Has Noah's Ark Been Found? Part II

By Dr. David Merling

Part 1


In Part I of this series I discussed the claims of Ron Wyatt, that he discovered a boat-shaped form (the Durupinar site), that the only explanation for that formation was that it was Noah's ark, and that Wyatt had located its anchors. None of these claims was proven true. In this article I will look at the scientific claims Wyatt also proposed for this site.

Scientific Analysis

It has been claimed by Wyatt that the chemical analysis he has had done prove that the Durupinar site is a decomposed wooden boat. His evidence is two lab reports which show that the carbon percentages are different within the formation (4.95%) and outside the formation (1.88%). He says these tests "positively prove it to be composed of very ancient wood and metal" (p. 12 no. 3, pp. 7-8, and his charts on pp. 27-28).' What Wyatt does not tell his readers is that both of these carbon percentages fall within the normal bounds of soil and does not show evidence of wood.

According to Morris the rocks in this formation were once molten, cooling to become an "ophiolite belt," meaning the Durupinar site contains rocks and dirt that have been altered due to the molten process.2 It is this phenomenon that has elevated the carbon percentage of the Durupinar site's soil. This same chemical process is also responsible for deceiving Wyatt into believing he has found "metal brackets and rust." According to Morris the site has many manganese nodules which are high in iron, which by the unknowing could be mistaken for iron.3

Previous explorers of the site concluded that since the Durupinar site did not contain wood, petrified or otherwise, it must be only an unusual natural rock formation. Wyatt, on the other hand, claims that the Durupinar site contains "train-loads" of petrified wood (p. 13, no. 5). The problem, according to Wyatt, is that the "petrified wood" of the Durupinar site is different from any other petrified wood. It has no growth rings.

Since his petrified wood has no growth rings, he concludes that the Durupinar site proves that trees before the flood had no growth rings {pp. 15-16, 73). To strengthen his point, Wyatt uses a quote about a tree identified as Sigillaria as "proof" that pre-flood trees had no growth rings (pp. 15).

Sigillaria, like much of the pre-flood flora and fauna are not known in the post-flood world. Scientists have, however cataloged over 200 species of petrified trees, many of them related to trees of today, and these trees all have growth rings.4 Harold Coffin writes, "Wyatt refers to extinct giant club mosses that do not have growth rings as evidence that preflood trees do not have growth rings. The giant club moss, Sigillata, could be compared with papaya, or banana or other fast-growing trees with pulpy wood. Yes, it does not have growth rings but that is not evidence for preflood conifers or deciduous trees. They do have good growth rings. I have spent years studying petrified trees in various areas of North America, in Patigonia [sic], and in Australia. They have growth rings if they are trees that normally are expected to have rings."5 The lack of growth rings, in what Wyatt thinks is wood, is evidence that the Durupinar "boat" is not made of wood.

Wyatt claims that his results with radar scan "showed what can only be identified as a keel, keelsons and bulkheads from a boat of tremendous size" (p. 18). Others have attempted to reduplicate Wyatt's results with radar scans without success. Tom Fenner, of the Geophysical Survey Systems Inc. (GSSI) also mentioned by Wyatt (pp. 17-18), says, "In 1987 I performed an extensive GPR [ground-penetrating radar] study in an attempt to characterize any shallow subsurface features in the boat-shaped formation at the site. . . .A great deal of effort was put into repeating the radar measurements acquired in 1986 by Wyatt and Fasold....After numerous attempts over a period of one and a half days we were unable to duplicate their radar records in any way... I was never convinced the site was the remains of Noah's Ark. In fact the more time I spent on the site, the more skeptical I became."6

John Baumgardner, a creationist and geophysicist, was an early supporter of the Durupinar site being Noah's ark. Since then he has had the opportunity to evaluate the site by performing his own tests. Instead of proving the formation to be Noah's ark, he discovered additional evidence that it is a natural formation. Baumgardner's seismic tests found an outcropping of stone that runs below the surface and diagonally through the formation, which shows that the Durupinar site is really a relatively shallow phenomenon not consistent with any type of man-made structure. "Although formerly convinced that this formation was probably the remains of the ark, Dr. Baumgardner now believes there is less than a 10 per cent chance that anything man made is present."7

To further examine the Durupinar site, Wyatt has also used what he calls a "molecular frequency generator." According to Wyatt this "new type of metal detector" discovered "a distinct linear subsurface pattern" or "striations" on which "metal readings were positive while the spaces between were totally negative" (p. 17). These "striations" supposedly reveal the outline of the ark's structure. The reader should know that a "molecular frequency generator" is an upscale dowsing rod, (i.e., sticks used for "witching" for water). In this case, brass rods are supposed to be able to detect metal. Dr. Baumgardner attempted to use a metal detector to double-check the molecular frequency generator with no success.8 Dowsing has no scientific basis, therefore, I have no confidence in dowsing.

Summary and Conclusion: Is the Durupinar Site Noah's Ark?

The Durupinar site is an intriguing phenomenon that was discovered in 1959 by a Turkish army captain. It lies within the ancient Urartu territory, as one would expect of Noah's ark, and it is even roughly the same length as one would expect the ark to be.

On the other hand, the Durupinar site is not the width of the ark as specified by the biblical account, nor does it fit the Bible's description of the ark's resting place--as one of the higher elevations in its region. In addition, Wyatt s characterization of the small difference of the carbon content within and without the formation is proof only of his lack of geological training, as is his attempt to rewrite all geological understanding to explain why his "pre-flood" wood has no growth rings. His reports of the results of his subsurface radar have been disputed, even by sympathetic scientists who have attempted them.

In short, Wyatt's "train-load" of evidence falls far short of his claims. He does not even show his readers the train, much less, the train-load of evidence. The Durupinar site is undoubtedly a natural formation. Noah's ark has yet to be found.

Guidelines for Evaluating Claims

The Institute of Archaeology at Andrews University regularly receives letters from those who make claims of discoveries. For example, during the last few years several individuals have claimed they know exactly where the ark of the covenant is located - all proposing different places, yet, all are positive as to its whereabouts. Sometimes these individuals claim that they have been divinely lead in their discoveries, and occasionally, they even warn us that if we fail to help it may lead to God's disapproval. The following guidelines are useful in evaluating claims of discovery.

See the Evidence Before You Believe

Reliable sources provide the evidence before they ask you to believe. Wyatt says that he has discovered the building techniques of the pyramids, but "it will be published in our forthcoming book" (p. 31). He has discovered the location of ancient "Succoth," but he gives no evidence (p. 31). He has discovered chariot parts from pharaoh's army, but "the details, photographs and analysis are included in our forthcoming book" (p. 32). He has discovered the burial crypts of giants, but "the facts and photographs of this discovery will appear in our forthcoming book" (p. 33) . He has discovered the location of the ark of the covenant, but "it will be necessary for you to wait for the details and photographs of most of our discoveries" (p. 34). He has discovered the real Mount Sinai but he gives his readers no evidence to substantiate his claims. As I write this article it has been five years since Wyatt has published these words, "We are presently finishing the full-sized book on Noah's Ark, complete with all the details of the search and final verification." Where is that book?

I am especially suspicious of what I call, "the dog ate it evidence." Many would be "discoverers" would show the evidence, BUT the government stole it or the film didn't develop right or they lost it, and so forth. In Wyatt's case, he would have the evidence of pharaoh's chariots, and the location of the ark of the covenant, but he got a sunburn and had to catch his plane (p. 33, 62) . Always see the evidence before believing any claim(s) .

Check the Evidence with Someone Not Involved

Wyatt admits that he has been criticized for his research methods, and I know why. Researchers are put-off by those who make claims that are ridiculous. For example, Wyatt writes, "However, the years of studying every piece of ancient history and archaeologically-related research had brought me to the brink of several other startling discoveries" (p. 30., emphasis mine) . I know of no professional that would claim he/she had studied every piece of information in his/her discipline.

