Why I Reject Old Earth Creationism and
The Regional Flood
By Kurt Simmons
There are afoot today doctrines that no one in the history of Christianity or Judaism heard of until recent years. They are modernistic not only because they only recently appeared, but because they take a low view of inspiration and the Bible, and freely reject the written word in favor of their own enlightened and exalted judgment. I refer to “old earth creationism” and the theory of a “regional flood.” Having studied the claims and methodology of these theories, I reject them as Biblically insupportable. Some of my reasons are as follows.
I. The Theories of a Regional Flood and Old Earth Violate Basic Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics
The first and most fundamental objection to the regional flood and related theories of “day/age” and “gap,” which belong to the theory of “old earth creationism,” is that they violate basic principles of hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the science of establishing principles and precepts by which writings are interpreted. The first rule of hermeneutics is that a writing is to be interpreted according to the intent of the author. When approaching a document or writing, we thus ask “what did the author intend the reader to understand?” It is not what interpretation a writing will bear, or how cleverly we can argue for hidden or double meanings, or ingeniously construct allegories from a text. But what did the author intend? If the author did not intend a particular meaning to be communicated by a writing, then that meaning is to be rejected as not in the text. No matter how persuasively we argue for its existence, if the author did not intend it to be understood that way, it is not in the text.
Another principle of hermeneutics is that a writing is to be understood literally unless the context requires otherwise. It is not enough that the phraseology may be interpreted figuratively; all language may be interpreted figuratively. Before we depart from the normal meaning attached to words the author must intend and the context must require it be figuratively understood. In poetry, prophecy, and apocalyptics the opposite rule obtains. In dealing with those forms of literature we assume that the language is figurative unless the context demands otherwise. This assumption is based upon the intention of the author. The author intends we understand him to be using language hyperbolically. A related principle of hermeneutics that helps us identify the author’s intent is to first identify the category to which the writing belongs. The class of literature we are dealing with can tell us much about how the author intended it be understood. Are we dealing with poetry and prophecy, or historical narrative? Poetry and prophecy typically are not intended to be interpreted literally, but historical narrative almost invariably is. History that is not literal is not history; it is fiction, myth, or allegory. Prophetic books of the Bible often draw upon historical events for their imagery, but that does not mean that historical books are to be understood figuratively or interpreted in the same manner as books of prophecy. Revelation employs imagery drawn from Genesis, but that does not mean Genesis is of the same genre of literature as Revelation or that we interpret them according to similar principles. John intended Revelation’s imagery to be interpreted figuratively. Virtually all commentators admit this fact. But there is no evidence Moses possessed the like intent in Genesis.
The purpose of Genesis is to provide mankind
with an explanation of the origin of life and all that exists; to
show man that he is the product of God’s special creation and the
object of God’s inestimable love; to explain the fall of the race
and the entrance of sin and death; and, finally, to hold out to
mankind God’s promise of redemption in Jesus Christ.
The history of redemption is interwoven with the history of
men and nations. Hence,
Genesis also introduces us to the various races and languages of
people that sprang from the sons of Noah after the flood.
We are introduced to Abraham and God’s promises him,
particularly as these involved the children of
Given the purpose of Genesis, the idea that there is concealed within the creation account a “gap” consisting of millions of years, which elapsed between God’s creation of the heavens and earth and the evening and the morning of the first day, must be rejected. An objective reading will show that no gap is stated or implied. The whole notion is something that advocates of the view have invented and imposed upon the text; the text may bear this imposition (silence will bear many such impositions), but it cannot in fairness be said that Moses intended the reader to understand a gap existed in God’s creation of the cosmos. Certainly, no Biblical writer ever mentions a gap or suggests in any way that such occurred or exists. One can search thousands of years of Jewish and Christian history and will find no suggestion anywhere of a gap.
The day/age theory suffers the same defect.
