Genesis 8 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Genesis 8 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;

(8:1) "And God remembered Noah."
Yeah. He probably said something like, "Isn't Noah the guy who built the ark?"
The phrase “God remembers” does not mean what the author of the SAB thinks. The Bible uses it to indicate that the time has come that God will show particular favour upon his children. John Gill explains:

Not that God had forgotten Noah, for he does not, and cannot forget his creatures, properly speaking; but this is said after the manner of men, and as it might have seemed to Noah, who having heard nothing of him for five months, and having been perhaps longer in the ark than he expected, might begin to think that he was forgotten of God; but God remembered him, and his covenant with him, and the promise that he had made to him, that he and his family, and all the living creatures in the ark, should be preserved alive during the flood, Ge 6:17 and God may be said particularly to remember him, and them, when he began to take measures for removing the waters from the earth, as he did by sending a wind, next mentioned: and thus God's helping his people when in difficulties and in distress, and delivering out of them, is called his remembrance of them; and he not only remembered Noah and his family, who are included in him, but every living creature also

2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;

(8:2) "The windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained."
This happens whenever it stops raining.
This clearly doesn't happen every time it stops raining. Do the fountains of the deep open every time it rains? It doesn't. This verse simply refers to the extra-ordinary start (Gen. 7:11) of The Flood and its extra-ordinary end.

3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

(8:3) "After the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated."
How long did the flood last?

4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

(8:4-5) "The ark rested in the seventh month … upon the mountains of Ararat."
How long did the ark float?
Again the author of the SAB is desperately looking for a contradiction and found? Exactly none. Both this verse and verse 5 describe very different things, the next verse doesn't even mention the ark! In this verse it describes that the ark stopped floating. It rested probably on the top of a very high mountain. It took a few months before lower lying mountain tops were visible from the ark says the next verse. Noah didn't go out of the ark, he had to look out of the windows and probably couldn't look at a steep down angle easily, so he had to look around him.

5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.

6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:

7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.

(8:7) "He sent forth a raven."
The flood story in Genesis is confusing to read. The clean animals go into the ark by twos (6:19-20, 7:8-9) and by sevens (7:2). The flood lasts for forty days (7:17) and for 150 days (7:24, 8:3). Noah sends out a raven (8:7) and a dove (8:8).
Why doesn't Genesis get its story straight? Because there were two separate accounts that were (somewhat clumsily) interwoven.
The Genesis story is only confusing if you are looking for contradictions that do not exist. On the animals that went into the Ark, see chapter 6:19.
On how long the Flood lasts, see chapter 7:17.
In this chapter Noah sends out two birds: first a raven, and sometime later a dove. The raven didn't return, but flew around the Ark until the earth was dry enough. The dove couldn't find a nesting place yet, so returned. And a week later Noah tried again (verse 11). The reason Noah sent a raven first is that this bird feeds on carrion. So if the earth was dry enough and dead carcasses available, the bird would have flown away and not return, else it would have returned to the Ark.
The author of the SAB mentions that these chapters consist of supposedly two separate accounts that were interwoven. This is based on a theory developed in the 19th century, the documentary hypothesis. This hypothesis does not need to refer to tangible artifacts, but every professor can make up sources as he sees fit. So every professor makes his own claims about what words came from what sources. Those supposed sources have never been found obviously. Apart from that this is claimed for no other book, it also dismissed the clear structure of this portion of Genesis, and not “clumsily interwoven” as the author of the SAB has hit.

8 Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;

9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;

11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

"He sent forth a dove."
Noah sends a dove out to see if there was any dry land. But the dove returns without finding any. Then, just seven days later, the dove goes out again and returns with an olive leaf. But how could an olive tree survive the flood? And if any seeds happened to survive, they wouldn't germinate and grow leaves within a seven day period.
The claim of the author of the SAB only makes sense if he believes the following:
  1. The waters covered everything up to the highest level of trees.
  2. In seven days the waters had disappeared and a tree grown.
Which is indeed a very unlikely scenario and therefore not at all what is described here and completely at odds what every child would understand what is said here.
First of all, where does the author of the SAB gets his claim from that the waters still covered the earth the first day the dove was sent out? The Bible asserts the contrary. Noah wouldn't have sent out a bird if the waters still covered the earth. So from the Ark the world appeared dry. But how would Noah know it was wise for him and the animals to leave the ark? So he used these birds to see if the earth was suitable again for animals. The earth was already dry as far as he began to see, verse 5, and learnt from the raven that didn't return, verse 7. A raven feeds on carrion, but a dove needs trees, so this was a test to see if trees had grown again and not only that, but also if leaves had appeared.
On the olive tree: the author of the SAB wonders how it could have survived the flood. According to CMI:

In many tree species (including olives) broken pieces buried in soil or mud close to the surface can sprout another tree, the likely source of the olive leaf in Genesis.

Wikipedia says:

Its root system is very robust and capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed.

The tree would have been growing for some months, possibly four. Obviously it would not have been a fully grown fruit bearing tree. The dove probably got some leave from the baby shoots.
Although I couldn't find a picture showing shoots about 4 months old, this page contains images of shoots coming out at the sides of an old tree. This site also has shoots coming up (no indication how old they are).

12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.

13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.

(8:13-14) "In the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth."
When did the earth dry after the flood?
Clearly the verb “drying up” describes a process. As LookingUntoJesus perceived, this was the perspective from the Ark: the world looked dry, i.e. no waters could be seen. As this verse says “the waters were dried up from off the earth ... the face of the ground was dry.” John Gill explains:

the ground or surface of the earth looked dry; but was not so dry and hard as to bear heavy bodies, or the foot to tread on it, being soft and tender, through the water so long upon it, and had left mud and slime, not yet sufficiently hardened by the wind and sun to walk upon.

In verse 14 we get God's perspective. God perceived the time when the earth was safe for humans and the animals. So in the previous verse the waters were no longer visible, and here in the second month the earth was actually dry.

14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.

15 And God spake unto Noah, saying,

16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee.

17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him:

19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.

(8:19) "Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark."
When the animals left the ark, what would they have eaten? There would have been no plants after the ground had been submerged for nearly a year. What would the carnivores have eaten? Whatever prey they ate would have gone extinct. And how did the New World monkeys or the Australian marsupials find their way back after the flood subsided?
As can be seen in verse 13 it took a while between when the earth appeared dry, and when it was actually safely dry. And before that it took quite a while before the tops of the mountains were seen and the earth was dry. So there were quite a few months where plants, shrubs and trees could grow. So it wasn't the case, as the author of the SAB says, that one day the earth was covered in water, and the next day it was dry and everyone left the earth. The time between the Ark resting on Arafat (Wednesday, May 6) and animals leaving the ark (Thursday, December 18) was about 7 months (dates according to the reckoning of Bishop Usher). The Northern hemisphere would have had a full growing season.
On the carnivores, the author of the SAB makes the typical evolutionist mistake that being a carnivore is a built-in behaviour. It's not. What we can eat is largely determined by the bacteria in our bowels. Lions can eat grass, and herbivores can eat meat. Much of what animals eat is opportunistic behaviour and can change quickly.
On how marsupials found their way back to Australia (and South America!): evolutionists have to explain these territories as well. Anyway, marsupials are still found outside these areas. And animals can spread extremely quickly: it took the rabbit only 50 years to cross the Australian continent from East to West coast.

20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

(8:20-21) "And the Lord smelled a sweet savor."
Noah kills the "clean beasts" and burns their dead bodies for God. According to 7:8-9 this would have caused the extinction of all "clean" animals since only two of each were taken onto the ark.
Does God desire animal sacrifices?
No, from the clean animals 7 pairs were in the Ark, see chapter 7:2. The author of the SAB quotes the verses that describes how they went into the Ark, not how many of them went into the Ark.
On if God desires animal sacrifices: God commanded them from the beginning, see chapter 3:21 as a sign that blood would have to flow to atone for sins. Not that animals could atone, but animal sacrifices were a sign till the Messiah came.

21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

(8:21) "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth."
God killed all living things (6:5) because humans are evil, and then promised not to do it again (8:21) because humans are evil. The mind of God is a frightening thing.
Will God curse the earth?
On “God killed all living things”, see chapter 6:5.
On God cursing the earth, see Mal. 4:6.

22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.