Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It is impossible to establish a date for the Flood

There is no Established date for when the Flood occurred

This would seem to be a concern for creationists. The date of the flood would help archaeologists and anthropologists and others understand much about world history such as when and why various civilizations disappeared or reappeared.

It should be emphasized that this is a Global flood and should, therefore, have Global evidence. We should find evidence for a flood everwhere. At the very least we should find evidence of a disruption in the history of various societies at a consistent global date.

Most creationists are reluctant to specify a date. The Answers in Genesis web site places the date of the flood at 2304 BCE[1]. Other creationists say that the flood occurred at a somewhat earlier date. Bishop Ussher suggested 2348 BCE. Probably a more general consensus would be somewhere around 2500 BCE.

These estimates are based on comparing chronologies in the Bible with the dates of secular histories. There are some differences in the proposed dates. However, there appear to be problems with nearly any date that is suggested.

Consider the suggested date of 2500 BCE. What are the problems with that date?

First of all, there are living trees that are much older than that. The oldest living tree found to date was 9550 years old in 2008[2]. That means that it was alive in about the year 7550 BCE. Surely any tree would have been killed if it was under water for a year. (It almost goes without saying that such trees falsify the idea that the Earth is only 6000 years old as well.)

There are other problems with the date of 2500 BCE. Some have to do with recorded human records.

For example, the Chinese have a detailed written history (called the "I Ching") dating back to the first emperor, Fu Hsi, who began his rule in 2952 BCE. The credibility of this chronological history is strengthened because it documents 26 solar eclipses. Astronomers have since confirmed the year, month and day of each and every one of those eclipses[3]. There is no break in this chronological history relating to a global flood.

Even if you move the time of the Flood to a few years earlier than 3000 BCE this account still presents problems for setting a date for the flood.

Note that Fu Hsi was an Emperor. A society that requires an Emperor certainly has more than a few people living in it. It needs scribes to record a history, an army of some sort, an administration to collect taxes and people to pay those taxes. Wikipedia defines “empire” as[4]:

"Empire is a term derived from the Latin "imperium", denoting military command within the ancient Roman government. An empire is an extensive group of states or ethnic peoples united and ruled over by a single monarch or ruling authority; having a strong centralized political power; and a large commercial organization under the control of one person or group within this nation state."

How many people are required for an empire? Surely there is no specific number that can be used, but you’d expect to have at least a few hundred thousand citizens and probably quite a few more.

China is far away from the Middle East. It would seem that as people left the Ark and reproduced they would initially tend to stay close to their family home and once the population expanded beyond what could be supported in just that area, they would also tend to move in all directions, not just towards the East and towards China. Therefore however many people were living in China, the entire Earth’s population must have been much larger.

The I Ching is written in Chinese. This is a different language than that used in Turkey or anywhere else in the Middle East. The Bible speaks of the Tower of Babel as the source for such languages. The Tower of Babel began construction a number of years after the Flood. (It’s difficult to find a specific date assigned to the building of the Tower. One creationist web site says that it was built beginning in about 1250 BCE[5].)

In summary, we have to account for:

1. The flood
2. The Earth’s population growing large enough to build the Tower of Babel
3. The Earth’s population continuing to grow after the Tower of Babel to have enough people in a place as far away from the Middle East as China that would require an Emperor.

All of these things must take place before 2952 BCE. It would be difficult to have those things all happen if the flood was any later than 10,000 BCE or so.

Similar problems occur if you look at those stunning remnants of ancient times: the Pyramids of Egypt.

None of the Pyramids show evidence of water damage (as would surely be the case if they were underwater for a year). Creationists concede this fact.

Yet the earliest Pyramid was built beginning in 2630 BCE. The last pyramid was completed in 1814 BCE[6]. Clearly those dates conflict with the proposed date for the flood.

Additionally, as with the existence of the Chinese Empire ruled by Fu Hsi population dynamics play a role. While Egypt is much closer to Mt. Ararat in Turkey than is China, it still requires a lot of people to build such huge edifices without mechanized help. Most people who have looked at the methods used for the construction of the pyramids believe that more than 100,000 male adults were required[7]. Obviously Egyptian society required people who did things besides construct the Pyramids. As is the case with China, any rational population growth figures from a world-wide population of eight people puts the flood thousands of years earlier than 2500 BCE.

There are additional pieces of evidence saying that the date of 2500 BCE couldn’t be correct for the flood. As it happens, pretty much any proposed date for the flood brings with it similar problems.

If you propose a date that goes back very far – say to 10,000 BCE – then the flood needs to occur before the universe was created (from the YEC perspective) which is clearly an impossibility. More practical concerns associated with such an ancient date are that writing had not yet been invented (the earliest evidence of writing comes from Mesopotamia and has been dated to about 4000 BCE[8]). Therefore the stories of the Flood would have been subject to 6000 years of hearsay. Adequate tools for building a ship as large as the Ark would also have been a problem. While stone tools have been around for over a million years, metal tools didn’t appear until about the same time as writing – 4000 BCE[9].

If the flood was a global event that really took place, it is difficult to understand why there are so many problems in establishing a date for the flood. There are no real arguments that the flood took about a year. There were human societies on Earth – Noah’s was not the only one. It would seem that there would be a mountain of archaeological and other evidence converging on a fairly narrow range of dates.

But there is nothing like that. In fact even creationists can’t agree on the date for the flood.

One creationist web site looks at Middle Eastern genealogies and establishes an earlier date[10]:

Considering the Flood as universal, all mankind since then are descended from the sons of Noah. These geneologies begin about 5000 BC.

Yet another creationist puts the date somewhere between 9,000 BCE and 12,000 BCE[11].

Each of these web sites uses different pieces of evidence in order to establish a date. The primary problem is obvious: they establish different dates. Yet this was a global flood?

Finding a reasonable date for the flood seems to cause one problem after another. The most reasonable solution – there has never been a global flood.

[1], referenced on April 22, 2008
[2], April 22, 2008
[3] “Measuring Eternity” by Martin Gorst, pp. 30-31
[4], referenced on January 6, 2009
[5], retrieved on April 22, 2008
[6], referenced on April 22, 2008.
[7], referenced on April 22, 2008
[8], referenced on April 22, 2008
[9], referenced on April 22, 2008
[10], refererenced on January 6, 2009
[11], referenced on January 6, 2009

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