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[Lesson 13] CATASTROPHE: The Flood And The Fossils, Part 1

From the Hebrew: The word for “Flood” (Hebrew mabbul) is only applied to the Noahic Flood; other floods are denoted by a different word in the original. Mabbul is related to an Assyrian word meaning “destruction”; the phrase “a flood of waters” (Genesis 6:17) could properly be translated by “a catastrophe of waters.” Similarly, when the Genesis Flood is referred to in the New Testament, the Greek kataklusmos (“cataclysm”) is uniquely employed. (Dr. Henry Morris, The Beginning of the World, page 107)

While scripture is the infallible Word of God, study notes in your Bible and commentaries are the interpretations (sometimes best guesses) of educated, though fallible, humans. So, the study notes in some Bibles may give confusing or inaccurate information regarding the Flood. Always look to see what the Bible actually says both in the passage and elsewhere in scripture about that passage.

Day One Study

Read Genesis 6:13-7:16.

1. Describe the Ark that Noah is to build, paying attention to the minute details of both exterior and interior layout and all the skills and tools that would be needed to carry out God’s instructions. Be specific! [Note: The ancient cubit ranged from 17.5 to 24 inches, averaging 18 inches.]

2. Now, make a drawing/diagram of how it might have looked, inside and outside.

3. Read “Creation Answers: Just How Big Was That Ark?” at the end of this lesson. Compare the information you learned today to your previous concept of Noah’s Ark and its purpose.

4. Read Gen 6:11-7:16. Compare Genesis 1:21-26 with 7:13-14, 21. God groups the creatures He has made on Days 5 and 6 (living creatures) into specific categories, not all of which were represented on the Ark. Discuss:

·         Why certain creatures were excluded from going on the Ark—

·         How the creatures were to be gathered and brought to the Ark—

5. There is a lapse of time between Genesis 6:22 and 7:1. 1 Peter 3:20 refers to God’s patience during this time, waiting for Noah to construct the Ark (along with the help of his young sons, no doubt).

·         What else did Noah do while building the Ark? See 2 Peter 2:5 and Hebrews 11:7. [Note: a similar description of Noah is found in other ancient documents.]

·         Why would he do this?

·         Why would God be patient?

·         Was the Ark big enough to carry other people as well? Did any others respond?

6. Reread Genesis 7:1-10, 13-16. How many times is the same information repeated? Repetition implies emphasis. What could God be trying to emphasize to us as we read this part of Scripture? [Notice who closed the door.]

Day Two Study

Read Genesis 7:6-12.

A word of caution: While scripture is the infallible Word of God, study notes in your Bible and commentaries are the interpretations (sometimes best guesses) of educated, though fallible, humans. So, the study notes in some Bibles may give confusing or inaccurate information regarding the Flood. The best approach is to study the Scripture first. Look to see what the Bible actually says both in the passage and elsewhere in scripture about that passage. Build a model based on what it says. Ask the question, “If this is true, what would you expect to find?” Then, observe what is found in the world. That’s the approach of this study.

7. Reread verses 11-12. The Flood was brought on by more than just 40 days of rain. Discuss the 2 physical mechanisms that caused the Flood. What physical effects would each have upon the earth?

·         Springs or fountains of the great deep—

·         Floodgates or windows of the heavens—

Scientific Insight: The breaking up (literally “cleaving open”) of the fountains of the great deep is mentioned first and so evidently was the initial action that triggered the rest. These conduits somehow all developed uncontrollable fractures on the same day…Soon a worldwide chain reaction would develop, cleaving open all the fountains of the great deep throughout the world. The volcanic explosions and eruptions which would have accompanied these fractures would have poured great quantities of magma up from the earth’s mantle along with the waters…Immense quantities of volcanic dust would have been blown skyward, along with gigantic sprays of water and turbulent surges of the atmosphere. The combination of atmospheric turbulence, expanding and cooling gases, and a vast supply of dust and other particles to serve as nuclei of condensation would suffice to penetrate the any upper canopy of water vapor and trigger another chain reaction there, causing its waters to being to condense and coalesce and soon to start moving earthward as a torrential global downpour of rain. The phrase “windows of heaven” is very graphic…it certainly is intended to convey the idea of great quantities of water, formerly restrained in the sky, suddenly released to deluge the earth. The downpour continued at full intensity—exactly as God had predicted—for forty days and nights. (Dr. Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, p. 196-197)

Appreciation Application:

8. Consider your daily life and relationships. Or, even long range goals that require some decisions today. Is there something difficult that God is asking you to do? What obstacles stand in your way? Remember that Noah chose to be faithful even when he could not visualize the reason for his labor.

