The Bible gives an account for the creation of the universe, mankind, the origin of morality, the different species, languages and a multitude of other aspects of our world. Much of this is explained in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.
Skeptics are often quick to argue that the Bible’s account of creation contradicts scientific theory or how we expect everything to have originated, but we will examine scientifically and historically the more controversial ideas contained within Genesis to show how they are completely valid and accurate.
We have already covered a number of topics throughout the creation section, such as:
What is creationism? Did God really create the world in six days?
How old is the earth? Isn’t it billions of years old?
What about evolution? Can evolution work alongside the Bible?
What about the big bang theory? Can’t it work alongside the Bible?
This page will deal with a number of other topics throughout the book of Genesis, to show the reliability of the Bible and why we know we can trust it on all matters. God’s word is truth (John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”) and therefore what he tells us about the beginnings of the world is trustworthy.
Acts 4:24 says, “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:”. God made everything in heaven, earth and the sea, and provides us with a description of this, which is the only way we can fully explain everything we see in our world.
Scientific theories are always changing and being disproven, but God’s word stands alone as the only unchanging, reliable and trustworthy account of man’s origins.
Why did God make the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
When reading through the book of Genesis, one of the first questions people may ask is “why did God even create the tree of knowledge of good and evil and then tell man not to eat from it?”
Genesis 2:9, “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
Genesis 2:17, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Genesis 3:1-6, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
God planted the the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the Garden of Eden, and his only restriction on Adam and Eve was not to eat of that one tree, every other tree they could “freely eat”. Satan tempted Eve to eat of that forbidden tree, leading to God’s punishment and curses on them because of their sin.
Compare these verses. Genesis 3:6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
Eve was tempted when she saw the tree was good for food (“lust of the flesh”), pleasant to the eyes (“lust of the eyes”) and to be desired to make one wise (“pride of life”). James 1:14 says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Adam and Eve’s sin was a result of them being drawn away of their own lust and enticed.
The reason God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden is because Adam and Eve were given a choice. They were free to choose to love and obey God, otherwise their love would be robotic and forced. They had more freedom than the rest of mankind has ever had. God only gave them one commandment (“Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it”) and their disobedience led to sin and corruption.
The Lord knew that they would sin, as he has foreknowledge of everything, but he had to allow them to choose it for themselves. If God wanted to keep the tree far away, or out of their reach he could have done, he could have made it so it was not “pleasant to the sight, and good for food”, but he did not. Adam and Eve had the ability to choose their future for themselves.
Finally, Adam and Eve eating from the tree reveals to us the sinful nature of man, and therefore the good and perfect nature of God. It allows for a Saviour, the second and last Adam who could redeem us from the curse of sin and allow us to be reconciled to God.
1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Romans 5:14-15, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”
Did people really live that long?
Genesis 5:27, “And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.”
Methuselah lived to the oldest age recorded in the Bible, 969 years old. The Bible points to a number of people who lived long lives and who had children when they were hundreds of years old, for example Noah was at least 500 when he had his sons (Genesis 5:32).
Today, this is clearly not still occurring, but many people find it hard to believe that the first people in the Bible lived to nearly a thousand years of age. One key point of comparison is that God originally intended for us to live with him forever, without having limited lives on earth. If we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be raised and can have this eternal life with God.
Eternal life for Adam and Eve came from the tree of life, as Genesis 3:22 explains, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:”. When they sinned, they lost this privilege and therefore lost their immortality. Adam lived to 930 years old before he died.
Before the flood, the descendants of Adam were shown to have long lives, for example Noah lived to 950. Since the flood, the life spans began to decrease, for example Shem (Noah’s son) lived to 600, Terah lived to 205, Abraham died at 175.
Psalm 90:10, written by Moses, says, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Moses described the average length of life as around 70-80 years.
The Bible is clearly asserting that early descendants of Adam did live for hundreds of years, but that this shortened over time. Many people have argued a number of different reasons why this changed, for example that it was the result of sin entering the human body and corrupting Adam and Eve’s perfectly created genetic structure and leading to disease, decay and death that shortened the length of their lives and increased through successive generations.
