Ken Ham: Atheists Are “Bullying” Us By Saying Schools Can’t Visit Ark Encounter

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #1


I have to wonder what Ken Ham would think about his tax dollars going towards public school field trips to Muslim indoctrination centers.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #3

So, just in my opinion, the primary sources are more elucidating.

As we wrote back in 2016 when the Ark first opened, there is absolutely nothing unconstitutional about a public school visiting either of our world-class attractions . (We originally wrote on this topic due to an atheist group trying to bully public schools into not visiting back in 2016.) This is nothing more than a bullying tactic to try and keep children from being exposed to the teaching at these attractions.

It’s interesting—these atheists know that children in public schools receive evolutionary and atheistic indoctrination (religious teaching!) five days a week for the whole school year—including during field trips to museums where evolution is presented as fact—and they are worried about one trip to a Christian, creationist attraction! It must be because they know the message we present is so powerful.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #4

I think this deserves a far better response than the article originally linked. I appreciate the news, but the primary sources are more salient. We want to do a better job than just dismissing or ridiculing others. I want to understand, even if I’m still opposed in the end.

It’s interesting—these atheists know that children in public schools receive evolutionary and atheistic indoctrination (religious teaching!) five days a week for the whole school year—including during field trips to museums where evolution is presented as fact—and they are worried about one trip to a Christian, creationist attraction! It must be because they know the message we present is so powerful.

Here’s what our religious freedom attorneys wrote back in 2016 about the legality of a field trip to our attractions:

If public schools were bringing students to the Ark and museum and declaring, “THIS interpretation is the only real truth that you should personally accept,” then that would be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.

If classes are coming to the museum or Ark in an objective fashion, however, to show students world-class exhibits and one group’s interpretation of the origin of man and earth history, then the field trip is just fine as an exceptional and voluntary educational and cultural experience.

Public school officials should neither personally endorse nor diminish the museum’s view, but should present it objectively.

This principle is the same as “teaching the Bible in schools.” It is well established that the Bible may be used in the classroom objectively, as part of a secular program of education, for the Bible’s inherent historic and literary value. As long as the teacher doesn’t take a personal position in the classroom that the Bible is true, the teacher can say, “Millions of people around the globe do believe it is true, and let’s look at the effect that belief has had upon the development of Western Civilization, history, culture, art, music, and all the rest.”

Ultimately, it’s possible to attend the Creation Museum or Ark to teach rather than preach and to educate rather than indoctrinate.

Surely, liberal civil rights groups like the ACLU and the FFRF would not argue that on a field trip to a local theater, the school inherently endorses and adopts all of the viewpoints and themes that may be presented in each production.

How did FFRF and ACLU respond to their argument?

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #5

Here is the letter that FFRF sent to all schools within 1500 miles from Ark Encounter. School attorney’s must have agreed with it as there hasn’t been one public school trip to Ark Encounter in the two years since it opened.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #6

Quote the key arguments?

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #7

Schools have a constitutional obligation to ensure that their programs “do not inculcate religion.”
Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 619 (1971). Taking public school students to a site whose
self-professed goal is to convert children to a particular religion and undermine what is taught in
public school science and history classrooms would be inappropriate. Public schools may not
advance or promote religion. See generally Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992); Wallace v.
Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985); Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1967); Sch. Dist. of Abington
Twp. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963); Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962).

The obligation to remain neutral on religion includes not teaching creationism, intelligent design,
or any of their creatively named religious offspring to public school students. See Edwards v.
Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987); McLean v. Ark. Bd. of Educ., 529 F.Supp. 1255, 1256 (E.D. Ark.
1982) (holding that “balanced treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science” violates
Constitution); Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Sch. Dist., 400 F.Supp. 2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005) (ruling
that teaching intelligent design is like teaching creationism — unconstitutional). There are also
serious constitutional issues with public schools organizing and coordinating funding to a selfproclaimed
religious ministry.

(Blogging Graduate Student) #8

That’s great in theory, but are we really expected to believe that’s the reality of all, or even most, of the school trips to the ark? When kids, especially young ones, go to a museum (which the ark resembles), they aren’t there to critically and objectively consider the arguments - they’re trusting to be told the truth. How many teachers are we expected to believe walk around with their class saying things like “look here, this plaque says X, don’t forget to consider the evidence for Y that comes from mainstream scientists though!”

99% of teachers taking their classes to the ark will be creationists themselves, so they won’t exactly go out of their way to disuade their impressionable students from believing the ark’s information.

The whole thing stinks.

(John Harshman) #9



We may chuckle under our breath at such audacious statements, but there are large segments of the US population that believe in what AiG is saying. That still stuns me.

(Alan Fox) #11

I’d be more impressed if it floated. At least Thor Heyerdahl put to sea in his raft.

(Dan Eastwood) #12

Ken Ham is the world’s best recruiter for atheism. I say let the kids go.

Sarcasm intended, but there is a lot of truth to that. I’ve seen a lot of people who were driven away from their faith by family and communities for daring to understand some science.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #13

5 posts were split to a new topic: A Secular-Confessional Society

(Robert Byers) #18

Its heaps of people who are hostile to creationism. Not just atheists.
its another case where in a issue of mutual origins and that in contention wHERE the state is interfering with who is right/legitamate. Then its suspicious they are interfering on a motive of opposition against creationism as religion. So that state is saying a religious conclusion is false in a neutral subbject of origins.
This is illegal for the state to do this from of old.
Its worse in canada but America is a land of Lockean freedom, laws, and heritage of citizens defending same.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #19

Can you express this more clearly. It doesn’t read well.


The state is merely teaching the scientific consensus. The state doesn’t decide what the best supported theory is. The scientific community does. If creationists want their beliefs to be taught in public schools then they need to convince the scientific community that their beliefs are scientific and supported by evidence.

That is wrong. What they are saying is that creationism is not science so it isn’t appropriate for science class.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #21

Here is the textbook for US High Schools. What’s wrong with it?


I haven’t read anything in the textbook, but both Levine and Miller are well respected within the scientific community so I would suspect that the textbook is of high quality.

(Robert Byers) #23

they don’t say its bad science. they say its religion and illegal.
anuways the state is involved and is picking sides. its the public that owns the schools and kids. iots not a few scientists who decide these things. They are not the boss. creationism etc exists to question conclusions(not science) in these subjects and are using science.
any interference is state control on truth. sure it is.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #24

Each State Department of Education sets the science curriculum in public schools. That is what is taught in schools. For a school to deviate from the curriculum in an unconstitutional way like a field trip to Ark Encounter would be an illegal and unconstitutional act by a school district subjecting them to lawsuits. Courts have already decided in many cases that religion education and endorsement is banned from schools (no school prayer). In addition the Dover Trial established creationism, in all its forms, YEC, OEC, ID, and TE/EC, as religion and is therefore, not allowed to be taught in public schools.This is settled law, and finds its basis in the first amendment.