This article stems from an on-going discussion on the Catholic Debate Forum (CDF), I encourage your comments either here on the blog or in CDF.
What is a Myth?
Full Definition of MYTH2a : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society <seduced by the American myth of individualism — Orde Coombs>
b : an unfounded or false notion3: a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existencehttp://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myth4: the whole body of myths
TraditionTradition has it that Moses wrote the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, sometime after the exodus from Egypt. Secular history from Moses forward can pretty much vouch for the "history" found in the Bible, but prior to Moses putting the Torah to writing, it was an oral tradition among "God's Chosen People." Outside of Moses' writings we have very little "proof" to base these stories on, therefore they can rightly be referred to as "myths." Again I must stress, just because it is a "myth" does not mean it is not true!
The Myth of Noah's ArkSo, did Noah's Ark float approximately 4600 years ago (as Bible literalists believe), or was this only possible tens of thousands if not millions of years ago? Keeping in mind, the Torah was strictly an oral tradition prior to Moses - so "time" is not so much the important factor here - but the underlying or ultimate truth of God's Word is. So, just because scientists (not even all of whom are in 100% agreement here, many supporting the "Young Earth" view too) have logical arguments for how old things are and how long ago any such flood(s) may have taken place doesn't mean the Biblical stories from Moses are false.
Who Borrowed from Whom?Some would argue that Moses "borrowed" from other myths going around, like the Epic of Gilgamesh where in "Tablet 11" we find a story remarkably similar to the Noah's Ark story (see link below).
In WRITING, the Epic of Gilgamesh predates Moses' writing of the Torah - but one must keep in mind, the story of the Torah is strictly related to the "Chosen People of God," those who would become to be known as the Children of Israel. The problem in stating the Epic of Gilgamesh must have come first ignores the fact that the Children of Israel were without a written language when the stories of Gilgamesh were first recorded. It is just as logical to argue that the Sumarians "borrowed" from the Children of Israel to write their myths of Gilgamesh. Just because the skeptic (be he Agnostic, Atheist or otherwise) would more easily accept the Sumarian story predates the stories from the Torah doesn't mean they are right. Even if a majority of researchers believed this to be so, logically speaking it is just as possible for the minority to be correct. Truth doesn't play the odds, truth just is.
Old Earth v. Young EarthIn this debate we find some who will argue that the alleged 6000 year old Earth is not possible. When asked about seashells found on mountain tops, one answer is "plate tectonics" caused this. The argument being that at one point the tall mountains were at the bottom of the sea, where seashells were deposited and through plate tectonics (continental plates colliding with each other) that which was once at the bottom of the sea is "lifted up" into the high mountains. What this doesn't explain is how we find relatively YOUNG fossils along side those OLDER ones we would expect to find due to the theory of plate tectonics.
We must also consider 2Peter 3:8 as well where we are told that for the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. Keep in mind for the Apostle Peter, 1000 years would seem as huge to him as a billion years would seem to a modern scientist. In a sense, St. Peter is lending an explanation for just how Scripture, written a couple thousand years before him, can be applied to science, which would be a couple thousand years after him.
So, could it be a relatively young Earth? Well, it could be - but if it is a relatively old Earth, we're alright with that too. The important factor is not the literal amount of time - but that the scriptural stories are true.
From A Creationist PerspectiveConsider this possibility... God created Adam as a man, not as a fetus or a child, but a mature man. In the same manner, God could have created a "mature Earth" that while it may have only been 6000-7000 years ago, "maturity" was created along with it so that this Earth would have things like dinosaurs, fossils, etc. and organic materials from ancient "pre-historic" days so that the modern age would have things like coal and oil. Others would argue (see "Arguments for a Young Earth" link below) that it is impossible to have something like oil kept under pressure for more than 10,000 years as under such pressure the porousness of the rocks would absorb any such oil deposits.
Can The Myth of Noah's Ark Be Verified?Well, not yet! And of course, once it were to be verified then we could no longer refer to it as a myth, but rather a fact. Do we have evidence of an artifact that just might be Noah's Ark? Well, many believe such evidence does indeed exist! According to Gen. 8:4 - the Ark came to rest on the mountains Ararat. (The Douay-Rheims says "mountains of Armenia" and Mt. Ararat is in Turkey near the borders of Iran and Armenia).
Frozen and Preserved or Dry and Petrified?In the pictures below you can see "something" which, in the first, has been broken in half and part of it lies higher up in the glacier than the other part. This photographic evidence I first saw many years ago.
The following video alleges Noah's Ark found in the glacial ice of Mt. Ararat:
(downloaded from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPpKnwh3AvE)
Recently, however, I came across this second set of photos - which are not in the glacial part of Mt. Ararat, in fact are found about 4300 ft. above sea level. In this second set of photos we find "something" which is not in the glacier at all, but has the shape and size of a huge boat/ship! In Photo "B" we see "something" which resembles huge apparently man-made "ribs" which could very well be the ribs of the hull of a huge ship! Not only that, the dimensions of the artifact found below correspond precisely to the dimensions found in Gen. 6:15.
So, is this evidence enough to "convince" the skeptic? Probably not - but it IS evidence which supports the "myth" of Noah's Ark. This article is not intended to be the end-all or an exhaustive accounting, but moreso a starting point. Keep looking, keep searching for our Lord and the mysteries of Sacred Scripture. Seek honestly and objectively and I truly believe you will find Him.
Young Fossils on Mountain Tops:
Arguments for Young Earth:
Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet Eleven: