Was the Flood Worldwide?

Jon French

If the Biblical record of Creation is true, the fossil-bearing rocks of the earth must have been formed subsequent to the Fall of man and the introduction of death and decay into the world by God’s Curse on the whole Creation (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:20-22). Therefore, these geologic strata must be explained
largely on the basis of catastrophism, rather than uniformity. This immediately brings to mind the Deluge at the time of Noah, which is the greatest physiographic event recorded in Scripture or in human history, and which can be seen to have had tremendous geologic implications.

Since a number of harmonizers of the Bible with geology have sought to show that the Flood was only a local inundation in the Tigris-Euphrates region, it will first be necessary to establish the clear Biblical teaching of a worldwide Flood. Consider, for example, the following very cogent reasons for understanding the  Scriptural account of the Deluge to have certain reference to a universal cataclysm:

1. The expressions of universality in the account (Genesis 6-9) are not confined to one or two verses, but are repeated in various ways more than a score of times, the writer apparently guarding by every means possible against this very theory that the Flood might be only a limited inundation.

2. There are numerous references to the Flood in later parts of Scripture, all plainly indicating that the writers regarded the account in worldwide terms. The Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26, 27) makes the world wide judgment of the Deluge to be a type of His own return in judgment upon this
present world.

3. The record makes it plain that the waters overtopped the mountains which even in the vicinity of the Tigris-Euphrates region reach great heights. The mountains of Ararat contain peaks over fifteen thousand feet high. The waters “prevailed upon the earth” at least 150 days, so that waters which covered mountains
in one region of the world must necessarily have attained to similar elevations in all other parts of the world.

4. The primary purpose of the Flood was to “destroy all flesh” and especially to destroy man from the earth. During the year before the Flood (perhaps 1600), conditions were evidently favorable to abundant procreation. The idea that man could only have spread over a small region during this period is quite
unreasonable and certainly could not be said to harmonize with anthropology. Consequently, the geographical extent of the Flood would have to be worldwide.

5. The purpose of the Ark was to “keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth,” but this purpose was entirely superficial and unreasonable if the only life that was destroyed was within a certain limited area. The Ark had a carrying capacity at least equal to that of 500 ordinary cattle cars, far too large for the
needs of merely a small region.

6. Most important, the entire Biblical record of the Flood becomes almost ridiculous if it is conceived in terms of a local flood. The whole procedure of constructing a great boat, involving a tremendous amount of work, can hardly be described as anything but utterly foolish and unnecessary. How much more sensible it would have been for God merely to have warned Noah of the coming destruction, so that he could have moved to another region to which the flood would not reach. The great number of animals of all kinds, and certainly the birds (which migrantes vast distances), could easily have moved out also, without having
had to be stored and tended for a year in the Ark! The entire story thus becomes little more than nonsense if it is taken as a mere local flood in Mesopotamia.