Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Truth Behind the Ark

National Geographic Channel - Original Air Date: Unknown (6/5/10)

The show goes looking for the truth behind the Noah's Ark legend.  Many believe the remains of Noah's Ark lie on Mt. Ararat or Dura Pinar in Turkey.  Others say the boat-like Dura Pinar structure is merely natural geology -- science and faith remain divided.  History shows that the ark story is common to many cultures, with many names for the heroic boat builder.  The bible says the boat should be 450' long, and the commonly considered site is longer, though this is perhaps because of using Egyptian cubits rather than standard ones for measurements.  (Believers have "good" reasons for all the many inconsistencies.)  Supporters of the Dura Pinar site claim to have found petrified animal bones and rivets, but geologists remain sure that this evidence are merely a geological features.  Astronaut Jim Irwin was a believer in the ark; he didn't find it.  Believers claim that in extraordinary conditions, wood can be petrified in decades, rather than over centuries; scientists aren't buying it; the believers' petrified wood is merely plain old rock.

Believers claim that pre-flood trees grew to twice their current size, 5-600' long for a single-piece keel. There is no archeological evidence for this, and the largest prehistoric boat found in Europe from the same time is merely 100' x 15'.  The outside surface of the Biblical ark would be 150,000 square feet of timber.  Using period tools, researcher Goodburn takes 10 hours to make and join 2 small planks, and they're not very waterproof.  Supporters say Noah had more advanced technology.  (Again, there is no actual evidence of this -- and the Turkish government isn't allowing believers to dig in Dura Pinar.)  But the believers' supposed iron brackets are merely volcanic iron rocks, and the Iron Age came more than 2000 years later.  The show explains how iron, over time, infiltrates such a site; "It's a perfectly natural structure," a geologist says.  Water tank tests with a Biblically sized ark quickly flood and capsize the model.  Of course, believers have an explanation for this, too - claiming a set of standing stones nearby in Turkey acted as counter weights.  But the stones they cite as anchors are local, not from Mesopotamia (where Noah came from).

Additionally, there is no archeological evidence for a worldwide flood 2400 years before Christ, nor for meteor strikes or sub-surface aquifers that could flood the surface.  There is evidence, though, that the Black Sea was once a lake that was flooded by the sea 9400 years ago, during the thaw from the last ice age, which raised water levels planet wide.  Ancient Mesopotamian flood accounts tell of the hero building a round ship, like those used to transport animals in Iraq even today.  Most scholars believe that the ark story was always a myth, and science proves that a boat on that scale cold not have been built in ancient times.  But for believers, belief is enough, because they want everything in the bible to be literally true, and will explain away evidence to the contrary.

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