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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Noah's Flood? The Event That Some Scientists Think "Kick-Started" European Agriculture

Scientists at the University of Exeter (as reported at Eurakalert.com) propose that an ancient flood like Noah's flood may have caused dramatic changes in Europe:
The collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet released a deluge of water that increased global sea levels by up to 1.4 metres and caused the largest North Atlantic freshwater pulse of the last 100,000 years. Before this time, a ridge across the Bosporus Strait dammed the Mediterranean and kept the Black Sea as a freshwater lake. With the rise in sea level, the Bosporus Strait was breached, flooding the Black Sea. This event is now widely believed to be behind the various folk myths that led to the biblical Noah's Ark story. Archaeological records show that around this time there was a sudden expansion of farming and pottery production across Europe, marking the end of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherer era and the start of the Neolithic. The link between rising sea levels and such massive social change has previously been unclear.
I've been partial to the idea that a sudden flooding of the Black Sea and surrounding regions could have been associated with Noah's Flood. Stay tuned!

21 comments:

James the Latter-day Saint said...

Jeff,

The point you raise is quite interesting to me. I first heard of a "limited geographical" view of the great flood at BYU from a friend. At first I was not swayed, but I gradually find myself seeing the reason or plausibility behind it.

I believe the ancients had their way of viewing the world, their terminology, their narration. Though I believe that we are no better than they, but through continued contact and innovation we can sometimes describe things with greater precision and making distinctions among numerous variables they were not fully aware of. If we read their text or record as though it described all things as we do now, we might not arrive at an accurate understanding of portions of their description.

If the flood covered the globe, so be it. If it covered the known world where the presidency of the priesthood resided, so be that.

I wonder whether a greater understanding of the great flood is ananalogous to a greater understanding of Book of Mormon historicity. I mean to say, we will either come to understand what the texts really say, or we will continue to search for what we have come to believe the texts say.

Keep blogging!

Mormanity said...

Noah's flood is such an interesting topic for Christians and Jews who take the Bible seriously. Many apparent missteps have been taken in efforts to rationalize it, from claims regarding the finding of the ark on Mt. Arafat to geological theories that would describe much of the fossil record as being due to a global flood that wiped out animal species in deep layers of debris.

Many scientists have stated that there is not a shred of evidence pointing to a massive flood in the Middle East that could be correlated with Noah's Flood. But they've said that based on digging into ancient settlements currently on dry ground. If the flooding included the breaching of the land bridge between the Mediterranean the Black Sea, then some of the most dramatic flooding of populated regions might have been the land all around the ancient, small, freshwater Black Sea, land that is now underwater. Some scientists are beginning to suggest that such a flood could be the story behind Noah's flood. If so, there is a wealth of archaeological work to be done beneath the sediments of our modern Black Sea. May such exploration move forward quickly.

Latter-Day James said...

Not sure what to think sometimes. I have heard the Black Sea Theory before. It makes sense to me how someone could think it affected their entire "world" How does this fit in with the earth being "baptized" in the great flood, if this did not cover the entire earth?

Anonymous said...

I would think this 'baptism' was symbolic. It cleansed Noah's known world of sin and wickedness to allow for a 'new start'.

I've often wondered why Joseph Smith didn't comment on the global flood. My impression is a prophet can introduce only a few concepts at a time. If they are too radical (as discovered truth often is) everyone rejects them. I don't believe a global flood is a core gospel principle

Bookslinger said...

When the mystery is finally revealed (at the time when the Lord said he would reveal all mysteries from the beginning, DC 76:7), I think it will surprise all of us how accurate the scriptures are, and we will be amazed at how the addition of just a small piece of knowledge can fill in the missing evidence needed to reconcile the scriptures with our temporal observations.

P.S. Mt. Arafat?

Anonymous said...

"I wonder whether a greater understanding of the great flood is ananalogous to a greater understanding of Book of Mormon historicity."

If the above ideas are true for the Flood and the BofM history then do we need to reconsider the story of Adam and Eve?

Anonymous said...

"I wonder whether a greater understanding of the great flood is ananalogous to a greater understanding of Book of Mormon historicity."

If the above ideas are true for the Flood and the BofM history then do we need to reconsider the story of Adam and Eve?

