Tuesday, September 03, 2013


[Noel Weeks] The prominent alternative explanation is that the text is referring to a local flood in the Tigris/Euphrates’ valley. However, in both the Mesopotamian flood accounts and the biblical narrative the ark ends up in the north. The problem is that floods always take things downstream. Floods never take objects upstream. If this was a normal flood in the Tigris/Euphrates’ region, the ark would have gone downstream. The fact that it landed in the north in a mountain range goes against any local flood theory. 


I have the greatest respect for Weeks. And his statement sounds very logical. Water seeks its own level, right? Due to gravity, water travels downstream, right? Seems obvious.

Now, I'm no expert, but I don't think it's that simple. I've lived around rivers. I've lived in two different areas of the country that are prone to flooding.

i) Unless I'm mistaken, current depends, to some extent, on the gradient. If the gradient is fairly steep, then nothing will stop river water from hurtling downstream. Mountain streams comes to mind.

ii) But what about a river on a coastal plain? That's far more level.

iii) Moreover, some rivers are tidal rivers. Although it sounds counterintuitive, the current will reverse, go upstream, during a rising tide. From what I've read, this used to happen in the Nile Delta. (That may have changed after the Nile was damed) 

iv) Furthermore, tides vary. You can have positive high tides and super tides. Those, in turn, will affect both the water level and the direction of the current (vis-a-vis a tidal river). 

v) Finally, a tidal river is also subject to a storm surge via coastal flooding. 

vi) Let's take a different example. Where I was raised, we got heavy rain in winter. We had three streams close to where I lived, as well as a nearby a river. 

Streams are swollen after heavy rains. In addition to water flow, they carry debris. Streams and rivers can become clogged by cumulative debris. When that happens, they back up. They generate eddies and countercurrents. Debris moves upstream as the stream pools and backs up behind the logjam.

Moreover, flow resistance from large woody debris would also slow the drainage rate. 

vii) I'm no expert on Ararat, but from what I've read and seen, it's a mountainous country with many mesas, valleys, and foothills. It's not hard to me to imagine an object being caught in a mountain cove. Swirling around. Bottoming out on a ledge as the water finally receded. 

BTW, I've been to Cappadocia, which isn't far from Ararat. There I walked along the ledge of a dry river valley. 

Now, this may not be an accurate model of Noah's flood. I'm just saying, these are the kinds of questions I ask myself when I try to visualize the account. I read scholars make armchair statements about what would or wouldn't happen in a flood, and from what I can tell, this isn't based on close observation or experience. It's just a gut reaction. 

It seems to me that we need far more detailed information the topography. We also have to make allowance for changes in topography over the millennia. 

Likewise, topography can vary dramatically within, say, 50 miles upstream or downstream. So you'd have to imagine the ark in different locations, at different elevations, up and down the river. Consider the physical ramifications of each hypothetical scenario. 

1 comment:

  1. This may be worth putting on your "to get" reading list, http://www.amazon.com/Grappling-Chronology-Genesis-Flood-Steven/dp/0890517096