Sunday, June 30, 2019

Did Noah's Flood Kill All Humans except his family?

Did Noah's Flood Kill All Humans except his family?
Glenn R. Morton March 25, 2020

Let's be real here.  This story is an embarrassment to liberal Christians and held to dearly by young-earth people, who are also an embarrassment to 'scientifically minded' Christians.  The young-earthers,  I believe correctly,  think the Bible stories are true, or at least true in large part. Proclaiming the Bible to be myth undermines its credibility as a book telling us the true path to salvation. There are two great divides we must cross between these two groups. The first is the extent of the flood. Was it local or was it global.  The second is, was it anthropologically universal, that is, did it kill all humans save Noah's family? 
Let's start with the verses I believe are wrongly translated, or translated with the translator's bias.  The issue revolves around the meaning of 'eretz', My favorite author as a young Christian said:

" According to Young's Analytical Concordance, the Hebrew word is translated Country 140 times, Ground 96 times, and Earth and Land frequently. It is also rendered Field once and by several other words in a very small number of instances. Assuming that Young's list is exhaustive, actual count shows that the word is translated Earth about 677 times and translated Land 1458 times. Moreover, of the 677 occurrences in at least 100 instances the word may be equally if not more appropriately, rendered Land rather than Earth." ~ Arthur C. Custance, The Extent of the Flood, Doorway Papers, 41, (Ottawa: Privately Published, 1958), p. 3

With this in mind let's look at Genesis 6:17

and every thing that is in the earth shall die

The modern mind thinks of planet earth when we see that word, but the Hebrews understood the word to mean land/country, not a ball in space.  While I know the evidence is against the concept that they believed in a flat earth with domed sky, I don't think they thought in our terms when they saw 'eretz'. 

Every other use of the word "earth" in the flood passage could equally be translated as land.  I will say this.  One can't get the extent of the flood from Scripture alone. Land could mean all the land in God's creation which, today, we would say would be a global flood.  But if it is to be translated as land, as I believe, then the flood could be local. And this brings us to the mountain and universality problem.

Young-earthers rightfully note that the flood account does seem to indicate that the flood was anthropologically universal and they would point to the 'high mountains' mentioned in Gen 7:19.  They argue that no local riverine flood could cover high mountains.  And they are correct. Unless one changes the words of the Biblical account, one shouldn't deny reality here--Noah's flood is said to have covered high mountains.  I don't believe in having a make believe Bible of my own making in order to have a flood of any kind just so I can say I have a flood. We have to deal with the reality that the flood covered high mountains..

So how about universality?  There are only two ways one can have an anthropologically universal flood.  First, have a global flood. As a geophysicist, I spent 15 years in my 20s and early 30s struggling to fit what I was seeing in geology into a one year global flood. I will guarantee anyone that the geologic data won't fit that scenario. But, all is not lost for those of us who wish to have a historical Bible. The second way to have an anthropologically universal flood is to have the flood at the start of humanity, when they were in a localized place.  This is the approach I take.

So, our criteria require that we find a local flood capable of covering high mountains, when humans first appear on earth.  I guess we need to define human here.  I define humans as anyone who carries the image of God. That means they have a human-like consciousness. What they look like is of no concern, nor is appearance an indication of whether they lack or have the image. Brain size is not necessarily a requirement to carry the image of God.  My wife had a Downs uncle who had a very small cranium, yet he was fully an image carrier. No, he couldn't do physics, but he did love the Lord.   I know this isn't an objective criterion and is not easily applicable to fossil man, but there are some things that are indicative of Adam and Eve being extremely old. Among others, the evidence can be found  here here

Amazingly there is a flood which is capable of fulfilling all our criteria. It is the Mediterranean infilling which happened 5.3 myr ago. It was a cataclysmic flood.  The Mediterranean had dried out and become largely a desert but with lush areas where rivers flowed into it. Interestingly,one of the suggested origins of the word 'Eden' is the Akkadian word for desert  Rivers like the Nile, the Pison, the Tigris and Euphrates. The basin was as deep as 5 km, When it filled in, the waters covered mountains as high as 5 km. That is 15,000 feet.  If that doesn't qualify as a  tall mountain, then I don't know what would qualify. 

Why do I believe this is Noah's flood?

1. It is the only flood in earth history that matches the Biblical description exactly.

2. Only at this time did the rivers of Eden flow into the same place.  It is amazing to me that the Biblical description of Eden is an exact match for the geography of 5.3 myr ago in the eastern Mediterranean region.. The Tigris and Euphrates, the Gihon which encompasses Cush can only be the Nile, and the Pison which flowed out of Havilah which the Bible places in Arabia, all were in Eden. Their positions are marked on the PBS map below showing the locations I believe they entered the basin in based upon interpretations of 3D seismic data shown in the literature. That a river was at each of these locations is certain. One could of course squabble about the name. They do match what Scripture says about Eden.

Below is an enlargement of this map showing what would be a huge area on the desert floor lushly watered by four different rivers. The area from the lake to the Levant coast is absolutely huge, but, as I said, would have been watered by 4 big rivers  each of whom was mentioned in Scripture. The sediment from these four rivers would have created a land of intersecting deltas and built up a land gently sloping to the brine lake. It would have looked much like southern Louisiana only larger, and as with the Okovango delta in the Kalahari desert, much wildlife would have flourished there (see PBS video at end) or see my list in this Biologos post.

