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In Search of Noah's Ark
By Brian Pepper
Buried deep in a lake, capped by ice, near the summit of Mt Ararat at Turkey— Soviet border, are what several scientists believe to be the remains of Noah's Ark. Current expedition explorers include scientists, glaciologists, arctic logistics experts, and religious leaders from several faiths. Within the next few years they hope to settle what lies in this frozen lake. Others have evidenced great interest in possibility of discovering the Ark.
Early Reports of the Ark
Early Reports of the ArkThe history of searchers on Mt Ararat goes back many years. In 1856 it is reported that three scientists saw the ark. In 1920 their guide described the event on his deathbed. In 1807 Prince Nouri, Bishop of Babylon, reported seeing the Ark. In 1883 American newspapers reported some having seen it. Subsequent reports in 1915, 1936 and 1953 tell of expeditions there. Fernaud Navarra, a Frenchman, in 1955 said he found hand—tooled timber on Mt Ararat, black in colour, and so hard it dulls or breaks the blades of any ordinary saw. Modern dating methods in Egypt, Madrid and in France are said to estimate its age at between 4,000 and 6,000 years old.
The mountain complex of Ararat comprises about 500 square miles. No hardwood trees grow on lesser Ararat, and no trees at all on greater Mt Ararat, except softwood trees, planted by the locals. Yet four different times hand—tooled timber has been found on the mountain.
So great has been the interest in whether a boat was actually there or not, that in the 1940's Mr Kraft of Kraft Cheese Company financed an expedition. Since then Pan American Airways have provided free fares for expeditions several times.
Ararat Once under WaterThere is evidence that the whole mountain was at one time under water in the discovery of spherulitic rocks on the mountain showing evidence of volcanic eruption and cooling under water. In the basin below Ararat are salt beds more than 200 feet thick, proof of inundation at one time. Sedimentary rocks are to be seen on Mt Ararat, evidence of a time when vast amounts of water and wind deposited material were laid down. Such rocks, which constitute 75% of the rocks exposed on the surface of the earth, run up to 60,000 feet deep in some areas of the world. Much of this gives evidence of being laid down rapidly, among which are vast deposits of fossils.
Bogus Reports and StoriesThe history of all the searches on Mt Ararat makes fascinating reading. What is disturbing is that because of the uniqueness of the story of finding the Ark of Noah, there seems to have been a number of false reports and stories, no doubt made up and used by individuals for gain some way or other.
But there seems to be so many reliable facts that have been documented to prove there must be something there.... but, then it seems something crops up to prevent the actual discovery. Is there some meaning in this? Why have delays, adverse conditions, misfortunes and military tensions between Russia and Turkey continually hindered further research? Could there be some sinister force preventing the actual discovery, or is it just a vain hope, As yet no one knows the answer. But I ask: Do we really need to find the Ark to really believe the story of Noah and the Flood of Genesis?
Noah's Ark Story held up to RidiculeNo story has been more criticized and held up to ridicule by the opponents of the Bible. They declare there never was a flood of worldwide proportion, and further that Noah certainly could not fit all types of animals in such a boat anyway. And today even Christian believers wonder if such a story can be supported by fact, or is it something one needs to accept by faith.
Usually the person who normally criticizes the story does not know the actual size of the Ark, or how many kinds of animals Noah would have needed to accommodate. Now it is very foolish for one not knowing either of these facts to say that it can't be done.
Dimensions of the ArkAccording to Genesis 6:15, and taking a cubit to be about 17.5 inches (the shortest possible) the ark was 437.5 feet long, 72.92 feet wide and 43.75 feet high. With three decks (Genesis 6:16) it would have had a total area of 95,700 square feet, and a volume of 1,396,000 cubic feet. The tonnage would thus be about 14,000 tons, which would place it in the category of large ocean going vessels of today. Subsequent builders for 4,000 years only constructed vessels that seldom exceeded 200 feet long. It was not till 1844 apparently, that a vessel, a Cunard liner, was built with a length exceeding that of the Ark.
Was there merely a Local Flood?And for Noah to have built such a boat to escape merely a local flood is inconceivable to say the least. God could simply have warned the people to flee to higher ground, as He did in Lot's day. An interesting comment on Noah's building comes from an experience with a Mr. George W. Dickie who designed the United States battleship "Oregon". At about this time a newspaper controversy on the story of Noah's
Ark made sport of the idea of such a boat being seaworthy. Mr Dickie on checking the Bible's measurements of Noah's Ark against his own designed ship found his was almost in exact proportion to the Ark's; except his was one seventh smaller in every way. He took the matter up with the United States Navy department, the result being that the "Oregon's" measurements were altered to correspond with the Ark's proportions. Later the Editor of the Los Angeles Times stated, "One of the surprising facts of history is that it took 2,000 years for the science of marine engineering to develop the highest type of sea-going craft, when the secrets of the true dimensions for the greatest carrying power, combined with the least resistance of the waves, rested all that time in the Book of Genesis."
Jesus Believed in the FloodInterestingly enough, it is noteworthy that Jesus believed in the story of Noah and the Flood, Matthew 24:37-39; Peter also believed in it, 2 Peter 2:5. And further, there is more space given to describing it than there is describing creation. One third of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, covering the first 2,000 years of Bible history, describe it. Such an ark would have a carrying capacity of 522 triple decker railway trucks.
The Capacity of the ArkKnowing today that there are over a million described species of animals and a quarter million plants, how could Noah accommodate these? The problem becomes more involved when we realize that of the more than a million species; about 600,000 of these are insects. What a time Noah would have had caring for these.
However, when one realizes that there would not have been all the various types in Noah's day as we have today, we begin to see light in the story's credibility. This does not mean we begin to believe in evolution, but it is a known fact that variation within the various species of animals and plants has today produced new varieties, that are multiple. Frank Marsh points out that of the 500 types of sweet pea we have, that they have developed from a single type since the year 1700. Similar variations have taken place within the dog, cat, bird and other living things. An example is the Hawaiian honeycreeper, a bird from which 40 different variations have been produced all from the same pair, but now some of these will not cross with others within this same species. The important thing to remember is that while the basic types will produce new types with their own, they do not do so among different kinds. An example is the crossing of a horse with a donkey that will produce a mule, but there the process ends. And no matter how many variations take place within a set kind, dogs are still dogs, cats are still cats, squirrels are still squirrels.
In Noah's day the number of basic kinds were much less than is found today. It has been estimated that at the time of the Flood there were only 290 known animals larger than sheep. There were 757 which were smaller and 1,357 smaller than rats. Normally 100 sheep go into a sheep truck and it has been worked out that the carrying capacity of the Ark was equal to 1,566 railway trucks. We must also consider that not all the animals went into the Ark, only groups of male and female of each species.
Flood TraditionsAnother factor confirming the Bible story is the evidence of Flood traditions among nearly all nations of the earth, which, of course, one would expect if it was worldwide. Such stories are found from Australia, Egypt, Mexico, America, Babylon, China, Africa, India and Greece. All basically agree that: — 1. There was a universal destruction by water, 2. An ark or boat provided an escape route, and 3. A seed was preserved.
Coal BedsPerhaps the most convincing evidence of the flood is to be found in the extensive coal reserves of the world. No processes going on now approach in magnitude the action necessary to account for this phenomenon. When we think of coal beds up to 500 feet thick as in Australia and realize that it takes about 14 feet of thick vegetation to produce one foot of coal, we can see the vast growth that once was.
In 1930 Admiral Byrd showed evidence of vegetation flourishing in the Antarctic, and McMillan, the Arctic explorer, found a seam of coal 30 feet thief, 600 miles from the North Pole. This all evidences a tropical climate once prevailing worldwide. If all mainlands were at one time joined together then all types of animals would have been available in close proximity to the Ark.
Fossil Remains and ShellsAs the primary purpose of the flood was to destroy all life on earth, except the Ark's passengers, there must have been uncounted multitudes of creatures and plants trapped and buried in the moving sediments. Hence the discovery of so much fossil remains from high mountain tops to desert plains all over the world today. Fossilized fish in sedimentary rocks are found with bones intact, fins distended, and numbering billions of specimens in various parts of the world. They show no mark of a scavenger's attack, but evidence of a violent, sudden death. To effect such destruction and preservation of these, and the dinosaurs, who disappeared suddenly, only something as Genesis describes on a worldwide basis could be the answer. Man has actually tried to duplicate such by placing dead fish in wire cages and dropping them into black mud at lake bottoms, to show natural causes could have done this. To their surprise even large fish were completely disarticulated in 6+ days. A burial by sudden deluge and entombment within hours is the only answer. Some sudden catastrophe and climate change has affected burial and preservation.
Some have proposed that the evidences of a flood in Ur in the Middle East fulfill the story of Noah's Flood as being of local nature only. But worldwide evidence of fossil remains, sudden disappearance of animals, sea shells on mountain tops, flood traditions among nations all around the world, coal beds and many other proofs, indicate that the flood of Noah's day cannot be explained away in the flood evidences found in Ur of the Chaldees.
If the Ark Story is TrueNow we can ask this question. If there are so many evidences of a worldwide flood why is it that so many refuse to believe? Peter says that many, in spite of evidence, "deliberately ignore the fact". 2 Peter 3:5-7 R.S.V.
The consequences of our search are that if the story of the flood is true without us having to discover the Ark, and we have found the weight of evidence to agree that the story is true...then we also agree that the Bible is true, despite accusations to the contrary.
Now if the Bible is true in regard to this event, then it is logical to believe, however improbable it may seem, that its statements concerning the future of this world, your future and mine, are likewise true.
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be... Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." Matthew 24:37-42.
References 1. "The Ark File" - Noorbergen p.205 - Pacific Press,1974 2. "The Genesis Flood" - Whitcomb and Morris p. 69.