AND THE ICE EPOCH                               by DONALD W. PATTEN
The Tidal Nature of 
the Biblical Flood

SO OFTEN THE FLOOD has been pictured as having been caused only by excessive rain. There is no better example of this than Josephus, who, never imagining any other possibility, commented as follows:

When God gave the signal, and it began to rain, the water poured down forty entire days, till it became fifteen cubits higher than the earth; which was the reason why there were no greater number preserved, since they had no place to flee to. When the rain ceased, the water did just begin to abate . . . 1

Modern humanistic thought had concluded that rain could never cause a flood of global magnitude such as this. Either it did not occur, or it was merely a local event, a rain-swollen flooding river system. Many have followed the notion that it may have been caused by a period of prolonged cyclonic storms. This view of course is in perfect harmony with uniformitarian thinking. Because uniformitarian views are so widely held and so infrequently challenged, the local flood concept is commonly held.

Were the uniformitarian viewpoint correct, then the idea of a localized flood appears very logical. If the catastrophic point of view is correct, with an extra-terrestrial gravitational field approaching and affecting the Earth, then the global idea of a tidal Flood also appears very logical. If the Flood had been a local phenomenon, then any flooding must be based on climatological principles, which means rain. If the Flood were a global phenomenon, and of an immense magnitude, then oceans, gravities and tidal mechanisms were inevitably involved.

Now if the Flood had been a local phenomenon, then the accounts of an overwhelming flood might presumably have come in from one or two particular regions or localities of the Earth. Yet the accounts of an ancient Flood of continental proportions persist in over 40 different cultures in each hemisphere.2

Similarly, water-lain strata occurs on a global scale, and at almost every elevation, both above and below mean sea level. These facts remain indeed unexplained if a local flood concept is to be accepted. Evidences of a World Flood of continental dimensions occur both in the traditions of man and in the fossils and strata of his terrestrial domain. Furthermore, evidences of former gravitational interactions and tidal responses occur among other planets.

If the Flood were merely a minor climatological event of local significance, then nothing in all of ancient literature is more curious than the scope and the sweep of the details in this particular account of the Flood given in Genesis (Chapters 6-9). The ideas, implications, and perspectives contained in this account are very thought-provoking. It teaches that the rain was associated with the Flood, but not that rain was the primary cause of the Flood. The two phenomena were merely simultaneous.

Before we enter into a discussion of the particulars of the Biblical Flood, the validity of the Genesis account warrants comment. Here we may have an eye witness account, related and handed down, not unlike eye witness accounts found later in Genesis.3 Later examples include Joseph's experience in Potiphar's house in Egypt, Abraham's experience on Mt. Moriah, and Isaac's courtship of Rebekah. A fourth illustration is the Flood story, with its precise and detailed account.

Note the manner of the logging of the events. Note also the details concerning the pitching of the ark (Genesis 7:17), the details of the dove (Genesis 8:7), the raven (Genesis 8:8), the olive branch (Genesis 8:11), and the rainbow (Genesis 9:13). Here we have a near eye witness account which has been preserved. Other ancient accounts of this catastrophe seem to have been preserved with much less precision.4 On this basis, details can be gleaned from the Genesis story from which valid conclusions and implications may be drawn, if coupled with an adequate geophysical background.

The proposition herein set forth is that the Flood was caused by tidal movements of the oceans, tides in sub-continental proportion. Rain was also involved, but its ratio was the proverbial drop in the bucket. By carefully considering the several facets of the Flood story, and by then weighing the following reasons in tandem against the uniformitarian presupposition, a strong position may be achieved to draw firm and significant conclusions.

1. Location of the Grounded Ark: Its Elevation
And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

(Genesis 7:17-20; 8:4, King James)5

The record of the Hebrews, corroborated by other Middle Eastern traditions, is that the Ark was grounded high in the Ararat-Caucasus-Elburz region. The elevations in this complex rise to 17,000 feet at their greatest heights. Much of the elevation is 8,000 and 10,000 feet above mean sea level. In fact, the topography of this region may be a clue as to the magnitude of the tides of the Flood era.

This region of Armenia today is controlled politically by three nations: Iran, Russia and Turkey. Here are a number of interior basins which have no outlet to the sea. They contain brackish lakes, three of which are rather large, inland lakes. These lakes represent the lower elevations in this region, and they can be considered as the lowest or the minimum elevation at which the ark was grounded.

The largest of these three lakes is Lake Urmia, in Iran. It is 4,364 feet above sea level. The next largest is Lake Van, in Turkey, at an elevation of 5,260 feet. The third is Lake Gokcha (Lake Sevan), in Russian Armenia. It is at an elevation of 6,345 feet above mean sea level.

With the bulk of the topography in this region being above 8,000 feet in elevation, it is not difficult to suppose that the grounding of the Ark was at an elevation approaching 10,000 feet above sea level.6 The ultimate resting place of the Ark has not been finally identified. Josephus reported that in his time, it had been scavenged for fetishes.7

The language in Genesis Chapter 7 refers to waters which increased . . . increased greatly . . . and prevailed upon the whole (visible) Earth. The waters flooded valleys, plains, plateaus and apparently mountains. This is indicative that counter-gravity or a second gravity acting contrary to the gravity of the Earth, was involved in these tidal upheavals.8

Tidal conditions and effects of a low magnitude are well-known, for our Moon and Sun cause modest tides on ocean beaches. Tides have the effect of both raising and lowering waters and of both raising, moving and grounding driftwood at or near high tide. The Ark is viewed as a piece of driftwood, an oversized barge--floating on tidal movements of subcontinental magnitude.

In such a picture the Ark would logically be stranded or grounded at or near high tide. In such a picture, it would logically be caught and grounded within a topographical barrier such as a hedge or ridge of mountains.

Had the Flood been caused by rain exclusively, the Ark (something like the Queen Mary in dimension but not in shape) would not have been floated at all. Yet had it been floated, its direction of flotation would have been downward, not upward, and toward sea level rather than toward a high group of mountains. Thus both the altitude and the rough topography, the mountainous hedge, are both significant in pointing to the tidal nature of the Biblical Flood.

Some uniformitarian-minded thinkers have considered the floating of the Ark to the Ararat Mountain region as an utter impossibility, for rain just does not accomplish this sort of thing. This is true, but the magnitude of tidal movement could have accomplished it. For instance, the tidal sweep which swamps a sand castle at the sea shore could also swamp the Alps, Andes, Pyrenees or Ararats. It is only a matter of magnitude or degree; it is not a matter of lack of mechanism. This again is a reflection of the intensity of the gravitational conflict which must have prevailed.

So far, we have noted the location of the grounded Ark with respect solely to its elevation and rough topography in the Ararat Mountains. Of equal importance is the location of the Ark with respect to its Heartland Location.9

2. Location of the Grounded Ark: Its Heartland Location

The Ark was not floated down the Tigris or Euphrates and out into the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean. It was not floated down the Nile, Jordan, Indus or Volga, nor did it float out into the sea, be it the Black, the Caspian, the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea or any of the oceans. Neither was it stranded on a low-lying range of coastal hills. Moreover, it was not grounded on an interior plateau, such as the Anatolian or Iranian Plateaus. The Ark was not stranded at or even near any maritime location.

Rather, the Ark was stranded in the second highest complex of mountains in the Eastern Hemisphere, an area second in elevation only to the Mighty Himalayas and its associated ranges. This interior region of Eurasia has been termed by early political geographers as the "Heartland" region of the Eastern Hemisphere.

Consider, therefore, the broadness of the Flood. The Eurasian land mass is the largest one on the face of our planet. It comprises about 57% of the land area of the world, including its African appendage. The Ark was grounded in the heart of this region: about 2,000 miles from the Arabian Sea, an arm of the Indian Ocean; about 2,500 miles from the Barents Sea, an arm of the Arctic Ocean; some 3,000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean; and some 5,000 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The fact that the Ark was grounded in this heartland location similarly attests to the perspective that the Flood was tidal in nature. Had the Flood been caused by atmospheric precipitation, the Ark would have been floated downward and in response solely to the gravity of the Earth. Furthermore, any rain which fell would have been concentrated in maritime regions.

Noah has sometimes been referred to as a North Dakota sailor. His boat was a barge, and not a ship or a vessel. It apparently was not constructed at a maritime location, and it was not constructed for sailing; it was constructed for floating. Consider the Ark, rising and bounding on tidal waves of subcontinental proportions, by the following illustration of the humble tumble-weed.

