The Flood

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Fri Sep 29 14:30:40 EDT 2000

Dear Walter,

See my comments below:

>WM: I can understand your argument about Humanists having "a belief system"
>about their data, but the important difference is that they allow and are
>open to criticism of that system, willing to scrap their paradigms, while
>those who hold to inerrancy would never consider that (understandably) as an
>option, for reasons of faith.
>> Before I started with my language studies 25 years ago, I made a study of
>> the axioms behind the natural sciences and the historical sciences. I also
>> studied the arguments of creationists who claimed to be scientists. While
>> do not accept the creationist's view of a 6000 year old earth, that the
>> sedimentary rocks are a result of the flood etc, some of the points that
>> were presented are really thought provoking. While I stopped looking into
>> creationist literature when I started with languages (and therefore I am
>> not updated), I have worked a little with some of the points that
>> me.
>WM: Having begun my research "to prove the bible true," some 30 yrs ago, I
>too, studied deeply the creationist literature, especially the writings of
>Morris on the Flood (in fact I still have his book in my personal library).
>But I was determined to keep an open mind and study both sides of the issue,
>pro and con. So I studied the arguments of his Humanist critics and
>eventually came to be persuaded he was in error on many of his assertions.

Interestingly, we have had about the same experience 30 years ago, both
reading creationist and Humnaist literature ( I subscribed for the Humanist
peridocal which attacked the creationists for a long time). However, our
conclusions have been somewhat different. We agree that the Morris/Whitcomb
flood model is impossible, but my impression regarding the other side is
that while they do not have ideas that they will not change as Morris has
regarding inerrancy, they have axioms and paradigms which are almost seen
as facts which never are challenged. The belief in these basic axioms and
assumptions are not far from an inerrancy system, as far as their quality
is concerned. We therefore should not put creationism against Humanism, but
rather the information of the Bible against the basic axioms and
assumptions of the Humanists (and similar groups).

>WM: Humanist scholars have built up a series of pottery sequences to date
>man's culture by in the Ancient Near East. According to this pottery
>paradigm, there are cities that were founded as early as the 9th millenium
>BCE (Jericho for example) as well as others, and they have exhibited no
>flood debris universally dated to the 4th or 3rd millenium BCE when the
>Hebrew Bible claims the Flood occurred.

Your example is a very good test case, and I will again play the devil's
advocate. In the Bible there is a continuous chronology of persons and
periods from the flood and down to the fall of Babylon for the Medes and
Persians in 539 BCE. This chronology places the flood around 2400 BCE. Few
persons take this seriously, but my challenge to you is to PROVE that
cultures existed before this date!

I once wrote a paper about the Neo-Babylonian chronology, and discovered
that the oldest tablet (astronomical diary) that could help us create an
*absolute* chronology (=a chronology where an historical event can be tied
up with unambiguous astronomical observations), was VAT4956. It is dated to
Nebuhcadnezzar's 37th year and the observations are very accurate. (But
there are even questions with the connections between astronomy and history
in this tablet). Before that, very much is conjecture. Eclipses and similar
phenomena are usually only roughly described, and because such events occur
so often, they are of little importance as chronological proofs.

It is fine that you cite scientific calculations. What I would like,
however, is to question the axioms on which they build and the methods used
to calculate them. Let me therefore question the Jericho and similar dates.
First we should note that your dates are of the same order of magnitude as
the Biblical flood date (2.400 versus 9.000 BCE). Second I would like to
say that I am not aware of a single *reliable* method to date cultures
believed to exist several thousand years before our era, neither C14,
three-ring analysis, recemization or anything else. The most promising
method would be C14 dating, but the unreliability of this method increases
dramatically in the BCE. It depends on the assumption that the rate of
cosmic rays hitting the earth has been constant. If this rate was 50 % of
the present rate at some time in the past, an organic item would seem to be
5600 years older than it actually was.

So please tell me how you can follow the chronology back year by year from,
say 539 BCE and back to 9.000 BCE. Which axioms are behind such
calculations, and how reliable are the results? I would like to ask for the
same regarding Menes and Egyptian chronology, Mesopotamian chronology etc.
It is high time that we behave as scientists and ask *real* critical
questions about the very foundations of history and chronology, and not
just say "vox populi (read:chronologers) vox dei". This is my principal
complaint against Humanism and other groups, that there is a paradigm, and
evrything is interpreted in light of this paradigm; and the axioms of the
paradigm are never questioned. My complaint is not only against the use of
the paradigm, but rather against the fact that it is not realized that this
paradigm is based on pure faith (in the axioms).

It is believed that man has evolved from a  primitive state and that we
have a stone age, iron age etc. But how can we know that all groups of
people experienced the same things at the same time? How can we know that
the progression was not reversed for some groups? And further, how can we
by help of a *relative* chronology (one that is not tied up with
astronomical observations) connect the different groups as to age? There
exist many lists of kings, but how can we know that these are more reliable
than the Biblical lists? How can we know that there were not coregencies in
a large scale, and that the ages of the oldest histories should not be
lovered? In other words: please prove (not just cite opinions and
judgements) that civilizations existed before 2400 BCE?

>WM: I am aware of the geologic evidence for a "Young surface" to the earth,
>the river silt deposits found on the continental shelves. But I don't see
>that this phenomena can be worked into a 4th/3rd millenium BCE Noah's Flood.
>To do that, one would have to demonstate that the Pottery sequences are
>seriously out of whack for the ANE, thus the cities that are 9th millenium
>BCE, are not. Then one would have to explain the bible's presentation of the
>flood as being 4th/3rd millenium BCE which doesn't fit the paradigm of most
>Geologists (those who have "no vested interest" in "proving the bible," like
>Gish and Morris).

My words so far has not been a defence of the Bible, and the inerrancy
question has no place in a scientific discussion. I have rather attacked
the lack of real critical questions and all the circular thinking amnong
many chronologers and historians. Regarding the "Young surface"  where we
both agree, there are many pressing questions that I have never seen being
addressed by scientists. The data I mentioned in my last post suggests that
great upheavals occurred in the crust of the earth in recent times, and
these were connected in a dramatic fluctuation of the sea level. I am not
saying that it did, but it *could* accord with what the Bible says about a
worldwide flood. And please tell me, what prevents us from believing that
these great changes occurred 4.500 years ago? Please don´t just refer to
the Geologic time scale where ages can be changed by millions of years
overnight). I look forward to your comments to this rather provocative post
and its critical questions.



Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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