What Noah Saw After The Flood

You have no idea what Noah saw. It wasn’t a simple rainbow. As I explain in my book, Noah’s Flood: Literal or Figurative?, what Noah most likely saw after the Flood was not a simple rainbow, but a vast array of atmospheric optical effects, lasting many days and weeks, caused by an oceanic comet impact.

The book reviews 4 scientific theories, each proposing that the Flood story was based on a real world historical event. The theory I favor is W. Bruce Masse’s comet impact flood. A comet impacted the Indian Ocean in 2807 BC, causing massive tidal waves and throwing an immense amount of water in the atmosphere. The result was torrential rainstorms and an intense alteration of weather patterns, explaining the “40 days and nights” of rain and other phenomena.

My understanding is that the Biblical story of the Flood is partly literal — the story is based on an historical flood event — but also partly figurative. The assertions are figurative that:
* water covered the entire earth
* all humans and animals outside the Ark were killed
* every animal species was represented on the Ark
* the size of the Ark

The assertions are literal that:
* Noah built an Ark for his family to survive the Flood
* many animal species were on the Ark
* many persons and animals outside the Ark were killed by the Flood
* the entire planet was affected by the Flood, to one extent or another

But after the Flood, what did Noah see? The comet impact in the ocean threw water even into the upper atmosphere, where water is seldom found, and never in such quantities. This formed a vast number of ice crystals over a very wide area, resulting in refraction of light. The sky after the Flood was an amazing show of lights: countless rainbows, sun halos, a sun dogs, infralateral arcs, supralateral arcs, and more. It’s beyond anything we’ve seen in the sky in the history of the planet since then.

Here is a website that covers all the possible optical effects in the sky in the present time: Rainbows and Ice Halos. And here is a recent photo taken in New Mexico, in the early morning (Jan. 2015) showing a subset of possible atmospheric effects: U.S. National Weather Service. Click the photo for a version with labels on each effect.

But what Noah saw after the Flood was so much greater, due to the immense changes in the weather and in the upper atmosphere caused by the comet impact. So the Biblical text about the “rainbow” is quite an understatement:

{9:12} And God said: “This is the sign of the pact that I grant between me and you, and to every living soul that is with you, for perpetual generations.
{9:13} I will place my arc in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the pact between myself and the earth.
{9:14} And when I obscure the sky with clouds, my arc will appear in the clouds.
{9:15} And I will remember my covenant with you, and with every living soul that enlivens flesh. And there will no longer be waters from a great flood to wipe away all that is flesh.
{9:16} And the arc will be in the clouds, and I will see it, and I will remember the everlasting covenant that was enacted between God and every living soul of all that is flesh upon the earth.”

So the typical everyday rainbow is a small reminder of the great Flood and the astounding light show that followed.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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