GAE and the Noahic Flood (for CASEs)

The purpose of GAE seems to be to interpret the story of Adam and Eve literally, but in a way that brings it into as little conflict as possible with science, in order to show YECs that they can accept both the Bible and science. Is it possible to extend this approach to the Noahic Flood and the rest of Genesis 1-11? Unlike a genealogical Adam and Eve, it seems that a large flood that killed all of Adam’s descendants except Noah’s family would have left some evidence.

There are some interesting clues for a concordist interpretation of Gen 4-10. There was a Y-chromosome bottleneck from about 10-5 kya, which is thought to have been caused by increased violence between patrilineal clans (Karmin et al. 2015; Zeng et al. 2018). This fits with the biblical description of the antediluvian world, which was “filled with violence” and had warriors, patriarchy, and polygamy (Gen 3:16; 4:23f; 6:4, 11). I see that when this topic was bought up on the forum before, some people made the same connection.

There was also a major flooding event in the Arabian peninsula, which stretched as far northeast as Damascus and as far northwest as southern Mesopotamia (Bastawesy 2015). But this seems to not stretch far enough north, and is also too early (dated to 8.5 kya) to be after the Y-chromosome bottleneck. Dickin (2015) argues that there is evidence for a Mesopotamian flood around 7.7 kya, but his evidence is more tenuous and may not point to a single flooding event.

Finally, the account of the Table of Nations (Gen 10) may be corroborated by the genetic and archeological evidence for a migration from eastern Anatolia (the ark’s resting place?) into Europe and north Africa. The first wave of migration is dated to about 8.2 kya, which is the right timing for the Arabian flood (8.5 kya), but too early for both the Mesopotamian flood (7.7 kya?) and the Y-chromosome bottleneck (10-5 kya).

In summary, there seems to be evidence for all the aspects of the Gen 4-10 account, but the dating of these elements is out of line from what the primeval history records. To other CASEs here (@swamidass @Jordan @gbrooks9 @AllenWitmerMiller @deuteroKJ) would any of you like to weigh in? How can we explain the Noahic flood and surrounding narrative using the GAE approach?


Some geologists have suggested variously that these seas could be candidates for that “large flood” Noahic Flood evidence: Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea. The evaluation of those claims I will leave to others.

I’ve not read that article but my first thought was scientists saying that the last ice age (ending around 11,000 years ago) caused a Y-chromosome bottleneck. When doing genealogical research I noticed a lot of discussion of the relationship of the Picts (and modern Scots) to the Basque people, and the theory that the Ice Age pushed people south to Iberian Peninsula to live-out the ice age—and that is why they share so much DNA.

Not a big problem in my book. Plus, I tend to find antediluvian geographical place names quite ambiguous. I study them etymologically rather casually confusing them with the same nouns applied to geographical features postdiluvian. (For example, because of my background in linguistics, I see no reason to confuse a pre-flood Euphrates River with a post-flood Euphrates. Same with “Ararat”. (Again, I focus on the morphemes—such as “eu” meaning good and “phrates” meaning a fording place; thus EUPHRATES is a river that is, at least at some times and places, easy to ford.) A modern day analogy of old and new place names would be the simple fact, as one of countless examples, that Portland, England and Portland, Oregon are not at all the same place.)

For reasons already stated, I do not assume that “the hill country of Ararat” (one of the possible translations for the Ark’s resting place) is referring to eastern Anatolia or even anyplace remotely close to that. I just don’t know where Ararat was because we are talking ancient place names. (So ask a native, if you ever find a reliable time machine. Emoticon goes here, I guess.)

In my way of thinking, I don’t have to. (I’m a big fan of weighing ideas like GAE but it doesn’t really relate that much to my views on the Noahic pericope.)

In any case, this is a fun topic and very suitable for all of us fun-loving folks at Peaceful Science. (We put the "peace"in peaceful and the “sigh” in science. Yeah, not really. We have our good days and our not-so-good days. We’re human.)


Thanks for responding Allen!

According to the authors of that second study, the most likely explanation is violence between patrilineal clans, which resulted in the death of many males (but not females).

