The location of the Genesis "Garden Of Eden" is pivotal to understanding the migration patterns of early humans. I surmise that this is part of the reason why scientists have so much trouble understanding early human migration. They lack a biblical worldview, and thus, have no starting point for humanity.
They have proposed a few models. The "Out Of Africa" hypothesis is the currently reigning paradigm, though I personally find the "evidence" for an east African origin of humanity dubious at best (It is based around faulty assumptions on genetic diversity). But the science for the core of the "Out Of Africa" hypothesis is sound. Humans originated from a small population in a single location and proceeded to spread around the world.
Here is what the Bible has to say on the Gardens location:
Genesis 2:5-14 "These are the records of the universe at its creation. On the day that the LORD God made the earth and skies, no shrubs had yet grown in the meadows of the earth and no vegetation had sprouted, because the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there were no human beings to work the ground. Instead, an underground stream would arise out of the earth and water the surface of the ground. So the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground, breathed life into his lungs, and the man became a living being.
The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, toward the east, where he placed the man whom he had formed. The LORD God caused every tree that is both beautiful and suitable for food to spring up out of the ground. The tree of life was also in the middle of the garden, along with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. a river flows from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides, becoming four branches. The name of the first one is Pishon—it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is pure bdellium and onyx are also found there. The name of the second river is Gihon— it winds through the entire land of Cush.The third river is named the Tigris— it flows to the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates." (Quoted From The International Standard Version)
Here the bible speaks of four rivers, two of which, the Tigris and Euphrates, still exist today and are quite well known in the middle east, notably Iraq. However, the other two rivers are unknown. Bearing in mind the general consensus is that the first five books of the Bible (including Genesis) were written by Moses on Mount Sinai which is most likely in northern Arabia. So that is the reference point for the statement "God planted a garden in Eden, in the east". Fitting quite nicely with the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq (which is directly east of northern Arabia).
I will also note that young-earth creationists like to say the gardens location is unknowable because Noah's flood (which they believe is global) rearranged the geography of the Earth. While I do agree that a global flood would rearrange the geography of the earth (though not quite as much as young-earthers imagine, as it wouldn't cause volcanoes and earthquakes, or form mountains), I disagree there was a global flood at all. Noah's flood was likely local in geography but worldwide in judgement on mankind, but that is a post for another time.
In fact, I would say the gardens geography in Genesis 2 provides evidence that the flood of Noah was local rather than global. As Moses refers to the Euphrates river simply as "the Euphrates", meaning he expects the audience to know what river he is talking about, if young-earth creationists were right about a global flood, the sediment laid down by the flood would destroy any rivers or lakes on the surface of the earth.
Now, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers come together in two places, one is in the mountains in turkey, and one is in far-southern Mesopotamia, where they merge into one river shortly before draining into the Persian gulf. This extremely short merged river is called the "Shatt Al-Arab"
We can easily rule out the northern location, as it is at such a high elevation it would be far too cold to match the biblical description. And it would likely be much colder during the time of Adam and Eve, as the earliest evidence for true humans is dated to the midpoint of the last ice-age.
The Last Ice Age
Speaking of the last ice age, increased glaciation at the poles trap water in the ice and lower global sea levels, exposing areas of land that were previously covered by shallow waters. Because of this, there was land connecting Eurasia to North America, connecting Eurasia to Australia, connecting England to the mainland of Europe, and turning many shallow seas and gulfs to dry land.
Scientists refer to this area as the "Persian Gulf Oasis" as the region would have been extremely fertile 1compared to the surrounding area. Here is a quote from archaeologist Jeffery Rose (As far as I know, he is not a christian and is not aware of the parallels between the Persian Gulf Oasis and the garden of Eden.):
"It would have been an ideal refuge from the harsh deserts surrounding it, with fresh water supplied by the Tigris, Euphrates, Karun and Wadi Baton Rivers, as well as by upwelling springs."
Sound familiar? Here, a secular archaeologist describes four rivers (including the Tigris and Euphrates), an oasis, and underground springs. All three of which are how the bible describes Eden. Furthermore, the Persian gulf oasis is described as a fertile floodplain, and the Hebrew word "Eden" literally means "fertile plain".
Now, is the Persian gulf oasis the garden of Eden? No. The bible describes the garden of Eden as a small place *within* Eden. So small that Adam and Eve could apparently explore it separately and still easily be able to find eachother. The Persian gulf oasis is described by scientists as being "the size of great-Britain". The Persian gulf Oasis was likely the Land Of Eden, with the garden somewhere within it.
Will be be able to find any archaeological evidence of the garden itself? Probably not. The garden was flooded at least twice. (Noah's flood and the refilling of the Persian gulf at the end of the ice age).
I suppose you could try and find the bones of animals that are not indigenous to that area, as God brought all the animals of the earth to Adam for him to name. But we don't even understand the mechanism of that, did God teleport them? Did he teleport the animals back after Adam named them? Did the animals reproduce and inhabit the area long-term? Its a bit of the longshot, and any remains that exist would still have to be excavated from underwater in the Persian gulf.
Identifying The Pishon And Gihon
Now, the excerpt from Jeffrey Rose described four rivers, two of which are the Tigris and Euphrates. It seems likely that the other two are the Pishon and Gihon. But which are they? And do they match the text's description of the rivers?
The Wadi-Al-Baton river does not flow strongly or consistently today, with much of it remaining dry the majority of the time. But during the last ice age, the ice on the Hijaz Mountains in western Arabia (The source of the river) was far more extensive then it is in now. This allowed the river to flow much more strongly than it does today.
Does the Hijaz Mountains region match the biblical description of Havilah? The Hijaz Mountains contain the "Cradle Of Gold", which has been recorded being mined as far back as 3000 BC, and is stilled mined into modern times. It has also been identified as "King Solomon's Gold Mine". The Hijaz mountain is also rich in bdellium plants.
This leaves us with one option for the Gihon, the Karun river. This is slightly problematic as the Karun flows east of of Mesopotamia toward Iran, and the biblical text associates the GIhon with Cush. Cush is typically associated with North-Eastern Africa, west of Mesopotamia, with the red sea flowing between them.
However, no river would fit this version of Cush, as it would have to flow across the red sea into north-eastern Africa. Many modern scholars instead identify Cush with the Kassites in Zagros Mountains in Iran, if this is the case, then the Karun would completely match the description of the biblical Gihon.
For the time being, weighing all the evidence, I would say the Gihon is likely the modern Karun river.
Taking this into account, the garden's location is now somewhere underwater in the northern part of the Persian gulf. Where the Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon (Wadi-Baton), and Gihon (Karun) meet to form the river of Eden (Or Shatt-Al-Arab).
After Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent and sinned, they were expelled from the garden which was then guarded by a cherub. They then migrated eastward, but apparently still stayed in the fertile land of Eden.
Later, when Adam and Eve's son "Cain" killed his brother "Abel" , he left to the land of Nod, east of the land of Eden. Probably in what is now western Iran. The bible says Cain built a settlement there, named after his son "Enoch". Perhaps some excavating could be done there in an attempt to find this settlement.
Adam and Eve's other descendants mostly stayed in the Land of Eden in the time following their sin. Though some of them apparently migrated to what is now southern Iraq (including the ancestors of Noah).
In conclusion, humanity originated in what is now the northern Persian gulf. This is the starting point for all human migration. After Adam and Eve's sin, humanity stayed localized to the land of Eden (What is now flooded with water in the northern Persian gulf), the land of Nod (what is now the Khuzestan Province of Iran), and what is now southern Iraq.
An important event in early humanity is the flood of Noah. There has been much debate on this topic. Debate on whether the flood was literal or allegorical, debate on whether the flood was local or global, debate on where the flood took place if it was local, debate on where the ark landed, debate on whether the "Nephilim" killed in the flood were really giants or if they were merely fallen men. I will be starting with the premise that the flood is a literal event of some kind, as I feel a degree of biblical literalism is a basic element of Christianity, and that the text very obviously reads as a recollection of a real event with real people, not as a poem.
Local Or Global? Looking At The Science
Many scientifically literate people have realized that a flood that covers all land on earth is implausible. For starters, the number of species of terrestrial plants and animals is far too high for them to be saved aboard an ark.
There are an estimated 10,000 bird species on earth, The bible says Noah took seven pairs of each kind of bird on the ark, giving us a minimum of 140,000 birds. Some of which are predatory birds, and some of which are large, like ostriches, emus, cassowaries, etc. Hebrews considered bats to be birds so this would also include the 1,240 estimated species of bat. Bringing the total to over 150,000.
There are also an estimated 5,416 mammal species on earth and the bible says Noah took two of each kind of mammal on the ark. However, it also says he took seven pairs of the kinds they would eat. It's notable that it says he took seven pairs of the "clean" kinds of animal, but Levitical law was not yet in place, so "clean" would be much broader for Noah then it was for the Hebrews. The number of mammals on the ark would then be anywhere from 10,832 to 75,824 depending on the how many animals were "clean" for Noah.
The Bible does not specify whether reptiles, insects and arachnids were on the ark or not, but if the flood were to be global, there would be no option but to take them on the ark, otherwise where do modern reptiles, insects and arachnids come from?
There are roughly 10,000 known reptile species, 100,000 known arachnid species and six to ten million insect species. We do not know how many of each Noah would have taken, but a minimum of two would be required to reproduce. The total would then be 20,000 reptiles, 200,000 arachnids and twelve to twenty million insects.
In fact, thus the end number of species would be even higher, as during a global flood, salinity levels would mix, and species of aquatic animals (Fish, amphibians, mollusks, jellyfish, etc.) with specialized salinity requirements would die off. I guess Noah had an aquarium on the Ark.
Another thing to take into account is the fact that various "kinds" exist *within* certain species. This is particularly prevalent in mammals. For example, there are a number of physically distinct subspecies of tiger. I seriously doubt God would let these creatures go extinct.
Plants would certainly need to be taken aboard the ark, as many species of plant cannot survive being submerged for a year. Nearly all plant species would be destroyed by the global flood itself, especially a global flood capable of rearranging the geological column as young-earth creationists require.
Within an Ark of the dimensions the bible describes, this number of creatures is impossible, if not spatially, then certainly in terms of caring for the plants and animals.
Global-Flood believers make claims to rationalize these scientific problems. They claim that mats of plant matter pooled on the flood-waters and insects could float on them to survive, thus they didn't have to be taken on the ark. But in a flood of global proportions, these mats would quickly be ripped apart and destroyed. Even in a supposed "tranquil flood", the mats would be repeatedly submerged and resurfaced. It's also notable that most kinds of vegetation could not survive in this manner. They require minerals from the earth, and as such, they must remain rooted.
They also make appeals to what is effectively magic. They claim Noah only took two of each genus or family on the ark, and they somehow magically split into the modern species and subspecies in a period of just thousands of years. They claim fish species magically adapted to changing salinity before they died.
These claims are completely scientifically illiterate and could only be fulfilled through Ad Hoc appeals to miracles. However, the bible describes the flood occurring like a natural one, with the waters being dried by wind and arriving via natural sources. The bible says God instructed Noah to save the animals, not that God used miracles to regenerate the earth after the flood. Scientifically, the global flood model is inconsistent and easily falls apart under scrutiny.
