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Questions on Divine Creation
By Gary F. Zeolla
This four-part article is continued from Questions on Divine Creation: Part Three. This Part Four answers questions 11-13 of 13.
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11. Was the flood of Noah a local or a worldwide flood?
The Bible is clear in its description of the cataclysmic flood of Noah that it was in fact a worldwide flood and not just a local flood.
This is seen first in that the Hebrew word used for the flood of Noah is only use for the flood of Noah. That word is mabbűl. It only occurs in Genesis 6-11 and in Psalm 29:10. The word “flood” might appear elsewhere in some Bible versions, but it is always a different word and would be best rendered by “river,” “waters” or some such alternative translation. For instance, in Job 22:16, the NKJV and some other versions have “flood,” but the NASB has “river.”
A similar situation exists in the Greek text of the Septuagint. The word used in Genesis 6-11 is kataklysmos, from which we get the word “cataclysm.” It is used in the OT in Genesis 6-11 and Psalm 29:10, as with the Hebrew word. But it is also used in Psalm 32:6 and Nahum 1:8. Those verses are not as clear in referring to the flood of Noah as the other references, but they could be interpreted in that way.
This word is also used five times in the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical book of The Wisdom of Sirach (21:13; 39:22; 40:10; 44:7f). The last three of these references clearly refer to the flood of Noah, while the first two could be interpreted in that way.
Kataklysmos is used four times in the NT, with all four references being clear references to the flood of Noah (Matt 24:38f; Luke 17:27; 2Pet 2:5).
Therefore, overall, the evidence is clear the word used for Noah’s flood, be it the Hebrew or Greek word, is rather unique in that for the most part, it is only used for that flood and not for any other water event. As such, just the terminology used shows the Flood of Noah was unique.
It is for these reasons that in the next edition of the ALT, I will be rendering the Greek word kataklysmos as “cataclysmic flood” rather than just “flood” as it is now, so as to distinguish it from other words used for other water events. I will also use that term for the rest of this chapter, to be clear that we are in fact referring to that unique cataclysmic flood event and not just any average flood.
Uniqueness does not prove this was a worldwide flood, but the way it is described in Genesis 6-9 and elsewhere does. God begins by declaring, “I will blot out humanity whom I have made from [the] face of the earth” (6:7). Then God says He will, “destroy all flesh in which is [the] breath of life under heaven” (6:17).
Then the description of the cataclysmic flood is, “the water prevailed exceedingly violently upon the earth, and it covered all the high mountains” (7:19), and that “all flesh died [that] was moving upon the earth” (7:21). The description of all humans and animals “upon [the] face of the earth” dying is repeated twice in 7:22-23. Then the text repeats, “the water was raised over the earth” (7:24).
Then in the NT, Peter refers to the waters of the cataclysmic flood and says, “through which the then world, having been flooded by water, was destroyed” (2Pet 3:6).
All of this language clearly indicates a worldwide flood is meant and not just a local event.
Finally, the LORD promises Noah, “And I will establish My covenant towards you*, and all flesh will not still [fig., anymore] die by the water of the cataclysmic flood, and there will not still [fig., again] be a cataclysmic flood of water to destroy all the earth” (9:11).
Note the emphasis again on “all flesh” having died in the cataclysmic flood, and on it having destroyed “all the earth.” But then the LORD promises He will never do so again. If this was just a local flood, then God lied, as there have been many local floods since that time. But if it was a worldwide cataclysmic flood, then He has kept His promise, as there has never again been such a worldwide cataclysmic flood.
12. How did all of the animals fit on the ark?
The answer to this question requires dispelling another common misconception many people have about the catastrophic flood, that of what the ark looked like and how large it was.
Most people’s conception of the ark comes from childhood Noah’s Ark toys, storybooks, or puzzles. Those children’s items usually depict the ark as a small boat with a normal curved or pointed bow, with a few animals on the deck of the boat or sticking their heads out of a window, as seen in the pictures below.
