On September 21'st of this year, KFI A.M. 640 Los Angeles talk radio had their usual 8:00
On September 21'st of this year, KFI A.M. 640 Los Angeles talk radio
had their usual 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning "Bible Studies" hour. Bill
Handel picks one of the mythologies from the Christian Bible every
Thursday and asks callers to discuss the story. Typically callers
try to justify contradictions, fix logical flaws, and rewrite the
laws of physics to salvage their beliefs in the stories (not to
mention adding suitable text to the Bible when needed.)
Today's discussion was "Noah's Ark and the Big Flood." The telephone
guest at the start of the 8:00 a.m. hour is known to most skeptics
who bother to debunk Creationists: David Fasold, the author of "The
Ark of Noah," published by Wynwood Press. (ISBN 0-922066-10-8.)
Though Fasold professes to believe in a great many Velikovskian-type
absurdities, his claims to have found Noah's boat was treated as real
news in newspapers around the world and several religious groups have
taken notice of him.
Now within the computer networks around the world, Creationists used
to claim that Fasold actually found the mythical magical boat and that
the find was verified by "scientists" using "real science." One such
Fasold-believer, back in May of 1994, was quite insistant to the point
where several skeptics eventually decided to find copies of the book
and offer everyone a quick summary of what they found. Since Fasold's
claims get so soundly debunked these days, few Creationists make the
mistake of invokeing his name.
After I offer two of these reviews, I'll describe the KFI 640
interview which took place.
On May 26, 1994, Simon Ewins had this review of the book to offer. He
directed his report to the claimant directly:
Well, I managed to find a copy of David Fasold's book and,
giving you the benefit of the doubt, I have read it. First off
I must say that it is hard to find. There is only one copy in
the entire Toronto Public Library system and there are no
copies at any of the University, College or Private libraries
in Toronto that I could find. The copy that I read was last
checked out over 18 months ago.
The introduction is written, with much admiration, by Charles
Berlitz, who wrote "The Bermuda Triangle" and other nonsense.
This put me off a bit but in an effort to remain as open minded
as possible I read on.
The 'photographs of the Ark' are ludicrous. There is a very
vague boat-like shape to an unusual rock formation but one
really needs to be willing to see it to the exclusion of all
else before it becomes apparent. Rather like seeing faces in
While Fasold occasionally quotes a respected scientist he does
so by quoting that which really has no bearing on whatever
point he is trying to make. He quotes Velikovsky (in "Worlds in
Collision"), a number of Turkish farmers, Thor Hyerdahl, the
NIV, Berlitz (in "Doomsday 1999"), The Watchtower Bible and
Tract Society, Berlitz (in "Atlantis, the Eighth Continent"),
Reader's Digest, M. R. DeHaan (a rabid fundamentalist), Tim F.
LaHaye & John Morris (equally rabid fundamentalists) as well as
others who's scientific or even literary credibility is
Before I gave up counting I came across seven occurrences of
phrases such as "In Genesis it says [...] but I believe [...]"
or "In Genesis it says [...] but that is based upon a
misunderstanding..." or "In Genesis it says [...] but what was
meant was [...]". The Bible obviously does not support what he
had found so he changed it or reinterpreted it until it did fit
with what he had found.
Using his methods I could quote Genesis a lot and make it
appear that the Ark is actually on a mountain top in Colorado.
His reinterpretations of Genesis are highly eisegetic and very
often completely baseless. Given your proclaimed stance on the
OT scriptures I am amazed that you have any respect for either
Fasold's writing or his conclusions. At one point he actually
goes to great lengths to redefine the cubit so that it will fit
with his "discoveries".
(If I were to eisegete Genesis the way that Fasold does you
would jump all over me, yet you admire his work when he does
so. Why is that?)
Fasold does not claim that the remains of the Ark are
fossilized, as you stated, but rather that they are petrified.
However, he offers no support for the rock formation actually
being petrified wood beyond his own opinion. The rocks that he
calls 'anchors' look more like monuments or grave-stones. The
holes in the rocks (suppositional in some examples, based
merely on there being a roundish chip missing) would fit nicely
with the holes that were cut into monuments to allow wooden
poles to be inserted as an aid to the transport or other
manipulation of such monuments, stele or gravestones.
I am afraid that, after reading the fool thing, I can see no
reason to attribute any more credibility to "The Ark of Noah"
than I do to such books as "Worlds in Collision", "Atlantis,
the Eighth Continent", "Doomsday 1999", "The Bermuda Triangle"
or even "Chariots of the Gods" (which Fasold mercifully did
_not_ quote). In short it is an imaginative and fanciful piece
of work that has minimal entertainment value but is little more
than a farce if taken to be a factual or scientific
investigation into the actual existence of a boat on a mountain
Sorry, but it just don't cut it. I am also sorry that I wasted
three days of my life reading the fool thing.
