Authors: Paul D. Farrar (firstname.lastname@example.org), Bill Hyde (email@example.com) Title: T
Authors: Paul D. Farrar (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Bill Hyde (email@example.com)
Title: The Water/Vapor Canopy Explanation for the Deluge
In this short and, I hope, simple note I will discuss the physical
implications of the often proposed "vapor canopy" explanation for the
source of water for Noah's Flood as recorded in "Genesis".
Noah's Flood is alleged to have covered the mountains of the earth to
a depth of 15 cubits (about 8m). To have covered Mt. Everest it would
have required a depth of water of about 9km above sea level. If the
flood was only required to cover the mountains in Urartu (Ararat),
where Noah's boat is said to have settled, about 5km of water would be
The "vapor canopy hypothesis" states that before the flood, the water
existed in the atmosphere as water vapor. The flood occurred when
this vapor condensed and fell as rain, flooding the earth. The flood
subsided later, various explanations being given for where all that
First, let us look at atmospheric pressure. For the earth's
atmosphere, the pressure is almost exactly hydrostatic, since it is
held to the earth by gravity and velocities are too low to
significantly change the pressure. In plain language this means that
the air pressure at any point is equal to the weight of the air in a
unit area column above that point. At sea level, air pressure in US
engineering units is about 14.5 pounds/sq inch because a column of air
one inch square extending to the top of the atmosphere weighs (Guess
what!?) 14.5 pounds. On top of Mt. Everest, the pressure is lower
because the lowest and densest 9km of the atmosphere is below that
Now the "vapor canopy" would form a part of the atmosphere, being a
body of gas (water vapor) gravitationally held to the earth. It would
in fact be most of the pre-flood atmosphere. There would have to be
enough vapor to form 9km of liquid, when condensed, and, therefore the
vapor would weigh as much as 9km of water. The pressure at the
earth's surface, where Noah and family lived, would be equal to one
atmosphere PLUS the weight of a 9km column of water of unit area.
This is equivalent to the pressure 9km deep in the ocean. What is
this pressure? Well, each 10m of water is roughly equivalent to one
atmosphere, so the pressure would be 900 atmospheres. The atmosphere
would also have a composition of about 900 parts water vapor to one
part of what we call air today.
How could an atmosphere almost 100% water vapor not condense? The
temperature would have to be raised to the point where the partial
pressure of water equals 900 atmospheres, i.e. the boiling point at
that pressure. So we find Noah et al. living in a 13,000psi boiler.
Is this credible?
By Bill Hyde:
kv07@IASTATE.EDU (Warren Vonroeschlaub) writes:
>12) "radiocarbon" does not form from cosmic rays, the carbon-14 drops
>in from the sky itself.
C-14 forms in the reaction
N-14 + neutron --> C-14 + H
where the free neutrons are generally produced by
cosmic rays. So the JW's are correct that such
a canopy would foul up C-14 dating. However, as you
pointed out in your post, it would also have many other
effects, none of which are observed. I would add:
13) Such a canopy would have a serious effect on
solar and thermal radiation. Just exactly how this
would affect the climate depends on the canopy's thickness,
but it is unlikely to have no effect. No such effect is
evident in the paleoclimatic record.
14) As well as dendrochronology, thermoluminescence dating,
fission track dating, amino-acid dating, and uranium/thorium
dating confirm C-14 dates for humans at the last ice age
(i.e. about 21,000 years ago for the glacial maximum) within
20%. If the canopy had existed up to 4,000 years ago this
would not be the case since all of the above, with the possible
exception of thermoluminescence dating, are unaffected by
the presence or absence of cosmic rays.
15) If there was very little C-14 production before 4000 B.P.
and normal production since, no objects would carbon date
between 4000 and about 20,000 years old. This is not
what is observed.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank