One of the most familiar stories of the Bible is that of Noah and the Flood. It is a story that also finds a lot of skepticism. It’s unbelievable, they say because of the number of animals needed on the ark, the improbability of a world-wide flood that covered the mountains, and the lack of technology to build a flood-surviving boat available to men at this time in history.
First, not every single variant of species would be needed to repopulate the earth, just a representative of every species. Within each species is a God-given ability to adapt to various environments and ecosystems. Each species would be able to produce numerous sub-species; thus, the number of animals would be greatly reduced.
Second, calling a world-wide flood improbable doesn’t make it impossible. Clearly the Bible describes flooding agents that we don’t have around today — windows of the sky which opened and springs under the earth which broke upward. Moreover, it is likely that at least some of the mountain ranges, continents, etc. may have been significantly different in a pre-flood world.
Third, we have no idea what kind of technology was available in a pre-flood world. Archaeology continues to uncover products that even modern technology cannot produce (e.g., the pyramids, crystal skulls, metallurgical products, and batteries found in Babylon).
But is there any positive evidence of Noah’s flood? Some look for Noah’s actual ark, but that is unlikely to be discovered. But there is something that many have often overlooked, the numerous versions of a world-wide flood found in cultures around the world. Robert Schock notes that there are at least 500 flood myths.
“Narratives of a massive inundation are found all over the world…Stories of a great deluge are found on every inhabited continent and among a great many different language and culture groups.” (Schoch, Robert M. (2003), Voyages of the Pyramid Builders (New York: Jeremy P. Parcher/Putnam), pp. 103 and 249).
Noah-like stories are found in Babylon, Syria, Persia, India, Norway, China, Mexico, Egypt, Wales, Ireland, Indonesia, Romania, etc. One tribe of American Indians (the Toltecs) relate a story so similar to the Noahic flood that it even includes a story similar to the Biblical story of Babel and the confusion of the languages of the world.
Among the Nosu in China a man named Dum heeded the warning of God of an impending flood and entered a wooden boat and was saved. The three sons of Dum repopulated the rest of the world. In fact, the Chinese pictogram for boat is composed of figures that may well tell the story of Noah’s flood.
On and on the similar stories could be cited from civilizations and cultures around the world, based on cultural memory of a world-wide catastrophe coming from well before the book of Genesis was written. Such memories will naturally be remembered some details altered and others absent, but once the cultural trappings are eliminated from the kernel of truth there is tremendous agreement…
- There was a world-wide flood that destroyed all but a handful of the human race and all air breathing creatures.
- A great boat saved the survivors
- All of modern mankind and the animal kingdom came from these survivors
The similarities are remarkable. Even William Wundt, who was no friend of faith or the Bible, wrote in Elements of Folk Psychology,
“Of the combination of all these elements into a whole (the destruction of the earth by water, the rescue of a single man and seed of animals by means of a boat, etc.), however, we may say without hesitation, it could not have arisen twice independently” (1916, p. 392).
The conclusion seems obvious. The world-wide flood of Noah really did occur, and is told in various forms among peoples around the world. Since it did, it makes for some other really interesting suggestions…
- The earth and the universe is much younger than modern science believes
- The layers of the earth are the marks of the great flood
- The fossil record is not from millions and billions of years ago, but is further evidence of a great flood
- Sin does matter to God and He is willing to judge men’s deeds
- The Bible is telling the truth here and elsewhere about its miracles, prophecies, and spiritual reality.
Current Questions — The Role of Women
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve dedicated this blog space to a few of the doctrinal questions of our day. The questions have arisen not from some new evidence that someone has discovered calling into question long-settled Biblical doctrines, but because of 1) social pressures to “relax” God’s commands, and 2) an alarming lack of Bible knowledge among both young and old. Today, let’s talk about the roles of men and women, especially in the church
God made men and women different. Men and women both certainly bear the image of God. In that sense there is no difference. But in many other ways they are very different starting from their genes (XX or XY) onward. There are a differences in physique (we look different), in physical abilities (strength), in brain structures, in natural motor skills, and in what our bodies can do (have babies or not). God Himself created these differences and assigned men and women roles appropriately fitted to these differences in the family and in the spiritual community of the church.
However, despite the obvious and natural differences between men and women, there seems to be in secular society an ongoing competition between the sexes. Fueled by feminist philosophy there is a pervasive gender battle captured in the phrase “Anything you can do, I can do better”.
This gender battle has unfortunately found its way into the Lord’s church. Specifically, some want to bring women into the church’s assembly as leaders. But as our first article in this series pointed out, the first question the church must always ask is what God through the Bible says about it.
One matter that should be easy to settle Biblically is that women may lead other women, when men are not available to do so. Biblical examples of prophesying among women, praying among women, serving among women, and teaching among women can be easily found in the New Testament with apostolic approval and authority (1 Cor. 11:3-16; 1 Tim. 5:9,10; Titus 2:4)
However, the New Testament teaching is clearly different, when men are part of the assembly.
(1 Timothy 2:11, 12) A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
(1 Corinthians 14:34, 35) The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
The common response is that these are old fashioned rules that were determined more by culture and male-centered custom than the Lord Himself. However, these responses ignore both the context of these verses and the actual customs of the 1st century. Paul ties his teachings to the original eternal principles set down in Eden, in which the roles of men and women are clearly set down by God Himself, (Genesis 3:16) “To the woman He [God] said, ‘I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.’” We should also notice that, culturally speaking, the pagan world was full of priestesses; if ever there was a time for a change in leadership roles, the first century would have been that time. Instead, the eternal principle of roles for men and women, given by God, was preached and practiced.
Others will argue that one passage of the New Testament proclaims equality of roles between the sexes, (Galatians 3:28) “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Once again, however, the problem with this argument is that the next verse is left out: (Galatians 3:29) “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Paul’s teaching was not about gender role equality but rather about inheritance equality — that both men and women will considered “sons” in great inheritance of Heaven (sons were the only ones who received inheritances in that culture).
The teaching of Scripture may not be popular or cool in the modern age, but it is right nevertheless. Men and women are both made in the image of God, but there are differences. Among the differences are roles that God has assigned. Let us acknowledge the differences and obey the Lord, who always knows best.