Sunday, August 07, 2016

New Scientist: Public Schools Should Not Take Their Kids to the Ark Encounter

A post in the New Scientist has come out squarely against the idea that public schools should take kids on field trips to the Ark Encounter, despite a plea from Ken Ham to do so.  Josh Rosenau, of the NCSE writes:
Throughout the Ark, wordy signs, animatronic mannequins and strident videos all insist that it is no Sunday school tale, but a “historically authentic” boat that existed just as Ham and others on the young-earth creationist fringe imagine it.
Perhaps because of disappointing visitor numbers so far, it is offering reduced rates – $1 a student and free tickets for accompanying teachers – to tempt schoolchildren through its doors. Schools and parents should know that a visit wouldn’t educate or entertain, it would misinform and browbeat.

Publicly-funded schools certainly should not take their charges to the park. The US Constitution prohibits government bodies, including schools, from endorsing one particular religious belief over others. Ark Encounter is all about endorsing Ham’s particular reading of Genesis as the literal truth. The constitutions of nearby states, from which a trip might be feasible, echo that proscription.
While this may be true, that is not the best reason to stay away from the exhibit. I am always a little bit leery of anything the FFRF says, because, as an organization, it would think absolutely nothing of trampling religious freedoms in an effort to squash religion altogether. Having said that, it would be pretty hard to square a tax-payer funded public school trip to an attraction that is designed specifically to convert people to its particular brand of Christianity.  Especially when there is not a shred of scientific evidence that the flood on which the story is based actually happened.  As Christian geologist Carol Hill writes:
No geologic evidence whatsoever exists for a universal flood, flood geology, or the canopy theory. Modern geologists, hydrologists, paleontologists, and geophysicists know exactly how the different types of sedimentary rock form, how fossils form and what they represent, and how fast the continents are moving apart...
Kids can go see Ken Ham's monument to the Disney-ization of Christianity, but it will probably never happen as part of a sanctioned field trip.

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