The flood is "global" therefore, in that it is perceived to be a universal solution to the problem of sin and corruption that has affected everyone and everything. I think a naturalistic approach to it obscures the theological significance.
This is interesting, because initially the responses I was getting were more along the lines of an unqualified "global" (i.e., the whole world was covered in water, and all animal life outside the ark died). Now the discussion is moving toward the "local, but still 'global' in a sense" part of the spectrum, and I wonder how comfortable everyone here is with that. Is there anybody who thinks that going from "global" to "local but in a way global" is sufficiently contrary to the clear meaning of Scripture as to rule out any sort of "local" explanation?
Also, the quote from 2 Peter 3 brought to mind this quote from 1 Peter 3:18-22:
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.
It seems to me that this quote offers up a somewhat literalist yet also somewhat analogical view of the flood: literalist in that "eight souls were saved", yet analogical in that this salvation "through water" typifies baptism. Given that this whole passage is considered divinely inspired, however, can we safely downplay the literalism and deem the analogical aspect "the important thing"?
With regard to carbon-14 dating, it should be kept in mind that while C-14 dating is only accurate to within 50,000 years (last I heard), that still implies that the world is 40,000 years older than most young-earth creationists allow. True, this would make the earth young enough to disprove evolution, but as was astutely pointed out earlier, evolution isn't the issue at hand. I would suggest, then, that even if C-14 dating is conclusively shown to be inaccurate past 50,000 years, this only leads us to two more questions:
1) Has there been a truly global flood in the last 50,000 years?
2) If not, is there any evidence besides C-14 dating which would lead us to believe that the earth is much older than 50,000 years (and that perhaps a truly global flood such as that recorded in Genesis happened more than 50,000 years ago)?
If, somehow, some sort of indisputable evidence were to be produced that proved that the flood of Noah was merely a local phenomenon, would that change your faith? It wouldn't affect mine. I don't think it matters all that much, but hey, that's just me.
This is a good question, and I don't think I've seen anyone address it yet. It's on account of this sort of question that I initially provided more than just "global" and "local" as possible answers. I wanted to give everybody various "degrees of distance" away from the plain meaning of the text, not just an "accept/deny" sort of position. For example, if the flood was local, but some land animals outside the ark not in the area of the flood survived, is that still "okay"? What if there were human survivors outside the flood area? What if there's really no historicity to the flood story at all, and the important elements of the story are really the theological elements it conveys? I suspect different people will have different levels of comfort with each possible option. (That's what made the poll aspect so appealing -- easier to track people's answers -- but, oh, well. No biggie.)
Edited by M. Partyka, 22 February 2008 - 08:47 PM.