The Great Flood that occurred during the life of the Prophet Noah was a key topic of the recent science and religion debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. Many modern scientists assert that the Great Flood and many other events in Biblical history must be merely figurative stories. They claim the story of Noah, the ark and the flood cannot possibly be literally true.
Ancient and modern prophets, however, attest to the literal reality of a miraculous worldwide flood. Scientific analysis can suggest how God performed this great work and why it is very different from known historical floods. Ancient calendars, derived from the solar system’s celestial bodies, correlate with the Bible to also support the reality of the Great Flood.
In previous articles I have discussed the great miracles of the scriptures including the flood. I would recommend reading “Moroni Reveals a God of Miracles“ and “Restoration of Genesis: The Ascension and Return of the City of Enoch.”
In this article I will focus on the specific Nye/Ham debate discussion of Noah and the Great Flood and especially suggest approaches using both scriptural testimony and reason in defense of the flood and Noah as the topic may come up in discussions.
Both Barrels Blasting at Noah
Bill Nye, the Science Guy, came right out in the debate with strong attacks, including a good dose of sarcasm, against Noah and the other “seven zookeepers” on the ark.
“Mr. Ham and his followers have this remarkable view of a worldwide flood that somehow influenced everything that we observe in nature, a 500 foot wooden boat, eight zookeepers for 14,000 individual animals, every land plant in the world under water for a full year. I ask us all is that really reasonable?”
In an interview after the debate, Bill Nye and Bill Maher commented on Ken Ham’s belief in divine creation and miracles like the flood.
“‘I respect his passion,’ Nye said of Ham’s creationist stance. At first I thought maybe he’s a charlatan who’s just trying to take advantage of people, but I think he might really believe it.’ ‘Oh he totally believes it,’ Maher concurred, which is why I don’t respect him.'”
Miracles are by definition out of the norm and God performs them using natural laws that we do not understand and even may seem to override those laws we think we do understand. A worldwide flood is a great miracle, a fantastic, very hard to explain, out of the ordinary miracle.
I believe that this monumental historical event had to be planned and executed by God with great care and skill so it would not destroy all that He had done in creating the world for His children. Another effect of this carefully executed miracle is that God probably did not leave behind the signs we would expect from other floods that we know about in earth’s history.
Those who reject God and His miracles are described in the New Testament: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
This discussion between Bill Nye and Bill Maher after the debate would clearly classify them as unbelievers and that they consider religious belief and miracles to be utter foolishness.
Jesus and the Apostles Testified of Noah and the Flood
Ken Ham emphasized the preeminence of Jesus Christ and His testimony of the truth of the Old Testament history, especially Moses’ book of Genesis. Jesus compared the wickedness and unbelief of His day to the days of Noah.
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26-27)
The apostle Peter also validated the history of Noah and the flood as he discussed the mission of Christ in the spirit world before His Resurrection, a key scripture foreshadowing the great redemptive work for the dead.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, … being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:18-20)
Any Clarifications from Joseph Smith about the Flood?
Joseph Smith and modern scriptures testify as to the reality of Noah and his history. Joseph Smith did not correct or retranslate the Bible as it described Noah’s life and the reality of the flood. In the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith saw a vision of Moses who saw a vision of Enoch concerning Noah, Enoch’s great grandson: “Wherefore Enoch saw that Noah built an ark; and that the Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand; but upon the residue of the wicked the floods came and swallowed them up.” (Moses 7:43)
If Genesis needed to be clarified as partially figurative or a local flood, Joseph Smith definitely did NOT offer any corrections along those lines. Instead, Joseph Smith expanded and added to our knowledge of the history of the ark, the miracle of the Great Flood and the life and times of the great prophet and patriarch Noah.
Noah is the angel Gabriel who is second in authority to the Archangel Michael over the earth. Noah brought the glad tidings to Zacharias about John’s future birth and then to Mary about the forthcoming birth of Jesus.Noah is also identified as the Elias who came to the Kirtland temple along with the Savior, Moses and Elijah.This angelic messenger restored the keys of “the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.
” (D&C 110:12) 
Signs of a Worldwide Flood?
Bill Nye asked appropriate questions about evidence for a worldwide flood.
“You’ll hear about the Grand Canyon I imagine also, which is a remarkable place and it has fossils. And the fossils in the Grand Canyon are found in layers. There is not a single place in the Grand Canyon where the fossils of one type of animal cross over into the fossils of another. In other words, when there was a big flood on the earth you would expect drowning animals to swim up to a higher level. Not any one of them did. Not a single one. If you could find evidence of that, my friends, you could change the world.”
