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Who is wrong about the biblical date of the Flood, and the Great Pyramid?

Somebody must be wrong somewhere …

Published: 5 June 2021 (GMT+10)
bible-2
The Bible provides the only reliable chronology from Creation to the Flood, up to the time of Christ.

John B from the UK writes into CMI questioning the article Time fears the pyramids? How they fit into the true biblical history by Gavin Cox, who, together with Gary Bates, responds.

Question:

I am still unsure about the dates you give for the pyramids. Somebody must be wrong somewhere, I think, because what concerns me is the non refutable fact that, if the pyramids were built after the flood, then there must be the issue of how quickly deep limestone quarries were solidified. Unless they used water logged sediments to build them, which would not have been strong enough to support the weight, there seems to me there is no way that they were built so soon after the flood. This means that the pyramids would be older than you believe, and so is the time of the flood, which I think must have been at least 6000 years ago, but I know this throws the so called Bible timeline out quite considerably! Something definitely doesn’t add up, especially as the building blocks of the pyramids contain sedimentary fossils. There appear to be similar problems with other major archaeological finds, where date times don’t add up against biblical chronology, irrespective of C14 dating and Bishop Usher’s timeline. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am a Biblical creationist Christian, but the dates you always quote for the Great flood, are, to me, far too late, despite the biblical chronology. If it weren’t for the pyramids, ultimately, I could accept your timelines and reasoning, but the pyramids must have been built, either much more recently, at least 1000 years post flood, or the flood occurred at least 1000 years before, which surely must be the most likely scenario?

Hi John,

Thanks for contacting Gavin with your question regarding the age of the pyramids from his article Time fears the pyramids? How they fit into the true biblical history. You state:

“I am still unsure about the dates you give for the pyramids.”

Us too. Unfortunately, the builders didn’t inscribe on Khufu’s Pyramid “we built this in 2589–2504 BC” somewhere on an internal wall—so archaeologists could find it centuries later and solve the riddle of when the Great Pyramid was built. Had they done so, archaeologists would know the date inscription was fake, because the Egyptians obviously did not foresee when Jesus would be born, as per our normal calendars today.

Much of the dates that we see today that are ascribed to virtually everything in ancient Egypt are based upon a chronology written by the Egyptian priest Manetho in his work The Aegyptiaca (the History of Egypt). Remember, that the Egyptians had no calendar like we do today. They derived periods or dated things in relation to other rulers who had died previously.

Of course this raises the question as to whether all these kings were directly related to each other, descended from one another etc., or if Manetho has linked them in such a way to ‘fill in the gaps’. I.e. did all these rulers reign concurrently or consecutively? Regarding how the Egyptians dated things, Gary states the following from his Framing the Issues article:

“Just how are dates assigned to these kingdom periods and their rulers? In our modern age we can research the life of a relatively recent monarch (compared to Egyptian history). For example, we might say that the British Queen Victoria lived from 1819 to 1901 AD. When we see the name of an Egyptian pharaoh with a similar regnal date next to it, our natural inclination is to presume these are accurate and were recorded in the same way we do today. However, no such standardized calendar system existed in ancient times. Although they understood a year as a timeframe (mainly due to seasons and astronomical observations), they did not count dates like we do today. Instead, they counted the number of years a king reigned and if necessary, added a gap of a few years before the reign of the next monarch and so on. But when attempting to construct a proper backward order of those kings from a specific known time to develop a timeline, one has to presume that the king lists we have are accurate, and it is known that they are not. Even secular archaeologists admit it is all a mess. Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner wrote that:
‘Even when full use has been made of the king lists and of such subsidiary sources as have survived, the indispensable dynastic framework of Egyptian history shows lamentable gaps and many a doubtful attribution … What is proudly advertised as Egyptian history is merely a collection of rags and tatters.’”

There are also other problems with trying to work out the accuracy of the names of the kings that Manetho referred to because each pharaoh typically had five ruling titles (Horus name, Nebti name, Golden Horus name, Prenomen name, and the Nomen (birth) name). Furthermore, Manetho was writing in Greek and so we have to rely on his Greek transliterations from the Egyptian names he chose to record. For further information, see this section in Gary’s article called Manetho’s Dates. Manetho created 30 dynasties in an effort to record Egyptian history. “However, he did not use the term [dynasty] in the modern sense, by bloodlines, but rather, introduced new dynasties whenever he detected some sort of discontinuity.”1 We know for sure that his chronology is demonstrably wrong on many counts, as he deliberately extended Egyptian chronology for political point-scoring, most likely to counter the Greek historian Herodotus who was also writing a history of the Greeks.

Many Egyptologists are starting to believe that many of the earliest rulers were actually reigning concurrently. Specifically, two pharaohs could be ruling at the same time, one in the north, one in the south, or even in smaller regions. Possibly, there were even more complex ruler-relationships early in the Egyptian empire, with several chieftains ruling at the same time in Egypt, and that some dynasties might not have existed at all.

To recap, there are no (independent) dates on these pharaonic monuments dedicated to kings (and gods) scattered across Egypt. Primarily, the listing of kings have been strung together in a sequence, first by Manetho, and then followed by modern Egyptologists, and from this, a chronology has been developed that accounts for the dates commonly seen in the textbooks. We have produced a working biblical timeline in our new Tour Egypt booklet that you might be interested in.

If the secular timeline is wrong, why are we trying to make ‘the Bible fit’ with it?

That being the case, then supposedly concurrent ruler-relations need to be collapsed in order to arrive at a correct chronology, thus, greatly decreasing the overall time scale. Archaeological remains from the pre-dynastic and early dynasties are very scant to make any absolute claims, so no-one can be dogmatic as to the exact dates for many of the earliest kings in Egypt or when it all began.

Gary Bates’s Framing the Issues article states the following:

“One of the main areas used to strongly challenge the biblical dates for creation (c. 4000 BC) and the Great Flood (c. 2450 BC), is that of the conventional chronological dates assigned to Egyptian history. Aside from the mythical and highly questionable pre-dynastic period (c. 5000 BC), for which there is scant archaeological evidence, the first Egyptian dynasty is now conventionally believed to have begun under King Narmer (Menes in Greek) or Aha, or both contemporaneously, around 3400 BC. This was due to the discovery of the Narmer Palette in 1897 which contained the earliest depiction of an Egyptian king and some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscription ever found. It was subsequently dated to the 31st century BC. Whatever it does actually represent it was supposedly made some c. 900 years before the global Flood of Noah’s time, which would make its survival impossible.”

So for the first Egyptian Dynasty date, how did Egyptologists determine it started c.3400 BC? We need to recognize, it is not a starting point—it is actually an end-point. Egyptologists have worked backwards sequentially using Manetho’s list of dynasties in an attempt to derive a beginning date. What Gavin tried to do in his article was to put the building of Khufu’s Great Pyramid in biblical context, and not give an exact date, because we don’t know it. All that can be said, for the moment, is that it was built after Babel, maybe a century or so, to allow for a work-force large enough to develop, but still allow for the rest of the country to function. Again, our Tour Egypt booklet has a wonderful population growth model (using maximum and minimum variables) after Babel and even with the minimum parameters, there could have been a large enough workforce in Egypt to build the 4th Dynasty pyramids.

wikimedia/Wilson44691fossils
Marine fossils, like these nummulites (a type of foraminiferan) are found in large quantities in the limestone blocks of the pyramids.

The pyramids exist because of the Flood

So, hopefully, you do recognize, it is untenable to place the pyramid’s construction pre-Flood, because of the geological evidence. (I.e. the pyramid blocks containing fossils, like nummulites, which are found in vast numbers within the limestone, no evidence of water erosion on the limestone casing blocks, etc.). However, you are mistaken to think in terms of long ages to create solid rock. CREATION.com has made a pastime out of collecting many examples of speedy rock formation for the very reason of refuting long-aged uniformitarian ideas that demand rock requires vast eons of time to form. See for instance these linked articles from Creation magazine:

and a whole section in CREATION.com that includes speedy geology.

It is also interesting to note, that both the Ancient Egyptians and the Romans were pouring concrete underwater to form structures. The (salt) water is needed to drive the chemical binding of the constituents. Although, not exactly the same, water is also required for natural rock to form, whereby crystals of calcite form, interlocking the sediment grains, and the presence of volcanic ash also aids lithification, like natural concrete.

Or for example stalactite formation, is considered a long-age icon, requiring vast amounts of time to form from a small amount of material (CaCO3) deposited in each drop of water. When uniformitarian thinking is stripped away, and the facts allowed to speak, then these geological formations can easily be explained to have formed quickly, and don’t require the vast eons of time assigned to them by secular geologists. So, it’s not about time, it’s about conditions—and having plenty of water around speeds things up hugely.

You say: “Something definitely doesn’t add up” we agree; it is uniformitarian thinking being added to the Bible that doesn’t add up. Many Christians want to have a foot in both camps, i.e. long age thinking and the Bible. However, the clear historical testimony of Scripture is of a youthful earth, around 6000 years old, according to the Masoretic time line, with a global Flood some 1656 years after Creation (c. 2350 BC). This rules out dates of up to 10,000 years and more, and certainly millions of years of slow and gradual processes.

You say: “I am a Biblical creationist Christian, but the dates you always quote for the Great flood, are, to me, far too late, despite the biblical chronology.

But the dates for the Flood we give are from the Bible (Masoretic chronology, even the Septuagint timeline will not add an extra 1000 years as you suggest for a date of the Flood, see this article called Textual traditions and biblical chronology. So if you can’t trust the chronology of the Bible, then what are you basing your ideas of history on? It feels like you want to have one foot in the Bible and the other in uniformitarian thinking.

You state: “If it weren’t for the pyramids, ultimately, I could accept your timelines and reasoning…

Well, we hope we have given you enough lines of reasoning and more reading to show why your hesitancy is not warranted. The pyramids are simply not as old as you think they are. Why subscribe to their conventional dates when there is so much disagreement even in secular circles? Moreover, their dates are being revised all the time based upon things like carbon-14 dating.

You state: “the flood occurred at least 1000 years before, which surely must be the most likely scenario?

1000 years before what? Are you then demanding the Bible’s timeline be stretched out 1000 years? Based on your assumptions about when the pyramids were built? The Bible cannot be made to stretch its chronology that much—on what basis? You would then be saying the Bible misses out 1/6th of history, that’s a huge chunk. I wouldn’t want to trust a book that claims to teach the history of the world up to later stages, but then misses out 1/6th. No, start with God’s Word and work out from there, you won’t go far wrong.

We hope that helps.

References and notes

  1. Manetho, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manetho#Aegyptiaca, accessed 11 March 2021. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Tour Egypt
by Gary Bates, Robert Carter, Gavin Cox, Keaton Halley
US $12.00
Soft Cover
Travel Through Egypt
by Clive & Amanda Anderson
US $15.00
Soft Cover
Rapid Rocks
US $10.00
DVD

Readers’ comments

Dale O.
The septuagint timeline places creation at 5500BC. Doesn't this add 1500 years? You mention that using the LXX "would not add 1000 years"
Gavin Cox
Hi Dale,
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I checked your question with Dr Rob Carter, who has written extensively on LXX vs MT chronology. He said the following "Most of the extra time in the LXX is antediluvian. It only adds ~780 after the Flood." So no, we can't add an extra millennia to the biblical timeline after the Flood to accommodate secular dates for the Pyramids and 1st and pre-dynastic Egypt and older. Of course, an extra millennia would be mighty useful. We have to remember that the oldest periods of Egyptian history in terms of a reliable chronology are in fact the weakest. The dates we have for these periods rely mainly on carbon dating, which becomes increasingly unreliable the further back towards the Flood one goes. In short, we at CMI recognize the MT to be the most reliable and therefore its chronology the most robust. You may find these articles of help to grapple with these issues:
Why 6,000 years and not Septuagint chronology?
If you care to read Brian Thomas on the subject, he is less generous and allows that the LXX adds only 650 years to the MTs Flood date:
see: creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j31_1/J31_1_120-127.pdf.

