The critics of the Biblical account of Noah’s flood constantly point to the supposed lack of evidence for its occurrence. These people point to ‘scientific’ facts, for example, the supposed lack of water, as evidence against it being a real flood.
When it is pointed out that approx. 3500 years between the event and modern times does take its toll on what evidence would have remained immediately after the flood, they wave off such truth with a quick dismissal. The critics like to hide behind the limitations of science to shield their unbelief from reality and close their minds to the truth that physical evidence is not indestructible.
This article is a brief look at the enemies of physical evidence to provide the believer with a defense for their belief that Noah’s flood was real and did take place. The order these perils are addressed is random and not in order of importance.
#1. Time—Kenneth Kitchen*, as well as many others, has documented the fact that physical evidence doesn’t always stand up to elements. Erosion, winds, water all take their toll on the material objects the ancient people used in their daily life.
One good example of this is Noah’s Ark itself. For centuries now, people have searched for it, some claiming they actually walked on it or went inside, yet not one account has actually been shown to be true. With all the money invested in the multiple searches not one splinter of the ark has actually been recovered.
It doesn’t matter if the elements eroded it bit by bit year after year or if Noah’s family took it apart and used it for shelter and other uses, it didn’t survive and is gone for good (at least that is what it looks like).
This natural act is not limited to the ark as Mr. Kitchen has pointed out how levels of cities have fallen to the passing of time, gone forever carrying with it all the information about their existence. Papyrus is not exempt either as are many other types of materials used to manufacture material products.
#2. Verification—There will be times when someone comes across an artifact or series of artifacts that point to the validity of the scriptural account. Dr. William Shea* has written about his experience in searching for Noah’s tomb.
He not only came across that burial place but also the burial places of Shem and Japheth, plus many ancient inscriptions carved upon rocks. The problem is how does he verify his discovery? He could take samples of whatever remains are found in the tombs themselves but with what would he compare them with? Modern scientific methods were not practiced in the pre-flood era nor in the immediate post-flood times. So that avenue would be out.
He cannot point to any ancient literature describing the burials and monuments to Noah and his sons because there aren’t any ancient records surviving from the time of their deaths recording their burial or how it was done.
Nor can he point to the many rock carvings, for there is nothing to date them to the time of Noah or to his immediate descendants. It is possible that those rock carvings were done to commemorate the event long later the fact or placed their by believers with good intentions hoping they had found the correct site.
Then to take the ark as an example once again, even if it did survive erosion and weathering, how would the discoverers prove it was Noah’s actual ark? All we know about it are the dimensions God gave to Noah to use to build it and the material he was supposed to use. On top of that, researchers have no idea what gopher wood really is thus comparing it to today’s timber wouldn’t help because we do not know if it were a distinct species of tree or just a different name for a species we know well today under another name.
#3 Wars—When conflict comes, so does destruction of material things. Whether they be treasured knick knacks or well constructed buildings, invading armies and defenders destroy their surroundings and it doesn’t matter if those artifacts are modern or ancient.
Take a lot at the Levant for a prime example. Not only did the Romans come in and destroy Jerusalem, eventually building an entire new city upon its spot, after tearing down the old one, in the 2nd century AD but the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Medes/Persians, the Greeks and others, all invaded and conquered the land; razing and burning buildings, knocking over houses and walls among other destructive acts.
Then extrapolate that to the whole world as men are not that different throughout the nations as exampled by the Spaniards, who destroyed much of what they found as they conquered the new world. Any physical evidence left over from the flood would easily be trampled under the feet of the hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers, cavalry or wheels from the chariots (not to mention the modern machinery and bombs from the wars of the 17th to 20th centuries).
These men who came to conquer, did not have preservation on their minds. They had destruction by force in mind if it came to that and it always did.
#4 Nature—One of the most destructive forces on earth today for it has multiple tools at its disposal other than the erosion and weathering mentioned in #1. In the tropical rain forests, we have examples of lost cities, abandoned for centuries which were ‘buried’ by the growth of the vegetation because there was no occupation to keep their progress at bay. This is not only evidenced by the remains found in Mexico, Peru and other new World nations but also in the Maldives* in the Indian Ocean.
Even at the end of the flood, when the waters were receding, the vegetation was growing, covering up much of what was destroyed by the rising waters. The Bible makes that clear by its description of the releasing of the birds from the ark. Vegetation was allowed to re-start its life so that there would be food on the earth for the surviving animals and humans.
But it is not over-growth that threatened the evidence for Noah’s flood. The active volcanoes and their lava and the earthquakes also contributed to covering up the pre-flood world. But on top of those two natural destructive forces we need to add, tornados, hurricanes (or typhoons), avalanches, landslides, thunderstorms, and much more. All of these normal everyday dangers contributed to burying, moving or altering the evidence left behind by the flood waters.
Remember that Sir Woolery had to dig down approx. 60-100 to get to virgin ground and though his critics dismissed his claim that he found evidence for Noah’s flood because the sample wasn’t uniform throughout the region, it would be unrealistic to think that such deposits would be uniform considering the catastrophe that took place and the destruction done to the geography of the time.
Nature has a way of destroying material objects as exampled by the multiple tornados remains in America each year. Tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. are not a recent invention of nature but have existed for thousands of years and they wrecked havoc unfettered throughout all that time.
#5 Construction—Believe it or not, construction is not always a positive activity. It destroys as it is erected. For tall skyscrapers to stand for decades, the builders must dig deep into the ground, destroying whatever lay beneath the surface in the construction zone. Dirt is hauled off, carrying with it any information and evidence of the past with it.
Older houses are torn down simply to be replaced by larger more modern ones, and L.A. is a good example of that. Plus, older materials are sometimes saved and reused. In Egypt, the Pyramids lost almost al of their beautiful facing stones as local residents pilfered the blocks from the nearby pyramids to use for their personal abodes.
The expansion of popular cities, like Moscow or London, show how evidence from the flood would be trapped under layers of concrete and asphalt, never to see the light of day again for private ownership stops archaeologists from tearing down modern buildings or uprooting streets just to possibly find some sort of physical evidence for a global flood.
These are just 5 examples of the perils that the evidence for Noah’s flood has to face and endure. Other problems come in the forms of questions: A. Where do we dig? In the valleys or on the mountain tops, for the water would lay the evidence every where; B. How deep do we dig? We have no idea how much dirt was deposited upon the pre-flood soil; C. What would constitute evidence for a global flood? Since we have no idea of what the material culture of the pre-flood world looked like, how will we know if we found it?
These are unsolvable problems because our information concerning that time period is minimal at best. Then finally, D. how can we distinguish between local flood evidence and global flood remains? Since Noah’s flood, there have been countless local floods covering different parts of the world. In the case of Egypt, the Nile flooded once a year, so how will we be able to determine which artifact came from the 26th dynasty from those that came from the pre-flood world?
Too many critics, in their haste to protect their unbelief, would quickly categorize the discovered remains as products of a local flood, putting aside their prized goal of objectivity to put the matter to rest with as little investigation and inquiry as possible. The critics do not want to find evidence for a global flood, for then they will have to deal with the fact that they are wrong and would need to re-evaluate their lives and positions.
It is much easier to be closed-minded about it and dismiss what is found to support the biblical record with unrealistic and impossible demands. The Bible tells us in John chapter 3 that the world loves darkness rather than light and this is not more evident than in the field of archaeology as physical evidence supporting the Biblical accounts are tossed aside, dismissed, or ignored in favor of secular ideas and theories about the past.
Secular man just doesn’t want to believe and they are more resistant when the issue boils down to the fact that ‘faith’ has to be part of the equation. God left it no other way, as we see by the perils listed above. Faith will always be part of all historical work for even the physical evidence cannot ultimately prove all of the biblical record as much of it has already been destroyed and has been so for thousands of years.
For Further Reading:
The Bible In Its world by Kenneth Kitchen
Searching for the Tombs of Noah’s Family by Dr. William Shea (http://www.dakotascba.com/Guest-Authors.php)
The Mystery of the Maldives by Thor Heyerdahl