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View Full Version : Help me picture the Biblical Flood.


Sapo
02-14-2010, 03:14 PM
It was mentioned in a current GD thread and I realized I had never bothered to put a better image to the Flood of Noah than the usual Fisher Price boat with giraffes sticking their necks out of the sunroof.

If you flooded the world (or a reasonable chunk of it as per some interpretation) what would that really look like? Corpses floating all over ("Hey, there goes Sarah, charge me 3 copper pieces for a loaf of bread, didn't you bitch? take that")? What would that smell like after a week or 40 days?

I don't think something like Katrina's New Orleans is a fair picture. For one, a lot of people had evacuated and many of the victims were trapped in building much more resistant than the ones back then (yes, I know, fiction and all that. You know what I mean).

Flooding a dam is probably not good either since most large animals are evacuated or have time to escape.

What was the picture like from Deck A in Noah's ark?

What did the world look like after the waters subsided 40 days later? Still corpses all over? Would they be decomposed enough to not be recognizable (fish should have eaten a lot)? Would sedimentation hide most of the damage?

Assuming fresh water so the land is not salted (it was rain after all), would some trees manage to spring back to life after a 40 days immersion? Would everything be covered in mud? I guess some of those answers depend on how and where the water went.

Anyways, paint me a reasonable picture of the Flood and its aftermath.

Mangetout
02-14-2010, 03:48 PM
When you say 'reasonable', do you want us to assume that it's even possible? (I mean in terms of adding that much water to the Earth, building a viable timber vessel of that size, etc)

Walloon
02-14-2010, 04:17 PM
Corpses floating all over?Yes, corpses float due to decomposition.What would that smell like after a week or 40 days?There probably wasn't a high density of population, and there's a lot of wind and waves on the open ocean to carry off and disperse the smell of rotting corpses.What was the picture like from Deck A in Noah's ark?Water, water everywhere. Genesis says the water was higher than the tallest mountain. And it rained for forty days straight.Assuming fresh water so the land is not salted (it was rain after all), would some trees manage to spring back to life after a 40 days immersion?Probably, if they weren't churned to death by deep ocean currents. Trees along rivers are commonly flooded far up their trunks, and they survive.Would everything be covered in mud?Yes.

GreasyJack
02-14-2010, 05:03 PM
Yes, "reasonable" is a bit of a tall order here, but I've always thought this is a fun thought experiment.

You sort of have to define how you are going to suspend your disbelief. If you assume that rain indeed was the mechanism for the flood and that all that water had to go somewhere, you get some pretty absurd hydrological implications. In this scenario I'd assume that the drainage systems required to get the land drained out on such short notice would contain so much energy that they would have no trouble entraining (i.e. pickup up and moving) pretty much anything-- I'd imagine that all the corpses (along with all the cities, forests and probably most of the top soil) would end up in the ocean. I tend to think in this scenario, a lot of the land would just be scoured bedrock on the day after.

On the other hand, since you're already willing all that extra water into existence, why not just say YHWH snapped His fingers and it all just appeared (with some rain for effect) and 40 days later-- snap-- it's gone. Maybe instead of imagining spectacular floods, just imagine the water table rising thousands of meters in a matter of days and then miraculously receding. If I were a creationist, this is what I'd argue because the thing is that there's really not that much physical evidence (in terms of erosion and deposition) that would be left by everything merely being underwater for 40 days-- the real catastrophic stuff would be from that water moving around*. You'd probably get a lot of mudflows from water-saturated hillsides (especially since they'd be destabilized because of drowned vegetation), but there wouldn't necessarily be much sedimentation most places-- after all sedimentation is mostly driven by fluvial erosion, but with the world underwater, these processes would mostly cease and whatever material was in suspension in the water column prior to the flood would be massively diluted.

But in this case, yes, there'd be corpses all over the place. It'd be gross. Depending on what oxygen content He saw fit to imbue his miraculous waters with, the bottom of the floodwaters could have been pretty anoxic, so decomposition might have been minimal until the waters receded.

