Faith and Religion: A Flood That Doesn’t Hold Water

Comparison between the Ark and the HMS Titanic. Graphic courtesy of Patheos.com / PZ Myers.

Comparison between the Ark and the RMS Titanic. Graphic courtesy of Patheos.com / PZ Myers.

     TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Mr. Ray Comfort and our friends at Answers in Genesis.

     It seems like the older I get, the more skeptical I become regarding things that, for the longest time, I held to be unquestionably true. A young Earth, the Genesis story, the story of Jesus, and the Noah’s Ark story. I grew up with things like the flood story, being told by my Sunday School teachers how Noah built this gigundous boat, and brought all of the animals in the world onto the Ark by twos, male and female, because God was going to flood the Earth. God made it rain for forty days and forty nights, they said. God made the rainbow, they said.

     I guess I started questioning things the minute I discovered that I could make rainbows, (a la the prism or a sprinkler!) and the questions only multiplied from there. I learned about dinosaurs in school. When I asked about them in church, I was told that they died in the flood. I took that answer, and ran with it for quite some time…but no longer. You see, the accumulation of knowledge and a greater understanding of things like cause and effect does something funny to a person’s perception of reality. It shatters illusions, and places certainty solidly within the realm of testable theory, evidence, and proofs.

     Look around for evidence of a global flood. There is none, despite the fact that something on that massive of a scale would leave indubitable evidence behind, in the form of sedimentary layers. The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami left sedimentary evidence everywhere in its impact area. (1) Evidence of earlier tsunamis has been unearthed in places such as Japan, the Cascadia subduction zone, and elsewhere. No uniform layer of ocean sediments, however, has been unearthed that would support a global flood having happened.

     Dinosaurs. According to young-Earth creationists such as the Hovinds, Ray Comfort, Ken Ham and the nice folks at Answers in Genesis, they lived alongside early man, from Adam to Noah. Where did they go? Wasn’t Noah supposed to have taken them aboard the ship as well? Let’s look and see what the ol’ King James says about that in Genesis 6, verses 19-21:

19 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.

20 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.

21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

Elephantitis is a pain! Graphic courtesy of Desktop Nexus / LivePencil.

Elephantitis is a pain! Graphic courtesy of Desktop Nexus / LivePencil.

     So God said every living thing. Of all flesh. (Sounds pretty definitive to me!) This begs the question; was Noah an obedient man? According to the Bible, he was. That’s why God hand-picked him to preserve life on that overblown raft of his. So if that’s true, then again, where are the dinosaurs? I’ve gotten a few different answers from the “answer” folks on this. Either they died in the flood, or they went extinct after. If they went “glug glug,” then that would have to mean that Noah was disobedient to some degree. If they went extinct afterwards, then why didn’t other reptiles, such as crocodiles, snakes, turtles and lizards go extinct? T-rex and Velociraptor were apex predators, for Christ’s sakes! So, I guess we wait for the creationists to come up with a better excuse.

     Where did all of the water go? There’s only a finite amount of the “wet stuff” on this planet, and it’s not nearly enough to have covered the Earth deeper than Mount Everest is high:

19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
(Genesis 7: 19-20, King James Version.)

     “Ah! But what about all of the frozen water, locked up in polar ice?” you may ask. Here it is; if we melted every glacier, every iceberg and every ice sheet, global ocean levels would only rise about 220 feet. (2) The tippy-top of Everest sits at a whopping 29,029 feet above sea level. Maybe if we added all of the ice cubes out of everyone’s freezers, we’d add a few more inches to that previous 220 feet number.

     I’d like to know something. At what point did Noah stop off in Australia, and drop off the Marsupials? Kangaroos. They’re endemic to just one continent on this, God’s green Earth; the Land Down Under. How did they get there, especially when there’s no land bridge between New Guinea and Queensland? The interesting thing about this one, is that the YEC’ers have pulled a new explanation out of their posteriors; a post-flood ice age. Intriguing…proof, si vous plait? Conversely, why are they only endemic to Australia? If the ark landed in Turkey somewhere, then why don’t we see them in Africa? In South America? In India at least?

     For that matter, how did Aboriginal Australians and Native Americans get across the Torres and Bering Straits? Once again, post-flood ice age. Right, sure. Ya bet’cha.

     Supposedly, the flood happened around 2350 BC, according to the folks at AiG. (3) At Creation Ministries, Dr. John Osgood fixes it at 2304 BC. (4) In 1650, Irish Archbishop James Ussher fixed the date of the flood at 2348 BC. What’s a few (or 40) years, right?

