by Dr. Walt Brown
Genesis 2:5–6 suggests that it did not rain before the flood:
Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.1
Notice, these verses only say that after creation, it had not rained. How long did this condition last? Some believe that this mist began the evaporation-rain cycle. If so, the period of no rain was brief, and there was rain before the flood. But if the “no-rain condition” ended sometime before the flood, wouldn’t that have been mentioned? Let’s look for other clues.
Rainbows. God promised never again to flood the entire earth (Genesis 9:12–17), a promise marked by a “bow in the cloud”—a rainbow. Rainbows form when raindrops refract sunlight. This suggests that rainbows began after the flood, which would mean there was no preflood rain.
Others disagree, saying rainbows may have been visible before the flood, but afterward God simply associated His promise with rainbows. This would be similar to the symbolism of a wedding ring. Rings existed before a wedding, but afterward the ring recalls a solemn vow. However, if rainbows suddenly began right after the flood, the rainbow’s symbolic effect would have been more unforgettable and reassuring to the frightened flood survivors.
Some argue that rainbows would have formed before the flood every time water splashed and droplets refracted sunlight. This argument overlooks that God’s promise concerned rainbows “in the cloud,” not a relatively few drops of water several feet above the ground for a few seconds.
A Terrarium. The Hebrew word translated “mist,” in Genesis 2:6 is used in only one other place in the Bible—Job 36:27. There, it clearly means water vapor. So, did the preflood earth act as a humid terrarium in which water vapor evaporated, condensed as dew without rainfall, and watered the earth? Could an earth-size terrarium produce enough water to supply major rivers, such as described in Genesis 2:10–14? (Two preflood rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, were evidently the basis for naming the mighty postflood rivers that today bear the same names. See Endnote 5 on page 544.)
Differences between the Preflood and Postflood Earth. The preflood earth was quite different from today’s earth. If the hydroplate theory is reasonably correct, at least half the earth’s water was under the crust, so earth’s surface had less water than today. There were large seas, but no oceans the size of the Atlantic or Pacific. Also, tidal pumping was continuously producing a vast amount of heat in the subterranean water chamber, about 60-miles below earth’s surface. [See “Tidal Pumping: Two Types” on pages 607–609.]
Following creation, temperatures in the subterranean chamber and throughout the lower crust quickly rose and reached a “steady state” condition; that is, heat losses miles above the chamber balanced heat production in the chamber. Therefore, no further temperature (or pressure) increases occurred in the chamber or crust.
Earth’s hydrosphere, consists of earth’s liquid water on land and a mile or so under earth’s surface. The preflood hydrosphere was miles above the subterranean water chamber. No water from the subterranean chamber entered the hydrosphere, but heat generated in the chamber by tidal pumping evaporated some of the hydrosphere’s water as steam (or vapor). That vapor, traveling along millions of porous paths up through the soil and into the atmosphere, was the mist of Genesis 2:6 that rose “from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.” In doing so, vast amounts of heat were ultimately radiated into outer space, primarily at night.
If enough heat enters a drop of liquid water, the water becomes steam (water vapor). If that heat is removed from water vapor, liquid water returns (condenses) as rain or dew. The heavy dew that settled and watered the preflood earth, returned liquid water to the hydrosphere, completing the water cycle. Today, water evaporation is driven almost entirely by heat from above the hydrosphere—heat from the Sun. Before the flood, water evaporation was also driven by heat from below the hydrosphere—heat produced by tidal pumping in the subterranean water chamber. The more heat leaving the chamber, the more water vapor produced. [See “What Triggered the Flood” on pages 471–477.]
A subtle message in Genesis 2:5–6 is that the watering of the earth by a mist was a steady, routine occurrence. The heating that produced that mist and the ultimate source of that heat also had to be steady. Since steady state had been reached, heat and pressure were not building up indefinitely in the subterranean chamber. Had steady state not been reached, the chamber, which was established at the creation, would have been a ticking time bomb. On the contrary, everything that God created was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Creation did not include a ticking time bomb, nor any comets or asteroids aimed at the earth.
Other important differences, already explained by the hydroplate theory, were earth’s preflood topography. [See pages 113–149.] It was smoother, so rivers flowed more slowly, never flooded, and required less water condensation to keep them filled. Preflood mountains existed, but no major mountains such as the Rockies, Andes, or Himalayas. There were no volcanoes, glaciers, or polar ice caps before the flood. [See Endnote 34 on page 184.] The preflood earth had greater land area, because the flood produced today’s ocean basins, and earth’s radius was slightly larger.2 Without major barriers—oceans, mountain chains, and glaciers—travel was simpler. With so much water condensation, preflood forests were abundant and lush, enough to form today’s vast coal, oil, and methane deposits. This left little room for deserts. With 360-day years, days were slightly longer. As you will see, these preflood conditions prevented rain, but abundantly watered a thirsty earth.
Most wind is produced by atmospheric temperature differences; wind then mixes air with different temperatures and moisture contents. The various “mixtures” give us weather: rain, snow, hail, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, fair weather, etc. Without today’s vast oceans,3 volcanoes, major mountains, and ice sheets, the preflood earth had more uniform temperatures. Also, the abundant preflood vegetation moderated temperatures by evaporative cooling during the day and condensation (which always releases heat) at night. More uniform temperatures meant less wind4 and fewer weather extremes.
Condensation Nuclei. Water droplets almost always begin with water vapor condensing on a solid surface. A common example is early-morning dew that collects on grass. Raindrops, snowflakes, and fog particles begin growing on airborne microscopic particles (even bacteria5). These particles, called condensation nuclei, are typically 0.001–0.0001 millimeters in diameter—less than one hundredth the diameter of a human hair. Each cubic inch of air we breathe contains at least 1,000 such particles. Molecules of water vapor rarely collide and stick together; instead, a water droplet forms when trillions of water molecules collect on one of these microscopic particles.
If all sizes were scaled up, so a water molecule was the size of a ping-pong ball, a condensation nucleus would be a house-size “rock” and a raindrop would be 100 miles in diameter. When a gaseous water molecule strikes that “rock,” much of the molecule’s energy is transferred to the “rock” as heat. Because preflood humidity was high with all the mist rising each day from the earth’s surface, the molecules would stick when the temperatures dropped below the “dew point” at night; condensation would begin. The “rock,” slightly warmer because of the added energy from colliding water molecules, warmed the surrounding air, causing slight updrafts. Moist breezes plus updrafts brought enough moisture to “the rock” for it to grow quickly into a water droplet. That “rock” and its growing water volume could not “float” in calm air for long, just as a grain of sand cannot float in still water. However, flowing water and air can suspend both. With more uniform temperatures globally and less preflood wind, condensation nuclei received less lift and stayed closer to the ground. There would have been no lightning, which requires trillions of very high, convecting water droplets. (Besides, lightning could have killed people, contradicting Genesis 1:31.) High clouds may not have existed.
A microscopic droplet growing in the air has a tiny volume, but a relatively large cross-sectional area. Therefore, rising, moist air carried the tiny droplet upward and added liquid water to it. As it grew, its weight increased faster than its cross-sectional area, so it quickly settled to the earth, collecting other droplets in its path. We could describe this as mist rising from the earth and then settling back to water the ground. (Sounds like Genesis 2:6, doesn’t it?)
It would be similar to morning fog rising on a still lake, but with several differences. First, before the flood, the earth had no polar ice and no snow-capped mountains, so less solar radiation was reflected back into space, and more of the Sun’s rays heated earth during the day. With more forests, few (if any) clouds, and slightly longer days, the sun evaporated more water than today—and the mist rising from the preflood earth kept relative humidity high. At night, with fewer clouds and longer nights, more heat escaped into space, so more water condensed. (Today, clouds reflect 20–25% of earth’s incoming radiation back into space and hold in much of the outgoing radiation.) Therefore, the preflood earth was watered much more abundantly and uniformly by daily condensation than by rainfall today. Unlike today, there were no long dry or wet spells, droughts, or local floods.
Heavy condensation before each sunrise kept moisture closer to the ground, further restricting cloud formation. Today, morning fog evaporates soon after sunrise, before the moisture can settle to the ground. With fewer, if any, high clouds before the flood, temperatures dropped more rapidly at night. This, coupled with more moisture in the daytime air, allowed water droplets to grow larger, settle to the ground faster, soak into the soil before morning evaporation could begin, and water plants abundantly.
Preflood fog droplets also grew faster and larger than today. Without today’s main sources of condensation nuclei (volcanic debris, sulfur compounds from volcanoes, man-made pollutants, lightning-produced fires, sea salt from ocean spray, or dust and bacteria kicked up by high winds) there were fewer condensation nuclei. Condensing more moisture on fewer nuclei meant fog droplets grew larger and settled faster.
We can only marvel at the simplicity and efficiency of the preflood system for uniformly distributing, each day throughout the earth, water, a most precious resource. Today, we have droughts and local floods. Equally marvelous was the automatic preflood system for keeping time—a 360-day year and a 30-day lunar month, described on pages 155–190 and 604 and visible to everyone on the possibly cloudless earth. Each marvel gives new meaning to the words, “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) We feeble engineers must exclaim to the Master Engineer, “Brilliant!”
First Rain. If it did not rain before the flood, how did the first rain form at the very beginning of the flood? As explained on pages 113–149, the drops of water falling at the beginning of the flood were not formed by condensing water. Instead, they formed by the upward-jetting spray from the fountains of the great deep.
Any credible flood explanation should explain why rain did not fall before the flood, how the fertile earth was watered, what supplied the rivers, how violent rain7 fell so rapidly at the beginning of the flood, and why the rain ended after 40 days, even though the flood waters rose until the 150th day when all preflood mountains were covered. Also, if the flood’s 40 days of rain formed by condensation, that rain should have stopped after a few days, because falling rain would have removed the condensation nuclei. The hydroplate theory answers all these questions.
