This thread did a good job of showing that where the word "earth" is used in the Flood Story, it is not referring to the planet Earth. This point was hardly disputed, if at all.
But then when I, and others, argued that the story still implied that the flood was all-encompassing, as opposed to a small local flood (even though the planet wasn't referred to), there were still opponents that argued that it wasn't all-emcompasing and should be considered local. I don't feel that that position was adequately supported. It got down to the flood being for just a particular part of the land, for only some of the men and animals and not others. I didn't see where that interpretation was well supported from the scripture itself and I still think the author/audience would have considered the flood to be all-emcompasing. Even the earler flood myths that this one stemmed from have the same sentiment.
Aside from a few, I feel that most of us agreed that the words eretz (land) and adamah (ground) by themselves to not refer to planet Earth. I also feel that most of us agree that our English words land and ground also do not by themselves refer to planet Earth and that our English word earth only refers to the planet when one is using it as the name of our planet. Message 185
The phrase "all the land" and "all the ground" seems to be the sticking point when it comes to the creation stories and the flood stories and whether they are referring to the entire planet or not. From what I can tell at least one sticking point seems to be because the character of God in the stories is assumed to be all powerful and all knowing and therefore could easily flood the whole planet. Unfortunately I feel my opposition adds more to the story than the author provided. The author wrote the story. The character didn't write the story.
I understand that the author is at most talking about the non-planetary world (Message 260) and at the least the land of Israel; But apparently I have been rather inept at explaining why.
A definite article indicates that its noun is a particular one (or ones) identifiable to the listener. It may be something that the speaker has already mentioned, or it may be something uniquely specified. The definite article in English, for both singular and plural nouns, is the.
The children know the fastest way home.
The sentence above refers to specific children and a specific way home; it contrasts with the much more general observation that:
Children know the fastest way home.
The latter sentence refers to children in general, perhaps all or most of them.
So the "ha" in front of eretz and adamah means the noun used is a particular one identifiable to the listener the same as the word "the" does for the English language.
That's why we don't assume the inscription on the Liberty Bell is referring to every person on the planet even with the absolute "all" in front of it. It's the same phrasing and those people did know they stood on a planet. Message 227
Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof...
The other issue was the absolute "all" in front of "the land". Unintentionally one of my opponents gave a wonderful example of how we automatically edit absolutes.
Nobody disputes the idea that the authors did not consider the earth a planet. Message 296
When he uses the word "nobody" I don't assume he actually polled every person on the planet. I assume he is at most referring to the people participating in this thread and at the least end the three who were confused.
I feel the listeners of the original stories edited the absolutes just the way we do. The Hebrews weren't living in a vacuum. Message 285
There were several different flood myths. As the Hebrews interacted with the pagans and lived among them in exile, do we really believe they never shared flood stories or creation stories in all those years?
Monolatry Since many critical scholars believe that the laws banning the worship of other gods really do go back to Moses, but that the denial of the existence of other gods does not, they conclude that Moses only taught monolatry, not monotheism. And since historical books such as Judges and Kings state that the Israelites continued to worship other gods throughout their history, these scholars conclude that even the requirement of monolatry was not widely accepted in Israel until shortly before the Babylonian exile, or even later.
Do we really believe they thought everyone's god of choice destroyed every living thing on the planet/non-planetary world except one family and a boat full of animals?
IMO, it is unreasonable to assume the audience had never heard any other flood stories, especially since these foundational myths were probably created from stories borrowed from pagans. If the Documentary Hypothesis is correct, then what we currently have is a cut and pasted version containing at least two different versions of the stories.
These stories are foundational myths and I feel the original audience understood "all the land" to refer to the particular land that was identifiable to them.
It is most interesting to see how people read a certain text in way that supports their particular world view. I can often (usually at a stretch) see where a proponent of a viewpoint is coming from. However, there is often little or no real reason for the text to be interpreted in the way they suggest. The only reason to accept an unusual interpretation is to support a particular desired reading.
I am an athiest. I dont have any particular need for this myth to read in a particular way.
I cannot think of any reason why a bronze age author, when trying to describe the power of their God, would not mean to state that he destroyed the entire world. If I was writing a story to attempt to illustrate my gods power, I would write about him/her/it destroying everything. Destroying everything that existed on the surface of the earth. Killing everyone he had created. Every man woman and child. Every animal even. Now that is power. Even if I was not aware of the dimensions, extent or shape of the world I live on, I would say my god is capable of destroying everyone and everything.
Why would an author, writing about a fictional figure performing fictional actions feel the need to reduce the story to fit their particular geographical area? What is the point of the story if it was only meant to be a weak little flood that wet a few farms and killed some cattle, sheep and goats. Woop-de-doo.
There are other 'God/s flexing their muscle' stories from the area that do discuss local floods and local destruction as well as destruction that could be read as meaning all of the world. Some in this debate have pointed out that the authors would have known about these other stories. Why, if they knew about these stories, would they write a story where their god is equal or lesser in power than the other local deities? Would they not make their god MORE powerful than the others? Why make their god an equal? or worse yet weaker in power?
It just does not make sense.
There are plenty of myths and legends that discuss the destruction of the planet earth. The flood of Noah is considered by the vast majority to be a worldwide flood designed to kill every human being and every animal not on the ark.
I am a comic book fan. At least once a month I read about some villian who wants to destroy the world. Regularly, I read about a villian who wants to destroy the universe.
Current writers of fiction do not know the extent or the shape of the universe. Yet they regularly discuss the threat of destruction of the universe.
Galactus threatens to destroy the universe in Fantasic Four comics. When Stan Lee wrote this comic, is it more likely that he meant the entire universe, the bits he knows about and the bits he does not know about, regardless of what shape it is, or do you think he actually only meant the known universe in the 1980s?
Thor saved us all when Thanos tried to destroy the universe in the late nineties. Did the author mean the whole universe or just the known universe?
Fry saved the universe from giant brains in Futurama. Did the writers mean the whole universe, or just the known universe?
My girlfriend pointed out that Dr WHo has saved the universe at least half a dozen times to her knowledge. Do you think that people watching the Doctor in episodes in the far future will think that the writes meant for him to only be saving the known universe?
there are many more examples (i am pretty sure Kirk saved the universe in Star Trek too) but I believe I have made my point.
The argument that the writers of the story would not have known about the entire world so could not have meant the entire world is ridiculous.
If you are a bible literalist then the words are the divine word of God as dictated to Moses. They are direct quotes from God and he would have known about the entire world since he was its creator.
If you believe that these stories are mere fiction, then it makes no sense for the story to refer to a small region to be flooded. It makes no sense because it makes the God in the story weaker than other local gods. It makes no sense because the author/s discuss the destruction of all of the land under heaven. Not the destruction of all land under heaven but restricted to Noahs neighbourhood therefore only a tiny bit of the land under heaven. It makes no sense because the author/s discuss the flood destroying all living things that draw breath. Not all living things that breath in the local area.
If it is the word of God, then it refers to the whole planet.
If it is a work of fiction written with the intent to display the power of a God, then there is no reason to believe that the author/s did not mean all land (regardless of the shape).
From what I can tell, the only real reason someone would want to push the idea that it was a regional flood is because they realise that they cannot fight against the proof that there was no global flood.
Creationists cant change the text, so they have to change their interpretation of the text.
This seems to happen whenever a particular religious position is overcome by science and reason.
If you can't beat science and reason with the current interpretation of the text, reinterpret the text. That way you can never be wrong. Just right over and over again.
Eventually creationsists will paint themselves into a corner.
The text says what it says.
Its a story.
Quit trying to shoe horn it into current knowledge to validate your world view.
Edited by Butterflytyrant, : No reason given.
Edited by Butterflytyrant, : No reason given.
Edited by Butterflytyrant, : No reason given.
I could agree with you, but then we would both be wrong
Butterfly, AKA, mallethead - Dawn Bertot
"Superstitions and nonsense from the past should not prevent us from making progress. If we hold ourselves back, we admit that our fears are more powerful than our abilities." Hunters of Dune Herbert & Anderson
2011 leading candidate for the EvC Forum Don Quixote award
This thread with the quite reasonable point that the authors of the Bible did not understand the idea of the Earth as a planet. (although it should be noted that the idea of the Earth as a globe was available in the time of the later Biblical writers, especially in the New Testament).
Unfortunately it did not stop there. Somehow this was taken as meaning that the story of Noah's Flood MUST be read as referring to a purely local flood. This is absurd as was demonstrated in the thread, but somehow the supporters of this argument would not let go.
I suppose at this point I have to mention Purpledawn's odd behaviour. Including such highlights as forgetting the point being argued about, being unable (according to her) to realise that the word "global" carries the connotation of a globe, while the word "universal" does not (and even missing the explanation - she would not have "had to ask three times" if she had noticed the answer given the first time !) and in the end confusing her modern point of view with that of the Biblical authors. We could put this down to confusion but apparently it is people who remember the point under discussion and can see the link between "global" and "globe" who are confused...
The other assertion was that since eretz and adamah are sometimes used to refer to limited areas they must always refer to limited areas. Again this seems odd, since we are also told that adamah is used in the monotheistic creation story of Genesis 1, where it seems eminently reasonable to consider it as referring to all the major land masses that might exist. And we are also told that eretz and adamah are used interchangeably so it seems that this argument is not on firm ground. Perhaps the argument could be saved if a better wording could be found to express the concept of "all of the land in the world", but none was offered nor was there any suggestion that there was any reasonable alternative. Maybe this is due to the limited knowledge of those proposing the argument, but if it is true that there is no better alternative, then the case for reading the Flood story as referring to a universal flood becomes very strong.
I did write a story setting out my views of how the Flood story should be read in different contexts. It was almost a summary post in itself - the more so, since it attracted no replies. Rather than repeat it here, I will just provide the link. Please go and read it : Message 280
I see broad agreement that the Bible authors didn't have any concept of a planet, in the modern sense. If they thought about planets at all, it was just as another kind of bright object in the sky.
Beyond that relatively uncontroversial point, the issue of the flood and its extent largely took over the thread. I think that much of this was characterised by confusion, on everyone's part, and perhaps a lack of clear terminology with which we might easily discuss such an issue. All the usual terms like "world" and "global" carry multiple senses.
I don't think that this understanding of terms like eretz necessitates a purely regional flood, or even implies it. I think that the authors imagined a far smaller world than we do. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me that they should think it completely flooded.
A partial flood also seems less theologically satisfying. Flooding everything is a terrible, yet grand, act. Flooding a small part of the whole just comes across as petty. It also makes the covenant idea look odd; there have been many more regional floods after all. Surely God has broken that promise many times over.
The authors who wrote these tales were not shy about depicting God as a great powerhouse, vast in scope and terrible in anger. I don't see why this would be out of character for such a god. I think that the straightforward reading is a complete, worldwide flood, a flood of all the land that existed.
As a final point, I would just like to note that Biblical literalists are stuck with a global flood, or at least a flood of planet-wide impact. The details that are are provided in Genesis about the flooding of mountains make any attempt to portray the story as an accurate literal account rather laughable.