Board index Noah's Ark & the Flood

The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby Hender Williamshot » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:07 pm

If the Great Flood occurred as reported in the Bible, the Aboriginal people of Australia could not exist.

Young Earth Creationists and Biblical Literalists place the time of Noah's Flood around 2250 BC to 2350 BC, depending upon the combination of factors considered, including Biblical events and lineages.

Assuming scripture is correct, every person on earth today is a direct descendant of Noah, appropriately 4300 years ago.

In order for Noah's Ark to float for at least 150 days with no land in sight and then come to rest on top of Mt. Ararat, sea level would have had to risen at least 16,854 feet.

The highest mountain in Australia is Mt. Kosciuszko with an elevation of 7,310 feet, which would have placed the entire continent of Australia at least 9,500 feet below the ocean surface during the Great Flood.

The Aboriginal people of Australia have occupied the same territory continuously, in relative isolation, longer than any other human population on earth.

Archaeological findings reveal evidence of Aboriginal occupation of inland Australia about 49,000 years ago.

DNA genetic studies show that the Aboriginal population split off from ancestors of European and Asian populations between 65,000 and 75,000 years ago.

If the Great Flood literally occurred as reported in the Bible, Aboriginal people in Australia could not exist. They would have either been wiped out by the flood, or they would be direct descendants of Noah with a cultural history of less than 4,300 years.
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Re: The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:44 pm

The first problem with your theory is the flaw of previous scholars of Scripture interpreting the genealogies as a gapless chronology. In the ancient world, genealogies were not primarily a way of record keeping, but only to establish continuity from one era to another. Their intention is to bridge a gap between major events (success as creation and the flood, the flood and Abraham, etc.) In the ancient world, genealogies were written for political ends to show divine right. There was no attempt to show every generation (as we do) or even chronology at times. That is, there could be rearrangement of the order of names, telescoping (leaving names out), or even changing the ages or lengths of reign to accommodate their political ends.

In the Bible, genealogies (as far as we know) were never rearranged or the ages or lengths of reigns changed, but the biblical authors did telescope generations for theological ends. The genealogies of the era of the monarchy and the Gospels show show they were sometimes fluid with who all belonged to a particular generation to arrive at specific symbolic numbers. For instance, the genealogies between Adam and Noah, and Noah and Abraham, are each set up to contain 10 members with the last having 3 sons. They have telescoped the genealogy to do this. (This type of telescoping also occurs in Assyrian genealogical records.) The ancients didn't think of the genealogies as representing every generation as our modern ones do. These facts were unknown centuries ago when Bishop Ussher was counting the years to determine when creation and the Flood were. We don't take his calculations as accurate Bible teaching. To be frank about it, he was dead wrong. Therefore, we can dismiss all thoughts that the Bible teaches that Noah's flood was around 2350-2250 BC. And we don't have to assume Scripture is incorrect to arrive at that conclusion.

Secondly, as far as the mountains is concerned, it helps to understand ancient scientific and geographical perspective. The ancients (as evidenced by Babylonian maps) had a very limited view of the world. They thought the world was a flat disk of about a few thousand miles in diameter. The disk rested on pillars that held it above the cosmic ocean. At the edge of the single continent there were high mountains that held up the sky (the firmament) and also kept out the ocean. (The high, "cosmic" mountains were thought to be the abodes of the gods, and certainly impervious to flooding. When they speak of the flood covering "the mountains", they were not including these peaks.) The firmament (heavens) was thought to be three superimposed "pavements" of various materials. This view was commonplace in the ancient Near East. If Noah built a boat, and there was a flood so severe that all he could see in any direction was water (none of the local mountains were visible), he would easily and clearly say that the whole earth had been flooded and that every living thing had been killed. It was obviously hyperbole; he had not taken a walk over the region to confirm that was truly the case, but it was true as far as was observable. It was true by every scientific measure available to the one who experienced it. In other words, Noah is not including the Alps, the top of Ararat, Mt. Kosciuszko, or any of these peaks.

Such a proposition as covering all the mountains is impossible on many levels. The local sea level can rise several feet an hour during a hurricane, but for the sea level to rise to the 17,000’ peak of Ararat it would have to rise to that height around the entire planet. That would require 620 million cubic miles of additional water weighing 3 quintillion tons. All the oceans of the world would have to triple in volume in only 150 days and then quickly shrink back to normal. Where did the water come from, and where did it go? The simple answer is, it didn't, and it's a misunderstanding of the biblical text in the context of the ancient world to claim that this is what the Bible teaches.

In addition, for the water to reach 17,000’ in 150 days, it would have had to rise at the rate of over 100’ per day, almost 5’ per hour. Even if that were possible, it would have created currents that would have made survival in the ark unlikely.

More: It has long been known that rain clouds can't possibly hold even 1/10th of 1% of the water required for a flood of this magnitude.

More: If the ark ran aground on the still submerged summit of Mt. Ararat on the 17th day of the 7th month, and the tops of the mountains became visible on the first day of the 10th month, the water receded only 15’ in 75 days. Yet it would have to recede 17,000 in the next 75 days, because by the first day of the first month, the earth was dry.

More: If the dove flew down into a valley to get an olive leaf (only growing in low elevations), how did it manage to fly back up to 17,000’ to the ark? Doves can’t do that.

More: A universal flood would mix all salt and fresh water, killing all freshwater fish and some saltwater fish. Those would not have been on the ark.

Instead, Noah is claiming (if we understand the Bible in the vernacular in which it was written and the intent of the author) that a massive flood had covered the local mountains. The high mountains were sacred, the dwelling place of the gods, the intersection between heaven and earth, and the central and highest place of the world. The point is that the flood executed judgment against the false gods, not that it was so high in geography and altitude.

But we can even explain further. What does he mean by "covered"? The verb the author uses is ksh, which has a variety of meanings.

- A people so vast they cover the land (Nu. 22.11)
- Weeds covering the land (Prov. 24.31)
- clothing covering someone (1 Ki. 1.1)
- something can be covered in the sense of being overshadowed (2 Chr. 5.8 – the cherubim over the ark; clouds in the sky, Ps. 147.8)

And what about being covered with water?
- Job 38.34; Jer. 46.8; Mal. 2.13: in these verses “covered” is figurative!
- If Genesis 7:19 is taken the same way, it suggests that the mountains were drenched with water or coursing with flash floods, but it does not demand that they were totally submerged under water. One can certainly argue that the context does not favor this latter usage, and I am not inclined to adopt it. The point is that it is not as easy as sometimes imagined to claim that the Bible demands that all the mountains were submerged.
- See also Ex. 1.7, where the Israelites "filled" the land (a different Hebrew word, but the same concept). It speaks of their great number, not literally meaning that they filled the country.

Fifteen cubits above. In Gn. 7:20, the Hebrew text says, "15 cubits from above [milme’la] rose the waters, and the mountains were covered." It is therefore not at all clear that it is suggesting the waters rose 15 cubits higher than the mountains. It can mean "above"; it can mean "upward" or "upstream". If this were the case in Genesis, it would suggest that the water reached 15 cubits upward from the plain, covering at least some part of the mountains.

Is it possible that the ancient writers did not count the mountains at the fringes of the world among the "high mountains" that the water covered? These mountains were places of the gods and would be impervious to floodwaters sent by the gods. In this scenario, the ark drifts on massive regional floodwaters to the edge of the known world and rests against the mountains of Ararat (or perhaps on the foothills of Ararat). Noah views this as the edge of the world, as some before Columbus's day believed they could reach the edge of the world. There the ark sits while the water recedes and the tops of the mountains in the occupied portion of the continent become visible. This means that when the waters totally dissipate, the ark is at the foot of the Ararat chain. The logic of not including the fringe mountains is that they were believed to support the heavens, and the waters are not seen as encroaching on or encountering the heavens.

