Re: Redrawing Lines Without Viagra

Glenn R. Morton (
Sun, 21 Jun 1998 16:05:54 -0500

Hi Dick,

At 11:57 AM 6/21/98 -0400, Dick Fischer wrote:
>Had I believed that the Cambrian Period was 570 million years ago as it
>said in the Smithsonian Institute when I was writing my book, I would
>have been wrong. It has been recalibrated to 530 million. There went
>40 million years just like that. The age of the universe is estimated
>at 15 billion years, but shortly before I went to press new data was
>released from the Hubble Space Telescope that pointed toward a
>younger date, so I went with 12 billion years. Hey, what's 3 billion
>years among friends? We just discovered neutrinos have weight. So
>back to the drawing boards for astrophysicists.

The above is an argument for not drawing any conclusions about anything.
and this worries me as to how we Christians decide on apologetical issues.
You appear to be using uncertainty as a means of granting you freedom to
ignore any contradictory evidence for your flood scenario. The uncertainty
undermines your case substantially because of the nature of your flood
scenario. You need to connect A specific rainfall with A specific Flood
event. Without that connection, you can't be sure that there was a
Mesopotamian flood at the time you say. It does no good to connect a
Zambian rainfall in 1800 with the 1993 Mississippi floods. They are
totally unconnected events. So your listing of waters cooling in Santa
Barbara 5200 years ago with a flood 4900 years ago are irrelevant to your
case. Even if you are correct about the uncertainty in elucidating
geologic events, this correctness doesn't give you license to make up any
story you want to fit into any time whatsoever, merely because the story
can't be disproven.

>We are in the area of likelihoods and probabilities. You live with that
>every day. Every time a new well is set down to drill oil there is
>some degree of chance that it will be a dry hole. You geologists try
>to improve the odds. How often can you guarantee that a well will
>hit paydirt and be profitable?

Often enough to drive the price of a barrel down from over $20 dollars to
under $11. The probabilities of drilling a productive well are not
analogical to the probability of demonstrating scientific connections
between events. Even if I correctly determine the geologic history of a
place I want to drill, I have no way of knowing if the oil actually
migrated to the drill site. It is not that I have some information but it
is fuzzy. I have no information on the trapping of oil in most drillsites.

In the case of the Mesopotamian flood, I should be able to find information
from sediments left by the flood. This is what is missing.
>The point I am trying to make is that you seem to be seeking a certainty
>which doesn't exist.

It is NOT certainty---IT IS CONSISTENCY. We can be internally consistent
in our beliefs and still be wrong as wrong can be. But our theories CANNOT

What I am trying to point out is that most widely accepted Christian
apologetical scenarios are inconsistent with the observational data, and
internally inconsistent with themselves. The Mesopotamian flood scenario
should expect to find:

1. a widespread sedimentary deposit of Holocene age.
2. an interruption of civilization in Mesopotamia (most cities were built
along the river banks which would have been the deepest part of any flood
and should have been wiped out)
3. Consistency with the laws of physics. One can not have the water flow
downhill and the ark go uphill.
4. consistency with the Biblical description;
a. It needs to last a year (the ark would go into the Indian ocean in a week)
b. the ark must somehow land uphill from where it was picked up
c. the inability of the ark occupants to see land (something that would not
be fulfilled given the Zagros mountains to the west.)

We have no right to inconsistency! We have an obligation to be consistent
in what we teach the Bible means.

> How much data do you have outside of your Bible
>that there was a resurrection? And yet if there wasn't we have just
>another fallible religion.

Actually, we have a fair amount in the altered motivations of a group of
first century crazies who jumped into the lion-filled arenas for the
express purpose of going to heaven. While I agree that that is not proof of
the resurrection (in a scientific sense the Bible is not proof of the
resurrection) it does show that a group of people believed that it had

We have Josephus' account of Jesus' nephews, Tacitus' account of early
Christians. We also have skeltal examples of guys with nails in their
wrists. We have physical evidence of Pilate's existence, of Herod's
existence etc. What we have is a consistency of physical and historical
data with the resurrection. Of course we will never be able to prove the
resurrection itself, but the resurrection is consistent with the data

>The archaeologists that dated the flood layers in the 1920's and 1930's
>used sedimentation rates. Educated guesses. No volcanic ash to permit
>more accurate dating methods, no index fossils. So how accurate do I
>think they were? I have no idea. 2900 BC is just a number. What the
>error bars would be on that no one knows.

Then how can you be sure you are talking about THE Flood of Noah?? The
sedimentary layers they found are really not that widespread perpendicular
to the river systems.

>There appears to have been volcanic activity that had a world-wide
>impact at about 3150 BC. What are the error bars on that? I would
>assume that they would be narrower than the margin of error for the
>Mesopotamian archaeologists. But my guess is that there is enough
>margin of error for both to allow for overlap and causation. That's
>as far as I push the data.

The error bars on that volcano is +/- 90 years. It won't get you to the
2900 BC date that you stated in yesterday's note and above.

>Don't forget, the flood stories in that region are so similar
>to the Genesis account that there is very little room to believe
>they are not related. That means a local flood in recent times.

It could be that they are similar because Abraham came from Ur where the
same stories were taught. It doesn't necessarily mean that the flood they
taught was either local or recent. Those issues must be decided by
scientific data.

