Was Noah’s flood a historical event?
Here’s a controversial issue that I don't believe needs to be as controversial as it is. It's the question about Noah's flood. Do I believe it was historical? I look at the passages. It looks like it was historical to me, so I don't have any reason to take it other than what the text indicates. As I recall, Jesus made reference to it as a historical event. I don't have any difficulty with believing that.
Now, there is a question about whether it was a universal flood, so I’m going to use that word here as opposed to a localized flood. I take the word “world” – as in a worldwide flood – to be somewhat ambiguous. The word “world” could mean the globe, and that would be a universal flood. The word “world” could also mean the world as Peter puts it, the world that was. That is, the inhabited world that was the focus of the judgment.
Remember, the judgment was against the people, and if all the people were in one area, that was the human world of the time. The judgment could have been against those people and the flood be a localized flood. That accomplished God's purpose of judgment, killing everyone save the eight that were in the ark. I don't see any difficulty with that at all. There's nothing in the language of those passages that requires something like a global or universal flood.
In fact, there are arguments, and I’ve gone through this in the past, that seem to indicate that it could be a localized flood. I don't understand what theologically rests on one or the other. If the geology seems to indicate a universal or global flood, I'm fine with that. If it doesn't indicate that, it doesn't create any problems for me with this passage. I think this passage could easily be – and maybe even more favorably – read as a local worldwide flood judging the inhabitants of the earth that deserved to be judged. Those human beings in a larger region, all wiped out, save the eight.
In a certain sense, I don't have a horse in this race. It could be either, and I don't see why some people are fighting tooth and nail regarding this. It isn't a matter of the integrity of God's Word because it could go either way given the text. This is why biblical scholars committed to inerrancy go either way on this particular issue.
My own view, right now, I favor the localized flood that destroys all of sinful humanity except for the eight. That's where I'm at right now. I could be mistaken about that, and if I am, it doesn't change anything about anything, it seems to me.