The Stupidity of the Quest for Noah’s Ark

27 April 2010

A modern replica of the Ark

Stupidity is immune to facts. We all know this. Yet, we can still be surprised, even shocked by people’s lack of understanding. Today’s example can be found in this article, about evangelical explorers who claim to have found Noah’s Ark. I will not be argueing that you cannot find what never existed; the historicity of the Great Flood is a matter of belief, and therefore a subject about which I postpone judgment.

But even if we assume that there was a flood, as our evangelical explorers do, and if we assume that there was an ark and that we can find it, even then they are guilty of some very, very grave errors.

“The team say they recovered wooden specimens from a structure on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey that carbon dating proved was 4800 years old…”

So, what does this prove? About nothing, I’d say. What are the facts?

  • The Bible does not mention a mountain named Ararat. It says that “the ark rested … upon the mountains of Ararat” (Gen 8.4).
  • This Ararat is the Hebrew version of Urartu, an ancient name for Armenia.
  • When the Bible was translated into Latin, some versions correctly translated “super montes Armeniae” (Vulgate), others referred to “super montes Ararat”.
  • Western explorers like Marco Polo have read this second version and were the first ones to call the volcano known as Ağri Daği “Mount Ararat”.
  • Eastern believers – whether Christians or Muslims or Jews – have never accepted this identification. Instead, they claim that the summit must be near Cizre, which happens to be the site referred to in the Mesopotamian literature.

Those are the facts to which the stupidity of these “evangelical explorers” is immune. I am shocked that it is possible to be so ignorant. Had they read the original Hebrew, they would have known; and most translations make no mistake at this point. The King James Version has translated this correctly, the American Standard Versian has translated this correctly, the World English Bible has translated this correctly. The French Louis Segond, the Dutch Statenvertaling, Luther’s German translation, they all have translated this correctly.

It is pure stupidity, the refusal to read the actual source, not even in a modern translation, that explains why these people went to eastern Turkey. But they are not the only fools. What to think of the foundation that financed this expedition, “Noah’s Ark Ministries International”? What to think of the journalist who wrote down the crap, and gave it additional credibility? What to think of the “Local Turkish officials [who] will ask the central government in Ankara to apply for UNESCO World Heritage status”? I hope they are immune to this stupidity, but I am afraid that they won’t.