There are a number of issues that frequently are raised as reasons for disregarding the body of testimony asserting Noah's Ark has not only survived on Mt. Ararat, but has been seen by numerous eyewitnesses. We now turn to a consideration of several of these issues.
Resolving a Few Other Ararat Testimony Issues
There are a number of issues that frequently are raised as reasons for disregarding the body of testimony asserting Noah’s Ark has not only survived on Mt. Ararat, but has been seen by numerous eyewitnesses. We now turn to a consideration of several of these issues.
The Ark Has Never Been Found, Despite Many Searches
This matter is raised by Ararat skeptics as a form of the “phantom Ark” problem, under the assumption that what was reportedly seen from the air was always a misleading rock formation seen at a distance, and for this reason close-up ground searches were unsuccessful. But it must be kept in mind that the only time of year air sightings are claimed (when we know a time was specified) is during the summer, when glacial melting is at a maximum. During most of the year, the Ark would have been hidden in snow and ice, making both air and ground sightings impossible (except in the case of a really unusual drought/heat wave, as appears to have been the case in Hagopian’s time). Planes do not normally get close to the mountain during summer, due to updrafts that are strongest where the Ahora Gorge on the northeast side funnels hot air rising from the plains below (Corbin 221). Of this, US Air Force serviceman Vince Will remarked in his testimony: “the updraft pushed the plane up so high...” (Corbin 407). This helps explain why detailed air sightings are not common—the planes keep a safe distance back from the mountain. Those air-based testimonies we have, such as those of George Greene (Corbin 417–420), the “U-2 pilot” (Corbin 411) and Will, happened because they purposely made an unusually close approach to the mountain. This implies most claimed aircraft sightings of the Ark from aircraft were due to the dumb luck of a close approach combined with good melting, or to a conscious attempt to locate it.
Conversely, ground search failures may be attributed not only to their not being undertaken at a time of maximum meltback, but also to the difficulty in reaching the proper location; as anyone who has undertaken it will attest, climbing Mt. Ararat is not for the fainthearted. An additional factor is that the testimonies persuasively indicate that the Ark lies in deep shadow during the first half of day. George Greene claimed he saw the Ark “in the slanting rays of the western sun” (Richard Bright, Quest for Discovery, p. 89), and similarly Vince Will said his sighting was around 4 pm in the afternoon (Corbin 407). The hot air rising off the plains in the afternoon also frequently results in violent thunderstorms and blizzard conditions on top, persuading ground-based searchers that it is the better part of wisdom to descend from the high elevations by early afternoon. By this early pull-back to lower elevations, ground-based searchers miss being able to see clearly into higher areas best illuminated by the western sun.
As for the allegation that ground searches have “never” found the Ark, this is untrue. We already have testimonies that pass the “two or three” test that were ground-based and claimed to have found the Ark, including those of Hagopian, the 1917 Russian expedition, and Ed Davis. Those who say that ground searches have “never” found the Ark really mean, they don’t accept that kind of evidence! By their unwillingness to admit this data into consideration, these skeptics have set the bar of proof against testimony higher than the courts do—and in defiance of the “two or three” principle given in the Bible.
The Ark was “Seen” in Different Locations
This phenomenon is said to prove that the eyewitnesses can’t get their stories straight and are just making them up or, more charitably, are just seeing “phantom Arks.” From my study of this matter, I have concluded this is a case like that described in the well-known poem, “The Blind Men and the Elephant” by American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887):
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”
The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
" 'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
We smile...but there is a core of truth in this doggerel. Applying it to the case at hand, the answer to whether the Ark is on a ledge or at the base of a rock wall, the two most common options, is probably—both! Several testimonies claim the one, and several claim the other. The differences are not as clear as they could be in the Eyewitnesses chart, but are apparent in the details given in Corbin’s and Bright’s books. Both types of details pass the “two or three” test, because each is supported by multiple testimonies. They can be reconciled by appreciating the fact that several testimonies report the Ark now exists in a broken state, in several discrete sections. The Eyewitnesses chart indicates this breakup did not take place until after 1917, when the White Russian expedition related by Col. Alexander Koor (Corbin 375–383) could still report an essentially intact Ark. This was the expedition apparently featured in the silent newsreel that Ray Lubeck claimed to have seen in 1942—see Corbin 391–392. Using the New American Standard Bible estimate of a cubit at 18 inches, this indicates the intact Ark, at 300 cubits long (Gn. 6:18), would have been about 450 feet in length. A 1916 report from Turkish soldiers (Corbin 374) alleged that the Ark was "150 paces long"; if we take an average man's pace to span about 30 inches (as the Army does), this is just about an exact match with the Bible. This also essentially matches what Koor told Violet M. Cummings (Noah's Ark: Fact or Fable?, 1973, pp. 57–58, quoted in Corbin 379–380), that the Ark was supposedly 500 feet long. So once again, we have enough independent witnesses of an intact Ark before 1917 to meet the "two or three" rule. Hagopian's testimony of seeing an unbroken Ark in the early 1900s joins smoothly with their voices.
The testimony of Ed Davis—covered in Corbin 105–110 and 393–406, but most fully reported in the book by Don Shockey, Agri-Dagh The Painful Mountain—may be the clearest statement regarding the broken state of the Ark in his day and thereafter. He claimed that the native Kurds who took him there, out of appreciation for a favor he performed for their village, told him that the Ark had broken into at least two large pieces (see also Corbin 181). Davis was interviewed by Elfred Lee in 1986, and Lee, an accomplished artist, drew what Davis described—the Ark in two broken sections in a small cove or canyon, one piece against a rock wall. The photo below was taken by Dr. John Morris of Ed Davis holding Lee’s completed sketch in 1986: (For more pictures, see the John Morris photo album at http://noahsarksearch.com/MorrisJohn/MorrisJohn.htm.)
Tying this in with the other testimonies which report different topographical details of the Ark’s location, we may conclude that at various times one part was seen, at other times the other, allowing both forms of the story to stand up to the “two or three” test. The testimony of Roy Tibbetts described the WW II sighting by his friend “Aussie” Taylor as being at the foot of a rocky ridge (Corbin 389–390). This matches the claim by the U-2 pilot, that his object was seen up against a rock wall (Corbin 411). In contrast, Vince Will said the Ark was overhanging a ledge and is covered with ice and snow most of the time. US Navy Lieutenant Al Shappell, in 1974, reported both: “There is another ledge with an icepack 30 to 50 feet below the main structure with a littering of debris underneath the main structure. The end of the upper structure had broken off and I could see the broken off piece in the snow pack at the bottom of the ledge” (Corbin 451). These stories indicate at least two separate parts of the Ark are being discussed, and we should not jump to the conclusion that differences in the stories means someone is lying. They just reflect different observational conditions.
It should be mentioned that Ararat skeptics have long taken issue with whether Davis was actually on Mt. Ararat, alleging he may have been on another mountain because his testimony includes ambiguities. Among the reasons they give is a picture given on page 55 in Shockey’s book. It is reproduced here:
Of this photograph, Corbin (403) observes:
Another concern about Davis is that the photo given by Abas-Abas to Davis shown in The Painful Mountain that illustrated the difficulty of climbing Mount Ararat in wintertime does not appear to be a picture of Mount Ararat. The photo caption in the book does not make it clear that Abas-Abas or Davis believed the photo was actually of Ararat but it definitely does not look like Ararat. Rather, it appears to be a valley in a mountain range.
I decided to make a special study of this photograph to see if it could be reconciled with Mt. Ararat, even though my initial assessment was to agree with the above statement. I spent several hours going through my library of satellite photos, and finally was pleasantly surprised to find one which tied every single detail of this photo explicitly to Mt. Ararat. One can match up the features between that satellite photo and the Abas photograph as below, and figure out from it pretty closely where the photo was taken from:
This matching up of features—originally done at a much higher magnification of the satellite photo than space permits here—makes me quite confident that the Abas photo is indeed of Mt. Ararat, and was given to Davis because it had special meaning to him: it was taken at a location along the “back door” route (Corbin 397, Shockey 6) by which Abas led Davis to an overlook from which he could see the Ark. This, as well as the notation in Davis’ Bible that it was Ararat he climbed (photo of the handwritten note on Shockey 51), provides a powerful reason to trust Davis’ testimony and apply it to Mt. Ararat.
The Ark Could Not Have Survived on Mt. Ararat
This complaint has its source largely in people’s preconceptions of the destructive power of volcanoes and glaciers, and the natural tendency to extrapolate those preconceptions back to the unknown initial conditions the Ark was in. It is basically a problem of getting one’s head around the idea that the Ark could be buried in a glacier on a known volcanic mountain, and yet, seemingly at odds with these facts, survive for thousands of years. For many, this apparent yet unsubstantiated improbability mandates that the testimonies to the contrary be rejected, for one reason or another. Yet, these problems also can be resolved by a little creative thinking.
I propose the following as a reasonable scenario. To set the stage, it is generally accepted by Creationists that the environment immediately following the Flood would have been warm and humid. Plant life would have flourished. The conditions would have been optimal for the spread of man and animals throughout the world. The Ice Age was yet future, so the Ark would not have been entombed in snow and ice for some time after Noah and the animals left it. So, we need not concern ourselves with destruction by ice in the immediate years after the Flood, and can begin this discussion with a focus on the volcano itself.
The Volcano Problem
If the Ark did land on Mt. Ararat, volcanism would have been a factor to reckon with almost from the time the Ark was vacated. We know that lava flows are remarkably destructive, yet at the same time, ash deposits can preserve. Most of us know about how buildings, objects, and the outlines of decomposed bodies were preserved in the copious ashfalls from Mt. Vesuvius at Pompeii (see offsite: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Pompeii to refresh your memory). The bodies buried in the ash did not simply burn up on contact, or else they would not have left behind lifelike casts. We thus have a precedent for believing that if the Ark was covered in a short time by a bed of ash after the Flood ended, it could have been largely preserved, just like the buildings of Pompeii. Such layers of mineral-rich volcanic ejecta would, as the years passed and rainfall and/or overlying melting snow trickled down through it, would have saturated the wood of the Ark in these minerals. This would have led to partial permineralization and replacement of the cellulose with minerals, turning it into petrified wood. The National Computational Science Educational Consortium website states this plainly: “Wood must first be covered with such agents as volcanic ash, volcanic lava flow, volcanic mud-flows, sediments in lakes and swamps or material washed in by violent floods—by any means which would exclude oxygen and thus prevent decay” (emphasis added).
That such a process took place is strongly implied by an apparently useless “throw-in” detail George Hagopian included in his testimony. Its uselessness as a factor in bolstering his testimony’s believability is one of the strongest reasons to think it is true—he would have had no reason to include it if he was just trying to tell a persuasive story, but its inclusion makes sense if he was relating something that actually happened to him. What is this detail? From Lee’s recorded interview with Hagopian (Corbin 371): “I remember, my uncle took his gun and shot into the side of the ark, but the bullet wouldn’t penetrate.” Noorbergen (167) goes further in his direct quote from Hagopian: “My uncle took his gun and shot into the side of the ark but the bullet wouldn’t penetrate. It just dropped when it hit the side. The whole ark was petrified, turned to rock.” Hagopian reiterated his opinion later in Noorbergen’s interview (170): “Listen, son, I don’t believe that wood [recovered by Fernand Navarra in 1955 and the SEARCH expedition of 1969] is part of Noah’s ark. The ark I saw was made of wood, petrified wood [Hagopian’s emphasis], not wood that can be cut.” Well, we don’t know whether Hagopian’s revered object was actually petrified or merely built from a very hard, dense wood, but if petrification DID take place, burial in a mineral-rich bed of volcanic ash is a scientifically viable means by which it could have occurred.
In passing, I am well aware that the Bible says the Ark was covered with pitch inside and out (Gn 6:14), and the idea that if this covering was undisturbed over the ages, perhaps would have prevented petrification. If fact, for several years I thought this way myself. But being subjected to repeated cycles of freezing and thawing for thousands of years would have taken a toll on the integrity of the sealant. Further, the article “Life expectancy of home components,” using data adapted from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Residential Rehabilitation Inspection Guide (2000), sets the expected lifespan of a bituminous coating for foundation waterproofing at only 10 years. When you combine that lifespan limitation—for a coating that remains underground, protected from the sun’s rays—with the Ark’s high location that would have exposed a pitch coating to the degrading effects of a higher intensity of UV rays, as well as powerful storms and strong winds, we have no reason for confidence the Ark’s pitch coating would have prevented water infiltration for centuries.
The above scenario, of course, depends on the Ark not having been destroyed by lava flows on volcanic Ararat. Is that conceivable? I think we can answer this affirmatively. For one thing, most volcanic eruptions begin not with magma flows but with ash ejection, which would have protected a buried Ark from lava damage. The succeeding ages of freeze/thaw cycles and storms would have eroded away the lava and ash cover. For another, we have no clear evidence the Ark's reputedly high location before 1917 could even have been touched by lava flows. Studies of the large, level Western Plateau area using the Japanese PALSAR radar satellite by Dr. Edmond Holroyd (personal communication), as well as limited GPR studies by the Garbe team in 1988 (Corbin 174), indicate the main caldera of Ararat probably lies beneath it. The Japanese PALSAR (Phased Array L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite can penetrate to some degree beneath snow and ice, and indicates that the Western Plateau is the location of a deep basin that was likely the main caldera of Mt. Ararat.
This is well away from the north side area above the Ahora Gorge where many Ark sightings are claimed (cf. the Eyewitnesses chart in Part One). In addition, the Western Plateau is at an elevation of about 15,200 feet (Corbin 189), about 1700 feet lower than the 16,945 foot summit. If this caldera was the main point from which Ararat extruded lava, as seems likely, then all of its flow would have been below the Ark, placing it out of the path of danger. Since there is no known central vent at the highest point, the elevations above the caldera appear to have been upwardly deformed by internal pressure rather than built up by layers of lava. There is a possible but unproven small caldera under the Eastern Plateau, perhaps 700 feet in diameter, on the far eastern side at about 16,500 feet (Corbin 189). If this was the highest point on Ararat from which lava issued, we have adequate reason to believe that if the Ark was sited high on the northeast side of the mountain, it would have always remained outside the areas affected by lava flow. Additionally, there are many parasite cones on the lower flanks of Ararat that would have released internal pressure of the magma before it could ever rise to the highest levels. The cone of nearby Little Ararat would likewise have provided an escape outlet for pressure from a shared reservoir of underground lava, as well as a source of volcanic ash that could have been deposited on top of the Ark.
The Glacier Problem
Now, let us turn to consider the glacier problem. It is usually assumed that if the Ark was ever on Mt. Ararat, it would eventually have been buried in a glacier, at least by the time of the Ice Age. This would presumably have eventually crushed the Ark under the weight of the ice, or pulverized it from being caught in a glacier’s inexorable grinding motion.
But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it must be pointed out, once again, that we do NOT know assuredly what the specific conditions were on top of Mt. Ararat during the Ice Age, or at any time but our own. We can be reasonably sure, based on the fact there is a permanent snow line right now at about 14,000 feet, that there was a more extensive snow blanket during the Ice Age. What we do NOT know for a fact is how deeply the Ark might have been buried in it, or whether the Ark had been built so strongly that it not only resisted the onslaught of the Flood, but could also stand the abuse of entombment under several hundred feet (?) of ice near the top of Ararat.
Actually, we do not even know if the idea of several hundred feet of snow and ice on top of the Ark matches up with reality. Heat from the smoldering volcano may well have continually melted it off before it could reach crushing pressures. (To this day there is a small spot at the top of Mt. Ararat, in the Eastern Plateau area, that generally is either clear of snow or very shallowly covered all year long, indicating subterranean heat is still at work; it can be seen on Google Earth at 39 42 11.10 N, 44 18 13.70 E.) The steep slopes near the top also would reasonably result in periodic avalanches, so the upper slopes would not have retained as much continuous snow cover as less steep areas at a lower elevation. The onset of the Medieval Warm Period, which spanned the ninth to thirteenth centuries and may have coincided with the time the volcano’s active period began to wind down, would also have dramatically melted off the snow and ice. In short, there exists a whole bunch of “what if” possibilities that allow for the Ark to have been near the top of Mt Ararat during the Ice Age and not be destroyed by the pressure of crushing ice. Besides, a World War II P-38 fighter plane was discovered in Greenland under 250 feet of ice (see: The Lost Squadron), yet was sufficiently intact that they were able to restore it! So it is quite plausible for the heavy-duty Ark to have survived under dozens of feet of ice for a very long time without being crushed.
What about the issue of pulverizing glacier motion, a distinct matter from crushing ice pressure? Haji Yearam, for one, said the Ark rested “in” a glacier (Corbin 359), but since his testimony places his sighting (about 1856) before the apparent breakup of the Ark, he may have been referring only to a mostly stationary, fairly level snow field. Others, such as Ed Davis, indicated broken sections of the Ark were seen protruding out of ice, but this does not tell us if it was the ice of a moving glacier or of a sheltered hollow. A significant portion of the testimonies summarized in the Eyewitnesses chart—certainly enough to pass the “two or three” test—indicate the Ark was seen in a small valley or depression, detailed further in some reports as having the shape of a horseshoe. Since such a valley was reported, it was probably not continuously filled with a moving glacier, or else it would not have been visible. For these reasons we have cause to doubt that the “moving glacier would crush the Ark” complaint has any objective basis, as far as the Ark’s specific location is concerned. It may have general validity, but generalizations often do not jive with specific realities.
The later reports, at least from the time of Ed Davis onwards, indicate a consensus that the Ark was no longer intact at that time but broken up into multiple sections. These also need to be reconciled with the “moving glacier” problem. My suggestion is that heaving of the ice around the Ark’s original, relatively protected high location caused it to gradually get pushed forwards via frost heave to the edge of its protecting basin over the ages. Up to the time of the Russian expedition it stayed intact, but eventually moved into an unstable position where part of it wound up hanging over empty space during the time of maximum melting, and broke off from the main section. This is what Davis said the Kurdish natives he befriended told him; “Abas-Abas told me that a piece of the back section had broken off, but when he was a youngster [i.e., around the time of Hagopian’s boyhood] it was more or less a complete boat, in one piece” (Shockey 5).
Now, picture this. The Ark is almost universally described as having a flat-bottomed, barge-like shape (see the chart). The top of Ararat is covered with permanent snow and ice, in some areas fairly steep. The ice is very slippery; explorer John McIntosh came dangerously close to sliding off the mountain in an accident in 2005 (pictures are at http://noahsarksearch.com/McIntoshJohn/McIntoshJohn2005.html), when a sitting glissade attempt (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glissade_%28climbing%29) was brought to an abrupt halt by a rock. Similarly, if a piece of the Ark broke off the main structure, the most likely thing that would happen is not that it would stay up there on the surface where it dropped, to get buried in subsequent snows and eventually get ground to bits in the glacier. Rather, it would make like McIntosh, or rather a toboggan—it would start sliding down the smooth, ice-covered surface of the mountain, not to stop until it collided with something or got lodged in a crevasse. The testimonial evidence indicates the former happened; it kept going downhill on the surface of the glacier, traveling a fair distance rather rapidly, driven by gravity and its own considerable inertia rather than glacial motion. It finally came to rest by encountering stretches of soft snow at lower levels that it sank into, or else bare, exposed rock, both of which would have put the brakes on its downhill plunge. It ended up stopping on a ledge within a small canyon, with another section later breaking off and falling to a lower level. This presents us with the picture described by Davis and others.
To conclude this discussion, the facts that Mt. Ararat is a volcano and that it is covered with glaciers are not insurmountable difficulties. One must begin, however, with a commitment to the “two or three” principle in order to see this. Discarding this biblical principle in favor of a strict scientism in Ark research tends to stifle creativity in searching for answers.
A Scavenger Hunt?
Finally, what about the claim of scavenging? This goes back to Josephus, who reported (Antiquities 1: 3: 6 [Loeb Classical Library 93]):
Now all the writers of barbarian histories make mention of this flood, and of this ark; among whom is Berossus the Chaldean. For when he was describing the circumstances of the flood, he goes on thus: “It is said, there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cordyaeans; and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they take away, and use chiefly as amulets, for the averting of mischiefs.”
Of course, scavenging little pieces of bitumen hardly amounts to anything for a memento-seeker. Bitumen is found naturally in the Middle East. Why not instead grab your own piece of Ark wood, something substantial to pass on to your family? Some say this probably happened, that the Ark was probably dismantled and the wood used for other purposes, and for that reason has not been found. It is obvious that those making this claim have chosen to utterly disregard all of the testimonies that the Ark has indeed survived; they have chosen their favored story and are sticking to it, multiplied testimonial evidence to the contrary be hanged. Some “dismantlers” propose that Noah and his family would have pulled his big boat apart to reuse the wood. Old Earth Creationist Greg Neyman is one, stating (http://www.answersincreation.org/ark1.htm):
The ark will probably never be found, and here’s why. It probably no longer exists! When Noah got off the ark, he and his family, and their descendants, probably realized that the ark was an excellent source of wood for rebuilding their society. God said He would never again flood the earth, so Noah knew he would never need the ark again. Therefore, the ark was most likely dismantled for building materials within the first hundred years after the flood.
Anyone who has witnessed a flood knows that in its aftermath there is plenty of wood debris lying around from fallen trees, trees that floated and were left on the surface of the ground when the water retreated. With so much wood free for the taking on the plains below Ararat in the aftermath of the Flood, can we reasonably expect the small band of survivors to have undertaken the laborious efforts of dismantling the carefully placed and sturdily fastened heavy wood beams at the high elevations of the volcanic peak and hauling them down, beams that probably needed heavy-duty scaffolding to install? Common sense says “no.” After all, the necessary freshwater supplies would all have been down on the plains, not on the barren heights, so the people would have quickly left the mountain and followed the water, essential for life. Most of the animals would have gone down to the plains as well—the herbivores to find pasture, the carnivores to stay near the game. The people would also have wanted to stay near the animals for their milk, meat and skins.
Though caves probably existed and would have been an option for shelter, if the climate was as mild right after the Flood as most models indicate, it is more likely a semi-permanent village arrangement of relatively fragile tent-like structures was the rule initially. The Ark survivors had been told to fill the Earth, something which could not be done by staying close to the Ark, so they would have been likely to frequently pull up camp and see what was over the next hill. Besides, volcanoes are dangerous things. Does it make sense that, as the years passed and trees again multiplied over the Earth, Noah and his descendants would have preferred the difficult, hazardous trek up the peak with pack animals and tools to dismantle the huge beams for projects in the lowlands, rather than cut down and work with what was close by? I think that suggesting this is a triumph of commitment to a model over common sense.
In passing, it is worth pointing out that the Hagopian testimony indicates that, rather than scavenging efforts, conservation efforts were actually done by Christians of earlier years. Summarizing this detail, Lee stated (Corbin 67), “There was a green moss growing on it, and at the far end was a set of stairs coming down to within about ten feet of the ground. It looked like the stairs had been attached by someone else. He [Hagopian] said Noah didn’t put them there and they were not a part of the original construction. Incidentally, Rene Noorbergen found a report in the Jerusalem library that told of early Christians going on pilgrimages up there and doing repairs on the Ark.”
A Summary About Testimony
I cannot emphasize too strongly that in laying out possible scenarios above, I am NOT in any way claiming they definitely took place. I cannot. I was not there. I do not have complete knowledge of the initial conditions existing when the Ark landed (nor do those who embrace a form of scientism to arrogantly claim that science alone can settle the issue of the survival of Noah’s Ark). Yet, because I embrace the biblical “two or three” principle, I feel a responsibility to not throw out testimony as an input, but rather seek out ways to accommodate it. That is what I have tried to do here: not prove that things took place in a certain way, but to show that it is possible, even plausible, that they happened. And in suggesting possibilities, I am also trying to accommodate known science that applies to the details, such as the lifespan of bituminous waterproofing material.
My hope is that from this discussion, the open-minded reader will see that apparent discrepancies between different testimonies, and/or perceived difficulties in envisioning a scientific explanation for how something could happen as reported, are not adequate reasons to discard testimony as a tool to find out the truth of the Ark’s whereabouts. Different people saw different things at different times, and emphasized different details in their stories. Comprehensive present knowledge cannot be assumed. Once the “two or three” principle is firmly embraced and supplemented with hard work, prayer and some creative thinking, the barriers to making sense of the Noah’s Ark mystery gradually fall away.
The next section, Part Three—“Geological Studies: A Definitive Criterion of Truth?”—will look at a few geological reasons given to doubt the existence of Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat. I trust it will again demonstrate that, by holding firmly to the scriptural “two or three” principle with the testimonies and rejecting scientism, satisfying answers present themselves for reconciling the testimonies with science, properly used.
This article remains the sole property of the Associates for Biblical Research and Richard Lanser. Any reproduction, republication or other use without express permission from Associates for Biblical Research is strictly prohibited.