The Genesis Chronicles: A Proposed History Of The Morning Of The World
Chapter 10: NOAH'S FLOOD
This chapter covers the following topics:
Now we have come to the time of the tenth patriarch, Noah (4452-3502). The age from Adam to Noah was not a time of evolution, but devolution; humanity did not get better, but worse. As the number of people increased across the Earth, so did the problems. God was sorry that His creation had turned wholeheartedly to evil, with only one exception: Noah. We often think of the pre-Flood world as full of crime and sexual immorality. This was probably true, but let me suggest that there must have been considerable occult activity as well, judging from the preoccupation today's occult practitioners and "New Agers" have with a past golden age, whether they call it "Atlantis" or something else.
The pre-Flood world also could have been a world at war. In Chapter 9 I mentioned that Methuselah's name means "man of the dart" or "man of war," suggesting that he was a war leader. When I visited the Creation Museum in June 2007, one of the things I saw was an audioanimatronic Methuselah, telling visitors what his grandson Noah is up to, and how God promised he would live long enough to see it completed. The Methuselah robot was in a tent and wore the same Bedouin-style robe that is associated with most Biblical characters, but the hints we get from that far back suggest he was more than just another shepherd. Put together his 969-year lifespan with the idea that he was a military leader, and the ruler of the Sethite civilization, and what do you get? For me, it conjures up a vision of a very old general in a Napoleonic-era uniform, sort of like Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky, the Austrian commander who spent more than seventy years in the army. If I was designing the Methuselah display, I would still have him talk about Noah most of the time, but he would end his monologue by saying, "I have to go now. My troops are waiting for me to lead them in an assault against the Cainite rebels." Unfortunately, I guess that would be too far-fetched for most visitors to the museum.
The critical verse here is Matthew 24:22, where Jesus says, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." There He is talking about the end times, but in another verse He tells His disciples that the end times will be like the days of Noah. This means if the Flood hadn't come along when it did, the human race might very well have destroyed itself. Since the 1940s, people have been worried that we might do such a thing with nuclear weapons, and warn that a nuclear war would end life and civilization as we know it. Well, in Chapter 9 we saw the ooparts as evidence that the antediluvian world was capable of advanced technology. Was Methuselah building missiles, in a Cold War-style arms race, while Noah was building the Ark? If so, could it be that one reason why we're afraid of nuclear war is because we have a suppressed memory in our collective subconsciousness, which says it has happened before?
At some point, possibly when Noah was 480 years old, God warned him of the deluge and gave him instructions for building the Ark so that he would survive. We all know what happened next; read Genesis 6-9 for the details. Noah brings his family and two of every kind of animal into the Ark; it rains for forty days, drowning everyone who does not come aboard; after nearly a year the Ark comes to rest "in the mountains of Ararat"; Noah sends out ravens and doves to see if the ground has dried up; they finally disembark a year after the Flood began. Noah offers a sacrifice to thank God for His protection, and God tells him that the rainbow (something that could not be seen in the cloud-filled antediluvian skies) is a sign that He will never flood the world again.
In his book, The Rise and Fall of Civilization, David Hocking points out four important issues that we must discuss to properly understand the story of Noah:
1. Is there geologic evidence for a universal flood?
The problem is that when placed against the Biblical account, the local flood theory just doesn't hold water (sorry for the pun). Genesis states clearly in several verses (6:17, 7:10, 7:17-20) that the entire earth was flooded. When God said "all" the earth was flooded, I don't think he meant "some." Also note that Noah's family was on the Ark for 375 days; not even the great Missouri-Mississippi flood of 1993 lasted that long, and nobody felt moved to compose poems, ballads or stories about it! Moreover, the Bible says often that everyone who did not come on the Ark perished; if the Flood only covered Mesopotamia, for instance, the Chinese would have escaped. And don't forget that if the Flood was a local one, Noah and the animals wouldn't have needed an Ark to survive; running away from the disaster area would be enough. Finally, God promised that there would never be another flood like this. We have floods today; has God broken His promise? No, because today's floods are always local; we still see the rainbow to remind us of God's promise not to flood the whole world again.
Is there enough water to cover the earth? Genesis 7:20 says that the waters prevailed as high as 15 cubits above the highest mountain before they subsided. In The Genesis Flood, Henry Morris took the height of Mt. Everest and added fifteen times the length of a Hebrew cubit (about 18 inches), to calculate that the flood waters peaked at more than 29,000 feet above today's sea level. There is plenty of water in our atmosphere, and presumably there was more in the antediluvian canopy, but only enough to raise the ocean levels about forty feet. Fortunately we have a reference to explain where the rest came from; Genesis 7:11 says that the Flood began when the "fountains of the deep were broken up," and then it began to rain. After 150 days, the "fountains of the deep" closed again; since this is a timespan nearly four times as long as the rain, this invisible upsurge must have contributed more water than the rain did.
Something cracked the earth's crust, allowing the water which had gathered under it on the third day of Creation to spew forth. Scientists tell us that more than two hundred million cubic miles of water are stored beneath today's ocean floor. That is enough to cover the earth! Dr. Walter Brown, retired director of a major research and production facility of the Defense Dept., estimates that the underground sea once formed a layer about half a mile thick, under an average of ten miles of rock. Because of the weight from all that rock, once it was cracked, the waters shot almost twenty miles skyward, triggering the rains that caused the atmospheric canopy to collapse. At the same time, the crack spread rapidly around the earth, at a rate of 2-3 miles a second, forming the mid-oceanic ridge that runs through the middle of today's oceans in only a couple of hours. Lubricated by the water still underneath, the continental plates slid away from the ridge, initiating continental drift.
