Old Religious Flood Stories

So I’m talking with this guy about Noah’s ark and the Great flood. He tells me that most cultures, religions, and races have a flood myth.

I say to him “yeah, that’s because most old societies back then gathered and created towns and villages near a water source, and those sources would occasionally flood.”

“No,” he says, “I’m talking about the stories they tell about their god’s flooding the whole world and choosing some ‘good’ people to survive on a boat or raft. You know like Noah.”

I ask for examples, but he really doesn’t know any, he just knows that other religions and races have flood stories. We talk of other things for awhile and finally we go our separate ways.

Once at home I decide to research the flood stories on the Internet. I’ve heard this before, and never really researched it much. I found that many of the flood myths contain similar qualities

  • Humans are guilty of sin or transgression against the gods
  • A god or gods sends a flood as punishment.
  • Instructions are sent to an individual to build a boat or craft of some kind.
  • The instructions include ensuring the survival of all species…or at least some of them
  • The flood destroys the old race of sinners
  • After the flood, a new, less sinful race emerges to regenerate the species.

The Hebrew (Noah’s) flood is one of the few that can…kind of…be dated. Most of the Christian religious sects agree on a window of from 2700 to 2200 BC, with around 2300 to 2500 BC being the average. Of course, as I have wrote here before, there is absolutely no evidence for a world-wide flood anywhere near those dates. In fact there is no evidence for world-wide flooding at any past age.

The oldest story I have found is the Epic of Gilgamesh, tentatively dated at about 1000 or more years before the OT Hebrew legend. Since the Hebrew story has so many similarities to Gilgamesh, and the Gilgamesh story is out of Babylon, where the Jews just happened to spend a lot of time (think of the ‘Exile), and is where many scholars think the majority a lot of the OT was put to papyrus. By the way, you can see this late composition of the scriptures by noting that there are some glaring anachronisms in Genesis.

There are a number of flood stories that some scholars think have been polluted by early Christian proselytizers. These are primarily American Indian and South American Indian. (Minus the really old South American tribes) As you read some of the old stories you can see the Biblical influence.

So, yes there are many flood stories from around the world, but most of them disagree on the details, but some of them kind of agree. Why do you think this would be? Is there some kind of ‘group’ human memory going on here?

Believe me, if the people that research these kinds of things (geologists, archaeologists, etc.) ever found some kind of proof for a historical world-wide flood, and they have been looking down through the years, you would hear about it. A find of that magnitude would make him/her rich and famous.

There is a man, George Valas, of the National Technical Information Centre and Library, in Hungary who has an interesting theory. The full paper can be read: Here:

He writes:

“It is an old enigma whether the myths of Flood obtained in different mythologies created independently of each other in different parts of the world are based on real events or not. The paleoclimatologic research obtained in the late eighties that the melting was extremely violent in some periods of the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, creating “ideal” conditions for cataclysmic floods, more violent than we can imagine now. The period about 8250 B.C., the years after so called Younger Dryas episode of severe refreezing rises above the others of such periods with the second most violent melting of the whole Pleistocene-Holocene transition, with strongly increased seasonality concentrating the melting to a short period within the year, and a monsoon activity in the presently arid Middle East 30% stronger than it is observed in the contemporary monsoon zone. It is very likely that this coincidence of circumstances might cause such cataclysmic floods that may cause to born the myths of Flood.

A series of the largest natural catastrophes in the history of mankind can perhaps be discovered by comparison of recent results in paleoclimatology with traditions of religions. The origin of the biblical myth of the Flood is an ancient enigma that is complicated by similar myths in other beliefs in other parts of the world. An old hypothesis suggested that in the background of these myths there were real floods of cataclysmic size. Attempts to identify these real floods or find any connection between them have as yet been unsuccessful. However, recent paleoclimatic investigations have put this enigma in a new light, as a consequence of which it seems likely that all these floods took place during the last deglaciation period, during the transition from Pleistocene to Holocene. The most likely time for the biblical Flood is about 8,250 B.C. (10,200 B.P.), the end of the Younger Dryas cold episode.

