The effect of the Flood on human life-spans


  • Question 124, from SF

    The average life-span of people written about in the Old Testament was hundreds of years, yet after the flood life spans dramatically declined. I have heard somewhere that the cause of this is related to a change in the earth’s atmosphere after the flood. Where might I go to find out more on this theory?

    The only time average human life-spans are recorded as notably longer is before the story of the great flood. Although there was a much lower life-expectancy in Old Testament times, for the vast majority of the Old Testament, a life-span of 70 years was considered a good age (see, for example Psalm 90, verse 10).

    The theory mentioned in the question is often found in creationist literature produced by people who seek to ‘prove’ there is a scientific basis to the stories found in Genesis. Within the creation accounts there is a reference to the waters being divided between the sea and the sky (Genesis chapter 1, verse 6). The theory goes that this layer of water acted as a filter, cutting out harmful solar rays and enabling humans to live longer.

    The flood is explained as a sudden collapse of this watery layer, which fell like rain. There is a long tradition, based loosely on references in Genesis, that there was no rain before the flood (see previous article on freelance theology). In 2 Peter chapter 3, verses 5-6, the flood is described as being the result of the waters in the sky returning to earth.

    It is however worth noting that the long life-spans referred to in Genesis may be the result of textual problems relating to translating numbers in Hebrew, or the life-spans may have been ‘lengthened’ by the writers of Genesis so the ancestors of the Hebrew nation were accorded greater honour. A recent article on freelance theology addresses this issue in more depth – please click here.

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