Underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard claimed to have found evidence beneath the Black Sea that Noah's Flood really occurred. Christians who only read headlines may count this as confirmation of the Bible. But whatever Ballard found should not be considered direct evidence of Noah's Flood.
Ballard, famous for revealing the wreck of the Titanic using a remote submersible in the 1980s, was recently investigating the sea floor off the coast of Turkey. An ABC television program called "Back to the Beginning"1 features his work.
Ballard described an Ice Age flood in the area. Back then, a mile-thick layer of ice covered broad expanses. Over centuries, that ice melted and caused catastrophic natural dam failures around the globe. They also elevated the sea level by hundreds of feet. One of those natural dams separated the Mediterranean Sea from what once was a freshwater lake. Ballard's team discovered an ancient shoreline 400 feet below the surface of the Black Sea—likely the ancient lake's shoreline.
Apparently, the sea overcame its barrier one day, carved the Bosporus strait, and violently overtopped the ancient lake to become today's Black Sea. Ballard told ABC News, "It probably was a bad day. At some magic moment, it broke through and flooded this place violently, and a lot of real estate, 150,000 square kilometers of land, went under."1
Is this what Ballard suggests was the Flood of Noah?
According to ABC News,
The theory goes on to suggest that the story of this traumatic event, seared into the collective memory of the survivors, was passed down from generation to generation and eventually inspired the biblical account of Noah.1
This "theory" did not come from the Bible. It came from secular researchers Bill Ryan and Walter Pitman, whose idea gained extensive popularity in 1999.2 But whereas there probably was a grand and terrible flood into the Black Sea when the Ice Age was waning, this could not possibly have been the same as Noah's global Flood for at least three reasons.
First, the Black Sea sits upon miles of rock layers that at one time were mud and sand. They even include fossils of sea creatures. These layers extend across large parts of the continent and are the real evidence of a truly global flood. Since these Flood layers are below ice age deposits, they show that a far greater cataclysm occurred before local ice age catastrophes.
Second, if the Black Sea flood was "seared into the collective memory of the survivors" to become the "story" of Noah, then only the descendants of those local survivors should retain its memory. On the other hand, if the Flood covered the whole world, then all descendants of Noah's three sons—all cultures—might remember its terrible history. Sure enough, as historian Bill Cooper carefully documented in his recent book The Authenticity of the Book of Genesis, Flood legends reside in every corner of every continent.3 Thus, the story of Noah is not merely a Middle-Eastern myth.
Finally, Scripture is clear that Noah's Flood covered the entire planet. This Black Sea flood was miniscule in comparison. If this local flood is really the source of the Genesis Flood, then God was wrong when He co-wrote Genesis 7:19: "And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered."4 There is no scientific reason to make God out as a liar in this case, since the Black Sea flood was not Noah's Flood.
Does archaeology confirm the Genesis Flood? Probably not. But geology certainly does. When looking for evidence of a truly global watery catastrophe, one needs to broaden the search area, looking at the continents themselves and not their minor surfaces scuffs. Are Ballard, Ryan, and Pitman willing to think much bigger?
- Millman, J. B. Taylor and L. Effron. Evidence Noah's Biblical Flood Happened, Says Robert Ballard. ABC News. Posted on abcnews.go.com December 10, 2012, accessed December 12, 2012.
- Morris, J. 2000. Has Evidence of the Flood Been Found in the Black Sea? Acts & Facts. 29 (2).
- Cooper, B. 2012. The Authenticity of the Book of Genesis. Portsmouth, UK: Creation Science Movement.
- That is, the high hills that existed in the pre-Flood world were covered—not the Himalayas, which were vaulted skyward near the end of the Flood year. See Baumgardner, J. 2005. Recent Rapid Uplift of Today's Mountains. Acts & Facts. 34 (3).
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on December 19, 2012.