1. National Geographic News: “Noah’s Ark Found in Turkey?

Has Noah’s Ark been found atop Mount Ararat? The affirmative claim this week from a team of evangelical explorers made headlines, but it isn’t the first time that’s happened.

The team represents Noah’s Ark Ministries International, part of Hong Kong-based The Media Evangelism, which describes itself as “a charitable Christian organization committed to building a Christian media presence by using every modern means of communication to promote the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are aware that many in the group espouse a biblical creation and a global Flood, and they see the connection between the reality of Genesis and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What makes us wary—even before analyzing the news—is that this isn’t the first time Noah’s Ark has been “found,” in one way or another. Just a few years back, for example, a team led by Bob Cornuke discovered mysterious structures in northern Iran that looked like wooden beams (although he clarified that the site was only deserving of further research). Both non-creationists and creationists concluded the structures were of geologic origin. Years earlier, a team led by Ron Wyatt claimed more confidently to have found the Ark itself, though that find, too, came under critique from other Christians who believe the biblical account of the Flood. It’s not merely that other claims have fallen flat that makes us wary, however; we also have little hope that the Ark still exists* or is in a position to be discovered, nor do we know whether researchers are looking in the right place (wherever that is). The Bible says only that the Ark came to rest in the vague “mountains of Ararat”—not the specific mountain identified as Mount Ararat.

But as for the latest headlines, a filmmaker who joined the expedition claimed the team was “99.9 percent that [the find] is [the Ark].” The group reportedly found seven wooden compartments buried high on Mt. Ararat, part of a larger structure the team identified as Noah’s Ark. However, only one of the three samples that was radiocarbon dated gave an age of approximately 4,800 years, roughly the time of the Bible’s date for the Flood (about 2,350 BC). The other two samples gave ages of around 120–132 years! By contrast, if this wood was really from the Ark, we would have expected it should have given radiocarbon “ages” of between 25,000 and 50,000 “radiocarbon” years. This is because the Pre-Flood wood and coal samples radiocarbon dated during the RATE and other creationist research projects over the last two decades all yielded radiocarbon “ages” of between 25,000 and 50,000 “radiocarbon” years. Such grossly inflated radiocarbon ages are due to the disequilibrium of radiocarbon in the post-Flood atmosphere, the strengthening magnetic field of the earth in the past, and what happened to radiocarbon and the carbon inventory generally as a result of the Flood. The team, however, is keeping the location of the find secret for now.

Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham noted that just as creationists are quick to scrutinize evolutionists for, e.g., wild interpretations of fossils before thorough scientific work is done, we should also be cautious about this find. “Yes, we believe in Noah’s Ark, and if found it would be one of the greatest archaeological findings of our day—but . . . [w]e have to remain skeptical,” he said. Ham also pointed out that Genesis 6:14 indicates the wood of the Ark was coated with pitch, but there appears to be no such discoloration in photographs of the find; further, the presence of straw—presumably interpreted by the discoverers as more than 4,000 years old—as shown by another photograph seems suspicious. (though perhaps its preservation is not impossible given the cold conditions on a high mountain). Ham also noted that at its high levels, Mt. Ararat has glacial ice which has been shifting over the years, and it would have destroyed most anything in its path.

Finally, a letter written by Liberty University-affiliated archaeologist Randall Price quickly made rounds—and was quoted by the media—claiming the find was a hoax. While Price issued a clarification, the twist adds to confusion over the find and our general skepticism.

As Ham indicated, creationists at Answers in Genesis and presumably anywhere else would be happy to find the Ark, both for the testimony it would add to the historicity of Genesis and for the archaeological excitement of uncovering such an ancient piece of biblical history. But clearly God could reveal the Ark if He wanted to. This is not to say Ark-searching expeditions are anti-biblical, but rather that we need not find the Ark—or any archaeological artifacts—for us to trust God’s Word. Our hope is that Noah’s Ark Ministries International will not be secretive with the supposed Ark’s location and restrictive of access to the find, in which case we must continue to be highly skeptical and seriously consider the possibility that a fraud has been perpetrated on Noah’s Ark Ministries International by its Turkish partners.

Indeed, if the Ark were to be found, it would be another confirmation of the historicity of Genesis and we would be delighted. But as we wrote on this website on Thursday, we do not need to find the Ark to give Christians more confidence in the Bible. It is the Word of God, and so we do not doubt that there was a huge Ark that survived the global catastrophe of Noah’s Flood and which landed on the mountains of Ararat. There is also powerful geological (e.g., deep sedimentary layers) and paleontological evidence (e.g., the fossil record) all around the world that is consistent with the event of the Genesis Flood and confirms that it was a worldwide catastrophic event.

* As we noted in Thursday’s article about this alleged find: “Adding to our skepticism about the find is that the volcanic activity on the mountains of Ararat as well as several earthquakes make it doubtful that even parts of a wooden structure could have survived for over 4,300 years. Furthermore, much of the wood would have most likely been scavenged right after the Flood to erect forms of shelter and to build fires, etc.”

2. AP: “Creation Museum: 1 Million Visitors

Our Creation Museum may not rival the Smithsonian in terms of visitors (and does not receive a penny of tax support), but we thank God for having reached a major milestone: over one million visitors in just under three years of operation!

When the museum opened in late spring 2007, estimates for first-year attendance hovered around 250,000, with slightly fewer expected in each year following. But even before the three-year anniversary later this month, the museum has hosted visitor number 1,000,000!