>>You are doing exactly what the young-earthers do in
>>rejecting science if it doesn't fit the preconceived theological position.
>There you go again. I believe in shared common ancestry because that's
>where the genetic data lies. I pay I high theological price for that.
>But that doesn't mean I couldn't be wrong. Someone might come along
>who can explain the genetic data that would permit humans to have

What I said was not directed at genetics. It was directed at the
Mesopotamian flood. When data doesn't fit what we believe, we can't ignore
it, we must change what we believe. The data isn't there to support the
Mesopotamia flood,(as described in the Bible) any more than the data is
there to support the global flood. The only way one can say that the
Mesopotamian flood was the source for the Biblical flood is if the Biblical
account is an exaggeration of monumental proportions.

>No, Glenn. Volcanic activity and meteor/comet impacts have direct effects
>on climatology. The dinosaurs died out due to climatic change caused
>by meteor impact 65 million years ago. (Until that date gets recalibrated.)

Agreed, but that doesn't mean that we know what effects. It very well
might have been that the effect was a drought!!!!

>Data taken from ice cores extracted in the Arctic regions don't sample what
>happened in the Arctic. They sample atmospheric changes in general. You
>say "it has nothing to do with Mesopotamia." You don't know that unless
>you know where it was and can prove that it was so far removed that it
>couldn't have had any effect.

Actually they do sample what happened in the arctic. They sample the
amount of snowfall. The changes it measure are changes to the whole
atmosphere which can't be correlated to a given location. Why wasn't there
a flood at the time in the Colorado River? and the Amazon, and the Nile?

And as to the volcano you don't know where it is and can't show a connection.

>> Exactly how does methane play into a Mesopotamian
>Shows a general climatological change at an identifiable point in time.
>What caused the reversal? What were the effects on the earth at that

The Mesopotamina flood caused the change? I don't think there is any
evidence to support that view. You need to show a specific effect, not a
general effect. The methane levels of the atmosphere has gone up and down
over the past many tens of thousands of years. Was there a flood at each
one of them? On every river on earth?

>There is no evidence of any settlements in Southern Mesopotamia prior to
>4800 BC. Archaeologists dug no deeper than they were able to find
>artifacts. They weren't looking for flood layers. If there was also
>a massive flood at 10,000 BC there weren't any settlers to suffer from

The Persian Gulf deltas have prograded at the rate of more than 1 mile
every 70 years. In 696 BC the shore line was 120 miles further northwest
than its present location. (John C. Munday, Jr., "Eden's Geography Erodes
Flood Geology," Westminster Theological Journal, 58(1996), pp. 123-154,p. 145)

At this rate of progradation, the shoreline could have been another 180
miles NW in 4800 BC. While I doubt that the shoreline in 4800 BC was fully
300 miles nw of its current position, it was probably just shy of that
value. There would have been no southern Mesopotamia in 4800 BC!!! Thus it
is not surprising that there would be no cities prior to 4800 BC.

>You don't get it. Concerning all the patriarchs, all the cities and rivers
>named in Genesis, all the cultural surroundings described in the first eleven
>chapters; everything fits in an historical time frame from 7,000 years ago
>to 4,000 years ago in Southern Mesopotamia because the patriarchs correlate
>to some degree with the Sumerian king lists, because all the cities - even
>the city Cain built - can be found in that region, because the flood stories
>are obviously related, because that region always flooded until they fixed
>it in the 1960's, because the flood date correlates roughly to volcanic
>activity, because they built ziggurats in all the major cities to survive
>those floods just as described in Genesis 11. And more. It is the totality
>of evidence that makes the case.

It is not amount of data, it is the consistency of the data to the
hypothesis that makes the case. I will grant that one can make the case you
do from the cultural data alone. But when you expand the data base to
geology and physics it simply doesn't work.

>Glenn, they've never found Accad, let alone excavated it. We only know
>of the city's existence from the literature. Southern Mesopotamia was
>occupied by Ubaidans before the Accadians came into being, and are dated
>before 3500 BC. Sumer was overrun by Gutians and Elamites, which were
>ancient Persians, around 2000 BC. So there is a slender window where we
>could say that any skeletal remains were purely Accadian (Akkadian is the
>German spelling you seem to prefer). Still, if there is a 200 year-old
>skeleton laying around somewhere in Chicago you owe me an apology.

I would gladly apologize if they have a 200 year old set of bones. I don't
think they will find one. You are correct about Akkad. But Archaeology
does know that Akkad was close to Babylon even though they don't know
precisely where. And considering that the Akkadians couldn't rule a
country without being out in the provinces, there should be some very old
skeletons in some of the old cemetaries. I know of none.

>There is another way, however. The y chromosome gene of Ashkenazi Jews
>should have less divergence than the general population would that are
>not of Adamic descent.

One must be careful about such data. The Jewish priestly descendants have
less y-chromosome variability. But the variability they have does not
necessitate that they are descendants of a recent Adam. In Nature magazine,
Jan. 2, 1997, Skorecki et al, (p. 32) present a study that shows that the
y-chromosomes of the priests are different from the Jewish laity. Their
less variability in the Y-chromosome is due to enforced descent from the
first priests and thus can not be said to come from Adam. Only 1.5% of the
priests had YAP+ form of the chromosome, whereas 18.4% of the laity did.
>Or, let's go to Iraq and do some digging. I can't think of anyone that
>would be more fun to be around.

I would love to do that. We could have a lot of fun digging in the dirt,
maybe even have a mud-ball fight. :-)

>Dick Fischer, The Origins Solution -
>"The answer we should have known about 150 years ago."

Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information