Problems With a Global Flood vers. 1.7, last modified 2/11/93 Mark Isaak firstname.lastname@example.org
Problems With a Global Flood
vers. 1.7, last modified 2/11/93
Mark Isaak email@example.com
[Email comments and contributions to this collection are welcome. I would
especially like to add more references.]
Creationist models are often criticized for being too vague to have any
predictive value. A literal interpretation of the Flood story in Genesis,
however, does imply certain physical consequences which can be tested
against what we actually observe. Most, if not all, observations, discredit
the flood hypothesis, as you can see from what follows. Can any
Creationists address even half of the points in this list?
Before the flood:
How did animals travel from all over the world?
* Some, like the sloths, can't travel overland very well at all.
* Some, like the dodo, must have lived on islands. (If they didn't,
they would have been easy prey for other animals.)
* Some, like koalas, require a special diet. How did they bring it
How was the ark loaded? The Bible says all the animals were all loaded in
seven days [Gen. 7:4]. Even if there were only 9 million species to
be loaded, there would have to be an average of 30 animals per
second going through the ark's one door.
How was the ark made seaworthy? The longest wooden ships in modern seas
are about 300 feet, and these require reinforcing with iron straps
and leak so badly they must be constantly pumped. The ark was 450
feet long [Gen. 6:15].
Life on the ark:
How did all the different species fit on the ark? 10 million species is a
reasonable estimate [May, 1992]. If dinosaurs, mastodons, and other
now-extinct animals were around at the time of the flood, they would
have been aboard the ark as well [Gen. 7:15], and they would take up
a _lot_ of room. Bracings, corridors, bilges, etc. would have taken
up a lot of room, too. They all would have had to fit in about
100,000 square feet of deck space [Gen. 6:15-16]. If you
hypothesize significantly fewer species on the ark than now exist,
you must explain evolution rates faster than any evolutionists
propose to account for all the present species.
How did Noah supply food and water for all the animals for a year? [Gen.
6:21] Food for a year would have taken up many times the space of
the animals themselves. (I know of no animals that hibernate for
anywhere close to a year.)
How was the food kept fresh for a year? (Aphids, e.g., can't eat wilted
What did the carnivorous animals eat, especially those which require fresh
How did creatures needing special environments survive on the ark?
How do you explain how all host-specific parasites/diseases made do with
only one pair of hosts (and if they did OK, how the hosts survived!)
How was the ark kept livable? Shoveling the manure of the ungulates alone
must have been a full time job for eight people.
How well ventilated was the ark? The body heat from millions of closely
packed animals must have been very intense.
Where did the water come from? (It would take 4.4 billion cubic
kilometers to cover Mt. Everest.)
Where did it go?
If you accept the vapor canopy model of some Creationists, you must answer
some equally difficult questions, such as: What kept the water up
before the Flood? What happened to the heat of condensation of all
Geological effects of the flood:
How were mountains formed? Many very tall mountains are composed of
sedimentary rocks. If these were laid down during the flood, how
did they reach their present height, and when were the valleys
between them eroded away? Keep in mind that many valleys were
clearly carved by glacial erosion, which is a slow process.
How does a global flood explain angular unconformities, where one set of
layers of sediments have been extensively modified (e.g., tilted)
and eroded before a second set of layers were deposited on top?
They thus seem to require at least two periods of deposition (more,
where there is more than one unconformity) with long periods of time
in between to account for the deformation, erosion, and weathering
When did granite batholiths form? Some of these are intruded into older
sediments and have younger sediments on their eroded top surfaces.
It takes a long time for magma to cool into granite, nor does
granite erode very quickly. [For example, see Donohoe & Grantham,
1989, for locations of contact between the South Mountain Batholith
and the Meugma Group of sediments, as well as some angular
How was the fossil record sorted in an order convenient for evolution?
Ecological zonation fails to explain:
(1) the extremely good sorting observed. Why didn't at least one
dinosaur make it to the high ground with the elephants?
(2) the relative positions of plants and other non-motile life.
(Yun, 1989, describes beautifully preserved algae from Late
Precambrian sediments. Why don't any modern-looking plants appear
that low in the geological column?)
(3) why some groups of organisms, such as mollusks, are found in
many geologic strata.
