Creationist Wisdom #120: Atlantis

Curmudgeonly Warning: If you seriously study today’s article at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG) you’re going to suffer a major brain-ache. We’re talking about Did Atlantis Exist? What Biblical History Can Tell Us.

The AIG article is a long one. The author makes what seems to be a sincere attempt to reconcile: (a) the myth of Atlantis, first written by Plato; with (b) the chronology of world history told in the bible. This is a challenging task.

To the Athenians of Plato’s time, the Hebrews were a far away people ruled by the Persian Empire. There was little intellectual intercourse between the Greeks and Hebrews until the Persian conquest by Alexander (who was a student of Aristotle who was a student of Plato). Therefore, it’s rather daring to assume that Plato’s Atlantis myth and the Genesis chronology have anything in common.

To our mind, what AIG is attempting here is not all that different from trying to mesh the folk-chronology of the Incas with the scriptures the Hindus. So we warn you at the threshold: This article explores deep waters — much too deep for your Curmudgeon.

Because of our limitations for this kind of work, we won’t attempt to critique the AIG analysis. We merely present it. Where we quote their article, the bold font was added for emphasis. Okay, brace yourselves — here we go:

The island of Atlantis was first mentioned and recorded by Plato in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias. Plato mentions that this rather large island was later destroyed by a great earthquake. The time frame for this written account is said to be about 350–400 years before Christ.

“Said to be”? There’s no mystery about that “time frame” — it’s the adulthood of Plato. Let’s read on:

When it comes down to it, either Atlantis was a real place or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t, then the discussion is more-or-less finished. And considering that this story was passed down several times before Plato recorded it, we can assume that it has some inaccuracies.

Gasp! Ancient tales passed down several times before being recorded have inaccuracies? That’s a potentially troublesome notion. It seems not to bother the scholars at, AIG, however. It doesn’t bother us either, because we only have Plato’s word that Atlantis was an ancient tale. He may have invented the entire legend, together with its unverifiable provenance. Anyway, we continue:

Regardless, let’s assume for a moment that it was a real place and use a biblical framework to place it.

What follows is a strange exercise in trying to figure out if Atlantis was pre-Flood or post-Flood. Somehow AIG concludes:

Since the modern continent scheme was changed significantly from the Flood and Plato was referring to post-Flood places, it is very unlikely that this Atlantis was pre-Flood.

After that, AIG takes up another fascinating question — whether Atlantis existed before or after the Tower of Babel. Observe their method: (1) pre-Flood or post-Flood?; then (2) pre-Babel or post-Babel? AIG seems to be carefully following a procedure.

On this vital point of the Tower of Babel, they rely on some similarities between the names of Noah’s sons and the names of some characters in Greek mythology. They tell us that “Atlas was likely Noah’s great, great, great grandson.” Who knew? Then they say:

So, when Plato speaks of Poseidon inheriting land from the dispersion of people around the earth, this makes sense. Kittim, Poseidon’s father, was mentioned in the Tower of Babel account. With the Tower of Babel dispersion happening just over hundred years after the Flood according to Ussher, then the earliest Atlantis could have been inhabited was soon after that time.

Amazing, isn’t it? Then they try to pin down the time of Atlantis’ destruction. They start by saying: “If Poseidon was the great, great grandson of Noah …” We are presented with a table of scriptural personages and their reported lifespans, starting with Noah’s 950 years. After much analysis they conclude:

Using these assumptions, about 1818 BC would have been the earliest that Atlantis could have been destroyed. To give you some context, Moses and the Exodus from Egypt would have occurred in 1491 BC or about 850 years after the Flood (using Ussher’s numbers).

One must admire the painstaking scholarship involved. AIG examines their data a bit more and they end up with this:

The latest Atlantis could have been destroyed would have to be prior to Socrates, who died around 400 BC. But the account came through an aged Solon, who got it from the Egyptians and their accounts of the past. So, the latest date would surely be a few hundred years prior to Socrates’ death. To be generous, let’s set 600 BC as the latest date. So, we have a range of 1818 BC to about 600 BC.

At this point, having decided when Atlantis met its end, we’re only about half-way through the AIG article. We’ll have to skip over a great deal to bring you their final conclusion:

We may never know where Atlantis existed. If it did exist, it was most likely a post-Flood island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, not far from the Strait of Gibraltar.

Atlantis, if the accounts were reasonably accurate, would have been destroyed, leaving only much smaller islands still sitting above the Atlantic Ocean’s surface. The most logical remnants would seem to be the Canary or Madeira Islands as well as other underwater islands in their vicinity that may have further been destroyed 3000 years ago or so.

Now you know, dear reader. Oh, wait — you’re undoubtedly wondering: What does this have to do with creationism? Not much that we can figure out; but it comes from AIG, so if you accept their creation science, you should also trust their Atlantis studies.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

4 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #120: Atlantis

  1. The AIG article may well represent a new form of a psychosis: a thing or person may or may not exist, but if they do exist, then they must be reconcilable with Biblical mythology. A notion which is, to be polite, flat-out barking insane.

    But you knew that.

  2. Great Claw says: “… flat-out barking insane.”

    Do not mock that which you cannot comprehend.

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    I find it very hard to understand why Atlantis is considered to be anything but a parable invented by Plato. True, he said he heard it from Critias, who supposedly heard from an Egyptian (two sources! we have confirmation), but nobody before Plato ever talked of such a thing and he used the story to make a point. He did that more than once; so did lots of ancient authors.

    Not even creationists try to dig up the ruins of the man who built his house on sand, or the grave of the servants with the talents. Those are parables. So is Atlantis.

  4. Using one mythology to justify another, particularly when its contrary to your own, is a new level of insanity.

    I do have to say that the irony meter jumped quite a bit a the “this story’s been passed down several times and may have some inaccuracies” part. More cognitive dissonance I guess.