Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1996
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Chapter 5: The Flood: The Buried Truth of Divine Intervention
Lesson 19 – The Distinctives of the Biblical Flood
14 Mar 1996
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
[Begins in middle of sentence]…historical nature of the Bible, i.e., that the Bible is talking about real history, and it’s not talking about religious ideas and speculations. The Bible doesn’t allow us to do that. The Bible marries so closely and tightly what it’s teaching about God and our relationship with Him to what happened in history that you can’t separate the two. This is the scandal that is felt intellectually by our generation, and actually for the last 200 years. The scandal is that you can’t have your Biblical faith without your inerrant Bible, you can’t come in at the cafeteria and pick and choose what you want out of the Bible, because the Bible won’t let you do that. The Bible roots ideas about God, salvation and sin to what went on in history and what the Bible reports, so there’s no severing of that.
This is unlike other religions. If you think about it, for example if you read the Analects of Confucius these are moral and ethical teachings, precepts, etc., that don’t depend on Chinese history, they just are moral insights, so to speak, of Confucius. So Confucianism doesn’t rest its case on the validity of elements in Chinese history. You can go to other religions outside the Bible and you see the same trend. For example, Hinduism, it doesn’t matter what happened in Indian history to justify or negate Hinduism. But our biblical faith is at one with the events of Scripture. So that’s the problem we have, and that’s why I’m going over these events and when we get into the historical problems of biology and geology and astrophysics in more detail, you’ll say why do I always bother with that? Because I have to. If modern man is going to say he can’t believe the Bible because of that, then I have to deal with it. The person who says I can’t believe because of that is really partially right in the sense that they recognize that our faith is historically grounded. That’s the first thing, and this is why I’ve partitioned this course in terms of events, to force us in the way we think, the basic way we think, to think in terms of historical events, creation, the fall, the flood, and that if these things did not happen, then the truths that we learn are also not true. We saw the first two events, now we’re going to move on to the third one, the flood.
The second thing we are going to deal with is the interrelationship of one part of the Bible and its teaching to the other parts of the Bible and its teachings, because you can’t defend the Bible in piecemeal fashion. It’s not like you get somebody to believe this part of the Scripture and then later on they come to believe that part of the Scripture. The problem with that is that as long as the human being is deciding which part of Scripture they’re going to believe and which part they’re not, who’s the final authority. If that’s the game that’s being played, what is the supreme rule of the game? It’s the autonomous judgment of man. Whereas what is our faith? Our faith is that it’s God’s Word; therefore God Himself is the authority through the text, so the text has to be the authority. We may not like the text, we may have difficulties with the text, of course we do. We have many vast areas of text we don’t understand, of course we do. But if you are a Christian you have in principle submitted to the fact that you aren’t the final authority, God is. Or society isn’t the final authority, God is. You’ve located your authority in a different place.
The third thing we are going to stress is the fact that there are adequate defenses of the faith, etc., which we are doing. So as we start I want to draw your attention to these two, the interrelationship of these three events before we get too far into the flood. Let’s talk about something we’ve talked about in the past. The event of creation defines the Creator/creature distinction. You can’t have a creation without a Creator, so the act of creation defines the Creator/creature distinction. It defines it like no other religion on earth is defined. Hinduism doesn’t define it that way; paganism never has defined it that way, only the Bible defines a Creator/creature distinction. Then we said inside the creation there is a further distinction, a distinction between man and nature. Paganism does not distinguish that, and you can see it every day headlines, Time Magazine, science books, etc., that man is very much like the chimpanzee because if he’s 98% the same in his genetic structure then they must be related. The fact of the matter is that there’s an infinite gulf between the smartest chimpanzee and the stupidest man, because that man is made in God’s image and the chimpanzee isn’t. So there’s a distinction.
So all these distinctions hold and that’s why we obtain the doctrine of God, man and nature, all flowing from the event of creation, and you can’t say you believe that if you don’t buy into the literalness and historicity of the creation acts in Genesis. Then we said that the Bible is different from all the religions in the earth in the sense that it starts evil after origins, so there’s a fall that happens. That’s missing out of pagan thought. Pagan thought says that evil, sickness, death, and sorrow are just the normal attributes of existence. We as Christians say no, that’s wrong, because of the fall evil, death, sorrow and suffering are abnormal features of existence, brought into existence not by the Creator but brought into existence by disobedience, by rebellion of the creature against the Creator. So by separating the fall and the creation, that’s a tremendous thing that’s happened here. You can’t over emphasize this. That’s why we spent 4 out of 6 chapters just on these two things. You cannot overemphasize that the creation and the fall are two absolutely, fundamentally different things, and what that distinction causes is an awesome responsibility that falls upon the creature’s shoulders from creating evil.