The earth is about 8,000 miles in diameter. The average depth of the oceans is 2.3 miles. That is about 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of water. To cover the mountain tops all the way to Mt. Everest, the Great Flood would need an additional 4.5 billion cubic kilometers of water.
If the flood created the Grand Canyon, we would expect to see dead animal life from this mass extinction which was then restored from extinction. They would be modern species of that life and should be found throughout the layers. If the flood did not create the Grand Canyon, then we would expect to see a huge layer of fossilized animal life throughout the world at a certain point in the geologic layers. We see neither predicted outcome.
The predictions of these signs all assume that this Great Flood was the same as historical floods that we know about. There is no way to have a worldwide flood described in Genesis unless it was a miracle of massive proportions. During a period of time of about a year, somehow a great quantity, no, a fantastic quantity of water came to earth and then, just as mysteriously, was removed and life on earth continued mostly as it did before the flood.
“This Life Became a Probationary State”
Alma described the essential conditions of earth life where God’s children would “prepare to meet God.”
“Nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.” (Alma 12:24)
God assures us that angels will minister and miracles will happen “so long as time will last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?” (Moroni 7:36) “One man?” God will go to that much trouble to save just one man!
This preparatory state requires that we temporarily lose our memory of the preexistence and that the spirit world be hidden by a veil. If there was a clearly defined extensive layer of fossils of the massive deaths during the Great Flood throughout the world, would we be able to freely choose good or evil, belief or disbelief? Those fossils, from humans and animals which all died the same year, would be indisputable evidence of the great miracle of the flood. No faith would be required.
A Massive Miracle unlike Previous Floods
A quote from President John Taylor gives a clue about how this flood differed from other floods. With the restoration through modern prophets we can be guided as to how to analyze the account in the Bible.
“Where did they [the flood waters] go to? From whence they came. … Some people talk very philosophically about tidal waves coming along. … But the Bible does not tell us it was a tidal wave. It simply tells that all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upwards did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.’ That is, the earth was immersed. It was a period of baptism.”
Compare these accounts of two floods, the one natural, the other miraculous.
Great Lake Missoula periodic floods during the end of the last ice age.
The ice dam holding back a 2,000 foot deep lake breaks. A wall of water hundreds of feet tall with the flow of 60 Amazon rivers roars 430 miles down the Columbia River gorge to the Pacific ocean destroying and disrupting everything along its path. The lake, estimated at about 2,000 cubic kilometers in size, would drain in a couple of days. One estimate of the water flow during the largest flood is 2.6 billion gallons per second. For comparison, the flow at Niagara Falls is 750,000 gallons per second, about 3,500 times smaller than the Lake Missoula floods.
The Great Flood of Noah:
“In the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, 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.
And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.” (Genesis 11:11-12, 17-20)
The description of the removal of the waters is equally unique.
“and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged; The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat…. in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen. … And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.” (Genesis 8:1-14)
This account of the Great Flood sounds like an incredibly designed and engineered process to create this flood and then to withdraw it in a similar fashion. That it would require miraculous intervention is a given. It also does not sound like a God who does anything instantly out of nothing. It rather sounds like a God who uses natural laws, within intelligent procedures He defines, at a scale and power level unimaginable to our mortal experience.
Instead of pouring those billions of cubic kilometers of water on the mountains and destroying the whole earth with a flood that would make the Lake Missoula floods look infinitesimally tiny, it seems that God brought the water to the right places at the right times to gradually cover the earth. It might be compared to carefully filling a pool with water so as to avoid turbulence and monster waves. It would result in this immersion of the earth and the destruction of all human, animal and even most plant life except what was saved beforehand, including Noah and his family and the life saved in the ark.
As the floodwaters were carefully withdrawn, would we be surprised if all traces of the destroyed human, animal and plant life were also removed? To keep our probationary state fair, what if the Great Flood was a “leave no trace” miracle?
Building the Ark
Recently an excellent PBS Nova documentary investigated the mystery of the construction of the great cathedral dome in Florence, Italy, weighing 40 thousand tons, using four million bricks and some 170 feet above the ground. It was designed and built by Filippo Brunelleschi, a goldsmith who had never built a building. The recognition of the inspiration of God in such “impossible” construction and engineering projects was openly attested to during this world-changing renaissance period.
Noah received detailed specifications from the Lord on the design and construction of the ark (Genesis 6). Comparing his shipbuilding experience to Nephi and the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon testifies of God’s pattern in overseeing important projects in history.
Nephi’s ship had a rudder, sail and a divinely powered compass, the Liahona. When he announced that the Lord had commanded and instructed him to build a ship that would cross the great oceans to the Americas, this was the reaction of his older brothers, Laman and Lemuel.
“And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. … they did not believe that I [Nephi] could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord. … We knew that ye could not construct a ship, for we knew that ye were lacking in judgment; wherefore, thou canst not accomplish so great a work.” (1 Nephi 17:17-19)
When his brothers tried to kill Nephi, the Lord protected him with divine power. Nephi then exclaimed: “And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship? And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said many things unto my brethren, insomuch that they were confounded and could not contend against me;” (1 Nephi 17:51-52)
“And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship. Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.
“And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things. And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship, according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord.” (1 Nephi 18:1-4)
In these chapters about the building of the ship, Nephi bears a powerful testimony of the historical events of God’s dealings with the children of Israel, history not doubted at all in his day even by his unbelieving brothers. Nephi, a prophet of plainness rather than of parable or metaphor, tried to persuade his brethren to repent and assist in the shipbuilding project.
Additionally, from the book of Ether’s history of the journey of Jared, his brother and their families, flocks and provisions across the great deep to America, we have a history of the construction of submarine-like vessels, apparently without rudders, that were “tight like unto the ark of Noah.” (Ether 6:7)
The eight Jaredite barges were also constructed under the tutelage of the Lord, who also challenged the Brother of Jared to use his own initiative in solving key design challenges such as adding indoor lights to the vessels.
“And the Lord said: Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built.
And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord …And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; … and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish” (Ether 2:16-17)
As we look at these miracles from the Book of Mormon accounts and ponder the miracle of the Great Flood, surely we must conclude that the Lord was able to instruct and assist Noah to build the ship the Lord commanded him to build.
“Thou Canst Not Accomplish So Great a Work”
Now, contrast these accounts testified of by prophets and especially the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon with Bill Nye’s statements from the debate. Since he does not believe in miracles, he also rejects the possibility of Noah being able to build the ark under the instruction of the Lord. He also rejects the ample evidence of ancient peoples building ocean going vessels brought up by Ken Ham as evidence that Noah could build the ark.
“So it’s about 14,000 [animals], eight people and these people were unskilled as far as anybody knows they never built a wooden ship before. Furthermore they had to get all of these animals on there, and they had to feed them. And I understand that Mr. Ham has some explanations for that, which I frankly find extraordinary, but this is the premise.
“And we can then run a test, a scientific test. People in the early 1900s build an extraordinarily large wooden ship, the Wyoming. It was a six-masted schooner, the largest ever built. It had a motor on it for winching cables and stuff, but this boat had a great difficulty. It was not a big as the Titanic, but it was a very long ship.
“It would twist in the sea. It would twist this way, this way, and this way. [Motioning] And in all that twisting it leaked; it leaked like crazy. The crew could not keep the ship dry and indeed it eventually foundered and sank; loss of all 14 hands. So there were 14 crewmen aboard a ship built by very, very skilled shipwrights in New England. These guys were the best in the world at wooden ship building and they couldn’t build a boat as big as the Ark is claimed to have been.
Is that reasonable? Is that possible that the best ship builders in world couldn’t do what eight unskilled people, men and their wives, were able to do?”
Ken Ham responded in his rebuttal to Bill Nye as follows:
“And again, in regard to historical science, why would you say Noah was unskilled? I mean, I didn’t meet Noah, and neither did you. And you know, really, it’s an evolutionary view of origins, I believe, because you’re thinking in terms of people before us aren’t as good as us.
“Hey, there are civilizations that existed in the past and we look at their technology and we can’t even understand today how they did some of the things that they did. Who says Noah couldn’t build a big boat? By the way, the Chinese and the Egyptians built boats. In fact some of our research indicates that some of the wooden boats that were built had three layers interlocking so they wouldn’t twist like that and leak. Which is why here at the Creation Museum we have an exhibit on the Ark where we have rebuilt 1% of the Ark to scale and showed three interlocking layers like that.”
And in Bill Nye’s counter rebuttal, the two contrasting world views are clearly on display. In the end, nothing that requires or describes miraculous intervention will be accepted as reasonable or rational by those who disbelieve God and His word.
