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The Flood: Not Global, Barely Local, Mostly Theological, Pt. 1

"Science and the Sacred" is pleased to feature essays from various guest voices in the science-and-religion dialogue. Today's entry was written by Paul Seely. Paul Seely is likely well known to
serious students of the intersection of the OT and the ANE. He has
written numerous pieces in several venues, including Westminster Theological Journal and Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (formerly Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation).
He has also delivered numerous papers at the annual meetings of the
American Scientific Affiliation. His lifelong area of focus is Genesis
1-11. The book Inerrant Wisdom was published in 1989 through the non-profit organization he founded, Evangelical Reform, Inc.

Part One: Noah’s Flood was not global

Data from various scientific disciplines provides a clear indication that Noah’s Flood did not cover the globe of the earth. Before considering that data, however, we must first determine a rough earliest probable date for the Flood. If the Flood is an actual
historical event, it must touch down in the empirical data of history
somewhere. We can make a rough approximation of its date from the two
genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11. At one end is Adam, whose culture is
Neolithic and therefore can be dated no earlier than around 9,000 or
10,000 B.C. At the other end is Abraham who can be dated to
approximately 2000 B.C. In both genealogies the Flood occurs in the
middle of these two ends, and therefore roughly at 5500 or 6000 B.C. An
even clearer indication of the Flood’s date is implied by the statement
that shortly after the Flood, Noah planted a vineyard. This implies the
growing of domesticated grapes, which do not show up in the
archaeological record until c. 4000 B.C.1 The biblical Flood is therefore probably not earlier than 4000 or maybe 5000 B.C.2

What evidence is there then that there was no global Flood at any time since 5000 B.C.?

The first piece of evidence is geological. Christian geologists have given various scientific reasons why the Flood was not global.3 I will mention just one. From 9000 B.C. to the present, the only rocks in northern Mesopotamia which were made by rivers or oceans are along the river banks. This indicates that the only flooding which has
affected northern Mesopotamia in the last 11,000 years is from the
overflow of rivers.4

The second line of evidence is from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 ice core. The very close agreement of three independent, seasonally based, non-radiometric indicators of annual layers makes the age of the ice sheet on Greenland indisputably 11,000 years old, and the agreement of
two of those indicators adds another 100,000 years. Close examination
shows that the ice core is composed of fresh water from top to bottom.
There is not a single layer of ice in it or in the ground under it
composed of seawater nor any silt deposits such as a flood would leave.
Not a single layer gives evidence of having melted and refrozen. This
means no ocean water has ever stood over it or under it. Consequently,
this ice core falsifies the idea that there was a global flood in the
time of Noah.5

We can also consult archaeology. Before we do, however, we must briefly point out that carbon-14 dating has been fundamentally validated by comparison with other known dates. It fundamentally agrees with the tree ring record of American bristlecone pine going back to
6400 B.C. and with the tree ring record of European oak going back to
8480 B.C.6 The carbon-14 dates on these two different
sequences rise as the number of tree rings rise and are in such very
close agreement with each other that they convinced Gerald Aardsma,
Ph.D. specializing in carbon dating, and a teacher at the Institute for
Creation Research for 6 years, that Carbon-14 dating is reliable back
to c. 9300 B.C.7

With the validity of C-14 dating established back to at least c. 9000 B.C., we can now ask, "Is there any archaeological evidence for a Flood in the Near East subsequent to 4000 or 5000 B.C.?" The short answer is that the only evidence of serious flooding in the Near East
during that time period is from riverine floods.

When tells in the Near East which date from 5000 to the time of Abraham are examined, no evidence of a global flood is found. In fact, overlapping layers of occupation, one on top of the other, often with the remains
of mud-brick houses in place, are found intact spanning the entire
period. No matter what specific date one might put on the flood after
5000 B.C., there were sites in the Near East at that date where people
lived and remained undisturbed by any serious flood. In other words,
not only is there no evidence of a flood that covered the Near East,
there is archaeological evidence that no flood covered the Near East between 5000 and the time of Abraham.

In fact there are continuous cultural sequences which overlap each other from 9500 to 3000 B.C. and down into the times of the patriarchs and later.8

The empirical data of geology, glaciology, and archaeology, as interpreted by virtually all scientists qualified in these areas of study, clearly testify that no flood covered the entire globe or even the entire Near East at any time in the last 11,000 years.

The biblical flood story is likely based on more local events, which we will explore in my next post.

1. Jane M. Renfrew, “Vegetables in the Ancient Near East Diet,” CANE 1:192; Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of Plants in the Old World (2d ed.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), 134

2. For more details see Paul H. Seely, “Noah’s Flood: Its Date, Extent, and Divine Accommodation,” Westminster Theological Journal 66 (2004) 291-293.

3. Glenn Morton, “Why the Flood was not Global,”; Donald C. Boardman, “Did Noah’s Flood Cover the entire World, No,” in Ronald F. Youngblood, ed., The Genesis Debate: Persistent Questions about Creation and the Flood (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990) 210-229. Wayne Ault, "Flood," Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) 2:556-563; Davis Young, Creation and the Flood (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977) 176-210.

4. Personal communication from Glenn Morton verified by geological maps.

5. Paul H. Seely, “The GISP2 Ice Core: Ultimate Proof that Noah’s Flood was not Global,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 55 (2003) 252-60, available at

6. M. Spurk, M. Friedrich, J. Hofmann, S. Remmele, B.Frenzel, H. H. Leuschner, and B. Kromer, "Revisions and Extension of the Hohenheim Oak and Pine Chronologies: New Evidence About the Timing of the Younger Dryas/Preboreal Transition," Radiocarbon 40 (1998) 1107- 1116.

7. Gerald Aardsma, "Radiocarbon, Dendrochronology and the Date of the Flood," in Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism (ed. Robert E. Walsh and Chris L. Brooks; Pittsburgh, PA: The Fellowship, 1990) 1-10; Gerald Aardsma, "Tree-ring dating and multiple ring growth per year," Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 29
(March 1993) 184-189.

8. The two sites, Abu-Hureyra in Syria and Mehrgarh in Pakistan, by themselves, show continuous overlapping occupation from 9500 to 3000 B.C. Andres M. T. Moore, G. C. Hillman, and A. J. Legge, Village on the Euphrates (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 491-93; Frank R. Allchin and Bridget Allchin, “Prehistory and the Harrapan Era,” The Cambridge Encyclopedia of India (ed. Francis Robinson; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 71; Dilip K. Chakrabarti, India: An Archaeological History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 126-36.

For another interesting discussion of science and faith, head over to "Jesus Creed" for their discussion of the question: "What effect does your approach to science have on your ability to be a missional witness in your communities? Will people set foot in the door and feel welcome?"

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John said:
"So yes we're open to debate but not to letting someone come in slam us and think we're just going to sit back and not answer you."

Answer what I said then, instead of making claims of what I said or didn't say. I'm not out to slam or convince anyone of anything except what is clearly written. It doesn't matter anyhow, I've complained about this for how many posts now and it continues.

So why am I a "futurist" for not agreeing with a figurative Genesis but Sam Frost is not? That was my point. I wasn't suggesting we name names for sensationalism. Anyway, good luck with the site. Peace.
No one called you a futurist...Jl said "This is exactly how the futurists dismiss preterism."

Lets try and back up to the OP.What in the OP did you disagree with and why?

I posted the article because i thought it would be great for a discussion.This doesn't mean i even agree with everything written in it.

Just pick any part your in disagreement and give a reason why and let's go from there.

These discussions are not just for me or any one person but for the benefit of any one interested in this area of Biblical study.

I'd like to continue and would like for all of us to take a step back and remember we're all brothers and sisters and we all come at it with different views and different amount of study and understanding.

We have had some heated debates with opponents of the Covenant Creation view and i think maybe it makes us a little more sensitive.

I'm sure you didn't mean to come off as abrasive in your first post as it came across to many of us.

i truly look forward to a really honest discussion with you here Jason.

So again...stick around.

Have you even read Beyond Creation Science? Or any other Local Flood arguments? I don't mean the LF arguments presented by YEC, but honest ones presented from those who believe in a LF. IMO the actual text give conclusive evidence that the flood was local. (The existence of Giants/Nephillian after the flood being a strong one.) All of the mountains and earth language can easily be taken as hills and land (region).

Before I was a preterist, I dismissed LF arguments because I was too lazy to study it from the Scriptures. I just soaked up anything Ken Ham and others put out there. After I became a full-preterist I was much more open to looking at things from a Hebrew mindset, and letting the Scriptures speak for themselves instead of imposing our Western/Materialistic Culture on to the Holy Scriptures.

There is a reason why AIG and others hate preterism. They know when people shift their woodenly scientific mindset in Revelation they will eventually make the same shift when it comes to Genesis. YEC is a relatively new thing, along with Dispensationalism. Check out BCS, they do a lot of research into the history of the two movements.

(Disclaimer: Tim Martin (co-author of BCS) is my brother.

I hope you take the time to look into these arguments. As a Full-Preterist you know how frustrating it can be to have people dismiss you outright without honest study. That is true in all areas of theology.

Hey, Micah, I've been in the evolution/Creation fray for about 10 years now. I know about Young Earth / Old Earth, Theistic Evolution, Day-Year Theory, etc pretty well. This all goes back to my roots in Christianity in the days of Hovind vs. Ross. I completely disagree with Old Earth, TE, DYT, etc. but that doesn't mean I agree with everything Hovind teaches either. In fact, I haven't even read AiG since at least 2004. I don't need AiG nor rely on it or any other Creation science propaganda. I study these things out independently and check facts on both sides. The more biblical case to me is Young Earth. Thanks for being civil, Micah.

Here is a thought. IMO both YEC and OEC miss the point. They both are concordance views of Genesis. They both ignore the consonantal framework of God's dealing with people and instead try to fit Genesis into a scientific-western-materialistic worldview. (Christian or not) What people (especially preterist) are starting to realize is that the best way to view Genesis is with a Hebrew mindset (non-concordance view) Interestingly enough it is not only preterist that are starting to realize this. John Walton just produced a book "The Lost World of Genesis One" and basically take a covenant creation view from a little different perspective than most preterist take it. But essentially it is the same. It is non-concordance.

One last thing. If you have been keeping up with the debate about YEC /OEC, why do you discount the local flood argument so quickly?

Internet postings are hard to come off as civil, so I appreciate you saying that. I think everyone here is civil, it is just the internet that allows our words to sound harsh to each other when in reality we all could be sitting around a beer and having the same discussion and enjoying each others company.


I agree with you Micah about YEC missing the point. I do think that the issue isn't actually the age of the earth. The old earth creationists try to act in response to the young earth creationists by using science to prove an older earth. The YEC don't actually care about the age of the earth which is why my grandfather taught me to use the term 144-hr creationist. If a YEC'er thought the earth was created in 143hrs or 145 hrs they would be thrown out of their own camp. This is important because there is no evidence to prove that the earth was created in 144hrs other than an interpretation of the bible. Also, when it comes to the global flood, I work for an O&G upstream company and there is no way any oil geologist would believe that the oil in the ground could have been created in a couple of months and is less than 6,000 years old. The stuff that comes out of the ground is scientifically impossible to produce in less than 6,000 years. The lack of scientific evidence for a literal interpretation of Genesis is appalling and it's not about the age of the earth. I know you aren't talking about scientific problems but I was just addressing how even the YEC-OEC debate isn't framed correctly.


Thanks for posting the following comment at SGP.You continue to prove my view that you along with Jason B and Mike B couldn't be honest if your life depended on it.

Anyone reading through this discussion can see you have exaggerated at best and lied at worse.

