The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The Biblical account of Noah's Ark is false.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/22/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 736 times Debate No: 59392
Debate Rounds (5)
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Votes (1)




In this debate, I take the affirmative position, or the pro/for position: I hold the viewpoint that the story of Noah's Ark, as described in Genesis 6-9 in the Bible, is false.

First of all, there are millions of animal species that exist. They would not have fit in the ark, even if there were only 2 of each. There couldn't be 2 of each "kind" of animal, because then we couldn't get all the species there are today.

Secondly, the story of Noah's Ark isn't even consistent. Genesis 6:19-20 says that Noah had to bring 2 of every animal, but this contradicts Genesis 7:2-4, which says that Noah had to take 7 of every clean animal, 7 of every bird, and 2 of every unclean animal.

Thirdly and finally, the flood myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh is suspiciously similar to the story of Noah's Ark. The flood myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh was written c. 1800-1700 BCE, while scholars say that the story of Noah's Ark was written c. 900-400 BCE. It is illogical to assert that the flood narrative in the Epic of Gilgamesh is a retelling of Noah's Ark rather than the other way around, because the one in the Epic of Gilgamesh predates the story of Noah's Ark. (You can read the basic plot of the flood narrative in the Epic of Gilgamesh at

All in all, I assert that Noah's Ark is a false flood myth like any other, and I am willing to hear other's objections to the proposition.


I am taking the Con position in this debate and contend that my opponent does not have sufficient reason to label the story of Noah's Ark as "false".

The first thing my opponent mentions is species. The modern view of classification did not exist at the time Genesis was written and there is no reason to think that "two of every kind" would mean "two of every species". That's a simple anachronism. Despite making the argument, my opponent seems to understand that reading "species" back into the text is highly objectionable and anticipates the objection as a premise for his next argument.

My opponent says there could not have been 2 of each "kind" of animal on the ark, because we would not be able to get all of the species we have today. There isn't an explicit reason given for this, it is simply stated. I imagine he means that there would not be enough time for speciation. But before that case can be made, perhaps it would be best for him to argue that "kind" would equate to a specific taxonomic rank. He should also determine an approximate date for the flood. This would allow him to at least set forth how much speciation would need to take place and over how much time.

In addition to the amount of speciation over an approximate amount of time, many other considerations must take place. For example, some kinds of organism speciate faster than others. I would not expect Proboscidea (Elephants) to speciate as quickly as Coleoptera (Beetles). But, there are also not as many Proboscidea to account for as there are Coleoptera. (Don't take this to mean I think "kind" = Order, I was just using this as an example.)

I am not sure why my opponent thinks Genesis is contradicting itself concerning how many animals to take. There is nothing inherently contradictory in God telling Noah to take 2 of every kind in one place, then telling him to take 7 pairs of certain kinds of animals. Perhaps if you use some sort of hyper-literalistic approach to the text you might think so, but these passages aren't a syllogism, they're a narrative. Even with this nonsensical approach to the text, taking 7 pairs of an animal still means you are at least taking 2 of them.

I don't know that the story of Noah is "suspiciously" similar to the flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh, but I agree that several details they do share are striking. I agree that there is definitely a relationship between the two stories, but I don't think it is fair to immediately conclude that Genesis is just a wholesale ripoff of the story of Utnapishtim.

Genesis doesn't seem to share much with the Epic of Gilgamesh other than the flood account, and within the flood account there are similarities and dissimilarities. Noah's ark wasn't a 6-story cube made from reeds. Noah's flood lasted at east 150 days, and Utnapishtim's lasted around 19 days. Given these dissimilarities, I would say the Genesis account is far more plausible.

What explains the similarities? Well, my opponent suggests that the author(s) who wrote Genesis ripped off part of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Another explanation for the sharing of details is that they both describe the same historical event. Yet another (though not mutually exclusive) explanation is that both Genesis and the Epic of Gilgamesh drew this part of their narratives from a shared source.

Some scholarship maintains that Genesis has several authors and editors (JEDP). This literary analysis is what would give my opponent the late dating for Genesis. It has the Genesis account of the flood come from two separate sources. These sources (JEDP) are either written or oral tradition. It should be noted that these sources would be narratives, since a reason for thinking they exist are "doublets" (telling the same event twice) in the Genesis text. If Genesis is from multiple sources, the flood story doesn't stand by itself within the sources, but exists in a larger narrative.

Genesis is not the only flood story thought be drawn from prior sources. The flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh is widely though to have it source in the Epic of Atrahasis. Perhaps one of the most notable reasons to think this is because it uses the name Atrahasis to refer to Utnapishtim.

Both the larger narrative of Genesis and the immediate narrative about the flood are very different from Gilgamesh. God is angry with sin. Noah is saved because of his righteousness and God's favor. New creation and a covenant are established.

In Gilgamesh, there is strife among the gods and they plan to flood the world. Ea leaks the plan and saves Utnapishtim. We are not told why Utnapishtim was saved. Utnapishtim receives immortality.

All this lends itself to the idea that the Noah and the Utnapishtim story could be drawing from a common source or sources. The common details then find themselves in the midst of two very different larger narratives.

In any case, the existence of multiple, similar flood stories does not in itself make the Noah story "false", even if one or more of them predate the modern composition.
Debate Round No. 1


NOTE: When I'm quoting something, I may be paraphrasing, even if I use quotation marks.

My opponent asserts that speciation could have occurred. I did not take this into account, and I admit that my opponent is right in this aspect of his opinion. I thank my opponent for this thoughtful rebuttal, and I will move on to his other rebuttals of my arguments.

My opponent, while not agreeing that "Noah's ark is 'suspiciously' similar to the flood myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh", agrees that they "share striking similarities". I thank my opponent for being intellectually honest and acknowledging this. However, my opponent asserts that he finds the Genesis version more plausible, because of the dissimilarities. I don't know how my opponent came to this conclusion, but I'll move on. In addition, my opponent asserts that Noah's Ark may have been a result of oral tradition, and that they may have come from a common source.

As for the former, I argue that Noah's Ark was a result of oral tradition, but I also argue that this only weakens my opponent's argument more. If the story of Noah's Ark came from oral tradition (which I believe it did), then many details would have probably been distorted. The version of the story we have in Noah's Ark would probably be at least somewhat different to the initial flood myth it originated from, so it would be impossible to know what the story was originally.

My opponent also argues that the common source could have been the flood itself, but I disagree. I ask the question, why would God have Noah's flood occur, then have the flood myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh be written, then have the story of Noah's flood be recorded? Why would he have the false flood myth be recorded first, if it would mislead us?

Thirdly, my opponent argues that when God told Noah to bring 2 of every animal, he meant at least 2 of every animal, not exactly 2. However, I ask the question, why wouldn't God, already knowing how many animals would be needed, just tell Noah that 7 of every clean animal, 7 of every bird, and 2 of every unclean animal in the first place?

And now, I will make 2 main points, as I have already made my counter-points to my opponent's assertions. First of all, going on the issue of the clean and unclean animals, I argue that Noah could not have even known which animals were clean and which were unclean, because the cleanness of certain animals was not defined until the writing of Leviticus.

Finally, according to Genesis 8:8-11, Noah sent forth a dove to find land, and it returned with an olive leaf, indicating that land had been found. However, I argue that the flood would have wiped out any olive trees, so no leaves could have been found. There could have been seeds that survived, but it would have been impossible for them to grow leaves within a week.

I thank my opponent for debating with me, and I am happy to hear his rebuttals to what I have said.


BrianCBiggs forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I have more arguments, so I will use this round to use those.

I ask the question, what would the animals have to eat after the flood? All of the plants would be wiped out by the flood, so the herbivores could not have eaten, and every time a carnivore ate an animal, they would make an entire species go extinct.

Secondly, according to Genesis 8:20-21, Noah sacrificed clean beasts to God as thanks for letting him survive the flood. However, according to Genesis 7:8-9, Noah was to take only 2 of every animal, so by killing an animal, he would make an entire species go extinct.

Thirdly and finally, how did the animals get back to their habitats after settling on the mountains of Ararat?

I welcome my opponent's rebuttals to my arguments.


BrianCBiggs forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


For my first point, I argue that most aquatic life would die, because of the salt water mixing with the fresh water. This would kill any aquatic life that could only survive in one kind of water.

Secondly, I question why Noah would have to send a dove to find land. If he and God were on speaking terms, why didn't he just ask God? It would be faster, easier, and possibly more reliable than the dove.

Thirdly and finally, according to Genesis 7:19, God said that the flood waters would cover the mountains by a depth of 50 feet. The altitude of the waters would be 29,055 feet. Noah, his family, and the animals would all either freeze to death or suffocate at that altitude.

I welcome my opponent's rebuttals.


BrianCBiggs forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


I don't have any more arguments to use, so I really can't say anything.


BrianCBiggs forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for the forfeits. As to arguments, Con came out strong for one round...and then left the debate, leaving Pro's arguments standing. As always, happy to clarify this RFD.