FLOOD MODELS AND BIBLICAL REALISM
by Jonathan Sarfati
Biblical creationists by definition believe in a globe-covering flood. But how this occurred has been a matter of intense debate within the creationist geologist community. Some general observations can be made from a theological, philosophic and scientific perspective.
Hold the Bible strongly; hold models loosely
The Bible, as God’s written word, should be non-negotiable. Its teachings are propositional truth, and must be the foundation for all our teachings, including about the Flood. This applies not only to explicit statements, but to anything logically deducible from these statements.1 In fact, Jesus Himself endorsed the Flood as a real event, the Ark as a real ship, and Noah as a real person (Luke 17:26–27), so how can any of His professing followers deny it?
But where the Bible is genuinely silent, we are free to use science to help build models to help elucidate the clear teachings of Scripture. But these models are just man-made—they must never be given the same authority as Scripture. In any case, science is always changing, so being married to a model today will probably result in being widowed tomorrow. Worse, if the Bible is too tied up with a model later discarded, many will think that the Bible itself was refuted (cf. the church’s adoption of Aristotelian cosmology v Galileo2,3).
Model-building should be an example of the ministerial use of science. In contrast, the magisterial use of science, practised by all compromisers on Genesis, overrules the clear teaching of the Bible to come up with a meaning inconsistent with sound hermeneutics. Instead of the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), this is Scriptura sub scientia (Scripture below science).4 With these principles, some popular ideas can be examined.
1. Sarfati, J., Loving God with all your mind: logic and creation, J. Creation 12(2):142–151, 1998; creation.com/logic.
2. Schirrmacher, T., The Galileo Affair: history or heroic hagiography, Journal of Creation 14(1):91—100, 2000; creation.com/gal-affair.
3. See Sarfati, J., The Galileo quadricentennial: myth vs fact, Creation 31(3):49–51, 2009; creation.com/galileo-quadricentennial.
4. Sarfati, J., Refuting Compromise, Master Books, AR, pp. 49–593, 2004.