Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | May 28, 2014

1. Population Growth – Could Noah Fill the Earth?

Interest in Noah and the Great Flood has never been greater due to the recent worldwide release of Noah, the Movie, starring Russell Crowe, in March 2014.

Have you thought about the Big Mysteries that the movie did not address?
How many people died in Noah’s Flood?
How could Noah’s family grow to over 7 billion people in only 4500 years since the Flood?

On the other hand, current global population statistics radically contradict the supposed time scale for human evolution. If evolution were true and no Flood occurred, mathematical models predict that the Earth should have far, far more people than there are now. Where are they? Where have all the people gone?

A few of Noah's Descendants

A Few of Noah’s Descendants

Forty-five hundred years ago Noah’s Flood wiped out the entire human population except for eight people: Noah and his wife and Noah’s three sons and their wives. Today’s 7 billion people are Noah’s descendants through 6 people — his sons Japheth, Shem, and Ham and their three wives (Genesis 9:18-19).
(See Tower of Babel – Origin of People Groups for information on the dispersal of Noah’s descendants across the globe.)

Is it possible for Noah’s family to grow to 7 billion in only 4500 years? Yes, easily! Populations grow exponentially, just like money in a savings account. Population growth is compound growth like compound interest.

On the other hand, some simple figuring will show that if no Flood occurred, then using an evolutionary time scale, most of the human population is missing.

Population growth is very understandable using “population doubling time.” This is the length of time it takes a population to double. Using it will permit me to avoid complicated math which sometimes makes people’s eyes glaze over. For those interested in checking the math, population growth formulas appear at the end.

Population Growth Since Noah’s Flood

Reliable world population data prior to 1800 does not exist. All we have are estimates and guesses which could be wildly inaccurate. Therefore we will start with 1804 when the post-Flood world population first reached 1 billion according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2012 it reached 7 billion. Thus over that 208-year period the average population doubling time was about 74 years. This corresponds to an average annual growth rate of 0.00940 or a percentage growth rate of 0.940%. This means that each year a net of 940 people were added for every 100,000 people. In other words, for every 100,000 people that existed at the beginning of each year, 100,940 people existed at the end of the year.

To calculate the earth’s population growth since Noah’s Flood, let’s be extremely conservative and say average population growth is only half this rapid. That is, let’s assume it takes 150 years for the population to double on average. This corresponds to an average annual percentage growth rate of 0.463% (for every 100,000 people, a net of 463 are added yearly). For comparison, this is the same thing as saying $6 invested at 0.463% annual interest for 4500 years would grow to $6,400,000,000.

Then in 6,000 years since Creation, there would be 40 doublings (6,000/150 = 40). Two people (Adam and Eve) would grow to 2.2 trillion in 6,000 years. This is far, far greater than today’s population. In fact it’s over 300 times today’s population.

FrancisDanby-TheDeluge

The Deluge
1840 painting by Francis Danby (1793–1861)

But about 4,500 years ago Noah’s Flood drowned almost everyone. Noah’s three sons and their wives repopulated the earth (Genesis 9:18-19). In 4,500 years there would be 30 doublings (4500/150 = 30), so those six people would grow to 6.4 billion. This is close to today’s world population of 7.1 billion.

Calculating the actual doubling time and growth rate since the Flood when the population grew from 6 people (Noah’s 3 sons and their 3 wives) to 7.1 billion people in 4,500 years, we get an average doubling time of 149 years and an average annual percentage growth rate of 0.465%.

A slight increase in the annual growth rate has a significant impact on the population when the number of years of growth is large. If we increase the average annual percentage growth rate slightly from 0.465% to 0.50%, then those six people would grow to over 33 billion in 4500 years. Therefore it is completely feasible for Noah’s family to grow to 7 billion in 4500 years at an average annual growth rate of less than ½%. This annual growth rate, 0.465%, is less than half of the average annual percentage growth rate of 1.19% from 1999 to 2012, when the population grew from 6 billion to 7 billion in 13 years.

Thus the known facts of population growth fit the Biblical chronology very well. Population growth mathematics clearly supports the Biblical record. The Biblical account of history is true, apart from our human attempts at verification. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to see how the available statistics do fit the record of Scripture.

Subsequent articles in this series on Population Growth will look at these topics:
– Israel’s growth into a nation in Egypt.
– Population growth mathematics challenges evolution.
– How many people died in Noah’s Flood?

Population Growth Formulas

For those interested in checking the math, here are the Population Growth formulas used in this article:
Starting with population P, the new population is
= P x 2d after d doublings.
= P x (1+r)n after n years at an annual growth rate r.

The population doubling time in years is
= T/d where T is the population’s elapsed time in years and d is the # of doublings.
= (log 2) / log(1+r) where r is the annual growth rate.

Questions to Ponder
  1. When observational data fits the Scriptural record, how does that impact your perspective on Biblical reliability?
  2. How many people do you think died in Noah’s Flood? (This series of articles will develop a suggested an answer to this question.)
  3. Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Read the sequel in this Population Growth series:
2. Population Growth – Israel in Egypt

See these related articles I’ve written on Noah, the Ark, and the Flood:
Noah’s Flood—Key to the Past
Noah’s Flood—A Global Event
Noah’s Ark Replicas
Noah’s Ark Found?
Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, & Noah’s Flood
Rebuilding Noah’s Ark
Ark Encounter Park
Noah’s Ark Model in Holland
Noah’s Ark
Noah’s Ark Found?
(with video)
1. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Intro
2. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Kentucky Governor
(with YouTube videos)
3. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – How Big?
4. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Ark Encounter video
5. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Ark Encounter Park
6. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Location
(with maps)
7. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Funding
8. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Facing Opposition
9. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Ham Debates Lynn
(with video)
10. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – What Would Noah Think?
11. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Tour the Dutch Ark
(with video)
Dinosaurs on the Ark?
Tsunami Videos and Noah’s Flood
Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, & Noah’s Flood
USA TODAY features Noah’s Ark
Marilyn Monroe and the Age of the Earth
Wallenda, Niagara, & Noah’s Flood
(with video)
Mystery of Noah’s Flood (with videos)
Leftover from Noah’s Flood?
Noah, the Movie
(with videos)
The Truth about Noah
Meet the Real Noah
(with video)

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday May 28, 2014 A.D.

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. … And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” (Genesis 9:1,7)

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Responses

  1. Very interesting support of the Bible using population doubling! Enjoyed reading this post.

    Like

  2. This is a wild oversimplification of population growth, and one which completely undermines your own conclusions. It is entirely fallacious to think that population growth rates from within the last 200 years can be extended more generally to the past, considering how intricately those growth rates are linked to medical and technological advances not present prior to such times.

    For example, between 1980 and 2002, the world cattle population grew incredibly fast, nearly tripling. Using the formulae you have provided in this article, that yields a population doubling time of 20 years. If we begin with a population of two cattle stepping off the ark just 4500 years ago, that means we should expect to see 2^226 cattle in the world, today. In case you haven’t got a calculator handy, that’s over 10^68, or 100 million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion head of cattle. Even if we were to quadruple that population growth time, we’d still get a value of over 144 quadrillion– more than a million times larger than the current cow population on the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I think you somewhat misread the article. I calculated the average annual percentage growth rate since the Flood (when the population grew from 6 people to 7.1 billion people in 4,500 years) to be 0.465%. I compared this with the growth rate of 0.940% for the growth from 1 billion to 7 billion over 208 years. My point was that the population growth to 7.1 billion since Noah’s Flood is completely feasible based on known history. The known facts of population growth fit the Biblical chronology very well. Population growth mathematics supports the Biblical record.

      In addition to medical and technological advances which have increased population growth, the last two centuries have also witnessed the worst plagues, famines, and horrific wars which have reduced population growth.

      Read next week’s sequel for another historical example of a much greater population growth rate over 430 years.

      Like

  3. Yes sir,
    I’m in a discussion with a non believer about the population growth 4500 years since Noah. He cannot see how the population grew from 6 people and grow to 7+ billion people in 4500 years. Could you please give me a simplified formula.
    He is dividing the time 4500 years, the length of gestation and of course the number of Noah’s sons and wives ( six people).
    Shouldn’t he take the size of families, the longevity of life, the doubling factor into consideration? Thank You

    Like

    • The simplest population growth formula only uses the doubling time. It’s the first one in the “Population Growth Formulas” section. The doubling time includes all the other factors.

      Over the last 2 centuries the doubling time has been 74 years. To grow from 6 people to 7.1 billion people in 4500 years gives a doubling time of 149 years. So this population growth since the Flood is easily feasible.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This article is a complete joke… The actual question posed could “noah” fill the earth? That was completely ignored, instead a mathematical assumption is made to qualify an increase in population size from 7 humans. I’d like to know how Noah’s family of 7/8 including himself, his 3 sons and their 3 wives managed to naturally and without incest increase and populate the earth to what we are now?? It is recorded as well that ham Shem & Japeth all had sons….. it is naturally and biologically impossible! Where is your math now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Noah’s three sons Japheth, Shem, and Ham and their wives had daughters as well as sons. Just because the Bible only names sons in the genealogies does not mean no daughters were born. For example, Adam’s and Eve’s only named children were sons Cain, Abel, and Seth, but Genesis 5:4 explicitly says that Adam had “other sons and daughters.” Usually Biblical genealogies only list sons.

      Marriage to close relatives was only prohibited in the Mosaic law. Humanity’s gene pool had apparently not degraded sufficiently to cause close-kin-marriages to be dangerous in Noah’s day. Noah’s grandchildren began repopulating the earth with cousins and possibly siblings marrying each other.

      Like

  5. Given a population inclined to procreate and an apparent abundance of flora and fauna to consume and no apparent competition from others (since by logical premise there were none). It seems to me to be a likely outcome to see population growth. Most great cultures needed only good water, grain crops to provide caloric abundance and body fat and of course what all of God’s creation does naturally-Multiply to maintain exponential growth. Today we discourage growth and population responds accordingly albeit there are more people making children now than ever before. In the past when competition did come into play having a large family made it harder to feed them but if one person made accumulation of food possible then the simple math made sense to increase family size. The birth control means of putting a pebble or two into the camel’s uterus as an IUD was a necessity of travel in ancient times. Pregnant camels don’t travel well apparently. Humans did not do not perform this act as children were considered valuable. So more population – Whew!

    Like

  6. You forgot to subtract deaths, homie. Population ain’t the same as money due to mortality.

    Like

    • The population growth rate takes into account both deaths and births, as does the population doubling time. These are “net” values.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting thoughts… degradation of the human gene pool seems awfully similar to a form of evolution though.

    Like

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. “Degradation of the human gene pool” is devolution and involves loss of genetic information. Upward evolution requires the addition of huge amounts of new genetic information to code for new structures and functions.

      Like

  8. Who was putting the finishing touches on Stonehenge, building the last of the pyramids in Egypt, erecting Minoan palaces on Crete, littering the Indus Valley with ancient artifacts, settling the islands of the South Pacific, and ushering in the Bronze Age in China while these 7 or 8 were furiously copulating? Kudos to Noah and his lineage, however, for spawning our current physical and cultural diversity, 100s of languages in 1000s of dialects, and creating over 3,000 deities (some, presumably, within a generation or so of a man who spoke directly to the God of Abraham) in such a short span. I doubt this family could procreate sufficiently to meet the death toll of the Black Plague in Europe.

    Like

  9. Thank you for some tremendous articles. They are so clear and concise considering that the subject is extremely difficult to explain. I have no trouble accepting Gods word at total face value – by faith – but it is so exciting when He allows us to get little glimpses of current events and thoughts that bring those truths alive for us. This strengthens our faith and encourages us to share more often with others the wonderful news of His awesome love and plan for each of our lives!

    Like

    • Thanks for reading and for your encouraging words. I appreciate it.

      Like

  10. Like the information given here thanks.
    For any person who is not a believer. The Gift of Eternal life is available to you, right now. Believe that Jesus of the Bible is the promised Messiah (Christ) of the Old Testament. And gives Eternal Life to all who will trust (believe) in Him (Jesus) for Eternal Life.
    The Gospel of John the only book in the Bible whose stated purpose for being written, To tell unbelievers how to have eternal life says in 20:31
    John 20:31 But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

    Like

  11. In year 1900 there was estimated 1.5 billion people on The planet.
    In 2016 there Are 7 billion.
    PLUS those 116 years had 2 World wars.

    That is a very High dobling rate.

    Like

  12. Biblescienceguy keep on with what you are doing. You will be blessed.

    Like


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