We saw in December 2004 how much damage a single tsunami can cause, when an earthquake in the Bay of Bengal created waves that went rapidly across the Indian Ocean in every direction, killing people on beaches from Indonesia to Kenya. Now imagine the tsunamis that would have been generated by cracks suddenly appearing in many parts of the ocean floor. I would suggest that for most of the victims of Noah's Flood, the first sign of disaster was not clouds and rain, but enormous waves hitting every shore on earth, spaced no more than a few minutes apart. We don't know where Noah built the Ark, but it couldn't have been close to any sea, for that reason.
Heated by the magma of the earth's mantle, the subterranean water must have been at near-boiling temperatures, or live steam. A lot of sea life would have been killed on first contact with this scalding water. The force of these geysers, combined with the torrential rains, would tear at the earth's surface, both above and below sea level. This would result in a planet wide sea of "earth soup." All plants, animals and manmade objects--everything down to the bedrock--would be washed into the mud and debris, and buried as it settled. This violently stirring cauldron of the forces of nature, set on "maximum destruct," changed our planet so drastically that few traces of its original beauty have survived.(1)
From this model we can get a more realistic picture of how the different layers of rock were laid down, which doesn't call for an evolutionary sequence. The first fossils buried would be those of creatures which lived on the bottom of the sea, like trilobites and shells. Next would come fish and other pelagic sea creatures that could escape (briefly) the initial geologic upheavals by swimming. Then the burials of land animals would begin. We don't find dinosaurs and trilobites in the same rocks not because they lived in different eras, but because they lived in different environments. After the dinosaurs would come rocks containing birds and mammals, because they are smaller and more fleet-footed. The last, uppermost, and youngest rocks would encase human fossils, because our ancestors who drowned in the Flood would have sought the highest places, like mountaintops, in their attempts to escape.
Now if the Flood story is true, what do you think the geologic evidence would be? Sedimentary rock laid down all over the earth, and billions of fossils from dead things buried by water action. In previous chapters we looked at the fossil record, and what does it show? Sedimentary rock laid down all over the earth, and billions of fossils from dead things buried by water action. Fish and shell fossils have even been found on Mt. Everest. I rest my case.(2)
The Ark had three decks (6:16), so using the 18-inch cubit given above, its deck area covered 95,000 square feet, and the total volume was 1,400,000 cubic feet. In The Genesis Flood, Henry Morris calculated this as equivalent to 569 railroad cattle cars. Ron Wyatt and David Fasold argued that since Moses, the author of Genesis, was given an Egyptian education (Acts 7:22), he would have had the long Egyptian cubit in mind; this gives us an Ark 516 feet long, with a cargo equivalent of 852 cattle cars. Whichever cubit you believe, that's a lot of space!
Now, how many animals did they need? A typical biology text will tell you that there are about one million known species of animals in the world today. Of those more than 95 percent are invertebrates: insects, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, worms, jellyfish, sponges, and protozoa. Many of them would not have to come on the Ark, since they live in the sea anyway, and those that do (i.e., insects) don't take up much space; in fact, you can put most of the bugs on the ceilings of each deck while the other animals stand on the floor.(3) As for the vertebrates, you can leave out those who live all their lives in the sea (fishes and whales) for obvious reasons. That leaves an animal cargo made up of mostly amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Ernst Mayer lists a total of 17,600 species in those classes; multiply by two, and double that amount to account for species now extinct, and we have 70,400 animals to bring aboard the Ark. The average size of these animals, when you put the biggest next to the smallest, is about the size of a sheep, and 240 sheep can fit into a typical cattle car. This means that even on an Ark of Dr. Morris' dimensions, the animals would have filled little more than half of it. The extra space would have been used for the living quarters of Noah's family, and storage of food, fodder, and all the seeds needed to replant the world; there would also be some space left over for anything they might have needed that I can't think of now.
In fact, Noah would not have needed to take even that many animals with him. Rather than take two of every species, he might have just taken two of every genus of animal. For instance, instead of bringing two of every breed of dog, he would have just brought two "mongrels," and after the Flood they would have diversified into the dogs, wolves, coyotes, hyenas, dingoes, jackals and foxes that we see today. Let the record show these are not new species evolving; remember that in Chapter 3 we looked at how natural selection can produce variety among animals, but not transform one animal into a completely different one. We aren't talking evolution here, we're talking dogs!
Finally some of those animals would have been difficult to take care of. For those with specialized diets, like the koala (which only eats fresh eucalyptus leaves), it is possible that some form of artificial hibernation was practiced, to make them sleep for most of the voyage; we don't have any data for or against the idea, though. Then there are the dinosaurs. We've had the idea that dinosaurs are prehistoric monsters ground so deep into our minds that even Christians usually can't imagine dinosaurs on the Ark. Ken Ham tells how when he gives classes on creationism he will ask about dinosaurs and get a response like this:
"Did God tell Noah to bring every animal on the Ark?"
I think you'll agree we have a bit of an inconsistency here. If God told Noah to bring two of every kind of animal on the Ark, we should expect him to bring dinosaurs. This doesn't sound as impossible as it may sound. First, not all dinosaurs were huge; some (e.g., compsognathus) were the size of chickens or cats. As for big ones like the 85-ton brachiosaurus, he could have brought them as babies or as eggs. Baby dinosaurs were not that large--the largest dinosaur eggs ever found were a foot across, and most eggs were the size and shape of an Idaho potato or a large cucumber. If I were Noah, I would definitely want to take the meat-eaters like tyrannosaurus rex only when they are at their youngest, most easily handled age; otherwise some spectacular murders would be very likely!
This cartoon on the subject is becoming a classic.
If Noah brought the dinosaurs, why don't we see them running around today? The answer is simple: most of them couldn't find enough to eat, or otherwise cope with the environment of the post-Flood world, and died out shortly afterward.
Some of us have visions of Noah going on expeditions to Africa to get the lions and elephants, to Australia for kangaroos, and so on. It didn't happen this way; God brought the animals to him (Gen. 6:20). How did the kangaroo get from Australia? Since I believe the continents were joined before the Flood, all it had to do was hop.4
Many researchers have come to the conclusion that the latter is true. One of the first, Scottish geologist Hugh Miller, collected many haunting traditions and wrote:
" There is, however, one special tradition which seems to be more deeply impressed and more widely spread than any of the others. The destruction of well-nigh the entire human race, in an early age of the world's history, by a great deluge, appears to have impressed the minds of the few survivors, and seems to have been handed down to their children, in consequence, with such terror-struck impressiveness that their remote descendants to the present day have not yet forgotten it. It appears in almost every mythology, and lives in the most distant countries and among the most barbarous tribes."(5)
Here is a partial list of cultures with universal flood stories:(6)
Asia: Andamanese, Armenians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Chinese, Dravidians, Hebrews, Indo-Iranians, Japanese, Kurnai, Mongols, Persians, Phoenicians, Phrygians, Syrians, Tatars.
Africa: Bermegai, Carthaginians, Egyptians, Hottentots, Sudanese.
Europe: Druids, Germans, Greeks, Gypsies, Icelanders, Laplanders, Lithuanians, Norse, Romans, Slavs, Voguls, Welsh.
America: Algonquins, Arapahoes, Arawaks, Athabascans, Aztecs, Cauras, Cherokees, Crees, Eskimos, Incas, Klamaths, Kolushes, Kwakiutls, Lenni Lanapes, Mayans, Maypures, Mechoachens, Michoacans, Papagos, Pimas, Snoqualmies, Tamanacs, Texpi, Tlingits, Toltecs.
Oceania: Aborigines, Bataks, Dyaks, Fijans, Hawaiians, Melanesians, Menankabans, Micronesians, New Hebridese, Polynesians, Toradjas.
Let the record show that these people did not learn their flood stories from Christian missionaries. For one thing, they disagree on too many details, like the specs of the boat or raft, and who came aboard it. Also, most of the legends were recorded not by missionaries but by anthropologists, who have no interest in proving the Bible is true. Finally, none of these tribes have legends about the miracles which happened in the Bible after Genesis 11, like the crossing of the Red Sea.
The deluge story most familiar to us besides the one of the Bible is the one of Mesopotamia, where the hero is called Utnapishtim (Xisouthros or Ziusudra in the later account of Berosus). When it was first discovered in 1876, among the clay tablets of the great Assyrian library at Nineveh, the similarities between it and the Biblical flood were obvious. It is part of a greater story--the Epic of Gilgamesh, Mesopotamia's most important legend.
Gilgamesh was the king of an ancient Sumerian city called Uruk (Erech in Genesis 10). In other parts of the story, which we don't have time to recount here, Gilgamesh is a superhero like Hercules or Samson, who goes on many adventures with his best friend, Enkidu, and slays terrible monsters. In their last battle they kill the great celestial bull of the goddess Ishtar, and for that the gods decreed that Enkidu must die. Because of this Gilgamesh realizes that someday he too will die, even though he is "two-thirds god and one-third man." He learns that there is a man named Utnapishtim who is immortal, and goes on a perilous journey to find out from him the secret of eternal life. When they meet, Utnapishtim tells him that he and his wife became immortal because they survived an awful flood.
Once upon a time the human race was making so much noise that the gods could not sleep, and Enlil, the king of the Sumerian gods, decided to destroy humanity. Most of the gods went along with this, but the water god, Enki (also called Ea), disagreed, so he appeared to Utnapishtim in a dream and told him to tear down his house and build a boat from it. Utnapishtim did so, covered it with 30,000 baskets of pitch, and filled it with his family and various animals.
Then it rained, for seven terrifying days. The storm, in fact, was so terrible that "even the gods were terrified of the flood, they fled to the highest heaven, the firmament of Anu (the sky god); they crouched against the wall, cowering like dogs." Ishtar "cried like a woman in travail: 'Alas the days of old are turned to dust because I commanded evil; why did I command this evil in the council of all the gods? I commanded wars to destroy the people, but are they not my people, for I brought them forth? Now like the spawn of fish they float in the ocean.'"
After riding out the storm, the Ark came to rest on Mt. Nisir in Iraq, and Utnapishtim waited for the waters to go down. On the seventh day he turned loose a dove, which flew around for a while before coming back. Next he released a swallow, which also came back empty-handed. On the third try he sent a raven, which found something to eat and did not return. To Utnapishtim this was a sign that dry land had appeared, so he came out of the Ark and offered a sacrifice to thank the gods for his safety. "When the gods smelled the sweet savour, they gathered like flies over the sacrifice." The poor gods had gone hungry because they had destroyed mankind, so they gathered like flies when Utnapishtim remembered their need. The story ends with an argument among the gods concerning who started the Flood, and why there was a survivor. In the end they agreed to bless Utnapishtim with immortality. No doubt you can see some similarities between this story and the Biblical one.