“Then as far as Noah being an extraordinary shipwright, I’m very skeptical. The shipwrights, my ancestors, the Nye family in New England, spent their whole life learning to make ships. I mean, it’s very reasonable perhaps to you that Noah had super powers and was able to build this extraordinary craft with seven family members. But to me it’s just not reasonable.”
The Extraordinary Prophet Noah
Contrast Bill Nye’s view with the words of modern apostles and prophets about the extraordinary prophet Noah.
“Noah, who built the ark, was one of God’s greatest servants, chosen before he was born as were others of the prophets. He was no eccentric, as many have supposed. Neither was he a mythical figure created only in legend. Noah was real.” – Mark E. Peterson
“Noah, who is Gabriel; he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in his day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.”-Joseph Smith
If we believe in the restoration and Joseph Smith’s great care to guide us in interpreting the scriptures without falling over the stumbling blocks that Nephi describes, I believe that we must accept the testimony of Noah and the Great Flood as historical and miraculous. (1 Nephi 14:1)
Instead of baptizing someone by pushing him under the base of a great waterfall, he is carefully immersed in the water and then brought again out of the water. This is the contrast between the cataclysmic floods in history vs. how God brought to pass the Great Flood of Noah.
“Carefully done immersion or symbolic baptism of the earth? What utter nonsense, what complete foolishness!” The disbelievers will say.
Again from the apostle Paul:
“For the natural man receiveth not the things … of God for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Manna in the Wilderness
I have always thought that the feeding of the children of Israel with manna in the desert for forty years clearly shows a great miracle that could not happen by chance and was beyond normally understood natural laws. Not only did manna provide a fully balanced diet with only a few additions (e.g. quail) for about two million people in a desolate wilderness, but it could not be gathered on the Sabbath day. Manna also would only last one day without spoiling except for the Sabbath, when the sixth day gathering of manna would last two days.
This kind of calendar-activated feature of the miracle certainly shows an intelligent agent involved in the process that is not possible by chance or via naturally occurring processes. Finding examples of intelligent design in history or in nature is a powerful witness of the hand of God in all things. I especially enjoy the perspective of scientist and Apostle James E. Talmage: “In a broader sense, all nature is a miracle,”
Surely, like the example of the manna, the sheer magnitude, many special conditions and even the calendaring of events in the Great Flood show an intelligent hand. It can be recognized as a true miracle. We can try to understand aspects of it and how the Lord might have done it, but in the end, we need to receive a spiritual testimony of this essential event in history as a miracle performed by God.
Saving the Right Set of Animals and Plants for the Post Flood Era
The debate discussed extensively the questions regarding squeezing in enough of the estimated 16 million species of animals in the world on the ark. Of course, the variations of insects and other invertebrates that comprise a lot of that count might not have been required. However, the voyage on the ark lasted a year before they disembarked and provisions for all the animals on the ark would also be needed.
Ken Ham explained about the concept of the “kinds” of animals believed to be needed on the ark.
“Now, when you consider the classification system – kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species – we would say as creationists, and we have many scientists who have researched this, and for lots of reasons, I would say the “kind” in Genesis 1 really is more at the family level of classification. For instance, there’s one dog kind, there’s one cat kind, even though you have different genera or different species. That would mean, by the way, you didn’t need anywhere near the number of animals on the Ark as people think. You wouldn’t need all the species of dogs, just two. Not all the species of cats, just two.”
Ken Ham estimates that about 2,000 animals would need to be on the ark using the “family” level classifications. In the debate, Bill Nye used the “genera” level numbers which would result in about 14,000 animals. Even with the large ark, that is a lot of animals with the correct provisions for them. I assume that the koalas were eating only eucalyptus leaves then as now. And, the hummingbirds would need fresh nectar or sugar drinks then as now. Or, perhaps some state of suspended animation or semi-hibernation might have been used by God to get as many animals as He needed to fit into the ark and stay healthy during the long voyage.
In order to generate the needed variations of the various kinds of animals after the flood, Ken Ham points to the great variety of dogs that have come from the genes of early dog species in only a few thousand years.
With a good dose of sarcasm, Bill Nye estimated that at least 11 new species a day, every day, since 4,000 years ago would need to be created from the animals saved on the ark. This would be necessary, he argued, to differentiate the ark animals into all the variety of species in the world that we see today.
“So you’d go out into your yard, you wouldn’t just find a different bird, a new bird, you’d find a different kind of bird, a whole new species of bird every day, a new species of fish, a new species of organism you can’t see, and so on. I mean this would be enormous news. The last 4,000 years people would have seen these changes among us. So the Cincinnati Enquirer I imagine would carry a column right next to the weather report: Today’s new species.’ And they would list these 11 every day, but we see no evidence of that. There’s no evidence of these species, there just simply isn’t enough time.”
Getting the Kangaroos Back to Australia
Another relevant question asked by Bill Nye is how the animals migrated from the Mt. Ararat area in modern day Turkey where the ark landed back to the area of the world where they needed to live.
“Now, one of the extraordinary claims associated with Mr. Ham’s worldview is that this giant boat, very large wooden ship, went aground safely on a mountain in the Middle East – what we now call the Middle East. And so places like Australia are populated, then, by animals who somehow managed to get from the Middle East all the way to Australia in the last 4,000 years. Now that to me is an extraordinary claim. We would expect then somewhere between the Middle East and Australia we would expect to find evidence of kangaroos.”
Noah did not need to capture the animals that went into the ark. They amazingly came by themselves, two by two, or by sevens for some kinds of animals. Did the kangaroo from Australia really need to make the long journey or perhaps impossible journey on its own with its mate to be included in the ark? Or, was angelic assistance involved in collecting the animals for the ark?
So, the answer to this question about the kangaroos is that they doubtless took the same transportation back to Australia as they took to go to the ark. And I doubt if they or many of the other animals had to hop, jump or walk much at all-they just needed to catch the right “Angel-air” transport at the right time, as it were.
Once again, this seems like foolishness for those who do not believe in a God of miracles. Yet, those who disbelieve in miracles do believe in the modern day technological miracles of fleets of jet aircraft crossing the world with passengers and freight every day.
Perhaps they would even disbelieve in mankind being able to colonize space someday and have extensive space stations and settlements, complete with animals and plants, engineered and constructed on other planets. If man is on the verge of doing these advanced projects, what might God be able to do in performing one of the world’s ultimate miracles, the Great Flood?
God’s Miraculous Preservation of Life during the Flood
A God who can perform a miracle of flooding the earth with as much as 4.5 billion cubic kilometers of water without destroying the earth can also preserve the plant and animal life needed for the post-flood era. Just as the Lord used whatever means He needed to add the water for the flood and then carefully remove it, He could use a variety of means to preserve the life needed for the earth after the flood. Rejecting the flood using arguments over the capacity of the ark seems to me the setting up a rhetorical straw man.
The God described in the Nicene Creed is believed to be able to do anything instantly out of nothing. Scientists who are trying to understand the laws of nature are rightly frustrated with this description of God. The restoration clarifies the character and attributes of God and describes the true and living God who performs miracles using natural laws with time being part of the equation. The Great Flood took about a year to perform and it seems to be a great example of God using natural laws in order to perform miracles.
Perhaps the millions of species of invertebrates that seem to not have been included in the ark might give us a clue to the extent of the Lord’s life preservation program for the earth. Perhaps also the fact that most of the plant life or insect eggs would be under miles of water for a year, under extreme pressure, and unlikely to survive gives us another clue.
There is also the issue of whether the water flooding the earth was salt water or fresh water and how the fresh water fish could survive in salt water or the salt water fish survive in fresh water. And, how did the Lord get back the right salinity in the seas and the lakes after the flood was withdrawn? So, did fresh water fish also need to be preserved in some manner?
Another good question is how the ratio of prey animals to predator animals (e.g. wildebeest to lion ratio) was successfully reinstated after the flood.
Relevant question after relevant question. Surely there are more than enough aspects of the Great Flood embodied in these questions that, like the characteristics of manna, prove that it must be one of the great superlative miracles requiring God’s intelligent intervention. A false myth or a great miracle-there is no other way to explain it.
This is the God who went to so much effort to create the earth, and place upon it plant and animal life and finally his children made in His image. This great God could certainly use as many transports, wildlife parks in places away from the earth, or even as many “Angel Moroni light transporter beam systems” for this world that is just one of His many worlds.
Using data from the Kepler spacecraft collected over several years, NASA estimates that eight billion star systems in our galaxy alone have habitable planets orbiting their single or multiple star systems. Any study of God’s works ought to include the fact that He works with and has access to the resources of “worlds without number.” (Moses 1:33)
Certainly, debates about the size of the ark and the number of animals it contained should not lead to a conclusion that the Great Flood could never occur.
Can We Discover the Exact Dates for the Events of the Great Flood?
