Monthly Archives: November 2021

The Genesis Flood Question – A Former Skeptic’s Conclusions.

This geological engineer’s journey into the Genesis Flood Question began with a historical geology class at Michigan Technological University.  I was raised in a mainline church where the Genesis Flood was considered a “story” that did not necessarily relate to any real events in geologic history.  My historical geology text was from the pre-plate tectonic era; it taught earth history based on 10 near global floods.  My historical geology text also taught that the geologic column documented billions of years of evolution.

After I graduated from “Tech” with a B.S. in geological engineering, I worked at the New Jersey Zinc Co. Eagle Mine at Gilman, Colorado.  This allowed me to see the geologic column and the Great Unconformity firsthand.  Gilman is one of the few places in the U.S. where a person can see the Great Unconformity.  Seeing the Great Unconformity firsthand raises a question: “How can uniform produce a unique geologic feature?”

Later, while serving in the Army, I became a Christian. I started believing the Bible but still believed in theistic evolution and long geologic ages.  As a result of a Sunday school class on the Genesis Flood, I first considered the literal view of the Flood seriously.  I also read the book “The Genesis Flood” and began to realize that major geologic event could occur in a short time. My interest, in creation and the Flood continued.  This continued study has led me to the conclusion that the Genesis Flood was a real event that is accurately chronicled in the plain language of the Bible.  I also concluded that a global flood was a unique event that is never to be repeated (Genesis 9: 8-17).   My conclusions are supported by:

The Biblical Evidence: The Bible is God’s word to humankind.  God communicates to His people clearly and directly.  Two words to describe this:

  • Perspicuity – Perspicuity basically means that a person of average intelligence can understand the Bible (The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1, Article 7).
  • Plain reading – Basically, with a plain reading, meanings are to be assigned the ordinary meaning of words.  The concept of plain reading is important to both believers and non-believers.   The following was excerpted from Wikipedia on 3/1/15:

“The plain meaning rule dictates that statutes are to be interpreted using the ordinary meaning of the language of the statute. In other words, a statute is to be read word for word and is to be interpreted according to the ordinary meaning of the language, unless a statute explicitly defines some of its terms otherwise or unless the result would be cruel or absurd. Ordinary words are given their ordinary meaning, technical terms are given their technical meaning, and local, cultural terms are recognized as applicable.”

The reformers developed good understanding of the difference between general revelation and special revelation.  This is well expressed in Chapter 1; Article 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) portions of this Article are copied as follows: 

“Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.”

In summary, the Biblical description of the Flood is part of God’s special revelation.  It is written clearly and in terms that are easily understood by the average believer. 

The Scientific Evidence: The scientific community continues to bring forth evidence that supports the Biblical account of the Flood.  This evidence includes:

  • Underwater landslides produce multiple layers of sediment in a single geologic event.  This was discovered in the 1920’s.
  • Fossils show evidence of rapid burial.
  • A plate tectonic model replaced the isotactic continent model by the late 1960’s. The plate tectonic model is based on the breaking up of a large super continent, Pangea.  
  • The Catastrophic Plate Tectonic (CPT) model was determined to be workable by qualified scientists.
  • The catastrophic explanation for the Channeled Scablands of eastern Washington State is accepted.  The catastrophic explanation was formulated in the 1920’s and accepted by the scientific consensus by the 1980’s. 
  • The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 provided evidence of how great thicknesses of differing rock layers can form from a single volcanic cloud.  The aftermath of the eruption provided evidence of how deep canyons can be formed in a short period of time.
  • Soft tissue and DNA has been discovered in dinosaur fossils in 1993.
  • Geomorphology and structural geology demonstrate a single world-wide flood event.

In summary, new scientific evidence has been supportive of catastrophic geologic events and a single world-wide Flood that occurred over a short time frame.

The Scientific Community:  The scientific community consists of scientists, applied scientists (engineers), medical professionals and others.  This community includes both Christians and non-Christians. Their close work with science can make them critics of the scientific consensus.  Some notables in this community include:

J. Harlen Bretz (1882-1981) – Bretz proposed a catastrophic explanation for the Channeled formulated in the 1920’s.  This explanation was accepted by the scientific consensus the 1980’s.

Dr. John R. Baumgardner – Baumgardner is a Christian and recognized expert in modeling global plate tectonics.

Dr. Henry Morris (1918 –2006) – Morris was a civil engineer who earned a doctorate is in the field hydraulic engineering.  He is the author of a textbook on Hydraulics.  Dr. Morris is the co- author of The Genesis Flood.

Mary Schweitzer – Paleontologist Mary Schweitzer discovered soft tissue and DNA in dinosaur fossils in 1993.  These discoveries were initially disputed but have since become accepted.

In summary, the scientific community includes qualified people who may disagree with the scientific consensus.  They provide a fresh look at the official positions of the scientific consensus.  Their contributions to the Genesis Flood question have been helpful.

The Scientific Consensus:  The scientific consensus is the official position of the scientific community.  However, this consensus is not the position of every scientist.  The scientific consensus can change when new scientific evidence is discovered. Change in the scientific consensus is a slow process.  The doctrine of uniformitarianism was based on observed low energy processes.  The doctrine was then used to explain all geology in terms of low energy and long amount of time.   With time, the scientific consensus has been able to observe and conclude that some geology is best explained by energy / short term events.

In summary, many Christians work in science and may agree with significant elements of the scientific consensus.  They recognize the fact that the scientific consensus can change.  Christians also recognize the limits of the scientific consensus.  The scientific consensus is limited because it will never be able to recognize the Bible as true or the God of the Bible as creator and Lord.

The Christian Community:  Since the widespread acceptance of uniformitarianism, the Christian community has become divided about the Genesis Flood. There are three general views of the Flood within in the Christian community, termed as follows:

  1. “Waiting in Faith Group”: This portion of the Christian community accepts the plain reading of the Genesis Flood without requiring scientific evidence to support the Bible.
  • “Waiting in Faith / Exploring Science Group”: this portion of the Christian community also believe that there is no need for the scientific consensus to support the Bible.  However, they believe that as part of the Dominion Mandate (Genesis 1:28), humankind is called to study science and to be conversant in science. 
  • “All truth is God’s truth group”: This portion of the Christian community accepts the positions of the scientific consensus as truth that has the same authority as Scripture. They chose to reinterpret Scripture to accommodate long ages required for uniformitarian geology.  These reinterpretations started in the 1830’s with the Ruin-Restoration (Gap Theory) view and Day-Age view.  It progressed to the Analogical-Day view and Framework view.  The most recent departure from plain meaning of Scripture is the Message-Incident view.  In this view, the “Message” is that God is angry at sin; the incident is the “Flood Story.”  All these views depart from the plain meaning and perspicuity of Scripture. 

In summary, both waiting, and faith are blessed.  Testimonies of waiting include Joseph and David.   The “Faith Chapter of the Bible” – Hebrews 11 states that the heroes of faith waited for God but in some cases did not receive their promise.  Christians who waited in faith are now discovering that waiting for God’s answer to scientific questions is far better than reinterpreting the Bible to fit the scientific consensus. 

In contrast, Christians who view “all truth as God’s truth” are forced to create increasingly bazar interpretations of Scripture to accommodate the latest positions of the scientific consensus.  Current positions of leaders within the “all truth as God’s truth” group are like those of the mainline churches 50 years ago.

Moving Forward: From my self-directed study of the Flood, I can make a few personal conclusions as follow:

  1. Most Christians accepted the Biblical description of the Flood until the 1830’s. 
  2. We live in a time when the objections to the Genesis Flood record of the Bible have been answered.  The value of waiting in faith for answers has been vindicated.  This wait has been a long – about 200 years. 
  3. We live in a time when the scientific consensus is questioned by both Christians and secularists.
  4. We live in a time when there is opportunity to see some remarkable geology and evidence of the flood: The Grand Canyon – Arizona; The Great Unconformity – Gilman. Colorado; the Channeled Scablands – eastern Washington State; Mt. St. Helens – Washington State; the Flood regression geology of the Flood-Virginia Piedmont.
  5. Accepting Gods special revelation and waiting for answers is better that reinterpreting scripture to conform to the scientific consensus.  I am glad to wait for God’s answers for any remaining questions concerning the Flood.