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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
The 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.
One of the most interesting reports of the discovery of the Ark, was
reported in papers in 1942 of a Russian aviator by the name of
Vladimar Roskivitsky, then living in America. The story had it that
just before the Russian revolution a group of Russian aviators were
stationed only twenty miles northwest of the mountain. In flights
over Mount Ararat they reported seeing a ship like object embedded
in the ice at 14,000 feet up the mountain — side.
Reports were despatched to the Russian Government who sent an
expedition to see it. According to the story, measurements were
taken, but a few days after the report was sent to the Government,
godless Bolshevism took over, and so no records were ever made
public until Roskivitsky, escaping to America, made the story known.
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 Water
There 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 Stories
The 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.
As Rene Noorbergen, who wrote the book "The Ark File", says, "Too
often a yearning for personal glory seems to have been the
motivating factor in all too many of the searchers of the Ark. It is
understandable that if a Supernatural power has preserved the Ark
for more than 4,000 years under adverse conditions prevailing on Mt
Ararat, He certainly did not have in mind the glorification of the
discoverer." pp. 205. Alert businessmen have even considered luxury
motels at the foot of Mt Ararat, aerial trams to the Ark site,
together with Disneyland-type entertainment. If God ever meant the
Ark to be found it would not be just for this!
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
Noah's Ark Story held up to Ridicule
No 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 Ark
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 (Gen. 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 Flood
Interestingly 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
The Capacity of the Ark
Knowing 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.
Another 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.
Perhaps 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 Shells
As 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
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 True
Now 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".
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
"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."
References 1. "The Ark File" - Noorbergen p.205 - Pacific Press,1974
2. "The Genesis Flood" - Whitcomb and Morris p. 69.