Tag Archives: flood

Was the Genesis Flood copied from the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh?

Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet
Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet

It has often been claimed that the flood account found in Genesis Chapters 6-9, and later referenced in the New Testament, was actually a legend borrowed from other cultures, namely the Babylonians in their “Epic of Gilgamesh.”  Is there any validity to this claim?

In the mid-1800s in modern day Iraq, excavations uncovered many Mesopotamian-era tablets.  Included among these was the Babylonian flood legend, “Epic of Gilgamesh.”  The 11th tablet of this series recorded the flood account, and many of the details were similar to the Biblical Flood.   However, there were also many differences found.

This legend in particular tells the story of Gilgamesh, who, after losing his friend Enkidu, seeks out Utnapishtim to give him the secret of immortality.  Utnapishtim tells him of the gods’ desire to flood the world because the gods could not sleep due to the noise man makes.  Ea, the god of wisdom, warned Utnapishtim to convert his house into a boat, take the seed of all living creatures, and tell the people he was building the boat to escape the wrath of the god Enlil.  Utnapishtim complied and built the boat in 7 days and took all the animals and craftsmen on board with him.  The flood came but it was so terrifying even the gods fled in fear.  The world was flooded for 6 days and the waters receded on the 7th day.  Afterward, the boat came to rest on Mt. Nisir, and Utnapishtim sent out a dove, then a swallow, and then a raven.  When the raven didn’t return, he made a sacrifice and the gods gathered together over the sacrifice.

As you can see, there are many similarities in this legend with Noah’s flood, but also, there are a great many differences.  Only Noah’s family survived the flood, not Noah and the craftsmen.  There is only one God who was grieved over the sin and evil of the world, and that was the cause of the flood.  It was not because multiple gods of questionable moral character were bothered by men making so much noise.  The flood lasted for about a year in the Bible, but in this legend it was only for a week.  Noah took two of every kind of animal, but Utnapishtim took the seed of the animals.  Noah sent out the raven before a dove.  This is because ravens are scavengers while doves are vegetarian, and one of the goals was to see if plant life was available.  In the epic, the dove was sent first and the raven was last.

The boat constructed in the Gilgamesh epic was cubical (the length, width, and height were all equal) and 7 stories tall.  A boat like this would not be seaworthy, especially in a cataclysmic flood.  Noah’s ark, which the Bible records to precise measurements in a rectangular shape, would be seaworthy in that it provided maximum comfort for its occupants and strength to protect those inside.  A study was done on this by Dr. Seon Won Hong.  You can read about it here.

Moses compiled and edited the Genesis Flood account during the wanderings in the wilderness in the 15th century B.C.  The Gilgamesh Epic was dated between the time frame of 2200 B.C. and 620 B.C.  At the most, the Gilgamesh Epic was written 800 years before Moses’ writings—assuming the dating is accurate.  It does not require that Moses copied from the Babylonians.  There are options that both cultures recorded the same event, but one had embellishments.  Given the fact that there are almost 300 other flood legends, many of which have biblical similarities, most likely this Babylonian legend was written after the flood and embellished like the others.

Moses’ account of the worldwide, biblical flood contains the most detail as to who would be saved, the specific measurements of the boat, what Noah was to bring on board, and especially, why the world was going to be flooded.  Although this Babylonia legend may have been written before Moses wrote about Noah’s flood, it does not demand that the Babylonia legend was correct.  Given the shape of the Babylonian boat and its inability to be seaworthy, and given the lack of details in this epic as opposed to the details given in Genesis, most likely this version of the story was copied from Noah’s Flood and later embellished.  Dating methods are not always accurate, and that is when the feasibility and reliability of the texts, such as in this instance, takes precedence.

For more information, RTG recommends the book “How do we know the Bible is True?”  You can find it in our book store.

Where did the flood waters come from?

There are varying models on the origins of the flood waters.  As with many theories, there are strengths and weaknesses.  This link explains the different flood models.  Some creationists believe in the Canopy Theory, where a canopy of water surrounded the earth prior to the flood.  During the flood, that water fell down as rain.  Another possibility is the Hydroplate Model.  The following the animation video below provided by Dr. Walt Brown of www.creationscience.com explains the Hydroplate Model.

How did freshwater fish survive the flood?

In Genesis 6, we read where God commands Noah to take two of every kind of land-dwelling animal on the ark.  This includes the mammals, birds, and reptiles, but not the fish.  There is some debate if insects were included.  During the flood, the salty ocean waters would have mixed with the fresh lakes and rivers.  How did the fish in the fresh waters survive in the salty mixture?  How did the saltwater fish survive in the fresh mixture?

There are many areas in the world where freshwater and saltwater are together, but the waters don’t mix.  Studies on water have shown that various temperatures, chemistries, and sediments in the waters don’t mix but instead become segregated.  It is possible that the fish survived in “pockets” of fresh or salt water, depending on the species.  Before the flood, the fish would not have been affected as strongly by the curse like they are today, so they may have been able to tolerate the water mixes during the flood and adapt to the different chemical makeups.  It should be noted that the majority of fossils are marine creatures, so most fish died during the flood when they were buried by sediments.  We know that two of each kind of fish survived, though, because we see them and their variations swimming in bodies of water today.

For further reading on this often asked question, see the two following articles:

http://www.icr.org/article/fish-flood/

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2001/02/26/feedback-positive-fish

Does the Bible predict that people will ignore the flood?

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”  2 Peter 3:1-7 (ESV)

Noah’s Flood was an incredibly important event in earth history.  It changed the entire appearance of the earth, causing the earth as we see it today appear as though it has suffered from billions of years of erosion, but in actuality, the wear and tear we see are the results of the catastrophic flood.  Skeptics deny a global flood, although some accept that localized floods have been in existence in the past and they have caused some of the rock formations, sedimentary layers, and fossilsPeter told the early Christians that in the last days, people would scoff at the idea of a global flood.  They will even adhere to uniformitarianism as we see in the verse: “all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  The above passage ends with a warning that the earth will again be destroyed, but next time it will be with fire.

How can dinosaurs be used to spread the Gospel message?

We know about dinosaurs through the fossil record, and fossils are, of course, dead animals.  These fossils are found worldwide in sedimentary rock layers.  The majority of these fossils and rock layers were formed during Noah’s Flood.  The flood was an act of God’s judgment, showing that he does not tolerate sin forever.  We can use fossils to remind people of the deadly effects of sin.

 

Dinosaurs, animals, and people buried in sediment and fossilized after the flood (Source: Answers in Genesis)

 

How did people come to America from the Middle East?

After the flood and during the Ice Age, land bridges appeared that connected the Middle East with all parts of the world.  The waters in the ocean may have been fully frozen, allowing people to cross over during the ice age Between Alaska and Russia is the Bering Strait, and most likely all people who live on the North and South American continents crossed over in that area.  Another plausible theory is that people built boats and sailed to America (remember that Noah built a huge ark, so that knowledge could have been passed on to his relatives). 

 

Connection between Europe and North America

 

Connection between Asia and Austrailia

 

Connection between North American and South America

 

How was the Grand Canyon formed?

 

The following information comes from “Your Guide to the Grand Canyon” by Tom Vail.  

Many people are taught that the Grand Canyon was carved out by the Colorado River that runs through it.  Could a river create such a large canyon?  Uniformitarianism scientists agree so.  But how could this have been formed in light of Noah’s Flood?  Recall the article “Where did the flood waters go?”  Was it formed by a little bit of water over a long period of time, or a lot of water over a short length of time?  There are two theories that explain how the Grand Canyon was formed relatively quickly:

Theory 1: After the flood, there were two or three very large lakes that formed north and east of the Kaibab Plateau (through which the canyon is carved).  As the lakes continued to fill, they finally overflowed and breached their natural dams, carving through the loose sediments in the Plateau, and thus creating the canyon.

Theory 2: There was massive sheet erosion during the flood’s recession (after the 150 days of water covering the earth).  As the waters receded off of the land, they channelized as more land was exposed.  It was during this process that the waters moved westward and carved through the loose sediments, creating the canyon.

More information about the Grand Canyon can be found at: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cfl/grand-canyon

Watch the following video to witness the awesome power of water.  But first, click on this link to understand more about the video.  This sheds light on how the Grand Canyon could have been formed.

What is the significance of the Mount St. Helens eruption?

 

Mt. St. Helen’s Eruption

 

In 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted, leaving behind a path of destruction.  A six-hundred foot layer of debris, consisting of 200 million cubic yards of volcanic ash and fragments of rock, was formed at the base of the mountain.  In 1982, a small eruption of water provided enough force to carve a 150-feet long canyon in these sedimentary layers.  The same flat contacts in-between the layers were observed, similar to those found in the Grand Canyon.  The canyon is measured to be 1/40th the size of the Grand Canyon.  It was formed in a single day, showing that the power of water is much greater than expected, and that it does not take millions of years to form a canyon (see the article about the formation of the Grand Canyon).  For more information about the Mt. St. Helens eruption, watch this video from Creation Today; and this one from Geologist Steve Austin

 

Rock Layers formed in a short time
Source: Answers in Genesis

 

Was there ever an Ice Age?

During the Flood, the “fountains of the great deep” (Gen. 7:11) opened up.  This is generally understood to be underwater volcanic eruptions.  The volcanoes would have released a large amount of smoke, ash, and particles into the atmosphere, preventing any sunlight from entering, and the heat emitted in the oceans would have also warmed the waters.  Movements of the Earth’s crust would release heat to warm the water. Evaporation of the warm water would have caused a great accumulation of snow, especially since the air was cooler and the sun couldn’t melt the snow.  The lack of sunlight from the smoke would make the continents cooler and the snow wouldn’t melt until the volcano smoke went away thus allowing the sun to heat the earth again.  Yes, there was one ice age, and it lasted for several hundred years, but it only covered the northern parts of the European and American continents.  For more information and pictures, see the following link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/where-does-ice-age-fit

 

The extent (white sections) of the Ice Age (Source: Answers in Genesis)

 

Why are there so many flood legends?

Chart adapted from B.C. Nelson, The Deluge Story in Stone, Appendix 11, Flood Traditions, Figure 38, Augsburg, Minneapolis, 1931.
Chart adapted from B.C. Nelson, The Deluge Story in Stone, Appendix 11, Flood Traditions, Figure 38, Augsburg, Minneapolis, 1931.

When Noah and his family exited the ark and started life all over again, they were all very well informed about the flood and why it occurred.  They passed this information onto their children, and their children’s children, etc. and everyone was made aware of it.  About 100 years later, all of the post-flood people were living in the community surrounding the tower of Babel and they still knew about the flood.  After the great dispersal at Babel, the families separated and spread throughout the world, continuing with the flood and creation account but changing them up according to their own cultural and religious views.  Still, the flood legends we have today have many striking similarities.  The following website shows a chart revealing the similarities in flood legends and a narrative of some of the legends: http://www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html. This website shows many more flood narratives with references:http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.htmlThis final website offers additional information about flood legends and a lot of information about Noah’s Ark: http://worldwideflood.com/flood/legends/flood_legends.htm