Furthermore, research has shown that inbreeding between close relatives could lead to shorter life spans. For more information on this, see the Science Daily article in the links section below. As a result of the limited genes from Adam and Eve, as well as the limiting of the gene pool again after the flood (as only Noah and his family were alive) and also the smaller groups after God scattered man at the tower of Babel, this could have been another factor that reduced the length of their lives.
Clearly the Bible teaches that the first generations of man lived for hundreds of years and that over time these became shorter and eventually to the average lifespan we have today. There are a range of reasons why this could have occurred, but it was most likely due to the corruption and decay of sin increasing in our bodies and as Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Did everybody descend from Adam and Eve?
In Genesis 2, God creates the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. The Bible then goes on to describe them having the first children (Cain and Abel) and then their successive descendants. Genesis 5:4 says, “And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:”. They had many sons and daughters, although we are not told how many. Adam lived to 930 years of age, it seems likely that he had many children in this time.
Genesis 3:20 says, “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” Eve is the first mother in humanity’s history who bore the first child and from whom came all future generations.
Acts 17:26 tells us God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth”. All people can be traced back to one origin, Adam and Eve.
For some people, this becomes an issue that the first people would have had to marry brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and so on. However, this was not an issue in the days of Adam, it was necessary as there were no other people on earth. God did not forbid inter-marrying within families until Leviticus 18 when there were enough people to make it no longer necessary.
A genetic aspect to consider is that today, it is likely that having a child with someone in your close family can cause deformities in the child. This is because everyone’s genetic code contains mistakes, which can lead to physical abnormalities. If two people are closely related, they are likely to have inherited the same genetic mistakes, for example a brother and sister may have the same gene for a certain abnormality, so if they had a child, the child would be more likely to inherit it, as there is no healthy gene to dominate and override the gene with the mistake.
However, the less related the couple are, the less likely they will be to inherit the same mistake. As the good gene tends to compensate for the bad one, the child is unlikely to inherit the deformity.
If everyone has descended from one blood, Adam and Eve must have contained all of the genes that have created the variety we see today. Also, as they were God’s “very good” creation, they were not likely to have had any imperfect genes. Therefore, the first generations of people would not have caused deformities by inter-marriage. Over time, the mutations would have increased, which is why in Leviticus 18 God commands them not to marry anyone of close relation.
Who was Cain’s wife?
Genesis 4:1-2, “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” Cain and Abel are born.
Genesis 4:16-17, “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” After Cain kills Abel, he moves to the land of Nod and his wife bears him a son, Enoch.
Genesis 4:25, “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.” After this, Eve again bears another son named Seth.
Countless skeptics have posed this as a contradiction in the Bible, arguing that we are not told Eve bears another child (Seth) until after Cain has already found a wife and had Enoch. Where did the wife come from if Adam and Eve were the first human life on earth and they had only had two sons?
As we have already seen, all humans descended from Adam and Eve. So whoever Cain married was related to him in some way. Genesis 4:3 says, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.” After their births, the next event described in the chapter happens “in process of time”. It is likely that this was plenty of time for Adam and Eve to bear many more children.
Genesis 5:4 says, “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:”. Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born, giving plenty of time for Adam and Eve to leave the Garden of Eden, have Cain and Abel and many more children before Abel is killed.
So why does Genesis 4:25 name Seth specifically if he was not the third child? He was simply the next son born after Abel’s death, which is why Eve saw him as a replacement, “another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.”
Furthermore, Genesis 4:13-15 reads, “And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” If Adam and Eve were the only other people on the earth, would Cain say, “every one that findeth me shall slay me”? It seems more likely that he had lots of other family members at this point, one of which would have been his wife.
Did Noah really build an ark?
Genesis 6:13-16, “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.”
Noah’s ark is one of the most famous Bible passages. God commanded Noah to build an ark, made out of gopher wood with separate rooms, three floors, a window and a door in the side.
Through the centuries, artists have depicted this in many different ways, but in reality we do not know exactly what the ark looked like, only its dimensions. One of the more realistic shapes (with less creative bias) is a rectangular box, such as in this painting by Athanasius Kircher from the 1600s.
We do not know how many people were involved in building the ark. Probably Noah’s family, as the eight people that boarded it, but we cannot say whether or not other people helped, such as servants.
The ark is often shown as a small boat, but in reality it was 300 cubits long, which is the equivalent of approximately 450ft. This is around half the size of the Titanic. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that a ship larger than the ark was built.
After the flood, the Bible says in Genesis 8:4, “And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” All that we are told about the ark after the flood is that it rested upon the mountains of Ararat until Noah and his family left it. We do not know exactly where this was, “the mountains of Ararat” in Biblical times could refer to number of areas in the middle east, such as today’s Mount Ararat in Turkey (as pictured) or other nearby mountainous areas.
Many people have searched Mt Ararat for signs of the ark, but so far have not found anything definite. According to National Geographic, in 2007-2008, explorers claimed to have found seven large wooden compartments in Mt Ararat buried at 13,000 feet above sea level. Many discoveries have been reported like this over the centuries, both in Turkey and other surrounding countries, but nothing has been confirmed.
The following video explores a range of evidence to argue that Noah’s ark was really built and did exist, for example from potential findings of the ark:
How did all those animals fit on the ark?
Genesis 7:2-3, “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.”
One of the most common criticisms of the Genesis account of the ark is that all of the animals could not have fitted on the ark. This is usually because the ark is depicted as a little boat with all of the animals crammed in, but the Bible says the ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high.
We do not know the exact measurement of a cubit in the time of Noah. A cubit is the distance from your elbow to your middle fingertip, but using the smallest and largest average sizes, this means that the ark would be somewhere between 438 and 515 feet long. Using the larger estimation, this would make the ark 86 feet wide and 52 feet tall.
Therefore, the ark would have a maximum capacity of around 2,303,080 cubic feet, but it would likely be slightly less due to the curvature of its shape. This is equivalent to the volume of over 26 Olympic swimming pools. The ark is known to be near the maximum size possible for a wooden boat.
The Bible tells us that the ark had three floors, divided into different rooms. This size ship would have plenty of room to store animals, food and supplies, waste and also have free space.
For some people, they still cannot imagine this being large enough for the animals. We know that there was two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal and bird (the distinction between clean and unclean animals is given in Leviticus 11).
However, this does not include every animal that we have alive today. Genesis 7:21-22 says, “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.”
Therefore, the animals on the ark were limited to those that are land-dependent (not marine life), and also those that breathe through their nostrils. For example, insects breathe as oxygen travels to tissue through tiny openings in the body called spiracles, so most insects would not have needed to be included on the ark.
If we total the number of vertebrate amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles, this is estimated to be somewhere around 29,811 species (‘Fact Monster’ link at the bottom of the page). However, some of these species are aquatic, such as whales and seals. Answers In Genesis estimates that there are fewer than 34,000 known species of land-dependent vertebrates today.
Furthermore, scientists divide animals furthest into species, but the Bible says the animals were taken into the ark by kinds. Kinds are more similar to the scientific classification of genus or even family. One way to determine kind is whether or not the animals can successfully crossbreed.
For example, they would not have had a labrador, fox and wolf on the ark, but just one ‘dog’ kind. Since the flood, this kind has expressed itself in different ways in the different species that we see today.
The Ark Encounter have calculated all of the different kinds we have today and estimate that there were less than 1400 kinds of animals on the ark. This amounts to less than 6700 animals in total.
John Woodmorappe, author of ‘Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study’ estimated that most of the animals on the ark would have been smaller than or a similar size to a sheep. Even if 125,000 animals this size were on the ark, it would have filled less than half the space.
It is likely that the animals taken on the ark were young. This has a number of benefits, for example, they would be smaller and take up less space. They are generally more prone to survival, eat less and create less waste. Most importantly, when they came off the ark, they would have more time to reproduce.
Rather than taking a full size male and female elephant, Noah probably selected infant or juvenile elephants, which would also drastically reduce the amount of space the animals filled on the ark.
How could eight people look after all those animals?
There were eight people in total aboard the ark, Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives. This creates another issue – how did these eight people care for, feed and provide water for all the animals?
