Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

Thursday, June 22, 2006

another noah's ark found

Bob Cornuke has recently returned from Iran, where he led an expedition of "business, law, and ministry leaders" on a search for the fabled Noah's Ark. In an article for Worldview Weekend, Brannon Howse describes an object discovered about 13,000 feet up a mountain slope, made of basalt or possibly wood.

Ed Brayton has provided a critique of Howse's article at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. Brayton focuses on the lack of scientific credibility: no archaelogists or geologists were included in the expedition, and no supporting lab work is referenced in the article.

But completely apart from questions of scientific rigor, I see serious problems with this expedition. Not this expedition in particular, but with all searches for Noah's Ark or the Garden of Eden or the Holy Grail. Such quests are always rooted in a certain set of assumptions, and among these is the assumption that there is value in the historical verification of biblical stories.

This assumption is a product of the modern world. We live in an age of science, where facts are equated with truth. Scientists understand the past by making observations about the present. If it doesn't happen today, it couldn't have happened in the past. Science is the study of natural processes, and everything in nature is assumed to have a natural cause. Supernatural explanations are tossed aside as irrelevant.

The consequence of such an assumption is that many of the early Bible stories are no longer seen as true: There's no archaeological evidence of such a large-scale migration as described in Exodus, so it didn't happen. The sun can't stand still as described in Joshua, so it didn't happen. It can't rain fast enough to flood the earth as described in Genesis, so it didn't happen.

Oddly, many literalist Christians have adopted this same assumption, but with the twist that if they can just find some proof that this happened in the past, they can prove modern science wrong and score a victory for God.

So self-styled explorers like the late Ron Wyatt and now Bob Cornuke have dedicated their lives to hunting down artifacts that can prove the truth of the Bible.

The problem with this approach, theologically, is that by adopting the modernist assumption that truth = facts, they have lost sight of deeper truth. In trying to turn the Bible into a history book, they have limited its relevance. If the Bible is meaningful only as a story about the past, then we might as well be atheists.

What modernists don't understand is that the truth of a story is often much deeper than the bare facts. That's why Jesus taught in parables. But imagine if a modern investigative reporter were able to travel through time and interview Jesus about his teachings. What might some of the questions be?

  • "What is the name of the man the good Samaritan helped? I'd like to hear the story from his perspective."
  • "Who was the foreign farmer the prodigal son worked for? Did he realize that asking a Jew to work with pigs is demeaning?"
  • "When the sower sowed his seeds on the path, the rocky soil, and the weeds, did he understand what the consequences would be? If he did, wouldn't you agree that he wasted the seeds?"

In our culture, we are conditioned to ask empirical questions to get to the truth of the matter. The problem is, many of those questions don't get to the truth of the matter. Jesus taught in parables because some truths can't be explained directly. To look only at the bare facts of the parables is to miss the point.

Those who trek through Middle Eastern mountains looking for Noah's ark are making the same mistake. Anything Bob Cornuke and his group might have found will not add one iota to the truth of the Bible. To put it another way, the Bible is no less true if it isn't backed by archaeology.

The Bible cannot be reduced to a mere record of the past; it is a book of timeless truths about the human condition and about God's unconditional, redemptive love. That kind of love will never be found in wooden objects buried in the ground.

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At 6/24/2006 10:42 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Good post! You're right...and even if tactical proof was right in front of our faces we'd still question things....look at Jesus' disciples. He got exasperated with their lack of faith despite front row seats to events.

At 6/27/2006 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but you are not an expert on what conservative Christians think since you are not one. I am. I do not believe that if I cannot find actual physical evidence of such things as Noah's Ark that they did not exist. Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

At 6/27/2006 10:37 AM, Blogger Bad Alice said...

Excellent post.

Anonymous: I think you miss the point--he is talking about the continued influence of a modernist form of apologetics, which is evident in the desire to prove parts of the Bible historically accurate. Of course many conservative Christians are aware of the problem and have moved beyond this. It's a hard influence to shake, though.

At 7/28/2006 9:42 AM, Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

"The biblical account of Noah's Ark and the Flood is perhaps the most implausible story for fundamentalists to defend. Where, for example, while loading his ark, did Noah find penguins and polar bears in Palestine?" Judith Hayes

At 12/27/2008 4:36 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

The problem for me as a believer isn't the authenticity of men like the late Ron Wyatt, or the extant Bob Cornuke, it's that Bob Cornuke gives the uninformed masses the impression that he's tumbled to something entirely new, when in fact hes a "Johnny comelately" Ron Wyatt's entire motivation in my opinion was that if he through the discoveries he might have made from his research, and field work was that if he through his humble efforts could show the accuracy of the Bible to the world, to those that didn't believe in God, or the gospel of salvation, through Jesus sacrifice, then he was being an instrument of the Lord; but Bob Cornuke on the other hand, the first time I heard of his name was though someone I know who had bought a vhs video of his supposed "discovery of Mt Sinai" at Jebel el Lawz, and when I subsequently queried him about the earlier discovery of it by Ron Wyatt 16 years prior to his, he said he gave credit to Ron Wyatt and the geologist who worked for Texaco in Saudi who turned Ron Wyatt's attention to it in the 1970's, and then there's this latest expedition to "discover Noah's Ark" in Iran, when he didn't discover it on Mt. Arrarat in Turkey, where the Turkish government made the site of the discovery of a manmade object by Ron Wyatt, back in 1978, what turned out to be the remains of a ancient ship in the Arrarat range, into a national park over 20 years ago. I suppose it's a desire to look important that's his motivation.


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