Tuesday, March 22, 2022
How much water would be needed for Noah’s Flood?
The Noah’s Ark story raises many questions. How could he cram 17,400,000 individual animals on a boat? How could that wooden boat survive the worst storm in history? What did the animals eat? What did they do with all the feculence?
One question that has annoyed me for years is not as obvious: Just how much water are we talking about? Genesis 7:20 says that the waters submerged the world’s highest mountains under 15 cubits of water. That means that flood covered Mount Everest, which is 29,028 feet tall and getting a bit taller every day, with 22 feet of water.
So I decided to do that math. My math skills are not stellar, but I did a rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation anyway. I had to start out by assuming that the earth is a perfect sphere, it’s not, it’s a bit squished at the poles and bulges at the equator, but this is a fair assumption.
The volume of a sphere is easy to calculate: V = 4/3πr³
The earth has a radius of 3959 miles. Now we need to know the radius of the flood. That’s the earth radius, plus the height of Everest, plus 15 cubits (22ft). So 3959 miles + 29,028 ft +22 feet = 3959 miles + 29050 feet = 3959 miles + 5.5018939 miles = 3964.5018939 miles
If we plug those two radii in to our volume formula, we get the volumes:
259,923,241,564 miles³ for the volume of the earth.
261,008,408,332 miles³ for the volume of the earth at flood.
So, if we subtract the earth volume from the flood volume, we’ll get the volume of water required to fill that space. That’s how much it would need to rain. That turns out to be 1,085,166,768 miles³of rain.
Now, let’s cut that by 25% because land, mountains, etc. occupy some of that volume. All that space would not be filled with water. The 25% figure is generous since oceans, which by definition sit at sea level, cover 70% of the earth and the rest of the earth isn’t nearly as high as Everest. But let’s grant the creationist this small charity.
That means that there had to be 813,875,076 miles³ of rain for the biblical flood. To put that in perspective, the oceans have about 321,000,000 miles³ of water. All the water on earth only adds up to about 332,500,000 miles³.
So for the biblical flood to have happened, the water on earth had to miraculously multiply by about 250%.
Let’s try to put that in another perspective. The Atlantic Ocean is about 80,000,000 miles³.
That means, there needed to be more water than could be contained by ten Atlantic Oceans to rain as much as the Bible claims.
One more perspective. There are 5.9978178 x 10^-⁷ Olympic pools in a cubic mile. That means an Olympic pool is about 0.00000059978178 cubic miles. Divide that 813,875,076 miles³ by that decimal and you discover that, for the Bible to be true, it would have to have rained the equivalent of about 1.35 QUADRILLION Olympic swimming pools.
This raises one final point, where did all that water go?
God said that He would send rain for 40 days.
a. The significance of 40 is a puzzle, for we know it continued to rain right up to day 150: “Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained;” (Genesis 8:2)
b. Although it appears that it took 40 days to extinguish all life on earth, this is not the case. It was at day 40 that the ark began to float, and since the mountains are still higher than the ark, this would provide high ground for both man and beast until about day 150. However, it may be that it was death by starvation as much as by drowning. It appears that on day 40 all life had been extinguished. Further, the narrative seems to show that only after the mountains were covered with water that all life died.
c. “The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.” (Genesis 7:19-24)
d. On day 40 the ark started to float. This is very natural considering the rain and fountains of the ocean took time to fill in all the area that was below the point where the ark had been built.
4. At day 150 the highest water level was reached and after that the water began to drain into the Earth.
E. Noah took food aboard the Ark for himself and the animals.
1. The upper deck is likely where Noah stored the food for himself and the animals.
a. “As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.”” (Genesis 6:21)
2. It is not clear if the food is to be eaten while they are on the ark, or if it is a supply of plants immediately consumable after the flood.
3. Since they were in the Ark for more than a year, the types of food collected would need to reflect this time in their choices and selection, perhaps seeds, grains, dried plants etc.
Where there three or four decks in the ark?
1. ““You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.” (Genesis 6:16)
2. Most envision the ark as a boat with three decks where, “lower” is the bottom deck, second is the middle deck above the “lower” and a second deck as the top deck.
3. But if you count from the top down you get four decks: The main deck with three lower decks: “lower” is the second deck and implies a main deck. So a reading would be you will build a main deck with first lower, second lower and third lower decks, for a total of four decks.
4. Since the ark was built from the bottom up, it is likely that the ark had only three decks.
F. Insects were in the ark
1. Since insects were aboard, that means when you looked up at the 3 deck ceilings and all the walls, they were covered in a carpet of insects.
2. “Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.” (Genesis 6:20)
God brought the animals:
1. The Bible clearly states that the animals came to Noah, likely through the direction of God
a. “two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.” (Genesis 6:20)
2. The idea that Noah had to travel the world to collect the animals is false.
3. God brought the animals to Noah and they waited to board the ark.
4. Before the flood, animals had no fear of man because man was a vegetarian.
a. “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:2–4)
G. The ark had “nests” (Heb: qen)
1. God commanded Noah to build the ark with “nests”.
a. “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms [qen], and shall cover it inside and out with pitch.” (Genesis 6:14)
2. The Hebrew word used is “qen” with always refers to bird’s nests throughout the Old Testament.
3. Here, it is used in a general way, correctly translated, rooms, compartments, cages, nests.
1. Noah's Ark was constructed less than 75 years after Noah was told by God to build the ark.
a. The actual time it took Noah to construct the Ark may have been as little of 25 years.
b. An educated guess as to the actual time it took to build the ark would be somewhere between 40 - 70 years.
2. The dimensions of Noah's Ark are 515 x 85.8 x 51.5 feet (using the correct 20.6 inch old Egyptian/Babylonian cubit)
3. The flood was a total of 300 days while the actual time Noah was aboard the ark was 377 days.
4. At the peak of the highest water level was 15 cubits (309 inches or 25.75 feet or 7.85 meters) above the summit of Mt. Ararat which is 17,000 feet or 5100 meters.
a. The weight of the three miles of water sitting on the surface of the earth may have been the hydrologic force God used to create Mt. Everest, the Canadian rocky mountains etc.
b. "For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water," (2 Peter 3:5)
c. While this is theoretical, it is clearly possible and certainly scientific.
5. Noah's Ark is an historical warning that just as God destroyed the sinful world with water, He will once again destroy the heavens and Earth with fire at the second coming of Christ.
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