8-10. Biodiversité et Histoire

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8. Survie des espèces et écologie post-diluvienne

« He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the ground, » the Bible says (Gen 7:23). If the Flood was as described, that must have been an understatement.

Comment toutes les espèces de plantes ont-elles survécu ?

  • Beaucoup de plantes (les semis et autre) auraient été détruites en étant submergées pendant très peu de mois. Certaines mangroves, cocotiers, et autres plantes côtières ont des semis qui auraient pu peut être survivre au Déluge, mais quid pour les autres ?
  • Les semis auraient du être enterrés sous plusieurs mètres (voir kilomètres) de sédiments. Bien trop profondément pour espérer une germination.
  • La majorité des plantes requière des sols bien stables (demandez aux jardiniers de la famille, on ne peut pas faire pousser tout, n’importe où sur n’importe quoi) pour permettre la repousse – sols qui auraient été décapés par le Déluge
  • Certaines plantes germent seulement après avoir été exposé au feu ou après avoir été ingérer puis expulsé par les animaux ; ces conditions auraient été extrêmement difficiles après le Déluge.
  • Et pour certains « solutionnistes » du Déluge, il est impossible à Noé de rassembler des semis de toutes les plantes car toutes les plantes ne produisent pas de semis, et une grande variété de semis de plantes ne peuvent survivre pendant 1 an sans germer. Alors comment Noé a-t-il fait pour les distribuer à travers le monde ? Dont certaines plantes, fleurs ne se trouvent qu’a des endroits précis de la Terre ? [Garwood, 1989 ; Benzing, 1990 ; Densmore & Zasada, 1983] Also, how did he distribute them all over the world ?

How did all the fish survive ? Some require cool clear water, some need brackish water, some need ocean water, some need water even saltier. A flood would have destroyed at least some of these habitats.

How did sensitive marine life such as coral survive ? Since most coral are found in shallow water, the turbidity created by the runoff from the land would effectively cut them off from the sun. The silt covering the reef after the rains were over would kill all the coral. By the way, the rates at which coral deposits calcium are well known, and some highly mature reefs (such a the great barrier) have been around for millions of years to be deposited to their observed thickness.

How did diseases survive ? Many diseases can’t survive in hosts other than humans. Many others can only survive in humans and in short-lived arthropod vectors. The list includes typhus, measles, smallpox, polio, gonorrhea, syphilis. For these diseases to have survived the Flood, they must all have infected one or more of the eight people aboard the Ark.

Other animals aboard the ark must have suffered from multiple diseases, too, since there are other diseases specific to other animals, and the nonspecific diseases must have been somewhere.

Host-specific diseases which don’t kill their host generally can’t survive long, since the host’s immune system eliminates them. (This doesn’t apply to diseases such as HIV and malaria which can hide from the immune system.) For example, measles can’t last for more than a few weeks in a community of less than 250,000 [Keeling & Grenfell, 1997] because it needs nonresistant hosts to infect. Since the human population aboard the ark was somewhat less than 250,000, measles and many other infectious diseases would have gone extinct during the Flood.

Some diseases that can affect a wide range of species would have found conditions on the Ark ideal for a plague. Avian viruses, for example, would have spread through the many birds on the ark. Other plagues would have affected the mammals and reptiles. Even these plague pathogens, though, would have died out after all their prospective hosts were either dead or resistant.

How did short-lived species survive ? Adult mayflies on the ark would have died in a few days, and the larvae of many mayflies require shallow fresh running water. Many other insects would face similar problems. How could more than a handful of species survive in a devastated habitat ? The Flood would have destroyed the food and shelter which most species need to survive.

How did predators survive ? How could more than a handful of the predator species on the ark have survived, with only two individuals of their prey to eat ? All of the predators at the top of the food pyramid require larger numbers of food animals beneath them on the pyramid, which in turn require large numbers of the animals they prey on, and so on, down to the primary producers (plants etc.) at the bottom. And if the predators survived, how did the other animals survive being preyed on ?

How could more than a handful of species survive random influences that affect populations ? Isolated populations with fewer than 20 members are usually doomed even when extraordinary measures are taken to protect them. [Simberloff, 1988]

References
  • Benzing, D. H., 1990. Vascular Epiphytes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Densmore, R. and J. Zasada, 1983. Seed dispersal and dormancy patterns in northern willows : ecological and evolutionary significance. Canadian Journal of Botany 61 : 3207-3216.
  • Garwood, N. C., 1989. Tropical soil seed banks : a review. pp. 149-209 In : Leck, M. A., V. T. Parker, and R. L. Simpson (eds.), Ecology of Soil Seed Banks, Academic Press, San Diego
  • Keeling, M.J. & B.T. Grenfell, 1997. Disease extinction and community size : modeling the persistence of measles. Science 275 : 65-67.
  • Simberloff, Daniel, 1988. The contribution of population and community biology to conservation science. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 19 : 473-511.

9. Répartition des espèces et diversité

How did animals get to their present ranges ? How did koalas get from Ararat to Australia, polar bears to the Arctic, etc., when the kinds of environment they require to live doesn’t exist between the two points. How did so many unique species get to remote islands ?

How were ecological interdependencies preserved as animals migrated from Ararat ? Did the yucca an the yucca moth migrate together across the Atlantic ? Were there, a few thousand years ago, unbroken giant sequoia forests between Ararat and California to allow indigenous bark and cone beetles to migrate ?

