Cataclysmic. That’s the only word to describe it. Billions of tons of water let loose from the skies to cover the earth, destroying all land-based creatures except for eight humans: Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives.
Heeding the warning and having gathered the animals onto the ark seven days beforehand, Noah and his family climbed aboard – and the ark door shut firmly behind them. The ark was not a boat as commonly depicted, but an enormous rectangular structure measuring 133.5m x 22.3m x 13.4m (437 ft.6in x 72 ft 11 in X 43 ft 9 in) – roughly half the length of the QE2 and with height to width to breadth dimensions used by ship designers to this day. Made out of resinous wood (possibly cypress), flat-bottomed and waterproofed inside and out with tar, it had taken Noah between forty and fifty years to build - in between the serious business of warning the entire inhabited earth of the coming destruction.
Not an easy task. Especially as the earth of Noah’s day was an extremely unpleasant place to be, thanks to a horde of rebellious angels who’d created bodies for themselves in order to marry the good-looking women. Their giant hybrid offspring, the Nephilim, also known as Fellers or ‘men of fame’ because of their superhuman strength, tended to throw their (considerable) weight about, and, like their angelic sires, created fear wherever they went until the ‘earth was filled with violence’. Mere humans were little better; with ‘every inclination of the thoughts of (their) heart only bad all the time’, they became increasingly aggressive and were no doubt unimpressed by Noah’s attempts to preach.
Could it happen today?
With many countries deluged in recent months, this question is understandable. However, if all the water in the atmosphere was released in one downpour evenly across the globe, it would only amount to a couple of inches. In contrast, Genesis describes how the deluge lasted 40 days and nights, covering ‘all the tall mountains that were under the whole heavens’ and overwhelming the earth for 150 days. (Genesis 7:17-24)
So where did the water come from?
Now here’s an interesting fact: Before Noah’s day, it had never actually rained. Instead, at night, ‘a mist would go up from the earth’, creating a thick layer of dew upon the surface (Genesis 2:5,6). Originally, the earth was surrounded by a ‘heavenly ocean’ – a vast girdle of water which no doubt protected the earth from the sun’s harmful radiation, much as the ozone layer is credited with doing today. This was the source of the torrential downpour.
Where did all the water go?
Actually, it never went away. Pre-Flood, the oceans were much smaller and the land mass far greater, as can be seen by river channels branching out under the oceans, and scientists say mountains were once much lower, having since been forced up from under the seas. A huge amount of water is also contained in the huge ice mountains of the arctic.
Arithmetic also helps prove that the floodwaters are still here. According to National Geographic, January 1945 “there is ten times as much water by volume in the ocean as there is land above sea-level. Dump all the land evenly into the sea, and the water would cover the entire earth, one and a half miles deep.” As things stand, water covers around 70% of the planet.
Effects of the Flood
In the short term, the Flood destroyed all land-dwelling life except for the eight people on the ark along with the various animals which accompanied them. In the long-term, earth without its protective watery canopy became more susceptible to harmful cosmic radiation. Some scholars have linked this to a significant drop in human life expectancy, although the Bible itself is silent on the matter. Even so, such a change in radiation would have affected the rate of radioactive carbon-14, making any pre-Flood radiocarbon dating virtually impossible.
The land mass was greatly altered, owing to the shallowness of the earth’s crust (est. 30km [20 miles] and 160km [100 miles] thick) which, under the massive eight of floodwater would have shifted considerably. There would also be a deepening of sea basins, while new mountains were created and existing mountains thrust to greater heights.
Evidence of a global deluge
Mammoths and rhinoceroses have been discovered in various locations, most notably in Siberian and Alaskan ice. After examining these remains, experts have found some animals with “food undigested in their stomachs or still unchewed in their teeth, indicating that they died suddenly. The fossil remains of many other animals, such as lions, tigers, bears and elk, have been found in common strata, which may indicate that all of these were destroyed simultaneously.” (Insight on the Scriptures Vol 1 by Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania International Bible Students Association)
Can the remains of the ark be found?
When the waters subsided, Genesis says the ark came to rest upon Mount Ararat. Ararat or Aghri-Dagh (Mount of the Ark) is a range of mountains in modern eastern Turkey near the borders of Iran and Russia. There are two conical peaks roughly 11 km apart and the higher peak reaches 5,165 metres (16,950 ft) above sea level.
Some say there is an outline of a massive wooden vessel on the top of one of these peaks which can be made out by satellite but, so far, the Turkish Government has refused permission for the site to be explored.
Legends of a catastrophic Flood abound. Aside from the Bible account, many versions have been passed from generation to generation of various races throughout the earth. Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, British Druids, Eskimos, Greenlanders, Polynesians Native Americans, Africans and Hindus all have details in common, such as a place of refuge (ark) for a few survivors, global destruction by water, and the preserving of a human seed from whom we’ve all descended.
“Flood stories have been discovered among nearly all nations and tribes. Though most common on the Asian mainland and the islands immediately south of it on the North American Continent, they have been found on all the continents. Totals of the numbers of stories known run as high as about 270.....Moreover, some of the ancient accounts were written by people very much in opposition to the Hebrew-Christian tradition.” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Vol 2 – Edited by G Bromiley, 1982)
Halloween and other Festivals connected to the Flood
According to Bible chronology, the Flood occurred in 2370 BCE in the 600th year of Noah’s life, between the end of October and beginning of November. Many indigenous people throughout the world – including Mexico, Fiji, Australia, Society Islands, Peru and Egypt - hold a Festival of the Dead or Festival of Ancestors around this time, while Halloween has become a popular celebration across western civilisation.
One writer believes Halloween with its glorification of suffering and death, can be traced back to when all the Nephilim, sons of the fallen angels, were destroyed along with wicked humans “on or about the very day on which, according to the Mosaic account, the Deluge took place, viz., the seventeenth day of the second month – the month nearly corresponding with our November.” (The Worship of the Dead, by J Garnier)