BC Volume 5 (1999)
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The Biblical Chronologist Volume 5, Number 1
A Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology
Eight months ago I announced the conclusion of my effort to unify Biblical and secular chronologies back to the time of the Flood (roughly 3500 B.C.). Since that time I have been embarked on a mission to unify sacred and secular chronologies in the period of time before the Flood. The present issue is the fourth in a series seeking this unification.
Once the missing thousand years in 1 Kings 6:1 is recognized and allowed for, no divergence between sacred and secular chronologies appears until the creation of Adam, roughly 5200 B.C. At that point one encounters the "central conundrum" of Pre-Flood Biblical chronology, which is the apparent existence of mankind, according to secular scholarship, many thousands of years before the creation date of Adam determined from Biblical chronology. One must somehow resolve this conundrum before sacred and secular chronologies can be unified.
I have enumerated nine conceptually possible solutions to this conundrum. I believe these nine exhaust the possibilities.
I have argued that the first seven of these conceptually possible solutions fail to present an adequate resolution of the central conundrum.
The eighth possibility leads directly to the question, "Radiocarbon dating---can you trust it?" Last issue I introduced a set of sixty radiocarbon dates from the archaeological site of ancient Jericho to be used as a case study in answering this question. Detailed evaluation of these radiocarbon dates revealed that they harmonize with Biblical and secular historical expectations back to the time of the Flood. This showed that radiocarbon can be trusted to provide reliable absolute dates back to 3500 B.C. The only question remaining---the focus of the present issue---is whether radiocarbon dating is reliable prior to the Flood.
Pre-Flood Radiocarbon: Can You Trust It?
While radiocarbon dating is seen to be reliable at Jericho back to the time of the Flood, is it possible that something was different before the Flood? Is it possible the Flood itself changed something---such as the radioactive decay rate---so that the accuracy of radiocarbon dating is thrown off in the pre-Flood period?
I think it is the case that nobody has ever investigated this question as critically and as thoroughly as I have. It was to get to the bottom of the reliability of radiometric dating methods that I chose the particular Ph.D. program I did some two decades ago, and my decision to join the faculty of the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School following graduation was entirely motivated by my concern to plumb the depths of this question. The reliability of radiocarbon dating is of extreme importance to Biblical chronology and to our whole understanding of the past. To the one who wishes to accurately harmonize Biblical and secular accounts of earth history it is worth every ounce of effort and every bit of personal pain it may cost to get to the bottom of this question. I prosecuted this question very critically through every means available to me for over a decade. I entered this investigation with an extreme prejudice against the reliability of radiocarbon dating, and I emerged from it over a decade later with an assured and unqualified conviction that, yes, radiocarbon dating can be trusted in the pre-Flood period, back at least until 9000 B.C.
But, as usual, I do not want you to take my word for it simply because I claim considerable devotion to this question. I want, rather, to explain, as simply and clearly as I can, why it is I find "yes, radiocarbon dating is reliable in the pre-Flood period" to be the unavoidable truth. While I cannot take you through ten years worth of false starts and down a decade worth of blind alleys in the following few pages, I am hopeful that the following positive presentation of basic factual data will suffice to show this truth. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 5, Number 2
A Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology
The present article is the culmination of five consecutive articles dealing with the problem of the unification of sacred and secular chronologies in the pre-Flood era. It presents a new solution of this longstanding problem.
Once the missing thousand years in 1 Kings 6:1 is recognized and allowed for, sacred and secular chronologies of earth history exhibit essential unity from the present back until the creation of Adam, roughly 5200 B.C. At that point in time one encounters the "central conundrum" of Pre-Flood Biblical chronology, which is the apparent existence of mankind, according to secular scholarship, many thousands of years before the creation date of Adam determined from Biblical chronology. One must somehow resolve this conundrum before sacred and secular chronologies can be unified in the period of time prior to the creation of Adam.
I have enumerated nine conceptually possible solutions to this conundrum. I believe these nine exhaust the possibilities.
