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Meditation 76
Fun with figures:
The numbers make a flood theory all wet.

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A couple of Columbia University professors have found what they consider to be a major flood in approximately 7000 B.C. in the Black Sea area, and they have suggested this is the great flood of the bible. Of course, some fundamentalists have jumped on board, saying "We told you so! The bible is right!"

The trouble with this argument is that this particular flood was not caused by 40 days of rain and fountains springing up from the deep, but by a build up of water from melting glaciers which was held back by a natural dam. When the dam was breached, a massive flood ensued. Also, the flood did not cover the entire earth, just the Black Sea area. So, to claim this particular flood was the biblical flood, or to make the claim about any other regional flood that geologists may uncover, is to deny that the bible is the literal truth.

I have not encountered anyone who would claim that the story of the flood was not inspired by an actual flood. Nearly all of us have encountered flooding of one form and another, and it is easy to imagine how a fictional narrative about a worldwide flood could be concocted. But there is absolutely no evidence anywhere in the geological record that such a flood has occurred in the last billion years, let alone in the last ten thousand.

But I got to wondering what it would take for a biblical flood. According to the book of Genesis, the flood waters covered the mountains by 15 cubits - or about 25 feet over the highest peak. That's 25 feet over Mount Everest, or enough water to cover the earth to the depth of 29,060 feet above sea level. That is a lot of water!

How much water? Doing some quick calculations, about 760 million cubic miles of water are required to achieve this. And that is over and above the water already in the oceans and lakes.

The earth's total water supply is 326 million cubic miles, and most of that is already in use to fill ocean and lake basins. It cannot be used a second time to go on top of itself. Available in the atmosphere, inside the earth, and we'll throw in glacier melt, we would be hard pressed to come up with 10 million cubic miles available for a massive flood. So where did the other 750 cubic million miles of water come from? And where did it go when the flood waters receded? It did not exist before the flood, and it does not exist now. But apparently an amount of water more than double that already existing on earth appeared out of nowhere, and then disappeared without a trace.

Let's do another take on this flood. It apparently took 40 days to go from a state of normalcy to a the full 29,060 foot flood. That means the waters were rising by 726 feet a day - about 6 inches a minute. And if you read your bible carefully, you'll find that Noah did not even start loading the Ark with family and animals until after the rain started and the fountains of the deep (springs) opened. Rather questionable isn't it that collecting the all the animals and loading them onto the boat was remotely possible? (You can find elsewhere on the web discussions of the ark's cubic capacity against the number of animals and feed requirements.)

The bible is not clear on whether the main source of water was from springs or from rain. Most people tend to assume the 40 days of rain was where the water came from. That would mean an impossible 726 feet of rain a day. But suppose only 1% was provided from rainfall. Still that is over seven feet of rain a day (which exceeds any single day records), every day for 40 days. And at that rate, even the best built wooden boat could not be kept watertight, and would fill up with water and sink or capsize.

If we are realistic about potential rainfall, if all the water actually in the atmosphere were to fall as rain, it would cover the earth to the depth of only one inch, which would not make the 40 days and nights of rain worth writing home about. Just an extended light drizzle. And that leaves us a mere 348,719 inches short of 15 cubits over Everest. That's a lot of missing spring water to find.