If that’s the case, we move to the third issue, the flood. The flood in the Bible is universally picked up in the pages of the New Testament as a mirror or what? When you think of Jesus and the Apostles talking about Noah’s flood, in what context are they inevitably talking about the flood? Talking in terms of the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. That’s what the flood is being used for in the New Testament, as a picture of that which is yet coming, the future and culminating act of history, a cosmic catastrophe is coming. So the Bible says that there’s a solution to the problem brought in by the fall. If the fall created evil in an otherwise good creation, and has thereby produced the situation of this tension between what we know ought to be and what in fact we observe is happening, the question obviously is, is there any resolution, is there any solution to the evil problem? What is the culmination of this, is this to go on forever, or is there a salvation, and the Bible’s answer is there is a salvation and here’s the key, which we’ll emphasize in this chapter, the Biblical view of salvation is an intrusion by the Creator again into the cosmos. It’s nothing less than that. The fall was something we did; salvation is something God does. And the reason that God has to do this is because we have blown it. There is no way that man can undo the results of the fall. It’s a one-way reaction, chemically speaking; you can’t drive the reaction the other way. So in terms of mechanical engineering it’s a ratchet device, and the ratchet only allows the wheel to turn one direction, you can’t get it back. That’s the picture the Bible presents.
Having presented the creation and the fall, this is why salvation in the Bible is oh so different from all the other religions of the world. There’s not another religion outside of the Bible that really speaks of salvation. I want to emphasize that. They may use the word “salvation,” but when you look at the content of what they’re talking about, it’s nothing more than a medical prescription for a sore toe, it’s just an anesthesia to do away with some of the pain, or it’s some little relative gimmick … you know, I’m two notches above my neighbor or something like that. That’s the only kind of salvation possible on a pagan basis because there’s no problem. The creation and the fall define the problem and the salvation is the answer to the problem. So the nature of salvation in the Bible is predetermined by the problem that you’re to be saved from. That’s why these three acts go together. That’s why you can’t take a part of the Bible and talk about it without taking all of the Bible and talking about it; it all fits together. You get the wrong diagnosis and you’ll always get the wrong prognosis. If you misdiagnose the disease you can’t heal it. So the nature of salvation in Scripture is a radical one, and it’s radical precisely because of what caused the problem that needed saving from.
Turn in the handout to Chapter 5 and in the Bible to Genesis 6 because in Genesis 6 we have a passage that gives a lot of people difficulty. I won’t go into the angels and man and all that, but I want to go into one that is even more profound in difficulty, Genesis 6:5-6. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth,” just look at verse 5 and the diagnosis. This is the diagnosis, it’s not the Apostle Paul, it’s not something in the New Testament, this is not something that Augustine created, or the Christian church. Verse 5 has been around for centuries before the Christian church. It’s been around centuries before the Apostle Paul. This is not a Pauline speculation of this horrible New Testament apostle, and he and Calvin and Augustine always kept talking about the badness of man. Wait a minute, look at verse 5, can you get any worse than that. That’s a diagnosis and a description of the human race, “and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Now tell me that Augustine and Paul and Calvin are worse than that; they didn’t start that, they just read their Bible. The problem is that people that read them don’t read the Bible.
Then in verse 6 notice the personal action. “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Verse 7, “And the LORD said, I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals, to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” That’s the personal nature. We said what distinguishes paganism from Biblical religion—in paganism there’s no ultimate person, paganism only has this impersonal principle. Paganism starts off in the beginning with gas; the Biblical view in the beginning was God. So there’s a person behind it all, and a person, though He is infinite and personal, He is still personal, and that means He has similarities with us. We get mad, God gets mad, and this is an anger of the Lord here, He reacts, He gets mad, and He is mad here and grieved in His heart over His workmanship, I made this universe and look what has happened to it. A small scale version of it is a woman who cleans the house, spends all day cleaning the house and what comes through the front door, and you get mad, you have created this and look what happened to it. That’s a very tiny example of what God thought when He created the universe and look what happened to it. You can’t cause a flood, He can.
What happens now is that we are going to introduce two words. This is a word pair that go together. Get down these two words because in the Bible it’s important, you always see these two words hooked together. One is the word “judgment,” the second is the word “salvation.” You cannot in Scripture have one without also having the other. And the flood is an example. People are saved, but they are saved precisely because God judges evil. Get hold of that idea. The salvation in Scripture is a salvation caused by a judgment. So the two hinge together.
The Genesis narrative has given people a hard time because it’s talking about a flood, God did this, He caused this global flood, etc., can we really believe this, and for years and years we’ve had the same problem in Genesis 6, 7, and 8, that we had in Genesis 1, 2, and 3, same problem. Same book, same problem! When we went through Genesis 1-3 we said there are three approaches that you can take. The first one that was begun after the Reformation, kind of petered out, you had German rationalism rise in Europe and the ministers all went to Europe to get their doctorates and they imported all this German rationalism, and it was liberalism and liberalism says we capitulate to the modern view of history, and we force the Bible to fit that. We capitulate, so we call that the strategy of capitulation. We try to hold on with our fingernails a few goodies out of the Scripture but basically what we’ve done is we’ve become traitors and we have given away the house, we have given away completely the Scripture. That’s the strategy of capitulation and compromise.
The second group, many of them born again, hold to the strategy of accommodation, hoping desperately there’s some way to make the Bible fit with modern accounts of history. This has been tried and found wanting for 150 years, over and over again people have tried, godly men and scholars have tried this, and you can’t bridge the gap.
The third tactic is simply try a counterattack and say look, the Bible must be true and if the Bible is true and we’ve got a conflict there’s something radically wrong with our contemporary understanding of history, something very much wrong. Those are the only three choices. So obviously those of us who are the fundamentalists take the choice that the Bible doesn’t fit and if the Bible doesn’t fit then the problem is with the way we reconstruct history.