If God intended readers to understand that the six “evenings
and mornings” of creation were something other than twenty-four hour
days, then he chose a very inconvenient way of communicating that
“For in six days the Lord God created the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” (Ex. 20:11)
There is no “wiggle” room in this statement. It is a straight-forward affirmation that the cosmos and everything therein was created in the space of days (“six evenings and mornings.”) Other occurrences of the phrase “evening and morning” are equally literal and point to the space of a single twenty-four hour day. The Psalmist employs the phrase “evening, morning, and at noon” to show his daily worship of the Lord (Ps. 55:17) and Daniel uses the space of twenty-three hundred “evenings and mornings” to signify the six and half year space Antiochus Epiphanes would oppress the people of God and defile the temple. (Dan. 8:14, 26)
New Testament writers also understood the days
of creation literally.
John draws upon the creation account in his gospel by opening with
the same three words Moses used (“in the beginning”), and identifies
seven literal days in Jesus’ early ministry for the purpose of
suggesting that Christ is the spiritual recreation.
(Jno. 1:29, 35, 43; 2:1; cf. II Cor. 4:6)
If the “evenings and mornings” of Genesis represent millions
of years, John certainly was misled to understand them literally.
Paul too was misled, for his whole theology of two
Because the theories of old earth creationism
and a regional flood are no part of the original intent of Genesis,
and find no endorsement by any Biblical writer, they must be
rejected as spurious innovations that lack serious scholarship.
Former regius professor of Hebrew at
"Probably, so far as l know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah's flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the 'days' of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know."
II. The Theories Old Earth Creationism and Regional Flood are Apologetic Attempts to Reconcile the Bible with Errors of Modern Science
The next reason I reject the regional flood and related theories is that they are nothing but attempts to bend the Bible to accord with the errors of modern science. They are modern inventions virtually unknown until little more than an hundred years ago. Their appearance in recent times does not represent a “return to the Bible,” but a departure there from; a capitulation to errors of the theoretical sciences, not a stand upon the word of God. If these theories represented a return to the Bible, we would expect to find at least some evidence that these opinions were espoused in earlier times by Jews or Christians. However, not a single ancient writer can be produced who speaks of the earth being millions of years old or that the flood was merely regional. A survey of ancient sources will make the point.
Among the Jews, Josephus may be taken as representative. Josephus plainly held to six literal days of creation:
Accordingly Moses says that in just six days the world and all that is therein was made; and that the seventh day was a rest, and a release from the labour of such operations; whence it is that we celebrate a rest from our labours on that day, and call it the Sabbath; which word denotes rest in the Hebrew tongue.
Notice that Josephus here cites Ex. 20:11 almost verbatim for the proposition that all creation was completed in the space of just six days. The church fathers also unanimously agree that the days of creation were literal. Space does not permit us to do more than list some representative passages demonstrating the patristic writers’ belief in the literal days of creation. (Justine Martyr, Hortatory Address to the Greeks, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, p. 287; Irenaeus Against the Heresies, Bk. 5, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, p. 557; Theophilus to Autolycus, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II, Bk. II, pp. 99-120; Clement of Alexandria, The Stomata, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II, pp.438, 512-513 ; Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III , p. 218; Origen, Against Celsus, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV, p. 404, 600-601; The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. V, p. 163; Julius Africanus, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VI, pp. 130-131; Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VI, p. 283; Methodius, Discourse VII –Procilla, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VI, p. 333; Discourse IX - Tusiane, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VI, p. 344; Lactantius, Bk. VII, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VII, p. 211; Victorinus, On the Creation of the World, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII, p. 341)
Concerning Noah’s flood, early Jewish sources are unanimous that the flood was universal. The non-canonical book of I Enoch was written during the intertestamental period. It is not inspired, but it does give us a view into the understanding of the Jews in the second century before Christ:
Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spake, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: 'Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. And now instruct him that he may escape and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world.
Josephus also unambiguously affirms the universal flood:
Now God loved this man for his righteousness; yet he not only condemned those other men for their wickedness, but determined to destroy the whole race of mankind, and to make another race…he turned the dry land into sea; and thus were all these men destroyed: but Noah alone was saved.
Advocates of the regional flood theory argue for a narrow reading of the term rendered “earth” in the flood account (erets), but not a single translation in existence supports them. Josephus, a priest who could think and speak in Hebrew, is also decidedly against them; he defines the “earth” by the phrase “dry land,” the very term used in Genesis to distinguish the earth from the sea. (Gen. 1:9) Thus, Josephus is saying that the creation was reversed, all the dry land submerged, and chaos resumed, so that a new creation could be made in which Noah would provide the seed.
