Using the Bible to Learn about…Atlantis?

via PZ Myers

atlantis2 The Answers in Genesis crew does more than run the Creation Museum.  They also attempt to teach you how to use the Bible to gain insight into a variety of questions.  One of these questions, you might be surprised to learn, is whether or not Atlantis existed and, if it did, where it was.  Let me spoil it for you:  Bodie Hodge, the author, has no idea.  That’s right, AiG went to the trouble to put up an essay in their “Answers in Depth” section on a subject with little to no legitimacy that provides no answers at all.  What it does provide, though, is some insight into the depths of goofiness of this strange group of creationists.

Let me point out at the beginning of this that there almost certainly was no lost continent of Atlantis.  There is a general consensus amongst scholars that Plato was using a fictional historical account to make a point about law and society.  Further, if you accept plate tectonic theory, and you should, the idea of any lost continent becomes simply implausible.  For these reasons, the entire question of whether or not Atlantis existed already has an answer without looking to biblical text.  But that doesn’t stop Hodge from using a lot of words to say nothing at all.

Hodge correctly points out that the earliest mention of Atlantis comes from Plato.  In fact, all further mentions of Atlantis rely on Plato’s account.  With that in mind, exactly what sort of illumination does Hodge think can be provided by the Bible?  Well, first, if it existed, it sank post-flood (that would be the Noahic flood).  Hodge writes,

Since the modern continent scheme was changed significantly from the Flood and Plato was referring to post-Flood places, it is very unlikely that this Atlantis was pre-Flood. Plato’s book Critias gives details of the island and much more (such as the ancient Egyptians originating the account), implying that if it existed, it was likely post-Flood. Egypt was formed by Mizraim, Noah’s grandson, and is still known as Mizraim in the Hebrew language. So, for Egypt to be aware of it requires Noah’s grandson Mizraim to have existed to begin Egypt. If so, descriptions given by Plato appear to place it outside of the Mediterranean in the Atlantic Ocean.

Now, those familiar with Plato’s writing probably find this odd, and this is for the simple fact that the war between the Athenians and Atlantians was supposed to have occurred nine thousand years before the life of the Athenian lawmaker Solon, who lived from 638 BC–558 BCE.  In Plato’s Timaeus the character Critias, recounting an Egyptian priest speaking to Solon, says “As touching your citizens of nine thousand years ago, I will briefly inform you of their laws and of their most famous action…”  That action turns out to be the ancient Athenians fighting off the Atlantians, and that war ended with Atlantis sinking.  That puts the sinking of Atlantis at almost twelve thousand years ago, an event three times older than the supposed Great Flood.  That makes it difficult for Atlantis to have been post-flood, but why let reason get in the way of whatever this is supposed to be?

It is quite peculiar that Hodge would take Plato’s account of an ancient civilization from, at that time, about nine thousand years earlier, seriously but think they missed the mark by seven or eight thousand years.  In fact, it’s even weirder than that.  On the possible date of the sinking of Atlantis, Hodge eventually writes, “To be generous, let’s set 600 BC as the latest date. So, we have a range of 1818 BC to about 600 BC.”  So, 600 BCE becomes the most recent on the possible range, and that’s pretty funny given that Solon, the supposed origin of this report for the Athenians, was born in 638 BCE.  That would put Atlantis sinking during his lifetime.  Of course, this is really being reported by Plato, and Plato was born in 438 BCE.  Still, given the records kept by the Athenians, one would think they would have a record of the war with Atlantis of which Critias is speaking if it had occurred so recently.  Again, that puts the war  in Solon’s lifetime, and they knew of Solon, but they did not know of this war, so that clearly cannot be anywhere close to correct.

Now, someone might suggest that we should be more generous to Hodge in his dates as 600 BCE is at the end of the range.  But the point here is that putting something within that range is absurdly sloppy scholarship for the reasons listed above.  Moreover, it is just weird to suggest that we should take part of the account of the character, Critias, seriously, that there was this mysterious island nation of Atlantis, but that we should discount the rest of his story that puts that island sinking thousands of years before AiG says the world was created.  That’s just goofy.

Hodge has some other oddness in this piece.  He suggests that Atlas, in this story the son of Poseidon, was a real person, as was Poseidon.  Why would anyone, especially a Christian, suggest that the Titans, the forbearers of the Greek gods, were real?  Well, because Hodge thinks that the name “Cronos,” the father of Poseidon, sounds like “Kittim.”  He writes, “take note that Poseidon was son of Cronus, which is a variant of Cethimas/Kittim (Cronus/Kronos, Κρόνος). Biblically, Kittim is the son of Javan, the son of Japheth, the son of Noah. With this mind, Atlas was likely Noah’s great, great, great grandson.”  Oh yea, “likely” indeed.  So that means that Atlas, the ruler of Atlantis, was likely real, and that gives weight to the idea that Atlantis was real.

Hodge has some other dodgy math, but I won’t get into it.  He goes on to suggest that it was rising sea levels resulting from melting ice caps that really caused Atlantis’ disappearance.  He writes, “Keep in mind that an island being overtaken by rising sea levels appears identical to an island sinking!”  Sure, except for that whole happening in a single day bit and the fact that, surely, the Egyptians and Athenians would have noticed the rising sea levels taking over their own lands, thus preventing them from describing Atlantis as sinking.  But, except for that stuff, sure.

Perhaps the funniest aspect of this entire post is Hodge reporting the possible location of Atlantis.  He says, “If it did exist, it was most likely a post-Flood island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, not far from the Strait of Gibraltar.”  That’s some great research, there, putting it exactly where Plato did.  Awesome.

It’s hard to know what to think of these people.  This entire piece seems so strange and wrong-headed that it is difficult to imagine why they would even write something like this.  I seriously don’t get it.  Then, when they do write about it, they produce this.  The possible location of Atlantis is identical to what Plato said, the likelihood of its actual existence is a shrug of the shoulders, and the possible time frame is simply absurd.  At my most generous, I’m just left think “What the hell?”  Seriously, guys, what the hell?

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7 Responses to “Using the Bible to Learn about…Atlantis?”

  1. Nexi Says:

    Interesting post given the surprising number of ruins underwater archaeologists are turning up these days.

  2. Nexi Says:

    Nothing too specific, but I’ve seen a fair number of documentaries of late which show how sophisticated developments in GPS and underwater tracking devices are turning up sunken temples and the like in the med and off the coast of Japan etc. Again, suggestion is past earthquake activity. The rapid developments in technology are making these finds more frequent…. and could presumably show what isn’t there in theory.

    I picked up references to the sunken city off Crete on WPress categories last night – just browsing, not an expert in the area. Does that help? Church blog is leaderstress, btw.

    • Jim Says:

      Right. Again, I’m uncertain what that has to do with this post. I mean, if you’re just saying that modern technology is cool, I’m with you. It’s very cool. Super cool. But I’m unclear on how that relates to this post, and I don’t want to make any assumptions about your intent. I don’t want to put anything on you that isn’t genuinely there.
      For example, if you were suggesting that the mere fact that our technology is better makes it more likely we might actually find the mythical Atlantis, I would think that was peculiar. I mean, there is nothing surprising about our finding things we didn’t know about before given our increased ability to find stuff. And there is nothing in that new ability that makes the existence of Atlantis any more plausible, as it’s status as myth is justified by much more than our mere inability to find it. None of that is changed by building new, very cool technology.
      Further, even if it turned out that Atlantis had existed, that would not change the legitimacy of the criticisms in this post. It would still be the case that Hodge said the Bible has nothing to offer on the supposed existence of Atlantis, it has nothing to offer on the location of Atlantis, and his dating method is still ridiculous for the reasons explained.

      Of course, it’s very possible you didn’t intend to suggest either of the things above were true, and that’s just what I was saying. I’m wholly unclear on what you think the implication of our new technology is in relation to this post. Let me know.

  3. Nexi Says:

    Apologies for the ambiguity, and thanks for taking the time to answer. I’m basically with you on this one, as far as my limited understanding of plate tectonics and the like allows. ie, if something on that scale had existed it would have shown up by now given the technology? Simply a case of being out of my depth on the issue.

  4. dancingfromgenesis Says:

    Both P. Z. (Prank Zoology) Myers and Answers in Genesis are clueless, read under category Atlantis Revealed at

  5. Tianca Says:

    Atlantis is real, and still exists, below the Atlantic ocean. Mountaintops (islands) of it can be seen now, but a good deal of it (the last of it) sank, causing the Great Flood of Noah fame. They wouldn’t stop mining, and when they went too far, the support of Atlantis cracked, and the continent sank into the waters, flooding the planet with tidal waves the size no one has seen before or since on this planet. That killed off 99% of the people, plants and animals, those who weren’t evacuated quickly to starships. Yes, there were survivors, but not very many. The waters then receeded again, and the people left were put back on the planet.

    Those people were very fruitful and multiplied, again. As you can tell, a bit too well. Reincarnation is real, and a few remember very well, their lives on Atlantis. The ones who were stupid and caused the sinking of Atlantis then, are alive now, and trying to ‘sink’ the USA. They’ve done an excellent job of trying to destroy this country, and many others, with their greed. Some know these people as the Illuminati. Ring a bell? Yeah, the bad guys.


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