I first became aware of the research of John Pratt, Ph.D. in astronomy, when I read his articles in the Ensign in June and July of 1985. I was impressed with his theory that ancient calendars such as the Hebrew and Mayan calendars could provide an additional witness of the life and mission of Jesus Christ and also a link between important religious events in ancient and modern history.
The data in the articles on the similarity of the resurrection day of Jesus Christ, April 3, 33 AD, and the day Jesus Christ appeared in the Kirtland Temple, April 3, 1836, was particularly impressive. Later, Dr. Pratt and I worked together in software development for 18 years and I learned how extremely unlikely, how impossible it would be that date estimates that came from the Bible text could correlate so exactly with calendars derived from data from celestial bodies in the solar system. I consider his work to be an additional witness of God and the truth of the scriptures.
A starting calendar date and a great number of event day counts are given in the Bible for the Great Flood provided we know the birth year of Noah. I would highly recommend John Pratt’s excellent 2003 Meridian Magazine article entitled “Astronomical Witnesses of the Great Flood.“ If you are not familiar with Dr. Pratt’s theory or his work, you may need to read some of the background articles mentioned in this article.
“A precise date for Noah’s Deluge is indicated by sacred astronomical calendars and confirmed by witnesses of Enoch, his father Jared, and even the Savior.”
Table 2 showing the various dates in history that correlate with the flood date is a great summary of the article’s key points. According to Dr. Pratt’s theory and research, the loading of the ark began on Saturday 9 Nov 2343 BC. The rains started on Saturday 16 Nov 2343 BC.
A Miracle We Must Defend
As I looked at my four year old granddaughter’s coloring book of Bible activities, a good portion of the book and the most interesting activities were about Noah and the flood. I thought what will happen to our little ones if this most central and beloved of Bible histories is declared blatantly false by their respected teachers in schools. How will our children and grandchildren’s testimonies be affected by those who see it as their scientific duty to classify Noah and the Great Flood as myth and legend?
The Great Flood is a miracle from beginning to end.
I believe that we should openly and happily discuss and proclaim all of the scriptures, revelations and reasons that it was a miracle and did in fact occur. The disbelievers think that these evidences just indicate how ridiculous the scriptures are and that the flood could not possibly be the actions of a God of miracles, in Whom they do not believe.
And if we do not defend the miracles of the Bible, what will be left of our churches and our faith? It will all be relegated to myth and legend, from the Creation to the Great Flood to the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea to the Atonement and the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We need to be knowledgeable, know scientific facts as well as expressing faith and discern between observations and theories along with the assumptions necessary for a theory to make predictions. I believe that we need to dispel myths some scientists have about those who have faith and believe in the miracles of God. We should be able to ask intelligent questions on both sides in discussions about the histories and doctrines of the scriptures.
The debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham illustrates the current level of skepticism that exists in our modern secular and increasingly atheistic world regarding the history and miracles of the scriptures. As Ken Ham demonstrated, I believe that people of faith must defend with testimony and reason the Great Flood and other great miracles of history recorded in the Bible. And, indeed there are many prophetic, logical and scientific witnesses of the truth of Noah’s Great Flood that will surely resonate with those who believe in or have a desire to believe in a God of miracles.
Appendix: Nuggets for Discussion about the Great Flood
To cover the mountains, as much as 4.5 billion cubic kilometers of water would be needed for the flood.
If not handled with miraculous care, the water from the flood would crush and destroy everything on the earth.
Noah is the angel Gabriel and delivered the joyful news to Zacharias of John’s future birth and to Mary of Jesus’s miraculous forthcoming birth.
Noah is identified as the Elias who came to the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836 to restore the keys of the Gospel of Abraham.
Noah was instructed by God in the design and construction of the ark, as were other prophets who built ships that are described in the Book of Mormon.
The estimated 2,000 animals in the ark represent the “family” level classification rather than going down to the “genera” or “species” level.
Invertebrates, fresh water fish and plant life may have been saved in other places than the ark to avoid the crushing water pressure beneath the flood.
The Great Flood of Noah may have been a “leave no trace” miracle in order to preserve mankind’s all-important freedom to choose good or evil, belief or disbelief.
The animals came to the ark two by two or by sevens on their own without Noah having to capture them. They likely went back to their home territory after the flood using the same transportation method that they used when they came to the ark.
Special characteristics of great miracles, such as no manna found on the seventh day and the many extensive interconnected miracles required to preserve life during the flood, testify of a God of miracles.
If we do not see manifestations of a God of miracles, in the present as well as the past, then it is because of unbelief and we are in a terrible state.