The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
Get the Book!

The Flood Myth: A Scientific and Historical Impossibility

Genesis chapters six to nine give an account of a cataclysmic deluge that once swept the whole earth. We have seen that the story as told in Genesis is not internally consistent. We now go on to show that the flood stories in Genesis is a scientific and historical impossibility:

Geological Evidence Against the Occurence Worldwide Flood

This deluge had it really happened would have left behind unmistakable evidence of its occurrence. While geological records show that there had been epochs when some of the earth's surface now covered by land was covered by water and vice versa. This flooding and drying happened repeatedly in many places at different times. However there is no evidence whatsoever of a worldwide flood as recorded in the book of Genesis. [1]

In fact some of the evidence against the actual occurrence of a worldwide flood was already known more than a hundred years ago. The man who bought forward one such evidence was the one considered to be the father of modern geology, Charles Lyell (1797-1897). In his 1863 book, The Geological Evidences for the Antiquity of Man, he noted that the extinct volcanoes of France in the Auvergne district were composed of loose ashes. The volcanoes had been extinct for a long time, certainly longer than the purported time of the biblical flood. Thus he continued:

“Had the waters once risen, even for a day, so high as to reach the level of the base of one of these cones-had there been a single flood fifty or sixty feet in height since the last eruption occurred- a great part of the volcanoes must have inevitably been swept away”[2]

Today the geological (and historical) evidence for the non-occurrence of a worldwide flood is simply overwhelming. Ian Plimer, Professor of Geology at the University of Melbourne, gave a thorough listing of these in his book Telling Lies for God: Reason versus Creationism. We will give two of the evidence cited by Professor Plimer: [3]

  • The first concerns the sequence of the sedimentary deposits. There are two kinds of sediments: high energy and low energy sediment. Based on simple laboratory tests and field observations of actual floods, it can be shown that high energy sediments, such as gravel, are deposited during the height of floods. Low energy sediments, such as siltstone, mudstone and claystone, are deposited during the waning of the floods. Thus if there is a worldwide flood we would expect that there would be a uniform worldwide sedimentary formation with the high energy sediments (ancient gravel, sands) at the bottom and the low energy sediments at the top. Yet this is not seen on anything close to a global scale. As Professor Plimer pointed out, if this is to be seen on a global scale, oilfield geologists would have an easy job since all sedimentary formation would invariably have sandstone at the bottom and siltstones, mudstones and claystones at the top!

  • The second concerns the evidence of the environment of the sediments during its time of deposition. Chemical and fossil evidence shows that some sedimentary rocks were formed in freshwater environments while others were formed in a saline (salty-seawater) environment. Clearly the waters that was sent by God during the deluge was either fresh or saline; it couldn’t be both!

Back to the top

Noah's Ark: An Engineering Imposibility

Actually the story of Genesis is, even at first glance, absurd.

First let us look at the ark built by Noah. Genesis 6:15 gives its measurements as 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. The length of the cubit is based on the length of the human forearm and varies among the various ancient cultures. For instance, the Babylonian cubit was approximately 0.53 metres, the Roman cubit was about 0.44 metres while the Hebrew cubit was about 0.56 metres. Using the Hebrew cubit the ark would have measured 168 metres long, 28 metres wide and 17 metres high. There are two problems with this ark as described: it is both too big and too small at the same time.

  • It is too big, because before the invention of steel, the wooden ark of Noah simply could not have been structurally sound and was thus unseaworthy. The longest wooden ship ever built (i.e. historically verified) was the USS Wyoming. This vessel, which was, at 110 meters long, a full 50% shorter than Noah’s ark, was found to be so unstable that it could only be used for short coastal hauls to avoid rough conditions further out in the sea. The huge structural stresses that developed in the USS Wyoming made the ship sag and, well, it leaked. Water thus had to be pumped out continuously to prevent the ship from sinking. Now, here we have Noah’s ark, built with wood, before the invention of steel and hydraulic pumps, undergoing the turbulent conditions of the flood unscathed. It is simply an engineering impossibility.

  • It is too small, because there is simply not enough room for all the animals. There are extant today over 4,500 species of mammals, 6,000 species of reptiles, 8,600 species of birds and 3,000 species of amphibians. Each of these have many large members: elephants, camels, rhinoceros, hippopotamasus, giraffes, horses, donkeys, zebras, cattle, bison, tapirs, pigs, tigers, lions, jaguars, panthers, sea lions, walruses, crocodiles, alligators, giant turtles, Komodo dragon, snakes, ostriches, emus, falcons and giant salamanders. There are 23,000 species of fishes, many of which will not be able to survive the flood if not taken up into the ark. Each kilogram of fish require about a cubic meter of water to survive-this is simply to provide enough oxygen and provide space for swimming while sleeping and feeding. The volume of water required for the fishes alone would be larger than the ark.[4] And then there are the little creatures; there are about a million species of insects and 60,000 species of arachnids. How were these species stored in the ark?

Back to the top

Other Impossibilities

Gathering all these animals would be a problem. Genesis 7:11-15 makes it clear that the gathering of all the animals took only one twenty-four hour day. Thus each pair of animals have less than 1/10th of a second to get into the the ark. The question of pairs also raises the issue of organisms that simply don’t survive or reproduce in pairs: insects such as bees and flies.

Noah was also supposed to store food for these animals (Genesis 6:21). This presents another problem in terms of storage space and the actual variety required. A pair of elephants would require about 300 kgs of bulky greenery per day. Enough meat must be stored for the various carnivores such as tigers, lions, jaguars and panthers. The 10,000 species of termites would have to be fed to ensure that they do not consume the ship itself! The giant panda would have to be fed only bamboo shoots. The koala must be fed only fresh eucalyptus leaves. Animals such as snakes, penguins and bats need to be fed with living food; so Noah would need additional storage space for rats, fishes and insects for these creatures. Removing the wastes and excrements of the animals in the ark would provide a logistical nightmare. How could pairs of all these be taken up the ark and looked after by only eight people (Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.)? [5]

And what about terrestrial plants and vegetation? The immense weight of the flood water would have destroyed them all. What kept the plant alive through the flood? It is naive and pointless to say that God kept these alive by miraculous means; for what is the reason then for Noah building the ark? If God could keep the plants and the fresh water fishes alive without Noah taking them into the ark, He surely could have kept all the rest alive without needing the ark. [6]

There are still more difficulties with the story. It fails to explain the distribution of animals after the flood; How did the animals know how to reach their respective habitat after the flood? What an amazing coincidence that almost all marsupials end up in Australia. Why did the penguins head for the south pole and not the north? Where did all the water go after the flood? What did the carnivores eat before the first pairs of their food have a chance to reproduce? What did the herbivores eat, since all the plants woulsd have died during the flood?

Back to the top

Let us summarize our findings:

  • There is NO evidence for there ever being a worldwide flood. The evidence against it have been known for a long time-some dating back to the nineteenth century.
  • It is obvious that the story of the deluge is simply a tale told by a pre-scientific tribe who had no idea of the totally impossible situation that would have developed had the story been true:
    • Impossible engineering: The ship would have been structurally unsound.
    • Insurmountable Space Constraints: There was no way more than one million pairs of animals could have fitted into the ark.
    • Unrealizable Logistics: It was impossible for the animals to have been transported into the ark, cleaned and fed by eight people or even by eight hundred people.
    • Unsound biology: The current worldwide distribution of animals simply could not be explained by the flood.
    • Unsound physics: Where did all the flood waters go?

Back to the top


1.A Dictionary of Common Fallacies I: p96
2.Howell-Smith, In Search of the Real Bible: p47
3.Plimer, Telling Lies for God: p75
4.Plimer, Telling Lies for God: p111-112
5.ibid: p121-123
6.Howell-Smith, In Search of the Real Bible: p46

Back to the top

[Home] [The Central Thesis] [Christianity] [The Bible] [Jesus] [Paul] [God] [History] [Pascal's Wager] [Bibliography] [Links]
© Paul N. Tobin 2000

For comments and queries, e-mail Paul Tobin
Hosted by