And the Floodgates Opened

I think its about time that I put my money where my mouth is and actually show you all how I would discount some of the Creationist claims that I so adamantly speak out against. Sure I’ve argued so far that their logic is flawed, that they take things out of context, and that they in general don’t have a leg to stand on, but I haven’t actually proved any of their arguments wrong using the good old scientific method I harp on so much. Well this week I’ll show you exactly how I go about it by debunking one creationist claim and bringing into question the held viewpoint on another related issue.

The topic of the day, if you didn’t guess from the title, is the Flood from the book of Genesis. For those of you who don’t know the story of Noah and the Flood heres a paraphrased version: Noah gets a call from God saying “Hey, the earth sucks so I’m wiping it clean and starting over. But I like you, so build a big old boat and put you, your family, and a whole mess of animals on it so you float while others..well… don’t.” So Noah builds the boat, does what he’s told and sure enough the earth is flooded with rain and torrents and such for forty days and nights which seemingly cover the earth and wipe out all land life. So then after this, waters recede Noah lands on a mountain and God says “Hmm.. I don’t think I’ll do that again. Heres a rainbow to show my promise to not to that anymore.” The End. ((Genesis 6-8 (New King James Version) ))

Now the problems with this story are enormous. but mostly only if you take the English version of the story totally literally down to the last word. Now most people don’t (even though they say its a myth which is also wrong) but there is a fine group of people who like to take Genesis (and not much else of the Bible) literally to the maxtreme: the Creationists. Specifically Young Earth Creationists.


The problem is not only the existence of the Flood itself but the myriad of geological and biological “problems” that they seem to try and solve with it. ((“Claim 581: Carving the Grand Canyon,” The Talk.Origins Archive. Continental drift? Flood. Mountains? Flood. Fossils? Flood. David Lee Roth? Well you get the idea. One of the weirdest tenants they hold is that evidence of the Flood and also a geological “anomaly” used accredited to the Flood is present in the Grand Canyon. ((Ken Ham, “Grand Canyon,” Creation, March 1996, 28, This is somewhat ironic, as a side note at least, because after Ussher (the guy who came up with the age of the Earth as about 6,000 years old) the biggest shifts in the age of the Earth were made by guys like Comte du Buffon, WI’lliam Smith, and Charles Lyell who pointed out features like the Canyon were evidence of somewhat uniform processes in the Earth that could be measured and gave the Earth an age of well over 200,000,000 years. ((“Age of the Earth,” Wikipedia.


In any case, back to the Canyon. The Grand Canyon is a gorge carved out of the desert floor of Arizona by the Colorado River. As the river cut through the rock, straight down, the sides of the chasm would fall into or slide down into the river and were washed away, hence the immense width of the gorge. The rocks in the Canyon have been dated using radiological dating in a range with the youngest, most top layer being around 200 million years old to the bottom layers being about 2 billion years old. ((“Grand Canyon,” Wikipedia, The Canyon itself is attributed to being in total, 75 million years with the onset of the Laramide orogeny, the uplifting event in which the Rocky Mountains formed. The Canyon didn’t begin cutting though until about 5.3 million years ago when the Gulf of California opened and allowed drainage into the ocean, lowering the Colorado River’s base level from where it had been (around the elevation of the Canyon top) to sea level. Most of the cutting though has occurred in the last 2 million years. ((“Geology of the Grand Canyon Area,” Wikipedia,

From then on it has been a matter of the river trying to reach sea level. As it flows downwards it takes rock sediment with it. This sediment bumps and grinds the river bottom as it goes, very slowly eroding the bottom out and lowering the river.

On average this process is about 1 inch of river erosion downward per year. Although it is known that it has sped up and slowed down greatly depending on the climate and the rock strata is is currently cutting through. A very wet climate and a very soft sand stone could net several times more than a dry climate and a granite layer.

