Noah’s Flood: The Sea East (Moses 6:42)

[This post is part of a series about possible evidence or clues in LDS theology that the Flood of Noah was a local event, rather than a globally-covering deluge. This particular clue is from the Pearl of Great Price.]

There are a lot of (strange) ideas about what the earth was like before Noah’s Flood. Some of these ideas are: Earth’s human population was as high 4 billion leading up to the Flood; All parts of the planet, even the poles, enjoyed a tropical or temperate climate; An invisible, yet massive canopy of water vapor encircled the globe in outerspace; and All living things, from man to T. rex, were strictly vegetarian.

While each of those paradigms about the pre-Flood world are intriguing and deserve attention, the one I want to talk about today has to do with how the antediluvial continents were assembled. Some creationists insist that before the Flood, the land on Earth was gathered into a supercontinent, which didn’t split apart into the configuration we know today until the Flood waters covered the planet.

Diagram of the pre-Flood earth with the continents in Pangaea, surrounded by the water vapor canopy.

There’s strong geological and biblical support for the idea of Pangea, an original supercontinent. It appears this land mass rapidly broke apart during the global Flood by the process of catastrophic plate tectonics. 

Answers in Genesis, 2014

Joseph Fielding Smith also championed the view that the continents were indeed put together as one supercontinent before the Flood, but he argued that they weren’t divided into what we know today until the days of Noah’s descendant, Peleg, when the Bible states the “earth was divided” (Genesis 10:25).

We read in Genesis that in the beginning all of the land surface was in one place as it was in the days of Peleg, that the earth was divided. Some Bible commentators have concluded that this division was one concerning the migrations of the inhabitants of the earth between them, but this is not the case… The dividing of the earth was not an act of division by the inhabitants of the earth by tribes and peoples, but a breaking asunder of the continents, thus dividing the land surface and creating the Eastern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere. By looking at a wall map of the world, you will discover how the land surface along the northern and southern coast of the American Hemisphere and Europe and Africa has the appearance of having been together at one time.

Joseph Fielding Smith (Doctrines of Salvation,3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 1: 84.)

Whichever of the two theories you go with, the common idea is that when Adam left the garden, when Enoch walked with God, and when Noah built his ark, the continents were all together in one big mashup. That’s the theory.

Today, we know that continent mashup by the name Pangaea. While the Answers in Genesis group believes the pre-Flood supercontinent resembled Rodinia (an even more ancient configuration of continents) rather than Pangaea, the general gist is the same: all of the current continents were touching when the first drops of Flood rain began to fall, and the continents have only found their current positions recently (within the last few thousand years)—either during the Flood or shortly after it.

Enoch’s Post-Pangaea Journey

Joseph Smith taught that Adam lived in North America. We also have an account of someone remembering Joseph saying that Noah lived in North America as well. Assuming those facts are true, and because Enoch lived after Adam and before Noah, we can assume that Enoch lived in North America also. While it technically is possible that Enoch moved far away across the supposed supercontinent to be outside of North America, we are told he preached to the seed of Adam (see Moses 7:1, 22), so I think it’s fairly safe to assume he stuck around the patriarchal stomping grounds.

In fact, in the Book of Moses, we learn that Enoch left “the land of [his] fathers”, Cainan (Moses 6:17, 41), and had a vision in an interesting place. And it’s this interesting place that we’re going to discuss today. Here’s what Enoch says:   

And it came to pass, as I journeyed from the land of Cainan, by the sea east, I beheld a vision; and lo, the heavens I saw, and the Lord spake with me, and gave me commandment; 

Moses 6:42

Now, there’s not too much particularly striking in that scripture. I mean, Enoch was a prophet, so seeing the Lord in vision isn’t all that surprising. But did you notice where he was as he travelled from the land of his fathers and had this vision? Yep. He was by the “sea east”. The EAST SEA! 

The only problem with this is that if all the continents were huddled together at the time of Enoch, then there shouldn’t have been an East Sea in North America.

Any Good North American Sea Easts on the Supercontinents?

Scientists have done a pretty awesome job of taking all the available evidence and reconstructing what Pangaea would have looked like. They’ve even been super cool and showed us roughly where current national boundaries would be on the ancient map of Pangaea. Check it out:

Which countries would be your neighbors on the supercontinent ...
Pangaea with current countries.

Like most maps we work with, North is at the top. As you can see, along the east side of what was then North America, THERE WAS NO SEA! The whole east coast of North America was cozying up to Africa. Depending on which stage of separation Pangaea was supposedly going through at the time of Enoch’s vision, there likely wouldn’t have been much of a “sea” there for him to walk along at all. If anything, Moses 6 maybe should have called it “the lake east”–defnitely not the “sea”!

Now, if we take the road that Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis has taken and believe that the pre-Flood continents were in the Rodinia configuration, then the problem is only slightly better. Rodinia was an ancient supercontinent on Earth long before Pangaea–like, many hundreds of millions of years before Pangaea. Laurentia, the craton which forms the bulk of North America, was smack in the middle of Rodinia (around a billion years ago). And while it looks like it did have some leeway to include an eastward sea (depending on which reconstruction you look at), it was a crowded one at best—Greenland pushing into its personal bubble a bit too much for comfort. And its eastern coast would have been modern North America’s northern coast, which brings up its own additional challenges. Now, I know I’m biased, but I’m gonna say that Laurentia’s “sea east” just doesn’t cut it. But you decide:

The supercontinent Rodinia. Laurentia is visible in the middle. See how it looks like modern North America, but it’s been rotated 90 degrees clockwise?

Note that Laurentia includes what today would be Missouri (where Adam dwelt) and possibly regions that could qualify as “near” modern-day South Carolina (close to where Noah built the ark):

Laurentia (North American Craton) in its current position as the bulk of North America.

Conclusion

While North America having an east coast before the Deluge doesn’t prove necessarily that the Flood was local, it does show that the continents were likely in their modern positions during Enoch’s day, Adam’s day, and consequently, Noah’s day. There likely was an expansive Atlantic Ocean to the east, and it very well could have been the sandy beaches of that sea on the east coast of North America that Enoch was walking along when he met with God. 

Due to this little detail in the Book of Moses, I think we need to reevaluate the claims that the continents either shifted dramatically while the earth was submerged in the Flood or they quickly moved only a handful of decades later during the life of Peleg. And I think it’s scriptural evidence that the supercontinent Pangaea separated when scientists say it did–around 200 million years ago (which of course, is the revealed word–once again–lending more credence to the theory of evolution).

But most importantly, I think this could be seen as evidence that the flood was only a local one. Like I said before–it doesn’t prove it, but it could help support it. There was an east coast to Noah’s North America, and it easily could have been the coast from which Noah sailed on his ark to get to Eurasia following a local flood in his coastal area. With all the diluvial uncertainty stemming from the things revealed by Joseph Smith, we can’t rule it out. This tiny detail in the Book of Moses seems to me to contradict prevailing global-flood theories, and lends credibility to the idea that the Flood was a small one.

For more on Noah’s Flood, GO HERE.


Sources and Notes

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