Debunking the literal truth of Noah and the great flood

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Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 09:17 pm
[CENTER] Scientific Evidences

There is disagreement between the biblical information regarding the Flood, as narrated in the Book of Genesis, and the scientific evidence, and technical data available today. This disagreement lies in the volume of water involved in the process.

As stated in the biblical text, it rained for forty days and forty nights and the earth was completed covered by water, including the mountains. According to data obtained by measuring the amount of water suspended in the atmosphere and the area that this water could cover, it is impossible for the water originating from this rain to cover even 1 (one) meter of the entire surface of the planet.
Noah and the Flood

Prior Events

God decided to destroy mankind and the other animals that inhabited the earth. However, He spared Noah, his family, and representatives of each animal species. He then instructed Noah to build an ark that would keep them all alive during the deluge.

When Noah, his family, and the animals had entered the ark, it began to rain.

Book of Genesis, chapter 7:

And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.

The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered.


The question set forth is this: was there enough suspended water in the atmosphere to cover the mountains? Evidence points to a negative response.
Water in the Atmosphere and Water on the Earth

What would have happened had all of the existent water in the atmosphere fallen during those forty days and forty nights?

Calculations indicate that there is approximately 0.013 x 1015 m3 of water in the planet's atmosphere. This corresponds to approximately 13 x 1018cm3 of water. Now the questions looks like this: What would have happened if, during forty days and forty nights, 13 x 1018cm3 of water had fallen in the form of rain?

To answer this question, we need to know the surface area of the planet. It is approximately 510,067,000 km2. This corresponds to approximately 51 x 1017 cm2. If we imagine that the surface of the earth is completely smooth and that the oceans, seas, rivers, and streams are at the same level as the earth, then the water would reach a height that is provided by a simple equation, namely:

V = A x h where V is volume, A is area and h is height. To obtain the height, the equation is as follows: h = V/A

By substituting V with the volume of existent water in the atmosphere and A with the surface area of the planet, we have:

h = 13 x 1018cm3/51 x 1017 cm2 = 2.55 cm

Therefore, if all of the existent water in the atmosphere were to fall upon the earth, independent of the amount of time it rained, the maximum height attained would be 2.55 centimeters, according to available data. We have now offered the first disagreement between the Bible and our current knowledge with respect to the deluge.
Water in the Oceans

Since the existence of mountains compromises the above conclusion, let's imagine that all of the suspended water were to fall upon the oceans, rivers, and streams. We know that they occupy 70% of the planet's area, or 35.7 x 1017 cm2. In this case, the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and streams would increase in height according to the equation:

h = V/A = 13 x 1018cm3/35.7 x 1017 cm2 = 3.64 cm

Consequently, if all of the water were to fall only upon the oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams, or if the rain water that fell upon the planet were to flow into these areas, the increase in the water would be 3.64 cm in height. This height also is not sufficient to cause a flood.
Water on the Earth
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 09:23 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Can you debunk the flood that occurred in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was written independently of Genesis and that predates it?
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 09:24 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;73240 wrote:
Can you debunk the flood that occurred in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was written independently of Genesis and that predates it?


Now that would be interesting if someone could. I wish anyone good luck if they can make the attempt.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 09:30 pm
@Alan McDougall,
It's an interesting mathematical exercise -- how heavily would it have to rain for the entire earth to be covered after 40 days. It sure sounds like there was a flood at some point, though of course it got hyperbolized in Genesis.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 09:50 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;73245 wrote:
It's an interesting mathematical exercise -- how heavily would it have to rain for the entire earth to be covered after 40 days. It sure sounds like there was a flood at some point, though of course it got hyperbolized in Genesis.


Hi Paul,

What made me start this thread was a recent TV documentary on the great flood of the city of Mumbia? India. It rained down buckets on this city for a week or so bringing the whole city to a stop.

But the story of Noah and the flood would have us believe that it covered the whole earth until the very highest mountain was submerged.

That is absurd, but you will possibly be very surprised how some literal bible believers, both Jewish and Christian insist this is the accurate truth

I don't know what the Islam religion has to say about the flood
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 09:51 pm
@Alan McDougall,
There are VERY few literal believers of anything in Genesis in Christianity and yet fewer in Judaism and Islam. Most people in these religions are quite content to see biblical stories as allegorical.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 11:40 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;73258 wrote:
There are VERY few literal believers of anything in Genesis in Christianity and yet fewer in Judaism and Islam. Most people in these religions are quite content to see biblical stories as allegorical.


Fundamental Christians insist the story is literally true in every aspect and go as far as arguing that there is real evidence for the flood
American Superstition: Majority Reads Bible Stories as Literal History

American Superstition: Majority Reads Bible Stories as Literal History (not only American)



Saturday November 3, 2007
Many religious theists - primarily Christians - respond to atheists' critiques of religion by insisting that atheists are only criticizing vulgar, literalistic forms of religion which are restricted to fundamentalists. Hardly anyone really believes what the atheists are being so negative about, so ultimately atheists are just attacking a straw-man form of religion. Right?


Maybe this is the case with the person speaking, but at best it's wishful thinking with respect to the rest of the population (at least in America) because the majority of the population accepts as literal history stories from the Bible which no rational person should treat as anything more than metaphorical myths. The idea of religion as "metaphor" or "art" may sound nice in some liberal religious studies classes and a few UU congregations, but on the streets religion - traditional, biblical Christianity - provides direct access to absolute facts about history, the nature of humanity, and the nature of the universe.


Survey respondents were asked if they thought a specific story in the Bible was "literally true, meaning it happened exactly as described in the Bible" or whether they thought the story was "meant to illustrate a principle but is not to be taken literally." Six renowned Bible stories were then offered to adults for their consideration.

Surprisingly, the most significant Bible story of all - "the story of Jesus Christ rising from the dead, after being crucified and buried" - was also the most widely embraced. Three out of four adults (75%) said they interpreted that narrative literally, while only one out of five (19%) said they did not take that story literally.



The more highly educated respondents were, the less likely they were to take the story literally, although even two-thirds of college graduates (68%) believe the resurrection narrative is literally true.



One of the most substantial differences of opinion occurred between mainline Protestants (83% of whom take the resurrection literally) and non-mainline Protestants (among whom 95% accept the resurrection as fact).


Overall, 82% of Catholics embrace the resurrection narrative as being true. Black adults were much more likely than either whites (74%) or Hispanics (80%) to consider the resurrection to be true.

Source: Barna Group


This was one of six biblical stories which Barna quizzed people about, and while the number of people accepting Jesus' resurrection story as literal hsitory were highest there was a strong majority backing the literal history of all the stories. Given the diversity of these six, it's difficult to imagine that similar numbers wouldn't be found for pretty much every tale in the Bible:

  • Daniel survived in the lion's den: 65%
  • Moses literally parted the Red Sea: 64%
  • David killed Goliath with stones and a sling shot: 63%
  • Peter walked on water with Jesus: 60%
  • God created the universe in six days: 60%



How many do you think would treat the ancient stories of Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Apollo as literal history? Quite a lot fewer, assuming you could get enough people familiar with those names to constitute a statistically valid sample. Not only did large numbers of people reveal treating ancient myth as history, but there were huge disparities between political beliefs.



Which do you suppose was the larger group to treat biblical stories as literal: conservative or liberal?


There were very consistent patterns related to people's political inclinations. Of the six stories examined, just one story (the resurrection of Christ) was considered to be literally true by at least half of all liberals. In contrast, among conservatives, only one of those stories was taken literally by less than 80% (the 76% who embraced the six day creation as absolute truth.)

Similarly, the data showed that Republicans were more likely than either Democrats or Independents to accept each of the stories as literally accurate. For all six narratives, Independents were the voting group least likely to hold a literal interpretation, an average of twenty percentage points lower than the norm among Republicans.


These aren't exactly surprising numbers, I'm sorry to say. If anything is surprising it's how low the numbers for "Independents" are. That may sound reasonable at first, but apparently people who call themselves "Independent" have a habit of voting in one particular direction on a regular basis - they lean conservative and rarely vote Democrat or lean liberal and rarely vote Republican. This makes them "independent" more in name than in behavior. Given this, I'd have expected the numbers for Independents to be a little lower than the others, but not by quite such a large amount.


This suggests that they are indeed more secular than even Democrats generally are, making them an important voting group for any politicians who isn't interested in pandering to religion and religious beliefs in order to obtain elected office. Unfortunately, there may not always be enough Independents around to swing an election for secular candidates.


On the bright side of things, just because people say they treat myth as literal history doesn't mean that they actually live their lives much different from those who see myth for what it is and rely on more substantive grounds for their history:


[George Barna, who directed the study] noted a significant disconnect between faith and practice. "While the level of literal acceptance of these Bible stories is nothing short of astonishing given our cultural context, the widespread embrace of these accounts raises questions about the unmistakable gap between belief and behavior."

"On the one hand we have tens of millions of people who view these narratives as reflections of the reality, the authority and the involvement of God in our lives. On the other hand, a majority of those same people harbor a stubborn indifference toward God and His desire to have intimacy with them. In fact, a minority of the people who believe these stories to be true consistently apply the principles imbedded in these stories within their own lives."

"It seems that millions of Americans believe the Bible content is true, but are not willing to translate those stories into action. Sadly, for many people, the Bible has become a respected but impersonal religious history lesson that stays removed from their life."


Of course, Barna is assuming that belief in the literal history of a few stories in the Bible should translate into very specific behaviors and, perhaps more importantly, political policies. Barna is a conservative evangelical, so it doesn't take much imagination to come up ideas about what he'd like to see result from such beliefs - but his assumption misses the mark.



Just because a person is irrational enough to treat the Genesis story of creation or the Matthew story of Jesus' resurrection as literal, historical fact doesn't mean that they are also irrational enough to think that gays should be second-class citizens or that abortion should be a crime.


To put it another ways: just because two different people treat the same myths as literal, historical fact doesn't mean that they will necessarily derive the exact same social, political, and personal lessons from those stories. There might be a strong correlation at times, but people with very different backgrounds, attitudes, and personalities are likely to draw different lessons and thus come to different conclusions.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 11:44 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan, and this isn't meant to be sarcastic, so please don't interpret it as such.

Why did you choose to make a thread regarding the debunking of this fantastical story, as opposed to the thousands of other fantastical stories developed by thousands of other authors over the centuries? Just curious.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 11:55 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;73279 wrote:
Alan, and this isn't meant to be sarcastic, so please don't interpret it as such.

Why did you choose to make a thread regarding the debunking of this fantastical story, as opposed to the thousands of other fantastical stories developed by thousands of other authors over the centuries? Just curious.


The Bible is supposed to be a guidebook to living the other fantastical stories you meaning don't make the same claim

Because there is a huge following with many evangelist screaming from their pulpits that unless you believe the whole bible as the literal and absolute truth of God you are doomed to a lost eternity

I know this because at one time I believed this crap and when reality finally hit me my disillusion with religion almost led me to suicide

I simply could not rationalise the truth with what I now knew as rubbish, I simply could not rap my mind how I a reasonably intelligent person could have become so brain washed
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 01:07 am
@Alan McDougall,
[SIZE="3"]It seems somewhat of a wasted opportunity to "debunk" the literal accuracy of a myth when myths, by their nature, aren't devoted to accuracy, yet often do take a real event and put it in the context of a story.

That may be the actual case with the flood story. Like much of the OT, there is likely a link to actual events. In their book "Noah's Flood," geologists Pitman and Ryan discovered significant evidence the Black Sea was flooded 7500 years ago when the Mediterranean Sea overflowed. PBS - Scientific American Frontiers | Beneath the Sea | Noah's Flood

If the story originated from tribes living near the Black Sea when it flooded, it may have engulfed the entire territory they operated within, and so from their perspective it's plausible it seemed seemed like the whole world to them (besides, at that time nobody knew just how big the world was).

We are smart enough to know it took an immense amount of rain (as in million-year-long rain storms billions of years ago) to form the oceans. Just because some people, for religious reasons, have a stake in it is no reason not to value myths that may offer insight into humanity's struggles. [/SIZE]
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 04:03 am
@LWSleeth,
LWSleeth;73290 wrote:
It seems somewhat of a wasted opportunity to "debunk" the literal accuracy of a myth when myths, by their nature, aren't devoted to accuracy, yet often do take a real event and put it in the context of a story.

That may be the actual case with the flood story. Like much of the OT, there is likely a link to actual events. In their book "Noah's Flood," geologists Pitman and Ryan discovered significant evidence the Black Sea was flooded 7500 years ago when the Mediterranean Sea overflowed. PBS - Scientific American Frontiers | Beneath the Sea | Noah's Flood

If the story originated from tribes living near the Black Sea when it flooded, it may have engulfed the entire territory they operated within, and so from their perspective it's plausible it seemed seemed like the whole world to them (besides, at that time nobody knew just how big the world was).

We are smart enough to know it took an immense amount of rain (as in million-year-long rain storms billions of years ago) to form the oceans. Just because some people, for religious reasons, have a stake in it is no reason not to value myths that may offer insight into humanity's struggles.


Many religious people do not see it as a myth, they insist against all reason that the Great flood happened just as it was said to have happened in the bible.

Literal believing Christians believe thee flood water covered the highest mountain , if this were the case the Mount Everest some 29 thousand feet above sea level must have become submerged beneath the flood water

There have been numerous expedition the Turkey to explore Mount Ararat were the Arch is said to have come to rest after the water drained off

I know about the water from the Mediterranean breaking through and flooding the Black sea. The Black sea now full of salt water is known to have been lower in the past and consist of non salty water. This could have created the story

Another possibly if we go further back in time, The Mediterranean was dried up and in the past. The Atlantic ocean is said to have broken through the Straits of Gibraltar with the greatest waterfall the earth has ever seen and filled the then dry occupied Mediterranean basin.

People living in the Mediterranean basin would have thought this event was a punishment by God.
 
RDRDRD1
 
Reply Mon 6 Jul, 2009 11:35 am
@Alan McDougall,
Chris Hedges has a lively discussion of biblical inerrancy in his book American Fascists. A minister's son who took a masters in divinity at Harvard, Hedges went on to a career as a war correspondent. He has since taken up what he sees as the threat to America from Christian fundamentalists. In this book he makes many compelling arguments demonstrating that extremists are manipulating the Bible and Christianity to the genuine peril of their nation.
 
Ares phil
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 11:46 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;73258 wrote:
There are VERY few literal believers of anything in Genesis in Christianity and yet fewer in Judaism and Islam. Most people in these religions are quite content to see biblical stories as allegorical.


Come to South Carolina and say that =/ EVERYONE takes the bible literal here, its pathetic... And I think you may be slightly inaccurate there are alot of people that take the Bible to be 100% accurate.
 
RDRDRD1
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 12:03 pm
@Alan McDougall,
There have been many studies over the past four decades demonstrating the sizeable percentage of Americans who embrace biblical inerrancy. You might get more from visiting here: Biblical inerrancy - The Mainstream Evangelical Protestant Position in America

Some time ago Jon Stewart had a bible scholar on his show, a Born Again fundamentalist. The fellow was so determined to prove biblical inerrancy that he studied and mastered ancient Greek in order to read the oldest surviving biblical texts. Not only did he find them riddled with irreconcilable contradictions, he found parables that are incorporated in today's Bible that actually began as marginal notations, apparent fables, in the early texts that only materialized centuries after the death of Christ. He wrote a book that chronicled his findings but lamented that the dogma of inerrancy, the "literal word of God" thing remains far too entrenched to be repudiated.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 12:40 pm
@RDRDRD1,
Back to the great floods of 7 to 8 thousand years ago.Many stories confirm the floods at about that time.It appears the sea levels rose around the globe and many low lying land and coastal settlements disappeared beneath the sea.Valleys previously secure where flooded and became seas, undersea searches have found cities in India, Greece and the Americas. The Atlantis story it appears originates from that period,anything of such significance will stay in our mythical stories and legends.It may not be factually correct but the flood is based on historic certainty.
 
RDRDRD1
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 02:54 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Xris - please provide some reference to support your contention of a great flood around the globe in which "many low lying land and coastal settlements disappeared beneath the sea." There was a documented flooding event in the Med and that is common to several ancient religions but I've heard of no actual global event.
 
JEROME phil
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 06:38 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall writes:
Quote:
...I know this because at one time I believed this crap and when reality finally hit me my disillusion with religion almost led me to suicide


Perhaps your disillusionment was caused, not by "reality hitting you", but by you being swept away by rationalist's contrived and convoluted mathematical presuppositions and interpretations.

However, regardless of what one might add, subtract, or substitute for the clear text of Genesis; and regardless of what one might desire, will, or fancy in their own peculiar exegesis of the six days of creation, the fall, the flood, etc...nevertheless, Scripture, in and of itself, possesses a remarkable perspicuity on all of these matters; and to deny Scripture in part is to deny it in whole.

A Christian's faith rests on the objective authority of Scripture, even though they cannot fathom the depths of its mysteries, whether they be of God [the Trinity; the Hypostatic Union; etc.] or creation [the origin of evil; the six days; the flood; etc.].

I ask you this question, Mr. McDougall: If it is indeed true that you once regarded the text of Scripture to be infallible [as the text states of itself], then how could any rationalistic or philosophical axiom convince you of the contrary?


JEROME
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 07:10 pm
@JEROME phil,
JEROME;77102 wrote:
Alan McDougall writes:


Perhaps your disillusionment was caused, not by "reality hitting you", but by you being swept away by rationalist's contrived and convoluted mathematical presuppositions and interpretations.

However, regardless of what one might add, subtract, or substitute for the clear text of Genesis; and regardless of what one might desire, will, or fancy in their own peculiar exegesis of the six days of creation, the fall, the flood, etc...nevertheless, Scripture, in and of itself, possesses a remarkable perspicuity on all of these matters; and to deny Scripture in part is to deny it in whole.

A Christian's faith rests on the objective authority of Scripture, even though they cannot fathom the depths of its mysteries, whether they be of God [the Trinity; the Hypostatic Union; etc.] or creation [the origin of evil; the six days; the flood; etc.].

I ask you this question, Mr. McDougall: If it is indeed true that you once regarded the text of Scripture to be infallible [as the text states of itself], then how could any rationalistic or philosophical axiom convince you of the contrary?



JEROME


I used my god given intelligence, not even the mountains of Judea show ever being under flood waters.

Then on thinking a little further than the end of my nose, I thought did god really create a rainbow this late in history, light spectrum must have been dispersed long before Noah?

Adinfinitum
 
JEROME phil
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 07:34 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Mr. McDougall writes:
Quote:
I used my god given intelligence, not even the mountains of Judea show ever being under flood waters.

Then on thinking a little further than the end of my nose, I thought did god really create a rainbow this late in history, light spectrum must have been dispersed long before Noah?

Adinfinitum


As evidenced by your own immodest speculations, I doubt very much that your thinking ever extends beyond the stony (and brittle) confines of your own bloated cranium...with all due respect, sir.

What scientific rationale, then, leads you to presuppose that the existence of Mt. Everest, or the mountains of Judea for that matter, precedes the Noahic flood?

JEROME
 
RDRDRD1
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 07:49 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Jerome you really should learn to control your temper and try to be respectful of those who hold views other than your own. Your bitterness detracts from your argument.
 
 

 
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