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Posts Tagged ‘Noah’s Ark’

Don’t let this discourage you, but sometimes the answers to our prayers are affected by the desires of other human beings. There are not only the immediate effects of those near us, but also the long-term effects, both physical and spiritual, of mankind upon the whole ecology of the earth. We interact with each other, with our environment, and with God. We influence each other, and we often hinder the desires of God (1st. Thessalonians 5:19).

Although he could easily do so, God doesn’t often override the freewill of either human beings, or the angels. I don’t mean that he doesn’t resist us. If he didn’t, then tyrants would have destroyed the world long ago. The Bible (1st. Peter 5:5) says that God “resists the proud, and gives grace unto the humble.”

There are a few examples in the Bible where God temporarily altered the thinking process of some person by some scientific means of interference (ref. Saul, 1st. Samuel 10:9-11), but that doesn’t create a permanent change in the heart of that person. God can change our hearts, and longs to do so, but we must be persuaded to willingly accept that change (2nd. Corinthians 8:12). God is sovereign, but rather than control every move that we make, in his sovereign will, God has chosen to allow us freewill.

The rulers of this world have often attempted to control the thinking of their subjects, usually by deception, but God is the author of liberty (Galatians 5:13,14). He desires that we choose to live our lives in such a way that he would have no need to intervene.

So, for many reasons, our prayers aren’t always answered in the time and way that we desire, but I don’t want to sound discouraging. My purpose is to explain why things don’t always work out right away, and to encourage us to not give up. One very difficult lesson is to not let things that go wrong stop us from trying, or from praying. Just as those who love us desire time with us, God wants us to pray. Prayer helps to open a line of communication, and to establish a relationship between God and man.

Prayer also gives us something to do when we can do little else about the cares of life. Atheists have many of the same desires as we. They have hopes and dreams, and they may do what they can to make things work, but until something changes their mind, the true atheist has no desire for God. When we are not accusing, or trying to silence God, but actually trying to communicate with him, he will respond to us; usually in a very still small voice that is only heard in the heart. Sometimes good ideas come from that communication, and sometimes things happen that we’re not even aware of.

The common phrase “prayer warrior,” should warn us that the field of prayer is a battlefield. If we were to follow the scientific method in a study of prayer, we would have to question why that is. Is there an enemy, that we can’t see, who uses every possible distraction and diversionary tactic to keep us from praying? The answer to that question seems obvious. All kinds of negative ideas may come into our thoughts, and we may have to repetitively ignore them as we talk to God.

We could learn a lot about prayer from the experiences of the Ararat explorers. Encountering a bad snowstorm on Mount Ararat, John Morris saw a member of his party temporarily seek shelter from the wind behind a large rock. A little earlier, Morris had seen lightning strike that very rock. He hurried to warn his friend, and there at the rock he thanked God for protecting them. Their fellow climber had joined them, and just as he finished his prayer, he and the other two climbers were struck by lightning.

Morris, and Roger Losier, were instantly thrown downhill, while John Bultier (J.B.), the man sitting against the rock, was momentarily held by the current before he was likewise thrown. Morris’ legs were temporarily paralyzed. He had no feeling in them except for a burning pain. J.B. was laying twenty feet away. He was also unable to get up. Both legs seemed paralyzed, and he feared one leg was broken. Roger was laying in the snow farther down the slope with his head bloodied.

Many people would consider the lightning strike to be a very negative, and final, answer to John’s prayer. It could definitely make you feel “not blessed.” Though death seemed inevitable for all of them, as Morris continued to pray, he was reminded of Bible verses which gave him hope that he could live. He began to rub his legs, and after about an hour, he was able to stand. Steadying himself with his ice axe, he moved to help J.B. get to his feet.

Roger had been the first to rise, but he had amnesia and didn’t know who, or where, he was. He didn’t know his friends, and the only thing he would do for them was to bring their ice axes. They had a difficult time persuading him not to go back to the “shelter” of the rock. Little by little, his memory returned to him, and they finally made their way off the mountain.

To be fair, it’s dangerous to be caught out in the open in a storm, and mountain storms can be especially dangerous. Then also, for some strange reason, there are people who seem to attract lightning. A Park Ranger in Virginia, Roy Sullivan, was struck by lightning eight times during his lifetime. Seven of the strikes were documented, and he is in the Guinness World Records as being the person experiencing the most lightning strikes.

