As should come as no surprise, flood stories are fairly common throughout the world: so are floods. A lengthy list of such myths and summaries of their narrative compiled by Mark Isaak can be found at talk.origins.
It is a common creationist claim that the large number of these myths is evidence that their Global Flood actually happened. Never mind that the plural of anecdote is not data, and that folklore quite definitely falls under the ‘anecdote’ category. The ICR has even gone so far as to make us a video preaching this message, called Flood Stories:
The summary – for anyone who doesn’t wish to click that link – is:
Did you know that many other cultures have passed down the story of Noah’s flood for millennia? Native Americans, Babylonians, Grecians, and Egyptians are just a few of the many peoples with ancient global flood stories that included humans and animals that were spared aboard some kind of vessel.
You will note, of course, that aside from the Native Americans (specifically, one group of Native Americans) the other three groups listed are all located more-or-less together and are known to have traded both in commodities and ideas (including religious beliefs and practices). That they would include “humans and animals that were spared aboard some kind of vessel” is not overly surprising. Nor is it that similar things would crop up in one or two other flood myths in different parts of the world. Indeed, if all flood myths are from the same source, if a large group of people such as the Native Americans moved away and lost certain elements of their myth but one group still has them then the most parsimonious explanation would (still) be that they independently came up with the details. And if so, then it’s not evidence for the, er, ‘common descent’ of the myths. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
To begin at the beginning:
Just about everyone knows the story of Noah and his ark.
That would, I suspect, depend on how you define ‘everyone’ and how you define ‘knows’. If ‘everyone’ is ‘everyone who knows the story of Noah and his ark’ then they’re all fine, but it should not be assumed that the whole world knows. I do, yes, and I assume you do – but the whole world doesn’t.
How it rained for forty days and nights and flooded the whole world.
Certainly, if they have to know that (specifically, the forty days part) then you’re not looking at ‘nearly everyone’ by any standards.
Only the eight people, Noah and his family, survived with all the animals he put on the ark. But did you know the story of the global flood has been passed down through other cultures for millennia? The Hualapai [I think he said] tribe of northern Arizona has a legend about the whole Earth being flooded after it rained for forty five days.
Here’s your Native American tribe. I don’t think they’re on the list at talk.origins, but I’m not sure if they come under another group.
Their account includes an old man similar to Noah, as well as a dove.
But, suspiciously, they don’t mention a boat – what, then was the dove (or this Noah-like person) for? This sounded like a quote mine – I searched around and found the ICR’s page on this specific subject, The Hualapai and the Flood, by a ‘William A. Hoesch’.
You will discover, from reading that, that only one person survived the flood, and by standing on top of a mountain. Then, according to Hoesch, “[m]any days passed and a dove brought him instructions from the Creator to drive a ram’s horn into the earth. The old man obeyed and the waters were drained. He sent the dove forth, and when it returned with fresh grass in its beak, he rejoiced for the land had become dry.” There are a more than a few differences there with the Genesis account, but this is the one they picked to talk about in this video – the others from outside of the Middle East can’t be much better. If you’re wondering how they recovered from a population of one, the ‘Creator’ apparently made two brothers. And then some canes turned into people. Animals are not involved in this story either, at least not until later on.
The Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh also has a flood story, with a large ship built of wood and pitch.
This is the myth that John Morris described in November as:
[S]o full of fanciful and unbelievable details that probably no one ever considered it true. It may have been the official Babylonian account of the Flood, but how could anyone believe a cubical Ark could have been seaworthy, or that the gods gathered like flies to receive sacrifices? The similarities between the epic and Genesis are striking, but the differences are overwhelming.
His idea was that it was a corruption of the Genesis account, which will be the position that the makers of this video hold as well. But it shows how they will trumpet the alleged similarities in this setting, but will then turn around and point out all the differences for you when it comes to showing that their account is the ‘true’ one.
Greece, Egypt, China, the Pacific Islands, India, and many more cultures have their own flood stories.
I looked it up, and the Maori myth on the talk.origins list – oddly placed under ‘Australia’ – is surprisingly similar to Genesis. Not in specific details – a Noah or a dove – but in general plot. But still I would say that it isn’t really close enough. Certainly better than the one where two brothers “discovered by the taste of their cabbage that their mother had been urinating in their food.”
The details vary, but many include humans and animals that were spared, usually aboard some kind of vessel.
I would disagree – usually they survive on a mountain top, at least in those that I’ve seen.
And these similarities give further evidence that the great flood really did cover the Earth a long time ago.
Again: the plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data.
Geology supports this too. From giant whale fossils found in the middle of the desert, to water deposited rock layers that span whole continents, our earth shows physical evidence that a catastrophic, worldwide flood did happen.
Ah, those desert whales. There isn’t much amazing about them, especially as this is the Atacama desert (which goes right up to the ocean), and where did the ‘giant’ part come from?
And I’m not sure that these ‘water deposited rock layers that span whole continents’ are quite as inexplicable as they are being made out to be.
But only Genesis gives us the most detailed and accurate account, because the One who brought the rain also gave us the original story.
And, of course, they have to finish by claiming (without evidence) that their myth is the best.