How did the earth dry out after the Flood?
Responding to local Flood advocates
Dan T (USA) wrote in:
I am sorry to bother you with this question, but I have looked high and low on the internet, including creation.com, for an answer, and I am stymied.
Local flooders say the wind God caused to blow over the earth in Gen 8:1 could not have dried the flood up if the flood was global. The clouds would soon become saturated, rain would fall right back on the flooded earth, and the flood would continue. But no problem on a local theory supposition.
There are two problems. One, it sounds like the wind was the cause, or at least the primary cause, of the drying. Two, if the wind was not the cause of the drying, why did Moses mention it at all? What was the point of mentioning it, except to say that it was the cause of the drying, or at least one of the causes?
How does water that has been evaporated from the area of the Ark not fall to the earth again, and continue the global flood? I am thinking that the evaporated water would have to fall to the sea in a place not near Noah’s ark. Is that reasonable?
Dr Robert Carter responds:
Wow, what an interesting question. I had to think about it some, but I think there are multiple ways to answer it.
1) We can quickly dispel the naïve thought that there was an ocean of water sitting above the continents at the end of the Flood. The old questions, “Where did all the water go?” and “Was Mt Everest under water?” can be answered simply. The rising mountains and falling ocean basins naturally led to waters draining off the continents. Part of their objection might be rooted in the incorrect thought that you would need an extra 5 miles (the height of Everest) of water around the earth. A shell of water that thick would have volume of about 4.5 billion cubic kilometers and there would be nowhere to put it.
But Mt Everest is composed of Flood-deposited marine and terrestrial sediments that were laid down flat and then tilted upward as the Himalayas were forming. My answer to the question “was Mt Everest under water?” is usually, “No, for it did not yet exist.”
We do not need to account for any ‘extra’ water.
2) I note that the ESV does not denote a causal relationship between the wind and drying of the waters: “And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” Where does it say the wind dried up the water? I do not know a single YEC scientist or speaker who believes the winds dried out the water. Are we all ignoring the text? Or is there something in the text that people assume is there but is not. I was wondering if this was due to the influence of the KJV, because the phraseology of that translation sticks in many people’s minds. Yet it also fails to provide a causal link: “and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;” This whole section reads more like a simple list of observations than a tightly-argued scientific thesis, so people who are clinging to the wind = drying argument are really stretching things.
3) Mountain uplift (Genesis 8:4 vs Genesis 8:5, note the order of events), and general uplift of the land surrounding mountainous areas would have drained much of the water.
4) In the ‘catastrophic plate tectonics’ model, Baumgardner has shown that massive tsunamis would be triggered by the plates sliding against each other.1 The net effect is to push massive amounts of water onto the continents above sea level, and it takes longer for the water to drain than it does to rise. After most of the sliding stops, gravity would drain water off the continents even without mountain building.
5) For the sake of argument, let’s assume the wind did dry the waters. Is this possible?
Q: Why are most of the major deserts in the world at 30 degrees north and south latitude? This is because major atmospheric uplift occurs in the tropics. When the air rises and cools, it dumps a massive amount of water, hence the tropics are very rainy. As the air rises further, it is pushed north and south. Upon descending, there is very little moisture left in it, hence the worldwide bands of deserts.
This causes the formation of what are called Hadley cells. They are persistent and predictable and they control the world’s weather.
CMI’s US office in is the southeastern part of the US, in Georgia. It is not like other regions at a similar latitude, because of the Gulf of Mexico. If that large body of water to our southwest did not exist, there would be no source of water vapor for us and we’d be bone dry. What if the Mountains or Ararat were under a descending cell? The dry air would quickly remove much water.
Nobody knows what atmospheric circulation would be like as the earth settles down to a new post-Flood normal. Yet, the claim that ‘the clouds would soon become saturated’ is couched in ignorance of atmospheric dynamics. All we need is for the Ark to land somewhere under a descending cell and the bone-dry wind would do the rest.
6) Wind pushes water. Wind can move massive amounts of water, hence the storm surge of a hurricane and extreme high and low tides caused by onshore and offshore winds. Even lakes can experience wind-induced changes in water level (technically called ‘seiche’). If the wind is pointing ‘downhill’ it will help to drain the water more quickly.
7) Air moves water. As moisture-laden air travels across the globe, it transports large amounts of water from the area of evaporation to the area of precipitation. But this does not mean the areas that are getting rained on will drown. Instead, some of the water re-evaporates and some flows downhill to the sea. Here we have a recipe for drying out the land, even in the wetter areas.
8) Finally, we must mention chinook winds, those super dry and strong winds that come down off mountains. Note the appearance of the mountaintops in this passage. Therefore, we have two potential sources of strong, dry winds: global circulation patterns and chinook winds coming down off the Mountains in the Ararat region.
Either way, the atmosphere clearly cannot hold much water vapor. If the entire earth is flooded, that water cannot be sucked up into the air. Thus, the Flood model requires rising lands, deepening oceans, massive tsunamis that pile the water on top of continents, or some combination of all three, for flooding the continents. After the Flood, we need a way to move water from the land to the oceans, and there are multiple ways to get that done. And yet, there is abundant evidence for huge freshwater lakes that remained on the earth for years after the Flood (the Great Salt Lake, the Aral Sea, etc.). These have been shrinking for thousands of years. In other words, the entire surface of the earth does not have to be dry the day the Flood ended in the Ararat region.
References and notes
- Baumgardner, J., Understanding how the Flood sediment record was formed: The role of large tsunamis. In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, ed. J.H. Whitmore, pp. 287–305. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship, 2018. Return to text.