Hugh Ross’s flood model––based on his best efforts to interpret the record of nature and the words of the Bible––rests on three distinct biblical beliefs.
1. The Noah story preserves an actual historical event. While the world is filled with flood lore, RTB takes the position that the Genesis account is an accurate summary of real events.
Authors throughout the Bible reflect the belief that Noah was a historical person. He is specifically mentioned in biblical genealogies (Gen. 10:1; 1 Chron. 1:1; Luke 3:36 and commended as a man of great faith (Ez. 14:14, 20; Heb. 11:7; 2 Pet. 2:5). Scripture recounts the flood as a real event, even by Jesus (Is. 54:9, Matt. 24:37–38; Luke 17:26–27; 1 Pet. 3:20).1
2. The extent of the flood was geographically local, limited to the Mesopotamian flood plain.
Although English translations of the Bible––and children’s storybooks––make it seem as though the flood covered the entire globe, the text doesn’t demand this interpretation. The phrase translated as “the whole world” can also refer to a limited geographical area, such as when “the whole world” is described as coming to Egypt for food (Gen. 41:57; cf. 1 Kings 10:24). For this reason, it’s at least possible that a geographically local flood constitutes a faithful interpretation of the Genesis account.
3. The flood wiped out all of humanity. This belief is largely based on statements like Genesis 6:7, “So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them’” (cf. Gen. 7:23).
This idea dovetails with the post-Flood description of humanity’s apparent unwillingness to obey God’s command to Noah to “be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth” (Gen. 9:7), and the fact that “the whole world had one language and a common speech” (Gen. 11:1) and that “the LORD scattered [humanity] over the face of the whole earth” after Babel (Gen. 11:9).
These three beliefs have led Ross to suggest that Noah’s flood transpired around 50,000 years ago. Assuming the flood did wipe out all of humanity and was geographically limited, then it had to have occurred prior to the spread of human migration into Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. Ross’ lead article (“Research Studies Shed Light on the Garden and the Flood”) summarizes one researcher’s hypothesis that a recently discovered civilization lies in what is now the Persian Gulf. Ross sees this as possible evidence for his flood model.