Prehistoric Beaches

This past summer, scientists found the remains of a prehistoric beach. What made this find noteworthy was that the beach was at the bottom of the Black Sea-- 550 feet beneath the surface. The beach is causing scientists to consider what was previously unthinkable: The Biblical account of the Flood is based on an actual historical event. Geological studies of the Black Sea basin off the coast of Turkey led two Columbia University geologists, William Ryan and Walter Pitman, to theorize that they may have discovered the geological event that spawned the flood narrative in the book of Genesis. According to the theory, 7500 years ago, the Black Sea was a freshwater lake. Then, at the end of the last Ice Age, water levels in the Mediterranean rose. Eventually, the water poured over the Bosporus strait at a volume 200 times that of Niagara Falls, inundating an area the size of the state of Florida. This flood created the Black Sea as we know it today, and Pitman and Ryan believe it is the historical basis for the Biblical flood narrative. The National Geographic Society wanted to find out if the geologists were correct. They approached Robert Ballard, the oceanographer who was the first man to explore the wreck of the "Titanic," about leading the expedition. Ballard was initially skeptical. He compared the project to, in his words, "searching for arks on mountaintops"--the domain of religious fanatics, not scientists. Ballard eventually agreed to lead the expedition. When sonar detected the beach at the bottom of the Black Sea, Ballard knew they were on the right track. Then, just weeks ago, came the most exciting discovery to date: the remains of freshwater mollusks on that beach--proof that Pitman and Ryan were right about a prehistoric flood. Ballard now plans to look for the remains of human civilization at the bottom of the Black Sea. As Frank Hiebert, the chief archeologist on the project, says, finding this kind of evidence would be "very cool." That's an understatement. While the expedition can't prove or disprove the truth of the biblical account, it is the latest, and possibly, greatest, in a series of scientific discoveries that are changing the way scientists look at biblical narratives. Until recently, biblical narratives such as the accounts of King David's reign and the Flood were considered little more than legend or myth. Scientists assumed that they had little, if any, basis in history. But, recent discoveries are causing archeologists to re-examine their assumptions about the historicity of these narratives. The exciting discoveries in Turkey are yet another reminder that Christians have nothing to fear from archaeology or the other sciences. If, like Ballard, scientists approach the evidence without prejudice, they will discover that it corroborates biblical accounts. So, the next time someone tells you that the Bible is nothing more than fairy tale and myths, tell them what Robert Ballard found at the bottom of the Black Sea. It's evidence that the only thing that stands between an archeologist and the truth is an open mind.


Chuck Colson


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