The Flood of Noah

by Josh McDowell

As with the creation accounts, the flood narrative in Genesis is more realistic and less mythological than other ancient versions, indicating its authenticity.

The superficial similarities point toward a historical core of events that gave rise to all of these renditions.  The names change:  Noah is called Ziusudra by the Sumerians and Utnapishtim by the Babylonians.  The basic story doesn’t:  A man is told to build a ship to specific dimensions because God(s) is going to flood the world.  He obeys, rides out the storm, and offers sacrifice upon exiting the boat.  The Deity (-ies) responds with remorse over the destruction of life, and makes a covenant with the man.  These core events point to a historical fact.

Similar flood accounts are found all over the world.  The flood story is told by the Greeks, the Hindus, the Chinese, the Mexicans, the Algonquins, and the Hawaiians.  One list of Sumerian kings treats the flood as a historical reference point.  After naming eight kings who lived extraordinarily long lives (tens of thousands of years), this sentence interrupts the list: “[Then] the Flood swept over [the earth] and when kingship was lowered [again] from heaven, kingship was [first] in Kish.”

There are good reasons to believe that Genesis relates the original story.  The other versions contain elaborations, indicating corruption.  Only in Genesis is the year of the flood given, as well as dates for the chronology relative to Noah’s life.  In fact, Genesis reads almost like a diary or ship’s log of the events.  The cubical Babylonian ship could not have saved anyone.  The raging waters would have constantly turned it on every side.  However, the biblical ark is rectangular – long, wide, and low – to that it would ride well on rough seas.  The length of the rainfall in the pagan accounts (seven days) is not enough time for the devastation they describe.  The waters would have to rise at least above most mountains, to a height of over seventeen thousand feet, and it is more reasonable to assume a longer rainfall to do this.  The Babylonian idea that all of the flood waters subsided in one day is equally absurd.  Another striking difference between Genesis and the other versions is that in these accounts the hero is granted immortality and exalted.  The Bible moves on to describe Noah’s sin.  Only a version that seeks to tell the truth would include such realistic admission.

Some have suggested that this was a severe but localized flood.  However there is geological evidence to support a worldwide flood.  Partial skeletons of recent animals are found in deep fissures in several parts of the world, and the flood seems to be the best explanation for these.  This would explain how these fissures occur even in hills of considerable height, which extend from 140 feet to 300 feet.  Since no skeleton is complete, it is safe to conclude that none of these animals (mammoths, bears, wolves, oxen, hyenas, rhinoceri, aurochs, deer, and smaller mammals) fell into these fissures alive, nor were they rolled there by streams.  Yet the calcite cementing these diverse bones together indicates that they must have been deposited under water.  Such fissures have been discovered in various places around the world.  This evidence shows what a brief but violent episode of this sort would be expected to cause within the short span of one year. (Geisler, BECA, 49-50)

Used with permission
Article taken from the book "The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict" written by Josh D. McDowell. 
Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Copyright 1999