The church fathers also weigh in on the side of the universal flood:
An Accurate Account of the Deluge:
And this Noah had three sons (as we mentioned in the second book), whose names were Shem, and Ham, and Japhet; and these had three wives, one wife each; each man and his wife. This man some have surnamed Eunuchus. All the eight persons, therefore, who were found in the ark were preserved. And Moses showed that the flood lasted forty days and forty nights, torrents pouring from heaven, and from the fountains of the deep breaking up, so that the water overtopped every high hill 15 cubits. And thus the race of all the men that then were was destroyed, and those only who were protected in the ark were saved; and these, we have already said, were eight. And of the ark, the remains are to this day to be seen in the Arabian mountains. This, then, is in sum the history of the deluge Theophilus, To Autolycus, Bk. III, chap xix, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II, .pp. 116-117
The Recognitions of Clement, Bk. I
God brought a flood upon the world that the earth might be purified from their pollution, and every place might be turned into a sea by the destruction of the wicked. Yet there was then found one righteous man, by name Noah, who, being delivered in an ark with his three sons and their wives, became the colonizer of the world after the subsiding of the waters, with those animals and seeds which he had shut up with him.
Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, Bk. X, Chapter XXVI.
And in Noah's time there occurred a flood throughout the entire world, which neither Egyptians, nor Chaldeans, nor Greeks recollect; for the inundations which took place in the age of Ogyges and Deucalion prevailed only in the localities where these dwelt.
The sum of this testimony is that all of the dry ground was submerged beneath the waters of the flood; the waters going over the tops of the mountains by fifteen cubits, Noah and his family of all earth’s people alone being saved. Thus, the voice from antiquity is unanimous in affirming the traditional belief about creation and the flood. Not a single source can be produced on the side of regional flood advocates or old earth creationists. There is a good reason why the ancients believed in the literal six days of creation and universal flood: No one reading Genesis could conclude otherwise! The incentive – the only incentive - to depart from the plain language of the text finds its source in modern science and men’s attempts to reconcile the Bible to its claims. It is a case of extra-biblical beliefs and theories driving one’s interpretation of the Bible, rather than allowing the scripture to speak for itself. The ancients lacked the impetus to reconcile the Bible to modern science and therefore affirmed the traditional accounts of the flood and creation, relying upon the Bible as the unsullied word of God.
Modern man, educated in government schools and assaulted on every side by assertions that the earth is billions of years old, feels pressure to make an apology for the Bible; he feels he must “square” the Bible with scientific claims. Such are old earth creationists and regional flood advocates. These men overlook, however, the fact that claims concerning the age of the earth and origin of life do not originate in true empirical science, but the theoretical sciences; branches of science which have no hard evidence for their claims, but build theories upon unproven premises and extrapolations which can never be scientifically shown or demonstrated. Old earth creationists and regional flood advocates thus jettison the Bible in favor of the unproven theories of men. A poor trade off if ever there was one. But if extra-biblical beliefs determine how one interprets the Bible, what is this but to say his beliefs are in fact unbiblical? And so it is that the theories of old earth creationism and a regional flood can never be biblical, since they find their source and impetus outside the Bible.
III. The New Testament Confirms the Cosmos was Destroyed
If there were a question about the literalness of the Old Testament narrative or the definition of the words or phrases employed, the New Testament obviates the discussion by twice affirming that the cosmos was destroyed.
Heb. 11:7 – By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world (Grk. kosmos), and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
II Pet. 2:5 – And spared not the old world (kosmos), but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world (kosmos) of the ungodly.
In both of these verses the term used to
describe the object destroyed by the flood is the Greek word
“kosmos.” Cosmos is the
opposite of chaos.
Kosmos is defined as an orderly arrangement, viz., the universe, the
world, and/or the inhabitants of the world.
It is distinguished from 1) aion, an age, 2) ge, earth or
land, and 3) oikoumene, the inhabited earth, viz., world or
IV. Proponents of the Regional Flood Are Guilty of Insupportable Claims
and Irresponsible Exegesis
Old earth creationism and the theory of a regional flood suffer more than bad hermeneutics in their basic suppositions and methodology; they also make many insupportable claims and engage in irresponsible exegesis. Here are a few couple examples of the sort of unsound assertions coming out of this corner.
Assertion that Belief in a Universal Flood Stems from Modern Language, Science, and Dispensationalism
One writer has made assertions that belief in a universal flood is a modern phenomenon; that ancient peoples believed Noah’s flood was merely local. This assertion is, of course, completely unfounded; not a single ancient writer can be produced that affirms belief in a regional flood. The writer alleges first that belief in a universal flood is owing to modern English:
The question we deal with has always been whether it is proper to read Genesis 6-9 according to a plain-literal approach in regard to the global language as it reads in modern English.
The writer then alleges that belief in a universal flood is the result of modern scientific notions:
The “global flood interpretation is a result of modern Western scientific definitions of the language that are demonstrably foreign to the original authors and audience of the texts.”
The writer then asserts that belief in a universal flood grows out of modern Dispensationalism:
The global flood idea is essentially a dispensational futurist concept born out of the naïve method of literalism.
There is not a single one of the above assertions that has any substance. In fact, they could not be more incorrect. As we have already seen, the unanimous voice of antiquity affirms the universal flood. If anything, it is the idea of a regional flood and old earth creationism that are modern and find their impetus in the errors of modern theoretical sciences. So far as we know, not a single ancient author affirms a regional flood as advocated by the above writer.
Assertion that Noah’s flood consisted of only 20 Feet of Water
And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. Gen. 7:18-22
In an attempt to avoid the implication of the Genesis language above, that the flood waters covered the high hills under heaven to the depth of fifteen cubits, advocates of the regional flood theory suggest that the waters were merely fifteen cubits altogether and did not cover the mountains at all. Of course, there is not a single translation in existence that supports them, but then that has never been a deterrent to their willingness to rewrite the word of God. For argument’s sake, let it be granted that the Hebrew is susceptible of this construction (it’s not), let us test their theory. The scripture says the ark was three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. A cubit is approximately seventeen inches. That means the ark was roughly 425’ x 70’ x 42’. Obvisouly, it is impossible for an ark 425’ long, made of timbers, to be floated in waters only fifteen cubits (20 ft.) deep. Thus, proponents of the regional flood theory are proven wrong again. Their irresponsible treatment of the scripture only serves to demonstrate their error.
V. Old Earth Creationism and a Regional Flood Contradict Important
Doctrines of Scripture
As we have seen, not a single sacred writer or ancient author, Jewish or Christian, can be produced that lends credence to the notions of old earth creationism or a regional flood. All are agreed that creation occurred in the space of six literal days and that the flood was universal in scope. Moreover, we have seen that it is only by violence to the most basic principals of hermeneutics that a case for old earth creationism and a regional flood can be made, and that the sole incentive for imposing these errors on the divine text is to reconcile the declarations of the sacred page with the errors of profane science. These are more than sufficient in themselves to require rejection of these theories. But there are more. Another reason to reject them is their direct contradiction of important doctrines of scripture.
The Doctrine of Two
Perhaps the single most important doctrine in
the Bible is the doctrine of “two
For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ…For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Rom. , 19; cf. I Cor. , 23; 45-49
Paul’s language is interpreted differently by different denominational groups within Christendom. Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican/Episcopal, and Reformed churches interpret Paul’s language in terms of God’s imputing Adam’s legal guilt and accountability to his descendants, thus requiring even infants to be saved (this is the origin of infant baptism). Other churches interpret the language in terms of Adam’s descendants inheriting only the physiological consequences of his transgression, causing them to be at enmity with the things of the Spirit by nature, incapable of living above their carnal appetites. Those holding to this view believe that accountability for sin is personal and attaches only when a child reaches sufficient maturity to understand the nature of his acts and to know that they are wrong. These groups therefore baptize only adults. Despite differences in interpretation, all acknowledge the doctrine of the inherited or imputed nature of Adam’s transgression and consider it an essential tenant of the faith.
