Say it ain’t so, Christiane!

December 21, 2012 • 8:33 pm

UPDATE: this is on now, so anybody sees this, report in.  The most recent snippet indicates that the show is trying to show that the “Great Flood” happened. Now there’s evidence of a very rapid rise in the level of the Black sea about 5600 BC when the Mediterranean breached the Bosphorus, but the rapidity of that “flood” was controversial, and it certainly wasn’t the worldwide flood described in Genesis. Perhaps it was the source of that myth, but let’s see how ABC presents it.


Few journalists have impressed me like Christiane Amanpour, famous for her pull-no-punches reporting and bravery under fire while reporting on war. She started with CNN, but is now working for ABC, too.

So, given her reputation, what the bloody hell is she doing reporting on the miracles of the Bible? Yep, this Friday at 9 pm on ABC, Amanpour will investigate the veracity of the Good Book.  The dire preview here asks questions like, “Did Noah’s Flood happen?”, “Where is the Garden of Eden?”, and “Where is the Ark of the Covenant?”

I hope the answer to the first question is “NO!” and to the other two, “Nowhere!”.  But somehow I don’t think that will be the case.  Some reader please watch it and report back; I don’t think I can bear to see Amanpour’s reputation go down the drain.

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 9.05.31 PM

h/t: Tommy R

60 thoughts on “Say it ain’t so, Christiane!

  1. Would not be surprised if it’s “Here are some possible locations that these people claim to be ancient flood spots. Are they? We don’t know and don’t want to do the research so make up your own mind.”

  2. As I understand it, “Eden” translates to “Plain”, and probably refers to the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley. Some speculation that when Lake Bonneville (a large area proximate to the Great Salt Lake in Utah) burst through the natural dam that held it, the volume of water leaving the Lake was so large, it raised the oceans worldwide noticeably (?? not sure…a meter? five meters?) The nearly flat Persian Gulf flooded for hundreds of square kilometers.

    Probably seemed like the whole world was now underwater, if you lived in “Eden”.

    You know how fishing stories are….one guy and his family and their livestock made it out of the flood, because he built a boat. The further back in time the story gets, the bigger the boat (or…fish!)

    1. Leigh
      Gosh, your teachers did not do a good job giving you the basics of geometry. Probably didn’t do too well with geography either. Please look at a globe, then look at what you wrote. You should be able to see why your suggestion is nonsense.

    2. The flooding of the Persian Gulf Oasis by the Indian Ocean around 8,000 years ago is probably what you’re thinking of Scott ~ I consider that event to be the root of the Biblical worldwide Flood myth

      The Lake Bonneville flood however was 14,500 years ago & the waters were released into the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia River up in the Pacific Northwest. Assuming Bonneville Lake was independent of the world ocean/sea system I calculate that the release would have resulted in an average world sea level rise of 14 millimetres:-

      S = Total world sea area 370,000,000 km^2
      L = Water volume released by Lake Bonneville 5,000 km^3
      Average rise in world sea level = L/S = 14 mm

      1. Wikipedia has some interesting theories if you google “flood myth”.
        Amanpour was on Piers Morgan the other night alongside Deepak Chopra…. good company!!

        1. Thanks Mike. From your suggested Wiki I found this one:- Glacial lake outburst floods in North America (15,000 to 8,000 years ago)

          The last of the North American proglacial lakes, north of the present Great Lakes, has been designated Glacial Lake Ojibway by geologists. It reached its largest volume around 8,500 years ago, when joined with Lake Agassiz. But its outlet was blocked by the great wall of the glaciers and it drained by tributaries, into the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers far to the south. About 8,300 to 7,700 years ago, the melting ice dam over Hudson Bay’s southernmost extension narrowed to the point where pressure and its buoyancy lifted it free, and the ice-dam failed catastrophically. Lake Ojibway’s beach terraces show that it was 250 metres (820 ft) above sea level. The volume of Lake Ojibway is commonly estimated to have been about 163,000 cubic kilometres, more than enough water to cover a flattened-out Antarctica with a sheet of water 10 metres (33 ft) deep. That volume was added to the world’s oceans in a matter of months.

          The detailed timing and rates of change after the onset of melting of the great ice-sheets are subjects of continuing study.

