In the great battle between scientific experts and young Earth biblical literalists, shall we score one today for the anti-evolutionists?
If you believe this WorldNutNetDaily article posted this morning, then the answer is yes, for Noah’s Ark has been found!
And the team of evangelicals who claim to have found it are “99.9 percent certain that this is it.” That’s pretty dang certain. No alternative hypotheses even come close, huh? You can read the article here, but my question is this: why should you believe it?
And here’s another question: what follow-up would need to be done before you might start to take the story seriously? Here’s my quick list:
- Interviews, under oath, with all team members said to have been at the scene of the discovery.
- The chain of custody of any artifacts—wood etc.—brought from the mountain (In whose possession did they pass?).
- No obvious motives (financial or otherwise) for fraud.
- A presentation of all evidence—testimonial, photographic, and artifactual—to a team of international scientific experts.
- For purposes of independent verification, the directing of a team of international scientific experts to the exact site of the discovery.
- Scientific articles published in respected refereed journals claiming that a boat hypothesis is plausible.
- A listing of the range of hypotheses available for explaining the data (wood from a mine shaft, wood from an abandoned cabin etc.) accompanied by a clear explanation of why the Noah’s ark hypothesis is best.
- An intelligible explanation for how this discovery fits with what we think we already know. In other words, how could evolutionary biology and geology have gotten so much so wrong for so long? And where is an intelligible counter hypothesis that accounts for the appearance—but not the reality—of Earth’s old age and evolution? If, afterall, Noah’s ark were ever really found, you would have to rethink the sciences and recalibrate them to account for this new data point, and the recalibrations would have to be convincing.
Absent a couple of these bullet points, I’ll offer you my current hypothesis:
Sincere evangelicals found artifacts on Ararat, which, because they lack expertise in what they were identifying, misinterpreted them as part of a big and ancient boat. Excited by this seeming confirmation of their faith, they then breathlessly came down from the mountain and told their story to religion sympathetic journalists who dutifully put the fabulous—and attention grabbing—tale into circulation via right-wing media outlets. Think of Mary running back from the empty tomb: the true believers got the news first.
But Doubting Thomas has yet to appear on the scene. I know. Doubting Thomas is a bummer. “Blessed are those who have not seen, but believe.”
And you are free to do so, but absent good reasons and independently verified evidence, I shan’t be joining you. As David Hume put it: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.