Did it ever rain before the Flood?
The story of the great flood is one of the most studied events on the Bible Timeline. Some people are skeptical that rain took place on Earth before Noah’s flood, others are just as strongly convinced that there was rain even before the rain that caused the great flood. The Bible does not specifically tell us whether or not it rained before the Flood.
Both groups use the same verses of scripture as proof of their positions. The main ones are “the fountains of the great deep” and the “windows of heaven” along with the significance of the rainbow in Genesis 9:11-17. Others use History, Science and even rules of Literature to defend their convictions. Here are some of the most frequent, and a few controversial or lesser known arguments for and against rain prior to Noah’s flood.
Argument: No It Did Not Rain Before the Flood
The Rainbow: as a new sign of a covenant from God to man after the Flood (Genesis 9:11-17), suggests that rain was experienced for the first time just before the flood and rainbows only after the flood. [i]
Today’s Science: John Baumgardner, et.al. [ii] proposed the catastrophic plate tectonics model where during the onset of flood, the ocean floor rapidly lifted up to 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) due to an increase in temperature as horizontal movement of the tectonic plates accelerated resulting in massive flooding. This phenomenon depicts the breaking up of the “fountains of the great deep” described in Genesis 7:11.
Water Canopy and Windows of Heaven: Dillow [iii] described water canopy, made of vapor or ice in the atmosphere surrounding the earth. Inundation of the canopy as the source of all the water required to explain a global flood may also refer to the “windows of heaven being opened” in Genesis 7:11.
Water Canopy and the Greenhouse Effect: Dillow and Vardiman [iv] cited that vapor canopy caused a greenhouse effect before the flood which explains the growth of lush vegetation on the land all around the globe even with just the aid of mist, validated by the discovered coal seams in Antarctica containing vegetation.
No Need for Rain: Genesis 2:6 could reflect the annual flooding of the Nile River every spring and covered the tillable land of Egypt. Water was channeled from the Nile to the crop fields through irrigation to resolve the lack of rainfall needed for plant growth. [v]
Today’s Science: a prerequisite for rain – condensation nuclei (typically less than .0001 millimeter in diameter) was largely absent before the flood. Water vapor molecules in the air have lesser chance to collide and fuse together. Without them no rain can be produced. [vi]
Fountains of Great Deep: The “fountains of great deep” could also be seen as a series of volcanic eruptions with prodigious amounts of water (about 70% or more) bursting up through the ground supported by many volcanic rocks interspersed between the fossil layers in the rock record—layers that were obviously deposited during Noah’s Flood. [vii]
On the other hand, here are some viewpoints that rain occurred before the flood:
Argument:Yes It Rained Often Before Noah’s Flood
Todays Science: A river ran out of the Garden of Eden and parted into four headstreams – Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates (Gen. 2:10). The water from these rivers would pour into the sea. However, the sea would not overflow (Eccl. 1:7). With hydrologic cycle, water from the sea evaporates then returns to Earth as rain thus, the sea never overflows. [viii]
The Rainbow: The Pulpit Commentary suggested that the phrase “I do set” in Genesis 9:11-17 grammatically connotes, “I have given, or have placed”, an implication that the occurrence of rainbow had already frequently appeared yet God took it as “new” sign. [ix]
Windows of Heaven: Refers to Rain Raqia (Hebrew word “expanse”) occurs 18 times in 15 verses of the Old Testament. In Genesis 1:8 raqia can be translated as “heaven” or “sky.” The “floodgates of the sky” might refer to a water canopy if “expanse” is never used in the later part of the Old Testament. But it can be seen from Malachi 3:10 and 2 Kings 7:2 which happened after the flood that this term indicates rain in general. [x]
Water Canopy Too Dense: Dr. Russell Humphreys [xi] reasoned that “in the expanse of the heaven” must have consisted of interstellar space therefore the waters above the expanse of Genesis 1:7 would be beyond the stars at the edge of the universe. Any kind of substantial water canopy above the earth would prevent the light from the sun, moon, and stars from being seen.
Water Canopy and the Greenhouse Effect: Earth’s atmospheric pressure doubles even with just 40 feet equivalence of liquid water canopy. A global water layer of only 40 feet deep that is 6.22 x 1021 grams of water would release 3.35 x 1024 calories of heat, increasing Earth’s temperature to 810°F.[xii] Definitely, animals and plants, including Noah and his family, do not survive long at this extreme pressure and temperature.
Other: Gen 2:4-25 is a highly structured topical account with a twofold focus on vegetation and humanity. Therefore, it is suggested that the coherent reading of Gen 1:1-2:3 (reading that coheres internally as well as externally with Gen 2:4-25) is topical rather than chronological [xiii].
Plants and the Need for Rain: Genesis serves as a preface to history of Israel. The land of Canaan was a land cared for by God with rain from heaven. To keep the pledge to be loyal only to God would result in rain, vegetation, and life. But the Canaanites were tempted to turn to Baal, “the rider on the clouds,” in procuring rain that resulted in no rain, no production, and death. God of Israel, our God created everything by His powerful words (Psalms 33:6), including the very first rain sent in the beginning, and has ever since sustained all things in His greatness (Hebrews 1:3). [xiv]
i. Whitcomb and Morris, The Genesis Flood, p. 241
ii. S.A. Austin, J.R. Baumgardner, D.R. Humphreys, A.A. Snelling, L. Vardiman, and K.P. Wise, “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: A Global Flood Model of Earth History,” Proc. Third ICC, 1994, pp. 609-621.
iii. J.C. Dillow, The Waters Above, 1981
iv. L. Vardiman, “The Sky Has Fallen”, Proc. First ICC, 1986, 1:113-119
v. House Church Network Association, Did it Rain Before Noah’s Day?, 2005
ix. Pulpit Commentary , (Vol. 1, p. 143)
xi. D.R. Humphreys, “A Biblical Basis for Creationist Cosmology,” (Proc. Third ICC, Pittsburgh, PA, 1994, pp. 255-266).