Some Christians claim that there was no rain before the Flood. Many of them make this statement quite dogmatically as if it were obvious from a reading of the biblical text. However, a close examination of Scripture does not bear this out.
A Biblical Analysis
Proponents of the “no-rain” view refer to Genesis 2 to support their position. Genesis 2:5–6 states that “the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (emphasis added).
From this passage, all that can really be said is that no rain had fallen up to that time—that is, prior to the creation of man. Remember, Genesis 2 is primarily a detailed recap of Day Six of Creation Week. The passage describes the environment before Adam was created. This mist may have been one of the primary methods that God used to hydrate the dry land He created on Day Three. Furthermore, while this mist was likely the watering source for that vegetation throughout the remainder of Creation Week, the text does not require it to be the only water source after Adam’s creation.
Some argue that this mist eliminated the need for rain until the time of the Flood. However, presence of the mist prior to Adam’s creation does not preclude the existence of or the need for rain after he was created.
Genesis 2:5–6 reveals that before the Sixth Day of Creation Week, God had watered the plants He made with a mist, but had not yet caused rain or created a man to till the ground. To demand that rain didn’t happen until after the Flood from this passage has no more logical support than to claim, from the passage, that no one farmed until after the Flood.
Another often-overlooked aspect of this argument is that rain is an integral component of the water cycle. The term water cycle refers to the physical processes of water evaporation, cloud formation, and precipitation (rain, snow, etc.) that continually recycle the world’s water supply.
The water cycle, being powered as it is by the sun’s energy, is intimately tied to many other aspects of the earth’s climate. While we cannot be dogmatic about the details of the pre-Flood environment, we can be certain that the sun and seas were present (Genesis 1:10, 15). Therefore, there is no reason to insist that this normal environmental process was not in operation before the Flood.
Things Not Seen?
Another passage often cited is Hebrews 11:7 in which we learn that “by faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark.” Some assert that “things not seen” means rain, implying that no one had ever seen rain before Noah’s Flood. However, the passage more likely is referring to the impending catastrophic global Flood—certainly something not yet seen, not imaginable to anyone, and far more needful of a warning than a nice spring shower!
We should use caution in making absolute statements about that environment, as there are many things about the pre-Flood world that we cannot know with certainty.
It is fascinating to speculate about the pre-Flood environment. We would expect it to differ from today’s environment. Both the cataclysmic forces with which God produced the Flood and the great changes in the surface of the earth in the aftermath of the Flood—breaking open the fountains of the deep, for instance, with volcanic activity, disturbance of tectonic plates with reconfiguration of land masses, and deepening of the oceans to accommodate the floodwaters—would result in permanent changes in the world’s topography and climate. However, we should use caution in making absolute statements about that environment, as there are many things about the pre-Flood world that we cannot know with certainty.
Well, then, how about the rainbow? Didn’t God specially create the never-before-seen rainbow as a sign of His promise? Not necessarily. In Genesis 9:13, God said, “I do set my bow in the cloud,” and the fact that God does not imply that He had never set a rainbow in the clouds before but only that, from now on, the rainbow—appearing as it so often does as rain is ending—would henceforth have a special significance as a token (reminder 1) of God’s promise to never again send a worldwide Flood.
While we cannot prove that there was rain before the Flood, to insist that there was not (and even to deride those who think otherwise) stretches Scripture beyond what it actually says.
There are some arguments that Christians should avoid because of their absurdity and some we should avoid being dogmatic about because they are not truly supportable from Scripture. The “no-rain” argument is in the latter category, and as such, it is an argument Christians should not use.