Sunday, 22 March 2009

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

A couple of very good Christian friends of mine in Bath have been raving on for a while about a place called "Noah’s Ark". It’s a sort of Zoo / Working farm for families and school trips near Bristol.

I have to admit to never visiting, and I don’t really want to, but after hearing about a recent visit Micahel Shermer made, I thought I’d look it up on the web to find out some more.

Although this looks like a perfect family day out with lovely attractions and animals, it seems to me that there is a darker underbelly. I’ve pasted a few quotes directly from their website, followed by my comments

“The BBC has recently run an excellent but controversial series of programmes presenting Evolution by natural selection as the mechanism to explain the origin and all subsequent variation of life. See Creation Biology & Evolution: Yes and No along with the Earth History material for another perspective on this important subject.”
There’s nothing controversial about the account of Evolution presented recently by the BBC at all. Conventional scientists are in as much agreement over evolution by natural selection as they are over gravity. There may be some minor differences down in the detailed mechanisms, but the overarching theory itself is not in contention. Suggesting there is a controversy is an underhand way of trying to undermine scientific fact that simply doesn’t match with biblical texts by playing on the general public’s lack of understanding of evolution


“Popular media presents us with only two theories to explain the origins of life: Darwinism or Creationism. Both are flawed in their theory; both are extremes in their own rights. One theory leaves no room for a God or a Creation, only randomness and mutation to provide the great abundance and variety in nature; the other requires a God for Creation and a strict Genesis chronology without evolution in any form.”
Critical thinkers will recognize the "False Dichotomy" logical fallacy here. Evolution by Natural Selection (given the name Darwinism, to sound more sinister) is presented as an extreme view that has no compatibility with God, therefore forcing it to be an unavailable option for Christian’s. This is of course not the case as even the Pope has accepted evolution (for fear of having to apologize again as in the Galileo case). The Noah’s Ark web site goes on to offer an alternative of a God Created world, using elements of evolution where even they do not have the gall to deny the evidence.


“We can draw a number of conclusions from this. First, the ark was a real vessel, not a fanciful addition to the story. Second, the righteous man in the story must have been forewarned, or he would not have thought of building an ark. And third, the Flood was a global event. At least two of every animal kind had to be preserved so that the earth thereafter could be recognized.”
Do I really need to counter argue this completely absurd claim? Rather than list a ream of reasons why the earth could not possibly have been completely covered in global flood, with all rescued animals gathered aboard an Ark, I’ll ask the question do you want your children to be taught this as fact on their school trip?


“Crystalline rocks usually give very old radioisotope dates, within a broadly consistent sequence from older to younger. There is also other evidence that a substantial amount of radioactive decay has gone on in the past:
  • The right amount of decay products - just what we would expect from millions of years of decay at today's rates.
  • Short-lived radioisotopes are absent - suggesting that long ages have passed to allow them to all decay away.
  • Visible scars (radiohalos) left by decay - direct evidence for hundreds of millions of years' worth of decay at today's rates.
  • Crystal damage (fission tracks) left by splitting atoms - indicating millions of years of decay at today's rates.
  • The expected heat in rocks near the Earth's surface - left by millions of years of decay at today's rates.
Many people think that evidence such as this proves that the Earth is billions of years old.”
Yes indeed, many geologists do believe that, but as that evidence does not fit in with the predefined dates required by the religious proprietor of Noah’s Ark, he has to invent a reason why it is wrong. As you can see in the examples above, the estimates in radio carbon dating are based on the current decay rate, therefore rather than accepting the answer that the earth is billions of years old based on those observable decay rates, he prefers to stick with the answer he likes and assume instead that the rate of decay was obviously much quicker in the past.

In Shermer's interview with the Noah’s Ark proprietor, he stated that the proprietor was keen to distance himself from those "Crazy American Young Earth Creationists" who think the earth is only 6,000 years old. No, he thinks the earth is about 100,000 years old. This is based on his own research as opposed to the globally agreed scientific opinion that the earth is 4,540,000,000 years ago. Yeah that’s nowhere near as crazy.


“The creation account in Genesis states that God made animals 'according to their kinds'. This does not mean that God made the animals according to the species we see today. Rather, he made them with the potential to diversify into many species; all the genetic material required for such diversification was there from the beginning.”
In this passage he has found a way of interpreting the book of Genesis to imply that God did not make the animal and plant kingdoms as we see them today. This allows for accepting a little bit of evolution for variety within species, but sticks to the rigid dogma of all creation coming from God. Sadly, however we have seen direct evidence where this is not true, the genetic make up of the AIDS virus has evolved within the last 50 or so years, before our very own eyes, creating new DNA not present before.


The whole web site, lists ridiculous claim after claim that even an amateur like me can easily debunk. Rather than further demonstrate the prosperous claims of the web site, I’ll leave you to do the others yourself, or this blog is in danger of becoming far too long.

I did however want to raise one more critical point. Noah’s Ark is presented primarily as a Zoo and Working Farm to appeal to children, families and schools. It has all sorts of interesting animals and activities to stimulate its visitors. It also appears to promote standard key stage elements of the National Teaching Curriculum to attract school trips. However it looks to me that this is fancy façade to draw in unsuspecting minds before submitting them to unfounded and dangerous misinformation.


Postscript:

Following the publication of this blog a couple of months ago I have noticed a bit more coverage of this place that I wanted to link to.

Sink The Ark: Is a website dedicated to this attraction and highlights the misinformation it presents.

There is also a Number 10 petition to withdraw government support for this attraction.

And a fair and unbiased entry in Wikipedia

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