Local Or Global? Looking At The Bible
What does the bible say about the extent of the flood? One example of a chapter that gives young-earth creationists pause is Pslam 104. Which almost every biblical scholar would agree is referring to the original creation.
Pslam 104 "You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth."
Here, Pslams (Like Genesis) states that early pre-human earth was covered in water, and after the formation of landmasses, says the waters will never again cover the entire earth. Therefore, logically and inescapably, the waters of Noah's flood did not cover the entire earth.
Another biblical hint at a local flood is found in Genesis 7
Genesis 7:17-20 "The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep."
So, a cubit is equivalent to about 1.5 feet, meaning they were covered approximately 22.5 feet. Now, if the word "har" for "mountain" (Which can be used for anything from a small hillock to a Himalayan mountains) refers to actual high mountains here, why is 22.5 feet significant? It seems to imply the "mountains" around Noah were all within a foot or two of eachother's height. There is no mountain range on earth where this is remotely possible. Therefore, the use of "har" here is more likely to mean "hills". As many rolling plains have hillocks that are all about the same height.
(as for the "all the high mountains under the whole heaven" reference, remember that "heaven" is the sky in contexts such as these, so it could be taken as "within the horizon", under the sky from Noah's point of view)
Now, a young-earth creationist answer to this is that the pre-flood world had no true mountains, or had mountains that were all the same height. The problem is that mountain formation happens on the timescale of tens or hundreds of millions of years. The majority of biblical scholars would agree it is not reasonable to push a date of millions of years ago for the flood of Noah. And any method to speed tectonic activity up enough for this to happen on the timescale of just thousands of years would force movement of landmasses so rapid its energy release would destroy the entire surface of the earth, including Noah on the ark.
Another problem with young-earth creationists is the idea that rapid formation of canyons, mountains, valleys, etc. would create a very unstable and inhospitable earth. They actually tend to agree with me, and say the post-global flood world was very unstable and inhospitable. What they fail to realize is how unbiblical this theory is. The bible describes the Earth being very calm after the flood, and Noah going right back to his work with no real change. The bible gives no indication the post-flood world was unstable/hostile, whatsoever.
Regardless, it seems that on the global flood view, which would have thousands of "cubits" of water inundating the land, fifteen extra cubits would mean nothing. Which makes us question why the text even mentions these fifteen cubits.
The most coherent interpretation of the quoted passage is that the waters increased beyond the point where the ark was "bore up" or risen from the ground an additional 15 cubits, and at that point all the hills within line of sight of the ark were covered.
Furthermore, it is extremely clear from the language used in the Genesis 11 account of the Tower Of Babel that humanity was localized to one region of the earth, despite God's insistence that humans disperse (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 9:1, Genesis 11:8-9) . Eventually God has to force humanity apart to get them to migrate. The fact that after the flood, God reiterates his command to Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth to Noah, indicates that prior to that point, humanity had failed to fulfill the command, and thus humanity was all together in one region.
Now, if humanity was localized, a global flood would have been needless and cruel to the animals that lived in uninhabited areas (Like south america, antarctica, australia, indonesia, etc.) thus, a local flood is far more biblically sound then a global flood. To see more read: "Answering Objections To A Local Model For Noah's Flood"
Who Were The Nephilim?
Many theories have been produced regarding the "Giants" of Genesis 6. The Hebrew word here is "Nephilim", which does literally mean "Giants". The majority of biblical scholars attest to this. Attempts have been made to redefine the word to mean "fallen ones", and although the words are similar, they are not identical. This view is not very convincing to me.
Here is what the bible has to say on the pre-flood giants:
Genesis 6:2 "The sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose."
Genesis 6:4-5 "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown."
The term "Sons Of God" is only ever used in the old testament to refer to angelic beings, never to humans or animals, and daughters of men could only possibly refer to human women in general (taking into account that saying "daughters of men" is equivalent to saying "daughters of Adam" in hebrew).
Now, some Christians do not like the idea of mythical giants in the bible and have tried to create a distinction between the descendants of Seth and the descendants of Cain, and saying this interbreeding occurred between those two groups, and the resulting offspring were "fallen ones". But again, if this was the case you would not see the word for "Giants" used, and you would see "daughters of Cain" used in place of "daughters of men/Adam", and would see "sons of Seth" used in place of "Sons Of God" .
Proponents of this theory argue that the descendants of Seth were "Godly" where the descendants of Cain were "Earthly". Not only is this an absurd logic loophole, it isn't even grammatically correct. Again, the term "Sons Of God" is never used in the old testament to refer to anything other than angelic beings. This would have to denote the first ever use of "Sons Of God" in the old testament to refer to Godly men.
It is true the term "Sons Of God" is used in the new testament to refer to saved Christians, but this is specifically used to show how we are reborn as higher beings in Christ.
Luke 20:36 "for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection."
It is clear what's happening here, certain angelic beings departed from God and gave into sinful lust to produce offspring with human women, creating offspring that were larger than standard humans.
Given the fact that the giants are referenced in Genesis 6, which is mainly distinguishing Noah from the other peoples in the land at that time, the fact that no giants were taken on the ark, and the fact that when the Nephilim reappear in Canaan thousands of years later, God orders the ancient israelites to wipe them out completely (Every man, woman, and child), it very much seems that God does not approve of this activity, as such the angels described in Genesis 6 must be fallen angels (As they are acting against the will of God). Some have objected to this on the grounds that fallen angels are not "Godly" as such, but think of it this way, if a man were to turn on and attack his mother, and run off to fulfill a depraved and wicked life, he would still be her son. Similarly, fallen angels are still angelic beings and are direct creations of God.
It seems likely these giants were a major part of why God sent the flood, and the genetic pollution by the fallen angels could explain why pre-flood humanity was so depraved (Genesis 6:5-8). Whereas Noah was pure in his generations, having no taint from the fallen angels, and being 100% human (Genesis 6:9). I think it is a strong possibility that the Flood of Noah was intended to wipe out the genetic pollution caused by the fallen angels.
Where Was The Flood?
Okay, we have determined the flood was local, limited to a hilly plain of some sort, and that the Nephilim were in fact giants that were the offspring of fallen angels and early humans. But where did the flood take place exactly?
I believe the flood occurred in the southern mesopotamian plain and the northern persian gulf oasis (or possibly all of the persian gulf oasis). Alternate views suffer from severe difficulty, for example:
Some place the flood in Jerusalem for symbolic reasons, but that idea has severe physical difficulty as the region is extremely mountainous and not very prone to the kind of large-scale flooding Genesis describes.
Many have proposed the black sea, caspian sea, and red sea as possible flood locations. Regarding how they filled up suddenly at the end of the last ice age as "glacial burst floods". All three of these theories suffer from the same two main difficulties. One of which being the fact that the waters from these floods are still there. The waters never receded as Noah's flood was said to in Genesis. The other problem is that the flooding of these regions occurred at the end of the last ice age. ~12,000 years ago, well after the spread of humans around the world ~45,000-200,000 years ago (depending on what you call a "human").
Another idea is that Noah's flood was the rapid formation of the mediterranean sea ~5,000,000 years ago. This is well before any reasonable date for the appearance of modern humans. This theory also suffers from the issue of the waters never receding, and remaining flooded permanently.
I purpose we currently have no available direct evidence for the actual event of Noah's flood (outside of scripture, which is all we need), apparently not surprising as unless the flood involved a permanent settlement of water in an area, we seem to lack the capability to measure floods that occurred more than a few thousand years ago.
The biblical text gives us some hints at the location of the flood. Clearly, it killed all of humanity at the time (based on the universality of the language used), so all areas we know humans had settled must have been covered. As discussed in part one of our early humanity trilogy, Adam and Eve settled in the land of Eden, which was in the northern Persian Gulf oasis (The land that was exposed prior to the filling of the Persian Gulf). Cain's descendants settled in the Land Of Nod, east of the land of Eden, probably in what is now the Khuzestan Province of Iran (Part of the southern mesopotamian plain).
Although not concrete, many scholars think Noah lived in the upper part of the southern mesopotamian plain. The bible says the ark landed on the "Mountains of Ararat", in the context of the time it was written, this would refer to the region of the Zagros Mountains in Iran. (Which as you can see from the map below, is only possible if the ark landed in the upper part of the southern mesopotamian plain)
What Caused The Flood?
The question of how the flood occurred is an important one. As for this model to be correct, we have to demonstrate it is physically possible for a flood of this magnitude to occur in this area.
For reference, the bible says the flood covered "all the hills under the whole sky", indicative that Noah could see only water from horizon to horizon, meaning Noah built the ark somewhere near the middle of the valley. But still, in order for a flood that large to occur and match the bible's description that the flood waters rose to a depth of 22.5 feet (15 cubits) above to tops of the hills (In Noah's region at any rate, probably not universal for the entire flood region), and given the topography of the region, the flood waters needed to reach a depth of between 50-70 feet.
Furthermore, the geographical extent of the flood is approximately 140,000-200,000 square miles in my model (362,598 - 517,998 square kilometers). Is this extent and depth really plausible?
In August 2013, a massive flood inundated much of Siberia, having an extent of ~1,000,000 square kilometers (~386,000 Square Miles) and reaching a depth of (in some places) over 20 feet (6 meters). In terms of extent, this flood dwarfs my model for Noah's flood. With a sizeable depth as well. Forcing the evacuation of over 100,000 people.
In January/February 1937, another massive flood occurred ranging from parts of Pennsylvania to Illinois, but not only did this flood have a sizeable extent, but it had a very extreme depth, rivers rose (in some places) to a depth of nearly 80 feet (24 meters), again, well dwarfing my model for Noah's flood.
So, there is nothing unscientific or implausible about the extent and depth I propose for Noah's flood. But could a massive flood occur in that region?
The southern Mesopotamian plain is highly prone to flooding, even in modern times, so much so that many refer to it as a "floodplain". This is due to the two very large rivers that flow through it, the Tigris and Euphrates, which have a strong tendency to overflow their banks and flood parts of the plain during rainstorms. During the last ice age, this effect would be greatly amplified by increased snow on the mountains that act as the source of the rivers. As well as extra water from the Karun and Wadi rivers.
If you look on the chart below, you will see that during an ice age, there are many spikes in global temperature/sea level. During these spikes, the floods in that area (and any other floodplain) would be far more extreme than anything we experience today.
As for the source of the waters, the bible describes two main sources of the water (which act in addition to the glacial melt occurring during temperature spikes in the last ice age).
Genesis 7:11 "On the seventeenth day of the second month, when Noah was 600 years old, all the springs of the great deep burst open, the floodgates of the heavens were opened,"
So, here the bible describes "springs of the great deep" which seems to describe aquifers, and "the floodgates of the heavens" which we can assume is referring to a large rainstorm.
The former is easiest to address, the Mesopotamian plain is situated on a large aquifer which you can see plainly on the map below. A large tectonic event (like an earthquake) could easily prompt this aquifer to release some of its water.
What About The Animals?
