What do we really know?
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
13 On that very day Noah and his sons,Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.
17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. – Genesis 7:11-23
Two recent encounters shape today’s post. One was a conversation with a very thoughtful and incredibly intelligent seminary classmate cum seminary professor, now retired. The other was at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. An article in wikipedia pans the methodology and “pseudoscience” (their term) employed in the explanations offered in the ark. The explanations and questions asked in the display itself, however, are thoughtful and enlightening. My only discomfort in the approach there is with some of the statements that leave no room for a different understanding of these truths. I believe in a humble holding of these truths of Scripture.
I believe every word of the Genesis account of the flood and Noah, and the ark. I need no wiggle room to embrace these thoughts in a manner that makes them more palpable to modern non-pseudo scientific minds. Trying to play their game, however, seems to me a fool’s errand. I find helpful to learn insights from a careful study of the text and putting it along side of the fossil record, known things from archeological studies, and a starting point that does not immediately dismiss the truth of the Scriptural record.
That leads me to my conversation with my good friend Jeff Gibbs. May I say again that Jeff is incredibly intelligent. He is also a dedicated student of the Scripture. And he believes it all – as do I. No ifs, ands, or buts. But he has a very humble approach to sharing and professing these truths. I recall one exchange between him and a young pastor – barely out of the seminary. He very patiently answered the objections and challenges of his junior colleague in a manner I might not have been so willing to display.
Here are some of my convictions about all this:
- There is no slam dunk reason for dismissing the account of Noah, the flood, and the ark. There are plausible explanations about the construction, population, and flood that do not require an abandonment of all scientific evidence.
- Scientific evidence, however, is fallible. I won’t stake my eternal wellbeing on scientific insights or truths.
- I believe Scripture is infallible. It will never lead me away from Jesus, repentance, faith, hope, life, and salvation. God’s word is pure and precious.
- Some will find reason to reject this account – as well as other biblical teachings and truths. One of the criticisms against Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, the group behind Ark Encounter is that they hold to the idea that God created us male and female – with all the implications to that belief. But to abandon such truths in favor of more convenient beliefs and morality is not just dangerous. It is eternally dangerous.
- The incredible effort that Ham and his team have undertaken is impressive. Cataloguing the nearly 7000 “kinds” of animals that would have been on the ark, together with explanations as to why some kinds are generic (bears, for example), while others (bats, for example) are much more specific. There is one “kind” of bear on the ark, and more than a dozen “kinds” of bats!
- I believe God’s word not because it is plausible. I believe it because I respect God and believe he is the foundation and source of all truth.
We know precious little about God, but the little we know is precious!
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