Cover story articleGlobal flood

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Rescued from the

Global Flood

Icon flood.svg
Seven of the clean kind

The global flood is a fairly self-descriptive, catastrophic, mythical event found in the book of Genesis. The narrative in the scripture tells the story of a great flooding of the entire world, in which every last human and animal died, except for the ones saved on the Ark, a vessel constructed at God's command by Noah. The flood, according to the Bible, was brought on because every person in the whole world — except eight people God chose — were wicked and needed to be killed. The type of wickedness is left unclear so believers are free to develop imaginative ideas. [1] The narrative does not specify if the very young children, babies (or even the unborn!), and almost all the world's animals were killed because they were wicked or if they were just collateral damage.[2]

The majority of modern biblical scholars interpret the flood story allegorically; for example, they see it as a lesson of God's mercy toward the faithful (Noah and his family). To be fair, his mercy was pretty thin on the ground for every other human on the planet. Fundamentalists, as usual, miss the forest entirely and end up focusing on the leaves of the trees; insisting on the literal historicity of the flood account because if this was made up, then the entire Bible was made up. From this assertion, the entire "science" of flood geology has been formed. As a result, the global flood and the supposed geological facts to back it up are an integral part of young earth creationism and creation science.

Many other flood myths have existed throughout history in many cultures, but most of these likely arose independently, as virtually all of them were written by societies that resided near regularly flooding bodies of water. Generally the myth of the global flood refers to the one of Noah and the Ark in Judeo-Christian mythology.

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[edit] Physical scale

The legend of the global flood is a common myth in many cultures. It's believed to originate in a real historical flood, possibly in the Caspian region, which is known to have been prone to epic floods and is in the right region for Biblical legends. While the myth is best explained by a large, but still localised flood, the global flood is described by Biblical literalists as covering the whole of the Earth so that no dry land could be found anywhere on the planet. This would be possible only if accompanied by extreme erosion that had flattened most of the land so that there were no mountains rising above the floodwaters.

But the literalist young Earth timescale of around 6000 years rules out this possibility. Thus the scale of the mythological flood should be considered given the current land mass of the Earth. This has some interesting implications if we assume that it really did happen. Assuming that there was no magical transformation of the landscape between the time of the flood and now — something reasonable considering the time frame — the floodwaters would have to raise the sea level to height of Mount Everest, at least, in line with the Biblical description stating that the waters came up higher than the highest mountains. This is around 8.84 km above current sea level. Since the volume of land is small compared to the total volume of water that would be required for such a flood (oceans cover 71% of the Earth's surface and the average height of land is only about 800 metres), an easy calculation shows the amount of water needed to achieve this would be at least 4.5 billion cubic kilometres. The current volume of the Earth's oceans combined is estimated at only 1.3 billion cubic kilometres. This raises the question of where did that much water come from, and more importantly, where did it all go?

[edit] Precipitation

The conventional flood story states that the flood waters came from rain that lasted 40 days and 40 nights.[3][4] Rain appears when the atmosphere can no longer support water in the vapor phase and it becomes saturated. Normally, the atmosphere is on the brink of saturation, and the variations in temperature and pressure caused by weather fronts are capable of altering the threshold at which precipitation will form quite easily. What about the amount of water vapor suspended in air needed for the 4.5 billion cubic kilometers of water needed for the global flood? The water vapor currently in the air is only around 2-3% on average, with a maximum of 4% limited by temperature and pressure.[5] The change in atmospheric conditions required to support enough vapor for 112 million cubic kilometers of rain per day - about 120,000 times more than the current daily rainfall worldwide[6] - would have rendered the air unbreathable.

Indeed, the atmosphere really couldn't sustain that much water even under the most extreme temperature and pressure conditions the planet can produce. If the conditions were right for that much water to be in the atmosphere, humans and virtually every other animal would have drowned through the simple act of breathing, as well as turning the earth into the equivalent of a pressure cooker with atmospheric pressure at nearly a thousand psi instead of the standard 14.7 or so that we have today. Barring the goddidit escape hatch (a tried and tested fallback for creationists everywhere), this is impossible.

[edit] Hydroplate "theory" and other nonsense

More recent theories have seen creationists try to get around this by either placing the water underground, positing an ice or vapor canopy above the atmosphere, water being contained in sealed chambers, or by having comets bring the water. This is despite the Bible not really describing the flood as such—in fact, they have to make a very loose interpretation of the firmament noted in Genesis for this to work. They still ignore several factors, however. When placing the water beneath the earth, the only viable method for releasing it is as steam,[7] which proceeds to sterilize the planet regardless of whether or not one is in a giant wooden boat.

This also gave rise to Lunar bukkake theory, whereby this action causes water to be thrown up, out of the Earth's gravitational pull (breaking conservation of momentum in the process) and causing the craters on the Moon and other parts of the solar system. Aside from having no physically possible method to exist in the first place, an ice or vapor canopy would convert all of its orbital potential energy into kinetic energy when it collapsed, thereby poaching Noah and all the critters like eggs. Cometary impacts on the order needed to provide the water would have been many times the energy of the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction Event, making the resultant flood unnecessary in wiping out life on the planet.

Hydroplate theory is a pseudoscientific attempt to explain where the water required for the purported flood came from. Notably, it ignores the equally important question of where all the water went afterwards. Answers in Genesis attempts to handwave both issues via the claim that much less water was required than it might appear, as all the land we know today was *ahem* in fact raised out of the oceans, rendering the flood moot if not technically causing the waters to recede[8].

[edit] Issues with the Ark

Central to the myth of the global flood is the story of Noah and his Ark. Indeed, the Ark plays as much of an important role in the story of the flood as the water and flood itself - and is equally, if not more, unfeasible than the flooding. The general outline states that God warns Noah of the impending catastrophe and instructs him to spend years building a great Ark to save animals from extinction. The Ark rides the waters for the duration of the flood while everything else, including the fish (not very good swimmers, apparently!), drowns. As a result, only Noah's family and two of every animal (Or fourteen, depending on which biblical story you believe) survive the flood and, despite the genetic bottleneck this would have caused, the world is happily repopulated.

[edit] Gathering the animals

Gathering the animals was strenuous work.
See the main article on this topic: Bringing the animals to the ark

There are two versions of this story. In Genesis 6:19-21, God tells Noah to bring in two of every animal on the earth. But then in Genesis 7:2-3, God tells Noah that he is to bring seven of every clean animal[9] and two of every unclean animal onto the Ark. (The "clean" and "unclean" distinction would have been defined along the rules of kosher). The flood story most often taught in Sunday School is the first version, that two of every "kind" of animal were present on Noah's Ark (and omitting the second version).[10] This poses an incredible, most likely insurmountable, logistical problem. Noah would have never been able to travel all over the world and gather up every animal he needed on his Ark. Even if he didn't have to, and God just made the animals set out randomly for Mesopotamia, it still wouldn't have worked. Some animals would have had to make incredible journeys all the way from places like South America and Australia.[11] This is incredibly implausible; most creatures would have faced insurmountable difficulties getting to the ark. Some animals can't swim which would make a journey from lands not connected to Mesopotamia impossible.[12] Other animals move so slowly they would have died before they got to the Ark. Creatures like dodo birds, that came from sheltered habitats and had never had to deal with predation before, would have been preyed upon mercilessly by superior predators such as wolves and the great cats. Some animals, like koalas, require special diets only found in certain places in the world, and if they had left the habitat where their food grew, they would have starved to death.[12]

[edit] Caring for the animals

An artist's interpretation of animals boarding the ark. (What? No dinosaurs?)
See the main article on this topic: Caring for the animals in Noah's ark

Caring for the animals on Noah's ark would also have been impossible. Simply feeding them would have been more than Noah and his family could have managed. However, the lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) would have had their pick of any number of (now extinct) species (and even each other!) when the Noah clan was tardy in bringing the grub below decks. And just what did they feed all those voracious carnivores if they had to keep pairs of all the other animals alive? Did Noah invent the deep-freeze?[13]

[edit] Aquatic species survival

See the main article on this topic: Survival of aquatic species during the global flood

There was no marine life on the ark[14], so each observable aquatic species that we see today, according to the flood myth, had to have survived the 376[15] days of the flood. This is extremely unlikely, as a complete flooding of the earth would produce such drastic ecological changes that most aquatic species would die off.[16]

Most fish are sensitive to changes in salinity in water, when the rising saltwater oceans mixed with the freshwater lakes and rivers, both freshwater and salt water species they would have died.[17] The extreme turbulence would have also killed fish that stayed near the ocean floor; small fish that live on reefs would have been repeatedly pounded against rocks and mud.[18] And many fish would have choked to death on sediment stirred up by the flood as well.[16]

[edit] Integrity of Noah's Ark

During the great flood, Noah's Ark would have faced the most brutal weather in the history of the world. A 'study' by Answers in Genesis asserts that the Ark could have withstood waves of up to 30 meters high without overturning.[19] Waves in modern ocean storms can reach heights of up to 31 meters.[20] With the entire world flooded, we would be likely to have seen waves of a much greater magnitude. With an unlimited fetch, waves could possibly have reached miles in height.[21] However, it seems likely that a wooden vessel, even of the most conservative of estimates (though still larger than most, if not all, ships in the height of the wooden saily thing era) in size, would not have been able to survive for long at sea, certainly not for 40 days, or perhaps even 4, as the timbers would have warped, water leaked in, and sunk the damn thing, saving us a lot of trouble. God may have been slightly embarrassed, though.

[edit] Fragile geological formations

This would have been knocked off had there been a global flood
See the main article on this topic: Flood geology

The global flood, had it occurred, would have destroyed many geological formations. If you look at pictures of the ocean floor, you will notice there are very few rocks piled up in columns. A study done by several creation "scientists" puts the ocean speed at varying between 40 and 80 meters a second.[22] Rock pillars are unable to survive currents this fast. Even oceanic currents of normal speeds would have destroyed some of the more fragile specimens that are in existence today.

[edit] Fossil layers

Repeating layers of coal
White (not grey) cliffs of Dover

When faced with the existence of literally millions of annual geological layers deposited one-on-top-of-the-other in the Earth, many young Earth creationists insist that it was the Global Flood that deposited these layers.

How was the fossil record sorted in an order convenient for evolution if they were laid down in the turmoil of a single flood? That is usually dismissed with a hand wave by saying the animals quickly sorted each other out based on their ability to compete for the shrinking high ground.

It overlooks an important issue: Since fossil layers were really constructed over millions of years, there was sufficient time to accumulate a consistent layer of corpses from many many generations of animals over wide areas. You could dig up a layer of trilobite fossils in Boise, for example, and it would have the same density of trilobite fossils as the same layer in Kansas City. So if you read the Noah story back into this observation, the antediluvian world must have been wall-to-wall trilobites, not to mention all the other animals in the other layers. In fact, there must have been far more animals than the biosphere could reasonably be expected to support, all because YECs compress a billion years of fossil building into a few weeks.

The theory also fails to take into account fossilized plants, which show the same type of order as animal fossils, and which are not noted for their ability to flee rising floodwaters. Repeating series of layers within coal measures indicate cycles of sedimentation rather than being laid down as part of one single event. The huge Carboniferous limestone strata, which consist of the remains of innumerable marine shells, require long periods of clean water. Any flood would have mixed the remains with silt and sand to give us the grey cliffs of Dover rather than the white ones we see today.

It also fails to explain why fossil layers form hard cutoffs, rather than statistical tendencies. Where are the weak or injured "climbers" lower down in the fossil record? One would expect individual animals within a species to have different physical capabilities, and so would settle at different levels, but this is never observed: any given species' fossils are found within a very narrow band in the fossil record, and never before or after.

[edit] Post-flood animal survival

See the main article on this topic: Post flood animal survival

After the flood, the animals on the ark would have faced extreme difficulties. Populations of less than 20 members are almost certainly doomed to extinction.[23] After the ark, there would have been 2 of most animals and 7[24] of a few select mammals plus 14 of all birds.[25] These animals would have faced some of the harshest conditions the world has ever known. A flood of 376 days[26] would have killed all plant life, while ocean currents between 40 to 80 meters per second would have swept everything away and buried the earth under a layer of sediment.[22]

The post-flood herbivores would have had absolutely nothing to eat; most of them would have starved to death. Creationists claim that the great flood deposited meters of sediment all over the earth.[27] Seeds heavier than silt particles would have been the first to settle, buried far deeper than the few inches of depth that seeds need to sprout.[21] The few seeds that did get buried close enough to the surface to sprout would not provide nearly enough vegetation to sustain every herbivore on the ark. Many animals feed on large trees or their fruit, so these would have to fast a long time after the flood ended.[28]

The carnivores and omnivores on Noah's Ark would have a viable source of food, for a while at least: the other animals on the ark. The carnivores and the omnivores would have quickly eaten all the herbivores and then within a couple of months would turned on each other (The carnage!) and also eventually have starved to death. The creationist explanations for this make no sense; they claim that carnivores ate corpses, fungi, and even vegetables! Animals will rarely eat corpses more than a month old. The claim that these animals would have gladly eaten corpses that were over a year old and most likely buried under meters of sediment is beyond reason. Most carnivores are unable to eat vegetables, and fungi do not grow too prolifically in the Middle East.

After the floodwaters subsided, the animals would have had severe trouble finding fresh water and would have died of dehydration. The flood would have salinated the soil, so all water runoff would have had high concentrations of salt. Most animals, unless they are specially adapted, cannot and will not drink salt water.[29]

The survivors of the ark would also have faced extreme difficulties breeding. The flood would have destroyed the structures necessary for reproduction. Avian species like the eagle require high trees to make their nests in.[30] These would not exist for many years after the flood, by which time the reproductive fitness of the birds would have deteriorated, leading to the extinction of that kind.

[edit] Post-flood plant survival

In line with the usual bias that people totally forget about non-animals when it comes to talking about life (i.e., Plantae, Fungi, Protista, Archaea, Bacteria, or whatever the current version of taxonomical structure says), no one thinks what happens to the plants? Apart from the context of feeding the animals, plants are almost completely ignored. This might be hand-waved, as the story concludes with Noah sending out a dove to search for land. It subsequently returned with an olive branch (Genesis 8:10), as if somehow the plants had all miraculously survived and the water left no mark as it drained away. Often enough, plants do survive intense flooding, and flood plains may even benefit from it. However, with the massive turbulence, excessive sediment, the 29,000 ft depth of water that would have blocked out all sunlight to the dry land, and the year-long duration of the flood, this simply doesn't work. Everything would have been completely wiped out.

After this, many species of plant life would go extinct as at no point in the story is Noah concerned with preserving seeds, cultivating bacteria or keeping specimens of fungi. Assuming he was, and that this was just left out of the Bible for some reason, then that only heaps more work onto an already hilariously implausible task. Plant life would undoubtedly have been eradicated along with animal life on Earth, so the only hope for any future plant life would have been from any seeds that had survived. Seeds of land plants tend to spontaneously germinate in water and, without good soil to embed in, die pretty quickly. Aquatic plants have mixed results when their seeds are stored in water: while they are certainly in the right environment, many do not remain viable after more than 6-7 months soaking in water without germinating - so how could they possibly have survived the flood?[31]

Even then, assuming that seeds survived, the conditions would almost certainly not have been amenable for the regrowth of vegetation. The masses of silt and debris would have been fairly uniform across the world - the flood was global, remember? - yet different plants have adapted for different conditions and different soil types. In order to reproduce and spread, many plants need a symbiotic relationship with animals or insects for pollination and seed dispersal. Often this can be remarkably specific, with only one species of plant working with one species of insect. While some plant species can pollinate and disperse seed just with the wind, an environment reduced to only a few individuals spread across the entire planet, in hostile conditions, is hardly conducive to this.

In short, the problems with the animals are actually the least of the problems with the flood story. Plants are the first rung of the trophic scale, directly photosynthesising solar energy into food, and as a by product are what convert choking carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen. Without the ability to sustain a full plant based biosphere throughout the flood, Noah's task would be futile!

