ICR Resolves Chaos Over Multiple Flood Myths

We are no expert on Mesopotamian legends, but it seems that there are three principal Mesopotamian flood stories that pre-date the tale of Noah’s Ark. They are older than Genesis, which is believed to have been written during the Babylonian captivity, almost 600 BC, or not long thereafter. According to Wikipedia, those three earlier flood stories are:

First, the flood of Ziusudra, who was said to be the last pre-flood king of Sumer. That flood lasted seven days.

Second, the flood of Gilgamesh (in which the Noah character is named Utnapishtim), known from accounts that go back to around 2,000 BC (around 14 centuries before the writing of Genesis). That flood lasted six days.

Third, the flood of Atra-Hasis, a Sumerian king. Accounts go back as far as 16 centuries BC, roughly 1,000 years before Genesis was written. That flood lasted for seven days.

Then there is the newly-found 3,700 year-old tablet (from roughly 17 centuries BC), translated by Dr Irving Finkel, a curator at the British Museum, which we first wrote about here: Hey, Hambo — Noah’s Ark Was Round! In that one, like number 3 above, the Noah figure was a Sumerian king named Atram-Hasis. We assume it’s the same legend.

It seems obvious that in this sequence of Middle Eastern stories, the later ones are adaptations and revisions of earlier ones, but this is untenable to those who believe that the most recent tale, the one told in Genesis, is The Truth. An example of the creationists’ efforts to revise what they see as chaos is presented to us today by the creation scientists at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page.

Their new essay is Cuneiform Reed-Ark Story Doesn’t Float . It’s by Brian Thomas, described at the end as: “Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.” He says, with bold font added by us:

News emerged in 2010 that Irving Finkel, a cuneiform expert at the British Museum, had translated an ancient tablet describing Noah’s Ark as round and built of reeds. Now, Finkel is publishing a book on the find, and news reports again assert the tired tale that the Bible’s authors borrowed a Babylonian flood tale like the one on this tablet and modified it into their “story” of Noah. Babylonian or biblical, round or rectangular — which Ark story stays afloat?

ICR is weary of “the tired tale that the Bible’s authors borrowed a Babylonian flood.” It should be fascinating to see how they refute it. Here we go:

Then in 2012, British historian Bill Cooper published a 1909 translation by Dr. Hermann Hilprecht of a Babylonian flood tablet that pre-dates Finkel’s fortuitous find. The two tablets differ substantially in details, with implications for both Finkel’s book and the Bible’s veracity.

The Hilprecht tablet translation is too fragmentary to mean anything — TalkOrigins discusses it. The full text is here. It doesn’t mention Noah or anyone else.

We didn’t know about Cooper. All of ICR’s footnotes are to creationist publications, so we ignored them and went searching. We found a book by Bill Cooper. Here’s the listing at Amazon: After the Flood: The Early Post-flood History of Europe Traced Back to Noah. Cooper is described as: “a Vice President of the Creation Science Movement in England. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor on the Master Faculty at the Institute for Creation Research School of Biblical Apologetics.” Let’s forget about Cooper’s work and read on:

The link is clear. The oldest tablet retains the highest quality of information because it appears it was written when the actual Flood survivors were still living and could have quickly squelched inaccurate versions of the Flood events.

The “oldest tablet” is oldest according to Cooper. But is it really the first? Even if it is, it doesn’t say much at all. We continue, as ICR clears everything up for us:

The notion that Bible authors borrowed from Babylonian myths — made explicit in Finkel’s book title The Ark Before Noah — fails for the same reason. Supposedly the Jews living as captives in Babylon revised their history to include the Babylonian flood account; but if that were so they would have been written off as fiction writers by their contemporaries, who could refute their historically revisionist peers. Plus, why would the Jewish exiles ever want to adopt the historical identity of their brutal pagan captors?

Most persuasive! Here’s more:

Reality is the reverse. Noah’s Ark was the first Ark and the only real one. Babylonian and other cultures’ dim memories produced fanciful versions of the real events recorded in Scripture.

Are you convinced, dear reader? If not, why not? Moving along:

[W]ith the unreasonable disdain that secular scholarship has toward God’s Word, each copy [of Finkel’s book] sold will undoubtedly mislead its reader that the Genesis Flood account was borrowed from myth and is therefore a myth itself.

How horrible! Hey — just so you’ll know what not to buy, here’s Amazon’s listing of The Ark Before Noah, by Irving Finkel. Another excerpt from ICR:

But wouldn’t this line of reasoning [presumably Finkel’s] unravel all of Scripture? Isaiah, Ezekiel, Peter, and Jesus, for example, accepted Noah and his Ark of deliverance at face value.

And so should you, dear reader. Here’s how the article ends:

The earlier date for the Hilprecht tablet [asserted by the creationist Bill Cooper] combines with the unique feasibility of the Bible’s Ark description to firmly establish the Genesis rectangular Ark — not a round Ark — as the real one. Genesis offers the only Ark account that floats.

There you are. Noah’s Ark is the real deal. Accept no substitutes! Oh, here’s a link to something we wrote before we read the ICR article: Top Ten Reasons Noah’s Flood is Mythology. We’re so ashamed!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “ICR Resolves Chaos Over Multiple Flood Myths

  1. The drivel from ICR says in part:
    [T]he [tablet] that Cooper cited … dates from about 2200 B.C., or soon after the Flood itself.” It essentially presents no unrealistic or fanciful details, and in fact does not differ from the main elements of the Genesis account.

    The allegation that this flood happened not long before 2200 BC will come as a great surprise to the Chinese. Their traditional calendar has year one at around 2700 B.C on the western calendar. Fun fact: Any time after any Chinese New Year, up until Dec. 31 on the western calendar, you get the Chinese year by adding 2698 to the western year. Funny that Chinese civilization apparently went through the global flood without consequences.

  2. Ralist1948
    You obviously don’t know how to do creation research. Your Chinese conundrum is simple. At the time of the flood, the earth was flat and China was on the underside as part of Satan’s empire which is why they weren’t affected by the flood. The earth didn’t become spherical until the flood waters ran toward the edges of the earth and caused the heavily weighted edges to sag and eventually when the ends met it coverd Satan’s, empire within the sphere, which is how hell came to be. This also explains the archeological finds from ancient China. The artifacts are bubbling up from hell. Modern China is of course god giving them a second chance.
    Sheesh, do some science.

  3. Pardon my over use of commas. Forgot to remove them when editing.

  4. “If not, why not?”
    Because of this:

  5. Wow, Paul – that clears up so many loose ends – many thanks!!!

  6. Charles Deetz ;)

    @Realist1948 pay no attention to Paul S, he uses too many commas and is too weak to stand by his work and must apologize. Everyone knows the Chinese just stood on top of the Great Wall during the flood.

  7. @ MNb — Thanks for posting the link to Feynman. I’ve enjoyed reading things he’s written, but never saw videos of him.

    @ Paul — Thanks for explaining where the Chinese came from. I have just one question: how do I explain to my wife that her ancestors came from Lucifer’s empire? I wonder if I could create a Valentine’s Day message around that theme.

    “Roses are red, violets are blue,
    Satan’s from hell, and so are you.”

    Maybe not such a good idea…..

    @Charles — good theory, as long as we ignore some little details like when pieces of the Great Wall were built. But if they had had a time machine…..
    yeah, that might work!

  8. @Charles, I learnded my grammers at liburty U.

    @Realist1948, I’m sorry about your wife’s ancestry, but I go where the evidence leads. Or maybe I just make things up, it’s hard to tell with creation science.
    P.S. I like your Valentine poem, but it wouldn’t go over too well here either.

  9. The Whole truth

    Joking aside, I think that christian YECs just don’t care about Chinese history and a lot of other history. The Chinese weren’t jewish or christian back then and most aren’t now, and to christian YECs, Chinese history just doesn’t count. I have a strong feeling that race and Chinese cultural factors are also part of the reason that christian YECs (and probably many OECs) ignore Chinese history.