It's interesting to note that John Morris debunked Fasold's claims in
the Institute for Creation Research publication _Impact_, September
1992, "THE SEARCH FOR NOAH'S ARK." John Morris states, "My conclusion,
and the conclusion of almost every other team, was that it is an
unusual geologic phenomenon, but not Noah's Ark."
On June 1st, 1994, mathematician Robert Curry offered his review of the
book to all of the participants of the FidoNet HolySmoke discussion
forum. He elected to take the questions skeptics had been asking of
various Creationists who believed the Fasold tales and look for the
answers in Fasold's book:
As promised, here is my report on _The Ark of Noah_ by David
Fasold, the book that "Raoul Newton" calls evidence for his
claim that he has a boat at over 7,000 feet above sea level.
For those who requested an ISBN, it is 0-922066-10-8. Copyright
1988 by David Fasold (self-described "Ark-ologist"), and published
by Wynwood Press.
Now for some questions to be answered in no particular order.
1> Q: What's the location of "Raoul's" boat?
A: Fasold says it's 16 miles SW of Ararat, buried underground:
"I have every anticipation that the boat will eventually
be excavated by the Turks..." (p. 120)
2> Q: Is it really over 7,000 feet about sea level?
A: Not quite. The site in question is said to be 6,350 feet
above sea level. (chart on p. 46)
3> Q: Are there photographs that clearly show the boat?
A: No, as it is supposedly buried, but there are some pictures
of rocks and of ribbons stretched along the grass and dirt.
There are _drawings_ of a boat, by Fasold himself, where
he "shows" the building of the ark, the inside of the
ark, a cutaway view of the bow, and more.
Quite an imagination.
4> Q: What does Fasold think the Ark is made of?
A: I refer you to his own words - "a solid reed raft covered
with a bituminous mixture of cement...
"Unfortunately those scientists visiting the site at
earlier dates were geologists rather than geochemists.
What they failed to realize was that what they considered
a clay upswelling was in actuality decomposed cement!"
5> Q: Did he dig up something on which to base that conclusion?
A: No, it is merely the product of his fanciful and selective
patchwork of various flood stories from a few cultures.
His group was restricted to surface investigations. (p. 253)
6> Q: So what did Fasold do to investigate?
A: The details are unclear.
He claims to have detected iron under the surface of the
site in 1985. Helpers attached survey ribbons to stakes
that he placed in the ground where iron was supposedly
detected by what he calls "the frequency generator."
He claims that this device was "a new prototype, actually
the fourth one in existence," obtained from someone
named John Fales whom he met while diving off the coast
of Florida. This is the only mention of Fales. (pp. 103-105)
Suspiciously vague? That's nothing compared to the bizarre
description he gives of this mystery device in operation:
"With the frequency set on iron I gave the pulse some time
to spread out through the structure. The response was strong.
The object was so hot the frequency wave came up above the
ground almost eighteen inches." (p. 115)
Later, he wrote that "the frequency generator [heats] up the
iron in the Ark." (p. 317)
7> Q: What?
A: No need for explanation. Surely we can trust Mr. Fasold's
knowledgeable use of an instrument that came from nowhere,
and his objective connection of the dots to discover the
"iron lines" revealing the structure of an underground boat.
No need to mention his fanatical desire to find the "Ark of
Noah" nearly bankrupting him, according to his own report.
The obsession couldn't possibly have affected his completely
8> Q: Is Fasold some kind of nut?
A: By all means, judge for yourself.
"The Bible plainly declares that in pre-Flood times, and also
for a brief period after the Flood, the earth was visited by
extraterrestrials. They took up residence on the earth, having
direct dealings with man. If the comment by Jesus in Matthew
24:37 ("as the days of Noah were") can be taken in this
regard, then we might be looking toward a close encounter
with the Nephilim in the near future." (p. 75)
9> Q: So what is the main theme of his book?
A: That he is the One True Ark-ologist, who found the Real Ark
of Noah where the poor, misguided would-be Ark-ologists
simply refuse to look because they all unreasonably insist
that the Ark must be on Mt. Ararat.
A considerable portion of the book is spent criticizing
these other nuts, and in trying to defuse their criticisms
of his One True Site of the Real Ark of Noah.
The usual religious squabbling over imagined things.
The radio interview with Fasold was not very informative nor very verbal.
In fact, it was quite disappointing.
Bill Handle asked some questions and Fasold answered them. After the
first half hour, the show took three callers only. (Much of the available
air time was used by playing a recording of a wonderful spoof where the
Christian god instructs Noah on how to build his boat. It was a bit of
a cross between Bill Cosby's Noah skit and Mell Brook's, "The 6,000 year
Bill Handle started off by telling Fasold that he would dispense with
offering listeners his credentials so that they could "get right to it."
This was unfortunate as listeners probably assumed that Fasold held
scientific credentials and was speaking as a scientist. This was the
first time I had heard Handle fail to comment upon his guest's
credentials. I was left wondering if the two had talked before hand
and had agreed that the embarrassing subject of Fasold having no
scientific credentials would not be mentioned. (The guests are usually
treated to a non-confrontational interview and debate.)
What I found very shocking was that David Fasold admitted that Noah's
Ark is a Sumerian myth yet he still insisted that the ark itself
manages to exist. How the ark itself could exist when it's an
admitted myth wasn't even discussed. He claims that the boat was
found in 1985 and that Turkey labeled it an archeology site then
closed it to the public. He stated that he expects the site to be
opened to the public "in a couple of years."
Bill Handle commented that out of all the impossible things in the
Bible and all the contradictions, the Noah's Flood story was the
most undefendable. He started by pointing out the small size of the
ark according to the myth and the hundreds of thousands of animals
which existed at the time, correctly pointing out that only a very
small percentage of all animals on Earth could have fit. Handle made
the mistake of repeatedly stating that all the fish in the oceans
would have survived even though nearly all species of fish require a
specific level of salt and turbidity in their water to survive; they
would have all needed to have reserved rooms on board else they would
have died as well.
To start defending against the small size of the ark, Fasold claimed
that the size of the cubit was actually 23 inches, not 18 as everyone
else in the world mistakenly believes. He then made some vague
comment about how "Los Alamos scientists" sent to his ark used
surveying equipment to measure the boat. According to Fasold,
"scientists" discovered that the boat was 500.7 feet long -- nearly
exactly what Fasold said his "theory computed."
The claim was so lame that I was disappointed Handle didn't ask Fasold
the question I was thinking: Did he measure the rock formation,
divide by 300, and then "discover" the "true" length of the cubit?
And then throw in eight inches just to make it look like it wasn't
contrived that way?
Handle pointed out that even with the added length, it still didn't
make the boat anywhere near large enough to do the job. Fasold then
made vague comments about how the Bible really ment only four-legged,
grass-eating animals instead of all the animals on Earth. Where he
got his devine revision was lost in his mumbleing. Sadly, Handle
didn't think to ask how all the other animals managed to survive if
only four-legged, grass-eaters were saved.
After less than half an hour, Fasold hung up and Handle began taking
callers. The first caller stated that he was once a fundamentalist
but that he now understood the whole book of mythologies to be
rubbish. He tried to suggest that there was some kernel of truth in
the myth and commented that he once read about a land-bridge somewhere
in the Artic Circle millions of years ago which disappeared due to
plate tectonics and perhaps, he said, people at that time saw that the
land-bridge was disappearing and so they built an ark to carry all the
animals across. Over the many years the story grew in the telling to
become the Noah's Ark myth.
Sadly, Bill Handel didn't point out that humans didn't exist at the
time and that plate tectonics would have been imperceptable at any rate
over the generations. He said something like, "eh, well, that's one
The second caller said that she didn't see any problem with the size
of the boat providing baby animals were brought on board. When Handel
repeated himself by saying that we're talking about hundreds of
thousands of different species and that they couldn't possibly fit,
the caller asked, "Now why should I believe you?" Presumably she
believed that, since the mythologies say they'll fit, they'll fit, and
anything Handle had to say to the contrary is nonsense. The caller
also said that there were not many different species of animals "back
then" and made vague comments about different varities of dogs not all
Again, Handle did a bad job in pointing out the fallacies. He didn't
even ask how she came to this hidden knowledge, nor did he ask whether
she knew anything about evolution and genetics.
The last caller stated that he believed Fasold is a scientist. The
reason why the Noah's Ark story contains physically impossible feats,
he said, is because it was written by his gods to give a _general_
description of what happened rather than a detailed, scientific, and
_harder_to_understand_ description of what happened. (So much for
the Christian Bible being valid today just like it was 2,000 years
For a one-hour look at the Noah's Ark myth, neither the believers nor
the non-believers presented a single rational, thoughtful, intelligent
comment. Fasold was allowed to state that Noah's Ark had been found
and that he had visited it several times and yet the validity of these
claims were never questioned. Since it wasn't pointed out that Fasold
holds no discernable scientific credentials, listeners probably walked
away with the impression that "scientists" are now in agreement that
the mythical boat has been proven to exist.
Even though the Bill Handle Show isn't intended to be accurate or in
any way a champion of science, I was annoyed at the lack of rational
debunking. A good change to correct some pseudo-science was wasted.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank