The purpose of Genesis, especially the first 12 chapters is not to teach history or science. That is not to say that it doesn't contain history in it, but it is not recorded in the same way we record history today. In other words, it's not a news account.
There is a point the divinely-inspired human author was to trying to convey to his original audience of that culture.
- That culture didn't ask the same questions.
- They didn't get caught up in the same kind of thinking.
For starters, this was written long before the Greek philosophers gave us the study of logic or rational thinking so that whole culture asks completely different questions. They aren't consumed with the same details we might be consumed with. They read or listened to the narrative, from which they derived Revelation, which is found in the meaning of the text.
Now that doesn't mean that each detail is not important in the salvation narrative or the history of our salvation. I am by no means advocating the extreme position that none of this ever happened and these are nothing but stories with morals behind them.
The Bible is the Word of God. It is given to us to reveal:
- His nature, and
- His plan for us, to us.
The historical point in these early chapters is that God made man. Man fell from grace. Satan did all He could to destroy man through sin and corruption. In all this, God reached out to all men and saved those who would accept mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
Noah is found in Genesis chapter 6 but if we look back to Genesis 5 we find a character named Enoch. He was also lived in a perverse generation and the text tells us Enoch walked with God and was no more. Now in the history of all this: Enoch was Noah's ancestor — I believe his Grandfather. His son was Methuselah who is the oldest man in the man in the Bible and he lived right up until the day the flood started. Methuselah is a combination of Hebrew words that means in effect When he dies, it will fall. So you see there is connection between the stories.
First of all, we see that God reaches into a perverse generation and saves those that have a heart for him. We see that God warns us and gives us all kinds of chances. Look at the details. Even in the naming of Methuselah, the author is teaching us something about God's forbearance, justice, and paternal warnings but we also see a repetition of the theme. All throughout salvation history recorded in the Old Testament, we always find one man, be it Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, or David to serve as a type of the Messiah who is to come. The Bible is the Word and as St. John teaches us in the John 1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
So Jesus is the Word. Every Word of Scripture from Genesis 1:1 (In the beginning God created ...) to Revelation 22:21 (The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.) is meant to reveal God, the Trinity, in and through the Incarnation — the person of Jesus Christ, both God and Man.
So sure, we can get caught up worrying about:
- What was the name of Lot's wife? or
- Did David pick up exactly five smooth stones before he slew Goliath?
- Or we can ask, why is that detail there and what is God trying to tell me?
Again, that doesn't mean:
- these people didn't exist
- that it didn't happen
- or anything else these Modernists would say to disprove the Bible
but we need to make sure we understand the meaning that is being conveyed rather then trying to prove the science or historical accuracy of text.
I hope this helps.