded but not the entire surface of the earth.
Additionally, in three other Psalms, in Job 38, and in Proverbs, God speaks of creating permanent barriers to the waters once the continents are in place, ruling out the possibility that Noah’s flood covered the whole planet.
When Ross speaks with those who hold the young earth creationist view, they often point to Genesis 7:11 and the verses that follow where the text speaks of the high mountains being covered with water to a depth of 15 cubits.
Yet in biblical Hebrew, the vocabulary is relatively small, he said, noting the word for mountains is equivalent to hills or mounds. The word “high” could also mean elevated, he…