April 26, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Noah’s Ark Search Planned

MSNBC and Fox News report that a search is being planned July 15 to inspect an object that, seen from a satellite, bears some resemblance to remains of Noah’s ark high up the slopes of Mt. Ararat.  The expedition, led by Daniel McGivern, wants to get a closer look and take photographs.  National Geographic took note of the news, adding that the satellite image was taken by Digital Globe, a commercial satellite imaging company.  Although McGivern is 98% certain it is the Ark of Noah, and claims he can even identify wooden beams in the images, another veteran Ark explorer, Rex Geissler, is skeptical.

The object is too indistinct to draw any conclusions.  Tantalizing as these images are when they appear from time to time, we should always take a default position that they are not Ark-eological till proven otherwise.  Embarrassing retractions have been made before by overzealous explorers; a different box-shaped object in the 1990s looked very different up close.  It is certainly worth checking out claims like this, but it is also highly unlikely a wood ship would survive thousands of years of weathering and landslides even under the best of conditions.  Only extraordinary evidence will be able to substantiate the extraordinary claim.  Better to understate the potential than have to backtrack later.
    Yet a long string of alleged sightings keeps the explorers motivated.  There are many reasons why the search is extremely difficult.  The ice pack only melts for short periods in dry years, the mountain is extremely difficult to climb, and it has long been in a dangerous political zone near the Turkish-Russian-Iranian border.  Armed gunmen roaming the slopes add to the hazard, and many otherwise hopeful searches in past years have waited in vain for permits from capricious local officials, only to be denied at the last minute.  Best wishes to the explorers, but till they bring back unquestionable evidence that would convince skeptics, definitive proof Noah’s Ark has survived on Mt. Ararat is, so far, lacking.  Whether the Ark existed and the Flood occurred are separate inquiries that, while they would be enhanced by this evidence, do not require it.

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Categories: Bible and Theology

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