One suggested explanation for this is that some of the animals may have gone into habitation. The Bible does not say this, but we can observe that many animals, when in a dark enclosed space, often go into periods of inactivity. This is a form of short-term hibernation called torpor.
Furthermore, another benefit of taking young animals is that they tend to sleep more than adults and so may have spent a large amount of time sleeping on the ark.
Practically, it may have been difficult to care for all of the animals. Many people have devised theories and structures for waste disposal or water and food collecting/storing/distributing systems on the ark, but we cannot know how this worked in reality. We do not know whether the animals were caged or roamed freely, we only know that the ark was built with separate rooms on separate floors.
However, we do know that with God’s help, Noah was perfectly able to build complex systems to care for and provide for all of the animals and ensure that they had everything they needed for their survival. It is likely that the animals on the ark were more suited to adapt easily to the change in conditions, and may also have been supernaturally pacified by God during their time in the ark.
Was there really a flood?
Genesis 7:11-12, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, 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.”
After Noah and his family built the ark, God begins to flood the earth. As a result of this global flooding, we can expect to see evidence in the formation of the land, or geological and archaeological records, which we will examine below. Even secular scientists agree that the earth shows signs of a global flood, although they may argue that this was longer ago than the Bible would suggest.
One example comes from an article in The Guardian, given in the links section below. Marine archeologist Robert Ballard claimed to have found evidence in the Black Sea of people who died in a large flood by mechanically observing the landscape more than 300 feet below the sea’s surface. According to geological evidence, the Black Sea began as a freshwater lake and then rising sea levels quickly poured in seawater at about 200 times the volume of Niagara Falls, widening the lake by a mile a day under salt water. One of the ways we can observe this is by the layers of shells of freshwater molluscs from the lake before it became salt water.
Ballard said that they could see “a rolling landscape, fed by meandering streams and marked with wattle and daub houses, that was flooded more than 7,000 years ago.” Using sonar machinery, the scientists found debris, tools and ceramic fragments, as well as standing structures. This means that people lived in this area before it was flooded.
Another example is from a Russian drill hole called the Kola Borehole, which went 12km into the earth’s crust. Experts said that as they drilled deeper, the soil became denser, however they found that beyond 10km, there was a thick layer of soft soil with a high amount of water in it. They also analysed the water and found that it was not surface water, but that it must have come from that layer of the earth due to the minerals found in it. This means that the water had not permeated down to it, but was there before the rock formed on top. This could also be what the Bible is referring to when it says the fountains of the deep were broken up.
Further evidence comes from the number of fossilised fish that have been found. Fossilisation does not usually occur, as when an organism dies they usually decay completely. However, if they are frozen, dried or encased (for example rapid burial), this can become a fossil as the bodily tissues are preserved. Experiments have shown that dead fish will decay quickly, and their skeletons can fall apart in less than a week. However, we have found millions of intact fossilised fish, which suggests that they may have been buried rapidly, deep enough to prevent decay or being fed on, which could have been during the flood as a large amount of sediment was deposited on top of them, allowing them to be fossilised.
Many of these marine fossils have also been found far above sea level. Genesis 7:19-20, “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.”
On every continent, fossils of sea creatures have been found thousands of feet above sea level. For example, marine fossils have been found in the top layer of the Grand Canyon, the Kaibab Limestone which is 8,000 feet above sea level, as well as most of the other rock layers. Fossilised ammonites have also been found high in the Himalayas, up to 29,029 feet above sea level. This clearly shows that at some point in history, the sea level was high above what it is now, and this occurred quickly and deposited a large amount of sediment in order to fossilise marine life at this high level.
Another flood evidence is the range of fossils we see. We have found fossils of fish giving birth or in the process of eating:
These show that something caused such rapid death and fossilisation that fish were in the middle of their normal living and were suddenly fossilised, which could be explained by a huge flood sweeping sediment over the marine life.
Another approach for evidence for Noah’s flood could come from over two hundred legends and stories about a global flood embedded in cultures all around the world. We can look at the similarities of these and argue that something so similar and so globally spread is likely to have come from a real event, as described in the Bible. The following information is from the Answers In Genesis link at the bottom of the page, detailing a wide range of historical legends about a global flood.