What I want to do is defend the fact that the Bible is speaking here in Genesis 6:6-8 of a literal flood. Accommodationists want to deny this, and many Christians do this. This is an argument going on inside our own camp, so we want to deal with a literal flood interpretation and why that is the interpretation of Genesis. There are many arguments, but in the notes I’ve summarized on page 73-74 a series of arguments, we’ll cover three of the four arguments to show that the Bible clearly teaches a radical global flood. For some of you this is a waste of time because you say obviously the Bible means that. Don’t be so passive because sooner or later you’re going to be around other Christians who will try to take you to task for that. Be prepared and don’t be shocked if it happens some day because it’s widely prevalent in our own evangelical circles that this is talking about a local flood, it is not some global catastrophe, in fact it’s a flood that’s so local and so small scale we can’t even find a trace of it in archeology and geology.
We want to demonstrate this by turning to Genesis 7:19. The first argument we’re going to deal with is the Depth-Time argument. Here’s the structure of this argument. The argument is going to show that I can prove the universality of the flood without using the word “all.” Throughout the text “all” is used, all the mountains and all the hills, but those who would hold to a local flood say that’s just a relative use of “all,” it just means a lot of them, or all of them in a local area, all of them within the horizon of Noah were covered, that’s all it means. So the Depth-Time argument is going to reason without using the word “all.” We’re going to use a line of argument that is independent of that word. Here’s the argument, it comes out of Genesis 7:19-20. This is an observation, what was going on during that awful flood, this is an observation. It says “And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.  The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.” We’re going to ignore all the universal statements there and just look at one statement, the depth. It says “fifteen cubits,” and a conversion factor for a cubit is roughly 1.5, so you take 15, half of that, 22 or 23, say roughly 22 feet, for 22 feet up the water prevailed. Why 22 feet? Why do you suppose 22 feet is mentioned? If you’re in a boat and you’re floating in a body of water and you never ground the hull of the boat, the hull of the boat never grounds, never touches ground, how deep do you know the water to be, at least? You’re out in a boat, here’s the water level and no matter where you go in your boat you never touch ground. What does that prove about the depth of the water? The depth of the water must be at least that, that’s called the draft of the boat, and that’s what this observation is, that the ark was able to freely float and never grounded. So the water was at least 22 feet above whatever the boat floated over.
Next question: how long did this condition in Genesis 7:19 last? Look at the text and it lasts for a year. Now the question comes, what does this tell us about things? Let’s see if we can reason based on those two observations; the boat never grounds with a draft of 22 feet, for a year and floats all over the place. Let’s go to the Middle East and look at a map. Here’s a modern map of the place where we are talking, here’s Iraq, Baghdad, the Persian Gulf, Iran, the Euphrates River, the Tigris River, reputed by the local people, we don’t but they do, reputed by the local people to be the sight of this local flood of Noah’s. So let’s grant them that premise, that somehow this was just a river flood that occurred in Iraq. Somewhere in this thing the ark is for one year floating around and never grounds. The next question is how high are the hills in that area? So we go to a contour chart, and we look at what some of the high hills are. These contours give us the height above sea level; this is a thousand foot contour. Notice half way up the Tigris Euphrates valley, the valley is a thousand feet above sea level, and in this area there are hills and mountains four or five hundred feet above the valley floor, minimum. So if the boat is floating around and never grounds, NEVER grounds on any hill for one year, we’re a thousand feet above sea level to start with, and the hills are four to five hundred feet, now we’ve got a problem having at least four to five hundred feet of water in the Tigris Euphrates valley for one year, that’s an interesting flood.
And what’s further interesting is what’s the natural drainage pattern in this valley? From northwest to southeast. Where did the ark ground? Northwest. So not only do we have the spectacle of somehow keeping a thousand feet of water for one year suspended in this valley, we’ve got the ark floating in the wrong direction. Instead of going down the river it’s going up the river and grounds up there. What I’ve just shown you is why you cannot accommodate the Scripture to what science is telling us happened in history. One or both of them are in bad shape. That’s why we have to rethink this whole thing and that’s what we’re pressing to do.
On page 73 just before the second argument, notice something else. “Next we come to the term ‘under all the heavens’ (Genesis. 7:19). A check of occurrences of this phrase elsewhere (Deut. 2:25; 4:19; Job 28:24; 37:3; 41:11; Daniel 7:27 and 9:12) shows that it never refers to an area smaller than several hundred miles wide. Given such a minimum area, where in the Middle East can one place the flood without including at least some points of land several thousand feet above sea level? And if these points must be covered for many months, the flood must have been global. Thus the details of the text imply a global flood regardless of the usage of the term ‘all’ in a relative sense in other places.” I don’t need to make “all” all to define the flood as global. That’s one major argument. That argument was introduced in 1961 by Morris and Whitcomb in their book, The Genesis Flood.
Another argument, Genesis 6:14-15. Where did the plan for the ark come from? Popular Science Magazine? God revealed it to Noah. Let’s observe the dimensions of that ark. Verse 15, the length of the ark is three hundred cubits. Multiply that by 1.5, how many feet long is the ark? Four hundred fifty feet, a pretty healthy size. The breadth is fifty cubits, multiply it by 1.5, seventy-five feet across. And its height is 30 cubits. Notice the ration between the breadth and the height. If the height had been 50 and the width had been 30, would it have looked more like a normal ship? Probably. What does this tell you about the stability of that boat by having its width 50 and its height only 30? It tells you it’s stable, architecturally it’s a stable platform. And you can run computations on it, Dr. Morris who was the co-author of The Genesis Flood has a PhD in hydrodynamics and he wrote a paper in which he showed when you take the formulas that are used for stability of hulls and you apply it to Noah’s ark and it turns out that the ark can be tipped almost 60 degrees in either direction and the center of gravity restores if. It’s an enormously stable design, enormously stable design.
Here’s something interesting and striking. If this Bible is just a collection of mythology, where do you suppose these ancient people who never built a boat this big—name a boat in history built this big. There’s not another boat built as big as Noah’s ark until 1864, by the time the American Revolution happened, the best navies of Europe didn’t build boats this big, no boat that we know of was ever built equal to or to exceed the dimensions of Noah’s ark until in the 1860’s. But what was going on in the ancient world while this Bible was being written? We have myths and stories in the other cultures of a flood. But what is myth? Myth is the truth mutilated by the flesh. Myth is original truth that has been mutilated by selective forgetfulness and deliberate distortion by man’s sinful imagination.
If you look at these other stories however, you do see parallel elements, there was a flood, there was an ark, but notice their ark size. Here is Utnapishtim one of the Middle Eastern Noah’s in the mythologies. What do you notice about that ark? 200 × 200, it’s enormous all right, but I suggest that if you had a little experiment with some balsa wood in your bathtub and you cut one balsa piece out to equal that of Noah’s ark, and you cut a perfect cube out to make Utnapishtim’s ark, and then you started water waves in your tub, which one would be the most stable? The ark. What happens to a cube in water? The center of gravity is at the center of the mass, so when it’s tipped it rotates, it falls all over the place, it just tumbles. But the other design doesn’t tumble. So it’s the fine scale details that speak to us of the reality of this narrative. The details of the mythological narrative don’t fit; the details of the true narrative, preserved by the Holy Spirit from men’s distorted memories, is now reporting to us out of the text, out of these verses, the true dimensions of a boat that was done thousands of years before modern steel hull boats had the strength to be of this size.
Something else, notice where we talk about the Ark’s distinctive size, design and purpose, the second paragraph on page 74 we also mention the ceiling. In Genesis 6:14-15, “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with” the word that’s translated in our English Bibles as “pitch.” What’s interesting is in the Hebrew is that this word is “K-F-R,” the consonants, “Kafar,” and is used also later in the Bible for atonement, a covering, or atonement. It’s used just like that in the Old Testament for the covering of the blood. This ark was covered with something. Notice something else, that after the animals are brought to it and the door is closed, in Genesis 7:16, a radial observation that has never been reproduced in any film I know, that Hollywood has ever produced about the Bible.
Notice the last clause in verse 16, no Hollywood producer has ever successfully portrayed this in video, “the LORD closed” the door. In the movie, The Bible, it has John Huston playing Noah, and all the animals come in and Huston starts pulling on pulleys and the ark door comes up like a moat to a castle. First of all there is a decided waterproof problem. That doesn’t reflect the observations of the text. God sealed it. There’s a profound salvation truth in here, and if you think about it, you are seeing something of eternal security, involved in this little observation, that when the vehicle of salvation is sealed, God does the sealing. What does that do for the inhabitants and the occupants inside the vessel of salvation?
All these details are tremendously important, but what’s interesting is if you make a scale drawing of a railroad boxcar, Morris calculated this, and 500 boxcars is the equivalent volume of the ark. If you took the average size of animals, it turns out the average size of animals is a sheep, if you average all animals, smaller than a sheep, and you multiply by two, and allow generous things for land animals, they could fit, Morris has all the calculations, you could take two of every kind and fit them in less than 200 plus odd boxcars, which leaves over half the ark empty. People have railed about Noah and eight people couldn’t handle the manure, they couldn’t do the feeding, this is a menagerie in a boat, what happened to this. There is a new book out where a guy studied this exact problem for ten years, he goes into the whole theories whether the animals were in a semi-hibernating state during this process or whatever. But the point remains that this ark was a massive thing, equal to a modern vessel in size, as far as the principles of naval architecture and hydrodynamics stability was outstanding, it was 500 times the size of a railroad boxcar, it has plenty of volume to do the job, PLENTY of volume to do the job.
Finally, in Genesis 6-7 what is man doing that harps back to Genesis 1. Think back to the function that man was to play in the universe in Genesis 1. When God made man, what did God tell man was his relationship to the animal kingdom? He is to rule it, not rule it in the sense of being cruel, he is to rule it and take care of the animal kingdom. Who was the agent who saves the gene pool for the new world? Man. Notice that when God saves He doesn’t undo His creation structures. The original creation structure held man as a little lord, lord with a little “l” and he was to be the custodian of the resources God placed for him. And lo and behold when God tells man how to save himself, man saves the kingdom over which he was to have dominion. So the ark becomes a vehicle. We would say today he captured the gene pool of the entire land based animal kingdom, and it was probably the most significant ecological act that man has ever done in history or ever will do. Noah and his family of seven people plus himself did the greatest ecological service that has ever been done in history. You will never hear this spoken of on your local Earth Day. We’ve covered the Depth-Time argument, The Ark’s Distinctive Size, Design and Purpose of the ark. The point here is very simply: if the flood is local you can migrate, you don’t need a boat.
