Forget about creationism in public schools for a minute. Is it true that the US Government hires young-earth creationist scientists? Can it be true that leading scientific agencies such as NASA employ people who believe that the universe was created within the past 10,000 years?
In the past, we’ve heard of government geologists who hold to young-earth creationist beliefs. But today we see a claim by young-earth impresario Ken Ham that NASA employs “many” creationist scientists. Is it true?
Ken Ham, the force behind leading young-earth ministry Answers In Genesis, wants to be clear. He is not talking about folks like John Glenn. Glenn, world-famous astronaut and sometime Senator, recently attested to a more moderate vision of creationism. Apparently, sixteen years ago, Glenn had claimed, “to look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is to me impossible.” Recently, he offered a slightly different explanation of his creationist beliefs. “I don’t see,” Glenn attested,
that I’m any less religious by the fact that I can appreciate the fact that science just records that we change with evolution and time, and that’s a fact. It doesn’t mean it’s less wondrous and it doesn’t mean that there can’t be some power greater than any of us that has been behind and is behind whatever is going on.
Teach evolution, Glenn insisted. There’s no reason we can’t do that in our public schools without hurting children’s religious belief.
Not so fast, Ham warned. If we accept the premises of deep time and evolution, we have to call God a liar, and we have to ignore reams of scientific evidence that points to a newer creation.
Luckily, Ham reports, the labs of NASA are freighted with true creationist scientists. When he gave a talk to the “Bible Club” at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in 1994, Ham says, he was “thrilled to meet many scientists who were also biblical creationists!”
Now, maybe it’s my secular bias, but I have a hard time believing that NASA really employs a sizeable population of young-earth creationists. In the past, I’ve defended the notion that young-earth creationists are not necessarily “ignorant,” as so many secular people like to claim. We have scads of evidence that smart people can be trained in scientific careers and hold to a belief that the universe is fairly new.
But Ham’s claim that NASA is teeming with young-earth creationists seems to be a different case. In the day-to-day work of NASA—a work I admit I know nothing about—it would seem difficult to reconcile a belief in a newish universe with basic assumptions about space exploration.
The claim seems to put Mr. Ham in a difficult position. If NASA really does employ “many” creationist scientists, then NASA can’t fairly be accused of anti-creationist prejudice. But Answers In Genesis insists that mainstream scientists are uniformly blinded to the truths of creationist science by willful prejudice.
On the other hand, if NASA doesn’t really employ “many” creationist scientists, then Ham’s claim doesn’t stand up. He mentioned one of NASA’s creationist scientists by name, one Bill Daniels. If it’s the same person, Bill C. Daniels of New Smyrna Beach, Florida worked as a “project equipment manager” for NASA, according to Daniels’ obituary. Is it possible that NASA’s Bible Club was full of employees who did not have to engage with the scientific paradoxes of young-earth belief in an organization dedicated to exploring an ancient universe?