- The Babylonian flood legend is one of the most famous examples. It comes from a poem called the Epic of Gilgamesh. Utnapishtim was told by the god Ea to build a boat to escape a worldwide flood that the other gods were sending to wipe out mankind. It was to be a 30×30 cubit boat in the shape of a cube, and he was instructed to bring two of every animal. It rained for seven days, and twelve days later dry land appeared. Utnapishtim send out a dove, then a swallow, then a raven which did not return so he then unloaded all of the animals.
- The Aztecs say that “Humanity was wiped out by a flood, but one man Coxcoxtli and one woman Xochiquetzal escaped in a boat, and reached a mountain called Colhuacan.”
- Sanskrit legends say that their God told Manu, “A boat is to be built by you, furnished with a sturdy cord. There with the seven Rsis, sit Great Manu and take with you all the seeds, preserving them in portions” and then the entire earth was flooded and the boat landed on the Himalayas.
- Karina legends from Venezuela say, “Kaputano [the sky god] and the eight people began building a very large canoe, and when they were done they went around gathering two of every animal to put on board… it began to rain, and it rained for many, many days. Soon the entire earth was flooded. Eventually the rain stopped and the water began to recede and the land began to dry.”
- Chinese mythology says, “a crab and a kite had an argument, the crab caused the waters of the great sea to swell, so much that everything on earth was destroyed except for a brother and sister who survived by locking themselves in a huge chest. Because they were afraid that everything would perish forever, they brought on board two of every animal.”
- Greek tradition says that Prometheus came to Deucalion and told him Zeus was going to destroy all the men, so build a chest of wood so that him and his wife could survive. Zeus caused a great flood which destroyed everything.
- The Hareskin tribe in Canada say that Kunyan build a great raft, and then “came a flood such that the like of it had never been such before. But Kunyan, his wife and his son floated safely on his strong raft. As he floated he thought of the future, and he gathered two of all the animals he met with on his passage.”
- Rotti legends from Indonesia say, “the sea-god became angry with mankind and decided to flood the whole earth. In fact the entire earth was destroyed except for the peak of one mountain. A man and his sister along with several animals had escaped to the high mountain and there survived.”
Many of these tales and legends have similar details to what we find in the Bible, for example having a divine command to build the boat, eight people boarding it, collecting animals to take with them, the destruction being in the form of a flood, sending out birds to survey the land and the earth being destroyed because of God’s anger with mankind.
How could both freshwater and saltwater fish survive the flood?
Genesis 7:14-15, “They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.”
Genesis 7:21-23, “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.”
Genesis 7 describes the animals that went into the ark as land-dwelling or able to fly. It also describes all the animals that died in the flood as “all that was in the dry land”. Therefore, sea creatures and fish were not wiped out in the flood, although many may have died in the turbulence of the water and destruction of everything on the land.
Saltwater fish require a salty environment, such as the ocean. Freshwater fish live in less salty water, such as ponds and rivers. Many people question how both types of fish could survive a global flood, as all the waters would have mixed.
Osmosis is a process where water passes through a semi-permeable membrane (e.g. fish skin) from a less concentrated solution of something to a more concentrated solution. Freshwater fish have a higher level of salt in their body, so as they live in fresh water (with a lower concentration of salt), water passes through their skin and gills and into their body. Saltwater fish have a lower level of salt in their body, so the water passes out of their body and into the salt water (which has a higher concentration of salt), so they have to drink more water.
As 96.5% of the earth’s water now is salt water, and only 3.5% is fresh water, many freshwater fish easily adapt to living in either environment, so could have survived in a higher concentration of salt during the flood. Furthermore, we can study in fish today an ability to tolerate and adjust to changed levels of salt, for example salmon, trout, pike, catfish, sturgeons, herrings and many more, all have freshwater and saltwater varieties. These fish that can adjust easily are called euryhaline species of fish.
Occasionally, when salt water and fresh water are combined slowly to prevent them completely mixing, a halocline can form. Fresh water has a lower density because there is less salt, and salt water is denser because it contains more salt. ‘Zones’ can form where the fresh water sits above the salt water, called stratification, which would allow the different fish to survive in different areas of water.
Genesis 7:11-12 says, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, 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.”