Here, bringing together anthropological theory, recent population genomic studies and mathematical models, we propose a sociocultural hypothesis, involving the formation of patrilineal kin groups and intergroup competition among these groups. Our analysis shows that this sociocultural hypothesis can explain the inference of a population bottleneck. We also show that our hypothesis is consistent with current findings from the archaeogenetics of Old World Eurasia, and is important for conceptions of cultural and social evolution in prehistory.

My first thought was that this sounds very similar to Genesis 6:11: “Now the land was corrupt in God’s sight, and the land was filled with violence.” Apparently others have thought similarly, but I don’t know how plausible this is, as the dates seem out of sync with a historical Flood and Table of Nations (if those were indeed historical events).

Interesting. My understanding is that “Tigris” and “Euphrates” in Genesis 2:14 do refer to the existing rivers, because the geographic detail suggests that the author wanted his audience to be able to locate the garden. I could easily be wrong about that.

With an etymological understanding of “Ararat,” what do you think “hill country of Ararat” most likely refers to if not the hill country of Urartu?


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Speak for yourself, Earthling! :alien: :cowboy_hat_face:

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AiG brushes off the references to Genesis 2:14 because they do not fit with a catastrophic model of the Flood.

Ken Ham - Where Was the Garden of Eden?

Therefore, no one can logically suggest that the area where the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are today is the location of the Garden of Eden, for this area is sitting on Flood strata containing billions of dead things (fossils). The perfect Garden of Eden can’t be sitting on billions of dead things before sin entered the world!

How Did Moses Know So Much About the Pre-flood World?

The flood destroyed the world as Noah knew it (see 2 Peter 3:6), covering the original garden under thousands of feet of sediment. So the rivers flowing out of Eden, including the two called the Tigris and Euphrates (Genesis 2:14), cannot be the same rivers today.

Note that interpretation does not arise from Biblical exegesis or hermeneutic, but is driven by their flood model.


It is coming up on a half century since I studied such things in grad school [and in the decades since I was mostly involved in New Testament and Greek exegetical studies] but several faded memories survive:

  1. ARARAT has no clear meaning in Hebrew so it was probably a loan word from an even more ancient language. Very ancient, I would guess.

  2. ARARAT was thought to refer to something like “holy land” or “sacred highlands” or even “holy mountain” [which is where the holy mackerel returns upriver to spawn after seven years. Yeah, I just made that one up so don’t quote me.] So it is easy to see how such terms could survive over the centuries for ANY holy place at high altitude.

  3. But on the other hand, at least in my day ARMENIA was considered to share the AR- etymology with ARARAT—but, of course, that does nothing to refute #1 and/or #2 above. All three explanations could still be true.

I’ve always found it fascinated how people all over the world like to “recycle” and reassign previous place names to wherever they move. (especially when etymology makes sense, as I will explain with GOSHEN below) So many cities/towns in the USA are named for places in England from where people had migrated. I already cited the Portland example but an exhaustive list would be very long: London, Cambridge, Danbury, Plymouth, Salem, Boston, etc.

By the way, the most extreme example of that I happened to stumble upon with my Anabaptist ancestors. After coming to America in colonial times, they kept moving west every generation or two or three—and every single community they founded was named GOSHEN, because they considered themselves “strangers and pilgrims” (1Peter 2:11-12) and Goshen was that sort of home to the Children of Israel in the Pentateuch.

Now, with all that said, I’m not saying that I rule out the possibility that “the hill country of Ararat” was in eastern Turkey. I’m just fairly neutral on antediluvian geography because of all sorts of ambiguities.

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Well, here’s a map of the estimated extent of the Arabian flood that took place ~8.5 kya, from Bastawesy (2015).


As you can see, it was pretty large, but it doesn’t even reach Basra in southern Mesopotamia. It does reach Damascus in the northeast, but that isn’t in line with the biblical description of the Noahic flood (is it?). In your opinion as someone who’s studied the biblical languages, could the account of the Noahic flood preserve a memory of this deluge, or are the geographic locations too different?

I also don’t know if it’s possible that this flood was larger in extent than estimated in the paper. As someone with zero formal knowledge in this area it seems plausible to me that such heavy rain would also flood the Mesopotamian basin (at least in the south), but again, zero knowledge in this area. If there’s someone here knowledgeable in hydrogeology, could you tell me whether this is likely or impossible?

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As I explain periodically on PS, my reading of the Hebrew text points to a regional flood, not a global one—just in case any new visitors to this forum are wondering. (I have explained at length my exegesis every now and then and I assume a PS search while find some of those posts.)

I also consider the flood description a relatively shallow one (in the literal sense, perhaps 23 feet deep) but the wording in Hebrew is definitely tricky—so many interpret it as saying the flood waters rose to 23 feet ABOVE the highest ground (although I would still emphasize that the highest ground in those areas involved could still be relatively low elevations.)

I’m not at all conversant in hydrogeology so I won’t even try.

By the way, the late Glenn Morton [who was a petroleum geologist and well-known for having been a Young Earth Creationist who eventually became convinced of a very old earth because he saw the geological data on a daily basis in his job] suggested that the Garden of Eden might have been bit bit north of today’s Nile delta—and that the Nile River was one of the four described in Genesis.

If you are not familiar with the late Glenn Morton, I think you would have a blast reading his copious writings which got preserved by various grateful readers and posted/archived online.

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Yeah, I’ve read some of your older posts, and it’s interesting to know that the biblical text is consistent with a flood only 23 feet deep (“The waters prevailed 15 cubits [23ft] upward, and the hills were covered” – Gen 7:20). In that case, do you have in mind a historical setting for the Flood, and would you expect any kind of archeological evidence for it? Or do you think that it was so small that we wouldn’t expect any evidence?

Come to think of it, the latter is probably more consistent with the approach in GAE. GAE doesn’t try to find a concordist interpretation of the text, but seeks to make the biblical account of Adam and Eve somewhat ‘undetectable’ to empirical, scientific evidence.

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Now I’m curious. Do you think the flood of Ziusudra was a local one? How about the flood of Deucalion? Are all flood myths of local events?

I consider it consistent (potentially consistent, because I can’t be absolutely certain of the best translation and exegesis of such an ancient text)----but not every scholar agrees with me. So I don’t want to overstate the case.

Yes. I consider the Noahic Flood pericope based on an historical event, yet not a “documentary account”, per se. I like the term “mytho-history” to describe the genera of the Genesis 1-11 texts. [DISCLAIMER: For those not familiar with the term myth in fields like religious studies and folklore, it does NOT mean “false stories” as many Americans would assume when they hear the word myth. In the academy, myth is an explanation of how something originated and/or why it exists. The emphasis is on explanation.]

If indeed the Noahic account is mytho-history, it is meant to be understood in terms of the lessons it teaches rather than a hyper-literal account, though I am NOT saying that this means the flood never happened or there wasn’t a Noah. (It would be easy to write an entire book exploring this principle verse by verse over the course of the three chapters and I’m certainly not going to attempt that here.)

By the way, I have long been fascinated by the symbolic use of numbers in Genesis 1-11. Indeed, based on a statistical analysis of the numbers in the patriarch genealogies and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in general, I suspect both the incredible ages of the patriarchs as well as Noah’s ark’s dimensions are symbolic/numerological. For example, the least significant digits of the ages of the patriarch are skewed in favor of particular digits, and all ark dimensions are multiples of the prime numbers 2, 3, and 5.

TANGENTIAL NOTE: I used to deal with a lot of Bible translators around the world and I heard their reports of cultures where ages are not necessarily literal. For example, one translator returned to a village three years later and found that various men had “aged” by ten or twenty years—because their new status as grandparents or chieftain gave them descriptors akin to our “sixty-something” even though they were actually twenty years younger. Expressions of age can sometimes be “quantifiers” of prestige, power, or wisdom. I suspect something similar in the ANE [Ancient Near East.]

By the way, your mention of an ancient Saudi Arabian Noahic flood brought brought this article to mind:

Floods in general can leave plenty of geological evidence, obviously, as well as archaeological evidence. But I don’t know of any reason why the Noahic flood as described in Genesis would necessarily leave evidence distinct from any other major flood. Of course, those who affirm a global flood would howl at my statement not only due to extent but because Young Earth Creationists tend to extrapolate all sorts of titanic and seismic catastrophes from the Genesis account. Many of them confuse text with their traditions----and some to where it can be difficult to even discuss these issues without their apoplexy. (I come from a background in the YEC community so I speak from personal experience and observation.)


This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits

50 isn’t divisible by 3.

At 30 cubits[1] high, in a flood 23ft deep the ark wouldn’t be afloat, it’d be resting on the bottom.

  1. That’s either 45ft or 53ft depending on which version of the cubit is used. ↩︎

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Agreed. But factor out all of the ark dimensions and you will see that you have nothing but the prime numbers 2, 3, 5.

My point was what the Genesis text states, not whether or not it makes immediate sense to the modern day reader. Indeed, that is among my reasons for bringing up the genre of mytho-history. If you try to read the text through a modern-day, literal-oriented point-of-view, you will run into LOTS of issues, many far more confounding than this one. That said, I do indeed encourage trying to give the ancient author(s) the benefit of the doubt whenever possible—but when the intention of a text may be focused on symbolism and tone over literal description, all bets are off.

I should also mention that some scholars think that the Hebrew text is referring to the draught of the ark (i.e., the clearance of the ark above the flooded ground.) In other words, the idea that the flood waters rose until the ark was about 23 feet from hitting bottom. I’m not necessarily a fan of that viewpoint but I can appreciate their reasoning.

It is also worth mentioning that many scholars consider the numbers recorded in ancient texts to be some of the most easily corrupted elements. (In the case of the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch I’ve seen this hotly debated.)

We also don’t know how languages and cultures the Noahic account might have passed through over the centuries before being recorded as a Hebrew text. In my lighter moments I have even wondered if those prior cultures might have used a non-base-10 number system and if this could have affected how some numbers were recorded base-10 oriented Hebrews, especially with the numbers in the Genesis genealogies (Indeed, a base-60 system of counting could explain the lifespans of 120 years, such as the case of Moses.)

Among my points in mentioning these details is that traditional Young Earth Creationist claims that the Noahic Flood must have been over 5.5 miles in depth in order to submerge Mt. Everest is not necessarily supported by the text.


This conversation is fantastic. Had to blurt that out. Now back to plotting the destruction of Peaceful Science, Christian faith, and all that is good and holy in this world.


I’m getting flashbacks of Mike Myers in the Austin Powers films.


Base-60 seems obvious given its common use in the ancient Near East.

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There is a huge difference between the Biblical stories of Adam/Eve vs the Noah and the Flood.

To many, Adam & Eve are theological necessities for explaining Original Sin. And as one-off miracles, A&E make for excellent scenarios without having to gut multiple fields of science.

In contrast, the Flood requires a continuous chain of God working miracles - - and at a global scale!

Here’s something interesting I found, although it’s from an outdated article (Mallowan 1964):

A year date of Ibbi-Sin, who ruled over Ur in about 2000 B.C., was named after a deluge which “obliterated the bounds of heaven and earth”, but Ur survived and no traces of this particular flood were found, presumably because the inevitable mud and sand had been cleared away afterward.

This means that cosmic language could be used to describe a flood even if that flood was too small to leave any geologic or archeological evidence. Perhaps the Noahic Flood was the same. Although I still personally think that a historical Noahic Flood would have to be bigger (perhaps identical to the Arabian flood?).

I thought the article that @AllenWitmerMiller shared about religious sites in Arabia was interesting. Perhaps it can be connected to the shrine that Noah is said to have built after leaving the ark?

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So? They’re all multiples of ten.

I just rolled 3d6 three times and multiplied the results by ten to get 80, 120, 90. Factor out all of these numbers and you will see that you have nothing but the prime numbers 2, 3, 5.

Does this have symbolic meaning?

Repeating the above using 6d6 gave 180, 240, 200. These also all have only 2, 3 and 5 as prime factors. Does this have symbolic meaning too?

Less than half of the multiples of ten between 10 and 400 have prime factors other than 2, 3 or 5. The pattern you have noticed is so likely that it’s presence means nothing. Such a pattern is even more likely if other sets of prime factors (2, 5 and 7; 2, 5 and 11) would also be considered potentially symbolical.

There are so many possible patterns that the presence of some pattern in a set of numbers is inevitable. You are finding such a pattern and then claiming it is meaningful, when it is actually just chance. That’s all that numerology is.

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