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The Worldwide Flood of Noah


Did It Really Happen?


By: David Deschesne

Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal

June 5, 2019


   Around 150 years ago, the common consensus among historians, geologists and even the bulk of the Christian community had concluded the worldwide flood, as depicted in the Bible, didn’t happen and that the story (actually two different sources of the story merged into one) contained in Genesis was perhaps an allegory on human nature that was also told by even earlier civilizations around the world.

   Prior to the age of enlightenment of the 1800s, many societies of the world assumed the Biblical flood account was true and accurate history because they had not yet accrued enough knowledge of the world around them to consider any other alternatives.  They had no concept of plate tectonics, modern meteorology, paleontology, or dendrochronology.  They were also naïve in the disciplines of anthropology, archeology and zoology.  For thousands of years most societies considered the world as a flat disc covered by a dome, which was the heavens, on which all astrological bodies such as the sun, moon, and stars rode in regular cycles.  (There is to this day, a growing number of “Flat Earthers” who still ascribe to this astrological model of the earth, despite the voluminous documentation refuting it).

   As knowledge grew in the aforementioned disciplines it became increasingly apparent that the worldwide flood of the Bible not only didn’t happen as a historical event, but technically couldn’t have happened as it was purported.

   It wasn’t until around five decades or so ago that Christian fundamentalists—who have chosen to read the Bible as a literal, historical history book absent any allegory, parable or metaphor—decided to again reinterpret the flood story as an actual, historically accurate event taking place around 2400 B.C.

   A large book could be written on this subject, but I don’t have the space to do it here.  So, I will attempt to collapse the topic down into three sections: 1.) An analysis of the Biblical story and its sources; 2.) The scientific inconsistencies with the story’s purported events; and 3.) Similar flood stories from much older civilizations that may have influenced the version we have in the Bible—which is the most recent iteration of the flood myth on the world stage.  With all that said, let’s now take an objective, scientific and mythological look at the flood story to consider the facts we do know and how they relate to the Biblical account.


1.) The Biblical Story

   For those who haven’t read it yet, a brief synopsis of the flood story in Genesis goes something like this:     God got angry with mankind’s wickedness and regretted that He made them.  He commissioned Noah to build an ark, upon which two of every kind of animal would be placed (later in the story, seven each of some animals).  He then made it rain for “forty days and forty nights” after which the entire earth was flooded with water covering all mountaintops worldwide for a period of five months.  The water then began to recede over a period of a couple more months.  A time came where the flood waters had been on the Earth ten months when the tops of the mountains began to appear.   The ark, with Noah’s family and all surviving animals, came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.  After around 354 days from the start of the Flood, the waters had finally dried up and Noah, his family and the animals left the ark.

   Most people don’t know that this story is actually a compilation and merger of two different pre-Biblical sources.  The Old Testament Torah is composed of four different source materials from different authors and time periods, the tradition which holds Moses as writing the entire first five books of the Old Testament is no longer considered valid even by many Jewish commentators.1

   The four primary sources of Biblical narratives are:


J—uses the name יהוה (Jehovah) for God

E—Uses the plural “gods” אלהים (Elohim) for the name of God

D—The author of Deuteronomy

P—The author of some of the first chapter of Genesis, the book of Leviticus and other sections interested primarily in genealogies and priesthood.


   The Biblical flood story appears to be derived from two different versions coming from the J and P sources.  The J-version is in Genesis 6:5-6; 7:1-4, 10, 12; and 8:20-22.  The P-version is in Genesis 6:12-14, 20; 7:11, 24; 8:3, 7; 8:13, 18-19; 9:1-17.2  The J-version speaks of God’s feelings while the P-version reports the decree.  The two versions were spliced together by an ancient editor when committing the texts to print.

  Separating the two sources and reading them side-by-side would look like this (using the KJV):


(see fte060519.jpg)



   The Noah flood story is essentially “copyrighted” by the Jews, passed down by centuries of their oral tradition, likely as an allegory to teach spiritual truths about man and his relation to nature and God before being compiled and interpolated into written form.  As a whole, it’s a Jewish narrative of late origin, even though Christians later grafted it onto their religious faith as well.  With that said, the commentator in The Torah: A Modern Commentary admits, “Attempts to find remains of Noah’s ark have proven fruitless and are likely to remain so.  The Flood story is legend, not demonstrable by history.”3


2.) Scientific Inconsistencies

   Given the Flood story is generally considered a myth by all serious scholars and commentators outside of the religious fundamentalist community, a brief review of the scientific inconsistencies of that story are merely academic at this point.   There are dozens of these inconsistencies but due to space limitations, I’ll address only a few here.