     Centuries of research by the best and brightest scholars, have narrowed the date of the building of Khufu’s pyramid on the Giza plateau to sometime between 2560 BC and 2470 BC. (5) So, what gives? Were the pyramids built pre-flood then? (AiG makes an attempt to answer this question, albeit rather poorly. They fail to offer a date of their own for Khufu’s pyramid being built.) Young-Earth creationists have come up with a theory of their own with regards to the movement of land masses, which they’ve termed, “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics.” (6) If that theory was true, and the pyramids were built before the flood, then they surely would have been destroyed, don’t ya think? Again, YEC’ers can’t answer with a firmer date for the building of the pyramids, so…?

     Come on. We know that the Earth’s plates are drifting at about 2cm/year average speed. If we push “stop” on the global VCR, and then press “rewind,” it would take far longer than a mere 6k years for the landmasses to rejoin. We know about how long it takes for rocks to form. We can measure plate movement via GPS, and can prove subduction via Seismology. Science has yet again jumped in where religion has fumbled the ball, and taken it down the field and toward the end zone of understanding the physical processes that have shaped the planet. (A gratuitous football reference there, in anticipation of Sunday’s big game!)

     To sum all of this up, the global flood story has more holes in it than the colander in my kitchen cabinet. So, what are we disillusioned believers now supposed to believe?

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11 comments on “Faith and Religion: A Flood That Doesn’t Hold Water

  1. roberta4949 says:

    actually noah would not need to carry a species of every kind he would only need representatives of each kind which would reduce the number of animal on the ark to less than 1000, sea animals stayed outside the ark insects not sure on that one, and birds. in fact he could of easily had smaller representatives of horses for example in mini horses or ponies, he could of same with cattle, sheep and goats, dwarf elephants, and the like. we see these exist even now, so the ark comfortably held the animals people and food and water provisions. and didn’t sink it’s only job was to float. so it was water proof and tip proof, cant get any better than that.

    • Roberta, you’re doing something there that a lot of people do with the Bible; trying to read something in it that it doesn’t say. What it says is “EVERY living thing. Of ALL flesh.” Two of EVERY sort…even roos, wallabys and duck-billed platties.

      I ask you again; WHY are roos ONLY endemic to Australia? If the ark ended up grounded on Ararat, then WHY don’t we see PROOF of kangaroos anywhere else on the planet? Why only a continent, separated from the others by water, over 7k miles away?

      How about the pyramid problem? Dinos? The water? Roberta, if you’re going to debate the veracity and / or historicity of the biblical flood narrative, you need to, at the very least, make some attempt to answer these salient questions.

      • roberta4949 says:

        yet no one knows how many of those animals there were the bible does not say what species was there at the time we know there were cattle, no doubt many small animals like rabbits reptiles and the like, some larger ones even a couple of elephants would fit on that ark,, many species exist today that did not then, the bible describes animals as kinds not species, and we do not know how that is truly defined, only that the breeding between kinds were limited and had a no pass go point end. many animals did not need to get on the ark, water animals for example, dolphins and whales, and sharks and pengrines and the like. even now as a advid bird watcher I am aware how some birds hybridize and it is difficult to figure out what it is until you know the two different species it came from, but hybrids can die out too, there are animals that did not get on the ark, like the mammoth, they have found full frozen mammoths that were whole had food in their mouths and were edible when thawed (time life book) only being froze to death quickly while still alive would allow for that as anything dead starts to rot almost immediately. this is in harmony with the water expanse above the earth described in genesis being released in the global flood. this water expanse created a pole to pole tropical semi tropical environment. that is why scientists have found lemon trees and orange trees in Siberia.
        right now I am reading these dino books and another source says that accuracy of dating doesn’t go beyond 50,000 years so anything beyond that is speculation. these books are heavily speculative (they even admit it as much)
        frankly the bible is not at fault when we don’t understand it and misinterpret it, since the bible is Jehovahs word we need to look to him to understand what he means in his large sphere of existence and understanding, not our very limited sphere.

        • Okay, Roberta. I’m going to give this my best shot, so forgive me if I miss anything that you might have touched upon. As we both have the on-screen comments to refer to, I don’t believe it necessary to recap anything that you have posited thus far.

          As I previously hinted, I do not believe that, as a book written by men, (inspired by God, sure. I’ll take that much of a leap!) the Bible would contain the level of ambiguity regarding the length of, or the nature of a “day” that you have attributed to it. Quite the contrary, young-Earth creationists also deny this assertion, stating that the day as put forth in the Bible is just that; a 24-hour day. Therefore, the whole “2 Peter 3:8″ argument cannot be used as an “across-the-board” justification for anything relating to the biblical flood traditions. You seem to have muddled your Genesis narrative there. You say that a day is both a day, and not a day at the same time, in order to lend support to what conclusion(s) regarding creation? I have Genesis I open in another browser tab, and it seems pretty cut-and-dried to me; it says that God created vegetation before he created the sun and the moon. If that was so, and your “day and not a day” premise was true, everything that requires sunlight (Photosynthesis) would have died out.

          So please enlighten us. At what point is a day a day, and at what point is it not a day? A day, a thousand years…so what is it? How are we supposed to reconcile one with another? The authors and translators of this 66-book tome were quite evidently, if your assertion is correct, out to utterly confuse the living heck out of the masses! I call both logical and theological Bovine Scatology on that one. (It’s funny that you should throw the Ezekiel passage in there, as that’s actually a prime example of where the Bible eliminates any sense of ambiguity regarding what it means.)

          As to the land that the dinosaurs walking on having drifted, and science not having definite proof of that, that’s another area where you’re mistaken. As I have previously stated, we know for a fact that continents drift slowly across the Earth’s surface, driven by convection currents deep within molten mantle rock. Roberta, I live in California. If you know anything about California, you know that we experience a lot of earthquakes. Most are below 4.0, and occur in several zones around the state. These zones are geologically active, due to the way in which California was formed eons ago, as the Pacific plate and North American plate interacted. See, we have this thing called the San Andreas fault, that runs up the length of western California. It is a transform, right-lateral strike-slip fault, and the place where the two tectonic plates meet and slip past each other. We also have solid GPS data, showing the movement of the entire North American plate, from northeast to southwest. I’d call that indubitable proof.

          Do you have Google Earth, Roberta? If so, I would highly encourage you to look at the Hawaiian island chain. Upon zooming out, you will note that the chain includes now-submerged seamounts, that extend all the way to Guam…more proof of the slow march of tectonic plates across Earth’s surface. If you are at all curious and want to learn more about the process, the History Channel series “How The Earth Was Made” does a fair job explaining how it works, and what drives it. (See the episodes “Hawai’i” and “Iceland” for an explanation of mantle plumes, plate motion and “hot-spots”.)

          Dinosaurs. Mammoths. Two of every sort, the book says. OOH! Speaking of mammoths, there is a great place right about 20 miles south of where I live, called the “Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County,” where several mammoth fossils have been excavated. At no time and in no instance have the people digging up these fossils found sedimentary layers covering them, indicating that they died in a global flood less than 6k years ago…so please, riddle me that as well.

          Once more, and at the risk of my own sanity, I will ask you about kangaroos. Endemic solely to Australia. Why? Why is there no evidence of their existence anywhere between the middle east, and the Australian continent?

          You also stated somewhere in the two replies you posted, that no neanderthal fossils have ever been found. PATENTLY FALSE. 1848, Gibraltar. 1856, Neander Valley, Germany. (Hence the name.) You’ve pointed your finger squarely at me, accusing me of not “doing my research,” while at the same time being far more remiss on your end, I think. Please see this link for the evidence you need of this.

          Let me ask you something, Roberta. When you walk outside and see a rose, do you trust what your eyes are telling your brain, in that it’s a rose? How about colors? Do you trust that what you’re seeing is actually the color you think it is? What about piano music? Are you absolutely certain that what you’re hearing is a piano? Smell. Taste. Touch.

          Yes. We trust our senses up to a point. Beyond that, we ask questions. We form hypotheses. We seek exemplars. We set standards to measure by. We perform experiment after experiment to verify our theories and hypotheses, and to make accurate predictions. That’s science. Yes, I trust science as far as what can be measured, observed and quantified.

          I will grant you that there are things that science cannot explain. In those areas, I’m willing to make a “leap of faith.” Where simple observation and logic disproves something in its entirety though, there’s not much more can be said.