Bookslinger said...

Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon leave a lot of things unsaid.

When those gaps are filled in, then we'll have a bigger picture, and it will all start to make sense.

The paradoxes and seeming incongruities between the scriptural record and our analysis of the geological/archeological record arise out of the incompleteness of both. We just don't have the entire scriptural record, only summaries edited by a couple of men, Moses and Mormon.

We don't have all the geological or archeological evidence either. There is much to be discovered. There was much that was just lost or obliterated by millennia.

And I'm sure that man's interpretation of what has been found is not entirely accurate either.

We are trying to compare ancient summaries to modern best-guesses about the meaning of surviving tidbits of incomplete evidence.

It's all good though. God has given us room to have faith.

Anonymous said...

Not to throw Joseph Smith's ideas that the Garden of Eden and Noah started in the North America there is additional floods to consider.

"Impact of a massive freshwater flood into the North Atlantic that happened about 8,200 years ago after the end of the last Ice Age. As retreating glaciers opened a route for two ancient meltwater lakes known as Agassiz and Ojibway to suddenly and catastrophically drain from the middle of the North American continent."

I will let you look up the two lakes and how large they were here on the North America lands. I think we still need to keep looking.

RWW said...

The previous comment raises an interesting point. Jeff, you seem to be disregarding prophetic statements that Noah sailed from what is now North America. Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com


Scientist links Lake Agassiz to Noah's flood
U of M geologist suggests Biblical story spawned by drainage of massive lake
By Randy Boswell
Sunday, May 9, 2004 - ONE of the country's top scientists believes the abrupt drainage of a super-sized glacial lake in Canada 8,000 years ago may have triggered the ancient Middle Eastern flood that inspired the story of Noah's Ark. University of Manitoba geologist Jim Teller has spent much of his career studying the 4,000-year life history of Lake Agassiz, a mammoth fresh-water basin formed as the melting Laurentide glacier retreated northward at the end of the last ice age.
But, it was Agassiz's last "catastrophic burst" -- a collapse somewhere along its glacial wall followed by a lake-to-sea gusher of almost unfathomable scope and speed -- that Teller thinks could have given rise to the Noah's Ark saga and other ancient accounts of a massive flood.

"I'm very reluctant to step forward and say I believe there is definitely a link," he says. "What I am saying is, here are two interesting things: these stories of a Great Flood, on one hand, and on the other side of the world, at roughly the same time, an outburst of water of gigantic proportions. But the next step, scientifically, is a very tentative one."

American scientists William Ryan and Walter Pitman had already argued that the sudden flooding of the Black Sea after the last ice age probably spawned the story of Noah and similar deluge narratives dating from the dawn of recorded history.

But Teller's team countered that a likelier scenario -- and one that makes more sense geographically -- is that water rushing into the Persian Gulf basin gave rise to Epic of Gilgamesh, Sumerian and Mesopotamian flood legends that were first captured in oral history and eventually set down in writing about 5,000 years ago.

When Agassiz's glacial dam gave way, about 160,000 cubic kilometres of freshwater poured into Hudson Bay in as little as six months. Teller says coastal peoples around the world could have experienced sudden and severe flooding as a ripple effect of Agassiz's dying outburst.

"I doubt we'll ever get at the truth of the matter," Teller adds. "But it's interesting speculation.

ltbugaf said...

A couple of comments indicate that Joseph Smith claimed Noah set out from North America. Where is that claim to be found?

Anonymous said...

Itbugaf, said:

"A couple of comments indicate that Joseph Smith claimed Noah set out from North America. Where is that claim to be found?"

I don't know how much is direct from Joseph Smith and how much is from second hand information but it has been generally excepted as part of the LDS doctrine or myth. I like the part where it decribed "Noah's ark would be floated on the mighty, rushing waters, towards the Gulf of Mexico." (mighty, rushing waters,) sounds like a great wall of water. Also the fact that Noah was on the water for about a year. It would be hard for me to see how they could be in the Black Sea or other inclosed sea for such a long time without running into land.




