Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Search for Noah’s Ark

Yet again, some intrepid explorers are preparing to trudge up Mt. Ararat to find Noah’s Ark:

A joint U.S.-Turkish team of 10 explorers plans to make the arduous trek up Turkey’s tallest mountain, at 17,820 feet (5,430 meters), from July 15 to Aug. 15, subject to the approval of the Turkish government, said Daniel P. McGivern, president of Shamrock—The Trinity Corp. of Honolulu, Hawaii.

The goal: to enter what they believe to be a mammoth structure some 45 feet high, 75 feet wide and up to 450 feet long (14 by 23 by 138 meters) that was exposed in part by last summer’s heat wave in Europe.

I’ll make a prediction right now. They won’t reach this “object”, if it actually exists, but they’ll come back with an amazing story (involving Satan or storms or terrorists, or all three) of why they couldn’t, and far off pictures that some true believer might interpret as something looking vaguely like a wooden structure of some type. My favorite part of the article is this:

“We are not excavating it. We are not taking any artifacts. We’re going to photograph it and, God willing, you’re all going to see it,” McGivern said.

There are two things that strike me about that phrase. First, the “God willing” part. This gives them a perfect excuse when they don’t find it for why it really is there even though they didn’t – God was playing hide and seek with it. Second, why wouldn’t you bring back artifacts? Is it because, as my friend Jon Woolf pointed out to me, artifacts (i.e. wood samples) are subject to a wide range of scientific tests for authenticity? Photos, on the other hand, are either easily faked, in the age of Photoshop, or sufficently vague that the true believers will continue to buy books and videos on how this is the Real Noah’s Arktm but you just couldn’t reach it because of {fill in the blank}. Anyone wanna take me up on the bet?

Comments

  1. #1 Loren Petrich
    April 29, 2004

    The quest for Noah’s Ark has a remarkable resemblance to quests for:

    Bigfoot
    The Loch Ness Monster
    Other such crytozoological curiosities
    Extraterrestrial spaceships (UFO’s)
    Psi powers (ESP, PK)

    After several decades of searching,

    No Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster has ever been caught, either alive or dead.

    No crashed or crippled extraterrestrial spaceship has ever been found.

    Psi powers always happen either in the dark, or at borderline statistical significance, or else under some other such circumstance.

    Likewise, quests for Noah’s Ark reveal bits of wood here and there, objects that may look like some big wooden boat if one stares at them enough, etc., but never the Ark itself.

  2. #2 Rob Ryan
    April 30, 2004

    Didn’t you know? Ron Wyatt has already found the ark! He has also found the route of the Israelites across the Red Sea. I know because Ron himself told me so, and he wouldn’t lie. Neither would my fellow teacher, a wrestling coach, from whom I first learned of this miraculous discovery. Don’t believe me? Just go to the Wyatt Archaeological Research website. Remember, they aren’t scientists because if they were you couldn’t trust them.

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    April 30, 2004

    Didn’t you know? Ron Wyatt has already found the ark! He has also found the route of the Israelites across the Red Sea. I know because Ron himself told me so, and he wouldn’t lie. Neither would my fellow teacher, a wrestling coach, from whom I first learned of this miraculous discovery. Don’t believe me? Just go to the Wyatt Archaeological Research website. Remember, they aren’t scientists because if they were you couldn’t trust them.

    Oh man. You gotta love Ron Wyatt. The sheer chutzpah of the man is breathtaking. I had lots of fun many years ago with Ron’s faithful assistant Jim Pinkoski in the Compuserve Religion Forum. I’ve actually been to Ron’s Museum of God’s Wonders and had the chance to handle a piece of “petrified wood” from Noah’s Ark itself. When you point out to them that this “petrified wood” has no tree rings in it, they say, “That’s because before the flood, trees didn’t have rings.” Tough to argue with that, eh? Truly, these are masters of self-delusional rationalization. Wyatt was as pure and shameless a conman as I have ever seen. I had a post a few weeks ago about the Worldnut, errr, Worldnetdaily falling for one of his cons and writing an article about it.

  4. #4 Jon Rowe, Esq.
    May 1, 2004

    Ed,

    You’ve got to check out what Kelly Hallowell of World Nut Daily has written about Noah’s Ark this weekend. She actually explains how to cram all of those creatures onto one boat.

  5. #5 Jon Rowe, Esq.
    May 1, 2004

    http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=38290

    Here is the link to the article. It struck me because a few weeks ago I had a debate online with a Fundamentalist woman who made these exact same points (that the Ark was very large and multi-story. She called it the size of a Hotel). I really didn’t bother answering her because it just seemed to defy such credulity, it was like someone trying to make the case how Santa Claus fould fit down all those millions of Chimneys on one night.

  6. #6 Lynnie
    May 1, 2004

    wow Mr Rowe, Esq.
    Not only does she think it is possible, she thinks there was room to spare for the animals to move around.
    LOL

  7. #7 DaveS
    May 1, 2004

    Check out the story at the Armenian New Agency(http://www.armenpress.am/eng/news/culture.htm) and you’ll see they report more on the story and give further quotes. They seem to be saying there that samples will be taken.

    An excerpt:

    “”These new photos unequivocally show a man-made object,” said Mr. McGivern. “I am convinced that the excavation of the object and the results of tests run on any collected samples will prove that it is Noah’s Ark.” The field manager for the excavation will be Dr. Ahmet Ali Arslan, a native of Turkey who has traveled up Mount Ararat 50 times in 40 years and formerly worked in the Turkey Prime Minister’s office. He plans to discuss the details of the excavation with the Prime Minister next week.”

    So will they excavate or not? I don’t know.

  8. #8 Ed Brayton
    May 1, 2004

    Wow. That’s pretty funny stuff. I especially like the enormous leaps of “what ifs” in this passage:

    Biblical scholars believe that if members of the same genus have the ability to produce offspring, then the genus represents the original “kind.” Conservative estimates suggest there were only about 8,000 animal genera, and that includes some which are now extinct. So multiplying each genus by two, there were over 16,000 animals on board the Ark.

    Based on these statistics, experts calculate that less than half the space of the Ark would be occupied by the animals. This would even allow the animals to have room to move around with sufficient space for eight people and all the provisions required for 53 weeks at sea.

    Three different claims, all highly suspect, add up to this blithe and silly conclusion. She bravely leaps from the claim that if the members of a genus can interbreed, they’re all one “kind”, then multiplies by the lowest possible estimate of the total number of genera to get the final figure. If only those premises were true. In almost all cases, interbreeding is possible only within a species, not a genus. The ability to interbreed is of course the biological definition of a species. It’s not applicable 100% of the time, but it is the default definition that is used whenever it applies. She also forgets that the bible says they took 7 of all the “clean” animals, not 2. And also that, from a young earth perspective, one has to include every single extinct genus as well. And that in addition to the space for the animals, you also had to have food and fresh water for all of them, you had to have a way of getting rid of the waste produced by tens of thousands of animals, you had to keep the predators separate from their prey, and aggressive territorial animals separate from each other. And of course, the average size of the animals has little bearing on how much space they would take up. There are around 300 genera of dinosaurs alone that were presumably alive given the young earth position, many of which were absolutely huge and you had to have two of each of them. This is all quite silly, and merely adds to the evidence for why that should really be called the Worldnutdaily.

  9. #9 Jon Rowe
    May 1, 2004

    Right on. An interesting aside:

    “There are around 300 genera of dinosaurs alone that were presumably alive given the young earth position, many of which were absolutely huge and you had to have two of each of them.”

    The woman I debated who made the same case as Ms. Hollowell told me that the Dinosaurs weren’t on the Ark — that the Ark only had the creatures that God wanted to preserve, and that the flood was the opportunity that God used to get rid of Dinosaurs.

  10. #10 Ed Brayton
    May 1, 2004

    The woman I debated who made the same case as Ms. Hollowell told me that the Dinosaurs weren’t on the Ark — that the Ark only had the creatures that God wanted to preserve, and that the flood was the opportunity that God used to get rid of Dinosaurs.

    Seems like odd behavior for an omniscient God, to create thousands of species of dinosaur and they decide he didn’t like them and kill them off. I guess they ate the apple too, eh?

  11. #11 flatlander100
    May 2, 2004

    Butterflies and Wheels [the blog you just recommended] has a link to a NYT story about a creationist theme park, with the REAL information about old old dinosaurs are. Scary stuff. Along with references to ads for Grand Canyon rafting tours for creationists, promising to illustrate as they float along how The Flood carved the canyon. AAARRRRGGGHHHH! [primal scream]

    Flat

  12. #12 Ed Brayton
    May 2, 2004

    Butterflies and Wheels [the blog you just recommended] has a link to a NYT story about a creationist theme park, with the REAL information about old old dinosaurs are. Scary stuff. Along with references to ads for Grand Canyon rafting tours for creationists, promising to illustrate as they float along how The Flood carved the canyon. AAARRRRGGGHHHH! [primal scream]

    Yes, we have a post about it on the Panda’s Thumb as well. It’s about Kent Hovind’s Dinosaur Adventure Land. I have a long history with Hovind. He is a gold-plated, double-barrelled con man.

  13. #13 Rob Ryan
    May 3, 2004

    As a teacher, I must constantly battle despair when faced with children who think the moon landing was faked, but have no problem with Noah’s Ark. The most difficult part of my job is teaching the difference between fact and opinion and how to evaluate sources of information. The first inclination of many of my fellow East Tennesseans, upon hearing a dissenting view, is to suggest violence as a means of determining who is right.