          • roberta4949 says:

            I am aware the sun and moon existed before the creative days began, but their light did not appear to the earth due to gasous atompshere as the atoompshere cleared (no doubt from the creation of bacteria and algae and the like that breathed co2 and released o2, and the other gases, the creative days happened gradually and the sun and moon became visible gradually from the surface of the earth, because if you read genesis it indicates the sun and moon were created before hand and the light seems to have been created later on, but the reality is the planet was in darkness or diffused light like a cloudy day. and the sun was not visible until some of the cloudiness and gases etc cleared due to plant life in the oceans. not hard to accept as other planets yes they get light to the surface but if you were on the surface say venus or mercury do you suppose you could actually see the sun? or even see it clearly? (that is if you could avoid becoming toast)

            I did answer your question, the bible does not indicate what kinds (please species is a breakdown of kinds from what I can tell and is irrelavent here) so as to kangeroos or not, the bible does not say what all the kinds consisted of or how god quantifies it, the bible was not meant to answer all the science questions humans could ask if it did it would be a zillion pages long. it was more focuses on the spritural side of man, why we grow old and die, why does wickedness abound if a loving god exists how does God deal with humans what does God require what was his purpose in creating life, is this life all there is? does God have a name, or what is the purpose for the earth, things like these but when it rarly touches on science which it sometimes done, it is accurate.

            . personally I like science I just don’t like dishonest scientists who have a bias against God and decide to make the facts fit the bias, real science I have nothing against. it si like I have nothing against real and true law but fake laws (legalism) that are passed off as true law. this will be my last reply as I have been doing research and these books like the Smithsonian book on the earth the dinaosaurs and historical creatures world encyclopedia of , the next generation of killer giants book, and I plan on more when I go back to the library, even these books acknowledge that their view of the past is highly speculative, so don’t base your life solely on science because it is falliable and limited after all human wisdom is very limited.
            another thing I forgot to mention, how did noah get all those animals to come peaceably and in twos and 7 if there was no devine intervention? imagine trying to collect them altogether,(say 1500 individual animals for example? and how did noah know a global flood was to occur without devine intervention? so Jehovah decided what animals to preserve (kinds) and what to leave behind. the bible is the only source for information about this person who calls himself Jehovah no other book or writings can tell us anything about him his purposes and answering our questions mentioned previously here..noah had to have devine instructions to build the ark as well,
            be careful with how much faith you put in science, they do not have all the answers and never will, there are some things that cannot be measured or qanitified like the spirit realm where the demons and angels dwell stuff like that. then again Jehovah might give us the technology to do so, have to wait and see. psalms 127 says do not put your trust in nobles nor the son of earthling man for his spirit goes out and his thoughts do perish. now if you want to talk about say the knowledge gained after living for millions of years without ever dying then you might be on to be able to learn the cycles of the earth, how things progress, predicting the weather and climate and how actions work out in the future based on decisions and actions now, but even then it will be limited. you have to live for eons of time to get good at predicting with accurancy anything one does, the implications,of any action or inaction. well the person who has bene around eons of time and even created all things can predict with accuracy. science is still in i’ts infancy. so please becareful okay? this is my last reply if you have questions you can go to jw.org it can better explain things then I can evne when it touches on science and technology and human wisdom or whatever.

          • So, let me see if I can sum up everything you just posited in one thought; O.o [migraine=ON] O.o

            After that 819-word non-answer, (yes, I performed a word count. Only GOD knows why!) I think the 400mg of Ibuprofen that I’m now forced to imbibe to relieve that nagging little pain between my eyes is well deserved.

            On the bright side, at least I know now where your confusion is coming from. You cited the Jehovah’s Witnesses website as a resource. I won’t even begin to go into the problematic nature of that one, suffice it to say things like “translation issues,” “their own Bible version,” and other select items that generate the appropriate shaking of the cranium from side to side.

            Yeah, I don’t think we’re ever going to see eye to eye on this one, no matter what universe, multi-verse or reality.

  2. Mark Caesar says:

    It’s quite simple really, it’s a story and it’s crap.

    I’m sorry to leave such a short answer but that’s about all this particular story deserves.

    • roberta4949 says:

      so you came to this conclusion because you did the research then? you know for sure that the continents were always separated (and not together called the pangea in dino books?) and you know for sure that when the ark came to rest on the mountain that the land masses were separated too? the bible does not answer that directly,, you do realize I am sure that the day in the bible doesn’t mean 24 hours long? day in Gods eyes can be thousands even 100,000s of thousands of years long? the bible only gives the order things were created on a already here planet not the exact timing or exact animals produced (except according to kind which the bible doesn’t define) even scientists realize the land masses were together for a long time at one time, this is the land mass that noah preached on , after all it is not like he had a boat to preach to people in other lands, and how can he have preached to the whole world if the land masses were not altogether for him to walk and preach? it wasn’t until after the flood that the landmasses were pushed apart by the tremendous forces caused by the earth quakes and water pressures. this probably didn’t happen overnight. if you recall noah stayed in the ark even after the land appeared for another month or two not exactly sure I believe. frankly I will take the word of a book that has been accurately translated and been around for 3500 years over scientists who have been here only for a few decades. especially when you consider the accuracy when it touches on science or when it touches on morality and its benefits, and prophecy fortelled and fulfilled. this is the only book that tells us what Gods name is his purpose for us, answers basic questions why are we here and why do we die why does wickedness abound, what happens at death, that sorta thing, something animals do not ask.

