More evidence that Noah's flood didn't happen:
By Farrell Till
Young-earth creationists, who claim that the earth is only about 10,000 years old, have to reject a huge body of geological and paleontological evidence that says otherwise, but there is also nonscientific evidence that the earth is much older than just 10,000 years. One of these is the paleolithic art that has been discovered in several caves in Southwestern Europe. Some of these paintings have been dated as far back as 20,000 years before the 10,000 that many YECs (Young Earth Creationists) say is the maximum age of the earth. Although there is nothing scientifically unusual about these paintings, their existence is scientific evidence that Noah's flood did not happen in the manner described in the Bible, because it would have been scientifically impossible for these paintings to have survived a universal flood that covered the highest mountains on earth to a depth of 22 to 25 feet (Gen. 7:19-20).
If biblical chronology is trustworthy--and biblical inerrantists must say that it is--then Noah's flood happened 8,430 years ago. This can be determined by just analyzing the chronology that the Bible gave for events and births. The Bible claims that Adam was 130 when he begot his son Seth (Gen. 5:3), who was 105 when he begot Enosh (v:6), who was 90 when he begot Kenan (v:9), who was 70 when he begot Mehalalel (v:12), who was 65 when he begot Jared (v:15), who was 162 when he begot Enoch (v:18), who was 65 when he begot Methuselah (v:21), who was 187 when he begot Lamech (v:25), who was 182 when he begot Noah (v:28). Hence, the Bible claims that1056 years passed between the creation of Adam and the birth of Noah (130 + 105 + 90 + 70 + 65 + 162 + 65 + 187 + 182 = 1056).
Noah was 600 years old--a good round number--when the flood came upon the earth (Gen. 7:6), and it lasted a year and 10 days (Gen. 7:11; 8:13-14), so for convenience, I will round it off to one year. Hence, the flood ended and Noah left the ark about 1657years after the creation of Adam (1056 + 600 + 1 = 1657).
Noah's son Shem begot Arphaxad two years after the flood (Gen. 11:10). Arphaxad was 35 when he begot Shelah (v:12), who was 30 when he begot Eber (v:14), who was 34 when he begot Peleg (v:16), who was 30 when he begot Reu (v:18), who was32 when he begot Serug (v:20), who was 30 when he begot Nahor v:22), who was 29when he begot Terah, the father of Abraham (v:24-26). Hence, 1879 years passed from the creation of Adam to the birth of Abraham's father Terah (1657 + 2 + 35 + 30 + 34 + 30 + 32 + 30 + 29 = 1879).
A problem arises with the genealogy in Genesis 11, because the Septuagint version claimed substantially longer lives for the characters noted above and included one name that was not in the translations based on the Masoretic text.
Genesis 11:10 And these are the generations of Sem: and Sem was a hundred years old when he begot Arphaxad, the second year after the flood. 11 And Sem lived, after he had begotten Arphaxad, five hundred years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. 12 And Arphaxad lived a hundred and thirty-five years, and begot Cainan. 13 And Arphaxad lived after he had begotten Cainan, four hundred years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. And Cainan lived an hundred and thirty years and begot Sala; and Cainan lived after he had begotten Sala, three hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. 14 And Sala lived an hundred and thirty years, and begot Heber. 15 And Sala lived after he had begotten Heber, three hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. 16 And Heber lived an hundred and thirty-four years, and begot Phaleg. 17 And Heber lived after he had begotten Phaleg two hundred and seventy years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. 18 And Phaleg lived an hundred and thirty years, and begot Ragau. 19 And Phaleg lived after he had begotten Ragau, two hundred and nine years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. 20 And Ragau lived an hundred thirty and two years, and begot Seruch. 21 And Ragau lived after he had begotten Seruch, two hundred and seven years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. 22 And Seruch livedan hundred and thirty years, and begot Nachor. 23 and Seruch lived after he had begotten Nachor, two hundred years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. 24 And Nachor lived an hundred and seventy-nine years, and begot Tharrha.
This account of the genealogy will add 880 years to the Masoretic version. One hundred years were added to the ages of Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, and Serug when they begot the next generation in the genealogy, and 150 years were added to Nahor's age, so 100 x 6 = 600 + 150 = 750 years. The Septuagint genealogy also added Cainan as a generation between Arphaxad and Shelah, so the 130 years that Cainan lived before begetting Shelah added to the 750 would make 880 years. As the argument from paleolithic art, which I will develop later, will show, inerrantists can't make the existence of this art consistent with the biblical dating of the flood, so they need as many years as they can garner from biblical chronology to push the time of the flood as far back as possible; hence, I will give them every benefit of the doubt and add these 880 Septuagint years to the Masoretic chronology in Genesis 11. The addition of these years to the 1879 noted above would fix the birth of Tehrah (Abraham's father) at 2759 years after the creation of Adam (1879 + 880 = 2759).
Terah's age when Abraham was born has been a point of controversy. Genesis 11:26says that "Tehrah lived seventy years and begot Abraham, Nahor, and Harah." Normally, the firstborn son was listed first in genealogies, but the sons of Noah are listed in Genesis 5:32 and thereafter (7:13; 9:18; 10:1) as Shem, Ham, and Japheth, but several translations, including the Septuagint and Segond's French version, render Genesis 10:21 to mean that Japheth, who was always listed last, was Ham's "elder brother." It is possible, then, that Abraham was not Terah's firstborn son.
This is important, because Genesis 11:32 says that Terah lived to be 205, and Stephen said in his speech before the Sanhedrin that Abraham left Haran and went to Canaan after his father was dead (Acts 7:4), so if Abraham was Tehrah's firstborn son, whom Terah had begotten when he was 70, and if Terah lived to be 205, there would be a glaring error in Genesis 12:4, which says that Abraham departed from Haran when he was 75. He could not have been born when Terah was 70 and afterwards left Haran when he was 75, after his father was dead, if Terah had lived to be 205. I personally believe that this is just another of many inconsistencies in the Bible, because if Terah had lived to be 205, he would have been 130 when Abraham was born, but as we have seen above, 130 would have been a rather tender age to father a son compared to Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. To give every benefit of the doubt possible to inerrantists, I will accept for the sake of argument that Abraham was not Terah's firstborn son, so I will suppose that either Nahor or Haran had been born when Terah was 70 and that Abraham was not born till 60 years later when Terah was 130. That way, Terah could have been dead at the age of 205 when Abraham left Haran at the age of 75.
If we grant this concession and accept the extra 880 years in the Septuagint genealogy in Genesis 11, Terah, as noted above, would have been born 2759 years after the creation of Adam, so if Abraham was not born until Terah was 130, his birth would have occurred 2889 years after Adam (2759 + 130 = 2889). Abraham was 100when Isaac was born (Gen. 21:5), and Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born (Gen. 25:26). When Jacob's son Joseph presented him to Pharaoh after Jacob's family had descended into Egypt, Jacob said that he was 130 when Pharaoh asked him his age (Gen. 47:9); hence, the Israelites, according to biblical chronology, went into Egypt3179 years after Adam was created (2889 + 100 + 60 + 130 = 3179).
According to Exodus 12:40, the Israelites dwelt in Egypt for 430 years. As noted indetailed analyses of this verse and other relevant texts, this number is inconsistent with the genealogy in Exodus 6:14-25, but I am trying to give inerrantists as much chronological advantage as possible, so I will accept the claim of a 430-year sojourn in Egypt. This concession puts the date of the Israelite exodus from Egypt at the3609th year after Adam's creation (3179 + 430 = 3609). Construction on the temple began in the 4th year of Solomon's reign, 480 years "after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt (1 Kings 6:1), so the fourth year of Solomon's reign (according to biblical chronology) would have been 4089 years after the creation of Adam (3609 + 480 = 4089). Rather than taking the readers through meticulous analyses of the number of years that the kings who followed Solomon had reigned, I will simplify matters here and accept the generally recognized date of 970 BC as the first year of Solomon's reign (Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, 1987, p. 959). This would put the fourth year of his reign in 966 BC. This date makes it easy to determine how many years have passed since the biblical account of Adam's creation. We are now living in the year AD 2005, so the fourth year of Solomon's reign would have been2971 years ago (966 + 2005 = 2971). If that year was the 4089th year after Adam, we are now living in the 7,060th year after Adam's creation (4089 + 2971 = 7060). The Jewish calendar has 5765 as the current year, which would be much closer to the Masoretic chronology if the 880 Septuagint years were subtracted from the 7060 years immediately above. The point is that analyses of biblical chronology fix the date of the creation of Adam far short of the 10,000 years that YECs claim as the age of the earth, but as I point out below, I intend to give them as much advantage as possible, so for the sake of argument I will accept their 10,000-year age of the earth.
As I said at the beginning of this article, to claim that the earth is only 7,060 years old is to ignore the entire body of geological data that dates the earth in terms of billions of years rather than thousands, but young-earth creationists do exactly that. Some will metaphorically interpret Genesis 1 to make the six days of creation epochs rather than literal days, so they will claim that the earth is much older than humans but that humans themselves were the last or crowning achievement of the creation, which occurred in the last or 6th epoch, so despite what a huge body of paleontological evidence says, YECs insist that we have existed here only a few thousand years. Many YEC's will fix the age of the human race at a round 10,000 years, and to harmonize this claim with biblical chronology, they will claim that some generations were skipped in biblical genealogies, but this quibble is fraught with problems. In the Genesis 5 genealogy analyzed above, for example, Enoch was listed as the seventh generation: (1) Adam, (2) Seth, (3) Enosh, (4) Kenan, (5) Mahalalel, (6) Jared, (7) Enoch. A New Testament reference to Enoch said that he was the "seventh from Adam."
Jude 14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these [ungodly men troubling the church], saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Inerrantists must agree that no generations were skipped from Adam to Enoch or else concede that there is an error in the Bible, but if they agree that no generations were skipped in the first seven generations, they need to have a plausible explanation for why the writer skipped no generations in the first seven names in this ten-generation genealogy but then somewhere within the remaining three names skipped generations whose ages totaled thousands of years . Such a theory makes no sense.
But they argue that the Septuagint inclusion of Cainan in the Genesis-11 genealogy, analyzed above, whom Luke also included in his genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:37), could suggest that other generations were skipped between Enoch and Abraham. Those who want to see the weakness of the skipped-generation quibble, which inerrantists resort to in order to harmonize genealogies with other biblical data, should go to the index page of this website and read the articles listed under the header Egypt to see just how flimsy this quibble is. As I have said, however, I want to give as much chronological advantage as possible to those who claim that Noah's flood was an actual historical event, so I am going to grant them their missing 3,000 years and let them assume that those 3,000 years resulted from "skipped generations" in the genealogies that followed Noah's in Genesis 5. Let's assume then that we are now living in the 10,060th year after the creation of Adam. We noticed earlier that Noah's flood happened 1,657 years after the creation of Adam. Hence, if as many as 10,060 years have passed since Adam's creation, this would mean that Noah's flood happened about 8,403 years ago (10060 - 1657 = 8,430).
With that in mind, I can now show how the existence of paleolithic art belies the biblical claim of a flood that covered all of the earth and even the highest mountains on earth 8,403 years ago. I should first explain that paleolithic art consists mainly of the paintings that have been found in caves in Southern France and Northern Spain and Portugal. These were paintings of animals like bisons, bovids, stags, horses, mammoths, and other animals of that time period, including even a now extinct species of penguins. These paintings were left in caves by Cro-Magnon man, and some of them date as far back as 32,000 years. The latest of these paintings are now 10,000 years old, and that would mean that even these had been painted long before Noah's flood.
Lascaux, one of the most famous of the paleolithic caves, is located near modern Montignac in the Dordogne valley of Southcentral France. Its walls are covered with paintings of bison, horses, bulls, deer, woolly rhinos, birds, and abstract paintings of dots and quadrilateral shapes that are not decipherable by modern humans. There are some 1500 Cro-Magnon paintings of animals in this cave, which have been dated from 15,000 to 17,000 years ago. Two special features of the art in this cave are theHall of Bulls and the comic-strip style of some of the paintings, which depicted hunting scenes in different stages, from left to right, until the quarry was killed. While I was working as a missionary in France, I had the privilege of visiting this cave during a trip to visit former neighbors in Marseilles, who had retired to their vacation home in the Dordogne region. As I listened to the guide explaining how old the paintings were, I remember wondering how they could have survived the flood, but I was an inerrantist then, so my belief in the Bible enabled me to brush aside a momentary flash of cognitive dissonance. After I had returned to the states, I learned that the French government had closed this cave to visitors, because the paintings had begun to deteriorate from the rising temperature and humidity caused by the breaths and body heat of so many tourists coming to the site.
Altamira, probably the most famous paleolithic cave in Spain, is located on Monte Vispieres near the town of Santillana del Mar. Archaeological excavations in the cave have revealed that the lowest level of human occupation dates to 18,500 years ago. The walls have paintings of horses, bisons, deer, boars, ibexes, and other animals made famous by Cro-Magnon artists in Southwestern Europe, and, like Lascaux, Altamira also has a Great Hall of Bulls. It is just one of several paleolithic caves in that area of Spain.
Chauvet is located in the Ardèche valley in Southern France. Its primary importance lies in the dating of its paintings to as long as 32,000 years ago, which makes them older than the Lascaux, Altamira, and other paleolithic paintings by thousands of years. Over 60% of the paintings here depict cave bears, lions, mammoths, and rhinos, which are much rarer in other paleolithic caves, but there are also paintings of horses, bisons, ibexes, reindeer, red deer, aurochs, musk-oxen, panthers, owls, and others. The animals here were painted mainly in black with fewer more brilliant colors like red, which are commonplace in other paleolithic caves. The pictures with color have been radiometrically dated to 25,000 to 27,000 years ago when the cave was occupied by later groups of humans, so the absence of color in the earlier pictures would indicate that colors didn't gain popularity till thousands of years after the earliest paintings had been completed. Another feature of this cave is that footprints left by a child were still intact on the cave floor.
Well preserved footprints on cave floors were not unique to Chauvet. They have also been found at Peche-Merle, Niaux, Le Reseau Clastres, Le Tuc d’Audoubert, Montespan, Lalbastide, Fontanet, L’Aldleneand, many other caves, where the artists necessarily left their footprints on the cave floors while they were working. In writing about the frequency of these footprints, Dr. Jean Clottes, Conservator General of the French Ministry of Culture, noted that the softness of damp cave floors "enables us to see that children, at times very young ones, accompanied adults when they went underground." The website just linked to shows (in figure 12) a map of the route that three children took as they walked along the walls of the paleolithic cave at Niaux. I will discuss later the relevance of footprints preserved on the floors of paleolithic caves.
In addition to the sites already mentioned, paleolithic art dating back thousands of years before the biblical flood has been found at Rouffignac, Villars, Cougnac, Le Portel, Cussac--all in France--with over 100 paleolithic caves located in just the Dordogne region. Besides Altamria, other paleolithic caves have been discovered in Northern Spain, at Ekain, Tito Bustillo, Puente Viesgo, and others, and in Portugal paleolithic art has been found at Cueva (cave) Mayor de Atapuerca, Cueva de la Griega, Canada do Inferno, Penascosa, Ribeira de Piscos, and Quinta de Barca. Altogether, over 150 such caves have been found on the Iberian Peninsula. In a word, there are hundreds of paleolithic caves in Southwestern Europe to testify to the falsity of the biblical claim that a universal flood covered the highest mountains on earth some six to eight thousand years ago.
Before showing how the survival of paleolithic art to this day belies the biblical claim of a universal flood, I will close the cave discussion with one that was discovered just two decades ago. In 1985, a scuba diver named Henri Cosquer discovered an undersea cave while diving off the coast of Southeastern France at Cape Morgiou near Marseilles. He went inside to explore and found that the cave shaft sloped upwards. He followed it until he emerged into a huge underground chamber above sea level, where the walls were covered with paleolithic paintings that have since been radiometrically dated from 17,000 to 30,000 years ago. The dates were obtained from pigment flakes and charcoal that had been used to outline the paintings. Remains of campfires were found, which contained charcoal that dated from 18,500 to 27,000 years ago.
I have in my personal library a copy of The Cave Beneath the Sea, by Jean Clottes and Jean Courtin, which I highly recommend to those who are interested in the subject of paleolithic art. Cosquer Cave has been designated a national museum by the French government, and the paintings have been extensively examined. On the walls, there are paintings of horses, bisons, ibexes, reindeer, and even an extinct penguin species. Archaeologists have determined that the Mediterranean seashore was once thousands of feet farther back from its present location, at which time the entry of Cosquer Cave was readily accessible to the Cro-Magnons living in the area, but as the polar ice caps melted, the sea level rose and eventually left the cave entry 120 feet below sea level. Because the shaft of the cave sloped upward, a chamber at the top of the shaft has been left unfilled with water. The water, however, rose high enough to cover the bottoms of some of the paintings, which have since washed away, but the parts above the water are still distinct. Pages 25 and 32 of The Cave Beneath the Sea show drawings that are partly submerged and partly above the water. The submerged parts of the drawings have been washed away, but the parts above the water mark are still intact. A caption on page 25 explains that calcite (calcium carbonate) formed over the surfaces of some sections of the cave. Some finger tracings that were sealed by calcite have survived the rising water, but unsealed drawings have been destroyed by the water. Inerrantists will probably argue that it took thousands of years for those paintings to wash away, but they would have to be naive to think that a universal flood would not have ruined all of these paintings and others in the many paleolithic caves in this part of Europe when the water rose to fill the caves for the space of a year. I noted above, for example, that the French government closed the Lascaux cave to visitors because of rising humidity that was damaging the paintings, so what reasonable person would think that the various paleolithic paintings in Southwestern Europe, which are easily damaged by humidity accumulating from tourist traffic, could have been submerged under water for a year without being destroyed?
