What if God Threw a Flood and No One Came?

March 24, 2012

The folks over at Answers in Genesis recently tackled the question, “When exactly was the Flood?”. After consulting his Bible and with a little help from Bishop James Ussher, David Wright of AiG provides the answer:

Using the Bible, well-documented historical events, and some math, we find that the Flood began approximately 4,359 years ago in the year 1656 AM [anno mundi] or 2348 BC.

So there you have it. Only 8 people left alive on the planet in 2348 BC.

That got me thinking. What other “well-documented historical events” might have been going on in the 24th century BC? Let’s take a look …



Sargon the Great

Sargon the Great

It must have come as a real shock to Noah and his children when, in 2334 BC – only 14 years after the flood – Sargon the Great began establishing the powerful Akkadian empire. This task involved defeating in battle a variety of Sumerian city states, some of which had populations in excess of 100,000 inhabitants (e.g. Lagash and Uruk). By the end of his reign (2279 BC), Sargon’s vast empire stretched from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf – basically the entire Fertile Crescent.

Such an empire only 69 years after the Flood is a feat indeed. But the real credit has to go to the four women on Noah’s ark. “Barefoot and pregnant” doesn’t begin to describe the work involved in repopulating the planet at the pace necessary to give Sargon armies to fight and people to rule.



Down in Egypt, the United Kingdom established by Menes circa. 3000 BC was humming along nicely. By the time of Noah’s flood, the Egyptians were just wrapping up their 5th dynasty. Pharaoh Unas was, no doubt, quite perturbed to see his empire underwater, especially since he was in the middle of building a pyramid complex at Saqqara, which you can visit to this day.

inside Teti's pyramid

inside Teti's pyramid

Undeterred, the now soggy Egyptians moved seamlessly into the 6th dynasty with Pharaoh Teti at the helm. Teti built himself a nice pyramid complex too. Given that Teti came to power only 3 years after the global population was reduced to 8, you might have thought cheap labor for pyramid building would be hard to come by. Nonetheless, even Teti’s high court officials were building themselves massive funerary monuments during his reign.


Indus Valley

ruins of a bath in the Harappan city of Mohenjo-daro

ruins of a bath in the Harappan city of Mohenjo-daro

By the time of the Flood, the vast Indus Valley Civilization had been in existence for about a millennium. It was now at its zenith in the period known as the Mature Harappan Period (beginning in 2600 BC). We don’t know as much about the Harappan culture because we still haven’t interpreted their script. But the archaeological record evidences large cities, hundreds of settlements, impressive architecture, and a rich material culture.

What we can say with confidence is that the Harappan were excellent swimmers. Their population managed to tread water for the entire year of Noah’s flood, allowing their civilization to continue uninterrupted for another 4 centuries before a gradual decline from 1900 to 1700 BC.


I could go on. In fact, it’s hard to pick a spot on the globe that didn’t have some form of continuous civilization both before and after 2348 BC.

The problem gets even worse for AiG because they take the Tower of Babel story as literal history as well, which forces them to push the beginning of all civilizations another 100+ years into the future to 2200 BC.

I’m not sure if it’s hilarious or just plain sad to see them teaching good Christian folk that Egypt was founded in 2188 BC. For reference, this date falls at the tail end of the 6th dynasty, after the entire Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom periods. That’s 1000 years of Egyptian history swept under the rug. 2188 BC is also 3-400 years after construction of the Great Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza. I guess they were built by aliens after all.

Insistence on a literal global deluge is a cardinal doctrine among most young earth creationists (YECs). YEC claims are regularly challenged on scientific grounds. This is to be expected when your theory defies modern geology, biology, paleontology, physics, astronomy, and genetics. Less frequently do we hear YEC claims held up for comparison against history. But there too, the YEC must continually dismiss the conclusions of professional historians, archaeologists and anthropologists, choosing instead to construct yet another alternate version of reality.


  1. Very good article!

    • did anybody go to the links in the text “teaching good Christian folk that Egypt was founded in 2188 BC.” and “to push the beginning of all civilizations another 100+ years into the future to 2200 BC.” ? It’s interesting how ancient cultures stretched their time limes to make their reigns significant. Based on the astronomical time line which is very precise the Bible is accurate and not secular history.

  2. I used to have more respect for Answers in Genesis than I do now. Back in the day it seemed like their focus was more on bringing forward actual theories that attempt to explain present-day observable phenomenon. I saw parts of their ministry as helping publicize points of view that were unacceptable to mainstream science– without always packaging it in a way only acceptable to fundamentalist Christians. Today it seems like they just want to give dogmatic answers to Christians regarding the exact events of history– albeit their certainty is always based exclusively on what the Bible and Bishop Ussher have to say on the matter. They should realize that makes them no different than the mainstream evolutionists whose dogma they never fail to criticize. I mean, it’s okay to say “we don’t know for sure.”

    I know Ken Ham used to encourage the children to ask their teachers, “Were you there?” I wonder if he tells them that nowadays. Of course I already know what he would say: God was there even if no human was, so if God wrote it in the Bible then we can believe it.

    • Lol, “no different than mainstream evolutionists” – that’s as sad and laughable as the Noah’s Ark claim. The chasm of difference couldn’t be larger. Evolution is settled fact, if people seem certain of it, it’s because the evidence merits certainty. Dogma has nothing to do with it. At this point this kind of ignorance is just pathetic and embarrassing.

      • @alan you might want to look into the “settled fact” of evolution. last time i checked it was still a theory, not a YEC by the way either. enjoyed the post..

      • @josh It is a settled fact. It’s been proven multiple times by individual labratories.

    • I believe AiG followers are still encouraged to ask, ‘Were you there?’ Just a few months ago, a mother proudly wrote to AiG telling them that her daughter went on a field trip to a museum and when the tour guide said, ‘millions of years’ the daughter put her hand up and asked, “Were you there?”

      • Evolution (in the sense that all organisms evolve and change over time) has been provided evidence by laboratory experiments. It’s a given “fact”, actually common sense, that all organisms evolve and change over time. Take dogs for instance; we domesticated wild dogs and now they are our good friends. The behaviors and general physiology have changed over time from when they were once wild. Evolution (in the sense that all life evolved from a set of biochemical reactions and random chance) has not been proven, let alone a rational theory conceived to describe the mechanics of the process.

        Me and Answers in Genesis have never quite seen eye-to-eye on many subjects. But just because they are wrong doesn’t mean the whole domain of Christianity is wrong. Just as science doesn’t have the answers to all universal phenomenon, neither do we have all the answers to all universal phenomenon… but we do know WHO created it. Whether we evolved or not, whether there was a Big Bang, none will disprove God the Creator of the universe. Science can only explain the laws and processes by which God created them to work, whereas religion explains who and why, lest science itself becomes religion once it begins to ask these questions. I once heard a very wise professor of science say that “religion in some form or another will always exist as long as humans exist”. This is true, as religion is only a philosophy asking and attempting to answer questions outside of the domain of science. However, keep in mind that Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship!! 😀

      • I am a Physician and have studied the science behind evolution for along time. It is still a theory, it has not been proven in a laboratory (I mean really, evolution proven in a lab. Microevolution has been proven for centuries. Mircroevolution a term only coined recently is proven, but would never lead to macroevolution). In my time following scientific theories in all areas, I have seen many so called “irrefutable facts” fall on their faces, it happens in medicine, physics, archeology, etc. Science is best guess, a very educated guess, but hardly ever fact (should be noted that even scientific laws have had to be updated or completely reformed due to inaccuracies over time also). Many theories and beliefs are toughted as fact in science only to be disproven or altered through time. It would be pompous to say evolution is a fact, in 100 yrs our whole society may be laughed at for such an absurd belief. In reality we still have only scratched the surface of understanding the universe and its mysteries.

  3. […] with everything we know about science and human lifespans but also history and other areas as well.First, the blog Cognitive Discopants has a great post, “What if God Threw a Flood and No One C… It focuses on what was happening in other parts of the world at the time of or soon after groups […]

  4. I think you’ve just gotten smarter, Alan. Answers in Genesis and the rest of the creationist movement have always based on lies from the ground up.