The number of visitors certainly won’t quiet the many complaints about the museum, despite the fact that far more people have visited the dozens (if not hundreds) of evolution-only museums in the United States. (In fact, the news will probably bring on a new wave of complaints, as is clear from the comments on the AP article linked above.) Nonetheless, we thank God for bringing every visitor so far and for the many we look forward to hosting. (Don’t forget, the museum continues to grow, with new activities and shows—and new exhibits—since the initial opening. For tickets, information, photos, and more, visit CreationMuseum.org.)

To read more about the milestone and about the millionth guest (who received a gift basket and a lifetime museum membership in honor of the event), visit Millionth Guest Visits Creation Museum.

For more information:

3. The Times: “Don’t Talk to Aliens, Warns Stephen Hawking

There’s no evidence that aliens even exist—so why is famous physicist Stephen Hawking so worried we’ll talk to them?

The Times reports on Hawking’s “unusually simple” (for him, anyway) logic on the topic of aliens—presented as part of a new documentary series Hawking is behind. In it, the physicist argues that alien life is almost certain to exist, since “Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved,” as the Times’ Jonathan Leake explains.

Amid lavish, hypothetical depictions of what alien life could look like, the documentary shares Hawking’s viewpoint that some alien life may be highly evolved and intelligent, and that such life-forms may even be hostile to humanity:

“We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

Hawking therefore considers seeking out alien life for contact to be “too risky.” Of course, he has a point—if you agree that life is out there to be sought. Our disagreement with the esteemed theoretical scientist is rooted in a field other than physics or astronomy, however. By assuming unguided evolution as the starting point for his argument, he quite validly concludes how unlikely it would be for life to have evolved on Earth alone. But if one accepts the Genesis account and views life on Earth as purposefully designed by God, we need not fear aliens—nor believe they must exist.

4. BBC News: “Asteroid Themis Has ‘Frosted Surface’

Water ice has been discovered again in space, this time on the surface of the asteroid 24 Themis.

Researchers report in the journal Nature the discovery of frozen water on a large asteroid in the solar system’s main asteroid belt, which lies between Mars and Jupiter. Intriguingly, the scientists have concluded that the ice is unstable and is being replenished from some source.

Specifically, because the asteroid has no atmosphere, scientists would expect the ice to vaporize easily in the sunlight. Since it apparently does not, the researchers have proposed mechanisms to explain the presence of the ice. For example, it may be that collisions with other asteroids have released ice from the asteroid’s interior, or that water vapor leaks out of the interior of the asteroid and condenses temporarily on its surface.

It’s no surprise that the researchers tie the finding—which is otherwise an example of good observational science—with Earth’s origin. Team member Humberto Campins of the University of Central Florida stated, “It’s interesting that we have detected ice on an asteroid because there have been suggestions that water on Earth came from impacts with many asteroids in Earth’s early history.” The suggestions were intended as a solution to the problem that the early Earth, according to the planetary evolution account, would have been too hot for water.

The scientists also discovered the signature of organic compounds on 24 Themis, though such compounds are merely building blocks of the building blocks of the building blocks (etc.) of even simple life. But if anything, the news reminds us that even where the basic components of life exist, it’s nowhere near enough. The components must exist in a very special place within a solar system (neither too close nor too far to a star), they must be protected by an atmosphere, and—most importantly—they must be assembled into the highly complicated, metabolizing, reproducing form we call life.

5. ScienceNOW: “Chimps Grieve Over Dead Relatives

Chimps experience grief and depression after the death of a loved one. Does that similarity to humans make them our kin?

New studies published in Current Biology indicate that chimpanzees provide special attention to loved ones before they die and grieve afterward, reports ScienceNOW. The studies are based in part on the observation of chimps at the Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park, where an elderly chimp was groomed and tended to extensively in the weeks before her death, after which the other chimps were “unusually subdued for nearly a week.”

The ScienceNOW article notes that only a few other animals, such as elephants (which, like chimps, are highly intelligent), are known to show signs of grief or other unusual behavior after a peer dies. “Some of the behaviors appear strikingly similar to aspects of human responses to death and dying,” said University of Stirling psychologist James Anderson of the chimps.

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology primatologist Christophe Boesch added, “We have certainly underestimated awareness of death in chimpanzees.” And while this certainly appears so, we must of course issue the reminder that chimp behavior similar to human behavior shows only that: similarity. Many animals act similar to humans (some more, some less) in various ways, but this can be explained equally well—if not better—from a creation worldview rather than an evolutionary perspective.

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6. And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Another reminder that America is growing less Christian, not more, comes in the form of new survey results of 18- to 29-year-olds. However, the distinction between “spiritual” and “religious” may be a bit misinterpreted, as many modern evangelicals emphasize that Christianity is about a relationship, not a “religion.”
  • Elephants may be joining the group of animals able to make context-specific warning sounds, reports ScienceNOW. Research suggests the animals make a particular rumbling noise as an alarm in response to approaching bees.
  • Where can you find “truly amazing” tools that show the “brilliance” of some of our ancestors? Melting Arctic ice is where, reports LiveScience.
  • It’s another reminder that old-earthers have no trouble accepting catastrophic “megafloods”: a University of Washington scientist believes an ancient flood formed huge dunes in what is now Alaska.
  • Last week we discussed Earth Day, and this week we add that our own Jason Lisle was quoted on the topic in a OneNewsNow piece.
  • It isn’t quite a fire-breathing dragon, but a newly discovered monitor lizard with a flame-colored snout reminds us that dragons legends are based in reality—not in human interactions with today’s lizards, but rather with yesterday’s dinosaurs.
  • Could being a young-earth creationist save you money? Perhaps so, if you avoid the allure of supposedly four-billion-year-old souvenirs.

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