In order to even entertain the possibility of a worldwide flood, one has to bypass all laws of physics, exit the realm of science, and enter into the realm of the miraculous, which many believers are willing to do.
Many people have contacted me about the recent claims by a group called Noah's Ark Ministries International. The evangelical organization claims to have discovered Noah's ark. I have responded on several occasions to these dubious claims on my blog. And still, this group has stood behind their claim, insisting that what they have found is real based largely on the belief that because the Bible says the flood and the ark are historical, it must be so. So, instead of addressing their spurious claims yet again, I thought I would approach the issue from a different angle: forget about Noah's ark; there was no world-wide flood.
The worldwide flood described in Genesis 6-9 is not historical, but rather a combination of at least two flood stories, both of which descended from earlier Mesopotamian flood narratives. Note that this does not mean all of the claims made in the Bible are false (or true for that matter); I am dealing here only with the biblical stories of the flood. (Also understand that the "slippery slope" claim of "all of the Bible is true or none of it is true" is simply an unnecessary rhetorical device designed to keep readers from doing precisely what scholars do every day: analyze each claim in the Bible on a case-by-case basis. It is not necessary to accept an "all or none" stance towards the Bible.)
Most biblical and ancient Near Eastern scholars argue that the flood is a mythical story adopted from earlier Mesopotamian flood accounts. These earlier accounts include the 17th century BCE Sumerian flood myth Eridu Genesis, the 18th century BCE Akkadian Atra-Hasis Epic, and the Epic of Gilgamesh, which are some of the earliest known examples of a literary style of writing. The most complete version of the Epic of Gilgamesh known today is preserved on 12 clay tablets from the library of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (685-627 BCE). This extant Akkadian version is derived from earlier Sumerian versions. In the story, Gilgamesh and his companion, a wild man-beast named Enkidu, travel the world on a number of quests that ultimately displease the gods. After the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh embarks on a journey to learn the secret of eternal life by visiting the immortal flood hero, Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh how the god Ea (equivalent to the Sumerian god Enki) revealed the gods' plan to destroy all life with a great flood, and how they instructed him to build a vessel in which he could save his family, friends, and livestock. After the flood, the gods repented for destroying the world and made Utnapishtim immortal.
These flood stories appear to have been transmitted to the Israelites early in Israel's history. Contact between the Assyrians and the Israelites is known from the conquest of Israel and its capitol, Samaria, in 721 BCE by Assyrian King Shalmaneser V (727-722 BCE), and from the attempted conquest of Jerusalem by the Assyrian King Sennacherib (704-681 BCE). These stories were apparently modified to conform to a monotheistic faith, but retained characteristics such as the destruction of nearly all living things via a flood, the salvation of a select few people and animals by the construction of a boat, and the regret of the deity for the flood, prompting a promise not to do so again. Thus, like many of the early stories in Israel's primordial history, the flood story appears to be an adaptation and integration of a previously known myth into the theology of Israel.
Most scholars will point out that the biblical flood story is actually two flood epics intertwined into one. However, unlike the two biblical creation stories (Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Genesis 2:4b-25), which were set one after the other in the Hebrew Bible, the two original flood stories appear to have been edited into a single narrative. The combined story preserves vestigial indicators that the account was originally two separate narratives. For example, Genesis 6:19-20 states that there were to be one pair of each species of animal on the ark, one male and one female:
And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive.
However, in Genesis 7:2-3, which was originally a separate flood account, it states:
Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth.
Thus, there are two different numbers given for the number of animals on the ark: one pair (male and female) in Genesis 6, and seven pairs of clean and one pair of unclean (male and female) in Genesis 7. The integration of two different numbers is evidence of two originally separate flood accounts.
Likewise, Genesis 7:17 states that the flood lasted 40 days:
The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.
But Genesis 7:24, a portion of the second flood story, states that the flood remained for 150 days:
And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days.
Shortly thereafter in Genesis 8:6, the story switches back to the first flood story, and the number 40 returns:
At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made.
Thus, not only are different numbers used for the number of animals on the ark in the two Hebrew flood stories, but different time periods were given for the flooding after the rains: 40 and 150 days.
Further evidence for the presence of two flood stories comes from the fact that in the narratives that speak about 40 days of flooding, god is referred to as the divine name YHWH, which supposedly was not revealed to readers until the episode of the burning bush in Exodus 3. However, in the portions of the flood texts that refer to 150 days of flooding, god is referred to as elohim, the Hebrew word for "god." The two different Hebrew flood narratives refer to god by different names rather consistently. Thus, the textual evidence demonstrates that two flood narratives, most likely derived from earlier Assyrian and Sumerian flood narratives, were combined and adapted to fit the Israelite's monotheistic faith and communicate lessons of a wrathful, destructive god, a regretful (Genesis 6:6) yet repentant god, and the origin of rainbows.
But for some, the literary evidence is not compelling. So, allow me present some scientific evidence: there could not have been a worldwide flood as described in the Bible because there is simply not enough water in the earth's atmospheric system to produce such a flood.
