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Flood Be Gone!

Entry 1127, on 2009-12-07 at 22:04:39 (Rating 3, Religion)

I don't start arguments with creationists, I really don't. I always wait for them to make the first move and then I retaliate with all possible force. Actually I have toned down the attack a bit recently because I often find that staying calm and reasonable when your opposition has "lost control" is even more effective than joining them in a major battle of words!

The latest incident involved a friend who invited several of his fundy Christian creationist friends to attack my disbelief in a god or gods. These people took their belief seriously and they have swallowed the whole Christian mythology, hook, line and sinker! That included the Flood story which is one of the easiest to discredit so I thought I would start on that.

The Flood is ridiculously easy to disprove. Actually, let me start that again. Nothing can really be disproved completely because there's always the chance of some sort of illusion, conspiracy or poorly understood supernatural effect making the evidence invalid. What I should say is that its easy to present enough information that any reasonable person would reject the Flood story.

Of course creationists are almost never reasonable because if they were they wouldn't be creationists in the first place, but there are a subset who are just ignorant and I always hope that I can influence these people enough that at some time they can break free of the prison of lies they are trapped by.

I have researched the evidence against the Flood fairly intensely but its unreasonable to present it all in an email back to a believer so I thought why not present it here in my blog instead. In fact there is so much evidence against the Flood that I decided just to pick on one disproof out of many, and that is the evidence from dendrochronology (the science of ageing trees using growth rings).

According to the Bible the Flood happened in 2350 BC (although some scholars offer a range from 3398 BC to 2348 BC). At most the Flood happened 5,400 years ago so if we can find anything of more than that age which is unaffected it would be strong evidence that the Flood didn't happen.

Of course there are so many independent lines of evidence showing this that I can hardly list them here but a few would be marine sediments, varves, human population, records from ancient civilisations, genetic studies, archaeology, and many others. But I decided that tree rings are an easy to understand proof and one which is difficult to dismiss through fatuous objections (such as those against carbon dating) so that's what I decided to use.

There are some individual trees which are old enough to disprove the Flood. The King Clone creosote bush (which is now a patch of shrubbery 70 by 25 feet) in the Mojave Desert is 11,700 years old. It shows no signs of being affected by a flood. And the world's oldest tree has been discovered in Sweden. It is 9,550 years old and also survived the Flood some way.

But even if these individual examples are ignored its possible to date trees which lived for shorter times by cross referencing the patterns of growth rings. The rings vary depending on many factors such as rainfall, temperature and disease. All the trees in an area are affected in a similar way so similar patterns can be seen in their rings. If two trees each survived for 100 years but their lives overlapped by 10 years we would see the same pattern at the end of the older tree's life and the start of the younger. Extending this its possible to date back as far as necessary independently of the life of the trees.

There are possible sources of errors but experts know which trees give the most reliable results and use these in preference to others. Also the dating has a margin of error but its far too small to allow the flood to possibly be true. So what have these studies found?

Talk Origins quotes this study: Dr. Charles Ferguson of the University of Arizona has, by matching up overlapping tree rings of living and dead bristlecone pines, carefully built a tree ring sequence going back to 6273 BC (Popular Science, November 1979, p.76).

The journal Radiocarbon quotes this study: Marco Spurk et al. The oak chronology was also extended with new samples as far back as 10,429 BP (8480 BC). In addition, the formerly tentatively dated pine chronology (Becker 1993) has been rebuilt and shifted to an earlier date. It is now positioned by 14C matching at 11,871-9900 BP (9922-7951 BC) with an uncertainty of 20 years (Kromer and Spurk 1998).

Then there's this one by Pilcher, Baillie, Schnidt and Becker from Nature: The world's longest continuous tree-ring chronology is based on the bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata and Pinus longaeva) growing in the White Mountains of California. The great age of living and sub-fossil trees of this species enabled a continuous tree-ring sequence of 8,681 years to be established, providing absolutely dated wood samples for the first radiocarbon calibration. We have now established an unbroken west European tree-ring sequence spanning the past 7,272 years.

And I found this at the Direct Science blog: Bernd Becker and Bernd Kromer. During the past 25 years, in the Hohenheim tree-ring laboratory long tree-ring chronologies have been constructed, now reaching back to 11,400 yr dendro BP.

So there's a whole series of independent studies which show that the Flood just didn't happen (at least not when the creationists claim it did). There are no excuses because the science is so simple (at least in principle) that even creationists can understand it.

So there's no reasonable doubt, the Flood is a myth, and a particularly stupid one at that. This Bible story is wrong. What other stories might be wrong? Well just about all of them actually but that's another blog entry!

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