Saturday, December 30, 2006

Park Rangers Can't Disclose Grand Canyon's Age

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has reported on a troubling development in one of the nation's premier national parks. Bush political appointees have applied pressure to the staff of Grand Canyon National Park, forcing them to refrain from saying anything about the landform's age.

“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”

Furthermore, the Park's bookstore, which law and park policy dictates must act like a public school, stocks the book Grand Canyon: A Different View, a Creationist book claiming that the Grand Canyon was formed by waters from Noah's great flood. The park's superintendent tried to remove the book from the store's shelves, but was halted by political park officials who promised to review the book's content. Three years on, the book remains on shelves and thre review has still not occurred.

Why does a national park have to worry about offending fundamentalists? Now that they've done this, they're offending people who can think for themselves. At least with the naturalistic stance, they had a view supported by evidence geologic evidence. If fundamentalists don't like the facts, that's what they get for refusing to acknowledge them. Maybe they'll learn something instead of using a book written in the Bronze Age for scienific knowledge.

As for removing the Biblically-inspired book from the park's bookstore, I'm all for it. Normally, I'd be against censorship, but since the park legally acts as a public school, then it must remain secular. The government cannot respect a religious establishment in this manner. It's unconstitutional.

Check out PEER's article here.

Update: It has since come to light that PEER was dishonest in regards to their "no comment" claim. Read more here.


Gary McGath said...

The National Park Service can't exclude a book from its store for taking a religious position, any more than a public school can exclude on from its library for that reason. In itself, including a religious book is hardly "establishment of religion."

But it should be excluded because it's bad science. If a book seriously claimed that Pecos Bill dug the Grand Canyon, it would be equally inappropriate.

The website of the Grand Canyon National Park says that "Geologic formations such as gneiss and schist found at the bottom of the Canyon date back 1,800 million years." So either the extent of the prohibition is exaggerated, or the maintainers of the web site are hoping the creationist officials won't notice. It'll be interesting to see if that page changes.

Lord J-Bar said...

Thanks Gary. I'd normally agree, but if the bookstore has to operate like a public school, but not like a library, then it should probably go. It would be nice to see the specific regulations before making too many judgements.

As for the Grand Canyon website, the article I linked to mentioned it, and was going to keep an eye on it to see if it changed. Hopefully, it won't.