The human mind has the uncanny ability to fill in details that simply don't appear on the page. While this skill helps us digest information quickly and fill in gaps, it has a downside. We can miss important details or see things that aren’t there. That’s why publications need multiple proofreaders, since the mind naturally glosses over errors and "sees" what it expects to see. This is an easy mistake to make when reading the Bible, too. We hear stories since childhood, graphically retold by imaginative Sunday school teachers and preachers. Then we sit down to read the text itself, expecting those details and voilà they're there! Some misconceptions are relatively innocent, but others can lead to serious misunderstandings that ultimately cause people to question things the Bible never actually stated.
Misunderstandings are on full display when it comes to the biblical account of the Flood. Are you guilty of any of these ten common misconceptions?
It Never Rained Before the Flood
Many creationists insist the Bible teaches that rain had never fallen prior to the Flood. This idea largely comes from a phrase in Genesis 2:5: "...before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground" (emphasis added).
Is this verse referring to all of the time between Creation and the Flood? Certainly God could have created a different hydrologic cycle than the one in place now, but what is stated?
Another way to understand this passage is that it refers to the conditions prior to the first man and his Fall. That is, before Adam was created, rain had not fallen and two particular types of plants had not grown but would appear after he sinned. The plants mentioned in Genesis 2:5, the "plant of the field" and the "herb of the field," refer to cultivated plants and desert shrubs, respectively. These are not the same plants mentioned as being created on Day Three (Genesis 1:11). The reason these plants had not grown yet is that "God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground." These conditions would soon change.
So rather than describing Earth's conditions throughout the pre-Flood world, this verse is likely just explaining the environment prior to Day Six.
Pre-Flood Society Was Complete Chaos and Violence
Genesis describes the world as extremely wicked and violent prior to the Flood. "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.... So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth" (Genesis 6:5, 6:12).
Since that world perished in the Flood (2 Peter 3:6), it is impossible to know exactly what it was like. Some people picture the antediluvian world as being utter anarchistic chaos, where everyone essentially did whatever anyone wanted at any time. This concept is similar to how the recent Noah film presented the pre-Flood world. But is this scenario likely?