Can we infer from this that Noah (or Moses, or even God) is a liar, and that the text is deceptive? No. Noah (or Moses) is telling us that the intent to judge the guilty parties was accomplished. The people Noah knew of ("every living creature on the earth") were all killed. God accommodates their understanding of geography and the world in the genres and literary devices in which they speak. God's intent is not to school them in geography, but in morality. He accommodates their limited view of the earth, but that's incidental to the message. The message (God judges sin, he favors righteousness, and he is the sovereign) comes through loud and clear. There's where the authority of the text lies. We are committed to the message, not to their faulty science. Noah believed that was his whole world; we don't. Israel believed in a solid sky; we don't. To set aside his culturally-bound words doesn't negate the authority of the message. So to understand Scripture properly we discern between the language and culture of Noah's day and the message that is the intent of the text. We are committed to the message. In asking whether or not the entire planet was inundated with water, we are dealing with how to read the terms, the figures of speech, and the hyperbole. But the text becomes authoritative as we deliberate over the truths the communicator intends to affirm through the language he has chosen? Certainly there was a flood—I don't doubt its historicity, but the extent of it can be negotiated. What cannot be negotiated, and where the text has punch, is in that God judged the corruption and depravity of guilty parties before evil humans completely ruined everything.

In other words, there are ways to take the Bible for what the author intended it to mean. And it's altogether possible that an accurate understanding of the flood is that of a massively regional (continental?) deluge, but still one that has no effect on the seas of the world, the high mountains, or the Aborigines of Australia.
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Re: The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby Deja Vu » Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:52 pm

I'm too tired to write a lengthy reply, but awake enough to appreciate what you've written.

What I generally dislike is when different sects of Christianity give different presentations of religious texts in regards to how absolutely true they are. The above description of the flood seems to be a primarily religious/spiritual message rooted in a local event, whereas some creationists will present the flood as if it happened on a global scale.

Why do different sects of Christianity deliver entirely different messages? It is difficult to argue about the words on the page, they're generally the same for everyone. The meaning of course, in some areas, is up to interpretation, but much of this debate seems to have culminated in Christian groups searching for historical evidence to support their interpretation of scripture.

Which interpretation is correct? Surely the authors must have been trying to communicate some distinct point. If there is a correct interpretation, why can many sects not agree on one interpretation? From the discord I would assume that if they cannot agree on a correct interpretation, there is likely no correct interpretation.

But what you've written is excellent, I was unaware of many of the flood's locales, so thank you for that.
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Re: The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:53 pm

Christians differ in their interpretations for two primary reasons: (1) any communication is subject to interpretation. In communication theory one must take into account the intent of the messenger, the form of the message, and what the receiver hears. All communications, no matter from whom, to whom, or about what, are subject to interpretation. And (2) Christians are thinking people. We're not just conformist lemmings who go, "OK, duh, whatever you say. I don't have a brain of my own, so I just follow the party line."
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Re: The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby Hender Williamshot » Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:36 pm

Just two quick points;

The genealogies that state person A was X years old when his son B was born, and person B was Y years old when his son C was born require simple math to add the time between births. It does not matter if B is the son of A or his grandson or his next door neighbor. It is simple math.

Second, the explanation of Noah's misunderstanding is completely acceptable as long as no deity was involved. If God had the detailed conversations with Noah described in scripture, Noah was not left to figure it all out based upon his limited knowledge. The same is true for Moses who spoke face-to-face with God and wrote down extremely detailed instructions coming directly from God. There is never an insinuation by Moses that he ever had the slightest bit of trouble understanding everything God said to him.
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Re: The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:36 pm

> simple math

Then you still don't understand the nature of ancient genealogies and are still thinking as a modern, Western-culture person. We need to be wary of imposing our own expectations or constraints on their model and method. Marshall Johnson outlines several functions of biblical genealogies:

1\. Sociological, to establish continuity between groups, as in Gn. 10.
2\. Legitimizing function: establishes legitimacy for an individual's inclusion in a group for purposes of establishing rights and privileges connected with the group, namely land ownership, succession of leadership, or enhancing status, as in Ezra 2.62-64; Neh. 7.64-65.
3\. Theological function, to establish the continuity of the covenant people, as probably in Gen. 5.
4\. Historical function, ordering the information of the past to understand the present.
5\. Literary function, to join narrative elements
6\. Schematic function (when ages are given), to divide the history of the world into cycles of epochs, probably Gn. 5.
7\. Military function, to classify people for conscription to military or government service.

