In an article from the Washington Post dated 13 September 2000, explorer Robert Ballard (discoverer of the Titanic) led a team to the Black Sea in search of evidence for Noah’s Flood. About 550 feet below the surface, they found evidence of a ‘sudden, catastrophic flood around 7,500 years ago—the possible source of the Old Testament story of Noah.’
They captured sonar images of a ‘gentle berm and a sandbar submerged undisturbed for thousands of years on the sea floor.’ Then using radiocarbon dating, they determined that the remains of the freshwater mollusks found on this submerged beach were 7,500 years old and that the saltwater species were only 6,900 years old. (By the way, radiocarbon is not reliable in giving accurate dates going back thousands of years. CMI believes that Noah’s Flood should be dated to about 4,300 years ago.)
In an interview, Ballard said, ‘What we wanted to do is prove to ourselves that it was the biblical flood.’
According to Columbia University geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman, who had predicted where this shoreline would be found in the Black Sea, describe the flood as such: ‘The Black Sea was created when melting glaciers raised the sea level until the sea breached a natural dam at what is now the Bosporus, the strait that separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Black Sea. An apocalyptic deluge followed, inundating the freshwater lake below the dam, submerging thousands of square miles of dry land, flipping the ecosystem from fresh water to salt practically overnight, and probably killing thousands of people and billions of land and sea creatures.’
Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, replied to Ballard, Ryan, and Pitman’s claim with, ‘All modern critical Bible scholars regard the tale of Noah as legendary. There are other flood stories, but if you want to see the Black Sea flood in Noah’s flood, who’s to say no?’
We agree that they indeed have found evidence for a huge flood in the Black Sea area. But we do not support their claim that this was Noah’s Flood. You see, in order to justify their assertion, they declare that the record of Noah’s Flood in the Bible is legendary and just a myth. They say the ‘myth’ originated from a real event (their Black Sea flood), but that it has been grossly distorted and exaggerated as it was relayed by word of mouth before eventually being written down. By using the term ‘myth’ they can disregard all the details of the biblical account that do not fit their Black Sea claim.
Pitman recently spoke about this idea during an Australian lecture tour. Now in his mid 70s, Pitman has an interesting talk. He has conducted some excellent geological work in the Black Sea area. He presented good geological evidence that the Black Sea suddenly rose in level when a land barrier with the Mediterranean Sea failed, allowing water to flow in suddenly.
Unfortunately, he handles the biblical record carelessly. Noah’s Flood was not a local flood in the Black Sea area, but a world-wide flood that has left its mark on every continent on this planet.
Pitman knows that his link between the Black Sea flood and Noah’s Flood does not fit with the Bible. For example, his Black Sea flood does not have 40 days and nights of rain (He says the ‘whole event probably lasted about 40 years’), does not have a 140-meter ark as described in the Bible, does not cover the highest mountains, does not recede off the Earth etc, etc. Pitman knows it does not fit, shrugs his shoulders and when questioned about it he simply said he does not read the Bible literally. Therefore, his link with Noah’s Flood is totally arbitrary. He wants a flood, so plucks Noah’s Flood out of the air. It is a good flood to pick because it sells lots of books. Furthermore, the geologists love him. They think by saying that Noah’s Flood was a local flood then they can dismiss the implications of the real global Flood described in the Bible.
This is just another attempt to undermine the integrity of the biblical account of Noah’s Flood. However, the Bible claims to be the Word of God and ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God,’ (2 Tim. 3:16). To say that Noah’s Flood was anything other than what Scripture says it was (i.e., a global flood) is tantamount to declaring that God is a liar. If God is lying, then we cannot trust any part of the Bible, including the Gospel message of the Cross, which means there is no hope for salvation and eternal life. The implications of Ballard’s claims are far more serious than many realize.
There is no reason to believe that Ballard’s Black Sea Flood was Noah’s Flood.