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I understand that from the perspective of those who take the Bible literally, the global flood took place about 2400 B.C. and that the world began about 4000 B.C., giving 1600 years of human population growth.

So, what was the estimated population at the time of the flood? In other words, how many people incurred the judgment of God in the flood?

Please answer according to the perspective of those who take the Bible literally and historically.

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  • I've wondered this myself. Good question! Though, from whose perspective do you want this estimation? This can't really be answer definitively with scripture or extra-biblical history. – LCIII Sep 2 '14 at 12:45
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    "Literal" is an unhelpful word. Asking for the perspective of creationists or global flood affirmers would be better. – curiousdannii Sep 3 '14 at 0:11
  • @curiousdannii - I'm reasonably sure he's asking specifically for what Young Earth Creationists teach. – David Stratton Sep 4 '14 at 4:20
  • @curiousdannii Beware the leaven of the hyperliteralists. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 2 '20 at 10:17
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According to Tom Pickett on this site: http://www.ldolphin.org/pickett.html

Although it is difficult to obtain an actual value of world population at the time of the flood, 5 to 17 billion people would appear to be reasonable populations, with an average of around 10 billion.

The site shows the assumptions and formula used for calculation. Inherent in the assumption of an average age of 900 years is a tacit assumption of a very low mortality rate. On the other hand, it has what could be considered a very low average family size given the reported ages of the pre-diluvians (6 to 7 children per family for the figures given although other family sizes are considered). In view of these figures, the following comment seems highly pertinent:

If the population reached over a billion, there would tend to be some logistical problems in feeding and caring for the population (clothing, housing, jobs, etc). This indicates that they would have required a higher level of technology than what we currently give them credit for.

Given this, it seems likely that the pre-flood population was approaching the carrying capacity of the accessible arable land and that at least some of

...how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. - Genesis 6:5 NIV

may have been triggered by conflict over scarce resources.

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    Thanks. I wonder if it is also possible that the earth was significantly more fertile prior to the flood, thus supporting a larger population. – Narnian Sep 2 '14 at 13:18
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    I think that's a reasonable inference, another might be that human physiology was way more efficient as well - requiring significantly less food. – bruised reed Sep 2 '14 at 13:20
  • @bruisedreed. Are you suggesting that aliens inhabited the earth before the flood? – gideon marx Sep 2 '14 at 15:34
  • @gideonmarx No, I'm not sure where you got that idea from! The Bible indicates that the people that lived before the flood were 'somewhat' (massive understatement) different to modern humans at least in terms of their average life-spans and the age at which they reached reproductive maturity. – bruised reed Sep 2 '14 at 16:21
  • Do you know if the calculations take into account (1) a highly probable greater land area and (2) from my reading of the effects of the curse, poorer average land quality prior to the flood? – Edwin Ashworth Jun 2 '20 at 10:23
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According to this article, mankind is nearing its 33rd doubling.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/27503685?seq=1

If you divide The 1,656 years from the creation to the flood by 33, you get 50 years per doubling. That means that if the pre-flood world population doubled twice per century, and no die-off due to famine, war or disease occurred, then the population would equal our current population. This permits allowing for them to get married later and start having children later than us, as seems likely from the genealogies in Genesis.

It took 39 years to go from 3 To 6 billion in recent times. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population_milestones

Thus the limiting factors would be Disease (much less prevalent, as evidenced by longer lifespans), technology (lower than today), arable land (the flood devastated the earth and messed with the climate, so probably more arable land in their day), and warfare. The last is mentioned in the Bible. Thus I would put the population as less than today, but not by too much: perhaps 2.5. Billion people.

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