For those of us who live in the Pittsburgh, PA area, you will also see such a depiction in the Kennywood Noah’s Ark amusement park ride, as seen below.
These depictions have done much to confuse people about what Noah's ark really looked like, as they are far from what the reality of it.
First, the ark did not have a curved or pointed bow and stern. The purpose of such a point is to “cut” the water, so that the ship can more easily move forward and backwards through water. But the ark was not designed to move through the water but to just float, being moved and bounced around as the turbulent water moved it. As such, it had a flat bow and stern. Even the Ark Encounter, the full-sized Noah's Ark exhibit in Kentucky makes the mistake of having a pointed bow and stern (pictured below). But a flat bow and stern increased the inner capacity of the ark and made it look more like a massive barge than a boat.
Second, Ark Encounter does get it correct in depicting the immense size of the ark. Be sure to note the cars in front of the ark for size comparison. That massive size is far from the depictions of a tiny boat of childhood toys and amusement park rides. God commanded Noah to make the arks as follows:
15And thus will you make the ark; three hundred cubits [about 450 feet or 137 meters] the length of the ark, and fifty cubits [about 75 feet or 23 meters] the width, and thirty cubits [about 45 feet or 14 meters] the height of it. 16Gathering [it] together, you will make the ark, and into a cubit [about 18 inches or 45 cm] above you will finish it [i.e., the ark was to have an opening of one cubit between the walls and the roof]. Now the door of the ark you will make out of the side; with lower, second, and third [stories] you will make it (Genesis 6:15-16).
As the ALT notes indicate, the ark was 450’ x 75’ x 45’, with three stories in it. That is a massive barge. It was not until the Titanic that a larger ship was built. But there was probably more usable space on the ark than on the Titanic, as there was no curved bow and no space needed for machinery or even for a pilot’s station. It was all usable space.
Doing the math, 450’ x 75’ gives us 33,750 square feet of surface space for each floor, times three floors, gives us a total 101,250 square feet of space. Before going into the importance of that, it would be good to consider another aspect of this design for the ark.
The ark was a simple rectangle. That is important as it made the ark seaworthy. It could be tilted to a 45-degree angle and not capsize. That is important given the very turbulent waters of the catastrophic flood, as described in the answer to a question in Part Three. It also differs from the shape of the arks in flood legends from other cultures. In one of those, for instance, the specs for the ark make it a cube. A cube would capsize very easily, making it useless for surviving the catastrophic flood.
It is also worth noting the fact that most cultures around the world have some kind of a legend of a catastrophic, worldwide flood. The legends differ on the exact details, but all agree in that it was a worldwide flood that wiped out all the animal and humans, but in some way, one family of humans and enough animals were spared to replenish the earth after the flood waters abated. This difference in details but similarity of the overall story is what you would expect for an event that happened a long time ago, with the story being passed on orally over many generations.
The only cultures that do not have such a legend are ones that experience regular non-disastrous flooding, like in Egypt. That is probably because, not being familiar with destructive local floods, they could not conceive of a catastrophic, worldwide flood, so the legend was not passed on.
Now to return to the animals, this is where the previous discussion about “kinds” becomes important once again. It was said before that a “kind” does not equal a species but more along the lines of a family or order. If family is correct, it was said there are 263 families of land-dwelling animals and birds alive today.
That number does not include extinct animals and birds, but it was said there were about 80 families of dinosaurs, making for 343 families. Of course, there were other kinds of animals that have also gone extinct. But we rounded that up to 500 for that discussion.
Now, before doing the math, another misconception needs to be corrected, that of how many of each kind went into the article. Anyone at all familiar with the story assumes it was two of each kind. That is based on God saying to Noah about the animals, “two [by] two from all will come to you, male and female.” (Gen 6:20).
