Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Matt Young Not Happy With Treatment of Andrew Snelling

Neither am I.  It seems that Andrew Snelling, a young earth creationist, wanted to do a geological study of rocks in the Grand Canyon and so petitioned the National Park Service to remove a few rocks to do this.  After reviewing the proposal that Snelling sent, the Park Service declined.  Citing religious descrimination, Snelling is suing the Park Service.  Here is an excerpt from the story in the Phoenix New Times:
In the federal complaint filed on Tuesday, ADF uses several key e-mails by scientists who put their feelings in writing to demonstrate the bias Snelling says he encountered.

"It is difficult to review such an outlandish proposal," Ron Blakely of Northern Arizona University told NPS officials in 2014, when he was asked for his opinion about Snelling's proposal.

Gary McCaleb, ADF senior counsel, told Phoenix New Times that Snelling "has been stonewalled for three years. Something's fundamentally wrong when a government stops a good scientist from doing good research."

Whether it's actually "good" research is debatable, of course. But it's unclear why government officials care what Snelling concludes about a relatively small collection of Grand Canyon rocks.
Here is Matt Young's take on it, from Panda's Thumb:
I do not know how many people request permission to remove a few rocks from the Grand Canyon. But Dr. Snelling’s proposal was to remove no more than 60, ~0.2 kg samples to use in his research. He did not ask for any funding. There is not the slightest doubt that his research would conclude that the Grand Canyon was something like 6000 years old. That is, he is pursuing, in the jargon of the times, fake research. So what? It would have been better if the National Park had allowed him to have his rocks and go play in his sandbox.

Instead, Dr. Snelling is now being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has just posted an article Grand Canyon National Park continues history of hostility toward religion, and may become something of a cause célèbre among the right wing. The complaint, incidentally, refers irrelevantly to Donald Trump’s recent Executive Order on “religious freedom.”
This kind of thing gives ammunition to the young earth creationists and it was completely unavoidable. The story in Phoenix New Times suggests that reviewer Karl Karlstrom criticized Snelling's beliefs in a letter he sent to the Park Service in 2014.  Without that letter, it is hard to evaluate that charge.  It may be simply that he thought that Snelling's interpretation of the scriptures had no empirical support (which it doesn't).  That is not the same as criticizing his religious beliefs.  On the other hand, if he did criticize Snelling's beliefs, it will be much easier to get a charge of religious bias to stick.  

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