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“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you\'d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”
by Steven Weinberg

Pursuing a myth can be dangerous: a tragic news story

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By Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

Missionary is missing after searching for Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat

Donald Mackenzie

Donald Mackenzie, missing on Mount Ararat

A Scottish missionary and member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Donald Mackenzie, was reported missing by a friend on 14 October 2010 after one of his many trips to Mount Ararat (Turkey) to look for remains of Noah’s Ark. He is a regular visitor to the mountain but was enthused by a story earlier in the year that a team from Hong Kong had discovered its remains on the mountain. The story is now known to be fraudulent, which makes Mr Mackenzie’s disappearance all the more tragic.

Although his mother was quoted by the BBC as saying that he got within fifty metres of the site, we have to ask how anyone could know this. The Chinese team perpetrated a hoax, so there was no “sdiscovery site” to be approached. In November 2010, his family expressed unhappiness with the Turkish government’s lack of response. However, a rescue expedition was mounted, although it was called off in December 2010 after it failed to locate him.

There seems to have been no further reporting on this story since 11 December 2010. Although the story has been repeated in various places since then, nothing new has been added and it appears that there is no further information.

This is a terrible story. Through following religious convictions that have no basis in reality, a man has probably lost his life on a mountain in a foreign land. His family must be devastated by the loss and all who think that going in search of Noah’s Ark is a noble cause should reflect on this story.

Postscript, March 2011

The story is still being kept in the news, with an article from World Net Daily, in which the missing man’s brother raises the spectre of “muslim fanatics” whom he suggests murdered him. There is no evidence for this beyond the failure to find Donald Mackenzie’s body. Mount Ararat is huge; much more so than Mount Everest, where it has proved difficult to locate missing explorers’ bodies, so locating one missing man is a task with little hope of a happy outcome. Over five months afterhis disappearance, it is now horribly clear that, even if the body is located, Donald Mackenzie has died a lonely death in pursuit of a mirage.

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