The GAE, the Flood, and 2 Peter 3

I just finished reading the book (enjoyed it!), and I have a few questions. Let me first say that I went into the book a bit skeptical for the need for GAE, and I am still not sure that it’s needed, but I can now see how it could be helpful to a lot of people, including YEC folks. I am still working out what I think about Genesis 1-11, and I worship with a congregation that teaches YEC, though the leadership knows that I accept old earth and evolutionary biology (including humans). My own background is that I was an electrical engineer prior to kids, and now I’m a homeschooling mom with an interest in science and theology. I left YEC a few years back, had a crisis of faith, was an atheist for several months, then returned to the church and have kept the line of communication open with church leadership - asking lots and lots of questions, and discussing issues as needed.

Now to my questions for @swamidass and anyone else who might be able to answer…

  1. How does Noah fit into the GAE? If Noah was 2000+ years later than Adam and Eve, wouldn’t a fairly large number of people be descendants of AE? So in that scenario, who is killed in the flood? I believe there was a regional flood, and I’ve been leaning toward the flood killing the line of Adam except for Noah and his family. But is that scientifically possible if AE’s descendants have already spread around much of the globe? Or are you proposing that the descendants don’t spread until after the flood? And in that case, is there, scientifically, still time for that descent to spread around the globe by 1AD? I see in the book you mention that you have 5 people to descend from. It just wasn’t clear to me if the scenario still works with that. And related to that, if GAE hits a bottleneck of 5 at the flood, how is it spreading to the people in the Americas, since the original land bridge is gone by that point?
  2. There’s a recurring figure, and I think the most information is given on page 90, Figure 7.1. The text explains what A, B, C, D, and E are, and I understand that GH is the Genealogical Hypothesis, but what are F and G? I don’t see the full figure explained anywhere. There seem to be bits and pieces explained in different places. It might be fully explained somewhere and I missed it. And related to that, in that figure on page 90, why are the “Elements of Adam and Eve Account” only all met under the YEC camp?
  3. How would you explain 2 Peter 3:5-6 in light of the GAE hypothesis? I’ve seen some YEC’s use this verse to say Christians who don’t accept a global flood are scoffers.

I may have more questions after I process the book more and discuss it with an elder or two at my church. :slight_smile:

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@Boscopup

There are lots of ways of discussing the Noah topic!

  1. Noah’s flood is a regional flood.
  2. Or you could say the Noah story is an allegorical one… now that the key conflict over Adam and Eve has been resolved (if it has been resolved for you).

GAE scenarios are infinitely flexible… but of course the ideal position is to reject Biblical scenarios that science can convincingly weigh-in upon… and the idea that there was a GLOBAL FLOOD is something that most Evolutionists can confidently reject… even if we agree that God miraculously created Adam and Eve!

Can you tell us what YOU think makes sense about Noah and the flood?

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In my point 1, I already said what I thought prior to reading the book. Now I’m wondering if that still makes sense, hence the questions in point 1. :wink:

I definitely have ruled out a global flood. I’m not a fan of the allegory idea. I think there was a flood and 8 people saved in an ark, based on my reading of the NT. I don’t think every homo sapiens was killed in that flood. My question was whether the people killed were all of Adam’s line at that point, and if so, does that still allow all humans to descend from AE by 1AD? And if it couldn’t have killed all of Adam’s line (if his line would have spread around the world already), who is being killed in the regional flood?

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21 posts were split to a new topic: Comments on GAE, the Flood, and 2 Peter 3

Hello @Boscopup. Here are my answers.

I think it is hard to imagine all of AE’s genealogically descendents localized in a single region, so a regional flood would at most wipe out those in that area. Given the tight geographic scope of Genesis 6 (including the word eretz, not “the globe of the earth”), I don’t see how this would be a problem. Allowing for AE descendents outside the region of the flood obviates all the scientific objections that come from this.

The table in that figure explains it.

F = de novo, recent, with people outside the garden, but AE are not ancestors of everyone (i.e. not Tasmania)

G = not de novo, recent, with people outside the garden, but AE are not ancestors of everyone (i.e. not Tasmania)

Only YEC and YAC (Young Adam Creation, the GH of the GAE) have all three criteria: 1) de novo creation, 2) recent in middle east, and 3) ancestors of us all. That is why. No other accounts capture all three things.

We’ve discussed this elsewhere: 2 Peter 3 and the Flood.

Reading the passage in context is no difficulty at all.

The key point is that Peter is warning of scoffers that don’t believe that God will judge sinners for their sins. He says that they deliberately forget that God has judged people in the past (in the flood). With that context in mind, a regional flood to destroy AE’s descendents does not diminish the point in any way. The flood is in fact a real event to which Scriptures testifies, demonstrating the God of the Bible does judge sinners for their sins. One would have to willfully ignore this part of Scripture’s testimony to argue that God would never harshly judge sinners for their sins.

So, it is not clear at all why this verse would support a global flood across all of the sphere of the earth. At the time of Genesis, they did not know of the globe of the earth, and the could not have possibly meant this. When 2 Peter wrote, they may have wondered if the earth was a globe, but there is no sense in which it needs to be a global flood for Peter’s point to be entirely valid. Whether the flood is regional or global, Scripture testifies of God willing to judge sinners for their sin, and that is what Peter’s point is. That is what he is intending to teach us.

Does a regional flood reduce the salience of the verse? Absolutely not. There certainly are scoffers that argue that a loving God would never judge sinners harshly for their sin. They certainly do ignore what Genesis taught about the flood (wither it be local, regional, or global). There is no reason to think that the flood must have been global over the sphere of the earth to understand Peter’s point perfectly well.

Notably, I don’t know of anyone who affirms a regional flood that also denies God will judge sinners for their sins. So the slippery slope arguments on this are highly suspect.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and how it goes!

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Thanks for your reply!

I have no problem with it being regional (scientifically, it clearly isn’t global), and I understand erez is land. No problem there.

I just reread the passage, and I’m seeing God upset with the people in that land, and He regrets creating Adam. So the solution is to wipe out the people of that region (though Adam’s descendants are all over the earth at this point). Then the flood happens, and Noah, Mrs. Noah, their kids and kids’ wives are saved. God promises never to flood that particular region again.

And… does that even solve the problem? Apparently not. I’m just having a harder time with Noah than I ever did with AE. :woman_shrugging:

As I said in my first post, I’m still working all this out in my mind. Noah has been a sticking point from the beginning for me.

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If you can postulate that God intervened to stop genealogical descent from Adam spreading beyond Mesopotamia before the Noachian Flood, someone else can postulate that God intervened to stop genealogical descent from Adam spreading to the whole human population between the Noachian Flood and 1492. The GAE gives enough hostages to fortune without you adding another one - especially as I don’t see what theological need it addresses.

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@Robert

GAE scenarios are developed for a self-selecting audience.

The only “someone” who would postulate such a thing would be someone who thinks God opposes the details described in GAE… or someone who opposes the idea of God. So? No surprise there.

The point of the GAE is not to convince Atheists. The point is to show Evangelicals (particularly Western ones) that there is a way to have a miraculous Adam and Eve - - and STILL have God running Evolutionary Processes as part of his creative work!

Remind me, who was it came up with the Curse of Ham?

Honestly, I am not sure what your confusion is. Can you clarify specifically what is hanging you up please?

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That might make some sense from a theological point of view. It would be a miracle, but not to deal with difficult data. So I am not sure why anyone would object.

We are now talking about a genealogical Noah, not a genealogical Adam and Eve. It would push more ancient the Adam and Eve date by about 2 thousand years I suppose.

Keep in mind that I’ve heard only the YEC view of the story for the last 20 years, and prior to that I really had never wrestled with the Biblical content at all…

I read Genesis 6:6-8…

The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

… and I’m confused about who exactly God is trying to kill and why, if AE descendants are all over the globe. He’s not solving the problem (AE descendants existing) if He only kills those in a small region.

Then in Genesis 9:13-17…

I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

… He makes a covenant with all flesh… in just that region? So that region won’t ever be flooded again? What was this supposed to accomplish?

I’m just trying to recreate this story in my mind and figure out what’s really happening if it’s a regional flood.

Walton/Longman take the view that it’s a regional flood story written to look like a global flood, using hyperbole. I dunno… not crazy about that idea.

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Unless the elder is appropriately qualified in science, what would qualify him above you in matters of science? You’re an electrical engineer! That suggests you are smart and talented and quite qualified to learn almost any scientific discipline if you put your mind and effort to it.

My path was somewhat different than yours. I was raised in a Roman Catholic home. I was an evolutionist since that’s what I learned in public school, and then became an Old Earth creationist my senior year in High School, and then joined a conservative Presbyterian church. I was an Old Earth Creationist for a very long time, I then became a Young Life Creationist, then a Young Life/Young Earth/Young Cosmos Creationist.

I nearly left the faith once upon a time, but returned to it when I pondered the problems of abiogenesis.

I suppose I have sour grapes when I think of some in church leadership who did so little to help restore me to faith. In fact some drove me away from faith. It took hanging out with atheists/agnostics and studying what they said to motivate me to return to faith, especially the writings of Bertrand Russell and Fred Hoyle, agnostics like Robert Jastrow and Michael Denton.

Anyway, I’m glad to hear you’re going back to church. Whatever you decide about the right way to interpret Genesis, may the Lord be with you and your family.

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I wasn’t clear. I talk to my elders about the biblical side of things, bouncing things off them, getting input on things I might not have considered. The one I usually talk to does not push his scientific views on me at all, and he’s been very helpful. I don’t at all go to any of them for science advice (though several are engineers and actual “rocket scientists” :laughing:). We agree to disagree on the science side of things.

The elders at my church have been incredibly supportive of me. The one I study with often was instrumental in bringing me back to faith and continues to encourage me.

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Thanks for your reply.

I hope you share with us in another thread how he encouraged you in light of the fact you were an atheist for a while after leaving the faith.

The reason this is of interest is that I co-lead a ministry of reasons and evidence for the Christian faith. What you have to say may be helpful to some of the people who attend our meetings. I believe each believer is equipped to help teach other believers:

Romans 15:14

My brothers and sisters, I myself am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and are able to teach each other.

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One line of inquiry (which I confess I haven’t fully followed through in my book) is that if we take Adam’s Genesis genealogy as more or less complete, and the ages as in some way non literal, then we have only ten generations, or maybe 250 years, between Adam and the flood. (For a 2900BCE regional flood, Adam is then around 3150BCE. Culturally, at least, that’s as good a fit as 800 years earlier.

You’d be talking about a few thousand descendants only at that stage, given a realistic view of survival-to-reproduce rates at that time, who could very conceivably be restricted to a geographical region. Numbers of descendants, and spread, begin to escalate from that point in an exponential way. A regional flood is therefore little problem genealogically or chronologically under GAE.

Alternatively, though less simply, if the genealogy be taken as incomplete (very possible) or even literal (biologically problematic) then it could be that the judgement on “mankind” is to do with the direct line from Seth focused upon in the narrative. More work would need to be done on that, theologically, to make it convincing to me.

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How does Noah fit into the GAE? If Noah was 2000+ years later than Adam and Eve, wouldn’t a fairly large number of people be descendants of AE? So in that scenario, who is killed in the flood? I believe there was a regional flood, and I’ve been leaning toward the flood killing the line of Adam except for Noah and his family. But is that scientifically possible if AE’s descendants have already spread around much of the globe? Or are you proposing that the descendants don’t spread until after the flood? And in that case, is there, scientifically, still time for that descent to spread around the globe by 1AD? I see in the book you mention that you have 5 people to descend from. It just wasn’t clear to me if the scenario still works with that. And related to that, if GAE hits a bottleneck of 5 at the flood, how is it spreading to the people in the Americas, since the original land bridge is gone by that point?

I think the Bible actually indicates that all descendants of Adam and Eve aside from Noah’s family were not wiped out:
Genesis 4:20 - Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of the nomadic herdsmen.
Genesis 6:4 - the Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward…
among other passages.

However, even if we accept that all other descendants of Adam were wiped out in the Flood, many biblical scholars (even many YEC’s) recognize some level of non-literalness or temporal flexibility in the genealogies of Genesis 1-11. From a geological perspective based on the geography as described in Genesis 2, I personally think the most likely time frame for the Garden of Eden is ~18,000 to ~40,000 years ago, with the Flood happening ~12,500-16,000 years ago. That still leaves enough time for Noah’s descendants to cross the Bering Strait land bridge before it closed around 11,000 years ago.

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