"All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few."

- Stendhal

"Till, when he [the traveler Zul-qarnain] reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it going down into a muddy spring, ... "

- Sura Sura 18:86



Was Christianity cut-and-pasted from other religions?
2) the Bible and the flood


"Each religion, so dear to those whose life it sanctifies...necessarily contradicts every other religion, and probably contradicts itself."

- George Santayana

"If primitive religion could be explained away as an intellectual aberration, as a mirage induced by emotional stress, or by its social function, it was implied that the higher religions could be discredited and disposed of in the same way."

- E.E. Evans-Pritchard

5 Formed by the evolutionary hypothesis?

Powerful historical evidence recorded by ancient non-Christians has effectively forced modern scholarly criticisms of the Bible's formulation into adopting the evolutionary hypothesis. This is the belief that the specific books of the Bible were continually being appended and changed, instead of having been written by specific authors and having remained in that basic original form.

There are several good Old Testament introductions that do an excellent job of justly representing this hypothesis and defending against it in detail (an "introduction" is a modern work written to illuminate the history and authenticity of Scripture book-by-book). However, one facet of the hypothesis is too interesting and important not to address here.

That facet concerns those times when distinct and unmistakable parallels are discovered between the scriptures and other ancient writings. Critics of the Bible will invariably take what might be described as the glass-half-empty approach. Invariably. If a story in the Bible resembles a story elsewhere, the conclusion critics adopt is that the Bible borrowed that story from the other source rather than vice versa. The defense against this charge is quite strong and compelling. The particular example we will look at involves the many similar stories of a worldwide flood.

5.6 What about these accounts of a worldwide flood?

Other than ancient Israel, cultures all around the world record an incredible, devastating global flood. Gleason Archer reveals some very interesting parallels among the different accounts:

But what shall we say of the legend of Manu preserved among the Hindus (according to which Manu and seven others were saved in a ship from a worldwide flood); or of Fah-he among the Chinese (who was the only survivor, along with his wife, three sons, and three daughters); or of Nu-u among the Hawaiians; or of Tezpi among the Mexican Indians; or of Manabozho among the Algonquins? All of these agree that all mankind was destroyed by a great flood (usually represented as worldwide) as a result of divine displeasure at human sin, and that a single man with his family or a very few friends survived the catastrophe by means of a ship or raft or large canoe of some sort.

The Kurnai (a tribe of Australian aborigines), the Fiji Islanders, the natives of Polynesia, Micronesia, New Guinea, New Zealand, New Hebrides, the ancient Celts of Wales, the tribesmen of Lake Caudie in the Sudan, the Hottentots, and the Greenlanders, all have their traditions of a universally destructive deluge which wiped out all the human race except for one or two survivors. The most complete collection of these flood legends from all over the world is contained in Richard Andree's German work Die Flutsagen (1891).4

(The Epic of Gilgamesh is the Babylonian version in which it is Utnapishtim who constructs an ark to survive the deluge and finally lands upon Mount Nisir.5 ).

What do we make of the similarities of a global flood that only a handful of people survived?

Rather than jumping to the conclusion that 3,000 years ago the Jews stole the idea of a deluge from Mexican Indians or Australian aborigines, something else should be considered here. Remnant elements of truth existing within the miscellaneous religions of the world are exactly what we should expect if, according to the Judeo-Christian belief, all civilizations came from one common root.

Naturally, remnant elements of truth within the worlds religions would apply to cultures that predate Moses as well as to any which came after him. But because Moses' knowledge of the creation, including the flood, is claimed to have come from God himself, the Bible should prove to contain the most accurate account.

The deviations in other cultures' religions, as well as in their creation and flood accounts, may have been partly why God inspired the proper recording of the actual events. Moses' account might have been used to set the record straight. Evidence for this exists throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament where God's attributes are constantly being contrasted to neighboring pagan beliefs and practices of the day. Thus it would be consistent with this precedent to believe that God gave the flood account to Moses for the purposes of being both a correct record of the event, and to disprove the other accounts in circulation.

5.7 What an invented religion should have looked like.

Finally, one must consider the would-be motivations behind a cut-and-paste methodology for making up a religion. Why, for example, would the Bible's book of Job, clearly written hundreds of years before Christ and possibly written as early as the second millennium BC, contradict all popular beliefs of its time? It describes the earth as "being in empty space and hung on nothing" (Job 26:7) and as a type of "circle" in every direction (Job 26:10).

It is doubtful that "empty space" was understood then as we understand it now, but consider the neighboring beliefs that Israel is alleged to have cut-and-pasted from. If the biblical writing merely reflected the popular beliefs of its time, it should have described the earth as the back of an incredibly huge elephant, or turtle, or as having definitive edges (see the Islamic quote to the left, or an incredible one here). But instead, ancient Scripture contains an insight that was not seriously considered by the world until literally thousands of years later.

If the religion of Israel was derived from its contemporaries, it should have embraced ritual sex, polytheism, companion male and female deities, and idol worship. However, whenever Israel began to indulge in such things, the biblical writings consistently show that God, through Israel's own prophets, vehemently condemned the adoption of such practices.

In addition to the evidence which Israel should have exhibited but did not (if they were only reflecting the cultures around them), there are also elements within Israel's religion that definitely should not have existed if their beliefs were merely derived. These include affirmations of but one God, a God whose character is holy and self-sacrificing, a God whose character is not subject to lust and greed like men, express commands against making idols, and the exhortation to be inwardly reverential.

This uniqueness of Israel's religion, as well as the accuracy and insights within Scripture, are just two of many examples of how, unlike false religions, Christianity continually proves itself to be completely consistent, coherent, and inexorably tied to recorded history, real people, and verifiable facts.


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See also:

Was Christianity cut-and-pasted from other religions? - part one

Where did the earth come from?

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Too often the Bible is dismissed by skeptics because of the generalization that all religions are the same.

That isn't logical and isn't true. While someone highly trained in both the Bible AND ancient religions can address those skeptics best, here is at least some good logic and clear points with which the common person can respond.

(The aforementioned write a fair portion of my received email, but NEVER that I can recall has even one skeptic cited a reference for their guilt-by-association claims. I can, why can't you?

And to all whom this applies, please stop buttressing your biblical refutations with the phrase or attitude "everybody knows..." Sorry, but any email whose best proof is that is a waste of precious 1's and 0's.)


1. The evolutionary hypothesis.
2. The worldwide flood.
3. An invented religion?