Archive for July, 2013

Sometimes charges of fraud can be difficult to either prove, or disprove. According to links at the NoahsArkSearch website http://noahsarksearch.com, the 2010 discovery claim of Noah’s Ark Ministries International (NAMI) is suspected of being a fraud. This information can be found in the 2011 Updates at NoahsArkSearch.

If you happen to read something in the updates about Daniel McGivern, that article has nothing to do with the NAMI scandal. According to archaeologist Randall Price, Daniel McGivern prematurely released questionable information from a study of satellite data on an anomaly in the ice cap of Ararat. However, Randall Price is also one of those trying to call attention to problems with the NAMI claim. At this point in time it’s extremely difficult to sort it all out, and NoahsArkSearch appears to have simply made the information available just as it is.

NAMI, a Hong Kong based team, removed the English version of their website from the internet late in 2011, but so far as I know, they are continuing to make their claim. Many links to their videos and other information now lead nowhere, but reports from some who question the discovery can easily be found. Those who have expressed doubts include ark searcher Don Patton, archaeologist Randall Price, Dr. Carl Wieland of Creation Magazine, geologist Andrew Snelling, and Ararat tour organizer Dr. Amy Beam. Soon after the “discovery,” NAMI tried to recruit the help of several reputable people to add credibility to their claim. Some of those people questioned NAMI’s “ark,” and later became a target for personal attacks in one form or another.

The story revolves around a Kurdish guide named Armet Ertugrul (nicknamed Parasut) who led the NAMI team to a wooden structure in an ice cave in the Red Canyon area of Ararat. NAMI, apparently believing they had found the ark, began a campaign to make the discovery public, and to obtain funds to excavate the ark.

Before long however, the story surfaced that Kurdish workers had hauled old wood up Ararat to build what they thought was a movie set. The wood had supposedly been trucked in, and moved farther up the mountain by horses. Finally, it was carried by workers to the site at 13,000 feet. There the wood was assembled inside an ice cave to look like rooms within Noah’s Ark. A letter to that effect appeared with the signatures of two guides who worked for Parasut.

These two guides later claimed in a video that they did not write the letter, and that their signatures had been forged. I suppose this could have been part of a scheme to make those asking serious questions appear as if they were relying upon hearsay. Most likely though, the two guides were persuaded in some way to change their story. Trouble between Parasut and tour organizer Amy Beam developed along a different line.

She and Parasut’s pardner, Mehmet Ceven, were once business pardners of some sort. At her website, http://www.mountararattrek.com, she explains her concerns about the large amounts of money being donated to NAMI by people who have been misinformed. She also says that she wants to restore honesty to the Mount Ararat tourism industry. In a .pdf file, “The Turkish Guides and the Noah’s Ark Discovery Fraud (under Stories),” she mentions the fact that “honest search expeditions” have been conducted on Mount Ararat for decades, though she doesn’t personally believe the ark is there. I agree with her statement that “…fraud by some casts a shadow on the integrity of everyone.”

Also under “Stories” on her website is an account of the disappearance of Donald Mackenzie late in 2010. Initially, I confused this man with Joel David Klenck, who disappeared for a few hours from one of Amy Beam’s climbing tours. Apparently, after being told that no one could take him to the NAMI “ark” site, Joel Klenck slipped away and tried to find it on his own. He must not have been able to spot the site at the time, but was later successful in joining the NAMI team. He is the “expert” in the NAMI produced movie, “Days of Noah,” released in 2011.

So far as I know, the character of Donald Mackenzie isn’t considered questionable, as is that of some associated with NAMI. Mackenzie disappeared conducting his own personal search for Noah’s ark, and has never been found. He had also wanted to investigate the NAMI claim.

In 2010, I saw some of the photographs of the wooden structure on NAMI’s website which they later removed from the web. I thought that something looked odd about the man in some of the pictures, though I didn’t take time to study them. It turns out that the image of the man, standing in different “rooms,” was added to various photographs to give an impression of size to the rooms. I have read that the NAMI team has never been able to get into some of the rooms in the “photos.” They haven’t actually even seen them. One of the guides provided the photographs, which were supposedly taken at an earlier time when the rooms were more accessible.

I realize that it can sometimes be difficult to take a photo that captures the way something really looks, but it is deceptive to manipulate photos and film. NAMI has added to the confusion surrounding the stories of the ark on Ararat. If remains are ever actually found, some people will never believe it, simply because of the way the NAMI claim has been handled.

