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Subject: Noah's Ark
Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2005 17:53:42 EDT


IN SEARCH OF NOAH'S ARK: Beware of 'weak' Ark claims

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--While Christians who take the Bible at face value
don't doubt the possibility of discovering the remains of Noah's Ark, caution
ought to be the order of the day, a Southern Baptist seminary professor said.

"A large portion of the interest surrounding the issue seems to be centered
in the desire to prove the miraculous," said Timothy Pierce, professor of Old
Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
"While many expeditions have been undertaken by respected scientists and
archaeologists, many more have been taken by believers who have something to
prove -- and who have offered little more than their word that they found
something.

"It's easy for those of us who believe in the historicity of the flood and
other miracle accounts in the Bible to grab on to any piece of 'evidence' that
is presented in order to demonstrate that our belief is warranted," he said.
"We should be careful what claims we wed our beliefs to, lest when those
claims are proven to be false, people conclude our beliefs are false as well."

George Hagiopian's 1905 assertion that he actually walked on the Ark's deck
is only one example of overzealous claims that give skeptics ammunition
against Christian faith in general and belief that the Ark could be discovered in
particular, Pierce said.

"For example, the somewhat questionable methods and seemingly exaggerated
claims of Daniel McGivern and Ahmet Ali Arslan in 2004 gave rise to an article
in National Geographic (Sept. 20, 2004) that berated the idea that the Ark
might be found on the mountain," he said. "Such overzealous claims and
assessments cause many individuals to be less predisposed to believe in the
likelihood of the Ark being on the mountain because of the 'too good to be true'
claims that often are associated with reports of its sightings."

Even the most persuasive evidence would not convince people determined to
disbelieve, Pierce added.

"One has to wonder how much we might actually achieve by finding the Ark up
on the mountain," Pierce said. "While it would certainly be a boost to our
psyche and would be another 'bullet' in our apologetic's arsenal, I think
sometimes we have the impression that such a discovery will prove to the world
that the Bible is true.

"In fact, if they came down the mountain with pictures of a hull, carrying
wood that dated to 3500 BC, native to Mesopotamia, with a tar-like substance
spread over it, within 24 hours there would be an explanation -- completely
divorced from the Noahic story -- that would satisfy the secular world.
Skeptics will find an alternate explanation for the material."

None of that means the search for the Ark should be abandoned, however.

"I'm not saying the trip shouldn't be taken," Pierce said. "If it brings one
person to faith in Christ who formerly disbelieved, it would be worth all
the money spent on the endeavor. But it has to be done with integrity, because
the ends never justify the means -- and the result needs to be clear
evidence, not simply someone's word.

"In short, my concern is that the evidence has become more authoritative --
and in many ways more important -- than the biblical account. The validity of
the story of the flood does not rest upon what is found on that mountain."



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