Why are so many animals found only in limited ranges ? Why are so many marsupials limited to Australia ; why are there no wallabies in western Indonesia ? Why are lemurs limited to Madagascar ? The same argument applies to any number of groups of plants and animals.

Why is inbreeding depression not a problem in most species ? Harmful recessive alleles occur in significant numbers in most species. (Humans have, on average, 3 to 4 lethal recessive alleles each.) When close relatives breed, the offspring are more likely to be homozygous for these harmful alleles, to the detriment of the offspring. Such inbreeding depression still shows up in cheetahs ; they have about 1/6th the number of motile spermatozoa as domestic cats, and of those, almost 80% show morphological abnormalities. [O’Brien et al, 1987] How could more than a handful of species survive the inbreeding depression that comes with establishing a population from a single mating pair ?

Reference
  • O’Brien, S. J., D. E. Wildt, M. Bush, T. M. Caro, C. FitzGibbon, I. Aggundey & R. E. Leakey, 1987. East African cheetahs : Evidence for two population bottlenecks ? Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 84 : 508-511.

10. Aspects historiques

Why is there no mention of the Flood in the records of Egyptian or Mesopotamian civilizations which existed at the time ? Biblical dates (I Kings 6:1, Gal 3:17, various generation lengths given in Genesis) place the Flood 1300 years before Solomon began the first temple. We can construct reliable chronologies for near Eastern history, particularly for Egypt, from many kinds of records from the literate cultures in the near East. These records are independent of, but supported by, dating methods such as dendrochronology and carbon-14. The building of the first temple can be dated to 950 B.C. +/- some small delta, placing the Flood around 2250 B.C. Unfortunately, the Egyptians (among others) have written records dating well back before 2250 B.C. (the Great Pyramid, for example dates to the 26th century B.C., 300 years before the Biblical date for the Flood). No sign in Egyptian inscriptions of this global flood around 2250 B.C.

How did the human population rebound so fast ? Genealogies in Genesis put the Tower of Babel about 110 to 150 years after the Flood [Gen 10:25, 11:10-19]. How did the world population regrow so fast to make its construction (and the city around it) possible ? Similarly, there would have been very few people around to build Stonehenge and the Pyramids, rebuild the Sumerian and Indus Valley civilizations, populate the Americas, etc. Why do other flood myths vary so greatly from the Genesis account ? Flood myths are fairly common worldwide, and if they came from a common source, we should expect similarities in most of them. Instead, the myths show great diversity. [Bailey, 1989, pp. 5-10 ; Isaak, 1997] For example, people survive on high land or trees in the myths about as often as on boats or rafts, and no other flood myth includes a covenant not to destroy all life again.

Why should we expect Genesis to be accurate ? We know that other people’s sacred stories change over time [Baaren, 1972] and that changes to the Genesis Flood story have occurred in later traditions [Ginzberg, 1909 ; Utley, 1961]. Is it not reasonable to assume that changes occurred between the story’s origin and its being written down in its present form ?

References
  • Baaren, Th. P., 1972. The flexibility of myth. Studies in the History of Religions, 22 : 199-206. Reprinted in Dundes, A. (ed), 1984, Sacred Narrative, University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Bailey, Lloyd R., 1989. Noah : the person and the story in history and tradition. University of South Carolina Press, SC.
  • Ginzberg, Louis, 1909. The Legends of the Jews, vol. 1, pp. 145-169, Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia. Reprinted as « Noah and the Flood in Jewish legend » in : Dundes, Alan (ed.), 1988. The Flood Myth, University of California Press, Berkeley and London, pp. 319-336.
  • Isaak, Mark, 1997. Flood stories from around the world. http://www.talkorigins.org/faq/floo….
  • Utley, Francis Lee, 1961. Internationaler Kongress der Volkserzä in Kiel und Kopenhagen, pp. 446-463, Walter De Gruyter, Berlin. Reprinted as « The Devil in the Ark (AaTh 825) » in : Dundes, Alan (ed.), 1988. The Flood Myth, University of California Press, Berkeley and London, pp. 337-356. 

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Commentaires (2)

pyrrhon
Bonjour
Sacré sujet que le votre mais je ne connais personne qui recherche à connaitre l'environnement végétal de la Palestine à l'époque du Bronze en dehors des archéologues...
Bon courage dans votre quête
Cordialement
L'ADMINISTRATEUR
marwan
  • 2. marwan | 08/09/2014
Madame,
J'ai obtenu (en 2007) mon doctorat en aménagement des forêts intitulé : « Factures du milieu, gestion sylvicole et organisation de la biodiversité : les systèmes forestiers de la montagne de Lure (Alpes de Haute-Provence, France)» au sein de l’Université de Paul Cézanne - Aix Marseille III, faculté des Sciences à Marseille, en France.
J’ai un projet qui consiste à Chercher les espèces végétales, son environnement, et ses utilisations patrimoniales dans la Bible, et de construire un environnement virtuel pour chaque époque dans la Bible, puis réaliser une étude sur la végétation actuelle dans des milieux référencié dans la Bible. Pour but de réaliser une recherche chronique sur l’histoire de la biodiversité en relation avec la culture humaine.
Je vous serais reconnaissant de transmettre ce projet au chercheurs qui s’intéressent à cet axe de recherche.

Bien cordialement

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Date de dernière mise à jour : 17/07/2014