|Summary: The Exodus Revealed video, directed by Lad Allen and funded by Discovery (Institute?) Media Productions, is based on The Exodus Case book by Lennart Moller, which is based on the "discoveries" of Ron Wyatt. Both the video and the book include photos of a gold wheel supposedly found in the Gulf of Aqaba, presented as proof that the Bible's Red Sea crossing story is true. But a TV producer's wife "was told by one of Ron Wyatt's sons that the chariot wheels that Ron supposedly discovered in the Gulf of Aqaba were planted there by Ron." Also, John Baumgardner, who is a Christian and initially believed Wyatt and inspected Wyatt's Noah's ark "discovery", later wrote that "I am almost 100% certain that Ron 'planted' them [rivets on the Ark]." Despite this and much more evidence that Ron Wyatt was a crazy liar, both Lennart Moller and Lad Allen were insidiously dishonest in promoting Wyatt's "findings" without disclosing Wyatt's history of fraud.|
In February 2006, I received The Exodus Revealed DVD from my parents, who are fundamentalist Christians. I watched it twice that same night. The video's approach sounds very reasonable: If the Bible's Exodus story is true, then we should be able to find some archeological evidence at the geographic locations described by the Bible, so let's travel to those locations and start digging. Using the Bible's description of the Exodus route, the video speculates that the Red Sea crossing site was at Nuweiba beach, in the middle of the Gulf of Aqaba, in 1000 foot deep water. Clearly no naturalistic explanation could explain a crossing in 1000 foot deep water, so if there is good evidence for such a crossing site, then the Bible might well be true, and it might really be a good idea to believe in Jesus unless one enjoys being roasted in Hell. Incredibly, the video shows two very convincing pieces of evidence found in the water off Nuweiba beach:
To verify the gold wheel, the first thing I did was read the video's reviews on Amazon.com. One of the reviews was written by a Christian who said "The makers of "The Exodus Revealed" have carried out their trip much later after Ron [Wyatt] discovered it and have falsely claimed that they have discovered the red sea crossing site." So I google'd "Ron Wyatt", and things immediately started to get very interesting:
Gary Amirault in Dew From Mt. Hermon periodical
"I am almost 100% certain that Ron 'planted' them [rivets on the Ark]..." --email from John Baumgardner to Gary Amirault on 26 September 1996 * *
"Wyatt Archaeological Research Fraud Documentation... we are dealing here with nothing short of an outright scam... I have telephone interviewed most of the people on WAR's Noah's Ark video. Not one single person I spoke with on that video presently believes that Ron Wyatt's site is Noah's Ark. Some are outraged that Wyatt is still using film clips which make them look like they are substantiating Wyatt's claims when, in fact, the opposite is the case.... Which museum is housing the ancient chariot wheels he claimed to have been from the Red Sea Crossing? There is no evidence because the video is a fraud. On the Noah's Ark video, all the so-called scientific data cannot be duplicated, a clear sign that what was given the labs was false data..." --Gary Amirault
"We are aware of his [Ron Wyatt's] claims which border on the absurd as they have no scientific basis whatsoever nor have they ever been published in a professional journal. They fall into the category of trash which one finds in tabloids such as the National Enquirer, Sun etc. It's amazing that anyone would believe them. Furthermore, he has been throughly discredited by various Christian organizations such as Creation Research in Calif... Finding a coin at the so called Mt. Sinai. This shows the total ignorance of RW and his public who want to believe rather than to know! Coins were not around at the times of Moses, even an amauter archaeologist should know this simple fact!!! There are so many so called Mt. Sinais that even the Jews do not know where it is located. Personally I believe that it is simply a literary invention which is why it will never be found... As for the chariot wheel, a bluff, produce it, on what was the dating made? Saw it in the video, it looks like a hoax. If it exists date it in a C-14 lab... I personally read the junk about the blood of Christ which is totally absurd. I immediately sent a fax to RW as I knew he was bluffing asking for a) copy and address of the lab report and b) sample for some independent testing which we would do. As of yet we have not received any reply, I sent a colleague who is a professor of NT to Tenn. to see what was up and the person in charge of the museum there said that we in the IAA are a bunch of non-believers and they weren't interested in providing such info. to us... conned into believing this as have many others who wish to believe rather than to know..." --email from Joe Zias to J. Searcy on 8 August 1996
"... These studies all show that the ark structure is a natural rock formation composed of layers of volcanic boulders and clay and that the drogue stones and ribbed rock are volcanic or metavolcanic rocks that could not have been transported to the site in Turkey from Mesopotamia. There is no evidence of any fossilized wood or any other man-made artifact. The supposed iron bracket is oxidized iron (limonite or goethite) produced by weathering of titaniferous magnetite which naturally occurs in the volcanic rocks or in eroded sediments derived from such volcanic rocks. The boat-like shape of the structure can be explained as resulting from natural folding of layers consisting of former stream-transported sediments locally containing abundant volcanic boulders and pebbles and from subsequent erosion. In short, none of Ron Wyatt's claims that this rock structure is a fossilized remnant of Noah's Ark has any merit." --letter from Lorence Collins to Gary Amirault on 15 October 1996 *
"... In 1987 I returned to Turkey and did a methodical and complete ground penetrating radar study of the entire site. The first order of business was to duplicate Wyatt's results to support his conclusions. An inordinate amount of time (1.5 out of 3 days of intensive work) was spent trying to duplicate Wyatt's findings. We were unable to do so. The only scientific conclusion that can be made was that the original data was erroneous. At best incompetence or, at worst fabrication of the data are the only possible explanations. Given Mr. Wyatt had no working knowledge on how to operate the system nor interpret the radar data (I tried to train him) and, my previous experience with him in Turkey, I concluded it was the former and not the latter. ( A Christian must always give the benefit of doubt.) ..." --email from Thomas Fenner to Gary Amirault on 7 October 1996
"... I recently read Ron Wyatt's book, DISCOVERED; NOAH'S ARK [*], and was appalled. It is one of the most disgusting books I have read. Naturally I have no problem with the discovery of Noah's ark, but the multitude of inaccuracies and errors certainly turns one off who has some information. Even the uninformed person should be suspicious when one individual claims to have found so many important artifacts that others have never found after years of diligent search. Concerning growth rings: Wyatt refers to extinct giant club mosses that do not have growth rings as evidence that preflood trees do not have growth rings. The giant club moss, Sigillaria, could be compared with papaya, or banana or other fast-growing trees with pulpy wood. Yes, it does not have growth rings but that is not evidence for preflood conifers or deciduous trees. They do have good growth rings. I have spent years studying petrified trees in various areas of North America, in Patigonia, and in Australia... May God bless you..." --letter from Harold Coffin to David Merling on 13 January 1993
"... Unfortunately, there are two individuals [Ron Wyatt? and Jonathan Gray?] which feel otherwise, and promote the site as the remains of Noah's Ark. Neither have geologic or archaeologic training, and in their investigations both have used methods which are not reliable in gathering their data. Furthermore, they have not allowed others to see their data, preferring instead to make statements about the data only. Both can give convincing talks on the subject, and both have written books describing their experiences (not their data), but to my knowledge, all who have critically evaluated the site and/or the methods and reports of the two advocates are convinced that both are mistaken. In fact, many of their claims are in direct conflict with facts I and others have gathered at the site..." --John D. Morris (Professor of Geology at Institute for Creation Research) * * *
He seemed to be one of the most humble, loving, honest and sincerely Christian men you could meet... However, be aware that those outside of the Wyatt camp have not been able to verify his data. Whenever trained archaeologists, scientists or other experts asked to examine the evidence, there were always reasons why he couldn't produce it. This is not simply a matter of disagreement with his views. Nor is it an attempt to falsely discredit an honest researcher. Many of these experts are people of integrity and genuine Christian faith who did not set out to try to discredit anyone. Some are well known and respected in their fields. Much of Wyatt's research has been shown to be based only on circumstantial evidence at the best, to being outright fraudulent at the worst. If they can't see the evidence, perhaps we need to take a closer look. If Wyatt has defrauded or misled people in any way, then his claims and those who still promote them should be exposed. It is a discredit to the name of Christ if those who call themselves Christians continue to promote fraud (even if they have been doing it unknowingly)... Because I teach on the subject of Noah's Ark... Is Ron Wyatt the greatest archaeologist who ever lived? Or is there another explanation? ... " --Linda Gunderson
"... While my acquaintance with him led me to reject his archeological findings, I persist in dealing gently with him as a well-intentioned person and as a Christian... I knew Wyatt well, and had an up-close opportunity to evaluate his claims and his personal credibility... Over several days we were able to excavate our way down into the same cave system that Wyatt had explored two years before. I'm sorry to report that in the end we came up empty-handed. The connecting channel through which Wyatt had claimed to see the furniture was not there. On the final day of excavation, when we could not see the internal cavern landmarks that Wyatt had predicted, Ron himself finally climbed down into the dim space. After a long time he emerged, looking confused. As we waited respectfully to hear his report, he mumbled a few words like: "It's not the same; it's changed. It's not the way I remember it." ... From medical school I remember hearing of a rare state of mind, with a long Latin name, that led its victims to concoct marvelously detailed accounts of events that were pure fabrications, yet which the story-teller himself had come to believe were absolutely true. I am inclined to believe that Wyatt was a florid example of this disorder. He was not a deliberate liar, a fraud. And some of his observations had merit. But I am convinced that some of his "discoveries" were matters which underwent transcription in his mind, and he came to believe as true certain ideas and observations that in fact were his own inventions... I do not know of any S.D.A. scholar who has given him serious favorable attention. He is an embarrassment to them." --Bernard Brandstater
"... Ron never relied on scientists or professionals to confirm his work. He employed scientific testing and then presented the results along with the biblical, historical, archaeological and scientific evidence in the belief that each person was capable of making their own decision..." --Bill Fry
After finding out about Ron Wyatt, I called my parents and asked a few questions:
Paraphrased Q&A (before any discussion) with Mom and DadQ: What's the name of the archeology magazine you subscribe to?
A (Mom): Biblical Archaeology Review, but we quit subscribing when we realized it was written by unbelievers.
Q: How many copies of "The Exodus Revealed" did you buy?
Q: Are the DVDs from Dad or Mom or both?
Q: Do you believe that the evidence in the video is accurate?
Q: Have you done any homework to check if the video is accurate?
Q: Have you checked the Amazon reviews of the video?
Q: Have you heard of Ron Wyatt?
Q: Where did you find out about the video?
Q: Do you know of any Christians who are skeptical about the video, for example, about the gold wheel?
Later I talked to the director of The Exodus Revealed:
My conversations with Lad Allen (director of The Exodus Revealed)After I read about how John Baumgardner had believed Ron Wyatt and had gone on an archeological trip with Wyatt but later wrote "I am almost 100% certain that Ron 'planted' them [rivets on the Ark]", and how a TV producer's wife "was told by one of Ron Wyatt's sons that the chariot wheels that Ron supposedly discovered in the Gulf of Aqaba were planted there by Ron", and how John D. Morris of Institute for Creation Research wrote "they [Wyatt? and ?] have not allowed others to see their data, preferring instead to make statements about the data only", I started wondering whether any of the video in "The Exodus Revealed" came from Ron Wyatt. So I called Questar and was given a phone number.
When I called, I asked him (Lad Allen) what his role had been in "The Exodus Revealed". He said he had been the producer, director, and writer. (Note: The video credits say that Lad Allen was the producer and director, but that W. Peter Allen and Stephen C. Meyer were the writers. However, I am sure that Lad Allen claimed credit for all three roles when I talked to him on the phone.)
Lad Allen said that at the last minute, Mary Nell Wyatt (Ron Wyatt's widow) had decided not to allow Allen to use Wyatt's images. As a result, the two central images in "The Exodus Revealed" are both "re-creations" of Wyatt's images. (I hadn't noticed the first two times I watched, but I later verified that the intact but turned sideways wheel-axle-wheel assembly (at 1:01:17 in the director's cut) and the 4-spoke gold gilded wheel without coral growth (at 1:02:11) are both marked "Re-creation" directly below the part-screen window for a few seconds, before the images become full-screen. Wyatt's original images are apparently available in Wyatt's own Exodus video.) I asked Allen if anyone besides Wyatt knows the Global Positioning System coordinates of, or had even seen, the 4-spoke gold gilded wheel. Allen said that Moller "has not seen it", and Allen didn't know of anyone besides Wyatt who had seen the wheel. (I later called Richard Reeves of the Wyatt Museum (Reeves worked with Wyatt for several years), and even he didn't know of anyone besides Wyatt who had seen the gold wheel.)
I said that "The Exodus Revealed" seems to be based on Moller's ideas, which in turn seems to be based on Wyatt's ideas, and Wyatt was crazy. For example, Wyatt claimed to have found the hole in the ground where Jesus' cross had stood, and there was a crack in the rock underneath that hole going straight down to a hidden underground chamber containing the Ark of the Covenant (which Wyatt also claimed to have found, but never showed anyone else), such that "Christ's Blood had actually fallen onto the Mercy Seat" in fulfillment of Old Testament sacrifical laws. Lad Allen said that he had spent a year in deciding whether to go ahead with "The Exodus Revealed", and that he wouldn't have produced the video without Lennart Moller's verification of Ron Wyatt's findings. Although Allen's team sponsored Moller to do some more research, Allen's main source was The Exodus Case book by Lennart Moller. But Allen also said that Moller had spent several years working with Wyatt.
I asked how I could tell whether the wheel-shaped coral growths had a diameter of 3 inches or 3 feet or 30 feet, since most of the videos of the corals don't also contain any items of known size. After joking (with an exasperated tone) "you'll have to trust us", Allen noted that there are items of known size in some videos: divers in some underwater videos, the diving machine in some, and the sizes of the individual lumps of coral (which would require knowledge about how coral grows). Allen said that the wheel-shaped formations he saw were the right size for chariot wheels.
Allen wanted to know my name and why I was interested. After I told him, he recommended that I read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis and said that he will pray for me. I mentioned that I was planning to email my family and tell them about how Ron Wyatt is the source of the two most important purported "evidences" in "The Exodus Revealed". Lad Allen then started to sound concerned, asking me twice to be sure to be honest in how I present this information to my family. I assured him that I do intend to be honest.
Allen has produced many other videos *, including In His Presence & Be Thou My Vision, The Power of Prayer, Unlocking the Mystery of Life (2002), Amazing Grace (2003), The End Times (2003), Where Does the Evidence Lead (2004), The Privileged Planet (2004), and The Prophecies of the Passion (2005). He thinks the Prayer video is his best work, but it sold least well. He's planning to spend at least the next five years producing videos on Intelligent Design.
After talking to Allen and doing some further thinking, my opinion is that Lad Allen was insidiously dishonest in how he presented Wyatt's gold wheel in "The Exodus Revealed":
The next day I called Allen back and read him two of my three complaints about the gold wheel. Allen asked to respond in writing, so I emailed him my complaints about "The Exodus Revealed" and the above quotes about Wyatt. A few days later I got an email back saying "... I have decided that it's best we terminate our discussion... any further attempts to explain my position will be a waste of time for both of us..."
In contrast, my parents sent an email saying "Dad and I are sorry we did not do our homework and research the Exodus Revealed before we passed it on. As far as we know now it doesn't look good for the credibility of the video we sent you. We apologize. We haven't talked yet to anyone at the Friends of Israel and haven't researched as much as we'd like, but we are ready to admit we think we were snookered. I told Dad I thought this was atypical of him."
Eventually I traced the flow of ideas from Ron Wyatt to Lennart Moller to Lan Allen:
Ron Wyatt --> Lennart Moller (Exodus Case) --> Lad Allen (Exodus Revealed)"The Exodus Revealed... This video is based on the research and field work of Ron Wyatt. Dr. Lennart Moller, the researcher responsible for this video, has continued Ron's work on this subject in a remarkable way. I recently spent 2 days talking with Dr. Moller while we were in Portland and the research material he has brought together is impressive. In my opinion this is the best documentation on the Exodus and Red Sea crossing available today." --newsletter by Bill Fry on 10 July 2002 * (more statements that Moller is based on Wyatt)
"We dove for seven days, and to our surprise our friend and colleague Dr. Lennart Moller was also in the area with a Los Angeles based producer [Lad Allen?] and underwater cameraman. They were from 'Discovery Media Productions' and had a remote-controlled camera that they were sending down to survey the coral covered artifacts in this area... They are planning on releasing their documentary video around January 2001." --May 2000 Dive Trip report by Aaron Sen and Ross Patterson
According to the credits at the end of the video: "Executive producer JAMES W. ADAMS", "Produced and Directed By LAD ALLEN", "Edited By JERRY HARNED", "Written By W. PETER ALLEN [and] STEPHEN C. MEYER", "Program Consultant DR. LENNART MOLLER", "The producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of... MARY NELL WYATT Spring Hill, TN" (This is the only reference to Ron Wyatt anywhere in the video.)
The corporate relationships appear * * to be: Moody Bible Institute --> Moody Institute of Science * (Moody Video; producer) --> Discovery Media Productions (or maybe Discovery Institute Media Productions, since Stephen C. Meyer is a vice president of Discovery Institute) * * --> Illustra Media * * (producer) --> Randolf Productions * * (distributor) and Questar * * (mainly a distributor)
It appears that Lad Allen relied heavily on Lennart Moller. Moller does disclose that his book is based on Wyatt's discoveries, but he does not tell the reader anything negative about Wyatt:
This book was written by a scientist. We know that because the dust jacket tells us so twice. If anyone is still unconvinced, the dust jacket also says that Lennart Moller "has a doctor degree in medical sciences from the Karolinska Institute [which decides the Nobel Prize winners in medicine]... and holds a position at the faculty as a professor. He is the group leader of the Research Laboratory of Analytical Toxicology and deputy executive director of the Center for Nutrition and Toxicology... His research focuses on DNA damage, cancer, and the control of inflammatory diseases. He is a member of the executive committees of two international research programs and works to develop new drug therapies to prevent chronic inflammatory diseases... Moller has earlier studied marine biology, limnology, and chemistry... travels to lecture at many different universities... more than 60 different countries... editor and author of several books in popularized science and theology..." A PubMed search confirmed that
'Moller L' coauthored 118 papers on oxidative stress, DNA damage, etc.
The Exodus Case mentions or alludes to Ron Wyatt three times:
Compounding the deception, page 14 says "The writer of this book is a scientist... As far as possible basic data should be presented to the person reading the document, so that they can draw his/her own conclusions..." but Moller goes far out of his way to avoid telling the reader anything negative about the provenance of Ron Wyatt's photos.
Page 15 * says "A sound attitude is to regard something as true until the opposite has been proved. This is the way it works in archaeology for instance. Law has the same basis: a person is innocent until the opposite has been proved. The strange thing is that there are a number of scholars who claim that the Bible texts are false until the opposite has been proved..." However, "a sound attitude" means avoiding unfair double standards. In religion, that means, for example, not requiring only a low standard of evidence for Christianity while simultaneously requiring a higher standard of evidence for Mormonism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology, atheism, etc. Moller doesn't say anything about whether he would regard atheism and Islam and Christianity as true "until the opposite has been proved", or whether he would only apply that standard to Christianity. He also doesn't say whether he thinks fooling his readers with fake evidence is an acceptable way to "prove" his case.
Page 19 says "... several finds have not been documented in the way one would wish. Measures to limit and destroy documentation have been taken from directions, which do not normally concern themselves with archaeological finds and investigations." There is no explanation about what that means.
Ron Wyatt's "finds" are also presented as factual elsewhere in "The Exodus Case":
A Ron Wyatt fake photo (a lake in a desert landscape) is shown twice, in figures 481 (p.262) and 515 (p.270). However, Moller does acknowledge that it is an "illustration" (in the caption for figure 481).
Ideas Related to Wyatt
Bob Cornuke * * * (models himself on Indiana Jones and Ron Wyatt)
Jonathan Gray * (Wyatt promoter)
Rebecca Samsing (Wyatt promoter)
David Fasold (got started with Wyatt)
June Dawes (David Fasold promoter)
Tom Crotser and Jeremiah Patrick
Fernand Navarra (pre-Wyatt)
Tim LaHaye * * * and John Morris * (pre-Wyatt)