{18}   STUDY: Extent of the Flood


        According to traditional teaching, the Flood covered the whole Earth. However, in the last century, many people began to consider the possibility that the Flood could be a regional one covering only the areas where man inhabited at that time. Which theory of the Flood fits scientific data better: global or regional? Can the regional Flood interpretation harmonize with the inerrancy of the Bible?


What are the supporting evidences and difficulties of the global Flood?


[1] The Bible seems clear in implying a global Flood (see Gen 6:13,17; 7:18,21; 2Pe 3:6).

[2] If the whole mankind was destroyed, then the Flood must be global.


[1] Where did the Flood water come from?

The amount of water required to cover the whole Earth up to Mount Everest is 4 to 4.5 times the total water resources of the entire planet (or 8 times the water in all the oceans).

[2] Were all mountains totally submerged?

Some flood geologists believe that most of the fold mountains were formed because of the Flood, that is, the mountains before the Flood were much lower, thus requiring less water. However, the formation of all mountain ranges on Earth would result violent tectonic (earthquakes) and volcanic activities and the ark would not survive in such turbulence. In addition, the subsequent problem with volcanic ash will make life impossible.

[3] Was the ark large enough?

[a] It is estimated that the ark could contain a maximum of 35,000 to 50,000 kinds of animals. Yet the world today contains over 2 million species.

[b] The loading of 35,000 animal kinds (over 70,000 animals, counting 2-14 animals per kind) would require a lot longer than 7 days.

[c] There was insufficient space for food and water for over 70,000 animals. Also, Noah’s family of 8 people was insufficient to feed and look after all animals.

[d] The animals needed different climates for their survival. The ark could not provide such variety.

[4] Where was the source of the biodeposits such as coal?

Flood geologist say that all fossil-fuel deposits laid down during the Flood. However, the amount of existing biodeposits is more than 10 times larger than for the potential amount of deposits from all the plant matter on Earth today.

Blanket Answer—Revisitation:

Of course, all these problem could have been solved with God’s miracles if that was His plan. However, God has been shown to use the natural process and natural order (which He designed at creation) to complete His plans.

What are the supporting evidences and difficulties of the regional Flood?

A regional Flood can solve all the difficulties for a global Flood. The main problem is to explain why the Bible seems to indicate a global Flood.

Solving Exegetical Difficulties:

[1] The phrases “all the world” in the Bible may not mean the whole world (see Gen 41:57; 1Ki 10:24; Ac 2:5; Ro 1:8; Col 1:6).

[2] A regional Flood was sufficient to fulfil God’s plan. Because of the concentration of people in Mesopotamia at that time, a regional Flood was sufficient to kill every single human.

[3] Regional Flood still needs a miracle, as the water level in the Flood area must be much higher than outside the Flood area, and the flood water was described as prevailing for 150 days (Gen 8:24).

Supporting Evidences:

The difficulties for the global Flood position can all be supporting evidences of the regional Flood. In addition, there are 2 points related to the floodwaters.

[1] From where were the floodwaters from? The Genesis text indicates that the floodwaters returned to the places from which they came. They still remain on the Earth to this day.

[2] To where were the floodwaters removed? Gen 8:1 describes how God removed the floodwaters from the land by sending a wind. However, a wind would prove of little use in removing the waters of a global Flood. The massive water of a global Flood would take many years to recede back to underground or to evaporate into the atmosphere.

If the Flood was not global, why would God not simply instruct Noah to move his family and flocks to areas outside the Flood region?

When God pours out judgment, He gives ample warning ahead of time. This can be seen from the examples of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Jonah.

Noah was sent by God as a prophet to give out the warning. In 2Pe 2:5, Noah was described as “a preacher of righteousness.” Heb 11:7 says that “By his (Noah’s) faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” 1Pe 3:20 describes people before the Flood disobeyed God, possibly referring to Noah’s warnings.

There are flood traditions in different cultures. How did they get similar stories?

More that 80,000 flood accounts in over 70 languages describe a cataclysmic deluge. More than 85% of these accounts mention a large vessel that saved the human race from extinction. The abundance of these Flood stories suggests that the memory of some unprecedented Flood catastrophe was firmly etched in the minds of ancient peoples.

One reasonable archeological explanation is to associate these Flood accounts with a common source. Similar to the creation accounts, we see traces of a pattern: the greater the story’s distance (in time and geography) from Mesopotamia, the greater the distortion relative to both the Biblical record and the established scientific record. The least scientifically distorted of the nonbiblical Flood accounts is the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh.


        While it is important to assert the inerrancy of the Bible, the Biblical record can in fact accommodate a regional Flood. The regional Flood theory is in fact better supported by scientific evidences. That is why most theologians today allow the possibility of a regional Flood.

        The belief in the extent of the Flood is non-essential faith. We have to recognize that many explanations used here are not found in the Bible. Arguments on this question should be avoided.