Given that the text of the Old Testament should not be taken literally, one of the first questions is: Do verses 7:10-7:12, 7:17-7:24, and 8:2-8:11 of Genesis reflect some real event? Was there any real flood of unprecedented size in the background of the biblical myth of the Flood? Even though one of accepted answers is that indeed there was (Tokarev (ed.) 1982), attempts to identify the geological layers of that flood have been unsuccessful. One possible reason for this may be the incorrect dating of the supposed event.

The situation is complicated by other similar myths in other beliefs in other parts of the world, from Sumerian Ziusudra myth through different Indian and Chinese myths to a large variety of myths of flood among different native American nations and tribes (Tokarev (ed.) 1982). It is not likely at all that these myths are spread from one centre, because

i) There are too great differences between them (Tokarev (ed.)1982);

ii) The cultures in the Middle East, in India, in China, and in
Americas developed independently of each other in the last
20,000 years (Barraclough and Stone 1990).

A real flood of global size is simply impossible, because the amount of all water on the Earth is far not enough for a “global” flood: any real floods in the background of these different myths had to be different ones (except the Biblical and the Sumerian myths that can reflect the same event observed independently of each other by two different populations at two different places). Despite it being difficult to imagine that these different myths reflect events completely independent of each other, there is no evidence of any connection between these different floods.”

There is more to this paper, and it’s an easy read, you may want to follow the link. Here

That makes two theories now, if you also consider the Black Sea Deluge , that make infinitely more sense to explain this damnable flood story that the Hebrews wrote of and the Christians gloomed onto as the workings of Yahweh, Elohim, El, Jehovah, or whatever. The other cultures also attributed ‘their’ flood to their gods, but Christianity says they are false gods so their stories are not true…well maybe Yahweh is false too. These are just old stories and myths; they can’t be proven, but most of the assertions (Noah’s two or seven of every animal, only 8 people survived, etc.) can be disproved.

The Christians just keep trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Maybe they need to regroup and rethink the reality out here.

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Interested in family and friends,grandchildren, photography, darkrooms, history, archaeology, scuba diving, computers, software, fast cars, journalism, writing, travel, ecology, news, science, and probably most other subjects you could think of. Did I mention family and friends?? I require iced tea or cold brewed coffee and a internet connection to be fully functional. Sometimes there are just so many words in my head they spill out.

21 Responses to Old Religious Flood Stories

  1. Dave says:

    >A real flood of global size is simply impossible, because the amount of all water on the Earth is far not enough for a “global” flood: any real floods in the background of these different myths had to be different ones<

    I don’t believe there is a god, except as it exists as an idea inside the minds of human beings. The idea of a god as proposed by Jewish and Christian believers is particularly ridiculous.

    That said, if there WERE a god – and there isn’t a god – it could do, by definition, anything it wants to do. It can create water to cover the earth if it wants to – come on, it’s god! ;-)

    So looking for scientific evidence to confirm or deny the existence of a god, or at least of a world-wide flood, is pointless, for those who believe in god to begin with. Anything is possible for those who believe in an all-knowing god. For me, though, the inherent contradictions contained in the concept of an all-knowing god mean such a creature is an impossibility.

    I’m pretty sure, though, that if I did believe in an all-knowing, all powerful god, I wouldn’t care about how much water was or was not available for the task at hand. I’d believe that a god could conjure up all the water it wants.

  2. thewordofme says:

    Yes, agreed. a real god could conjure up anything, and I suppose it could wipe out any proofs that he/she did it.
    So, in that respect we will never know the truth…just like now we only guess at what might be the truth.

  3. thefaithfulmind says:

    I have a suggestion; as to the apparent impossibility of a worldwide flood, if such a flood did occur, would that not radically change the landscape? That is, science has concluded that, if the surface of the Earth was completely uniform, it would be under at least a mile of water. Could not such a global event radically redefine the landscape? I suppose the hypothesis that I am presenting is that the Earth’s overall landmass above sea level (and below, for that matter), could have changed a great deal. That might be why we can’t locate two of the rivers that surrounded Eden in Biblical myth, the Gihon and Pishon; such a great flood could redirect or permanently cover the flows of rivers in sediments, could it?