*See for example the sorts of landforms that are associated with the Lake Missoula floods: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missoula_Floods
There's spectacular larger-than-life erosional features all over the flood's paths through NW Montana, Idaho and Washington, but in the Missoula valley itself where the lake was, 12,000 years later the only real evidence for that lake ever having been there are the shorelines on the hills and the debris flow channels from the mudflows running off the hills which were destabilized by the sudden drainage of the lake.

Daylate
02-14-2010, 05:29 PM
Warning!! Bored retired engineer with a computer alert!!!

The Biblical Flood is a very interesting phenomena. The height of Mount Ararat is 16,946 feet. That means that about 17,000 or so feet of water rained down in a time span of 40 days and nights. And we can safely assume that this water covered the entire surface of the earth, since water seeks its own level.

A little work with a calculator (or Excel, if you're lazy) shows that since the Earth's average radius is roughly 3,955 miles, the surface area of the planet comes out to be 5,479,875,413,083,620 square feet.

This means that the total volume of water that descended on Earth was 694,655,766,234,627,000,000 gallons, give or take.

Since all this came down in forty days and nights, simple math shows that the average rainfall during that time was 211.8 inches per hour, or 17.65 feet per hour.

What a wonderful time to have had the umbrella concession for earth!

Something to wonder about is how, since the deck of Noah's Ark probably wasn't caulked too well, and since really good bilge pumps hadn't been invented, how did Noah keep the Ark from being swamped with over 17 ft of hard rain hitting it every hour? For 40 D and 40 N?

And where did all that water come from? And where did it go to after it drained off? It's really tough being a true believer, I'll tell ya!

Knorf
02-14-2010, 05:32 PM
This means that the total volume of water that descended on Earth was 694,655,766,234,627,000,000 gallons, give or take.
What's the mass of all that water?

Walloon
02-14-2010, 05:34 PM
Something to wonder about is how, since the deck of Noah's Ark probably wasn't caulked too well, and since really good bilge pumps hadn't been invented, how did Noah keep the Ark from being swamped with over 17 ft of hard rain hitting it every hour? For 40 D and 40 N?The protective hand of God.
And where did all that water come from? And where did it go to after it drained off?God can do any miracle he wants. He's God.

DocCathode
02-14-2010, 05:45 PM
IIRC The Bible says that after forty days and forty nights, the water had reached its high point. The flood went on to last for about a year.

chacoguy
02-14-2010, 05:46 PM
Warning!! Bored retired engineer with a computer alert!!!

The Biblical Flood is a very interesting phenomena. The height of Mount Ararat is 16,946 feet. That means that about 17,000 or so feet of water rained down in a time span of 40 days and nights. And we can safely assume that this water covered the entire surface of the earth, since water seeks its own level.

A little work with a calculator (or Excel, if you're lazy) shows that since the Earth's average radius is roughly 3,955 miles, the surface area of the planet comes out to be 5,479,875,413,083,620 square feet.

This means that the total volume of water that descended on Earth was 694,655,766,234,627,000,000 gallons, give or take.

Since all this came down in forty days and nights, simple math shows that the average rainfall during that time was 211.8 inches per hour, or 17.65 feet per hour.

What a wonderful time to have had the umbrella concession for earth!

Something to wonder about is how, since the deck of Noah's Ark probably wasn't caulked too well, and since really good bilge pumps hadn't been invented, how did Noah keep the Ark from being swamped with over 17 ft of hard rain hitting it every hour? For 40 D and 40 N?

And where did all that water come from? And where did it go to after it drained off? It's really tough being a true believer, I'll tell ya!

I'm starting to question the veracity of this particular publication.

Daylate
02-14-2010, 05:47 PM
So He drowned countless billions of innocent animals (without ever concidering the human popuation whom he snuffed) just because He could? Some miracle.

If PETA had been around then they would have had His guts for garters.

Daylate
02-14-2010, 05:50 PM
I know where all that water went!! It's been hanging around for centuries, just waiting to fall on the South and the East Coast as snow, and cancel all those airline flights. There! Mystery solved!

code_grey
02-14-2010, 06:06 PM
"all the fountains of the great deep were broken up" - how are we supposed to know if those "fountains" generated salt water or fresh water? Plus, if let's say we had such a flood now, even fresh water flood would have mixed up with the salty ocean water and so there would be salt in the water.

As far as the "mountains were covered" bit, maybe it is a hyperbole? I think when dealing with worldly events the Bible often uses "all" to mean basically "most". And how would Noah and his family even go about ascertaining just which mountains were or were not covered anyway? If Everest or Ararat were not fully covered and no human being saw that, did that even happen? The people subsequently could still have this "common knowledge", if you will, that "all mountains were covered" and this then would have eventually gotten incorporated into Genesis.

Bartman
02-14-2010, 06:42 PM
Well I think the very first thing to remember is that the writers of Genesis had a very different view of the universe. Something kinda like this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelpaukner/4077736695/in/pool-16135094@N00). Basically to them Earth was a flat disk which was completely immersed in water. From above the pocket of air we live in was protected from the water by the Firmament of Heaven and from below by the earth. Actually this isn't quite true, as the oceans are the the tops of the Great Deep. So the Earth didn't completely close off the Great Deep. Maybe a diving bell would be better comparison.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, that same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters increased and bore up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth. 18 And the waters prevailed and were increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark went upon the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth, and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. 20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail, and the mountains were covered.

24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.

So God opened up passages in the disk of the earth and in the Firmament of Heaven and the water came in, from above and below. It was not just a rain. And there is no proportion given, so it may well be that 90%+ of this water came from the Great Deep below the disk of earth. If the diving bell analogy is reasonable, then most of the water would have come from below as the air leaked out of the Windows of Heaven. Once the 40 days were up, all God would need to do is seal off the Windows of Heaven and pump in some new air. This alone would force the water back down into the Great Deep.

The problem here is that given our world is not like that described in the bible. There are no Waters above or below. And there is no Expanse of sky separating them under which all the land is gathered together. There is no Firmament from which two great lights (and the stars) are hung, to mark the seasons, days and years.

In the world we have the flood could not work, at least not according to the rules of physics. If God did it he cheated. In the real world, we aren't floating in a great body of water. So all that water would have to come from outside. And if that much water falls it would raise the temperature of the surface of the Earth by about 1500 C. Just about all rocks melt at or below 1200 C, so the surface of the earth would all be molten.

That much water would also displace 2/3rds of the atmosphere. In fact it would displace it above the line where Earth's gravity tends holds it in place. So for about half a year 2/3rds of our atmosphere would be blowing off into space.

Given issues like those, I think the sanitation of dead bodies and washing away of topsoil are minor at best. If it happened at all, God would have had to put Physics on hold while he did it. And that point we can provide no descriptions of what it was like, because the universe Noah was living in was operating by entirely different principles.

PlainJain
02-14-2010, 06:45 PM
What's the mass of all that water?

694,655,766,234,627,000,000 gallons
x 8.345404 lbs per gallon
____________________

Gary Robson
02-14-2010, 06:50 PM
It is, indeed, an interesting thought experiment.

I don't think the corpses would have been that big a deal. Assume that the rains and fast-rising water levels churned things up pretty well. If we figure a top-end of perhaps 20 million people at Noah's time, and accept Daylate's area calculations from post 5 (5,479,875,413,083,620 sq ft = about 197 million square miles), we're looking at about one corpse for every 10 square miles -- not even accounting for the ones that would be eaten by sea critters.

I can see a boat with a roof that overhangs on all sides shunting off the 17 feet of rain per hour.

What I can't see is one dude with his kids constructing a boat big enough to hold two of every non-aquatic species of animal, plus enough food to keep them all alive until the boat landed and new crops (and prey animals) grown. It would have taken a gigantic barge behind the ark just to carry a year's worth of hay for the hay-eaters.

Gary Robson
02-14-2010, 06:53 PM
And if that much water falls it would raise the temperature of the surface of the Earth by about 1500 C. Just about all rocks melt at or below 1200 C, so the surface of the earth would all be molten.How do you figure that?

That much water would also displace 2/3rds of the atmosphere. In fact it would displace it above the line where Earth's gravity tends holds it in place. So for about half a year 2/3rds of our atmosphere would be blowing off into space.Or that? Even if adding a few miles of water on top of the Earth's surface pushed the atmosphere up a few miles, we would lose a pretty insignificant amount of air.