Considering the flood was local, Noah would not have taken animals that were not native to the flooded region. Thus dropping the number of species/subspecies taken on the ark by a large number. Also, Noah would not have needed to take insects, arachnids, or amphibians, as they tend to do a very good job of surviving local floods. Which would explain why the bible doesn't mention Noah taking them (this is a problem young-earth creationists fail to deal with).
From what I can tell about the region, most of the animals taken on the ark would have been birds. There are surprisingly few mammals in the area, see here: "List Of Mammals In Iraq" "List Of Birds In Iraq"
Notice most of the birds are small herbivorous birds that would not need separate sections of the ark, and could co-exist in a large aviary wing of the ark. Most of the mammals are rodents and bats, which similarly don't take up much space and are relatively easy to take care of (though presumably Noah needed to keep them from multiplying on the ark, so he needed to keep the males and females separate).
During the flood, all the Nephilim were wiped out, all the humans outside the ark were wiped out, and all the mammals/birds of the region that were outside the ark were wiped out.
Some young-earth creationists have questioned the local flood theory by stating that the humans and animals could simply have left the region. However, during floods of this nature (fed by overflowing rivers, aquifers,and rainstorms simultaneously), the waters inundate the flat terrain extremely quickly, and since nobody besides Noah saw the flood coming, they would have no time to evacuate beforehand.
The people would have settled mostly near the rivers, far from the edge of the flood-zone, the ones who weren't instantly wiped out by flash flooding would have had no time to escape the flood-zone during torrential rains and through extremely muddy land. Not to mention there is not a single shred of evidence that pre-flood peoples used animals for transportation, though I highly doubt that would help, given the conditions.
As for the birds, you will find most birds are incapable of flight during heavy rain, especially the long distance flying it would take to get outside the flood-zone. And they are certainly too slow to make it out of the flood-zone in time.
Furthermore, on the sloping land at the edges of the flood-zone there would be massive rushes of water flowing into the valley that would prevent any escape. The only way for a human, Nephilim, mammal, or bird to survive this flood is to be saved by Noah's ark, just as the bible describes.
So, in summary, the Nephilim really were giants that were the offspring of fallen angels and human women. Noah's flood was local geographically but wiped out *all* humans outside the ark. Humankind was localized to one region prior to the flood. The flood encompassed the southern Mesopotamian plain and the northern Persian Gulf Oasis. And a flood of this magnitude is entirely scientifically plausible.
The Tower Of Babel
Here is what Genesis says regarding the Tower Of Babel:
Genesis 11:1-9 "Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth."
So, after the flood, Noah and his descendants migrated westward from the ark's landing place (As we discussed in Early Humanity II, the ark landed on the eastern edge of the mesopotamian plain). It's notable that the water from the flood would have flowed southward, towards the lower lands of the Persian gulf oasis, meaning the ark probably landed in the southern mesopotamian plain, so that would be a good place to excavate for the Tower Of Babel.
The people built a "city" there, and began to build a tower intended to stretch into the sky. It's important to note the statement "nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them". It seems to be the case that God knew that people would once again become depraved and sinful if they remained in one place. As we have seen in modern times, when large amounts of people get together, they advance extremely rapidly, often greatly outstripping their advancement in moral values, and causing massive damage to not just themselves, but plant and animal life as well.
According to the text of Genesis 10, the son of Ham, Canaan, was living after or during the time of the Tower Of Babel. It says that he founded the Canaanite people, which implies the division of people had already occurred. Also, Shem's accounts point to post flood people living a maximum of 500 years. This leads me to say the Tower Of Babel took place no more than 900 years after the flood, probably significantly less.
So, what exactly happened at the Tower Of Babel? The people were split up and scattered all over the world, and apparently were forced to abandon the "city" of Babel. It says they "began" to build the tower, which implies it was never completed because of what happened at Babel.
Modern people have a tendency to read a supernatural confusion of languages into the text here, but we must remember, when people are split up, their languages naturally diverge. As we saw with the flood of Noah (and many other places in the bible), God often uses natural processes to accomplish his goals, and given that Babel was abandoned, is it not possible that there was an earthquake, volcano, meteor strike, or wildfire that disrupted humanity and scattered them? A catastrophe of some sort would seem to explain what the Bible says about Babel. A supernatural alteration of languages is not necessary.
It's just a hypothesis, and regardless of what happened at Babel, the end result is the same. Humanity was scattered all over the surface of the earth, and the original language broke up into many.
What About The Hominids?
The question of the Hominids has been a great one ever since the advent of modern science. The creatures that resemble humans but with more primitive traits, like Neanderthals, Homo Erectus, Homo Habilis, Denisovans, or the recently discovered "Hobbits" scientifically known as Homo Floresiensis. Or the australopithecines like "Lucy" which resemble bipedal chimpanzees.
Young-earth creationists propose that these creatures are either fakes (which is frankly absurd), or other descendants of Adam and Eve. I have heard some say these hominids are the product of microevolution after Adam and Eve. Similar to the different races of modern humanity. I have also heard others say they are mutant humans, the result of increased radiation levels after the flood.
This notion can be answered without much difficulty, Mitochondrial DNA analysis has indicated that Neanderthals differ from us by ~202 base pairs, whereas modern humans differ from each other (across continents) by ~8-10 base pairs. For comparison, humans differ from chimpanzees by ~1000 base pairs (Mitochondrial DNA, not all DNA). So although Neanderthals are more similar to us than chimpanzees, they are certainly not within the bounds of variation within humans. It seems more likely to me that neanderthals are a separate, unique creation of God. A separate species.
So, I argue that these hominid species and australopithecines are all unique and fundamentally separate creations of God, and none of them have the image of God as humans do.