However, that is only of the unclean animals. Of the clean animals, they came seven by seven (Gen 7:3). The reason for the greater number of clean animals was so that there would be animals available for sacrifice and for human consumption after Noah and his family debarked from the ark (Gen 8:20; 9:3).
Needing seven pairs of each kind of clean animal seems to make the problem worse, as we now have 14 of each clean kind of animal to fit on the ark. However, if you read Leviticus 11, you will see that the unclean animals far outnumber the clean ones. There is only a couple dozen kinds of clean land-dwelling animals and birds.
That means most of those 500 kinds of animals would go in two by two, giving us 1,000 animals that had to fit in the ark. An additional dozen for each clean kind of animal is another 288 animals, giving us a total of about 1,300 animals.
Now for some more math. We already calculated 101,250 square feet of space on the ark. With 1,300 kinds of animals, that gives us 77.9 square feet for each animal. That’s over an 8’ x 8’ space for each animal. That might not seem like a lot, especially when you consider that food was needed for each animal. But a couple of more points need to be considered.
First, the average size for adult land animals overall is about the size a sheep, and yes, that includes dinosaurs. Most people generally only think of the monster-sized dinosaurs like T-Rex and the sauropods. But most were tiny, like the pack of little dinosaurs that attacked the man on the Jurassic Park island at the start of that movie. And of course, most birds are much smaller than sheep.
Second, it would have made most sense for God to bring baby animals, not full-grown ones to the ark. That is because babies would have long lives ahead of them, with the opportunity for many offspring to repopulate the earth after the catastrophic flood. And of course, babies are much smaller than adults. Even dinosaurs like T-Rex and the sauropods were probably very small from birth through the first couple of years of their lives. They only begin to eat copious amounts of food and to grow so immense after that.
That leads to the third point, the food. The animals were on the ark for a full year. That seems like a lot of food to store. But again, babies do not eat near as much as adults. Moreover, many kinds of animals hibernate, and that is probably what they did for most of that year. God could have led most of the animals to feed up before they came to the ark and then to hibernate on the ark. That would have greatly lessened the amount of food needed and the space requirements, as sleeping animals do not need to move around. That would also have made the care of the animals much easier for Noah and his family.
Overall, the logistics could have been worked out given the size and shape of the ark, so Noah, his family, and all of the animals would have fit and survived just fine for the year or so they were on the ark.
13. Are there dinosaurs in the Bible?
The mention of dinosaurs in the previous answer and in earlier questions probably surprised many readers as you have been conditioned to believe that humans and dinosaurs lived millions of years apart. But dinosaurs would have been among the land animals created on Day Six, shortly before the man and the woman were created.
And yes, the word “dinosaur” properly only refers to land dwelling animals. Technically, a dinosaur is a land-dwelling reptile with its leg extending under its body, which differs from reptiles like alligators, whose legs extend outward from their bodies. The sea and flying creatures that are commonly associated with dinosaurs are technically not dinosaurs. But most consider them as such, and that common usage will be used here. And all of those dinosaur-like animals would have been created on Day Five with the other sea and flying animals.
That said, some of the land-dwelling dinosaurs might have been in the Garden with Adam and Eve, and all of the kinds of land and flying dinosaurs would have been bought to Noah to be on the ark. That means, dinosaurs would have survived the catastrophic flood. But they probably could not handle the changed environmental conditions of the earth after the catastrophic flood, leading to their extinction.
But are dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible? The answer to that is three-fold. The first concerns the translation of a Hebrew word and its corresponding Greek word for the Septuagint. The Hebrew word is tannin, while the Greek word is drakon.
The Hebrew word is generally rendered as “serpent” (e.g., Exod 7:9-12). But it also rendered as “dragon” in the KJV (e.g., Deut 32:33; Ps 74:13; 91:13; 148:7; Isa 27:1; Jer 9:11; 51:34; Ezek 29:3; Mic 1:8). It is also rendered as “monster” or “sea monster” in some verses in some verses (e.g., Job 7:12; NASB, Lam 4:3, KJV).