Now we come to the third argument, a very critical New Testament commentary on the old. We always like to control our interpretation of the Old by the New, so turn to 1 Peter 3:20. [blank spot] Peter was there when the Lord Jesus Christ drew the analogy between the flood and the coming advent. Peter must have been so impressed by the words of the Lord that he dwelled on this and the Holy Spirit opened his heart to see some of these truths. In 1 Peter. 3:20 he speaks of the flood. Pay attention to how the New Testament handles the Old Testament and you’ll see he’s speaking about Jesus Christ going… a very difficult passage in verse 19, where Jesus went to preach to the spirits in prison, “who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.” Do you suppose Peter had a literal view of Genesis 6, 7, and 8? It certainly looks that way, so if Peter didn’t have a problem with a literal interpretation, what’s our problem? Notice in verse 21, “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you … through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” and baptism is associated with water and there’s a faint suggestion that this flood episode is the first baptism in history, it becomes sort of an archetypical model of baptism. Ironically the people are saved are the ones who are dry, the people who are wet, in this particular baptism, are the ones who are lost.
2 Peter 3:5-7 is the crux, this is an enormously important passage, it has been long neglected by people who debate this whole question. It’s been brought up for centuries, there’s no excuse for any scholar today to avoid interacting with Peter. “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,  through which the world at that time was destroyed being flooded with water.  But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Test your powers of observation. When you go to the text of Scripture always try to ask who, what, when and where. Ask the details of the text. What word pair do you notice in verses 5 and 7 that you’ve seen before, repeatedly in the creation story? Heavens and earth. What’s Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” We said “heavens and earth” is an [can’t understand word] word pair. What’s a synonym in our modern English language for that word pair? The universe. Now let’s plug the word “universe” in and see how it reads. “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the universe that existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,” talk about making this flood cosmic.
Then in verse 7, “But the present universe by His word is being reserved for fire,” you see the dynamics of this is that… let’s diagram this, in verse 5, 6, 7 you have a word pair, heavens and earth in verse 5; heavens and earth in verse 7. This word pair  refers to something that then was; this word pair  something that now is. Just that observation alone should clue you to the fact that far from taking and minimizing that flood in Genesis 6-7, what is Peter doing? Far from minimizing it, he’s maximizing it, he’s saying this was a catastrophe that not just affected planet earth, this affected the entire universe. This is an enormously important passage. This is an apocalyptic cosmic extension of the Genesis story in 6, 7, and 8. Peter would never dream of this thing as a small local flood, he dreamed of this on a cosmic scale, this was a total eclipse. You want to understand this because as we go further into this great story of salvation, remember what we’re dealing with, this is the first picture of a saving God, so there’s a magnificent strength and power here of the very word salvation. It’s not something that like some little bathtub ran over in Baghdad. This is going to be a massive cosmic intervention.
Sandwiched between verse 5 and 7, verse 5 being the universe that then was, verse 7 being the universe that is now, the world was destroyed, the entire world system, and the Greek word there is a cataclysm. The whole world, destroyed. There’s a discontinuity in history, Peter says, there was the old age and there is now the present age. It was such a discontinuity he says that there’s no continuity across them, because verse 4, that introduced this discussion, says here’s the problem with the pagan unbeliever, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” That’s the philosophy of the Continuity of Being, there is it, it’s the heart of pagan thought, that there was no disturbance from the time the universe first appeared to the present day, there’s never been a discontinuity says paganism, and since there never has been a discontinuity in the past, there can’t be a discontinuity in the future, and therefore you Christians are wrong when you cite this belief you have in this stupendous Second Advent of Christ. That represents a discontinuity not allowed, not permitted by what we know of the universe.
But Peter cuts across that, and he cuts across it in the most vigorous way, by making a flood a universal thing, not just a planet earth thing or a Mesopotamian Valley thing. He uses that as a counterargument. Notice too, verse 4, “Where is the promise of His coming?” In verse 3 he says they are “mocking, following after their own lusts.” Notice the word “lusts,” he’s not necessarily mentioning lusts of the flesh here, but yet he is, he’s saying that something in our sin nature, there is that which is in us, in our flesh, that just grates at the idea of an interfering God. The very idea that God can intervene cosmically in this universe, why would a sinner want to say that? Security. The story here, the big gain is security, security from an interfering God; security from reaping and sowing; security from choices and consequences. So there’s a hidden ethical and spiritual motive behind all that philosophy in verse 4. What’s Peter saying, verse 3 says that the cause of the philosophy of verse 4 is the sin of man’s heart. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts.” It’s the sin in man’s heart that twists his intellect, it’s not that we have an intellectual problem; ultimately we have a moral/spiritual problem that shows up in intellectual ways. But the intellectual problems are effects of spiritual causes.
The fourth argument, “The distinctive features of the Antediluvian world.” I make a note in the first paragraph “that many unbelieving scholars have called this pre-flood world a ‘mythical land’ in a ‘mythical age’.” Generally the scholars who capitulate do this, they’re honest to the text, they say hey fellows, no-no, if you read Genesis 1-8 there’s no way that that fits this present world, it’s all religious speculations and imaginations, all those ancient ignorant people that didn’t have modern science at their disposal and they just made this up, it’s a great fantasy story. But look what they’re saying; they’re admitting with us that what is described there is not what is happening today, there’s two different worlds that are involved, the old world and the new.
So let’s look at some of those differences. The graph on page 75 is taken from Genesis 5 and Genesis 11, you can do this yourself, I urge you to do it, take a piece of graph paper, go through those two chapters and plot for yourself that graph, just so you believe it. Plot the age and death of each person, draw out the points and curve fit it, and look what you get. There’s not an engineer here that doesn’t know immediately what that curve is, you see it again and again. You look at an electrical circuit and what a capacitor charges and discharges, what do you call that curve? Exponential decay curve, it’s the potential across the plates of a capacitor. Take a glass of hot water and put a thermometer in, get the thermometer hooked up to the temperature of the water so you have equilibrium on your thermometer, drop 5 ice cubes in the glass, watch the temperature drop, plot the temperature drop and plot the temperature vs. time and you’ll see exponential decay curve. Everywhere you go in the physical universe you get this curve when you move from one steady state to another steady state, it’s almost universally experienced. It’s striking. I’ve often been sarcastic—of course this was all laid up, Moses had his pocket calculator, he simply pressed the logarithmic button and came up with a logarithmic decay curve, very easy. It traces of detail in a text that show its reality.
The Bible is reporting something tremendously important, and if you want to compare that curve with the curve that you get in mythology, because you can read mythologies and they too speak of a long time golden age when men lived tens of thousands of years, but if you plot their ages, it goes up to something like 100,000 or 200,000 thousand years, you have these big curves, then you have the flood, and you have some sort of a sharp break off. In other words, it’s a step function. Isn’t it striking that the Bible alone, just like the design of the ark, the Bible has the traits of real observations when you look at them carefully. This is the spirit of truth, and He’s left His marks all over the text, if we just have the eyes of faith opened and be intellectually honest enough to absorb them.
If that graph is correct, and by the way, the curve that best fits through those points before the flood is about 930, what do you offer by way of explanation for what went on to the human body living 930 years and now goes to, say 90 at best? How do you go from 930 down to 90? How do you explain a 90% reduction in human viability? What caused that one? Local flood in the Mesopotamian valley, with the ark floating in the wrong direction? What caused this? Think of the body chemistry and the details of how we are gloriously and wonderfully made. What on earth caused this tremendous deterioration in our health? We’re little pygmies compared to these people that lived in the glorious antediluvian world, they would look upon us and say are you sick? It’s amazing, these people, and next year when we start talking about the ancient east, the cradle of civilization and we get into some mythology you’ll see the implications, this was remembered in history and had a profound affect on how ancient history was written.
But the strange, strange thing that happened, and what is enormously interesting, and I leave it for your imagination, but here’s a puzzle, during this period of time, right here after the flood, you would have had grandparents dying after their grandchildren by virtue of this curve. An amazing thing begins to happen; the deterioration curve works such that grandchildren die before their grandparents, only for a short time in history. There was only one period of human history where this happened, during that transition zone, and it was so traumatic that its memories last forever in the midst of the world. The great gods and goddesses are remembered as human beings that sinned and that acted like people...they were, they were these superhuman people of the Noah generation that coexisted and co-lived on the face of this planet with other people who were born and who were mortal like we are, and to them the generation of their parents and their grandparents, they were the gods and goddesses of the world, because they knew that they had powers of longevity, that they never had. This is a spawning ground, it’s completely missed by students of history and yet it’s the explanation for all of these stories.
Going further, some more observations, if you aren’t convinced yet that the Bible presents an utterly different universe before the flood than the present universe, watch this. In Genesis 2:8-9 it speaks of Eden. We always get our eyes on Adam and Eve, the serpent, etc. Don’t do that now, focus as a mapmaker would focus. Tonight you’re a mapmaker, you’re a cartographer, and you’re trying to use the data of Genesis 2:7-9 to construct a map. You don’t know what the continents look like in the ancient world, no guarantees, but for some area it says there was a region called Eden.
Notice that the text says that God planted a Garden in Eden. The Garden is not Eden, the Garden is in Eden, and it was east in Eden. So here’s the little Garden, the site of the first man and woman, wherever this place was on this planet before the flood. But there’s some strange things about this Garden, and this Eden because verse 10 reports that “a river flowed out of Eden to water the Garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.” If you’re a Christian for 10-15 years you’ve probably read that verse dozens of times and you never noticed that there’s something very strange about that verse. Do you see what it is? Something is wrong about that verse; something about that verse doesn’t fit what we know about hydrodynamics. Look at our map, there’s a river that flows out of Eden to water the Garden, and what does it do after it leaves Eden? It divides into four rivers. Where do you ever see rivers dividing like that? Rivers combine, the Mississippi and Missouri River combine, but where to rivers diverge.
