Noah's Ark Possibly Found

on May 1, 2010

National Geographic News: “Noah’s Ark Found in Turkey?Has Noah’s Ark been found atop Mount Ararat? The affirmative claim this week from a team of evangelical explorers made headlines, but it isn’t the first time that’s happened.

The team represents Noah’s Ark Ministries International, part of Hong Kong-based The Media Evangelism, which describes itself as “a charitable Christian organization committed to building a Christian media presence by using every modern means of communication to promote the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are aware that many in the group espouse a biblical creation and a global Flood, and they see the connection between the reality of Genesis and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This isn’t the first time Noah’s Ark has been “found,” in one way or another.

What makes us wary—even before analyzing the news—is that this isn’t the first time Noah’s Ark has been “found,” in one way or another. Just a few years back, for example, a team led by Bob Cornuke discovered mysterious structures in northern Iran that looked like wooden beams (although he clarified that the site was only deserving of further research). Both non-creationists and creationists concluded the structures were of geologic origin. Years earlier, a team led by Ron Wyatt claimed more confidently to have found the Ark itself, though that find, too, came under critique from other Christians who believe the biblical account of the Flood. It’s not merely that other claims have fallen flat that makes us wary, however; we also have little hope that the Ark still exists* or is in a position to be discovered, nor do we know whether researchers are looking in the right place (wherever that is). The Bible says only that the Ark came to rest in the vague “mountains of Ararat”—not the specific mountain identified as Mount Ararat.

But as for the latest headlines, a filmmaker who joined the expedition claimed the team was “99.9 percent that [the find] is [the Ark].” The group reportedly found seven wooden compartments buried high on Mt. Ararat, part of a larger structure the team identified as Noah’s Ark. However, only one of the three samples that was radiocarbon dated gave an age of approximately 4,800 years, roughly the time of the Bible’s date for the Flood (about 2,350 BC). The other two samples gave ages of around 120–132 years! By contrast, if this wood was really from the Ark, we would have expected it should have given radiocarbon “ages” of between 25,000 and 50,000 “radiocarbon” years. This is because the Pre-Flood wood and coal samples radiocarbon dated during the RATE and other creationist research projects over the last two decades all yielded radiocarbon “ages” of between 25,000 and 50,000 “radiocarbon” years. Such grossly inflated radiocarbon ages are due to the disequilibrium of radiocarbon in the post-Flood atmosphere, the strengthening magnetic field of the earth in the past, and what happened to radiocarbon and the carbon inventory generally as a result of the Flood. The team, however, is keeping the location of the find secret for now.

Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham noted that just as creationists are quick to scrutinize evolutionists for, e.g., wild interpretations of fossils before thorough scientific work is done, we should also be cautious about this find. “Yes, we believe in Noah’s Ark, and if found it would be one of the greatest archaeological findings of our day—but . . . [w]e have to remain skeptical,” he said. Ham also pointed out that Genesis 6:14 indicates the wood of the Ark was coated with pitch, but there appears to be no such discoloration in photographs of the find; further, the presence of straw—presumably interpreted by the discoverers as more than 4,000 years old—as shown by another photograph seems suspicious. (though perhaps its preservation is not impossible given the cold conditions on a high mountain). Ham also noted that at its high levels, Mt. Ararat has glacial ice which has been shifting over the years, and it would have destroyed most anything in its path.

Finally, a letter written by Liberty University-affiliated archaeologist Randall Price quickly made rounds—and was quoted by the media—claiming the find was a hoax. While Price issued a clarification, the twist adds to confusion over the find and our general skepticism.

We need not find the Ark for us to trust God’s Word.

As Ham indicated, creationists at Answers in Genesis and presumably anywhere else would be happy to find the Ark, both for the testimony it would add to the historicity of Genesis and for the archaeological excitement of uncovering such an ancient piece of biblical history. But clearly God could reveal the Ark if He wanted to. This is not to say Ark-searching expeditions are anti-biblical, but rather that we need not find the Ark—or any archaeological artifacts—for us to trust God’s Word. Our hope is that Noah’s Ark Ministries International will not be secretive with the supposed Ark’s location and restrictive of access to the find, in which case we must continue to be highly skeptical and seriously consider the possibility that a fraud has been perpetrated on Noah’s Ark Ministries International by its Turkish partners.

Indeed, if the Ark were to be found, it would be another confirmation of the historicity of Genesis and we would be delighted. But as we wrote on this website on Thursday, we do not need to find the Ark to give Christians more confidence in the Bible. It is the Word of God, and so we do not doubt that there was a huge Ark that survived the global catastrophe of Noah’s Flood and which landed on the mountains of Ararat. There is also powerful geological (e.g., deep sedimentary layers) and paleontological evidence (e.g., the fossil record) all around the world that is consistent with the event of the Genesis Flood and confirms that it was a worldwide catastrophic event.

* As we noted in Thursday’s article about this alleged find: “Adding to our skepticism about the find is that the volcanic activity on the mountains of Ararat as well as several earthquakes make it doubtful that even parts of a wooden structure could have survived for over 4,300 years. Furthermore, much of the wood would have most likely been scavenged right after the Flood to erect forms of shelter and to build fires, etc.”

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us.

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