Have They Found Noah’s Ark?
EVERY so often, it seems, there is a flurry of publicity about the search for Noah’s ark. The excitement is understandable. That gigantic vessel in which Noah and his family survived the Flood back in 2370-2369 B.C.E. would certainly make for a remarkable archaeological find. Despite many efforts, though, the search for Noah’s ark is ongoing. Amid all the speculation and sensational claims, what is actually known?
The Bible reveals that Noah’s ark “came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” (Genesis 8:4) The region of Ararat includes the prominent peak now called Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey, near the borders of Armenia and Iran.
Numerous expeditions to this area in search of Noah’s ark have led to interesting claims but not to conclusive proof. Intriguing aerial photos, recovered pieces of wood coated with tar, and reports of sightings have spurred the quest for proof that is more tangible. However, the search has been difficult. One possible site that is often mentioned lies some 15,000 feet up the slopes of Mount Ararat. Additionally, because of political tensions in the area, foreign expeditions are not always given legal access to the mountain.
Nonetheless, many ark enthusiasts are eager to see more expeditions to the site. They believe that parts of the ark are still intact on snowcapped Mount Ararat, hidden beneath snow and ice most of the year. Only in years with warm summers, they claim, would there be any hope of seeing and reaching the ark.
Such hopes have been fueled by a number of reports. Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century C.E., refers to several earlier historians who spoke of the ark as still being visible high in the Ararat range. It was even said that people would take as souvenirs pieces from its tar-covered timbers. Among the men Josephus quoted was Berossus, a Babylonian chronicler of the third century B.C.E.
In the past century, one of the more intriguing reports came from an Armenian man, George Hagopian. He told of visiting the ark as a boy with his uncle in the early 1900’s and actually climbing about the structure. Hagopian died in 1972, but his testimony still fills many with excitement and wonder.
A Real Basis for Faith?
Is there really a basis for believing that explorers have discovered the ark or might yet do so? Perhaps, but there seems to be even more basis for skepticism about such a find. For one thing, recall that the Bible does not say exactly where the ark alighted as the floodwaters ebbed. It merely mentions “the mountains of Ararat.”
It is only natural for explorers and speculators to single out the highest peak in the region. However, the Scriptures do not specify that God arranged for the ark to come to rest on the very top of Mount Ararat, which is today a frigid and lofty mountain peak nearly three miles [5 km] above sea level.* Remember, Noah and his family lived aboard the ark for several months after it landed. (Genesis 8:4, 5) It also seems unlikely that after disembarking, they and the many animals aboard had to climb down from a towering summit like mountaineers. Perhaps, then, the terrain where the ark landed was more accessible than some modern-day explorers imagine, yet still high enough to fit the description at Genesis 8:4, 5. And regardless of where the ark landed in the Ararat region, might it not have vanished centuries ago because of decay and scavenging?
Furthermore, there is something questionable in the claims that publicists sometimes make about the religious importance of their explorations. The organizer of one expedition claimed that finding the ark “will confirm the faith of millions . . . and many will be brought to faith.” At a news conference in 2004, he said that finding the ark would be “the greatest event since the resurrection of Christ.” His exploration was later canceled.
Would finding Noah’s ark really confirm and even create faith? The Bible shows that genuine faith does not depend on objects we can see and touch. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Some people are so skeptical that they insist that only physical evidence would enable them to put faith in certain Bible accounts. The truth is, though, that for such individuals no amount of evidence would produce faith. Jesus himself said that some people simply cannot be convinced of spiritual truths—even if they should see someone rise from the dead!—Luke 16:31.
On the other hand, genuine faith is not credulity; it is based on solid evidence. (Hebrews 11:1) Is there solid evidence that can help reasonable people today to put faith in the Bible account about the Flood? Indeed, there is. Jesus Christ plainly stated: “Noah entered into the ark, and the flood arrived.” (Luke 17:26, 27) This is the best evidence possible. Why?
Jesus was in heaven before he came to the earth. (John 8:58) He watched the building of the ark; he saw the Flood. Now, which evidence seems more convincing to you? The real eyewitness testimony of One who proved perfectly reliable and who gave proof of being the Son of God? Or the dim possibility of explorers finding some ancient pieces of wood on a frozen mountaintop? When considered from that standpoint, the evidence that Noah’s ark existed is already overwhelming.
The mountain that is today called Mount Ararat is a volcano that has been dormant since 1840. It reaches an elevation of 16,945 feet [5,165 m] and is covered in snow year-round.
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Is there solid evidence that confirms the Bible account about the Flood?
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Jesus Christ plainly stated: “Noah entered into the ark, and the flood arrived”