Mormonism and science/Global or local Flood/Statements

Statements by General Authorities on the subject of the scope of the Flood of Noah

This page is a chronology of statements from primary and secondary sources. Sources may be viewed by following the citation links.

Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.
—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Approaching Mormon Doctrine (May 4, 2007)
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2007

David E. Sorensen

Is not today much like Noah’s day, when the population of the earth was wiped out in the Flood and but eight souls were saved? (see Genesis 7; 1 Peter 3:20).
— David E. Sorensen, “Priesthood, Agency, and Black Powder,” Ensign, Sep 2007, 56–59. off-site

2005

Gordon B. Hinckley

Those of us who read and believe the scriptures are aware of the warnings of prophets concerning catastrophes that have come to pass and are yet to come to pass. There was the great Flood, when waters covered the earth and when, as Peter says, only “eight souls were saved” (1 Pet. 3:20).
—Gordon B. Hinckley, “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 60 off-site

  • Scope: "waters covered the earth"
  • His point: Prophets warn us of coming catastrophes, and we should be prepared.

1998

Joseph B. Romney

Thus, modern revelation teaches that God indeed suffered great sorrow over the Flood, which served as the baptism of the earth.
—Joseph B. Romney, “Noah, The Great Preacher of Righteousness,” Ensign, Feb 1998, 22 off-site

  • Scope: Baptism of the earth

1992

Encyclopedia of Mormonism (quoting John A. Widtsoe)

THE GREAT FLOOD. The Old Testament records a flood that was just over fifteen cubits (sometimes assumed to be about twenty-six feet) deep and covered the entire landscape: "And all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered" (Gen. 7:19). Scientifically this account leaves many questions unanswered, especially how a measurable depth could cover mountains. Elder John A. Widtsoe, writing in 1943, offered this perspective: The fact remains that the exact nature of the flood is not known. We set up assumptions, based upon our best knowledge, but can go no further. We should remember that when inspired writers deal with historical incidents they relate that which they have seen or that which may have been told them, unless indeed the past is opened to them by revelation.

The details in the story of the flood are undoubtedly drawn from the experiences of the writer. Under a downpour of rain, likened to the opening of the heavens, a destructive torrent twenty-six feet deep or deeper would easily be formed. The writer of Genesis made a faithful report of the facts known to him concerning the flood. In other localities the depth of the water might have been more or less. In fact, the details of the flood are not known to us [Widtsoe, p. 127].
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "Earth" off-site

1986

Kent P. Jackson

These people were so wicked that they were no longer allowed to pollute the earth by their presence on it or to bring innocent spirits into its decadent environment. The Lord decreed that all living things would be destroyed by flood, with the exception of a faithful few who would be spared so that God could begin anew his creative work and reestablish his covenant among men.
—Kent P. Jackson, “An Age of Contrasts: From Adam to Abraham,” Ensign, Feb 1986, 28. off-site

1980

F. Kent Nielsen

The worldwide flood of Noah’s time has been accepted as a benchmark historical event by Jews and Christians for thousands of years...the worldwide flood of Noah’s time, so upsetting to a restricted secular view, fits easily into place. It is the earth’s baptism.
—F. Kent Nielsen, “The Gospel and the Scientific View: How Earth Came to Be,” Ensign, Sep 1980, 67. off-site

  • Scope: "worldwide flood"
  • His reference: Brigham Young's 1860 statement regarding the earth's "baptism" (Brigham Young, (June 12, 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:83.)

1981

Mark E. Petersen

Is not today much like Noah’s day when the population of the earth was wiped out in the flood and but eight righteous souls were spared? Some doubt that there was a flood, but by modern revelation we know that it did take place. By modern revelation we know that for more than a century, Noah pleaded with the people to repent, but in their willful stubbornness they would not listen.
—Mark E. Petersen, “Follow the Prophets,” Ensign, Nov 1981, 64. off-site

  • Scope: "population of the earth was wiped out."
  • His point: That a Flood occurred, that the prophet Noah existed, and that we need to listen to the prophet.

Hartman Rector, Jr.

