The problem is that, as far as I can see, Creation Science doesn’t take things literally, but shies away from literal readings of things that disagree with those bits of science that they accept.
The most well known example is probably the second day of creation:
Genesis 1:6-8 Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." And God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. And God called the expanse heaven.
A literal reading of this isn’t hard to see. The cosmos is full of water, and to create the space for land to appear God first creates an expanse (or firmament, the word suggests a physical barrier) that separates the waters that were below from the waters above. This physical barrier is called heaven.
Then dry land appears on the third day when God gathers the waters under the expanse and locks them into fixed locations—oceans, seas, lakes etc, and so dry land appears.
So the literal picture is of a universe full of water where God creates a space for earth to exist. One suspects that that fits neatly with the fact that we see blue when we look up—we’re looking at the water on the other side of the barrier, heaven.
If, however, science calls the shots, then that is nonsense. And so Creation Scientists will, when pushed, read this non-literally. It is a metaphor (or ‘poetic’). The most common suggestion I’ve heard is that pre-Flood the earth was covered in a permanent blanket of thick clouds. It’s a strained reading (and is strange science. Unless they think physical laws changed with the Flood, why wouldn’t this cloud cover build up again after the Flood?) Their exegesis at this point is hard to understand, unless they draw back from readings of Scripture that they are fairly sure don’t square with the world as they know it. In fact, 2 Peter seems fairly straightforwardly to read Genesis the way I've suggested:
2 Peter 3:5-7 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water...
The earth was formed out of water and by water. This suggests water being more significant to Genesis 1’s picture of creation than the idea of a thick cloud cover above the earth.
And this world in the midst of water makes much better sense of the Flood:
Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.
The barriers that made a division between water above and water below and water below and dry land and are taken away. The water pours in and covers the land:
Genesis 7:18-20 And the water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated on the surface of the water. And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.
Two things I want to point out here. First, the amount of water involved in covering every mountain on the earth is far in excess of the amount of water that we are, pretty sure, exists on the planet. Speculations (such as I’ve heard by Creation Scientists) that what happened was a lot of water coming together into a series of large tidal wave-like phenomena are not what the text is saying, it’s another fudge. The text is painting a picture of constant rain and water coming out of the depths of the earth covering the land, not of a periodic wave smashing everything to bits. That’s why the waters subside over a long period of time rather than waves just ceasing. And how the ark would survive waves like that is beyond me—at that point you’d have to leave science behind again and suggest another miracle to preserve the wooden ship (which then raises the question of why a ship at all?).
The second thing I want to point out is that the preoccupation to read this passage in the light of science misses the meaning of the passage. The Flood is held up in the NT as a type of the final destruction of the universe by fire. Back to 2 Peter again:
2 Peter 3:5-7 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
It’s not just a lot of water killing off all land creatures. It’s more than that. It is meant to suggest the end of creation, ‘the world at that time was destroyed’. Flooding the world with water is supposed to get a point across that is far more than just a huge natural catastrophe. It was the undoing of creation. The world was made out of water and by water, as the waters above and below were separated by an expanse called heaven, and the waters below were separated from the dry land.
When the floodgates of the sky and fountains of the deep are opened then this basic structure that enables life ceased. The world returned to its formless and void state—no separation between waters or between water and land, and no life. The world was destroyed.
Again, if you’re exegeting the Bible through science that’s nonsense. Matter, energy, space, time, all exist. There’s still a planet, there’s still a universe. Nonetheless the Bible portrays the Flood as on a par with the final Day of Judgement, the world was destroyed by water and will be destroyed by fire.
Thus, the Flood has a cosmic theological significance. It was the undoing of creation, just as much as the Day of Judgement will spell the end of this world and the beginning of the New Earth and the New Heaven.
I take it that is why there is that obscure note in Revelation:
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
Why is there no sea in the new heavens and earth? If you put the science away for a moment and think about the significance of water in Genesis 1-8 then I think it comes into light. Water is related to that formless and void state at the beginning of creation.
Genesis 1:2 And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Here, before anything is said by God, there are apparently waters over which the Spirit of God moves. Again, if science is in the driving seat, you either have to say that creation began before God said anything in verse 3 (‘Let there be light’). Or you could accept what seems fairly obvious, that ‘water’ signifies more than just physical water. It signifies the formless and void state before there was a creation.
Hence, the end of the Flood is meant to allude to Genesis 1:2
Genesis 7:24 - 8:1 And the water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days. But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.
The word for ‘wind’ in 8:2 that passed over the earth is exactly the same as the word for the ‘Spirit’ in 1:2 who hovered over the water. The end of the Flood conjures up the picture of creation.
That’s why the Flood is linked with the final end of the Universe by fire, because large bodies of ‘water’ is meant to conjure up the original formless and void state. The fact that creation could be so easily undone by God just taking away the barriers gets at the inherent impermanence and insecurity of the Universe. At any moment it could be swamped by inrushing uncreation and return to nothing. Hence, the great statement of OT trust in God:
Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
It’s not just an earthquake that is being put forward here, it is the cosmos coming apart at the edges. Even in the face of that God is our refuge, so we will not fear. That's a powerful statement of security in God!
So ‘sea’ would be a bit like the snake in the garden, or the ability of Adam and Eve to disobey God. It gets at the fact that while the creation is good, it does not have the imperishable glory of the New Creation. Creation is vulnerable, guarded only by the word of God that keeps the basic structures that makes life possible, and that light the path for humanity to walk in the light. This word of God is questioned, challenged, disobeyed, and with it life is turned to death and creation is in constant danger of being undone.
Yet the New Creation has Christ as its head. It participates in and lives in him. And so it will have no snake, no sin, no possibility of death, and no sea. It will not have any chance of being undone. It will be immortal, invincible, secured by its unbreakable link to the eternal Son of God who is its head.
All these connections are in danger of being overlooked when one finds the Bible’s talk of an expanse scandalous in light of modern scientific knowledge, and so explain it away.
The result is a strained reading that is arid and untheological and that obscures connections within the Scriptures. It’s also not literal.