The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Noah's Ark??

It seems some folks are absolutely certain that they've located Noah's Ark, or what's left of it, on Mt. Ararat in the Aras Mountains in modern day Turkey. Okay, they're pretty sure they've found it...well, maybe, sorta, could be...

The people who made the "discovery" consist of a team of Turkish and Chinese explorers -- and interesting combination in itself -- operating under the organizational auspices of Noah's Ark Ministries International Limited. You can check out their website at Noah's Ark Search. It includes some neat videos taken during the expedition.

The team claims it located some large chunks of ancient wood at about the 12,000-foot level of the mountain and that the wood has been dated to 4,800 years old. They reportedly found and entered a wooden ship-like structure embedded in the mountain's ice. As you might expect, other explorers who have been searching for the ark for years doubt the conclusions and suggest that it's all the result of an elaborate hoax. And so the whole thing has boiled over into a delicious controversy among all these different ark-searchers. You can read about the controversy here. Each, of course, wants to be the first to find the ancient craft.

A view of the "ark's" interior

Personally, I can't see how one could positively attribute any large wood fragments, even those found on top of Mt. Ararat, to Noah's Biblical ship. I don't believe they found a "Noah was here" inscription carved into the wood. But, then again, the story of Noah's ark eventually settling on top of a mountain is unique in ancient literature. So what else could it be? The remains of an ancient ski resort? If the wood and the structure are ultimately confirmed to be legitimate by a reputable third party, it will be interesting to see what kind of alternatives to Noah are suggested by the scientific community.

I know they're all very sincere, but I think these ark-searchers could be spending their time more productively on other pursuits. For example, Dr. John D. Morris, one of the ark-searchers who doubts the authenticity of the find, is President of Dallas’ Institute for Creation Research and a fundamentalist Christian who led 13 expeditions to Mt. Ararat between 1971 and 1990. Can you think of anyone else who has made more unsuccessful exploratory trips for any other purpose?

Anyway, it's all very interesting, if a bit strange, that so many people seem to need to find the ark to confirm their belief in the truth of Scripture. I'm a little surprised they're not trekking through Iraq looking for the Garden of Eden. One would hope their faith is not dependent on such physical evidence.

I certainly don't believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ because I also believe in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. I see the Shroud simply as a nice gift left behind by Our Lord, not as the source of my faith. How does that old hymn go? "We walk by faith and not by sight..."

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