An outfit called the “Satellite Imaging Corporation” has sent out a press release breathlessly announcing a new 3D Terrain Visualization for Mt. Ararat Anomaly [sic]. According to SIC, this could be a major breakthrough in the field of Biblical archeology.
This new 3D terrain model will provide researchers with an engaging new perspective, which could help to resolve an intense geopolitical and religious debate as to whether or not the anomaly could prove to be the remains of Noah’s Ark.
We already know that this is not Noah’s Ark. If you watch the video, you’ll see a broad, wind-eroded glacier with slightly concave depressions here and there and some random light and dark splotches on the surface. There’s nothing “anomalous” about the formation, and in fact it’s not even clear what the anomaly is supposed to be. The rounded glacier front? The light and dark patches on the surface?
The press release even admits that this is the site of a fairly large glacier.
The anomaly itself, which lies surrounded by rugged strato-volcanic rock at the northwestern corner of Mt. Ararat’s western plateau, is over 980 feet long, and sits mostly buried underneath a permanent glacier.
Both the 2D photographs taken to date, and the 3D visualization, show the glacier, underneath which the anomaly is supposed to be located. The only problem is, the glacier is opaque. How are you supposed to know there’s any anomaly underneath it?
It first drew attention due to its relatively smooth surface texture, as well as its unusual physical composition. The site occupied by the anomaly, which is located at 15,300 feet above sea level, remains unexplored.
So in other words, someone decided it was strange for a glacier on a windy mountain peak at the perpetually-frozen altitude of 15K feet to be smooth. Why? Not because the glacier itself is surprising: glacier-sized amounts of ice tend to behave like a very slow-moving, very thick, fluid, provided the temperature stays cold enough to avoid significant melting and water erosion. The results can be spectacular, even beautiful, but it’s hardly surprising that they would be smooth and/or relatively flat under conditions like those at the top of Ararat.
As for the “unusual physical composition,” I’d like to make a comment or two. Unfortunately, I can’t find any explanation of what this “unusual” composition is supposed to be. From the video, it appears to be composed of rock, snow, and ice–hardly unusual in a mountaintop glacier. The press release mentions one Porcher Taylor III as an Ark “expert” (i.e. associate professor at the University of Richmond’s School of Continuing Studies), but Taylor’s web site does not seem to shed any light on the subject.
I did find one other site which might lend a hint:
IKONOS pictures snapped over Mount Ararat then were contrasted with the aircraft photos taken in 1949. A seven-person team of independent scientists and analysts scrutinized the batch of images. While clearly the photos show some type of feature, the team was divided in their interpretation. While some felt the anomaly could be human-made, others voted for rock or deferred to inconclusive data, Taylor said.
One team member concluded the anomaly had apparently shifted, suggesting that its composition was foreign and not a chunk of the mountain. IKONOS imagery confirms that the anomaly is “broken” in several places.
Apparently, the reference to “unusual physical composition” means “the light and dark patches on the surface of the glacier are not part of the immovable rock of the peak itself.” No kidding? Glaciers are made of snow and ice, and they move. There’s nothing unusual about that.
Here’s the deal: the glacier is made of ice. Over time (years, decades, etc), it changes shape, molded by the combined effects of wind, gravity, underlying topography, and sunlight. If a broad, concave depression forms in the ice, snow will tend to settle inside the depression. When the sun comes out, the heat of the sunlight will produce a very slight melting, and the drifted snow in the depression will settle, exposing bare ice around the edges of the depression, and thus drawing apparent dark(er) lines around a light(er) shape. As the glacier continues to shift, the outline will also morph into different shapes, just like any other surface feature on a moving ice flow.
Ok, so we can eliminate this purported “evidence” as proving that the Ark does exist. Why do I say we know that the Ark does not exist? After all, just because we don’t know whether the Ark is under that glacier, that doesn’t mean we do know that it’s not there.
A valid point, but nevertheless, we do know that the Ark is not there. Think about it: if there were a God Who cared enough about human behavior to punish misbehavior with world-wide extinction of every living creature, and yet Who loved His creatures enough to spare some of them in an Ark, would we really have to resort to teasing out ambiguities in satellite photos of inaccessible mountaintops looking for something we can use as evidence that something like a Divine Being might have actually done something in the real world in the dim mists of the ancient past?
The search for Noah’s Ark, like creationism in general, is a public testament to the fact that the God of the Bible does not show up, today, in the real world. And this testimony of godlessness is all the more convincing considering that it comes from the very people who most desire to find God in real life. By launching these desperate expeditions, and putting all this work into popularizing ambiguous and subjectively-defined data, Porcher Taylor III and other creationists are bearing witness to the fact that there is no better way to try and establish a connection between the Christian God and the real world. God does not show up in the real world, because if He did, Christians would be using that appearance instead of making transparently gullible appeals to dirty snowdrifts on Mt. Ararat.
In God’s absence, our only sources of information about Him are the stories, superstitions, and subjective feelings of men. When we put our trust in such stories, in the absence of any genuine appearance of God in the real world, and especially when we re-interpret existing evidence to make it fit with the stories men tell, then we are not being faithful, we are being gullible. God, as men describe Him, is the kind of being Whose existence would show up everywhere, if He did exist. But that’s not consistent with what we see in the real world, ergo we can reasonably and reliably conclude that these stories are not true. Thus, no God, and therefore no divine judgment and no Ark.