Now, Creationists have claimed that the Canyon is evidence of one of two things that are related to the Flood. One is that it is the source of one of the springs where water gushed forth from the Earth to flood it. However, this seems extremely unlikely since there is no geological evidence at all to suggest water channels beneath the Canyon nor a giant reservoir to hold such an amount of water (even if it was only a contributing amount) to flood the earth. The second theory is that the Canyon was gouged out as the Flood waters receded into the pacific ocean from the high elevation it was at. Now this is much more plausible than the other idea, but it still sounded like made up garbage to me, so I decided to do a little math and find out for myself.

So here’s my scientific method for proving them wrong. First I form my hypothesis. “The amount of water needed to form the grand Canyon is more than all the Flood waters in Genesis combined.” Thats one heck of a statement, but its one I’m going to try and prove. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But if I’m right, thats one point for me and one drawing board for the Creationists. So how am I going to prove this crazy idea? Simple, lets set up a simple thought experiment.

We know by measurement how deep the Canyon is and we can observe in laboratory conditions how long it takes for running water, like the Colorado, to erode different types of rock. So we know around the average amount of time it takes to carve out so much rock. As already stated this is something like 5.3 million years. But to be fair and more accurate, lets say it only takes 2 million, the smaller number mentioned above. Next, we ask ourselves, well how much water has flown through the Colorado River to produce the Canyon we see today? This is where the math comes in. From measurement we know the average (or the mean, as I’ll continue to use) flow of the Colorado before it is diverted by the Hoover Dam is 1,206 cubic meters per second of water. ((“Colorado River,” Wikipedia,

So how much is that a Year?

1,206 m^3/s * 60 s/min * 60 min/hr * 24 hr/day * 365.25 day/yr = 38,058,465,600 m^3/yr

Quite a bit of water. Now lets take that number and multiply it by the 2 million years needed for that mean flow to carve the Canyon at the mean rate of erosion.

38,058,465,600 m^3/yr * 2,000,000 yr = 76,116,931,200,000,000 m^3

Thats 76.1 quintillion cubic meters of water moving through the Colorado river on average every 2 million years. Now, lets see how much water was available during the Flood. If that number is close to this number we just got, we can assume that the Creationists might have an argument (assuming the entirety of the Flood would move through the Canyon). If the number we get is significantly less then we assume their argument has no merit. If it is significantly more we assume their argument has more merit than the geological erosion theory. So let’s figure this out.

Dry Earth

To calculate the amount of water on the earth in the time of the Flood we need two things: the radius of the earth without the water and the radius of the earth with the water. Now we know from satellite data and other means of measurement that the mean radius of the earth is 6,372.795 km. ((“Earth,” Wikipedia, To keep this simple, lets use meters. So, 6,372,795 m. Now from the English Biblical account the Flood covered ALL land. Now assuming Everest was the tallest mountain then and was at the same height it is now (which it wasn’t, it would have been shorter) we will say that that could be the radius of the earth plus the water. We will keep the Everest elevation as how high the waters reached: 8,844.43 m above sea level. ((“Mount Everest,” Wikipedia, So the Flood water in our experiment is 8,844.43 m deep.

To figure out how much water that is we will calculate the volume of the earth without the water (Vd) and subtract that figure from the volume of the earth with the water (Vw).

Rd = 6,372,795 m (earth’s mean radius)

Rw = Rd + 8,844.43 m (water depth) = 6,381,639.43 m (earth’s radius plus all that water)

Vw = 4/3 * Ï€ * Rw^3 – 4/3 * Ï€ * Rd^3

Vw = 4/3 * Ï€ * (6,381,639.43 m)^3 – 4/3 * Ï€ * (6,372,795 m)^3

Vw = 4/3 * Ï€ * 259,894,319,491,000,000,000 m^3 – 4/3 * Ï€ * 258,815,239,616,000,000,000 m^3

Vw = Ï€ * 346,525,759,320,000,000,000 m^3 – Ï€ * 345,086,986,153,000,000,000 m^3

Vw = 1,088,642,779,760,000,000,000 m^3 – 1,084,122,740,550,000,000,000 m^3

Vw = 4,520,039,210,000,000,000 m^3

Flood Water Volume

So the volume of the Flood water given this model (which is very biased towards the Flood theory) is some 4.52 sextillion cubic meters of water. This is about 59.4 times the amount of the Colorado has drained in 2 million years. This number was not at all what I was expecting, but I will have to live with it. However, before the Creationists start feeling proud of themselves, let’s look at one more piece of information.

The Colorado River drains an area of 629,100 km^2. So we can assume that during the Flood it would have drained about that much area as well, although it may have drained more. The surface area of the entire earth is 510,065,284.702 km^2. So the area being channeled through the Canyon is only .1233% of the total surface of the earth. If you want to get technical and say that only land drains water, that bumps the number up to .4223% of the total land area. So either way you cut it, the mount of water actually going though the Colorado’s draining area is about 19,092,081,070,100,000 m^3 at most. Thats only 25% the water needed to carve out the Canyon.

Flodded Earth

End Result? Not enough water in the Flood to carve out the Grand Canyon in its totality. At most, the Flood could have carved out a quarter of the depth and some could argue that the deluge that ensued could have cause a catastrophic carving out, but I doubt that would have accounted for more than half. In any case you’re left with half a Canyon with one million years of cutting left to do. And remember, this experiment was tilted in favor of the Creationist viewpoint. I could have used the 5.3 million years instead of the 2 million years. This would have netted 165% more water needed to carve out the Canyon. You can do the math yourself.

So there you have it. My method to debunk Creationist claims. I went through it just as I would any other scientific claim. Hypothesize then Test then Re-evaluate the hypothesis. And I even disproved my own hypothesis. There was more water in the whole of the Flood than there was moving through the Colorado River in the last 2 million years. Even so, the greater hypothesis, that the Flood carved out the Grand Canyon is still highly doubtful. Even if it had carved it out, it would only have carved a portion of it leaving a majority of it left to be cut. Which would take several thousand years longer than the Ussher length of 6,000.

So does this disprove the Flood in its entirety? Not really. This is but one example of the Flood’s effects being discounted, but it does not totally invalidate the story of Noah. As I said at the beginning of this post, I would try to bring into question one of the chief tenets of the Flood story. That is, I don’t believe the Flood was ever world wide.

There are many reasons behind this idea. First and foremost, so much geological evidence discounts that a global flood of such proportions ever really took place. There just isn’t any clear cut evidence that supports this. In fact most of it points to the opposite. If there was such a flood, on a global scale, there should be rock layers laid down in its wake of all the dead animals and plants. This is explained by the creationists as all the fossils we see in the geological record. However, this doesn’t sync up. If the Flood created the fossils along with the layers they are in, then the animals and plants within the strata would all be in a single, huge band of rock all muddled together. You can see this for yourself.

Take a bucket. Add some clay to the bottom of the bucket, this will be the preexisting bedrock. Next, add some sand and maybe some army men and little toy dinosaurs. These will be all the soil and people and animals that were alive before the Flood. Now dump another bucket full of water into the first bucket. Once the waves clear notice how the things you placed on top of the clay are now situated. All muddled together. This is how the things at the time of the Flood would have ended up during and after the Flood. Therefore the strata would be a muddle as well. But it is not. We see certain animals and plants at certain levels of rock. We see them in the same levels all over the world. We can see layers of ash from volcanic eruptions and also a thin layer of the element iridium that was deposited on the earth 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the earth near the Yucatan Peninsula.

The fact is, there is no solid proof of a global Flood. However, that does not mean the I was wrong. In fact, it is probably still spot on. The first five books of the Bible, or the Torah, was written in ancient Hebrew. The words were translated into mid-modern Hebrew, then to Greek and then to English. Some words were translated somewhat incorrectly. The most blaring of these (besides the word for “day” in Genesis 1) is the word for “earth” in the Flood story. The Hebrew word is “×¢ ר א” (pronounced “eretz”), which does mean Earth. ((R. Laird Harris and Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1981),167-8)) However, it also means “city,” “the country,” or “the land.” So you can translate the story as “And God covered the Earth in flood waters” or “And God covered the land in flood waters.” A major transition from one to the other.


The fact is, we don’t know exactly what the ancient Hebrews thought this word meant in this context exactly. What we do know is that there was a major catastrophic flood about 5600 BC which engulfed the entire fertile crescent. Known as the Black Sea deluge, it was a major event at the end of the last ice age and around the time of Noah, close even in YEC standards. The deluge was cause by a huge lake in what is now where the Black Sea is. ((“Black Sea Deluge,” Wikipedia, This lake was held back by the remains of a great glacial dam. This dam, due to the warming up after the ice age of the earth, melted and unleashed a huge torrent of water that covered over 155,000 km^2. This theory has its skeptics, but it seems that this may be the source of Noah’s Flood and also of the story of Gilgamesh.

Is this the story of the Flood? An ice dam breaking and flooding the “country”? Perhaps. Personally, I don’t think the story of Noah is a myth but I do think its been not only taken out of context of its original meaning, but it has also been Disneyfied and spread as gospel truth in that form. One day we may discover that Noah was the source of the Gilgamesh story or that the ark was not on present day Mount Ararat or that the Flood was indeed corroborated by some nameless scribe who wrote down seeing his civilization vanish as waters rose and their highest peaks were consumed. But until that time, we have to rely on the Bible as a document of salvation and not as a science book.

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  1. #1 by Noni on March 20, 2006 - 9:50 pm

    Old news. This same argument was presented about 20 years ago and only a few bought into it then. From what I can remember your numbers are slightly different but it is still the same song.

  2. #2 by Tsunami.No.Ai on March 21, 2006 - 9:12 am

    Just because an argument has been used before does not make it any less credible. Scientific arguments are constantly updated. Creationist arguments remain the same. If you want to talk about a “same song” look at the creationist argument that hasnt been updated despite new evidence to the contrary. You seem to think that the argument i present is wrong regardless. If so, please back up your assertion with some evidence. Saying its old does not qualify.

  3. #3 by Noni on March 21, 2006 - 6:01 pm

    Of course the creationist argument stays the same. Truth will always be true. What “new evidence to the contrary” are you refering to?

  4. #4 by tw on March 22, 2006 - 8:37 am

    Well, after a bit of searching, these are the best links I could come up with… First, in support of creationist theories:
    The problem with this argument, is it tries only to find flaws in evolutionist arguments without clearly laying out the details of its own theories. As usual, given that it is a “religious sciences” piece, none of it is supported by empirical evidence. I hate to say it, but if you intend to convince people who don’t believe your point of view, you must speak in their terms and follow their societal rules (at least when dealing with them).
    This more clearly states his theories in terms evolutionary scientists can understand. Unfortunately for him, it appears evolutionary scientists are not the intended audience of the piece in that it seems to diverge from contemporary creationist theories by assuming multiple floods. This is further underscored by his non-effort to refute any evolutionary arguments against his theory, which is just bad policy when trying to make arguments.

    It would seem that most evolutionists feel it is appropriate to fault the book Grand Canyon: Monument to Disaster by Austin, by providing arguments that are in line with their own theories and addressing logical flaws within Austin’s work. As I have not read the aforementioned book, I can’t judge the context for their arguments, though they are well formed and supported by evidence. Unfortunately, they don’t attempt to take any sort of biblical stance on the topic, which makes it difficult for them to convince those who believe otherwise.
    Here are a few sites that try to analyze this book:

    In short, if you believe the bible is infallible and written in the most literal sense, you’ll attempt to use arguments that you know from what you’ve been told and read. Which just don’t work for people who don’t believe. Further, if you don’t believe the bible as above, you won’t attempt to make arguments from it, which makes it difficult for the two groups to assume a common ground for discussion.

    As for my opinion on the matter, I think it’s funny to watch people scream at each other while I go get a turkey sandwich. I believe what I believe, and I don’t much care what you decide you prefer. We exist. I think that’s enough. How anti-philosophical of me.

(will not be published)