If you type in "MT LXX chronology" into the creation.com search bar you will find a number of helpful articles by our colleagues.
Also, to understand what Egyptian chronology is based on at its oldest parts, (mainly Manetho) I would recommend you read Gary Bates article: Egyptian chronology and the Bible—framing the issues

You may want to delve into carbon dating, here is a couple of my articles on this:
How old? When archaeology conflicts with the Bible.
14C dating—who is fooling whom?
Carbon 14—still drawing a blank.
You can also type in carbon dating, or C14, into the search bar and find other helpful articles.
Hope that helps.

John B.
Gavin, I want to thank you for your excellent response to my question about the pyramids. I wondered whether it would even be answered, as it seemed a very awkward question, which many would probably have rather not answered. However, you explained very concisely, how some of the dynasties might well have run concurrently, and that more than one Pharaoh could have been ruling different regions of Egypt at the same time. I am now quite satisfied that the pyramids were built post flood, but still wonder about such archaeological discoveries like the Saqqara of the Serapeum where huge 100 tonne granite blocks are so accurately cut, that one has to wonder what tools were used, other than copper chisels. Another topic, I know, but If the Egyptians of Khufu's era constructed these things, which they surely must have, as the statues and obelisks prove, then their technology far surpassed anything we know about or even imagine now. Where are those pesky tools now? (;
Thank you again for all you do at CMI.
John
Gavin Cox
Hi John,
Thanks for your kind remarks about our article on the Great Pyramid and the biblical date of the Flood. I see you've now moved onto how the huge granite blocks were cut and placed so accurately. Because the ancients left no surviving instruction manuals of how they did it, we can only make educated guesses because we weren't there to see them do it. However, we don't have to resort to some unknown ancient hi technology, or even alien help! There have been a number of persuading engineering solutions as to the Great Pyramid's construction, and you can read one on CMI's site: How did they build the Great Pyramid?—an architect’s proposal.
You mention copper tools (chisels) could not cut granite, well, actually this is not true. Chisels were used to cut the soft limestone rock used to build the pyramids and the outer casing stones, once large enough channels were cut, these were then forced open using wooden wedges, which were then soaked in water, which expanded, splitting off large blocks of limestone. It was the wood expanding as it soaked up water that provided huge forces to split the rock. This was also likely done for the granite used for lining the internal chambers such as the Grand Gallery, King's and Queen's chambers. As for the precise polished faces this was achieved using copper tools with applied sand and water. It was the sand and water that gave the copper tools the grinding ability to cut through granite. I have personally also seen granite blocks both at the Giza necropolis and in the Egyptian museum that shows bore holes. c. 10cm diameter cut straight through large granite blocks (presumably to channel ropes, etc). One would assume, by looking at the wear marks they were produced by modern boring machines (often used by the oil industry). However, with the appliance of common sense and lots of 'elbow grease', such engineering feats could be achieved, using quite basic tools with copper cutting blades, and importantly, with sand and water applied as the cutting agent. If you look on youtube and type in "Scientists Against Myths" you will see some quite convincing demonstrations. No hi-technology, or alien technology required! The reason we don't find the tools today, is because they were either used up, recycled, or have not survived to the present. However, there is enough surviving evidence for scholars to make good guesses and working models that demonstrate in principle how it could have been done.
You may care to read this informative article which delves into many of these questions: Gorelick, L., "Ancient Egyptian Stone-Drilling" Expedition Magazine 25.3, 1983 available online at www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/ancient-egyptian-stone-drilling/
hope that helps.
Christopher H.
I once thought the pyramids were built before the flood, but you showed me the fossils in the limestone blocks, and now I think it was built after. As you say, soon after Babel. However, I do think it is possible that other structures and cities around the world may have been built before the flood. Also, in 1656 years, sandstone could have already formed. I agree most sandstone, coal, and metamorphic rock probably formed during the flood. But obviously, rocks can form much sooner. Another possibility is that God simply created sandstone. Along with granite, basalt, and coal. And during the flood, much more of these type of stones formed.

