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Biblical authority, Noah, science

Answering TalkOrigins: Problems with a Global Flood


I was recently challenged to how I would respond to TalkOrigin’s page called “Problems with a Global Flood“.  Here is my response.  Further specific questions are welcome in the comments….



First of all, I think TalkOrigins is a very weak source. I rarely find it’s arguments compelling, but I’m sure my bias plays into it, but I’ve heard others on the other side of the debate agree. But anyways, lets have a go at it (for fun) –



The post assumes normal everyday wood as we know it today. The Bible outlines “gopher wood”. Now we don’t REALLY know what that means. We don’t really know what kind of materials may have been present in a pre-flood world that no longer exist today, therefore it is impossible to say that gopher wood would not work. There’s also an assumption that it needs to be “seaworthy” as in traveling wise. Why couldn’t it be anchored down to one place? I think most of these your going to find a lot of assumptions in place that simply don’t prove it wrong by assuming things.



I believe this response assumes that animals were already spread out all over the world and possibly that the continents were already separated. I believe the dispersion of animals occurred post-flood. I also believe God was involved in gathering and calling the animals. I see that they are using the 16,000 animal estimate put forth by creationists several years ago. That may be accurate, but I’ve also seen much lower estimates all the way down to 2000. So I dont think this creates an impossibility.



I think this is kind of a null problem seeing that we don’t really know how many were needed on the ark. We have little idea of what the original created kinds were, therefore we can only make assumptions about the necessary amount of animals needed. Like I’ve seen before I’ve seen estimates upwards of 16,000 and even all the way down to 2,000. These estimates are made by educated scientists who have backtracked species and determined what would be the fewest numbers necessary to adapt out to the variation of animals we see today. Since they’ve already determined that 16,000 sheep-sized animals could fit, and it’s possible much smaller, I have no problem with this “issue”.



All of these “special diet” rules put forth in this section is based on what we see these animals eating modern-day. So therefore we are assuming these animals behave the same way then as today. Let’s also not forget we don’t really know which animals were aboard and what they ate at that time in history. This section is irrelevant. The best part in this section is the question of manpower. I believe that if this family had the know-how and ability to construct this massive ship, then they also had the know-how and ability to construct some form of pulley-system/automatic feeding/watering system and grated waste collective systems.



This section is so ambiguous because we really can’t know how it worked, but we can hypothesize. A lot of the critics of the flood seem to imply that fossils would all be collected into one layer in the record, but that does not seem to take a global event into play. I believe as waters would have traversed the world they would have come in separate waves. For example: one wave comes from the north buries things for 6 feet. A couple weeks later a wave comes in from the east, buries 5 more feet. A week later a wave comes in from the south and buries another 8 feet, and on and on for months. As each layer comes in it buries another level of organisms that are not able to outlast the growing waters. Therefore yes there is an order in the fossil record, and it is complexity – but that doesn’t prove common decent – it proves the ability to outlast the slowly growing flood. If you have any more specific questions on this section I’d be happy to go into it.



A lot of this section relies on the assumption of uniformitarianism of dating methods being accurate. There’s no way to really know this, so most of these implications fail on that notion. If you are trying to use dating methods to disprove a creationist, you are going to have a bad time. LOL.



For this section I am going to talk about one concept and if you have more detailed questions I will hit those up. The Bible describes the “fountains of the great deep bursting forth”. Therefore creationists understand that the flood was not just rain from above for 40 days, but also water from within the earth bursting up through cracks in the crust. We believe this to be the onset of plate tectonic activity. We believe this caused thousands of earthquakes and volcanic activity all over the planet. I don’t think we can fathom what that kind of catastrophic activity all at once would do to rocks, bones, and sorting. We believe mountains were pushed up rapidly during this. We believe valleys and canyons were cut rapidly during this process. We believe the continents were rapidly moved near to their current locations now. We also believe most seismic activity today is basically aftershocks from that catastrophic short period. Most geologists already agree that these formations we observe can be created through catastrophe or through slow, uniform processes. Therefore all creationists are doing is pointing to the flood as that catastrophe that they do not recognize. I realize there is much more to this topic, but this forms the basics that I think should dispel most of these assumptive-filled responses.



This page outlines several possible scenarios for plant and seed life to survive for the entire 9-month submersion way better than I could have. The overall point is that if we can develop even one plausible scenario for the survival of these things, then a problem is not proven. Again I realize this section touches on other topics as well, and I’d be happy to specifically address them if you’d like although I think they are going to be heavily assumption-filled. Let me give you an example from the section on how predators would have survived: “All of the predators at the top of the food pyramid require larger numbers of food animals beneath them on the pyramid”. This is assuming predators of the pre-flood and immediate post-flood world behaved in the same way they do today. There is no reason to assume this.



Did you know that if you lowered the water in the oceans by not too much (sorry I don’t have the exact number), the continental shelf would be exposed and you could literally walk anywhere in the world? I would say that post-flood this shelf was exposed, and then following the ice age that shelf filled in as the ice melted.



When they ask why there is no mention in Egyptian or Mesopotamian histories from this time they have a couple issues. First they are hand picking these civilizations when there are tons that DO have flood stories record. Second they are assuming the dating methods used to determine the time periods of these civilizations are accurate. When they ask “why do other flood myths differ so much” because that’s how oral tradition generally works, details become fuzzy over time. Flood legends that differ on the details does not invalidate the story overall, it corroborates it. There is actually much more agreeance than disagreeance. See this image .



This sections raises so many assumptions and logical fallacies that it would be a waste of time to discuss. Take one example: “If your style of Biblical interpretation makes you take the Flood literally, then shouldn’t you also believe in a flat and stationary earth”. Really? Why does this author assume logical people cannot distinguish historical accounts from metaphoric accounts? Context clues and consistency help with this. Yes some scriptures can be pulled out of context to say the earth is flat, but others can then be provided contradicting this – therefore one of them is metaphoric. There’s no reason whatsoever to assume the flood story is metaphoric with all the evidence we see in the world corroborated by the flood legends all over the world.



I hope this is a good start at tackling these issues, and I fully realize I only touched on a small number of them within each topic, but I would be happy to address more specific ones in the comments below.



About Tim



3 thoughts on “Answering TalkOrigins: Problems with a Global Flood

  1. On Egypt:

    “Of course, it might be that there are errors in the archaeo-historical chronologies of the Ancient Near East. All such chronologies ultimately derive from (archaeo-historical synchronisms with) Egypt. Hence, if there are errors in Ancient Near Eastern chronologies, then their genesis lies in Egyptian chronology. In fact, Egyptian chronology does not have secure foundations—and some workers have rgued for revising it. Arguments have been made for both earlier and later dates.” Why early-historical radiocarbon dates downwind from the mediterranean are too early, RadioCarbon, 2002

    Posted by joecoder7 | February 1, 2013, 5:09 pm
  2. Hi Tim – as a hydrologist (and a Christian), I see the problems with a global flood through a quantitative lens. In your “The Flood Itself” and “Producing the Geologic Record” paragraphs, it appears that you have fully considered the quantitative implications of producing much of the geologic record in less than a year. Six feet one week and five feet the next wouldn’t come close to what would be required. I have a paper in the American Scientific Affiliation’s journal “Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith” which deals with a single formation that seems to be very popular with the flood geologists — the Coconino Sandstone — and discusses whether it was even realistic for this formation to be deposited in a matter of days (see http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2011/PSCF3-11Helble.pdf). I would be interested in seeing your response to this. I also have a Powerpoint version of this paper on Slideshare at: http://www.slideshare.net/TimH/were-earths-sedimentary-rock-layers-really-deposited-by-noahs-flood.

    Posted by tkhelble | February 3, 2013, 8:12 pm
    • First of all, thank you so much for commenting and engaging. I began reading your article and had a problem with a section right from the beginning. You write: “due to the impact that aggressive YEC ministries are having on the
      American public, mainstream geologists are beginning to realize a more organized response is needed.” If this paper is aimed at YECs, I might suggest not treating their approach as needing educated. You may need to acknowledge that they already see this issue as an interpretation issue, therefore your “education” is probably not going to sway them from their interpretation. You can say all day long that we’ve never observed anything relatively close to what flood geologists are proposing, but they are just going to jump right back and say “we’ve never seen anything on the earth like the flood since either”.

      One of the first points made is that there is not enough water on earth to carry the sand, yet I believe this statement ignores the “fountains of the great deep” scripture. YECs believe that rain not only feel from the sky, but also came up from within the earth as well. See this short video for a visual representation – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVF2bYeIl0Y. I would love to have the time to digest the entire article, but I already see a couple points that have ignored crucial YEC If you are not allowing for the “fountains of the great deep”, of course judging our flood geology without that major component would seem like it would fail.

      I would be willing to admit that yes – without that component, our flood geology does not work. I don’t think you can just take away part of our mechanism and then say our conclusions don’t work. I’m sure you raise great points in the rest of the paper, but in the end I believe most YECs will see it as a limited interpretation and not much more. Thanks again for commenting!

      Posted by Tim | February 4, 2013, 1:17 pm

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