The Flood

Walter Mattfeld mattfeld at
Sat Sep 30 01:33:05 EDT 2000

Dear Rolf,

Amazing how much we have in similar from 30 years ago (I am 57 yrs old)! I
too, have wrestled with the axioms behind the dating of events, radio
carbon, tree rings, ice cores (of the Glaciers), thermonuclear, reversing
magnetic poles, rates of movement for the earth's tectonic plates
(indicating when the continents broke apart) etc. I would have to concede
that all dating is "theoretical" to a degree, and that nothing is
"full-proof" in 100% accuracy. One has to study the literature on how dates
are arrived at and what kinds of "margins of error" are posited for the
various systems, and then decide for oneself, if this is an acceptable
dating scale.

In regards to your arguments on dating civilizations using Babylonian
astronomical data- Not much exists in writing before 3rd millenium BCE, to
correlate a history on, thus the term "pre-history" (i.e., alluding to the
period "before writing").  Your points are well taken.

All the best,  Walter

----- Original Message -----
From: Rolf Furuli <furuli at>
To: Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Friday, September 29, 2000 8:30 PM
Subject: Re: The Flood

> Dear Walter,
> See my comments below:
> >WM: I can understand your argument about Humanists having "a belief
> >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
> >option, for reasons of faith.
> >>
> >>
> >> Before I started with my language studies 25 years ago, I made a study
> >> the axioms behind the natural sciences and the historical sciences. I
> >> studied the arguments of creationists who claimed to be scientists.
> >I
> >> 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
> >> were presented are really thought provoking. While I stopped looking
> >> creationist literature when I started with languages (and therefore I
> >> not updated), I have worked a little with some of the points that
> >impressed
> >> me.
> >WM: Having begun my research "to prove the bible true," some 30 yrs ago,
> >too, studied deeply the creationist literature, especially the writings
> >Morris on the Flood (in fact I still have his book in my personal
> >But I was determined to keep an open mind and study both sides of the
> >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
> RF:
> Interestingly, we have had about the same experience 30 years ago, both
> reading creationist and Humnaist literature ( I subscribed for the
> peridocal which attacked the creationists for a long time). However, our
> conclusions have been somewhat different. We agree that the
> 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,
> 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
> >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.
> RF:
> 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
> Nebuhcadnezzar's 37th year and the observations are very accurate. (But
> there are even questions with the connections between astronomy and
> in this tablet). Before that, very much is conjecture. Eclipses and
> phenomena are usually only roughly described, and because such events
> 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
> to calculate them. Let me therefore question the Jericho and similar
> 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
> 5600 years older than it actually was.
> So please tell me how you can follow the chronology back year by year
> 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
> 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
> 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
> than the Biblical lists? How can we know that there were not coregencies
> 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
> >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
> >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
> >BCE, are not. Then one would have to explain the bible's presentation of
> >flood as being 4th/3rd millenium BCE which doesn't fit the paradigm of
> >Geologists (those who have "no vested interest" in "proving the bible,"
> >Gish and Morris).

> RF:
> 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
> 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
> and its critical questions.
> Regards
> Rolf
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
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