Did Noah's Flood Really Happen?

Scientific discoveries deepen suspicions that Bible stories are as much history as legend

Sorry Christians, Jews, and Muslims--the flood account from Genesis, which all your faiths accept, remains a "legend," according to The New York Times. And this despite the fact that scientific discoveries increasingly support the notion that the Flood actually happened!

"The flood legends of Mesopotamia and the Bible" is how the Times recently described beliefs about a huge, ancient inundation once covered much of the Earth. Oddly, this choice of words occurred in a news report about a study, just published in the American Journal of Archeology, giving evidence that a huge, ancient inundation once covered much of the Earth.

Researchers studying the Black Sea off Sinop, a city in Turkey, found indications that a catastrophic flood struck the area approximately 7,000 years ago, flooding inhabited land and turning the Black Sea from fresh to saline. Sinop is roughly 500 miles from the ancient Holy Land. Oceanographers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Institute for Exploration, a science organization in Connecticut, reported evidence suggesting the deluge hit rapidly, was extremely wide in scope, and killed many. The work was sponsored by the nonpartisan National Geographic Society.

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A fast-hitting, catastrophic deluge is, of course, what Genesis describes. And the timing seems about right--scholars date the Noachian passages of the Bible to 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, and the verses profess to describe events from that period's far past. The catastrophic flood in the general area of the Black Sea doesn't live up, perhaps to the flood in Genesis, which says it extended across the entire Earth, until "all the high mountains on the whole heaven were covered." But a deluge of the scope and depth documented by the new study may well have seemed to its survivors in the ancient Middle East as though the waters had covered the whole of the Earth. At the time the Noachian passages were composed, no one knew other continents even existed. This study is not the first to suggest that an actual deluge occurred in biblical times. In his 1996 book "The Time Before History," English science writer Colin Tudge details a number of archeological and geologic studies (mainly involving the time-dating of rare isotopes) that support the notion of a huge deluge during the very period when our ancestors were just developing systems of writing. Likely cause? The enormous glaciers of the Pleistocene ice age began to retreat approximately 10,000 years ago, and the melting took several millennia. Researchers think that some of the largest continental-scale glaciers, as they retreated, created "ice dams" that held back vast seas of melt water. When these dams broke, there would have been unimaginable inundations covering hundreds of miles.

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Gregg Easterbrook
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