The behavior of these creatures, inferred from the archaeological record, supports this idea. The popular press will often exaggerate the behavior of these animals by saying they "buried their dead, made art, used body paint, made fire, wore clothing, had language, made tools, took medicine, etc."
Some of the claims regarding the intelligence of these creatures are outright wrong. No art by any hominid species has ever been found. The idea came from a re-dating of a cave painting in Europe to ~40,000 years ago, *after* humans had already entered Europe and began to replace neanderthals. Both human and neanderthal remains have been found in the cave. Approximately 40,000 years ago is just around the time humans took over the cave. Is it really logical to assume that Neanderthals started making art *just* before humans took over Europe, or is it better to assume that humans made the paintings as they took over the cave?
Yes, Neanderthals (and quite possibly other hominids) bury their dead, but that is no indication whatsoever of humanity. These "burials" have no elements of spirituality or ritual whatsoever. They are just bodies in holes buried in dirt. Many animals mourn for their dead and "bury" them. Elephant graveyards are a major example of this. Most primates do this, lions sometimes bury dead members of their pack. Most/all mammals have emotional capacity but it does not indicate humanity.
What about tool use? Well, many primates have been observed making tools, even birds have been observed working with simple tools. Bonobos have been observed making multi-part stone tools. Chimpanzees have been observed making "beds" for themselves in trees. Even more animals build things, beavers build dams, birds and even some reptiles build nests. In fact, some primates have been observed spear-hunting, like hominids.
The claim that neanderthals used body paint is based on the red ochre found at many neanderthal sites, the problem is that red ochre has practical applications for tool-making, which has been shown in their tools. There is no evidence they used red-ochre as dye.
As for clothing, no needles have been found at *any* hominid site, they have found hide scrapers, which *may* indicate they used animal hides as blankets, But nothing more. Clothing is a clear indicator of humanity given in Genesis 3.
Evidence for language is entirely unclear, some studies indicate the higher larynx in Neanderthals would prevent them from utilizing language, while others indicate the hyoid bone is indistinguishable from modern humans. But I will point out, even if Neanderthals do turn out to have crude language, that is no indicator of their humanity, gorillas have been taught to utilize sign language, which is intellectually equivalent to vocal language as far as I know.
They did use certain plants for medicinal purposes according to certain studies, but similar to burying their dead, this is not a solely human trait, chimpanzees, birds, and even some insects do this.
The one thing hominids do have going for them is fire use, which is a remarkable behavior I'll admit, but it does not indicate humanity. Even then, only the later hominids do this, like Neanderthal and Homo Erectus. Early hominids and australopithecines do not exhibit evidence of fire use. So, therefore, they exhibit no more intelligence than chimpanzees. Even the higher hominids have behavior much closer to apes than humans.
You may have noticed my focus on neanderthals. This is because of all the hominids, neanderthals exhibit the highest intelligence. So, if even they are not human, none of the hominids are human (except for modern humans of course). In my view, hominids are animals, and among the "beasts of the earth" created on genesis day/age 6.
What about other "subspecies" of homo sapiens like "homo sapiens idaltu" which lived ~160,000 years ago and "archaic homo sapiens" which lived from ~200,000 years ago to ~60,000 years ago? My answer would be that these, like neanderthals, are unique and separate creations of God. They similarly do not possess human behavioral characteristics. They show no evidence of behavior greater than that of Neanderthals. In fact, homo sapiens idaltu demonstrates behavior equivalent to that of the early hominids.
It's also notable that some will refer to "archaic homo sapiens" as "anatomically modern", which is not entirely true. We do not have any complete fossils of archaic homo sapiens. They are only anatomically modern from what we can tell of the fragments we have found and they certainly do not possess modern human behavior. Again their behavior appears to be indistinguishable from neanderthals. As archaic homo sapiens appear to have gone extinct prior to the creation of Adam and Eve, even if they were anatomically modern, that would not hurt my model whatsoever.
We notice from the fossil record that archaic homo sapiens disappear from the fossil record in most sites ~73,000 years ago, when the Toba supervolcano erupted. The exception to this are sites in South Africa, which continued until ~60,000 years ago. Around ~45,000 years ago anatomically *and* behaviorally modern humans appear on the scene explosively and in many places at once. From Indonesia and Australia to Europe and North-eastern Africa.
The general hypothesis to explain this among secular scientists is that during the Toba supervolcano eruption, archaic homo sapiens bottle-necked to an extremely small population (so small they didn't leave any artifacts for us to find). Meanwhile, they evolved into fully modern humans and their population explosively bounced back ~45,000 years ago.
I propose that archaic homo sapiens went completely extinct ~60,000 years ago in South Africa, and shortly afterwards, God instantly created Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden in what is now the northern Persian gulf region. Their descendants populated the northern Persian gulf region and southern mesopotamian plain.
Afterwards, the flood of Noah swept through the region, wiping out all those early humans except for the eight people on the ark. Then, a generation or two later, they built a city and began to build a large tower in the southern mesopotamian plain, which God then destroyed and intervened to scatter humanity all over the earth.
After being scattered, Humanity began to "multiply and fill the earth" producing the many archaeological artifacts we find today from ~45,000 years ago in Europe, northeastern Africa, Indonesia, and Australia. Humanity then populated the rest of Africa, North America (~11,500 years ago), and South America (~11,000 years ago) when the last ice age ended, warming up the pass between Alaska and Russia before it was flooded a short while later.
It is important to note just how explosive the appearance of behavioral modernity is. The art found in Europe and Indonesia is equivalent to modern art in skill. There is no gradual advancement. There is just explosive appearance.
Behaviorally modern sites from ~40,000-45,000 years ago include Art, Dance, Music, Jewelry, Spirituality, Religion, Fishing, Personal Ornamentation, Games, Clothing, Building, Trading, Ritualistic Burial, Seasoning Food, Symbolic Thought, Use Of Currency, Etc.
The appearance of modern humans also coincides with a massive increase in tool-making skills. The tools made by modern humans include needles, torches, harpoons, bows, knives, shovels, and hammers.
Below you will see five pictures. The first two are pictures of the crude tools made by neanderthals. The next three are tools made by modern humans:
Finally, I will point out another feature that distinguishes humans from other hominids...advancement. Neanderthals, and other hominids, show no advancement from their creation to their extinction, much like other animals. They (as a species) lived for hundreds of thousands of years, with no change in their behavior from beginning to end. Yet humans have gone from scattered hunter-gatherer tribes to industrial cities and space travel in just ~45,000 years. Proving what the bible says, humans are unique among all earthly creation.
The Chronology Of Early Humanity
So, we now have a model for *how* it happened, but not *when* it happened. Let's take a look at the evidence.
Now it is generally accepted by biblical scholars that the genealogies of Genesis contain gaps, so those alone cannot used to establish a reliable date for the first humans. This is what young-earth creationists try to do and claim a 6,000 year old date for humanity.
We established previously that the appearance of modern human artifacts in Europe, Indonesia, Australia and north-eastern Africa ~45,000 years ago roughly corresponds to the Tower of Babel. If you assume that is the consistent rate of gaps in the genealogies, you get a date for Adam and Eve of very roughly 60,000 years ago. However, that does assume that the rate of gaps is constant, which very well may not be a correct assumption. But we can get a minimum date of around 47,000 years ago from this method.
We can also get a concrete maximum date by studying the fossil record. Genesis says that after God created Eve, he entered his day of rest and ceased creating new species. Thus, the latest species to appear in the fossil record can give us a maximum date for Adam and Eve.
The most recent undisputed new species of animal to appear in the fossil record I have seen is homo floresiensis, which appeared ~90,000 years ago. They presumably existed a while prior to their appearance in the fossil record. Nevertheless, this can give us a maximum date of ~100,000 years ago for Adam and Eve (As it is unlikely they existed more than 20,000 years before they appear in the fossil record, though not impossible). As a side note, new plant and bacteria "species" have appeared in modern times, but this is not an example of God creating new species. It is an example of adaptation and hybridization of pre-existing species God created. This is micro-evolution, not macro. What would be a species/subspecies for an animal is more like a genus for a plant or family for bacteria.
So far we have a date of ~47,000 - ~100,000 years ago for Adam and Eve. Can we narrow it down any further?
Perhaps... If you look at ancient sea-levels, you'll find that sea levels only remain low enough for the garden and its river to be exposed after ~80,000 years ago. And I wouldn't like to put Adam and Eve before the Toba catastrophe, because it isn't referenced in the early chapters of genesis before the flood. So I wouldn't put them before 72,000 years ago.
I would also caution against putting more than 15,000 years between Noah and Adam and Eve. Given the lifespans at the time, humans would overpopulate very quickly. Even 15,000 is pushing it a bit. Also taking into account the fact that it would take some time for humans to migrate and produce large amounts of artifacts, I would put a few thousand years between the explosive appearance of modern humans ~45,000 years ago and the Tower of Babel. I believe the probable date for Adam and Eve is 55,000-72,000 years ago taking everything into account.
So, lets examine the chronology here:
55,000 - 70,000 BC: Adam and Eve, shortly afterward Cain kills Abel
50,000 - 65,000 BC: The flood of Noah, shortly afterward the Tower of Babel incident
~45,000 BC: Wide-Scale proliferation of humans in Europe, South Asia, Indonesia, Australia, and North Eastern Africa
9,500 BC: Spread of humans into North America
9,000 BC: Spread of humans into South America
8,000 BC: Neolithic revolution
~ 1,900 BC: Abraham
~ 1,500 BC: Moses and the Exodus from egypt
33 AD: Jesus Crucifixion
2??? AD: Armageddon
3??? AD: Judgement day/ New Heavens And Earth
1. Doesn't the bible say the four rivers of Eden flowed from the main river, not that they joined in the south to form the main river as you say?
No, the biblical passage speaks only of geography, not geology. The source of the rivers is not mentioned. Most translations will simply (and correctly) say the river of Eden split and became four branches, not that it became four "heads" or "headwaters" as certain popular translations will put it. From the text alone, the main river of Eden can either be the source or the confluence. I say because the Tigris and Euphrates are spoken of, it must be the confluence in what is now the northern Persian gulf.
It's also notable that the northern split of the Tigris and Euphrates is at far too high elevation to support a tropical oasis like the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve didn't even need to wear clothes. This indicates that it must be a confluence, not a headwater.
2. Doesn't the bible say the ark landed on Mount Ararat?
No, the bible says the ark landed in the "Mountains Of Ararat" region, which includes the entire Zagros mountain range east of Iraq. The ark probably landed in the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. Also, it's funny to note that Mount Ararat itself wasn't even named until a few hundred years ago.
3. What about the last genetic common ancestors of modern humans dated to over 100,000 years ago? Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam?
Although I believe Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam do represent biblical figures, I highly doubt the dates are accurate. Molecular clock dates are notoriously shaky, constantly being realigned. Y-Chromosomal Adam was once dated to 40,000 years ago, then switched to 90,000 years ago, then switched to over 200,000 years ago. Similarly, Mitochondrial Eve has been redated from being around 300,000 years ago to 90,000 years ago to 120,000 years ago. These dates are simply unreliable.
Genetic dates have often been shown to contradict fossil data as well. With genetic dates for the origin of certain species consistently dating back much earlier than the fossil dates. While radiometric dating of fossils has shown time and time again to extremely reliable within relatively small error bars.
