Finding Noah: Witness the Journey

Finding Noah: Witness the Journey

By Bill Crouse

Finding Noah

As expect­ed, the doc­u­men­tary, Find­ing Noah, did not dis­ap­point on the tech­ni­cal side. The pro­duc­ers are to be com­mend­ed. The cin­e­matog­ra­phy, the edit­ing, and the sound, cou­pled with the back­drop of the scenery of the spec­tac­u­lar 17,000 ft. Mt Ararat made the film a plea­sure to behold. One stand­out scene for this view­er was filmed while an intre­pid climber descend­ed into a deep crevasse into one of the glac­i­ers on the moun­tain. I was struck by the depth of the descent and the exceed­ing­ly long ici­cles. In anoth­er scene the crew filmed a very high flow­ing water­fall. Such flow­ing water is very rare on this moun­tain, so it must have been a time of high melt­ing.

The film doc­u­ments sev­er­al expe­di­tions of men who were seek­ing to find the bib­li­cal ship of Noah which pur­port­ed­ly land­ed on this moun­tain. Because of its alti­tude, con­di­tions for explor­ing can be very dan­ger­ous to say the least. A moun­tain of this height cre­ates its own weath­er. Extreme cold, high wind, snow, hail, light­ning, and white­outs are not uncom­mon. The film crew not only doc­u­ments these men endeav­or­ing to car­ry out their mis­sion in these life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions while endur­ing the same. From first­hand expe­ri­ence, it?s amaz­ing there were no causal­i­ties.

What did the mak­ers of this film hope to accom­plish? I have to be some­what spec­u­la­tive, but I believe the pro­duc­ers want­ed to raise con­scious­ness about the his­toric­i­ty of the flood and Noah?s Ark. I think they want­ed their audi­ence to be over­whelmed by the evi­dence that the Ark has been seen in ancient his­to­ry on into the 20th cen­tu­ry, and that it makes sense to look for it. I also think they want­ed the view­ers to real­ize that there are good rea­sons why it still has not been found. These rea­sons being: the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, the sever­i­ty of the phys­i­cal con­di­tions, the alti­tude of the moun­tain, and its enor­mi­ty.

Review of the movie: Find­ing Noah: Wit­ness the Jour­ney Direc­tor and Screen­writer: Brent Baum
Pro­duc­er: Matthew Mars­den
Length: 97 min­utes
Nar­ra­tor: Gary Sinise

As with most doc­u­men­taries the film pro­ceed­ed with sound­bites from experts in var­i­ous fields and exten­sive inter­ac­tion with the explor­ers them­selves before, after, and as they were climb­ing and car­ry­ing out their tasks. All this was well and good. The high­light of the film as it turned out was the tes­ti­monies of men who saw this oppor­tu­ni­ty as a life-chang­ing expe­ri­ence. To a man they tes­ti­fied of deep spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ences from the quest, not to men­tion the male-bond­ing among the crew.

So far, we have great scenery, tech­ni­cal excel­lence, and inspi­ra­tional sto­ries, but the rest of this review rais­es some ques­tions that I believe reflect neg­a­tive­ly on the film. Let?s start with the title of the movie: Find­ing Noah. How in the world did they decide on this for a title? How mis­lead­ing; they nei­ther find Noah nor the Ark!

I have sev­er­al beefs with the movie: I think they were neg­li­gent in how they pre­sent­ed the evi­dence of the Ark?s con­tin­ued exis­tence, the alleged eye­wit­ness accounts, and that the Ark land­ed on that moun­tain-Mt. Ararat, and I am crit­i­cal of height­en­ing expec­ta­tions and then hav­ing noth­ing to show for it at the end.

First, the evi­dence: ear­ly on in the film ancient wit­ness­es were quick­ly flashed across the screen Star War style. They were Berossus, Hierony­mous, Jose­phus, Theophi­los, Epipha­nius, Mar­co Polo, Haithon, etc. Is there a prob­lem here? You bet­ter believe it! The major­i­ty of the above, I believe, are refer­ring to a dif­fer­ent moun­tain! Berossus, a his­to­ri­an, and high priest of Bel wrote in the third cen­tu­ry BC. His account of the flood draws heav­i­ly from the pagan Baby­lon­ian account.1 He notes that the Ark land­ed in the coun­try of the Kurds. This could not refer to Mt. Ararat since the Kur­dish peo­ple did not take up res­i­dence there until the tenth and eleventh centuries.2 Jose­phus quotes him and also cites Hierony­mous the Egypt­ian as sup­port­ing his con­tention that the Ark land­ed in the coun­try of the Kurds. Jose­phus, the first cen­tu­ry his­to­ri­an, men­tions the Ark of Noah on four occasions.3 In three of his cita­tions he is almost cer­tain­ly refer­ring to a moun­tain south of Ararat. In a fourth men­tion it could pos­si­bly be Ararat but the Greek is nebulous.4 Theophi­los of Anti­och (ear­ly sec­ond cen­tu­ry) says the Ark land­ed in the Ara­bi­an moun­tains. The Greek word used for ?Ara­bi­an? may be indef­i­nite and could only mean that the Ark land­ed on a desert moun­tain. Epipha­nius (fourth cen­tu­ry) wrote that the Ark land­ed in the coun­try of the Kurds. Again, the Kurds did not live at Ararat until the after the 10 cen­tu­ry. Haithon and Mar­co Polo did indeed refer to present-day Mt. Ararat. Both not­ed the black spot near the sum­mit of the moun­tain which the locals regaled that it was the Ark of Noah. This black spot can still be seen today. How­ev­er, the locals now refer to it as the ?eye of the bird.? It?s a vol­canic rock for­ma­tion.

Lat­er in the doc­u­men­tary sev­er­al more recent eye­wit­ness accounts are cit­ed. These alleged accounts have been thor­ough­ly dis­count­ed, and it sore­ly ques­tions the integri­ty of the pro­duc­ers of the film. The first was the account of the Russ­ian pilot dur­ing WWI who claimed to see a large sub­merged ves­sel in a frozen lake. Imme­di­ate­ly a large num­ber of Russ­ian sol­diers under­took to climb to the spot to ver­i­fy the sight­ing. After two weeks of hard climb­ing (it actu­al­ly only takes 2 or 3 days) they suc­ceed­ed in locat­ing the ves­sel. After explor­ing the inside, tak­ing pho­tos and mea­sure­ments, the infor­ma­tion was sent to the Czar. But alas, the doc­u­ments were seized by the Bol­she­viks dur­ing the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion. This sto­ry first appeared in a newslet­ter then pub­lished in tract form and lit­er­al­ly read and repeat­ed around the world. How­ev­er, the sto­ry is one hun­dred per­cent fic­ti­tious. The author admit­ted to me by phone and let­ter that it was entire­ly made up and was nev­er inspired by Russ­ian immi­grants who rent­ed one of the apart­ments he owned.

Anoth­er sto­ry in the film was one spun by a young col­lege stu­dent who worked in the Smith­son­ian muse­um who alleged­ly heard about a dis­cov­ery of Noah?s Ark as he wit­nessed them bring­ing in crates of arti­facts. This sto­ry again is total­ly bogus as the teller flunked a lie detec­tor test and a failed a cross-exam­i­na­tion. In the movie it was the Duck­worth story.5

The most con­tro­ver­sial sto­ry was that of Ed Davis, a sol­dier sta­tioned in Iran dur­ing WWII. The most com­plete account of his sto­ry can be found in the book: The Painful Moun­tain, by Don Shockey.6 Many hours were spent review­ing the details of his account and due to numer­ous incon­sis­ten­cies one has to seri­ous­ly doubt its verac­i­ty. I per­son­al­ly had access to a video tape of his first debrief­ing which dif­fers sig­nif­i­cant­ly after arkhunters put words in his mouth.6

A fourth account includ­ed was real­ly dis­cour­ag­ing, and forces one to con­clude that the researchers sim­ply includ­ed mate­r­i­al for its sen­sa­tion­al effect. It has to be obvi­ous that they sim­ply took these sto­ries from one of sev­er­al books and nev­er both­ered to ques­tion the sto­ries by sub­mit­ting them to some stan­dard of cred­i­bil­i­ty. I refer here to the account of the mys­te­ri­ous Mr.X. I hap­pen to know his real name, and spent sev­er­al hours check­ing the truth­ful­ness of his tales. He was in the mil­i­tary dur­ing the Viet Nam War and held a high­ly clas­si­fied posi­tion. Since he had unusu­al­ly keen eye­sight (accord­ing to him) his assign­ment was to inter­pret high alti­tude and satel­lite pho­tos of ene­my posi­tions. Now many years after that, he still claims to have access to clas­si­fied mil­i­tary satel­lite data even though it has been sev­er­al decades after his dis­charge from mil­i­tary ser­vice! He has con­fid­ed to sev­er­al Ark searchers that there is an object on the moun­tain which is unnat­ur­al. Prob­lem is: he has giv­en sev­er­al loca­tions of this object! In my back­ground check on this per­son I found that he also claims that with his access to this clas­si­fied satel­lite data, he can see exact­ly the path the Chil­dren of Israel took out of Egypt!

That the pro­duc­ers of this film includ­ed these accounts seri­ous­ly den­i­grates the integri­ty of their project. Once again we have an Ark film which engen­ders hope for a dis­cov­ery that will once and for all ver­i­fy the Bible sto­ry. This undoubt­ed­ly won?t be the last Ark film. The pro­duc­ers are keen to sense the inter­est out there. It was report­ed that the doc­u­men­tary opened (for one night only) in over 600 the­aters. The DVD is to be released ear­ly in 2016.

I do sin­cere­ly applaud the pro­duc­ers for their hon­esty in the film that the quest was not suc­cess­ful. No Ark was found despite stu­pen­dous efforts. It was not a pos­i­tive con­clu­sion, but some­thing was accom­plished: we now can be fair­ly cer­tain where on Mt. Ararat the Ark did not land.

(There are good ancient his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences and tra­di­tion for anoth­er loca­tion for the Ark?s final berth. For more infor­ma­tion check the author?s web­site at: http://www.christianinformationministries.com/

End­notes:

1. For a more detailed dis­cus­sion of Bersos­sus see my arti­cle: Five Rea­sons?. http://www.noah2014.com/docs/five_reasons_bill_crouse.pdf p.11ff.

2. Sar­gis Haroutyun­ian, ?Armen­ian Epic Tra­di­tion and Kur­dish Folk­lore,? Iran & the Cau­ca­sus (1997): p.88.

3. http://noah2014.com/docs/geography_of_genesis_8_4_bill_crouse.pdf p.8ff.

4. The Greek sim­ply says the Ark land­ed on a ?great moun­tain.?

5. See: Noor­ber­gen, Rene, The Ark File (Lon­don: New Eng­lish Library), 1974. See Chap­ter 7, and note that he uses a pseu­do­nym for Duck­worth.

6. Shock­ey, Don. The Painful Moun­tain. (Fres­no, CA: Pio­neer Pub­lish­ing Co.), 1986

7. For our cri­tique of the Ed Davis Sto­ry, see: http://www.christianinformationministries.com/2013/02/04/the-search-for-noahs-ark/

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Noah’s Flood, The Ark, and Hollywood

Noah’s Flood, The Ark, and Hollywood

By: Bill Crouse

You can­not over­es­ti­mate the seri­ous­ness of the Bib­li­cal Flood as described in Gen­e­sis 6 – 8. Some­thing occurred, some behav­ior of mankind, which caused the Cre­ator-God to destroy all life on the plan­et and start all over again. What exact­ly that sin was is a great mys­tery, but it had some­thing to do with the mix­ing of seeds, and it cer­tain­ly was not unequal­ly yoked mar­riages between the ?sons of god? (Sethites) and the Cainites! Some­thing hap­pened in the angel­ic realm, some­thing so seri­ous that it affect­ed human life as God cre­at­ed it (maybe even ani­mal life). It was so seri­ous it pro­voked the Cre­ator to utter­ly destroy His Cre­ation, one that He was very pleased with at the begin­ning. The fall­en angels who pre­cip­i­tat­ed this sin, accord­ing to Jude, the half-broth­er of Jesus, are being kept in chains until the final judg­ment (Jude 6). It was appar­ent­ly sig­nif­i­cant for Jesus, for after his death on the cross, He descend­ed to their place of con­fine­ment and made a procla­ma­tion of vic­to­ry to these same angel­ic beings (I Pet. 3:19 – 20). Noah and his fam­i­ly were appar­ent­ly not affect­ed by this mix­ing and found ?favor? in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8). Noah is described as a right­eous man, and in the New Tes­ta­ment he is list­ed as a great man of faith. The Apos­tle Peter informs us that Noah was a great preach­er of right­eous­ness (II Pet. 2:4 – 5). What we learn from the bib­li­cal account is that God, after announc­ing His intent to destroy the world, gives mankind a grace peri­od of 120 years. It was dur­ing this time peri­od that Noah was to con­struct an Ark while preach­ing on the side. Amaz­ing­ly, he had nary a con­vert as a result of his preach­ing!

The Flood that God brought about on the world at that time was so cat­a­stroph­ic that it altered the world?s geol­o­gy for­ev­er, and prob­a­bly caused the land mass to breakup into the con­ti­nents we now know. Today, for the most part, when we dig into the earth?s sed­i­ments we have a clear tes­ti­mo­ny of this cat­a­stroph­ic and trag­ic event. There is a bright side how­ev­er; God made a covenant with Noah nev­er to judge the world in this man­ner again sig­ni­fied by the rain­bow. It is also obvi­ous, though not explic­it­ly stat­ed in Scrip­ture, that the Ark of Noah is a beau­ti­ful type of Christ in that it illus­trates how today we are saved by being in Christ.

The Ark itself not only tes­ti­fies of God?s grace but is also a great tes­ti­mo­ny of the utter reli­a­bil­i­ty of the Scrip­tur­al account of the Flood. How? Ancient Mesopotami­an flood sto­ries have inter­est­ing par­al­lels to the bib­li­cal account indi­cat­ing there was a col­lec­tive mem­o­ry in the mind of ancient men of this trag­ic event. But there is one prob­lem: sev­er­al of these extra-bib­li­cal accounts (Atra­ha­sis, and Gil­gamesh) describe an ark that is either a cube or one that is cir­cu­lar (a cor­a­cle). Nei­ther would be sea­wor­thy in the kind of flood the bible describes. On the oth­er hand, the phys­i­cal dimen­sions of the Ark as described in the bible are the max­i­mum ratios (30 length, 3 height 5 width), you would need to ride out a storm involv­ing great tidal waves and earth upheaval. Tell me how can this be? If the bib­li­cal sto­ry of the Noah had a mytho­log­i­cal ori­gin, how would Moses have known this? It?s not an option to not answer the ques­tion! It can?t be an acci­dent that the writer of Gen­e­sis knew (or was told) how to build a boat that would have the max­i­mum sta­bil­i­ty in vio­lent seas! This was no riv­er flood. If it were just a riv­er flood, why would you need an ark 475 feet long with a capac­i­ty of over 500 rail­road cars? Or, why would you need an ark at all? Why not just have the ani­mals and man migrate to high­er ground? Yes, you need to answer the ques­tion. Now, some, call­ing them­selves Evan­gel­i­cals, are assign­ing the flood sto­ry to some lev­el of myth sta­tus. Oh real­ly! You mean you can pick and choose which is true his­to­ry? Well then, what about the Res­ur­rec­tion? Is that myth, too? That?s pret­ty hard to believe as well!

Now Hol­ly­wood is ful­ly aware of the pop­u­lar­i­ty and inter­est in the sto­ry of Noah?s Ark. Through­out the year for the last sev­er­al decades a pletho­ra of sto­ries about the dis­cov­ery of Noah?s Ark have appeared in the tabloids. It seems it is dis­cov­ered every sum­mer! This is not to men­tion the many doc­u­men­taries on the sub­ject on the cable chan­nels (and some­times the major net­works) all of which must make mon­ey or they would not con­tin­ue to make them. They also know that the first bib­li­cal sto­ry the child of a Chris­t­ian fam­i­ly is exposed to in Sun­day School, is the sto­ry of Noah, the ark and the ani­mals. So, why not take this great dra­mat­ic tale and make it into a movie? I applaud the move. How­ev­er, know­ing the ani­mos­i­ty Hol­ly­wood has toward any­thing Chris­t­ian I would be amiss by not hav­ing my doubts about how they would treat such a film.

Months ago, before the release of the film, Noah, (3/28/2014), I start­ed col­lect­ing reviews by peo­ple (most­ly Chris­t­ian lead­ers) who were shown var­i­ous ver­sions of the movie. Hol­ly­wood want­ed to appear to be open mind­ed about sug­ges­tions for how to treat this bib­li­cal dra­ma. Most of the reviews were mixed in their appraisal. Hol­ly­wood, i.e., Para­mount Stud­ies, sens­ing it would be con­tro­ver­sial, made fre­quent use of focus groups, along with much polling and con­sult­ing with these same influ­en­tial Chris­t­ian lead­ers. After all, much is at stake when you have a $130 mil­lion bud­get movie. This does not include anoth­er $50 – 60 mil­lion spent to pro­mote it!

So, unchar­ac­ter­is­tic of me, I was there to view the movie on open­ing night. I was cer­tain­ly pre­pared after read­ing through a three-inch thick file of reviews. One thing is obvi­ous, this movie sets a record for the num­ber of reviews, and they are still com­ing. I hope you can endure one more.

The movie was about what I expect­ed. The sto­ry line only vague­ly resem­bled the bib­li­cal account: there was a flood, and a fam­i­ly was saved by enter­ing an ark. What Hol­ly­wood loves to do, espe­cial­ly with bib­li­cal sto­ries, is to emp­ty them of bib­li­cal val­ues and replace them with their own mate­ri­al­ist, pagan, and or, new age val­ues. This movie was a prime exam­ple. Aronof­sky long ago saw the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the Noah sto­ry as vehi­cle for his own envi­ron­men­tal and Gaia reli­gion. This movie is not about a cat­a­stroph­ic judg­ment brought about by God because of man?s sin (as described above) but because man is destroy­ing the envi­ron­ment. Noah was cho­sen to build an ark pri­mar­i­ly to save the ani­mals because the Cre­ator saw that he cared and would get the job done. Mankind, accord­ing to Noah in the movie, and accord­ing to the movie?s cre­ator, is a virus that is destroy­ing what was once a pris­tine plan­et. Aronof­sky says his movie por­tends anoth­er flood that is com­ing if we do not stop glob­al warm­ing (New York­er, May 17, 2014, p48).

In the movie, Noah is not a preach­er of right­eous­ness who is untaint­ed by the wicked­ness of the ante­dilu­vian world, but rather a veg­e­tar­i­an and the world?s first envi­ron­men­tal­ist who is desirous of all human life being destroyed includ­ing his own fam­i­ly. He con­sents to build­ing an ark when he receives some sort of a rev­e­la­tion via a dream from ?the Cre­ator.? The main pur­pose of the ark is to deliv­er the ani­mals and not save man (Earth First!). Well, this is what I would have expect­ed from Aronof­sky who was asked about his belief in God and his world­view. This is how he replied: ?The Big Bang hap­pened, and all this star mate­r­i­al turned into stars, and stars turned into plan­ets, and plan­ets turned into life. We?re all just bor­row­ing this mat­ter and ener­gy for a lit­tle bit, while we?re here, until it goes back into every­thing else, and that con­nects us all.? He went on to say: ?The messed up thing is how dis­tract­ed we are and dis­con­nect­ed from that con­nec­tion, and the result of it is what we?re doing to this plan­et and to ourselves…What are we doing to our­selves? It?s a com­plete dis­con­nect. To me, that where the spir­i­tu­al­i­ty is. What­ev­er you want to call that connection?some peo­ple would use that term God. That to me, is what I think is holy.? (From The Chris­t­ian Post).