I have argued that the first eight of these conceptually possible solutions fail to present an adequate resolution of the central conundrum. Only the ninth possible solution remains.
The ninth conceptually possible solution demands that both the Biblical and secular evidences regarding the antiquity of mankind be accepted as legitimate. To treat the ninth possible solution fairly in its own right one must deliberately put aside whatever lingering doubts they may have regarding the Biblical or the secular evidences bearing on the antiquity of mankind. One must no longer suppose that the sacred or secular chronological data are somehow fabricated or misunderstood. One must forsake the notion that the Biblical account of the creation of Adam is fictitious or abstruse. One must leave behind the idea that the archaeological data for pre-Adamic mankind are fabricated by the archaeologists, or that these data have somehow been misunderstood by the specialists who study them. All such intellectual baggage, no matter how comfortably threadbare, must be dropped at the threshold of the ninth conceptually possible solution, or one is self-condemned to remain outside its door.
For the ninth solution one must take as a starting assumption that the plain-sense, traditional view of Genesis is an accurate representation of the factual history the text means to communicate. That is, we are assuming at the outset that Adam was the first man ever to have been created, and that he was created only about seven thousand years ago (5176+/-26 B.C. according to modern Biblical chronology). At the same time we are assuming that the normal, secular, text-book reconstruction of pre-history is reasonably accurate. Specifically, we are assuming that the physical data which have been dug from the ground really do show an unbroken continuity of humanity from the present into the very remote past, many thousands of years before the creation of Adam. Succinctly stated, for solution number nine we take as our departure point two Grand Facts:
Grand Fact 1 Adam was the first human ever to have existed.
Grand Fact 2 Human remains and artifacts exist which greatly predate Adam.
The problem which is posed for the ninth possible solution is not how one might discard one or the other of these Grand Facts. Rather, it is, having accepted both, how to synthesize the two into a single, comprehensible whole.
On the face of things this problem seems impossible to solve. The difficulty is that these two Grand Facts seem to say opposite things. Grand Fact 1, that Adam was the first human ever to have existed, establishes a point in time, 5176+/-26 B.C., before which there were no humans in existence. It states that the world was completely devoid of humans from the first instant of its creation up to and including the creation of Adam. Meanwhile Grand Fact 2, that human remains and artifacts exist which greatly predate Adam, implies a continuity of human existence on Earth from a very remote antiquity (at least 25,000 years ago, as we have previously discussed) down to the present time. This continuity of human existence---including evidence of villages, pottery manufacture, burial of the dead, and much more---continues with no apparent break right through 5176+/-26 B.C. Recall, for example, that the creation of Adam appears to fall in the middle of the Ubaid period in Mesopotamia. This "Ubaid period" is just archaeological jargon summarizing the continuous succession of settlements and agricultural villages found by the archaeologists in Southern Mesopotamia, beginning probably prior to 6000 B.C., and certainly long before 5176+/-26 B.C., and continuing in an unbroken chain of human culture to somewhere in the vicinity of 4400 B.C. How, then, can these two Grand Facts possibly be reconciled?
Certainly it is the case that if one assumes that history is comprised of an unbroken chain of naturalistic cause and effect phenomena, then no reconciliation of these two Grand Facts of any sort appears. But this is hardly surprising, for the assumption of an unbroken chain of naturalistic cause and effect is just a denial of Grand Fact 1. Grand Fact 1 demands the supernatural creation of Adam at the outset, and this demand cannot be reconciled with any assumed unbroken chain of naturalistic cause and effect phenomena into eternity past. To cross the threshold into solution number nine, one must leave the wearisome philosophical baggage of naturalism behind.
And strange though it may seem, once one has done so, a rational way of reconciling these two Grand Facts does appear. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 5, Number 3
Noah's Flood: The Irish Evidence
Miles of stone walls are found in Ireland---a common enough observation perhaps, but the stone walls I am referring to are far from common. They are so unusual, in fact, that a $3 million tourist center has been built to show them off.
