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Some Christians believe Noah's flood was a local event rather than a global flood.

What physical or geological evidence has been given by such Christians to support their position?

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Strange that this was closed as a duplicate. – fredsbend Aug 13 at 21:59
I have edited it to make clear that we are interested in the beliefs of Christians, and not just everyone who thinks it was local. Answers should provide evidence that Christians do support their position with this evidence. While dancek's answer below may be true, I think it should be deleted for being unreferenced. – curiousdannii Aug 13 at 23:39

4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

There are two variants of the "local flood" view. One variant is that Genesis 6-9 refers to an actual flood that was large-scale but not global, and the other is that the Noah story is fiction, but derived from the memory of a large flood in the past.

Both variants point first to evidence found in the geological column. In particular:

1) All of the early contributors to geology were Christians who believed in a global flood before they began studying rock columns. Buffon, Hutton, Lyell, Agassiz, and Kelvin all became convinced after seeing the rock layers that a single global flood could not have produced them.

2) Some formations, such as the Grand Canyon, include layers of desert sandstone in between layers of marine sediments. Yet YECs claim the entire formation was laid down in one global flood. Grey Neyman of Old Earth Ministries explains the problem:

The young earth scientist would have to explain how the water receded, then the sandstone formed, then the water came back and deposited the other layers. However, in the Biblical Flood account, the waters rose, then fell. There were no cyclic water levels, nor was there a massive amount of time during the flood for a desert environment to create a 315-foot thick rock layer.

3) Other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico, have thick layers of salt. Salt deposits are created when water evaporates. Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth, writing for BioLogos, explain why this is a problem for flood geology:

One might argue that the waters from the Flood could have evaporated to leave behind the salt deposits we see today, but there is a serious problem. The thousands of feet of sediment on top of the salt is also said to be from the Flood, meaning the flood waters cannot have evaporated to produce the salt and still be present and violent enough to transport thousands of feet of sediment to the same location. In other words, a single flood cannot be called upon to explain both the salt and the overlying sediment.

4) Among the deposits are layers of igneous rock, formed by volcanic eruptions. When volcanoes erupt, they release greenhouse gases. The number of eruptions necessary to produce all the igneous layers found in the geological column, if they all happened within the same year, would produce enough CO2 to kill Noah and his family. Glenn Morton, writing for Old Earth Ministries, has the details:

How does this relate to the present atmosphere? Currently we are approaching 400 parts per million (ppm) CO2 in the atmosphere, yet the YEC scenario would produce an atmosphere that had AS A MINIMUM a CO2 level of 58,615 parts per million. Scientists are worried about a 600 ppm CO2 world next century, the YEC post flood world would create such a hot climate that all life would be destroyed. Yet amazingly, Creationists like Austin, Baumgardner, Wise, Snelling, Vardiman, Humphreys and Oard think that the post flood world would be glacially cold.

5) Industrial geologists looking for oil deposits use temperature differences in boreholes to determine the age of the sediment they're drilling through. It's kind of complicated, but Willy Fjeldskaar, writing for Age of Rocks, explains:

The temperature of the sediments is caused by the heat flow from the inner regions of the Earth. If you put a kettle with water on a hot plate, it will take some time for the water to be heated. A certain amount of time is also needed to heat sediments from the time they were deposited until today. The amount of time needed depends on the flow of heat from the inner regions of the Earth and on the thermal properties of the sediments. Both the heat flow and the thermal properties are relatively well known.

As the heat radiates up from the earth's core, the rocks in lower layers retain a certain percentage. The longer the rocks have been buried, the more heat they will have accumulated. In the short time span proposed by YECs, there's simply not enough time for the sediments to have reached the temperatures geologists find in the boreholes:

We have seen that it is not possible to explain the measured temperature in these sediments on the assumption that the sediments are only some thousands of years old. Using measured properties of the sediments and conventional values for the Earth’s heat flow, we realize that the sediments must be considerably older than 1 million years.

6) The total amount of water on and in the earth is not nearly enough to produce a global flood. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe explains the problem:

The four different Hebrew verbs used in Genesis 8:1-8 to describe the receding of the flood waters indicate that these waters returned to their original sources. In other words, the waters of the flood are still to be found within the aquifers and troposphere and oceans of planet Earth. Since the total water content of the earth is only 22 percent of what would be needed for a global flood, it appears that the Genesis flood could not have been global.

That's a sample of the evidence against a global flood. Some Christians take the idea of a local flood further, attempting to find evidence of a large local flood in the geological record.

Greg Neyman of Old Earth Ministries lays out the parameters:

The site of the flood would have to meet three requirements. First, it would have to be capable of containing the waters of the flood. In order to do this, we need a basin, with no outlet to the sea. If there were an outlet, the water would simply run out of the area.

Second, the flood would have to fit the parameters mentioned in the Bible. The source of the waters is not in question. The only point that matters here is that Noah believed that the world was flooded, and that all the mountains were covered with water.

Neyman calculates that Noah, standing on the deck of the ark, would have been able to see a mountain 95 miles away. That gives us a ballpark estimate of how much area the flood would have to include to cover the highest mountains.

