The British Humanist Association is trying to get Noahs Ark, a themed zoo in Somerset, de-listed by the British Tourism Authorities. BBC story here, BHA press release here.
The BHA argues that the zoo presents anti-scientific ideas, and risks undermining the teaching of science. They state ‘We believe Noah’s Ark Farm Zoo misleads the public by not being open about its creationist agenda in its promotional activities and by advancing misunderstandings of the natural world.
The Noahs Ark website, under the heading 'Creation Research' (one of 6 principle tabs visible on all pages) says this: After looking at the current scientific explanations for origins and evolution; it is our view that the evidence available can be accurately explained using an evolution framework with an initial Creation by God. This is treated as controversial by some and welcomed by others: but our aim remains the same. We do not profess to have all the answers, but we will search for them with an open mind and publicise our theories.
That seems to me to be fairly clear about the 'agenda' of the zoo, so I'm not sure that first charge sticks. There are lots of other subsections there which explore issues of creation and evolution, without buying into either wholesale Darwinism or young earth creationism.
There are loads of museums and public attractions in which you could object to the content. Here in Somerset we have the Haynes Motor Museum, which glorifies car use (#fail - global warming) and Fleet Air Arm, which might encourage people to join the armed forces and get into fighting. Haynes also has the added issue of being incredibly dull. Wookey Hole has an area where cavemen are sited next to dinosaurs - which is historically flawed - and tells stories about witches and spells, which encourages children to believe in all sorts of nonsense. Glastonbury... well, lets not go there.
Murky territory. Maybe it's that Christians are allowed to do good things like protect animal species and encourage conservation, it's just that we're not allowed to explain what motivates us. Not happy with that at all. There's also the question of how far we trust people to think for themselves, and how far we try to 'protect' people from views that we aren't happy with. Both Richard Dawkins (see Monday's post) and the BHA seem to take the latter view, which is an interesting position for a rationalist to take.
And if you want to remove from the public eye things which are corrosive of the ability to reason and think, then start with Big Brother. Oh, sorry, that's already happened.....
Just for balance, here's a piece on the National Secular Society.
And other points of view, lest I be accused of undermining anything:
Wonderful life (supports BHA)
Fairly balanced piece at the Freethinker, which quotes an interesting letter from a local person who calls the zookeepers 'religious extremists' and 'far-Right'. Didn't realise it was run by Osama bin Laden and Margaret Thatcher, best avoid.
A site called 'Prats in Power' is very rude about the BHA, so rude I won't link them, but wonders how you become a self-appointed policeman of business.
Steve Borthwick looks at the educational value of the Ark.
Has anyone reading this actually been there?