In The Revelation, the Greek word appears 13 times and is rendered as “dragon” in all versions in all occurrences. It also appears 3-4 times (deepening on the text) in the apocryphal book Bel and the Dragon, one of the “extra” chapters in the Book of Daniel found in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles. (See my book Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others? Volume One for details in this regard). But here, the important point is, the Greek word is always rendered as “dragon.”
But what is the correct rendering? Serpent, dragon, or sea monster? For the Hebrew word, lexicons give the meanings of, “1. sea monster, sea-dragon. 2. serpent” (Holladay), “serpent, dragon, sea-monster” (BDB), “Dragon, sea monster, serpent, whale” (TWOT).
For the Greek word, the lexicons have, “a monstrous reptile, serpent, dragon” (Friberg), “dragon, serpent” (Lust), “a dragon, or serpent of huge size, a python” (Liddel), “a dragon, a great serpent, a fabulous animal” (Thayer).
Therefore, serpent, dragon, and sea monster are all possible renderings. The exact meaning in a given verse depends on the context. In some cases, “serpent” is clearly the correct rendering. But in others, dragon, monster, or sea monster makes the most sense. Unfortunately, some modern-day versions use “serpent” throughout the OT, despite this lexical and contextual evidence that dragon or sea monster would be best in some contexts.
For my ALT, I used either serpent or dragon, depending on the context. But to be honest, this was a point I wasn’t too careful on and want to revisit for the next edition of the ALT.
But the question is, what is a dragon? One dictionary definition is “mythical monster like a giant reptile. In European tradition the dragon is typically fire-breathing and tends to symbolize chaos or evil” (Oxford). Another has, “a mythical monster, usually represented as a large reptile with wings and claws, breathing out fire and smoke” (Webster’s), or “A mythical monster traditionally represented as a gigantic reptile having a long tail, sharp claws, scaly skin, and often wings” (English Wiktionary, these last two as found on YourDictionary.com).
Notice that all of these sources say it is a reptile. It is usually depicted with its legs extending under its body, not outward. And in different cultures, some dragons are land-dwellers, some are sea creatures, and some are flying creatures. But they are always large and fierce. That sounds like the popular conception of dinosaurs, does it not?
Moreover, such dragon legends are seen around the world, in most all cultures, with the drawings or sculptures of the dragons looking very much like how dinosaurs are depicted today. As such, it would not be a stretch to say dragons are dinosaurs.
That makes sense if dinosaurs were created on Days Five and Six and some were even in the Garden, while others would have been encountered as Adam and Eve’s descendants spread out over the earth. Then with dinosaurs being taken on the ark and surviving for a short while after the catastrophic flood, the immediate descendants of Noah and his family would have been familiar with them.
That knowledge of dragons would have still present with humans when the Tower of Babel incident occurred, so when the languages were confused, and the people separated and scattered into different people groups, each would have retained that knowledge. But with dinosaurs dying out shortly after the catastrophic flood, that knowledge would have gotten confused over the succeeding centuries and millennia, so that depictions of dragons would have differed somewhat culture to culture, but with the overall view of them still rather similar.
Consequently, what we see today in dragon legends is just what would be expected given Biblical history.
The second point concerns the two creatures mentioned by the LORD in Job 40:15-24 and 41:1-7. The first is called Behemoth. Most modern-day Bible version have a footnote indicating Behemoth is an elephant or rhinoceros. That identifications might fit some of the description but not all of it.
Consider verse 17a, “He sets up [his] tail as a cypress [tree].” Versions based on the Hebrew have something like, “He moves his tail like a cedar” (NKJV). Both an elephant and a rhinoceros have tiny tails, hardly comparable to a cypress or cedar tree.
Then verse 23a says, “If there should be a flood, by no means shall he notice [it].” The NKJV has, “Indeed the river may rage, Yet he is not disturbed (NKJV). An elephant or a rhino are large animals that could cross a river with little trouble, but a raging river or a flood would carry even them away. Note: the word used here is different from the word used in Genesis 6-11.
