DID CONTINENTAL DRIFT CAUSE THE SCATTERING OF NATIONS IN GENESIS 10/11?

In a recent post that got a lot of attention, I spoke about three different view on what caused the world to be divided and for the peoples of the world to scatter, post-Flood.  The usual position is that the incident at the Tower of Babel was the cause.  When the Tower was supposedly knocked down, the city was abandoned, and the peoples went there separate ways, the world after the Great Flood of Noah, was replenished with humans, all from the sons of Noah, sometime after the Ark came to rest (estimates vary from 100 to 300 years afterward).  The conventional date is roughly 2200 B.C.  The date according to the Septuagint is likely closer to 3200 B.C., 1,000 years earlier than what is asserted in the Masoretic Text (which Protestant and Catholic Bibles follow, unfortunately in certain facets of Scripture).

But in this article, which is drawn from REBOOTING THE BIBLE, PART 2, I recap the most radical view – that Continental Driftwas the real reason the nations split up.  And along the way I’LL point out a few matters to consider before the reader confirms their belief in this perspective (and this somewhat radical science it implies.) I hope you enjoy it.  If you do and want the full story, do get a copy of REBOOTING THE BIBLE, PART 2, either from Amazon or from my website store (www.faith-happens.com/store).  

ENDORSEMENT

“You’ll find that Doug’s research supports a plausible solution for many mysteries of the Bible. For example: What does it mean in Genesis 10:25 when we read that Abraham’s ancestor Eber named his son “Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided”? The single scrimpy line offered as an explanation for his name surely meant something to Moses and his readers

DEREK P. GILBERT
HOST OF SKYWATCH NEWS

3,400+ years ago. Still, we’ve lost whatever oral tradition or cultural context would explain why the Holy Spirit prompted Moses to include this “one-liner” in the Book of Genesis.  However, one thing is sure—since “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), the line isn’t there to fill space. It means something – and it probably is essential.

“In Part 2 of Rebooting the Bible, to his credit, Doug doesn’t shy away from the weird parts of the Torah either—Nimrod, Noah, and the “sons of God” from Genesis 6:1-4, progenitors of the monstrous, giant Nephilim—are all considered and addressed with scholarly analysis. And for an encore, he tackles how to reconcile alternate history, made familiar in best-selling books, YouTube, and the History Channel, with Genesis Chapter 1.”

From the Foreword by Derek P. Gilbert, Host, SkyWatchTV and a View from the Bunker and author

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

Did Continental Drift Cause the Dividing of Nations?

The second theory, which is the most extreme view, is based upon a different line of thought.  Barry Setterfield, astronomer and polymath brings his incredible scientific mind to the debate postulating that the division was, in fact, a second earth-shattering event (or at least earth-splitting event) distinct from Noah’s Flood. He posits the division encoded here was continental drift.[1]

You can read the first article in the series from the following link to my article at Prophecy Investigators: https://prophecyinvestigators.org/tower-of-babel-the-inside-story/

Setterfield, like this author, believes that the Septuagint chronology is correct. At this time, although I am far from committed to the Continental Drift Theory transpiring at the time of Peleg, Setterfield offers a strong case for this explanation, which I feel obliged to share with the reader. And portions of his argument are invaluable to my own.

Setterfield sees a significant gap between when the Flood occurred and when the continental drift (the breaking apart of “Pangea”) took place. If the Tower of Babel event transpired around 3159 B.C. (which is my date, while Setterfield’s is even earlier by almost 200 years[2] ), the “drift” likely began at Peleg’s birth, roughly 200 years after the Tower of Babel, and only a century or two from the inauguration of the First Dynasty in Egypt – the timing of which Setterfield works out as approximately 2788 B.C. Citing Setterfield from his paper on Peleg:

Some creationists associate the time of Peleg with the time of Babel, saying that what was divided were the peoples, and that the land itself was split apart at the time of the Flood. The shortened genealogies of the Masoretic do make it appear that Babel and Peleg may have been the same event, but the longer genealogies of the older texts as well as the words used in the Bible itself deny this idea. These were two separate devastating events, about 200 years apart.[3] [Emphasis added]

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

The YEC view, based on the Masoretic Text, believes that Peleg was born only about one century from the Flood of Noah. Says Morris and Johnson: “Under current creationist thinking about the post-Flood Ice Age, Peleg’s birth would have occurred centuries before the Ice Age ‘melted down.’ Therefore, whatever dramatic geologic phenomena were occurring when Peleg was being named ‘Peleg’ must have happened about 100 years after the Flood, i.e., at the beginning of the post-Flood Ice Age.”[4]

COME TO THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE, FRIDAY-SUNDAY, JULY 24-26. I PRESENT SATURDAY NIGHT… ABOUT 8:00 EDT.

