Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | June 25, 2014

5. Population Growth – Is 10 Trillion Flood Deaths Reasonable?

The entire human population perished 4500 years ago–except for eight people. Noah’s Flood wiped out everybody except Noah and his wife and Noah’s three sons and their wives.

Records of the Great Flood appear in the historical lore of civilizations worldwide. Accounts from Africa, Australia, Babylon, British Columbia, Burma, China, Europe, Greece, India, Indonesia, New Guinea, North America, South America, and many more report the Flood. (See Flood Legends: Global Clues of a Common Event by Charles Martin.)

The previous post How Many Died in Noah’s Flood? calculated an estimate based on population growth formulas and Biblical data. This estimate was 10 trillion people died in Noah’s Flood.

Only the 8 people on the Ark were saved from Noah's Flood

Only the 8 people on the Ark were saved from Noah’s Flood

Is 10 Trillion a Reasonable Estimate for the Population at Noah’s Flood?

This estimated pre-Flood population is well over 1,000 times today’s world population of 7.1 billion people. How could this be possible?

To what annual growth rate did this population correspond? An annual growth rate of 1.78% or equivalently a doubling time of about 39.3 years would reach a population of 10 trillion from 2 people in 1656 years. This rate of growth is high, but it is less than Israel’s annual growth rate of 2.56% during 430 years in Egypt — mostly under cruel oppression and deliberate suppression! It is also less than the modern global annual growth rate which peaked at 2.2% in 1963. So it’s certainly a feasible growth rate.

Antediluvian people were much closer to the original creation of mankind, so they had less genetic degradation and greater vigor. If Israel could reproduce at a 2.56% annual growth rate in Egypt 700 years after the Flood, and if modern man could achieve a 2.2% annual growth rate in 1963, then the flourishing antediluvian people could surely reproduce at a 1.78% annual growth rate.

The earth can support a far greater population than it currently does as evidenced by the vast tracts of unused land. Post-flood, only 29% of the earth’s surface area is land. The land area comprises 57,268,900 square miles or 36,652,096,000 acres. This is over 5 acres for every person on earth today. Even assuming 40% of the land is currently unsuitable for habitation due to deserts, mountains, glaciers, etc., there is still 3 acres per person — plenty of room for more people.

For comparison, the average of the population densities of the world’s 10 most densely populated countries/regions with population over 1 million is less than an acre per person — it’s 1937 people per square kilometer, or 748 people per square mile, or almost 1.2 people per acre.
(See Most densely populated countries. Figures as of May 23, 2014.)

World population if it were concentrated as densely as Paris, New York, Singapore,
San Francisco, London, or Houston.

People can live on much less land space as indicated by city densities. The average of the population densities in the world’s 10 most densely populated cities is 82,147 people per square mile, or 31,717 people per square kilometer, or 128 people per acre.
(See Most densely populated cities. Figures as of May 10, 2014.)

Click the graphic at right to see how much space the 2011 world population of 6.9 billion would require if it were as densely concentrated as various well-known cities.

Now certainly to support a population more land is required than simply living space. Land for needs like growing food, waste disposal, industry, and recreation increases a population’s “footprint.” But the current 3 acres of usable land per person is certainly much more than is needed.

The earth is not filled today. In 1974 experts estimated Earth could support 50 billion people — seven times today’s population. This corresponds to almost 2.3 people per acre for the 60% of land area suitable for habitation. Subsequent and future technological advances will undoubtedly increase this estimate. (See Margaret Mead; “World Population: World Responsibility,” Science, Vol. 185, September 27, 1974, p. 1113.)

But the report in Genesis 6:11, 13 that “the earth was filled with violence” suggests that men had filled the earth prior to the Flood, since the wickedness and violence that was the cause of the Flood is attributed to men. This suggests a far larger population than today, because the earth is not filled today.

Moreover prior to the Flood, there was much more land area to inhabit. Most of the Flood waters are now present in the oceans and major lakes of the world. Prior to the Flood they were within the earth and above the firmament or expanse (Genesis 1:6-10; 2 Peter 3:5-6), so the oceans were much smaller leaving more land for man’s use. The fountains of the great deep bursting open and the 40 days of torrential rain released this water to cover the globe (Genesis 7:11-12). Then it drained away into the ocean basins as “the mountains rose and the valleys sank down” (Psalm 104:5-9).

20140321-LifeboatsSurvivors

Earth was far more fertile before the Flood, and therefore could support a larger population. This is indicated by the vast worldwide coal and oil deposits which came from abundant, dense, and productive pre-Flood vegetation.

Much of what is now uninhabitable land was habitable before the Flood. For example, much of today’s desert land was covered with lush vegetation before the Flood, as indicated by the bountiful oil deposits beneath the sands. Submarine oil deposits indicate the oceans once covered far less land. Today’s mountains were not as high before the Flood, for they rose up after the Flood (Psalm 104:5-9). Much of what is now impossible terrain on which to live was likely habitable before the Flood.

The ocean could have been an enormous reservoir of food for the pre-Flood population. This National Geographic aquaculture article on fish farms in the sea shows how people today are again beginning to take advantage of this resource.

Thus, 10 trillion is a fair and reasonable estimate for the earth’s population at the Flood. The annual growth rate of 1.78% is feasible, and the greater pre-Flood land area, vigor, and fertility could support many more people than today.

Population Growth Formulas

For those interested in checking the math, here are the relevant Population Growth formulas:
The population doubling time (length of time it takes a population to double) 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.

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.
= P x (cg+1 – cg-k+1) / (c-1) after g generations, where 2c is the average number of children per family who marry and have children (c boys, c girls), and k is the number of generations in a lifespan. (See 4. Population Growth – How Many Died in Noah’s Flood? for derivation of this formula.)

Questions to Ponder
  1. Why do people ignore Biblical information about what the earth was like before the Flood?
  2. Why is there such resistance to the idea of the earth’s population dying in a global flood?
  3. Why are people so antsy about overpopulation today when there’s plenty of room for more people? Should Christians have large families to obey God’s command to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1)
  4. Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Soli Deo Gloria.

This concludes the series on Population Growth. Read the prequels:
1. Population Growth – Could Noah Fill the Earth?
2. Population Growth – Israel in Egypt
3. Population Growth – Challenge to Evolution
4. Population Growth – How Many Died in Noah’s Flood?

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)
Could Noah Fill the Earth?
How Many Died in Noah’s Flood?

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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 June 25, 2014 A.D.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. And the rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark, they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds. So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him. Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days; and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. And the water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated on the surface of the water. And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. And the water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:11-24)

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Responses

  1. 10 Trillion?!?!?! At that population size, you could have a population density twice that of New York cover the ENTIRE planet including the oceans and you would still have people left over. Lowering the oceans to make extra room on land doesn’t even get close to solving the problems and that’s not even considering what the decreased water content would do to rain patterns necessary for viable harvests.

    This post is seriously lacking in rationality.

    Like

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. See my reply below to Dave’s comment for my response to your concerns.

      Like

    • Just to add a tot, I am sure if you had gone back 200 years in time and told them that you have seen a vehicle that weighs the size of a hundred chariots and can fly in the air and move at 20 times the speed of sound, probably the most advanced scientist would have thought you crazy…let us be careful not to judge life by our limited and restricted world view…I am sure by now we should understand that we are not as spectacular as we think we are in creation. Some factors to consider, first you know that the world had a language and even God testified, after the flood with lower life spans, that whatsoever mankind purposed to do they could not be held back, one unified mankind, living longer and putting some other factors the writer highlighted like them being closer to the more perfect Adam and Eve, and truly so…I believe that the possibility of developing technologies that can support such population will not be something that is far fetched. Let’s have an open heart to learning…thanks.

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  2. With a total surface area of about 510 million sq km, a population of 10 trillion people would give you about 19,600 people per sq km.
    This is ludicrous! What would all these people be doing and where would they be doing it? Where would the animals, forests, lakes/oceans, pathways, mountains, etc be?

    A trillion looks better, but somewhere in the billions is probably closer to a more reasonable calculation. Perhaps the lifespans you use are only referenced as they are exceptional and worth noting, with the others being much closer to our current lifespans. What happens if you adjust your calculations for a shorter lifespan?

    Like

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, 10 trillion at first seems like too high of an estimate. And it would be too high of an estimate for a population of today’s world. But the pre-Flood world was very different from the post-Flood world. We don’t know much about the pre-Flood world, but here are some possibilities that make my estimate less outlandish than it may seem at first glance.

      1. The land area was much greater before the Flood. All the rain water and subterranean water of the Flood substantially increased the oceans and reduced the land. The mountains rose and the valleys sank (Psalm 104:5-9) in the aftermath of the Flood, so there was much more useable land before the Flood than there is now. As a rough possible estimate, I figure 60% of the earth’s surface (306 million sq km) could have been liveable land. This is about double today’s land area. For a population of 10 trillion, this would give a population density of 32,680 per sq km.
      2. The average population density of the world’s 10 densest cities is 31,717 people per sq km. The densest city is Manila at 42,857 people per sq km. These figures are in the neighborhood of the estimated density for the pre-Flood population, so the latter is possible.
      3. The livable space may have been even larger than my 60% estimate. It could have been increased by living on platforms in shallow oceans. Even today people live on oil drilling platforms in the ocean.
      4. With the ancients’ long lifespans, I suspect their technology was more highly developed than ours. There may have been many other living situations we haven’t even considered.

      With respect to adjusting the lifespans, the patriarchs were not exceptional. All of them in the line Adam to Noah lived for hundreds of years. And the Bible records men living for hundreds of years following the Flood as lifespans gradually diminished. For example, Noah’s son Shem lived for 600 years; 400 years later Abraham lived to 175; 1,000 years after the Flood Moses lived to 120. See my comment on How Many Died in Noah’s Flood? for an example of the calculation if the average lifespan is cut in half.

      Thus I don’t think my estimate is ludicrous. The math model is sound, and I believe my parameter estimates, based on Biblical data, are conservative. I continue to believe 10 trillion is a reasonable estimate for the world population at the time of Noah’s Flood.

      Like

      • With the advanced technology than us, i think 10 trillion would be much smaller figure but good estimate. I believe there were no deserts and icelands back then. There might be others residing below the earth or made platforms above oceans.

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  3. I’m sorry but I’m slightly appalled. I’m a young earth creationist. Perhaps you made an innocent error, but you do realize even if the entire world were livable land, there would still be 10 persons per acre covering the entire world! If there were 10 trillion, which I would have to say is in fact impossible. Now I only quickly did this estimate using the numbers given in your article. I suggest you change your numbers immediately before everyone thinks you insane. Sorry I’m on my cell phone this may be hard to read, good day to you.

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    • And one other extremely relavent factor, though u mentioned it u did not factor it in, the earth was filled with violence, people could possibly have been killing ech outher by the billions. Regardless, if you continue to proclaim ten trillion is a good number, you are discrediting your abilitie to use common sense. People will not get past this, nor should they, God knows, please reconsider, I think its the right thing to do

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      • Thanks for your comment. The “average lifespan” and “average number of children” parameters take into account all birth and death factors.

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting. See my above reply to Dave’s comment.

      Like

      • I read your comment prior to commenting, I think your calculations are reasonable, but when you get into the trillions your talking a whole different ball game, you run into issues beyond anything our current humanity has ever dealt with. , I assure you there’ factors you never even considered, because its so far out there. Please rework your articule, if you have to find someone you look up and get him to give you advice, this will only confirm what evolutionist already say about creationist.

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        • All of my comments have been very critical (though for good reason) I would like to add an encouraging comment: I love what you try to do with your blog, there is so many people that have no idea what this amazing world that God created is like. And your showing it to them in ways people can understand and grasp, and I think that it is wonderful!

          Like

        • Thanks for the encouragement.

          Like

  4. Okay, just a quick comment. Everyone seems a little worried about the 10 trillion. Well one factor hasn’t been considered on all these comments. The numbers are based on 1656 years from Adam to flood. However Adam was 130 when he became a father, so it should be based on 1526 years. With an average doubling of 39 years roughly, these 3.2 generations of doubling reduce the number to around just over 1 trillion, reducing the population to 10%. I think… Thoughts anyone?

    Like

    • Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Adam was 130 when he begat Seth, his third son (Gen 5:3). Cain and Abel were born previously. It’s likely that other sons and daughters were also born before Seth. If Cain were born a year after Adam was created, he could have sired several generations before Seth was born. I still believe 1656 is the correct value to use.

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      • You contradict yourself in your reply. You say that Seth is Adam’s third son, but that Adam could have had other sons between Cain, Abel, and Seth. If that were so, then Seth would not be the third. Which is it?

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        • Seth was Adam’s third named son. Seth was likely the next son born after Abel’s murder, since Eve identified him as a replacement for the murdered Abel (Genesis 4:25). Adam and Eve were 130 years old at Seth’s birth (Genesis 5:3), so there had likely been many other sons and daughters born before Seth and after Cain. We know at least one daughter had been born, because Cain took his wife with him when God drove him away after he murdered Abel (Genesis 4:13-17).

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  5. Did the great flood cause the whole earth to be flooded or was it just the area where Noah lived?

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, the Great Flood was worldwide. The entire globe was flooded, not just the area where Noah lived. See my article Noah’s Flood—A Global Event for reasons.

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      • The whole earth was inhabitable. When people do not believe in the flood and the Lord I always ask them which came first the Jetsons or the Flintstones. Now at 60 years old and I know how much knowledge I gained in the last 10. If I live to be a 500 it would be a lot more knowledge. But to start over I be like The Flintstones.

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  6. I don’t have the knowledge to follow your math but assuming it is sound, your conclusions seem reasonable. I appreciate the time and thought you have put into this subject. I also tend to believe that antediluvian technology was much more advanced than we assume, and that our current state of technological development does not represent the apex of human achievement. We know so little about our world and the universe but believe we know so much, and are so easily misled by our pride. Finally, I can’t help but wonder, how many people finally repented after the ark door was sealed and the flood waters began to rise We are living in the days of Noah…

    Like

    • I agree with you. Thanks for reading and for your insightful comment.

      Like

  7. Good estimate sir but i think 10 trillion is a little pale number considering the ancients have much more advanced technology than us today. They might be living under the earth, above the air via anti gravity or some sort of flat space tech having pocket dimension inside enough for family to live inside thus saving the space. There is nothing new under the sun and i believe the present innovations of the technology are just mere reinvention.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I read your thought-provoking article a while back and I would like to pose another question. I feel that your estimate of 10 children per women over a lifetime of around 900 years is quite low. What would happen to the total population estimate if you used the figure of, say, 45 or 50 children as an estimate? Surely that isn’t an unreasonable number? Thanks!

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    • Yes, 10 children per family is a low estimate. I deliberately made low estimates for the parameters to calculate a conservative lower bound for the pre-Flood population. Using 50 children per family would hugely increase the population estimate. If we assume 50 children per family, then using the third population formula above with these parameters P=2, c=25, g=18, k=10 plus 8% for unmarried childless people yields a population of 3.274180926383 x 1025 at the Flood. That is a huge number, over 30 trillion trillion.

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      • Thanks for your reply. Who knows what is possible, the mind boggles. But I am convinced we will learn one day.

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  9. I’ve been thinking lately about the antediluvian world. There are some thought provoking books out there by non-Christian authors which theorize about ancient civilizations and provide evidence in the form of abundant mysterious archaeological artifacts as well as seemingly superhuman feats of construction. Some of these theories involve aliens, notions which I reject, my view of history being rooted in the Biblical account. Have you considered historical views which posit ancient civilizations more advanced than our own, with humans with far greater physical and intellectual capacities also far in excess of modern man’s?

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    • I am fairly certain that the antediluvian world was far more advanced than we are today. I think they were bigger, stronger, and smarter than men today, because they were closer to the original perfect Adam and Eve with less time for genetic deterioration. Living for 900 years means they would advance knowledge and technology far faster than we do today.

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  10. Maybe with all those 200 iq prodigy like minds so close to perfection. They would have developed a physics model that would have allowed them to get out into space and populate other bodies in this solar system and beyond. Later to return over the course of post-flood civilization masquerading as aliens.

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  11. How did Noah “preach” to 10-30 trillion people? Obviously it must have spread through word or mouth. I guess I am more or less answering my own question here. However if you were using low estimates to come up with the figure of 10 trillion people and the highest at around 30 trillion, it still begs the question, how is it that only 8 people out of this enormous amount, including babies and children, were evil and did not believe or even heard Noah’s message of salvation?

    Answering my own question again; because in Genesis 6 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” It boggles the mind to think that trillions of people on the earth were wicked.

    More food for thought is, just think if half of the trillions of people believed as Noah did. How many Arks would there have to have been to save them? Sadly they did not believe and God knew beforehand that they would not; so He did what He had to do to preserve righteousness on the earth.

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