North Mayo, Ireland, where the walls are found, is bog country. The entire countryside is blanketed by bog-peat, more than twelve feet thick in places. The stone walls are found under the bog. They are built on the mineral soil that underlies the blanket peat.
The walls enclose fields---some 4,500 acres of fields. They're called "Ceide Fields" (pronounced kay'jeh) today.
There can be no doubt about the original purpose of these fields. They were obviously used for agriculture---ridge and furrow plow marks can still be found in their mineral soil in some places today when the overlying peat has been cleared away.
These walled fields obviously went out of service a long time ago. Pine tree stumps are found today in growth position within the peat overlying them. The stumps have been preserved by the "pickling juice" of the bog in which they grew and which grew around them. In some cases the stumps are found in growth position immediately above a stone wall. Some of these stumps reveal more than 100 growth rings. Thus, simple dendrochronological considerations---in particular, the number of tree-rings found in a given stump---show that the stone walls which lie under the stumps must have gone out of service at least a century ago.
But stratigraphical considerations suggest that a single century is a serious underestimate of the age of these walls. The picture which emerges from the thick bog-peat containing preserved pine stumps within it is that this countryside went from 1. agricultural fields to 2. bog with pine forest to 3. just plain bog---as it is found today. And all of this change must have taken many centuries, at least.
But archaeological investigation suggests that these walls are older even than many centuries. It reveals that they go back to a time, labeled the Irish Neolithic by the archaeologists, when the farmers who worked the land lacked the advantage of metals---they made their tools entirely of chipped stone, bone, and wood. Axeheads fashioned from igneous rock have been found in association with these stone walls, and flint arrowheads (Figure 1), and flint scrapers, but never any metals.
And these farmers built massive tombs of huge stones---megalithic tombs, they're called---in which to dispose of their dead, remnants of which still dot the Irish countryside today. Such artifacts reach back into the distant prehistory of Ireland. Archaeology suggests that the age of these walls should be measured, not in centuries, but rather in millennia.
Many fascinating questions arise in connection with these ancient walls and tombs. Who were the people who built them? Where had they come from? How did they live?
But there is one mystery in connection with these walls which overshadows all others. What happened to the people who built these stone walls and these megalithic tombs?
Like the streets of Pompeii beneath their blanket of ash, the ancient agricultural landscape of Ceide Fields lies preserved beneath a blanket of peat. But, unlike Pompeii---the fossilized forms of whose inhabitants can still be recovered from its blanket of ash today---the inhabitants of Ceide Fields are entirely missing. Where did they disappear to? How did they come to leave their busy fields and beloved cemeteries---their homeland---to the creeping depredations of desolate bog and silent pine forest?
Archaeologists have been probing these ancient fields, asking these same questions for some decades now. They talk about the "abandonment" of Ceide Fields, and speculate on what prompted it. But though they have wrestled skillfully with this ancient mystery, they are still quite a long ways from its correct solution.
Some have suggested that the climate may have changed, forcing the occupants to leave. Maybe it just got too wet, encouraging rapid bog growth and making the land just too difficult to farm.
Others have supposed that loss of soil fertility was the culprit. They point out that the clearing of the original forests for agricultural purposes would have exposed the soil directly to the abundant rainfall in that region. Perhaps this led to a leaching away of soil nutrients.
Or maybe the farmers allowed their cattle to overgraze the land, robbing it of grass cover and inviting the formation of peat from mosses, and hence turning pasture to bog.
These are all interesting suggestions. But they are also all wrong. I know they are wrong because the correct solution "falls out" of modern Biblical chronology. Yes, the correct answer is to be found, not by further probing of the ancient bog of North Mayo, Ireland, but by probing the ancient pages of the Bible. The mystery of the disappearance of the ancient farmers of Ceide Fields is there revealed in the most simple, plain terms possible. Ceide Fields was not "abandoned". It was depopulated. It's inhabitants were swept away by Noah's Flood. ...
Research in Progress
Search for Noah's Ark
The March/April 1997 issue of The Biblical Chronologist reported on a search I conducted to find the most likely mountain Noah's ark landed on within the geographical region known anciently as Ararat. I programmed my computer to choose the best candidate for the mountain the ark landed on from 1441 elevations in and around the Ararat region, recorded on modern Tactical Pilotage Charts. Each elevation was evaluated quantitatively relative to seven criteria deduced from the Biblical narrative of the Flood. I found that the landing site favored by tradition, Mt. Ararat, was the second most likely mountain for the resting place of the ark. The first most likely mountain was found to be Mt. Cilo, a previously unknown and unsung (in the present context) mountain in the mountainous region to the southeast of Lake Van (Figure 5). My computer search found that Mt. Cilo was sixty-two times more likely than Mt. Ararat to be the mountain the ark landed on.
In the conclusion to that article I wrote:
I am caused to wonder, of course, whether the ark might possibly be discovered one day on Mount Cilo.
The present report describes work which has been carried out over the past few years and is currently under way to search Mount Cilo for remains of the ark. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 5, Number 4
The Pre-Flood Settlement of Ireland
Genesis 6:1 informs us of a time, in the centuries between Creation (5176+/-26 B.C.) and Noah's Flood (3520+/-21 B.C.), "when men began to multiply on the face of the land". Taken at face value this is a record of unprecedented growth and geographical expansion of human population in the centuries between Creation and the Flood.
Last issue I identified the Flood in the archaeological record of Ireland. I showed that thousands of acres of agricultural fields in the northwestern sector of Ireland went suddenly out of use at the time of the Flood, only to become overgrown (and hence uniquely preserved) by blanket peat and pine trees in the centuries following the Flood.
This secular discovery shows us that "the face of the land" over which mankind could be found immediately pre-Flood extended at least as far as the Atlantic coast of Ireland (Figure 1). But does the secular archaeological record of Ireland support the Biblical statement that "men began to multiply on the face of the land" in the centuries between Creation and the Flood? Does it support the idea that there was unprecedented growth and geographical expansion of human population in the interval between 5176+/-26 B.C. and 3520+/-21 B.C.?
It is hardly mandatory, theoretically speaking, that the secular archaeological record of Ireland do so. One can imagine a variety of hypothetically possible prehistories for ancient Ireland before the Flood. One can imagine, for example, the possibility that Ireland was more or less heavily populated for many thousands of years prior to the Flood. Indeed, if one accepts the idea that humans have been around in essentially modern form for 25 to 35 thousand years, as paleoanthropology claims today, then it is not at all easy to understand why Ireland should not have been heavily populated for thousands of years before the Flood. Population growth is a geometric process, which means it tends to become very large rather quickly. Notice that we have come to a population of some five billion people on Earth today, starting from a very few individuals after the Flood 5,500 years ago. Notice also that within this relatively short 5,500 years since the Flood, Ireland has managed to become well populated, as it is seen to be today, and that it has, in fact, been well populated for several thousand years now. All of these secular observations press one toward the conclusion that Ireland should have been well populated long before the Flood. But quite contrary to this the Bible makes the claim that "men began to multiply on the face of the land" only in the interval between 5176+/-26 B.C. and 3520+/-21 B.C.---that is, only 7,000 years or less ago, not 20,000 or 30,000 years ago.
Now I must pause to clear up a potential misunderstanding before pressing on. I am not pitting the modern scientific claim that mankind appears to have been around in essentially modern form for 25 to 35 thousand years against the Biblical claim that mankind (and everything else) was only created roughly 7,000 years ago. If you are familiar with my work you know that I accept both of these claims as valid---that I find their reconciliation in the principle of virtual history. I find human remains which appear to be 25 to 35 thousand years old to be a legitimate part of the virtual history of the creation period (Creation, Fall, Curse), and in no way in contradiction to Biblical Creation roughly 7000 years ago.
