The Evangelical Universalist Forum

A View of Noah's Flood, Perhaps of Interest to Universalists

First the preliminaries:

I am a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and, like St. Gregory of Nyssa, I believe in universal salvation. None of the theories in this post is necessary to my Orthodoxy nor to my universalism.

I assume that the mainstream scientific view of the evolution of nature is correct: The universe is billions of years old, planet Earth is over 4 billion years old, life evolved from non-living matter billions of years ago, and life has since evolved into all the innumerable plant and animal species both extinct and still living. I further assume that none of this is in contradiction to Orthodoxy.

I disagree with mainstream scientific thinking when it comes to mankind. I think that Adam was created by God without recourse to evolution. Eve was created out of Adam’s rib. They lived in the Garden of Eden, sheltered from “nature red in tooth and claw”. After they sinned, they were kicked-out and forced to make due in a hostile world.

I further accept the accuracy of what is sometimes called the “Byzantine Creation Era” ( ). In this conception Adam was created on Sept. 1, 5509 B. C. The Flood occurred 2,262 years later in 3247 B. C.

I conceive of the Flood as being local in extent and universal in effect (humanly speaking). Every single human being then living (other than the eight on the ark) was slain in the waters of the Flood. I think that mankind lived in a relatively limited area before the Flood, and that the Flood destroyed all trace of that civilization. The cities, artifacts, etc. uncovered by archaeologists are remnants of post-Flood civilizations.

I think that Noah had to bring relatively few animals on board the ark. He needed to save only his livestock and any species that were endemic to where mankind lived. If mankind lived (for example) on a relatively small island in the Persian Gulf (which I think plausible), then endemic fauna would not be numerous. The ark would be almost entirely empty.

Whew! The preliminaries are out of the way.

Christians in general and universalists in particular are sometimes troubled by God sending the Flood, imagining innocent victims of the waters. Please note that these victims exist only in our imaginations! They are never mentioned in the scriptural text. In fact, the text gives us reason to suspect that such innocents did not exist.

Note that the Flood was the only time in mankind’s history that God essentially wiped-out everyone and started over. This implies that the time of Noah was markedly worse than any other time. That means worse than Stalinist gulags, worse than Nazi death camps, worse than massive Aztec human sacrifice, worse than the current abortion holocaust, etc. Whatever atrocities have been recorded in human history, the wickedness of Noah’s generation was far worse.

Does the text give details? A bit: “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them” (Genesis 6:13). These men were violent, more violent than anyone in history. It is possible to read this passage as saying that, left to their own devices, pre-Flood mankind was nearing the point of causing the extinction of all humanity. Therefore God had to act to save his created image. The Flood was not meant to annihilate humanity, but to prevent the annihilation of humanity. This called for severe amputation.

Clearly, those men who were recalcitrant in their unparalleled violence had to be killed. Otherwise they would have encompassed human extinction. The Flood saved humanity.

The ark God told Noah to build was very large, but not nearly so large as the famous Titanic. How many men could the Titanic hold (passengers and crew combined)? About 3,500. I will take that as an upper limit for how many humans could have reasonably fit on the ark. (It would be ridiculous imagine them packed in like sardines for over a year, as they were on the old slave ships, since this would have been fatal to a great many.)

Given the loving nature of God, I assume that the entire human population in the early 33rd century B. C. was no more than 3,500 souls. Noah built his ark on such a scale that it was obvious that God was willing to save each and every human on the planet. They need only come to the ark.

Instead, wicked mankind refused. The construction of the ark had to have been an enormous undertaking that could not have been hidden. It is likely that wicked mankind mocked it. It is further imaginable that wicked mankind did something to try to avert the coming Flood. Remember that they were the most violent people to ever walk on planet Earth. I can imagine them, in order to induce their gods to prevent the Flood, sacrificing to their false gods all of the infants and children that they had. Every single one. I further imagine them slaying any of their number not in agreement with this sacrifice.

I have wondered at the significance of the seven days in Genesis 7:4: “For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights.” Perhaps it was at that point that the vile sacrifice occurred, and God was now able to proceed with the Flood without slaying a single person who was not a mass murderer. Every single person who drowned did so with the blood of infants and children still wet upon his hands.

Speculation? Yes. But no more so than the more common speculations that people invent of crying infants drowning in the waters of the Flood. The present speculation is an attempt to understand the text in the light of the entire revelation of God in Jesus Christ. It shows us the following:

  1. God saved lives with the Flood. Without the Flood, there would have been zero rather than eight human survivors.

  2. God instructed Noah to make the ark large enough to obviously be able to save every single human being. He would have saved even the most vile men in all of history if they would only have come to Him.