Whatever the date for the pyramids, time certainly does not fear them. A better quote is, "Time fears God".
Gavin Cox
Hi Christopher,
Genesis 4:17 states "When he [Cain] built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch." So yes, Scripture tells us there were cities built before the Flood, but Scripture also tells us in II Peter 3:5 "...by means of these [waters] the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished." The Greek word for "perish" is ἀπώλετο (aorist, apoleto) which means "destroy." So the Bible is clear about the destruction of the pre-Flood world, including its civilization, or any man-made structures. The next verse states: "7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction [ἀπωλείας, apoleias, genitive] of the ungodly." So Scripture is using the same Greek word to describe destruction, so we cannot argue that a few will escape the coming judgment who are outside of Christ. The destruction of the pre-Flood world was total, removing even landscapes and rearranging the continents. So, the Pyramids or any other structure would not survive the raging Flood waters. Hope that helps.
Alf F.
I think the key issue making the biblical timeline fit to the earliest real dating of the oldest pyramids would be a scientific description of the rapid formation and hardening (and "drying") of the particular sedimentary layers from which the building materials were sourced. Was there more than one type of stone used? Or clays or plasters, paint pigments, artifacts discovered within them? Can the locality of these rocks be determined exactly and then their formation be explained according to flood sequences, and final rock formation times?
Gavin Cox
We don't need to make the biblical timeline "fit" anything, it is accurate and inspired world history. The evidence then needs to be read in light of Scripture, not the other way around. In which case the drying of sediments post Flood is not an issue when you understand rock can be made under water, its a case of chemistry, not "drying out" over a long time. If you care to follow the links in my article, it will take you to other articles written about examples of speedy rock formation. Each article will be footnoted to scientific reports, in which case there is a "scientific description" of each case of fast lithification (sediment to rock transformation).
In the Pyramids there are two basic types of rock used in its construction, internal structures like the Grand Gallery and King's and Queen's chambers are lined with granite blocks which is igneous rock. This rock was thought to take millions of years to cool until seismic tomography demonstrated the supposed structures the granite cooling models relied on did not exist (plotons), rather thin lacoliths and sheet dykes, which could radiate heat much quicker, especially into water filled country rocks. The second type of rock and most common is limestone which forms the bulk of the pyramids, which are themselves full of fossils, so evidence of Flood buried sediment. For such sediment to become rock is not a case of 'drying out' rather chemistry, whereby calcium carbonate (CaCO3) crystalizes and locks into place, a chemical process aided by water. The outer casing stones, (now largely missing due to a earthquake c.1300 AD and reused to make most of Old Cairo) was made of high quality limestone, and a sedimentary product of the Flood.
When it comes to manmade artefacts in Flood rock I know of no reputable examples that can be demonstrated to be so, rather, only examples of anecdotal evidence (supposed gold chains, iron pots in coal etc), but no provable provenance.
Your other general point about field relationships of rocks and their Flood sequence has been worked on by creation geologists for decades, we have 40 years worth of articles on CMI if you care to start researching and reading, I suggest starting here: Geology Questions and Answers and here: Defining the Flood/post-Flood boundary in sedimentary rocks.
Hope that helps.
Chuck R.
Good response to John B.'s questions on dating.
What is unfortunate is that many just take it for granted that when secular dates are presented, laypeople assume the 'experts' have it all figured out.
Evolutionists commonly state 65 million years ago or 200 million years ago when speaking of fossils or dinosaurs, and many are highly educated obtaining Ph.D.'s in what is really just a story, a religion, that is completely non-existent.
Evolutionism ranks as one of the greatest deceptions ever assimilated simply because people want it to be true.
Edward B.
Thank you for addressing questions from bible believing Christians regarding Historical Timelines and the Holy Scriptures. I think that it is important for these dialogues to continue. I personally am concerned more with simplicity in the central message of God's Love for humanity and the freedom that He gave to us to choose to accept that love or reject it. This is certainly reflected in the commandments and the biblical narratives, caring for the widow and the orphan ,loving the stranger. The psalms, prophets, proverbs, the wisdom literature of Solomon and finally the ultimate expression of God's Love in the gospels illustrated by our Savior The Lord Jesus Christ's Healing, teaching and dying on a cross. I have seen that love expressed and lived out in so many people in so many ways by believers and non believers. I thank God daily for His LOVE. God bless you and bless His Holy City Jerusalem. Hallelujah.

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