That is the position of the Latter-day Saints today, with respect to the much-discussed location of the Garden of Eden. Adam, after his expulsion from the Garden of Eden, lived in the vicinity of the great Missouri and Mississippi rivers. As his descendants multiplied, they would naturally settle along the fertile and climatically acceptable river valleys. When the flood came in the days of Noah, the Mississippi drainage must have increased to a tremendous volume, quite in harmony with the Biblical account. Noah's ark would be floated on the mighty, rushing waters, towards the Gulf of Mexico. With favorable winds, it would cross the Atlantic to the Eastern continents. There the human race, in its second start on earth, began to multiply and fill the earth.
The location of the Garden of Eden in America, and at Independence, Missouri, clears up many a problem which the Bible account of Eden and its garden has left in the minds of students. (Evidences and Reconciliations, by John A. Widtsoe, p. 395-397)
However, there is nothing in the book of Genesis to indicate that the first eight chapters of the story happened in North America.

Latter-Day James said...

I have never heard of Noah in North America. I don't have an opinion either way.

Anonymous said...

Not knowing about Noah and North America is strange to me as a convert of 30 years this was one of the first concepts I was introduced to. During my years in the church I have come to understand that some ideas are doctrine and some are myth or not excepted as doctrine yet. I know it makes many members unconvertable but I like all the information Joseph Smith and the other leaders gave us even if it can not be proven. With each new idea can help consider new concepts.

Peter said...

I have not heard of this either. Would this be in the Teachings of the Presidents - Joseph Smith book? I am currently reading it.
Quite interesting, it has taught me something already, something that I had been thinking about for a while but couldn't answer. I look forward to the rest of it.

Anonymous said...

Peter,

As a convert of 30 years I have been impressed with the range of topics Joseph Smith covered. I know many nonmenbers like to go after all of them but I have enjoyed all I can find out about the things he said. Many times they are just stories from second or third hand information and some may be disinformation from those that were enemies of him or the church. Joseph told some in to just select people one at a time in the middle of conversations. Some I call some Mormon myth because it is not church doctrine even if LDS church leaders have made statements about or written books about things Joseph Smith may have said. I think these leaders are also working through what right and what is incorrect. Some information, I think he got direct from revelation, some were impressions and some he was tring to work out with the knowledge of his day. He told President Young one time that if he told him all that had received in revelation that Bro. Young would leave the church. Another time Joseph said that if he told all that he knew that all would turn against him and kill him. But it is fun to read about.

ltbugaf said...

Anonymous at 3:05 on November 28 said, "I like the part where it decribed 'Noah's ark would be floated on the mighty, rushing waters, towards the Gulf of Mexico.'"

What's the "it" you're referring to? What described this?

Anonymous said...

(Evidences and Reconciliations, by John A. Widtsoe, p. 395-397)

This is all that I have found on the internet. From what I have seen of the Mississippi river it does not rush any where. This was the only picture the rushing waters put in my mind. Mississippi just flows along for the most part unless a great wall of water come from an ice dam.

Anders said...

Jeff Lindsay,
I agree with you on that the flood was local.

I think that a scientific approach shall be taken to all of Torah.
Also to all of history.
That is why I reccommend this research about the first century about Jew Ribi Yehoshua (the Messiah) from Nazareth and his teachings: www.netzarim.co.il

Have a nice weekend!
Anders Branderud

ldsbeliever said...

Genesis 7:20 says that the water level rose 15 cubits(approx. 22 feet) and covered "all the high mountains."
If the flood was a local event in the lower parts of the Mississippi drainage, as Joseph Smith's writings regarding the location of the garden of Eden suggest, a flood that raised the level of the river 22 feet could cover all the local "mountains", float the ark into the Gulf of Mexico, and then ocean currents and winds could take a year to carry the ark to somewhere in or near Europe or the Mediterranean.
There is no logic to the belief that water 22 feet deep covered every mountain in the world like Mount Everest to a depth of 29000 feet. There isn't that much water on our planet.
As for the ark coming to rest "on" Mount Ararat, it is more likely that the the ark came to rest on or near a high place that the people called Ararat and that the name Ararat was later given to the current Mount Ararat by survivors of Noah's family residing in that area because Ararat was the highest mountain in their vicinity.
Just my attempt to make something logical out of one of the Bible's less-than-believable stories.