          I imagine this might have had a substantial effect on the Persian Gulf Oasis via the Indian Ocean though I have to look now at what that Oasis is supposed to have looked like at that time compared with recent times [our warm period]

    3. Whoa there cowboy! Let’s get some things straight before you go digging your hole deeper.
      1 – The Persian gulf gets (more-or-less) steadily deeper as you proceed from the inner-most areas (mouths of the Tigris-Euphrates) to the Strait of Hormuz. There’s no significant “step” to have held back rising sea levels until breached (possibly as a result of a Heinrich event). I think that you’re mis-remembering the Ryan-Pitman hypothesis of a catastrophic flooding of the Black Sea providing a historical basis for the “Noah legend”. There’s also the well-established Messinian Salinity Crisis when the Mediterranean dried out … but that was before there were anatomically modern humans to “Ughh!” at each other. (I’ve had some of that salt under the microscope. It looks like salt. A kilometre of it, but boring salt nonetheless.)
      Lake Bonneville – established geological fact. Lake Bonneville draining by breaching a containing dam? Now I know that I don’t know my North American geology in any depth (well, not for the most recent 3 billion years anyway), but that’s the first that I’ve heard of that hypothesis too. However, what is well known (and very dramatic! Discovery-channel-genic, even!) is the catastrophic draining of several periglacial lakes in the late stages of the recent glaciations, leading to the formation of the “Channelled Scablands” of the Snake River basin of NW USA. There were other “jokullhlaups” (a delightful Icelandic word referring to an “icecap vomit” event ; normally in Iceland triggered by a volcano going off in the icecap, but the physics are similar for simple melting too. The Icelanders must have some serious parties!) as the Laurentide ice sheet melted, and I’ve walked through several smaller-scale meltwater scars in the Highlands of Scotland too, and they’re impressive enough. Excessive confidence in the dating and correlation of this sea-level lurch with that lake draining event is a hallmark of low-grade science journalism, but the story isn’t wrong in it’s essentials.
      However, since their mid-90s work (which “low-grade science journalism” just loves!), Ryan and Pitman have back-tracked considerably. More detailed sonar is revealing evidence of a series of flood events in the Bosporus ; the stratigraphy is certainly not as clear as it originally seemed to be. One of the two (I forget which) has completely dropped the idea, and the other is certainly more nuanced about the idea. IT asll appears to be a lot muddier than the original story. Not that that slows down the low-grade science journalists from recycling their old footage.
      I think that you’ve been caught by some fishing stories yourself. There is a kernel of real events in there, but it’s been through the wringer somewhat.

  3. She looked at both sides and it seemed to me that she didn’t take all the stories literally also. She was merely telling us what a lot of people believe and also the other side. I actually believe she is a open to more reliable historic evidence and not the literal Bible.

  4. Before you get too weepy, there has been at least one “Great Flood” documented in almost every society’s folklore (much more to do with ice ages endings and tectonic shifting than wrath of gods); most of the 10 plagues of Egypt were caused by natural events (perhaps taken advantage of by folklorists/ biblical writers) and the Arc of the Covenant would be of enormous historical/archeological /anthropological/scientific value if it could be found (no matter who or why it is claimed to have been made.)
    As far as the Garden of Eden goes, if you believe what the bible says, we cannot, are not aloud to find/see it, so who is looking for it?

    1. Let’s be clear: all of the events and persons described in the Pentateuch are mythological — Eden, Arks (boat and box), Exodus, plagues everything. That’s the result of decades of scientific archaeology, and it’s fully in accord with what we understand about the provenance of the texts redacted during the exilic period into the “books” we have now.

      1. Agreed. However, I referred to floods, not arks. As I said, many to most civilizations have folklore/myths about ‘Great Floods’ covering the world. Obviously geology and paleontology tell us that water and land have shifted about a great deal since both came to be on this planet. And I have been told that the Arc of the Covenant has been (at times, anyway) considered to have existed in the historical records of the various civilizations in that area, whether or not it is also referred to in their mythologies.

        1. Of course there were flood stories, given that most civilizations of any consequence started on fertile flood plains. The Genesis story is almost certainly borrowed from the ballad of Gilgamesh, particularly since there is no evidence for a flood in Palestine, which makes the search for evidence especially quixotic.

          And which historical records (other than the Pentateuch, which is primarily a theological text) refer to an “Ark (sic) of the Covenant”?

          1. I’ll have to get back to you; there is no heat in this room and my fingers are freezing to the keyboard. I heard it in some history class a zillion years ago.

            1. And as for the shifting around and disappearance of large chunks of land, I refer you to Tolkein’s “The Simarillion”. Every bit as much reason to accept the history of Middle Earth as fact as there is the biblical account of what went on in the Middle East, and the former is much more entertaining and better written.

            2. He does seem to be most knowledgeable on the subject, and was certainly more interesting and attractive that the guys in the ‘documentaries.’ I see no reason to believe he was any less informed than any of the so-called scholars who write this stuff.

