Recently a small colorful newspaper titled Discovery News arrived in our letterbox among other junk mail. My daughter evidently found the newspaper’s content interesting and showed it to me. The following day a friendly neighbor phoned me and asked if I had seen it, and wondered whether I was thinking of attending the events advertised in the newspaper.
When I looked at the content, the photos, and the typography, I immediately recalled that many years ago claims of a similar nature as found in this newspaper were circulating the Christian community. I forget now, but I think I even attended one of these events and returned to tell work colleagues that Noah’s Ark had been found.
Of course, 15 years ago it was much easier for people to make incredible claims, organize a public meeting, sell some books and videos, then move on unscathed to the next town. With the advent of the internet, a vast quantity of information has become freely available on almost every imaginable subject, and it is much more difficult for claims of any sort to remain unanalyzed or to lack refutation.
So what are the current events I am referring to? Here is the DiscoveryNews.net website, advertising:
The Real Mt Sinai, Noah’s Ark, Sodom & Gomorrah, The Garden Tomb, Bible Prophecy, and much more
On the same homepage is also a TV interview with promoters Ross Patterson and co-worker. If I was to put on my cynical hat, I would say that this interview is typical of a lot of pathetic and lame Christian thinking. The interviewer does not show any talent for investigating the truth of the claims being made, but instead swallows them wholesale. She did not appear to connect the dots and realize that Jesus claimed to be the way, the TRUTH, and the life. TRUTH matters, and the claim of probably finding Noah’s ark, and other truth claims made previously by Ron Wyatt such as finding Mrs. Noah’s grave, and a sample of Jesus’ blood, are spectacular claims, and it is reasonable to ask for rigorous evidence in order to evaluate them. Or perhaps the interviewer was practicing Christian Non-Investigative Journalism in which one just believes everything and anything she is told, and refuses to use Google to search for “Ross Patterson Noah’s Ark”. If she had bothered to spend a few minutes searching, she would probably have found www.cults.co.nz with the following claims about Patterson and Wyatt:
Con artist/scam. Ron Wyatt (deceased – born 1933, died 4 August 1999) was a self-styled “Indiana Jones” of biblical archaeology. He has been described as a “professional con man” for his false and self-aggrandizing claims of having discovered all sorts of things like Noah’s Ark, Mrs Noah’s grave (with a fortune in treasure), anchor/drogue stones from Noah’s Ark, the real location of the Ark of the Covenant, the real site of Sodom and Gomorrah, the real Mt Sinai, a genuine sample of Jesus Christ’s blood with a DNA test showing he didn’t have an earthly father (and the cells began dividing when placed in growth medium), and so on. Between 1977 and 1999 Ron Wyatt took over 100 trips to the Middle East – an indication of the amount of money to be made promoting his false claims. All his claims have been found to be either quite bogus or completely lacking evidence, but have been spread in New Zealand by the sale of books, video tapes and a speaking tour by Jonathan Gray. More recently Ron Wyatt’s claims are now promoted in New Zealand by Ross Patterson and Daniel McKibben.
— probably the most incredible scam I have ever seen.
— WAR (Wyatt Archaeological Research) is a Christian con game. Ron Wyatt is either very psychologically ill or one of the greatest liars I have ever come across.
— This scam had its beginning as early as 25 years ago. It is still going on, ever increasing in deception. Many leaders in the Christian community know it is a lie, yet they keep their mouths shut either because they do not want people to know they fell for it, or because they made money themselves from it, or because they are running a small version of a scam themselves and just don’t want people to get too disgusted with things like this because it might shut down their little scam.
Christians need to be vigilant about truth claims. This is not to say that Noah’s ark is not buried somewhere in Turkey, but Christianity has truth at its core. This demands that we be doubting Thomas’ and skeptical when it comes to extraordinary claims as listed above, as well as other un-related claims such as life coming from non-life, and the universe creating itself from nothing.