Comment by Jason King 7 hours ago
I notice a lot of times when I'm ganged up on by a group of religious people, they tend to say I'm "angry" simply because I address each and every one of them in a matter of seconds and I get right to the point. They want you to be angry, so they have to convince themselves that you are when you aren't, that way they can feel better about being shown to be wrong in the topic, if indeed they are. For instance, Jesus was angry at the Pharisees. He was angry with a righteous anger and yet he made a whip from cords and drove people out of the Temple. I'm not saying that's a license to be angry, but it can be justified. I'd rather be angry than a liar or false teacher, personally. I think CC has shown tremendous dishonesty in their quote mining and other things Jason even pointed out. And with my experience at DiD, I was ganged up on and disrespected and I left the site the same day I made the account lol. And sometimes when we are under a microscope as the lone voice of your cause in the den of the lions so to speak, people aren't going to give you any benefit of the doubt whatsoever. To some, Jesus was perceived as a person who fooled the people. But he told them to stop judging based on appearances and make a righteous judgment. To a scoffer, Jesus was one angry guy and quite the blasphemer. Just sayin...

Jason the only thing your just sayin is BS :) You got angry and left because you had no answers and you were called out for implying that anyone that didn't believe in a global flood wasn't Christian.

You said "I just hope no Christians are buying this. If the flood wasn't global"

If you can find where you were disrespected point it out and I'll offer an apology.

After you can't then you can apologize for your whining and false accusation.

By the way you didn't delete your account here but feel free to if all your going to do is whine and lie.

What concerns me about this whole “anger” issue is that this is the same argument that Preterist have encountered from the futurist camp from the beginning. It is a common method used by our religious brethren wanting to stake out the high ground emotionally. It has nothing to do with good theology but is simply an emotional appeal to rally like minded angry people around them. Anger tends to breed more anger and is the method used by the Jews against the early Christians as they went as far as letting their anger turn to murder of their brothers.

Mat 5:22 But I say to you that EVERYONE WHO IS ANGRY WITH HIS BROTHER WILL BE LIABLE TO JUDGMENT; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.

I would be very careful stating that Jesus anger can be appropriated by His followers whom He gave direct instructions to that they were not to be angry with their fellow brethren the Jews. Vengeance is mine says the Lord and whichever faithful believer that is wrong theologically will be dealt with by the Lord. However it may not be to take retribution against. Paul says that the weaker brother if convinced in his own mind will be able to stand before the Lord because each one does so to the Lord.

Rom 14:3-6 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. (4) WHO ARE YOU TO PASS JUDGMENT ON THE SERVANT OF ANOTHER? IT IS BEFORE HIS OWN MASTER THAT HE STANDS OR FALLS. AND HE WILL BE UPHELD, FOR THE LORD IS ABLE TO MAKE HIM STAND. (5) One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. (6) The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

I certainly understand righteous indignation that one may feel toward those ideas that challenge strongly held convictions but letting anger simmer and brew is a recipe not for righteous anger but for hatred. I sincerely doubt that anger that depicts hatred personified can ever be justified and if one is walking in anger then they risk walking in hatred.

I don't think it's accidental that the futurist and the folks at SGP are using the same emotionally charged attacks.

It's the same with their arguments.How many times have you heard a futurist say well i still see the same heavens and earth so it must not have happen?

Now look at Mike B's latest "Again - the elephant in the room. Is "seed-bearing plant" some magical covenantal language symbolic of something else?"

Sure sounds familiar huh?

You make some good observations.I think your comments along with Chuck Coty's comments should go a long way in making people stop and take a breath before we respond in anger.

Note by the way Chuck is not CC as far as i know.

Chuck "I may be angry with what I see dispensationalism doing to the Christendom, but I try not to transfer that anger to individuals who embrace dispensationalism. Listen, if you say it's not personal then it's not. I'll take your word for it. But you keep asking why people think you're taking things personally and I responded honestly. If you're angry but don't take any of this stuff personally, then so be it. You're apparently able to do what most cannot. The problem though, as I see it, is if we respond angrily to those to with whom we disagree (even if we believe we're justified), chances are we will instigate an in-kind response. So instead of keeping the focus on doctrinal differences, it turns into a worthless, ugly, emotional battle that continues to escalate."

How funny! But the bible paints a different picture:

Gen 8:5 - And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.
Hi Robin,

Sometimes we need to stop and think before we respond :)

Before Gen 8:5 was Gen 7:17 The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.

Before there was a decrease their was an increase wasn't there? So maybe your just looking at the picture backwards.

Now that is funny :) And i mean this in good humor Robin.




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