As with the creation myth page, we feel that the existence of other flood accounts support the truthfulness of the biblical account. Most nations would not have known about the Babylonians and their stories thus it would make no sense for any other nation to copy from that civilization. The idea that the Israelites copied from the Babylonians comes from the captivity account found in the Bible.
Yet since the Babylonians really did not travel the world capturing representatives from other lands and bringing them back to Mesopotamia, the idea that the Israelites copied falls flat. This conclusion is supported by the book, Mesopotamia & the Bible, edited by Chavalas and Younger Jr., approx. pg. 162-165, where the author of that particular article states that it was the Old Babylonians who were ferocious copiers of the works of other nations.
Thus it stands to reason that once the Babylonians became aware of the Hebrew scriptures, they copied the stories form it and altered them to fit their own beliefs. The idea of the Israelites copying from the Babylonians then incorporating those accounts into their own religious texts would not work because enough contemporary people would know that the accounts were false and would not accept them. Then subsequent Israeli historians or those who would question the history would investigate and see that the account was false and do something about it.
It doesn’t make sense to say that there was a political or priestly conspiracy because there has been ample opportunity, thousands of years, for the Israelites to investigate their own origins and see that the biblical accounts were copied and then make changes to their correct history. There would be no danger of this alteration because the original conspirators would be long dead and anyone left pushing their agenda would have lost power long ago.
There is no historical account recording any copying by the Israelites, any conspiracy or even any alteration to Israel’s history. As one scholar said, if the Bible is untrue this would make the Israelites the only nation in history incapable of writing their own history (slight paraphrase). It would also speak to the incompetency of the Israelite people and their apathy towards their own roots
One thing to keep in mind is coincidence. It is a mighty coincidence to think that all these different nations had a flood at approx. the same point in their history, that they all recorded that flood for posterity and that is just impossible as it takes a great amount of faith to accept let alone believe such a coincidence could take place when the topics are biblically related. You will notice that no non-biblical account enjoys the same popularity or recording as biblical accounts do
1. In the Bible, the creation story is soon followed by the Flood, God’s response to man’s repeated iniquities (Gen. 6–9). In both Egypt and Canaan we find narratives about angry gods who unleashed their fury on mankind, sometimes accompanied by a great flood.
In Egyptian mythology the goddess Sekhmet intended to wipe out the human race. She was thwarted only when others flooded the world with beer, which had been dyed blood-red. Bloodthirsty as she was, Sekhmet drank all she could and was put to sleep by the beer.
Canaanite literature tells a similar story about the goddess Anath (wife of Baal), who went on a rampage against man. No gory detail is omitted from the story as she wades into battle with a club and bow: “Under Anath (flew) heads like vultures/Over her (flew) hands like locusts … She plunges knee-deep in the blood of heroes/Neck-high in the gore of troops … Anath swells her liver with laughter/Her heart is filled with joy/For in the hand of Anath is victory.”4
The literature of Mesopotamia includes a crucial text that describes a flood as divine punishment. This particular text is called the Gilgamesh Epic. The main character is himself a combination of history and legend. He was in fact the fifth king of the Uruk dynasty (around 2600 B.C.), and appears in legend as a Samson-like individual. Two things stand out in the traditions about Gilgamesh. First, the story says he was one-third human and two-thirds divine. Second, he supposedly was of mixed human and divine parentage; his mother was the goddess Ninsun and his father was Lugal-banda, an earlier king of Uruk.
2. There are many ideological differences between the two flood stories. The Gilgamesh Epic gives no clear-cut reason for Enlil to send the flood. Certainly he was not moved by the moral degeneracy of mankind. How could he be? These pagan gods were not paragons of virtue nor did they champion it. One modern scholar, C. H. Gordon, says, “The modern student must not make the mistake of thinking that the ancient Easterner had any difficulty in reconciling the notion of divinity with carryings-on that included chicanery, bribery, indecent exposure for a laugh, and homosexual buffoonery.”5
Also, note that the Gilgamesh Epic emphasizes Utnapishtim’s use of human skill in saving himself from the flood. That’s why there were navigators on board; it is a match of human wits and divine wits. There is nothing like this in the Genesis account; there were neither navigational equipment nor professional sailors on board. If Noah, his wife, and family were to be saved, it would happen by God’s grace, not human expertise or ingenuity.
