Modern post-Darwin era people sometimes are troubled by the Bible flood story and are encouraged by atheists to dismiss it. Even a few Christians have been troubled by the flood story and believe the whole planet was covered by a flood that wasn’t one of the very ancient hundreds of millions or billions of years ago floods that may actually have covered the planet.
There is a problem of the indeterminacy of translation that Wittgenstein mentioned, that makes modern interpretation of ancient documents sometimes inaccurate for the reason that some of the meanings of words have changed over millennia.
Consider though, soberly, what the Bible flood story actually says;
We learn from Genesis chapter 7 verses 17-24:
And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters
increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the
earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the
high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains
21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of
cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon
the earth, and every man:
22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the
dry land, died.
23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the
face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and
the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and
Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty
Fifteen cubits is about 45 feet (if a cubit equals six feet). Even the ancients knew that the world’s highest mountains rose about 45 feet. It is likely there are some problems with interpretation here, or people were drunk that read the Bible and believed that Mount Everest or Mt. Ararat were covered by 45 feet of water.
God may have had Noah keep samples of all animals of the civilization to show he was not against animal life occupying earth (small letters as in Genesis 7), and instead respected it and wanted Noah and mankind to care for it. Alternatively besides caring for animal life Noah and family were being provided with a way to prosper upon debarking the Ark. Domesticated animals of the doomed civilization may have been more numerous and diverse than those of the new land of lower Mesopotamia the Ark would eventually settle on.
In Genesis 8 we read that;
1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the
cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over
the earth, and the waters assuaged;
2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were
stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;
3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after
the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day
of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
In other words, the flood ended on July 17th, , the Ark started floating 150 days earlier and the flood began 40 days before that, or alternatively, within the 150 days with flooding and floating coinciding time periods. The exact timing is uncertain, for the Ark may have floated when the flood started on day 1 of 40, or it may not have lifted off until day 40. The time afloat is 150 days with the flood 40 days. If the Ark started floating on Day 1 of the flood then he Ark floated about February 17. If the Ark began to float on the final day of the flood and remained afloat 150 more days the flood began about New Year’s Eve. It seems though that the 40 within the 150 days coincidence is a likelier prospect for its good timing for a spring flood event.
The wind that passed over the Earth assuaging the waters may have been warm and driven the Ark North to land. I have anchored a small boat several times that came to rest on land when the tide went out. The Ark was sent to an area inundated by flood that dried out when input of flood water quit and flood water evaporated. Genesis 8 1-4 has a logical order of events progressing with flood for 40 days in early spring and drying out requiring another 4 months. The Ark may not have been a quick craft and was possibly more like a houseboat than a keeled ship that floated in place after some initially motion. If it floated 50 miles north that would have been quite a trip. Even 20 miles would have been remarkable. What if Noah had invented an anchor or a sea anchor for the houseboat? Being unable to see land or the distant Zagros mountains of Iran during the storm/flooding event, one cannot know if the lost civilization was more toward the east or west side of the Tigris-Euphrates delta, Persian Gulf shore. The doomed first civilization may had had faulty dikes as bad as those of New Orleans for Katrina, or worse, or have been overcome by the perfect storm, though able to serve well enough to keep flood waters behind them four months. There are numerous scenarios for a once in 15,000 years flood basin naturally existing or one augmented by human engineering and climate change.
It is possible that one might infer some geo-topography mapping locations for a surface that would flood for 150 days (5 months) given various continuing water reinforcement of various time intervals; not drying out until hot summer sunshine evaporated it.
The word ‘Ararat’ is a later Jewish transliteration of the name for the ancient kingdom of Urartu in Mesopotamia. It does not refer to Turkey’s Mt. Ararat that was named in comparatively recent times perhaps by people that had read the Bible. Urartu may be derived etymologically from Ur.
In ancient cultures the term ‘the world’ referred rather existentially to one’s area of living. Virtually nobody had an idea of the world as round or even a good planetary idea of something floating in space. Pre-Columbian Yurok Indians of California regarded ‘the world’ as the distance they could walk in three days. Maybe the tern ‘world’ was a tribally defined term meaning the land where one lived. The people of the first civilization and for those shortly thereafter may have used the term with a similar meaning. Therefore the flood needed to cover the entire world of the first civilization where mankind lived in an area of lower Mesopotamia below the sea level of present day Mesopotamia. Sea level began rising at the end of the Wisconsin Ice Age about 25,000 B.C. and continued for several thousand years. The first archaeological discovered human civilization; one named the Uruk, appeared in the 7th millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia. It was the earliest discovered civilization, not necessarily the very first civilization. I believe that one was lost to the waters of the Persian Gulf’s sea level rise. The wicked people that God wanted destroyed were completely erased from the surface of the Earth. Noah and his family alone survived.
It has been observed numerous times that there are seasonal spring flood of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that can flood downstream low-lying lands. Combined with Monsoon-like rain, possible typhoon and storm surges or levee breaks flooding protected land reclaimed from Marshes or natural high rising areas catastrophic flood inundating a first civilization is a very credible story. Even today people build cities in low-lying areas vulnerable to flooding. In 10 or 20 thousand years lessons haven’t been learned so well that mistakes of the same kind don’t continue to occur. It seems likely that a civilization lost to history (beyond the Book of Genesis) formed near the Persian Gulf shoreline between eight and twelve thousand years ago.
Archaeologists have researched areas of Southern Iraq as well as Northern areas that indicate humans journeyed south on the rivers to form settlements along its edge on built of land areas from earliest historical times. Traveling down the rivers on floating rafts or debris to start with, the journey may have been easier going with the flow rather than against it to return north, Especially if fleeing from hostile fellow humans upstream, going north may have been a dim prospect for many whom elected to remain south on the Gulf’s shore, and they may have walked along the shore. The idea that a civilization made of the dregs of humanity as well as those adventurous travelers whom piled up at the seashore as if they were in a New Orleans first civilization isn’t unreasonable at all. Even the Deserts of the Saudi Arabia would have encouraged humans to remain in the first civilization.
Persian Gulf sea levels have changed as much as 200 feet since the Wisconsin Ice age ended. The shoreline has reached as far as Ur during the Ubaid period circa 7-8000 B.C. so a civilization lost to rising waters of the Gulf must have existed some time earlier before the waters began to recede to where they are today.
A temple was found at Eridu near Ur built in the 7th millennium B.C. Perhaps the story of the lost civilization made its way to a settlement upstream that survived the flood and its inhabitants choose to honor God so they wouldn’t share the same fate.
The Ubaid culture is one of the oldest in Mesopotamia. Dating from the 8th millennium B.C. it cities with a higher level of culture and technology. It is Ubaid culture that produced the known civilization of the Uruk period in the 4th millennium B.C. at Ur. The Ubaid apparently constructed common buildings for worship and trade, the first known to have down so.
Lower Mesopotamia may not have had much human population in comparison to northern cultures like the Hassuna, Sumarra and Harat cultures before the 7h millennium B.C. If the sea level continued to rise until that time, existing cultural settlements downstream have been progressively covered by rising sea level and sediments from river deposits and floods. Sometime after a lost civilization downstream had flooded, Noah and his sons may have brought elements of the lost civilization and culture to the new-to-them land of lower Mesopotamia perhaps catalyzing a new culture. The lost culture may not have left artifacts that could endure inundation by the Persian Gulf. For that matter, if sea level had continued to rise to flood the city of Ur, it is unlikely that material traces of that city would remain.
In early Ubaid items of archaeological discovery one may infer traces of remaining influence of Noah and his sons. Noah would have had some knowledge of the techniques of the lost first civilization, though they were comparatively simple items of working mud, like spinning pottery wheels (not Democrat Party social and broadcast media), and would have been instrumental in beginning common worship of God, though as time passed the knowledge was corrupted and people began to worship idols sometimes made of gold, silver, wood, etc.
Scholars have pointed out that Ubaid culture passed technology to settlements along the Persian Gulf. Plainly a lost civilization, the first civilization like that referred to in Genesis, is a very credible prospect. A an undiscovered dark planet beyond the edge of the solar system, dark energy or gravity particles, the first civilization may be lost yet one may infer its cultural traces if just through Noah, to surviving cultures.