Flooded with evidence
Last night, as I wandered aimlessly through the dark alleyways of the internet, I stumbled across a comment made by a vanishing breed: A true believer in the great global flood story recorded in the Old Testament. Someone who believes the story of Noah’s Ark literally happened.
What interests me about this was an approximate date was given, circa 2400 bc. I’d seen that before, and a quick google search shows that it’s a common year given by flood believers. If there was any method used to calculate this date, it wasn’t mentioned in my brief search. Perhaps generations named in the bible, like Bishop Ussher counting begats to estimate the age of the Earth?
Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more ways I realized how small and provincial the world depicted in the story is. If the entire world had been flooded around 2400bc, killing nearly all land-based life and forcing a global re-population, it wouldn’t just be people from a few scholarly disciplines who knew about it, everyone would know it happened.
Geologists would know. Geologists are usually the ones who find out about past global events for the rest of us. A fine example is the K-T boundary. In short, the boundary is a line in the geological record between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods, marking the end of the Mesozoic Era. It’s unusually high in iridium, which is why people think a meteor strike wiped out the dinosaurs. We know that whatever caused this rise in iridium was a global event because it’s found everywhere in the world. As far as I know, the only places we don’t see the K-T boundary is places we can’t reach to get a sample from, and places where that layer eroded away.
Climatologists would know for much the same reasons as geologists. Hard to hide a global flood from people who study core samples from ancient ice, ocean floor mud, and the oldest trees on Earth. The trees really stick out in my mind, since we have tree ring records going back something like 10,000 years, continuously. If every tree was killed by being submerged in salt water for months, that record would have a clear break in it. Heck, we’d probably know the exact year it happened.
On the subject of trees, check out Methuselah! A living bristlecone pine who first took root around 2832 bc. Wiki helpfully provides links from there to clonal colony organisms which are even older, such as a 9,500 year old Norway spruce, an 11,700 year old Creosote bush, and the world’s largest organism Pando, a Quaking Aspen clonal colony which has survived for eighty thousand years!
Geneticists would know if all land animals were descended from a handful of examples of each species. Except I think it’s not even that, looking at the story it sounds more like a handful from each genus, whose descendants would have to diversify very rapidly to fill out the many species we have today.
Also, since the human survivors of the flood are said to be Noah, his sons, and their respective wives, that would make Noah Y-chromosomal Adam. There’s some controversy in the scientific community over when the reigning Y-chromosomal Adam lived, but the most recent possibility given in that article is 60,000 years ago so I think we can rule out 2400 bc.
Anthropologists of all kinds would know about a global flood. Every culture would have a gap between diluvian destruction and later rebuilding by Noah’s offspring. This is a conspiracy theory of epic proportions as later generations would have to be deliberately concealing evidence of the flood to plausibly explain why historians aren’t finding flood evidence everywhere they look.
This is where it starts to imply a lack of education in a person when they say this really happened for real so recently, because humanity was already widespread and diverse by 2400 bc. There were complex civilizations with rich, vibrant cultures (and subcultures!) on every continent but Antarctica by then! These cultures didn’t just suddenly stop to be replaced a few generations later, but all show signs of having existed continuously before and after the proposed flood date.
Also, Noah’s name would be known far and wide. He would be a figure of legend everywhere, because every single surviving culture would be founded by his children and grandchildren. Sure, some of them would forget, but all of them? Look, there are plenty of cultures with global flood myths, but the only thing they tend to have in common is that they originated someplace that gets floods. Even allowing for some phonetic drift, we’d expect this “Noah” character to have a similar name at least.
Linguists would know about it, too. Even if each member of the family spoke a dozen languages there’d be a visible difference in linguistic taxonomy. There were a good half dozen writing systems in use which show no evidence of being wiped out and rediscovered later. Egyptian records pass right through 2400 bc without pause. I suppose we couldn’t expect anyone to write down that they were drowning in a flash flood, but is it really plausible that Noah’s family was so literate and so prolific that they could spread across the world and pick up the records so smoothly? For the matter, why would they then falsify those records by making no mention of the flood, the near loss of the human race, and the culture they were adopting, but simply impersonating the dead and completing those tax records as if nothing happened and the king still reigned.
Here‘s a neat timeline of writing. Notice the Quipu from South America’s west coast down near the bottom. Not a full-fledged writing system, this fine example of low-tech ingenuity allowed the ancient Incas to keep records of supplies, taxes and tributes by tying knots in strings. I’m trying to put together a scenario here where someone would travel all the way from the Middle East to South America with what couldn’t be more than a handful of people to pick up where a thriving empire left off after being flooded to death. They have to not only work out how the Quipu system functions, but they have to decide to keep using it instead of an actual writing system from back home. Then they go on to impersonate the culture that lived there before so exactly that archeologists cannot spot the deception. Clothes, tools, art, architecture, government, superstitions, religion, tradition, they adapted everything from people that God felt a need to wipe out even when it meant leaving behind useful things like draft animals. What could possibly motivate people to do this?
This is getting really long, so I’ll skip a few other things that come to mind and wrap it up.
Something I think needs to be pointed out to people who want stories like this to be taken seriously is that even if you can find an explanation for each and every problem I’ve listed here, that’s not enough. Defeating my objections doesn’t make global flooding any more plausible, it’s simply removing points against it. This is not the same as adding points in its favor. It’s not enough to say “You can’t prove it didn’t happen”, if you want to be taken seriously you still have to prove that it did.
Well, thank you for reading, and as always comments are welcome. Let me know if you think of something I missed. I’m going to go and do something that’s not writing for a while now.
Posted on November 5, 2011, in Daily Post and tagged Does the story lose anything if the flood wasn't global?, flood, genocide, longer than I expected and I left a lot out, Noah's Ark, postaday2011, weirdness. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.