Finally, verse 24 says, “Will he [i.e., a person] take him in his eye, twisting and turning? Will he pierce [his] nose?” The NIV is clearer, “Can anyone capture it by the eyes, or trap it and pierce its nose?” This is clearly a rhetorical question, expecting a “No” answer. But humans can easily capture an elephant or rhino.
Thus, the identification of Behemoth cannot be an elephant or rhino. But what known animal fits all of these verses? A sauropod dinosaur. Those massive creatures had tails that could easily be described as looking like a large tree trunk. They could effortlessly withstand a raging river or even a local flood. And capturing such a creature would be quite difficult if not impossible with ancient weaponry.
The animal described in Job 41:1-7 is called a Leviathan. It is often identified as an alligator. God asks Job rhetorically about it, “1But will you lead out a dragon [Heb., Leviathan] with a hook and put a halter around about his nose? 2Or will you fasten a ring in his nostril and bore his lip with a clasp?”
Again, the expected answer to these questions is “No.” Verse 7 then says, “And every floating [ship] having come together by no means shall bear his one tail stripped of skin, nor his head in boats of fishermen.” Therefore, this was a sea creature than no human could capture.
The point is, the Leviathan was a sea creature the LORD says no human can capture, but humans at that time could have easily captured alligators. But what kind of sea creature could not be captured by ancient humans? A seafaring dinosaur like a plesiosaur.
But where supposed mythological elements of Leviathan come in is with verses 18-21. In these verses, smoke, light, and fire are said come out of its nostrils and mouth, just like the fire-breathing dragons of the earlier definitions. That can hardly be real, can it?
Well, it sounds very unreal that a flying insect could emit light, or that a bug could shoot boiling hot liquid from its anus, or that a sea snake could produce thousands of volts of electricity. But lightening bugs, bombardier beetles, and electric eels do exist. As such, it is not unimaginable that an extinct reptile could emit some form of light and heat from its nostrils and mouth that ancients would identify as fire.
That said; along with in Job, the word “leviathan” appears in Isaiah 27:1; Psalm 74:14; 104:26. But the Septuagint has drakon in all of these verses. That shows that the LXX translators knew this wasn’t an alligator, but the much larger creature known from dragon legends, which is why I render the Greek word as “dragon” in those verses for the ALT.
Third, Isaiah 14:29b reads, “for out of [the] seed of [the] serpents will come forth young asps, and their young will come forth [as] flying serpents.” The KJV has, “For out of the serpent's roots will come forth a viper, And its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent.” Thus, both the Greek and the Hebrew call this a creature a “flying serpent,” while the Hebrew also says it is “fiery.”
The Hebrew and Greek words for “serpent” here are different from what was discussed previously. The Hebrew word is seraph, while the Greek word is ophis. The former means, “fiery serpent … winged serpent (unidentifiable)” (Holladay). “a flying serpent, or dragon” (Brown). “The Greek word means, “snake, serpent” (Lust).
The reason the first lexicons say this creature is “unidentifiable” is because there are no flying serpents or snakes today, but there were flying reptiles in ancient times. They were known as Pterosaurs. These creatures are “close cousins of dinosaurs” (AMNH).
Note, “Snakes belong to the animal class reptiles” (Kid Zone), while Pterosaurs have long thin heads, bodies, and tails that make them look snake-like, but with legs and wings.
Isaiah 30:6b then says, “In the affliction and the distress, [where are] a lion and a whelp of a lion, from there [come] also asps, and [the] young of flying asps.” The NKJV says, “from which came the lioness and lion, The viper and fiery flying serpent.”
The Hebrew word rendered serpent is again seraph, but the Greek word is aspis, hence the rendering of “asp” in my ALT. The Greek words means, “asp, serpent” (Lust), “generally a snake with deadly venom asp, viper” (Friberg).
