Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Search Of... Noah's Ark

A group of Chinese and Turkish 'evangelical explorers' announced today that they had found the remains of Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey. The group claims that the wooden remains have been carbon dated to 4,800 years ago, around the time the Biblical ark would have been afloat. You can read a news article about this find by clicking HERE. "Mt. Ararat has long been suspected as the final resting place of the craft by evangelicals and literalists hoping to validate biblical stories," reads the article from Fox News.  Though the article fails to note for whatever reason that this suspicion derives from the fact that this site is named specifically in the Bible. (As an aside, weren't the Spanish conquistadores also 'evangelical explorers'?)

I really liked the TV show In Search of... as a kid in the 1970's. So I have enjoyed re-watching some of the old episodes and lovingly critiquing, with the benefit of 30 years of hindsight, some of the explanations proffered for the mysteries the show examined. In Search Of... did an episode about the search for Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat that first aired in February 1979. You can watch a 10 minute segment from this episode by clicking HERE.  This segment of the show begins with an on-camera interview of a man named Dr. Henry Morris, who is described as "an expert in geology and the flow of water." Morris goes on to explain at length his theories about how a worldwide deluge might have occurred. "Henry Morris founded the Institute for Creation Research at San Diego, California," explains Leonard Nimoy afterward, "where those scientists who call themselves Creationists are gathering data in support of a worldwide flood." What goes unmentioned, however, is the extensive and harsh criticisms that his books on the subject received by mainstream scientists. A professor from Iowa State University wrote when reviewing Morris' 1967 book Evolution and the Modern Christian that "the scientific value of his book is nil."  Also unmentioned is that in 1972 Morris wrote a book titled The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth which suggested that the craters on the Moon were caused by a comic battle between the forces of Satan and the armies of the archangel Michael. Henry Morris died in February 2006, after a stroke.

Just after this interview, Leonard Nimoy goes on to say, "other independent geologists have found evidence for the flood."  Then an older man named "Dr. Clifford Burdick" is introduced who enumerates on camera the geologic evidence he claims to have found for the Biblical deluge.  But the fact that this 'doctor' kept using the term "evidences" a-grammatically as a noun when he spoke made me wonder about his credentials. Clifford Burdick had claimed to have been awarded a PhD from the "University of Physical Science" in  Phoenix, Arizona. But it turns out that the University of Physical Science was just a name.  There was no campus, no professors, and no tuition. Also not explained in this episode is that "Dr." Burdick apparently spent decades trying to prove his other pet theory: that giant humans once roamed the Earth, mingling with dinosaurs.

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