HISTORIC CHRISTIANITY IN A POSTMODERN WORLD
5/8/2004 Vol.2 #15
If you grocery shop and gawk at the
tabloid headlines you are no doubt aware that Noah’s
Ark is found
frequently. The latest tabloid
headline (in ’03) had one of Saddam’s palaces built overtop the
Ark! On 4/26/04, a man by the
name of Dan McGivern announced at the National Press
Club in Washington that he had
found the famous vessel using high resolution satellite imagery. That evening a few TV networks carried a
short announcement. The next day
things snowballed as articles appeared in several major newspapers and on
numerous websites. As of this
writing the man is still being interviewed by various media. Who is this man,
and what about his claims?
McGivern is a successful
64 year-old business man, a philanthropist, and an equally successful political
activist from Honolulu. He conceived of the idea of searching
for Noah’s Ark about ten years
ago after reading The
Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark by Sellier and Balsiger, a book
published some two years after a CBS special of the same name (aired 2/93). My review of this so-called documentary
can be found in Ararat
Report, a newsletter I edited at the time (Figment or Fact? The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Art, 5/93. #32). As you might guess, I did not give the
documentary a favorable review.
Both the show and book are exhibits of sloppy journalism. Near the end of the book you are
introduced to a Turkish citizen, Ahmet Ali Arslan, who grew up in a village at the foot of
Ararat. In 1989 he was hired by a small group of
Americans to climb the mountain to a specified location to photograph an
object. Ahmet started toward the area of the object without ropes on
the perilous icecap. As he
descended he lost his footing on a loose piece of ice and started to glissade
toward almost certain death into the abyss known as the Ahora Gorge.
Somehow he was able to stop his fall with his ice ax and his ice
hammer. When he gathered his senses
he noticed what looked like a structure he had never seen before despite having
been up on the mountain almost 50 times.
He quickly snapped two photographs of the object which he described as
“barn-looking.” He later claimed he
was 400 yards from the object. More
realistically, I believe he was more like 300, or maybe 400 feet away. The full story is told in The Explorers of Ararat
(see Chapter 6).
From this incident Dan McGivern concluded that
Arslan may have really found Noah’s
Ark and was the
first to photograph it.
McGivern next decided he
would take a different path from other researchers, and decided to invest in
expensive satellite imagery. He
started with one the Russians had made commercially available, but it turned out
to not be good enough. He then
tried Space Imaging; it too, was inadequate. Finally, he heard of DigitalGlobe in Longmont,
CO. This is the company the U.S. Army goes
to when they need satellite information (not the CIA, only the CIA uses whatever
it is they have!). The resolution
of DigitalGlobe is 0.6 meters, a little more than one
Biblical cubit, i.e., 19 inches.
McGivern then had DigitalGlobe take shots Ararat’s icecap in September of last
year( ’03) after he had read that
Europe had experienced
its hottest summer since the 16th Century. He assumed the heat wave might have
possibly melted the icecap to such an extent that the
Ark might be
McGivern then turned his
digital data over to some expert analysts in
CA. In early Feb. he contacted me for
research help. I was glad to
oblige, but informed him that my research led me to conclude that the
Ark landed about 200
miles south of Mt.
Ararat. I also had geological reasons for
believing it could not have landed on this 17,000 foot volcanic mountain. He didn’t say anything at the time; he
just asked to read my work. Several
weeks later in a light-hearted phone conversation he told me I was going to have
to recant. When I told him I was
pretty sure of my conclusions, he laughed:
“Bill, I found Noah’s Ark.” He went on to tell me that he was
announcing his discovery at a news conference at the National Press Club in
Washington. When I ask to see his evidence there was
a veil of secrecy. His reply was:
“When the time comes? He did however, give me a weaker version of the satellite data where
he had pinpointed the location of his object. I can tell you I was thoroughly
impressed with the satellite images.
They are so good you can actually see a man walking down a dusty road in
a nearby village. I was, on the
other hand, not real impressed by the object he was claiming was the Ark of
Noah! When I insisted on seeing his
best stuff he told me he would fly me to the news conference where I would see
it with several other explorers. I
was there for the event as he promised on 4/26. Now, what do I
told Fox News this past week he was 98% sure it’s Noah’s
Ark. What is the basis for his claims? In the enlarged and enhanced version,
his analysts claim they see beams, long and parallel, and at right angles. Curiously, at the bottom of the object
are 4 circles of exactly the same size and equidistant from each other. These circles are a mystery, and one
would hardly think this could be a freak of nature. What I was impressed
with the most was its size.
In the past, Ark researchers have
had photos of barge-like objects that caused many (yours truly) to lose
sleep. In the end, when
investigated, they were far too small.
With the satellite data, and knowing the exact measurement of a pixel,
you can accurately measure any object.
This object is approximately 60 feet wide. According to Biblical data, we know the
Ark was somewhere
around 70-75 feet wide.
According to McGivern’s thesis the
Ark landed somewhere
near the summit of Mt.
Ararat. Gradually the ice formed around it and
completely encased it thus preserving it for thousands of years. In 1840 a strong earthquake shook it
loose and the movement of the glacier began moving it downward, and, at the same
time breaking it into multiple pieces.
The main object he’s interested in is in the Abich II glacier in perhaps the most
perilous location on the entire mountain. The only human beings that get near it
are those who fall to their deaths!
For what it’s worth, here are some of my
thoughts after viewing the evidence:
I still believe as I’ve written elsewhere, that the ancient witnesses (4
B.C. to1000 A.D.) are nearly unanimous in pinpointing the southern site Cudi Dagh (right near the Iraqi
border) as the Landing
According to Muslim historians the
Ark was dismantled
around 1000 A.D and the beams used to build a
There are geological reasons for doubting that the
Ark landed on
Ararat. For example, most geologists believe
Ararat was formed in relatively recent times and there is no definitive evidence
it was ever under water. I’m still
open to contrary evidence. There
does seem to be sedimentation at lower altitudes and the enormous gorge (canyon)
took some time to be carved out by the Araxis
On the other hand, there are numerous alleged eyewitness accounts and
reports of the Ark landing on this
spectacular mountain. Now we have a
satellite image of an object that could be man-made. I’m willing to listen and consider
hypothetical scenarios as to how it could have landed on this mountain. In fact, if the
Ark is found for
certain I would be among the first to say “I’m wrong.” Believe me, I really want this to be
true, and I will help in any way I can.
McGivern was smart to go the satellite
route. He claims he will spend
$900,000 of his own money to verify the find. Which brings us to the question: Why did he make a big announcement and
claim to have discovered the old ship before verification? I’m not sure of his motives, and do not
want to be judgmental at this point.
McGivern may be making the big splash to get
the proper authorities in Turkey to grant
research rights. In the past this
has been almost impossible to obtain.
Nobody could ever accuse this man of not being a risk-taker. On the other hand, it seems to me the
nature of the object could be verified by much cheaper means. A good perch on the eastern rim of the
gorge and a good pair of binoculars could yield much if it is indeed
visible. Also, if the
Ark is indeed broken
up then it is a given that there would be a debris field in the canyon. Debris could be dated, but McGivern is diametrically opposed to carbon dating because
of how the Shroud of Turin was mishandled several decades ago. The testing method is much more
sophisticated now, and in my opinion could give a ballpark figure. He believes the only way the
Ark will be
identified as Noah’s is if someone enters it and sees stalls!
I do believe this object is of sufficient interest to warrant further
investigation. For me right now the
negatives still outweigh the positives, but if they have the means to identify
what might be in this glacier, more power to them.
Dan McGivern is a devout Roman Catholic
Christian with a strong mystical bent.
I say this not because I’m opposed to mysticism. I do believe our relationship with
Christ is a mystical one, but also one that should be thoroughly balanced by the
objective Word. This quest seems to
a spiritual one for McGivern and his group, and I only
hope that good science and reason are given their proper place.
McGivern believes a discovery of the Ark of
Noah would have eschatological implications. He very well could be correct in this
assumption, but there does not seem to be any indication of this from Scripture
that I am aware of.
If you’ve missed the announcement here are
some articles from the web:
At this site you
can actually view a pretty good close-up of the satellite
RELIGION, YOUR POLITICS
Dr. C. Everett Koop was probably one of
the finest Surgeon Generals this country ever had. He attended one of
churches in Philadelphia at Tenth Street
Presbyterian. However, he was a
controversial appointment under President Reagan in 1981, for the simple reason
that he had co-authored a pro-life book with Francis Schaeffer (Whatever
Happened to the Human Race.) The pro-abortion senators gave him a hard
time in the hearings. One senator
(I forget who) badgered him about his Evangelical faith. To the question Koop answered: “I will never let my religious beliefs
interfere with my duties as Surgeon General. I will never forget my bewilderment and
disappointment with his answer. I
said to myself: “Gee, I wonder what
worldview will guide
him in making decisions?” You see,
at about this time, at the ministry I was with, I was studying, thinking, and
writing about worldview. My
definition of worldview was: “A system of
beliefs; it is what we really
believe about the world (universe) and ourselves and how we fit into
the scheme of things, and it is these beliefs
which influence our thought and action.
I was really
intrigued late last winter when one
reporter made it her point to question all the Democratic candidates for
president about their worldviews.
Again I was dumbfounded by some of the replies. Candidate John Kerry was adamant when he
said: “I don’t made decisions
in public life based on religious belief.”
This is incredible!
What we ought to ask, and I wish she had, was:
“What worldview then does inform you about beliefs and actions? Candidate Lieberman was most forthright
in explaining his worldview in terms of his orthodox Jewish beliefs. While he didn’t go much into detail, it
is known that candidate Kucinich holds to radical New Age views which directly
affect his policy and lifestyle. He
is a vegetarian and environmental issues are important to him. Candidate Dean would only reveal that
his religious beliefs were secret!
What I’m getting at
is this: Whatever philosophical
framework a person lives by, and whatever informs and guides his
decision-making, is his real worldview. If a person declares that he is a strong
Roman Catholic but always votes contrary to those beliefs, do these beliefs
constitute his real worldview?
Of course not? In the new best-selling book, Plan
of Attack, by Bob Woodward, President Bush’s worldview is a major
theme of the book. Woodward was
enamored and aghast that Bush actually made decisions based on his Biblical view
of the world. This is a no-no to PM
intelligentsia. It’s ok to carry a
10 lb. Bible to church every Sunday and act pious inside a stained-glass
building, but once outside, you act according to a different set of politically
correct beliefs. I argue that you cannot separate your
real worldview from your political views, or any other views for that
matter. The way you vote in
November will reflect your true worldview.
Charles Krauthammer is in a class by
himself as a pundit. He outdid
himself with his most recent article on the prison abuse in
Iraq and the larger
concern of Islamic radicalism.
Krauthammer believes it’s all about sex. He says: “Jihadists, like all totalitarians, oppose many kinds of
freedom. What makes them unique,
however, is their particular hatred of freedom for women. They prize their traditional
prerogatives that allow them to keep their women barefoot in the kitchen as
illiterate economic and sexual slaves.”
He believes the uproar in the Arab and Muslim world over the
prison abuse was triggered by the fact that male prisoners were sexually
humiliated by female American soldiers.
Krauthammer is a former psychiatrist. I think he nailed it with this
Another significant article about Islam by
Alain Besancon is found in Commentary. According to the bio
Besancon is a French
historian. (We will forgive him for
that.) This article is interesting
in that it treats Islam philosophically while he compares it with Christianity
and Judaism. One question that he
deals with is why it is so difficult for Muslims to convert to
(5/04). Note: To get this article you will have to
find a hard copy or pay for it at their website.
Several years ago it was ballyhooed in the
press that the human genome had finally been deciphered. Now the door was opened to mechanically
effect man’s redemption. Here’s
what one writer, Tom Bethell, says: “Something went
wrong. But there had been a
coronation, and now there was no going back. The genome was the marvel of our
age. Knowing the nucleotide
sequence of the DNA would allow us to decipher the mysteries of life. Now we could repair the misprints and
defects that had brought us disease and misery. Sooner or later, death itself would be
overcome” The problem according to Bethell
is something scientists called “junk DNA.”
WEBSITE IN THE WORKS
A new website dedicated to RRR
is up and running but still under development. Here’s the address so you can bookmark
it: www.rapidresponsereport.com Hopefully, we will soon have some back issues up as well as
the briefing papers. We will also
attempt some blogging on the opening page. This is to get you to visit our site
everyday! Your comments and
suggestions will be appreciated.
Christ and His Kingdom