CHECK IT OUT:   https://www.gothereforeconference.com/schedule/

JOIN ME AT THE GO YE THEREFORE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE. I’LL PRESENT ALONG WITH 19 OTHERS. IT BEGINS TOMORROW, FRIDAY JULY 24. I PRESENT SATURDAY NIGHT “PRIME TIME” ABOUT 7 OR 8. CHECK IT OUT!

 

In contrast, Setterfield postulates the hiatus from the Flood to Egypt’s beginnings concludes at the likely inauguration of the Egyptian Sothic Cycle.[5]  For our purposes here, following Setterfield’s lead, my supposition is that Egyptian chronology begins roughly 2800 B.C., about 300 years later than those whose field is Egyptology and who argue “the First Time,” aka Zep Tepi, gives us a date of 3,000 to 3,100 B.C.[6]

A quick aside, please note: Although Egyptologists assert that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built about 2700 to 2650 B.C. by Pharaoh Khufu, there are strong arguments by alternate historians Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval contradicting academia proposing the Pyramids were created closer to 10000 B.C.[7]  Likewise, geologist Robert Schoch from Boston University posits that the building of these most breathtaking ancient wonders, if coinciding with the carving of the Sphinx, occurred many millennia before the First Dynasty (i.e., pre-Dynastic Egypt). While Schoch has a different theory than Hancock on what caused the global catastrophe happening between 9700 B.C. and the creation of Adam in 5616 B.C (which is my proposed date – a hiatus of 4,000 years), nevertheless, Schoch supports the Hancock-Bauval thesis as to the second catastrophe’s timing. They believe much of the earth was devastated 11,700 B.P. (before present, aka 9700 B.C.).[8]  

But is the continental drift theory a plausible explanation for the earth’s division happening at least 200 years after the Flood? Setterfield does an extensive analysis of the name Peleg.  He developed his viewpoint by examining the work of a highly regarded scholar on ancient languages, Dr. Bernard Northrup. Setterfield references Northrup’s paper (never formally published), from pages 26-27 on “Continental Separation and the Fossil Record.”[9]

Northrup points out that since ancient Hebrew is a consonantal language (no vowels included within its words); its root is PLG. He claims this same root is used both in the Semitic language group and in Greek as well.  Said Northrup:

The basic root PLG occurs in all three of the family groups of Noah’s offspring with similar meaning, almost always having to do with water.  Aramaic is an exception … the evidence that I have been able to investigate indicates that each of the three basic families of languages that departed from Babel used the basic root PLG to refer to the sea and to division by water.  [Emphasis in original]

 

Northrup provides an extensive list connecting the idea of division or splitting. He states PLG, as a root, appears in Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Greek. It means a “trench or an excavation.” PaLaG is found in Genesis 10:25, Job 38:25, Psalm 1:3 (“He is like a tree planted by PeLeG of water…”) and elsewhere means “to divide by water,” a sense common to both Hebrew and Greek.  In other contexts, it is compressed to mean divide in Hebrew and Aramaic. Examples (quoting directly from Northrup via Setterfield):

    • PaLa’ – (with the final ‘ayin’) means “to split, to divide, to separate” in Hebrew.
    • PaLaD means “to divide, to cut in pieces” in Hebrew.
    • PuLaDah refers to an instrument of division, a sword, in Hebrew.
    • PaLah means to separate, to divide off, in Hebrew.
    • PaLakh means “to cleave, cut in pieces, divide, to plow a furrow” in Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic.
    • PaLat means “to glide away, slip away, to flee away in haste, to escape” in Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic.
    • PaLaK means to “separate, to cut off, to divide, to single out one from a whole” in Hebrew and Arabic.
    • PaLaL means “to fall down” in Hebrew. A parallel development is found in the root “to fall” from the related root (FaLaL) in English.
    • PaLaM means “to tear or cut into, to tear asunder” (as lightning splits the clouds) in Hebrew.
    • PaLaTS means “to be broken in pieces, to break into fragments, to quake greatly, to terrify” in Hebrew and in Aramaic.