On the high plains of Northern Montana in late summer, the tumbleweeds become very dry. They break off and are picked up by the hot August breezes. They roll and bounce, and bounce and roll, until they finally become caught, perhaps on a barbed wire fence, perhaps in some sage brush, or a snow fence. So it must have been with the Ark, which, like an oversized piece of driftwood or a tumbleweed, bounded along in subcontinental tides until it was caught in a topographical fence, the mountains of Ararat. This is one of the numerous reflections of the magnitude of the Flood. It is also a reflection of the global scope of the Flood catastrophe. Let us briefly consider the possibility that significance may occur in the sequence of the logged events.

3. The Logging of the Sequence of Events

Table 2 lists chronologically many significant observations of the Flood cataclysm. The record states that it rained 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:17), but that the waters increased for 150 days (Genesis 7:24). Study the phrasing of the Genesis account of the action of the waters:

The flood continued forty days upon the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark and it rose above the earth. The waters rose higher and increased greatly on the earth; so that the ark floated on the surface of the waters. The waters rose higher and higher on the earth so that all the highest mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. (Genesis 7:17-19, New Cath. Ed.)

Various parts of the Genesis account yield the following phrasing concerning the action of the waters:

"The fountains of the great deep burst forth." (Genesis 7:11)

"The waters increased and bore up the ark and it rose above the earth." (Genesis 7:17)

"The waters rose higher and increased greatly on the earth. (Genesis 7:18)

"The waters rose higher and higher on the earth so that all the highest mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered." (Genesis 7:19)

"The waters rose on the earth one hundred and fifty days." (Genesis 7:24)

"The waters subsided . . ." (Genesis 8:1)

"The fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens were closed." (Genesis 8:2)

"The waters steadily receded from the earth. They subsided at the end of one hundred and fifty days." (Genesis 8:3)

"The waters continued to recede until the tenth month." (Genesis 8:5)

The phrases "the waters increased greatly," "the waters rose higher," and "the waters steadily receded" are of particular interest since daily increasing and decreasing of waters is the normal description of the tidal phenomena. Tides occur twice every 24 1/2 hours on the Earth's surface. Tides both increase and decrease continually. Hence, the waters may have been rather accurately described as increasing continually.

Let us now examine the implications resting in the fact that sedimentary strata, in parallelism, occur on all continents.



Sequence of Events
Span of Time

There were forty days during which the rain fell (7:12) ............................................................ 40 days

Throughout another 110 days the waters continued to rise, making 150 days in all (7:24) .......110

The waters occupied 74 days in the "going and decreasing." This was from the 17th day
of the seventh month to the 1st day of the tenth month (8:5) ................................................... 74

Forty days elapsed before Noah sent out the raven (8:6-7) ................................................... 40

Seven days elapsed before Noah sent out the dove for the first time (8:8). This period is
necessary for reaching the total and is given by implication from the phrase "other seven
days" (8:10) .......................................................................................................................... 7

Seven days passed before sending out the dove for the second time (8:10) ............................. 7

Seven days more passed before the third sending of the dove (8:12) ...................................... 7

Up to this point 285 days are accounted for, but the next episode is dated the 1st of the
first month in the 601st year. From the date in 7:11 to this point in 8:13 is a period of
314 days; therefore an interval of 29 days elapses ............................................................... 29

From the removal of the covering of the ark to the very end of the experience was a
further 57 days (8:14) ........................................................................................................ 57

TOTAL 371 days            
Reprinted from The New Bible Commentary by Davidson, Stibbs and Kevan, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1953. p. 85.

4. World-wide Circumstances of Sedimentary Strata

With this possible tidal mechanism, immense pressures are realized, which become successive, twice daily as the Earth rotates, even as layers of sedimentary strata are successive.  Had there been tidal conditions, with water 5,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level, pressure on the Earth's crust would have amounted to perhaps 300 tons per square foot, or 2 tons per square inch.10 This would be sufficient pressure to compress any kind of sediment, be it sand, mud, ash or other. It would be sufficient pressure to metamorphise any of these kinds of deposits into successive strata, intermixed with occasional trapped fauna or flora, turning them not into decayed debris slowly, but turning them into suddenly and perfectly preserved fossils.

Layers of sedimentary rock, successive layer upon layer, are found on every continent, and they appear to have been laid down by immense volumes of water, and subsequently compressed by great pressures. This phenomenon, together with other data presented in this and successive chapters, makes an impressive case indeed for the possibility of global catastrophes, and of oceanic tides of subcontinental proportions and of great elevations above mean sea level.