Day Three Study

Appreciation Assignment:

9. Have you thought about the wonderful capability God instilled in mankind to be able to build things? Think about how God has gifted you to be creative, productive in your own way. In prayer now, give praise to Him. Dedicate your skills to Him and to His work.

Deeper Discoveries:

·         Read “Creation Answers: Just How Big Was That Ark?” and “Creation Answers: Raging Waters” following this lesson.

·         Go to www.answersingenesis.org and SEARCH anything related to the Flood. Select an article to read or watch a video. Also visit www.icr.org and search.

Creation Answers: Just How Big Was That Ark? Texas Size!!!

The information below is adapted from articles found on www.icr.org and www.answersingenesis.org.

1. Ark—same word as used in Exodus 2:3. Ancient word for box meant to float upon water.

2. Dimensions—at least 438 feet long, 72.9 feet wide, and 43.8 feet high. (The ancient cubit had a length ranging from 17.5 inches to 24 inches, average 18 inches.

3. Hydrodynamics—exceedingly stable, almost impossible to capsize (determined by hydraulic engineers). When tilted up to just short of 90˚, it would immediately right itself again. Tending to align itself parallel with the direction of major wave advance so subject to minimum pitching.

4. Volumetric capacity—minimum 1.4 million cubic feet = 522 standard railroad livestock cars. Each car holds 240 sheep, so Ark could carry 125,000 sheep-size animals.

5. Decks (17.5 feet high!)—three decks with combined floor area > 20 college basketball courts. 3/4 the size of a modern ocean liner. 1.4 million cubic feet of space. Decks divided into various rooms (literally “nests”). Held 8 humans (with room for many more); plus up to 75,000 air breathing creatures, food for everyone for a year or more. Kind of big for a local flood. No boat of this size was built again until 1884.

6. Gopher wood—unknown but speculated to be either a hard, dense wood similar to oak or a laminated wood product.

7. Pitch—literally as a verb “to cover,” as a noun “a covering.” Same word used for “atonement” in Leviticus 17:11. Probably some resinous substance. Perfect covering for the Ark, keeping out the waters of judgment, just as the blood of the Lamb provides a perfect atonement for the soul.

8. Window—literally “opening for daylight.” Two possibilities for placement: on top of side walls, or on roof.

9 Door—one door. All must enter and leave by the same door. 8 people willingly did so; the rest of humanity did not! Noah preached while he worked on the boat. 1 Peter 3:20; I1 Peter 2:5. (Similar to Jesus stating He is the door in John 10:7-9.) God closed the door in Gen. 7:16, not Noah.

10. Animals—2 of every kind, 7 of some kinds. Most land animals are small. Take twice the known land species today (to account for the extinct ones as well) = ~18,000 species. (Species is not equal to kind, though). Yield ~ 72,000 animals.

·         About 60% of the carrying capacity of the Ark. Probably fewer since the Biblical kind is apparently larger than our division of species.

·         Genesis 8:1 says both wild animals and domesticated ones. Probably took juveniles of the larger animals. Had to spend a year without reproductive activity but needed to be healthy enough to repopulate the earth.

·         God sent them to the Ark—perhaps the migration instinct.

·         Perhaps many hibernated, especially during the dark, stormy times. (From observation of our cat on bad weather days, I know the cats slept!!)

11. Food for animals, Noah’s family, and immediate provision upon embarking from Ark.

12. Noahs family living quarters. Four couples.

13. Where was the manure pile? At the bottom of the boat, or assigned to the insects, or shoveled out the window (that’s what I would do!). Perhaps that’s why we have so much coal today!

Think About It: The Flood began on FEB. 17, 600 A.N. (After Noah’s birth, just a hypothetical date!!) On that day, two things happened— springs of the deep burst forth AND the floodgates of the heavens were opened and rain fell 40 entire days. It wasn’t over until 370 days later!

Sources For Further Study:
  1. Noah’s Ark Q&A at www.answersingenesis.org/Home/area/faq/noah.asp.
  2. Noahs Ark: A Feasibility Study, John Woodmorappe.
  3. The large ships of antiquity, Larry Pierce, Creation 22(3): 46-48, June 2000 www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v22/i3/ships.asp.
  4. Caring for the Animals on the Ark, John Woodmorappe, March 29, 2007 at www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n2/caring-for-the-animals.
  5. Yes, Noah did build an Ark! Bodie Hodge and Jonathan Sarfati, 26 March 2004 http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2004/0324ark.asp)

Creation Answers: Raging Waters

The information below is adapted from articles found on www.icr.org and www.answersingenesis.org plus others sourced at the end.

The most universal of legends is that of a worldwide flood. More than 270 cultures have one. This is unexplainable apart from common experience. Add to that some undeniable observations about our planet that tell us something different happened in the past to change its surface drastically and different from what’s going on today.

·         Cracks on the sea floor circle the globe like seams on a baseball. How did that happen?

·         Oceans today hold more water than they once did. Why?

·         Billions of dead things are buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth.

Is the Flood just legend or was it a real event? What questions should you ask to find out? The best approach is to study the Scripture first. Look to see what the Bible actually says both in the passage and elsewhere in scripture about that passage. Build a model based on what it says. Ask the question, “If this is true, what would you expect to find?” Then, observe what is found in the world.

The Flood Begins

One of the first things you need to forget is the idea that the Genesis Flood was just a 40-day rainstorm. What 2 physical mechanisms are stated in verses 11-12 as causing the Flood to begin? 1) Springs of the great deep burst forth. 2) Floodgates of the heavens were opened. What do those phrases mean?

Springs Of The Great Deep:

How many? All. What are these?

·         “Springs” refers to the places where water issues or bursts out of the earth. Other scriptures refer to them existing since creation. Can also refer to reservoirs, basins.

·         “The great deep” means the deepest water—the ocean and subterranean reservoirs.

·         This would include great amounts of water, entrapped below the crust, building up temperatures and pressures until finally being released.

The Bursting Forth:

·         Great amounts of water and other liquids such as magma were being released from below the crust.

·         “Burst forth” means “to cleave, split, break open, break through, to fault” as in the parting of the Red Sea. See the same thing in Zechariah 14:4 “the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley.” Used in Num. 16:31 for the ground “splitting asunder.” Three times God is said to “split open” rocks or the ground to provide water for His people (2 Kings 8:12; Psalm 74:15; Isaiah 48:21).

·         The earth was split, fractured. You would expect great volcanic explosions and eruptions, accompanying earthquakes, and tsunamis (sometimes called tidal waves).

Floodgates Of The Heavens Opened:

·         Windows/Floodgates of the Heavens refers to the image of a great amount of water previously held back but now being released.

·         Then, there’s the 40 days of rain. Geshem (Hebrew word) is the most violent rain. In Ezekiel 13:11-13, violent rain is described as destroying mortared walls!

So, the water for the Flood came from three sources: (1) Subterranean fountains of water, etc. bursting forth; (2) Violent rain from above; (3) Waters from the existing ocean spilling over the land.

What evidence would there be that such things did occur? Subterranean water sources, splitting and distorting of the crust, and increased amounts of water on the earth today as compared to the past.

Evidence Of Subterranean Water Sources?

·         Ocean floor springs/vents were discovered in the 1960’s. These waters are metal-rich, hot brines (400˚ C). One professor from MIT suggests that water in the amount of 40 cubic miles flows out of springs each year. So, subterranean water is still being released but not to the same degree now as then.

·         Volcanoes, even underwater ones, add tremendous amounts of water to the atmosphere. During 100 days of erupting, a secondary cone of Mt. Etna issued 460 million gallons of steam. One volcanic cone, 4.6 million gallons of water per day.

·         The most natural mechanism to bring down the canopy also would be volcanic activity. In 1883, Krakatoa in East Indies, sent up 3 cubic miles of volcanic dust into the stratosphere. Distributed globally. Caused red sunsets for 10 years and lowered the average temperature of the earth 4˚ F for about 3 years. One volcano affecting the atmosphere for 10 years.

·         What about several hundred volcanoes? Providing a volcanic cloud cover at the top which would cool the canopy and cause it to condense out on the dust particles. Result: torrential rain.

Evidence Of The Bursting Forth?

Look for evidence of Splitting and Distorting of the Earth’s Crust.

·         Cracks in the earth’s crust circling around the globe like the seams on a baseball. It’s a fact. There is no explanation for it. The continents appear to have separated. Perhaps this is associated with the onset of the Flood.

·         Then there’s the associated Volcanism, Earthquake Damage, Tsunamis, Massive Water-Lain Deposits. Did you know that pillow lavas, produced as fluid lava cools underwater, are the most abundant volcanic rock on earth? We’ll cover all these next week.

·         Increased Water on the Earth. Studying the continental shelves and slopes plus drowned canyons extending out from land-based rivers indicate sea level was once several thousand feet lower than it is today. Some parts of the sea bottom have definitely dropped. Lots of “seamounts”–nonvolcanic, flat-topped drowned islands in the middle of the ocean. No explanation. More about that in the next fact sheet.

·         What would happen when that great amount of water and magma was released from below the crust? Most likely, sinking of the land above it.

So, the evidence matches the prediction. The model may be accurate after all. The Flood may have really happened just as the Bible said it did.

Rising Waters

In Genesis 7:17-24, notice the frequent use of the terms “rose” and “increased.” The Hebrew term translated “increased” / “flooded” means “overwhelmingly mighty” and is sometimes translated “prevailed”. What is the author plainly trying to convey to us? This is a global phenomenon!

Skeptics claim that the Genesis Flood must have been confined only to a local area or regional at most (just involving the Mesopotamian river valleys—modern day Iraq). Anyone holding to that view needs to consider several things:

·         No normal meteorological process exists that will produce 40 days of continuous torrential rainfall over any region.

·         The implications of floodwaters covering even a short mountain by 22 feet (which may have been the draft of the Ark). Water seeks its own level. It doesn’t flow uphill. So, for example, to cover a hill such as Pilot Knob in Argyle (~800 feet above sea level), water would be covering most of Texas and the Gulf Coast, the East Coast, and the West Coast except for the mountain ranges. And, that’s a small hill. The Hebrew word kasah translated “covered” in Genesis 7:20 means “overwhelmed to the point of washing away.” Any hill completely covered by raging floodwaters would certainly be overwhelmed like that. Psalm 104:6 refers to this, “You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.” We talked last time about the land surface probably having fewer and lower mountains, maybe no higher than 5,000 feet.

·         How long did the waters rise and cover the whole earth? 150 days. How many months is that? 5 months. Too long for a local flood.

·         The size of the ark. Ridiculous waste of time and resources when God could have sent Noah and his family to a neighboring region. Also, the animals could have just migrated.

This was no local Flood. You would be better off saying it never happened than to try to make it local.

Conclusion: the water for the Flood came from three sources: (1) Geysers of water lasting 5 months at least; (2) Violent rain from above lasting 1/4 of that time; (3) Waters from the existing ocean rising up and spilling over the land, also lasting for 150 days at least That’s a long time!

Build A Model For The Flood

Based on what the scripture says, creationists have constructed a few models as to what could have been the source for all the rain and water covering the land.

Model 1: Vapor Canopy Collapsed

The splitting open of the earth’s crust created volcanic eruptions that shot into the atmosphere providing dust for condensation of the water vapor into torrential rain. As I mentioned last time, more advanced computer simulations have just about eliminated the possibility of a thick vapor canopy. The heat trapped within would be too great to sustain life. So, the main source of the water was probably not a thick canopy.

Model 2: Subterranean Water Reservoirs Erupted Into Geysers

Vast amounts of hot, pressurized water were stored in interconnected subterranean chambers. Interestingly, scientists have recently discovered that minerals in the mantle may store 5-6 times more water than in the oceans so this is not an unreasonable possibility.

Something started splitting open the earth’s crust. The released water burst through as violent fountain-jets shooting high into the atmosphere then fell back as torrential rain. This would be accompanied by great tectonic activity, as continental blocks would slide away from the rupture zone causing tidal waves and churning of the water. As the reservoirs were emptied, the land above would sink allowing the ocean water to rush over the new basins for massive sediment deposits that were uplifted later as mountains.

What caused the splitting? Some speculate bombardment of the earth by asteroid or comet fragments. No one knows.

Model 3: Hyper-Hurricanes (Hypercanes) Generated Over Hot Ocean Water

The earth split along the lines of the 40,000-mile long mid-ocean ridges spawning thousands of underwater volcanoes. Within hours, the newly formed heat plumes of scalding water would generate thousands of monstrous storms called hypercanes with wind speeds >300 MPH and rainfall up to 10 inches per hour. Although these would remain fairly stationery over the energy source (the “bubble” of hot water), such storms would also loft large volumes of water into the atmosphere, saturating it so that torrential rain falls elsewhere on the continents. Interestingly, oxygen isotope measurements from sea-floor sediments indicate the oceans in the past did experience a 40˚F rise in temperature.

Model 4: Runaway Subduction

This model is called “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics.” It has some similarities to Model 2. The earth has a thin crust made up of lighter continental rock and heavier, colder ocean floor rock. These overlie a layer of hot rock called the mantle. Below this is a molten outer core surrounding a solid, mostly iron inner core. On the earth’s crust, cracks circle around the globe like the seams on a baseball breaking it into individual pieces called “plates.” It also looks like the continents have separated, have moved large distances relative to one another, and are still moving very slowly today. There is no secular explanation for what caused this. Here’s a possible Flood-related scenario to explain what happened:

·         God did something on that first day to “crack” open the ocean floor next to the land, causing the cold, heavy ocean floor rock to start sinking into the upper mantle forming what we call the trenches.

·         As the crack grows, more ocean rock sinks and drags the rest of the ocean floor with it like a conveyor belt, increasing speed as the ocean rock melts. The result is a runaway process that causes the entire pre-Flood ocean floor to sink in a matter of a few weeks or months, pulling apart the plates as this happens.

·         This action displaces hot mantle rock and pushes up to the surface elsewhere forming mid-ocean rift zones and new ocean floor through undersea volcanoes.

·         The liquid rock from the volcanoes vaporizes huge volumes of ocean water to produce steam fountain-jets along the seafloor rift zones. These shoot up large amounts of water into the atmosphere which fall back to the surface as intense global rain. Volcanoes, even underwater ones, add tremendous amounts of water to the atmosphere. During 100 days of erupting, 4.6 million gallons of water per day came out of a secondary cone of Italy’s Mt. Etna.

·         The new “warm” ocean floor rock expands and rises up as much as 6500 feet, displacing sea water that would then sweep onto and over the continental land surfaces, carrying vast quantities of sediments and marine organisms with them. These formed most of the thick, fossil-rich sedimentary rock layers we now find blanketing large portions of today’s continents.

·         Continental plates ramming into each other would distort the layers and push them up forming mountains and plateaus.

The concept of runaway subduction has been in the scientific literature for 40 years, seriously considered in the early 70’s, but then dropped. So, it’s not just made up by creationists. It explains several observations in the geologic record that slow and gradual movement simply does not. Chapter 14 describes those better than I can.

One more interesting note: Superheated water found in magma powers volcanic eruptions anyway. About 2/3 of what comes out of the average volcano is water vapor. Evolutionists believe all the earth’s oceans were filled by the release of volcanic water. It’s not unreasonable to consider that a major source for the floodwater. One more note: there’s still a lot of unmelted ocean floor in the mantle below the trenches. Too much for millions of years.

So, those are the models that give several reasons for the rainwater and the rising water. I like model #4 with hypercanes from #3 and subterranean water chambers from #2 added. The combination of the three seems to best explain the evidence we see.

Picture “geysers of molten rock and scalding water squeezed out of the earth’s crust in a violent, explosive upheaval. These fountains were not stopped until 150 days into the Flood—so the earth was literally churning underneath the waters for about five months! (The New Answers Book, page 131)” Including the time the water started going down, the total duration of the flood was over a year.

Examine The Evidence: What Would We Expect To Find? What Do We Find?

·         Enough water to cover the planet. There’s plenty. Flattening the oceans and land, the existing water would cover the surface by almost 2 miles.

·         Scouring, splitting and deforming of crustal rocks all over the globe. This is evident all over the planet, especially at plate edges.

·         Massive concurrent volcanics — Thick volcanic rocks are found interbedded with sedimentary rocks everywhere. Pillow lavas, produced as fluid lava cools underwater, are the most abundant volcanic rock on earth.

·         Massive water-lain, fossil-rich deposits. There are billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth.

We’ll examine all this evidence in the next Fact Sheet.

Sources For Further Study:

1. Primary Cause of the Flood, Allen Roy, at http://www.tagnet.org/anotherviewpoint/fod.htm

2. Hypercanes: Rainfall Generators during the Flood?, John Woodmorappe, www.answersingenesis.org/Home/area/magazines/TJ/TJv14n2_Hypercanes.pdf

3. Noah’s Flood Q & A, Answers in Genesis website

4. The New Answers Book, Ken Ham

5. Earths Catastrophic Past, Andrew Snelling

6. A Catastrophic Breakup, Andrew Snelling, www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n2/a-catastrophic-breakup

7. The Genesis Flood, Henry Morris and John Whitcomb.

8. The Genesis Record, Henry Morris.

9. In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, Dr. Walt Brown. Online version at www.creationscience.com/onlinebook.

10. There are a number of excellent videos about the Flood—Evidences: The Record and the Flood; Raging Waters; Fossils and the Flood; The World That Perished

Related Topics: Creation, Evolution