Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In Search of Noah's Ark or "Goin' On a Snipe Hunt!"

Randall Price is back in the news. Liberty University's head of the Center for Judaic Studies is halfway through his trek to find Noah's Ark. The story in the Lynchburg News and Advance, by Dave Thompson, has this to say:
Price said in January that he believes the Biblical boat is resting on Mount Ararat, covered by a glacier that sometimes temporarily recedes to give glimpses of what he believes is an ancient structure.

“We did penetrate about 18 feet down into the glacier, and we have some evidence that we’re in the right place,” Price said, adding satellite data puts them about 30 feet from their goal.

Price said he’s aware that whatever rests under the glacier might not be the jackpot he has been looking for.

“While we’d like to think it’s Noah’s Ark, we’re not sure what it is, but it’s in the right place,” he said.

Here is how the Genesis 8 account reads from the NIV:
3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. (emphasis added)
The mountains of Ararat. Not "Mount Ararat," but mountains, plural. The region of Ararat was, historically, a large place, originally known as Urartu. Carol Hill, in her excellent article "The Noachian flood: universal or local?" writes:
The ark has been assigned to at least eight different landing places over the centuries including Saudi Arabia, India, and even the mythical Atlantis. One reason for this ambiguity is that the Bible does not actually pinpoint the exact place where the ark landed, it merely alludes to a region or range of mountains where the ark came to rest: the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4). Ararat is the biblical name for Urartu (Isa. 37:38) as this area was known to the ancient Assyrians. This mountainous area, geographically centered around Lake Van and between Lake Van and Lake Urmia, was part of the ancient region of Armenia (not limited to the country of Armenia today). Mountain in Gen. 8:4 is plural; therefore, the Bible does not specify that the ark landed on the highest peak of the region (Mount Ararat), only that the ark landed somewhere on the mountains or highlands of Armenia (both Ararat and Urartu can be translated as highlands.
How does Randall Price know where the Ark is when even the Bible won't tell him? This is a curious article of faith for young earth creationists. Price's expedition is not the first one to go specifically to Mount Ararat. According to Rex Geissler, Gordon Franz, and Bill Crouse, Urartu was an area around 500 000 square kilometers (193 000 square miles) and was almost entirely mountainous. Noahsarksearch.com has a list of expeditions that have taken place since the early 1700s, a staggering 171 times, plus those not documented! In all of those attempts, not one single, solitary person has come back with anything that is remotely believable as being from the good ship Noah. Many claims have been made that it is there that have been unsubstantiated. Oddly, there is not a trace of irony at the Noahsarksearch.com site that they follow in a long line of people who have searched in vain for the big boat and that their search, like those that came before, is likely doomed to failure.

The problem certainly doesn't stem from a lack of trying. The problem is much deeper than that. It is a willingness on the part of those that believe that the flood was universal to embellish the Bible beyond what is actually there. The Bible doesn't say anything about the Ark being on Mount Ararat, yet that is where the faithful go to search. (On a practical level, it is not clear how one would begin to cover 193 000 square miles, but that is beside the point.) The Bible doesn't say anything about a vapor canopy, yet Henry Morris included it in his and John Whitcomb's book The Genesis Flood and it has been popularized by the ICR. In order to provide the water necessary for the flood, John Baumgardner and Steve Austin have proposed catastrophic movement of the tectonic plates to open up the "fountains of the deep," despite the fact that no underground caverns of water have ever been found, nor could they exist due to the heat of the earth. The Genesis account mentions nothing about mountain building or the movement of the plates. It has all been added in an attempt to make a Genesis story make sense as it is literally written.

One of the common complaints against old earth creationists and, especially theistic evolutionists is that we have gone down the "slippery slope" to make the Bible say anything we want. Ken Ham has been quoted as saying:
When Genesis tells us that the highest hills under the whole of heaven were covered by water, it is obviously referring to a global event. In fact, at the end of the Flood, God put a rainbow in the sky as a sign between God and man that he'd never repeat such an event.
Yet clearly the supporters of flood geology are quite willing to add to the Genesis account to make it fit into their worldview as well. Put simply, if that boat's out there, there is no telling where it is.
Now playing: Oscar Peterson - You stepped out of a dream
via FoxyTunes


  1. The 27th Comrade8:17 AM

    I hope they don't end up here. It's hot in Australia.

  2. I wouldn't put anything past these guys. They are gung ho.