Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall receives more than 100,000 visitors each year, including schoolchildren. That’s a problem, says the British Humanist Association, which accuses the zoo of undermining science education.
“We’re very concerned because it will undermine education and the teaching of science.”
“We’re very concerned because it will undermine education and the teaching of science,” explained British Humanist Association education officer Paul Pettinger, who visited the zoo earlier this year. Pettinger cited as problematic such signs as one that describes how “three great people groups” could be the descendants of Noah’s sons.
The association is asking tourism boards to stop promoting the zoo, and has reportedly contacted tourism boards including the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and Visit Britain. According to BBC News, Visit Britain has clarified that it only checks the zoo under its “Visitor Quality Assurance Scheme” and has no official statement on the zoo’s content. BIAZA responded similarly.
The official statements from the zoo itself are intriguing. Its website features a section on “creation research” that explains,
Popular media presents us with only two theories to explain the origins of life: Darwinism or 6000BC Creationism. We think both are flawed in their theory; both are extreme in their own rights. One theory takes the evolution that is clear to us all and extrapolates it backwards to imply there is no need for a God or a Creation; the other requires a God for Creation but requires the Genesis chronologies are complete and that there is a slow Noah's Flood lasting 150 days to reach its height, in order that most of the geological column can be laid down in this time.
Another page on the site seems to suggest that while the zoo owner does not accept the Bible’s straightforward teachings on creation, they nonetheless do not unquestioningly accept old ages and assumption-riddled radiometric dating, either.
All this may provide a background for why the zoo owner Anthony Bush, billed by the BBC as a “former evangelical preacher,” reportedly said, “I think God created life. I have no idea when.” He added, “Although technically creationists, we do not hold the stereotypical creationist views that the world was created in 6,000 years and there is no evolution.” He also pointed out that the zoo presents a variety of views. And as for their claim that life is a product of both God and evolution, their understanding of “evolution” seems identical to our own—variations in the genetic information of the original created kinds, not molecules to man in the Darwinian sense.
“To say that we are not upfront with our beliefs is unfounded. The name ‘Noah’s Ark’ is the first indicator.”
Zoo research assistant Jon Woodward also fought off an attack from the BHA that the zoo “misleads the public by not being open about its creationist agenda.” Woodward responded, “To say that we are not upfront with our beliefs is unfounded. The name ‘Noah’s Ark’ is the first indicator.” He continued:
We also have much material on our website, which is not disguised or hidden, as well as being on our leaflet. Our education policy is purely based around the National Curriculum. At no point is religion taught in the classroom, unless requested, as that would go against the National Curriculum.
We are offering our visitors the chance to look at the evolution/creation debate. As it is a free country, that is within our right. Contrary to a small minority of people’s claims, we do not teach false science. This is clearly shown within the zoo with one exhibition talking about Darwin and another offering another point of view.
First and foremost, we would defend the zoo as privately owned and thereby entitled to present its views to its patrons and otherwise conduct business so long as it does not violate the law. Our Creation Museum does the same, and likewise is privately owned and on private property; yet we have likewise come under attack from atheists wishing to censor our museum and the views expressed in it.
What is also notable is that the zoo is less insistent on a recent creation than we are, and it claims to seek out an “open, yet critical, scientific approach to explaining the origin and diversity of life.” Yet any endorsement of (supernatural) biological design must be out-and-out excised, say the humanists, who increasingly want to censor creationist ideas wherever they may be—and even if they’re based on good, observational science.
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