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?

The Chaser: Of Asteroids And Dinosaurs – More Musings on Young-Earth Creationism

"Brian, you said Chixulub was a great vaca...dude, if we live through this, I am SO unfriending you on Facebook!"

“Brian, you said Chixulub was a great vaca…dude, if we live through this, I am SO unfriending you on Facebook!”

     Every now and again, I find myself revisiting that ages-old question: why are we here? How did we get here? How long did it take? Now, I have a pretty good idea, and a lot of the time I find my own beliefs and hunches about these things, bringing me into direct conflict with established, organised religion. I guess that’s why I haven’t found a church where I can fit in, because those topics always come up, and I get the usual, “Oh, you’re letting Satan confuse your mind,” or some such codswallop.

     There are more than a few areas where religion, specifically young-Earth creationism, falls short in explaining the existence of things, but I’d like to focus on just a few here…

Asteroids. Why?

     Between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, lies the main asteroid belt. It’s strewn with the debris of failed planets, “planetesimals” and even a few dwarf planets. Even farther out, beyond the orbit of Neptune, lies the Kuiper Belt, where the “trans-Neptunian objects” make their home. Even farther than that, about 1ly out, astronomers have hypothesised the existence of the Oort Cloud, home to what are known as the “long-period” comets. In other words, there’s a lot of debris flying around out there in space. Why? Did God get the solar system, six-thousand years ago, as a kit, with “some assembly required,” and after putting it all together, find that he, like all other guys who put project kits together, had some extra left-over parts? I don’t buy it.

     If God created the entire universe, planets and all, fully-mature as the YECs insist, then why did he leave all of these rocks lying about? These are the proverbial “Lego pieces on the carpet in a dark room,” but in the case of asteroids and comets, they come flying at us. Sure, comets are great to look at through a telescope, but meteors aren’t so great, especially when they impact our planet in places like Tunguska and Chelyabinsk. (1)

     Comets, asteroids and meteors don’t serve any real, stabilising purpose within the solar system, as near as the brightest minds in the fields of Cosmology and Astronomy can tell. No, actually they’ve caused at least one ELE (extinction-level event) that we know of, and may have played a part in at least one other, the Permian-Triassic extinction, which by the way, brings me to my second musing…

Dinosaurs. Where’s my Velociraptor?

     No proponent of young-Earth creationism has come up with a solid, convincing argument that can explain the conundrum of dinosaurs. No, YECs such as Eric Hovind and Answers in Genesis have tried to sell us on the idea that before the “great flood,” man walked the Earth alongside carnivores like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptor. Then, the story gets a little fuzzy, depending on the YEC that you ask for answers. Some will tell you that God allowed the dinos to die in the flood, which then creates a conflict with Genesis 6:19, where God commands Noah;

“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.”

     Now supposedly, Noah was a righteous and obedient man, the only one of those left on the whole planet, which was why God chose him to save man and animal-kind. So, if Noah was obedient, and he did what God told him to do, and dinosaurs were walking the Earth alongside of Noah and his fam-bam, then where’s my Velociraptor? I’d like to have one as a pet, let it run around the back yard. So help me though, I can’t seem to find one of those nifty raptor eggs down at my local PetSmart.

     No, this conundrum, combined with the pseudo-quasi scientific misconceptions that Hovind et al. have about how rocks form, makes for some cringe-worthy reading. According to these guys, the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary either doesn’t exist at all, or is something other than what it actually is. Luckily for Christendom, theirs isn’t the mainstream view. Even Pat Robertson, that verbally inept “700 Club” stalwart, has admitted that young-Earth creationism is alack in its explanation of the “dino dilemma.” (2)

     I haven’t given up hope though, that there’s a convincing explanation for all of this out there, one that would solidify the young-Earth argument. So, I guess I’ll keep asking the questions, in search of the truth of the matter, and annoying the hell out of those poor young-Earth creationists!