So, last month I became aware of Noah's Ark in Bristol. Bristling slightly from the name, I wondered:
"Is this going to be some fundamentalist creationist shit like in the USA?"
The clue is in the name. The leaflet for it is... unclear. The website says its part of BIAZA and other respectable zoo things. But, there are some "no-traditional" views held by the owners, who do mention things at the zoo with religious connotations.
Now I state immediately this does not make it a bad zoo, or mean that it doesn't treat animals well. Indeed, being part of BIAZA speaks well of its engagement with animal welfare and endangered animal breeding programs. So it took a little bit more digging to find what was going on.
It has an educational page - which at the moment has school nativities.
(Not necessarily bad - especially as a friend has pointed out her child is coming home singing "jesus bashing" songs from a non-demonational school, and they're not even classics needed for a nativity like Little Donkey or Wham's Last Christmas (Balls, I just Whamhalla'ed myself) (Anyone puzzled by that, look up Whamaggedon). (Note for balance, even I was taught a jewish song at my CofE primary school. By all means, teach some carols or psalms, but they better be matched by songs from other faiths!))
Anyway, Noah's Ark, through a subtle route, does link to it's view of the geological story. Note it isn't fundamentalist Bishop Ussher (Earth being 6024 years old, approx). But it doesn't gel with accepted science (Universe is approx 13.7 billion years old). It instead offers some independent thinking.
And that's where is gets really interesting!
It accepts geological evidence in terms of evolution, the fossil record, continental drift etc.
It rejects bible interpretations of the Earth being young.
Through a series of arguments that the fossil record shows the re-colonisation of the Earth after a deluge, that sediment deposition can be much faster than geology usually assumes, that evolution is the rapid change of organisms according to new pressures, it basically concludes that God made the Earth something like 100,000 years ago. This is under "Key concepts". Read it for yourself for the details. It is very well argued and based on observable evidence.
This version of the world needs a few "tweaks" to accepted science:
Not wishing to be possibly accused of misrepresenting the site, of which, the "author of the material published here (who, amongst other qualifications, has a PhD in geology)", but if your theory of how life evolved faster than established science believes means that you have to REWRITE NOT ONE, BUT TWO of the fundamental rules of the universe:
relativity's fundamental constant of the speed of light, AND
the basis of quantum mechanics, which sets rates of radioactive decay
In that case, I suggest that you MIGHT need stronger evidence for your version of science than thinking that God was a bit impatient for human life to appear on Earth...
Just my humble opinion.
On a friday night.
Oh, and science!
(And, if you have any doubts, just think quite HOW FAST continental drift has to accelerate to make the whole globe of continents reshape in not 4.7 billion years, but 100,000!)