Did Noah's Flood Really Happen?
Scientific discoveries deepen suspicions that Bible stories are as much history as legend
"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.
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.