So, in the movie, many ele­ments of the orig­i­nal bib­li­cal sto­ry are turned on its head. The Nephilim, i.e., the rock mon­sters, turn out to be good in that they help Noah build the Ark and defend it from the Cainites (the meat eaters). In anoth­er major diver­gence, Noah did not want any child-bear­ing women to be on the ark. The wife of Shem was a young girl (Ilya) adopt­ed by Noah?s fam­i­ly as a child, and as a result of pre­vi­ous abuse, she is bar­ren. Methuse­lah, the grand­fa­ther of Noah, heals her, how­ev­er. The lat­ter is depict­ed as a Shaman­is­tic her­mit liv­ing in a cave who seems a quart low on the dip­stick! When Shem?s wife gets preg­nant Noah vows to kill the baby if it hap­pens to be a girl. Lat­er on the ark she gives birth to twin girls. Noah imme­di­ate­ly moves to kill them, but upon look­ing at their faces he finds he can­not do it. He then apol­o­gizes to the cre­ator and tells him he just couldn?t do it. You are left with the impres­sion that he did not car­ry out the Creator?s wish.

Now all art is some­what sub­ver­sive. Your orig­i­nal atten­tion is sup­posed to be attract­ed to the beau­ty and the cre­ativ­i­ty of the work. How­ev­er, the artist, who has a world­view, makes all art bio­graph­i­cal. He wants to, and works hard to get his mes­sage across in a latent rather than a bla­tant man­ner. Aronofsky?s movie is cer­tain­ly no excep­tion; his envi­ron­men­tal reli­gion is not so latent, how­ev­er, but there are oth­er ele­ments that you may only pick up after mul­ti­ple view­ing. The Shaman­ism, as men­tioned above, mag­ic, occultism, and the Jew­ish mys­ti­cism (The Kab­bal­ah) are ever so sub­tle. The snake­skin even seems, dare I say, Lucifer­ian!

Do I believe a movie mak­er artist should have cre­ative license? Of course! We know very lit­tle about Noah?s char­ac­ter and the oth­er char­ac­ters in the bib­li­cal account. What Aronof­sky does how­ev­er, is far more than license. He him­self said: This is the least bib­li­cal film ever made. I?m sor­ry, but I?m not over­ly impressed with Aronofsky?s end prod­uct. For me, the film is not a bib­li­cal epic at all; it fits more into the cat­e­go­ry of a dis­as­ter film with ele­ments of a car­toon (the rock beings) and a hor­ror flick. Hol­ly­wood has come a long way in devel­op­ing its art form. I refer to the qual­i­ty of the act­ing and tech­ni­cal aspects. In this film, you nev­er real­ly latch on to any of the char­ac­ters. Rus­sell Crowe, as Noah, has a good rep­u­ta­tion (Acad­e­my Award) for his art. Here, how­ev­er, he seems uncom­fort­able in his role. I found his dia­log at times hard to dis­cern; his voice seemed raspy and indis­tinct. The reviews I read (sev­er­al dozen), for the most part, raved about the spe­cial effects. I?m not one of them. These com­put­er gen­er­at­ed sce­nar­ios are fake and they looked that way (the ball of snakes, etc.). It would be inter­est­ing to know exact­ly what per­cent­age of the movie was com­put­er gen­er­at­ed.

All in all, I can?t give this movie a very high grade. See­ing it once is enough. This isn?t true if a movie is a great work of art, and it is not one you would want your chil­dren to see. Iron­i­cal­ly, it is a preachy movie. No one cat­er­wauls more than Hol­ly­wood when some Chris­t­ian orga­ni­za­tion (Sher­wood Bap­tist Church, Water­mark, etc.) makes a film with a mes­sage. For me this is a mes­sage movie: ?If we take care of plan­et earth, per­haps we will be spared future destruc­tion.? Noah says as much in the movie: ?If we work to save it, maybe He will save us.? (Not exact word­ing).

From the sev­er­al dozen reviews I’ve read, here are sev­er­al that I thought were quite provoca­tive. Also, note that some of those list­ed below have writ­ten mul­ti­ple reviews. And for more insight into the mind of Dar­ren Aronof­sky, I rec­om­mend the arti­cle ?Heavy Weath­er,? from the March 17, 2014 issue of The New York­er.

Click the links below to read their reviews.

Matt Walsh
Erick Erick­son
Mark Zoller Seitz
Bri­an Godawa
Bri­an Matt­son
Albert Mohler

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