Rainbows, the Flood, and the Covenant

by

(Adapted from the author’s The Genesis Account. A theological, historical, and scientific commentary on Genesis 1–11, available at creation.com/s/10-2-606).
Rainbow-Flood

After the Flood, Noah and all the Ark’s human and animal passengers disembarked. Then God made the Noahic Covenant. Then, as the historical account reads, God provided a sign for His covenant with Noah’s family and all living creatures—the rainbow:

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:12–17)

Coming from the sun shining through the dark clouds, the rainbow symbolized the heavenly pervading the earthly. And as it spans the horizon, it reminds man that God’s covenant is universal, as was the Flood that will never recur.1

Although the rainbow is a spectacular sight for man, the assurance we have that there will never be another global flood comes from God. He is the one who will ‘remember’ His covenant. Note that God ‘remembering’ doesn’t mean that he had previously forgotten; rather, it is an idiom meaning that the rainbow would signify that He is acting again on behalf of the Covenant beneficiaries, ensuring that no subsequent flood would become global.

Rainbows before the Flood?

The Noahic Covenant was certainly the first mention of the rainbow. But the Bible is silent on whether they had previously occurred. However, there are some considerations that suggest there would have been rainbows, which will be addressed in turn: the science of the rainbow, the natural laws that operated before and after the Flood, and God’s sovereign authority to ordain meanings to phenomena.

The science of the rainbow

Rainbows are the result of well-known physics. When light enters at an angle into a substance where it travels more slowly (like a prism),2 different wavelengths are bent differently. This effect is called dispersion. Since colour depends on wavelength, we see this as a band of different colours. The shorter wavelengths (violet and blue) are bent the most, the longer wavelengths (red and orange) are bent the least.

©123rf.com/ktsdesignprism

The great creationist physicist Sir Isaac Newton experimented on dispersion by glass prisms. His experiments demonstrated that colour is a property of the light itself; coloured objects don’t generate colour, they absorb or reflect light that is already coloured.3

Actually, the dispersion is continuous; we see coloured bands because of the design of our colour vision.4 Newton designated seven colours to the rainbow by analogy with the seven notes of the musical scale: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, hence the mnemonic initialism ROYGBIV. But there are different designations and numbers of colours. For example, I don’t see ‘indigo’, but sometimes see a small band of blue-green (also called ‘aqua’, ‘cyan’ or ‘turquoise’).5 Actually, the difference might be with the names we give colours—one author suggests:

A careful reading of Newton’s work indicates that the color he called indigo, we would normally call blue; his blue is then what we would name blue-green or cyan.6

Also, dispersion can be produced from water drops, including rain. The drops also reflect the light, so we normally see rainbows only if we are between the sun and the raindrops. The reflection also explains why the sequence seems reversed: violet on the inside and red on the outside. Yet we can also see smaller rainbows with mist and sea spray.

Natural laws did not change

God mainly used natural causes in the preservation of Noah and the animals e.g. Noah had to build a wooden Ark; the cause and rise of the Flood—fountains of the great deep plus 40 days of rain; and its abatement—a wind, and continents rising and ocean basins sinking. This suggests a continuity between ‘natural laws’ before and after the Flood.

There is simply no evidence from the biblical text that natural laws functioned so differently that dispersion of light would not have occurred before the Flood. Rather, what the text does say suggests that there was no difference in the natural laws. Also, natural laws are our description of God’s normal, repeatable ways of upholding His creation, while miracles are His extraordinary means.7 So if rainbows were not produced, we would need to deduce that God was actively preventing dispersion. There is not the slightest evidence in the text for this.

Applying a new meaning to an existing phenomenon

Calvin, commenting on “I have set my bow in the cloud” (9:13), said:

From these words certain eminent theologians have been induced to deny, that there was any rainbow before the deluge: which is frivolous. For the words of Moses do not signify, that a bow was then formed which did not previously exist; but that a mark was engraven upon it, which should give a sign of the divine favor towards men. … Hence it is not for us to contend with philosophers respecting the rainbow; for although its colors are the effect of natural causes, yet they act profanely who attempt to deprive God of the right and authority which he has over his creatures.8

There are other examples of existing materials or practices that God decreed to be a new sign. E.g., Jesus ordained the Lord’s Supper out of bread and wine. He declared that this was now to be a memorial to His sacrifice of His body and blood.

Rain

References and notes

  1. Delitzsch, Franz, cited in: Keil, C.F. and Delitzsch, F., Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament 1:154–155, 1857. Return to text.
  2. That is, has a higher refractive index (n), given by the formula c/v—the ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to the speed in the material. Return to text.
  3. Newton, I., Opticks or a treatise of the reflections, refractions, inflections and colours of light, Royal Society, London, 1704. Return to text.
  4. See ‘Colour vision’, in Sarfati, J., By Design, pp. 29–31, CBP, 2008; creation.com/s/10-2-524. Return to text.
  5. Also, in my secular science work, I once used two cyan beams from an argon ion (Ar+) gas laser. Each laser line is a single frequency or pure colour by definition, in this case 488.0 nm and 514.5 nm. Sarfati, J.D. and Burns, G.R., The pressure, temperature and excitation frequency dependent Raman spectra; and infrared spectra of CuBrSe3 and CuISe3, Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular Spectroscopy 50(12):2125–2136, November 1994 | doi:10.1016/0584-8539(94)00176-6. Return to text.
  6. Waldman, G., Introduction to light the physics of light, vision, and color, p. 193, 2002. Return to text.
  7. Sarfati, J., Miracles and science, creation.com/miracles, 1 September 2006. Return to text.
  8. Calvin, J., Genesis, p. 293, 1554. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

Norman P.
Thank you—a fascinating subject! This view—that rain and rainbows could have been seen before the Flood—is a philosophical deduction: perhaps a wise one, given the potential apologetic pitfalls. I certainly didn't know of Calvin’s view, either—one wonders what caused him to thus state his position.
However, I still think it’s possible that the pre-Flood world was watered by dew, as is implied by Genesis 2:6. And it's interesting to note that in Genesis 8:22, God promises ‘While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease’, implying a radical change in the earth’s natural dynamics—e.g. a tilt in its axis, causing a seasonal climate.
We also accept that the animals, now being legitimized as food for man, would behave differently—with fear and dread—certainly in the terrestrial mammals—so God was certainly able to re-calibrate the existing natural order, as He obviously drastically did, after the Fall.
So, whilst I understand your conservative view (i.e.in line with physical constants), I do not necessarily accept that rainbows were among the ‘all things that have continued from the beginning’.
Jonathan Sarfati
I think that I covered that in the section of the article, “Natural laws did not change”, and my commentary from which this is extracted has more on this. The view of no rain or rainbows before the Flood is also not a direct teaching from Scripture, but derived from other considerations, such as a lack of explicit teaching one way or the other.

And earlier in that commentary, I pointed out that the luminaries were given for several things on Day 4 of Creation Week, including seasons. So if seasons existed from Day 4, then God must have created the earth with an axial tilt. An impact would have had very little effect on the tilt; the commentary goes through points explained earlier in When did evil begin, and is retrograde planet motion still a good argument?
Eddie C.
This is a great article that should remind us to ask questions like who, what, when, where, why, and how when reading Scripture. We often make assumptions from the text, filling in blanks and then holding our assumptions as true. I have suggested to friends of mine that there was likely rain and rainbows before the flood and some have responded as if I were telling them heresy and denying the authority of God's Word. I challenged them to go back and read it and see if it specifically says there was no rain until the flood or that the rainbow of the covenant was indeed the first rainbow. But these assumptions have been there since they were taught them in Sunday school many years ago.
Roseanne A.
Actually I am surrounded by Hindus as I live in India. I want to talk with my friends about the falseness of Hinduism and want to explain with what they know about Christ, but they believe there are many ways to God. I don’t understand as to what to say to them. What are the key points for saying that Hinduism is false and deceitful, as it promotes evolution through its ideas which are praised nowadays by new scientists? Please help I would very grateful if you answer this.
Regards,
In Christ
Roseanne
Jonathan Sarfati
You might like the book Christianity for Skeptics which includes just what you’re looking for. Chapter 6 is “What about other religions?”, which includes “Do all religions lead to God?” and “Is Hinduism a viable belief system?” Chapter 7 is “Understanding the Eastern mind”. The first author is a former Hindu.
Chuck R.
God states that a mist went up and watered the whole earth and that there is no indication that that changed anytime during the pre-Flood, plus the mention that He placed a bow in the heavens also straight up infers there was none before either.
Also too is that life expectancy drastically shortened after the Flood indicates that the prior environment likely was such that life could live longer.
Jonathan Sarfati
Actually, as I explain in my commentary from which this article was extracted:
Yet the first passage is describing the situation before man was created; it is silent on whether there was subsequent rain in the 1656 years before the Flood (Genesis 5)

Now this is a problem for long-age views, because none of them would hold that there was no rain before man.

The other inference you made also does not logically follow.

As for the change in lifespans, claims that they were caused by a less hospitable environment founder on the data for Noah. He lived over a third of his life in the supposedly much worst post-Flood world, but had the third longest recorded lifespan in history: 950 years. I explain more in my article “Why don’t we live as long as Methuselah?” in Creation 40(3), also from my commentary.
Soon L.
I understand that Genesis 3:15 gives us a hint of the salvation message from GOD. I read that form Cosmic Codes by Dr Chuck Missler and your book on The Genesis Account the Hebrew names from Adam to Noah also give us a hint of the salvation message. Also quoted the work by Dr Ivan Panin on the phenomenal mathematical design underlying both the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek text of the New Testament shed light that the Bible is indeed from divine origin as per 2 Timothy 3:16.
Jonathan Sarfati
I agree about Genesis 3:15. long regarded as the Protevangelion or first gospel teaching. But I don't agree with the late Charles W. (“Chuck”) Missler’s claim about a salvation message in the names of Genesis 5, although I have heard other tapes of his which are excellent. I also advice caution about the claims of Ivan Nikolayevich Panin (1855–1942) For example, they work best in a text that he constructed, as opposed to the text produced by proper methods. (I am not aware that either had earned doctorates, which of course in itself doesn't make them wrong).

Overall, our position is best expressed in Hidden messages in Scripture?
Alson R.
I believe was a canopy of water in atmosphere before flood that would prevent the dispersion of light? And after flood the canopy was gone and hence first rainbow after flood. The evidence for the canopy of water would be that the oxygen pressure was higher at some point in past which is trapped in amber. The pressure of gas increases in a closed chamber. When put everything together Genesis account of Bible makes perfect sense.
Jonathan Sarfati
Unfortunately, the canopy theory is an outdated and discredited model for both biblical and scientific reasons, and no major creationist organization accepts it any more. I also fail to see how it would prevent dispersion. Also, the evidence for higher oxygen partial pressure before the Flood is equivocal, including from bubbles, and so are its health benefits. See for example my paper Flood models and biblical realism, or my commentary that is more up-to-date and thorough.
Reed M.
I would not think that there would be much confidence that the presence of a rainbow is a sign that there would never be another such flood, if they had been seeing rainbows BEFORE the flood!
Jonathan Sarfati
But as I said in the article, by the same reasoning, bread and wine couldn't have been much of symbol to remember Jesus’ sacrifice in the Lord’s Supper, if they had been eating bread and wine BEFORE Jesus!
Brian T.
Our grasp of science is still so very limited. That is why I love the quote attributed to Einstein, “We don’t begin to know a billionth of one percent about anything.”

We still wrestle with the idea that the speed of light is a constant. Nature abhors constants. Dozens of measurements of the speed of light indicate that the speed of light is slowing down. The only one that does not is the atomic clock based test. Until now people have thought that it was simply the most accurate. Theoretical physicists now state that if there is such a force that could slow down the speed of light then it would proportionally slow down the speed of radioactive decay. This means the the atomic clock is slowing down at the same rate that the speed of light is, making it look like a constant.

Our grasp of God is far more limited still. I had a philosophy student ask me, “If your God is so strong, can He create a rock so big He couldn’t move it?” I told him, “Your question only shows your ignorance of God. If God were to create a rock bigger than the known universe, and then decide that He wanted it to move … it would move on its own.”

God is the author of the universe. If He decided to change the laws of physics, He can do that.

There are many things that we will not be able to know while we are here in this world. It can be fun to speculate, just never make the mistake of thinking that God is limited by the laws of science.
Jonathan Sarfati
I deal with ‘big rock’ type problems in If God can do anything, then can He make a being more powerful than Himself? What does God’s omnipotence really mean?

I am not aware of measurements showing that the speed of light is decreasing. We have written on this before in Speed of light slowing down after all? Famous physicist makes headlines.

“If He decided to change the laws of physics, He can do that.”

Yes of course He can. But this is not the issue at hand. My article documented from the Genesis record that He did not.



Robert N.
I would have to agree with some other commenters: Although there is no mention either way of rainbows before the flood this doesn’t mean that there could have been rainbows before the flood. From the text this seems like something new that Noah and his family saw in the clouds, and if the earth was watered by a mists with no rain before the flood it is hardly surprising that the new changed ‘watering system’ produced a never seen before effect. This seemed to be the point of a new sign, which would continue to be a reminder?
Jonathan Sarfati
I would have to disagree with you and the other commenters. Light passing through a mist was sure to have dispersed sometimes, i.e. produced a rainbow.

In the article, I documented other signs that were not new effects, but new meanings attached to those effects.
Chris V.
Perhaps the pre-flood air was so clean that the “mist” did not have sufficient nucleation sites for coalescence. If the droplet size is too small the reflection and dispersion of the light is not possible. The flood definitely had a “polluting” effect that could allow for a rainbow to become visible since the droplets could grow to sufficient size.
Jonathan Sarfati
Your suggestion doesn’t seem to have support in Scripture, sorry. The pre-Flood world was not a paradise, but a place requiring “painful toil” because of God’s curse on the ground (Genesis 5:29). And even before the Fall, God had created man from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). It would require a miracle for dust particles not to be kicked up and thus be available as nucleation sites.

Also, small droplets are harder to form than large ones, because the Laplace pressure is inversely proportional to radius. A tiny droplet would also presumably act as a nucleation site. Finally, something could not even be called a ‘mist’ unless the particles were large enough to interact with light.
Laurie M.
Comment; not a question.
In the paragraph above the heading Natural laws did not change there is a sentence implying that the colours of the bow are always in the same order inside to outside. That ignores the occasions where double bows can be seen concentric with each other, the colour sequence being reversed with respect to each other. The outer bow is usually partial probably because the right conditions have to exist over a greater area for it to become visible.
Jonathan Sarfati
The double rainbow phenomenon just proves the point, actually. It was not “ignored” in my commentary, but just omitted in the extract for Creation magazine for space reasons. The fuller version includes the explanation:

Sometimes we can see a secondary rainbow, larger but fainter than the main rainbow, and with the colour sequence reversed. This is caused by two internal reflections in the raindrops instead of one, but still two refractions. Only part of the light is reflected while the rest is absorbed or transmitted. This explains why the secondary rainbow is fainter. The correct explanation of combined refraction and reflection that explains both primary and secondary rainbows was worked out independently in the Middle Ages. The Persian mathematician/scientist Kamal al-Din al-Farisi (1267–1319) and the Dominican friar/scientist/philosopher Theodoric of Freiberg (1250–1311) independently proved it both by experiment and by geometric optics. [Ref. Topdemir, H.G., Kamal Al-Din Al-Farisi’s Explanation of the Rainbow, Humanity & Social Sciences Journal 2(1):75–85, 2007.]

Kirk B.
Now that we creationists are correcting previous creationists’ interpretation of the Genesis account about rain, I feel like I’ve been cheated out of 50 years of understanding. I think I could make a new correction of our interpretation regarding there being no death of animals before the Fall of man. For example, God didn’t say that the animals would start dying if Adam and Eve sinned, only that Man would surely die. I suppose somewhere down the years some good creationists will come up with that new correction to our beliefs about Genesis. I apologize for being so cynical about this, but it isn’t nice being misled for so many years and even teaching it to others.
Jonathan Sarfati
Sorry about that. All the same, almost 30 years ago, we counselled people in the article ‘Hanging Loose’ to differentiate between two different things. The first comprised the actual teachings of Scripture, which includes both the explicit propositions of Scripture and that which can be logically derived from them. These should be held loosely. The second comprised models used to explain the teachings, but should not be raised to the same level as Scripture and indeed should be held loosely, as per the article title.

This article was written when the ‘Canopy theory’ was still mainstream, but it still noted that it was still a model not a direct teaching of Scripture. And for the last 20 years or so, most ‘mainstream’ creationist organizations, including CMI, have advised against the canopy idea.

A quasi-continuation of this article was Biblical history and the role of science, differentiating between the correct ministerial role of science and the erroneous magisterial role. Applying to the issue at hand, there is the paper Flood models and biblical realism. So my commentary was hardly a sudden departure from creationist interpretation in this area, but reflected the widespread creationist consensus of quite a number of years.
David C.
Rainbows before flood yes. The rainbow/s (more than one inevitable) during flood was simply caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. Nothing else. My favourites are the painted multi coloured post boxes in Soho. It is great to see such a majestic spectrum of colour applied to such an important line of communication.
Nathan S.
Reed M is correct. When one takes the plain meaning it indicates that the rainbow is a new phenomenon after the flood. “I am putting my rainbow in the cloud” (rather than “I am giving new meaning to the existing rainbow” as with the bread and wine) and “The rainbow will be in the cloud”, the first signifying a current act and the second something new to expect. We can misinterpret but we can never expect God to mislead us.

Perhaps someone could say why the “canopy effect” has fallen out of favor, because to me it is what Scripture indicates and it accounts for several situations including protection from damaging sun rays. Would a perfect creation permit sunburn and cancer? If God holds the atom together, He certainly could hold a ring of water around the earth. Colossians 1:17. The present is not always the key to the past.
Jonathan Sarfati
Reed M. is not correct, for reasons explained. The same ‘plain meaning’ would assert that the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper were new things. The passage concerned about the rainbow can be translated, “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13, ESV). So the rainbow is something that was already existing in the past (“have set”, Hebrew נָתַ֖תִּי nāṯattî) but would in future (“shall be”) a sign. We have a similar construction with the same verb a few verses earlier that make the contrast even more clearly:

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave (nāṯattî) you the green plants, I give you everything.

In this case, we have the combination of something already existing in our diets, and something new added. With the rainbow, there was something already existing in the sky, and God gave it a new meaning.

Also, as I cited, nothing I said was contrary to conservative Christian teaching. Calvin said the same thing, and he was certainly not evolutionized—indeed, he was a biblical creationist!

I have also explained why the canopy theory has fallen out of favour, and one is that it would not have done what you claim. Water vapour is not a good protector against ultraviolet radiation, but is an excellent absorber of infrared. So we would have been both sunburned and cooked! And note also, Noah spend over a third of his life after the Flood, and still had the third longest recorded lifespan. So why wasn’t he affected by the supposedly greater sunburning? Note also, the perfect creation ceased after the Fall, while the antediluvians lived in a world where “painful toil” was necessary to survive. For more, see Flood models and biblical realism and the older Living for 900 years, a lay version of the even older Decreased lifespans: Have we been looking in the right place?.

One role of CMI is to equip Christians with up-to-date information.




Ken G.
It is quite possible that there were no rainbows before the flood, but the physical laws were the same. The Bible says there was no rain before the flood, but there was heavy dew at night. If the pre-flood atmosphere was substantially thicker, the atmospheric pressure would have been higher. The higher pressure would have caused water to condense at considerably higher temperatures than we see today.

So, it is quite possible that in the pre-flood world the majority of the available water vapor was condensed out as dew each evening, which did not allow for the formation of clouds and rain which are necessary to form rainbows. But at night, they might have seen moonbows, as the full moon shone through the fog.
Jonathan Sarfati
I doubt that higher atmospheric pressure would prevent all condensation during daylight. Venus has a far higher atmospheric pressure and is covered by clouds, albeit not of water (see Venus: Cauldron of fire). Also, while older papers by both creationists and evolutionists claimed that atmospheric pressure was higher in the past, we have shown that the evidence is equivocal. See my Genesis commentary and:


And after these were written, many secular scientists now think that earth’s atmosphere was much thinner than today’s, i.e. had a much lower pressure (Pease, R., Earth’s ancient atmosphere was half as thick as it is today, sciencemag.org, 9 May 2016 | doi:10.1126/science.aaf9981). I am not saying they are right either, but just pointing out that evidence for a thicker atmosphere is nowhere near as clearcut as many people think.
Steve B.
Scriptural interpretation can be vexing, and the more sacred one's particular view is, the less open one is to other viewpoints. When it comes to hardline doctrine (i.e. virgin birth, bodily resurrection, etc.), that’s fine. When it comes to suppositions or conclusions, such as there never being any rain on the earth prior to the Genesis flood, that creates a problem. After all, Genesis 2:6 is describing the conditions in the garden of Eden, not the place we now live, and it specifically says those conditions were such because “God had not yet caused it to rain, and there was no man to till the ground.” To me, the implication is clear, God held the rains until there was a man to till the ground, thus, when Adam and Eve arrived, one could reasonably expect there to have been rain. There is also some support for this idea in the Dead Sea scrolls. Jasher 2:8 says, during Enosh’s lifetime mankind violated God’s instruction to be fruitful and multiply, by practicing a form of birth control, and, as a result, God caused the Gihon River to overflow, thereby flooding one third of the earth. Though I am not a particular fan of the Book of Jasher and tread there with great caution, it’s notable there is evidence of a written Jewish tradition, concerning a flood prior to Noah’s, at least among the Essenes, which I don't believe could have happened without rain. Either way, Scripture does not say it never rained prior to the flood of Genesis 7–9.
Ken G.
I am not saying they are right either, but just pointing out that evidence for a thicker atmosphere is nowhere near as clearcut as many people think.


Agreed. I do not advocate vapor canopy theory, which is long outdated. I was referring to higher O₂ primarily, and possibly higher N₂ as well.

The evidence for higher oxygen fraction does not necessarily mean the atmosphere was thicker. But, given there is no source of Nitrogen in the Earth's crust or mantle, the N₂ could have been higher before the flood, but not lower.

O₂ is biologically active. So the balance of O₂, H₂O, and CO₂ is highly dependent on the amount of life and land area of the planet. If anything in the atmosphere changed from the Flood it was almost certainly in the area of O₂, H₂O, and CO₂.
Jonathan Sarfati
Glad you agree that the canopy theory is outdated. It shows that you have kept up with much creationist current research.

But note, only a higher total atmospheric pressure would hold more H₂O vapour, which was necessary for your previous suggestion of preventing rainbows. Also, the links provided shows that the evidence for higher O₂ concentration in the past is equivocal, and that it may not have been as beneficial as claimed.
Len W.
I disagree with your premise. First, your comparison to Jesus and communion with the rainbow is apples and oranges at best. Many things in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus as shadows and types. But the language in Genesis, even in Hebrew points to something God presently did that gives no indication it had been done before. I understand that as Christians we cannot be ignorant of certain laws of science but I also understand that it isn’t always as it seems. Sometimes, we think we are wiser than God just because we think science or the science of such an event has to be a certain way. But, I think it’s wise to remember that while we may have theories, the truth is that we weren’t there when it happened. So the most reliable source I have is Scripture. And there is nothing in scripture that gives a person the idea that rainbows always existed. Simply put, pre-existing rainbows pre-flood defies the common sense of how we read and interpret Scripture. I would rather trust the Scripture and believe that science is missing something( we weren’t there) than to believe science over the Scripture. As someone else said, we don’t have to explain things away just because we think our contemporary science is so advanced and unquestionable.
Jonathan Sarfati
Nothing in my article or commentary was trusting science over Scripture. Rather, it was using science ministerially where Scripture is silent. And Scripture is silent about the existence—or non-existence—of rainbows before the Flood.

Indeed we were not there at the time. But we have the Witness who was there. As shown in the article, He has revealed propositions from which we can logically deduce that the laws of science, aka God’s regular means of upholding His creation, were the same before, during, and after the Flood.
Len W.
Also, no offense, to your your use of Calvin quotes, but just because Calvin believed that doesn’t make it so. His theology wasn’t all perfect. There are many others who believed the rainbow was unique to Noah and his family including men like Spurgeon.
Jonathan Sarfati
Of course we don’t regard Calvin as inspired, and neither did he! Spurgeon had his faults too, e.g. accepting the gap theory. But it shows that some eminent exegetes with a very high view of Scripture didn’t agree with you. And he lived long before Lyell and Darwin, so was not trying to appease long ages.
Abe F.
We have many examples of God temporarily setting aside the laws of nature that HE put in place. Stopping of the movement of the sun, setting large pools of water on fire, causing world covering flood waters when there had not been rain before, Separating the waters of the red sea, water gushing out of rocks, virgin birth!! Come on folks—stop putting God in a box and stop telling us that you know what God can do and is capable of not doing.
I believe in the canopy effect which supports a very lush green earth (before the flood) born out by the massive amount of fossil fuel that we are blessed with every day for oil, tires, plastics etc. etc. This would also have resulted in much higher oxygen content in the atmosphere than what we have today.
Some comments posted here suggest too much book learning and philosophical study and not enough faith in the wisdom and power of almighty God.
Jonathan Sarfati
Is there a problem with book learning? I thought that the Bible was a collection of 66 books. And the issue is not about what God can do but what He said He did.

And from where did you get the idea about the canopy and what it would have done, higher oxygen content, fossil fuel production, and the synthesis of plastic and rubber? None of these are direct teachings of Scripture. So evidently they come from “too much book learning and philosophical study” ;)
Robert N.
Jonathan, are you noticing the feedback from the majority of sensible thinking creationist readers? No-one would deny that you are an extremely intelligent and articulate scientist, who battles hard to defend the Creationist cause.

I back up the comment that you are putting this scientific theory before scripture. If we are to take on board your take, we will have to also go against a lot of commentators, theologians, and creationist scientists who have made sense in backing up the fact that a plain reading of the text is that there was no rain, and no RAINBOW (in the clouds; don't split hairs about some possible similar effect). Henry M. Morris was one example of someone who gave a very good scientific explanation of the pre-flood worldwide watering system that God had initially set up, to produce the mist, and there was obviously a lot of water up in the outer atmosphere waiting to rain down for 40 days and 40 nights continuously. (The Genesis Record, 1st published 1976)

This is obviously not a salvation matter, yet I believe that it is very important, because you seem to be suggesting that we take on a confusing argument here that essentially questions the plain meaning of the Scripture. My advice: hold this theory of yours lightly and put it down to an interesting discussion, taken seriously it is divisive and will be confusing to enquirers of the message behind the flood story.
Jonathan Sarfati
Evidently the “the majority of sensible thinking creationist readers” are not familiar with our core publications such as the Creation Answers Book, including Chapter 12: Noah’s Flood—what about all that water? This shows that CMI cautioned has against the canopy idea for many years now. Other major creationist organizations have done the same.

The Genesis Record was very good for its time, but it’s now 42 years old—older than some of our speakers! That’s one reason that CMI published a more up-to-date commentary. Science has moved on, so while Scripture is non-negotiable, scientific models such as the canopy theory may well need modification or even abandonment, with new ideas to take their place.

It’s also worth noting that no biblical exegete before the 20th century saw a water vapour canopy taught in Scripture, which would be surprising if it were a direct teaching.

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