Fundagelicals have come up with a lot of Christian urban legends. One reoccurring legend that pops up with a new twist every few years is that Noah’s Ark has been found. Fundagelicals love this particular story, with all its variations because it “proves” the Bible is true. Too bad when it is fact-checked, the evidence evaporates.
I remember going to the movie theaters in 1976; I watched the documentary In Search of Noah’s Ark. The documentary was an unexpected hit earning more than $55.7 million at the box office and ranked as the sixth highest grossing film for the year. For a 70s flashback, you can watch it at Dailymotion.
It not only re-enacted the Noah story but recounted all the Noah’s Ark sightings from the past up to the ’70s. Most of the stories presented were nothing more than anecdotal evidence. They were stories told breathlessly without any corroborating evidence. One of the most exciting is told by Harold Williams. He tells a story—of how he was told a story— by Haji Yearam, an Armenian Seventh-day Adventist, in 1916. According to the story, Yearam as a boy helped guide three English scientists to the ark in 1856. Upon finding the ark sticking out of a glacier near the summit, the scientists, “vile men who did not believe in the Bible,” flew into a rage and tried futilely to destroy it. Then they took an oath to keep the discovery a secret and murder anyone who revealed it. About 1918, Williams saw a newspaper article giving a scientist’s deathbed confession, which corroborated Yearam’s story. Unfortunately, the newspaper article, with the corroborating confession, cannot be found. This is just another fantastic tale with no evidence.
As a child, I wondered why people didn’t just climb up the mountain and find it. I was told that the mountain was too dangerous and that the government of Turkey wouldn’t allow expeditions. The Muslims didn’t want Christians to have proof of the Bible.
Tim LaHaye (Of Left Behind infamy) and John Morris wrote a book in 1976 called The Ark on Ararat. They tell the unsubstantiated stories of ark sightings. These include:
Berosus, ca. 275 B.C.E., reported remains of it in the mountains of the Gordyaeans in Armenia (p. 15).
Flavius Josephus mentions remains of the ark on Baris (16-17)
Several writers tell of St. Jacob of
In 1876, English explorer James Bryce found a four-foot long hand-tooled piece of wood on Ararat at the 13,000 feet level (51-55).
In 1883, a Turkish commission surveying Ararat for possible avalanche conditions found part of the ark protruding 20 or 30 feet from the foot of a glacier (56-58).
In 1887, on his third attempt to find the ark, Prince Nouri of Bhagdad found it on the higher peaks of Ararat (64-67).
In 1908 and again in 1910, a local Armenian, Georgie Hagopian, then just a boy, visited the ark with his uncle. The ark was on the edge of a cliff; its wood was like
In 1916, a story by Vladimir Roskovitsky told how he and other Russian aviators sighted the ark, nearly intact, grounded on the shore of a lake on Ararat. An expedition reached the ark about a month later. Photographs and plans were sent to the Czar, but the Bolsheviks overthrew the Czar a few days later, and the evidence was lost. (76-87).
Two American pilots saw the ark several times and once brought a photographer along. The photograph appeared in the Tunisian edition of Stars and Stripes in 1943. No copies of the pictures or article can be found. (102-107).
Donald Liedmann met a Russian Air Force major in 1938 and 1943 who showed him pictures of the ark. It was mostly buried in a glacier. The photographs have never been released (109-112).
In 1948, a Kurdish farmer named Resit reported finding the prow of the ark about 2/3rds the way up Ararat, protruding from ice. The wood was black and too hard for him to cut off a piece (115-116).
In 1955, after two unsuccessful searches, Fernand Navarra found hand-hewn wood in the ice at the 13,750-foot level. He retrieved a small sample of the wood. However, fraud is suspected (129-134, 158-160).
George Green photographed the ark from a helicopter in 1953, but his pictures are now lost (135-137).
The ERTS satellite photographed Noah’s ark in 1973, but the satellite’s resolution was insufficient (203-206).
Over and over, photographs disappear or are too blurry to show anything; sources can’t be found, and no physical evidence is available. The ark also magically changes quite a bit. It changes mountains, elevations, shape, and size. Sometimes it is intact with animal cages, and sometimes it is broken in half. Ron Wyatt starting in the 70s and continuing through the 90s claimed he had found evidence at the Durupinar site. His fantastic claims are too much for even Fundagelicals. He was thoroughly debunked by Answers in Genesis.
It should be noted that according to the story in Genesis, the Ark didn’t come to rest on Mt. Ararat, Genesis 8:4 says “and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” Ararat isn’t a mountain; it’s a region. It’s mentioned several times in the Bible. (2 Kings 19:37, Isa. 37:38, Jer. 51:27) Maybe that’s why they keep finding it in different places.
Fundagelicals want to believe that Noah’s Ark is up there in the mountains somewhere and that we have proof. Finding Noah’s Ark would prove the Bible stories in the early part of Genesis are literally true. Fundagelicals need for it to be literally
true since they believe the Bible is inerrant. The claim of direct Biblical authorship and inerrancy are the basis for their authority and control. If Noah was just a story, then Science might be right, and Fundagelicals will never admit that. No flood means no angry God who commits mass genocide and Fundagelicals love them some angry, vengeful God.
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