(4) why extinct animals which lived in the same niches as present
animals didn't survive as well. Why did no pterodons make it to high
How can a single flood be responsible for such extensively detailed
layering? One formation is six kilometers thick. If we grant 400
days for this to settle, and ignore possible compaction since the
flood, we still have 15 meters of sediment settling *per day*. And
yet despite this, the chemical properties of the rock are neatly
layered, with great changes (e.g.) in percent carbonate occurring
within a few centimeters in the vertical direction. How does such a
neat sorting process occur in the violent context of a universal
flood dropping 15 meters of sediment per day? How can you explain a
thin layer of high carbonate sediment being deposited over an area
of ten thousand square kilometers for some thirty minutes, followed
by thirty minutes of low carbonate deposition, followed by thirty
minutes more of .... well, I think you get the picture. [From: Bill
Hyde; see also Kent & Olsen, 1992]
How do you explain the formation of varves? The Green River formation in
Wyoming contains 20,000,000 annual layers, or varves, identical to
those being laid down today in certain lakes. The sediments are so
fine that each layer would have required over a month to settle.
[From: firstname.lastname@example.org (William H. Jefferys)]
How do you explain worldwide agreement between "apparent" geological eras
and several different (independent) radiometric dating methods?
Why is there no evidence of a flood in ice core series?
Deep in the geologic column there are formations which could have
originated only on the surface, such as footprints, rain drops,
river channels, wind-blown dunes, beaches, glacial deposits,
burrows, in-place roots, dessication cracks, etc. [Gore, 1993, has
a photograph (p. 16-17) showing dinosaur footprints in one layer
with water ripples in layers above and below it.] How could these
have appeared in the midst of a catastrophic flood?
How do you explain the relative ages of mountains? Why weren't the Sierra
Nevadas eroded as much as the Appalacians during the flood?
How do you explain Fossil remineralization - the replacement of the
original material with a different mineral?
* Buried skeletal remains of modern fauna are negligibly
remineralized, including some that biblical archaeology says are
quite old - a substantial fraction of the age of the earth in this
diluvian geology. For example, remains of Egyptian commoners
buried near the time of Moses aren't extensively remineralized.
* Buried skeletal remains of extinct mammalian fauna show quite
* Dinosaur remains are often extensively remineralized.
* Trilobite remains are usually remineralized - and in different
sites, fossils of the same species are composed of different
How are these observations explained by a sorted deposition of
remains in a single episode of global flooding?
[From: email@example.com (Joel J. Hanes)]
How could the flood deposit layers of solid salt, sometimes meters in
width, interbedded with sediments containing marine fossils? This
apparently occurs when a body of salt water has its fresh-water
intake cut off, and then evaporates. These layers can occur more or
less at random times in the geological history, and have
characteristic fossils on either side. Therefore, if the fossils
were themselves laid down during a catastrophic flood, there are, it
seems, only two choices:
(1) the salt layers were themselves laid down at the same time,
during the heavy rains that began the flooding, or
(2) the salt is a later intrusion.
I suspect that both will prove insuperable difficulties for a theory
of flood deposition of the geologic column and its fossils.
[From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Thomas Marlowe)]
How were hematite layers laid down? Standard theory is that they were
laid down before Earth's atmosphere contained much oxygen. In an
oxygen-rich regime, they would almost certainly be impossible.
How are the polar ice caps possible? Such a mass of water as the flood
would have provided sufficient buoyancy to float the polar caps off
their beds. No way to drop them _exactly_ back onto their original
location, _or_ to regrow them. (In fact, the Greenland ice cap
would _not_ regrow under modern (last 10 ky) climatic conditions.)
[From: Bob Grumbine email@example.com]
Finally, remember that the geological column and the relative dates
therein were laid out by _creationists_ before Darwin even
formulated his theory.
Biological effects of the flood:
How do you explain the survival of any sensitive marine life (e.g.,
coral)? Since most coral are found in shallow water, the turbidity
created by the runoff from the land would effectively cut them off
from the sun. The silt would cover the reef after the rains were
over, and the coral would ALL DIE. By the way, the rates at which
coral deposits calcium are well known, and some highly mature reefs
(such a the great barrier) have been around for MILLIONS of years to
be deposited to their observed thickness. [From: firstname.lastname@example.org]
How did _all_ the fish survive? Some require cool clear water, some need
brackish water, some need ocean water, some need water even saltier.
A flood would have destroyed at least some of these habitats.
How did all the modern plant species survive? Many plants (seeds and all)
would be killed by being submerged for a few months.
Why is there no evidence of a flood in tree ring dating?
How does the flood explain the geological sorting of pollen? Fossil
pollen is one of the more important indicators of different levels
of strata. Each plant has different and distinct pollen, and, by
telling which plants produced the fossil pollen, it is easy to see
what the climate was like in different strata. Was the pollen
hydraulically sorted by the flood water so that the climatic evidence
is different for each layer?
