Help me picture the Biblical Flood.

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.

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)

Yes, corpses float due to decomposition.

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.

Water, water everywhere. Genesis says the water was higher than the tallest mountain. And it rained for forty days straight.

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.


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:
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.

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!

What’s the mass of all that water?

The protective hand of God.

God can do any miracle he wants. He’s God.

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.

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

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.

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!

“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.

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. 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.

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.

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

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.

How do you figure that?

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.

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

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.

I meant sixteen.

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