If you’ve ever been to a national park (or to most state parks), there are strict restrictions on what you are allowed to do as a visitor: you can’t back a pickup truck in and load it up with petrified wood, or an assortment of cactuses, or harvest a crop of squirrels. There are all kinds of rules to protect the status of the park from predatory hordes of visitors — if you go rafting through the Grand Canyon, for instance, get used to pooping into a can because you have to haul out everything you bring in.
This is true for everyone. You don’t get to say “Back off, man, I’m a scientist” to excuse going at the Grand Canyon walls with a rock hammer. You have to get a scientific collecting permit, and it’s no rubber stamp process — your application actually gets reviewed by qualified peers.
You know what’s even less effective? Saying
Back off, man, I’m a creation scientist.
Creationists regularly run tours through the Grand Canyon, pointing at the rocks and misinterpreting them and using the lens of the Bible to lie about the science, and that’s OK. They’re hurting themselves with ignorance, but as long as they don’t wreck the experience for others, that should be their right. But Andrew Snelling, the Answers in Genesis geology wackaloon who thinks the canyon is only about 4,000 years old, wants to chip away at the rocks and haul away samples, which he will abuse to support his pet thesis. The National Park Service turned him down.
The NPS is awesome.
One of the many things that bug me about creationists is their dishonesty. Snelling had applied for a collecting permit, but avoided saying anything about what he intended to do and minimized his affiliations, pretty much the opposite of what real scientists do.
After conducting three other research projects in the Grand Canyon and guiding 30 river tours of the canyon, he filed a research proposal in Nov. 2013 seeking to collect 60 half-pound rock samples, the suit states. The 24-page proposal only once mentioned his role at Answers in Genesis and contained no other references to religious motivation or creationism.
Snelling claims park officials asked Snelling for two peer reviews evaluating his research proposal, something that hadn’t been asked for in his previous projects. He provided three, which court documents show were written by other academics who have participated in creationist research.
He was turned down. The reviews of his proposal are amusing.
Karl Karlstrom, Ph.D. with the University of New Mexico said Snelling proposal, in part, was not “well written, up-to-date or well referenced” and “I suspect his research application… is motivated by his faith that the Cambrian strata were deposited during Noah’s flood, which is the creationist (and certainly not the scientific) explanation for Grand Canyon strata.”
Peter Huntoon, a former professor at the University of Wyoming, said the park should adhere to “your narrowly defined institution mandate…that ours is a secular society as per our constitution” and argued creationists have already decided the answers to their proposed questions.
“Your internal screening processes should include an examination of the credentials of the submitters so that those who represent inappropriate interests should be screened out,” Hutton wrote and suggested a history of creationist research pre-dating Answers in Genesis.
The third peer-review from Ron Blakley of Northern Arizona University simply said, “it is difficult to review such an outlandish proposal.”
Huntoon’s remark is particularly apropos. Snelling has determined what the “answer” will be (it’s in Genesis!), and there is literally no purpose at all to collecting physical evidence that will be ignored in favor of a collection of ancient myths. That isn’t science.
So of course Answers in Genesis is suing the NPS, and is invoking the Holy Name of Donald Trump to do so.
The suit cites President Donald Trump’s executive order signed May 4 which statesall executive departments and agencies shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent of permitted law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech.
In a press release, Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis said this will be a test case of Trump’s order.
Since when is breaking up bits of a park “free speech“?
Hey. I’ve got a rock hammer. I’m also going to visit the Answers in Genesis Ark Park next month. Donald Trump says I get to collect a few bits and pieces in the name of my inviolable religious rights. Do you think that will fly?