Re: Genesis Flood

Dick Fischer (
Sun, 05 May 1996 18:22:51 -0500

At 09:03 PM 5/4/96, Glenn wrote:

>If we Christians keep proposing hypotheses which can not withstand the
>detailed scrutiny of science, then I would say that it is fair for someone
>to conclude that the Bible is wrong. We simply must cease telling the
>flock that this or that solution to an apologetical problem will work when
>it violates the DATA of physics, anthropology, biology, and geology.

Okay, let's look for some weaknesses in your Mediterranean flood
scenario. Let's place an ancient Noah at the bottom of the dry
Mediterranean basin 5.5 million years ago when rain (maybe) and a shift
in the plates caused a break at Gibraltar and the basin fills with sea
water, forming the Mediterranean Sea. Now an alleged Noah is afloat in
the Med at sea level. His boat, according to Scripture, lands in Armenia.
Whether it's hills or mountains, how does his boat climb above sea level?

The flood waters abated off the land. The Mediterranean Sea can't abate.
It's at sea level. I used to live on the Chesapeake Bay. A hurricane
came through and dumped heaps of water on the town I lived in. Condos
on the waters edge were flooded from torrents of water running off the
land into the bay. The bay itself never rose. The same would be true
of a proposed flood in the Mediterranean basin. The Med just filled up
with water. Noah's boat might have washed ashore, but it would be
unlikely to get into any mountainous areas unless you're calling for
all kinds of simultaneous land upheaval to propel his ark into the
Armenian mountains.

>I would contend that the extra biblical stories are also of the
>anthropologically universal flood. If it occurred 5.5 million years ago,
>so what as long as transmission was passed down. A flood that occurred
>only in mesopotamia would seem insufficient to spark a flood story by the
>Greeks who didn't even live there!

Gilgamesh was the fifth ruler of Uruk (the biblical Erech) in the post-
flood period. His rule has been dated at approximately 2800 BC. He
contemplates his mortality, and seeks out one who reputedly has survived
a massive flood, been called into the council of the gods, and has
attained eternal life. We, of course, know Noah passed on. Still 950
years is extra innings in my book.

The point is that the scribe who recorded or concocted the story
regarded them as contemporaries. A Gilgamesh, who lived 5,000 years
ago, does not engage in polite conversation with a 5.5 million year-old
Noah. All of the extra-biblical flood accounts have tie-ins with that
point in history from 3500 BC to 2500 BC. In Ziusudra, the gods Enlil,
Utu, and Anu are referenced - all popular gods during that time in
history. The same is true for Atrahasis. The eleventh tablet of
Gilgamesh specifically mentions the irrigation "posts" and "dikes" that
were torn out by the flood. The early cities of Mesopotamia date to no
earlier than 4800 BC.

5.5 million years worth of story telling is mind boggling. The Japanese
speak a language totally different from Chinese. It should not surprise
you to learn that they are related. The islands of Japan show not a
hint of population prior to even 50,000 years ago. One could reasonably
deduce that the advent of language occurred after the separation of the
Japanese from the Chinese people and at least 50,000 years ago. You wish
to stretch that by a factor of over 100! Incredible!

Greeks appear to be among Noah's offspring. Javan, Noah's grandson, is
given credit for founding the Greeks. (See Keil and Delitzsch,
_Commentary On The Old Testament_, 1986.)

>>Glenn, the Bible itself isn't perfect.

>Aren't you really saying that the Bible is wrong? Wrong in the details of
>the story; wrong in the translations? So, if that is the case, then why
>try to come up with a flood harmonization at all? If there is all this
>error you mention, we do not need to pay any attention to the details
>reported in the Scripture. Maybe David didn't sleep with Bathsheba or
>kill her husband Uriah? Maybe Abraham really didn't offer Isaac as an
>offering. Maybe Joseph really wasn't sold into slavery. What details do
>we throw out and which do we keep. What is the criteria for deciding? If
>we take that view of scripture, then if I don't like this part or that
>part, of some part of the scripture presents a problem, all I have to do
>is merely say "the Bible itself isn't perfect". Problem solved.

There are scribal errors we have to live with. This may mean that a
word is wrong, or a number has been miscopied, or a verb tense has
been changed. This does not mean we need to unleash a wholesale
onslaught on the biblical text. Entire narratives, your examples,
are not suspected of being attributed to runaway scribes. But Bible
publishers should have the courage to make obvious corrections to
the authorized King James version. Get Cainan back into the Genesis
genealogies. Why perpetuate a scribal blunder? Give credit to the
Septuagint and replace "mist" with "fountain" in Genesis 2:6. Replace
the word "earth" with "land" in obvious situations, and so forth. We
should not have to continually confuse future generations by rendering
the English translation of the genesis text as unalterable.

>Does any physicist here want to comment on the forces of a boat, half
>submerged in a raging river moving 5 mph and given a 50 mph wind in the
>upstream direction? I stand by my conclusion about which direction your
>ark would go.

Let's look at your "raging river moving 5 mph" hypothesis. Gen. 8:3:
"And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the
end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated." So from the
flood's crest it took 150 days to drain into the Persian Gulf. The
city farthest north to feel the flood's impact might have been Ninevah
(There was no flood layer dating to 2900 BC at that site, so the flood
might not have extended that far.) Ninevah was located roughly 400
miles from where the gulf reached 5,000 years ago. If it took 150 days
for the water at Ninevah to reach the gulf it would travel at the
average speed of 11/100's of a mile per hour (400 divided by 150 X 24).
That's 587 feet per hour or less than 10 feet per minute. That's not
exactly a snail's pace, but a healthy turtle would have no difficulty
keeping up.

>Secondly, in order to get within 200 miles of Qardu by floating on water
>the water must cover up to the 1000 foot elevation contour. Once again if
>you cover the Mesopotamian valley to this depth in water, you will cover
>large parts of the world.

The flood of '93 covered parts of Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, and the
water stayed for about 3 months as I remember. Yet the entire state of
Florida is under 130 feet in elevation, much lower than the elevation
of any of the midwest states. Why wasn't Florida underwater? For the
same reason a flood in Southern Mesopotamia won't impact Dallas, TX
(one of your examples).

>And landing 200 miles away hardly qualifies as
>"landing on the mountain". Doesn't this explanation stretch the meaning
>of "landing on the mountain? How wrong are the flood accounts?

Again, your haphazard quoting of Scripture is akin to the way you
jump to conclusions. You have "landing on the mountain" in quotes.
Cite the quotation. In the Genesis account the ark "rested upon the
mountains of Ararat" (Gen. 8:4). Note the plural, "mountains." An
ark cannot rest on more than one mountain, it can rest on more than
one hill. The Hebrew word *har* means either mountain or hill. Just
because the Bible translators applied no logic doesn't mean that we
have to make the same mistakes.

>Can't we come up with a better explanation?

I can't. You haven't. Maybe someone else can.

Your friend,

Dick Fischer
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