Three Events Initiated the Biblical Flood

1. Introduction

      On that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth,
      and the windows of the heavens were opened.
      And rain fell upon the earth
      forty days and forty nights.
      Genesis 7:11b-12, ESV

Christians who hold to the historic validity of the flood in the Genesis account most often will say that these verses refer to two events which caused the earth to flood: water from the ground (fountains) and water from the sky (rain). Modern scientists tends to dismiss this interpretation, along with the whole idea of a world-wide flood, saying that it is not supported by the geological record and is therefore not scientifically plausible. What if the common interpretation is wrong? What if, correctly understood, these verses refer to three different events for which modern science may have found evidence?

2. The context specifies three events that initiated the flood, not two.

a. Sentence Structure: The "fountains of the great deep burst forth" is the first event. If there are only two events, the "windows of the heavens were opened and it rained" must be the second event. In this case the "windows of the heaven were opened" is an adverbial phrase describing how hard the rain fell. While this sounds logical, the sentence structure does not allow it. The fountains and windows are placed together in one sentence, and the rain is in the next sentence. It makes no sense for an adverbial phrase to be in a separate sentence from what it describes.
b. Grammar: The Hebrew uses a verb form that indicates the rain followed after the first two events (fountains and windows) and implies that the rain was actually CAUSED by the first two events.
c. Event Timing: There is a discrepancy between the timing of events. Genesis 7:12 says the rain lasted 40 days and nights, but Genesis 8:2 indicates that the fountains and windows were open for 150 days. The windows of heaven being opened is not the same event as the rain.
d. Related Verses: If the "windows of heaven" being opened does indicate rain here, then it should do so in other passages. However, though the phrase is used in several other verses, it never means torrential rain.

3. What were the 3 events?

a. What are the “fountains of great deep?” Typically, this is thought to mean "fountains of water." However, if the author meant to say "fountains of water" he could have certainly said it that way. Instead he chose the word "great deep." What is "great deep?" If a Hebrew author were to describe a volcano, this would be an excellent way to do so.
b. What came through the “Windows of heaven?” The word "heaven" is also translated as "expanse" and is the home of the sun, moon, and stars. In other words, a reasonable English translation would be "space." And if the windows of space were opened, meteors, comets, and asteroids could be expected to come in.
c. How did these cause torrential rain? Both volcanoes and meteorites can put a significant amount of water and dirt in the air (partly depending on where they explode or land.) Water in the air would of course contribute to the rain, but so would the dirt, giving a nucleus for the water to condense around and form rain clouds.

4. End of the Flood:

The land would have been more or less leveled by the forces of the volcanoes and meteorites (both of which would also cause earthquakes), thus allowing the water to cover the earth. Psalm 104:6-9 describes the events that would have taken place at the end of the flood - the lifting up of mountains and a new boundary set on the sea.

5. Why this matters:

This matters because it is easy to say the Bible is false when it has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. While modern science says a world wide flood is impossible, it actually supports significant cataclysmic events and extinctions caused by massive volcanoes and asteroids. Modern science will never like the idea of a global flood caused by supernatural intervention because modern science based around a denial of anything supernatural. However, if Christians can see that, biases aside, there is a lot of evidence that supports a correct understanding of the flood account, perhaps they will not be so easy to dismiss it as myth.

This page is in development 2/11/2014

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