That brings us back to the footprints on the floors of these caves, which have survived until now. If a universal flood had covered the highest mountains on earth, water would have filled these caves and covered the footprints with sediments in addition to destroying the paintings, which after all had been made by just mixing ochre and other natural minerals, like hermatite, manganese and feldspar, with water, saliva, and animal fat, and charcoal was used for outlining and darkening places where black was desired. The use of these minerals and especially charcoal made radiometric dating possible, and in addition to the pigments in the actual paintings, the Cro-Magnon artists sometimes left their oil lamps and the ashes of their campfires in the caves, which have enabled those who have studied these items to know that the ancient artworks in these caves date back as far as 32,000 years ago.
Cognitive dissonance, however, is hard for many inerrantists to come to terms with, so they will reject the results of radiometric dating. It isn't accurate, they will say, and YECs have used barrels of ink to write articles that challenge the accuracy of this dating method. In a sense, they are right, if we consider "inaccuracy" to be just plus or minus a few years in terms of the thousands of years yielded in the test results. The glossary in The Cave Beneath the Sea (p. 199) gave this definition of radiocarbon dating.
An important method of obtaining accurate dates for fossils and artifacts made of organic materials. At death, the quantity of carbon 14 present in each living organism starts decreasing at a regular rate. The time it takes for half of the atoms of a radioactive isotope like carbon 14 to disintegrate is called its half-life. The half-life of Carbon 14 is 5,730 years. It is thus possible to arrive at the age of death and obtain a date by measuring the amount of radiocarbon left in the sample. There is a statistical uncertainty linked to the date, however. For example, 20,000 B[efore] P[present] ± 300 means that the organism died between the years 20,300 B. P. and 19,700 B. P.; moreover, the chances of the date's being within this range is 67%. To have a 95% chance of accuracy, one must double the uncertainty. In this case, the "real" date could be anywhere between 20,600 and 19,400 B. P. (emphasis added)
The Cave Beneath the Sea explains on pages 31, 78, and 165 that the radiometric datings of paint flecks and carbon removed from Cosquer Cave were checked and double checked by laboratories working independently of one another. Samples from finger tracings were sent to a laboratory in Lyons, which fixed their date at 19,440 B. P. Charcoal samples and paint pigments were then sent to Le Laboratoire des Faibles Radioactivité at Gif-sur-Yvette, which tested them with a mass-spectrometry accelerator and confirmed the date of the first laboratory. Samples from a hand stencil were dated at 27,000 B. P. The laboratory at Gif-sur-Yvette conducted another test on charcoal samples taken from several places on the cave floor and from flecks of charcoal from wall paintings. The results from the paintings were a date of 27,110 ± 350 B. P. A control test was conducted on the same samples and yielded a date of 27,110 ± 390 B. P. (The Cave Beneath the Sea, p. 78).
Die-hard inerrantists will never accept these findings and will argue with their dying breaths that the test results are wrong. They will accept the science that gives us the modern technology of radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, cell phones, space exploration, modern medical advancements, etc., etc., etc., but they will never accept any scientific finding that discredits the Bible. Let's just suppose that the margin of error in the radiometric tests that have been conducted on paleolithic art in Southwestern Europe was two, three, ten, or even 20 times greater than what was described above in the explanation of radiometric dating. Even an error as extensive as this would still date the paleolithic paintings thousands of years before the time that the Bible claims a worldwide flood had occurred.
As I just noted above, die-hard inerrantists aren't about to admit that errors are in the Bible. I have had some die-hards confronted with the problem of paleolithic art who have argued that upheavals that accompanied the flood caused rock slides that covered the mouths of these caves, which were reopened after the flood by more upheavals. All of them? Don't these die-hards realize that there are some 300 known paleolithic art caves in Southwestern Europe? So isn't it convenient that upheavals in the earth just happened to close the mouths of all of them during the flood? As I did almost 50 years ago at the Lascaux cave, die-hard inerrantists just brush aside the problem posed by the survival of paleolithic art, which was painted thousands of years before the biblical date of Noah's flood. At Lascaux, this thought that came to me was only momentary, but eventually it came back as I began to see other gaping holes in the biblical errancy doctrine. Perhaps some of the inerrantists who read this will retain thoughts about the problem of paleolithic art long enough to get them started on the road to a more rational view of the Bible.