Monday, 22 August 2011

Where is all Noah's water now?

Continuing the mini-series on the myth of the flood . . .

Since they knew nothing at all about science, didn't realise that the world was not flat, didn't have a concept of basic ideas like conservation of mass, why would anyone question where all the water came from and where it went to. Remember that at the time of Noah the wheel hadn't even been invented!  Something so trivial in the modern world would have seemed like a miracle to the wisest people of the time.

If you know no science and can't explain things rationally you just make a story and the great 'ju ju' in the sky makes things happen miraculously.  Your deity actually become more powerful if he has to do these things that nobody can explain. 

There is no point in me calculating the volume of water needed to flood the earth to a depth greater than the tops of the highest mountains, but it is clear that it wasn't there on earth just waiting to be rained down.  Its not even physically possible that god had stored up a 'mountain' of water somewhere (temporarily suspending the law of gravity until he needed it). 

Some speculate in desperation to find a 'rational' explanation.  Using knowledge that the world is not flat - knowledge that the ancients did not have - they suggest that a sphere of water was somehow suspended in orbit around the earth.  They claim that god made it rain down. There are some obvious physical flaws to this hypothesis.  For a start, orbital mechanics would make it difficult to describe how the water was kept up there.  There is no way that the water could have been stable in a spherical shape as any net rotation would stretch it out into a disc like Saturn's rings.  And nobody seems to have reported that you could see this water, or that the stars were obscured by the pre-flood water.  After all, the clouds are pretty good at hiding the stars from anyone on the ground and they clearly don't contain enough water at any one time for such a flood.  Aside from that, water in the vacuum of space would freeze into ice.  Nobody suggests that the flood was caused by snow, or that it got more than usually chilly while Noah was on his voyage.

Furthermore, where did the water all go after the flood?  It didn't just run off the edge of the flat world.  It is not hidden away under the earth's surface.  It hasn't gone back up into orbit either.  I think we would have noticed.  You can only invoke 'special pleading' again as an explanation.  God just took it away.

Let's face it - the flood was not possible on these grounds alone, unless (as I mentioned in an earlier post) it described a local inundation of water which appeared to wipe out the 'known' world of ancient times.  This explanation might be rational and reasonable if there happened to be any evidence for it. 

The creation of the Black Sea is one such possibility.  If the sea water broke through from the Mediterranean through the Bosporus then of course the level of water in the Black Sea could have risen quite suddenly.  (But of course this hypothesis is open to different interpretations.)  Indeed evidence may have been discovered off the Turkish coast for pre-flood civilisations and a flooded coastline as much as 100m under the current surface level.  Some claim that there has been a repeated cycle of flow backwards and forwards through the Bosporus throughout history, but that this particular change can be dated to around 6000 BCE.

However, if this Black Sea Hypothesis is adopted as an explanation for the flood, why did the bible not describe is as a wall or water, or as the waters suddenly rising?  Why go to all the drama of 150 days of rain?  It god couldn't tell the difference between these when he revealed the story then he's not much of a god.

I will leave you with one further thought from my online friend @RosaRubicondior who tweeted:

"How did the olive tree survive under salt water and how was it growing on top of a mountain?"

1 comment:

John Chapman said...

The Black Sea inundation wasn't the only flood of this type apparently. In North Ammerica there is evidence of sudden catastrophic floods caused by the breaking of ice dams as the ice sheet there melted.