Old earth creationists and regional flood
advocates, holding that the creation account is a mere fiction or
allegory, a symbolic representation, not an actual historical
account, must logically deny the doctrine of two
Perhaps we should ask what authority advocates of old earth creationism and a regional flood offer in support of their assertions God created other men than Adam and that others survived the flood than Noah? The answer: none whatever! Not a single verse of scripture can be marshaled to sustain their views. The theories rest on no other foundation than bare assertion, empty supposition, and appeal to the errors of modern science. Moreover, not only do their assertions have no scriptural basis, they contradict both divine and secular historical accounts of human life and civilization.
It is an interesting and highly significant
fact that all recorded history agrees with the sacred page.
Unlike the discrepancy between scripture and the errors of
modern, atheistic science, there are not two historical worlds: the
Biblical world and the “true” world of secular history.
All historical accounts, including archaeological
investigation and discovery of the growth and spread of the human
race, corroborate the Genesis and Biblical accounts perfectly.
Unlike the theoretical “sciences” of origins and dating the
earth, in history we deal with facts, and these accord with the
Bible. Man is first
found in the areas of ancient
This creates an insurmountable hurdle for advocates of old earth creationism and a regional flood. If God created other races of men than those who trace their descent from Adam and if more survived the flood than Noah, then we would expect that the world to have infinitely more people than it presently does and the history of the growth and spread of the race would vary from that set out in the Bible, much as the theoretical science of origins varies from the Genesis account of creation. With each additional man and woman God is alleged to have created, the race would have multiplied proportionately faster. If God created only one other race than Adam, man would have multiplied twice as fast; if two others, thrice as fast, and so forth. However, the picture that emerges from secular history mirrors that of the Bible, showing that mankind has grown from its single, original source in Adam and Noah.
Typological Teaching of the Universal Flood
If old earth creationists destroy the typological doctrine of two Adams and man’s inherent need of the Savior, regional flood advocates destroy the typological importance of the universal flood and man’s need for salvation only through Jesus Christ. Peter employed the flood and ark as type of baptism and the church to show that only those who obeyed the message to repent and be baptized would be saved:
The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I Pet. 3:20, 21
Peter’s argument may be succinctly stated thus: as Noah was saved by obeying the message to prepare the ark, so men are saved today by obedience to the commandment to repent and be baptized, by which they get out of sin and into Christ. But if men other than Noah came safely through the flood, then it follows that men will be saved out of Christ, which the ark typifies, and Peter’s whole analogy is worthless. Again we see the destructive nature of the novel theory of a regional flood and how it strikes at essential tenants of the Christian faith.
Old earth creationism and the notion of a regional flood are apologetic attempts to reconcile the Bible with the errors of modern, theoretical science; they are founded upon bad hermeneutics and contradict numerous plain statements of scripture. Discerning students of scripture will reject these specious theories.
“Evenings and mornings” is used because there is no more effective way to communicate a twenty-four hour period. Sun-rise to sunrise has the inconvenience of causing one day to end at the very time men are beginning the labor of the next, and mid-night to mid-night cannot be measured without mechanical assistance. Hence, the space between two evenings is the easiest way to mark the twenty-four hour period making up the period of human activity during the daylight. Moreover, since evening also marks the time men rest, it was especially useful in marking the beginning of the Sabbath, since this began at even.
The whole letter is posted at http://www.geocities.com/ilgwamh/day.html
A possible exception might be writers from among the Greeks who brought spurious pagan notions about the eternality of the universe with them into the church.
Josephus, Antiquities, I, i, 1; Whiston ed.
I Enoch, Chapter 10; emphasis added.
Ibid, I, iii, 2; Whiston ed.
We avoid the term global because the Bible does not use the term; it says only that all the dry ground was covered, without saying how much dry ground (viz., how many continents) existed at the time.
“India is the farthest part of the inhabited world toward the east…Arabia is the farthest of the inhabited countries toward the south…where the meridian declines toward the setting sun, the Ethiopian territory reaches, being the extreme part of the habitable world.” Herodotus, III, cxvi-xiv.
To receive Kurt Simmons’ e-mail newsletter, The Sword & The Plow, click the Subscribe link:
All rights reserved.