In late 2009, the Noah’s Ark Ministries International boldly proclaimed that they had found what can reasonably argued to be a holy grail of religious archaeology: Noah’s Ark. Yes, this is the grand and great ark believed by literalist Christians and some Muslims to be the vessel harboring the sole animals and humans spared by the Almighty amid a global/very large Flood (does the capitalization belong?).
You, among most others, are presumably familiar with the Flood story. (Here’s a concise and generally accurate run-down). Let’s ignore the glaring implausibilities and plot holes in this story for a second. Let’s ignore the wounding fact that almost every singly ancient civilization has fabricated a Flood story, not just Judeo-Christians. Let’s ignore the fact there are 9000-year-old trees still around, as opposed to the belief that all trees perished during the catastrophic Flood. Let’s ignore the excruciatingly clear evolutionary order in the fossil record, which simply wouldn’t exist if all animals existed simultaneously and were drowned in a massive Flood. For now, let’s ignore these. For now, let’s clear our minds of information and shine a spotlight on this “discovery” of the Ark on Mt. Ararat, and analyze the legitimacy of this claim.
“A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say wooden remains they have discovered on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey are the remains of Noah’s Ark.
The group claims that carbon dating proves the relics are 4,800 years old, meaning they date to around the same time the ark was said to be afloat. Mt. Ararat has long been suspected as the final resting place of the craft by evangelicals and literalists hoping to validate biblical stories.
Yeung Wing-Cheung, from the Noah’s Ark Ministries International research team that made the discovery, said: “It’s not 100 percent that it is Noah’s Ark, but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it.”
Kudos to the creationists who have professed at least some skepticism (albeit 0.1%) towards their findings rather than flaunting it about, crazed in their convictions of its absolute legitimacy. Regardless, this discovery is cited with quite some frequency and quite some certainty, both undeserved. It should speak volumes that this discovery–which, if legitimate, would revolutionize our understanding of history–was popularized through Fox News instead of an actual scientific journal.
Also, the conditions of this discovery is really just plain sketchy. Dr. Randall Price–who, by the way, is the director of Judaic Studies at Liberty University and a creationist himself–accompanied the evangelical archaeologists and had this to say:
“The photos were reputed to have been taken off site near the Black Sea, but the film footage the Chinese archaeologists now have was shot on location on Mt. Ararat. In the late summer of 2008 ten Kurdish workers hired by Parasut, the guide used by the Chinese, are said to have planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area (where the photos were originally taken) at the Mt. Ararat site. In the winter of 2008 a Chinese climber taken by Parasut’s men to the site saw the wood, but couldn’t get inside because of the severe weather conditions.
During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site. The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 (I was there at the time and knew about the hoax) and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film. As I said, I have the photos of the inside of the so-called Ark (that show cobwebs in the corners of rafters – something just not possible in these conditions) and our Kurdish partner in Dogubayazit (the village at the foot of Mt. Ararat) has all of the facts about the location, the men who planted the wood, and even the truck that transported it.
To my knowledge, the Chinese took no professional archaeologist or geologist who could verify or document the wood or the structure.”
Price added, “I think we can’t rule out the possibility that this is a hoax, because a lot of the things that happen in that region of the world, and especially with the Kurdish guides that are involved, are designed to try to extract money from gullible people.”
As you can see, skepticism towards this find isn’t limited to nonbelievers and “evolutionists.” To add to that, Dr. John Morris–the lead archeologist at the Institute for Creation Research–says “I’m leaning towards that the Chinese people have been deceived…At best, it is an elaborate deception.”
In addition, “Morris and Price were contacted by the Chinese team to take part in the press event, but they declined based on how little evidence they saw”. Also, here’s an entire PDF written by the scientists as to why the Ararat findings are false.
In fact, the PDF they have composed, titled “A Critique of the Claim by Noah’s Ark Ministries International of a Disc0very of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat”, is actually the best resource for refuting the Mt. Ararat findings. Dr. Randall Price and Dr. Don Patton have assembled quite an artillery against this faux discovery.
They point out that previous reports made by the Noah’s Ark Ministries International (NAMI) were littered with a myriad of falsehoods and outright lies. For example, a picture used by NAMI with the caption “A Cave Researched on Mt. Ararat” was verified to be a hoax, instead being a cave located in a nearby hot spring. Second of all, NAMI deliberately overlooked and concealed the conclusion reached by an American geologic team: that the petrified “wood” of the “Ark” was in fact volcanic material.
All in all, we are left with a dearth of evidence for the Flood. Creationists themselves attest to the false nature of this claim. The creationist family tradition of perpetuating unfounded myths and hoaxes is preserved.