The preceding description of preflood meteorology helps us understand what would otherwise be the four strangest rivers the earth ever had. Genesis 2:10–14 states:
Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah … And the name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
From our postflood perspective, rivers seldom divide into two downstream rivers, let alone four, and certainly rivers do not flow completely arounda land—at least today. How can this be explained? [Note: The Hebrew word for “around” (sabab) means “encircled,” “circumference,” or “completely around.”]
Rain, as we know it, began after the flood. Some rain soaks into the ground, but most6 becomes runoff which always drains downhill. Even rain that eventually soaks into the ground is downhill runoff for some distance. It is this downhill flow that produces the branching, tributary patterns that characterize today’s rivers.
We must also remember that the flood deposited sediments that average, at least on the continents, slightly more than a mile in depth. As explained in the liquefaction chapter [pages 195–212], most of those sediments were stratified into layers that are now parallel to the slope of the land. Therefore, even today’s subsurface water tends to flow in the direction of surface runoff when seeping downward from a permeable layer to a less permeable layer. Also, vast amounts of dissolved cementing agents, such as limestone and silica, were released from the subterranean chambers during the flood, so most of today’s sedimentary layers are cemented rock, much less permeable than preflood soils.
However, preflood precipitation was a very heavy dew, “a mist that rose up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.” The total precipitation volume per year, as (as explained in bold on page 478) was much greater than today’s rainfall, and the preflood, heavy dew was distributed much more slowly, uniformly, and regularly over the land (actually, daily, during the cool of each night). Therefore, preflood condensation had a much greater tendency to soak into the soil than rain, and preflood groundwater would not have encountered layered strata or relatively impermeable sedimentary rock. In what direction would all that ground water flow? Always in the direction of decreasing pressure—not necessarily in the downhill direction as in today’s surface runoff. That means that preflood subsurface flow would eventually emerge as springs in low-elevation valleys—valleys that would have been preflood river beds.
How does this explain the strange preflood rivers? Valleys frequently intersect other valleys, and hills are often surrounded by valleys. Therefore, preflood valleys would sometimes carry rivers that branched into other rivers, and a moatlike river might encircle a preflood hill. The high ground encircled by the “moat” could have been even continental in size. (Every continent today is surrounded by a topographic low.)
The flow of these preflood, moatlike rivers would have been slow and downhill. If there were no surface outlet, the width and depth of the moat would increase, so more evaporation would occur. Also, more of the river’s water would soak into the river bed and emerge as springs in preflood seas, the lowest regions on the preflood earth. Eventually, the moat would lose about as much water from evaporation and seepage as it gained from ground water draining into the moat. Rivers not constrained to enclosed valleys flowed into large seas. Today’s Tigris and Euphrates were probably named because they reminded the flood survivors of the preflood Tigris and Euphrates.
References and Notes
- Translations of these verses raise frequent questions. Some believe that Genesis 2:5–6 contradicts Genesis 1. They dismiss Genesis as inaccurate or conclude that there are two creation accounts, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Item 3on page 547refutes those opinions.
Other objections include the following: The creation of vegetation was described in Genesis 1:11–12, but later, Genesis 2:5 says there was no vegetation. Man was created in Genesis 1:27, yet Genesis 2:5 says there was “no man.” These objectors also claim that Genesis 2:5–6 says ‘there was no man to cultivate the ground,” but man must be present before cultivated plants could grow, and in Genesis 1, plants came before man.”
These misunderstandings disappear when one realizes that “vegetation” in Genesis 1:11–12 is the Hebrew word deshe, meaning the plant kingdom. In Genesis 2:5, “shrub” (siach) and “plant” (eseb) are special kinds of cultivated plants. Following the latter two words with “of the field” implies cultivation or farming of specific plants—not vegetation in general. Likewise, “beasts of the field” (Genesis 2:19–20, II Samuel 21:10, Psalm 8:7) are domestic animals, while “beasts of the earth” (Genesis 1:24–25) are wild animals. “Plants of the field” (cultivated plants) were probably not eaten until after the fall (Genesis 3:18).
My understanding of Genesis 2:5–6 is:
Crops were not yet growing on the newly created earth. The Lord God had not sent rain, and man did not yet toil for food. [Hard labor came after the fall.] Heavy fog watered the earth.
- Earth’s preflood radius was about 180 miles larger than today, giving the earth’s surface about 18 million additional square miles. [See“Shrinking Earth”on page 163.]
- Oceans and other large bodies of water change temperature more slowly than land. Today, large temperature contrasts between the two generate strong wind systems. With less surface water before the flood, these temperature contrasts, and the wind they generated, would have been weaker.
- Forests retard winds much more than deserts. Before the flood, lush forests were extensive, so there were few, if any, deserts. Today, strong winds over such deserts as the Sahara lift dust (and bacteria) high into the stratosphere where they can drift for thousands of miles and, as nucleation sites, initiate rain.
- Douglas Fox, “The Clouds are Alive,” Discover, April 2012, pp. 38–44.
- Just how much rain becomes runoff, depends on soil and ground cover characteristics, the slope of the land and rate of rainfall, and how dry or wet the soil is beforehand.
- See Endnote 10on page 495.