Church and State

Creationist Ken Ham is maneuvering his ‘Ark Encounter’ pseudoscience into public schools

Ken Ham should be proud of himself. He built a to-scale model of the biblical Noah’s Ark, and aside from a less-than-stellar turnout, he’s found himself on the national stage regarding religious belief in this country.

In order to spread his message of a young earth where dinosaurs and humans co-existed in biblical times, he’s dropped the Ark Encounter’s price of admission, making it almost free for public schools to plan field trips to the Kentucky theme park.

“If coming as a public school class, students pay only $1 each and their supervising public school teachers come free,” Ham wrote on his website, Answers in Genesis.

There’s one problem: public schools are forbidden by the law from doing just that.

From Slate’s Zach Kopplin:

Taking a field trip to a 500-foot Noah’s Ark would promote one very specific version of Christianity, a version that takes the Bible’s Book of Genesis literally. The version that says God sent a flood to wipe out mankind for being evil but first told Noah to build a giant Ark hosting a male and female of each species so that life could continue after the flood.

Ham, who opened his $100 million Ark on July 7 after nearly six years of planning and building, thinks this actually happened.

The field trip’s tour will teach kids how they’re all direct descendants of Noah, and show them places such as the Ark’s dinosaur wing. You know, where Noah kept the dinosaurs.

Making this all possible is Ham’s unique kind of tunnel vision that helps him shape his reality. The true-living fact of church-state separation is something Ham has chiseled away and reordered in his mind.

“We want to remind educators in government-run schools of their constitutionally guaranteed rights as they fulfill their goal of presenting broad educational experiences for their students,” Ham said, as if his theme park belongs in the same category as the Natural History Museum. “Public schools are free to take students on field trips to any place they find educationally beneficial.”

Public education is always to be based on established science and history. Ham’s curriculum takes myth and assumes it to be fact, all the while applying poorly-reasoned patch-up work in order to present some semblance of a theory. It’s an insult to public education standards and Ham knows this, and that’s why he wants to spread his intellectual poison in the school system – a system he hates.

Ham seems to know his attraction shouldn’t make the cut, which is why he’s fallen back on another traditional creationist justification for it—that a visit would also teach students how to think critically. (Louisiana and Tennessee also have laws that allow creationism to be taught in school based on this premise that it promotes critical thinking.)

Presenting the Ark “objectively” would help schools “to develop the critical thinking skills of their pupils,” Ham said. Of course, the only critical thinking skill that could be learned on these field trips is how to debunk bad science.

But ham is lying. Thinking critically is antithetical to what he believes, and it’s even an element of the very thing he despises, which is science. Ham even refers to the scientific method as “intellectual child abuse.”

Considering there are now laws in Tennessee and Louisiana that allow for the teaching of a creationism “alternative” in schools, we’ve probably already lost the current generation and the next to this special brand of Christian pseudoscience.

Featured image: Ken Ham’s Facebook

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