The final requirement is this: Does the proposed location agree with the geography mentioned in the Genesis account? It would have to flood the areas populated by mankind. We don't have many clues as to the extent of the geographic area. However, it would appear to include the area around the Garden of Eden, and east of the Garden.

There is some evidence of massive flooding in the Middle East in the distant past. One conjecture which has received a lot of attention recently is the Black Sea deluge hypothesis. Geologists have found some evidence of a massive flood following an inrush of water from the Mediterranean about 7600 years ago, causing the Black Sea to overflow.

There's some evidence that glacial melting caused the Caspian Sea to flood the surrounding area somewhere between 9000 and 17,000 years ago.

Hugh Ross favors the Black Sea hypothesis, while Neyman favors the Caspian. Critics (including YECs) point out that there is no clear evidence that either flood could have produced enough water to cover the mountains and wipe out all of human civilization.

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the modern understanding of "species" and the Biblical use of "kind" are not interchangeable and there is also no indication of "continents" prior to the flood (indeed, the creation account says the land was together) – warren Aug 30 '11 at 22:07
@warren that doesn't really diminish the issue of the numer of species; selective/intentional breeding applies only to domesticated or farmed species – Marc Gravell Sep 1 '11 at 15:10
@warren: There is plenty of geological evidence for continents prior to the presumed date of the flood. I also don't think "the creation account says the land was together" holds much water (no pun intended) for people who would take a local interpretation of the flood, as they are likely to take an old-earth view, as well, where, even if the creation account does say lad "was" together, there's no reason to believe it was still together "millions of years later" at the time of the flood. – Flimzy Sep 12 '11 at 18:52
@Flimzy - guess it depends on whether you've a YEC or OEC understanding of creation :) – warren Sep 12 '11 at 19:33
I haven't looked at all your sources, but it looks like at least some are from non-Christians. Can you provide evidence that all of these points are supported by some Christians? – curiousdannii Aug 14 at 0:40

The lack of archaeological evidence for a global flood.
(According to those who don't believe in a global flood.)

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At first glance I almost flagged this as "not an answer", but then I realized its' true. There is almost no other way to answer this question. The only "evidence" for something on this nature having NOT happened is a lack of convincing evidence that it DID happen. This isn't just sarcasm or tongue-in-cheek since there is no authority we can appeal to as a witness for it having not happened -- other than God who's testimony is generally agreed to be the opposite. +1 even though I personally find this "evidence" unconvincing! – Caleb Aug 27 '11 at 17:22
The lack of evidence for a global flood is not, by itself archaeological/physical evidence of a local flood; it still completely assumes the existence of a significant flood. Meaning: in evidence terms it is a false dichotomy - there is a third, simple, option... – Marc Gravell Sep 7 '11 at 20:29
@thedarkwanderer local floods happen constantly, yes; but that does not mean that "Noah's flood" represents an actual event. We have winter regularly - and even unexpected cold spells in other seasons; that doesn't mean that this is evidence that "The Day After Tomorrow" (2004 film) depicts actual events from a "localized winter". The lack of evidence of a global winter in the last few decades is not evidence for this having happened, but locally. – Marc Gravell Dec 31 '14 at 8:25
This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. – bruised reed Aug 14 at 5:05
@Caleb In a word, yes. The comment was auto-generated from a low-quality post review. The context is that the question has been edited and what was a borderline answer at the time of original posting is now more objectively "not an answer" according to the revised question. – bruised reed Aug 14 at 6:30

The Black Sea deluge hypothesis suggests the Black Sea may have suddenly and violently flooded due to it being below sea level at one point, thus possibly providing material for the story of Atrahasis, Gilgamesh, and the latter story of Noah.

Naturally if you lived in a little hut on the shores of the Black sea when this may have happened it would not be completely irrational for you believe the whole world has flooded.

Archaeologists argue over whether it happened or not.

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Can you provide references? – Flimzy Sep 1 '11 at 16:57
3 I am not sure if it should be called a theory though, thus I more cautiously call it a hypothesis. – Jenny Thomson Sep 1 '11 at 17:32
Can you give some evidence that some Christians support this theory? – curiousdannii Aug 14 at 0:37

Here's an interesting article I came across which discusses several ancient myths and likely corresponding floods including the Black Sea event:

Were early farmers in the area forced to flee as their world disappeared underwater? Archaeologists found the rising waters coincided with the onset of the initial migration of farming cultures into Europe and the floodplains of Mesopotamia. Wherever they came from, the first farmers arrived in southern Mesopotamia shortly after the filling of the Black Sea. Did they bring the story of a great flood that destroyed their world?

Which further links to:

An international team of geologists and oceanographers has reconstructed the history of this catastrophic flood from data gathered by a Russian research ship in 1993. Seismic soundings and sediment cores revealed traces of the sea's former shorelines, showing an abrupt 500-foot rise in water levels. Radiocarbon dating of the transition from freshwater to marine organisms in the cores put the time of the event about 7,500 years ago, or 5500 B.C.

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Can you give some evidence that some Christians support this theory? – curiousdannii Aug 14 at 0:38

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