Reasons to Believe

The Great Divide of Peleg's Time

In the genealogy of Noah's son Shem, we see the name Peleg and along with it a brief note that "in his time the earth was divided."(1) I've linked this statement with the break up of the warm land bridge that permitted migration from Siberia to Alaska-eastern hemisphere to western-between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago.(2,3) The date for the closing of the bridge seems to fit the rough biblical date for the days of Peleg.(4)

Recent research performed in the Hecate Strait region of British Columbia indicates that other land bridges may have opened and closed at about the same era. The Hecate Strait, which separates the Queen Charlotte Islands from the British Columbia mainland is, like the Bering, a broad stretch of rough, cold sea. It presents challenge enough to large modern vessels, let alone natives' boats, however skillfully and sturdily crafted. Yet, evidence for human habitation in the Queen Charlottes dates back 10,200 years.(5)

A team of Canadian and American geologists and paleoenvironmentalists integrated seismic mapping data, oceanic core studies, and analyses of flora, fauna, and archeology to reconstruct the history of the Hecate Strait region. They found that near the close of the last ice age, the sea level dropped by as much as 153 meters (502 feet)(6) as the sea floor bulged up--a reaction to the weight of ice upon the British Columbia mountains.(7) Their model suggests that a land bridge between the mainland and the Queen Charlotte Islands formed as early as 14,600 years ago,(8) though the necessary plants and climate for long-term human habitation did not exist there until 13,000 years ago.(9) Between 10,000 and 9,500 years ago, the sea level rose again and the sea floor bulge subsided, destroying the bridge.(10)

What surprised the research team was how fast the land bridge formed and how quickly it disappeared. The sea level dropped and rose as rapidly as 10 meters (33 feet) per century.(11) This data lends some credence to Haida Indian legends about rising seas in their early history.(12)

The post Genesis Flood picture that emerges form this research depicts God's dealing with Noah's descendants. For years people stubbornly refused to "multiply and fill the earth," as God had commanded.(13) God nudged humanity (see the Babel account) to scatter beyond Mesopotamia.(14) Thousands of years later, that scattering reached the geographical limits of the eastern hemisphere. Warm land bridges formed about 14,000 years ago, and the scattering continued. Over a few thousand years, humanity moved into all the habitable land masses of Earth. From about 11,000 to 10,000 years ago, the land bridges quickly closed, perhaps preventing humanity from uniting again, as in the pre-Flood era, in defiance of God.

How do we account for people's migration to the old world islands such as Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea, and the British Isles? Archeological evidence shows that humans settled these islands thousands of years before settling in the Americas. The straits that divide them from large continents are much warmer and calmer than the Bering and Hecate. Some evidence suggests that earlier land or semi-land bridges may have existed in the necessary places. When the Bering and Hecate land bridges were disappearing, absolute sea levels were rising by about 5 meters (17 feet) per century.(15) This general rise would have broadened the straits separating Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea, and Britain from the Asian and European mainlands sufficiently to "trap" people on the islands, or at least discourage attempts to leave.

As research continues we see growing harmony between the biblical and scientific data-details and dates-for the spread of human civilization. Again we can affirm that the facts support our faith.


1. Genesis 10:25, The Holy Bible, New International Version.
2. Hugh Ross, "The Broken Tie That Binds," Facts & Faith, v. 10, n. 3 (1996), p. 6.
3. Genesis 11:8, The Holy Bible, New International Version.
4. Genesis 11:10-26, The Holy Bible, New International Version.
5. Heiner Josenhans, Daryl Fedje, Reinhard Pienitz, and John Southon, "Early Humans and Rapidly Changing Holocene Sea Levels in the Queen Charlotte Islands-Hecate Strait, British Columbia, Canada," Science, 277 (1997), p. 71.
6. Josenhans, et al, pp. 71, 73.
7. Josenhans, et al, p. 73.
8. Josenhans, et al, p. 71.
9. Josenhans, et al, p. 74.
10. Josenhans, et al, p. 71, 73.
11. Josenhans, et al, p. 73.
12. Josenhans, et al, p. 74.
13. Genesis 1:28, 9:7, The Holy Bible, New International Version.
14. Genesis 11:6-8, The Holy Bible, New International Version.
15. Josenhans, et al, p. 73.

Subjects: Adam and Eve, Early Human Migration, Human Origins and the Bible, Origin of Agriculture/Human Civilization

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. Read more about Dr. Hugh Ross.