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Some people say that the story of Noah and flood is false, because there simply wasn't enough water in the world to cover the entire earth in a flood. As it is written:

And the waters became mighty and increased greatly upon the land, and the ark went [gently floating] upon the surface of the waters.
And the waters prevailed so exceedingly and were so mighty upon the earth that all the high hills under the whole sky were covered.
[In fact] the waters became fifteen cubits higher, as the high hills were covered.
Genesis 7:18-20 (Amp)

What is the counter argument against this belief?

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Many YECs will argue that the flood massively reshaped the earth, and thus "yes, if you start with a much flatter earth, and very different underwater shape". icr.org/article/520 However, it should be noted that geologists (except for a very very tiny minority) very much disagree. Not sure if this is an answer, though. –  Marc Gravell May 14 '12 at 19:10
Given that the Christian god is supposed to be omnipotent, not having enough water seems like an odd complaint. –  hammar May 14 '12 at 19:50
There's a middle ground there - there is a significant body of Christian/Jewish believers that don't take Genesis and Exodus (in particular) is a historical account, but as figurative. –  Marc Gravell May 14 '12 at 20:23
On topic image from Astronomy Picture of the Day. –  Benjol May 16 '12 at 4:49
Maybe it just covered what they knew as the whole earth? Maybe South America was not covered but they did not know about it?? –  Greg McNulty May 17 '12 at 20:03

4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

According to http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/SyedQadri.shtml, the total volume of the world's oceans is 1.3 to 1.5 billion cubic kilometers, which comes out to 310 to 360 million cubic miles. The surface area of the Earth is about 200 million square miles. So if the Earth was a perfect sphere, with no mountains, no valleys, no ocean trenches, the water would cover the surface about 1.7 miles deep.

There's water in the ice caps, underground, and in the atmosphere. Perhaps all this water was on the surface during the Flood. But by most calculations this is a relatively small percentage -- hydrologic scientists generally say that 97% of the world's water is in the oceans, 2% in the ice caps, 1% underground, and lakes a rivers a tiny fraction of 1%. So unless there's some very large unknown water reserve -- underground, I suppose -- adding these things in wouldn't change the 1.7 miles much.

Of course the world does have mountains and valleys, so some places are above the water level and others below. The highest mountain is of course Mt Everest, which is 6 miles high. The lowest point is the Marianas trench, 7 miles deep.

So the most obvious scenario for a Flood to cover the whole world is that the mountains before the Flood were smaller than today and the trenches not as deep. If the highest mountains were 1/4 the height today, then they would all be covered by water.

Creation theorists generally suggest that the Flood caused major geological upheavals including relatively rapid movement of the Eartth's tectonics plates, resulting in mountain formation. That is, they say that the high mountains in the world today were formed during the Flood. Of course for the world to not be covered in water before the Flood, the amount of water in the oceans would have had to have been smaller. Genesis mentions water coming from both rain and "the fountains of the deep". The theory generally calls for more water vapor in the air in the form of a large vapor canopy, and also more water underground.

So ther's plenty of water if only the Earth was more nearly spherical before the Flood.

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As they say: "big if" :) –  Benjol May 15 '12 at 9:55
Excellent answer, and great research effort! Thanks. +1 –  Jas 3.1 May 15 '12 at 17:00
Yes, thank you. –  Shredder May 15 '12 at 19:20

Gen. 8:2-5 talks about the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens closing, and the waters receding and diminishing anyway. You would expect a natural flood to either drain into the earth—but the "fountains of the deep" were closed, so the water could not leave that way—or dissipate by evaporation—but the "windows of the heavens" were closed, so it couldn't leave that way, either.

The text seems to require pairing the miraculous appearance of water (the Flood) with the miraculous disappearance of the same water afterwards. In this case the question of whether there is enough water in the world now to cover it is moot.

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Interesting. So this view is that water supernaturally appeared and then supernaturally disappeared. I tend to lean toward Jay's explanation, but who am I to say it couldn't have been supernatural... there were a number of supernatural (post-creation) events recorded in scripture. Although I disagree with you, I do think it is useful to consider this possibility, as it is a good reminder that we should start with what we know (the word of God is true) and restrict our speculations to being within those bounds. (2 Cor 10:5) +1 –  Jas 3.1 May 15 '12 at 17:08
@Jas3.1 I mainly offer it as a suggestion based on the text itself. My personal opinion lately has been that the parallels between the Creation and the Flood suggest that the latter is actually in itself a new Creation. In that mindset, the recession of the Flood waters would be like the Creation's "let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"—this also requires a miracle when water is already covering the whole earth as, ordinarily, water just doesn't gather that way. –  Muke Tever May 16 '12 at 1:47

Was there enough water in the world to cover the earth?

The ancient geology according to the Bible is rather interesting.

There was enough of an elevation differential for rivers to flow.

Genesis 2:10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

Rain was not needed.

Genesis 2:6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

There were "mountains"

Genesis 7:20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

The flood itself involved waters "from the deep" as well as "the heavens".

Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, 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.

Some have suggested that the "fountains of the deep" were released via a rupture of the Atlantic seafloor. This water under the pressure of the overlaying seabed would jet very high into the atmosphere if it were released at one time. This could account for how mammoths were flash frozen with tropical flowers still in their stomachs.

ocen floor

Such an upheaval on the surface of the earth could have resulted mountains raised high enough so that they were much higher than they were previously.

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Onr popular theory is Dr Walt Brown's Hydroplate Theory.

The basic premise of the theory is that most of the land was gathered together at one place. There were mountains, but perhaps 3,000 or 7,000 feet tall. At this altitude, there would be more than enough water to cover the entire Earth, considering the water both beneath the crust of the Earth and in the atmosphere.

When the flood occurred, and the "fountains of the deep" were opened, the mid-Atlantic ridge ripped open "like the seam of a baseball", and the water beneath the plate shot upward at supersonic speed. As the land eroded quickly at the seam, the mantle beneath began to bulge upwards, creating the mid-Atlantic ridge.

The plates, lubricated by the water beneath them, slid (the whole continent), reaching speads upwards of 45 miles per hour. When they reached near their current position, they encountered resistance, and the plates buckled, forcing them upwards in places such as the Rocky Mountains on America's West coast.

Dr. Walt Brown goes into much more detail on his site, with the full contents of his online book available to read or obtain a hard-copy.

The positives of his approach is that it systematically explains a very large number of natural phenomenea particular to our present Earth, including the fossil record, the different strata, the mid-Atlantic ridge, the mountain ranges, volcanos, asteroids and comets, and several high plateaus (including the Colorado Plateau), as well as many other features. He details his findings quite well, coming from a military career with degrees in Mechanical Engineering to back up his findings. He presents a strong case for a global flood.

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