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