I've decided to go full public with a new username on this forum. It's been almost a decade since I've been out and I don't care at this point who knows. That being said, here's a letter that I'm mailing to Bethel. Better late than never, I guess:
My name is Brendan Johns and I have been inactive for the last 8 or 9 years. The last congregation I attended was Riverside in LaSalle, Quebec. The reason for my departure was doubt about Noah’s flood. I discussed my doubts with the local elders in addition to reading every last scrap of literature published by the Society on the matter, but to no avail so I simply stopped attending.
After a heart to heart discussion with my dad, he suggested that I write to Bethel for answers. Truthfully, he asked me to write 9 years ago but the topic came up again recently so here it goes.
According to the account in Genesis, or at least the current understanding of the account in Genesis, the entire earth was covered in floodwaters for over 100 days. According to biblical chronology, we can date the flood to approximately 2300 BCE. All animal life on earth was wiped out aside from the survivors brought onto the ark.
My doubts about the flood cover many different lines of reasoning but for simplicity’s sake I will focus on a single one: ice cores.
Here is a brief introduction to ice cores, taken from the National Ice Core Laboratory’s website (icecores.org): “Glaciers form as layers of snow accumulate on top of each other. Each layer of snow is different in chemistry and texture, summer snow differing from winter snow. Over time, the buried snow compresses under the weight of the snow above it, forming ice. (…) Ice cores are cylinders of ice drilled from ice sheets and glaciers. They are essentially frozen time capsules that allow scientists to reconstruct climate far into the past. Layers in ice cores correspond to years and seasons, with the youngest ice at the top and the oldest ice at the bottom of the core. By drilling down into the ice sheet or glacier and recovering ice from ancient times, scientists are able to determine the past composition and behavior of the atmosphere, what the climate was like when the snow fell, and how the size of ice sheets and glaciers have changed in the past in response to different climate conditions. Ice cores have provided climate and ice dynamics information over many hundred thousand years in very high, sometimes seasonal, resolution.”
Multiple concordant analysis of this record of seasonal snow deposition shows that it goes back uninterrupted for over 400,000 years. A massive global cataclysm such as the biblical flood would have left evidence behind, to say the least. Unfortunately, there is none. The only explanation for this lack of evidence is either the flood as described in the bible did not happen, or the ice was deposited since 2300 BCE.
Since my dad asked me to examine both sides of the coin and to apply critical thinking to the conclusions of the scientific community, I tried to find any counter-argument to the validity of the ice core data. Seeing as no arguments for a 4300 year-old ice sheet can be found anywhere in the scientific community, I looked to any source at all, no matter the credentials.
This invariably led me to young-earth creationist sources, which is problematic since the Society itself admits that the earth and universe are billions of years old. After reading several rebuttals to the ice core data from creationists, I came to the conclusion that their arguments can be reduced to denial of Uniformitarianism.
Uniformitarianism is a so-called “first principle” of science. It is the principle or assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe.
By accepting that the earth is billions of years old, the Society also implicitly accepts the validity of Uniformitarianism. It must therefore also mean that the ice core data collected by scientists is true. By extension, the flood as described in the bible could not have happened.
Is there something that I’m missing? What other explanation can there be for the existence of an uninterrupted record of snowfall at the poles going back hundreds of thousands of years?
Of course, there are dozens of other arguments against the flood. They range from the existence of living organisms that are over 11,000 years old (the King Clone creosote bush in the Mojave desert), to the sheer number of species on earth (over 8 million at the latest estimate, with 90% still undiscovered) to pure physical arguments (the amount of water necessary to flood the earth could not have remained suspended without crushing atmospheric pressure, and the transfer of energy released when it fell would have boiled the planet).
Two final explanations can also be proposed, namely that the flood was either a local incident, or was purely allegorical and meant as a cautionary tale. I am well aware that neither of these explanations fit with the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
So what do you guys think? My dad says I'm still being "too authoritative" but I thought I held back.