Now if you’re a mapmaker and this is an observation about rivers diverging, what does that tell you about the height of the land? Make some deductions here. What does that tell you about the altitude? It tells you that wherever this place is, it was on a mountain. The only place we have a watershed divided today is in the Rocky Mountains, and the Appalachian mountains, there’s a watershed division, rain drops and theoretically as a rain drop comes down and hits the knife edge of the division, some of the water molecules go east, some go west, the ones that go west drain off into Kentucky, go into the Ohio River basin, go out into the gulf of Mexico and the ones that falls on the east side come out and go into the Susquehanna and into Chesapeake Bay and out into the Atlantic ocean. There’s a divergence, but the divergence is caused by a mountainous terrain. But even that doesn’t really quite explain this pattern. Somehow these rivers are diverging, and it’s coming from somewhere. We’re not told where that river comes from, we’re just told that it exits some place, waters the Garden. There’s a hint in verse 6, and the hint is in the word “mist,” “But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.” That word is also a Hebrew word that can mean an artesian well and that’s how I take it; I take it that this water was coming out of the ground.
We’ll take this up next week, but look before then look at two verses in the New Testament, John 4:14 and Revelation 22:1-2 and see if that doesn’t stimulate some thought about this world that then was.
Question asked: Do you feel that the age difference has to do with the climate change [can’t hear rest]. Clough replies: I don’t know, there’s been a lot of speculation but because we really don’t know the features of that world, we have such a small set of observations it’s pretty hard to tell what went on. The only hint that we have is that animals in the prehistoric era were all big. There are stories of dinosaurs existing the size of your collie dog well into the Middle Ages, and obviously what these grandiose animals that weighed tons are only weighing hundreds of pounds after the flood. How come? Something, whatever it was that deteriorated the human body also deteriorated animal bodies, and that’s why in the fossil strata the old animals of bygone era are rather enormous and must have had enormous consumption of food, you can imagine, it must have been a luxuriant creation to supply them with food. So we live in a plant of scarcity compared to what that environment was. Who knows what it was. The leading suggestions are that it was a genetic deterioration because you’ve suddenly limited the gene pool down to Noah’s family, so keep in mind that all of our genes come out of eight people, and that this was a distance from the fall where you had already introduced genetic corruptions. Part of that genetic corruption must be monitored because we still don’t understand very well what was going on in Genesis 6 when the angels intermarried, and I know many godly scholars take that to mean the godly line intermarried with the ungodly line, but most Hebrew scholars I’ve talked to treat it like Bena ha Elohim is always angels, so what on earth was going on there, where angels apparently corporealized into human bodies and had sexual intercourse with human females. What was this? Did they genetically destroy the human race; we have some very serious genetic stuff going on there. We don’t know. But the genetic argument is that the gene pool was pinched down to only eight, so whatever defects were inherited from Noah’s sons and their wives was simply propagated to all of us.
Another argument is the diet, we get into that later in the Noahic covenant, we are now to be carnivorous, and prior to the flood there was a vegetarian diet. Of course the health people say we should eat less meat, but yet God commands that we eat meat. I think there’s reasons for that but the point is that there’s a diet, there’s a genetic pool, I’ve seen a theory of hyper baric pressure where they’ve been doing experiments with healing, after surgery they put people in a tank and increase pressure so that they’re equivalent to hundreds of feet under water but they are not under water, just under air, but you increase the pressure and for some reason the body heals phenomenally well under high pressure, keep the oxygen ratio the same, etc. So the body responds to that, so maybe it has something to do with higher pressure, but these are all just speculations.
All we have is that fact, and to me that was one of the most powerful things when I was a new Christian because I was studying math and science at the time, and I started working that curve and I thought wow, this is real, this isn’t a story, this is real data, that’s the kind of stuff you see in a laboratory, and it was remarkable because then I would go read the critics of the Bible and they would yak endlessly about the mythologies, and this and that, etc. and not one of them ever interacted with that, I haven’t seen one person outside of a creationist talk about that curve. Not one, they just avoid it like a hot potato, and I think it’s a graphic signal inside the text itself that this is real data that God the Holy Spirit is telling us. So it was awesome, and I think if you can’t conceive of any physical force that caused us a 90% deterioration, without saying that there must have been other things going on in the environment at the same time. If you’re going to talk about diet, blame it on hyper pressure, you’re going to blame it on something; you’ve automatically implicated the environment. So there was something in the environment that happened radically different too at that time. But that’s a major observation on the flood narrative; it’s hard to write that off as a mythology, very difficult.
Does anybody have a sense, as we’re moving from creation to the fall to the flood, are you beginning to see how the Bible fits together, that you can’t isolate, your whole view of salvation is contingent on the creation. Are you beginning to see why as a Christian you have to think holistically, you have to think of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you can’t talk just about a piece without talking about all of it. I think that’s a very vital lesson to remember. And conversely we’ve talked about how do you ask this person or that person about such and such, I think part of it is you almost have to make the non-Christian realize that his world fits together too, there are certain things that fit together. If you’re not going to subscribe to the Bible and the flood, the fall, you have no explanation for evil. And if evil is always there, then you’ve got the situation where you can never get rid of it. What do you do with it? You sit there and you complain about we Christians and our God is an evil God for letting this happen, etc. What do you have as an alternative? What is your alternative? And if they give you some song and dance about I’ll think evil will go away some day, well why do you think that? I thought we got rid of God a couple hours ago in the conversation, why does evil go away.