Some of the strikes occurred in areas where he should have been safe. He was even struck while driving his truck. He committed suicide in Dooms, Virginia in 1983. That is a sad story. According to Wikipedia, “after the fourth strike, he began to believe that some force was trying to destroy him…” I hope that he didn’t blame God for the unusual circumstances of his life.

Searching for Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat, Richard Bright admitted to wondering at times whether “the enemy (Satan) is that strong.” He said he chose to believe however, that it must not be God’s time to reveal the ark. That may well be true, but it’s also true that the battle is sometimes fierce, and survival is a victory in itself. The last enemy that will be overcome is Death (1st Corinthians 15:26, Revelation 20:14).

One of Bright’s most fervent prayers on Ararat was simply “Jesus, I need you now!” He had scrambled to a rock rising only about two foot out of the ground, and dropped facedown behind it as an avalanche of huge boulders tumbled around him. When it was finally over, he stared in stunned amazement at his only injury; a cut on one finger from a broken shard of rock.

Pray, and don’t give up, no matter what thoughts come to mind. In spite of the circumstances of life, find something to thank God for. Keep the faith, for faith affects all things. Don’t start thinking negatively if your prayers don’t seem to be answered right away. An answer to a prayer of the prophet Daniel was delayed for twenty-one days. That information was given to Daniel straight from the Lord’s mouth (Daniel 10:5-14).

I have heard some say they feel closer to God high in the mountains, and I have felt that myself, but we often need to pray regardless of how close that we feel. I don’t believe that 1st. Thessalonians 5:18 is telling us to thank God for evil things that happen, as is sometimes preached, but rather to find things to be thankful for in spite of evil circumstances.

It’s nearing Thanksgiving, and I know some people who have suffered losses that could leave them feeling thankless. I wish I could help them, but I don’t know of anything to do except to pray. I think we should always determine to count the blessings that remain. It isn’t easy, but if we don’t, we can quench our own spirit, that of those around us, and the Spirit of God (1st. Thessalonians 5:18,19).

This is added as a postscript.  I pray that the Lord help us not to dwell too long on the reasons why things happen as they do, but for him to touch us, strengthen us, and help us to stand, as he helped Daniel (Daniel 10:10-11). I pray that he help us never to forget that hope, by its very definition, is often something that cannot be seen very clearly (Romans 8:24). I pray for him to help us live for him, for each other, and for tomorrow.

I’m off from work today, but I had to get out fairly early to take my oldest son to work. He’s saving up for a car. I was surprised by the amount of snow we have, and barely had time to sweep the auto a bit. When I got back home and parked, I was thinking that I wasn’t enjoying the snow as I once would have.

There’s only one shy little girl, about seven years old, who lives close by,  but she had a friend visiting. They rushed around some parked cars, ready to throw snowballs at me. When they hesitated momentarily, I realized they wanted my permission, so I told them to go ahead. I didn’t think about adding, “make my day,” but that’s what they did. They had such fun that they turned the snow into a blessing.

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This probably has nothing to do with anything, and since it’s somewhat difficult to believe, I have to wonder if I should bother to tell it. Computers can be subject to some strange quirks, and yet we’re entrusting our future to these things more every day.

No doubt, there’s some programmer somewhere who could explain this incident. That is, I think they could explain it to someone else who possessed enough programming knowledge to understand them. I know that long names of computer files become abbreviated when there’s not enough area in a field for complete viewing, but that’s not the case here.

This is also not a case where a text program substitutes unintelligible symbols (or blank squares) for characters that it doesn’t recognize. The result of that process appears as gibberish; not the substitution of one word for another. I’ve never seen a computer do anything like this, and yes, I know that I need to update my computer equipment. Maybe I would if I had money to throw around.

Anyway, I assigned the name, “The Broken Ark,” to the text file of a recent post, and saved it on an old Macintosh computer. Looking back for the file, I found the name was changed to “The Broken Bread.” At first I thought that I must have typed the wrong word. I once wrote some song lyrics that I gave that title to, and I thought that perhaps my mind had drifted to that song (the lyrics can be found in my July 2010 archives).

When I attempted to change the word “bread” in the file name to “ark,” an alert box asked if I wanted to replace the existing file, “The Broken Ark.” Knowing then that I had typed the title correctly to begin with, I didn’t replace it, but saved a copy under a temporary name. The original file reads correctly on computers running a Windows operating system, but I looked back at the file on another old Macintosh, and it reads “Bread” as it did on the first Mac.

The quirk that caused this doesn’t transfer to copies of the file. If I copy the file on a Windows computer, the word in the title copies as “Ark.” If I copy it on an old Mac, it copies as “Bread,” From there on however, the copies of the file read alike when taken to the other type of computer.

I’ve shown this to my wife and sons, so now there are three people who believe me. At present, I could only prove this little story to an observer in the same room with me. A video would not be accepted as proof since they can be easily altered. Oh well, that’s life.

A parallel is drawn in the Bible between the ark, which God used to preserve life during the destruction of the old world, and Jesus (the Christ), the future means of escape. In John 6:48 (ref. Luke 22:19), Jesus is also called the “bread of life,” but I doubt that the computer was making such connections.

The incident delayed the posting of the file for a little while because I couldn’t find it at first, and it also distracted me when I realized what had happened. It prompted some detours in my thinking. I’ve been unable to get the computer to repeat this performance. It looks as if some stray electronic quirk occurred at the moment the file was saved.

I don’t think this little story is too important, but when a computer edits my wording, it does make me wonder. Popular thinking is that computers are better than we are, and I can see many uses for them, but I don’t want them driving my car. A little glitch in the matrix of the computer could take us on a long detour.

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I’ve studied information from several sources on the Noah’s ark sighting of Ed Davis, including some who think he was on some mountain other than Mount Ararat. Before Ed’s death, there were multiple interviews over a period of a few years, but they all took place more than forty years after the sighting of 1943. From time to time after his story finally became public, Ed would remember some other detail of his experience. We can tell from this that it was often on his mind. If someone had taken his story seriously soon after his return to the U.S. from World War 2, we would probably not be left uncertain of so many details.

Ed Davis’ journey and climb to see the ark, unlike that of Ed Behling (ref. my previous post) took several days. The Davis trip began in Iran where he was serving in the army. I haven’t read that anyone asked him the exact starting point of his journey. It may not have seemed too important when the story was first told, or maybe Ed wasn’t certain after so many years had passed. At any rate, planning a long trip, he hauled extra barrels of fuel on his army truck.

He was accompanied on this part of the journey by a young Lourdish man that he worked with (ref. my Sept. 2013 post, The Silent Witnesses). Abas-Abas, who was either the father of the young man, or the grandfather, may also have been with them at this point. After several hours driving, they got a little sleep at a village where some of the Abas family lived. They awakened long before daylight, and took a different truck for about eight hours.

I’m not sure at this point where the village of Abas-Abas was located. There is some confusion concerning the location in the accounts of various writers. I think the first village Ed spoke of was probably in Iran, and that his army truck wasn’t taken across the border into Turkey. Most of the drive in the second truck was during the night. This night drive, and poor visibility due to bad weather they encountered, are part of the reason Ed couldn’t give a more detailed description of the route taken to the ark.

Some writers mention Ed’s arrival around dawn at a second village where they were joined by other Abas family members. Some think this was the little Turkish village of Ahora. Visiting two separate villages, both inhabited by members of the Abas family, could easily become a source of confusion, either in the memory, or in the communication of the events.

Apparently, it was in a cave somewhere near the second village that Ed was shown artifacts found on the mountain near a broken section of the ark. They parked the truck somewhere in the area, and horses were provided for them. They rode horseback for another eight hours or more, quietly evading Russian outposts along the way. Most of their ride was in silence, through rain, fog, and a freezing wind. No doubt Ed’s group did not enter Turkey through a legal checkpoint, but sneaked across the border somewhere.

Leaving the horses, they roped themselves together and continued their climb. They sheltered and slept in caves along the way, trying to stay out of the worst of the weather. Abas told Ed that the trail they were on was not the trail most used by explorers searching for the ark, but one used by bandits and such. He called it a “backdoor route.”

