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Author Topic:   Is belief in God or the Bible necessary to believe in a massive flood.
slevesque
Member (Idle past 3147 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


Message 1 of 110 (508768)
05-16-2009 3:13 AM


I do not know where you cant put this thread.

First of all, this is not about proof for or against a flood.

The question to answer is this one: Is belief in God or the Bible necessary to believe of a past recent massive flooding event ?

What got me thinking is this: even if you do not believe in the innerancy of the Bible, you still have to consider that before it was a religious book, it was a historical manuscript, and that it talks about a major flooding-water event in the recent past. You also have to consider that other cultures around the world talk about a similar event, such as the gilgamesh epic (no matter which one came first).

Now this is the thing. Is it possible to explore the idea of a major cataclysmic water event in the past regardless to the fact that the manuscripts have become a religious book ? Or does its implication with a religion somehow put this possibility off-limits ?

This idea first came to me when reports started coming out a couple of years ago that such a major (almost planetwide) event may had happened on Mars. But it seems that this possibility is somehow unacceptable in the case of the earth. But if a major water cataclism could happen on Mars through naturalistic phenomenons, couldn't similar phenomenons have happened on earth and led to a similar result here ? And that the people of the time had interpreted it as a punishment from some sort of god and recorded it down as such, when in reality it had a naturalistic explanation ?

Once again, I do not want piles of evidence for or against such an event, just discuss if you can believe in naturalism and still accept the idea of such an event as possible. It obviously doesn't have to be worldwide lol, since people could have exagerated such an event to the extent it was worldwide.

(I want to specify that personnally, I believe that there was such an event in the past that do link all the different accounts of it in cultures around the world)

Edited by slevesque, : No reason given.


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Message 2 of 110 (508783)
05-16-2009 6:47 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

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Message 3 of 110 (508785)
05-16-2009 6:52 AM


Defining the Topic
In this thread Slevesque asks questions that neatly span both the scientific and religious realms. Can one accept the flood without belief in God and the inerrancy of Scripture? Are religious ideas off-limits to scientific investigation?

As far as moderation goes and staying on topic we'll have to play this one by ear, but I'm putting this thread in the science forums because I'd prefer to have these ideas explored in a context where attention must be paid to legitimate scientific principles.


--Percy
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lyx2no
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Posts: 1277
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Message 4 of 110 (508793)
05-16-2009 8:23 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
05-16-2009 3:13 AM


Science is Without Blinders
Is it possible to explore the idea of a major cataclysmic water event in the past regardless to the fact that the manuscripts have become a religious book ? Or does its implication with a religion somehow put this possibility off-limits ?
Science does not reject an idea because of the company it keeps.

…couldn't similar phenomenons have happened on earth and led to a similar result here ?
The reason for the rejection is that there are no similar results in evidence.

It obviously doesn't have to be worldwide lol, since people could have exagerated such an event to the extent it was worldwide.
Who is rejecting the idea of local floods? (Aside from those demanding a worldwide event, of course.)


It is far easier for you, as civilized men, to behave like barbarians than it was for them, as barbarians, to behave like civilized men. — Spock, Mirror Mirror

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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1964 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 5 of 110 (508795)
05-16-2009 8:28 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
05-16-2009 3:13 AM


Can One Believe?
I can't address any hard evidence concerning the flood. There will be plenty of others who will do that, but I can address the concept that you are presenting from a somewhat literary standpoint.

The human mind is capable of imagining and believing anything. Each individual determines how they will decide what to believe. There are many ways that people choose what to believe. Some personalities will only take hard evidence with a little soft evidence, others rely on soft evidence and emotions, etc.

quote:
The question to answer is this one: Is belief in God or the Bible necessary to believe of a past recent massive flooding event?
No. How one chooses to believe a flood account depends on what type of evidence they require.

quote:
What got me thinking is this: even if you do not believe in the innerancy of the Bible, you still have to consider that before it was a religious book, it was a historical manuscript, and that it talks about a major flooding-water event in the recent past. You also have to consider that other cultures around the world talk about a similar event, such as the gilgamesh epic (no matter which one came first).
Before the manuscripts of the OT were compiled, they weren't all considered historical documents.

