The Genesis Flood Through Ancient Eyes: An Interview with John Walton and Tremper Longman

You make a fair and important point, Tas. Indeed, Buckland was looking for evidence of the Flood in recent geological history, and since he regarded the fossiliferous rocks as ancient, he didn’t see the whole fossil record as the evidence you believe it constitutes. But, Hutton and the “uniformitarians” were hardly the only geologists who were fully persuaded of the Earth’s great age (in relation to human antiquity). The “catastrophists” were also persuaded of it–except of course for your “scriptural geologists.”

Speaking for myself as a person trained in physical science (as you also were), for me flood geology is a non-starter before I even look at finer points, such as the one you made here. I understand (as you do) how geological ages are calculated, and even if they are overwhelmingly overestimated (which I do not grant), there’s just no way to come out to an order of magnitude of 10 to the 4th power.

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So you are saying the geologists that go to a great amount of effort to measure erosion rates somehow fail to notice that the rates they find would result in the mountains being reduced to what, nothing? Really? The situation is probably much more complex than a simple growth rate < erosion rate. That might make for a good YEC apologetics argument, but it only convinces the already converted.

For an example of their work see

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I am not a geologist, Tas, but it looks pretty simple to me: in the consensus model, the long-term upthrust is net of erosion. I am not sure why you think that the consensus geology community is not taking into account a force as fundamental and well-known as erosion.

I spent many years inbibing the stuff. However, I never spotted any physics calculations of friction and heat release associated with a Flood year upthrust of the Himalayas. I am inclined to think that flood geologists have never performed such calculations. However, I would welcome your pointing me to an article that addresses the specific issue. I do not have time to research every article ever written by ICR and AIG.

Real scientific discoveries do not involve hand-waving and speculation. Instead, the scientific innovator takes on the burden of proof and solves the equations–or proposes better ones.

So far, you haven’t shown that flood geologists have done this. You have asserted it, but you have not remotely met the burden of proof. Mere assertions don’t suffice.

I am not asking you to answer every point that a consensus geologist would raise against flood geology. I am restricting the discussion to a single issue so that you have a fair opportunity to show how flood geology gives better answers than consensus geology.

Best regards,
Chris Falter

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Make that 2 issues, @Tas_Walker. :slight_smile:

This semester I discussed the K-T boundary event in my evolution class. It produced a world-wide thin layer rich in iridium (from the bolide that hit the Yucatan 65 MYA).

One of my more perceptive students asked how YEC/flood geology could explain this thin, worldwide layer as forming in the middle of a catastrophic global flood. I had no idea - I’ve never seen even a mention of this in the YEC literature, though perhaps there are attempts to explain it (away) out there…

Has anyone seen this addressed? Perhaps @Joel_Duff?

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Walter Sweet of Ohio State University reviewed this book in Science Mag, 1974. The review is here. If anyone wants a copy of the PDF, just direct message me.

Here’s the crux of the matter according to Sweet:

However they may seem to newscasters and those unhappy enough to live in the path of one, there is little about hurricanes, wind- storms, mudslides, avalanches, turbidity flows, or sudden glacier surges that is catastrophic on the scale of geologic time. Perhaps the stratigraphic record in many places is largely a record of spasmodic events, and not of the placid intervals between them. But to view such a record as catastrophic, or to insist, as Ager does in his fifth essay, that we take a catastrophic view of the uniformity principle itself suggests that there is something unnatural about the spasmodic events themselves, something that cannot be understood from a study of modern processes and phenomena. If stratigraphers assume that the scale and rate on which geologic processes operate have remained constant with time it is necessary to remind them that the record indicates this not to be so. But stratigraphers of the reviewer’s acquaintance make no such assumption, so one wonders why Ager pummels this straw man so vigorously.

I have seen some YEC that just dismiss it as non-existent. However, I did find this:

on creation.com. Which is the typical YEC “explanation” invoking a world-wide meteor shower of a high enough intensity to leave the iridium with NO explanation on why such a one of a kind meteor shower would take place during the Flood. The unspoken assumption being “God did it” as part of the flood of course.

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Of course, the question that brings up is how in the chaos of a flood that ground the pre-flood world into bits too small to find today for the most part, a thin layer could be formed rather than distributed throughout the sedimentary layers.

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Dennis, they mostly ignore the iridium or shocked quartz at the boundary but when they do mention it they point out that volcanoes can spew out iridium. Naturally they don’t go on to draw a connection to specific volcanic events and a world wide iridium layer right smack dab in the middle of the Flood layers.
More interestingly, I recently heard Tommy Mitchell give a talk in which which he references the iridium layer as a way of mocking paleontologists. I wrote about it here: https://thenaturalhistorian.com/2016/12/05/a-dinosaur-tale-a-young-earth-speaker-takes-on-the-asteroid-extinction-theory/ but here is a the most relevant part:

"He references the iridium layer by stating that “some of these layers of rock where you find dinosaur fossils you find high levels of a substance called iridium.” Mitchell then goes on to explain why this is a huge problem for the asteroid theory of extinction. He asks how a thin layer of dust with iridium could have preserved a huge T. rex. He says that huge amounts of sediment would be needed and that could only be provided by a massive worldwide flood. Then he proposes that the iridium layer is the result of volcanic eruptions during the Flood.

Yeah, I could hardly believe what I heard. He laughed several times as he explained to the audience that evolutionists believe that a millimeter thick layer of iridium killed and preserved the dinosaurs. He seemed to really believe that many dinosaurs are preserved right at the K/Pg boundary. In my article I point out that I know of no dinosaur preserved in the iridium layer itself nor would I expect we will be that lucky as to find the few that were.

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I guess efforts like Walton and Longman’s are why people like Peter Enns and Daniel Harlow think Evangelicals are still trying to have it both ways. It just seems very unlikely to me that Noah was a historical person given that Israel itself came into existence much later than the Genesis flood story’s predecessors. There may have been a guy that was the source of all these stories, but if there was, I doubt his name was Noah. Similar problems arise with Dick Fischer’s attempts to historicize Adam.

Hyperbolic language? Sort of, I guess. Can we not say myth? This seems similar to the efforts of Paul Copan to say that the stories in Joshua are using hyperbolic language. Why not make it easy on yourself and put the stories in the genre that the majority of historical-critical scholars put them in?

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Walton made the point during the interview that “Noah” is Hebrew, and the Hebrew language did not exist until much later than the Mesopotamian flood that he and Longman argue is the historical background for ANE flood stories in general.

You’re right, maybe I was being too harsh. I just feel like “hyperbolic” is not a strong enough word. But it is an easier word to swallow than myth.

I guess I’m curious how many mainstream scholars would agree that Genesis 1-11 is actually based on “real events” but then told with exaggerated language. I don’t doubt that there was a flood, but do most scholars think there was really a proto-ark and a proto-Noah? A proto-Cain and Abel? The other parallels to Geneis 1-11, as far as I can tell, seem to be more mythological than that. They don’t seem to be exaggerated historical accounts.

I couldn’t tell you how many, but in a guest blog here on BL in 2010, Enns said, "The various flood stories simply share common ways of speaking about a horrible flood of some sort. It is a common scholarly view that either a severe local flood (around 2900 B.C.) or numerous local floods triggered these flood stories. Most biblical scholars understand these ancient stories as attempts to explain why such a thing could happen. The answer: the gods were angry."


I wasn’t necessarily disagreeing with you, just letting Walton speak for himself a bit. Evangelicals do have an allergic reaction every time they hear the word “myth,” no matter how well the term might or might not fit Gen. 1-11.

Either way, interpreting a myth as “disguised history” is not illegitimate. (There is a very good synopsis of various methods of interpreting mythology at this link to an undergrad course on world mythology.) In a nutshell, interpreters in the modern era may agree that there was a historical Troy and probably a king named Gilgamesh (not Noah), but the value of such knowledge is limited. It tells us nothing of how the original audience understood the story, let alone how we should interpret it today.

“Hyperbole,” in this case, is sort of like the label “based on a true story” that appears before a movie. The main character might have the same name as the real person, the natural disaster at the center of the plot might have happened, but the rest may bear little or no resemblance to actual events.

@TedDavis and @Joel_Duff probably can speak to this better than me, but for a little historical perspective, in 1872 George Smith presented his translation of the 11th tablet of the Gilgamesh epic, “The Chaldean Account of the Deluge,” and the immediate reaction was that this discovery had confirmed the biblical account of the flood and the historical truth of Genesis. Of course, eight years later when he published his translation of the full epic under the title “The Chaldean Account of Genesis,” the public reception was less enthusiastic.

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And yet, @Tas_Walker, whether you place the Great Flood as happening before the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza, or after this building, we find none of the hundreds of thousands of humans (with their inevitable representative portion of fossils) anywhere in the world.

And we find that the fossil stack is arranged based on genetic phases of emergence, rather than the ability to survive a flood:

  1. whale fossils are found at the top of the fossil stack, unlike the giant marine reptiles of the Dinosaur age which are uniformly found at the bottom of the stack, even though both whales and marine reptiles would have been equally able to survive a flood.

  2. large mammals like giraffes and bears and sloths don’t appear to have drowned along side the stegasaurs and other large Dino plant-eaters … but somehow managed to avoid drowning even longer than brontosaurs and other mammoth reptiles that could easily have waded through waters that should have consumed cows and rhinos and all manner of large mammals that for some reason don’t appear in the fossil stacks until all the dinosaurs of any shape or size (except for birds) were long drowned according to Global Flood experts (so-called).

The Fossil Stacks are the proof that there was no global flood. And even the most superficial review of the fossils confirm this.

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I have nothing to add here. I don’t know the history of archaeology or biblical scholarship very well: what you say here, Jay, is more than I know about this episode.

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This is a milestone in my life. haha. Thanks for weighing in previously. Always helpful …

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Ted Davis, Thank you for the link to the book by Andrew Brown about the history of interpretation of Genesis 1:1 to 2:3. I know of him, and was aware of his work, but I don’t think I have met him.
Jonathan Sarfati does a great job dealing with the history of interpretation of Genesis 1-11 in his book “Refuting Compromise”, which addresses the day-age theories of Hugh Ross. Genesis 1-11 needs to be addressed as a whole and not just the first chapter.
The interpretation of Genesis 1-11 is only a problem for those who say on one hand that they believe the Bible is the Word of God and on the other hand that they believe the story of evolution over billions of years presented by certain scientists. It is especially a problem for academics connected with evangelical colleges and evangelical churches.
BTW, we are talking about historical science here, that is the stories about the past, about events and processes that have not been observed, cannot be observed–stories that depend on a person’s beliefs about what happened.
Those who are caught in this situation, and there are a lot of them, either have to reinterpret the science, or reinterpret the Bible. Walton is coming up with a new way of interpreting the Bible to make it fit with the ‘science’. There have been lots of proposals in the 200 years since Hutton. They are popular for a while, but never satisfying, and so there is relentless pressure to come up with a new scheme. If there was a scheme that worked there would not be this constant need to find new explanations.
Those who don’t believe the Bible couldn’t care less with trying to find a way of harmonizing it. They are not afraid to say the Bible is nonsense and to dismiss it completely.

Hi George Brooks, You have to appreciate the processes involved in the global Flood. There are a number of different models that are on the table at the moment. Which model of the Flood are you using in order to make the predictions you made? There are good reasons for how the Flood produced the arrangement of fossils that are reported. There are articles on this on creation.com you can find by searching “where are all the human fossils”.

The Flood happened before the building of the pyramids. They sit on kilometres of Flood sediments. They were build by descendants of Noah who were born after the Flood. You have to be aware that the dates quoted for the pyramids are subjective. No scientist will accept a date that does not fit with what he thinks it should be. He will interpret it away if it doesn’t. So it is good science to be skeptical of the dates people quote. Search for “how dating methods work”.
The fossils do not disprove the Flood. Quite the opposite, the fossils are consistent in many ways with the Flood. Your story about the fossils is just that, a story. In political and media circles they call such stories the narrative. Each media outlet has its slant and reporting has to conform to the narrative.
Paleontology does not work the way you present it. Evolutionists do not make predictions about what fossils they will find and then go out and find them. No! They look for fossils and document what has been found. Then make up a story to explain them within their worldview. That is why evolution is unfalsifiable. All the time discoveries are being made that overturn their stories. But they just make up new ones. Always though, the stories have to fit within the evolutionary meta-narrative.
Google “fossil causes rethink”, “fossil overturns thinking”, and the like. You will see that the neat story is not as neat as you present.
Creationist scientists also develop explanations for the order of the fossils. They work in exactly the same way. By thinking you can ‘prove’ the Flood never happened suggests you do not understand how worldviews frame the types of explanations that are developed.

@Tas_Walker

First, you don’t make other people find your refutation article. This inevitably leads to accusations that the wrong one was picked. And it deteriorates from there. It is your job to corroborate your refutation.

Second, it doesn’t really matter whether the flood was before or after the Great Pyramid… the problem I was alluding to was that there were hundreds of thousands of humans being wiped out … and yet we don’t find any of them in the fossil stacks.

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But let’s go with your premise: the flood was before 2580 BCE (4th dynasty): so, you are proposing the flood happened 2580 + 2018 + 2 yrs for rounding = 4,600 years ago.

Really?

This website demonstrates that Noah was born 1056 years after Adam. And by most all YEC opinions, Adam was created about 6,000 years ago (circa 4000 BCE).

So your estimate for the flood has to be off by at least 600 years. A more reasonable estimate is that the Great Flood happened after the Great Pyramid was built.

And yet we find absolutely no interruption to Egyptian society by this global flood.

Do some homework get your facts as straight as possible - - because right now you are missing the boat.

My “story about the fossils” is not my story – it is a list of logically absurd highlights of your story. I await your refutations … of any of it …

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Almost no geologists set out trying to prove the Flood didn’t happen. They set out trying to find out what did happen. And they don’t come up with “A massive global Flood.” In fact the only people coming up with “A massive global Flood” are the ones who are setting out trying to prove it did happen. I really don’t understand how “worldview” plays into the mainstream scientific consensus. What about their “worldview” led to the discovery of the K-T boundary? I do understand how worldview plays into creation science, because they are only allowed to come up with predetermined answers.

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