Mind you, it’s got ‘previous’ on this issue, having waded into scientific arguments on many occasions. And, true to form, it is also trying to squash opposition to evolution, instead of standing for the ‘free thinking’ it claims to embrace.
The BHA says Noah's Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxhall, North Somerset, is bad for science, and has been urging tourism boards to boycott the zoo and the local authority to revoke its licence. Of course, the BHA’s concern for good science is a cloak for its opposition to creationism. When else do you ever see the BHA standing up for good science? Answer: only when creationism or Intelligent Design theory need a good kicking. Why? Because such unorthodox science threatens the atheistic view of life that the BHA espouses. It can stomach no opposition.
Signs at the zoo suggest that the "three great people groups" of the world may be descendants of Noah – which a literal reading of the Bible would certainly support. Another sign says animal predation occurred after "man rebelled against God". Now, such views might be typical of traditional Young Earth Creationism (YEC), but the website and two spokespeople for the zoo do say that they view “the natural world around us as a product of both God and evolution”.
A closer look at their website indicates they accept a limited form of evolution and believe that the world may be much older than the typical YEC position of less than 10,000 years. As a spokesperson says, "Although technically creationists, we do not hold the stereotypical creationist views that the world was created in 6,000 years and there is no evolution."
So we are not dealing here with the ultra-traditional creationism that the BHA seems to want to brand this zoo as espousing. But that is no matter to the BHA – any religious view on life must be suppressed. The BHA’s criticism is an attack not only on creationism but on freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
BHA education officer Paul Pettinger says, "We're very concerned because it will undermine education and the teaching of science." First, it’s ridiculous that one small zoo could undermine education as a whole, and second it certainly doesn’t undermine the teaching of science itself – only the teaching of a rigid Darwinian view of evolution. But of course, the BHA needs evolution to reign supreme in order to shore up its atheistic beliefs.
The zoo’s website says that scientists are afraid to talk about "design" in the natural world, and the zoo’s owner Anthony Bush says, "There's a lot of people who believe in Genesis who don't want to come out of the woodwork, but they don't want to come out of the closet because of the thought police."
Well, it’s clear why when the Inquisitors of the BHA come knocking on your door if you cast the slightest doubt on Darwinism.
Bush, a former Evangelical preacher, says his zoo actually presents a variety of views, only one of which is creationist. "I think God created life. I have no idea when," he adds.
One tourism group, Visit England, avoided the issue by pointing out that it only checks a zoo’s visitor satisfaction rating and has no opinion on content. On that score, Noah’s Ark Zoo is clearly a winner. Despite only having 100 animals, it is visited by 120,000 people every year, including members of school parties, yet only gets about ten complaints per year. As Noah's Ark research assistant Jon Woodwood says, "Clearly the public do not share the British Humanist viewpoint.''
BHA director of education and public affairs Andrew Copson also accuses the zoo of deceiving people about its creationist views: ''We believe Noah's Ark Farm Zoo misleads the public by not being open about its creationist agenda in its promotional activities.”
This is clearly untrue as the zoo website has a whole section on creationism and is completely open about its stance. And as Jon Woodwood points out, the zoo is actually named after the biblical Noah’s Ark – might that not be a big clue as to its viewpoint?!
As for undermining science education… ''Our education policy is purely based around 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.”
Fortunately the director of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Miranda Stevenson, is perceptive: ''I find it extraordinary that an organisation that I thought promotes free thinking appears to want censorship.''
By Andrew Halloway