      • Roberta, you DO realise that you can separate sentences and paragraphs with correct spacing, caps and punctuation, right? (Otherwise, everything runs together and we’ve got to do more work to decipher things!)

        I would suggest that you do some more research on how Plate Tectonics and continental drift works. The movement of the continental plates is NOT caused by earthquakes; it’s the other way around. Earthquakes (tectonic) are caused by plate motion. The other kind, (magmatic) are caused when molten rock is forced upwards through crustal material, and fractures rock along the way. In addition, plate motion is driven by convection currents within the mantle.

        Here’s another issue with your interpretation of biblical text; your assertion that a “day” in the Bible isn’t a 24-hour time period. Where do you get that? What IS a day and a night, then? How did pre-scientific measurement of the “day” take place? I’ll tell you how. Observers watched the sun track across the sky, and then waited for it to rise again on the eastern horizon. We know now by measurement that this occurs every 24 hours…unless you’re insinuating that the Earth rotated MUCH slower back in OT times, which would beg the question; what caused the rotation of the Earth to speed up then?

        Where in the Bible does it say that Noah walked all over the world and preached? (I think you’re confoozling Noah and Jesus, or Paul, or someone in the NT. At any rate, I’m having a great amount of difficulty following your reasoning here…)

        In short, uh…I don’t think so.

        • roberta4949 says:

          so my guess is you did not do any research if you were a bible reader you would understand where I got the day not necessarily being 24 hours long from Jehovahs standpoint, your putting faith in science then? you believe science people when they say this or that about something that seems to contradict the bible? so you believe they are beyond fabricating or having a desire to get god out of the picture? for example while each creative day is called a day it also says a day is all creative days together as well, so how did moses know the creative days stages and what order things were made, these do harmonize with science, first the sun and moon became visible, then the water, dry land appearing vegetation appearing, creatures created in the oceans first, the great sea monsters, the flying birds, then animals were created including the dinosaurs, also each creative day fell over into the next creative day hence science says flowering plants came later before it was ferns and evergreens, each creature producing according to its kind (the bible does not describe species but only kinds which is undefined)moses also wrote that to Jehovah 1000 years is as a day and a day a thousand years.ps 90:4 says that a 1000years is even as a watch in the night to Jehovah a watch was 4 hours long by the way.

          there are other examples in the bible that describe many ways to view a day, Ezekiel 4:6 2pe 3:8 all indicate day can mean varying lengths depending on the context. since Jehovah is the writer of the bible we need to learn his dictionary in order to understand it. remember there are many languages on the earth and in order to understand them you need an interpreter unless you speak that language fluently. heck there is even a law language using our common language but defining them differently. and even in these dino books I have been reading they said the land was altogether when dinos roamed and gradually drifted, but see they don’t know that for sure it said in these books that much of what science knows about dino and the land they lived in as speculation, they even admitted that much is based on speculation and guesswork. they do not know enough about them to know for certain what they really looked like except for shape based on full fossils they do have which they even admitted many specimens only had a few bones to go by.so the science of the past is far from being truly known. man has only scratched the surface of geological and physical science.

          And don’t worry about my sentence style so much it is the information itself that is important, not my typing weaknesses. science of men is falliable and men themselves are also corruptible to where science can be tainted beyond recognition. I mean they treat evolution of man from monkeys as fact yet not one fossil of ape men or cromagnum or neatderthal has been found. and the few skull pieces they do have is suspect for fraud. yet they have millions of fossils of crittors, why? because they truly existed. there are scientists who believe in God and creation, not all scientists are in agreement even in these books I am reading about dinosuars and premivel animals are not always in agreement either. so it is far from settled.

          • Roberta, please give me some time to decipher all of this, and I’ll respond to each one of your assertions in kind. In the meanwhile, here’s a thought on that whole “God’s dictionary” concept of yours; if God wanted his message to be readily available and understandable for his creation to absorb and accept, would he have put it in terms that we aren’t able to readily understand, so that we’d have to, as you say, “learn his dictionary”? Again, and I have read it – cover to blessed, leather-bound cover, your assumptions are misguided.

            I will attempt to reply ammodum later this evening.

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