World-Wide Floods: A FB Discussion

Here’s a discussion I had with some friends of mine on Facebook recently, in the original order, with context, grammar, and wording preserved for ethical reasons. Only spelling has been corrected where necessary. Also, the names and genders of the participants are withheld in this post, only initials given, to preserve their anonymity and their privacy. The following image I’d shared was what sparked this talk, commentary follows:


. . . in Sweden. ~ CC

Thank you. You beat me to it. ~ AS

It would also be much older than the age of the Earth according to Young-Earth Creationism, except to those Creationist sects that extend the time of Creation to 10,000 years ago or so. ~ Me

And since Sweden is presumably part of the world, existing in its current location at least since the time of the alleged Great Flood, even if that flood did happen, it couldn’t have been worldwide. The salinity and depth of the floodwaters persisting even for just a year would have killed the tree. ~ Me

Perhaps But the great flood in the bibble was rain so not much in the way of high salt content. There is world wide evidence of flooding but the hypothesis is it was because of an ocean or near ocean strike of a life killer meteor. ~ AS

But you are also you are also stating viewpoints that I don’t neccessarily agree with: I’m speaking about believing that the Earth is only 10,000 years old or who don’t see the Old Testament as possibly being mainly metaphor. God is awesome, but create a universe from nothingness in six days? Sorry, but I don’t punch kids because their view of God, or whatever you wish to call the Divine Being, does not correspond to my view. ~ CC

Well who’s days are we talking about? Some have said to me that the Christian’s God’s days equal one thousand of our days. That’s why no human lived more than God’s day after the fall. ~ AS

Exactly! What is a day to God? An epoch? ~ CC

Crap, or was it one thousand of our YEARS to his one? ~ AS

Oh, dear. I had thought I was being clear when I specified Young-Earth Creationists, those whose religious dogmas state the Earth to be only about 10,000 years or less, and those who declare the days of Creation to be literal 24 hour days. I was apparently not as clear as I thought in mentioning that. ~ Me

No worries. ~ CC

Also, the rain in the Great Flood may not have had a high salinity as it fell, but the floodwaters stirring up mineral matter from both ground and any oceans existing then WOULD have had a high salt-content from erosion of the sort that YECs claim caused the Grand Canyon. ~ Me

Floodwaters deep enough to cover most mountains would have killed any plants on the surface except strictly aquatic ones like kelp. Land vegetation can’t survive those conditions for the time given in the Bible, even if only starting out as freshwater flooding. ~Me

I give the tree a good chance of survival because the odds of it are there. Perhaps it was once one among a whole deep forest and it alone survived while the others died. As for those creationists freaks, they fear truth and being wrong. I think that is a mental illness that to many people have. ~ AS

I think I see your point. Perhaps that particular tree might be tough enough to survive a year of immersion. But there’s also the question of how any OTHER land vegetation survived to give progeny to continue to this day as seems to be the case. If all land-plants could survive such flooding, and they apparently can’t do so today at those depths and for that length of time, it seems doubtful that they would mysteriously lose such a useful trait, or somehow acquired it only once for that particular flood and then lost it. ~ Me

I prefer to see flood myths (or legends if you prefer) as metaphorical, as those of different cultures are not consistent in important details of their narrative…Look up Egyptian flood myths, or Chinese flood myths, and compare those with Judeo-Christian ones just as examples. It’s more likely to me that such stories exist because of the common presence of early civilizations near large bodies of water which occasionally flooded, and these would be woven into their lore whatever the details. The Judeo-Christian ones are lifted from the Mesopotamian ones, as per the Gilgamesh Epic’s recounting of the story of Utnapishtim’s flood. ~ Me

I theorize that all these shared flood myths comes from what some would call a retelling of a gigantic earth killer meteor hitting an ocean. Lets say it was the strike that helped form the Gulf of Mexico and there isn’t any mythos from that area because maybe humans weren’t there yet to be wiped out. Nature abhors a vacuum and it rushes in water which helps to create a huge tsunami. Might I even say a world wide tsunami? Compound that with all that debris in the atmosphere shielding the planet from the sun and coming down over a period of 40 days and nights. Yeah, something that catastrophic to small groups of primitive humans will spawn many tales to explain. ~ AS

I would think that works, except for one detail: the earliest evidence of early human ancestors able to remember such an event and carry it to the present day, even as an oral tradition, dates back only into the single-digits of millions of years, about 5 or so million or less for sentient primates when our ancestors split off from those of the great apes. The problem is that that meteor strike happened about 66 million years ago when mammals and other species surviving the event hadn’t developed the intelligence needed to carry such information to early civilizations. That’s a discrepancy of a full order of magnitude not easily explained by a literal flood. Even the flooding of the Mediterranean basin happened 5.33 million years ago, so that doesn’t work as an explanation either. ~ Me

Early civilizations typically placed themselves near large bodies of water, say, seas, oceans, or rivers, for ease of trade by boat and sometimes to irrigate their crops. I’m sure there are multiple explanations for all of the flood stories, because they all differ in key details. The Egyptian flood tales involve a worldwide flood of magic beer instead of water, to save humanity rather than drown it. The tale of Utnapishtim involves an attempt by the Gods to kill humanity because there were so many of us that we were making too much noise for the Gods to get any sleep, and of course Noah’s flood for the evil and sins of the antediluvians making God angry enough for genocide. ~ Me

Scientific theory is that when the last ice age ended around 10,000 years or so ago, the mean sea level rose by 350′ to 400 ft. which caused the flood stories by different cultures around the world. this makes more sense to me personally than the meteor theory or magic beer. and at this point, this is only a scientific theory, not fact. and will remain a theory until someone invents a time machine to go back and witness the event first hand. ~ TP

The Egyptian magic beer myth isn’t particularly sensible sounding, but how else do you get a goddess hell-bent on destroying humanity drunk enough to stagger back to Heliopolis and pass out? I believe in one version of that myth the goddess was Hathor, but I may be wrong. I don’t look for any one explanation for all of any phenomenon, since each flood tale is likely to have a different cause from any other. None of these separate stories agree in their major details, so they are likely to have different causes. But any civilizations that knew of the concept of flooding in some way are likely to use that concept in their cultural narratives. ~ Me

I would caution you on your use of the word ‘theory’ also. A scientific theory isn’t a hunch, or a guess, or something someone came up with while drunk. In science, a theory is a set of ideas that describes and explains the known facts of a phenomenon. Like gravity, there is no such thing in science as ‘only a theory.’ Some scientific theories are so well established and supported by the best observations as to have the status of laws. In my experience, most scientists find the phrase ‘only a theory’ anywhere from humorous to irritating as it shows a lack of distinction between the common use of ‘theory’ and the scientific technical definition. This is not rocket science. ~ Me

How do we know things without being there? We make observations using various dating methods and forensic techniques, including potassium-argon, uranium-thorium, and rubidium-strontium dating, and similar techniques. We make observations and we match those with any predictions of what we expect to see if say, theory X were true, and if it better matches our observations than what theory Y predicts we should see instead. The theory with the most successful predictions is the one we go with until another fits the data better. No theory is ever absolutely proven, only able to survive all previous attempts to falsify it, but it can be so well established as to require a mountain of new evidence to overturn it. ~ Me

How do I know this? I’ve spent the last seven years as a skeptic educating myself on how science works, and the relation of theories to the facts they describe and explain. That’s because when I talk to scientists, online or in person, I’d much rather not make a fool of myself by misusing technical terms like ‘theory,’ or ‘hypothesis.’ ~ Me

Ah but I’m just a lay person and it was my theory or shall I say my guess. I never claimed to be a scientist, however, since we can’t fully know the truth we can’t say beyond a shadow of doubt that I might not be correct. There has been other times that the earth has been struck. And truly who’s to say that our little furry ancestors didn’t have some kind of oral tradition? If dolphin pods can pass on learned behaviors to more than just their offspring why can’t stories also be told?  I do get where you are coming from but do you sometimes wonder if you might be deliberately closing your eyes to what might/could be just because science can’t reproduce or explain it yet? I swear I’m not trying to stir the shit-pot, I’m just really curious. ~ AS

I’m a layperson as well, but professional scientists within their field of study know their trade. One gets taken seriously by and gains the respect of those in that trade by learning the language. Most of the scientists I’ve read or know personally do not think themselves somehow above the rest of humanity. ~ Me

I would not accuse anyone on this thread of stirring anything up, and this has been a wonderfully gentlepersonly and bloodless if vigorous discussion. Thank you. As for thinking pre-humans had no oral tradition, that’s not where I’m coming from — merely because we have not proven something false doesn’t make it true, or vice versa. While it’s true we cannot rule something out absolutely, without any evidence for it, we cannot rule it in either — we must not assume facts not in evidence. That way leads to much error. Until new and better evidence suggests that pre-humans did have that level of intelligence or language, we cannot simply assume it. Othewise, we could assume whatever we wanted, and the world just doesn’t seem to work that way. Again, this is one of the best discussions I’ve had in a while, and I’d like to turn it into a blog post. ~ Me

I enjoy what ifs and why nots. It keeps me curious and asking questions. One can learn so much just by being open minded. ~ AS

Sorry that I bailed, but you two seem to have resolved it quite nicely!  After reading Troy’s post previous to my “no worries” comment, I was afraid that the discussion had “gone a little too far,” so I stepped out because I obviously don’t feel that the earth is only 10,000 years old. I apologize. But yes, it was a lively debate, too bad we couldn’t have done it over some coffee! I’m glad to see that we have the same opinion about scientific theories: they are called that because creditable scientists operate under the premise that it only takes one instance of something not happening to prove it wrong. The Theory of Gravity is one instance. I won’t be jumping off of Mount Everest without a parachute any time soon! ~ CC

True. I’m not about rejecting any ideas that don’t fit my worldview or needing absolute proof of something before accepting it — needing absolute proof of anything in the world is a fool’s bet that is bound to disappoint. But we really do know things about how the world works, that’s why technology developed by science works. My view requires that I proportion my belief to what the evidence says, and if at any point that evidence points to human-like intelligence predating humans, I’m all for it. I think that would be awesome because it fits perfectly with my Lovecraftian worldview. But my worldview is just a picture of reality in my head, not reality itself, and my wants do not determine what’s true. As a diagnosed schizophrenic, I have to be very careful to avoid fooling or deluding myself, and I’m the easiest person I know to fool. ~ Me

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