So I am not trying to pit the Bible against science. In fact, I believe rather strongly, as every issue of The Biblical Chronologist has demonstrated, that the Bible and science exhibit overwhelming harmony when both are treated in an intelligent, honest manner. I am trying only to point out that there is some secular theoretical basis for supposing that Ireland may have been more or less heavily populated for many thousands of years prior to the Flood.
Now if Ireland was more or less heavily populated for many thousands of years prior to the Flood, then the archaeology of ancient Ireland would reveal a much prolonged presence of mankind in Ireland. And this would not be very supportive of the Biblical claim that "men began to multiply on the face of the land" only in the interval between 5176+/-26 B.C. and 3520+/-21 B.C.
But---and this is the main thing I am driving at here---the archaeology of ancient Ireland reveals no such thing. Instead, it reveals a land, originally devoid of any significant human presence, suddenly, some centuries prior to the Flood, blossoming into a widespread human occupation. It supports the picture of an agriculturally competent human population overflowing into virgin frontiers and previously uninhabited lands. Indeed, it speaks of an unprecedented time between 5176+/-26 B.C. and 3520+/-21 B.C., "when men began to multiply on the face of the land".
How it does this is the focus of the present article. ...
Biblical Chronology 101
It is time to update the "state of the subject" of Biblical Chronology once again. The last update appeared in the Volume 3, Number 6 issue of The Biblical Chronologist. Since that issue went to press a great deal of progress has been made. Most importantly, my decades-long quest to harmonize Biblical and secular historical and scientific chronologies of earth history from the present back to the beginning of the creation has come to completion.
State of the Subject
A time chart showing the current state of the subject and its progression throughout this decade is shown in Figure 5. ...
Research in Progress
Update on the Ark Search
The immediate goal continues to be to determine if IO3 (Interesting Object #3) shown in Figure 7, taken from a satellite over thirty years ago, is still there on the slopes of Mt. Cilo at present. The research team had hoped to gain this and other important information by ordering custom, high-resolution, commercial satellite photographs of the south side of Mt. Cilo late this summer when snow cover should be least. Unfortunately, the launch date for the commercial satellite seems to have been delayed, so it may not be possible to procure these high-resolution photos this year. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 5, Number 5
The Post-Flood Settlement of Ireland
"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception..." (Genesis 3:16, KJV).
These words, spoken by God to Eve after the Fall in judgment of her disobedience, are very familiar. Their full meaning, however, is not altogether transparent.
This fact is borne out, for example, by the New American Standard translation of this verse. It reads simply: "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth". But a marginal note informs us that a more literal rendering would be: "I will greatly multiply your pain and your pregnancy" or, even closer to the King James translation given above, "I will greatly multiply your pain and your conception".
It seems clear enough from the context that Eve's sentence involved at least the intensification of pain during childbirth. But there seems to be a suggestion of something else here as well. It is found in the words "and thy conception". It seems possible that, in addition to intensified pain during childbirth, an increased frequency of conceiving and bearing children is implied.
But what does all of this have to do with the post-Flood settlement of Ireland?
Two issues ago I introduced the relict landscape of Ceide (pronounced kay'jeh) Fields, Ireland. It consists of miles of stone walls surrounding thousands of acres of agricultural fields, all buried (and hence preserved) beneath several meters of bog peat today. The stone-walled fields are found in association with megalithic tombs of obvious great antiquity. Radiocarbon dates on pine stumps found in position of growth within the peat covering the fields reveal that the fields ceased to be used within secular dating uncertainties of the Biblical date for Noah's Flood, 3520+/-21 B.C.
Last issue I used data from the science of palynology to show that Ceide Fields was initially settled near 4000 B.C. Pollen data from a deep bog in Ceide Fields, reveal the arrival of the first settlers in that region at that time (Figure 1). The settlers arrival is recorded by a sudden decline in arboreal (tree) pollen, and a simultaneous increase in the sorts of pollen one gets from field plants. This results from the clearing of the primeval forests by the settlers to make room for agricultural fields.
The pollen data go on to show a steady decline of the forests and growth of the fields, up until roughly 3500 B.C., at which time the expansion of the fields is halted and then reversed (Figure 1). When the palynological data from Ireland are placed side by side with Biblical historical data (Figure 2) the halt in the expansion of the fields is seen to be synchronous with Noah's Flood, in complete harmony with the radiocarbon dates on the pine stumps discussed above.
Thus the destruction of a mature (half a millennium old) Irish culture by Noah's Flood is clearly revealed. The many acres of stone-walled fields found buried beneath blanket peat in Ceide Fields, northwestern Ireland today, are, as previously observed, a vast monument to the Flood. They are relics of a thriving, pre-Flood culture, suddenly terminated by the Great Flood 3520+/-21 B.C.
Ireland is well populated today, of course. This simple observation tells us immediately that people rediscovered and resettled Ireland following the Flood.
How long did it take for Ireland to be rediscovered and resettled? And what does this length of time imply? These are the questions which occupy our interest in the present study. ...
Research in Progress
Over the years of writing and publishing The Biblical Chronologist I have formulated a number of policies to help keep this endeavor on track. One of my policies is that research takes precedence over writing. Said another way, my overriding responsibility is to see to it that the research which so desperately needs to be done in the field of Biblical chronology at present actually gets done. This is in contrast with the idea that my job is to churn out newsletter pages. If the present issue seems less bulky than some, you may find the explanation within the (pleasingly) hectic pace of research on several important fronts over the past few months.
It would be imprudent to share all that is happening on all research fronts at this time---not all who read these pages are friends of this effort by any means---but I am free to mention two things I think you will find of interest. First, of course, must be an update on the ark search project. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 5, Number 6
The Opening Minutes of Noah's Flood at Ceide Fields, Ireland
I introduced Ceide (pronounced kay'jeh) Fields three issues ago. I explained that Ceide Fields consists of some 4,500 acres of Neolithic agricultural fields enclosed by miles of stone walls, all found buried as much as twelve feet deep beneath blanket bog-peat in North Mayo, Ireland, today. In addition to the walls, massive tombs, constructed of large slabs of uncut rock, are found in association with the agricultural fields, as are also typical Neolithic stone tools.
I showed, using radiocarbon dates from pine stumps found buried in position of growth within the peat overlying the fields, that human occupation of Ceide Fields terminated coincident with the date of Noah's Flood which modern Biblical chronology calculates, i.e., 3520+/-21 B.C. This same phenomenon, i.e., an abrupt termination of a culture within secular dating uncertainties of the Flood, has also been shown previously for the Chalcolithic civilization of Palestine. While one group of secular archaeologists wonders at the apparent "abandonment" of Ceide Fields, and another group wonders at the apparent "abandonment" of Chalcolithic sites in Palestine, Biblical chronology unifies both sets of data under a single historical event---Noah's Flood.
Once it is understood that civilization at Ceide Fields was terminated by the Flood, the remarkable nature of Ceide Fields becomes clear. Ceide Fields preserves a pre-Flood agricultural landscape. In terms of stratigraphy, the interface between the mineral soil and the overlying peat at Ceide Fields corresponds precisely to the coming of the Flood itself.
Two issues ago I introduced pollen data in concert with radiocarbon dates from a peat core taken at Ceide Fields. I used these data to date the arrival of the first pre-Flood settlers to Ceide Fields. The pollen chronology data reveal the initial clearing of the forests and establishing of agricultural fields in the area beginning 4000+/-100 B.C. They also strongly reinforce the termination of this agricultural community synchronous with the Flood some 500 years following the initial settlement.
Last issue I used the peat data once again to show that the post-Flood resettlement of Ceide Fields took place 2500+/-100 B.C.---a full millennium after the Flood.
This issue I focus attention on the stone walls found bordering the agricultural fields at Ceide Fields. They have their own interesting story to tell. ...