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Was Noah's flood for real?

  All of today's main religions, and a vast majority of lesser religions and tribal beliefs from around the world, tell of a catastrophic flood that destroyed all but a few chosen people. This story is so common in vastly different cultures that the question must be asked: Could it be true; could it be fact? If it is mythological or allegorical, how come it is a sacred part of so many cultures, of people who previously had no obvious means of communicating and passing the story on, from Mesopotamia to the Pacific islands.
  On the other hand, if it is fact, why is there no mention of the flood in the records of Egyptian or Mesopotamian civilizations which existed at the time? Biblical dates place the flood 1300 years before Solomon began the first temple. The building of the first temple can be dated to around 950 B.C., placing the flood around 2250 B.C. As it happens, the Egyptians, and others, have written records dating back to well before 2250 B.C.– the Great Pyramid, for example dates to the 26th century B.C. There are no signs in Egyptian inscriptions of a global flood about this time. Why not?
  Perhaps the story is true and we just messed up the date?

  The story of the flood in the Gilgamesh Epic is probably derived from The epic of Atrahasis. Wanting to learn the secrets of eternal life, Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, seeks out Utnapishtim, the only human to have lived forever. Utnapishtim relates a secret story of a great flood — The gods meet at Shuruppak and decide to wipe out the human race with a flood. Ea (the Akkadian name of the Sumerian god Enki) reveals the plans to Utnapishtim, and tells him to build a great boat. Utnapishtim does as he is told and loads all his possessions, his family, domesticated and wild animals, and craftsmen onto the boat. The storm comes; the gods cower and weep at its destructive force. The storm rages for six days and six nights; on the seventh day it subsides. The seas calm and, as Utnapishtim observed, all mankind had returned to clay and the landscape was leveled. Eventually, mountains appear and Utnapishtim's boat comes to rest on Mount Nisr, where it holds fast for six days. On the seventh day, Utnapishtim comes out and sends out a dove and then a swallow, both of which return, having found no place to rest. On the third day, he sends out a raven, which does not return. Utnapishtim then offers sacrifices, which attract the gods. When Enlil sees the boat he becomes furious that a human had survived. Ea calms him, and Enlil boards the boat and makes Utnapishtim and his wife like the gods, living forever.
  The Biblical account (Genesis 5: 28 - 9:17) was probably derived from the Gilgamesh version. And the story was carried down in later Jewish, Christian, and even Muslim traditions, where it occurs in the Koran (Sura 11: 25-48).


  The epic of Atrahasis can be dated to the reign of Hammurabi's great grandson, Ammi-saduga (1646-1626 BC), and it continued to be copied into the first millennium. In the epic, Enlil, the senior deity of the pantheon, plots to reduce the number of humans, whose noisy vitality was such that Enlil could not sleep. When his plans to wipe out the human race using various plagues are thwarted, Enlil decides on a flood. Enki, the god of fresh water, known for wisdom, betrays Enlil's plan to Atrahasis, the king. Atrahasis, his family, and his possessions, as well as animals and birds, ride out the flood that lasted seven days and seven nights in a reed boat coated with bitumen. On disembarking, Atrahasis makes offerings. The mother goddess condemned the chief gods Anu and Enlil for the destruction and tried to exclude them from the offerings. Enlil is furious when he discovered that even a few humans had survived and he blamed Enki. Enlil eventually gave way and permitted the human race to continue, but he required that Enki and the mother goddess organize them better, probably to spare him the noise.
  In general, Muslims concur with both the Old Testament of the Christian Bible and the Gospels, but feel that in translating them over the centuries many errors crept in. Thus, in about 600 A.D., a new revelation from God to Mohammed was required to set the record straight. Doctrines such as the deity of Christ and salvation by His atoning death on the cross were rejected. The views on creation and the flood are substantially the same, although interpretations of the Koranic teachings are as widely varied, even among committed Muslims, as they are among evangelical Christians.
  The Koran, if one interprets it literally, teaches a six-day creation. Adam and Eve were created in innocent perfection and placed in a beautiful garden. Here Satan tempted them to rebel against God by eating the forbidden fruit, thus incurring God's wrath and judgment, and expulsion from the Garden.
  The wicked pre-flood civilization is also described. Noah is told to build the Ark; and from its passengers the entire world has been repopulated. The Koran's description of the flood and the Biblical description are essentially the same, with vast rainfall, eruptions, and earthquakes.

Where did the water come from? Where did it go?

  It rained and it rained, for 40 days and 40 nights – the opening of the windows of heaven. This was something quite new because Genesis 2:5 explains that it did not rain during former time. The implications are that there was no rainfall until the time of the flood, when these windows of heaven opened and the rain fell. If this was so, it explains why Noah preached for so long that it was going to rain and why so few believed him. The people had not experienced rain, and they scoffed at Noah's warnings.
  Yet, the major source of the waters was not the rain, but, according to religious accounts, the fountains of the great deep (Genesis 7:11). These fountains lasted 150 days, whereas it rained just 40 days and nights. Either or both, we are talking about some huge quantities of water!
  Some have suggested that when God made the dry land appear from underneath the waters on the third day of creation, some of the water that covered the earth became trapped underneath and within the dry land. In any case, we are told in relation to the eruption of these fountains on the day the flood began, that there was a "breaking up", which implies large fissures in the ground. The waters that had been held under pressure inside the earth burst forth with catastrophic consequences.
  It is interesting to note that up to 90 percent of what comes out of volcanoes even today is water, often in the form of steam. Because there are many volcanic rocks interspersed between the fossil layers in the rock record, then it is quite appropriate to suggest that these fountains of the great deep may well have involved a series of volcanic eruptions with prodigious amounts of water bursting up through the ground.
  The world may have been deluged in 40 days of rain, but this was not the major source of the flood waters.

  So there was no rain in pre-flood times – there would have been no rainbow, either. We are told in Genesis 9:8 that God made a promise to Noah that He would never again send a flood like the one He had just sent, and that He put the rainbow in the sky as a sign of this covenant or promise. Specifically, God said (verse 13), "I do set my bow in the cloud" a reference to the fact that one needs clouds to produce rainbows.
  The clouds are made up of water droplets. As the sun shines through those water droplets, they act as glass prisms, so that the light is split up into its component colors and we see a rainbow. The whole thrust of this covenant is that this was a new thing that God was doing, so this was the first time the rainbow was seen.

  So what were these waters above the atmosphere before the flood? Many Christian scholars regard these as water in vapor form that was held up by the atmosphere. The term normally used is water vapor canopy, implying a blanket of water vapor all the way around the earth. It is hard to imagine how liquid water could be suspended above the atmosphere, but water vapor would be much lighter than liquid water.
  An ancient vapor canopy around the Earth could have shielded pre-flood inhabitants from harmful radiation, and some pre-flood people are reputed to have lived over 900 years.

“Windows of Heaven”
  What were the windows of heaven? Genesis, chapter 1, says that on the second day of creation God divided the waters that were on the earth from the waters that He placed above the earth when he put a firmament, or atmosphere, in between those waters. It was into that firmament that He later placed the birds, so we know this refers to the air we breathe.
  This describes waters above the atmosphere that are obviously not there today. This cannot refer to clouds, because they are in the atmosphere and produce rain.

“Fountains of the Deep”
  These fountains were evidently created in the beginning to water the earth. We are told in Genesis 2:5,6 that there was no rain at first, but instead a mist went up from the earth to water the whole face of the ground. The Hebrew word for mist not only suggests a mist or fog and its associated dew as we would understand this process today, but literal fountains, as geysers or springs.
  Four rivers flowed from the Garden of Eden, and if there was no rain, then such a spring would be the source of the water that then went in four directions as rivers through the garden. The importance of these fountains in the original created order is again emphasized in Revelation 14:7, where it says that an angel will preach the everlasting Gospel with the words... "worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."

  If you accept the vapor canopy idea, it seems clear that the reference in Genesis 7:11 to the "windows of heaven being opened" is a reference to the collapse of this water vapor canopy, which somehow became unstable and fell as rain. Some have suggested that when the fountains of the great deep broke open – as volcanic eruptions, perhaps – the dust generated by these eruptions could have spread up into the water vapor canopy, causing the water vapor to nucleate with dust particles and form water droplets which then fell as rain.
  Such a canopy would have meant a very pleasant climate all around the globe at that time, since the earth, being encased in such a canopy, would be akin to a glasshouse, where, much more than today, the heat of the sun's energy would be trapped inside the cocooning effect of the vapor canopy. Thus, scholars talk of a greenhouse effect before the flood with a pleasant sub tropical-to-temperate climate all around the globe, even at the poles where today there is ice.
  This would have meant the growth of lush vegetation everywhere. Evidence that this did happen in the past is the discovery of coal seams in Antarctica containing vegetation which is not now found growing at the poles, but which obviously grew under warmer conditions. Still, it does not support the geological record of ice ages and glacial erosion.
A Water Vapor Canopy
  Dr.Joseph Dillow has calculated how much water vapor it would be physically possible to suspend above the atmosphere as a blanket around the earth. His calculations give the equivalent of 12 meters (40 feet) thickness of liquid water. Such a quantity of water would be sufficient, he thought, to generate 40 days and 40 nights of torrential rainfall; whereas if these waters above had been clouds, then the moisture, if precipitated to earth as rainfall, would be the equivalent of less than five centimeters (two inches) of liquid water - hardly enough to sustain 40 days and 40 nights of heavy rainfall.
Where did the water go?
  Allowing that the whole earth was covered with water, the world that then existed was destroyed by the very waters out of which the earth had originally emerged at God's command (Genesis 1:9; II Peter 3:5,6). But where did the water go afterwards? There's nowhere for it to go. It must still be here!
  There are a number of Scripture passages that identify the flood waters with the present-day seas (Amos 9:6 and Job 38:8-11). If the waters are still here, how is it that the highest mountains are not still covered with water, as they were in Noah's day? Psalm 104 offers an answer. After the waters covered the mountains (verse 6), God rebuked them and they fled (verse 7); the mountains rose, the valleys sank down (verse 8) and God set a boundary so that they will never again cover the earth (verse 9). Isaiah 54:9 gives a similar account.
  Clearly, the Bible states that the earth's topography was altered after or during the flood. New continental land-masses bearing new mountain chains of folded rock strata were uplifted from below the globe-encircling waters that had eroded and leveled the pre-flood topography, while large deep ocean basins formed to receive and accommodate the flood waters that then drained off the emerging continents.
Could the water have covered Mt.Everest?
  It has been calculated that the maximum height of the flood waters over a theoretically level earth would have been about three kilometres (two miles). But Mt. Everest, for instance, is more than eight kilometres (five miles) high. How, then, could a flood cover all the hills under heaven? The argument is that the mountains were formed after the flood by an upthrusting. In support of this, one can observe that the layers which form the uppermost parts of Mt.Everest are composed of fossil- bearing, water- deposited layers.
  This process of uplift of the new continental land-masses from underneath the flood waters would mean that, as the mountains rose and the valleys sank, the waters would rapidly drain off the newly emerging land surfaces. Such rapid movement of large volumes of water would cause erosion, and thus it is not hard to envisage the rapid carving out of many of the landscape features that we see on the earth today.
  Could it be that is why we also see, in many cases, rivers in valleys today that seem to be far larger than could have been produced by the river? In other words, the water flow responsible for carving out such large river valleys would seem to have been greater than the volume of water flowing in the rivers today. This is consistent with the concept of voluminous flood waters draining off the emerging land surfaces at the close of Noah's Flood, and ending up in the rapidly sinking, deep ocean basins.
  At their deepest, the Pacific Ocean is over 11 kilometres (7 miles) deep and the Atlantic is 8 kilometres (5 miles) deep, with the Indian Ocean much the same. There is ample room to hold quite a few Mt.Everests and all the water of a catastrophic global flood. We need to remember, too, that nearly 70 percent of the earth's surface is still covered by water. Is this still Noah's Flood?

  In Polynesia, it was the demigod, Maui, that created the islands by fishing them out of the ocean.

  Today, if the entire earth's surface were levelled by smoothing out the topography of not only the land surface but also the rock surface on the ocean floor, the waters of the ocean would cover the earth's surface to a depth of more than three kilometres (two miles). It would seem that the waters of Noah's Flood are in today's ocean basins.

Some uncomfortable questions--

How did animals get to their present ranges? How did koalas get from Ararat to Australia, polar bears to the Arctic, etc., when the kinds of environment they require to live doesn't exist between the two points. How did so many unique species get to remote islands?

How did predators survive? How could more than a handful of the predator species on the ark have survived, with only two individuals of their prey to eat? All of the predators at the top of the food pyramid require larger numbers of food animals beneath them on the pyramid, which in turn require large numbers of the animals they prey on, and so on, down to the primary producers (plants etc.) at the bottom. And if the predators survived, how did the other animals survive being preyed on?

How could more than a handful of species survive in a devastated habitat? The flood would have destroyed the food and shelter which most species need to survive?

How did sensitive marine life such as coral survive? Since most coral are found in shallow water, the turbidity created by the runoff from the land would effectively cut them off from the sun. The silt covering the reef after the rains were over would kill all the coral. Also, the rates at which coral deposits calcium are well known, and some highly mature reefs (such a the Great Barrier Reef) must have been around for millions of years to be deposited to their present-day thickness.

How could coral reefs hundreds of feet thick and miles long be preserved intact with other fossils below them? There must be a high probability of them being broken up by any violent flow as flood water ran off the emerging land masses, carrying huge amounts of rock, boulders and other terrestrial debris.

Sundry matters
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