So this is kind of a sobering and maturing experience to begin to see that there is such a thing as a world view, and how you think in one area controls how you think in another area. You can’t isolate your mind, it can’t be easily compartmentalized. It’s pathetic how we’re educated, and why most of us who are adults who became Christians later in our lives had to overcome our education to become Christians, if you think about it. Most of the stuff that you learn in Scripture is in direct conflict with everything you’ve learned. The passage we went through tonight where Peter said this they willingly are ignorant of, then they say all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation, what a depiction of the insistence of natural unbelieving man, that is constant. Remember when we dealt with the immutability of God, and I said we root our faith and trust in His enduring character for our constants. We don’t depend on anything in the universe to be the ground on which we stand, we stand on Him. And because we stand on Him I don’t get terrified that, say the constants of the speed of light might have changed.
That’s terribly upsetting to an unbelieving scientist, to suggest that the holy grail of the speed of light changed, because if that changed, he’s in deep trouble all of a sudden, and he’ll come back at you and say if there’s no constants then there’s no knowledge. That’s why he says you Christians are dangerous people, that’s why Phillip Johnson in his book that has just come out, Reason in the Balance, he was the professor of law at Berkeley, and he says that this is why we are so vigorously opposed at school board meetings, this is why we’re so vigorously opposed in the election system, is because we are a threat. You may never have thought of yourself as that, but we are a profound threat to a thinking intelligent non-Christian society, because they have structured their entire house of cards on the assumption that man finds his constants in this creation, and there’s going to be no interference from the outside. They’re terrified of outside interference, because once they allow it at one point, they’ve allowed it in principle at every point, and then they’ve undone their own structure. So that’s why there’s this vigorous culture war between supernaturalist Christians as ourselves, and the naturalists, the anti-supernaturalists, who just viciously defend that position.
So the flood, by thinking about this flood story, this is what I love about the Old Testament, you don’t have to be a theologian to think deeply on these matters, all you have to do is fill the imagination of your heart with these stories, that’s all you have to do. Just reflect on, for example, tonight we mentioned Noah sitting there, getting the directions on how to cut the wood for the ark, getting the directions of the dimensions, literally getting a blueprint from God on how to build this ark. If you can think of yourself, when you’re trying to use a saw, you’re building something, think of the planning that you do to do that act. Now in your mind think of what it must have been like if you would have been Noah, and God tells you this is the way I want you to build it. If that happened to you, if God came to you and told you I want you to build this thing, and these are the dimensions, and I don’t want you to screw up, you follow My blueprint, would you have any doubt after that experience that God can reveal Himself? Would you have any doubt that He can talk to you about things on His heart? Would you have any doubt that there’s a plan behind the universe?
Can you imagine what the emotional relief must have been when all of a sudden that flood started, and this ark starts creaking and lifts off, and you have the screams of people? And Josephus says the people were being scalded to death outside because there was volcanic activity and that water was over 200 degrees that was coming up. So you have people just screaming and pounding on the side of that ark, and it’s lifting off, and you can’t reach out and save them. And think of what you would have said to yourself, boy am I glad I built this thing the way He wanted. Had any man ever seen a boat that big? Probably not, so there was no precedent here, and here you have God coming to a man in engineering terms with a blue print that has never ever before been done. It would be like God coming to you and you were here in 1765 and He said here’s a rocket ship, follow directions, and you press the button and it launches, and then the earth disappears before you in a ball of fire or something. That’s the kind of emotional trauma that these people went through, and that’s what I’m trying to show you from the text that this flood event is big time stuff.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s a good observation, what do you do with Genesis 2, it had not rained. Some of the accommodationists say that just means locally in the Garden of Eden it didn’t rain, but if you follow the notes I’ll lead you a line of logic. There are several evidences to suggest why it did not rain before the flood, because there are several observations laced throughout the text that turn out to be consistent. After the flood happens, what natural phenomenon is first mentioned? It’s so new that it becomes a symbol of a covenant. The rainbow. Did you ever think about how to get a rainbow? You can create a rainbow at home with your hose nozzle, spraying it a certain way, but if you watch the hose nozzle while you’re spraying you’ll notice that you won’t get the rainbow unless you have pretty coarse sized drops. You can get light diffraction through water, but you don’t get color diffraction until the drops reach a certain diameter. Now it just turns out that the diameter that is optically necessary to spread the light into a spectrum is the diameter required to make that drop heavy enough to fall.
So what I’m suggesting is that before the flood when you have this observation, there was no rain, and then you have this seemingly separate observation in Genesis 9, I set my bow in the cloud, I’m saying that those two observations are very physically consistent, that that bow was new, that’d never been seen before. And it had never been seen because there never had been rain before. Now if there had never been rain for 1600 and some odd years before the flood, the earth must have been watered somehow. How was the earth watered? That’s why you should read Revelation 22, etc. and think about what we started on tonight, the river that comes out of Eden that waters the earth. Then think that it was an artesian effect, the entire geography, the entire hydrodynamic cycle was different. The world before the flood we would not recognize it, I don’t think. I think if we could take a time machine, somehow take an imaginary trip and go back before the flood and we land somewhere, we walk out the door, our immediate thought would be “we’re on a different planet,” it would be so different.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’d be a stunning science fiction movie; Christians could take advantage of the science fiction genre and write a neat story about that. But it would prick our imaginations. If you know young people that like to write, there’s a world waiting out there for somebody that’s willing to help us imagine the truths of Scripture, the imaginative power of good literature. We can’t make these events trivial; they’ve got to be really big ones. Next we’ll continue with the river that comes out of Eden and where it goes.