Did the Great Flood really happen?
Did the Great Flood really happen? This question has been asked for centuries as skeptical Christians wonder if the story is an allegory or literal truth.
Did Noah's Ark happen?
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- According to Genesis, God sent a Great Flood to punish the wickedness of mankind. However, there was one righteous man on Earth, Noah. God instructed Noah to build an ark and to house two of every kind of animal inside. Once safely aboard, God sent rain which continued for forty days until the Earth was covered with water and all men and the creatures of Earth perished. After this, the waters receded, and Noah and his family repopulated the Earth in the centuries to come, making us all descendants of Noah.
The story has always been met with skepticism. Where did the water go after the flood? Are 40 days of rain enough to cover even the mountains? How could Noah have fit all the animals on the ark? What of the many different species we see today?
These questions are difficult to answer because Genesis does not deal with them directly. This difficulty has prompted some people to suggest the story is allegorical, that it is a myth intended to teach a Godly lesson, not history. There is evidence for this. The story of the flood matches an earlier story contained within the Sumerian epic, "The Epic of Gilgamesh." In that story, the Sumerian gods are annoyed with humanity and decide to send a flood to destroy it. They choose to save one man, Utnapishtim, by asking him to build an ark and to fill it with two of every animal. The dimensions of Utnapishtim's ark are identical to Noah's.
The Hebrews are believed to have adapted the story of Gilgamesh to their culture.
It is difficult to prove the flood happened, with believers accepting it more by faith than science. However, there is some tantalizing evidence the flood really did happen.
The first and most obvious evidence come from the Bible, where the story of the flood is referenced several times as a matter of fact in the New Testament. If we accept Genesis as literal truth, and the writers of the New Testament Gospels and letters as truthful, then their words are testimony that something happened.
Genesis itself is clear that a flood covered even the highest mountains.
But what about scientific evidence? Is the ark even feasible? Did the flood leave its mark on the Earth?
Several studies have suggested that yes, an ark could be built. Yes, people and animals could probably survive on it. But there is a problem with the modern scientific approach to the ark; that is the flood was a supernatural event. God may have required Noah to build an ark, but that does not mean the ark was condemned to the forces of nature. Surely, God would have protected the ark. We already know God filled the ark by making two of every animal enter. When God is at work, nothing is impossible.
Looking at the Earth, it is easy to see the influence of water on our planet's surface. Our planet is filled with every kind of feature, shaped by water. From broad floodplains to deep canyons, water is a powerful force.
Could this have happened all at once? Maybe, although most scientists have a very difficult time accepting that something like the Grand Canyon could have been created in a single event. Instead, many scientists propose that a smaller, less-then-global flood likely occurred and became the basis of the story.
Robert Ballard, the ocean explorer who discovered the wreck of the Titanic, theorized that 12,000 years ago the world was covered in ice. When that ice melted at the end of the last ice age, it caused catastrophic flooding. Small oceans worth of water would have washed over entire regions. Our human ancestors would have experienced this flooding. They wouldn't know how big or small the flood was, as far as their eyes could see, the world would be inundated with water.
Ballard thinks this experience would have been traumatic and could have formed the basis of the flood story in Genesis.
Yet Genesis is clear: "The waters reached their peak fifteen cubits above the submerged mountains," (Genesis 7:20).
Many Christians today argue the flood story is only a myth. It is a cautionary tale, not intended for literal interpretation. What's important, they say, is that we accept the lessons in the story rather than the story itself. There is merit to this approach. The story has no value if we ignore the lessons it teaches.
What do you think? Did the flood really happen as explained in the Bible? Or is the story of the flood just a story with an important lesson for us to follow? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
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Priests and their Pastoral Ministry. That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.
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