3. It was just at the time when the earliest hominids appeared on earth. The earliest known as of this writing is A. kadabba  dated to 5.6 myr. A flood at this time, when humans are brand new can be anthropologically universal and the theology of the young-earthers can be correct. If all the humans are confined to that basin, then when the flood happened, they all died. One doesn't have to reject Noah's flood as myth if we place the flood in the Mediterranean basin at this time.

4. One couldn't easily walk out of this area so an ark was necessary.  The Mediterranean basin is huge, an equal distance from one end to the other  the same as crossing the USA.  As air is pushed out of the basin, it would have created weird air fronts at the tops of the basin as the evicted air pushed outward away from the basin, and I feel certain it would have rained all around the rim of the basin, again making it difficult for someone to walk to safety.

5. It covered high mountains. This is the only local flood ever proposed that could cover 15,000 foot high mountains. Gravity models of the basin strongly suggest it was that deep or even deeper in parts. Note that in the model below they place the original  Messinian surface, the red line in both models,  at 7 km below sea level. Even after 2 km of salt is deposited, the depth of the basin would be more than 5 km below sea level.

6. Modeling of fluid flow shows that, depending upon how large the breach in the Gibraltar dam was, it would fill in between 8 months and 2 years. 

Interestingly the western part of the basin would partially fill before the eastern Mediterranean even started filling.  It is estimated that the eastern Mediterranean would require about 200 days to fill after the partial filling of the western basin.  This is quite close to the 150 days of water prevailing recorded in the Scripture. 

7. An object floating on the waters could have easily landed in southern Turkey, which the Bible calls the mountains of Ararat!. The Bible does use the plural for mountains, not the singular, so the Bible doesn't say mount Ararat.

8. Finally, I know of no other flooding event in geologic history that can satisfy the above check list. 

There are several interesting short videos of what the infilling of the Mediterranean would look like. Come back  after watching. There is a bit more to say. video 1 This second video also models the Black Sea but it has been proven that the Black Sea was never dry. video 2 .  Below is another fluid flow model showing the velocity of the water.  The top of the scale is near 223 mph (100 meters/second)!

The second video has a much larger influx of water and by day 14 had started filling the eastern Mediterranean.  Smaller openings in another fluid flow simulation says that the western basin would not start filling until day 400, but it would take 200 days to fill the rest of the basin. As noted above this if close to the 150 days of waters prevailing. 

If the Biblical account is from Noah's viewpoint, in this latter modeling, he would not know that the Gibraltar dam had breached for a long time after the catastrophe was certain.  He would enter his boat (not the size of young-earth views), and stayed there until he landed in Turkey.

This flood matches exactly what the Bible says happened. The only impediment to its acceptance is resistance to the idea that Adam is old, resistance to evolution, and belief that the Scriptures are merely myth. I guess the question is, do you want the Bible to be historically true or not? Given the state of our geological knowledge it certainly can be real. For my part, I believe it was real. My faith is in Jesus Christ alone, but my belief that this is real is based upon real scientific data that matches the Bible's description of Eden.

postscript. The PBS video is excellent and will explain much about this event. It is 11 min long but it is a good 11 min.  It can be found here.

Finding the Curse in the Human Fossil Record
Glenn R. Morton March 24, 2020

What if we could find evidence of God's curse on Adam and Eve in the hominid fossil record?  Would that make a difference to your views of Genesis and the Scripture?  My bet is that most people won't change their views.  But I am going to present just that evidence for my claim above.  It is one reason I move Adam and Eve back to 5.3 myr ago.

Obviously this brings objections to my views is the antiquity of Adam and Eve. Both liberals and young-earthers claim they were Neolithic farmers. This can only be said if we ignore what Scripture says about the two curses God placed on Adam and Eve at the Fall. We must understand that pain in childbirth comes from the infant's head being almost too big to fit through the birth canal.  Indeed, my oldest granddaugher's head was too big and a c-section was required. All Homo sapiens females have experienced pain in childbirth for the past 200,000 years.  So, if Eve was a Neolithic woman, whose mother experienced childbirth, why on earth would God curse her with what she already had?

Similarly, Adam's curse of sweat of the brow relates to an enlarged brain. Our brains are energy hungry, using 20 percent of our body's energy.  If it overheats, it will be damaged, so our bodies evolved sweating mechanisms to cool both the body and the brain.   Chimps don't sweat.

"When hominids left the verdant Garden of Eden of the African forest refuges, they began to sweat. Sweating is one of the biggest differences that separates human physiology from that of chimps." ~ Noel Boaz, Eco Homo, (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p. 123

And Dean Falk points out that hominid brains show an increasing level of emissary veins in the foreheads. These veins cool the brain when it overheats.:

"It was beautiful. For the past two million years, the increase in frequencies of emissary foramina kept exact pace with the sharp increase in brain size in Homo. Clearly, the brain and the veins had evolved rapidly and together. I saw that Cabanac's letter was right and that I had unwittingly charted the evolution of a radiator for the brain in my earlier work on emissary foramina. As Anwander had said about my car, the engine can only be as big as the radiator can cool. Apparently, the same is true for heat-sensitive brains." Dean Falk, Braindance,(New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1992), p.159

Sweat of the brow already existed in Neolithic times.  Again, why would God curse a Neolithic Adam with what he already had?  If God were to curse me with weak legs, it would be no big deal. I already have legs that are weak due to damaged nerves. Because of this, we must look for Adam farther back in time. We have already seen Falk talk about the emissary veins increasing in the foreheads of hominids for the past 2 million years, implying that Adam's curse was already in effect.

So, when do we see Eve's curse?   Well, there are several issues we need to understand first. The evolution of upright posture, seems to have changed the shape of the female birth canal, so the baby has to undergo rotation and it seems to have changed the way we humans have sex.

"The assumption of upright posture and the forward shift of the female genital organs has made it possible for human beings to copulate ventrally, unlike most other animals. A survey in our society has shown that 70 percent of the people follow only this frontal approach in sexual relations, and a cross-cultural survey of nearly 200 societies in different parts of the world has shown that the dorsal approach is not the usual one in any of these societies. There has been some speculation to the effect that the development of the frontal approach has led to a more personal relationship between the sex partners, involving more courtship and sex play than among other primates. Also, uniquely among mammals, human females may experience intense pain during childbirth, another consequence of the assumption of upright posture." ~ Victor Barnouw, An Introduction to Anthropology: Physical Anthropology and Archaeology, 1, (Homewood, Ill: The Dorsey Press, 1982), p. 84

Humans also give birth to more infantile neonates.  Apes and australopithecines double their brain size after birth; humans triple our brains after birth.  Anthropologists say we humans  are born early so we can go through the birth canal, but grow our brains at prenatal rates for a while after our birth.   It is the large head and rotation of the infant in the birth canal which gives rise to pain in childbirth.  Below is a chart from DeSilva and Lesnik which shows that the earliest members of our genus already had the human pattern of  tripling our brain size after birth.

What is unique about humans is that we grow our brains at fetal brain growth rates for a year after birth!  Walker and Shipman write:

"The human evolutionary 'trick' of growing a brain at fetal rates after birth was obviously well in place by 1.6 million years ago. In fact, it seems likely that the change in the pattern of brain growth from apelike to human like must have accompanied the evolution of Homo habilis." ~ Alan Walker and Pat Shipman, The Wisdom of the Bones, (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1996), p. 228

Habilis appears in the fossil record 2.4 myr ago. So we have seen that there is physical, observable evidence of the curses being in existence as far back as 2.4 myr ago.  This means any theory that places Adam and Eve after 2.4 myr can't explain why earlier hominids show evidence of already having the curse. In other words, the curses mean nothing within their views of Scriptural history.

People will object that 2.4 myr is a long way from 5.3 myr year, and their mathematics would be correct, but consider this.  The first fossil of any creature is not the very first being of that kind  of being on earth.  Fossilization is very rare. Indeed, 97% of all species leave no record of their existence in the fossil record.  When a species is rare, it is very unlikely that they will leave a fossil.  Fossils only occur when a species is widespread and subject to many possible chances of one of their number being fossilized.  Because of this paleontological fact, it is a certitude that habilis lived much earlier than 2.4 myr ago.  How much earlier is something we can not say, but, if you look at the fossil records of other species and genera, we find some animals living on earth for millions of years between their fossilization events and leaving no trace of their existence in the interum. For instance, there is a 20 myr gap between the first fossilized loris and the second fossilized loris. There is a 60 myr gap between the first fossilized African turtle and the second, and an 8 myr gap between the first and second fossil elephant. These animals lived on earth for millions of years without leaving a single piece of fossil evidence that they were here.  Thus, to claim as some do that habilis  couldn't have lived earlier than 2.4 myr ago is nonsense.  He had to be widespread by 2.4 myr in order to overcome the odds against a member of his species being fossilized.  Habilis could easily have been on earth 5.3 myr ago

More detail can be found here.

The Strange Hydrology of Eden

The Strange Hydrology of Eden

Glenn R. Morton 2020

As a geophysicist of 47 years experience all around the world, I view some parts of the Bible differently than theologians who don't know much geology. As a geoscientist, I know that the hydrology described is highly unusual--mists, rivers splitting into four big rivers etc.  I have arrived at a professional conclusion, this kind of hydrology can only exist in a flat bottomed basin. Interestingly, there is a massive, US-sized dry basin right next to where the Nile, Euphrates, Pison and Tigris flowed five and a half million years ago. As you read, enlarge the pictures to see for yourselves what I am saying abou them.

For those who might not have heard that this basin was empty the information can be found here, and those who wonder about the Biblical rivers being together, can find that information here.

Many won't like how far back in time this is.  That is too bad because you will miss seeing things from the Bible match up with modern geologic knowledge.
I place Noah's flood in the dry Mediterranean basin because it is the only cataclysmic flood which matches the Biblical description. It filled up in about a year's time, the basin was up to 5 km deep, meaning any mountain less than 5 km high would be covered by this flood, and the fact that the rivers flow into this area at that time, makes this basin a prime geological candidate for being Noah's flood. 

