The Flood Waters
Where did God put all the water from the flood? Did he just make it disappear (poof)? The Bible says that the seas retreated in a matter of months (extremely fast)? Did he dig a hole and put the water in some big basin deep in the earth?
First, let's examine exactly what the Scripture says. Genesis chapter seven describes the event of a catastrophic worldwide flood used by God as a judgment for the wickedness of man in the days of Noah. The Bible teaches that the entire world (including the mountains) was covered in water in Genesis 7:20 and this is also mentioned in 2 Peter 3:6 and Isaiah 54:9. The Bible tells us that it rained for forty days nonstop (Genesis 7:11-12) and water continued to rise higher until the mountains were covered (verse 20) for a total of 150 days (verse 24). Therefore, even though it only rained for forty days, the waters continued to rise for a total of 21 weeks.
In addition to the rain, verse 11 describes that, "…the fountains of the great deep burst open" to account for additional water necessary to cover the tops of mountains. Your question comes in at this point. What happened to all this water?
First of all, we are told that after the waters rose for 21 weeks that Noah remained in the ark for an additional 23 weeks. During this time the waters receded. In order to understand this I challenge you to evaluate your assumptions. If you assume that the ocean depths were the same before the Flood as they are after and if you assume that the mountains were always the same height as they are now I can see why you are so cynical in your questioning. Such an assumption is unnecessary considering the effects of a global flood.
A few years ago I was overwhelmed by the affects of flooding in the mid-west. It was incredible what flood waters can do. If the waters of Noah's Flood covered the whole earth, the devastation from a worldwide catastrophe would have caused extreme changes in the earth's appearance. Therefore, there is no reason to assume that the world's topography would have been the same as before the flood. In fact, before the Flood the Bible only refers to "high hills" implying that the mountains were formed at the end of or after the Flood.
A change in the overall topography of the earth after the Flood would also account for the water of the Flood. This is exactly what is suggested in Psalm 104:8, "The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which Thou did establish for them." This verse in the context of verses 6-9 must be referring to the events of Noah's Flood. In verse 9: "Thou didst set a boundary that they may not pass over; That they may not return to cover the earth." This must refer to God's promise not to flood the entire earth again after Noah's Flood. The Psalmist exalts God's power in this awesome Psalm in verses 6 and 7. "Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment; The waters were standing above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; At the sound of Thy thunder they hurried away." Thus, God simply rebuked the waters that covered the mountains and they went to their "established place" as the mountains rose and the valleys sank.
This explains why the ocean basins are so deep and wide. Mountains higher than Mount Everest are found in the ocean. Somehow, perhaps by continental separation and/or massive plate tectonic movements, the oceans were deepened and widened. Evidence such as the topography of continental shelves, the sea mounts and the great submarine canyons indicate a former lower sea level. It is also important to consider that most of the earth's surface now is covered by water (70 percent) and if the entire earth's surface were leveled out, the waters of the ocean would cover the earth to a depth of 1.7 miles. Therefore, if the mountains rose and the valleys sank, the water of the Flood would have ended up mainly in the oceans.
The truth of Psalm 104 also explains why mountain ranges appear folded as if they rose. Perhaps a drastic collision of tectonic plates could have caused such upthrusting resulting in and further tectonic activity, volcanism, erosion, sedimentation and fossilization, which is apparent in the geologic record. It is also important to consider the geologic fact of fossils of fish on the tops of mountains. I have a water-dwelling trilobite fossil that was found on the top of the Atlas Mountains. Mount Everest itself contains fossils and is composed of water-deposited layers.
So, to answer your question, no, the water did not disappear (poof), but, in a way, God did create a basin to hold the waters of the Flood. Geology confirms that the earth's topography has changed, that the ocean basins have sank and the mountains were once under water and that they have indeed risen just as the psalmist suggested.6/9/01
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Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen