The Flood

alanf00 at home.com alanf00 at home.com
Tue Oct 3 05:15:57 EDT 2000


Date sent:      	Tue, 3 Oct 2000 07:30:55 +0200
To:             	Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
From:           	Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>
Subject:        	Re: The Flood
Send reply to:  	Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>


Hello Rolf,

> Regarding the flood, I have to respond on three fronts, and this is beyond my capacity because I have very much teaching this semester.

Well, if you have the time to respond in what is least, you should be prepared to respond in what is much. At the very least, after your teaching committments are fulfilled, you should respond in the long run. If you are not willing, you should not make any claims you are not willing, able and 
prepared to defend.

> In addition, I think geology is somewhat beside the purpose of this list, although flood geology may have some relevance.

Geology is very much a part of the purpose of this list. Geology *defines* certain paradigms that the majority of participants subscribe to. 

> I will, however, give a few comments. What I have tried to do in this thread is to stress the following: Nobody can *prove* that a world-wide flood ever occurred, and nobody can *prove* that it did not occur, not even as late as 2.400 BCE.

*Of course* someone can. I have already done so. The fact that you apparently do not understand, or perhaps simply refuse to accept, the geological proof data has no bearing on whether a group of reasonably objective scientists can prove that a global flood never occurred.

This is fairly simple, Rolf. If a paradigm is completely unable to explain a number of phenomena, then that paradigm is wrong. The paradigm of Noah's global flood some 4,400 years ago cannot explain a large number of phenomena. That's all there is to it.

Let me give you an extended example of this principle. In reading over a number of Bible passages we might decide that the Bible teaches that the earth is a flat, circular pancake-ish affair suspended in space or fixed to who-knows-what, at the very center of the universe. The Bible passages that 
support such a view are well known. Daniel 4:10, 11 describes a great tree in the center of the earth, whose foliage was visible from every point of the earth. If the view of the Bible writer were that the earth is a sphere, then the notion that this "dream tree" were visible from the entire 
earth would be nonsensical, do you not agree? The very notion that the "earth" has a center, a middle in which this dream tree grew, further shows what the Bible writer had in mind, does it not? The surface of a sphere certainly has no "middle" or "center", but the surface of a pancake does. 
Jesus himself is recorded as supporting this view. In Matthew 4:8 Jesus is said to have been taken by the devil to an unusually high mountain, from which he showed him all the kingdoms of the world. This cannot have been done conceptually on a spherical earth; only a flat earth makes sense. Thus, 
a literalist might argue that the Bible teaches that the earth is a flat, circular affair with a middle and with extremities to the north, south, east and west. In the history of Christianity, this has been done.

Geology provides the facts that show that such an interpretation of a few biblical passages is wrong. In light of modern geology, most people understand that Daniel 4 and Matthew 4 are symbolic, not literal. In the fullness of time, it will become evident to all reasonable Bible commentators that 
geology has determined the time scale of the earth's history, just as certainly as it has determined that, to be factual, Daniel 4 and Matthew 4 must be understood figuratively. Of course, had one made this argument 500 years ago, one might have been burned as a heretic.

> I am surprised how many persons there are who subscribe to the creed: To build on the Bible is based on faith, to build on science is based on data. I have tried to show that this picture is false and that the view of the history of ancient man simply is based on a scientific religion whose 
basic dogma is the evolution on man.

I'm surprised at you, Rolf. Here you are saying exactly what the Young-Earth Creationists such as are represented by the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, California, are saying: the entire universe was created by fiat some 6,000 years ago.

While you might think that you have tried to "show", in the over-simplified words of such young-earth creationists, that the earth and universe are only a few thousand years old, all you have really done is repeat some tired old arguments that were discarded even by most mainstream "creationists" 
decades ago.

Really, Rolf, your reply contains no actual data that one can sink his teeth into. On the other hand, my previous post included a number of *specific* situations that you might have commented on. Yet you ignored every specific. Why is that?

> I have further pointed to different data which would accord with a recent world-wide flood,

Where? The only thing I have seen in several posts on this email list from you is a list of completely unspecific notions that I cannot even look up in standard references.

> but in no way prove it, and I have tried to show that there are no reliable methods that can be used to date man and his artifacts in the third millennium and beyound.

You may have tried, but you have failed to show what you wanted. You have provided absolutely no data whatsoever to support your view, except the dubious interpretations of some geneologies in Genesis that other scholars have pointed out are almost certainly poor interpretations of the text 
itself. More telling, you have completely failed to refute a single thing I mentioned in my previous post, things that prove absolutely that mankind has been on the earth for far more than the 6,000 or so years that you seem to allow.

> This has been an attack on a model, and not a defense of a model.

Hardly. You have certainly attacked a model, but you have also implicitly defended a model of interpretation of Genesis that is a grand tradition among various biblical inerrantists. Variants on this tradition are seen today among the various Protestant Evangelical groups, the Seventh-Day 
Adventists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and even, in an extended sense, various non-christian groups.

> I give a few comments below.


>>What tablets, and where has the information been published?

> For instance: LEICHTY E. 1986

Thank you. I will look into these.

> Some problematic tablets are:

> BM 58872  Amel-Marduk  ? day, 5. month,accession year.
> BM 75322 Amel-Marduk   20. dag i 5th month, accession year
> BM 61325 Amel-Marduk  17? day, i 10. month, 2nd år.
> BM 75489 Nergal-shar-usur  4. day,  2. month, accession year.

Are these catalogued and translated in the references you gave above? In any case, where can I get my hands on these?

> The whole New Babylonian chronology rests on the astronomic diary VAT 4956

Even I -- an amateur in these matters -- knows that this is not true. A great deal of data proves and is consistent with this chronology. We have Ptolemy's Canon, various contemporary stelae, Berossus and so on. I have no doubt that you know all this, so I won't repeat it.

> which is correlated with Nebuchadnezar's 37 year. This is a later copy,
and remember, just one year extra that can be demonstrated in the
succession of kings, the information of this table falls apart. It must be
correact as to the year, if not, it is totally wrong.

So far as I know, this tablet, despite being a later copy, is correct in almost every detail that it has been possible to verify. Are you aware of any details or, more importantly, major problems that derail the correctness of this tablet? More particularly, can you show that some other 
chronology is completely consistent with everything that is known about Neo-Babylonian history? If not, what is your beef with standard chronology? If you can provide neither details nor a general paradigm, then it would appear that your objections have no foundation.

>>> ... In the Cambridge Ancient History I:2 there are chronological
>>tables from page 994. The first Egyptian dynasty is dated to c.
>>3100 BCE and the Sumerian period is dated to 2700. Is it not
>>strange that there are no accounts of human cultures before these
>>dates? (The age of a few isolated finds of habitation are highly
>>questionable.)
>>
>>I am not sure just what you mean by "accounts of human cultures"
>>before these dates. If you mean the preserved *written records* of
>>these cultures, you may be right. However, your statement below,
>>"that human culture sudd
>>enly apears on the scene 3.100 BCE or 700 years earlier" than 2,000
>>B.C.E., seems to indicate that you mean *all* evidence of human culture,
>>written or otherwise.
>
>>But this presents a serious problem. The archaeological record of human
>>culture in Europe and the Middle East goes much further back than any
>>written accounts. We have remains of Neandertal culture going back
>>perhaps 200, 000 years, preserved in the form of stone tools and the
>>skeletons of these people. We have a similar record of modern-type humans
>>going back at least 100,000 years. There are dozens of caves all over
>>Europe containing pai ntings and other artifacts; these go back from
>>10,000 to more than 30,000 years. In the 1990s William Ryan and Walter
>>Pitman found good evidence that the Black Sea was inundated by the
>>Mediterranean breaking through the B osporus about 5,500 B.C.E. This past
>>summer their expedition found remains of human settlement, including
>>buildings and a trash heap, in about 100 meters of water about 20 km. off
>>the Turkish coast. If your contention is correct -- that human culture is
>>not older than about 2,400 B.C.E., then all of the dating of these
>>things, and much more, must be discarded. Do you have any evidence apart
>>from your interpretation of the geneologies in G enesis to support such a
>>wholesale discarding of everything that has been dated before 2,400
>B.C.E.?

> Sorry Alan, but I believe your references to be pure religion, as far as
dating is concerned.

You can believe what you wish. I have proved my point by a number of references. You have failed to deal with a single reference. Most importantly, you have failed even to comment on the *actual data* mentioned in my references, which data is not open to much interpretation at all. For example, 
what date do you assign to Lascaux Caves? What dates do you assign for the earliest and latest appearance of Neandertals? Why? What date do you assign for the earliest appearance of modern Homo sapiens? Why?

Really, Rolf, you have no answer for these questions. I know you don't, and I know that you will prove it by failing to provide any answers in the short term or the long term.

> I have my own view of the Biblical account which I
have not stated and not defended.

I am very well aware of what your view of these things is. It is my opinion that you do not state it or defend it because you know that it cannot be done. To date, no one has done so, because no one can.

> But I have used the information of the
Bible of a worldwide flood around 2.400  as an example of how the religion
of science works.

So far you have ignored all of the arguments of the people on this list, as to why a literal acceptance of the geneologies of Genesis is dicey at best, and completely misleading at worst. Yet you have not commented, as of my writing. This is a gigantic hole in your reasoning.

> You can demonstrate that my claim about the religious
nature of the dating business of the historical sciences is false, by
doing the following:

Actually I have already done so, by my descriptions and references to material about dating of ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica. The fact that you have failed to comment on this information does not change the fact that this information exists and must be dealt with by any honest practioner 
of biblical exegesis.

> Demonstrate the the rate of cosmic rays hitting the earth has been
constant throughout history,

That is not possible, but it is not necessary for demonstrating that human culture is far older than 6,000 or so years, that human life of some sort has existed on earth for several million years, and that life has existed on earth, in one form or another, for several billion years. These things 
are demonstrated by plenty of data that have nothing to do with the history of the flux of cosmic rays. Indeed, no one even claims that cosmic ray flux has been constant over the last 5000 years! What on earth are you talking about? If you are referring to radiocarbon dating, that is a somewhat 
different topic. Such dating is listed as not good for dates more than 50,000 years, so it has nothing to do with things such as the unearthing of a Homo erectus boy in 1984 from 1.8 million year old sediments. Can you come up with an explanation for this discovery within your preferred paradigm? 
I think not.

> and that the finds of human artifacts or
bones has not been contaminated,

Here again you are asking for the impossible: that a single person be able to verify that *all* finds of human artifacts or bones have not been contaminated. It is sufficient that a number of competent workers over the years and in a variety of environments have done so.

> and on this bases point to *ONE* example
of humans existing before 2.400 BCE.

This is easy. I could point to dozens of examples, but here is just one. Around 6500 years ago the volcano in Oregon, U.S.A., now named Mount Mazama, blew up. It spewed about 80 times the amount of ash that Mount Saint Helens did in 1981. The ash covered the surrounding countryside in layers up 
to more than 100 meters thick and it spread over much of the U.S. The remnant of the volcano is now called Crater Lake. In a cave in the late 1970s near Crater Lake there were found a couple of Indian sandals made of the bark of indigenous trees. These were buried under the ash from the Mazama 
explosion. The sandals were dated to about 5000 B.C.E. by radiocarbon dating at the time of discovery. Later discoveries showed that the Mazama explosion was a bit earlier, about 4500 B.C.E., and this is quite consistent with the radiocarbon dating of the Indian sandals. Now, Rolf, can you give 
any evidence that both radiocarbon dating and dating by Greenland ice cores is wrong when they give essentially the same answers? More importantly, can you show why the entire body of scientific dating by these methods during the past 50 years ought to be trashed? Especially when the only basis 
you have for trashing the ideas is a demonstrably shaky notion that the geneologies in Genesis ought to be taken literally word for word?

> Or you can demonstrate the complete reliability of another dating method and apply this to one  articular find.

I have already shown that several independent dating methods give the same answers, i.e.,. combining radiocarbon and ice-core dating methods.

I have also given enough information to indicate the impossibility of a global flood some 4,400 years ago. The recent finds in the Black Sea are a perfect example. Here you have positive proof of human habitation some 5,500 years ago on what is now a deep layer of the Black Sea. If buildings were 
built there at a level that is now some 100 meters below the surface, then it is obvious that human beings lived there before the Black Sea was flooded. A variety of methods have shown that this flooding occurred about 5,500 years ago. For your paradigm to be correct, you would have to show that 
this finding of ancient human habitation is consistent with a worldwide flood some 4,400 years ago. You would have to demonstrate a great many other things that are obvious even to the most casual observer. Have you done anything along these lines? If so, I would like to hear about it.

> While I reject most of what the creationists say about flood geology,

Why now? You didn't until about 1985.

> I think they have an extremely strong case as far as the age of mankind is concerned. But you have your opportunity.

I have taken it and run with it. It is unfortunate that you chose to avoid commenting on any specifics at all. You cannot hope to argue about you chosen topic in this way, much less persuade others to your view.

>> ... In my view it is highly remarkable that human culture suddenly
>>>apears on the scene 3.100 BCE or 700 years earlier. This accords better
>>>with the Biblical information than with the traditional evolutionary
>>>scheme.
>
>Unless you can show that *all* of the standard archeological dates on
>pre-2,400 B.C.E. periods are wrong, there is little basis for this
>>statement.

> The onus of proof is not on me; I am just pleading our ignorance and the
> religious nature of dating science. It is you who has to prove that
> mankind existed before 2.400 BCE.

As I said, that has been done in spades. So far you have presented not even a shred of evidence, much less proof, that the standard dates should be rejected.

For example, I referred to the 20,000 year dating of certain cave paintings, such as Lascaux in France. Are you claiming that this cave is less than 4,400 years old? If so, what is your evidence? Are you claiming that the caves are in reality at most about 4000 years old, which must be so for a 
set of human societies to develop to the point of leaving such traces? What about the ice age animals that were portrayed on the walls but are now extinct? Standard dating puts the extinction at various times during the last 20,000 or so years. Do you have any contrary evidence? If so, what is 
it?

>> What I have tried to do in this thread, is to plead our ignorance.
>
>>Indeed we are ignorant of many things, but much archaeology and the
>>associated geology of the past few tens of thousands of years is
>>extremely solidly documented. To repudiate such findings is to repudiate
>>essentially all
>> of geology and ancient archaeology, do you not agree? I don't know a lot
>>about archaeology, but I do know something about geology and I can
>>provide copious amounts of evidence that is solidly documented.

>When I started my investigation of humanism versus creationism 30 years
>ago, I read more than one thousand books found in the university libraries
>of historical geology, biochemistry and biology pertaining to  ancient
>humans and the Geologic Time table, and even more articles in scholarly
>journals - and  I was completely shocked! I could not imagine that the
>paradigm presented to the students to such a great degree was contradicted
>by these books written by scientists.

It is good that you cannot imagine such a thing, because it is simply not correct. Whatever paradigm you think was presented does not conflict with solidly established evidence.

Really, Rolf, all you are doing is arguing in very general terms: People make mistakes, therefore anything that people say that I don't like, I will refuse to believe.

It's that simple, what you and so many others do. Instead of dealing with the data first, you put religious writings first -- and more importantly, your *interpretation* of religious writings first. This is ubiquitous among world religions, but especially among American Fundamentalists.

>And because of their pressing
>curriculum students would not have time to read all this literature.

This is a standard excuse for not reading appropriate literature given by young-earth creationists such as the folks at the ICR (Institute for Creation Research) in San Diego, California. Really, a few dozen good books suffices to establish 90% of the paradigm. The rest fills in details.

>I am positive to geology, but what I have found to be less than satisfactory is the paradigm of historical geology.

I have news for you: *all* geology is historical. I know very well that you and your religious associates reject not only geology, but all science and everything else that disagrees with your religious beliefs. This is identical to the tactics used by the ICR, which first declares that God made 
the universe in six 24-hour days, the declares that all facts of geology must be brought in line with this paradigm. I know that you have nothing even close to the ICR's agenda.

>>> While the Biblical information about a worldwide flood is categorically
>>>rejected by most researchers, this is not done on the basis of data, but
>>>rather on the basis of the paradigm to which most are subscribing.
>
>>This is simply untrue. I have done a great deal of checking of evidence
>>that various supporters of a global flood have advanced. Absolutely
>>nothing -- nothing at all -- has turned out to be as they claimed. Each
>>claim tha t they set forth is found, after careful checking, to be either
>>impossible or extremely unlikely, and far better explained by normal
>>geology.

>>There is also the problem of negative evidence. A worldwide watery
>>catastrophe only 4,400 years ago would be expected to leave massive,
>>unmistakeable evidence in every part of the world. Such is not found.
>>There are indee d evidences of massive, *local* flooding found, but
>>nothing that I am aware of that occurred 4,400 years ago. For example,
>>according to standard geology, somewhere between about 12,000 and 15,000
>>years ago some 40 or so m assive floods occurred in
>>Washington/Oregon/Idaho. These were the result of the damming of a river
>>system in Idaho by a continental glacier, such that some 2300 cubic
>>kilometers of water accumulated in a lake extending hu ndreds of
>>kilometers eastward into Idaho and Montana. That is more than the volume
>>of Lakes Erie and Ontario combined. When the water reached about 600
>>meters deep, the ice dam broke and the entire contents of the lake sp
>>illed out in a couple of days. This massive amount of water carved out
>>huge gashes in the thick lava beds that cover much of eastern Washington,
>>forming what is locally called the "channeled scabland". It also deepened
>>an d widened the Gorge of the Columbia River, from north-central
>>Washington all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Today there are thick
>>sediments from these floods up to 10 kilometers out in the Pacific from
>>the mouth of the Col umbia. You can find a great deal of documentation on
>>this flooding event by typing "Missoula flood" into a decent search
>>engine. You can get a nice picture at this URL:
>>http://www.uidaho.edu/igs/iafi/iafidesc.html .
>
>>If a mere local flood caused as much geological damage as these Missoula
>>floods did, how much more would a massive, earthwide flood produce?
>>Anyone who wants to say that a massive, earthwide flood occurred some
>>4,400 year s ago must be prepared to explain why topography like that
>>left over from the much earlier Missoula floods is not found everywhere
>>on the earth. The fact that it is not is extremely strong evidence that
>>such flooding neve r happened.

>I beg to disagree, but do not have capacity to go into more detail than I already have done.

You can disagree all you want, but unless you go into the detail that the actual factual evidence such as I have presented is somehow wrong, you have no reasonable basis for disagreeing.

Just take a few minutes and reason on the above from your general knowledge, Rolf. Can you point to a single bit of geological evidence that points positively to a worldwide flood some 4,400 years ago? No, and you know it. That's why you have carefully avoided any specifics about geology in your 
post here.

>>> Because clear astronomical data are lacking in the third millennium BCE
>>>and historical information is scarce, there are no data that really
>>>contradict the Biblical information about the flood, but the young age
>>>of human
>> culture and the fact that the surface of the earth is very young,
>> accords
>>with the Bible.
>
>>The surface of the earth is young only in some spots. In others it is
>>demonstrably far older than 4,400 years. For example, the oldest ice in
>>the Greenland ice cap has been found during the last 20 years to be about
>>250,0 00 years old. That age has been found by extrapolation of thinning
>>rates and so forth, and might be questioned. However, a *direct count* of
>>annual layers in certain ice core drillings has shown more than 40,000
>>layers, w ith some blurring causing an uncertainty of at most about 10%
>>in the age at 40,000 years, and only 2% at 11,000 years. Researchers are
>>confident that they have a good record for at least 110,000 years. The
>>top annual laye rs contain the chemical and physical signatures of
>>various historical volcanic explosions which are extremely well
>>correlated with the ice core layers. The point at about 11,600 years ago
>>shows an extreme climate change, with rate of snow accumulation doubling
>>after that point. This corresponds to the large climate change usually
>>called the "Younger Dryas", whose signature can be found in various
>>places all over Europe and America. For ex ample, a peat bog in northern
>>France shows a change from near-Arctic to temperate climate in a few
>>decades, judging by pollen in the various layers. Radiocarbon dating of
>>this climate breakpoint correlates well with the G reenland ice core
>>dates. You can find much information on this by typing "gisp greenland
>>ice core" into a search engine. You can find some information at this
>>URL: http://www.agu.org/revgeophys/mayews01/mayews01.html .
>
>>Now, one might find fault with any number of details in these ice core
>>and climate studies, but one thing is certain: the Greenland ice cap
>>would not have survived a massive, worldwide flood 4,400 years ago.
>>Therefore, ho w it came into existence in such short time span must be
>>explained, along with how the ice core records in today's ice sheet
>>correspond so well to climate changes inferred from many other kinds of
>>information from all ove r the world.

>Extrapolation is tricky business, and in geology even more than in
>language, there may be several explanations for the same phenomena. First
>when you present a reliable mechanism for dating I will retract my claim
>of the religious nature of scientific dating.

This is a good example of the kind of deliberate obfuscation I have observed among far too many people. I said that the *extrapolation* was to the age of 250,000 years. Earlier dates, such as the Younger Dryas, are in no sense extrapolations but are found by *direct counts* of ice cores.

Now Rolf, you may quibble about a few years here and there in the ice cores, if you have a mind to actually obtain the raw data and see for yourself, but you can hardly blow away with mere words the simple fact that a *direct count* of annual layers in the Greenland ice cap ends at 40,000 years, 
and the depth of the ice cap is much greater still. Just what are you arguing against? That perhaps 40,000 is the wrong number? That perhaps there might be 20 or so layers accumulated every year? Just what are you claiming and why?

My take on your general approach on this list is that you raise many nebulous objections to views that are not in accord with your own, but you rarely defend your views with actual data or solid arguments. If my take is wrong, you have a good opportunity to correct it. Simply present a set of 
facts and data, and your interpretations, and let's see where it heads.

Many fine Christian commentators have no problem reconciling these things. Why do you? Bible commentators have made many adjustments in their thinkging as to just what a particular bible passage means. Sometimes it's clear. Sometimes it's so much gobble-de-gook. The difference is that the latter 
are far too common.

Alan Feuerbacher



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