[edit] Re-population

The global flood story requires that only eight people were left alive in 2349 BCE, given the standard Ussher chronology.[32] Beside the fact that three brothers and their wives were said to be the ancestors of everyone alive today, this simply does not allow enough time for humans to repopulate the earth given reasonable population growth rates.[33] In 2000 BCE, only 350 years after the flood, the population of the world was 27 million.[34] To go from a population of eight to a population of 27 million in 350 years would require an average annual population growth rate of 4.4%[35] - which is only slightly short of the highest birth rates in the world today.[36] However, birth rate and population growth aren't the same thing, and such a high birth rate implies reasons for people to have lots of children very young. The countries with the highest birth rates today have high rates of infectious disease and death, low life expectancy, and political instability, with a median age of 15 and a population growth rate well below the birth rate. This does not much resemble the society of superhumanly-long-lived fathers of nations claimed to have lived over that interval, but stable societies where children can be reliably expected to reach adulthood tend to have much lower birthrates.

A worse problem is the requirement for three couples to produce enough descendents in just a century to build the Tower of Babel[32]. Since the Tower was more threatening to God than things like the Great Pyramid (which had a workforce of some 30,000 people[37]), it would reasonably have to be at least as large a project. Multiplying the population 5,000-fold in 100 years to produce enough workers would take an annual growth rate of around 9%. This is near the edge of what is biologically possible for humans, and would require most women to spend most of their reproductive years pregnant, particularly their early years. It would still require rather low infant and mother mortality, which is beyond the means of bronze-age technology, and it would produce a society with a median age of around seven years, with each adult having several young children to care for. This wouldn't seem to be very conducive to megastructure-building.

An even more severe problem is that sexually reproducing species reduced to a population of eight individuals often experiences a catastrophic (and almost certainly extinguishing) genetic bottleneck; and the more rapid the re-expansion of this population, the more intense the inbreeding and the greater the rate of propagation of harmful recessive traits. Only in the extremely implausible case in which all six individuals happened to have no or very few harmful recessive traits there might be a possibility of repopulation without serious consequences to the species' survival - but this case would not explain the existence of known recessive genetic disorders. Considering these disorders and other polymorphisms, there are too many alleles in modern humans to possibly be accounted as the heritage of six individuals, who could at most pass on twelve versions of a particular gene. Genetic studies have actually revealed the presence of a genetic bottleneck in human prehistory[38][39], but that scenario is about 66,000 years too early and at least 2,000 people too populous for the Flood narrative.

[edit] The Americas

Throwing out a few of the more extreme aspects of the flood, there are still some problems. Even if the flood only covered the tallest Near-East mountains, like Mt. Ararat, that still amounted to a flood that was 17,000 feet above mean sea-level, which would cover all the Americas except for certain peaks in the Andes and Alaska, and there would have been little time for all those people to prepare a year's worth of food and migrate to the high ground under conditions that would dump 17,000 feet of water in 40 days. So the Americas would have been completely depopulated. Since the flood is a supposedly recent event, there would have been no land bridge between Russia and Alaska[40] to bring in fresh ancestors of the Native American people we have today. Unless of course Noah stopped by the Americas (and possibly Australia with a similar argument) to station an unnamed son and a similarly unnamed daughter-in-law over there, which pretty much make Noah the first person to circumnavigate the earth 3000 years before Ferdinand Magellan did the discoverer of the New World.

[edit] Japan

Interestingly, some 19th century Japanese scholars, most notably Hirata Atsutane and Motoori Norinaga, used the global flood legends of other parts of the world to argue for the supremacy of the Japanese gods and Japanese people, who have no flood story.[41] They claimed that the fact that Japan experienced no flood showed that it was both the highest point on Earth and, combined with other factors, also the 'centre', insofar as the surface of a globe has one, making it the closest place on Earth to the realm of the gods. This to them demonstrated the veracity of the Japanese creation myth, in which Japan comes first and foremost.

[edit] Rainbow

An interpretation of the "first" rainbow.

In Genesis 8, shortly after the flood, God created a covenant with man saying that he will never again send a flood to kill all life. To seal this covenant, the Bible claims God created the rainbow, implying that there never was a rainbow before the flood.[42] To the ancient Hebrew authors of this narrative, who were completely ignorant of modern science and believed the rainbow to be a physical object, this would have seemed perfectly plausible, but under the scrutiny of modern science this idea makes no sense. There are only three possible scenarios that create an environment where rainbows would not form.

There was no rain.
The Biblical text states that a dew would water the ground each morning. This would imply that it did not rain within the time frame of the narrative. A scientific manner to test this assertion would be to prove or disprove the arising implications such statement would have.
There was no sunlight.
Terrestrial life is dependent on sunlight; in this scenario, all life would have died.
Light did not refract.
If light did not refract, sight would be impossible. It is light refracting in the lens of the eye that allows sight by focusing the light onto the retina.[43]

The only other possibility would be that, somehow, God managed to make it so that light did refract, just not through water. How this is at all possible is anybody's guess.

[edit] Other oddities in the narrative

[edit] Number of animals

The Bible is contradictory about the number of animals Noah had to take.[44] Genesis 6 states quite clearly that Noah had to take two of every sort including two of the fowls:

And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.[45]

Genesis 7 agrees partly with Genesis 6 but it says that, instead of two of the fowls, Noah was to take seven of the fowls:

Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.[46]

[edit] Sons of God

The first two verses in Genesis 6 contradict 2000 years of church teaching as well as the Bible itself.

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.[47]

The "Contemporary English Version" of the Bible describes the sons of god as "supernatural beings"[48] so it could not be that the bible is referring to ordinary men as the sons of god.

[edit] Human lifespan

Main article: Biblical longevity

After God has seen how wicked humanity is, he decrees an upper limit on the age of humans.

"In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years."[49]

This statement is contradicted by Noah living 350 more years after the flood.[50] Although he and any other exceptions[51] may have been grandfathered in. While the 120 years figure is often touted as the rough maximum age for humans, modern humans have been documented as living slightly more than 120 years. Specifically the record is held by Jeanne Calment, who died aged 122.[52] This record is likely to be broken in the future as more people than ever are living beyond 100.

Though since it did say "normal", that could mean "typical", meaning statistical outliers such as Jeanne Calment are just that, acceptable statistical outliers. But 120 years is not typical by a long shot. Average life expectancy is very much dependent on where you live, your social standing, general health and occupation. Taking into account child mortality, average life expectancy has been way below 120 years for most of human existence. It's only in recent years, and with much thanks to the reduction in child mortality, that the figure has increased above 50. Even so, the typical "death from old age" is still in the region of 60-80, again depending on various other factors, and nowhere near 120.

[edit] Giants

The Bible claims that before and after the flood there were "giants."

Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days;[53]
Numbers 13:33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak[54]

The giants described in the Bible were intelligent and could talk, so they would not have been classified as animals. This means that Noah would not have taken them on the Ark.[55] There is also the problem of their size; the giants described in the Bible make other people look like "grasshoppers" according to Numbers, although this may be a little metaphorical - as is much of the Bible in case literalists didn't get the point already. The Book of Amos found in the Hebrew Bible describes them as being "as tall as Cedars", trees that grow up to 60 metres in height. 1 Samuel 17 describes Goliath as "six cubits and a span", around 10ft.[56] The remains of such giants or any other ape/humanoid of that sort of size have yet to be discovered, although it hasn't stopped people jumping on this meme and falling for some interesting hoaxes.[57] The tallest humans recorded are all under 9 ft (even Robert Wadlow), and are usually tall due to a genetic or hormonal abnormality and in many cases suffer debilitating illnesses because of this and die young. A race or tribe of such excessively tall people is unlikely to exist. Other books are more modest, and Benaiah is described as 7 1/2 ft, which is more in keeping with known sizes of tall people who are still strongly built and still physically able such as professional wrestlers and rugby players.

[edit] Continuity of ancient civilizations

In the 24th century BCE, several ancient civilizations - notably Ancient Egypt and the Indus Valley - had existed, and continued to exist, without any sign of total extinction from a global flood. Egypt has a continuous written history going back to about 3100 BCE, (plus archaeological evidence of continuous habitation going back to 9000 BCE - see also Young Earth Creationism) and the only floods they talked about were the annual flood of the Nile River which irrigated their crops.

[edit] Why bother?

Another slightly odd thing is the weirdly over-complicated solution which God apparently decided he needed to kill everybody and everything. Getting an ark built, bringing the animals, caring for them, rearranging the geology of the planet, finding all that water, getting the animals something to eat after the water went away, and et cetera. It's a massively overly-complicated solution for an omnipotent being. A whole series of magical acts great and small which he would have needed to micro-manage when all he needed to do was wave an arm (or whatever appendage He waves when casting spells) and make the people he didn't like die or disappear or whatever. Whither omnipotence?

[edit] Absence of microorganisms

Notably absent from the description of Noah's Ark are bacteria, protozoans, algae, fungi, plankton, and archaea. How did he take the millions of types of microbes along? It seems that lots of types of microbes have been found, and there is no mention of the creation of microbes that don't already live in animals harmlessly after the tale of Noah. Generally, a book of wisdom should at least explain that some diseases are caused by microbes, and not bad smells or blood. If a benevolent God knew all of this, keeping it away from humans is practically indirect murder. The paradoxes surrounding the supposed benevolence of many monotheistic Gods are not related to this subject; however, an ark capable of holding so many animals, and microbes (because if let loose they could just infect the animals and humans) would take up a huge space.

Not least is the fact that many microbes have very specific needs that could not have possibly been provided in the bronze/iron age. These include refrigeration, incubation, high pressure and low pressure environments, incredibly diverse food substances (many which can't share the same space because some are toxic to others), diverse gas or fluid environments (again exclusive to each other, such as for aerobes and anaerobes). Providing such reliable and diverse environments would take... well... pretty much a whole planet not covered in broth.

In addition, quite a few of these organisms (as well as various other non-microscopic ones) live in humans, which would require Noah and his merry crew to spend the entire voyage infested with various horrific products of nature, the combination of which would have almost certainly have killed them. Creationists attempt to explain this away by claiming that parasites are "degenerate" organisms and proof of the fall, which ignores that they are among the most highly adapted creatures in existence. Like the claim that "there were fewer animals back then," claiming all parasitic organisms came about after the flood would require that evolutionary adaptation not only exist, but happen so incredibly quickly it should be readily observable in the lab.

[edit] Real and unreal "great floods"

Several real "great floods" are thought to have occurred in prehistory, including the flooding of the Mediterranean basin, forming the Mediterranean sea, and the breaching of the Bosporus strait, which resulted in the Black Sea increasing to three times its original size,[58] and flooding several shoreline communities whose foundations can still be seen today. These may have been the root of the stories of great floods which pervade Middle Eastern culture, and have had an effect as far north as Scandinavia (whose myths may also include a folk memory of the ice ages). Megafloods associated with the breaking of ice dams as the last ice age was ending have also occurred[59] and evidence from the North Sea shows that a massive tsunami c. 8200 BCE inundated the low lying areas known as Doggerland[60]

Isaac Asimov posited a hypothesis that a large meteorite struck the Persian Gulf and created a tsunami that washed over the lowlands and killed a lot of people.[61] This is feasible, and it is the sort of thing that could be verified by geologists.

Bruce Masse, an environmental archaeologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory hypothesizes that more comets and meteors than we know have hit Earth throughout its history. In 2005 a group of geologists, astronomers, and archaeologists formed the Holocene Impact Working Group to find evidence of a mega tsunami in the last 11,000 years. [62] Masse hypothesizes a 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) wide comet crashed into the ocean off the coast of what is now Madagascar 5000 years ago. Such an event would have caused (182.8-meter) high tsunamis and massive hurricanes spawned when super heated water vapor and aerosol particulates shot into jet streams. This was than followed by a week of darkness caused by material expelled into the atmosphere.[63]

Despite all this there is no evidence for a global flood wiping out most of humanity a few thousand years ago.