DocCathode
02-14-2010, 07:32 PM
What I can't see is one dude with his kids constructing a boat big enough to hold two of every non-aquatic species of animal,.

OTTOMH, that should be eighteen of every animal. 'a clean pair of each animal, and seven unclean pairs'

code_grey
02-14-2010, 08:02 PM
Noah didn't have to build it all alone. He could have been a wealthy landowner capable of hiring lots of workers to help him out. He also may have spent decades or even centuries working on it - it doesn't really say how long, and he is described as a long-lived guy, 600 years old at the moment of the flood.

DocCathode
02-14-2010, 08:04 PM
OTTOMH, that should be eighteen of every animal. 'a clean pair of each animal, and seven unclean pairs'

I meant sixteen.

Shmendrik
02-14-2010, 08:07 PM
OTTOMH, that should be eighteen of every animal. 'a clean pair of each animal, and seven unclean pairs'

It's a pair of each unclean animal, and seven pairs of each clean animal.

BigT
02-14-2010, 08:51 PM
In the world we have the flood could not work, at least not according to the rules of physics. If God did it he cheated. In the real world, we aren't floating in a great body of water. So all that water would have to come from outside. And if that much water falls it would raise the temperature of the surface of the Earth by about 1500 C. Just about all rocks melt at or below 1200 C, so the surface of the earth would all be molten.

Creationists still believe there was a canopy. It just covered a spherical Earth. They say the canopy was like a second ozone layer, which is part of the reason for the longevity of the individuals mentioned in Genesis. (The other being the atmosphere boiling you already mentioned. They claim that the concentration of oxygen was at least twice as high.

As for my opinion: you've got to remember that this is pre-Babel. All the humans are in one place. There's no reason for a flood that's designed to kill off all the humans to cover the entire planet. Only the human world need be destroyed.

ETA: Here's a (apparently Creationist) site I found while trying to see how long Noah takes to build the Ark (less than 100 years): http://www.gotquestions.org/Noahs-ark-questions.html

Bartman
02-14-2010, 09:14 PM
How do you figure that?

Simply enough. I cribbed it from here (http://www.deusdiapente.net/science/flood.php).

If the water is falling to Earth it is exchanging potential energy for kinetic energy which is then converted into heat when it hits. This is far more heat than the Earth can radiate within the 40 days+nights bit. That author assumes that enough water is added to the surface to cover Mt Everest + 15 cubits (the depth listed in Genesis). The author also assumes that the water came from the high Troposhere (about 10 miles up). All the rest is math.

Or that? Even if adding a few miles of water on top of the Earth's surface pushed the atmosphere up a few miles, we would lose a pretty insignificant amount of air.

I cribbed this from the same place. 2/3rds of the atmosphere (by weight) lies below the elevation of Everest. So you would push all the atmosphere up by 5.5 miles. But looking at it I way over spoke. There would be increased atmospheric loss (there is atmospheric loss occurring right now after all). And it would be increased, but not by any significant amount. Not in the less than a year kinda time frame. So consider it withdrawn.

LiveOnAPlane
02-14-2010, 11:32 PM
...

What I can't see is one dude with his kids constructing a boat big enough to hold two of every non-aquatic species of animal, plus enough food to keep them all alive until the boat landed and new crops (and prey animals) grown. It would have taken a gigantic barge behind the ark just to carry a year's worth of hay for the hay-eaters.

Interesting coincidence; I just finished a SF/Fantasy story which mentioned this. Seens that the inside of the ark was bigger than the outside.

Jophiel
02-15-2010, 01:08 AM
Assuming fresh water so the land is not salted (it was rain after all), would some trees manage to spring back to life after a 40 days immersion?
After 40 days... maybe but I doubt any would still have leaves or fruit. After 150 days, I really doubt it.

After the Flood, God gives Noah permission to start eating animals, presumably because the land was not yet suitable for growing crops and all the plants had been devastated:
The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

On the other hand, the dove returned with an olive branch (which I assume had leaves on it) so... I dunno.

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