How could a one-year flood deposit the following: "In Yellowstone Park
there is a stratigraphic section of 2000 feet exposed which shows 18
successive petrified forests. Each forest grew to maturity before
it was wiped out with a lava flow." [J. Laurence Kulp, quoted in
Strahler, _Science and Earth History_, pp 221-224.]
How does a flood explain the accuracy of "coral clocks"? The moon is
slowly sapping the earth's rotational energy. The earth should have
rotated more quickly in the distant past, meaning that a day would
have been less than 24 hours, and there would have been more days
per year. Corals can be dated by the number of "daily" growth
layers per "annual" growth layer. Devonian corals, for example,
show nearly 400 days per year. There is an exceedingly strong
correlation between the "supposed age" of a wide range of fossils
(corals, stromatolites, and a few others -- collected from geologic
formations throughout the column and from locations all over the
world) and the number of days per year that their growth pattern
shows. The agreement between these clocks, and radiometric dating,
and the theory of superposition... is a little hard to explain away
as the result of a number of unlucky coincidences in a 300-day-long
flood. [From: email@example.com (Chris Stassen)]
If a single flood is responsible for all fossils, where were all those
animals when they were alive? From "Six 'Flood' Arguments
Creationists Can't Answer" by Robert Schadewald,
_Creation/Evolution_ IV (Summer 1982), pp. 12-13:
"Scientific creationists interpret the fossils found in the earth's
rocks as the remains of animals that perished in the Noachian
Deluge. Ironically, they often cite the sheer number of fossils in
"fossil graveyards" as evidence for the Flood. In particular,
creationists seem enamored by the Karroo Formation in Africa, which
is estimated to contain the remains of 800 billion vertebrate
animals (see Whitcomb and Morris, p. 160; Gish, p. 61). As
pseudoscientists, creationists dare not test this major hypothesis
that all of the fossilized animals died in the Flood.
"Robert E. Sloan, a paleontologist at the University of Minnesota,
has studied the Karroo Formation. He asserts that the animals
fossilized there range from the size of a small lizard to the size
of a cow, with the average animal perhaps the size of a fox. A
minute's work with a calculator shows that, if the 800 billion
animals in the Karoo formation could be resurrected, there would be
twenty-one of them for every acre of land on earth. Suppose we
assume (conservatively, I think) that the Karroo Formation contains
1 percent of the vertebrate fossils on earth [land fossils
only--whj]. Then when the Flood began, there must have been at least
2100 living animals per acre, ranging from tiny shrews to immense
dinosaurs. To a noncreationist mind, that seems a bit crowded."
A thousand kilometers' length of arctic coastal plain, according
to experts in Leningrad [N. Newell, _Creation and Evolution_; 1982,
Columbia U. Press, p. 62], contains about 500,000 *tons* of tusks.
Even assuming that the entire population was preserved, you seem to
be saying that Russia had wall-to-wall mammoths before this "event."
And even if there room physically for all the large animals which now
exist only as fossils, how could they have all coexisted in a stable
ecology before the flood? Montana alone would have had to support a
diversity of herbivores orders of magnitude larger than anything now
Historical effects of the flood:
Why is there no mention of the flood in the records of Egyptian or Chinese
civilizations which existed at the time?
Biblical dates (I Kings 6:1, Gal 3:17, various generation lengths
given in Genesis) place the flood 1300 years before Solomon began
the first temple. We can construct reliable chronologies for near
Eastern history, particularly for Egypt, from many kinds of records
from the literate cultures in the near East. These records are
independent of, but supported by, dating methods such as
dendrochronology and carbon-14. The building of the first temple
can be dated to 950 B.C. +/- some small delta, placing the Flood
around 2250 B.C. Unfortunately, the Egyptians (among others) have
written records dating well back before 2250 B.C. (the Great
Pyramid, for example dates to the 26th century B.C., 300 years
before the Biblical date for the Flood). No sign in Egyptian
inscriptions of this global flood around 2250 B.C.
Aftermath of the flood:
How did koalas get from Ararat to Australia, polar bears to the Arctic,
etc., when the kinds of environment they require to live doesn't
exist between the two points.
Why are so many marsupials limited to Australia; why are there no
wallabies in Indonesia? The same argument applies to any number of
groups of plants and animals.
How could more than a handful of species survive in a devastated habitat?
How could more than a handful of the predator species on the ark have
survived, with only two individuals of their prey to eat? All of
the predators at the top of the food pyramid require larger numbers
of food animals beneath them on the pyramid, which in turn require
large numbers of the animals they prey on, and so on, down to the
primary producers (plants...etc.) at the bottom. And if the
predators survived, how did the other animals survive being preyed
How could more than a handful of species survive random influences that
affect populations? Isolated populations with fewer than 20 members
are usually doomed even when extraordinary measures are taken to
protect them. [Simberloff, 1988]
How could more than a handful of species survive the inbreeding depression
that comes with establishing a population from a single mating pair?
How do you explain the genetic variation in all populations today?
Is the flood model consistent with the Bible?
The model seems to say that large numbers of "kinds" of land animals
became extinct because of the flood, while Genesis repeatedly says
that Noah was ordered to take a representative sample of all kinds of
land animals on the Ark to save them from extinction, and that Noah
did as ordered. Which is right?
How could Noah have gathered male and female of each kind [Gen. 7:15-16]
when some species are asexual, others are parthenogenic and have
only females, and others (such as earthworms) are hermaphrodites?
And what about social animals like ants and termites which need the
whole nest to survive?
What was used to waterproof the ark? We are told that God instructed Noah
to coat the ark with pitch inside and out with the naturally-
occurring hydrocarbon pitch, which causes a bit of a problem since,
according to Whitcomb and Morris, all oil, tar and coal deposits
were formed when organic matter was buried DURING the flood.
If your style of Biblical interpretation makes you take the flood
literally, then shouldn't you also believe in a flat and stationary
earth? [Dan. 4:10-11, Matt. 4:8, 1 Chron. 16:30, Psalms 93:1, ...]
Does the flood story make the whole Bible less credible?
Davis Young is a working geologist who also is an Evangelical
Christian. He has personal doubts about some aspects of evolution,
but he makes a devastating case against "Flood Geology." He writes
(_Christianity and the Age of the Earth_, p. 163):
"The maintenance of modern creationism and Flood geology not only is
useless apologetically with unbelieving scientists, it is harmful.
Although many who have no scientific training have been swayed by
creationist arguments, the unbelieving scientist will reason that a
Christianity that believes in such nonsense must be a religion not
worthy of his interest...Modern creationism in this sense is
apologetically and evangelistically ineffective. It could even be a
hindrance to the gospel.
"Another possible danger is that in presenting the gospel to the
lost and in defending God's truth we ourselves will seem to be
false. It is time for Christian people to recognize that the defense
of this modern, young-Earth, Flood-geology creationism is simply not
truthful. It is simply not in accord with the facts that God has
given. Creationism must be abandoned by Christians before harm is
[From: firstname.lastname@example.org (William H. Jefferys) See also
If God is omnipotent, why not kill what He wanted killed directly?
And the whole idea was to rid the wicked people from the world. Did it work?
Donohoe, H.V. Jr. and Grantham, R.G. (eds.), 1989. Geological Highway Map
of Nova Scotia, 2nd edition. Atlantic Geoscience Society, Halifax,
Nova Scotia. AGS Special Publication no. 1, 1:640 000.
Gore, Rick. "Dinosaurs" National Geographic, 183:1 (Jan. 1993), 2-54.
Kent and Olsen (Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory)
Discover, Jan. 1992
May, Robert M. "How Many Species Inhabit the Earth?" Scientific American,
267:4 (Oct. 1992), 42-49.
Moore, Robert A. "The Impossible Voyage of Noah's Ark" Creation/Evolution,
#11 (Winter 1983), 1-43. The entire issue is about the ark. Moore
lists over one hundred references.
Simberloff, David. "The Contribution of Population and Community Biology to
Conservation Science" Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, #19
Young, Davis: _Christianity and the Age of the Earth_. Now published by
Artisan Sales, POB 2497, Thousand Oaks CA 91360. Single copies (at
last report) were $8.50 postpaid, and in lots of 10 or more,
Yun, Zhang. "Multicellular thallophytes with differentiated tissues from
Late Proterozoic phosphate rocks of South China" Lethaia, #22
Re frozen mammoths as evidence of a catastrophy:
Farrand, Wm. R.;_Science_, 133:729-735, March 17, 1961
Re an independent method of dating the Green River formation:
Short, D. A., J. G. Mengel, T. J. Crowley, W. T. Hyde and G. R. North 1991:
Filtering of Milankovitch Cycles by Earth's Geography. Quaternary
Research. 35, 157-173.
Mark Isaak "Every generation thinks it has the answers, and every
email@example.com generation is humbled by nature." - Philip Lubin
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank