Saturday, August 29, 2009

Humanists accuse West Country zoo of pushing creationist agenda

I carried a note on this story in the last Zoo News Digest Blog but thought I would draw peoples attention to the story once again. Why? Because of the commented correspondence the story has generated. There is reams of it and it will give you an interesting hour or so's read. Feel free to place your own comments here.
I just wonder how many people actually read the signage in the zoo. We have enough problems to get visitors to read signs in a conventional zoo. Perhaps the secret is to be controversial. Whereas I will never be a creationist the BHA has dropped down a few notches in my opinion.

Go on...hit the link at the bottom and read through the comments.

Humanists accuse West Country zoo of pushing creationist agenda
Noah's Ark farm denies allegations, saying it promotes debate between science and religion over evolution

A secular group was today demanding that tourism groups stop promoting what it calls a "creationist" zoo, that questions the traditional view of evolution.
The Noah's Ark zoo farm, in Wraxall, near Bristol, was accused by the British Humanist Association (BHA) of misleading tens of thousands of annual visitors and "threatening public understanding".

The zoo, however, rejected the BHA's claims that it is not open about its interest in creationism, the belief that all life was created by God, and said that it wanted to promote a debate about Darwinism and 6000 BC creationism (also known as young Earth creationism), both of which it said on its website were "flawed" and "extreme in their own rights".

The BHA has written to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums , North Somerset council, Visit Britain and the tourism group South West England, asking them to remove Noah's Ark from their material.

The BHA said the zoo farm, run by husband and wife Anthony and Christina Bush, seeks to discredit scientific facts such as radio carbon dating, the fossil record and the speed of light. The BHA said signs at the zoo also describe how the "three great people groups" could be descended from the three sons of Noah.
The zoo's owners said they were "slightly different" from pure creationists because the zoo explains life as being created by "both God and evolution", and there is a long detailed section on this on the zoo's website entitled "Creation Research".

BHA director of education and public affairs, Andrew Copson, said: "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.

"We have therefore asked the South West England and Visit Britain tourist boards to stop promoting the zoo.

"As they are public bodies, we believe it is inappropriate that they should support establishments that seek to urge religious or ideological beliefs upon people in these ways."

Noah's Ark research assistant Jon Woodward said: "To say that we are not upfront with our beliefs is unfounded. The name Noah's Ark is the first indicator.

"We also have much material on our website, which is not disguised or hidden, as well as being on our leaflet. Our education policy is purely based around the national curriculum. At no point is religion taught in the classroom, unless requested, as that would go against the national curriculum.

"We are offering our visitors the chance to look at the evolution/creation debate. As it is a free country, that is within our right. Contrary to a small minority of people's claims, we do not teach false science. This is clearly shown within the zoo with one exhibition talking about Darwin and another offering another point of view."

A North Somerset council spokesman, Steve Makin, said: "The licensing of zoos does consider education in so far as a zoo must promote an understanding of, and concern and respect for, biodiversity, animals and the natural world. The zoo licensing system therefore does not comment on or is involved in personal beliefs."

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