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Evidence can often be interpreted in different ways. Primarily because of a bias introduced in childhood by our educational systems, and our culture, many believe that scientific data is in favor of evolution. Creationists interpret much of the same data in an entirely different way from evolutionists. Also, there is often conflicting data to be gained from separate scientific experiments.

Understanding the truth, or simply arriving at an informed opinion, often requires taking a much closer look. I have touched upon several of these things in my posts over the past months. I accept the Genesis record of the landing of Noah’s ark in the mountains of Ararat as a historical fact. I make that statement based upon mountains of evidence that there really was a world-wide flood, and that the Bible is an accurate historical and scientific record.

However, the phrase in Genesis 8:4, “mountains of Ararat,” can be interpreted in different ways. It can be taken to be any mountain in the area, or Mount Ararat itself, sometimes called Greater Ararat because it is one of two mountains separated from nearby mountain chains. In Jay P. Green’s direct translation (printed beneath the Hebrew words) in The Interlinear Bible, the phrase is translated as, “the heights of Ararat,” which makes it easier to think of a single mountain.

I absolutely believe that the remains of Noah’s ark were once to be seen on some mountain in the ancient land of Ararat (or Urartu). Many ancient writers mention this fact, though the ark must not have been very accessible for not many recorded eyewitness accounts have been preserved. There is some disagreement among the writers about the location, but such mistakes are easy to make, especially over long periods of time.

It’s also easy, when you’re not in possession of all the facts, to think that you see a disagreement when the difference is only in the presentation of the information. It’s possible to say the same thing in different ways, and for actual disagreements to then arise from this. Sometimes a mountain is known by different names, and sometimes different mountains are given the same name. These things are true of Ararat. This sort of thing is common all over the world. America, for example, has many cities which are named after cities in Europe. Such things may complicate the search for Noah’s ark, but confusion doesn’t disprove the ark’s existence.

Under certain conditions, the remains of Noah’s ark could have been preserved to the present time, and I believe that it probably has, but there are varying levels of confidence that we can hold when we talk about believing this sort of thing. The testimony of those claiming to actually have seen the remains of Noah’s ark isn’t backed by as much evidence as I would like to see. The fact that so many historical records exist is evidence of a sort, but it isn’t conclusive proof.

Some of the eyewitnesses could have been mistaken about what they saw, especially if the sighting was from a distance while flying over in an airplane. There are large blocks of basalt on Mount Ararat that could be glimpsed by eyewitnesses and mistaken for the ark. Some rock formations have fooled explorers from a fairly close distance. These have been called “phantom arks” by some explorers. The real ark, covered by ice, and rock debris from landslides, would be well camouflaged in such an environment. It could be right in front of you and remain unseen. Under some conditions it could be difficult to tell the difference between a fossilized section of an ancient boat and a natural formation.

Claims shouldn’t be made without a substantial amount of evidence. These things become diversions that draw our attention away from serious search efforts. A boat-shaped formation in the foothills of Mount Ararat known as the Durupinar, or Tendrick, site continues to be promoted to tourists as the fossilized remains of Noah’s ark. This site is dismissed by skeptics as being only an unusual geological formation. The skeptics include mainstream creationists, as well as other scientists.

The Bob Cornuke “discovery” on Mount Suleiman in Iran, promoted by Mary Irwin in her 2012 book, is believed by most to be only a solidified lava extrusion. These can resemble petrified wood very closely. It would take quite a bit of evidence to verify that a structure of fossilized wood, located on some mountain, was the remains of Noah’s ark. It sounds unlikely, but with all the secondary flooding occurring after Noah’s flood, some other boat could possible be found on a hill somewhere. Any structure found at a lower elevation could be suspected of being left there by localized flooding, or of possibly being some sort of ancient replica built at the location.

The 2010 Chinese (NAMI) claim of a discovery on Mount Ararat (at about 13,000 feet) is thought to be a fraud perpetrated by the guide who led the NAMI team to the site. That claim is a mystery in its own category which I intend to write more about.

The diversion of false claims, multiple interpretations, and “phantom” arks are only a few of the obstacles encountered by those searching for the ark. Altogether, the many obstacles create an almost unbelievable smokescreen, and I can’t help but believe that where there are such clouds of smoke, there must be a fire.

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