Mists Galore

As I said, the hydrology described by Scripture only works in a flat bottomed deep basin.  Consider Genesis 2:6:

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

Other than areas with hot geysers, I cannot think of anywhere that is watered by mists rising from the ground.  I once owned a ranch and had a small temporary spring.  Water which landed on the adjacent hill, (about 20-30 feet higher than the spring), would seep through the hill's rocks and bubble up in this low area.  It would last about 2 weeks after a rain.  While it didn't have the energy or pressure to spray into the air, water which drops several thousand feet in rocks very well could have had the pressure to form a mist when they spewed into the deep dry, Mediterranean basin. 

So how did that happen in Eden?  Below is a cross section of the geology of central Israel.  Note the geologic rocks are dipping to the west, towards the Mediterranean Sea.

If we extend those dipping sediments to the continental slope, where the continent meets the ocean basin, it would look like this, you can see where the water would be spewing out.:

This geometry of rocks is certain to yield artesian flow at the continental edge.  The situation would be a bit more complicated than what I have shown, but this simplification shows the basic idea.  Artesian wells occur only in valleys, never on top of the mountain.

Egypt's coast at the time is a bit more complicated but I will go step by step.  One thing to know about me is that I was geophysical manager of the Gulf of Mexico for 10 years for an oil company and the knowledge I learned there  about salt movement will come in handy here.  Below is what the coast of Egypt looks like today.

Everything above the orange Abu Madi formation and the purple salt, has been deposited after the Mediterranean flood.  We will restore the geology to approximately what it was like when the basin was dry.  The first thing is to know where the salt was originally.  As you move NE from the left of the cross section you will see the first set of faults (semi-vertical lines cutting through the rocks).  In this area, the faults are cause by salt movement and those faults show where the salt used to be.  See below:

Now we will remove all the post flood sediment and restore the salt to its original position:

The places I marked the possible artesian locations are channel cuts into the Abu Madi (first 3 from the left) and small thrust faults shown on the cross section in he middle of the section.  Given that the rain falls on Egypt, 5 km higher than this surface was at the time the Mediterranean was a desert, there would have been a lot of pressure to these artesian wells.

I know the Abu Madi formation is capable of artesian flow because it is made of sand and shale. The sands today are filled with natural gas produced by the Egyptian oil industry. a cross section from another place illustrates how faulting could be the source of some artesian flow.

I have shown that it is quite possible for what the Bible says to be true.  Mists would have arisen in this land regardless of whether one accepts this as Eden's location or not. 

The Right Rivers!

The second clue that this dry basin marks Eden comes from the fact that this is the only time in geologic history that the Nile, Euphrates, Pison and Tigris flowed into the same region. See the first map in this post or for more detail see here.  Today, the Euphrates, Tigris and the area drained by the Pison(it no longer exists), empty into the Indian Ocean.  The Nile still empties into the Mediterranean. If The Bible is true about these river, then this is the only time and place where one could make a case for a real Eden.  If this location is rejected, then Eden becomes a fantasy as many of our theologians and atheists, have claimed. 

"Skinner claimed: 'it is obvious that a real locality answering the description of Eden exists and has existed nowhere on the face of the earth...(T)he whole representation (is) outside the sphere of real geographic knowledge." John C. Munday, Jr., "Eden's Geography Erodes Flood Geology,"Westminster Theological Journal, 58(1996), pp. 123-154,p.128-130

All I can say to Skinner is that there was a time when a locality answering the description of Eden existed.  He just didn't have the requisite geological knowledge. 

This event comes at the same time as genetics says the oldest human genes originated. It is the only time genetically we could  have a primal pair of parents.  Isn't that an interesting coincidence? But one will object, only small brained hominids lived at that time.  That is true, but one Homo Sapiens, named Daniel Lyon, lived a full life in New York, having normal intelligence but  the brain size of a two million year old hominid, H. habilis. Daniel Lyon lived a normal life, showing brain size doesn't matter to one who bears the image of God. Furthermore the curses of Eden both involve the brains of Adam and Eve's descendants getting bigger. If they are Neolithic farmers as everyone claims, why curse them with something they already have, namely problems arising from having a big brain?

Rivers Splitting

Another  odd thing about Eden's hydrology concerns the splitting of rivers.  Scripture says (Genesis 2:10):

"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads."

Rivers don't split right after the spring that starts them.  The only time rivers split into distributaries is when they are on flat land or at their delta, near sea level.  This hydrology is telling us that Eden was at a delta or on extremely flat land.  The bottom of the Mediterranean desert five and a half million years ago would  satisfy that requirement.  It requires a deep flat basin for this to happen.
Well, if we assume that Eden was near where the four rivers poured into the basin, and the Edenic river was sourced by an artesian well, as described above, then below is what I think Eden looked like in diagrammatical form:

In our world, one river doesn't source four others. So what could this word 'head' mean?  The Hebrew word means 'head', 'chief', or 'principal'.  Its definition says nothing about water, or headwaters.  But some interpret that verse as requiring that this Edenic river be the source of the other rivers.  Now, I had an interesting debate about the word 'heads', but the debate got me thinking and I figured a way to explain this if it does indeed mean headwaters.    Notice that I have one green river flowing out of Eden and its distributaries, empty into the four other rivers.  I am going to suggest that even if you require Eden's rivers to be 'headwaters', a requirement not imposed by the Hebrew but by one's bias, then there is a way to have these rivers as 'heads'.

If our continent had first been settled in Oregon, and people crossed the mountains and found the Missouri river and gave it a new name, let's say, the Toodles river, they would float all the way to Southern Louisiana on the same Toodles river.  They would give names to each of the tributaries they passed and in this scenario, we would consider the headwaters of the Toodles to be in Montana and Wyoming, not in Minnesota.  What I am saying is that what we call a river's headwaters, is an accident of history. It was Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in 1832 who named the source of the Mississippi river. He called the lake which he decided was the headwaters of the Mississippi, Veritas Caput. He could have named any of the thousands of heads as the headwaters of the Mississippi. Below are all the possible headwaters of the Mississippi river

Any one of the above headwaters could have been called the head waters of the Mississippi, in other words, they are all heads of the Mississippi river.

While most people will not like Adam being as far back as I place him and won't accept this theory for that reason alone, I have shown above that the strange hydrology of Eden can only fit a deep basin locale. This, along with the four rivers, the cataclysmic flood lasting about a year, and covering high mountains makes this the only real place in geologic history and geologic time that actually matches the details of both Eden and Noah's flood.  The geology is sound. The question is will you follow where the data leads?

Why wasn't there a Rainbow in Noah's Pre-Flood World?

Why wasn't there a Rainbow in Noah's Pre-Flood World?

Glenn R. Morton March 21, 2020

There are two statements that Biblical scholars don't often connect and liberals dismiss as ridiculous.  I believe the Bible is a record of God's interaction with mankind.  And I believe that it can be scientifically/historically true, but not with the normal approaches taken by Christians. I believe that the events of Genesis 2-9 took place on a land that no longer exists, and that explains why these verses have appeared so troubling. Let's look at the verses.

When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens— 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground," Gen 2:4-5

There was no rain on the land upon which God was about to place Adam, and this was a time before farming. 

The second verse is Genesis 9:11

"I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.

I do not like the translator's choice of 'earth' because 'eretz means 'land', not 'planet earth'.  the land that was destroyed, therefore, could have been an area of earth that no longer exists, but actually did long ago, when man's ancestors first appear in the geologic record.  It was the Mediterranean desert.

But let's look at the other flood theories to see if any of them can explain a land with no rain and no rainbow?  The global flood idea has the entire world flooded.  Because rainbows can be seen anywhere on earth's surface today, including the driest area on earth, the Atacama desert, it is difficult to see how there would be no pre-flood rainbows.  
 Many global flood advocates say the rainbow was just given special significance, but to me that is like God saying to someone today, I make my covenant with you and I will set my grass upon the ground.  It makes no sense because God didn't do anything as part of the covenant. 

The Mesopotamian flood is popular with many Christians who don't believe in the global flood but want a real flood any way.  The problem is, there is rain in Iraq and rainbows in the sky.  So again, one must effectively have God take something that was already there and give it 'significance', but that isn't very satisfying.  Having God give significance to something already there doesn't show his power to keep his part of the bargain.

The answer to this question lies in the idea that Eden existed in the Mediterranean Basin 5.3 myr ago.  The details can be found in the here, but the world was different back then. The Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic ocean and it evaporated to 3 or 4 large lakes. So you will know this large desert is a mainstream idea, see Wiki and Wiki.  The world looked like this:

Click to enlarge. Note that the Taurus mountains are the Mountains of Ararat. The four rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:8-14 are found flowing into the same region of this Mediterranean desert and what looked like a nutty geography to many Biblical scholars, like Ryle and Radday:

"For Ryle, 'The irreconcilable with scientific geography.' Radday believed that Eden is nowhere because of its deliberately tongue-in-cheek fantastic geography."  John C. Munday, Jr., "Eden's Geography Erodes Flood Geology," Westminster Theological Journal, 58(1996), pp. 123-154,p.128-130

The above scenario, recognized by modern geology as real, says that those rivers once were together in the same area. Details here.

Would there have been rain in that 5 km deep, empty basin? Not likely.  First, the Mediterranean waters were mostly gone and the brine lakes remaining probably had salt crusts limiting further evaporation (A. Debenedetti, Marine Geology, 49,1982, p. 94.). There is river water pouring into the basin but, even today it is not enough to keep the Med filled with water. It is truly a small amount of water in the grand scheme of things.

Secondly, the Mediterranean is located in the Horse Latitudes.  Of them, it is written:

 "Horse latitudes, subtropical ridges or subtropical highs are the subtropical latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south where Earth's atmosphere is dominated by the subtropical high, an area of high pressure, which suppresses precipitation and cloud formation, and has variable winds mixed with calm winds."

You can see the 30 deg line along the coast of Egypt.

Thirdly, there is a very sharp rain shadow in all directions. The yellow lines on Mediterranean map above are the mountain ranges that cause a rain shadow. 

 From Wiki:

"A rain shadow is a dry area on the leeward side of a mountainous area (away from the wind). The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems and cast a "shadow" of dryness behind them. Wind and moist air are drawn by the prevailing winds towards the top of the mountains, where it condenses and precipitates before it crosses the top. The air, without much moisture left, advances across the mountains creating a drier side called the "rain shadow"."

In addition as the air flows down into the basin the relative humidity of that air drops, making rain even less likely. Britannica says of the descending air mass:

"As it descends on the downwind side of the range, it warms again and its relative humidity is further reduced. This reduction in relative humidity not only prevents further rainfall, but also causes the air mass to absorb moisture from other sources, drying the climate on the downwind side. The ultimate result is lush forest on the windward side of a mountain separated by the summit from an arid environment on the downwind side. "

As the air descended 5 km down into the Mediterranean basin, the relative humidity would seriously drop, more so than anywhere today on the present earth.  Rain would almost be impossible in such a basin.

 No rain, no rainbow.

The Rivers of Eden: Blind Chance or Divine Inspiration?

by Glenn R. Morton, March 14, 2020

The rivers of Eden describes the Eastern Mediterranean area as it was 5.3 myr ago. It points to Eden being located in the only place on earth that was flooded with a flood that matches the Biblical description of Noah's flood.  How did that happen? How is that possible? Below, I show how the Bible does match that time frame. It is up to you to decide how this occurred.

Eden is not popular with our theologians anymore. To me, this is a problem in need of solution because I believe Christian theology requires Eden and the events there to be real historical events. Most modern Christians don't think Eden's geography is real. And they do so for good reason, today's geography makes Eden impossible. Eden is reserved for a special castigation and unbelief by our scholars. John Monday writes:

"Some have gone further and claimed the geographical allusion is to a fantasy. For Cassuto, 'The Garden of Eden according to the Torah was not situated in our world.' Skinner claimed: 'it is obvious that a real locality answering the description of Eden exists and has existed nowhere on the face of the earth...(T)he whole representation (is) outside the sphere of real geographic knowledge. In (Genesis 2) 10-14, in short, we have...a semi-mythical geography.' For Ryle, 'The irreconcilable with scientific geography.' Radday believed that Eden is nowhere because of its deliberately tongue-in-cheek fantastic geography. McKenzie asserted that 'the geography of Eden is altogether unreal; it is a Never-never land.' Amit held the garden story to be literary utopiansim, that the Garden was 'never-known,' with no real location. Burns' similar view is that the rivers were the entryway into the numinous world. An unusual mixture of views was maintained by Wallace, who held that the inclusion of the Tigris and Euphrates indicated an 'earthly geographic situation,' but saw the Eden narrative as constructed from a garden dwelling-of-God motif (with rivers nourishing the earth) combined with a creation motif, both drawing richly from those motifs as found in Ancient Near East mythological literature." John C. Munday, Jr., "Eden's Geography Erodes Flood Geology,"Westminster Theological Journal, 58(1996), pp. 123-154,p.128-130

 John Worrall, professor of the philosophy of science at the London School of Economics, said:
"There is an enormous difference between myths like the Garden of Eden -- so crazy even bishops don't believe it -- and those myths which, as yet, have no evidence to back them up. Camelot falls into this category." Link no longer works

 So, is the geography of Eden real? I hope to show that it was real, and that geography has changed, and the description of Eden no longer fits today. But it is going to stretch the comfort of many.

 I remember as a teen hearing a preacher ask his audience of teens, how many wanted to know God's will? Nearly all the hands went up. Then he asked, How many of you are willing to do whatever it is he asks? Most hands went down and a few remained up. The preacher then said, "You are the ones who will find his will for your lives.?".

 I think this story also goes for apologetics. Are we willing to go where the data says to go? I think most are not, some go part way and a few might be willing to go all the way. When I was a new christian and was just getting into the creation/evolution area, and sadly becoming a YEC, I knew YEC had problems but felt the theology required a true history from Genesis. I told my best friend of the time,, my roommate and eventual best man, that I was going to solve the CE issue. That was a brash brag on the part of a 19 year old. The flood was what intrigued me most because floods leave evidence of themselves. And there is zero evidence of a big flood in Mesopotamia and the YEC global flood wouldn't work for so many reasons. My search led me eventually to the infilling of the Mediterranean Sea. Such an infilling perfectly fits the description of the flood in the Bible, but few are willing to call it Noah's flood. Doing so raises questions about farming that far back? And questions about can a primitive hominid really be capable of speech and communion with God? I will address these questions at the bottom of this post. I found a solution that no one likes.

The question I have come to is "How on earth did Genesis 2:8-13 come to describe the geography of the eastern Mediterranean sea bottom, which at the time was dry land during the Messinian Salinity Crisis?" And that location for Eden lies in the only flood in geologic history that is local, and matches precisely the description provided by Genesis 7 and 8.

 8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates." The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ge 2:8–14). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.  (Note, all Bible quotations come from this source)

Six million years ago the strait at Gibraltar closed, cutting the Mediterranean off from its main source of water. In the Mediterranean basin, more water evaporates from it than rivers can supply. Because of this, the entire Mediterranean sea dried up, leaving a few big brinish lakes and the rest was desert or grasslands where the rivers flowed in. Things were very different back then. Let's take a look.

The first river is the river Pison and it is said to compass the land of Havilah. Genesis 25: says: And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria.

This places Havilah in Arabia or the Sinai. In 2019 Matt and Ryan presented a paper on this question at an AAPG sponsored geological conference.

 Yossi Mart and William B.F. Ryan Abstract

"The offshore extension of Afiq Canyon is a deep valley, buried under thick Plio-Quaternary sediments beneath the continental slope off the southern coastal plain of Israel. ... Additional valleys of similar dimensions and characteristics to the marine extension of Afiq Canyon occur elsewhere along the continental slope of the entire Levant, suggesting that several rivers of the fluvial system of the Levant, which drained northwestern Arabia to the Mediterranean Sea during the Oligo-Miocene, still prevailed in the Messinian. The Afiq Canyon and its offshore apron as well as equivalents such as the Nahr Menashe fluvial system off Lebanon, imply that the geography of the Levant during late Miocene differed from the present. The Levant Rift could not have been a continuous tectonic depression as it is in the present, but rather a sufficiently disconnected series of grabens that allowed large rivers to still flow in between. The presence of the Afiq apron of substantial volume and with a thickness approaching 200 m along its apex confirms active fluvial systems feeding their bedloads into the Mediterranean as recent as 5 million years ago." 1

This is the Pison river system and when the Mediterranean was a dry mostly arid land, this river flowed over the present continental shelf and ended up on the former Mediterranean sea bed.

The second river is easy to identify because the only river that encompasses the land of Cush/Ethiopia between the White and Blue Nile tributaries, is the Nile river. During the Messinian Salinity Crisis, the Nile river cut the biggest Grand Canyon that ever existed. It cut over 4000 m into the African granite during this period.

"During the MSC the Nile created an enormous canyon, measured at a depth of more than 4000m below sea level in the offshore area of the delta."2

The sands it transported into the Mediterranean are shown on the picture below. The sharp linear cutoff of the yellow Nile sands is due to where the seismic survey stopped:

The southernmost red arrow in the picture above marks where the Pison entered the Mediterranean Sea. That is crooked lines it points to is the Afiq canyon mentioned above. Below is a picture of Afiq canyon from another paper, it is an enlargement and a bit fuzzy but can be read.

 We now have two of the Biblical rivers coming together on the floor of the dry Mediterranean basin.

The third river is the Tigris. It is called Hiddekel in Daniel 10:4

 "as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel"

Since the other river is always referred to as the Euphrates, Daniel had to be in the Tigris.

The precise location of this river's entry into the system is not completely clear. It might have joined the Euphrates onshore. We know that because Arabia was then draining its water into the Mediterranean, the Tigris couldn't flow south because of topography. It was updip that direction at that time., So, the Tigris is boxed in by the Euphrates draining to the Mediterranean and the Pison draining to the Mediterranean. Logic dictate that this river entered the Mediterranean basin. My current best idea about where it entered that sea, was a data point I once thought was the Euphrates. Just north of the Lebanese/Syrian border a big river entered into the dry Mediterranean sea at that time. Below is the surface slice from 3d seismic showing there is a big river channel entering the Med which I have marked on the picture. The channel is about 3 km wide which means it was a major river. The Green sediment fan shown in the first picture has to be the Euphrates, because it is closest to Turkey where that river is sourced. The Tigris river is sourced further east in Turkey.

The fourth river is the Euphrates, as it is named. It entered the Mediterranean through the province of Hatay, Turkey. The green sands, the Nahr Menashe, shown in the picture below are mostly from the Euphrates river, which even today gets about 62 miles from  the Mediterranean coast at just this location.  Today uplift along the coast turns the Euphrates away from its closest sea and heads it to the Persian Gulf.
This is because the crash of Africa into Eurasia has changed the tilt of the land since then. But during the Messinian Salinity Crisis, when the Mediterranean was dry, the Great Euphrates dumped its sand in the same place we find the Pison and Nile(Gihon) dumping their sands. The waters of these 3 rivers would have intermingled.

Putting this all together, this is a schematic of what I think the preflood rivers looked like and how they related to each other.  Let's start with what Scripture says:

“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads” Gen 2:10

That description can be matched precisely so long as one treats the word translated as ‘heads’ as meaning “primary or chief or main”.Ro'sh can mean this. Under this word choice,it reads,

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four main [rivers].

Doing that, and placing Eden in he midst of the main rivers,and making the area west of Eden into something that resembles the Okovango Delta of the Kalahari desert, or the Sudd or South Sudan, then one gets the following picture.

The area west of Eden in this scenario would look something like the Sudd swamp of southern Sudan. From Google maps, you can see channels going every which way::

Eden's geography can be quite real and quite historical. The question is, are you willing to go where the data of geology and the data of the Bible lead?

Now, I have shown that at one time, 5-6 myr ago, the rivers of Eden met on the bottom of the dry Mediterranean basin. I think that is where Eden was. The geography is real, but it isn't applicable to our time. Geography changes.

So, here is the question, How is it that the Bible mentions these 4 rivers which are impossible to be together today, but which were together 5 myr ago in a basin that experienced the most massive flood every known. That flood would have matched Noah's flood as described.

1. Noah's flood lasted a year. Geological cores from the flood layer show that the filling was extremely rapid--within an inch of sedimentation. Calculations show that it would have taken about a year to refill the Mediterranean 8.4 months to 2 years are recent estimates.

2.That flood would have covered many high mountains within the basin, but whose tops were below sea level. Noah's flood says the same thing. "Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered" Gen 7:20

3. If you read the word 'eretz' as land rather than as planet earth, then Genesis 7:21 is absolutely true:

And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the land, and every man: 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

4. Constant rain would occur because the flood waters filling the  basin would push moist air up which would cool, condense to clouds and cause long periods of constant rain.

5. Furthermore, in Gen 6:11, God says he will destroy the 'eretz' (land). And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. This can't happen with a global flood; we still have land. It doesn't happen with a Mesopotamian flood--Mesopotamia is still there. But with a big local flood, like the infilling of the Mediterranean, that land has actually been destroyed. It no longer exists.

To top this off, this time period was when Hominids first appear on earth. This is the only time we could have had a primal pair of Adam and Eve.  And this makes people nervous about having Adam be a small brained person. I have a series of posts here which discuss this and other issues.

If you are worried about a small brain being stupid, see my post discussing a normal modern human with a brain the size of an australopithecus.

If you don't think Adam could have lived that far back, consider the series When Did Adam Live. Since humanity's oldest genes are 5.3 myr of age, genealogically, this is the only time a primal pair of parents could have existed, see here. Religion goes way back, meaning religion is not a new thing. The curses given to Adam and Eve both involve their brains growing bigger, which implies strongly that Adam and Eve were early hominids. Why would God curse big-brained Neolithic farmers with what they already had?

Objection: Farming The choice of 'tiller' for the translation of what Cain did might be unfortunate. The word could be "served" the ground, or 'worked' the ground which would not have that connotation of farming. Strong's says: "AV translates as “serve” 227 times, “do” 15 times, “till” nine times, “servant” five times, “work” five times, “worshippers” five times, “service” four times, “dress” twice, “labour” twice, “ear” twice, "3 Early hominids used stick to dig up tubors. They were 'workers' of the ground, but not 'tillers' of the ground. Translators always think in terms of their scenario for the events they are translating. If they are wrong, well, they change what people think. I don't feel necessarily that this does mean tilling rather than working the ground.

What of Abel keeper of flocks?  There are two ways of looking at this. The word keeper can be translated as 'companion', so Abel could be a 'companion of flocks'.  Did he consider he owned them? Maybe. Did flock consider itself owned? Maybe not--like my cat does not consider himself owned. Many primitive people follow 'their' herds, but their herds are wild. But lets say he did have some captive animals.  This might be no more different than the Neanderthals of the Southern Caucasus who clearly had sheep in a  closed off box canyon and used them as a food source.  The sheep were wild but couldn't escape.

Now, the word translated as sheep is tson and may mean sheep, goats or cattle. (it also could mean possessions). Now, herders get most of their calories from the flocks and herds they keep. That is why they keep them. But what are we to do when Neanderthals did the same thing in the Caucasus mountains where they obtained 85% of their calories from sheep!4

At another cave they obtained 60% from sheep and goats.

"Outside the Caucasus, high frequencies of mountain goat in Middle Palaeolithic contexts have been observed in Uzbekistan at Teshik-Tash (Capra sibirica: 1 80% NISP [Gromova 1949]) and Obi-Rakhmat (Capra sibirica: 47.4-66.7% [Wrinn n.d.]), at the Spanish sites of Gabasa 1 (Capra pyrenaica: 33.7-52.2% NISP per layer [Blasco Sancho 1995]) and Axlor (Capra ibex: 25.6% combined ungulate sample [Altuna 1989, 1992]), and at Hortus in southern France (Capra ibex: 75.4% NISP combined sample [de Lumley 1972])."5

It seems that Neanderthals had some system which had a similar effect calorically as herders, but they were unlikely herders. Maybe this is something like what Abel had.

Speech I do not believe that it was necessary for Adam to have the same ability in language that we have. There has always been a question in anthropology about whether language areas like Broca's area developed as speech improved or where they required first. If they were required first the question then becomes what caused them to grow, as useless things until suddenly, they got big enough for language. That seems backward. Broca's area should have evolved as a response to speech getting better.

I also don't think it is necessary for the vocal tract to be like ours in order to have a primitive language. Meer cats have vocalizations for aerial attacks by eagles or a terrestrial attack. They don't have our vocal tract but communicate these things very well. Early humans would have had a slower communication, but it still could have been communication.

When I was a young-earth creationist, I believed that the Bible was historically true and that grounded my faith. When I left it and had no historical anchor for early Genesis, I cursed the day I became a geoscientist. I envied the YEC's for the certitude they had and I didn't have certitude. Now that I have found a way to match the Bible historically from Genesis 1 through the Exodus, I have that certitude in Scripture again that I had so long ago. Certitude that they were correct is what powered the disciples. Without that certitude today, the church is weak and adrift.

Now, once again, is it blind chance or divine inspiration that the Bible describes a geography that actually existed 5.3 myr ago? Will you follow the evidence or not?



2.Angelos Mousouliotis et al, " Siliciclastic Deposits of the Messinian Nile Canyon, Herodotus Basin, Eastern Mediterranean", Geoscience Technology Workshop, Exploration and Development of Siliciclastic and Carbonate Reservoirs in the Eastern Mediterranean, Tel Aviv, Israel, February 26-27, 2019

3.Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

4.Daniel S. Adler, Guy Bar-Oz, Anna Belfer-Cohen, and Ofer Bar-Yosef, Ahead of the Game : Middle and Upper Palaeolithic Hunting Behaviors in the Southern Caucasus ,"" Current Anthropology Volume 47, Number 1, February 2006, p. 91

5.L.V. Golovanova, et al, ""Mezmaiskaya Cave: A Neanderthal Occupation in the Northern Caucasus,"" Current Anthropology, 40(1999):1:77-86, p. 85