Though some have questioned whether the mountain Ed was on was actually in Turkey, we can deduce from statements in his testimony that it most likely was Ararat. Negative statements that Abas made about explorers who came looking for the ark indicate that the main search has been conducted on the correct mountain. At a point where they viewed the ark, Abas told Ed that they couldn’t be seen from the main trail above them. I don’t know if he meant that the ark itself could not be seen from the upper trail, or only that their vantage point was hidden.

During short breaks in the weather, they studied two broken sections of the ark through binoculars, talking about the broken beams and compartments visible within. From Ed’s story, it sounds like they were on the north side, and toward the eastern end of the mountain. Then the ark was in a little valley to the northeast of the area where they stood.

Ed seems fairly certain that the main summit was behind them, so they must have been looking outward, in a direction away from the mountain when viewing the ark. Other than that, Ed was not able to give a lot of directions. The ark might be very difficult to see from the air, unless a craft were flying very close to the mountain, and at just the right angle.

Abas gave Ed a lot of information about the interior of the ark. Apparently they intended to actually take him inside. After viewing the broken ark from a distance, they spent an extra night in a cave thinking the rain was going to clear. The difficult climb to the ark would then be safer. A deep overnight snow changed their plans, and forced them to descend the mountain. In the deep snow, the climb down was even slower, and more treacherous than their ascent.

Even though they boiled the water they drank on the mountain, somewhere along the way Ed became sick. The hardship of his journey, as well as the passage of time, would have made it difficult to give more precise information than he did.

When he was first interviewed, he mentioned that he had written something about his trip inside a Bible that he carried with him during the war. Later on, he was able to locate the Bible, and Don Shockey published the note just as it was written using Ed’s spelling and wording. This is Ed’s note in Don Shockey’s 1986 book, The Painful Mountain.

Went to Ararat with Abas. We saw a big ship on a ledge in two pieces. I stayed with him at the big house. It rained and snowed for ten days. I stopped in Tarharan and got some supplys and got warm and rested up. Also some new clothes. Lt. Bert was glad I got back. He was scared for me. He was afraid I would get killed I think. I am glad I went. I think it is the ark. Abas has lots of things from there. My legs are almost healed from the horse back ride.

Some have questioned why Ed, if he had been on Ararat, would have gone to Tehran to buy clothes on his way back to his base. Tehran would be well out of his way, but there are several possible reasons why he would have done so. First of all, his commanding officer had been reluctant to let Ed make the trip. He finally told Ed that he could give him some R&R in Tehran, and that Ed could take the long way around. If questions arose, Ed may have wanted to be able to truthfully say that he went to Tehran. Also, Ed had ruined his civilian clothes on the trip, and Tehran may have been his best chance at that time to buy western clothing.

As fantastic as it seems, Ed’s story is hard to disbelieve, especially taking into account the note that he wrote in the Bible. Could Ed have been deceived about what he saw? Ed commented at one point about something that Abas had told him, “…the old man had no reason to lie to me.” It would make no sense whatsoever for Abas to lead that difficult climb up Ararat if he wasn’t sure that it was worth the journey. I think that Abas himself probably wanted to make one last climb to the ark while he was still able to do so.

In 2003, two grandsons of Abas accompanied Ararat explorer Richard Bright for part of his climb in search of the ark. Two sons of Abas had lost their lives on the mountain, and his grandsons promised their own sick father they would not go beyond a certain point. Richard Bright, and the other climbers continued on, but their group was ordered off the mountain by the Turkish military. They searched part of the area on a later expedition without success.

At http://www.noahsarksearch.com you can read Bright’s own unedited story. At that site, under “Book,” scroll down the long list of explorers, and click on Richard Bright. Scroll down near the end of his pdf. file to find this story, and that of a later, nearly disastrous expedition. The search for Noah’s ark continues, and at some point I may study the subject further. For now, I’m going on to look at some other mysteries of the Bible.

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Based upon multiple accounts of people claiming to have seen Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat, I believe the remains of the ark are somewhere on the mountain. It doesn’t seem likely that all those witnesses could have been mistaken, or have stretched the truth that far.

Someone might wonder why I’m including the story of Arthur Chuchian along with the accounts of more credible witnesses. Arthur Chuchian was an eccentric person. He believed things such as are found in supermarket tabloids. It appears that he must have been a very gullible person, but in spite of that, I don’t think his story should be rejected. I think it’s significant that Arthur didn’t claim to have seen the ark himself, but that his Armenian father, Jacob Chuchian, told him of seeing the ark as a young man. I don’t believe Jacob Chuchian would simply have lied to his son.