It is possible that when the fountains of the great deep were broken up, salt or fresh water was released into the ocean, but when it rained for forty days and nights, this would have been fresh water. This, combined with the rivers and bodies of fresh water on the land would have overflowed into the salt water slowly, and could have sat on top of the salt water. This would have allowed fresh water fish who were less able to adapt to salt water to survive in pockets of fresh water in haloclines.
Finally, we do not know how salty the oceans were before the Genesis flood. It is possible that God created the waters of the world with a moderate level of salt, and created all fish capable of living in it. It may be due to the separation since the flood of freshwater and saltwater that fish have adapted to living in a particular level of saltiness. We cannot know the state of the waters before the flood, nor the abilities of the fish to live in them, but can observe today fish able to survive in varying levels of salt and natural phenomena such as haloclines that allow fish to retain their usual habitat.
How did animals spread across the world after the flood?
Genesis 8:16-17, “Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.”
After the ark rests on the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:4, “And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.”) and the waters are dried up, God commands Noah and his family to leave the ark and bring the animals to “breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.” Many people argue that if all the animals were in one place, how did they spread across the whole world, particularly to isolated areas such as Australia, New Zealand or across to North and South America?
One similar modern example of this is Krakatoa, an Indonesian volcanic island that erupted in 1883. In the eruption, all life was killed from the island, and it took a few years for life to return, but plants started to grow back, and within 40 years, 600 animals species had arrived back on the island. Some of these animals would have gone there with humans (for example rats and insects on boats), but many other animals flew or swam there, or floated on large pieces of driftwood that were found washed up on the beach.
This is similar to what could have happened after Noah’s flood. Since the whole world was flooded, when the waters were dried up there would have been a large amount of debris and scraps. Animals can survive on this to float across to isolated areas such as small islands, or fly or swim there.
They could also have been taken there by humans over the centuries. Throughout history people have often released certain animals into areas where they do not naturally live, either to study their behaviour, to prey on a particular species to help population control, or to start their breeding in a new area.
Furthermore, it is not essential that the animals spread instantly. It could have been hundreds of years before the first kangaroos arrived in Australia for example. Animal migration can be a gradual process, and the animals have not always been spread across the world in the same way that they are today.
Another factor to consider is that we can only see the continents and oceans as they are now. If we were to lower the sea levels, a range of land bridges would appear. A land bridge is an area of land that connects two land masses, for example below the English Channel is an area of land that previously may have connected England and France. Another example is the Bering land bridge which would have connected Alaska and Russia. The Sinai peninsula between Egypt and Israel is a land bridge that has survived today and is an important location throughout the Bible.
We cannot know the sea level directly after the flood, so it is possible that when the animals were first migrating across the earth and colonising areas that they could access a number of land bridges that we no longer have today, and therefore reached continents or islands that they may not be able to get to as easily now. These bridges could have disappeared due to a rising sea level, changes to plate tectonics, natural disasters that have hidden or buried them, or a range of other reasons. Therefore, we cannot judge the migration patterns of post-flood animals based on the layout of the earth that we can directly observe today.
Another question often asked is why animals spread out the way they did. Why do we not have kangaroos living naturally throughout the world? After the flood, animals would have spread based on pressures from predators or competitors, and also migrated to an area they survived most effectively in. People often use this for proof of evolution, for example saying that kangaroos are found in Australia because that is where they evolved, but in fact it is where they managed to thrive and have the least threat.
Finally, people often ask why we do not see fossils across the world showing migration patterns (for example a trail of kangaroos leading to Australia). However, as we have already seen, fossilisation is not a common process. Usually when an animal dies, its body decays completely, but sometimes it can be fossilised if it freezes, dries, is buried quickly, or is encased.
Many of the fossils we find today were formed by the fast burying under sediment in the flood, but it is not as likely that animals would have been fossilised during their migration after the flood, which is why we do not always find fossils of animals as they repopulated the world.
Where did the different races come from?
Acts 17:26 tells us that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men” and Job 31:15 says, “Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?”
We are all made of one blood (descended from Adam and Eve) and share the same Creator. However, as we look at the different societies and cultures across the world, there are observable physical differences in people, such as skin tones and eye shapes.
Charles Darwin argued that different races evolved at different times, so some races are more evolved and some are less evolved and more ape-like, causing the differences we can see.
However, Biblically we would argue that everyone was created alike and these differences in appearance could have developed due to variation depending on where people live.
Scientists have found that if we were to take any two people in the world, the genetic differences between them would be around 0.2%. Dr. Harold Page Freeman said that, “If you ask what percentage of your genes is reflected in your external appearance, the basis by which we talk about race, the answer seems to be in the range of 0.01 percent.” This shows that genetically, most societies and ‘races’ are very similar, as even comparing two people from the same culture tends to have the same genetic difference of about 0.2%. The physical differences we can observe are not due to different genetics and therefore must be environmental.
In our skin, we have cells called melanocytes, which produce a pigment called melanin. Melanin comes in two forms, eumelanin (brown-black) and pheomelanin (red-yellow). The number of and size of the particles and the levels of production of each determines your skin colour, so someone with very dark skin would mostly produce eumelanin, while someone with pale skin would mostly produce pheomelanin. Clumps of melanocytes is what causes the appearance of freckles.
When our skin is more exposed to the sun, it stimulates the production of melanin to protect itself from damage, which gives the appearance of a tan or sunburn, depending on whether we have more of a tendency for eumelanin (which could cause the skin to look browner) or pheomelanin (causing the skin to look redder).
We can observe globally that people who live in warmer climates tend to have darker skin, and people who live in colder climates tend to have lighter skin. For our early ancestors living in hotter countries, their skin would have produced larger amounts of melanin to protect the cells against UV radiation.
However, in cooler countries, skin does not see as much sunshine. Our primary source of vitamin D comes from the UV radiation from the sun. Therefore, for early generations living in colder areas, having darker skin (with more melanin) would block the radiation and cause a vitamin D deficiency. As a result of this, people living in cooler countries tend to have lighter skin so that when their skin is exposed to sunlight, they can absorb the vitamin D more effectively.
This explains the differences we see in skin colour globally. As we can see from the map above, cultures living closer to the equator tend to have darker skin to protect their cells from UV radiation, whereas cultures in colder countries tend to have lighter skin as they need less protection and need to be able to source vitamin D. After the flood and the Tower of Babel, people would have begun spreading across the world and their skin tones would have adjusted accordingly over time.
Where did the different languages come from?
Genesis 11:1-9, “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”
When Noah and his family came off the ark, “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech”. God told Noah in Genesis 9:1 to, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth”, but instead they began to build the tower of Babel to make a name for themselves and to stay united.
God said, “let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech”, he scattered and divided the people by spreading them across the earth and building language barriers between them.
This explains the origin of different languages – today we have over 6900 languages which come from around 100 ‘language families’ as they all have similarities to each other, which could have been the original languages God created when he first scattered the people.
God created all languages and exercises complete control over them. This is also shown in Acts when he transcends language barriers. Acts 2:6-8 reads, “Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?”
God has the ability to create division through language but also to create unity and to allow the gospel to be spread by giving the apostles the power to speak many languages through the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 14:22 says, tongues (languages) “are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not”. In the New Testament, breaking language barriers is used as a miracle to the unsaved. In the book of Genesis, God created languages to divide and scatter man.
Did the division at the Tower of Babel really happen?
Genesis 10:25 reads, “And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.” In Peleg’s days was the earth divided, many believe this is a reference to the division at the tower of Babel when God scattered man and created multiple languages.
Genesis 11:8-9 says, “So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”
The Bible says that at the Tower of Babel “did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth”. We do not know exactly how this occurred, but we can look at historical information and studies of it since to understand whether it really happened or not.
James Ussher used chronologies and genealogies in the Bible to work out rough dates for many key events that the Bible describes. He said that the account in Genesis 11 of the Tower of Babel and the people being scattered was around 2242 BC.
From historical records, we know that Babylon was established in around 2234 BC, Egypt in 2188 BC and Greece in 2089 BC. This could be used to support the idea that after the people were scattered, they began to develop some of the oldest civilisations we know about and stay settled in their divided areas.