  3. Mankind had a very small population, no more than 3,500.

  4. Violent mankind had already eliminated anyone who did not deserve death in the Flood. God did not kill any children, infants, or innocents. Wicked mankind did that.

Thank God for His merciful Flood. Without it, mankind would have ceased to exist over 5,000 years ago.

Hmm . . . interesting scenario. I confess I had never speculated that God brought in the flood to SAVE mankind from self-annihilation, but you have a good point. I suspect (for my own opinion) that the story of Noah’s flood was a retelling of a prevalent myth told in many local (and later, with expanding migration, extra-local) cultures, and that this was the Hebrew version of it, intended to put the Hebrew spin on the epic tale. I think (like you) that while the actual flood seemed to be world-wide, it consisted of local, devastating, deadly, and very wide-spread flooding. We Christians use the flood as a type of baptism wherein we become dead to the world and the world dead to us, but I’d be interested to know what anyone thinks the flood story might have meant to post-exilic Israel.

Interesting. Some of the points brought up just remind me how little we really know. We think we know quote a bit, but we will likely be amazed when we see God face to face… The thing I really like to remember is because everyone is alive to God, that him slaying anyone (even infants) isn’t really all that bad, as they are still alive to Him. We all have to die sometime… In some cases, disease will take us, perhaps a tragedy… Maybe we will die naturally. But the fact is, children who have done no wrong, die painful deaths, and adults who have done great evil die peaceful deaths. Everyone dies and how they die isn’t necessarily cruel in the way we think of it. God must know something we don’t (duh!) else he would not allow these crimes. I am wondering if perhaps suffering is intended for good. Why else would Jesus and the Early Christians suffer cruel deaths? It had to be in God’s plan.

I am wondering if perhaps suffering is intended for good. Why else would Jesus and the Early Christians suffer cruel deaths? It had to be in God’s plan.

Gabe Grinstead

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Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:55 pm

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I think it says Jesus was perfected through suffering in Hebrews. Yes it has to be God’s plan since James said if we know to good and do not it is sin. Therefore if stopping evil were good and God could stop it but won’t that would be his sin, unless stopping evil were not good.

Stopping evil isn’t “not good,” I think – but stopping the development of one’s creation is probably not a good idea. As you all have said, the death toll of the Flood is not to me that big a deal. Actually, one could (and many, many do) die in far more painful ways. We all die physically. God doesn’t EVER stop this from happening. He may postpone it, but never stop it. Even Lazarus after rising at Jesus call, eventually died physically. I can’t write out an apologetic for God regarding evil just now, but I’ve got something here which is fairly short and painless to read (and alas, consequently woefully incomplete). Whatever you might think of it, it’s more or less how I feel about the topic of human-caused evil.

[size=130]Did God kill everyone in the Genesis Flood? Or did Satan?[/size]

To consider a biblical defense of God’s nonviolent nature, please read* “SATAN: Old Testament Servant Angel or New Testament Cosmic Rebel?”*, by Richard Murray, here in the Clarion Journal. (There was also a good discussion about this Murray article here at The Evangelical Universalist.)

Another important article Murray wrote specifically addressing the Genesis Flood, as it relates to the TRUE nature of God, is entitled ***“Did God Drown All The Children In The World With A Killer Flood? Or Did Satan?”***, and can be found at … 8579709845

As to the possible scientific dynamics of the Flood, you may find of interest the work of Professor Walt Brown. He received a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from MIT, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow. Would you please watch this five minute overview of Brown’s Hydroplate Theory, from 1986? (Regarding Satan’s possible role as a master geologist and murderer, please note what Brown says at the 2 minute point: “Failure in the crust began with a microscopic crack.”)


Or it could be that this was Israel’s version of the flood narrative included by nearly all ancient cultures in some form. I think there really was a catastrophic flood in the Middle East, but scripture doesn’t require it to be a global flood. After all, how would the original people involved have any idea whether the flood had covered the whole earth? It covered their world (which was, so far as they understood things, flat). I like the version where this is part of Israel’s symbolic telling of its own history. On the whole, I find it much more viable than taking the story literally as (I suspect) it was never meant to be taken. I don’t come to this view for the sake of science at all, but rather because it makes more sense theologically for me. Just my two cents. :wink:

Yep I have to agree. :mrgreen:

In a similar vein I view “Adam” as the micro personified version of Israel’s corporate macro story, i.e., Adam is Israel.

Yes, I agree, Davo. :slight_smile: That’s my take on it too.