His story could be easily confused with that of George Hagopian, another Armenian who saw the ark as a young boy. I haven’t checked this out but the Chuchians must have fled from danger in Armenia around the time of World War 1, as did George Hagopian.

Jacob Chuchian lived in a small village close to Ararat, and his story fits well with those of other eyewitnesses. Jacob claimed to have visited the ark more than once, and that on one occasion, the ice was melted off of one end. At other times part of the ark could be seen only through clear layers of ice. According to him there were damaged areas in the front side, and bottom of the ark.

I haven’t been able to determine which of the sightings was supposed to have taken place first, the Chuchian or the Hagopian, but both happened only a few years before World War 1. The Hagopian story didn’t become public until 1970, and the Chuchian was five years later. George Hagopian only saw the ark as a boy, and probably due to his small size, he described the ship as being longer than the dimensions given in the Bible. He stuck with his impression of the great length of the ark, and wouldn’t change his story to conform to interpretations of the biblical term “cubit.”

The eyewitnesses I’m writing of in this post each spoke of a raised “catwalk” on the roof of the ark, with openings for light and air all along it. The individual accounts have several things in common, but are obviously not copies of the other stories. Hagopian thought the catwalk extended the full length of the ark, whereas Ed Davis, looking at the ark through binoculars, said that it terminated a little ways back from the end. The difference between the two stories is probably just a matter of perception, or a slight error of memory.

Abas-Abas, the elderly Lourdish guide of Ed Davis, told Ed that the window openings were about knee-high. George Hagopian, as a small boy walking on the top, thought they were larger than that, but I don’t see that as a discrepancy in their stories. A small boy, and a grown man, perhaps standing a different distance from the openings, would see them differently.

Hagopian said that he didn’t see a door in the ark, but that it could have been on the other side against the rock and ice. The only damage that he seems to have noticed was a big hole in the top of the ark. He walked on the ark, and looked into the hole, but it was too dark inside to see anything. Hagopian claimed to have seen the ark after several consecutive years of drought when the whole top of the ark was visible. Ed Davis said that the door couldn’t be seen from where he viewed the ark. Abas-Abas had seen the door, and told Ed where it was located on the other side.

Abas said that the ark was once a little higher on the mountain, and more upright, but that the ice had moved it downhill. The things that Abas told Ed Davis seem to tie the other eyewitness accounts together pretty good. Ed said of Abas-Abas that, although they were from different cultures and religions, they became  “friends.” The gifts given to Ed by Abas indicate that to be true. Abas wouldn’t part with any of the relics from the ark that were shown to Ed however.

Several artifacts were shown to Ed that Abas said were gathered from the mountainside when a section of the ark broke off. There was a large petrified cage door, and there were fragments of petrified wood that the Abas family had assembled to form crosses, even though they themselves were Muslims. Abas told Ed that the ark was pretty much in one piece when he was young (around 1900 or earlier), but that a piece of the back section had later broken off.

Through his binoculars, Ed could also see that section farther down the mountain. Abas stressed that they didn’t take anything out of the ark, but gathered some items that spilled out when the break occurred. Abas apparently thought that containers found with food in them belonged with the ark, but that idea has been ridiculed. Food, preserved for great periods of time, has been found in places such as the pyramids of Egypt, but there are other possible explanations for containers of food at the ark. The Armenians told of pilgrimages to the ark, and it’s possible that food could have been left there by some of the villagers.

Other things could possibly cause some confusion in the details of the ark sightings. There are stories that the Armenians once did some work on the ark, perhaps to strengthen a damaged area. That could account for the “young” Carbon-14 dates of wood found on Ararat. George Hagopian argued that wood found on the mountain couldn’t possibly be from the ark because the ark was petrified, yet he himself said that his uncle lifted him up to reach some steps to climb on top of the ark. He said the steps, which did not extend all the way to the ground, were not actually part of the ark. They must have been built when the surrounding ice was much higher.

That would be a strange thing for George to add to his story if he were simply making it up. If his account was not true, why would he claim that his uncle lifted him up to some steps that someone had attached to the ark? It would have been simpler just to claim that he had climbed on top from the ice at the back of it.