But both the Hebrew and Greek texts say this was a flying serpent. As such, again, the identification could be some type of Pterosaurs.
Note also that the Hebrew text in both verses says this creature was “fiery.” Now, some lexicons say this is because, “usu. venomous … from burning effect of poison” (Brown). But again, this could be referring to the “legend” of fire-breathing dragons, but with such creatures really having existed, just as the lion mentioned in the second passage is of course not a legendary but a real creature.
Thus, by several lines of evidence, yes, there are dinosaurs in the Bible. But they are not called by the words we know such creatures by today but are called dragons, Behemoth, Leviathan, and flying serpents. These include land, sea, and air creatures. And such creatures could only be so named and described in the Bible and in most cultures around the world if human beings had seen them at some point in our remote past.
I hope this series has helped the reader to better understand the issues involved in the divine creation versus atheistic evolution debate and has given the reader confidence there is in fact Biblical, logical, and scientific support for the divine creation perspective. That perspective is in fact logically consistent and fits with the facts of reality of the past and as we see them today.
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from: Analytical-Literal Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 1999-2022 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).
King James Version (KJV). Public Domain.
New American Standard Bible (NASB). Copyright © 1960-1995. La Biblia de Las Americas. The Lockman Foundation.
New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1984, 1987, 2011 by the International Bible Society www.ibs.org. All rights reserved worldwide.
New King James Version (NKJV). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nel-son Publishers, 1982.
YourDictionary.com. Included here are definitions from:
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition by the Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries. Copyright © 2016, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
English Wiktionary. Available under CC-BY-SA license.
Websters New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition Copyright © 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
YourDictionary definition and usage example. Copyright © 2018 by LoveToKnow Corp.
Hebrew and Greek Reference Works:
Baur, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 2nd ed. Trans. and rev. by William Arndt, et.al. Chicago: Universi-ty of London Press, 1979.
Brenton, Sir Lancelot C.L. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1851, reprinted 1986.
Brown, Colin. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 4 Volumes. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1986.
Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon. Public domain. On BibleWorks.
Dana, H.E. and Julius Mantey. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. New York: Macmillan, 1955.
Farstad, Arthur L. et.al. The NKJV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994. (now titled The Majority Text Greek New Testament Interlinear and published in 2007).
Friberg, Timothy and Barbara. Analytical Greek New Testament. 1994 and Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. 1994. Both on BibleWorks.
Green, Jay P. Sr. Interlinear Bible. LaFayette, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1988-1998.
Hewett, James A. New Testament Greek: A Beginning and Intermediate Grammar. Peabody, MS: Hendrickson Publishers, 1986.
Holladay. A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Based upon the Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, edited by W.L. Holladay. Copyright © 1997 by Brill Academic Publishers.
Liddell-Scott Greek English Lexicon (Abridged). Public Do-main. On BibleWorks.
Lust-Eynikel-Hauspie (LEH). A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Revised Edition, edited by Johan Lust, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie, Copyright © 2003 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. On BibleWorks.
New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform: 2005. Complied and arranged by Maurice A. Robinson and Wil-liam G. Pierpont, Chilton Book Publishing, 2005.
Newman, Barclay M. Jr. A Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 1971 by United Bible Societies and 1993 by German Bible Society. On BibleWorks.
Seow, C.L. A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987.
TWOT. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, by R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright © 1980. On BibleWorks.
AMNH. American Museum of Natural History. What Is a Pterosaur?
Biology. How many (taxonomic) families are there?
Brown, R. PhD. Center for Scientific Creation. Did the Preflood Earth Have a 30-Day Lunar Month?
Kid Zone. Snakes are Reptiles.
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
Questions on Divine Creation: Part Four. Copyright © 2022 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.zeolla.org/christian).
The above article originally appeared in Darkness to Light
It was posted on this website on July 1, 2022.
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