In Greek, the Semitic root is used in verbs dealing with (1) the formation of a sea or lake by a river that overflowed; (2) places to be flooded and pushed underwater; (3) the act of flooding; and (4) crossing the sea. Indeed, the verb PeLaGoo means “to turn into the sea, to flood.” Nouns formed from the root PLG continue the pattern: (1) “pelagian hala,” the broad sea; (2) animals living in the sea; (3) one being out in the open sea; (4) related to seamen and ships; (5) connected to Aphrodite who was born “out of the sea.” Northrup points out a dozen other uses of PLG in Greek relating to the sea:

    • PeLaGisma means “an inundation.”
    • PeLaGismos refers to one’s “being at sea.”
    • PeLaGitis refers to something or someone being “of” or “on the sea.”
    • PeLaGobates means “one who walks upon the sea.”
    • PeLaGodromos is “running or sailing on the open sea.”
    • PeLaGolimen is a harbor formed in the open sea through sandbags.
    • PeLaGoploos means “sailing the sea.”
    • PeLaGos means “the sea,” especially “the high sea, open sea, the main.”
    • PeLaGostolos means “on, sailing upon the sea.”
    • PeLaGostrophos means “rowing through the sea.”
    • PeLaGotrophos means “sea-nourished.”
    • PeLaGosde, an adverb, means “to, into or toward the sea.”

Found in the CreationWiki, another historical referent adds further weight to the argument.  A very ancient people known as the PeLasGians (ancestors to the Greeks) have very old ties and connect to water. According to Strabo, he states in his Geography (9.5.22), “The Pelasgi were by the Attic people[10] called ‘Pelargi,’ the compilers add, because they were wanderers and, like birds [perhaps storks, pejoratively], resorted to those places wither chance led them.” He indicates that they settled throughout Greece in ancient times.

Peleg is born 1 year after Babel. The incident occurs 110 years after the Flood. (Acc to the Masoretic Text)

When the Danaans came from Egypt [who may have originated with the Tribe of Dan], they shared the same name. The entry continues, “The apparently peaceful reception of the Danaans in Greece may well be explained, if those inhabitants of Greece before the arrival of Dan were also Hebrews. The Pelasgians were a sea-faring people who sailed the Mediterranean and were well known as traders … They also occupied territory north of Greece between two rivers, one of which was called the Hebrus River, bearing a name reminiscent of and most likely named after their ancestor Eber (Genesis 10:25)”[11]

By now, the reader should get the idea. Peleg means to divide by water if we believe the overwhelming employment of its original Hebrew usage as carried on in other Hebrew phrases, other languages in both verbs and nouns and if concepts mean anything when conveyed to other tongues. In fact, one has to question why the author used the Hebrew word palag (for division or separation) in Genesis 10:25 (given the author of Genesis named our protagonist Peleg using this word), since he had used parad before and after in Genesis 10:5 and Genesis 10:32.  Job 38:25 suggests why a different word was chosen given its usage of palag: “Who cuts (PLG) a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunder-storm?” (NIV) Or in the words of the King James Bible, “Who hath divided (PLG) a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder?” It seems parad implied, “separated by dispersion” and Peleg, “divided by water.”

For Setterfield, although the idea that the drift of the continents would create ripples in geologic events (literally, as in earthquakes, volcanism, mountain building, formations of trenches, and bodies of water), this doesn’t prevent him from proposing it as the solution to “what the division entails.” He points out a series of verses from Job dealing with devastating geologic events which likely included impact events caused by a comet or asteroid: “He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place. And makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; He seals off the light of the stars.”(Job 9:5-7)

Other passages hint at volcanism, rifting, magma (Job 28:5-6, 9-11); volcanic firestorms/ winds (Job 1:16, 19); and possible tsunamis, as well as ocean storms (Job 7:12). However, we know other creationists resist the idea that another cataclysm followed on the heels of the Flood. It stretches credulity since it seems so cataclysmic it’s implausible if not wholly unthinkable.  How so? Consider the following statement by Dr. Morris, who rejected the idea of the separation of continents several centuries after the Flood, and then continued for an additional 200 or more years.

What Caused the Continental Divide? The Physics of Plate Tectonics

But any scheme of rapid separation would itself cause havoc on the earth. If the Atlantic Ocean opened up rapidly, the destructive tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes would make life impossible on earth. For this reason, I am convinced that Genesis 10:25 should not be understood to imply that, “In the days of Peleg, the Atlantic Ocean opened up.” This would have caused devastation comparable to Noah’s Flood, and the Bible has no mention of it. If the continents separated, they did so during Noah’s Flood. (John D. Morris, Ph.D., emphasis added) [12]

What mechanism might have caused the crust to crack and to push the lands apart?  Setterfield offers radiating heat and hydraulics as a dynamic mechanism up to the task:

No matter whether one uses the gravitational model of earth formation [accretion] or the plasma model [per the “Electric Universe” model proposed by the Thunderbolt Project], it is generally agreed that the heavy radioactive elements were in the mantle and core, to begin with. The heating from their decay first drove water out of the rocks, minerals, and crystal lattices, producing the massive explosions which initiated the Flood of Noah. The heating did not stop then, however, but continued, resulting in the melting of the rocks themselves.

When rocks are heated to the melting point, most types gain 10% in volume. This translates into about a 5% increase in circumference. Thus, the melting of the rocks under the crust would have started to exert tremendous pressure under the crust. As the pressure increased, there came a time when all that was needed was some kind of trigger event to start an ‘unzipping’ effect, which is what we see along the Atlantic Rift.

Setterfield believes this was triggered by impacts from a non-terrestrial object or objects that served like a needle popping a balloon. “It would seem that this series of impacts [which he ties to an enormous crater in India] would certainly be enough to trigger the cracking of the crust and the expansion of the earth by about 5%.” This trigger did not just fire up the mid-Atlantic rift to commence spreading – it set off the entire plate tectonics dynamo through massive pressures around the sphere of the earth.

Lanser agrees with Setterfield, although he will not assert that we know for sure it was continental drift, which caused the division and Peleg’s parents to give him such an odd moniker. (What was happening, they obviously deemed remarkable if not threatening). Nor is Lanser convinced the earth-shattering event was so disruptive. And yet, he is persuaded it was a geological event causing the dividing referenced in the name of Peleg. This perspective calls for an extended quotation from Lanser:

I mentioned above that, even if we accept, for exegetical reasons that the “earth” division must be understood in a geographical sense in Genesis 10:25, this does not tell us exactly how water comes into play. Was it limited to “canalization” due to human action, or the formation of new river courses due to localized earthquakes? Those are possible. But against them, we should note that this palag division is said to have taken place “in his (Peleg’s) days” (plural); it was not an event that happened at a single point in time and was quickly over with, like an earthquake, but instead was something that began before his birth and continued for some time thereafter. It was an ongoing event that prompted Peleg’s parents to bestow on their baby boy his noteworthy name, and then continued to occur for an indeterminate period of time. That someone would name their child after this event implies it was something stupendous, something far more than a local earthquake, much less a feat of human engineering like a canal. Possibly it referred to the opening up of the Jordan Rift Valley, which carries the Jordan River from Galilee to the Dead Sea and connects with the Great Rift Valley that continues into Africa. But such a limited event was most likely an aspect of a much larger one—the initial opening of the globe-girdling plate split at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, leading to the complete separation of the Americas from Eurasia and Africa over the space of a few hundred years. We do not know enough to say for certain.[13]

NOTES (Check ’em out, lots of good stuff in here)

[1] “The speculation that continents might have ‘drifted’ was first put forward by Abraham Ortelius in 1596. The concept was independently and more fully developed by Alfred Wegener in 1912, but his theory was rejected by many for lack of any motive mechanism. Arthur Holmes later proposed mantle convection for that mechanism. The idea of continental drift has since been subsumed by the theory of plate tectonics, which explains that the continents move by riding on plates of the Earth’s lithosphere.” Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continental_drift.

[2] The primary difference in our two interpretations of the LXX chronology revolve around one major point which I dissect in detail in Part 1. Setterfield argues the sojourn in Egypt and the enslavement of the Israelites lasted 400 years. I follow Tim Mahoney and David Roehl who argue in Patterns of Evidence that the shorter duration is better supported by scripture (relying a good deal on Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:16-17) that the sojourn was split into 2, 215-year periods.  The first period had to do with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s sojourn in Canaan. The second period was the time in Egypt from Jacob (Israel’s) arrival in Egypt to the Exodus was 215 years later. Therefore, Setterfield’s dates are approximately 200 years earlier than mine (the Flood was ca. 3558 compared to my calculation of 3360 B.C. Likewise, he sees the Tower of Babel, Peleg, Abraham’s birth, etc., 200 years earlier than I do. Given that he pushes the Egyptian history forward as I do, to around 2800 B.C., this means he separates the Flood from the outset of Egypt’s dynastic period by 650 years – which is a very long gap indeed. My calculation is substantial, but only about 360 years.

[3] Setterfield, Barry. (2019). Genesis 10:25 – Peleg. p. 2. Retrieved from http://setterfield.org/Genesis_1-11/part_13_Peleg.html. My view is that their separation was closer to 321 years apart, as the naming of Peleg occurred (no surprise) at his birth rather than many years after it. (The math: 3150 B.C. to 2829 B.C. – 321 years).

[4] Morris & Johnson, op. cit., p. 27.

[5] This discussion can be found in Part 1 of Rebooting the Bible, p. 301-310.

[6] There are several significant chronology errors in Egyptology according to David Rohl, Egyptologist as well as Barry Setterfield who has researched the Sothic Cycle in depth. There errors are discussed in the two final Chapters of Part 1 of Rebooting the Bible and could explain the 200 to 300-year difference mentioned here. See also Appendix 2 of this book.

[7] Supposing these dates might be correct automatically takes us beyond the typical limit allowed by YEC of the world being less than 10,000 years old, which itself is an accommodation to the possibility that some generations in Genesis 5 and 11 are missing. I do not believe any generations are missing from the chronogenalogies of these two Chapters in Genesis. But I do entertain the possibility that the world is older than 10,000 years. This matter is taken up at the end of this book.

[8] Schoch believes a destructive solar event occurred such as a period of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) literally frying the earth’s surface.  Hancock and Bauval suggest that an impact of a comet or asteroid (or many) took place between 10800 B.C. to 9600 B.C.  This drove humanity to near extinction.  It took five millennia before humanity recovered.  This 4,000-year hiatus in my timeline was a period in which life on earth nearly (or completely) lay fallow. The possible explanation supported by various aspects covered by the Gap Theory is that a flood occurred during this time and afterward God recreated life on earth. This flood is sometimes referred to as “Lucifer’s Flood.” Humanity was reconstituted, but this time with a special capacity to know God from within the human spirit. This theory is explored in some depth at this book’s end.

[9] Setterfield, op. cit., p. 3.

[10] The attic people reference the dialect of Greek spoken by Greeks in Athens. It was a subset of Ionic Greek which was the dialect of Homer used in his writing of The Odyssey. It is thought to have become more standardized with the ascension of Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) to the throne in Alexandria. It would eventually morph into Koine Greek. Ptolemy I, Soter, approved the project; Ptolemy II was the King (Pharaoh) who oversaw the creation of the Septuagint. Koine Greek was the language of the Septuagint and the language of the New Testament.

[11] CreationWiki.org. (2014). Peleg. The entry also indicates that, “Peleg’s descendants lived in Paliga, or Phaliga, on the Euphrates, just about the mouth of the Khabur River. He is also known as Phalga which the name of a city was also located next to the Euphrates. Retrieved May 6, 2019, from http://creationwiki.org/Peleg.

[12] Morris, op. cit. “(They) did so during Noah’s Flood” comes near to contradicting scripture which Morris would never do. The author (Moses in my view) makes the comment regarding Peleg’s name implicitly seeing the event at Peleg’s birth happening in the Flood which is not 200-300 years apart (as with the Tower of Babel), but 530 years per my research on the LXX’s chronology.  To my mind: No chance the “division” happened at the time of the Flood. The gap is much too long.

[13] Lanser, op. cit., p. 12.