I wondered for a little while if American soldier, Ed Behling, might have copied his story from Ed Davis, but the Behling claim of a 1973 sighting actually came to light in 1981, four years before the 1943 story of Ed Davis was made public. Ed Behling was in the U.S. Air Force, and while stationed in Turkey in 1973, he was guided to the ark by the great-uncle of a Turkish soldier. He rode a four-wheel drive to a shepherd’s camp high on Ararat. The weather was good on their trip, though there was the usual fog, and they reached a section of the broken ark after a long day’s hike.

Both Ed Davis, and Ed Behling saw a long section of the ship, with a great, dark, gaping hole where it was broken. Ed Davis said the back was broken off, but Ed Behling said the front was gone. Behling saw only one section, possibly the piece farthest down the mountain. I think that “front,” or “back,” would be a matter of perspective unless there was something about the ark that allowed Abas, and Behling’s guide as well, to differentiate between the bow and the stern. Like Davis, Behling said that he did not see the door of the ark.

Behling saw his section of the ark from a cliff about fifty to seventy feet above it. His guides did not bring ropes, apparently planning to view the ark close-up without trying to climb to where they could actually touch it. They got another view of the ark from below, where they camped for the night before descending the mountain. The background stories of these witnesses have been verified.

George Hagopian’s family was from near the city of Van. Critics have questioned whether a small boy could have walked 15 miles or more per day on his two-week journey to Ararat and back. As a boy, I have hiked that far in a day, though not for consecutive days, but I believe that an active boy his age could have made the trip. I’m also not sure exactly where the starting point of their journey was.

The same is true of the starting point of the Ed Davis trip. Critics question whether he hauled enough extra gasoline in his Army truck to drive to Ararat and back from somewhere toward Hamadan, Iran. From what I’ve studied, I don’t see that as a problem. He left his truck in the village where Abas lived, and the other truck they took from there could have already had a full tank.

I haven’t seen any differences between these accounts that aren’t easily explained, though there are questions I would like to ask. In particular, Ed Davis tells a story that is hard for me to doubt. I’ll try to finish writing about the ark with my next post.

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People are naturally skeptical of someone who claims to have had an unusual experience. That may be understandable, but it can also be very discouraging. Sometimes people who know something won’t talk about it for that reason. American soldier Ed Davis said that’s why his story of seeing Noah’s ark in 1943 didn’t surface for more than forty years.

Ed’s story was first recorded in Dr. Don Shockey’s 1986 book, Agri-Dagh (Mount Ararat) The Painful Mountain. In the interview Ed said, “Nobody seemed very interested. After I came back from the war, and would mention it, their first question was, did you touch it? Did you photograph it? I’d say no. They would then give me the impression that I was sharing something like a flying saucer sighting. I would just drop the whole thing.”

Besides not possessing a camera at the time, Ed didn’t think his guides would have wanted him taking photographs. Ed observed the ship, as he called it, from a distance, and studied it with binoculars. They waited a day, intending to descend a cliff on ropes when the weather cleared a little, but the rain turned to snow preventing them from reaching the ark. By the way, Ed Davis submitted to a lie detector test in 1988. The conclusion of P.G. Pierangel Polygraph in Albuquerque, New Mexico was that Ed was telling the truth.

Much of his story is verifiable history. In 1943, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was constructing a supply route from the Persian Gulf into Russia, and Sergeant Ed Davis was working out of Hamadan, Iran. In clear weather, from a work site somewhere between Hamadan and Russia, Ed said that Mount Ararat could be seen. He often talked with a young man working for him who had been raised in a small village on the Iranian side of Ararat. The young man named Badi told Ed that members of his family had visited Noah’s Ark, and Ed became interested.

In 1986, when Don Shockey told Ed’s story, Ed didn’t want to reveal how he had won the favor of Badi’s father, the patriarch of the family. This family is called Kurdish in most books about Noah’s ark. Ed said they were actually Lourdish, but he said that the Kurds and the Lourds were “kissing cousins.” These people are most often now called Lurs (ref. Luristan of Iran).

After Ed’s death in 1998, the story of how he helped to restore the water supply of a small village became known. The water supply had been affected by the road construction, and Ed apparently didn’t want questions to come up about some unauthorized work done to fix the problem. I’ve read that it might have involved the distribution of some dynamite. Anyway, Ed won the respect of Abas-Abas, Badi’s father who was nearly 80 years old at the time.

In an earlier post, I wrote that differences in various presentations of a story can often lead to misunderstandings over a period of time. In reply to questions, an eyewitness might try to supply details they are a little unsure of, especially if a long period of time has passed. A writer reporting on an event might reword a verbal communication, use the wrong punctuation, or an editor might make a change.

A few things like this can be found in the stories of those claiming to have seen the ark. Was Abas-Abas the father, or the grandfather of the young man who worked for Ed Davis? Some books have it one way, and some another. I’m not absolutely sure, but it isn’t a critical element of the account. Mistakes in reporting don’t render an entire account untrue, though they do provoke suspicions. At any rate, in mid-July when the ice melted back enough, Abas repaid the favor Ed had done them by leading him to see the ark.

In a recent post, “Explorers of Ararat,” I mentioned a book, The Unsolved Mystery Of Noah’s Ark, written by Mary Irwin. Her book is new (2012), and may have a greater current impact than some of the older books that I personally believe are better. Though there is worthwhile material in her book, there are incorrect statements that can serve to reroute the search away from Ararat. I believe this sort of mistake should be considered critical.

On page 97 of my paperback copy, she states that Mount Ararat doesn’t meet the biblical description of the landing-place of the ark because “…there are no other visible mountain tops to be seen…” She was making that observation from a campsite on the northeast face of Ararat at about 8000 feet, but the weather must not have been clear or she would have seen many mountains. It’s possible that she might have thought of nearby peaks at around 8000 feet as “hills,” and discounted them.

In the older book, More Than An Ark On Ararat, her late husband, astronaut Jim Irwin wrote of viewing Russia from Ararat. He said, “…snow-capped peaks towered up from the Soviet plains.” That statement is on page 57 of his book under the heading, “Not All Is as It Seems.” I have a topographical map showing mountains in that direction less than 50 miles away.

Mary Irwin believes Ed Davis’ account, but thinks he was actually led to a mountain in Iran, rather than to Mount Ararat in Turkey. It isn’t a bad idea to search other mountains in the area, but she goes to extremes in an effort to prove her point. She gives a few minor reasons for not believing George Hagopian’s story which, if true, clearly places the ark on Mount Ararat. He claimed to have seen the ark as a boy, and it is possible that Hagopian’s memory of some of the details might have become vague.

Some details of his knowledge of the Ararat area have been verified by ark researchers however, and he also passed a lie detector test. The type of test that he took is not considered as reliable as the test taken by Ed Davis. Like the Davis account, George Hagopian’s story of two visits to the ark, between 1900 and 1906, didn’t become known to ark researchers for many years. Though Hagopian had told his story to a few individuals much earlier, it was 1970 before one of them managed to contact ark researcher Elfred Lee.

The stories of the sightings of Noah’s ark are one of the most mysterious things I’ve ever studied. We can’t go back and ask George Hagopian, or Ed Davis, any further questions. Time has silenced them. Ed Behling, an American soldier stationed in Turkey in 1973, told a very similar story to that of Ed Davis. He may be the only publicly known person who could actually tell us more about the ark at this point in time, but he will no longer talk about his experience. Incidentally, he said that his guides didn’t want him to bring a camera.

Confusion seems to reign over Mount Ararat, just riding out the clock. In one way or another, time has dimmed the testimony of all those who have claimed to have seen the ark. A volcanic explosion on Ararat buried the Saint Jacobs monastery where witnesses said artifacts from the ark were kept. Armenians, who claimed to know the location of the ark, were killed or driven from the area during World War 1. Russian photographs and evidence, from the period of time that they controlled the mountain, are said to have “disappeared” during the Russian revolution.

The list is so long that it would take a series of books to deal with it. Ed Davis even received anonymous threats stating that, “the Black Hand of Allah was upon him,” because he had betrayed a clan secret. Attempts to silence, or discredit the witnesses seem to have come from every angle. I have to wonder how much we could actually learn if we believed in other people, asked honest questions, and actively sought the truth instead of doubting everything beyond the scope of our own experience. We might well have verified the existence of the ark long ago.