According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the amount of water in the earth's atmosphere could not possibly cover the earth. In fact:
One estimate of the volume of water in the atmosphere at any one time is about 3,100 cubic miles (mi3) or 12,900 cubic kilometers (km3). That may sound like a lot, but it is only about 0.001 percent of the total Earth's water volume of about 332,500,000 mi3 (1,385,000,000 km3)
If all of the water in the atmosphere rained down at once, it would only cover the ground to a depth of 2.5 centimeters, about 1 inch.
Additionally, because only 1.7% of the earth's water is stored underground, there is not nearly enough water in groundwater storage beneath the earth's surface to account for the amount of water necessary to flood the entire earth to the extent described in the Bible.
Simply put: there is not enough water in Earth's atmosphere to raise the ocean's levels over an inch, much less to cover Mt. Ararat with water from 40 days of rain. There is simply not that much water in the system.
Thus, in order to even entertain the possibility of a worldwide flood, one has to bypass all laws of physics, exit the realm of science, and enter into the realm of the miraculous, which many biblical literalists are willing to do. It is hypothetically possible that, say, the polar ice caps melted. This could raise the ocean levels beyond the 2.5 centimeters that all the earth's atmospheric water could were it to all rain down, but even then the thaw would only slightly affect the world's coastlines. Additionally, all scientific evidence points to larger polar ice caps in recent history, not smaller.
Other fantastic scenarios could be offered to explain the flood. For instance, some might suggest that a colossal ice-asteroid could have burst into our orbit and melted, bringing with it an unconscionable amount of water into our atmosphere. But, even this desperate scenario poses a major problem for many biblical literalists who attempt to explain or prove the flood scientifically. The Bible says it "rained" and the "springs of the deep" opened, but mentions nothing about an asteroid. Likewise, were water to enter Earth's system, where did it all go? To where did the water recede? Earth's water cycle results in all water residing somewhere on Earth's surface in the form of oceans, ice, and freshwater lakes, beneath Earth's surface in subterranean reservoirs that produce springs and geysers, or in Earth's atmosphere as moisture. So even if water could enter Earth's closed system, where did it go?
Simply put: there is no evidence whatsoever for a worldwide flood. In other words, it's impossible. There is not enough water in the earth's atmospheric system to even come close to covering all of the earth's landmasses.
It is time for Christians to admit that some of the stories in Israel's primordial history are not historical. It is ok to concede that these stories were crafted in a pre-scientific period and were designed to offer ethical answers to questions of why and not questions of how. Christians and Jews must concede that the Bible can still be "inspired" without being historically or scientifically "inerrant." As the early church father Origen explained regarding the preservation of empirical truth within problematic documents edited by human hands, "the spiritual truth was often preserved, as one might say, in material falsehood." Simply because a factual error exists in the text of the Bible does not mean that an ethical truth or principal cannot still be conveyed. It is time for Christians to concede that "inspiration" does not equal "inerrancy," and that "biblical" does not equal "historical" or even "factual." Some claims like the flood and the six-day creation are neither historical nor factual; they were written to communicate in an pre-scientific literary form that god is responsible for the earth. It is time Christians conceded that there was no flood. It is time for Reformed Theological Seminary to concede that Bruce Waltke has a point. It is time for groups of evangelical amateurs to stop making sensational claims about discoveries they did not really make. And it is time for people to stop looking for Noah's ark.
It's not there.
 See article in The Sun entitled "'Noah's Ark' found in Turkey," April 27, 2010. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2949640/Noahs-Ark-found-in-Turkey.html?OTC-RSS&ATTR=News#ixzz0mIvTDKNW
 Cargill, Robert R., "no, no you didn't find noah's ark," April 28, 2010 (http://robertcargill.com/2010/04/28/no-you-didnt-find-noahs-ark/); "from jason boyett - noah's ark found! robert cargill debunks!," April 29, 2010 (http://robertcargill.com/2010/04/29/from-jason-boyett-noahs-ark-found-robert-cargill-debunks/); "busted! turkey's culture ministry is now 'investigating' noah's ark ministries international," April 29, 2010 (http://robertcargill.com/2010/04/29/busted-turkeys-culture-ministry-is-now-investigating-noahs-ark-ministries-international/); and "does this look like styrofoam to you?," May 1, 2010 (http://robertcargill.com/2010/05/01/does-this-look-like-styrofoam-to-you/).
 Kurczy, Stephen, "Chinese explorers stand by claim of Noah's Ark find in Turkey" Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 2010. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-Issues/2010/0430/Chinese-explorers-stand-by-claim-of-Noah-s-Ark-find-in-Turkey
 Cf. 2 Kings 17.
 For instance, compare the story of Balaam in Numbers 22-24 with the text of the Deir 'Alla inscription, which was painted on the wall of a building in Deir 'Alla Jordan and dates to around 840-760 BCE. http://cojs.org/cojswiki/index.php/Deir-Alla_Inscription,_750%E2%80%93700_BCE.
 Genesis 9:11-17.
 U.S. Geological Survey. http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleatmosphere.html.
 U.S. Geological Survey. http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercyclegwstorage.html.
 The Younger Dryas was a period of a rapid return to glacial conditions in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere between 10,800 and 9,500 BCE. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas.
 Origen, Commentary on John, Book 10:4, English trans. by A. Roberts and J. Donaldson (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994). http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/origen-john10.html.
 See my April 9, 2010 blog post on Dr. Waltke's departure from Reformed Theological Seminary entitled, "professor bruce waltke dismissed from evangelical seminary for accepting evolution" (http://robertcargill.com/2010/04/09/religion-profesor-bruce-waltke-dismissed-from-evangelical-seminary-for-accepting-evolution/) and my April 19, 2010 update entitled, 'update on bruce waltke's departure from reformed theological seminary" (http://robertcargill.com/2010/04/19/update-on-bruce-waltkes-departure-from-reformed-theological-seminary/).
Well done, Dr. Cargill.
We need this dose of authentic archeology from time to time.
I'll make this article a required reading when we begin classes in June here at the seminary.
Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary
#1 - Michael Janapin - 05/04/2010 - 04:46
see the article here
about the great Bosphorus breech flooding.
also more just published on it in geophysical journals recently.
#2 - Gerald Rosenberg - 05/09/2010 - 04:04
Hear hear, Dr. Cargill. Very cogently reasoned. As a Catholic Catechist who accepts the inspiration of scripture but not the concept of inerrancy, this article is music to my ears. Just wish I could communicate these concepts more effectively...
Thank you for an insightful and thought-provoking article...
#3 - Tony Jones - 05/13/2010 - 21:30
You are not going to convert anyone. People who believe in the Flood will say that God can do anything, and that adding enough water and then removing it afterward would be simple for the creator. They don't use evidence, or reasoning, or scientific principles when arguing the bible. It is the truth revealed, and anything done or figured out by man is necessarily flawed.
#4 - Ed Thompson - 06/03/2010 - 23:06
I don't think it is fair to dismiss all believers in a historical worldwide flood as people who "bypass all the laws of physics and exit the realm of science". A reasonable case for believing in such a flood can be found at websites such as creation.com, where a number of articles have been written addressing the kind of objections raised in the above article.
If Noah's flood was accompanied by massive geological movements, as suggested by the phrase "the fountains of the great deep burst forth" in Genesis 7:11, then it is possible that large land masses might have been lowered or raised. There is no shortage of water on our planet, and today’s oceans may be where the floodwaters finally ended up.
It is significant that both Jesus and the Apostle Peter spoke of the Genesis flood as a real event (Matthew 24:37-39 and 2 Peter 3:5-6). If we reject their credibility on this matter, how can we be sure of their authority on any other teaching?
#5 - Andrew Price - 06/04/2010 - 13:27
in holy Quran , the water came from underneath earth.11:40
At length, behold! there came Our command, and the fountains of the earth gushed forth!
and i think there more than this water underneath us .
#6 - omer - 06/16/2010 - 16:54
Though the Flood wasn't global there's no reason to think it wasn't a real event. That the Bible exaggerates the details to make a theological point should be no surprise, as that's its intent & purpose as a book. Literalism & "Denialism" are extreme ends of a spectrum of possibilities. Else why so many Flood stories?
#7 - Adam - 06/25/2010 - 02:39
Sad for people who have never known or experienced the power of the Most High God. I do not blame your sensuality.
However, be it known to you and to all blind people that the decrees of the Most High translated into all the laws of nature. All the functional laws that you call reality are His Words from His infinitely intelligent Mind.
Be aware that He has omnipotency to create, recreate and desolve any law or existent entity at His Sovereign Will.
Has it not been told you how He broke few loaves of bread and fish and multiplied it. Does it not occur to you oh men of limited minds that He can presently recreate His law to achieve His Purpose. Note: God is not under the laws of nature but the laws are His creation and are all subject to Him.
What happened to cause the flood is that He spoke to the fountains of the heavens and deeps and they were broken and waters multiplied. We all are limited by His laws of nature but He is God of all creation.
#8 - Nnamdie Ukpong (PerfectLivingWisdom on youtube..) - 06/25/2010 - 19:22
Out of curiosity, what about the finds in the Gulf of Mexico in the 70s which shows a large, temporary decrease in salination of the Gulf between 10-12,000 years ago?
(“Noah, the Flood, the Facts,” Reader’s Digest, U.S. edition, September 1977, p. 133)
Additionally, this article on Nature.com from 1998:
talks of how there could be upto 5 times more water trapped in rock below the Earth's surface as there is in the oceans.
Finally, your rebuttle does not seem to take into account geologic differences between the Earth at the time of "biblical creation" and today. In the beginning, all the water was collected in one area (a huge boon for science and the theory of Pangea, is it not?), according to Genesis 1:9, although this theory would go against the idea that ocean basins are between 100-200 millions years old.
That said, anyone who has studied carbon dating knows that the numerology is shaky at best. Some experts, according to people I know who have studied it at greater length than myself, will admit that it is only accurate up to about 30,000 years.
On a more "Christian View Of The Bible" point, it is actually a very important position to view Scripture as either all right or all wrong. The issue is not in the truth of facts and science, but of the message conveyed. If what the bible says is true is not always true, then the overarching message of Christ, what is and is not holy, and the state of man's soul apart from Christ become debatable. These things are not debatable if you are in fact a believer. If you see these things as give and take, true for some but not for others, then you have believed in a false gospel and are not following the true Christ. In such a case, you need to repent and return the true gospel that saved you, and not the gospel of man's traditions and understanding apart from God. The true, glorious use of science is to be paired with God's revelation to prove what is true. If science discovers something that contradicts God, then it is science that is incorrect, and you need to start over and make sure you are looking att hings through eyes of the gospel and not the eyes of your own understanding.
#9 - DMoore - 06/28/2010 - 18:50
Thanks for this, it's nice to see some rational thought. There was no global flood, and there's no evidence for it, and tons of evidence against it.
As for it being a local flood, well no kidding there are floods all over the world every year and frequently build near water, hardly a surprising thing that cultures would have stories about floods.
Of course if a omnipotent being wanted to flood the earth and then remove all the water they could, but the the question becomes why would such a being remove all evidence of a global flood, and create contrary evidence to make it look like there was no global flood. Seems like a deceptive being.
Comments such as the one below are disheartening. "That said, anyone who has studied carbon dating knows that the numerology is shaky at best," is laughable because anyone who has studied carbon dating knows that there's a range of dates in which carbon dating is effective and why. Using that as a criticism just illustrates the profound ignorance.
#10 - Jason - 07/18/2010 - 16:47
We need remind ourselves of the real reason God created the flood in the first place. It is so that man became so far from God that his sins outweighed the reason for God to continue mans existence. The world had experienced things that had not taken place before with the pestilence of desire that man had so much that even some of the evil angels who were followers of Satan were stirred by this phenomenom of passion and pleasure that they came down to have sex with the daughter of man and their offspring were hideous giants that were an abomination in God's eyes so he created the flood that destroyed all of man and these demonic offspring sparing only Noah and his family as well as the paired animals of the day. There is no inconsistency in the bible as God made it rain for 40 days & 40 nights as foretold. It did not rain for 150 days but the waters swelled upon the earth long after the 40 days & 40 nights as the water levels continued to rise for that length of time before they proceeded to recede as the bible relates. The number of animals is not inconsistent as claimed as the bible relates that Noah was to collect pairs of animals including 7 pairs (14 of each of these species as the bible labels that 7 & 7) of the clean (each species) of walking and flying animal and 2 pairs only of the unclean animals (four total of each species. The relating of one pair of each kind of animal was the idea God gave Noah ahead of the flood well before the arc was built. The relating specific numbers as mentioned after was what God told specifically after the arc was built and the time was approaching for the flood to come. Science is not absolute and should never take precedence over Gods word in the bible unless one does not believe in the bible as being Gods word. God invented real science and physics...not man.
#11 - Amor Sabor - 07/20/2010 - 06:56
It is quite ridiculous that anyone takes the Hebrew scriptures literally. We know now that the moon does not produce its own light, that language did not begin with the tower of babel, etc.
The problem with inerrantists is that they are required to reconcile reality and a literal interpretation of documents created hundreds of years ago; and it simply doesn't work.
The same is true with the New Testament, only in the minds of apologists would using warped logic to try to combine all of the canonical Gospels actually work. Everyone else sees that it doesn't, it is only inerrantists who believe it does and need it to work.
#12 - Alex M - 07/20/2010 - 17:36
It would be a great fallacy to think the aquifers or the atmosphere of today match those of the pre Noachian era in either size or scope.
Today's aquifers don't even match the aquifers of 50 years ago.
ps The earth is still 70% flooded. :)
#13 - Jon - 07/27/2010 - 01:38
@Jon: That's some interesting information there. Since the earth is still flooded, yes, wouldn't that mean that there were NO oceans prior to the great flood, since it was all underground? But what about all the marine fossils laid down by the flud, hmmm? ;)
#14 - nx - 07/30/2010 - 10:18
Some of the comments below are truly hilarious. While I have no horse in this race, those who don't believe in a literal worldwide flood seem to have much more solid theology and a better understanding of the Bible.
"If what the bible says is true is not always true, then the overarching message of Christ, what is and is not holy, and the state of man's soul apart from Christ become debatable."
Why? What does Jewish mythology have to do with the nature and words of Christ? I don't have to believe in one to follow the other.
"If you see these things as give and take, true for some but not for others, then you have believed in a false gospel and are not following the true Christ."
Christ never said anything about Noah's Ark or the Flood.
What you call "give and take" I call "rightly dividing the word of truth".
#15 - Paul D. - 08/02/2010 - 06:35
Nice blog! I battle with young-Earth creationists daily.
In addition to the objections you mentioned, assume there somehow was enough water in the air to flood the planet. The heat released when all that vapor condensed would have raised the temperature of the Earth by hundreds of degrees.
We have ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica going back hundreds of thousands of years. Noah's Flood would have melted the ice caps ... yet there is not even the slightest evidence of the ice caps being submerged 4300 years ago.
#16 - Steve Crye - 09/08/2010 - 20:15
I submitted a 4,000-word, 40-footnote rebuttal that included links to 20 secular science websites. BibleInterp's editors rejected it, but encouraged me to post it as multiple comments here.
I think it's easier to read in a larger format with the footnotes & links intact, so I published it on my site, & would like to invite you all to visit.
I drafted it in August, & referenced comments by Amor Sabor, Andrew Price, Ed Thompson, DMoore, Jason, & Paul D. The more recent one by Steve Crye is covered in my paragraph about "using the assumptions of one scientific hypothesis to invalidate that of another".
The URL for my rebuttal is:
Thanks in advance for allowing me to present my interpretation of the evidence to you, & thanks to BibleInterp's editors (particularly Mark) for allowing me to cross-link! And of course, thanks to Robert Cargill for composing such a thought-provoking essay in the first place!
#17 - G.M. Grena - 09/12/2010 - 04:25
As a scientifically minded person I welcome your realism and please continue and address other biblical exaggerations with the same candid vigour. But I will pose a challenge to you from a rationalist standpoint. The theme of the flood story with its back to back duplicate dating periods is about precise timings. Why then did the authors confuse the issue where they said that the waters rose for 150 days yet the alleged ark came to rest on Mount Ararat before the waters had time to recede. Then later the tops of the mountains were seen. My challenge is for you is to spend some time tracing the timing details that were given in Genesis back in time beginning with the same starting date of the 17th day of the 2nd month. Bear in mind that there already was an anomaly of 2 years relative to Noah becoming a father and his son Shem becoming a father 2 years after the flood. I await your considered response to this mathematical puzzle. (And please, for all of you who readily jump to condemn this calendar puzzle as numerology I would ask you to consult the Oxford dictionary on the true meaning of the term , Numerology.
I await your considered response
#18 - Michael Hearns - 06/02/2011 - 21:44
"With Allah all things are possible", yes? Postulate an omnipotent, personal God, take the concept completely and thoroughly seriously, and all problems vanish in the blink of eye, yes? One is either a believer or not a believer. It really is that simple.
Do you REALLY believe that God exists? Or perhaps you are "hedging your bets." Do you REALLY believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient? So many who proclaim themselves to be believers are actually skeptics. Wolves in sheeps clothing as the Prophet Jesus (saw) said in the Injeel.
The Bible, which the Al-Qur'an alludes to constantly, says that God created the heaven and the earth in six twenty-four hour days ("There was an evening and a morning")and then ceased. Bereshith does not say "age" (olam) it says "day" (yaum) So God had to speed up the light to reach the Earth from what appears to be billions of light years away. So what? Allah is All-Powerful.
For one who believes there is no problem with the Flood or the Box of Noah. Those who bleat in an odd inauthentic fashion are merely wearing a sheepskin, yes? Yes.
#19 - Yusuf Islam - 06/08/2011 - 05:15
The flood just as I had thought was a mere fallacy.If all animals are decendants from the same parents(ancestral point) assuming that the animals went in two by two as in the bible,then genetically there should be evidence that all animal/organisms hail from a central ancestral origin.This is not the case as per now,and so the bible should give us a break!
#20 - Habbel - 09/26/2011 - 12:28
Nobody seems to be bothered by another unlikely scenario resulting from the Noah's Ark story. How can all the different races and people of the world be descendants of Noah and the would be survivors? It's ridiculous.
#21 - OJ - 11/24/2011 - 10:14
I am constantly amazed at the willingness of people to pontificate (and post) on topics that they obviously have not researched or studied to any extent. Most of these comments are made with minimal objectivity. Creationist opponents expound about the "faith" that creationists must rely on in the absence of real science but ignore their own faith in the many yet to be explained scientific mysteries. The same "scientists" that claim there are no proofs of young earth have progressively abdicated real science and proclaim theoryies as fact. We can't understand genomes and genetic diversity occurring from 8 people but can accept it from one micro-organism? One day all the blind will be made to see and will be accountable for all their beliefs and actions.
#22 - dave - 11/25/2011 - 17:39
the question is....does God make mistakes? if he/she does, then the bible may still be accurate (as Gods word including errors). if he doesn't make mistakes, then the Bible may not be God's word at all but the work of someone else who incorrectly translated God's real words.
#23 - Dr. E. Neiburger - 12/23/2011 - 21:58
It is wholly useless to present a reasoned, factual, science-based argument to a "true believer" (TB). A TB is basically brain-washed and is incapable of objectively considering any evidence that challenges their ingrained beliefs. This is quite apparent from many of the responses to Dr. Cargill's well-reasoned presentation. Fear is the main barrier to opening one's mind to evidence that may negate one's cherished religious beliefs - fear that one will go to Hell; fear that God will abandoned them; fear that life will be without meaning; fear that their friends and loved ones and colleagues will shun them; and the biggest fear of all is the fear that their death means the end of them. Thus, they stubbornly reject the truth, and cling to myths that, to them, make life worth living. I say let them find happiness and meaning the best way they are able to even if it means believing the myths written and embellished by ancient peoples who were trying to understand nature and life the best way they knew how at the time. The Bible and all so-called holy books, and religions, were and are entirely produced by human beings using their imagination. I can understand how accepting that truth can be disturbing, as it disturbed me when I first realized it. But, once understood and accepted, it is liberating, and then life can then be lived authentically.
#24 - George - 12/28/2011 - 22:49
Dr. Neiburger, by definition, God cannot err, unless the person who defined God to be perfect erred. To assume that God spoke words to primitive Homo sapiens of the Southern Levant thousands of years ago seems to be nothing more than unsubstantiated conjecture. Did this same God speak to even more primitive Homo sapiens in the northern India region thousands of years before speaking, say, to Abraham (if Abraham existed)? If so, perhaps God's real words are those spoken to the writer(s} of the Rig Veda and everyone should be a Hindu. If so, a lot of nice animals would be spared from us eating them!
#25 - George - 12/28/2011 - 23:06
Regarding the flood, there definitely could have been several severe floods in the middle east area before and after Gilgamesh. If so, these were undoubtedly widespread, but regional, floods. Had we been there and recorded many years later what happened (having heard it after it was passed down through many generations), we probably would have written a story about the entire world flooding, since to us it was our known world. Plus, since ancient people attributed all natural disasters to God (even today we call them 'acts of God' !!!), and more specifically, God's punishment for the people doing something wrong, again, we would have written down pretty much the same account of the Flood as is in Genesis. There could have been a boat (ark) with some animals on it, but that story also got "lost in translation" and became something totally exaggerated.
#26 - George - 12/28/2011 - 23:18
You choose to believe what scientific evidence is presented you. I respect that.I welcome debate of the scripture, even though I may not like what I read. I, however, have chosen through personal experience with Jesus Christ to believe in faith what I cannot see.(Heb. 11:1) There is at least one fundamental problem with you argument from a purely Christian standpoint. Matt. 24:37 "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man". So clearly, Jesus, as the Almighty God (John 10:30) seemed to believe the story of Noah. I suppose you could argue, that He was simply using it as a communication tool. (speaking to them at their level). However, Heb. 11:7 also references Noah. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house..." This was presumably written by Paul. You could argue the accuracy of these scriptures, which I would be open to hearing, but until then I think I choose, by faith, to believe the Word of God, over what scientific facts (1 TIm. 6:20) you presently possess. Again, I respect science, am not opposed to it at all, however, as a scientist you must work with the information available to you. As a Christian, I must work with what is available to me. In order to choose one over the other, I am going to need a whole lot more consensus on the subject than what currently exists.
#27 - David - 02/28/2012 - 18:24
You can't prove the Genesis accounts are based on some earlier stories. Similarities do not make it so. You can postulate it, but you can't prove it. As one of the most brilliant seminary professors said, "Proof is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone has a set of biases, and that includes both scientists and scholars. Anyone familiar with science can catalog a long list of declarations from scienctists that have turned out to be false. People who are sceptics about science's objectivity are not fools. They are wise in their understanding. Scientific pomposity is not the same thing as proof.
#28 - Don Spires - 02/28/2012 - 19:19
Theories take faith to believe regardless of amount of verbiage used to try to explain. Faith in man or faith in God.
Once you combine them and study the sciences with a keen outlook on how man expands on God's gifts and God expands on man's free will, you will start to have a better understanding of where to look for evidences and where to look for guidance when evidences seem distant.
#29 - Mike - 02/28/2012 - 19:57
If I were to use Wikipedia as a source on a University paper I would receive an automatic F. Though everything written may be true, Dr. Cargill certainly did not provide the proper academic sources to prove it.
#30 - E. Z. Troll - 02/28/2012 - 20:48
So the alternative to "God Created the Earth", according to science is; out of NOTHING came a great explosion. This explosion (from nothing) created the universe. Wouldn't an explosion that great have destroyed everything. But wait, there wasn't anything to begin with. And science thinks faith in God is ridiculous.
#31 - Hilda Ward - 02/29/2012 - 13:20
I am a practicing Catholic, but accept the fact that the flood, as described in the Bible, could not have been possible. Why? I only take into account the existence of the animal species. Did Noah take two of each? How the heck did they reproduce after the flood avoiding inbreeding and thus degeneration of the specie? Did he take two of each of the lower animals, namely insects, arachnids, annelids et al.? How did these survived if Noah did not take two of each? How was inbreeding overcame?
#32 - Pablo - 03/03/2012 - 19:43
I respect the author's viewpoint. However, when we call on science, we ought to bring in real scientific proofs. The article seems short on proofs. "All the water in the atmosphere" cannot flood the earth. Does that take into account that the flood story said that most of flood water were initially stored upstairs and let down to cause the flood? If land area of the planet were levelled, we would be several meters below water. That is demonstrated scientific fact as the planet is 70% flooded. Science has been "0ff course" several times, so let us not be overzealous about some 'scientific fact' we think we have. We may become just what we condemn religionist for; fanatical zealots
#33 - Eddy Edem - 03/12/2012 - 16:28
The fundamentalist belief in a literal earthwide flood is one of the fantastic fantasies that cause my inner revolt to Biblical literalism. My heart cannot rejoice in that which my mind rejects and no other feature of Biblical literalism (save that of a reanimated Jesus-corpse) causes me more wonder and mirth.
The best way to deal with this silly belief is to sit down with a Noah's Flood believer (IF you are the target of soul-saving witnessing) and reason with them using the phrase from Isaiah "Come and let us reason together". Point out to them the square footage of the Box using the dimensions given in the book of Genesis and ask how the millions of species (including dinosaurs and dinosaur sized mammals)could fit inside such a Box along with enough food and fresh water to keep them alive. (Not to mention the problems involved in getting the raptors and T-Rexes to behave in a civil, orderly, and vegetarian fashion.)
In my experience the Biblical literalist will become uncomfortable then confrontational. The arguments will include such statements as "God made the interior of the Box far larger than the exterior. With God all things are possible". Well, fine. Then why did God even command Noah to make a giant Box at all? He could have directed Noah to make a box the size of a matchbox and place all of the animals and provisions inside. Surely the sight of mammoths and dinosaurs disappearing into a tiny box would give anyone the willies and they would repent and believe God! But, why round up the animals at all when God could have zapped them all and transported them (as well as Noah and his family) into the near future and a dried cleansed Earth?
Many articles in this vein have been written demonstrating the fictional (probably allegorical) nature of this Bible story. Any Biblical literalist is hereby cordialy invited to debate with me on this topic in person. All I ask is that my round-trip travel expenses be paid. Any takers?
#34 - Nathaniel J. Merritt - 05/21/2012 - 16:50
You've heard of taking a gun to a knife fight? This is taking a machete to a watercolor exhibition.
#35 - Finn MacCool - 07/06/2012 - 13:52
#36 - Roger Jeffrey - 07/14/2012 - 18:42
I congratulate Dr Cargill on his observations. Yes we often accept scripture as gospel and ignore logic as many have demonstrated with their comments. I doubt anyone looking seriously at the bible would or should take it literally. Christianity relies on unquestioning faith and fear and I am happy to see that most people, here at least, have the intelligence to question the validity of stories written around 700 BC. Having faith in a creator does not mean you have to be blind.....or does it? NJM has a very good take on it.
#37 - Bruce Dee - 07/20/2012 - 06:02
Yeah Roger the whole earth was repopulated by 200 million species 4300 years ago. Your "facts" are some how the first thing to come up on google search. Try again.
#38 - bill - 08/11/2012 - 08:24
My, mythology dies hard!
#39 - Edward Mills - 02/14/2014 - 22:24
To the individuals who posit that massive movements of the planets tectonic plates caused the sub-surface water to rise, and/or the plate movement could have caused land masses to rise/fall resulting in mountains being submerged, etc....
Movements that massive would have caused earthquakes so incredibly violent that any ark built by a man wouldn't survive. Furthermore, the tsunamis those plate movements would have caused would have also made kindling out of Noah's ark.
Also, there would be geologic evidence of those movements not just in the area(s) of origin but also along the other perimeters of the plates as well as creating mid-plate faults that we would see/know of today AND be able to date those breaks correspondengly.
Also, the sudden break/grinding/crushing/pulverizing of the plates would cause massive shock damage to the plates and the rocks therein. Rocks that undergo catastrophic level movements/blasts/pulverization etc exhibit characteristic mineral and chemical level changes - none of which are found in the area of origin or any other area for that matter. Over the next thousand years or so of settling, layering of sediment etc, you would see the characteristic changes and signs of rock that had been exposed to ocean or rain ( or whatever type of water you attribute to the causation of the flood.)
Those evidences simply don't exist.
There is some evidence of flooding or the large scale movement of water on the REGIONAL level......which makes much more sense and certainly would appear to be worldwide to the people of that time period.
It is important to remember that when we are studying any situation/matter/event, that we vehemently seek ALL information and evidence/data and considering EVERY THING we form our "answers." We must NEVER try to make our hypothesis fit into a preconceived solution. Approach everything with an open mind and a willingness to accept evidence even if it opposes what you hope to be the answer.
#40 - Michelle L - 04/21/2015 - 15:03
You make the assumption that the current earth's surface was the same now, as it was before the flood. Scientifically, we know that not to be true, as at one time, Mount Everest was under water. The fact that there are ocean life fossils on the world's tallest mountain, logically and scientifically, tells us that at one time it was under water. You can go to any part of the world, and you will find fossils of sea life everywhere. The South Pole was at one time tropical, and now it's not, proof that the world today was not the same as before the flood. Too much guess work on your assumptions.
#41 - Robert Sanders - 05/09/2015 - 10:20
The Biblical worldwide flood story is
just that, a story, an interesting one at
that. Localized floods happen all the
time. If a huge, localized flood occurred, say, 5000 hears ago, when
civilization was taking off in the form of
cities, the people in that area, having
limited contact with other developing
areas and being superstitious, very
likely would have concluded, that the
flood was worldwide. Besides, since
the Power of the Universe, which is
beyond human comprehension, despite
the belief of some people, that they have a direct line to the Power, is thought to be omniscient, then the Power knew that, mankind would become just as errant and disobedient,
as the people It destroyed in the "Great
Flood." Re: New Earth Creationists: Bless their "don't let scientific fact get
in the way" hearts! Re: Tower of Babel:
Another story. The first pyramid was
built before the ziggurats is was higher.
Why didn't God scramble languages then? Some of these stories are so silly.
#42 - Timothy O'Neil - 05/16/2015 - 13:11
So the Bible is a lie and confirms that Jesus is a liar (Matt 24:37) and so is Peter (1 Pet 3:20). I will let God sort this out since His Spirit (2 Pet 1:21) is the author of the book and it is good for reproof(2 Tim 3:16-17). I would suggest this is a good time to test the spirit (1 John 4:1).
#43 - Roger - 07/31/2015 - 11:38
I believe in the literal flood of the Bible. I can find reputable scientists that support the fact and also ones that refute the hypothesis. Take your pick. Fortunately I don't have to rely on a man's opinion for my faith.
#44 - Jim Demello - 10/20/2016 - 10:27
Dear Dr. Cargill,
Please note the error in sentence structure in the second sentence of paragraph number seven of your article: "But for some, the literary evidence is not compelling. So, allow me present some scientific evidence:(...)" You have inadvertently omitted the word "to" following the word, "me" and prior to the word, "present." These small errors are to be expected when one writes, and such small errors account for what appear to be discrepancies by humans, as they write, just like your unfortunate error. Errors,such as the one you had made when you wrote your article, are perhaps less conspicuous than the errors made when one reads an account, such as the Genesis flood, and then attempts to interpret what has been read. Genesis 7:17 says "for 40 days the flood kept coming on the earth" (NIV), while Genesis 7:24 says "The waters flooded the earth for 150 days" (NIV). These two sentences do not say the same thing because they do not mean the same thing. One is continual "action" and the other is being in a state of. As a biophysicist, and a doctorate holder in Language Education, it does not appear ambiguous to me, sir.
Secondly, one of your major flood arguments rests on the present day data that suggest that there simply isn't enough water in the earth's atmosphere to combine with the existing water and to cover the earth to the extent described in Genesis. The basis for this argument rests upon an unfortunate error that assumes that today's atmospheric, environmental and geological conditions existed back then. Genesis clearly explains that since the creation of the earth, rain had not fallen. The atmosphere during the pre-flood era was vastly different from the atmosphere post flood. Indeed, a catastrophic event such as that would dramatically change both the surface of the earth and the physical and chemical composition of the earth's atmosphere. Keep in mind that based upon the Genesis account, the forces involved also pulled water out of the depths of the earth.
If its of any comfort, years ago I had my doubts also . Of course there are many people who base their acceptance of the Genesis flood solely on their faith. With me, it was a growing logic that spurned a deeper faith.
#45 - Alfred Cucchiara PhD - 02/25/2017 - 21:09
Everyone who wants a fair discussion on the arguments on both sides of this topic owes it to themselves to read the linked article in post #17 written by G.M. Grena. It is very interesting and short enough to read in 10 minutes. No religious non-sense talk but scientific evidence and facts only.
#46 - Claude Barry - 03/19/2017 - 21:13
It is amazing how unscientific people can be when invoking science to disprove something they don't believe. If you don't believe a story, you don't have to disprove it; it is nonsense by definition. If you use logic to bolster your disbelief, you must allow for the possibility that your analysis is mistaken or that you do not understand some part of the story. One blatant fallacy is assuming that because there are several accounts of a flood, one account must be a copy of the others. That is not true. It is an indication that they all witnessed the same thing.
We have this country we call China. The name means "middle kingdom". They saw the tree of life in the north sky and thought heaven was at the top, and they saw a sea of reeds in the southern sky, so they called their land "middle kingdom". The Earth had rings just like Saturn. Spokes in the rings looked like a sea of reeds. These observations were recorded by several tribes and especially in Chinese history.
Lots of specially trained smart people have looked hard for evidence of a world wide flood. They found two. Neither of them was Noah's flood of 2349 BC. Nevertheless, people all over the world recorded a flood that year and they all agreed on the details. Add to that the biblical record that before the flood people lived many hundreds of years, and after the flood people lived a maximum of 120 years. Noah's flood was when the tree of life was taken down, and the sea in the southern sky came down too. Tribes all over the world recorded the event.
And that is why Noah's ark probably will never be found.
#47 - Vern Wall - 09/01/2018 - 09:23
It seems people will believe what they want to believe based solely on their personal preference not on scientific evidence that exists or doesn't exist. We may submit all the valid scientific evidence in the world to the religious zealot and it would never amount to a hill of beans and therefore makes it all but a moot point. What I think it boils down to is what ever you believe is true for you period . If I have one question to ask those of christian faith it would be this: Jesus lived on earth for some thirty three years as the son of God, why didn't he write anything down so that we would have something directly from God as opposed to someone relaying Gods word? #48 John M. Ochner