Did the Great Flood in the Bible really cover the whole earth?
No, probably not. There is significant scientific evidence that contradicts the idea of a global Flood that occurred sometime within the past 4,000–6,000 years.
But isn't there geological evidence for a global Flood?
Not really. Some argue that certain geological features of the Grand Canyon point to a global Flood, but scientific consensus does not support this interpretation.
Doesn't the Bible say the Flood covered the "whole earth"?
Yes. Genesis 7:19 says that "all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered" with water during the Flood, and Genesis 8:9 specifically says "the waters were on the face of the whole earth."
The Hebrew text of the Bible uses the word "all, every" (kōl) to describe the details of the event (e.g., "all the animals," and "all the earth," etc.).
Why would the Bible say that the "whole earth" flooded if it probably wasn't?
It might be that the use of the phrase "whole earth" in Genesis meant something different than what it means to us today. It seems the ancient Israelites didn't know that the earth was a globe, instead picturing something like a flat disc sitting on water and holding up a domed, vaulted sky.
Haven't modern prophets and apostles taught that the Flood was global?
Yes. Both early and modern Church leaders have described the Flood as global or universal.
Haven't modern prophets and apostles taught that the Flood was the earth's baptism?
Yes. This idea was first taught by Latter-day Saints as early as 1832 and has been continuously taught by Church leaders. It has also been repeated in literature written by Latter-day Saint scholars and scriptural commentators. However, some Latter-day Saint writers disagree with this idea.
Is it possible that the entire Earth could have been technically covered by water at one point, just not in a complete flood?
Possibly. John A. Widtsoe[BIO] taught this when he said "all parts of the earth were under water at the same time" and that there could have been "a terrific, long-continued downpour, such as is described in Genesis. The depth of the layer of water is of no consequence."
Does the Church still teach that it was a global flood?
Yes, sort of. The Church gives the traditional story of the Flood in its curriculum and publications, but they usually focus on the gospel principles to pull from the story, not the specifics of how it may have happened. However, the most recent article on a literal global Flood was published in 1998 in the Ensign.
Have general authorities ever weighed in on the importance of a global versus local Flood?
Joseph Fielding Smith in the 1950s said there needed to be a global Flood for the earth to be baptized, but no recent general authorities have weighed in on this matter.
Is believing in a global flood a requirement to be an "orthodox" member of the Church?
No. Many faithful Latter-day Saint scholars have written about reconciling the apparent problem with the global flood.
- Reed M
“Global sea level has risen 400 feet since the last ice age. This has caused flooding in many river estuaries and coastal basins. The Black Sea basin is believed to have experienced catastrophic flooding as a result between 7- 9000 years ago, which could be the flood in Genesis.”
- Cave J
“The story was written before modern geography existed, and it might have been simply human error, believing the earth to be much smaller than we now know it to be, or they just assumed that since there was mass flooding in their area, the same was true for the rest of the world.”
- DENNIS W C
“There is a 30 year work by Dean Sessions called the UniversalModel.com A New Millennial Science published in 2016. There are over 2,000 peer reviewed documented research articles quoted proving the truthfulness of a Universal Flood. Much of Modern Science has an atheist agenda! ✅”
- Alex G.
“The one thing that makes me hold onto a global flood (or something close to it) is D&C 116. If Adam-Ondi-Ahman is in Spring Hill, Missouri then how did Noah to get Mesopotamia? God may not have wanted the rest of evidence to be left to allow faith.”
“I think that the hypothesized Younger Dryas event is interesting. Since most cultures have a flood story of some kind, some people point to that as their origin.”
- Shane W.
“I think it’s okay to believe that the global flood actually happened and that God may have not wanted there to be evidence. I don’t think that makes him a trickster either. Just a careful orchestrator of the evidence to allow us the ability to practice faith.”