- The Amount of Water

   In order for enough water to come upon the earth to cover all the mountaintops worldwide there would need to be an additional 15,000—20,000 feet of water all over the planet.  This would require up to an additional billion cubic miles of water.  In order for that much rain to fall in “forty days and forty nights” - or only 960 hours—the rain would had to have fallen at a rate of at least 15 feet per hour. Our worst rain storms today are only measured in a few inches per hour. Fifteen feet per hour would have catastrophically disrupted the buoyancy of any watercraft and would have been enough to sink any modern aircraft carrier, much less a wooden ark with thousands of animals on board.4 

   To flood the entire earth as described would take approximately three times the amount of water we already have on earth in the form of oceans, rivers and cloud cover.  That additional water had to come from somewhere, and when it subsided, it had to drain somewhere.

   It’s been suggested that the water came up from the “fountains of the deep” which are theorized to be deep underground seas that erupted into the skies.  Water of this amount and at this level of depth—which has yet to be discovered by geologists—would necessarily be under very high pressure and as such would be superheated steam—not a cool, refreshing rain.  If such an event did take place at the water volumes and time duration described, life over the entire planet, along with all living things on Noah’s Ark, would have been steam-baked like a pot of clams before the steam condensed into water and flooded over the mountaintops.

    Supposing the water did just come down as rain from some yet undefined source of water vapor, there is still a heat problem.  When water vapor cools and condenses into water droplets, it gives up the heat which is contained in it and transfers it to the atmosphere.  Meteorologists have calculated as 1 kilogram of water vapor is condensed, 2.26 million joules of energy are released.  This energy is known as the latent heat of vaporization and is the source of energy that powers thunderstorms and hurricanes.  So, converting the necessary amount of water vapor to conform to the Biblical flood narrative into liquid over an extremely short period of forty days would release an estimated 1028 joules of energy, raising the atmospheric temperature worldwide beyond 6,400º F.5  Again, no life—even on the ark—would have survived.


- The Animals

   There are some problems with sustaining and redistributing the animals that the Bible story simply doesn’t address.  The first is how to feed thousands of animals for nearly a year on a boat that has no chance of docking anywhere.  It is supposed hay could have been stockpiled for the herbivores, but what would the carnivores (meat eaters) eat?  Each other?  The Bible is silent. 

   Secondly, after the animals were released to their freedom on dry land, the carnivores would have surely defaulted to their natural instincts and began eating the other animals.  Since there was by in large only a single male and female each, if one died, that particular species would have gone extinct.  The Bible doesn’t address this problem, either.

   Third, the Bible doesn’t discuss how land animals from Mount Ararat came to populate the islands of the world, especially Australia, or any of the overseas continents such as North and South America, which can not be accessed by land travel since they are completely surrounded by vast amounts of ocean and inaccessible to the sole surviving land animals all disembarking the ark somewhere in the Middle east.

   The compilers of this story likely weren’t aware of the continents of Australia, North or South America, so they didn’t figure them into the Flood narrative in a way that would have made any sense. 


- Geological Proof?

   In studying geology over the past one hundred fifty years, very clever techniques and complex instrumentation have been developed to aid scientists in understanding the makeup of the Earth.

   Sedimentary layers do not indicate anything like a worldwide flood and the fossil record doesn’t either.

   A huge underground sea has never been found that would have provided the water necessary for the Flood, or provided a place for it to drain to after the Flood subsided.

   In Eastern Washington state, there are monumentally sized ripple marks in the land that were caused by a huge glacier lake breaking its banks during the last ice age and causing a massive regional flood in that area of what is now the northwestern United States.  These ripple marks in the land are characteristic of massive regional floods, but are very rare and not found on most continents today.  If a worldwide flood would have indeed happened, these types of clues should be extant all over the world.  But, they’re not.

   Fourth, 99%  of all fossils in the fossil record are of extinct species.  So, using a young Earth model, either Noah did not get two of every single animal on Earth, or there’s something wrong with the interpretation of the Biblical account.


3.) Flood Narratives Pre-Dating Noah’s

   This portion of the study is not a scientific look at the Genesis Flood account, but rather a textual look.

   The written text of the Genesis story is estimated to have been first written down around 400 to 500 B.C.  However, there are many texts recounting catastrophic floods, written more than a thousand years earlier than the Genesis account.

   Flood stories are ubiquitous throughout world history and all over the Earth.  In addition to the middle-eastern flood accounts, of which Genesis is just one, there are flood accounts among native civilizations on the Pacific rim of the North and South American continents—where the flood was based upon a tsunami; the Nordic civilization of ancient Greenland and Iceland, where the flood was a result of a massive glacier break; and finally, flood accounts in the ancient Asian countries of India and China.



   One of the oldest and most well known flood narratives is the Epic of Gilgamesh from ancient Mesopotamia.  Gilgamesh dates back conservatively to 2000 B.C., or 1,500 years before the Noah Flood story was written down.

   Gilgamesh recounts a story of a man named Utnapishtim who survived a worldwide flood and was made immortal.  As the story goes, the gods became angry and were moved to destroy all life on earth with a great flood.  Utnapishtim was tipped off by one of the gods, named Ea, who advised him to build a boat out of his house in order to save himself and all the animals.

   Rain came for six days and six nights, flooding the entire earth and destroying all life that was not on Utnapishtim’s boat.

   The rain stopped and the worldwide sea calmed on the seventh day.  Utnapishtim then sent forth three birds in succession; a dove, a swallow and a raven in order to ascertain if there was any dry land.

   Dry land ultimately appeared, Utnapishtim released the animals and offered a sacrifice to the gods.

   The Babylonian creation account, which was written around the same time as Gilgamesh, has elements of a flood story that seem to echo it, but the hero is called Shamash-Napishtim.6  


Assyrian version

  The ancient Assyrians also had a flood story similar to Gilgamesh, but in theirs, the flood was caused by a disobedient god.  This god’s mother, Ishtar, is said to have put a rainbow in the sky to block this disobedient god’s access to earthly altars.7



   The flood story of Atrahasis, who is  listed as a king of Sumer, is an early Akkadian epic, from which the Gilgamesh flood story was adapted.



   Around the same time Atra-Hasis was composed, another flood myth was composed where the hero, Ziusudra—the king of Sumer, circa 2900 BC—loaded up some animals on a large boat in order to save them from some angry gods. This myth appears to be based on an actual flood around 2900 BC in the areas of Shuruppak and Kish.  But that flood was only for that region—not worldwide.  Ziusudra had a large barge for transporting his livestock to market and that is how the boat, animals and flood narrative began to be built.


   It appears the writers of Genesis may have been influenced by these ancient myths—which at the time of writing Genesis were themselves over 1,500 years old.  This isn’t to say the Jews penned the Flood story to be deliberately deceptive.  Rather, perhaps it was written as an allegory to teach spiritual truths about mankind and their relation to nature and their God, only to have the allegorical myth improperly interpreted as a literal, historical event by a litany of naïve cultures that followed them.

   Some Christian fundamentalists will assert that all the earlier flood stories are just myths, but the Noah version is the true history of a worldwide flood.  This synopsis of flood myths of the ancient world is necessarily brief.  Those who are interested are encouraged to research further.



1. The Torah: A Modern Commentary, ©1981 Union of American Hebrew Congregations, pp. XXII—XXIII.

2.  op cit., p. 62.

3.  op cit., p. 59

4.  Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences, ©1988 John Allen Paulos, p.13

5. ref a documentary video by Aron Ra entitled, How Meteorology Disproves Noah’s Flood.

6.  Our Oriental Heritage, ©1935 & 1963 Will Durrant, p. 237

7. Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, ©1983 Barbara Walker, p. 315


A Reader Rebuts this Thesis


Dear Editor:

   In regard to your article, The Worldwide Flood of Noah, I disagree with using scientific analysis to judge the truths of the Holy Bible.  God created the Universe and can do anything, even things we can’t understand, like miracles that defy science.  We shouldn’t criticize what we don’t understand.  As far as miracles, there are modern medical miracles that no doctor can explain and other types of miracles that can baffle any scientist.  The intelligence of man compared to the amount of information to be known in the Universe is so small that it is insignificant.

   I believe the Great Flood happened.  In Matthew 28:37,38, in regard to the end of the world, Jesus said, “And as in the days of Noah...For as in the days before the Flood” Now, if Jesus was wrong that there was a flood then the Bible is wrong and if that is so, we are merely a speck of dust in a Universe that created itself.  Do I have real faith or blind faith, you decide.


Phil McIntyre

Bridgewater, Maine



Editor's Response:



Mr. McIntyre

   Thank you for taking the time to respond to my editorial and respectfully state your position on my Noah’s Flood editorial from last edition of FFJ.  Keep in mind it wasn’t my intent to disprove the Bible, or use science to disprove the existence of God.  I completely agree there is a God, or supreme consciousness, or whatever name you want to use.  Indeed, I have seen science used—especially in the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser experiment—to prove the existence of some form of higher consciousness/God doing the observing above the level of mere human consciousness.  The existence of a higher power isn’t debated here.  What also isn’t debated is the phenomenon of miracles.  I do believe miracles, or supernatural events, can occur and have witnessed some myself which can’t be explained away by normal, rational thinking.

   What I’m doing is merely taking an objective look at a story which could have been written as a parable, or allegory, and suggesting it probably shouldn’t be taken as a literal, historical account of the events; nor does it have to be.

   I respect your position that on faith alone you will believe the story as a real, true, literal, historical event on the premise that God used miracles to create the situation that was described in the Biblical Flood narrative.  I’ve wrestled with the idea of a worldwide flood, versus a local flood, or no flood at all for many years and spent an enormous amount of time researching it.  The editorial you responded to is a result of all those years of research.

   Now, let’s throw science out and take the flood story at face value as if it were a literal, historical event.  First, we have to count how many miracles would have to have happened for that flood story to be real, then analyze our findings.


Miracle #1

   God would have to have taken an enormous wooden boat made with 2nd millennium B.C.  technology and construction techniques through a torrential rainstorm of 15 feet per hour for 960 hours and keep it afloat with thousands of gallons of water pummeling it per minute and the surface tension of the water being unable to allow anything to remain buoyant for any period of time—much less a giant wooden barge with thousands of animals on board.


Miracle #2

   God would have to have suspended the physical laws of the conservation of energy by preventing the latent heat of vaporization from overheating the atmosphere with the vast amount of heat given off by water vapor that would have condensed into rain in such a short period of time.  Miraculously all the heat lost from that water vapor upon condensation—which, with a billion cubic miles of water, would have heated the atmosphere into the thousands of degrees Fahrenheit—would have to have been miraculously dissipated somewhere.


Miracle #3

   With the ark sealed shut to keep the water out, the levels of methane from the animal waste of thousands of kept animals would have quickly risen to lethal levels.  God would have to have miraculously gotten rid of all that methane and kept the air breathable for 40 days and 40 nights until the ark could be opened.  Then, without any electric blowers, the ark would have to be continually ventilated for months until the animals were allowed to leave.

Miracle #4

   God would have to have provided food – without it rotting in a very wet, humid environment for up to ten months and keep it edible for both the plant eaters, as well as the meat eaters.  (What were the meat-eating carnivores eating for ten months?) 


Miracle #5

   With over a billion cubic miles of extra water on the planet, God would then have to have miraculously made it disappear since that water had to drain somewhere and it isn’t here on Earth today.


Miracle #6

   Once the ark landed and the animals disembarked, God would still  have to miraculously feed the plant eaters since all vegetation would have been destroyed and the soil rendered unfit by the salt water.  Within the context of this miracle, God would have to put the soil back to normal, create all the trees, herbs, grass and plants to feed the herbivores and multiply them fast enough for the carnivores to eat them without making large swaths of species go extinct by starvation, or being eaten.


Miracle #7

   Once all the animals have been properly fed, they would have to have been miraculously transported to all of the island continents of the world, such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the entire continent of North and South America.


   These are seven miracles just within the flood account story.  There would have to be even more miracles outside of things not mentioned in the flood story—such as within zoology, dendrochronology, paleontology and others that God would have to have tweaked in order to come up with the evidence that we have today that ironically does not support a world wide flood narrative, but those are outside the scope of this discussion.

   With all this said, we have God performing at least seven miracles just to kill off mankind for its wickedness.  This begs the question; Why did all the animals on earth have to die, too?  There’s nothing in the flood account that indicates God was angry with the animals.  Indeed, he even made plans to save two of each—male and female.  Why would a kind, loving, charitable, gracious and benevolent God destroy millions of innocent animals just to kill man for his wickedness?

   Death by drowning is a terrorizing event.  When I was a child, my neighbor captured a skunk in a live trap and asked me if I wanted to go with him when he drowned it.  Of course, I said yes.  The live trap was covered with a canvas tarp, with skunk inside.  We loaded it onto his pickup  and took it out in the country to throw it in a small stream.  I can still remember the tiny skunk struggling to stick his small nose out through the steel cage where part of it was still above water.  That poor creature was scratching at the cage and gasping to get his last breath of air as the cage went under.  I’m sure he was terrorized in his final moments of life.  I felt bad for that skunk, whose only “crime” was grubbing up a lawn looking for food.  I never want to see an animal drowned again.

   Drowning is a violent event.  Once under water, an air-breathing mammal will hold its breath for as long as it can but will ultimately reflexively expand its lungs looking for air.  As water rushes into the lungs, the mammal will reflexively gag and vomit before again reflexively drawing in more water into its lungs.  After several breaths of water, the lungs will become saturated and no longer be able to hold air.  The panic-stricken creature then slowly suffocates to death while still reflexively gagging and vomiting.  Those are its last experiences of life.

  Okay, man was wicked and he deserved what he got.  But all the animals, too?   What did those millions of animals do to incur God’s fury and wrath?  The Bible is silent.  The Christian apologist will try to sell the idea that the Christian God is so loving and caring, yet at the same time admit He fomented all this torture on his animals for no reason.  Furthermore, according to the Biblical narrative, God was loving enough to preserve at least two of each kind of animal.  Why not all of them?  It was certainly within His power to do so, what with miracles and all that.

   I submit God could have accomplished His objective—killing mankind—with just one miracle and left all the animals alone.  All he had to do was speak the words, “Wicked people die” and remove the breath of life from them.  At the end of the day, all wicked mankind would have been just as dead as after the flood, but without the necessity of all the other miracles that had to be performed to create the flood narrative.  The animals would have been left alone and the earth would have still been pretty much intact.  Noah and his family could have then started over repopulating the Earth as they did after the flood and God’s anger against man’s wickedness would be satiated.  If God had the power to do all of the aforementioned miracles, then he certainly had the power to do this one, simple miracle to accomplish his objective and preserve the animals without inflicting all the unnecessary pain and suffering on them.

   This is my point.  A story that was likely an allegory is now being taken literally that shouldn’t necessarily be.  Think of our fables that teach life lessons; Jack and the Beanstalk, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Ant and the Grasshopper.  Imagine 3,000 years from now a future society looking back on these fables, attach a religious significance to them, then begin to interpret them as stories about actual, historical, literal events.  What would we tell them about those stories, if we could?  What would the society of 3,000 years ago tell us about their stories if they could?

  As for your cite in Matthew, keep in mind the Gospels were written down by anonymous authors (the names, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were arbitrarily added decades after they were written), who never claimed to be eye witnesses, forty years or more after Christ.  If they are recounting anything Jesus said, it was recounted and written no earlier than forty years later, not written down at the time he said it.  Can you remember in precise detail, word-for-word, what somebody said in a speech you heard over forty years ago?  I can’t.  It is likely the gospel writers, who were well-trained in Greek thought and prose—not simple Aramaic fishermen—exercised a little “editorial license” when inserting well-known stories from the Torah into what ultimately became the first four books of the New Testament.    With all that said, we still don’t even have the originals, so untold editing and interpolation could have taken place up to the point of the copies we do finally have. But I don’t have enough time or space to go into that branch of study here.

   It’s okay that you have faith in a particular interpretation of a Biblical story, but I ask you to put some serious thought and research into it to be sure of why you believe it.

David Deschesne

Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal


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