    2. Those are just made up plagues, because no Sojurn in Egypt and no Exodus happened! Study ” The Bible Unearthed,” ” The Unauthorized Version” and ” Who Were the Israelites and Where did they Com Foim.’ and sother sources.
      One orthodox rabbi told his congregation that that is true!
      Oh, the Israelites were Canaanites!

      1. It seems quite likely that the so-called plaques of Egypt were, as you say, natural events, but very unusual, and possibly caused by an eruption of the island of Santorini (Thira). The big one has been dated to around 1628 BC, which might be linked to the expulsion of the Hyksos kings from Egypt by the founders of the 17th New Kingdom dynasty; or there could have been a later one in the 13th century BC, which caused pollution of the Nile and unusual tidal effects, red algal blooms and die-offs and disease. Maybe the story of the selective deaths of the First Born was just a malicious tale told by Israelite priests who hated the Egyptians for their “idolatry”.

        1. “It seems quite likely …”

          No it doesn’t. The evidence points to the Exodus story being invented whole cloth.

          1. Saying, “it seems quite likely” is merely my effort to point to possible historical underpinnings for the story. Usualy there is no smoke without fire. Christopher Hitchens, who, I greatly admire, thought it was entirely myth; perhaps he is/was right.
            Israel Finkelbaum in his book points out that there is no archaeological evidence, and there is nothing in Egyptian records, even if we knew the exact historical period, which we don’t; and besides, they would probably not have emphasized such a mishap as being humiliated by a bunch of miserable Canaanites squatting in the Nile delta, and their bad-tempered god.
            One can be a fervent atheist without being dogmatic.

            1. Given what we now know about both the Pentateuch and the archaeology, we shouldn’t expect any historical underpinnings. We’re not talking about the books of Kings or Chronicles here. These are fables constructed to provide a theological back story for a minor theocracy.

              1. Fine, if you say so; and as someone else pointed out, the flood myth has an earlier version in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
                Some aspects of the volcanic eruption hypothesis do seem rather too convenient, like a tsunami withdrawing water from the Sea of Reeds just as the Israelites crossed over, and then returning on cue to drown the Egyptians, or alternatively the entire Egyptian army stupidly plunging headlong into a muddy quicksand in order to round up some slaves whom they had only just released from bondage.
                In favour of some local disturbance is the probability of fall-out from a volcano causing pollution of the Nile, red dusty deposits or algal blooms in the water, fish deaths etc; but who really knows? I could not care less, as long as fanatics stop trying to make we worship the God of Israel because of a myth; I’m not even Jewish! Moreover I think it is the height of folly that we are still obliged to argue over the details written up in a later age, about who said what or did what to whom, three thousand or more years ago.
                Pity the writer of Exodus did not bother to record the name of the reigning Pharoah of the time, (if it was God, then he made a non-omnipotent slip-up);- then we could have pin-pointed any possible events to say Rameses II, or possibly Ahmose or Akhenaten.

      2. The only reason I brought up the plagues was that so many ‘literalists’ point to them over and over again as acts of god. Amazing as you might find it, I learned the natural causes that occurred regularly for the various ‘plagues’ and the parting of the Red Sea when I was in grammar school, a private Catholic school staffed with the Sisters of St. Joseph. And despite the descriptions of the poor simple farmers and herders were actually well know and considered some of the finest mercenaries in that part of the world. The reason the Egyptians enslaved them after many years of paying them to be a bulwark between the Egyptians and the Hittites. The population of the Israelites had greatly expanded and there was serious concern that they were becoming a bit too friendly with the Hittites and could pose a real threat to the Egyptians.

        1. I’m afraid none of that bears any relationship to the actual history archaeology has uncovered in the past couple of decades.

    1. We know Jericho was uninhabited at the time. In fact, the entire “conquest” is a myth. The Israelites were Caananites.

  5. The tone and editing of the preview remind of programs about ancient alien civilizations and bigfoot. They can all be lumped together in the myths section.

    1. I think the crop circles are made by bigfoot ancient aliens with chupacabras for pets. It was predicted by Nostradamas.

    2. Indeed. More galling still is that these programs are on channels named “Discovery” and “History”. The “History” channel has a sister channel, “History2” that has, for weeks on end, run back-to-back programs about “Apocalypse 2012”. Now that that’s a bust, it’s back to their regular programming, which is shows about Earth’s colonization by aliens.

      The so-called “Discovery” channel appears to focus exclusively on pawn shops, people with OCD, big tow trucks, and the like.

      It’s a big country and people are free to watch what they like, but doesn’t airing this crap on channels called “History” and “Discovery” give them the imprimatur of truth?

      Eh, sorry. I’ve been feeling more put out about this than usual.

