Friday, December 29, 2006

How old is the Grand Canyon? We can't tell you. Or can we?

Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park.

I have no problem with someone writing a book claiming the Grand Canyon was carved out of the earth due to Noah's flood, though I personally think that is completely ridiculous. That said, it should not be sold at a National Park. The park should be completely agnostic and scientific about such matters.

The book aside I don't understand why park rangers aren't allowed to discuss the age of the Grand Canyon, according to the article, however you can get the following from the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center FAQ:

How old is the Canyon?
That's a tricky question. Although rocks exposed in the walls of the canyon are geologically quite old, the Canyon itself is a fairly young feature. The oldest rocks at the canyon bottom are close to 2000 million years old. The Canyon itself - an erosional feature - has formed only in the past five or six million years. Geologically speaking, Grand Canyon is very young.
This puts my faith in the validity of the article in question. It makes me wonder if it's just sensationalist in nature to draw attention to the book. I still agree that the book should be removed, especially because of the following:
In 2005, two years after the Grand Canyon creationist controversy erupted, NPS approved a new directive on “Interpretation and Education (Director’s Order #6) which reinforces the posture that materials on the “history of the Earth must be based on the best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism [and] Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes.”
If it is accurate to suggest, due to this directive, that all materials, for sale, at National Parks adhere to these scientific principles then the book does not belong there and should be moved to a Life Way store or something. Though I question if they'd even take it. The author sounds like a fringe fundamentalist to me.

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