There are also many variables, such as radiation caused by supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, or even solar flares from the sun! All said things can alter mutation rates and thus, tamper with genetic dates. I have also failed to find a study which has taken into account the interbreeding between humans and neanderthals, and humans and denisovans. Which I presume would give you a later date.
It's also notable that Y-chromosomal Adam would not correspond to the biblical Adam, he would correspond to Noah, as the four men on the Ark were Noah and his three sons, thus Noah is the last male common genetic ancestor. It is unknown whether the wives of Noah's three sons were daughters of Noah's wife or not, so Mitochondrial Eve could correspond to the biblical Eve or Noah's unnamed wife.
4. What about the South African sites (such as Blombos Cave) from ~75,000 years ago showing evidence of partial behavioral modernity among "archaic" homo sapiens?
I will preface this by saying that said sites were dated using thermoluminescence, which is nowhere near as reliable as radiometric techniques (though not as bad as genetic dating), so these dates are not set in stone. Nevertheless, since so many South African sites give the same date with different thermoluminescence methods I will assume (tentatively) the dates are correct.
However, I do not believe these sites show evidence of behavior greater than that of neanderthals. Respected PHD Richard G. Klein has done some excellent work on the subject. If you want more information, look at his work. Bear in mind he is not a Christian, and believes in naturalistic evolution, yet agrees with my conclusion that behavioral modernity emerged explosively ~45,000 years ago.
5. Aren't Neanderthal skeletons consistent with modern humans with arthritis (Or some other disease)?
Not at all, this is a myth started by young-earth creationists by quoting scientists that were speculating only shortly after neanderthals were discovered. This is a common trick among young-earthers. Quoting from scientists who were speculating just shortly after a subject was discovered. Ignoring all the more recent science that has developed since. They only quote from those who didn't know anything at the time to boost their case! It's just blatant deception.
Today, no scientist besides a few young-earth creation "scientists" believe that neanderthals are just diseased modern humans. Young-earth creationists also fail to explain why radiometric dates consistently give earlier dates for neanderthals than humans. I guess the arthritis affected the radioactive decay rate in their skeletons!
6. Weren't agriculture, masonry, and metalworking invented after 10,000 BC? Doesn't the bible say Cain and Abel worked the fields, Tubal-Cain made Iron and Copper tools, and the Tower Of Babel was made with bricks? How could all this have happened before 45,000 BC?
There are a few reasons for this. One being that the bronze-age, iron-age, neolithic, etc. only indicate the widespread use of agriculture and metalworking, not the first time those practices were ever performed. There is evidence of smaller scale animal herding, agriculture, masonry, and metalworking prior to those respective periods. And they probably date back much further, as small-scale practices rarely leave behind enough evidence for us to come across.
Another reason is that the text of the tower of Babel passage (nothing will be impossible for them) seems to imply the Pre-Babel people were at least slightly more advanced then Post-Babel people.
7. Why is there no archeological evidence of the pre-flood people in southern mesopotamian plain?
Well for one, the area was extremely humid at the time, and had horrible conditions for preserving artifacts, and even worse for preserving bones. Another problem is that even under relatively good conditions for preserving remains, only a small percentage of them are preserved. Of those, only a small percentage of preserved remains are accessible. And of those, only a small percentage of accessible preserved remains are actually discovered by us.
I'm sure there have been many civilizations and animal species that we simply haven't found evidence of yet. Archeologists are constantly uncovering new remains. They once thought there was no historical Hittite civilization like the bible records, yet eventually they uncovered it. Just a few days ago (as of the time of writing this) scientists uncovered a new species of ichthyosaur. Archeology is one of those fields where absence of evidence simply is not evidence of absence.
However, there might actually be some indirect evidence of humans inhabiting the region at the time I propose. A neanderthal was found speared to death by a harpoon dating back 50,000 - 75,000 years ago. What is significant about this is that neanderthals did not make harpoons, only modern humans did. In fact, studies on neanderthal grip show they might not even be capable of harpooning things. Especially not well enough to have a fatal impact. It seems possible to me that this harpoon incident could have occurred during pre-flood times, *or* very shortly after the Tower Of Babel.
1. Read The Bible In English And Hebrew:
2. Persian Gulf Oasis I:
3. Persian Gulf Oasis II:
4. Persian Gulf Oasis III:
5. Last Ice Age:
6. Glacial Retreat:
7. Cush = Kassites:
8. Wadi-Al-Rummah River: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadi_al-Rummah
9. Insects: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insect
10. Reptiles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reptile
11. Arachnids: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arachnid
15. Mountain Formation:
16. Fresh Vs. Saltwater Animals:
17. Answering Objections To A Local Flood:
18. Southern Mesopotamian Plain:
19. Wildlife Of Iraq:
20. Historic Temperatures:
21. California Megaflood:
22. Siberian Megaflood:
23. Bangladesh Megaflood:
24. Ohio River Megaflood:
25. Neanderthal Speared By Human In Iraq 50,000 Years Ago: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090720163729.htm
26. Hominids: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo
27. Homo Sapiens Idaltu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_sapiens_idaltu
28. Behavioral Modernity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_modernity
29. Failure Of Molecular Clock Analysis: http://www.reasons.org/articles/failure-of-molecular-clocks-important-implications-for-the-christian-faith
30. Richard G. Klein On The Explosive Origin Of Behavioral Modernity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUp_6n8x3D0&ab_channel=theforumatpoly
31. Thermoluminescence Dating: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoluminescence_dating
32. Y-Chromosomal Adam: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Adam
33. Mitochondrial Eve: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve