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A creationist geologist who sued the National Park Service to collect rocks from the Grand Canyon was issued his permits – and dropped his lawsuit.

Andrew Snelling, an ardent Christian, filed his lawsuit in May, after four years of unsuccessfully seeking the proper permits to acquire rocks helping him prove that God created the Earth in six days.

Snelling asked to collect about 40 fist-sized rocks to test his hypothesis that the Grand Canyon is thousands, and not millions, of years old.

The federal authorities have now issued Snelling a research permit and a raft-launch research permit for on-site work at the Canyon. Snelling will start his research later this summer, he said in a press release issued through the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group.

“I am gratified that the Grand Canyon research staff have recognized the quality and integrity of my proposed research project and issued the desired research permits so that I can collect rock samples in the Park, perform the planned testing of them, and openly report the results for the benefit of all,” Snelling said in a statement last week.

“We expect debate about what the evidence means,” he added. “In my lawsuit, I had merely been asking for fairness.”

The difference in getting the permits issued was new federal leadership, said Gary McCaleb, ADF senior counsel and one of Snelling’s lawyers.

“When the government refuses to allow a Christian geologist simply to collect information because it dislikes his view, it undercuts science and violates the law,” said McCaleb, in a prepared statement. “We commend Park Service officials, (Department of the) Interior Secretary (Ryan) Zinke, and the Trump Administration for understanding that specifically targeting Dr. Snelling’s faith as the reason to stop his research was both inappropriate and unconstitutional.”

The complaint was filed in May, just days after President Donald Trump issued an executive order called “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Freedom.” The lawsuit contended that the gatekeepers of the park permits were just stonewalling Snelling.

“Defendants have effectively prohibited Dr. Snelling from performing scientific research in the Grand Canyon National Park,” wrote the lawyers from the ADF, who represented Snelling pro bono.

“Defendants’ policies and actions expressly discriminated against Dr. Snelling because of his religious faith,” they added.

Snelling has a doctorate in geology from the University of Sydney in Australia, and has conducted three prior research projects at the Grand Canyon, according to the lawsuit.

His focus in the new project: gathering samples of rocks at the “folds” inside the Canyon where geological layers are bent.

“Dr. Snelling suspects that the layers were not shattered because the rocks were still soft as they folded,” a press release states. “In the evolution scenario, these rocks must have supposedly remained soft for 450 million years.”

Snelling’s employer is the religious-based group Answers in Genesis. The group was founded by Ken Ham, who recently made headlines with a “life size” reproduction of Noah’s Ark and museum called Ark Encounter in Kentucky.

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