Geology is the Least of the Flood’s Problems

Geology is the Least of the Flood’s Problems November 20, 2014

Someone commented on a post I shared on Facebook, “The Bible gives clear evidence of the dates [of the flood] in Genesis 5 and 11.”

Murray Hogg offered the following reply, which I thought was worth sharing as a post on my blog, and so I am doing so with his permission:


It sets the date of Noah’s flood to about 2300 BC <>.

Problem is, this is a period of history about which we know a fair deal, and there is zero reason to think that there was, at this time, a global flood which destroyed humanity.

I mean, seriously, we’re talking about an event smack bang in the middle of the period during which Old Kingdom Egypt existed and for which we have a continuous list of the Egyptian rulers (just to cite one example).

That’s “continuous” as in “unbroken by a major civilization ending catastrophe.”

I don’t mean to marginalize the contribution of geologists, etc. to this debate, but seriously: one doesn’t even have to look at geology to know that there was NOT a global flood in 2300BC or thereabouts leaving only about half a dozen people alive.

We’re not talking “pre-history” here –there are solid historical records which show cultural continuity throughout the world right when the Bible claims every human culture was destroyed.

Still, I suppose it’s much easier to construct a satisfying theory if you ascribe to a doctrine of willful ignorance.

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  • Can we tell paranoid-delugional Jesus to go fly a kite now?

    Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. LK 17:26-27

    I actually enjoy our worldy lives with a nice dinner, drinking a beer with a
    friend, and going to a wedding next week, all relished without the
    slightest tinge of guilt.

  • Alan Christensen

    I think that’s actually one of the things that sowed doubts in mind back when I was trying to be a young earth creationist.

    • Guest

      Only doubting doubting Thomases look for evidence. Either swallow it whole or insist on concrete proof of a God. Why is walking on water or eternal life in heaven or hell an easier sell than young earth creationism?

  • TomS

    The easiest way to deal with the Flood is to point out other references to the whole world in the Bible. What immediately come to mind are the seven years’s drought that afflicted the whole world and sent people to Egypt in the time of Joseph; all the world sent gifts to King Solomon; Jews from all over the world were in Jerusalem at the Pentecost.

    • Hey, I have a brilliant way to respond to that. If they say that “the whole world” must in fact mean the entire globe, then they have to say that the Mormons are right, that there were Israelites in the whole world (including the Americas) in the time of Jesus, some of whom were there for that Pentecost mentioned in Acts 2! 🙂

      • Herro

        James, do you think that it’s a viable option to claim that the Flood account is actually about a local flood? Because that’s what Tom seems to be suggesting and I see that you upvote him.

        • If your question is, does the Flood story become a factual or historical one if one posits that the flood was local, then no, of course it doesn’t. Why would one have to adopt that viewpoint in order to appreciate the way someone shows that, even within the framework of YEC principles, their claims can be criticized? Sometimes such arguments are the most effective.

          • Herro

            >If your question is, does the Flood story become a factual or historical one if one posits that the flood was local, then no, of course it doesn’t.

            That’s not my question: My question is, do you think that it it being a local flood is a valid interpretation of the Flood account in Genesis?

          • What do you mean by a “local flood”? I think the author thought that the whole world was flooded, but it was a flat world, not spherical, and much smaller than the world known to us today.

          • Herro

            >What do you mean by a “local flood”?

            The story being about just part of the world being flooded, not the whole world.

          • TomS

            I don’t mean to argue with you, particularly while you’re agreeing with me, and on an extraneous issue, at that. But …
            The story is obviously one of the finest stories of all time, and we would honor its authors by appreciating their art for what it is, the crafting of a story.

          • I’d add that it is a remarkably clever recasting of earlier flood stories to fit within Judaism’s developing monotheism.

          • How could it be a flat world when high mountains were clearly visible? For even a local flood to require an ark, mountains could not exist. Even the animals would know to move to higher ground.

          • I don’t mean flat in the sense of lacking hills and contours. It isn’t clear that the author knew of mountains like the Himalayas, and envisaged them being covered, or if he was aware of them, that the author thought that running up to the tops of snowy peaks was an effective way of fleeing to safety.

  • Tim Helble

    I and ten other people, mostly geologists, decided to take on this topic
    by focusing on the YEC’s favorite place, the Grand Canyon. The book
    title is: “Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth” with the subtitle “Can Noah’s Flood Explain the Grand Canyon?” We’re just about done with layout – expect publishing in 2015.

    • arcseconds


    • When it comes out, please do have a review copy sent to me, so that I can blog about it!

      • Tim Helble

        Will do, James.

    • TomS

      The wording “Monument to an Ancient Earth”: could it be misunderstood as referring to a literal monument of an ancient civilization, a few thousand years ago? (The Colosseum is an ancient monument. Stonehenge is prehistoric. The Grand Canyon is …, well, there must be better words than “of geological ages”?)

      • Tim Helble

        Man, you should see all the emails the authors traded on this topic! The title could be thought of as sort of a takeoff on Steve Austin’s “Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe.”

  • arcseconds

    I’ve wondered about this for years.

    It’s not just Egypt. All of human history has to be divided into two periods, antediluvian and postdiluvian, with not enough people to do much in the way of civilization for some centuries directly after Creation and directly after the Deluge, as there wouldn’t have been enough people.

    If we adopt Fibonacci’s population model (highly unrealistic as no-one dies (and other reasons), but therefore almost certainly a faster growth model than anything more realistic) it would take 19 breeding-cycles to reach over 10,000 people. Assuming a 15-year breeding cycle gives us 19 × 15 ≈ 300 years, so that’s a minimum time to have one somewhat decent-sized settlement and surrounding agriculture. At that point surely we can assume that material limitations if nothing else will limit population growth, so let’s imagine the number of cities doubling every 150 years. At the end of the first millennium you might therefore have all of 32 cities on the whole planet, so your history had better not require more than that. And in another millennium however many cities there ends up being drops back down to zero.

    This all puts rather severe constraints on an alternative, flood-sensitive human history. Most civilizations are going to have to be crammed into either 3000 – 2300 BC or 1300 BC to 1 AD. You can squeeze in a few more hundred years for this or that civilization if you assume they’re one of the oldest ones, but you can only pull this move a handful of times. So most civilizations can’t be more than about 1300 years old.

    Then, of course, presumably the alternate history has to coincide with mainstream history from AD 1 onwards.

    And when are we thinking people migrated to various places? If they migrated in antediluvian times, there will have to be two migrations, so for places far from the middle east (e.g. China) we shouldn’t see much cultural continuity at all.

    Linguistic evolution is another thorny topic. Do we assume just one language prior to the flood? Therefore all antediluvian civilizations must share it. As many of the candidates that might seem tempting to position in the antediluvian period clearly used different languages, this seems like a huge problem. And is 3000 years really enough time to explain the linguistic deviation?

    However, for some reason I don’t think I’ve ever discussed this with a Young-Earth Creationist in any detail. It does seem a more interesting line than geology, because they aren’t so keen on denying that human artifacts are really human artifacts or that human writing doesn’t say the things that we think it does, etc, and they do want to accept mainstream history for the most part after 1 A.D.

  • David Evans

    Notice that says of their own date:

    “This date is, as expected, in conflict with secular archaeology which regards the Flood as either local or a myth and the Biblical chronologies as irrelevant or inaccurate.”

    Why “expected”? In other cases, secular archaeologists have come up with dates consistent with the Bible. Even if all secularists have evil motives, there are Christian and Jewish archaeologists as well as secular ones. Why would they be expected to consistently get something wrong in the area of their expertise?

  • Since when have little, unimportant things such as verifiable facts and rational thinking ever been of the slightest concern to theists?

    There believe because that MUST believe. If they don’t, it will be apparent their entire lives have been in the control of the greatest scam ever worked upon humanity.

    For those whose self-esteem is at a low level over the guilt and fear demanded by religion, that would be an intolerable blow.

    • I think you lump theists together too broadly, with too sweeping a brush. The letter from which the quote is taken reflects the approach of many liberal theists, Deists, panentheists and others who, depending on whether you are defining theism broadly or narrowly, reflect the kind of stance Jefferson himself had.

  • kmuzu

    If the world was covered in water, then that means that Mt. Everest was covered .. which means there was an extra 30,000 feet of water covering the entire earth. I wonder what happens to the atmosphere and gravity when God adds 30k feet of water to the planet?

  • Bruce Johnson

    That such things are discussed, let alone debated, proves that a large proportion of our society is still quite primitive. If people wish to dance ’round the fire chanting to their gods it might be best to let them dance.