Central to the account of early earth history provided in the Bible is the global Flood in the days of Noah, described in Genesis 6–9. For modern young-age creationists, the Flood provides a framework for understanding the origin of the sedimentary rock layers and the fossils contained in them.
Although some critics have alleged that young-age creationism is a theological novelty that arose only in the last century or so,1 it can be demonstrated that belief in a worldwide Flood with geological effects was not a twentieth-century innovation. From the earliest days of the Christian church, the universality of the Flood was accepted on the testimony of the biblical text, and fossils were sometimes regarded as evidence of the cataclysm.
This can be readily illustrated by reviewing the writings of the Church Fathers on this subject. Here are some extracts from them.
Justin Martyr (103–165) affirmed the universality of the Flood when he wrote that ‘the whole earth, as the Scripture says, was inundated, and the water rose in height fifteen cubits above all the mountains’.2
Theophilus (c. 115–185), Patriarch of Antioch, noted the belief of the Greek philosopher Plato that the Flood ‘extended not over the whole earth, but only over the plains, and that those who fled to the highest hills saved themselves.’
He also drew attention to pagan myths about the preservation of Deucalion and Pyrrha in a chest and the notion that there had been a second flood in the days of Clymenus.
But he rejected these ideas saying: ‘But Moses, our prophet and the servant of God, in giving an account of the genesis of the world, related in what manner the flood came upon the earth, telling us, besides, how the details of the flood came about, and relating no fable of Pyrrha nor of Deucalion or Clymenus; nor, forsooth, that only the plains were submerged, and that those only who escaped to the mountains were saved. And neither does he make out that there was a second flood: on the contrary, he said that never again would there be a flood of water on the world; as neither indeed has there been, nor ever shall be.’3
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