The 'Hong Kong Ark' Fiasco

The ‘Hong Kong ark’ fiasco
An overview to date (May 2012) Jannarong
by Carl Wieland

Published: 10 May 2012(GMT+10)
In April 2010 it was announced at a press conference in Hong Kong (and later that month a similar one in Amsterdam) that a team of explorers from that city had discovered what was clearly being claimed to be Noah’s Ark, high up on Mount Ararat. CMI was invited to send scientists to Turkey to take part in a press conference prior to further involvement.

Before committing supporters’ funds for such an exercise, I made the much shorter flight from Australia to Hong Kong to talk firsthand and in depth with the team alleging the find. I had many questions not covered by the press conference I had seen, including to what extent the finders welcomed critical analysis.

This is because years before, our ministry had had fleeting involvement with the same group. At the time, they had found and filmed what they felt was ‘the petrified wood from Noah’s Ark’ high on Ararat. And despite urgings of caution, they made their announcement to the world—before even having simple testing done on what turned out to be volcanic rock.1

I was actually not expecting to reach a definitive conclusion as quickly as I did, but after the meeting, I published my judgment that on the basis of the evidence already to hand, it was overwhelmingly likely to be a modern manmade hoax.2

And thus, that it would be irresponsible to spend even one cent of supporters’ funds to send our scientists to the Turkey press conference. This was especially so since it was clear that the need for critical analysis based on cautious scepticism did not seem to be well understood by the finders.3

The corporation claiming to have made the find calls itself Noah’s Ark Ministries International, or NAMI. It is an offshoot of a Hong Kong corporation well-known for its work in Christian film-making.4 When this article refers to NAMI, it means the Hong-Kong-based team, including the mountaineer Panda Lee who later joined the organization—but not the separately contracted Turkish/Kurdish guide (Parasut).5

Since we published that first negative conclusion in early June 2010, the evidence has if anything considerably reinforced CMI’s view.

The need to speak up more firmly now
We had hoped the matter would die a natural death before its inevitable further unravelling caused too much damage to the cause of Christ and biblical creation. And we tried to be gentle in our public treatment of NAMI in particular, as professing fellow Christians. We know of reputable believers both in Hong Kong and overseas, including one distinguished Genesis-believing ethnic-Chinese scientist, who have lovingly tried since then to get NAMI to save face and withdraw their spectacular-sounding claims until and unless they could back them up with credible evidence.

But all to no avail. In fact, NAMI’s response has been to heavily ‘crank up’ the hype surrounding the whole matter.6 While seeking to shroud the site in secrecy, and releasing scientific information very selectively (misleadingly so in relation to the carbon-14 lab results as we will see), they have gone ahead with a worldwide publicity and fundraising campaign, spearheaded by a major, highly polished documentary film.7 NAMI’s marketing seems to have dropped all pretence at caution; the film’s trailer refers to it as “arguably the most important find in human history”.

NAMI admitted at our private meeting that none of them had ever seen this large, ‘cathedral’ space.

All this has served to considerably ‘up the ante’—even independent of any biblical or spiritual aspects. Now, it is not only reputations at stake, but literally millions of dollars as well.

The fact that there are several widespread claims that it is known in the region to be a manmade hoax, (the most prominent one made by a Bible-believing academic archaeologist at a Christian university, see later) is skilfully handled by the movie’s marketers. ‘Controversy sells’ is the old saying, and the marketing seeks to turn the criticisms into a positive—a reason to ‘come and see for yourself’8 what has ‘ignited the controversy’. The trailer intriguingly asks, “Is it real? Is it fabricated?”

Which might all be excusable if the movie were in fact a genuinely objective assessment of the evidence, rather than something crafted to skilfully and powerfully ‘give an impression’—one which we will see is, like the details released at press conferences and on NAMI’s website, unfortunately, a facade of spin and gloss on a very, very flimsy reality.9

Not surprisingly, then, this subject has become ever more controversial, particularly in Hong Kong itself. Facts such as those outlined briefly in this article have caused a considerable body of believers in the Hong Kong Christian community to become very concerned—and while some of these opponents of NAMI’s approach to this matter could be said to have a dual motive as long-age (and thus anti-global-Flood) Christians, that is by no means true of all of them. And truth matters, regardless of motive. As we shall see, if by truth we include openness and transparency, it has been a repeated victim here.

All pleas to NAMI have fallen on deaf ears; pleas to scale back the rhetoric; to openly and transparently reveal all the data (which also means telling people how many of their images are actually computer-generated fakes, as we will see), to withdraw exaggerated claims, and to seek to salvage the reputation of their ministry and of biblical Christianity before any further damage is done.

The conclusion to this article can be read at
churinga churinga
70+, M
May 9, 2012