There are SO many great scientific sites out there with huge amounts of information on this subject that it’s just . . . daunting. So my plan is to pull out seven of the important points and list them here. Then I will put a number of links at the end for those of you who want to jump in and examine further.
There are lots of earlier flood stories. All people except the most brainwashed Creationists know that the Flood story is based upon ancient Sumerian tales about the flood hero Utnapishtim, stories that were old in 2700 BCE. The Hebrews re-worked the tale with god getting mad at bad humans and, (somehow by extension, every living creature!), and the water covering every inch of land on the planet.
It’s astounding to me, the number of websites out there that really want this story to be literal. The amount of – let’s be gracious and call it “pseudoscience” –.we run into when searching for “Noah’s Ark” is utterly mind-boggling. They are cheerleaders for the most horrific evil-god genocide story ever written.
Genesis 6:6 (KJV) And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Wait, what? The All-Knowing, All-Powerful, All-Perfect God made a MISTAKE? A creature who knew, before he created humans that he would regret creating humans, that they would disobey and act like – the “smart” apes he created them to be? Wait again – if he saves some of them, he hasn’t changed anything. – If your average 10-year-old can point that out, you would think an All-Knowing deity wouldn’t miss it. And the animals? What did they do to deserve death?
I had a Noah’s Ark coloring book as a child. When Fundamentalists read this story, they hear the tale of god’s heroic rescue of the RIGHTEOUS ONES and the animal kingdom, and there is this glorious rainbow at the end (there hadn’t been any of those before the Flood) that’s god’s promise not to drown the world again. They see THEMSELVES, saved by God, surrounded by an evil world. It’s a common Biblical theme.
When I asked why god had to kill all the people and all those animals, my Mother was shocked. “They were EVIL!! They had to die!” (As if that explained everything. She thought that it did.) Why couldn’t a deity powerful enough to create billions of galaxies just choose some of the evil leaders and call down fire on them – fry them in front of their people as an example? He did it in 1 Kings 18, when Elijah asked him to provide a simple sign. Why couldn’t he successfully change their minds? The Almighty in this story is clearly not all-knowing or all-powerful, but he’s great at throwing a monster temper tantrum.
SO, LET’S GET TO IT, SHALL WE?
1) The Fossil Record
Creationists claim that the Flood deposited all of the geological layers. All of them. All at once. Anyone who knows even the basics of geology knows that this is absurd. It is fact that the fossil records accumulated over millions of years. If the Flood happened 4,548 years ago, it would have deposited a HUGE layer of jumbled up compressed silt, human, animal, and plant remains everywhere. Creationists would be able to go to the Grand Canyon, and point to a very obvious dark layer near the top of the canyon, and say “that was the Flood”. It would exist literally everywhere. It doesn’t exist anywhere.
2) The Historical Record
Ussher’s Bible chronology places the flood at 2348 BCE, which is widely accepted by Creationists. The flood destroyed every human being on the planet except for the ones on the boat. And yet, the Egyptian records continued. Egypt’s written history has been unbroken since 3100 BCE. China had writing 5,000 years ago, and that is also unbroken. India’s record of sculptures and pottery was continuous from 3300 BCE to the present. Gee, did nobody tell them they were going about their normal lives while under 5 miles of water?
3) Size of the Boat
The wooden boat is about 1/4 of the length of the Titanic, 450 feet long, 75 feet high, 45 feet wide. The estimates for the number of animals varies widely – 70,000? 35,000? 50,000? Two of every kind, 7 of every clean animal, 7 of every bird. (Genesis 6:19, 7:2). 18,000? That’s still a lot of animals in a very small space, and the ark would have also had to carry food for every creature, and fresh water, and . . .
4) Care of the Animals
No matter which of the above numbers you choose, that’s a LOT of animals for 8 people to care for. Clean up waste, provide water, provide food – for, let’s choose 18,000 creatures, every day. Maybe there actually was some magic way god provided to put them all in suspended animation for the entire time, like that goofy 2014 movie. You still have to tuck them all into bed, and the Bible says Noah did it all in one day. (Genesis 7:13-16)
5) Flood Dynamics
The waters covered the highest mountains. Mt. Everest is 29,002 ft., (8,848 meters) or 5.4979 miles high. So. Every inch of land is covered by almost 5-1/2 miles of salt water. Modern submarines have a crush depth of 730 meters. (2,400 ft) That’s when the hull collapses like a stomped-on soda can. I wonder how much more horrible the pressure gets when you add another 8,118 meters of water on top of that. That’s at sea level. Nothing survives – not even the tube worms near volcanic vents in the Galapagos Rift. Not only that, but that much liquid on the planet would probably flood the atmosphere. You would drown just trying to breathe. Oh, and speaking of the air, when the rain supposedly stopped, the boat would have been 5-1/2 miles above sea level. The temperature at that height varies between a balmy -4 degrees F to -31. Brr! Where the water came from – and where it WENT – is another huge scientific head-scratcher.
6) Water and Salt!
People always forget about the fish. And the plants. They think that fish can swim so they were fine. But most aquatic creatures thrive in only certain temperatures, a certain percent salinity if salt water, clarity if fresh water – fresh water fish can’t suddenly become salt water fish. And think about what happens to a house plant when you simply water it too much. Submerge your house plant completely for just one week. See what happens. Plant goo happens. But the Bible says that olive trees survived for a year under 5 miles of salt water.
That’s absolutely absurd.
Every inch of the Earth’s land mass would have been salted. Remember that armies salted the fields of enemies so crops wouldn’t grow? Noah’s boat lands, the door opens. There is no plant life. None. Anywhere. No trees, no grass, nothing. Just stinking mud. Trees and grass make oxygen. The air, if breathable air still existed (very unlikely) isn’t going to get replenished. There is nothing for any living creature to eat. Except each other, and that won’t last very long. There is also no fresh water. The polar ice caps are gone, glaciers are gone, snow on the mountains – all gone. So, I’m not even going to spend more than a sentence asking how the Kangaroos got to Australia and the Penguins to the Antarctic, because they aren’t going anywhere.
7) Genetic Re-Population
In 2002, in preparation for space travel, genetic researchers proposed that it would take 160 people – none of them related, all extremely healthy – to set up a viable population on a new planet. And monogamy would have to be illegal. Each female would have to have 10 children by 10 different males, and all the babies would have to survive. Other studies put the number of people much higher. So, obviously, there weren’t nearly enough people or animals on that boat. Even if they did live to be 600 years old. Even if they somehow found plenty of food and fresh water. Even if they could desalinate the soil and water and grow plants at 10x normal speed –
At this point the Creationists just throw their hands up and cry “Magic! God put back all of the plants! God put back all of the fish! Cleaned the air! Provided fresh water! Cleaned all the soil! Made more people!”
Remember, they believe that this god knows everything that ever was or ever will be. If he knew everything, he knew he’d destroy the entire planet and have to completely re-do Creation. – Not to mention replacing all the history and writing of the existing civilizations and erase the silt layer and who knows what else. Seriously, why bother? Destroy a planet and completely re-create . . . the same exact “mistakes” all over again? Is this a toddler that just got bored?
My conclusion: it’s a flood fable exaggerated to the point of portraying YHWH as murderously insane and completely incompetent. It was probably told by a priest who wanted control. It probably worked very well – obey or your god KILLS. But he was completely ignorant about his planet. Except, somebody knew that there was this mountain in what is now known as Turkey that was really big. Probably the biggest in the world. (!) So the Ark landed there. Ararat.
The Flood story is just another proof that the Creator of the Universe had no hand in writing this tale. If you made this planet, you know how it works. When you realize that a Bible story is totally ridiculous and actually evil, you can abandon any idea of “divine inspiration” or “divine revelation” for the whole damned thing. The Bible was written by ignorant men. Ignorant men created the concept of gods. No “sky-daddy” will murder you for saying that Noah’s Ark never happened. Now, isn’t that better?
My absolute favorite site for Flood information is from Rational Wiki:
https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Global_flood Wonderfully written, easy to read, lots of citations, well-organized, and it contains a HUGE amount of information.
Here are 9 more links for those of you that want to go study. Have fun!
https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4279 Brian Dunning: “Noah’s Ark Sea Trials”
https://ncse.ngo/impossible-voyage-noahs-ark National Center for Science Education
https://www.physics.smu.edu/pseudo/ScienceReligion/noahflud.htm Southern Methodist University
https://chem.tufts.edu/science/FrankSteiger/elders-flood-report.htm Wilfred Elders, Tufts University