Most non-native Californians travel to the Golden State to bask in its seemingly endless sunshine. But over the last few days, our typical 70-degree weather has been replaced with torrential rains. Back-to-back winter storms continue to slam Southern California cities—with some areas getting as much as an inch and a half of rain per hour. And residents, especially those in burn areas, are definitely recognizing the power of water.
In just four days, the heavy rains have caused flooding and car accidents, and threatened beachfront and hillside homes. Imagine, then, what damage was caused from the 40-day flood described in Genesis 6–9.
Some Christians say the downpour was powerful enough to carve out something as grand as, well, the Grand Canyon. This belief is based on a young-earth interpretation of the biblical creation story. From this perspective, Noah’s flood covered the entire Earth and is responsible for the planet’s major geological features, including the bulk of sediments that comprise the Grand Canyon walls.
Another interpretation is the local flood view, which explains the event as “relatively minor one, affecting only a tiny fraction of the planet and of the human population.”
So where does RTB fit in the Genesis flood debate?
Astronomer Hugh Ross clarifies, “The RTB scholar team takes a view that differs from both of these, as will become clear in a series of three articles on the topic. Based on the meaning of the word universal, ‘encompassing all members of a category or group,’ in this case ‘all humanity,’ our position can best be described as the universal [or worldwide] flood view.”
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, passages discussing “the earth” and “the world” often refer to people groups and societies, not the entire planet.
Here are a few examples:
Genesis 41:57 – “[A]ll the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.”
1 Kings 10:24 – “The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.”
Romans 1:8 – “Your faith is being reported all over the world.”
Colossians 1:6 – “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you.”
Hugh explains that these and other Bible passages “refer to geographical or geopolitical regions somewhat less extensive than planet Earth’s entire surface. Therefore, one may reasonably conclude that references in Genesis 6–8 to ‘all the surface of the earth,’ and ‘under the entire heavens’ need not imply a globally extensive event.”
RTB’s perspective is that the Genesis flood covered at least the Mesopotamian Plain, if not more, and God used it as a means of limiting the spread of wickedness. Earth’s major geological features—and the Grand Canyon, for that matter—developed over a long period of time (millions of years), as geologists’ research indicates.
Even though the flood of Noah’s time didn’t carve out the Grand Canyon, it was still extraordinary. So much so that it would make the storms hitting Southern California look like an insignificant drizzle.