by Patrick Young, Ph.D.
The Genesis Flood- Where Did The Water Come From
And Where Did It Go?
Every serious student of scientific creation knows that the validity of a global flood in mankind’s recent past is a subject that invites vigorous debate. Advocates of an ancient Earth, whether they are atheistic or theistic evolutionists, have attacked the scientific credibility of a global flood with a zeal that is nothing short of fanaticism. Others, such as progressive creationists, dismiss the global aspect of the flood and alternatively propose a more localized version as a misguided attempt to salvage the Bible’s credibility.
Criticisms of a literal global flood are as old as the Bible itself. Documented as far back as 300 AD, Origen and Augustine were questioning scripture by discounting the biblical account of the Ark’s size 1. Probably the most widespread resistance to a global flood came with the acceptance of the uniformitarian concept by the scientific community. Previous to this, the majority of geological conclusions were based on the principle of catastrophism. However, with the acceptance of Darwin’s theory to explain human origins, the catastrophic principle fell out of favor.
Uniformitarianism is founded on the idea that no other geologic processes, except the one’s at work today, were in operation in the past 2. It further states that these processes act slowly over very long periods of time 3. There is no provision in this rationale for catastrophic processes such as the global flood because evolutionary theory requires a uniformitarian interpretation (e.g. long ages and gradualism) of the geologic column to be considered viable.
With widespread acceptance of the uniformitarian concept by the scientific community, significant pressure was placed on the masses to discard the biblical account of a global flood and remit it to nothing more than a myth. Moreover, opposition began that seriously questioned the scientific legitimacy of all aspects of a global deluge including the seaworthiness of the ark, the ark’s ability to hold two of every kind of animal, and the amount of water needed to submerge the whole earth 4.
All past questions about the ark viability have effectively been addressed in a previous publication by John Woodmorappe, demonstrating that the literal interpretation of this portion of the biblical account is feasible 5. However, while excellent attempts have been made to address the origin of the tremendous amount of water to cover the whole Earth 6, some controversy persists. The focus of the ongoing debate is basically--where did all the water come from -- and where did it go?
The biblical account of the deluge speaks about two sources of water to accomplish the end result of a global flood. Genesis 7:11-12 (KJV) says, "…the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights." The original purpose of the fountains of the deep is given in Genesis 2: 5- 6 (KJV) stating, "… for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." Clearly, before the fall of man, the only source of water was from this mist that apparently drew the "fountains of the deep" as its source.
Taken literally, it is obvious that the Bible does not say that forty days and forty nights of rain in itself, caused the Earth to be completely submerged by water. Most of the water making up the deluge appears to have originated from this curious location in the Earth called the fountains of the deep. Moreover, if in the recent past, the Earth was completely immersed in water, it had to drain somewhere.
Some have suggested that the waters submerging the Earth are now our present day oceans 7. This theory is based on the assumption that the pre-flood Earth had a much smoother and uniform surface topography. Further, due to the hydrodynamics of the flood and other catastrophic events such as volcanoes and earthquakes, the post-flood topography is proposed to result in much deeper ocean floors and fully capable of handling the water runoff 8. However, while these conclusions may be valid, they can’t be scientifically verified.
While the Bible clearly states that the source of extra water to complete the deluge originated from the fountains of the deep, its actual location in the Earth has only been spoken of in generalities 9,10. One of the keys to this mystery could lie in determining whether there is a known area in the Earth that is capable of holding so much water.
The Earth is composed of a series of layers called the crust, mantle, and core. The crust is the outermost portion of the earth and extends about 25 miles down. The mantle extends further down about 1800 miles and the core makes up the remainder of the Earth 11. Since the biblical fountains of the deep must be located in the Earth, a closer study of the mantle composition may provide valuable insight to what is stated in scripture.
The mantle is 62% of the Earth’s total volume and is separated into three areas called the upper mantle, transition zone, and lower mantle 12. The upper mantle has already been demonstrated to have the capability of holding approximately the amount of water to fill all the oceans once 13. The transition zone is also believed to be capable of holding approximately six times the water in all the oceans 14. While both of these areas in the Earth’s mantle demonstrate a tremendous potential reservoir for water, they still do not possess what is considered the minimum amount of water required to cover all the mountains of the Earth (~8 times the oceans) 15.
Recently, a study of the Earth’s lower mantle revealed some interesting conclusions about water retention. The Earth’s lower mantle is believed to consist predominantly of Magnesium-pervoskite, Magnesiowustite, and Calcium- pervoskite 16. While it is well known that the solubility of water in these pure anhydrous materials is negligible, the authors believed that the addition of common impurities to the mix could change this parameter significantly 17. They discovered that by adding increasing amounts of trivalent cations such as alumina and Iron III oxide as representative impurities, they were able to substantially increase the amount of water that the lower mantle materials were able to hold 18. In fact, when natural impurities are taken into account, the lower mantle’s composition had the potential of storing up to five times more water than is present in the oceans today 19.
Discovering that the Earth’s lower mantle has this type of capacity to hold water makes the total mantle area a prime candidate for the biblical "fountains of the deep." This conclusion also demonstrates once again that while scripture does not tell us everything, when it does speak, it is word for word accurate and inerrant.
|Allen, D.C. The Legend of Noah. University of Illinois, New York (1963). p. 70.|
|Gish, D.T. Evolution: the fossils still say no. Institute of Creation Research, Santee, Ca. (1995). p. 46.|
|3.||Roth, A.A. Origins. Review and Herald, Hagerstown, Md (1998). p. 196.|
|4.||Whitcomb, J.C. Morris, H.M. The Genesis Flood. P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ (1961). p. 77.|
|5.||Woodmorappe, J. Noah’s Ark: A feasibility study. Institute of Creation Research, Santee, Ca. (1996).|
|7.||Ham, K. Snelling, A. Weiland, C. The answers book. Creation Science Foundation, Acacia Ridge, Australia, (1990). p. 123.|
|8.||Ibid. p. 123.|
|9.||Ref. 4. p. 219.|
|10.||Ref. 3. p. 208.|
|11.||Ref. 4. p. 219.|
|12.||Helfrich, G.R. Wood, B.J. 2002. "The Earth’s Mantle." Nature. 412:501-507.|
|13.||Drake, M.J. Righter, K. "Determining the Composition of the Earth." Nature 416:39-44.|
|14.||Inoue, T. Weidner, D.J. Northrup, P.A. Parise, J.B. 1998. "Elastic properties of anhydrous ringwoodite (Éˇ-phase) in Mg2SiO4." Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 160:107.|
|15.||Ref, 4, p. 77.|
|16.||Murakami, M., K. Hirose. H. Yurimoto. S. Nakashima. N.Takafuji. 2002. "Water in Earth’s Lower Mantle." Science. 295:1885-1887.|
Patrick H. Young is a resident of Central Ohio. He has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and been employed in industry as a research chemist and materials scientist for over 17 years. He has a website at creationists.org/patrickyoung.html and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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