A Creationist Sued The Grand Canyon And Actually Got What He Wanted


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Sorry, science. Sorry, logic. Anton Ivanov/Shutterstock

Back in May, we reported on something truly bizarre but also perfectly befitting of the shitshow that is 2017: A creationist was attempting to sue the authorities managing the Grand Canyon because they weren’t letting him go and collect samples.

As a qualified geoscientist who also happens to believe the planet is less than 10,000 years old, we described this rather curious man, one Dr Andrew Snelling, as “akin to a physicist that considers gravity to be mythological.” Indeed, the oxymoronic nature of his job title – creationist geologist – was the reason his research application was originally turned down by the powers that be.


Now, with a heavy heart, we have an update on this story. The National Park Service (NPS) has caved in to his requests to retrieve samples from the 1.84-billion-year-old Grand Canyon, and as a result, Snelling has dropped his lawsuit.

This is a rather strange victory for Answers in Genesis – a nonprofit run by creationist museum founder Ken Ham – and the hilariously titled right-wing legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. Their attempts to sue the federal government were made under the auspices of religious discrimination, in that Snelling wasn’t allowed to conduct research because of his faith.

Things are more complicated than that, though. Academic research is indeed allowed in the Grand Canyon, but as the site is one of such immense scientific importance, it’s limited to a select few academics who will use any samples taken for serious scientific research.

Snelling has lectured on countless occasions about how the Bible is literally true and how the Grand Canyon is proof that Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood really did happen. Although the exact motivations behind his Grand Canyon project have never been explicitly stated, it’s clear what he’ll be attempting to use the samples to disprove.

Creationists are essentially allergic to these. frantic00/Shutterstock

No scientific technique will suddenly reveal that all the world’s geologists are suddenly wrong and that creationists were right all along. This means that he will be wasting these samples and damaging one of the most significant and beautiful natural wonders of the world for no good reason.

This is thought to be why authorities at the NPS were not allowing him to conduct his work – that, and because permitting the sample collection would give creationism an air of scientific legitimacy, one that it most certainly does not deserve.

Their acquiescence on this matter hasn’t been elucidated upon, but it’s likely they were concerned that people would accuse them of censorship if they stuck to their guns. Whatever the reason, we now have to watch a scientist conduct pseudoscience in the name of fundamentalist religion.

[H/T: Phoenix New Times]


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