Update 2010-12-14: When I wrote this piece, it was my understanding that rainbows did not form in a pre-flood world. It appears I’m wrong on that (See “There was no rain before the Flood.”). This is a belief placed on scripture and not told by scripture. While still possible, one can not absolutely hold this view. As a thought experiment, however, looking at the possibility and considering why it might have been like that could possibly lead to better understanding the pre and post flood environments which appear to be significantly different from each other.
Rainbows are beautiful artistry. There’s nothing quite like the majestic arch across the wide rain washed sky.
They’re also an intriguing interaction of light and water. And, yes, I’m bringing this back to creation.
Some may say I’m tainting a natural wonder and it should be left well enough alone, but I find greater pleasure in understanding the rainbow because it’s so much more than just a beautiful thing. The rainbow is woven into the very fabric of our faith. It means something beyond just a creative, awe-inspiring physical artifact crafted by the hand of God. It is so much more and, in this particular case, it’s a hint about the pre-flood world.
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:
13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,
15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.
God revealed His rainbow to Noah and his family after they got off the ark after the world-wide flood. This might have been an utterly new creation but, more than likely, it was a release, a revealing of the physical makeup of the atmosphere of that day. Let me explain.
In the atmosphere of the pre-flood world, apparently rainbows did not form in the sky Now, rainbows are “an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines onto droplets of moisture in the Earth’s atmosphere.” (Wikipedia) What does that say about the pre-flood existence if rainbows could not form? That there was no light? That there was no air? That that was no water in the air?
No to each of these. But, as we understand the scientific principles behind rainbows quite well, we can see in our present world when they can form and when they can not. If they did not occur in the pre-flood world, then we can make some predictions about that world’s makeup and we can predict what we might see in our present day to lend credence to those predictions.
If rainbows could not form in a pre-flood world, then, more than likely, one of a few things might have been different then. I say more than likely because it is “possible” that world lived in a realm of physics that is alien to our existence and God changed up everything with the flood. It could have been. But it’s not likely. Occam’s Razor here applies.
So, those “one of a few things” could have been anything that would be differentiations in the light, or the air or the water. Another option is that it had not rained up to that point (see Genesis 2:5), but this option is less likely as it appears a huge amount of time exists between the creation and the time of the flood. I say huge, but it was about a thousand years between them. Adam died 126 years before Noah’s birth (genealogy). So, Noah’s father would have known the first man alive. Selah. At any rate, this is a significant amount of time for their to be no rain and, really, there’s no reason to think it hadn’t rained.
So, what was it about the pre-flood world that did not have rainbows in the sky? It may help us support creation and explain things we see today.