There have been numerous claimed discoveries of Noah’s ark in recent years. The discoveries have been in various locations, ranging from Mount Ararat in Turkey, to a mountain range in Iran, to an entirely different location on Mount Ararat (with a visitors’ center). It is not the purpose of this article to evaluate whether or not the Noah’s ark discovery claims are legitimate. Rather, the question at hand is, if Noah’s ark was discovered, would that be significant? Would a Noah’s ark discovery cause people to turn to God in faith?
The discovery of a boat-like structure in the mountains of the Middle East, dated to approximately the time of the biblical account of Noah’s ark (2500 BC), with evidence of animal life once having been aboard, would surely be a tremendous discovery. For those who believe in God and trust in the Bible as His inspired Word, it would be powerful confirmation that the Bible is true and that early human history occurred precisely as the Bible describes it. A verified Noah’s ark discovery would likely cause many seekers and open-minded skeptics to at least re-evaluate their beliefs. For the close-minded critic and hardened atheist, however, the discovery of Noah’s ark would not make one bit of a difference.
A Noah’s ark discovery, as significant as that would be, would not be enough to overcome spiritual blindness. Romans 1:19–20 says, “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (ESV). If a person is rejecting the clear evidence of God in the universe, no biblically related discovery, including a Noah’s ark discovery, would change his or her mind. Not even a confirmed resurrection would dint a lack of faith: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). No discovery, no argument, and no miracle will change the mind of a person who has been blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4) and who is, with a hard heart and closed mind, rejecting the light of the gospel.
What if Noah’s ark is never discovered? Would it matter to the believer? No, the lack of a Noah’s ark discovery makes no difference because the Christian faith is not dependent on every biblical account being explicitly or conclusively “proved.” The events in the Bible were actual, historical events involving real people and, for the most part, recorded by eyewitnesses, but we don’t expect to find ancient artifacts tracing back to everything mentioned in Scripture. The Christian faith is built on faith, after all. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
There are two primary reasons why Noah’s ark might never be discovered. First, the wood of the ark would have been very valuable after the flood. Noah and his family would have needed wood for any number of projects. It is possible that Noah and his family or their descendants deconstructed the ark and used its wood for other purposes. Second, even if Noah and his family left the ark intact, approximately 4,500 years have passed since that time. A wooden structure exposed to harsh natural elements for 4,500 years would likely decompose or decay into virtual nothingness.
While a Noah’s ark discovery would be a tremendous archaeological find, it will never be something Christians should place their faith in. The discovery of Noah’s ark or the ark of the covenant or the Holy Grail or any other biblical artifact will not “prove” the Christian faith, and it will not change the mind of anyone whom God is not drawing to Himself (John 6:44). “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).