  4. thewordofme says:

    Hi thefaithfulmind, thanks for writing.

    Reading the scripture you would have to conclude that the water was at least 3, or more, miles deep over the earth. Mount Ararat is 16,854 ft. high and Mount Everest is 29,029 ft. high. We know that these mountains existed at the supposed time of Noah’s flood.

    There is absolutely no geological or archaeological evidence that the whole earth was covered at one time. In fact all the evidence says very plainly that it never happened.

    We are talking very old Hebrew myth here. It’s more likely the story is allegory meant to explain the Hebrews view of God, and how He interacts with mankind. Also, another thing to consider is that the Gilgamesh myth is much older than Noah’s myth, and it looks like much of Noah’s story was plagiarized from it

    Also to be considered is that the Egyptians were living right next door, were writing at the time, most of the pyramids were built, and never mentioned a flood, and have no archaeological evidence of a total civilization destroying flood at any time…neither does the rest of the world.

    The flood supposedly happened about 2300 +- and local floods can be tracked in history. Remember the ‘Holy Land’ and surrounding lands were literate at the time, and had been for as much as 1200 years already.

    You might want to think about The Tower of Babel story too. It supposedly happened about 100 to 150 years after The Flood. We know however that most of the world was already populated by millions of people. I doubt that these people were grunting at each other to communicate.

    I know you probably just deny the science behind it so you can, of course, believe whatever you want. Just know that I and other doubters are pretty darn confidant in OUR beliefs too.

  5. thefaithfulmind says:

    Well, you are right in that I find it hard to believe that everything Science says on authority is fact, just like I (and likely you) find it hard to believe that everything Religion says on authority is fact. Know, however, I mean no disrespect with that; I recognize that you are confident in

    You see, I find myself confronted by two apparently-improbable stories: one is told by religion, which suggests (though even this is an exceptionally narrow interpretation; there are other more inclusive ones as well) that the world is six thousand years old, was once completely covered by a great flood, and that just by accepting the truths proposed by a man named Jesus, I can have eternity in heaven (whatever that is).

    On the other hand, I am presented with the story that the world is actually four billion years old in a universe that’s at least fifteen billion years old and that, as creatures, can trace our roots from single-celled amoebas to sentient, multi-trillion celled beings.

    Both stories, on the surface, seem highly improbable to my mind. Therefore, my rational thought is obviously inadequate by itself to either fully understand either of these propositions, let alone decide which to accept as more accurate. Therefore, I must take one story (and the many rationalisations and histrocial considerations that go along with it) or the other on some kind of authority after having considered it and thought it through on my own. It also means that I don’t have much room to critisize someone elses differing conclusion.

  6. thefaithfulmind says:

    Oh, and to complete my first paragraph: I recognize that you are confident in your own perspective, as much as I am in mine, no doubt, that cannot be changed.

  7. thewordofme says:

    Hi thefaithfulmind, thank you for writing.

    I can look at the ‘problem’ you mention; is the earth 6,000 years old, or is it 4.5 billion years old and not have one iota of doubt. Just traveling around the world and looking at all the natural wonders we have…I get the sense of really really long time. Then you look at the text books and the evidential science papers and it all makes perfect sense to me.

    Think of all the things that we wouldn’t have if we didn’t believe in science and did not pursue what it finds. Of course this is what a lot of religions would like, as I read some of the religious rights literature and web sites. Forget science, no secular schools or learning, religion is the arbitrator of all social issues…that would be a future that I would happily commit suicide over.

  8. thefaithfulmind says:

    Ah, well, trust me; I do not foresee anything like that ever happening, and I don’t agree that that is the way things should be. Indeed, it is my opinion that scholarly research and opinion and improve our understanding of the world in which we exist as well as the ancient texts that define religion. In fact, if you look at Copernicus, Pascal, Descartes, and many other men who have become renowned scientists and arithmeticians who also had a faith. There really is no reason for religion and science to be set up on opposite sides of the playing fields; history shows that they can go together.

  9. thewordofme says:

    Hi thefaithfulmind thanks for your reply.

    We were coming quite close with Bush in office. We know he has a ‘braintrust’ of evangelical fundamentalists that he meets with regularly and felt he was guided by God in his war on terrorism.
    Pat Robertson was one of the braintrust members and he is an admitted advocate of Christian dominionist.

    Wikipedia describes this dominionism as:
    “Dominion Theology is a grouping of theological systems with the common belief that society should be governed exclusively by the law of God as codified in the Bible, to the exclusion of secular law, a view also known as theonomy.”

    I have been following this a little bit, and they (braintrust) are espousing using the Bible as a guide for secular laws and conduct. I agree with one or two of their points, but that’s all. I can’t see the federal government telling people they can’t live together before marriage, and that sort of thing. Think of the restrictions the Muslims have on their society and apply most of that to us.

    The scary thing about all of this is that Sarah Palin is one of these evangelical fundamentalists. I really didn’t want to bring politics into this, but if elected she will be too darn close to real power over a nation that has enjoyed secular government, with just the right amount of religion mixed in, for over two centuries.

    People in power can have faith, but keep it out of the office. Say a prayer at the beginning of a meeting if you want, but do not mix it with political decisions…ever.

    There is, I feel, a very good reason to keep religion and science apart. Science keeps finding stuff that doesn’t jibe with religion and some religions try to ignore or campaign against it. We know that certain things from the Bible are not true, and should not be taught to our children, as this puts them at great disadvantage in the real world competition for jobs and knowledge. However we also know that there are Christian organizations out there that are trying to subvert our schools and teach garbage or junk-science to our progeny, and that’s just wrong.

    I don’t know how old you are, but I remember in the late 1950’s and early 1969’s how women, blacks, people with different lifestyles, and some religions were treated, and I heard expressions of this hatred from some really high-up-there religionists. Bigotry and hate crime (seemingly based on deeply held religious beliefs) were common.

    I do not trust people with deeply held religious beliefs. Not because of their religion, but what they might do because they *think* God is telling them to it…think of the Inquisition.

  10. thefaithfulmind says:

    I would contest the idea that science and religion don’t jibe. The truth is, the religious interpretation of some people don’t jibe with some of the things that scientists tell us to be true. Now, I don’t want to miss this possibility: there might be some scientists who are misusing science for their own ends. There are also some “religious” people that are using religion for their own ends. As far as that goes, I believe that most organized religions have doctrines within them that try to account for and counter the effects of corruptible man; it is when people decide to ignore these and take interpretation of religious text and doctrine to radical ends that it becomes dangerous. Anyone who says that their Major religion (Christianity, Judaism, Buddha, etc.) teaches them prejudice or hatred is going strongly against the accepted teachings and traditions of that religion.

    As for that last part, I quote Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address: “The Almighty has his own purposes,” speaking of how men on both sides of the Civil War were praying to the same God for rest and triumph. Even in spite of his side’s apparent victory (and as some Union residents would probably say, thereby confirming the righteousness of their cause), here’s Lincoln not taking the religious high ground but instead saying that any God’s Will is higher than our own perceptions. I think that this is a valuable lesson for religious people everywhere: do not presume to know the mind of God. If God does exist, His “macro” mind isn’t going to work like our “micro” mind.

  11. thewordofme says:

    Hi thefaithfulmind,

    My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.
    – Abraham Lincoln,

    Science was early on incorporated into the fold of religion, as the Catholic Church did underwrite scholarly research, however when the sciences started turning up information that contradicted the Bible and Catholic interpretation, that put a crimp on that.

    Every time the Churches get in to a big disagreement with science…science wins. It’s been that way throughout history. It’s not just a matter of interpretation; it’s a matter on accepting real world facts. Witness all the fundamentalists trying their best to disassociate from the modern world by defending a young earth history with arguments that are a hundred, or more, years old. Some religious leaders and followers just don’t understand how science works.

    Regarding the teaching of hate and prejudice by religions, I would remind you of what Muslim Mullahs are now teaching in the Middle East, and what Christianity has been teaching about Jews over the years, and Christianity implicitly supporting slavery for two thousand years.

    Over the two thousand year history of Christianity, how many million people were killed because of heresy, how many million were killed by campaigns of genocide against the ‘infidels.’

    Religion has always been an ‘us vs. them’ affair.

  12. Rhys maybe says:

    Hi I would justlike to say that even imagining this is hard just to imagine the amount of rain that must have came down over the 40 days and nights!!!

  13. Even ancient Chinese characters have strikingly similar details to flood stories.

    You can’t blame this kind of similarity on missionaries in the 1800′s. Additionally, why aren’t there parallel earthquake stories? Or parallel heat stroke stories? Because those things didn’t happen on a global scale.

    When things line up in pre-recorded history, it would show up in stories. Oral tradition cultures are quite accurate. Kazakh families in Central Asia, for example, can recount their family’s history often to the 40th generation. Just because a culture is oral and undocumented doesn’t mean that it’s inaccurate. If one culture near the Nile had oral traditions of flooding, that would be one thing, but worldwide? Stories that all contain such similar details, reasoning, and outcomes?

    Come on. “Scientists” make all sorts of leaps and guesses based on one bone, one dig, one hieroglyphic, etc…. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to take multiple stories from around the world (see here for a sampling: http://www.nwcreation.net/images/flood_traditions.jpg ) and compile them.

    Police do this when they have multiple witnesses all of the same event– they interview and then take the salient details that are included in all accounts (perhaps some people remember a blue hat, but the overwhelming majority say it was black… or a good portion of interviewees say one of the attackers was a woman, etc.)… and then they assume that where multiple stories converge, there is a likelihood of fact.

  14. Dave says:

    >Both stories, on the surface, seem highly improbable to my mind<

    That’s your problem, isn’t it? The explanations for the origin of the Universe, and the evolution of life on earth, are based on empirical and testable evidence. Religious views are based on faith, which often enough contradicts the evidence built on rational thought. Personally, I choose rational thought over mindless faith. Why are you unable to do so, thefaithfulmind?

  15. Dave says:

    Jess wrote:

    >I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to take multiple stories from around the world (see here for a sampling: http://www.nwcreation.net/images/flood_traditions.jpg ) and compile them.they assume that where multiple stories converge, there is a likelihood of fact.they assume that where multiple stories converge, there is a likelihood of fact.<

    So you have completed an exhaustive study of all the religions of the world across all time, including the multitudes of religions that existed and died out before written history? And you can state without fear of contradiction that a majority of all these religions, known and unknown, have flood stories? I don’t think so, Jess.

    It is just as possible that, like the few who remember a blue hat, while many remember a black hat, most religions do NOT have flood stories. Certainly you are no expert in the history of religion, are you?

    Even if it’s true that there are similar stories about floods held by a majority of religions, it doesn’t make those beliefs true. Witnesses may indeed see someone wearing a black hat, but the conclusions they might draw – e.g., that the wearer of the hat is guilty of murder – are not necessarily correct. By the same token, just because many religions believe there was a world-wide flood doesn’t mean there was such an event.

  16. thewordofme says:

    Hi Jess@making Home, nice of you to write…thanks.

    Christian missionaries were in China spreading the word as early as 635 AD documented. As I’ve mentioned before many early cultures have flood myths or stories. Almost all prehistoric settlements were very close to water sources (that flooded from time to time) and we know that even sea levels varied (as much as 400+- feet) dramatically during ice ages—the last of which was ending about 8000 BC+-, just when man/woman in the Middle East were starting to settle down to a life of farming instead of hunter gathering.

    The earliest flood story we have is the Mesopotamian (Gilgamesh) one that was on your list at: nwcreation.net. It predates the Genesis story by at least 500 years and you will notice the similarities they share. Many scholars believe that the Genesis story was copied, with changes, from the Gilgamesh one.

    Of course the main cities of Mesopotamia are near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers—Babylon at the confluence—and yes, they were flooded often, some of them very large. We know from geological and archaeological evidence that there was a large flood there about 2900 BC +-. Probably covered the most of ‘The Plains of Shinar’ There is no evidence at all for flooding of the area around 2300 to 2400 BC, which is when most religions believe the ‘Flood’ happened. And there is absolutely no evidence of a world-wide flood…ever…happening.

    When talking about Noah’s Flood one cannot just take one line of evidence…you have to consider all the lines of evidence, all the sciences that would possibly impact on a global flood as mentioned in the Bible. ‘Naturalists’ were the scientists of the middle ages, and they were starting to notice that nature was not showing any of the evidence for a world-wide flood as early as 1600+- AD. It’s interesting to note that most, if not all, of these naturalists were religious people, some even church officials. I’ve heard a story that even Leonardo da Vinci wrote about the lack of evidence for the ‘Flood’ in one of his journals dated to 1510 AD, but I have yet to find a reputable source on this.

    My gut feeling is that the Noah story is myth, a story to explain the workings of a Hebrew God and his relationship to humans, but unless ‘God’ hid all the evidence for a flood just to confuse us…there was never a flood. This of course throws a bad light on the Christian religion…if the ‘Flood’ was made up…what else was?
    twom

  17. Ebsolas says:

    The flood did happen however the evedence from it is usualy glossed over by the secular scientists. Answers in genisis is a group of Christian scientists that is dedicated to giving the truth out. I’ve personally looked at both sides of the coin and the Christian flood is the only thing that makes sence when u get down to it.
    This first link has a lot of articles about it

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/flood

    The second one shows evidence on a global flood that is usually suppressed or ignored by the secular scientists.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/features/worldwide-flood-evidence

    Alo here’s a link that explains about rapid fossilization

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v4/n1/soft-tissue-fossilization

    It is a sad fact but a lot of Christians don’t know enough about the bible or the works to defend their religion. Just because they are ignorant about that it doesn’t mean the bible is any less true.

    Also sorry for any typos my phone is being weird right now.

    • the word of me says:

      Hello Ebsolas,

      NO, I’m sorry, but your Christian story of a great flood that covered the whole earth is nothing but myth. Every scientific organization who’s discipline crosses into evidence for a great flood has denied the possibility of such an event. In other words; real scientists, who don’t have a church or religious connection, say there is NO real evidence of such an event.

      This is not a recent determination. Scientists of the late 1600′s and early 1700′s were already saying the Noachian flood was a lie. And, it has pretty much been accepted by real science since then.

      You must know that quite a few bits of the bible have been falsified….most of the Old Testament for instance.

  18. Gerry says:

    If there was no flood then what is the rainbow? Go ahead with your scientific answer..next judgement is by fire.

    • the word of me says:

      The rainbow on earth has absolutely no connection with a supposed world-wide flood 4300-4500 years ago.

      There is no physical evidence for a world-wide flood, either from the immediate area or from anywhere else on earth.

      There’s no evidence for a Hebrew Exodus from Egypt either.

      Most of the Old Testament is falsifiable by modern day science.

  19. jenny says:

    Is there a God? Is there not? Was there a flood? Was there not? If you don’t believe… and there is a God, What happens to you in the end? …. You will lose everything and be in great suffering. If I or You believe in a God but there so happens in the end that there is not God, I still lose absolutely nothing. It is better to believe then be sorry if you ask me. I see not believing In God as much more of a risk then believing and living life for God. When there are so many people that believe in a God in this world and there a similar but somewhat different stories in our “bibles” that unite our religions across the world… there could quite possibly be a God. And that in my mind is a huge risk to take to not believe. If so many religions despite some variances in our faith but we all believe in a God and we all have some similar stories, maybe there is really one God but many religions, but a little confusion on the exact details because of language barriers, closed minded and stubborn people, but all in all Sounds like there is a God to me, just different beliefs on exactly how things happened.
    As a believer vs. a non believer, I am still better off believing and living my life by Gods good morals and treating others well as the bible tells us to. What does the world gain from believers…. it gains people trying to be good for God. Faith in God brings no harm to this world in brings us a better world , except the people who like to disagree and argue about it. What does it really matter the exact details? It’s Pretty obvious there is a God. Why not start praying and see where that leads you, thats how you really find out if there is or isn’t a God. If you’ve never prayed of course you don’t know God. What do you really have to lose by believing?

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