In April 2010, a press conference was held in Hong Kong to announce to the world the potential discovery of the remains of Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat. What are we to make of these claims?
I am first and foremost a Bible-believing Christian. God’s Word, the Bible, is thus my ultimate absolute authority in all matters. The Bible is not a science textbook (thankfully, because science textbooks are always subject to change!). However, since the Bible is God’s Word, where it records details about the earth’s history it is absolutely true.
Therefore, when God tells us in Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:8–11, and writes with His own finger on stone tablets in Exodus 31:15–18, that He created everything in the universe in six days compared to the days of our work week, I believe Him! And Jesus Christ, the Creator Incarnate (John 1:1–3, 14 and Colossians 1:15–17) taught that God created all things and that Adam and Eve were there at the beginning of creation, not billions of years after the beginning (Mark 10:6, 13:19). 1
As a geologist, I read in Genesis 6–9 that God subsequently judged the whole earth because of the wickedness and corruption of a rebellious mankind and a violent creation. All of mankind and every land-dwelling, air-breathing creature not in the Ark (which God had instructed Noah to build) were destroyed by the Flood waters that rose violently to eventually cover all the high hills and mountains under all the heavens (Genesis 7:11, 17–24). And Jesus Christ, who is the Truth (John 14:6), and so would never tell us a lie, affirmed that Noah entered the Ark and the Flood came and took them all away (Matthew 24:37–39 and Luke 17:26–27). He said that judgment was a warning of the judgment to come at His second coming.
And when did this global Flood occur? By adding up the lifespans of the generations after the Flood from Shem to Abraham recorded in Genesis 11:10–26, and then adding the years of the history of Abraham’s descendants to the Exodus from Egypt and on to the date of the start of the building of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:1), a date known archaeologically, the Flood would have occurred about 2,300–2,400 BC, or 4,300–4,400 years ago.
If believing all this, which God’s Word plainly teaches, makes me an “extreme creationist,” then I plead “guilty” as charged by Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism.
God’s Word clearly says in Genesis 7:17–24 that the whole globe was covered in water by the Flood, even all the mountains, and all land animals and birds outside the Ark died. Therefore, on the basis of God’s description of the Flood, it can be predicted that many of those dead creatures and plants as well as many sea creatures would have been buried in the sand and mud stirred up by the Flood waters covering the entire earth. In other words, we would surely expect to find billions of dead creatures and plants buried in sediments deposited by water. And what do we find? Billions of fossils of dead creatures and plants buried in rock layers that were once soft sediments laid down by water all over the earth.
So yes, as an “extreme creationist,” Bible-believing, Christian geologist I believe, based solely on God’s Word, that the coal, oil, dinosaurs, “Cambrian Explosion” creatures, and many other fossils were formed by the one-time, globe-encircling, mountain-covering Flood about 4,300–4,400 years ago. Again, I plead “guilty” as charged by Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism!
What do Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism believe?
However, this then begs the question—what does Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism believe about when and how the coal, oil, dinosaur, Cambrian creatures, and other fossils were formed? Doesn’t Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism believe what God’s Word says about the Flood?
It would appear, because they don’t exactly own up to what they believe in their denunciation of my “supposed serious scientific mistakes,” that they would prefer to follow what “mainstream science” says. They quote from, and refer to, “mainstream science” publications as their basis for ridiculing my beliefs, and write that they are seeking the opinions of “mainstream” scientists.
So what does “mainstream science” teach? It claims that God did not create the universe and everything in it in six literal days. Rather, the universe is supposed to have come into existence only by natural processes, with a big bang about 13 billion years ago. “Mainstream science” claims that only by natural processes the earth coalesced from some of the dust in the primitive solar gas cloud 4.55 billion years ago. Then about 3.5 billion years ago life spontaneously came into existence only by natural processes and then evolved over millions of years without any involvement from God. The dinosaurs, Cambrian creatures, and other fossilized animals and plants are claimed to be the record of creatures that evolved, lived and died over millions of years.
“Mainstream science” teaches that there never was a globe-encircling, mountain-covering Flood. Therefore, “mainstream science” does not teach that there is even the possibility of the remains of an ocean-going wooden Ark on Mt. Ararat. Furthermore, “mainstream science” teaches that men cannot and do not walk on water, virgins do not and cannot give birth to babies, and dead men do not and cannot be resurrected from the grave.
So again I ask, what does Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism believe? If they are going to “blast” me for being an “extreme creationist” (their term, not mine), then they must be transparent in telling all their supporters publicly exactly what they stand for and believe.
If they believe God’s Word, and they have been looking for Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat allegedly for that reason, thus rejecting what “mainstream science” teaches about the Ark, then how can they in all honesty and sincerity chide me for not following “mainstream science”?
“Mistake 1 – His interpretation of carbon-14 results is not generally accepted by scientists.”
By “scientists” Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism mean “mainstream scientists” who, instead of accepting what God’s Word clearly teaches about the Flood and the Ark only 4,300–4,400 years ago, claim dogmatically that coal, oil, and fossils are millions of years old.
- Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years.
- If every atom making up the entire earth was carbon-14, after only 1 million years all the carbon 14 would have decayed away and there would be no carbon-14 left.
- Measurable in situ carbon-14, not due to any contamination, has been found in coal, oil, and fossils by “mainstream” scientists as reported in “mainstream science” journals such as Radiocarbon, even though the same “mainstream” scientists claim the coal, oil, and fossils are millions of years old.
So are “mainstream” scientists wrong about the reliability of carbon-14 dating, or are they wrong about their claim that the coal, oil, and fossils are millions of years old? Instead of accusing me of a mistake here, Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism must answer this question. They owe their supporters an answer!
“Mistake 2 – Insufficient consideration of the problems raised by the size, contamination and extraction process of the wood samples.”
- All world-class “mainstream science” radiocarbon laboratories pre-treat all samples received for carbon-14 testing before analysis (as I carefully reported in my original article, quoting from a professor in charge of such a laboratory), and this pre-treatment is extremely harsh because it is specifically designed to remove any contamination due to field conditions and field handling.
- I reported, and Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism have not denied the truth of what I reported, that two of their four wood samples were each tested at two radiocarbon laboratories, and both laboratories certified those wood samples were modern: post-1950 and 120–135 years old, respectively. Their third sample yielded a carbon-14 age of only 610 years.
- Even when directly asked about the possibility of contamination, Laboratory 1 did not say those young (recent) ages were due to contamination.
- The two radiocarbon laboratories that carbon-14 tested these three wood samples as young (that is, too recent to be wood from the Ark) both correctly also analyzed the three wood samples for their δ13C values, because these values are absolutely necessary for the calculation and reporting of carbon-14 dates.
- Both these two laboratories also reported their carbon-14 test results with a ± error margin.
- The fourth wood sample, sample D, was only tested at Laboratory 3, but this laboratory did not follow standard procedures and did not measure the δ13C value or report a ± error margin. At the very least no evidence has been presented that they did follow such procedures.
“Mistake 3 – Ignoring the age calculated by dendrochronology.”
- My article did not ignore dendrochronology, but faithfully reported exactly the dendrochronology details for the fourth wood sample, exactly as supplied by Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism.
- The “wide margin” in the result of carbon-14 testing of the fourth wood sample is quoted, as per Laboratory 3, as 4,269–4,800 years, which is an error margin of only 531 years.
- The “calendric age” for the fourth wood sample, which calculation utilized dendrochronology, is quoted as per Laboratory 3 as 6,891 ± 4,547 years, or 2,243–11,538 years, which is an error margin of 9,295 years!
- The reason dendrochronology is so inaccurate is due to the fact that an unknown wood sample must have its tree rings first carbon-14 dated so that the tree rings can then be tested for cross-matching with tree rings in that time period in the master tree-ring chronology.
“Mistake 4 – Solely relying on carbon-14 dating.”
- I already reported in my article the limitations in carbon-14 dating, including the unreliability of estimates of the atmospheric content of carbon-14 in the distant past because of changes in the earth’s magnetic field.
- Noah’s Ark Ministries and The Media Evangelism therefore agrees with me that the carbon-14 content of the atmosphere has changed due to the changes in the earth’s magnetic field.
- “Mainstream science” has documented that carbon-14 dating is unreliable for samples older than 1,000 years BC (greater than 3,000 years old).
- It is for these reasons I stated in my article that a wood sample from the Ark must carbon-14 date older than 4,800 years.
- It is because carbon-14 dating is unreliable (and Noah’s Ark Ministries and The Media Evangelism agree) that I was claiming carbon-14 dates needed to be recalibrated (that is, adjusted).
- It is ironic that the two quotes Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism use to show carbon-14 is unreliable are also published by me in a booklet I compiled and edited more than twenty years ago. So, why should they reject what I say now based on what I said then, when I affirm both statements as true, and I was an “extreme creationist” and not “mainstream” then as I am now?
“Mistake 5 – Presuming that the Ark could not be found on Mt. Ararat.”
- The Bible says the Ark landed “on the mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4).
- The Bible does not say the Ark landed on Mt. Ararat.
- These two Facts are based on the English Bible, which in turn accurately translates the original Hebrew. Chinese translations of the Bible do not make this clear, merely stating that the Ark came to rest “on Mt. Ararat”.
- There have been volcanic eruptions of Mt. Ararat in recorded history, as recently as in the 19th century.
- There are many eye-witnesses who say they have seen on Mt. Ararat what they claim is the Ark.
- These many eye-witness accounts have never been confirmed by hard objective evidence that is open to investigation by others. So it has not been proven that what they have claimed to see is in fact the Ark or its remains.
“Mistake 6 – Spreading rumors and slandering the exploration team.”
- Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism gave me all their carbon-14 dating results on April 20, 2010.
- I published all of Noah’s Ark Ministries International’s and The Media Evangelism’s carbon-14 dating results in my web article on November 9, 2011.
- During the year and a half (18 months) interval between Fact 1 and Fact 2 above Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism only ever publicly reported the seemingly favorable 4,800 year date for their fourth wood sample, and never publicly reported the unfavorable recent (young) carbon-14 dates for their three other wood samples.
- This fact is not a rumor or slander.
- All Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism have to do to silence all rumors or slander about the reliability of the carbon-14 dating of their fourth wood sample is to publicly name Laboratory 3, the laboratory that carbon-14 dated it, and produce the δ13C analysis result for that sample, which all genuine radiocarbon laboratories supply.
“The Actual Process, Supported By Email Records, Was As Follows:”
- During the Skype conference call on April 20, 2010, representatives of Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism gave me a copy of all their carbon-14 test results.
- During that Skype conference call I then told those Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism representatives that the carbon-14 tests of their wood samples strongly indicated that their wood samples could not have come from the Ark.
- As a result of the carbon-14 test results any excitement I had expressed earlier in the Skype conference call was now totally gone.
- As a Bible-believing Christian and a scientist, I still maintained an interest in the wooden structure Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism claimed they had found on Mt. Ararat because it still needed to be thoroughly investigated to determine exactly what it represented.
“Trying to Monopolize the Research; Suspicious Motives”
- If Answers in Genesis and I were trying to monopolize and manipulate research on the Ark claim, why did I wait 18 months to publish all the Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism carbon-14 test results?
- All through those 18 months, Answers in Genesis and I said and published absolutely nothing to disparage, hinder, slander, manipulate or otherwise monopolize any scientific research being undertaken by Noah’s Ark Ministries International, The Media Evangelism or any of their associates, or any other Ark researchers, for that matter.
- Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism failed to say that applications to participate in scientific research of their claimed Ark on Mt. Ararat required applicants to provide a statement “to share your point of view for the latest discovery of Noah’s Ark Ministries International on Mt. Ararat from your professional aspect.” (This requirement seemed to me at the time to imply that applicants were to be selected to participate in Noah’s Ark Ministries International’s research effort only if they already agreed that the wooden structures they had discovered on Mt. Ararat were indeed part of Noah’s Ark.)
- Scientific studies do “embrace diversity”, but are driven by scientists’ worldviews. Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism are suggesting that “mainstream” scientists, who do not accept the Bible’s account of the Flood and the Ark, should be investigating Noah’s Ark Ministries International’s claimed Ark in order to “embrace diversity.” However, scientific studies driven by such different worldviews would make discussions difficult and agreement impossible.
- Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism state that in seeking scientific opinions they are “primarily looking for mainstream scientist(s).” In other words, they want the opinions of those who do not accept the Bible’s account of the literal globe-encircling, mountain-covering Flood and the Ark!
- If carbon-14 dating is so unreliable, as Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism now maintain, then why did they announce a 4,800 year age for their wooden structure on Mt. Ararat at their Hong Kong press conference on April 25, 2010?
- If carbon-14 dating is so unreliable, why does Noah’s Ark Ministries International and The Media Evangelism now believe “that the wooden structure is very old” dating back to the “Epipaleolithic period” (a “mainstream science” term), for which they claim there are “radioactive carbon dates of archaeological relics in the Near East . . . between 13,100 and 9,600 years” BC, dates very much older than the biblical chronology in Genesis allows for the Flood and the Ark, or indeed for the earth itself?
So whose arguments are inaccurate and careless? And who is misleading and confusing the views of Christian leaders and theologians? The Facts “speak” for themselves.
*Dr Andrew A. Snelling has a Ph.D. in geology from The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia for his research on the mineralogy and geochemistry of the Koongarra uranium deposit in Australia’s Northern Territory. For many years he worked in the mining industry as a field and research geologist, and was a consultant to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in a collaborative international research program involving the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, several US universities, the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment, the Japanese Atomic Energy Research Institute, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Nuclear Energy Agency. For more than 25 years he has been involved in full-time research on the global geologic evidences that confirm the Genesis historical account of the worldwide cataclysmic Flood. He has also conducted detailed technical research into all the radioactive dating methods for rocks and fossils, and along with the research of others has demonstrated conclusively that these methods are erroneous and grossly misleading. He has served for more than 25 years with Christian ministries in Australia and the USA that stand for the absolute authority of God’s Word, and is currently the Director of Research for Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky, USA.