When the Gilgamesh epic was published, many theologians and professors immediately declared that the Biblical story of the Flood must have been copied by somebody who read the Mesopotamian story. They would. These are the same eggheads who declared that Moses copied the laws of the Old Testament from Hammurabi's famous law code, and that the Israelites learned about monotheism from Akhenaten, a pharaoh Egyptians regarded as weird because he only believed in one god. These folks, who never want to give the Bible credit for accuracy or originality, still publish books on the Exodus in which they say the Israelites ditched the Egyptians in a lake, lived off bug poop while wandering in the desert (they think manna is a secretion from aphids living in date palms), and invaded the Promised Land so gradually, one tribe at a time, that the resident Canaanites barely noticed their arrival.
If there is a connection, the people of Mesopotamia (the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Chaldeans) got their flood story from the Bible, not the other way around. The Biblical account is the simpler, more noble of the two. When we tell and retell a story, it tends to get more elaborate, not simpler, and it is more likely to get worse than it is to get better. Can any of us imagine the Creator and king of the universe needing to sleep? Or "cowering like a dog" with fear? Or needing food so bad that He would "gather like flies" when it is offered? When put against the Mesopotamian version, the Bible's story of the Flood doesn't look so hard to believe after all.(7)
Remember that a lot of the peoples in the list of flood stories had no contact with the Middle East in ancient times; unless you're a Mormon (the Mormons believe that Jesus preached to the American Indians after he finished with the Jews) you'll be hard-pressed to explain how tribes in the New World got hold of a four-thousand-year-old myth from Iraq. It is much easier to believe that everybody who lived right after the Flood knew about it, and when they were dispersed from Babel they took the Flood story wherever they went.
The Chinese also have a Flood story with amazing parallels to the Hebrew one. In this account the Flood is caused by the two main rivers of China, the Yellow and the Yangtze, and a family of eight escapes in a boat. Most remarkable, the captain of this boat is named "Nu-wah." This must be a Chinese attempt to pronounce Noah, for Nu-wah, which means "flowery woman," is not a proper name for a Chinese man to have.
Apparently whoever invented Chinese writing knew about the stories in the first eleven chapters of Genesis, and kept harking back to them in the complicated system of characters. For example, the Chinese character for boat combines the characters for "eight" and "mouth," as if he knew of a boat with eight people on it (the Ark!). Also, the character for righteousness superimposes a picture of a lamb over the ideogram for "myself," reminding us of Noah's sacrifice. I'm not an expert in the Chinese language, so for those who want to learn more about this fascinating subject, I recommend C. H. Kang's book, The Discovery of Genesis. Pastor Kang, a native speaker, found dozens of characters which he believes are based on the stories of the Creation, Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah's Flood, and the Tower of Babel. He also suggests that for two thousand years the Chinese believed in only one god, a heavenly being whom they called Shang Di, but gradually they forgot him; then Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and ungodly practices like ancestor worship came along and erased the memory of the original god, forming the Chinese religion of today.
Other reasons for the flood are given in the scriptures. They include the following:
1. To reveal God's mighty power over all the forces of nature (Psalm 148:8, 2 Peter 3:7).
2. To reveal God's loving protection for those who trust in Him (2 Peter 2:5 & 9).
3. To show His longsuffering patience. While Noah built the Ark, he was also warning of the upcoming judgment (Hebrews 11:7). This means that sinners had many years, perhaps over a century, to repent of their evil ways; tragically, none of them did.
The Gilgamesh epic says that Utnapishtim (Noah) was the king of a nation (the Sethites?), and that he provided considerable employment for his people by hiring them to build the Ark. No doubt there were many workers who didn't mind a crazy boss, so long as the pay was good. Even so, they refused to come aboard with him when the job was finished. Noah must have been heartbroken over this. One who stayed behind was his dearest friend, a shipbuilder named Puzur-Amurru. To him, Noah bequeathed his palace and his riches. We can be sure he wasn't happy and wealthy for long.(8)
4. An example to future believers. Jesus tells us that the days before the Second Coming will be like "the days of Noah," (Matt. 24:36-44) and God's people must keep on the alert for the next and final judgment on the human race. Next time, like in Noah's time, only those who love and obey the Lord will be spared, and after the world is destroyed by fire a new Heaven and a new Earth will be prepared for them, just as Noah's family inherited today's world after everyone else was destroyed (2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 21).
One of the figures mentioned in Genesis 4 is one I waited to discuss until now: Naamah, the sister of Tubal-Cain. Her name means "pleasantness," and curiously, no reason is given for why she is mentioned; she is the only female character recorded in Genesis between Eve and Sarah. Fasold suggests in chapters three and nine of his book that Naamah is listed because she was the wife of Noah who came on the Ark; the reason why Noah's wife is not mentioned by name elsewhere is because she was not the mother of Shem, Noah's principal heir, but the mother of Ham! He also notes that the Phoenicians (descendants of Ham, see the next chapter of this work) put the descendants of Cain in their legends and scarcely mentioned the Sethites; why would they claim Cain as an ancestor? And if Noah was really a king, as the Babylonian myths assert, it would be natural for him to take a daughter of his rival (Lamech from the house of Cain) to keep the peace; heads of state have frequently practiced such diplomatic marriages more recently. Finally, the Ammonite queen of Solomon, the mother of Rehoboam, was also named Naamah (1 Kings 14:21, 2 Chronicles 12:13); why would that name be perpetuated if the original Naamah perished in the deluge?
Fasold then ventures to suggest that each of Noah's sons had a different mother, and that Noah took more than one wife to insure that his family carried as much genetic variety as possible. He goes on to propose that because Ham's mother was from the family of Cain, Shem had a mother from the family of Seth, and Japheth had a mother from the family of Abel. There could have been other tribes and nations, descended from other children of Adam and Eve, but all of their members perished in the flood; Charles Berlitz turned up a Persian legend of the Flood which says that people with pointed teeth were not allowed to come aboard!(9)
Before any of you holler that Noah would not have polluted his home by marrying someone from the wicked line of Cain, remember that in the time of Jared the children of Seth fell into a state of sin just as bad. Again I remind you that no one besides Noah's family came on the Ark. And while it may look bad to us for Noah to practice polygamy, in Old Testament times it was part of God's permissive will, if not His perfect will; He tolerated it, though He may not have liked it. Later we see Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon all having more than one wife, and God kept silent on the practice until the wives got their husbands into trouble, especially Solomon (see 1 Kings 11). Not until the New Testament do we see a requirement for a man of God to be "the husband of one wife." (1 Tim. 3:2)(10)
According to sources beyond the Bible, Noah had other children, and possibly other wives, but none of them came on the Ark. The most vivid of these references is the Noah story in the Koran:
"'Embark,' said Noah. 'In the name of God it shall set sail and cast anchor. My Lord is forgiving and merciful.'
Every flood legend has the Ark/raft/great canoe/whatever making landfall in a different location, usually one quite familiar to the tellers of the story; Mt. Nisir is in northern Iraq, for instance. What makes the Biblical story unique is that it is the only one which has the Ark rest in a distant place from where the authors (in this case the Jews) lived. Instead it is in a place called Ararat (Urartu in Assyrian records), the old name for what we now call Armenia.
Christians have long regarded Armenia's highest mountain, known locally as Agri Dagh, as the final resting place for the Ark, so it now appears on maps as Mt. Ararat. Because of that, for centuries Christian pilgrims and mountain climbers have come to this 17,000-foot-high mountain, looking for the Ark. For a long time the Turkish government discouraged such expeditions, since the Moslem version of the story has the Ark on a Mt. Judi (also spelled Cudi or Çudi). Exactly where Mt. Judi is has been disputed; four mountains in eastern Turkey and one in Saudi Arabia are candidates. And if that isn't enough, several Islamic scholars, particularly in Turkey, have come to believe that Judi is just another name for Ararat.
The area around Ararat is full of traditions about the flood story. Nakhichevan, a city in the nearest part of Azerbaijan, was called Apobaterion, meaning "place of departure," in the first century A.D.; its present name means "the place where Noah landed," and old-timers will show you where the traditional grave of the patriarch is. Aghuri, a small town at the foot of the mountain, is the traditional site where Noah planted his vineyard after leaving the Ark. Most interesting is the fact that Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, translates as "the place of the first appearance."(12)
You may have heard of the expeditions that have gone Ark-hunting. Their adventures have been popularized in many recent Christian books, and movies like "In Search of Noah's Ark." The first climber on record to reach the peak of Ararat was Friedrich Parrot, who came in 1829. He found nothing on the mountain, but in a nearby monastery he saw a small wooden cross which the monks claimed was made from the wood of the Ark. Authentic or not, the cross was lost in 1840, when an earthquake destroyed the monastery. Other mountain-climbers visited Mt. Ararat in the late nineteenth century, claimed to have seen the Ark sticking out of the snow, and made sketches of it, but the world was embracing evolution at the time, so it was no longer interested.
In 1970 an elderly Armenian named George Hagopian told a story about how in 1902, when he was a boy, he and his uncle found on the mountain a huge boxlike wooden structure, and he climbed up on top of it. There are reports that in 1916 a Russian military expedition went up Ararat, saw the Ark, and measured it. There have also been reported sightings by various pilots over the years. In 1955 a Frenchman, Ferdinand Navarra, climbed the mountain, found, and brought back a 5-foot plank of very old, tooled wood. In the 1980s the late James Irwin, an astronaut who met the Lord while walking on the moon, went to Ararat several times, only to return empty-handed. And there are many less-publicized sightings and trips to Ararat as well.
Over the years many eyewitness accounts have been debunked as either outright lies or sheer fantasy; for example, somebody told Ron Wyatt that thieves robbed the grave of Noah's wife just before his expedition, and sold a piece of jewelry for $75 million on the black market! The reports also disagree on important details, like the Ark's location (Hagopian put it at an elevation of 14,000 feet, while others claimed it was not so high). Since nobody has found conclusive proof that the Ark exists and that it is on Mt. Ararat, skeptics are still commonplace.
Is it possible that we are looking in the wrong place? Are we being dogmatic when we assume that the Ark has to be 450 feet long, look like a box, and be found on the peak of Ararat? Some think so. After all, the Bible says that the Ark rested "in the mountains of Ararat," not on the mountain we call Ararat, so any landing site in the Armenian highlands will do. And for most of history, Armenia was quite a bit larger than the tiny ex-Soviet republic of today; usually it included a big chunk of modern-day eastern Turkey as well. Under Tigranes, the greatest Armenian king, Armenia also ruled Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and even Syria!(13)
In recent years a boat-shaped formation, just over five-hundred feet long, has generated some attention. It is about fifteen miles from Ararat, at an elevation of 6,350 feet, near a Kurdish village named Dogubayazit. Discovered in 1959 air force photos by Turkish Captain llhan Durupinar, it is sometimes called the Durupinar mound. In the 1980s Ron Wyatt and David Fasold went there, ran metal detectors over it (they found iron fittings spaced at regular intervals, suggesting bulkheads), and were convinced that it is the decomposed remains of the Ark.(14) They also convinced the Turkish government; the site was declared a national park in 1987, and a road was built to "Nuh'un Gemisi" (Turkish for Noah's Ark).
Nothing made by man is perfect, and this supposed Ark has a few problems with it. One is that other formations resembling boats or canoes have been sighted around Mt. Ararat, suggesting that they are natural formations (who would build so many boats this far from the sea?). Another is that we expect the Ark to be made of wood, but the samples taken from Durupinar show no signs of tree rings. Wyatt thought this was because the wood is antediluvian; if there were no seasons before the Flood, there would be no wet-dry spells to keep the wood from growing at a constant rate. Fasold took a more radical view; he thought "gopher wood" was a bad translation, and that the Ark was really a plastered reed boat! Both authors also entertained some wild speculations that I currently cannot accept. Fasold, for instance, devoted Chapter 7 of his book to a theory that Shem built the Great Pyramid of Giza as a burial place for the bones of Adam, and Wyatt claimed all kinds of sensational discoveries on the side: the remains of giants who lived before the Flood, the simple machines used to build the pyramids, the Ark of the Covenant, a shrine built by Moses after crossing the Red Sea (in Saudi Arabia), and even the chariots of the Egyptians who drowned in the Exodus. If just one of those discoveries is real, then Wyatt will go down in history with the greatest Biblical archaeologists who ever lived. Those fundamentalists who prefer to look for a box-shaped barge on the peak of Ararat dismissed the find near Dogubayazit as either a natural formation, or the decayed remains of a fort built by the Turkish conqueror Timur in the 1390s.
Wyatt and Fasold died in the 1990s; before his death, Fasold changed his mind about the Durupinar mound being a manmade object.(15) Those who still believe this is the correct landing site have also modified their views, to propose that it is not really the Ark, but an imprint left in the ground where the Ark landed; the Ark itself has decayed or was destroyed in the ages since.(16)
If it was destroyed, could Noah's family have done it? Right after the Flood, they would have needed building material for houses, and fences for the animals they wanted to keep; they also would have needed fuel for their fires. If they weren't blessed with an abundant supply of driftwood, the Ark itself would have been the best source for all those things, at least until some trees grew up. Therefore if anybody finds the Ark, expect it to be a cannibalized Ark, rather than one that is more or less intact. An online friend of mine suggested how the conversation might have gone, after Noah's family disembarked:
Noah (looking at the Ark, which is now empty of animals): "Looks like we survived, praise be to God. What a muddy mess. Shem, get some of that rice stored in the Ark and start planting. Japheth, you plant some wheat. Ham, you gather the sheep and goats and watch over them. The children can get eggs from the chickens and watch over the rest of the livestock; make sure those baby tyrannosauri don't eat them all."
Mrs. Japheth: "I ain't living in that ark with Mrs. Ham. I'm sick of her! She did nothing but moan and complain the whole 40 days and nights."
Mrs. Ham: "Well I ain't gonna live in that ark anymore with you neither, you spiteful hag!"
Mrs. Shem: "You both are getting on my nerves. Just shut up will you?"
Noah: "That is ENOUGH! Now we all know the northlands are frozen, no use going up there. Shem, take your family and 1/3 of the Ark wood and go east. Ham, take your family and 1/3 of the wood and go south. Japheth, you go west with the rest. Me, I'll just stay here on the mountain and keep tending these grape vines, tee-hee."
" Some suppose that in the final catastrophe the earth too will be shaken and through clefts in the ground will uncover sources of fresh rivers which will flow forth from their full source in large volume. I, Berosus, interpreter of Belus, affirm that all the earth inherits will be consigned to flame when the five planets assemble in Cancer, so arranged in one row that a straight line may pass through their spheres. When the same gathering takes place in Capricorn, then we are in danger of the Deluge."
Sometimes we criticize the Babylonians for inventing the false knowledge we call astrology, but why did they do it, anyway? To make a good calendar all you need to do is watch the sun, moon and stars; the other planets are just a decoration in the night sky. Yet the Babylonians went to much trouble to keep track of the planets. They kept detailed records of when they saw Venus; they built artificial mountains (ziggurats) as much as three hundred feet high so that nothing would block their view of Jupiter; King Nebuchadnezzar named himself after Mercury, a planet most of us never even see(17); Assyrians prayed before battles that Nergal (Mars) would help them destroy their enemies. By contrast, unless astronomy is your hobby or profession, you are not likely to correctly identify one of the planets visible tonight. Why all the fuss over planets? From what Berosus said above, it appears that they saw the movements of the planets as a cycle controlling events in the universe, which would take place when everything was in the right place. Berosus was emphatic about this. Thus the real reason why Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt the Tower of Babel was to predict when the next great catastrophe would happen; he did not need it to cast horoscopes for the masses!