A fifth consideration in the geophysical nature of the Flood becomes apparent as one notes the phrase "fountains of the deep," the antediluvian oceans.

5. The Fountains of the Deep (Oceans)

And in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, and 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. (Genesis 7:11, Goodspeed)

The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; and the waters returned from off the earth continually . . . (Genesis 8:2-3, Goodspeed)

This phrase seemingly refers to the great oceans and seas which cover the bulk of the Earth's surface (72% in our age). Both the fluid atmosphere (rain) and the fluid hydrosphere (oceanic tides) appear to have been simultaneously deranged, but the surging, sweeping volumes of the oceanic tides were the primary cause of the Flood. It must be noted that if all the rain that the atmosphere could hold were to condense immediately, the volume of accumulated precipitation would be less than 12 inches at any one location.11 In fact, if the atmosphere were composed of pure water vapor, and this suddenly condensed, it would amount to about 30 feet of water--not enough for the scope of flood which is under consideration. This would hardly be sufficient to float a small barge, much less a large one, over coastal hills and interior plateaus.

In the oceans of the Earth there are more than 200,000,000 cubic miles of water. This is enough to drown about % of the present surface of the Earth, and some of it is drowned to depths of 10,000 and 20,000 and 30,000 foot depths. If, in the event of a major conflict of gravity within the Earth-Moon system, these waters could be in tidal movement. With their volume, they could indeed cause immense surges, ample to drown even the largest of the continents. The rinsing action caused by the accompanying rains would contribute perhaps only 1/10 of 1% at most to the total Flood. Thus, the breaking up of the fountains of the deep must account for the major volume of the water involved in the Flood--some 99.9% of the water.12

6. The Behavior of the Animals

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 into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. (Genesis 7:14-15, King James)

Another significant part of the Flood story is the seeming apprehension of the animals just prior to the Flood catastrophe. Animals often have been observed behaving abnormally just prior to a natural catastrophe. It is as though they can comprehend or sense beforehand foreshocks of impending earthquakes.

For example, on the afternoon previous to the eruption of Mt. Pelee on Martinique Island in 1902, an old sheepherder had observed his sheep in unusual commotion. He made his way to the mayor of St. Pierre and warned that something dreadful was about to happen. The mayor did not take the muttering sheep-herder very seriously; however on the following day between 30,000 and 40,000 people were engulfed in pumice.

In September 1923, a severe earthquake rocked Honshu, the main island in the Japanese chain. An old Japanese priest had forecast this earthquake upon observing that a certain species of fish had been acting abnormally for months. From tradition, he knew that earthquake activity was imminent in this unstable region, known as the "Pacific Rim of Fire" where both earthquake and volcanic activity are relatively frequent.

Again, when the great earthquake occurred in Madison County, Montana, in 1959, rangers observed that birds evacuated the region on the day prior to the seismic event.

Animals spoken of in the Genesis account, domestic and probably wild ones as well, entered the Ark seven days prior to the Flood--seven days before the rain commenced and surging waters from the oceans began to heave. Apparently there were significant forewarnings, microvibrations or minute foreshocks of the coming catastrophe, seismic in nature.

If this suspicion is correct, then it would substantiate the principle that the Flood was tidal in perspective, the reaction to a gravitational conflict, an astral intruder being the mechanical cause. Oceans would begin to heave and surge in tidal movement; so also would the fluid magma (lava) within the crust of the Earth begin to surge, for all fluids would respond to the gravitational conflict. The surging and heaving of the more immense seas of magma within the crust would more than amply cause foreshocks, merely a preview to the approaching chaos.

We have considered a series of circumstances relative to the Flood. One or two alone would not be strongly indicative of the tidal nature of the Flood. But together, these six perspectives begin to be impressive; in fact, they are merely an introduction to the panorama of evidences which reflect this astrophysical basis for understanding the Flood. Had there been tides in the oceans above the Earth's crust, there must also have been greater tides of magma beneath the Earth's crust, rumbling around, heaving up and occasionally thrusting through the Earth's thin and fragile crust. With the great mass, weight and constriction involved, these subterranean tides of magma must have been immense in magnitude. It is to this subject that Chapter V is directed.

"The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch" by Donald W. Patten - is ©1966 by Pacific Meridian Pub. Co.

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