Another aspect we can study is the architectural side of the tower. We do not know the shape or structure of the Tower of Babel, but it has traditionally been built as a type of ziggurat (as seen in the picture). It is likely that when the people were scattered to a new area, they may have used the same structural concepts to build their own cities with varying ideas.
We can see this throughout the world, for example ziggurats, pyramids and similar structures have been found in Mesopotamia, Egypt, South America, China and many other places, which could have been built by early societies who were united at Babel.
Furthermore, many cultures and societies around the world have legends or tales about how languages or people were divided. The following information is from the Answers In Genesis link at the bottom of the page, and describes the legends that different cultures from across the world have about language division.
- The Maidu natives in Western North America say, “Suddenly in the night everybody began to speak in a different tongue except that each husband and wife talked the same language… Then he called each tribe by name, and sent them off in different directions, telling them where they were to dwell.”
- The Quiches in Central America say, “When the tribes multiplied and left their home to a place called Tulan. Here the language changed, and the people sought new homes in various parts of the world as a result of not being able to understand each other.”
- The Wa-Sania in East Africa say “that of old all the tribes of the earth knew only one language, but that during a severe famine the people went mad and wandered in all directions, jabbering strange words, and so the languages arose.”
- The Mikir in Northeastern India say, “Higher and higher rose the building, till at last the gods and demons feared lest these giants should become the masters of the heaven, as they were already of earth. So they confounded their speech, and scattered them to the four corners of the world. Hence arose all the various tongues of mankind.”
- Greek tradition says, “for many ages men lived at peace, without cities and without laws, speaking one language, and ruled by Zeus alone… At last Hermes introduced diversities of speech and divided mankind into separate nations.”
- Polynesian writings say, “they made an attempt to erect a building by which they could reach the sky, and see the greater god Vatea but the god in anger chased the budders away, broke down the building and changed their language, so that they spoke diverse tongues.”
- The Sumerians say, “In those days… the whole universe, the people in unison… Enki, the Lord of abundance… changed the speech in their mouths and brought contention into it, into the speech of man that had been one.”
- Gaikho tradition says, “In the days of Pan-dan-man, the people determined to build a pagoda that should reach up to heaven… When the pagoda was half way up to heaven, God came down and confounded the language of the people, so that they could not understand each other. Then the people scattered.”
These stories affirm the Bible’s account of the Tower of Babel. Logically it would make sense that if the entire population of the world was scattered from being in one place to being all over the world that they would each record their account of what had happened and how they believed the new languages had been created which were passed down through the generations and all have similarities that could link them to one true event as described in the Bible.
Why is it important to believe Genesis literally?
Reading the book of Genesis, we are not lead to believe that it was written poetically or symbolically. Instead, the accounts of creation and early man are laid out factually and historically. The characters we see, such as Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel and Noah are referred to in fifteen other books of the Bible, and also the narrative is referenced in many other passages in scripture, for example Exodus 20:11 reaffirms that God created the world in six days.
It is important that we take Genesis as a literal account, otherwise we cannot tell whether any of the Bible’s narrative is literal or symbolic. There are some passages we know are not literal, such as those directly introduced as parables or dreams, but the book of Genesis opens the Bible and continues with the direct line of Abraham and the successive generations as factual historical record.
Furthermore, why would we not take Genesis literally when it can so clearly explain scientific findings, as well as explaining the origin of our universe and life. Science has yet to offer an adequate explanation for how our universe came to exist, or how human life developed, and yet the Bible gives a detailed account that both has never been proven wrong, but also explains things that otherwise are unexplainable.
Finally, 2 Timothy 3:16 reads, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”. Not only is Genesis (as scripture) profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness, we can trust it as God’s true word and account of how our world began.
We cannot selectively decide which parts of scripture are literal or figurative, we must take it at face value and trust it as legitimate, otherwise we do not know if we can trust any of it. If the Genesis account was non-literal, what about the resurrection of Jesus? Or the exodus from Egypt? Or why should we trust any of the book of Revelation as literal prophecy? Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has been questioning God’s word, and causing mankind to question it as well, but we must trust God’s word, beginning with a literal understanding with the book of Genesis.