Academic research is permitted in the Grand Canyon, but it’s carefully monitored and requires top-level approval. Snelling’s request to take around 60 geological samples was denied because, despite his scientific background, he would be using these precious samples disingenuously, and he would view his results through the incompatible prism of creationism.
As reported by the Atlantic, the Grand Canyon’s administrators solicited the help of three highly qualified geologists to review Snelling’s application. While he didn’t explicitly say that he wanted to use his work to prove that the giant crevasse was an act of God’s creation, his controversial reputation was enough for the application to be rejected.
Some have argued that he should be given a chance to gather his samples, in case the establishment is accused of censorship. There’s absolutely no chance that his analysis of the rocks would disprove everything we know about the world, so this might not be such a bad idea.
There’s the worry, though, that letting a creationist work in the Grand Canyon will lend the intellectually repugnant movement legitimacy. It’s a tough call, but we can only presume this was the concern that led to Snelling’s application being turned down.
“Scientists should not be forced to change their beliefs to match the government’s beliefs in order to conduct their research,” a statement by Answers in Genesis reads. Of course, it’s not government policy that everyone should accept geological facts – but we would argue that no respectable geoscientist would be a creationist in the first place.
Everyone has the right to believe anything they want. The great thing about science, though, is that it’s true whether you believe in it or not.