This scientist is suing officials with the National Park Service for religious discrimination.
Science has long since defied many religious beliefs because many of the beliefs have proven to be fabricated by cultures that didn’t have the science to explain what they were experiencing. While there are millions (even billions) of people around the world that still hold stock in the primitive beliefs that have been passed down through religious texts and oral history today, many have begun to see that the evidence based in science to disprove some of these theories is real.
There are also people that exist that believe in both religion and science because they understand that not everything can necessarily be explained by science or that there are still mysteries at large in the creation of today’s world. One such person is Andrew Snelling, who has a doctorate in geology and has regularly published peer-reviewed research in scientific journals.
Geology is one strain of science that is at the core of proving that evolution is how Earth was created; by studying rocks, scientists have been able to determine just how long the planet has been alive, when certain creatures roamed the Earth, and so much more information related to the development of this planet we all habit. Due to this overwhelming evidence, public schools teach evolution to students and this ‘theory’ is widely-accepted as the existing explanation for Earth’s creation.
One person who is not so convinced is Snelling, who is a self-proclaimed creationist geologist and a top acolyte for a non-profit group called Answers in Genesis. The group’s focus is advocating for a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis in the Bible, which outlines creationism and how god allegedly created the Earth in under 7 days.
Snelling has been attempting to study rocks from the Grand Canyon, for which approval of a submitted proposal for intended research must be given. He has submitted proposals since 2013, but has consistently been denied, with officials noting that he can find similar rocks elsewhere for his studies. Since Snelling has stated that he wants to collect rocks to prove the creationist theory that god created the Grand Canyon in just a few days, something which he regularly explains to tourists as he leads creationist tours through the canyon, his applications were denied each time.
“I don’t really expect an apology,” Snelling said. “I just expect to have fair treatment. … They need to be neutral in these world views.”
Now that it has been several years since his first proposal, Snelling and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian-based legal organization, are suing the Grand Canyon (or National Park Service officials) for religious discrimination. The legal group is claiming that Snelling’s constitutional rights are being violated and that the National Park Service likely used personal biases against creationism and Snelling’s previous work for Answers in Genesis as a basis to reject his proposals.
Gary McCaleb, ADF senior counsel, told Phoenix New Times that Snelling “has been stonewalled for three years. Something’s fundamentally wrong when a government stops a good scientist from doing good research.”
Snelling and the legal group filed the lawsuit on May 9, 2017, and are suing in federal court and asking that Snelling be issued a permit for his research and that attorneys’ and nominal fees be covered as well. Now that President Donald Trump has also called for the protection of religious freedom from “undue interference by the federal government” in a May 4, 2017 executive order, the legal organization and Snelling feel confident in their ability to win the case and also set precedents for future religious-based groups to conduct their research.