The Lord further indicated that all flesh was corrupt in those days, and so he brought forth the flood and destroyed all flesh except Noah and his family. Therefore, we are all descendants of righteous Noah. But the family concept is under very serious attack today all over the world.
—Hartman Rector Jr., “Turning the Hearts,” Ensign, May 1981, 73. off-site

  • Scope: "destroyed all flesh except Noah and his family" and "we are all descendants of righteous Noah."
  • His point: That the family concept is under attack.

1976

Jeffery R. Holland

Two generations later the Lord was so pained by that generation “without affection” (Moses 7:33) that he opened the windows of heaven and cleansed the entire earth with water. Thus, the “everlasting decree” (Ether 2:10) was first taught that he who will not obey the Lord in righteousness will be swept from his sacred land. The lesson would be tragically retaught in dispensations yet to come.
—Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Promised Land,” Ensign, Jun 1976, 23 off-site

  • Scope: "cleansed the entire earth with water."
  • His point: That the unrighteous will be swept away.

1975

William H. Bennett

From the scriptures we can identify some of these chosen individuals, starting with Michael who was referred to as the Archangel, one of high rank in the spirit world. He was chosen to be Adam, the first man, to stand forever under the Father and the Son at the head of the human family. Others of the chosen were Seth, the most faithful of Adam’s sons after the death of the righteous Abel, and Enoch, through whose lineage the Lord promised would come Noah and the Messiah, and that his posterity should remain while the earth should stand. Another one was Noah, who was chosen to be the second father of the human race here on earth, after the flood. Another was Shem, the chosen son of Noah; and also Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
—William H. Bennett, “Covenants and Blessings,” Ensign, Nov 1975, 45 off-site

  • Scope: "Noah...the second father of the human race on earth, after the flood."
  • His point: There are chosen individuals.

Lane Johnson

The history of the peopling of the earth is really a history of the scattering of the descendants of Noah, who is sometimes referred to as the “second father of mankind.” This general scattering began soon after the Flood when the sons of Noah and their children began to spread forth “in their lands, … after their nations” (see Gen. 10:5, 20, 31)
—Lane Johnson, “Who and Where Are the Lamanites?,” Ensign, Dec 1975, 15 off-site

  • Scope: "peopling of the earth," "second father of mankind."

1884

John Taylor

Some people talk very philosophically about tidal waves coming along. But the question is—How could you get a tidal wave out of the Pacific ocean, say, to cover the Sierra Nevadas? But the Bible does not tell us it was a tidal wave. It simply tells us that "all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upwards did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered." That is, the earth was immersed. It was a period of baptism.
—John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 26:74-75..

  • Scope: Baptism of the earth
  • His point: That the Flood was an immersion, rather than a tidal wave.

1880

Orson Pratt

Another great change happened nearly two thousand years after the earth was made. It was baptized by water. A great flow of water come, the great deep was broken up, the windows of heaven were opened from on high, and the waters prevailed upon the face of the earth, sweeping away all wickedness and transgression-a similitude of baptism for the remission of sins. God requires the children of men to be baptized. What for? For the remission of sins. So he required our globe to be baptized by a flow of waters, and all of its sins were washed away, not one sin remaining.
—Orson Pratt, (August 1, 1880) Journal of Discourses 21:323.

  • Scope: Baptism of the earth
  • His point: That the earth needed its sins washed away in the same manner as men do.

1874

John Taylor

By and by we find the people departing from the principles of truth, from the laws of the Gospel, repudiating the fear of God, grieving his Holy Spirit and incurring his displeasure. Then a flood came and the inhabitants of the world, with the exception of a very few, were swept from it, after the Gospel had been preached to all who then lived and all had had an opportunity to believe in and obey it.
—John Taylor, "DESTRUCTION OF THE WICKED BY THE FLOOD, etc.," Journal of Discourses 17:205.

  • Scope: "the inhabitants of the world...all who had then lived."
  • His point: The wicked were destroyed because they had repudiated God.

1860

Brigham Young

This earth, in its present condition and situation, is not a fit habitation for the sanctified; but it abides the law of its creation, has been baptized with water, will be baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, and by-and-by will be prepared for the faithful to dwell upon.
—Brigham Young, (June 12, 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:83.

  • Scope: The earth was "baptized."
  • His point: The earth needed to be cleansed of the wicked.