Thursday, January 22, 2004

Faith-Based Parks?There is a controversy brewing over a creationist book being sold at one of the official bookstores at the Grand Canyon National Park. As described in this article from the Salt Lake Tribune, the book, entitled Grand Canyon: A Different View promotes the view that the Grand Canyon was not formed by gradual erosion over millions of years. Actually, it was formed in the aftermath of Noah's flood. In other words, rather than being formed by a small amount of water operating over a large expanse of time, it was actually formed by a large amount of water over a short period of time.

An initial compromise was struck in which the bookstore agreed to continue selling the book, but would place it in the "Inspirational" section as opposed to the "Science" section. Various conservative legal groups have threatened to sue over this, and it is not yet clear how the situation will be resolved.

Of course, there are differing opinions over the formation of the Grand Canyon only in the sense that there are differing opinions over the shape of the Earth - some people saying it's round with others syaing it's flat. Unfortunatly, when covering such stories newspapers feel they have to bend over backward to be fair to both sides. One example comes in the opening line of the article, "Traditional scientists and Christian creationists have lined up on either side of a dispute over sales of a new book at Grand Canyon National Park that claims the canyon dates to the biblical flood of Genesis rather than millions of years ago."

But there ain't no traditional about it. It is scientists of any sort who believe the Grand Canyon is very old, and people who reject science on the other side. If one side wishes to argue that faith and revelation are better than science for ascertaining the age of the canyon they are free to do so. But the fact is their view is not scientific; to place their views in the science section would be false advertising.

This article from the NY Times discusses several other recent incidents of the Bush administration using the national parks to appease religious groups. The headline pretty much says it all: "Critics Say the Park Service Is Letting Religion and Politics Affect Its Policies".


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