As an archaeologist, after reading Wyatt's claims for himself and seeing his elementary and obvious archaeological errors (e.q., Habiru, p. 32 and Joseph and the Step Pyramid, p. 54), it is difficult to take seriously his major claims. Harold Coffin's response after reading Wyatt's book was, "Naturally I have no problem with the discovery of Noah's ark, but the multitude of inaccuracies and errors certainly turns one off who has some information."9 In short, consult with those who can evaluate the knowledge of the discoverer and his/her claims.

Do not Worry about a "Coverup" Conspiracy

Every would-be discoverer would show the evidence, but there is a big "coverup." Usually, it's the scholars that are fearful that if the discovery were known, it would "disprove their atheistic theories." For a long time ark searchers were able to blame the Russian government who was afraid that Noah's ark would be found. Human nature is such that if Noah's ark (or the Ten Commandments or the ark of the covenant) is found by an atheist he/she will want the credit for finding it.

Finding of Noah's ark will not change anyone's mind about the Bible, or make them become Christians. Jesus, himself, said if people reject the message of the Bible they will not listen, even if a cadaver came to life (Luke 16:31).

Sincerity Is Not "Proof"

Most of those who make claims of discovery seem sincere, so sincere that they are willing to break laws or endanger the safety of their friends or families. Wyatt sees the laws of Saudi Arabia are of little importance compared to his mission. He just breaks their laws (p. 44). What he considers badges of honor ("jailed as a spy, shot at by terrorists, beaten, robbed and persecuted"--see the back cover of his book), appear to be evidences of poor judgment. When you are analyzing a report, remind yourself that sincerity can never replace reliable evidence. One can be sincerely wrong.

Can God Be Wrong?

Most of those who claim to have found "amazing discoveries" seldom do it alone. They claim to be "agents of God." Sometimes they have discovered secret codes in the writings of Ellen White or the Bible or at other times God has openly spoken to them. Wyatt tells his readers that the Lord elected him as an act of mercy (p. 90), that he prayed for an earthquake that occurred after his prayer (p. 7), that his words and body are sometimes involuntarily controlled by God's power (p. 33-34), that the way he made many of his discoveries was by being "impressed" by God (p. 42), that his "discovery" of the building techniques of the pyramids came from a dream (p. 53-54). Much of his book is designed to convince the reader of Wyatt's unique relationship with God.10

I believe in the gift of prophecy, but I never accept the claims of those who profess that power before I evaluate their evidence. I accept or reject their claims because of the evidence provided and then I know if they really are God's messengers (2 Timothy 4:3).

 


Endnotes
  1. Unless otherwise noted, all references in this artide are to Wyatt, Ron. Discovered: Noah's Ark, Nashvi11e: World Bible Society, 1989.

     

  2. Morris, John. "The Boat-Shaped Rock:, Creation Ex Nihilo, Vol. 2, No. 4., p. 18.

     

  3. Ibid.

     

  4. Coffin, Harold. Origin by Design, Hagerstown, MD: The Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1982, p. 213.

     

  5. Letter to the author, dated January 13, 1993.*

     

  6. Snelling, Andrew A. "Amazing 'Ark' Expose," Creation Ex Nihilo, Vol 14, p. 30. His statement was verified by the author in a telephone conversation with Tom Penner on January 13, 1992.

     

  7. Moms, ibid., pp. 18-19. On April 22, 1993 I spoke with Dr. John Baumgardner by telephone. During our conversation I asked him whether or not he still believed that the boat-shaped form was Noah's ark. His answer was, "No." He explained that when the "dust (from the initial excitement) settled" he began to consider the evidence. It was then he realized that there were natural explanations for the boatshaped form. He specifically mentioned the ridge of rode that runs through the formation as consistent with a natural occurrence.

     

  8. Ibid., p 18. In my conversation with Dr. Baumgardner I asked him to describe a Molecular Frequency Generator. He said, "It is a form of dowsing."

     

  9. Letter written to David Merling, dated January 13, 1993.*

     

  10. Wyatt has an entire chapter entitled "My Testimony" which has the primary purpose of declaring how God has uniquely lead his life through dreams and "impressions," see pages 53-66.


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