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I’m not sure exactly what Ararat tour organizer Amy Beam believes about the biblical story of Noah’s ark, but her website, http://www.mountararattrek.com, is a good source of information about Mount Ararat. I made use of some of her information on the NAMI ark scandal in my last post. She has also written that most of the guides in the area don’t believe the remains of the ark exist on Mount Ararat.

Elsewhere however, she affirms the common knowledge that access to the north side of Ararat is severely restricted. Special permission must be obtained from government officials, including the military, to enter the area at all, and apparently some areas of the mountain are off-limits altogether. Those who search for the ark can’t simply wander around the mountain, exploring wherever they want to go.

Amy Beam doesn’t believe the government of Turkey is trying to keep anything secret, but that the restrictions exist because of the dangers of that part of the mountain. Many of those dangers are evident in the story of the disappearance of Donald Mackenzie late in 2010. Sometime before his disappearance, he supposedly distributed some Bibles in an area north of Ararat where he had been living. That is a dangerous activity in many parts of the world, but Mackenzie also risked his life in other ways.

Working with “unofficial guides”, and attempting to explore the forbidden side of Ararat alone is a very dangerous undertaking. Mackenzie was also determined to investigate the NAMI discovery claim which is in an avalanche area. According to Mackenzie’s brother’s website, http://www.ararathunt.blogspot.com, Donald Mackenzie was determined to find out if the NAMI ark discovery claim was genuine or not.

Amy Beam also writes that the military conducts training exercises on the mountain when the climbing season ends, and that she has personally witnessed the mountain being shelled. I would like to know more than I do at present about the history of the ethnic struggles in the area surrounding Ararat. These struggles have played a huge role in the search for the ark.

In World War 1, the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey) fought on the side of Germany against Russia and the Allies. Young Armenian men were drafted into the Ottoman Military but many were later executed because the Ottomans apparently feared they would defect to Russia.

George Hagopian was one of the young soldiers who escaped to Russia only to be arrested for entering the country with a false passport. He was sentenced to eighteen months labor in the Siberian coal mines. He later made his way to America, and his story of visiting Noah’s ark as a young boy eventually became known. I want to write more about that story later. The Armenians were driven out of what is now eastern Turkey, and the independent Russian state of modern Armenia encompasses only a small area of what was once known as Armenia. It no longer includes the Mount Ararat area.

After World War 1, the United States and the Allies hoped for independence for the Kurds, another minority group inhabiting eastern Turkey. An independent Kurdistan never materialized, and conflicts between the Turkish military and the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) continue in the area.

The PKK, formed in 1978, has been responsible for several kidnappings on Mount Ararat. On several occasions, the Turkish military has forced ark searchers off Mount Ararat because of the presence of the PKK on the mountain. It’s possible that the PKK could be responsible for the disappearance of Donald Mackenzie, or that he could have been mistaken for a PKK member, and shot by Turkish soldiers. The shelling of Mount Ararat, that Amy Beam witnessed, could have been the military firing upon the PKK on the mountain.

The shelling could also have been intended to render impassable some of the trails that have been used by smugglers since the times of the Ottoman Empire’s struggle with Russia. American soldier Ed Davis claimed to have been led along some of those trails to view the ark during World War 2.

The situation on Mount Ararat was very different before World War 1, and there are several stories of sightings of the ark from that time. Armenian shepherds kept flocks on the mountainsides, and the people of the surrounding villages came and went as they pleased. Those willing to enter the north side’s canyons were free to go wherever they wanted to risk climbing.

In 1840, an earthquake and subterranean explosion in the Ahora Gorge area, buried a nearby village and the Saint Jacob Monastery. No trace of the monastery, which contained artifacts said to be from the ark, has ever been found. The gorge was left much deeper than before, and due to crumbling rock and frequent avalanches, many of the areas cannot be reached by climbing.

Some of those searching for Noah’s ark believe that, with the exception of the ice cap, the north face has been explored adequately from the air. I personally doubt that every little side canyon can be viewed well enough from the air to guarantee that to be true. Debris from the ark, or even sections, could easily be overlooked in the patchwork of ice, snow, and rock slides in the shadows and mists of Mount Ararat.

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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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