Ken Ham: Noah’s Flood — Global or Local?

We have another recycled essay by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo). It’s at the website of his on-line ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), which owns and operates the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

This one is dated 17 April 2013, but we didn’t blog about it before. The title is Was the Flood of Noah Global or Local in Extent? That’s somewhat like asking whether Santa Claus has brown eyes or blue, but we’re always willing to learn, so we won’t dismiss the subject ab initio. Let’s dig in and see what ol’ Hambo has to say. The bold font was added by us:

Many Christians and their leaders believe that it is not relevant whether the Flood of Noah described in Genesis 6–8 was global or localized (in the Mesopotamian Valley of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers). After all, they say, it’s not relevant to a Christian’s salvation, and the gospel message to be preached is all about Jesus.


However, whether the Flood of Noah was global or local in extent is a crucial question. This is because ultimately what is at stake is the authority of all of God’s Word.

This is the same point Hambo has already made about Genesis in general, which we discussed a few days ago in Ken Ham: Is Belief in Young Earth Essential?, so we won’t repeat that argument. Instead, what we’ll do here is pick out the parts where ol’ Hambo gives us specific arguments why the Flood had to be global. That’s right — it’s not merely a matter of faith — Hambo’s got evidence! Here we go:

The guiding principle used by secular geologists to interpret the rock record is “the present is the key to the past,” which means that the geologic processes we see operating today, at the rates they operate today, are all that are necessary to explain the rock layers. While catastrophes such as local flooding and volcanic eruptions are allowable because they do occur today, any suggestion of a global catastrophic Flood as described in the Bible is totally ruled out before the geological evidence is even examined.

Aaaargh!! No, Hambo. The Flood isn’t ruled out before the evidence is examined. Rather, that’s a conclusion which is reached after examining the evidence. That’s how the earliest geologists arrived at the idea that the Earth is old. Nice try. What else does Hambo say? Ah, look at this:

Based on that clear description of this real historical event [the Flood], it is very rational to conclude that we should expect to find evidence today of billions of dead animals and plants buried in rock layers composed of water-deposited sand, lime, and mud all around the earth. And indeed, that’s exactly what we do find — billions of fossils of animals and plants buried in sedimentary rock layers stretching across every continent all around the globe.

Aaaargh!! [* Facedesk, groan, fleeting feeling of despair *] Okay, we’re over it. Your Curmudgeon will continue. We have been called to this task, and we will not fail you. Let’s read on:

[W]hen the Flood began, we are told in Genesis 7:11–12 that “all the fountains of the great deep (were) broken up,” and “the rain was upon the earth.” Again, the words “all” and “the earth” are clearly intended to imply global extent. Indeed, this usage of universal terms is prolific as the Flood account reaches a crescendo in [scripture reference].

Yes, the Flood is described with general, all-inclusive language. There’s no hint that it was localized or limited. We can’t disagree with that. Hambo continues:

So frequent is this use of universal terms, and so powerful are the points of comparison (“high hills,” “whole heaven,” and “mountains”), that it is extremely difficult to imagine what more could have been written under the direction of the Holy Spirit to express the concept of a global Flood!

No doubt about it — that’s what the book says. Okay now — pay attention — because Hambo’s next argument is very strong:

Something else in the Flood account is irreconcilable with the Flood being localized in the Mesopotamian Valley. In Genesis 7:20 we are told that “the mountains were covered.” Because water always seeks its own level, how could the mountains only be covered in one local area without also covering the mountains in all adjoining areas and even on the other side of the planet? This clear statement in God’s Word only makes physical and scientific sense if the Flood were global in extent.

Uh, we can visualize a local flood that covers the nearby hills (“mountains” to the natives) without engulfing the entire planet, but to appreciate the power of Hambo’s argument you need to see the illustration that accompanies his article. His “Figure 2” shows a cliff of water that’s higher than an adjacent mountain, but which … well, it just stops there with a flat vertical edge, like the broken off edge of a thick glacier — but it’s not frozen because it has waves on top. If you agree that such a thing is impossible, then Hambo says you’ve gotta believe in the global extent of the Flood. Here’s another great argument:

God made a promise to Noah and his descendants that “never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” In other words, God was promising never to send another event like the one Noah experienced, where we are told specifically in Genesis 7:21 that “all flesh died.”

Obviously, if the Flood of Noah were only local in extent, then because we have seen lots of local floods since the time of Noah, that have destroyed both man and animals, God has broken His promise many times over! To the contrary, this rainbow covenant God made with Noah and his descendants could only have been kept by God if the Flood were global in extent, because never since in human history has a global flood been experienced.

Admit it, dear reader. There is absolutely no way you can refute that argument. Moving along, and skipping some scripture quotes, we come to yet another powerful argument:

If the Flood were only local in extent, why did Noah have to take birds on board the ark (Genesis 7:8), when the birds in that local flooded area could simply have flown away to safe unflooded areas? Similarly, why would Noah need to take animals on board the ark from his local area, when other representatives of those same animal kinds would surely have survived in other, unflooded areas?

You don’t have an answer to that, do you? Hambo’s essay goes on a bit, but we think the point is made, so this is where we’ll leave it. Your Curmudgeon is convinced that after you’ve carefully digested all of this information you must believe that the Flood was a global event. If not, then you’re a fool!

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Ken Ham: Noah’s Flood — Global or Local?

  1. Not to mention that flooding rivers are not static but dynamic – such a flood begins upstream, in mountains, gains momentum resulting in a wave going downstream petering out when nearing the sea.
    Stupidity doesn’t have a bottom but always can sink lower.

  2. I have another question for Ol’ Hambo. Does pi equal 3,1415….. or exactly 3? Because of 1 Kings 7:23 and 2 Chronicles 4:2 you see. Just asking because what ultimately is at stake is the authority of all of god’s word as explained by the ayatollah of the Appalachian.

  3. There are other places where the Bible makes a statement about all of the Earth. One example: The story of Joseph in Egypt and the famine, where all of the nations of the Earth experienced a famine and had to come to Egypt to get grain from the supply that Joseph had saved up. Does anyone believe that people came from Alaska and Australia (I was going to say Hawaii, but I don’t think that Hawaii was inhabited at that time) to Egypt to get food to carry back?

  4. “No, Hambo. The Flood isn’t ruled out before the evidence is examined. Rather, that’s a conclusion which is reached after examining the evidence.” Sensuous Curmudgeon.

    Indeed. Supervolcanic eruptions are not ruled out in Earth’s past even though none are occurring today.

    “Our critics do not understand the difference between operational and historical science.” Thus also said the man all of whose critics “do not properly understand science”.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    So Hambo has a Theory of Global Flooding. Any science may be neutral, supportive, or contradictory. All you need is one contradictory scientific fact and the Theory is blown. The problem is we can mentally come up with contradictory facts subconsciously, that we dismiss it out of hand, which is what he is complaining about. We have to verbalize all these .. and then Hambo gets to come up with experiments to prove us wrong.

    Hambo, I am wondering about living trees that pre-date the flood (easily done by counting rings). How were they not killed by a year-long global flood?

  6. Stephen Kennedy

    Where did all the water come from to cover the surface of the Earth to the level of Mt. Everest? It would take about five times as much water as is known to exist on Earth to accomplish that. Where did all the water go after the flood? There isn’t a big plug somewhere that could have been pulled out to let the water go down a drain. Some of the Egyptian pyramids and certainly Stonehenge are older than 4300 years but do not seem to show any water damage. Likewise, cave paintings in France are 25,000 years old and they do not show any water damage either.

    “Flood Geology” should be called what it is: “Flood Stupidity”

  7. If the flood was global then why did Noah NOT take any fish as well?
    Because if the food was salty then all fresh water fish would have died, if the flood was fresh water then all the ocean fish would have died.
    Of course if the story was written by ignorant desert dwelling goat herders telling a fairy tale, that would explain it.
    If old Hambone wasn’t such a con-man I would think he was ignorant as dog

  8. Per Ham, God wrote the bible, God does not lie, therefore any science that disproves the flood account is wrong. It’s not always clear exactly how the science is wrong, but it is most definitely wrong. End of story.

    Oh, and if you believe differently, you are going to hell to be tortured for all eternity. Just saying’.

  9. We can assume that Ham lives fairly close to his Creation Museum; therefore, his backyard is in the Cincinnati area. He should go out into that backyard and take a close look at any limestone rocks he finds there. They will be loaded with fossils, but they will all be fossils of marine animals, and they will all be invertebrate marine animals — trilobites, cephalopods, brachiopods, gastropods, crinoids, pelecypods, bryozoans, and possibly a horn coral or two — but no fish, no amphibians, no reptiles, and certainly no mammals. (The Cincinnatian Formation is among the most-studied in the world. Ham should pay a visit to the great “secular” Cincinnati Museum Center.)

    Moreover, if “The Flood” were indeed responsible for the formation of all these fossiliferous layers around the world, one would expect most of these fossils to be land animals, drowned by “The Flood”. As any kid growing up in the Cincinnati area knows, that’s not what we find.

    Another “inconvenient truth” for Ham — not all those layers of sedimentary rock were “water-deposited”, as he claims as “proof” for “The Flood”. If he were to take a trip to Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, or any number of places around the world, he would find vast deposits of cross-bedded sandstone. The cross-bedding patterns are only formed in wind-deposited sand dunes, which are evidence of vast deserts, not global flooding.

    Sorry, Ham, your “theory” of a big flood just doesn’t hold water. So to speak.
    Perhaps “God’s Word” is infallible, but that doesn’t mean that the translators were infallible. Again, go out in your backyard. The facts are all around you. Open your eyes, open your mind, and learn.

    (Of course, we realize you have a huge financial stake in pushing your literal interpretation of the King James Version of the Holy Bible, so no matter what the facts of reality are, you cannot afford to accept them. Doesn’t that make you guilty of bearing false witness? Denial of science does nothing to change the facts. It just makes you look foolish.)

  10. retiredsciguy claims: “The cross-bedding patterns are only formed in wind-deposited sand dunes, which are evidence of vast deserts, not global flooding.”

    Oh yeah? Were you there?????

  11. Curmy asks, incredulously, “Oh yeah? Were you there?????

    Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I was there. I’m much older than I look.

    In a sense, though, I have been there. I’ve seen cross-bedding patterns forming in sand dunes, and I’ve seen the same patterns first-hand in sandstone exposures in Zion, the Grand Canyon, at Lake Powell, and numerous other locations in the Southwest.

    Of course, Ham would just say “That’s just the way God made it”, so as Ed commented, no evidence that science can produce will convince those unwilling to open their eyes. Our job is to keep pointing out the evidence so that those who have (open) minds can understand the world around them.

  12. Since the Genesis account was ” written under the direction of the Holy Spirit” I guess we will have to call out the HS for plagiarism of the Gilgamesh flood myth [as well as other flood stories] apparently preceded the Genesis tale.

  13. Not to be a wet blanket but…it would be very helpful if you would actually refute the Flood Myth on it’s merits, rather than resorting to the same kind of name-calling that theists use against us so often. If you’re looking to just vent your frustration, fine. But if you want the respect and support of the atheist community at large, I would suggest a slight change in writing style.

    Because seriously…if the Flood were real, then Noah and his family had to survive at -20 degrees for 6 months.

    Let the logic speak for itself,eh.