I was reading this debate this morning (decent arguments on both sides and an overall respectful demeanor):
Much of the discussion revolved around other mentions of the flood in the Bible. For instance, Jesus words Luke 17:27 (NASB): "They were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." I'll point out the two extreme opposite sides of the debate.
One side of the argument was that since Jesus mentioned it, it had to be true. True to the extent that Genesis says it is true, including that it happend on a global scale, with near total human destruction, and somewhere around 4500 years ago. I doesn't matter what science says because science can be wrong but the Bible is God's word and God is always right. If we have to, we'll jump through hoops to try to make sense of the overwhelming contrary evidence because there is no way that we can accept the account to be anything but literal. To do otherwise is to open up a can of worms and worms are like snakes and Satan was a snake so...OMG!!! Demons be gone! Demons be gone!
The other side of the argument used scientific and geologic evidence to discredit the Genesis account as being literal. If what science says is true, and the Flood didn't happen the way that Genesis said, then Jesus must have been lying, and if Jesus was lying then the Bible is shot full of holes and not worth our time. Let's toss it out with yesterday's newspaper and join The Brights. Now, where's my big red "'A' for Athiest" lapel pin?
I'm having fun with the extremes here and mean no disrespect to either party. In full disclosure, after having researched all things Flood for the last few years, I believe that it was not global, did not destroy all humans, and is part of a moral lesson/legend that was passed down orally in the surrounding cultures. With each passing generation the story became more fantastical, like a good game of telephone.
But this isn't about my opinion. I want to throw something out here and let you gals and guys kick it around a bit. Suppose that Jesus and the people that he was talking to fully recognized the Flood story to be a myth, or fable. For instance, let's say the leader of a company addresses his workers on the subject of workplace productivity standards. He warns them against rushing through their tasks, for fear that they may burn out, make mistakes, or become careless in their duties. The company leader prefers his employees to work at a consistent, methodical pace, to ensure that the job gets done right. He concludes, "Remember the lesson of the tortoise and the hare: Slow and steady wins the race." The employees understand his direction since they recognize this popular fable. Only a fool would think that the boss had been witness to an actual arranged race with a talking turtle and rabbit.
So when Jesus said, "Just as in the days of Noah..." he could have been reminding his listeners about the moral lesson of the Flood story. That being, do not be too wrapped up in the fruitless pursuits of life. If we recognize a higher calling, pay heed to that calling and try to help others find their way to a better existence. When a test arrives, the less distracted, more purpose-driven people will be the ones who are prepared to face the test. The ones who lived a selfish, egocentric life may collapse under the pressure of an unexpected trial.
In this scenario, the Flood story still serves a purpose whether it actually happend or not; and Jesus is not a liar, rather a teacher of moral lessons. No hoops, no twisted logic, no need to throw away your Bible.