An article in New Scientist magazine recently cautioned parents and schools not to allow children to visit a Noah's Ark theme park in Kentucky, citing scientific errors and an underlying message that praises the "obliteration of humans."
In a column published by New Scientist last week, evolutionary biologist Josh Rosenau of the U.S. National Center for Science Education explained that parents should look beyond the Ark Encounter's petting zoo when deciding whether to allow children to attend.
"It is, in fact, a hard-core creationist extravaganza replete with pseudoscience. It is no place for field trips," Rosenau wrote. "Perhaps because of disappointing visitor numbers so far, it is offering reduced rates – $1 a student and free tickets for accompanying teachers – to tempt schoolchildren through its doors. Schools and parents should know that a visit wouldn’t educate or entertain, it would misinform and browbeat."
In addition to the constitutional prohibition against government promoting religion, Rosenau observed that the park's message to students would undermine their education.
"[E]verything in the park is designed to promote scientifically impossible ideas that contradict everything that scientists know. From astrophysics to zookeeping, the visitor is deluged with misinformation," he said. "It may be impossible to find a single sign in the park that is free of scientific errors."
But it was the Ark Encounter's "subtler form of indoctrination" that really disturbed the evolutionary biologist.
"The relentless message to visitors is that our world is as fallen and wicked as Noah’s, and that the destruction of the flood – including the obliteration of all humans other than a virtuous few – was not just acceptable but praiseworthy," Rosenau lamented. "Under the pretence of illustrating a beloved tale shared by Jews, Christians, Muslims and others, Ark Encounter presents a message as socially divisive as it is scientifically inaccurate, instilling fear, hatred and hopelessness."
"Those are lessons no school or parent should want their students or children to take on board."