In recent weeks I’ve engaged in a few Facebook discussions surrounding the Genesis Flood myth. There is a greater variety of opinions that Christians have on the flood than you would initially imagine. The conclusions I’ve come to on this is that many Christians now accept that the literal interpretation of a fully submerged earth following 40 days of rain about four and a half thousand years ago doesn’t hold water. Our levels of science knowledge are such that many aspects of the story can not be true.
I do love the irony in that. Here’s a story of a miraculous god, but it’s too unbelievable due to the naturally impossible elements, so lets change a few bits to make the natural elements more natural and so make the supernatural narrative more acceptable.
On the subject of impossible natural elements, a fully submerged earth simply isn’t possible because the volume of water available is insufficient. There’s some (relatively) basic maths calculations to demonstrate that. What you need to do is calculate the volume of water required to fill the earth from the deepest ocean trench to the height of Everest. From that value you subtract the volume of the earth that intrudes on that space.
The result is estimated at 5.728 x 10^18 m^3 (cubic meters). I’ve not calculated this value myself, I’ve trusted that the searches I’ve done to find it are accurate.
Now that we have the space to fill up, we need the volume of water to put into it, The water currently on the planet is clearly well short of that, otherwise we’d all be aquatic creatures, not land loving mammals. The volume of water currently on earth is apparently 1.386 × 10^18 m^3. This includes the moisture in the atmosphere, which is apparently 3% of that number.
The shortfall is an easy subtraction. An additional 4.4 x 10^18 m^3 is required. Where could that water possibly come from?
The Bible says it rained for 40 days straight. But that’s not additional water, that’s water already accounted for in the number above. However, the Bible does record rainfall, so how much rain would be required? One page I looked at said that 9m rainfall per hour would be required to rain that volume. I would guess that our atmospheric processes can’t handle precipitation of that volume for 40 days. In fact I doubt it could handle it for a single day. Of course a climatologist would need to fact check that for me, so please don’t quote me as an authority.
Apparently the record for the heaviest rain in recorded history is a little over 98 inches over 48 hours. Not even close to 9m an hour, and not even over the whole globe. In fact it’s so far off the mark it’s laughable. So even if this water wasn’t already in the system, our natural processes can’t cope with the delivery rate required of them. It would need a god to rain down that much water.
The Bible does have an obscure reference to the waters of the deep, and in typical Bible fashion, this is a non specific description that permits pretty much any sub surface activity. If the flood believer is going to accept what science has to say about the volume of rain falling, they are forced into using this phrase as their miracle get out clause.
Which brings us nicely onto a relatively recently announced discovery. That of the Ringwoodite Reservoir some 600ish km below the surface. Reservoir is of course not a very good description because this is not liquid water sloshing about in deep underground caverns. This is water molecules that form part of the rock structure. Rocks that are hot and under enormous pressure, a feature of the depth they are at. I understand that this water was discovered through analysis of earthquake vibrations, something that scientists make use of to determine the composition of the rocks below the surface. The technology and the science involved keeps getting better.
What I’m unclear on is the level of certainty there is for this water and it’s volume. One text I read said it could be 1% of the rocks and that means the water volume is three times that of the water in our oceans. If true, this brings the possible volume of water required tantalisingly close to the required amount, but it’s still short.
This isn’t the end of flood doubting though, not by a long shot. As already mentioned, this isn’t water that’s sitting there waiting to be spurted back to the surface, it’s literally in the rock. It’s also not absolutely known how much there is. I’ve not read that all the rock holds the same level of water or if an average across all the rock has been worked out. This needs to be known if there is going to be an accurate calculation of that water volume.
If we suppose for a moment that this an accurate value and that the Bible does indeed mean this water (a big stretch, but I’ll let it slide), then there needs to be a mechanism to get that water out of the rock and gushing to the surface at enough of a rate to flood the earth and drain away again in the time period allowed. Scientists say that to get the water out of the rock, the rock needs to be heated, so an increase in temperatures is required, I don’t know how much by. Something also needs to drive this water 600km to the surface, this will have to be an extra natural event. A geologist would have to tell me what affect that would have on the rocks that used to hold the water I don’t think it’ll have no effect, there will have to be a consequence of that water leaving the rock. The flow of this water would seriously erode the rock it was coming up through and going down through again.
Where is the evidence of all this water movement? There isn’t any!
A volume of water three times that which is in the oceans moved up through 600kms of rock and then back down again, in the space of a year, without leaving any evidence of its fantastic journey! I’m expected to believe that without question?
The beautiful thing about this water is that the scientists that say it’s there also say it’s been there for millions of years. So any creationist that uses the discovery of this water to back up their flood narrative, also has to reject the same sourced evidence that contradicts their myth.
Of course the submerged earth flood isn’t true, which is why many Christians, probably the majority, take a different approach and go for the localised version. It’s scientifically possible, which makes it more believable, but also, in my opinion, less biblical.
A local flood fails the major thrust of the Bible narrative, that is that every creature on earth must die. The local flood makes this untrue and therefore eliminates the need for an ark entirely. Despite this, the local flood idea is vehemently defended. The flood story is in the Bible and so it must be interpreted in light of science to be more acceptable.
Among the arguments I’ve seen for a local flood is that it was a specific lineage that needed to die, not the whole earth. I don’t think that’s an obvious interpretation from the Bible verses at all. It also ignores (denies?) the possibility of some descendants leaving the area while also completely side stepping the fact that it would have been a whole lot easier if Moses and his clan had gone for a long stroll to avoid the impending deluge.
Another suggestion I’ve seen is that it was a cascading flood that travelled round the globe, so not everywhere was simultaneously flooded, but the whole globe did flood. I give this one credit for ingenuity, but it utterly fails to explain the latter stages of the flood, you know the fig tree and the doves part! Pesky Christians, always forgetting the detail.
Talking of detail, lets not forget that 600 year old Moses only had three sons and his something hundred year old sons where childless, despite being married. Must have been using condoms, dirty perverts!
Such is the state of Christianity, it must adapt its supernatural legends so they seem more naturally possible in order to make its supernatural agents more believable. I can’t be the only one who guffaws at that!