CONTINENTAL DRIFT, NO! YES! TO DRAMATIC RISE IN SEA LEVELS. GENESIS 10 AND THE DIVISION OF NATIONS

WHAT CAUSED THE DIVISION OF NATIONS?  LAST WEEK, MANY SCOFFERS COMMENTED ON MY FACEBOOK BLOG THAT THE THEORY SOME CREATIONISTS HOLD ABOUT CONTINENTAL DRIFT BEING THE CAUSE FOR THE DIVISION OF NATIONS SPOKEN OF IN GENESIS 11 IS SHEAR LUNACY. WELL, OKAY.

BUT I RESPECT THOSE WHO HOLD TO THIS POSITION, BUT IT ISN’T WHAT I BELIEVE, CONTRARY TO WHAT THOSE RUDE READERS IMPLIED BY THEIR SLAMS AND INSULTS (OF COURSE, SELDOM DO FB RESPONDENTS READ AN ARTICLE THEY DERIDE — DRIVE BY TROLLS I CALL THEM).  WOW!  HATE IS ALIVE AND WELL ON PLANET EARTH.

MY POSITION? POST-FLOOD, THERE WAS AN INCREDIBLE RISE IN SEA LEVELS – PERHAPS 400 FEET OR MORE DUE TO MELTING ICE.  PLUS, PELEG’S BIRTH WAS NOT AT THE TIME OF THE TOWER OF BABEL EVENT. ACCORDING TO THE SEPTUAGINT, IT WAS LIKELY 300 YEARS LATER. THIS IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF WHAT HAVING THE CORRECT CHRONOLOGY MEANS TO GETTING THE STORIES STRAIGHT.  CAREFUL STUDY REFUTES THE IDEA THAT IT WAS THE CONFUSION OF LANGUAGES THAT CAUSED DIVISION.  IT WAS SOMETHING ELSE. THE HINT IS IN THE NAME PELEG – AND “DIVISION” IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY.

THE ARTICLE BELOW IS DRAWN FROM CHAPTER 3 OF REBOOTING THE BIBLE, PART 2.  I HOPE YOU WILL PURCHASE A COPY.  NOTE THE SPECIAL PRICES AT MY STORE… WWW.FAITH-HAPPENS.COM/STORE.

Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NKJV)

“The enemy of our souls has been tacitly working behind the scenes of history to discredit (and even alter) the Word of God.  My good friend, Douglas Woodward, has dedicated his life to answer the Berean’s call to test all things.  In his research for this landmark series, Rebooting the Bible, he has discovered some remarkable things that every serious student of the Word must be aware of to face the days ahead of us with greater confidence.  These works on the topics of biblical authenticity and
chronology should be considered essential for any biblical library.”

Michael K. Lake, Th.D., Author, The Shinar Directive, and The Sheeriyth Imperative.

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Option #3: Rising Waters Flood Coastlines Causing Global Divisions

Nevertheless, as stated earlier, the notion that continental drift caused the division spoken of in Genesis 10:25, is beyond what most young-earth creationists are willing to accept.  They are comfortable, generally, with the division relating to language differences introduced at the Tower of Babel event. Some are willing to suppose that the splitting of the continents took place as one of the significant mechanisms precipitating the Flood (no pun intended). Thus, if the splitting of the continents took place, it must have occurred concurrently with the Flood. Otherwise, they perceive the cataclysm would be too dramatic for the Bible to have remained so silent, with nothing said about it other than a name given to a baby called Peleg. Says Lanser,

There are other factors predisposing some to the Babel interpretation as well, such as a close adherence to the Ussher chronology or allegiance to a particular view of geophysics which disallows rapid plate tectonics at any time except during the Flood.  I cannot escape the conclusion that these other factors tip the scales for many people who think the Hebrew text alone is not clear enough to determine the answer.[1]

John Morris, while uncomfortable with the continental drift theory, concedes that the division of the eretzis by water and amounts to much more than the confusion of language at Babylon. Morris and co-author Johnson state:

The bulk of “geological explanation” proponents (as opposed to the linguistic proponents) have offered “continental drift” as the geological explanation, which is a geological explanation the current co-authors are reluctant to adopt. But it does indicate, at the very least, that some analysts have been dissatisfied with a “linguistic explanation” for Peleg’s naming. [Emphasis added]

And Morris and Johnson likewise express the concern that a significant event like continental drift demands a heightened mention in the Bible that isn’t there. “One would also think that for such a dramatic event as continental drift to occur in the days of an individual would be as cataclysmic as Noah’s flood and would warrant similar space in Scripture due to its earthshaking importance.” Yes indeed, unless as Setterfield argues, the catastrophe implied by naming a child Peleg was the singular acknowledgment that many disasters occurred – and were accepted by the population calmly and serenely.[2]

THE WORLD AT THE TIME OF THE LAST ICE AGE… 

Alternatively, we might suppose that one could assert the effects were too subtle to notice or that, while events may have had a dramatic impact on us, they fail to standout necessarily in the eyes of God. But whatever happened, it seems to be a consistent view that it was water that did the dividing.  Rick Lanser appears to agree with Morris and Johnson:

From his analysis of Genesis 10:5, 10:25 and 10:32, Johnson’s overall conclusion was that “philological analysis supports the conclusion that Peleg was named for something that occurred after the worldwide Flood, of a geological nature, that had geographical significance.” And a significant reason he came to this conclusion is that he, like Northrup before him, also noted the connection of palag division to the action of water. This led him to observe that the word is not a synonym for parad, nor were people the object of its action: “The masculine noun derived from palag… is peleg, which appears 10 times in the Old Testament, and is routinely translated as ‘river.’” This analysis reinforces the case made by Northrup, though it does not tell us exactly how water was involved in the Genesis 10:25 “division.” [Emphasis added]

And at the conclusion of his paper, Lanser offers a modest defense for his continued inquiry into the nature of Peleg’s “division.” Lest he rock the boat too much:

I realize that in undertaking this study, I am fighting an uphill battle in my attempt to change the minds of people about the nature of the Peleg event. Some apparently have a vested interest in not considering the possibility that there could have been another, less destructive though still considerable Earth disaster following the Flood; entire systems of thought have been developed which cannot incorporate this idea without upheaval. Others are so influenced by certain external factors—science models, chronologies, translations, manuscript reliability, whatever—that to raise this question is too uncomfortable, and it’s much easier to quickly dismiss it so biblical research can continue within comfortably defined parameters.

Is There a Fourth Theory That Better Fits the Facts?

But another possibility exists that doesn’t attempt to fit the story of the divisions of the earth into a YEC framework. This theory is to assume the continents were already “drifted,” the climate was colder (so icecaps were deeper). The division came about by rising sea levels occurring after the Flood transpired.  This theory advances the belief that the polar ice caps either already existed when the LORD recreated the earth (vis-à-vis, the Gap Theory in some form), or took place when an “ice age” followed the Flood, in which massive amounts of ice built up on the continents and the polar regions. These slowly began to melt afterward, eventually causing the dry land next to the shore to disappear – the seaside nearby the small human population living at that time in the Middle East. Mysteriously, the shorelines began creeping inland. Morris hints at this when he states:

One “separator” did occur sometime after the dispersion.  The Ice Age, which followed the Flood, would have caused sea level to be an estimated 600 feet lower than today, since such a great volume of water was trapped as ice on the continents.[3]  Such a lowering of today’s seas would reconnect the continents once again. The connected continents would have aided in both animal and human migration following both the Flood and the dispersion, as commanded by God (Genesis 8:17; 11:4,8,9). Then the ending of the Ice Age and the melting of the ice sheets would cause sea level to rise, covering the land bridges and “dividing” the continents after migration had occurred.  Perhaps this is what happened “in the days of Peleg.”[4]

Pangea. All the Continents in One Large Landmass.
How Many Years Ago Was It When This Was the Case?

Of course, looked at from the perspective of an old earth, the ice caps likely existed before Noah’s Flood. The earth’s inundation with water likely came from an additional water source (beneath the crust exploding out from it as Setterfield proposed, or through an idea advanced decades ago by creationists asserting that a dense water canopy surrounding the earth collapsed upon our planet).[5]

However, this theory was eventually abandoned by its former adherents due to extensive research on the viability of the concept from the standpoint of the volume of water necessary to cause the Flood and the resulting temperatures on the surface of the earth. In short, it would create an unlivable greenhouse effect.[6]

The most popular alternative for enough water to serve as a causative source for the Flood lies within the theory that the crust of the earth sat on top of a saltwater base several miles thick, underneath 10 miles of crust. This concept is known as the Hydroplate Theory. Genesis 7:10-12 reads, “And it came to pass after the seven days that the water of the flood came upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of the life of Noe, in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, on this day all the fountains of the abyss were broken up, and the floodgates of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Breton’s LXX). The Bible indicates that water burst forth from “the fountains of the abyss,” and then the floodgates of heaven opened. The two actions are nearly reciprocal with the crustal explosions setting off the fountains while dust precipitated massive rainfall. Walter Brown, the theory’s inventor, explains his view this way:

Immediately after the flood, sea level was several miles lower than today, because the floor of the subterranean chambers was about 10 miles below the earth’s surface. As it crushed, thickened, buckled, and sediment-laden continents sank into the mantle in the centuries after the flood, sea level had to rise in compensation. Eventually, sea level approached today’s level.[7]

Brown argues that this gushing out of massive amounts of water literally exploded from beneath the earth’s crust, sending rocks into outer space as well as inundating the land with enormous volumes of water, causing a global flood.

Indeed, the Hydroplate Theory may have merit. Nevertheless, once we make note that Brown’s theory regards the mechanism for the division is the continent’s “drifting” operating at a rampage pace during the Flood itself, it should dawn on us we didn’t discover the more subtle nature of the division inferred by Peleg being our “water boy.”

To repeat the chronological sequence, what happened at the birth of Peleg when his parents imparted his odd name to him could not be identified directly with the Flood, or even at the same time of the Tower of Babel, but transpired over 500 years after Noah’s floodwaters abated, and some 250-300 years after the Tower of Babel was deserted.

Now, it’s true the conventional MT chronology compresses the timeline so much so that one might venture the mechanism causing the Flood was somehow still in gear. But the Septuagintal chronology strongly suggests this was next to impossible. While the Flood may have indirectly caused the division centuries later, “hydroplating” isn’t our cause célèbre.

DRAMATIC MELTING OF ICE AT THE POLES

The Big Melt

If we grant that a massive amount of water suddenly appeared on the surface of the earth, which one distant day in the future would submerge ancient cities sitting along the then-shoreline, apparently much of this water flash froze upon entering our ecosystem. The waters of the Flood built-up ice not just on the polar icecaps depositing a newly formed deep layer of ice there, but depending on the severity of the temperature (consider the quick freeze of the Wooly Mammoths in Siberia and Canada) also created ice sheets rapidly across much of North America, Northern Europe, and Northern Asia. This expansive global ice field in the Northern Hemisphere was likely more than a mile thick.

So what happened? Here is my theory:  The most significant global ice storm of all time wasn’t at the end of the conventional ice age scientists usually presume or even the so-called Younger Dryas event ca. 10000 B.C., which yielded another 1,000-year-long deep freeze.[8] Instead, it was an ice age created at the time of Noah’s Flood by flash-frozen ice laid down on the old polar caps and northern portions of the continents. After the ice was in place, some years later (perhaps 50 to 100 years?), meltwaters began to accumulate, becoming deeper and deeper, forming inland lakes trapped within these ice sheets. When the meltwater finally broke through the ice, it rushed to the sea. This created a series of enormous natural catastrophes along the path cut by these rushing waters through the usually dry land toward their coastal destinations.[9]

The flow of water moved at rates of hundreds of miles per hour, carving enormous swaths of earth into canyons as it emptied into the ocean. This process may have taken hundreds of years before it began, and many decades before it finally stopped. During this long-drawn-out meltdown, sea levels suddenly rose globally several meters at a time in only a matter of a few days or weeks. This occurrence wouldn’t happen just once. It often happened in spurts for an untold duration.

Consequently, such a mechanism produces marine floods “of biblical proportions,” and interested academics agree. So this speculation of what happened, now has scientific underpinning.  Laughing about massive floods affecting every part of the world should be prohibited! Those floods happened.  BUT LET’S DIVE DEEPER!

Conclusion: The Marine Transgression

RESEARCHER AND WRITER GRAMAM HANCOCK discusses the work of geneticist, Dr. Stephen Oppenheimer, who made a unique study of floods and population migrations.

In his important book, Eden in the East, Oppenheimer argues that what happened in the Gulf at this time, between approximately 6,000 and 5,500 years ago (4000-3500 B.C.) was the local effect of a worldwide episode of rapid, relatively short-term flooding known as the Flandrian transgression – which had a significant impact not only along the shores of the Gulf but in many other parts of Asia as well.

He quotes Oppenheimer directly [10] who related that the destructive effect of the Flandrian transgression wiped out coastal archaeological sites up to about 5,500 years ago and is now an academically accepted fact (occurring no earlier than 3500 B.C. – meaning that Hancock’s range – supplied above – pushes Oppenheimer’s dates back earlier than Oppenheimer allows, but consistent with the LXX chronology of 3360 B.C.).[11]

Another flood, whose date coincides with the Peleg event (2829 B.C.) has to do with one of the earlier five cities mentioned that existed before the Zisudra flood.  The Babylonian historian Berossos recorded an account of the Flood (writing in the third century B.C.). Hancock notes, “Sippar is remembered as the place where the knowledge of the antediluvian race was hidden away before the flood and preserved for use by the survivors of mankind.”

The Babylonian hero’s name is Xisothros [in slight contrast to Sumer’s Zisudra]. God warns Xisothros in a dream that he must build an enormous boat. And he is to gather up tablets recording the history of humankind in the city of Sippar. This information would serve the descendants who survive the flood by supplying them with the knowledge given by the gods to humanity beforehand. Like Zisudra, Xisothros exits the boat after the flood, makes sacrifices, and goes missing once he is made immortal. But in this story, the passengers remained on the boat. God tells them to sail their boat back to Sippar, dig up the tablets, and put its knowledge to good use.  “And those who had arrived in Babylonia dug up the tablets in the city of Sippar and brought them out. They built many cities and erected temples to the gods and renewed Babylon.”[12] This description stands in stark contrast to what we know about Noah from the Bible. Could this mean that the information conflates Noah and Nimrod, assuming as I do that both are historical figures, although known in archeology and Egyptology by different names (e.g., Nergal or Ninurta)?

Hancock summarizes his research expressing a bit of disappointment at his inability to match up the times of these earliest of the flood accounts with an 8,000-year-old civilization (rather than one just preceding Noah’s flood, dating 5,500 years B.P.)

I reviewed the archaeological literature for rational explanations of the Sumerian flood tradition and find that most of the experts agree it must have been rooted in some kind of historical truth; they point to the temporary inundation of Ur around 5,500 years ago [ca. 3500 B.C.!] either by gigantic river floods or by the marine incursion known as the Flandrian transgression.  But when I look further and try to match up the details of the flood tradition to the archaeological facts I find that nothing really fits; nevertheless there are strange resonances between the evidence and the myths… Ur, which is not mentioned in the flood tradition as all, was most definitely flooded around 5,500 years ago. Shurrupak (Sippar), which is named as one of the antediluvian cities, was likewise flooded, but not until 700 years later. [13] [Emphasis added]

Consequently, what discourages Hancock actually fits the biblical facts for two major flooding events, one that coincides with Noah’s Flood, ca. 3500 B.C. (my date of 3360 B.C.) and Peleg’s “division” ca. 2829 B.C., 530 years later.  Hancock ascribes the former to a global marine event, and the latter to a more regional flood brought on by a river. So does the Bible. The first flood was cataclysmic; the second flood was gradual and only a catastrophe to those on or near the ocean shore.

THE RUINS OF UNDERWATER CITIES NEAR JAPAN

Stunning, isn’t it? Can we call that river that flooded in the Mesopotamian region by the name Peleg? [14]Perhaps one day, I will have an opportunity to share with Hancock the finer points of the biblical flood account as seen alongside the Septuagint chronology, which seems to fit science together rather nicely with the minuscule witness of Genesis 10:25.  It just goes to show: Sometimes, even the smallest detail can change a world of facts. A single Bible verse, Genesis 10:25, and a boy named Peleg seem to be just that kind of detail.

Hence, the conclusion: The chronology of the Septuagint transforms primeval Bible history so much so that empirical science and scripture can find a way to co-exist.  It takes good science and reasonable biblical interpretation – neither which are easily satisfied with the “academically” accepted orthodoxy.  Certainly tradition has always had a way of twisting the truth and hiding what we ought to believe. Perhaps a proper analysis of the Peleg event might be a factor in seeing some reconciliation by these notorious rivals. Let’s hope so.

Rebooting the Bible: Parts 1 and 2, both now in large format. Available for a special bundle price at www.faith-happens.com/store

NOTES (DON’T BYPASS THESE NOTES!)

[1] Lanser, op. cit., p. 10.

[2] Unlikely. At our apartments my neighbors and I get anxious when the waste disposal dump truck comes at “dark-thirty,” makes a racket when dropping the large metallic cannister back onto the asphalt and rings its annoying bell (a backup warning) which sounds like a strafing run just outside our doors.

[3] Other sources suggest that seal level was only about 300-350 feet below today’s levels.

[4] Morris, John D. (1993, October). “What happened in the “days of Peleg”?” from ACTS & FACTS. Posted at www.icr.org/article/what-happend-days-peleg.

[5] Theologian Joseph C. Dillow wrote a book on this subject entitled, The Waters Above. Chicago: Moody Press. 1981. I heard Dillow speak on this subject when we were both much younger men in Dallas at a Campus Crusade for Christ conference in 1972.

[6] Thomas, Brian. (2016, April 29). What were the waters ‘above the firmament’? Institute of Creation Research. Retrieved from https://www.icr.org/article/9296. However, it remains an option for some as we will see later in this book in the sophisticated work of Gerrard Gertoux.

[7] Brown, Walt. (1980). “In the beginning.” Phoenix, AZ: Center for Scientific Creation, Seventh Edition. Available from: http://www.creationscience.com. (ISBN 1-878026-08-9). Cited in RemnantReport.com.

[8] The Younger Dryas Hypothesis figures into Graham Hancock’s scenario of how ancient civilizations were extinguished in pre-history. Hancock explains this in Magician of the Gods.  The hypothesis proposes that a comet hit the earth in North America, impacting the Laurentide Ice Sheet, and delivering a blow that set fire to much of the continent destroying thousands of native species (like Wooly Mammoths and Saber-tooth Tigers). Again, if this event happened it occurred in pre-Biblical times. The Younger Dryas (circa.12,900 to 11,700 years BP) was a return to glacial conditions which temporarily reversed the gradual climatic warming after the Last Glacial Maximum started receding around 20,000 BP. It is named after an indicator genus, the alpine-tundrawildflower Dryas octopetala, as its leaves are occasionally abundant in the Late Glacial, often minerogenic-rich, like the lake sediments of Scandinavian lakes.” See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas

[9] This process is discussed by Randall Carlson and Graham Hancock. It is also a major subplot in Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods, explaining why the “scab lands” of eastern Washington and the Columbia Gorge were formed in this fashion. I lived in Washington for 21 years and drove through this area many times on I-90 between Seattle and Spokane. Also, for those who have read enough books for now, you can listen to a discussion with Joe Rogan as the three of them review slides illustrating the incredible rock formations and terracing which occurred in the same timeframe, likely happening several thousand years before the Flood of Noah.  What I describe, however, is virtually the same process, the meltwaters building up beginning quietly in the “Noahide” ice sheets, perhaps for several centuries after the Flood through many warming and cooling periods, and finally freeing enough water from the ice to inundate the homeland of Peleg in 2829 B.C. and divide the world with rising oceans from meltwater. Note: My theory doesn’t require continental drift to be a part of Great Flood. I am doubtful it was but can’t say – nor am I qualified to offer more than this speculation seeking to assemble the puzzle parts of this great mystery the best I can. We dig into the entirety of this subject in Chapter 9.

[10] Oppenheimer, (1998) Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia.  London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. 57. Cited by Hancock, Underworld, Kindle Location 701.

[11] Hancock, op. cit., Kindle Location 758. According to an entry in Wikipedia, this is also known as the Flandrian interglacial. “The first part of the Flandrian, known as the Younger Atlantic, was a period of fairly rapid sea level rise,[2] known as the Flandrian transgression and associated with the melting of the Fenno-Scandian, Scottish, Laurentide and Cordilleran glaciers.” Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flandrian_interglacial#cite_note-2. The source for their information is from a 1979 book entitled, Sea-level Changes, by M.J. Tooley. The material cited by Hancock is much more recent suggesting his later dates, different from what is presented in the Wikipedia article, supersedes the older and is more likely to be correct.

[12] Hancock, op. cit., Kindle Location 770.  Here Hancock cites a multitude of references: Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq, 4, Penguin Books, London, 1992, citing C. E. Larsen, ‘The Mesopotamian Delta Region: A Reconsideration of Lees and Falcon’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 95, 1975, 43–57. P. Kassler, ‘The structural and geomorphic evolution of the Persian Gulf’, in B. H. Preuser, The Persian Gulf, Berlin. Exactly which supplies the information quoted here is not clear to me.

[13] Ibid. Kindle Location 1062.

[14] This “river” was the observation of the division of the land masses as observed by the descendants of Noah in one location as recorded ever so briefly in Genesis.  That doesn’t mean it was only one river. The Noah Flood, in my view, was global, whereas the “regional flood” was the rising ocean water submerging the seashore and trapping hundreds of humankind habitats around the globe – the action for which Peleg was named.