  5. Was there any global flood which inspired these mythlogical accounts? There is a similar story in Hindu mythology https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsya_Purana

    • Given the often limited scope of human perception over a large area, any catastrophic flood in the ancient world could be considered by those recounting it (often not even first-hand) as having involved “the whole world.”

  6. Any word on the Minoans? That civilization’s mystery fascinates me. What were they up to at the time?

    • I’m glad you asked. I like the Minoans too, especially after having a chance to explore the Knossos and Phaistos palaces last summer. Yup, the Minoan civilization was in the middle of their Bronze age in 2348 BC. It was still the prepalatial period (i.e. no cool palaces yet), but the Minoans had been going strong for about 1000 years at that point.

  7. Reblogged this on Big Questions For Small Minds and commented:
    I’m not sure what I like most about this article. The facts, the sarcasm, or the fact that the author’s Nom de Plume is “Cognitive Discopants”.

  8. So because China has NO RECORD of any floods, surprise surprise, in the year 2348 – does this mean a major rethink and that the Chinese are the “Chosen People” ?

  9. The one thing that I have always wondered, but I have a pretty good idea, is what the average YEC would say when they learned that there are multiple myths of a great flood from different times and with different outcomes. anamika pointed out that Hindu mythology has a flood myth, along with many other cultures in that area. What about the Mesopotamian creation myth of a man, woman, and snake in paradise? Or better yet, the fact that there were several people in Rome who claimed to be the son of God. These people all claimed that they could heal the sick, feed the hungry, and perform miracles in the name of the Jewish God.

    I love history. I’m terrible at it, but I love it anyway. 🙂

    • Hi GAT. The standard YEC move with respect to other flood myths is to embrace them as corroborative evidence of a collective global memory of “The Flood”, but to maintain that the Genesis account is the accurate one, the others being uninspired.
      I’m not familiar with a “Mesopotamian creation myth of a man, woman, and snake in paradise” outside of Genesis. Where is that found?

      • I can’t seem to find the anthology that I saw this in. But I recall a myth from around the time of the Enuma Elish. It spoke of two people who were corupted by the words of a snake. I’m probably wrong about it being part of a creation myth. I may have just liked the two due to the similarities in both myths. If I still have a copy of the book I’ll get back to you.

        Like I said, I’m not that good at history. 🙂

  10. LOL, awesome article. I love it. So much win!

  11. I love this.

  12. I love it too. But since it makes so much sense, and uses facts and stuff, it won’t convince the nutbags.

  13. “[the year of the Flood] is also 3-400 years after construction of the Great Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza. I guess they were built by aliens after all.”

    Silly Cognitive Discopants! Everyone knows the pyramids were built by the Hebrew slaves!

  14. Fantastic article. Thank you for putting this together – I’ll definitely be using it the next time I get in a debate over biblical literalism.

  15. I think Richard Dawkins covers the other myths that christianity plagerised to write his book “The Magic of Reality” The iPad App of it is amazing, it has experiments the kids can do and lots of other interactivity options.

    • I’m going to wade in here to add some nuance. There are definitely some narratives in the Jewish Scriptures that appear to have a shared origin with other ancient near eastern legends. Noah & Gilgamesh is a perfect example. As babes, both Sargon and Moses float in baskets. Etc. But much of the Old Testament, the later books in particular, is firmly rooted in history.
      As for the New Testament, to say that it is plagiarized from pagan myths is not at all accurate. Most such arguments (which are ubiquitous on the internet) rely on misrepresenting the details of the actual pagan myth so as to make it seem to fit the NT story. A lot of the supposed resurrection parallels fall into this category. The same is true of most virgin birth parallels, which usually have some pagan god in animal form copulating with the woman. If the point is that the claims of the NT are not without precedent, point taken. But to call it plagiarism is to misstate the evidence.

      • To add to what you said, dishonesty never helps your case, whatever your case may be. When you have convinced people that you will lie, distort, exaggerate, and prevaricate in order to support your ideas, you have lost the ability to convince them of anything else.

  16. The plagerised myths of talking snakes and virgin births etc are in RD’s latest book “The Magic of Reality”

    • Can you give me the details of the talking snake myth of which the Genesis account is alleged to be derivative?

    • RD isn’t a historian. The thesis that the Christian story was simply plagiarized from pagan myths isn’t taken seriously by any historian of the period.

      RD is a popular, winsome speaker, and a smart man, but he’s no more of an expert on philosophy or history than Ken Ham is on biology or geology.

  17. Unfortunately, then you run into Last Thursdayism, the belief that God is a malevolent trickster deity who artificially aged the universe and civilization to fool us into thinking that it’s much older than it really is.

    • So what? We shouldn’t trust any idea without any supporting evidence.If someone wants to believe in abrupt “last tuesday” creation — ok, they’re free to.
      We just only need to make sure that’s this shit stays off the schools.

  18. Great article:) It’s one of the funniest I’ve seen on the subject of Noah’s Ark. Young Earth Creationists are, frankly, pathetic and scary.

  19. […] in case you’re still skeptical about this dating (which I doubt you are), here’s a fascinating article by Chris Massey about what else was going on in the world at/around the year 2348 […]

  20. Very interesting and very funny. I read AIG every so often just to remind myself how important it is to strive for a well informed reasonable faith.

  21. One of your most entertaining and significant posts. The young earth movement manages to convince its constituents that all of human history has happened in these few thousand years, and people really truly believe this. By the millions. And its not their fault. But it really is mind blowing the first time a young earth believer actually hears about just how much history is supposed to have happened in such little time. Entire empires came and went with sometimes dozens of monarchs. Then before that we have now extensive and detailed cultural shifts in pre-human hominid history. We have distinct periods of development and even technological eras in the Neanderthals, and even complete DNa sequencing to back up the historical models. And all this in a few thousand years.

  22. […] nations). Why do I say these things? Because I was fascinated by the points put across byCognitive Discopants and James McGrath as they underlined not just how the YEC hermeneutic is bizarre but […]

  23. The discrepancy comes because the lifespans of the Patriarchs in the Masoretic version commonly used have been reduced by 1400 years. No such problem exists in the Septuagint, where the Flood takes place in 3142 BC. Then, the grandson of Noah, Mizraim, goes to Egypt and unites the country as Menes c. 3100 BC. The ships of his fleet were dragged up the dry wadis of the eastern desert from the Red Sea, and the crews occasionally doodled on the rock walls, which can be seen to this day.

    Also, the Hebrew word ‘eretz’ is not properly transated as ‘the whole earth’ being covered by the Flood. It is better translated as ‘the country’ or ‘the land’. The whole country was covered by the Flood, which is indeed what happened in Mesopotamia in 3142 BC, leaving behind a ten foot layer of sterile mud, discovered by Wooley and others.

    Further, the Exodus under Moses took place in 1453 BC, and the Israelites left Sinai and crossed the top of the Red Sea near Aqaba
    and stayed in the desert of Midian, out of reach of the Egyptians. More doodles of a Israelite nature can be found on rock walls there. The chariots of the Egyptians have been found at this place of crossing, at the bottom of the Red Sea. Pictures are on the internet.

    • Saul, relying on the Septuagint’s lifespans may buy you extra time, but by no means does it solve the problem. Noah’s grandson unites the country of Egypt? How in the world is there a country to unite a mere 42 years after the population of the world is reduced to 8?
      The most current dating I could find regarding Woolley’s flood deposit in Ur is 3500 BC (see here), not 3142 BC as required by your alternate chronology. Do you have a credible archaeological source that says otherwise?
      Lastly, I don’t know where you’re getting your archaeological information from, but the current consensus is that no evidence has been found of a Hebrew exodus from Egypt. If you have links to the evidence you refer to, I’m certainly willing to look.