The Tanakh is subdivided into three sections. The Torah which consists of the first five books supposedly written by Moses. The Nevi'im which means the prophets and Ketuvim which means writings (scripture). Of these only Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles are considered historical by the Jews. So the reality behind the Bible is that before it was compiled, all the writings were not historical.

Many cultures talk about major floods. Consider 2005 when hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans. I was sitting warm and cozy here in Indiana during that catastrophe. An ancient tribe would have thought their "world" was coming to an end because their area/community was their whole "world". There is another thread open that sheds some light on this aspect: Not The Planet. The discussion is around the idea that the Bible writers did not mean planetary for the words that we translate as world or earth.

That is the other issue to understand. What were the people of the time really talking about? People tend to talk in all encompassing words when relating disasters even though all they can really attest to is what is in front of them.

quote:
This idea first came to me when reports started coming out a couple of years ago that such a major (almost planetwide) event may had happened on Mars. But it seems that this possibility is somehow unacceptable in the case of the earth. But if a major water cataclism could happen on Mars through naturalistic phenomenons, couldn't similar phenomenons have happened on earth and led to a similar result here ? And that the people of the time had interpreted it as a punishment from some sort of god and recorded it down as such, when in reality it had a naturalistic explanation ?
You didn't provide a link to the Mars information, so I can't address that specifically. It isn't the possibility that is unacceptable it is the probability. Just because it could happen doesn't mean it did. We have the technology today to "read" the history of the planet via rocks, dirt, etc. (sorry guys, I'm not being scientific) We have the capability to determine if such a flood actually happened by the information left behind in the planet.

It isn't necessary to believe in the Judeo/Christian God or the accounts in the Bible to believe in a massive flood. It all depends on what evidence one chooses to make the choice.

The other side of your question is that not believing in a massive flood does not mean one doesn't believe in the Judeo/Christian God.


"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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bluescat48
Member (Idle past 2696 days)
Posts: 2347
From: United States
Joined: 10-06-2007


Message 6 of 110 (508797)
05-16-2009 8:34 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
05-16-2009 3:13 AM


in a word no. All it takes is one accepting that some supernatural entity can do such things. The Bible is not the only source as per the Gilgamesh epic. Flood stories come from many areas of the earth. The major point is the context of the stories and why they were written. The Biblical account is one such story. One must understand that when these stories were compiled, humans had very little knowledge of what the earth was, what caused rain, what caused a flood etc.


There is no better love between 2 people than mutual respect for each other WT Young, 2002

Who gave anyone the authority to call me an authority on anything. WT Young, 1969

Since Evolution is only ~90% correct it should be thrown out and replaced by Creation which has even a lower % of correctness. W T Young, 2008


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PaulK
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Message 7 of 110 (508804)
05-16-2009 10:29 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
05-16-2009 3:13 AM


quote:

What got me thinking is this: even if you do not believe in the innerancy of the Bible, you still have to consider that before it was a religious book, it was a historical manuscript, and that it talks about a major flooding-water event in the recent past. You also have to consider that other cultures around the world talk about a similar event, such as the gilgamesh epic (no matter which one came first).

That is not entirely true. It is a mistake to speak of the Bible as a single work and even if some parts are histories, others are not. Genesis is more myth and legend.

quote:

Now this is the thing. Is it possible to explore the idea of a major cataclysmic water event in the past regardless to the fact that the manuscripts have become a religious book ?

It depends on what sort of flood you're talking about. The flooding of the Black Sea was talked about as a possible origin of the story, although work done since then indicates that the flooding was slower and less catastrophic than originally thought. An exceptionally severe local flood is possible, of course.

quote:

This idea first came to me when reports started coming out a couple of years ago that such a major (almost planetwide) event may had happened on Mars. But it seems that this possibility is somehow unacceptable in the case of the earth.

Assuming that your interpretation of the Mars data is correct (and that may well not be the case) I'll tell you the difference in one word. Evidence. There wouldn't be any suggestion that such an event had happened on Mars unless evidence had been found. That evidence is NOT present on Earth.

quote:

Once again, I do not want piles of evidence for or against such an event, just discuss if you can believe in naturalism and still accept the idea of such an event as possible.

Without leaving physical evidence that it had happened ? No.


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 611 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 8 of 110 (508813)
05-16-2009 11:35 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
05-16-2009 3:13 AM


There are some interesting floods that do not require belief in God or the Bible to believe occurred. They tend to coincide with the glacial melting at the end of the last glacial period, and some people argue that these might be the origins of the flood myths we see a lot of today.

As it stands though, there is little evidence that suggests that there was a flood that covered all parts of the earth simultaneously, and if the Mars theory pans out, it would just go to show that such a phenomena are so obvious that a few robots, a telescope and a probe or two are sufficient to detect it even when the event occurred a long time ago millions of miles away. Given how much easier it is to study earth's geology, I think it should be apparent that the confidence we have in the lack of a global flood should be fairly high.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


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Theodoric
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Posts: 7051
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005


Message 9 of 110 (508828)
05-16-2009 1:16 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
05-16-2009 3:13 AM


What do you mean by massive? Total world? Regional? Black Sea? Nile valley and delta? Tigris and Euphrates?

There has to be an area to be flooded and a source of water. The known flood events(last three above) have an area to be flooded(flood plain for the rivers, plains lower than Mediterranean for the Black Sea event)and a source of water.

quote:
This idea first came to me when reports started coming out a couple of years ago that such a major (almost planetwide) event may had happened on Mars.

I think this is a misinterpretation of the data. I have never seen anything about a planet wide "event" that flooded Mars.

There are reports like this.

Water roaring out of an overfilled lake carved an instant Grand Canyon _ a valley more than mile (1.6 kilometers) deep _ on the surface of Mars some 3.5 billion years ago, according to a new analysis of pictures taken by spacecraft.

Researchers at the National Air and Space Museum said the flood of water originated from a huge lake _ large enough to flood both Texas and California _ that overflowed into a nearby impact crater.

and there is getting to be evidence there was massive amounts of water(oceans?) on Mars. But a "flood event"? Love to see evidence of this. Oh yes I have read the purported "evidence" on the fundie, christianists sites, but that isn't scientific evidence is it.

If anyone has evidence of a worldwide flood on Mars I would love to read it.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts

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slevesque
Member (Idle past 3147 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


Message 10 of 110 (508876)
05-17-2009 12:36 AM


Thanks for all the replies everyone

It took me a lot of time to write that OP, first because of language barrier, second because having it say the idea I wanted wasn't easy.

Science does not reject an idea because of the company it keeps

I know theoretically science must not do this, but in practise it is an easy thing to do.

Who is rejecting the idea of local floods? (Aside from those demanding a worldwide event, of course.)

I'm not really talking about a local flood, sorry if it looked that way in the OP. I'm referring more to massive one time event, such as an asteroid crashing down in the sea and making a shitload of water cover like all-middle east and half of africa. Or like a gigantic water reservoir below the surface just exploding through the crust somewhere and having water all over the place. (Yeah I know my examples are a bit BS lol, but you get the idea)

The Tanakh is subdivided into three sections. The Torah which consists of the first five books supposedly written by Moses. The Nevi'im which means the prophets and Ketuvim which means writings (scripture). Of these only Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles are considered historical by the Jews. So the reality behind the Bible is that before it was compiled, all the writings were not historical.

You seem to know a bit more than me on that subject lol. But I always considered that Moses had written those books as historical. Reading through genesis you can even have the impression that he didn't just copy down oral traditions, but could actually have had even older manuscripts in his possession, which he would have copied and annoted.

That is not entirely true. It is a mistake to speak of the Bible as a single work and even if some parts are histories, others are not. Genesis is more myth and legend

I didn't mean to present the OT as a single work, but since what we are talking refers almost solely on genesis and the other writings of Moses, than it is pretty much a single work.

And didn't he also use the same verbs tenses in genesis than in other historical acounts in the OT ? (I don't know **** about verbe tenses in hebrew though lol) I'll look that up, but I think that at least from the semantic aspect of it, genesis was written as historical.

As it stands though, there is little evidence that suggests that there was a flood that covered all parts of the earth simultaneously, and if the Mars theory pans out, it would just go to show that such a phenomena are so obvious that a few robots, a telescope and a probe or two are sufficient to detect it even when the event occurred a long time ago millions of miles away. Given how much easier it is to study earth's geology, I think it should be apparent that the confidence we have in the lack of a global flood should be fairly high.

Well from what I remember (that mars story is 2-3 years old, and so pretty far in my head) what they observed on mars to come to this conclusion is only landscapes and geomorphology not unlike the ones we see here on earth.

and there is getting to be evidence there was massive amounts of water(oceans?) on Mars. But a "flood event"? Love to see evidence of this. Oh yes I have read the purported "evidence" on the fundie, christianists sites, but that isn't scientific evidence is it.

If anyone has evidence of a worldwide flood on Mars I would love to read it.

Yeha well I was reluctant to write planet-wide lol, but I remember that this was the impression it gave me when I first read it. It is obviously not the case and just an impression, but the event(s) seem more impressive than any local flood we see here on earth

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-water-science-01k.html

For everyone that mentioned evidence for any such event here on earth, we will hopefully be discussing this throughout the summer.

Edited by slevesque, : No reason given.

Edited by slevesque, : No reason given.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Fix a quote box.


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Otto Tellick
Member (Idle past 837 days)
Posts: 288
From: PA, USA
Joined: 02-17-2008


Message 11 of 110 (508878)
05-17-2009 1:01 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by slevesque
05-16-2009 3:13 AM


slevesque writes:

(I want to specify that personnally, I believe that there was such an event in the past that do link all the different accounts of it in cultures around the world)

In other words, you hold (and assert) this belief without having (or in spite of) further evidence, because it tends to coincide with your belief in the Biblical legend. But consider what the relevant evidence would be in order to have a better understanding of these "different accounts ... in cultures around the world":

** Some of those cultures (e.g. Sumerian, Hittite) are related to the Hebrew culture by geographical location (and possibly by cohabitation and/or common or intermixed ancestry), so that the "different accounts" might very well describe the same event, but they do not expand its geographic extent. (And of course, they invoke different interpretations, involving different deities, different motivations, and different methods for living things to survive the event -- that's the mythology part.)

** Some other cultures and accounts (can you name any in particular?) might clearly involve a different geological location, but provide no basis to assume, without further evidence, that they stem from a single event that occurred at the same time as the Mesopotamian event. If there are flood legends among (just guessing here) both Australian aboriginals and Mongolians, there's no telling whether they both were triggered by the same event, let alone whether either of them coincided with a flood in the Middle East. (I don't know whether Mongolians and Australian aboriginals even have any sort of flood story in their mythologies.)

The point is that floods have happened in lots of different places lots of times throughout human experience. Based on what we know about ice ages, atmospheric effects of volcanic eruptions and so on, there may have been certain periods of time when flood events were more frequent than average, or more widespread. Some (surely more than one) of these events may have left a lasting mark on the cultures and mythologies of the particular groups that were affected. But the events are still relatively independent and isolated from each other; there has not been a single global event.

Apart from that, to the extent these events occurred before the affected groups had a writing system, it is in the nature of oral histories that such events become embellished by subsequent generations, adding causes and effects that are very different from what was actually experienced by those who witnessed the event.

Qualified geologists can look at the physical evidence in a given location, and deduce approximately at what points in time (if any) a given part of the terrain was under water (and subject to sedimentation), when it was above water (and subject to erosion), and when it was subterranean (subject to extreme pressure and/or heat). This is what geologists do, and the activity only makes sense -- the physical evidence only converges -- when they use a time scale that goes back a few billion years.

I don't know whether anyone has pointed to any specific physical evidence in the Middle East and said with any credibility "these features are the result of the particular flood that gave rise to Hebrew (/ Sumerian / Hittite) flood story." I don't know whether such an assertion can be made with any credibility. (Maybe someone could use archeological, anthropological and possibly some geological evidence to assert that one of several floods that apparently happened within a given range of time and locations could have given rise to these stories.)

But even if such an assertion could be made, it would be fairly quick and easy work to establish beyond doubt that most of the world was not affected by the particular event(s) in question -- and certainly not affected in the manner described in the Bible (i.e. killing off all land-based life except for the "kinds" that could be crammed pair-wise onto a boat).


autotelic adj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.

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slevesque
Member (Idle past 3147 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


Message 12 of 110 (508879)
05-17-2009 1:36 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Otto Tellick
05-17-2009 1:01 AM


I agree with most of what you say.

In other words, you hold (and assert) this belief without having (or in spite of) further evidence, because it tends to coincide with your belief in the Biblical legend. But consider what the relevant evidence would be in order to have a better understanding of these "different accounts ... in cultures around the world":

I believe that such a flood happened not with blind faith lol, but from evidence which as I've said will be discussed throughout the summer, so we wont discuss it here since it would be off-topic (i do night shifts on a campground this summer, so I got lots of time)

I agree that cultural influence can be invoked for the ressemblances in the middle-eastern accounts. (who influenced who is another matter)

** Some other cultures and accounts (can you name any in particular?) might clearly involve a different geological location, but provide no basis to assume, without further evidence, that they stem from a single event that occurred at the same time as the Mesopotamian event. If there are flood legends among (just guessing here) both Australian aboriginals and Mongolians, there's no telling whether they both were triggered by the same event, let alone whether either of them coincided with a flood in the Middle East. (I don't know whether Mongolians and Australian aboriginals even have any sort of flood story in their mythologies.)

I dont know about mongolians or australian aboriginal, but I do know about some even farther than that. The cherokee in the US have an account of a flood that is global, where there was a favored family for whom a Boat was provided by a Deity.

I have a pretty funny anecdote about this. The Cree tribes here in Canada where I live also have a myth about a global flood. In their account, not only was a boat provided by a God, but they also brought the animals of the forest with them. Mooses, beavers, Deers, bears, all were on board the boat with the favored family to avoid the wrath of the gods.

One of my parents friend went to university in Chicoutimi (where I live) and did a BAC in history. (I don't know how you call that in english, the step before a masters degree). In one of his classes, the teacher gave out that myth to the class. You'll figure that my parents' friend was very surprised to read it and discover that it was very ressembling to the biblical account of the flood (with the usual cultural differences, not the same god, not the same animals, not the same names o the people, etc.) He turned out to do a work on the correlation between that account and the biblical one, and although the teacher was furious when he presented it to the class, the people present were completly astonished with the ressemblance and he got excellent feedback from them.

So I know first-hand that their are accounts of a flood with stricking similarities with the biblical one in cultures in which there is no way they could have been influenced by middle-eastern culture.

Edited by slevesque, : No reason given.

Edited by slevesque, : No reason given.


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bluescat48
Member (Idle past 2696 days)
Posts: 2347
From: United States
Joined: 10-06-2007


Message 13 of 110 (508881)
05-17-2009 2:00 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by slevesque
05-17-2009 1:36 AM


slevesque writes:

So I know first-hand that their are accounts of a flood with stricking similarities with the biblical one in cultures in which there is no way they could have been influenced by middle-eastern culture.

One point neither since the Cree nor the Cherokee spoke either English or French, then these myths had to be translated and translated by Christians who would try to convert the native peoples to Christianity.
The most likely case was the added parts about the boat, animals and selected humans were most likely added to the translations.

Edited by bluescat48, : grammar


There is no better love between 2 people than mutual respect for each other WT Young, 2002

Who gave anyone the authority to call me an authority on anything. WT Young, 1969

Since Evolution is only ~90% correct it should be thrown out and replaced by Creation which has even a lower % of correctness. W T Young, 2008


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slevesque
Member (Idle past 3147 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


Message 14 of 110 (508884)
05-17-2009 2:26 AM


But the teacher made it clear that this myth was in Cree culture before the arrival of missionaries. How can historians know that kind of information I don't know, I'm much more into science than history.

It is still in their Oral tradition, and so even if missionaries had changed the translated versions, it would not have altered their oral tradition. (I don't know about the cherokee indians over in the US, but here they still live in small camps as their ancestors and still speak their original language), except they have guns and snowmobiles lol)

(I researched that possibility you mentioned since it was brought up by one of my friends when I told the story. As far as I'm concerned, it is special pleading because their is absolutly no evidence pointing this could be the case ...)

Edited by slevesque, : No reason given.


dwise1
Member
Posts: 4163
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 15 of 110 (508885)
05-17-2009 2:36 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by bluescat48
05-17-2009 2:00 AM


An even more likely explanation is that oral traditions are very flexible and able to change very rapidly -- like, within a generation or two -- when exposed to new information. For example, in the Creation/Evolution article, "Creation Science and Creation Myths: An Ethnological Perspective" (Issue 32, Summer 1993), Jefferey and Jerry Hanson describe the creation myths of two American Indian tribes, the Mandan and the Washo, and show that those myths changed over time as the tribes' way of life was changed and as they were exposed to other myths, courtesy of the Christian missionaries.

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