Catastrophist authors generally agree that astrology got started because a drastic change took place in the sky just before the Flood, and the builders of Babel and their immediate successors wanted to predict when the next world catastrophe would happen. Many Flood legends have references to astronomical events. For instance, the Talmud claims that the Flood started when God removed two stars from the Pleiades (a lovely star cluster in the constellation Taurus), and put them back to stop the rain afterward.(18)
Just what happened to cause the Flood is not exactly clear, so various ideas have come forth. Geologists tell us that the earth's magnetic field once suddenly reversed, with the south pole becoming the north pole, and Ron Wyatt thinks this is all that was needed to collapse the water canopy. Donald Patten thought it started when a passing planet dumped millions of tons of ice on the north magnetic pole. Velikovsky suggested that one of the gas giant planets, most likely Saturn, became disrupted, exploded, and much of its outer layer fell on Earth as water and chlorine. He noted that after Noah entered the Ark, Gen. 7:10 said, "And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the Flood were upon the Earth." After seven days of what? It appears that the pre-Flood community saw a great brightness in the sky, during the last days before the rains began. Isaiah may be hinting at this when he describes the Millennium: "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days." (Isaiah 30:36). Velikovsky goes on to suggest that various "festivals of light" celebrated around the world, like the Roman Saturnalia, the Hindu Divali, and the lighting of the candles at Hanukkah, may all be subconscious commemorations of this event.(19)
Currently the most plausible idea is that an asteroid impact triggered the cataclysm, since, as noted in Chapter 2, astronomers are worried that an asteroid might someday hit us. Such a collision would crack the earth's crust, releasing the subterranean water as I described early in this chapters, and the dust blasted into the atmosphere would block enough sunlight to cool the earth and start the ice age, which I believe happened next. If it hit the earth at an angle, it could even change the tilt of the earth's axis. And even if it landed in the ocean the result would be disaster; huge mile-high waves would engulf the nearest coastlines, the water knocked out would come back as rain all over the world, and the energy produced by the impact would exceed that of a thousand hydrogen bombs. Recently it was ventured that adding heat energy on this scale would produce a hurricane with winds as great as five hundred miles per hour! "Hurricane" is not an appropriate name for such a storm, so the scientist who came up with this theory invented a new name for it: a "hypercane."
This may sound like science fiction, but while I was writing this (February 1997), the asteroid theory got its biggest boost yet. A paleobiologist named Richard Norris was drilling in the ocean off the coast of Florida, and pulled up three cylinders that contained a "fireball layer" of rust-colored asteroid debris. Below this layer, the core samples showed a "happy-go-lucky" ocean filled with life; just above it was a layer of gray lifeless clay. Since Norris is an evolutionist, he concluded that this is the "dinosaur killer" (see Chapter 4), and estimated the samples to be 65 million years old. He went to the press with this announcement: "We've got the smoking gun. It is proof positive of the impact."(20)
I already discussed the reasons why our rock-dating methods are suspicious, so I won't repeat them here. It looks to me that what Dr. Norris found is not a 65-million-year-old asteroid residue, but a deposit laid down right when the Flood began. His "dinosaur killer" may be real, and a lot younger than he thinks.
Two limitations had to do with the Flood. The first and most obvious one was the cutback in world population from billions to exactly eight. It takes lots of specialists to build a society, and eight just isn't enough for the job. There is too much knowledge tied up in an advanced civilization to expect a handful of people to restore everything from scratch, even if they have a way to store that knowledge. Some people have many exceptional talents--we call such a person a "Renaissance man"--but most people who try to be good at everything end up not being very good at anything!
The second intervention was the reduction of the human lifespan by an order of magnitude. Man's lifespan was reduced from about 950 years to 120 years. God probably accomplished this by changing the environment around us. The human body takes in materials from its surroundings in three ways: (1) the skin (sunshine), (2) the lungs (air), and (3) the digestive system (diet). A change in the atmosphere would affect #1 & #2 above; diet would change because the Flood washed most of the minerals in the topsoil out to sea. Only in recent years have we learned the importance of trace minerals in keeping the body healthy; it is quite possible that we have other mineral needs that we have not discovered yet.
The atmospheric changes most likely took place because the water canopy, which formed on the second day of Creation, collapsed; it "rained out" during the Flood. This allowed the entry, for the first time, of significant levels of harmful solar radiation into the earth's atmosphere. Donald Patten has proposed for example, that ozone levels were once radically different from what they are now. Ozone (O3) is an unstable molecule, formed by the exposure of ordinary oxygen (O2) to radiation. Ozone is a two-edged sword; on the one hand contact with it is poisonous, but in the upper atmosphere it is essential for screening out ultraviolet radiation. Patten suggests that before the Flood ozone levels in the upper atmosphere were once much higher (1-3 parts per million), while down at sea level, since less radiation would get that far to produce new ozone, levels would be so low they would have to be measured in parts per billion. For us this would be the best of both worlds; we would age more slowly because we would not inhale the ozone, but it would be miles above our heads stopping sunburn, skin cancer, etc. Nowadays we are worried--and with good reason--that pollution might destroy the ozone layer, and end life as we know it, but we do not yet fully understand what the ozone (or lack of it) is doing to us now.(21)
Chart provided by BuildUpZion.org.
The reduced lifespan severely limited an individual's chances to acquire knowledge and experience, and limited anyone's potential influence over others. What's more, it caused the generations to pass more rapidly. Since every time somebody passes information to somebody else there is a chance for distortions, it became harder to retain knowledge, especially if one no longer has as much time to make sure his children learned everything right.
Many civilizations believed that their ancestors lived for a very long time, and then their life span dropped to what it is now. We saw previously, for example, the Sumerian King List, which gave reigns in the five digit figures for the pre-Flood world; after the Flood no Sumerian king is credited with more than 1,500 years, and in 23 generations their life spans go down to under a century. Likewise the longest-lived Chinese king after the Flood ruled for 115 years, and one early king, Huangdi (traditional dates 2697-2597 B.C.), proposed an inquiry to find out "whence it happened that the lives of our forefathers were so long compared to the lives of the present generation."
Flavius Josephus, an important Jewish historian of the first century A.D., had access to many historical documents no longer available to us, which all testified that man once lived for about a thousand years:
"Now when Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the Flood, and all that time happily, he died, having the number of nine hundred and fifty years: but let no one, upon comparing the lives of the ancients with our lives, and with the few years which we now live, think that what we have said of them is false; or make the shortness of our own lives at present an argument that neither did they attain to so long a duration of life; for those ancients were beloved of God, and [lately] made by God himself; and because their food was then fitter for the prolongation of life, might well live so great a number of years; and besides, God afforded them a longer time of life on account of their virtue, and the good use they made of it in astronomical and geometrical discoveries, which would not have afforded the time of foretelling [the periods of the stars] unless they had lived six hundred years; for the Great Year is completed in that interval. Now I have for witnesses to what I have said all those that have written Antiquities, both among the Greeks and barbarians; for even Manetho, who wrote the Egyptian History, and Berosus, who collected the Chaldean Monuments, and Mochus, and Hestiaeus, and besides these, Hieronymus the Egyptian, and those who composed the Phoenician History, agree to what I here say: Hesiod also, and Hecataeus, Hellanicus, and Acusilaus; and besides, Ephorus and Nicolaus relate that the ancients lived a thousand years: but as to these matters, let every one look upon them as he thinks fit."(22)
Donald Patten made a very interesting observation about longevity:
"If this is the correct understanding of the Antediluvian Age, and the wealth of time which the ancients possessed, then man at that time possessed a wealth modern man lacks, namely time. The modern age, in which technology is mushrooming, has resulted in man being wealthy in other ways, in terms of knowledge, money, credit, political power and services.
In the earlier age according to the Genesis account, man with his wealth of time, promptly abandoned his concern about his Creator. The Earth soon became 'filled with violence' and 'corrupt.' Today, with the opening up of another kind of wealth--a wealth of inventions, energies and knowledge--the Earth has somewhat similarly become 'corrupt, and filled with violence.' This tendency has not diminished as atheistic and semi-atheistic ethics have increasingly prevailed.
Thus it is debatable whether wealth is good for man, be it a wealth of money, economic power, political power, or (as in the case of the antediluvians) in terms of time. These wealths frequently turn men from faith, honor and humbleness toward less desirable and more vicious, violent principles--more akin to the flesh than the spirit. Thus a wealth, even in terms of time, may or may not be 'good,' even as it is with money and power. It is a matter of values, and application, which in turn hinge upon matters of faith.
Faith is again a matter of anticipations and conclusions relative to (a) the destiny of the race, and/or (b) the destiny of the individual soul. Both of these are related to the understanding of origin, and Creator along with Creation. Shortness of life keeps man perpetually living on the brink of eternity, in contrast to the longer-lived antediluvian ancients. Conceivably the limitations and restraints contained therein prevent man to a degree from abusing and misguiding his fellow man, and the currently existing lack of longevity therefore might conceivably be classified as 'good.' It is a matter of values and viewpoints."(23)
The last act of intervention was the confusing of language at Babel. The offspring of Noah, especially those of the line of Ham, were attempting to establish a city (government) and a name (authority) for themselves. Babel's society was an anti-God civilization. God destroyed it and destroyed the unity in mankind by confusing their language. The common background that all humans had was forever lost; some retained knowledge of the different elements of civilization while others lost it completely. The division by language into smaller groups also forced every tribe and nation to undergo the same limitations imposed on the whole human race when numbers were reduced by the Flood. Since then man, whether he knows it or not, has been working to restore Babel.
At this time we are working feverishly to overcome those limits. The problem of not enough people has been licked; if the world community isn't yet as big as it was before the Flood, we will reach it in our lifetime. Our lifespan is going up again; for most of recorded history the average person's life expectancy has been in the thirties; in the twentieth century alone it went up from 47 to somewhere between 75 and 80. As we develop new vitamin supplements and eradicate more diseases, we can expect our life expectancy to continue to rise; all that's left is for some doctor to come up with a cure for aging. Finally, we are overcoming the language barriers; improved communication and transportation are turning the world community into what we sometimes call "the global village." Once we have surmounted those barriers, there is nothing that will prevent man from establishing a second Babel civilization. When that happens, it will be time for God to intervene again, this time with the second coming of Jesus.
before the Flood, before Babel, and over the span of recorded history.
Chart provided by BuildUpZion.org.
It is the belief of many, including the author, that when Jesus returns the ideal conditions of the pre-Flood world will be restored (Isaiah 35 & 65, Ezekiel 47). Presumably this will include a restoration of the atmospheric canopy, so that long life spans will become normal and deserts will turn green. Presumably the Lord has not done it yet because a return to the ancient longevity will not be a good thing until the spirit of the human race has changed; it needs an "attitude adjustment" on a universal scale.
This is the End of Chapter 10.
The Genesis Chronicles
Other History Papers