Board index Noah's Ark & the Flood

Flaws in the Flood Story

Postby Cucumber » Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:32 pm

The Torah, also known by many as the Old Testament or the Tawrat, is home to many wonderful stories, many of which are well known by many people. The stories of Noah and Moses are among the most well known of them all, both of which having movies, some accurate to the books, some not, my favorite of which being "The Prince of Egypt", which had been in my #1 spot for movies until I watched Bohemian Rhapsody. There are, well, not flaws per say in the books, but things that stood out for me, which I will talk about and would enjoy having a civil discussion with down below:

Noah's Flood

The Torah was written around 500-600 BC, some even claiming that it was written around the year 1000 BC. Of course back then, people had a much lower understanding of time and human biology, but that doesn't hide the fact that it claims that Noah, the man who built a giant wooden boat to fit every kind of animal that was a land-based, vertebrae animal. Now, no date is provided in the Torah as to when it happened, but I'm guessing that since the world is 6000 years old as of today, according to many Abrahamists (Jews, Christians and Muslims), Noah's flood occurred around 3000-4500 years ago, given the fact that the Torah is around 2500 years old. The Book of Genesis also states that Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood, something that I find quite hard to believe, considering that the life expectancy in Virginia in the 1600s was 25. His accomplices (not meaning that in a crime sort of way) were also pretty aged as well, Shem being, according to the Book of Genesis, 98 years old at the time of the flood.

Now, onto other flaws in the story of Noah's flood. I know that Noah didn't have to put every single species of animal on the Ark, but even just having land-based vertebrates is a lot of animals. According to Creation.com, "...Noah would have needed to load only 16,000 animals..." (Bodie Hodge and Dr Jonathan Sarfati). That's still a lot of animals that would have to be loaded onto a boat that was about "450 feet (137 meters) long, 75 feet (22.8 meters) wide, and 45 feet (13.7 meters) high", according to Biblestudy.org that is. Now, I don't know how large the combined volume of the animals was, but I don't think that sixteen thousand animals would fit in a space with a volume of 1518750 feet2.

That's all I have time for today, since it's getting late, but I will post a continuation of this rather soon (hopefully). I hope that you all respect the points I had to make today, and that you have a wonderful day. Good night.

PS: This was all made thinking that I would be able to explain the Torah in one sitting, but I obviously cannot.
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Re: Flaws in the Flood Story

Postby jimwalton » Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:45 pm

> The Torah was written around 500-600 BC, some even claiming that it was written around the year 1000 BC

The theories of Torah dating range from about 1200 BC (some parts are shown to be very old) to possibly around 800 BC when they text we have may have been finalized and assembled. Since all "evidence" is scholarly speculation, no solid claims can be verified. I happen to believe the date of the Torah is convincingly in the 1200s, though I'll agree that edits continued to its assembly point of unknown date. Those edits and assembly, however, don't detract from the plausibility that a significant leader of the mid- to late 2nd millennium was the tradent for the text we have.

> Of course back then, people had a much lower understanding of time and human biology, but that doesn't hide the fact that it claims that Noah, the man who built a giant wooden boat to fit every kind of animal that was a land-based, vertebrae animal.

We can't plausibly verify they had a lower understanding of time, but it's undeniable they had a much lower understanding of human biology (though I don't know what that has to do with the Flood narrative).

I believe that the flood was a large regional flood, not a global one. The size of the boat is also hyperbolic, not literal. No wooden boat that size has ever been built at any time in history by any technology.

> Now, no date is provided in the Torah as to when it happened, but I'm guessing that since the world is 6000 years old as of today, according to many Abrahamists (Jews, Christians and Muslims), Noah's flood occurred around 3000-4500 years ago, given the fact that the Torah is around 2500 years old.

The text gives no date for the Flood, as you say, but the estimates I've heard are (1) before 10,000, or (2) before 20,000. We have no evidence that it happened 3000-4500 years ago—not in geology, not in archaeology, and not in the Torah.

> The Book of Genesis also states that Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood, something that I find quite hard to believe, considering that the life expectancy in Virginia in the 1600s was 25. His accomplices (not meaning that in a crime sort of way) were also pretty aged as well, Shem being, according to the Book of Genesis, 98 years old at the time of the flood.

It's interesting that a completely extrabiblical account of antediluvian ages is found in the Sumerian king list, which lists ages of similar duration to the biblical text. We are left to interpret what it all means. I happen to think that the Sumerian king list supports the credibility of the biblical numbers.

> I know that Noah didn't have to put every single species of animal on the Ark,

As I mentioned previously, I don't think the Flood was global, but instead largely regional. The boat itself would have been smaller than the hyperbolic numbers mentioned, and the number of animals onboard would have therefore also been lesser, and a collection of regional animals. We can discuss the specifics of the biblical text if you want.
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Re: Flaws in the Flood Story

Postby Yosary » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:37 pm

> I don't think the Flood was global, but instead largely regional

The bible says you're wrong.

"Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.” Genesis 7
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Re: Flaws in the Flood Story

Postby jimwalton » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:39 pm

Glad to provide clarification. This is where a little more probing beyond the simple words of the text is beneficial.

What does "all" mean? In Gn. 41.57 (same book, same author), we read that "all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe in all the world." Was Brazil experiencing famine? Did the Australians come to Joseph? No. "All" means the countries of the immediate vicinity in the ancient Near East.

Also, Deut. 2.25 (same author): "I will put the...fear of you on all the nations under heaven." Did that include the Mayans? The people of Madagascar? I don't think anyone would argue that this refers to more than the nations of Canaan, and perhaps a few others.

There are plenty of other references like this throughout the Bible (Acts 17.6; 19.35; 24.5; Rom. 1.8). We have to give serious consideration that quite possibly "all" doesn't mean "global".

Also, the flood didn't have to be global to accomplish God's purposes. God was dealing with Canaan and the surrounding neighbors. God was dealing with Noah's context. A flood in South America would be totally inexplicable to the people there, as well as patently unfair (which the Bible teaches that God is not). Noah was a preacher of righteousness, but not to the people of Africa, China, Australia, and the Americas. The language of the Noah story is normal for Scripture, describing everyday matters from the narrator's vantage point and within the customary frame of reference of his readers.

But what about "covering the mountains"? Again, a little detective work (rather than superficial reading) can be of value. First of all, the high mountains were not generally considered mountains, but pillars holding up the firmament. When they talk about mountains, they are referring to the local geological shapes, not the Alps and Himalayas. And what does "cover" mean? The Hebrew root is *ksh*, and is used in a wide variety of nuances:

* A people so vast they "cover" the land (Num. 22.11)
* Weeds "cover" the land (Prov. 24.31)
* clothing (1 Ki. 1.1)
* Overshadowed (2 Chr. 5.8; Ps. 147.8)

In Job 38.34; Jer. 46.8; Mal. 2.13, "covered" is figurative. If Gn. 7.19 is read in the same way, it suggests that the mountains were drenched with water or coursing with flash floods, but it doesn't demand they were submerged.

What about "15 cubits above" (Gn. 7.20)? The Hebrew reads "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.

What about all the animals dying? Again, we have to define "all", but based on what I previously said, it could easily refer to "all" the ones within the scope of the flood, not necessarily global destruction. Again, look at Gn. 2.13, where the river "winds through all (same word as Gn. 7.21) the land of Cush." Does it mean every square inch of it? Not likely.

Genesis 7.22 says, "Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died." I know hhis could have been expressed in multiple ways, but I don't fault the writer to choosing what he did. "All" not only denotes the scope of the physical flood for the intended population, but it can also connote the completeness of the judgment. If he had said something like "as far as the eye could see" it might be assumed that the judgment was less than accomplished. That wording would have been less adequate for the situation, in my opinion. to point was to express the completeness of the judgment on the target audience, and "all" expresses that, though it obviously leads to other misunderstandings as well. We do have to entertain the thought that the ancients understood quite well the intent of the text, but through the millennia it got lost in "Enlightenment literalism", and we are the victims of the misunderstanding. It's time to get back to seeing the event through ancient eyes.

Besides, we have to look at a few other things.

1. A global flood is totally out of character with all of God's other miracles in the Bible. It's not His m.o.. It's not the way he does things, and it doesn't fit His pattern of working.

2. A global flood is unjust, and God is not unjust. What fits the Biblical description of God is that God judged the people who were worthy of judgment, who had been warned, and who had adequate opportunities to change their ways. A global flood doesn't fit this picture.

I hope that helps.
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Re: Flaws in the Flood Story

Postby You Made a Mistake » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:30 pm

Lol :lol: at the torah in the 13th century bc.
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Re: Flaws in the Flood Story

Postby jimwalton » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:31 pm

For instance, Genesis 14 could only have happened from 2060 to about 1949 BC. Many of the elements in the story (vocabulary, details) suggest a non-Israelite source, and, as Speiser says, "with an uncanny accuracy to what we know of history." This is a very old narrative.

The elements of Genesis 11 (tower of Babel story) "prove to be authentic beyond all expectations" (Speiser again), the narrative coming from about the 3rd millennium BC.

Exodus 21-23. There are many pieces of this "Book of the Covenant," according to Brevard Childs, that are provably an old collection of laws independent of and preceding the usually critical sources. The law code found in Ex. 21-23 is probably the oldest example of casuistic law in the Bible and dates back to the middle-late 2nd millennium BC.

These are just snippets of evidences for my claiming that the source material for the Torah could have been the 1300s BC.
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