The archaeological record of 5,000 years ago would be replete with Pompeii-style ruins — the remains of thousands of towns, villages and cities, all wiped out by flood waters, simultaneously. [Archaeology would show cultural development with a discontinuity as everything was wiped out and Noah's descendents had to restart] ... It would appear that the near annihilation of the human race, if it happened, left no imprint on the archaeological record anywhere.
—Ken L Feder[64]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. [1]
  2. Genesis 6-8
  3. Genesis 7:12
  4. In Biblical Hebrew "40" days or years is often a metaphor meaning "a long time," much as we say something might happen "once in a million years."
  5. Meteorologist, Jeff Haby - Atmospheric water vapour
  6. Answers.com - How much rain falls on the planet in one day
  7. Due to the heat from the Earth's mantle
  8. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/really-a-flood-and-ark?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AIGDaily+(Answers+in+Genesis+Daily+Articles) Where did all the water go?
  9. Or seven males and seven females; this is unclear and debated.
  10. All about popular issues
  11. Claim 4 - Noah's Ark
  12. 12.0 12.1 faq-Noahs ark
  13. Genesis 1:29,30 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
    And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. Apparently there were no carnivores before the flood.
  14. BibleStudy.org
  15. Answers in Genesis
  16. 16.0 16.1 A critical look at Noah's voyage, from the Internet Archive
  17. Talk origins:Problems with Noah's Ark
  18. Fish Cause Problems for the Global Flood Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
  19. Safety investigation of Noah’s Ark in a seaway
  20. Extreme science
  21. 21.0 21.1 The Impossible Voyage of Noah's Ark
  22. 22.0 22.1 PATTERNS OF OCEAN CIRCULATION OVER THE CONTINENTS DURING NOAH'S FLOOD
  23. Simberloff, Daniel, 1988. The contribution of population and community biology to conservation science. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 19: 473-511
  24. Or, as noted before, possibly 14.
  25. Bible study
  26. Aig:Flood chronology
  27. Three Sisters: evidence for Noah's Flood, Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
  28. Like, several decades, while those trees sprouted, grew, and matured.
  29. Ocean Water: Salinity
  30. See the Wikipedia article on eagles
  31. Muenscher, W.C. 1936. Storage and germination of seeds of aquatic plants. New York (Cornell University) Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 652, pp. 1-17.
  32. 32.0 32.1 Time line of the Bible
  33. The Whole Silly Flood Story
  34. World Population Growth History Chart
  35. Assuming an exponential growth rate as a model, 8 x 1.044^350 = 28 million. This model would not necessarily hold for the first few generations, however.
  36. CIA world fact book
  37. Ancient Pyramids at Giza
  38. When humans faced extinction - BBC News
  39. For more information, see wp:Toba catastrophe theory
  40. See the Wikipedia article on Beringia.
  41. Through Japanese Eyes by Richard Minar
  42. Taking Back the Rainbow
  43. The first Rainbow? - Noah's ark is mythology and nothing more.
  44. Internal Contradictions in the Bible, Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
  45. Genesis 6:19-20 (KJV)
  46. Genesis 7:2-3 (KJV)
  47. Genesis 6 (KJV)
  48. Genesis 6:4
  49. Genesis 6:3 (NLT)
  50. See Genesis 9:28 (KJV)
  51. Genesis 11:11-32
  52. Oldest human beings
  53. Genesis 6:4 (KJV)
  54. Numbers 13:33 (KJV)
  55. Noah's flood:Global or local?
  56. Giants in the Bible
  57. Urban Legends About.com - Email: Giant Skeleton Found in Middle East
  58. Noah's Flood at Scientific American Frontiers
  59. Megaflood at Nova
  60. The catastrophic final flooding of Doggerland by the Storegga Slide tsunami, Weninger et al. (2008)
  61. Bang! -- Introduction
  62. http://discovermagazine.com/2007/nov/did-a-comet-cause-the-great-flood
  63. http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/storms/great-flood1.htm
  64. The Ark: Could Noah's Tale Be True?[2]
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