Third, the Gilgamesh story is basically without educational and long-range moral value. Scripture explains the significance of the Flood for subsequent generations by the words of a covenant from God: “And I will establish my covenant with you; … neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth” (Gen. 9:11).
Fourthly, the Bible shows that God saved Noah to preserve the human race. The myth of Utnapishtim does not reflect any such divine plan. He was saved by accident, because one of the gods tattled to him about Enlil’s intentions.
3. Communism used the myth of “evolution” to rule God out of the universe (by trying to make Him unnecessary). Clever men used a non-religion to explain the universe and, along with the “party line,” developed their own “opiate” to control people.
Evolution (biological and religious) is itself a myth and is taking our nation down a dangerous path. Evolutionary philosophers try every way possible to prove man happened by chance. They place great hope in science’s ability to create life, and eventually even “man,” unaware that man created by man will be a monster. These philosophers and pseudo-scientists are the modern attempt to push God out of the universe, even as rulers of the ancient near east tried to do.
In one of the Flood myths, it says that man became noisy and bothered the gods. This made the gods angry and that is why the gods destroyed man with a flood. The Bible, on the other hand, says man was rotten, so vile that he had corrupted the whole earth. The only remedy was to obliterate him. Conversely, in the myths, the gods are no good; man is all right. Men were simply bothering the gods (like flies), so the gods destroyed man. It was the gods’ fault, not man’s.
. . . The goal of the myth, progressively more clearly enunciated in time, has become the destruction of history and the enthronement of man as the new governor of the universe.20
Rulers of the ancient near east were trying to rule God out of the universe and to govern it themselves. To facilitate this they composed “creation” myths.
We can understand them by looking at it like this — Whoever “created” me, owns me. If someone else convinces me that he (or his god) did it, I am his slave.21 That is the motivation behind the creation myths of the ancient near east. They were written to keep people in bondage.
4. This fragmentary cuneiform tablet from Nippur—part of the collection of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania—will soon be available for online viewing, thanks to scholars with the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative. Its text records a Mesopotamian flood myth in which a remnant of mankind is saved from a catastrophic deluge by King Ziusudra—a theme later echoed in the biblical account of Noah.
5. In Case 10 (the Royal Library of Nineveh) we view two tablets, one being part of an ancient Mesopotamian creation story, Enuma Elish, discovered at Nineveh about 1848. This story is thought to have been handed down from around 1800 BC. The tablet on display is one of seven copied in the seventh century BC from a much older version. It calls for comment because cynics claim that such ancient epics were the source of the Genesis account of creation.
In Enuma Elish, two original gods (Apsu, the male, and Tiamat, the female) begat all the others, but these “children” made so much noise that Apsu could not sleep, and he decided to kill them. Before he could do so, one of the offspring put a spell on him and killed him. Tiamat, to avenge his death, takes up the cudgels, but Marduk (another offspring) eliminates her, splits her in two, and the two parts of her corpse become the heavens and the earth. Marduk relieves the other gods of manual work by creating man, and becomes the chief god. All this has nothing in common with the Biblical account of creation.
The second tablet to be viewed is the Epic of Gilgamesh—an ancient Mesopotamian flood story. The tablet is the 11th of 12 tablets (also a seventh century BC copy, found in the Royal Library of Nineveh).
Once again, atheists say that the Biblical account of Noah’s flood was derived from ancient legends such as this. Superficial and unscholarly remarks have been made to the effect that the Epic of Gilgamesh story “follows the lines of that to Noah closely”. However, as many excellent treatments of the subject have pointed out, there are vast differences between the Biblical and Mesopotamian accounts. Indeed, they form absolute “opposites” in many respects.
As far as creation is concerned, the Bible says that man was made in the image of one, holy, almighty God, before he disobeyed and lost his spiritual life to become a corrupt rebel. This Mesopotamian creation legend is, by contrast. a polytheistic fairyland, full of petty, corrupt, ill-tempered and vicious gods who are merely a reflection of (and obviously therefore a literary creation of) sinful men.
The flood story in the Gilgamesh Epic has some elements which are similar to the Genesis flood, though a number of similarities are surely inevitable. To escape a flood, for example, one needs a boat, and to maintain life afterwards, one needs to take animals on board. Accordingly the hero, Gilgamesh, had a boat (a cube 180 ft across) and took some animals with him, though not quite as Noah did. He also took gold and silver—the ring of fiction because he would hardly need it if his family were to be the sole survivors of a worldwide flood.
6. Until recently, the Creation and the Flood have often been treated as separate units. One of the reasons for this may be that initially discovered ancient Mesopotamian documents provided either a Creation myth without the Flood story (“Enuma elish” and others) or the Flood story without a Creation motif (“Gilgamesh Epic,” tablet XI), all in seventh-century neo-Assyrian copies from the Nineveh of Ashurbanipal’s time.1 Therefore, scholars were busy comparing Genesis 1 with “Enuma elish,” and Genesis 6–8 with “Gilgamesh” XI, without integrating these two sections of Genesis.
However, we now have some evidence that the “continuous narrative of the first era of human existence” in the ancient Near East covered both the Creation and the Flood, as Millard (1994: 116) and others have noted. For example, the “Atra-H̬asis Epic” from the Old Babylonian Period (ca. 1630 BC), which Lambert and Millard presented in 1969 in a thorough study, with the text and its translation,2 covers the history of man from his creation to the Flood. This history was widely known in ancient Mesopotamia, and a similar tradition with the same overall structure was known in the early second millennium BC.
7. Another headline about the flood has flickered on newspapers and TV in recent years. Two geologists at Columbia University made a splash when they announced that a massive flooding of the Black Sea 7,500 years ago may have been the origin of the biblical Flood legend. Shortly thereafter they published a book called Noah’s Flood about their theory.1 More recently a team of marine biologists has announced that there was no massive flooding of the Black Sea at that time, based on their study of the sediments in the sea floors of the region. So it seems that the headlines were premature. Noah’s Flood hasn’t been found in the Black Sea.
But let’s imagine that the first guys were right, and that there was a massive flooding of the Black Sea around 5500 B.C.E. What, if anything, does this have to do with Noah’s Flood?
Biblical scholars will tell you that the Flood Story in Genesis 6–9 (actually stories in the plural, since there are two versions woven together in these chapters)2 derives most directly not from an actual event, but from earlier stories. The earlier stories are from ancient Mesopotamia, best known from the Gilgamesh Epic (Standard Babylonian version, c. 1100 B.C.E.) and the Atrahasis Epic (Old Babylonian, c. 1700 B.C.E.).3 In these stories we learn of a wise man named Atrahasis (later known as Utnapishtim) whom the god Enki saves from a cosmic flood by commanding him to build an ark, put all animal species on it, and save himself and his family. The ark eventually lands on a mountain called Mt. Nimush, which has been identified with Pir Omar Gudrun, an impressive mountain in the Kurdish region of Iraq, northeast of Kirkuk. (Our marines probably have a couple of Humvees parked by this mountain around now.)
The biblical versions of this older story name the flood hero Noah, but many of the details are reminiscent of the Mesopotamian story. In his classic commentary on Genesis, E.A. Speiser concludes, “It is clear that Hebrew tradition must have received its material from some intermediate … source, and that it proceeded to adjust the data to its own needs and concepts.”4 One adjustment was to relocate the mountain where the Ark lands to a higher mountain range to the north, “the mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4) in eastern Turkey. The highest of these mountains is today called Mt. Ararat, and it is nearly 17,000 feet high.
If we wanted to find the flood that gave rise to the legend of Noah’s Flood, it seems to me that we should look for a big flood in northern Mesopotamia, not one in the Black Sea. And, indeed, there is archaeological evidence for many local floods in ancient Mesopotamia, since the Tigris and Euphrates rivers occasionally flood. Even a relatively small flood can be catastrophic if it kills many people in your village, and from this local trauma a story can grow and grow, until it takes on cosmic proportions.
8. Mesopotamian mythology confirms that solutions other than the biblical one were devised to reduce overpopulation. The creation myth of Atrahasis informs us that the gods attempted to curtail human population by a series of natural disasters. When these failed, the gods decided to eliminate the human race by a world wide flood. Atrahasis, the Mesopotamian Noah, was saved through the intervention of his protector god. Finally, a compromise was reached that appeased the enraged gods. Henceforth, human population would be controlled not only by natural disasters but also by internal birth control: natural barrenness, high infant mortality and three orders of celibate priestesses.
9. For thousands of years most people (at least most Christians and Jews) accepted the Bible literally. In the past 200 years or so, this has changed considerably. The historicity of the Bible has taken some serious hits, and the trend even of mainstream biblical scholarship for the past two centuries has been to diminish the reliability of the history recounted in the Bible, from Creation to the Flood to the patriarchs to the Exodus to the conquest of the Promised Land. So the attack of the biblical minimalists often might seem nothing more than a sophisticated extension of this mainstream scholarship. Where, if at all, do the biblical minimalists veer off track?
All modern critical scholars recognize that the Bible is primarily a theological rather than a historical document and that the history it recounts is often biased as a result of these theological concerns. Can any reliable history be culled from such a source? The answer of the biblical minimalists is “ no.”
The answer of mainstream scholars is more subtle and therefore more difficult to explain, often to the point of sounding defensive. Some parts of the Bible are more reliable historically than others, they point out; each must be looked at separately. Past misuse of the Bible as history does not mean that no history can be found embedded in the text. As we have new evidence for biblical tendentiousness, we also have new evidence of a quite remarkable historical memory reflected in biblical texts. All this suggests that we should come to a new understanding of the biblical texts and their subtle historical value, not denigrate them as historically valueless.
10 In spite of the problems associated with the use of C-14 as a reliable clock, there is one positive aspect. It has confirmed that creation was a rather recent event and that there was a worldwide catastrophe which took place since creation. The recent creation is a biblical view and the catastrophe harmonizes perfectly with Noah’s Flood of Genesis 6.
No Bones Left Untouched
Since the discovery of Carbon 14, over 25,000 specimens of once-living matter—humans, animals, plants and trees—have been dated in universities and laboratories all around the world. Practically nothing has been left untouched.
The first amazing thing that comes to light when surveying all these dates is that everything scientists have dated have proven datable. Objects that were supposed to be millions of years old have yielded a date younger than 60,000 years, which is the limit of C-14 dating. Some examples are:
a. Neanderthal man 32,000 years
b. Saber-toothed tiger 28,000 years
c. Coal 1,680 years
d. Fossilized tree 11,700 years
e. Rhodesia man 9,000 years
f. Petrified wood 10,000 years
g. Mastodon bones 8,900 years
The second thing that becomes evident as one scrutinizes C-14 dates is this: If there was a global flood in the past, the deaths that would have taken place at that time should far outnumber the deaths taking place at other times in history. The biblical Flood would have supplied ideal conditions for fossilization, so the majority of fossils dated should coincide with a worldwide catastrophe. This is exactly what is found in the fossil record.
If one sorts C-14’s 25,000 dates into groups by time, one will discover that the majority of specimens died suddenly at a specific point in time. This points directly to a catastrophic event like Noah’s Flood. In other words, C-14 dating verifies that a giant catastrophe once struck the Earth at a particular point in history, wiping out man, beast and tree. According to the Bible, that is exactly what we should expect the evidence to say. The C-14 dating method is much more reasonable if it is compressed to fit within the biblical time frame of 6,000 years rather than 4.6 billion years.