As you can see, Genesis 5 most likely functions to express the continuity of the covenant from Abraham to Noah as well as to initiate a different epoch of God's dealing with humanity.

To understand ancient genealogies we might consider the analogy of a corporation and its corporate structure. Linear structures would identify who my boss is, who his boss is, etc., all the way up to the CEO. Levels can be ignored in some contexts (telescoping), for instance when an employee might point out the president and identify him or her as his boss. Another way to represent the corporation is through an organization chart showing all the lines of communication and accountability from boss to basement. Every once in a while a corporate structure gets reorganized, and people now, though doing the same job, may be in a different department and report to a different VP. These charts represent present realities, not the history of the company or what the company even looked like when you were hired. The corporate chart is not intended as a historiographical document, though it could have historiographical value. It offers a way to determine everyone's standing within the corporation. It provides an example of how a chart can be accurate and truthful (a reflection of reality) but not necessarily have historiographic implications. It shows how it's possible for genealogies to operate with integrity without being historiographic in nature. The linear genealogy of Genesis 5 offers a view of the continuity of the covenant and introduces a new era of God's dealing with humanity mores than offering a comprehensive record of ancestral history—the difference between historiographic purpose and historiographic value. There is every reason to consider the biblical genealogies as having a significant level of historiographic value even if historiography were not their main purpose.

The genealogy of Genesis 5 is to establish continuity and relationship, with the secondary intent of bridging the gap between creation and the Flood. The actual amount of time is not intended to represent successive generations but to show continuity and completion. As is common in ancient genealogies, despite the times and ages given, the list is telescoped for theological purposes. As I mentioned before, there is no reason to think—because it is almost unheard of in the ancient world—that the list represents every generation.
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Re: The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby 1.62 » Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:45 pm

It is refreshing to hear a Christian admit that the world wide flood was a myth. But why stop there? Why apply historic evidence and reasoning to some of the biblical recollection and then stop short?

Why insist there was a divinely commanded flood, with a Noah, boat, and all the animals of the earth pairing up at all?

There's no evidence or factual reason to believe any of the story, other than it's a Hebrew adaptation of the Gilgamesh myth that the Hebrew's were familiar with, or is there?

> God's intent is not to school them in geography, but in morality.

What moral lesson could Noah and family possibly learn that they didn't already believe about their god? Did Noah and family not already know "God judges sin, he favors righteousness, and he is the sovereign"? For all outsiders that survived the Noah flood this would be proof this is NOT a sovereign God.

So who is this God schooling in morality? Noah and seven others? The survivors that know nothing about Gilgamesh or Noah? No. The Hebrew elite of the 5th or 6th century BC who wrote down the mythic story are actually using the story to ultimately establish power and control over the people they rule.
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Re: The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:07 pm

I'm not saying the world-wide flood is a myth, but that it's possibly a misunderstanding of the biblical text. Myth is the wrong word, and very misleading.

> Why insist there was a divinely commanded flood, with a Noah, boat, and all the animals of the earth pairing up at all?

As I said, it's both theologically important and socially necessary. Sin had ruined the world, and action was necessary or all would be lost. (In that sense it could be similar to WWII. America wanted to stay out of Europe's battle, but we were drawn into it. At that point action was necessary or all would be lost.) Noah was living out a parable that God was using to represent many different truths, and as such the ark represented other realities. Some of those are:

1. The ark was shaped like a coffin, and so Noah was "subjected to death" and then "risen out of the tomb." It was one of the many biblical pictures of death and resurrection.

2. The deluge of water represents baptism, and again, the idea of being saved from death. This is made explicit in the NT.

3. Being saved through the storm is a spiritual truth; running away from danger is not.

But it's still historical; it actually happened. There are plenty of people in the Bible whose literal lives are also parables for the rest of us: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Jonah, even the nation of Israel. Noah is the same. God instructs him to do the ark thing because of all it's going to represent.

> There's no evidence or factual reason to believe any of the story

I wouldn't expect a massive local flood from 20,000 years ago to leave anything for a modern scientist to find.

> The Gilgamesh Epic

The Atrahasis Epic is dated to the early second millennium BC. The Gilgamesh Epic came into its present form during the second half of the second millennium, but used materials that were already in circulation at the end of the third millennium. There are a number of similarities but also a number of differences between the biblical account and these mythographies. There is no reason to doubt that the ancient Near Eastern accounts and Genesis refer to the same flood. This would certainly account for the similarities. The differences exist because each culture is viewing the flood through its own theology and worldview.

> What moral lesson could Noah and family possibly learn that they didn't already believe about their god?

We're not told what they already believed. We are told that Noah was righteous, a preacher of righteousness, and that he walked with God. That's all we know. But what we learn from the flood story is...

1. God's judgment was just because of the widespread influence of sin.

2. God noticed, valued, and rewarded Noah’s righteousness.

3. God's grace is evident even in his acts of judgment.

4. God maintains order in the world, and if the situation warrants, God can also undo the order that he has established.

5. God recognizes the inherent sinfulness of people.

6. How we act is important to God, and he notices.

7. Our sin grieves God.

> For all outsiders that survived the Noah flood this would be proof this is NOT a sovereign God.

This doesn't follow. The outsiders that survived the flood would not have heard Noah's preaching and therefore would not have been warned, nor had they been schooled in what God expected of them. Therefore it would have been unjust for God to judge them when they had no chance of changing their behavior. Outsiders could have been impressed with God's precision in judging the guilty but showing mercy to the un-informed.

> So who is this God schooling in morality?

Noah, his family, and the corrupt population of the region of the flood.

> The Hebrew elite of the 5th or 6th century BC who wrote down the mythic story are actually using the story to ultimately establish power and control over the people they rule.

This is making several assumptions you can't substantiate: first that it was written in the 5th-6th c. BC, or that it's mythic, or that it was politically motivated to exert power and control. You can't prove any of those.
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Re: The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby 1.62 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 4:05 pm

> As I said, it's both theologically important and socially necessary.

Where is the evidence for that? It seems only necessary for your modern version of theological apologetics. Others can accept it as totally allegorical.

> Sin had ruined the world, and action was necessary or all would be lost.

How recently was it that Christianity invented the apologetic argument for Original Sin? Using your timeline of 20,000 years, Original Sin has only a soteriological argument for about the last 400 to 1700 years. I sincerely would like to hear an explanation.

>This is making several assumptions you can't substantiate: first that it was written in the 5th-6th c. BC, or that it's mythic, or that it was politically motivated to exert power and control. You can't prove any of those.

I will agree that I lack direct evidence for my statement, "The Hebrew elite of the 5th or 6th century BC who wrote down the mythic story are actually using the story to ultimately establish power and control over the people they rule." But I am not the first or only person to think this reasoning fits as the "sitz im leben" and provides the best explanation without invoking anything divine or supernatural.

The rest of your arguments seem to be founded on supposition and lack credible, corroborating evidence.
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Re: The Flood and the Aborigines of Australia

Postby jimwalton » Sun Jun 11, 2017 4:16 pm

> Where is the evidence for that?

Theology comes from the Bible; it's not a science lab. It can't be tested by dropping certain chemicals on it, nor can it be confirmed because it happens when scientists have their tools out to study it. My friends went to see "Wonder Woman," and they thought it was awesome. It doesn't make sense to ask, "What's the evidence for that?" It's not that kind of thing. It was a value statement of preference and pleasure, not a science category.

> It seems only necessary for your modern version of theological apologetics.

Oh, not at all. The things I said were from Genesis itself, some 3.3 thousand years ago.

> How recently was it that Christianity invented the apologetic argument for Original Sin?

I think original sin comes from Genesis 3, which was traditionally written about 3.3 thousand years ago. It's not a new construct. The theological concept in Christianity was first used by Irenaeus about 1900 years ago.

> The rest of your arguments seem to be founded on supposition and lack credible, corroborating evidence.

As I said, I wouldn't expect a regional flood from 20K years ago to leave behind any evidence for a geologist to find. What kind of reasonable, credible, corroborating evidence would you expect, seriously? You know, the further we go back in history the more sketchy our records are, and the less we know. Our knowledge of anything pre-10K BC is tiny, and by 20K BC we hardly have anything.
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