      1. You are not alone. There’s (so I’m told by my son) some sense that the CT shooter’s mother had bought into all of this apocalyptical crap, and this was why she had the guns. This is basically the reason I don’t have cable.

      2. I’m glad I’m not the only one that has become disgusted with the programing on these channels. I used to enjoy a variety of informational and interesting documentaries and other programs that really did include real history and science. Now they wander through pawn shops, garage sales and various family business like exterminators, swamp hunters, bounty hunters and marginally legal ‘repo’ businesses. (although I noticed that the History channels and Discovery channels to have switched the programing that you noted. I just cancelled my cable service and I haven’t missed it at all.

  6. Amanpour covers the Middle East, right? Some genius producer must have thought “hey, the Bible. That’s Middle East, right?”

  7. Most of these stories go so far back into antiquity, they really can’t be tied to any particular actual event. But, the world was so “small” back then and the movement of people was generally so limited, that a big flood probably did seem like the entire Earth was flooded. By now, we should all know that the stories are primarily nothing but myth. TV types do these things for no reason other than to sell more soap … anything to get the religious types tuned in just before Christmas. It’s all about the Christmas feeding frenzy.

  8. Actually, I think Noah’s flood is very plausible. If I had been a smallholder farmer living on a flat alluvial plain with two large leaky rivers connected by irrigation canals flowing through it, and liable to flood whenever it looked like rain,-I would have had a fully equipped large boat in my back garden, all ready for the big one. Being an ignorant peasant with no knowledge of geography outside of Mesopotamia,I would no doubt have considered it to be the whole world.

  9. Maybe the Garden of Eden was the Bekaa valley, in East Syria, Palestine. I’ve heard it was very desirable and contended over by the Hittites nd Egyptians back in the 13th century BC.

  10. Apparently the Arc of the Covenant is in Aksum, Ethiopia; but (of course) they won’t let heathen archaeologists visit it.

    1. There’s a reasonably coherent ‘history’ explaining how it ended up there, but the posterior probability is negligible because there hasn’t (as far as we know) been an Entebbe-style ‘retrieval’ mission.

  11. It happens over and over. Every time some scholar decides that the Bible most have originated from some particular time and place, someone else looks at that time and place and finds a flood they can claim was the inspiration for the Noah story.

    I can’t understand the point. There will never be definitive evidence of the origin of that story, whether inspired by an actual flood or made up out of whole cloth. The story was an oral tradition for too long with no records at all.

    And I really don’t get the Christian’s who look for this inspirational flood. If they did find convincing evidence of some major flood being the source, that just proves that the biblical account is wrong. What have they gained?

    But the reality is that even if the flood story were inspired by an actual flood, the story itself could not have been written for a few generations after the flood. Contemporaneously, the person telling the story and the listener both had to know that the flood didn’t wipe out the whole world, since they are both alive.

  12. For the sake of arguement, let’s say this gigantic flood made a huge lake 100′ deep–some flood indeed! Some Christians will say that is proof of Noah’s Flood. Others will still look on top of Mt Ararat for the Ark.

  13. Some years ago (1998)I picked up a book entitled “Noahs Flood” (ISBN 0-684-81052-2)after hearig the authors, William Ryan and Walter Pitman talking about it on the CBC. The idea was that the Black Sea formed when the Mediterrean Sea breached the narrow isthmus at Dardanelles and the Bosphorus to flood what had been a fresh water glacial lake to form the salt water Black Sea. They presented geological, biological and ethnographic evidence in support and I recall it seemed like a reasonable hypothesis at the time (to a layman like myself) .
    The authors were (or still are) scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia. Robert Ballard of Titanic fame followed up with an expedition to the Black Sea sometime later. I haven’t heard too much about it since although there were some rumblings about the authors grasp of ancient linguistic patterns sometime after.

    1. It’s called the Black Sea deluge hypothesis, and Wikipedia has a reasonable summary of the current debate:

      It seems deeply unlikely that whatever happened there has anything to do with the biblical flood myth, which has been clearly shown to be a rewrite of the Epic of Gilgamesh flood story, the earliest versions of which date to before 2000 BCE — a full milennium before the Israelites make an appearance in the archeological record.

  14. In their entireties, both the flood and Garden of Eden myths are so silly that looking for their putative “locations” is very much like examining older houses in Kansas in hopes of finding the actual starting point for the adventures of Dorothy and Toto in Oz.

  15. A couple of years ago, the BBC presented a doc by Francesca Stavrakopoulou on Eden. Her contention was that it was a real garden/temple situated in Jerusalem circa 500 BCE – and that this comparatively late episode had been retconned* into creation mythology.

    * a comic book term: “retroactive continuity” 😉

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