      • I am not saying that there were only 8 people left after the flood. I don’t believe that. The flood was not worldwide, it was in the ‘eretz’ or land, or country, not the entire world. It has been telescoped to the worldwide flooding at the end of the ice age, 6000 years previous to the flood of Utnapishtim/Noah. As is said in the Timaeus, where the Egyptian priest tells Solon that Greeks only remember the last flood of Deucalion (1453 BCE) and not the THREE floods before it. There is evidence emerging now of an asteroid impact in the Indian Ocean about this time period (c. 3000 BCE).
        The flood one contemporary with Woolley’s Royal Tombs, the older one between the Jemdet Nasr period and Early Dynastic I (c.2900 BCE).
        Of course no archaeological evidence of the Exodus is found in c.1250 BCE, because it took place in 1453 BCE (same time as the Thera eruption). Then they wandered for 40 years because there were no service stations with maps, and then they ended up crossing the Jordan River from the east, into canaa. They promptly knocked down the walls of Jericho and burnt it. That would be 1413 BCE. Katherine Kenyon carbon dated a plank there, coincident with the walls being flattened, at 1410 BCE. Close enough.

      • Saul,
        Sorry, I overlooked the localized flooding part of your earlier post. I’m not sure I’m following what you’re trying to say about these various floods. If you want to say that there was a localized flood of the Euphrates that served as the basis for the Atrahasis, Gilgamesh, and Noachian legends, I’ve got no problem with that in principle. But it doesn’t rescue the biblical account. There would be no mass extinction of humans or animals necessitating an ark and repopulation.

        As for the Exodus, the current consensus is that, if it occurred, it had to be in the 1200s BC, not the 1400s. To quote William Dever, “today only a handful of diehard fundamentalists would argue in its [a 15th century date] favor.” Kenyon’s work at Jericho did demonstrate it’s destruction in the 15th century BC, but as part of an Egyptian campaign to expel the Hyksos, not by an invading band of Hebrews.

      • I’ll run through this again.
        The Septuagint lifespans for the Patriarchs puts Noah’s birth at 3742 BCE, which puts the flood of Noah at 3142 BCE. It was a localized flood due to the impact of an asteroid in the Indian Ocean, near Madagascar, recently discovered. The worldwide nature of it as recorded is due to telescoping that local event with the event that WAS worldwide, which was the end of the ice age, when great numbers of people were drowned on the continental shelves. Telescoping is when two similar events separated in time are amalgamated together into one event. This is a common practice in ancient literature, as I pointed out with the reference to the comment by the Egyptian priest to Solon that the Greeks remembered only one all-encompassing flood, when there had been three before Deucalion’s.
        Regarding dating of the Exodus, this error is caused by the use of the Masoretic texts, which have been proven to have been altered in the time period of 95 – 150 CE. With the use of the Septuagint for dating, the time of Exodus is then 1453 BCE, and the destruction of Jericho is about 40 years later, corroborated by Kenyon’s Carbon 14 date of 1410 BCE. No Egyptians involved, except that Moses and the Israelites had just come from Egypt, so might still have carried a few Egyptian trinkets that fell in the ashes.

      • Saul,
        How does an asteroid in the Indian Ocean cause a localized flooding of a river in Mesopotamia?
        As for the exodus, I agree that if you’re working strictly from the biblical text, the 15th century is where you would put the exodus. But archaeology tells us otherwise. The major break in the Canaanite archaeological record is found in the 1200s. Thus, the consensus that Dever refers to.
        Can you could point me to any sources for your claims from professional archaeologists or geologists (re the asteroid theory).

      • Can you say TSUNAMI?
        The Sumerian accounts say the gods talked among themselves about a big flood that would come from the south. The Madagascar asteroid qualifies.


        The archaological results are negative for Israelites 1250 BCE, but positive for 1400 BCE. The times they are a-changing….

      • That article suggests the possibility of a major impact circa 2800 BC. Isn’t that a little late for your Noah flood date of 3142 BC? Also, it’s based on a very speculative scientific hypothesis which is controversial to say the least. See here. Lastly, there’s nothing in this piece to suggest that the hypothetical super tidal wave traveled all the way up to and through the narrow Persian Gulf. It seems like you’re just weaving together disconnected pieces of information. If you’re content with a localized flood, why not just say that the Euphrates flooded? We at least know that that happened from time to time.

        What is the archaeological evidence for an Israelite exodus in the 1400s BC? If you have such evidence, please share.

      • Fine tuning of the date will come when they do more work on the chevrons.
        There is a crater called Burckle’s that is 18 miles wide in the seabed in the general area. That would make one mondo wave, certainly enough to push a reed boat a couple of hundred miles north and strand it on a mountain top. And don’t forget, the Sumerian report of the flood said Utnapishtim saw a column of black smoke to the south on the horizon. Then all hell broke loose.

        I already gave you the evidence of Israelite presence in Canaan – Kenyon’s C14 dating of a burned plank under the wall at 1410 BCE. That is 3 years off the (1453 – 40 = 1413) date. You want more?

      • Sorry, I misspoke earlier when I said that Kenyon’s work put the destruction of Jericho in the 15th century. It was 16th century BC. To be precise, her date was 1550 BC. The 1410 date you are using is from an inaccurate dating done by the British Museum, which was later revised to the 16th century.
        More importantly, in 1995, carbon dating was performed on 18 samples from the destruction layer in question, giving a date of 1562 BC +/- 38 years. See here. Strong confirmation of Kenyon’s 1550 BC date.

      • More like crap on a cracker.
        See this:

      • I’m sorry Saul, but the moment you rely on an article from Conservapedia [accurately summarized here], you pretty much lose all credibility. This same source describes Einstein’s E=mc2 as “liberal claptrap” and black holes as “pseudoscience”. If this is where you’re gleaning your information, I’m not sure there’s much point in continuing this conversation.

      • I notice you don’t deal with the substance of what is written, merely ‘the source’. Respectability is what counts, huh?

        Your appeals to ‘authority’ are laughable. Those people don’t know which end is up. For proof, see their chronology for the first dynasty of Egypt, which I am currently writing about.

        You write your book and I’ll write mine.

      • Will this be a sequel to your book on how pumping ozone up your ass can cure cancer? I found you online, Saul. Now I understand why you like biased misinformation like Conservapedia. It’s precisely the sort of thing that helps you sell over-priced scam products to the vulnerable and dying.

      • There are 26,000 doctors in the world giving ozone therapy to millions of people yearly and saving their lives. You are just showing your ignorance in ANOTHER field. You are 2 for 2.

      • According to the American Cancer Society, “Available scientific evidence does not support claims that putting oxygen-releasing chemicals into a person’s body is effective in treating cancer. It may even be dangerous. There have been reports of patient deaths from this method.” 26,000 doctors, huh? Are they “doctors” the same way you are? without any actual medical degree or PhD?

      • The US is the only major country that does not allow ozone therapy, although it is used by US doctors in 15 states.

        But back to the topic…

        Professor T. Eric Peet wrote:
        “Archaeology can in no sense be termed an exact science, that is to say, its conclusions rarely follow with mathematical certainty from its premises, and indeed but too frequently they do not rise above the level of mere nebulous possibilities or probabilities. This state of things is partly to be accounted for by the very nature of its subject matter, but also, in the opinion of the writer, by the fact that archaeologists have hitherto made no attempt to come to any kind of agreement as to the conditions which must be satisfied by a train of archaeological reasoning in order that it may acquire cogency. We are doubtless all to blame in this, and in our defense it can only be urged that the constant accumulation of fresh material has tended to distract our attention from a really critical use of the evidence already available.” (Journal of Egyptian Archaeology).

        Nothing has changed since he wrote that 90 years ago.

      • I agree, archaeology is not an exact science.

  24. Oh sargon the great who is dated by the kings list. The same list who says that a number of kings ruled for 20,000 years and over. Oh yes a credible sorce indeed. If fact so much more credible than the bible though which we found much of what we know before 2500 bc. And discribeds Ur, uruk, Babylon and a host of other citys all discovered and dating to when the bible puts them.

    • John, much like the Bible, the Sumerian King list contains impossibly long reigns in the distant past and far more plausible (and reliable) dates as you approach the more recent past. Sargon is said to have reigned for a very plausible 56 years, not 20,000. The Bible’s references to cities/peoples/dates are sometimes consistent with what we know from archaeology (the more recent, the more reliable), but the Bible frequently contradicts the findings of modern archaeology.

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