A tale of two parks: Ark Park sues National Park

According to an article in the Phoenix New Times, Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis is suing the Grand Canyon National Park for rejecting his request to collect 25-30 kg of rock to use in his research. The New Times article, which seems to be based largely on the complaint, details that Dr. Snelling’s proposal was sent to several reviewers, none of whom was sympathetic.

The smartest of the reviewers was probably Ron Blakely of Northern Arizona University, who essentially refused to review the proposal with the words, “It is difficult to review such an outlandish proposal.” Another reviewer, Karl Karlstrom of the University of New Mexico, thinks that the Grand Canyon is about an order of magnitude younger than everyone else thinks outer canyon is older by an order of magnitude than the inner canyon. Unfortunately, according to New Times, he also “criticized Snelling’s beliefs,” by which I assume they mean his religious beliefs. Geologist Peter Huntoon of the University of Wyoming wrote that Snelling could review the rocks if he liked, but “just not processing the dead-end creationist material.”

I think these are frankly very unfortunate comments and could easily lead someone to conclude that Dr. Snelling’s proposal was rejected on religious grounds.

I do not know how many people request permission to remove a few rocks from the Grand Canyon. But Dr. Snelling’s proposal was to remove no more than 60, ~0.2 kg samples to use in his research. He did not ask for any funding. There is not the slightest doubt that his research would conclude that the Grand Canyon was something like 6000 years old. That is, he is pursuing, in the jargon of the times, fake research. So what? It would have been better if the National Park had allowed him to have his rocks and go play in his sandbox.

Instead, Dr. Snelling is now being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has just posted an article Grand Canyon National Park continues history of hostility toward religion, and may become something of a cause célèbre among the right wing. The complaint, incidentally, refers irrelevantly to Donald Trump’s recent Executive Order on “religious freedom.”

See also an article by Answers in Genesis and an amusing piece by The Sensuous Curmudgeon. The Curmudgeon thinks that this case will provide entertainment for months. I think he is right. But it will be less than entertaining if Dr. Snelling wins his case or the Park Service declines to defend it.