Population of the PreFlood World
by Tom Pickett
Introduction
Very little is known about the people who lived before the Great Flood.
Genesis chapters 2 through 7 provide a synopsis of that age. Ancient Jewish
writings provide more possible detail. However, no archeological discoveries
have been made which would reveal additional information about this lost
society. Therefore, scripture is all we have to rely on. Of the many issues
concerning the flood, a common question that has often been asked is: "What
was the world population when the flood occurred?" Most people have
been taught that the population might have been in the tens of millions
or perhaps in the hundreds of millions. Using an electronic spreadsheet,
an analysis was made of the effects of population size using the numerical
values provided in the book of Genesis for age of childbirth, number of
children per family and lifespans.
This study is based upon a time span of 1656 years, beginning with the
creation of Adam and extending to the time the Great Flood occurred. Although
arguments can be made against this amount of time, it is widely accepted
among Bible scholars. When you add up the genealogies in the book of Genesis
you get 1656 years. However, it should be noted that other ancient Jewish
writings such as the Septuagint indicate a longer time period . (1)
The book of Genesis identifies the lifespans of the antediluvians as
approximately 900 years (Massoretic Text). This is obviously different from
the lifespans of today. According to Scripture, the ages at which the antediluvians
had children range from 65 to over 100 years of age. Also, their families
would most likely be much larger than today's. With 900 year lifespans,
it would seem that the effects of disease on their society would be much
different than ours today. These variations would seem to change the traditional
generation lengths and family sizes used in today's population growth calculations.
Description of Calculations
Based on the numerical values in Genesis, the lifespans, generation
lengths, and childbearing ages were analyzed using an electronic spreadsheet
called Mathcad 7 (2). The results were plotted and range of probable values
determined, representing the world population at the time the flood occurred.
Figure 1 shows a chart of the antediluvian lifespans, childbirth ages,
and number of minimum children per family. The chart covers from the creation
of Adam out to 1656 years where the flood is believed to have occurred.
All information contained in the chart was taken from the Book of Genesis.
The population was calculated using the formula given below. This formula
was published by Henry Morris (3) and calculates the population of the world
at the time of the Flood. P(n) is the population after n generations which
begins with one man and one woman. The number of generations is represented
by n. A value for n can be obtained by dividing the total time period by
the number of years per generation.
The number of generations that are alive when P(n) is evaluated is represented
by x. For example, if x equals 2, the generations that are alive are generations
n and n1. The value of c represents half the number of children in the
family. If each family has only two children c would equal 1 and the population
growth rate would be zero.
The calculations were made using Mathcad 7 and the resulting data points
are plotted on graphs with diamonds indicating each data point. Both x and
y scales are logarithmic. The number of children per family are varied from
10 to 3. Several "runs" are made using different values for n.
The child bearing ages are obtained by dividing 1656 by n. The result is
used to establish the average age for childbirth and therefore, the length
of each generation. The population is evaluated in five groups, consisting
of the following:
1. Sixteen generations (n=16), each generation is 103.5 years. The lifespans
are 900 years (x=9). The calculations begin with 10 children per family
and are minimized to 3 children per family.
2. Eighteen generations (n=18), each generation is 92 years. The lifespans
are 900 years (x=9). The calculations begin with 10 children per family
and are minimized to 3 children per family.
3. Twenty generations (n=20), each generation is 82.8 years. The lifespans
are 900 years (x=9). The calculations begin with 10 children per family
and are minimized to 3 children per family.
4. Twentytwo generations (n=22), each generation is 75.3 years. The
lifespans are 900 years (x=9). The calculations begin with 10 children
per family and are minimized to 3 children per family.
Additional data points were generated, this time assuming that the population
may have been between 1 to 40 billion. The same lifespans were used as
in the previous (900 years). The generation lengths are also the same (16
to 22). The range of children per family is varied from 8.6 to 4.8. These
values appear to be more in line with what is mentioned in scripture. (Although,
scripture isn't clear as to what all cases may have been.)
Conclusions
Although it is difficult to obtain an actual value of world population
at the time of the flood, 5 to17 billion people would appear to be reasonable
populations, with an average of around 10 billion. The best ages for childbirth
would be 80.8 to 92 years with 6 to 7 children per family. This would be
20 to 18 generations produced from Adam to the Flood in 1656. The Book of
Genesis indicates (Chapter 5) that each family had at least 5 children.
Adam and Eve had a total of 7 (including Abel). However, Noah apparently
had only 3 children. (It is possible that he could have had sons and daughters
that aren't recorded and who weren't on the ark.)
Genesis Chapter 5 states that each person had "sons and daughters"
in addition to the son whose chronology is given. Since a plural is used
to describe the number of sons and daughters, a minimum of two sons and
two daughters are assumed. Therefore, a reasonable value would appear to
be a range of 5 to 8 children per family. As previously stated, Adam and
Eve had seven children. Using 5 to 8 children per family, the population
falls with in a range of ~2 billion to 11.5 billion (over the range of 16
to 22 generations). (Refer to last four tables at end of section.) It is
interesting that today's population of approximately 6 billion fall within
this category.
The Bible indicates that the mean life span was 900 years before the
Flood. However, the calculations indicate that this value has little effect
on the total population size. This appears to be due to the small number
of generations used (n) and large values of c. If longer generations were
used and fewer children born per family, I would expect x to be a greater
factor. Therefore, the number of children per family (during each generation)
has a far greater effect on the population. I believe the longer lifespan
had more to do with ones impact on society such as accumulation of knowledge.
(Imagine Edison or Einstein living 900 years!)
A reasonable value for the antediluvian childbearing age appears to be
approximately 90 years. Genesis uses a range of 65 to 500 years, for the
first born in the families that are listed. Noah is the only one mentioned
who waited 500 years before starting his family. We are not told why. Therefore,
Noah is an exception to the standard. (As mentioned above, Noah could have
had other sons and daughters who are not recorded.) The other oldest were
Methuselah (187 years), Lamech (182 years) and Jared (162 years). The rest
began their families at between 65 and 105 years of age (see timeline chart).
Adam is listed as being 130 when Seth was born. We don't know his age at
the time Cain and Abel were born. The age of the antediluvians when they
started their families is rather strange in contrast to today. These ages
appear to indicate that for some unknown reason, they may have been incapable
of reproduction until around the age of 65 years.
As previously mentioned, other ancient documents as well as others such
as Barry Setterfield have suggested a time span of 2256 years between creation
and the Flood. If this were true, then it would effect the population results,
driving the population far higher. In this case, it would mean the population
was much higher or the family sizes were lower than scripture indicates.
If the population reached over a billion, there would tend to be some
logistical problems in feeding and caring for the population (clothing,
housing, jobs, etc). This indicates that they would have required a higher
level of technology than what we currently give them credit for. Had their
population reached over 10 billion, they would have required similar technology
as we have today (rail, refrigerated shipping, sophisticated farming methods,
fast and reliable communication, etc).
References:
1. Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, 1976,
p. 154
2. Mathcad 7 is a product of Math Soft Inc. Cambridge MA.
3.. Henry M. Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Baker
Book House, 1984, p.417. Excerpt.
See also World Population
Since Creation, also on this web site.
Email: Tom Pickett
April 8, 1998. Revised, April 16, 1998, August 12, 1998.
