Genesis 7:19 reads, “And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered” (NASB). Verse 20 then says that the water rose 15 cubits (about 30 feet) higher than that. From the outset we see that the flood was not confined to one area, but was a universal flood. Can Noah’s flood be reconciled with geologic evidence? I think it can.
From the outset we know that the flood must be universal. Since the flood lasted about a year we know that this is more than a temporary rising of water level. If that is the case then (using our common sense) we see that it has to be a universal flood. Water seeks its own level and since we see that the mountains were covered we must assume that the rest of the world was also covered unless a good reason can be given for this huge flood to have contained itself to one area.
The geologic evidences numerous, but I’ll only focus on a few here. Marine deposits are the first piece of evidence we are going to look at. There is a formation called the Carmel Formation that is made up of ocean strata, but the catch is that it is located 800 miles from the ocean. The formation itself is the size of Utah and spreads across Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. In this formation paleontologists have found bryozoans (an aquatic invertebrate animal that is exremely small), oysters, shells, and even dinosaur footprints. Is this the result of sinking continents, or is Noah’s flood the answer?
Our second piece of evidence comes in the form of widespread deposits. The Shinarump Conglomerate is a formation depostied by water that covers 10,000 square miles of dry land. In fact, there are many widespread deposits like these, one of them being the Morrison Formation which covers 600,000 square miles! Besides being the biggest source of dinosaur fossils in North America, the Morrison Formation has aquatic deposits that are uniform and cannot be explained by local floods.
Third, we have turbidity currents. A turbidity current is a silt deposit moving down a slope from underwater avalanches. In one recording of turbidity currents scientists found that 2 feet of silt covering over 40,000 square feet had happened in just 13 hours. Turbidites can show rapid action for strata build up. A global flood could make thousands of banks very quickly. It has been shown that many sediment banks on continets were deposited quickly and underwater. This also explains the tree fossils we find within layers or banks of sedimentation. If we are to believe that banks form over millions of years then how could a tree become fossilized? It would decompose before it had the chance.
Evidence number four deals with the lack of erosion in strata. If a strata was exposed for a long period of time, erosion would occur in the strata before it was covered by another bank. However, looking at the strata and the contact lines between strata we see uniformity, flatness, and a lack of erosion. This shows that the time gap is smaller between strata with less erosion than is thought. This could either show that there is uniform erosion or that a worldwide flood laid down strata and layers rapidly. This also accounts for different deposits in different areas because currents and turbidites would determine the strata, not time. Sediment also was found to be sorted by size. This means that banks of geologic formations form from side to side, not vertically. With this realization we see that it is not the depth of the fossils that tell us their age.
Another evidence is the profusion of recent animals whose bones have been discovered in a violently separated state in fissures. These fissures occur even in hills of great height and extend to a depth of anywhere from 140-300 feet. The bones of the animal show that they could not have fallen in or been placed their by streams since the skeleton would be intact. The calcite cementing of the bones show they must have been deposited there underwater.
Some may also find the size of Noah’s ark to be to small to carry the amount of animals he was supposed to bring. However, if the cubit measures 24 inches (which is very likely) then Noah would have built an ark that is 600 feet long, by one hundred feet wide, and sixty feet deep with the capacity of about 3.6 million cubic feet. That is the same capacity of about 2,000 cattle cars which can carry 18-20 cattle each or 80-100 sheep. Today there are roughly 290 main species of land animal and 757 more species anywhere from the size of a rat to a sheep and 1,358 species smaller than rats. So it is likely that 2 of each kind of the species we have today would fit comfortably onto the ark with room for food. Noah’s account is also very accurately recorded and depicts a diary-like account of people who were actually involved. All this differs drastically from all other flood accounts deemed to be similar to the Biblical account. The other accounts are far more vague.
Finally, we see that the animals were brought to Noah by God. Noah did not seek them. Obviously God is wiser than men and He could have easily brought younger and smaller animals to Noah. This would make sense in their reproductive value later on and in their survival rate during the flood.
All of this points to a likely account of the flood. There is a lot more evidence out there, but hopefully I gave any seekers of truth a starting point. For other good reads on the worldwide flood check out The Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties by Gleason L. Archer Jr., Folklore in the Old Testament volume 1 by James Frazer, or Alexander Heidel’s The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, 2nd edition.