Bush White House still promoting creationism

By Phil Plait | December 29, 2006 6:56 pm

Are you still wondering if there is a First Amendment in these United States? I am.

According to this press release from PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility), Bush White House appointees are suppressing real science in order to promote creationism. Specifically, at the Grand Canyon National Park, a book is on sale that says the canyon was formed in Noah’s flood. Also, guides at the park are not allowed to answer questions about how old the canyon is, despite scientists’ incredibly detailed and intricate knowledge of the formation mechanism, scheme, and history of the canyon (hint: some of the oldest rocks in the canyon are two billion years old).

How angry does this make me? Well, how hot is a supernova? That’s about the same level.

It’s not bad enough that this White House is stepping on the throat of science everywhere it can, but now this Administration (through proxy appointees) is actively engaging in promoting a belief system which is demonstrably false… oh, and it happens to be unconstitutional, too. The very first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution really could not be any more clear on this.

“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.’”

The book, called "Grand Canyon: A Different View", talks about the idea that the Grand Canyon is very young. This is standard creationist rhetoric, and is grossly wrong. I might even call it a lie… no, let me rephrase this. I would definitely call it a lie. To see for yourself, try reading Red State Rabble’s Grand Canyon essays. There are four of them, slamming the creationist dribble. You can also read the wonderful National Center for Science Education’s rebuttal to this book. The NCSE rocks, by the way. They have tours of the Grand Canyon where you’ll get the real story, and not some made up nonsense.

What I find interesting is that this book has been around for years. When it first came out, people started to complain, and the National Park Service Chief of Communications David Barna leapt into action said something that turned out, um, not to be true:

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…

… NPS Chief of Communications David Barna told reporters and members of Congress that there would be a high-level policy review of the issue.

According to a recent NPS response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by PEER, no such review was ever requested, let alone conducted or completed.

Emphasis mine.

Three years! How long does it take to read this book? Of course, having a scientist write down just why creationist arguments are wrong might take about that long. There are a lot of wrong arguments. But still, that’s 0.05% of the age of the Earth!

I’ll note that at the very least, the book should have been taken off the shelves until further investigation had been done. Yet there it sits, lying to the millions of visitors to the park every year.

If I were a Grand Canyon park geologist, I would be screaming bloody murder. But maybe I should leave the talking to them:

As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan…

I would not be at all surprised to see that title coming soon to a government book store near you.

There is some good news, though: the Grand Canyon website does indeed talk about the canyon forming over millions of years. I wonder how long it will be before the White House changes that link to go to Answers in Genesis?


Comments (81)

  1. Michelle Rochon

    This is starting to be seriously ridiculous. People have the right to their beliefs, but can they leave it out of the people’s governments? Stick to what can be proven by logic and research. Faith CANNOT be proven by default!

  2. Zoot

    Taking a larger socio-cultural perspective on all this, it does seem like it might be the death rattles of an antiquated mindset. They must fail in one way or the other, but hopefully without dragging the country down with them.

    Because science is, globally speaking on a roll and it’s not likely to stop out of respect for pockets of delusion. It never has before.

    But in some ways, the conflict as such is beneficial because it gives rational people the opportunity to demonstrate rational tinking to all those people who haven’t really given the topic much thought.

  3. Ron

    Don’t us ‘scientific’ fundamentalists have a right not to be offended by creationist drivel?

  4. SteveT

    Michelle (and Phil),

    Before this thread turns into yet another series of back and forth arguments about the validity of religious faith, let me point out that a large number of people of faith (both Protestants and Catholics) reject the Young Earth Creationist garbage as being exactly that, garbage! These yahoos give religion a black eye by mangling science to support their ridiculously literal interpretations of the Bible. Below I have lifted wholesale (without permission!) a section from the Episcopal Catechism that is relevant to this discussion:
    What are the major features of our contemporary cosmology?

    Scientific evidence shows that we live in a universe so enormous that it is difficult for the human mind to grasp. This universe has no “up” or “down,” no center and no edge. It has been expanding for about 14 billion years from an event called the “Big Bang.” From that singular event, space and time and various forms of matter and energy have emerged. Billions of galaxies, each made up of billions of stars and countless numbers of planets, have come into existence. Scientists still seek to understand many mysterious features of the universe.

    Now, I don’t happen to be Episcopalian, but I have found much in this Catechism worthy of study. Like you and Phil, there are also many people of faith who decry the ongoing attempts to force religious pseudo-science onto the public. Some of us even support the work of the NCSE financially. I would certainly agree with the argument that those of us in the faith community who reject this kind of stupidity need to do more in the way of public outreach. We have been too quiet for too long! Fortunately, I see glimmers of hope in the growing list of influential faith leaders who are stepping up and proclaiming the need to fight the causes of global warming and other environmental ills. With luck, it won’t end up being too little, too late!

  5. Melusine

    I was thinking that this is old news, but didn’t realize that the book is still being sold in the giftshop. Ugh. Park officials should be embarrassed (or maybe ashamed). Our national parks are federal as is NASA – we’re sending satellites and rovers millions of miles away and allowing Creationist dribble to be sold at one of our geological wonders here on Earth? Gee kids, look at these billions years old rocks, now bury your head in Make-Believe-Land. An alternative view of ignorance! I wonder what reality-based books they rejected to make room on the shelf for this one, which is so easily obtainable elsewhere:

    In fact, however, both law and park policies make it clear that the park bookstores are more like schoolrooms rather than libraries. As such, materials are only to reflect the highest quality science and are supposed to closely support approved interpretive themes. Moreover, unlike a library the approval process is very selective. Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon officials rejected 22 books and other products for bookstore placement while approving only one new sale item — the creationist book.

    Pandering to idiocy…

  6. Grand Lunar

    Bad enough support was given for “intelligent design”.
    Now it’s creationism?

    The flow of crude never ends.

    I find it amazing this same administration is the one that promoted the “Vision for Exploration”.
    No doubt creationist writings will come about in that subject too.

  7. Tiax

    The Grand Canyon National Park website still includes information on the age of the place: “Geologic formations such as gneiss and schist found at the bottom of the Canyon date back 1,800 million years.”


    The bookstore has a rather up-front description of the book: “Laden with beautiful photographs coupled with Biblical quotes, this book is a creationist view of how the Grand Canyon came to be. Compiled by a Colorado River guide, its 104 pages include 23 essays by some of the leading modern-day theologians and creationists.”


  8. Melusine

    SteveT, being that my whole family is religious (and I love them dearly), I have to say there are different degrees of creationism even though I don’t personally agree with any of them. I tend to capitalize “Creationism” when I specifically mean “Young Earth Creationists” even though creationism extends to creation by God, any gods or supreme being. I have no patience for Young Earth Creationists, and I’d slap my family silly if any of them starting spouting that nonsense. Luckily they don’t. 😉

  9. Eric

    There may be some fair compromises. The bookstore could sell the book with a sticker that says “Young Earth Creationism is demonstrably false.” And if the age of the Canyon question is asked during a hike, young earth creationists can always just step off the trail…

    Actually, I’m skeptical that park rangers are not being allowed to talk about how old the canyon is. The age is mentioned at the NPS site: http://www.nps.gov/grca/naturescience/naturalfeaturesandecosystems.htm

  10. Christian Burnham

    “Also, guides at the park are not allowed to answer questions about how old the canyon is…”

    Come now, that can’t be true! Can this be verified?

  11. This is unbelievable… the part about park rangers not being able to answer questions about the age of the canyon? That CAN’T be true… it’s way too outlandish. Can we get confirmation?

  12. Bryan D.

    well, January 20, 2009 when the next President is Inaugurated isn’t that far off. :)

  13. Melusine

    Shoot, I was going through the Grand Canyon bookstore online and wasn’t finding the book in question – in the children’s section, etc. – but then I came across it: http://www.grandcanyonassociation.org/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=GCA&Product_Code=M20386&Category_Code=NHIST

    As Phil pointed out, the official park site DOES say “millions of years,” which makes it more pathetic that this book is in the presence of a lot of interesting-looking books with interesting facts, some of which are about human history, but this book is found in the Natural History section. No, no, no, it should at the VERY least be in the Human History section!

  14. Isn’t Bush aware that the Constitution he so despises is the only thing protecting him from a charge of high treason?

  15. cousin it

    It is shamefull that some one and a half centuries after catastrophism theory was proven wrong , it is still being PREACHED . Can anyone say Flat Earth .

  16. jbrader

    I’m so angry I can’t speak. I believe I’m going to have to write some letters to some elected officials in the morning when I regain my facilities.

  17. Jonathan

    My forefathers fought and died over this issue of state funded religion hundreds of years ago. That is why they quit England and started America. I have done my time in the American military maintaining the freedoms we have. Now, I am ashamed of the direction my country has taken in the aftermath of 911. Bush had his oil enemy hanged and the real killer is still on the loose. I’m surprised that Bush has not found a loophole in the law that would make him president for the rest of his life. Or, is he really looking into WORLD domination. No matter what, we, all of us alive today, now will have to live with the legacy of this tyrant who has killed thousands and has now filled the court with his own justice.

  18. katolives

    Bush isn’t smart enough to run a Burker King, let alone the USA
    or the world. It’s his cronies working behind the scenes we have
    to watch out for. Bush is one of the most clueless so-called leaders
    this otherwise great nation has ever had to endure. But half the
    country can blame itself for letting this fool in twice.

    But Cheney and Rove – now they may be selfish and evil, but they
    are not stupid. Those are the ones I want to see out even before

  19. Matt

    I, coming from Canada have little right to comment on the sorry state of the United States of America…

    But I feel I have to say this…

    You all (that’s y’all for all the texans out there) need to make a much better decision in 2008 (that is your next election right???). Though we are all aware of the controversial nature of the election results for both the bush elections, there is nothing we can do about the past (too bad eh?). Bush *and his cronies as was mentioned previously* are a dangerous group of far right and repressive people. They shamelessly promote antiquated and FALSE beliefs throughout their country.

    The United States is the most powerful country on this earth, yet trails behind other countries in it’s beliefs and acceptance of science as FACT. I’m not saying all americans are behind, but I believe there is a much greater percentage of the population involved in an organized faiths (many promoting this kind of ignorance).

    Religion had a purpose in the past, that was to govern with an iron fist and prevent disobedience through stories of heaven and hell. We’ve gotten a little carried away with this.

    *hoping every day the world will come to its senses…

  20. spacewriter

    This kind of ignorant drivel (the GC formed by Noah’s fludde) makes me sick to my stomach at the lost educational opportunities for America’s children at the hands of ignorant fundamentalists who can’t accept that other people may not believe as they do and thus must force their dwindling minority view on the rest of the country. By promulgating this BS about the Grand Canyon, the fundies are telling the rest of us to ignore evidence before our noses and put our faith in some mystical sky daddy who accidentally flooded the planet way back when. That is the ultimate rejection of truth in order to force faith on everyone. What is this country coming to?

    That these educationally bankrupt religious thugs now have the Bush administration’s backing is very telling; now that Bush has a “moral” victory in Baghdad tonight, he must be feeling pretty randy with power. What’s going to be next? A book about how the Moon formed when God flang it out of the Sun?

    Note: I am referring not to all Christians, but to the ignorant louts who forgot that they live in a country where religion is still not yet more important than truth.

  21. Melusine

    Well, since I was so perturbed to find that this book is in their Natural History section, I sent an email to the Grand Canyon Association expressing my thoughts on this book’s inclusion in their bookstore, especially as their motto at the top of every page is Enriching experience through knowledge. Yes, the hard work of geologists and other scientists who have contributed to the progress of human knowledge about our planet by studying the Canyon. I said other things, such as they should create an “Unnatural History” section, but I was quite serious and used my real name and location.

    I wonder if I’ll get a reply. They are at: gcassociation@grandcanyon.org

  22. wolfwalker

    Specifically, at the Grand Canyon National Park, a book is on sale that says the canyon was formed in Noah’s flood.

    Big, fat, hairy deal.

    When I visited the Grand Canyon in 1998, six years into a Democratic president’s term, in among all the very fine scientific books in the Grand Canyon Village bookshop there was also a work of dubious quality titled Red Earth, White Lies, by one Vine DeLoria. Not only anti-scientific but also explicitly racist, it scorned and ridiculed “white man’s science” and instead pushed Amerind myths as explanations for how the world in general and the Canyon in particular were formed. When y’all criticize the Park Service for stocking that book, and president #42 for permitting it to occur on his watch, then I might believe that your indignation in this case is genuinely about defending Good Science, and not just bashing Bush.

    Oh, and I should probably add that I don’t hold president #42 directly responsible for that book being on sale. There is no way that the President of the United States is going to spend any of his time on personally deciding what books should be stocked in National Park bookstores.

    The only part of this press release that I find worth getting worked up about is the claim that Park Rangers are being prohibited from telling visitors about the science of the Canyon. Show me some evidence for that charge, and I’ll join you in calling for the heads of those responsible. I don’t believe Bush is directly responsible for this either — with all he’s got to worry about, something like this doesn’t even show on his daily schedule. I suspect a junior functionary with more zeal than sense exceeded his legal authority.

  23. G Birch

    The earth is only 6,000 years old, because the Bible says so? Well, the Bible doesn’t speak of the Grand Canyon, and I’ve never seen it in person, therefore it must not exist. 😉

    Actually, to add more fuel to this fire, go read the reviews for this book at Amazon.com:

    At first they’re kinda funny, but as I read them, I began to cry. Are people really that stupid?

    – G

  24. wolfwalker, if I had known about that book then, I would have said something. If it’s still there, I will say something.

    But that is entirely beside the point. This has to do with creationism being promoted by this Administration, in the form of appointees blocking park officials from telling the truth. I don’t think Bush is personally calling up park rangers and giving them marching orders. But the attitude toward science of this Administration — over which Bush is responsible — has been made very very clear.

  25. My understanding, getting back to the science is that the GC was caused by a river gently eroding away over the millenia.

    Have I got that right?

    Could not some of the gouging have been done by a violent run off, say a spring run off? Could a massive flood cause what we see today? Glaciation usually leaves a nice U shape valley, so it could not be that.

    wrt the rangers Maybe you could apply for equal time 😉

  26. Melusine

    Answers in Genesis has a page: Go rafting with Tom Vail! (the author of said book):

    Go rafting with the author of the controversial Grand Canyon book!

    Tom Vail, author of Grand Canyon: A Different View, which made worldwide headlines when the National Park Service considered banning it from park bookstores, has over 25 years experience guiding tours through Grand Canyon (over 150 trips in all). For the last several years, AiG has partnered with Tom’s ministry Canyon Ministries to provide biblically based trips through the Grand Canyon.

    “It was and will remain one of the trips of a lifetime. The trip was so well supplied, organized, and professional. Most important were the teachings and discussions about geology, creation, and the Bible, surrounded by one of the Creator’s most spectacular examples of His handiwork on Earth.” —M. Moser, Lima, Ohio

    Due to the great response in past years, we’re offering three Grand Canyon raft trips in 2007—one in April, June and July! Join Tom and some of AiG’s speakers on a once-in-a-lifetime rafting trip and see the Grand Canyon from a creationist perspective.

    It hurts to link, but I must: http://www.answersingenesis.org/events/grandCanyon/default.aspx

  27. wrt the rangers Maybe you could apply for equal time

    I’m sure you already agree with me when I say that “equal time” is complete bull. The only reason I’m commenting on this is that the book is still in the minority, so “equal time” would mean more Creationist books in there. What we want isn’t equal time for all beliefs, it’s time proportional to validity, which in the case of Creationism means no time.

    …they should create an “Unnatural History” section…

    Hmm, that made me think: Wouldn’t “Unnatural Selection” be the perfect descriptor for Bush’s Presidency? Not only is he anti-Natural Selection, he wasn’t fairly selected to be the President in the first place (okay, the second time he did get in on propaganda instead of outright cheating, but that’s not something to be proud of).

  28. Melusine

    Oh, I muffed up and copy/pasted the wrong paragragh:

    These thrilling trips will be on a motorized raft through the Grand Canyon, “North America’s biggest whitewater,” while you learn about God’s Judgment of the Flood. All trips include daily hikes to explore side canyons, great food, fellowship and teaching.


  29. Mark UK

    Karl Rove was very clear in an interview several years ago that perhaps was not published in the US. In order for the Republican to take power they decided they needed not only the right wing christian fundamentalist vote they also needed the middle of the road christians that could go either way. As most scientists and intellectuals tend to vote liberal the discrediting of science was a major part of their tactics. They don’t believe all of this rubbish, they do believe it helps them win elections. As Stephen Colbert mentioned, facts tend to have a liberal bias…

  30. I thought that (especially the US federal) the administration is there to serve its people, and not to impose its points of view on them.
    Having lived for 15 years in a totalitarian ‘communist’ regime, I am amazed that such things (not just this one here, Phil pointed out several ones in the past) can happen in what’s considered the “world’s democratic role model”. Don’t you people have a word to say and to act there? I know that over here such a thing would have immediate reaction from the scientific and educational community. But then again, these communities are a lot smaller than over there. Too bad it usually takes a serious crisis for them to unite, at least for a while. But when they happen, things work.

  31. As a recent (and often) visitor to the Grand Canyon I was suprised to hear such a book was on sale with incredibly erroneous information. However, the report that Park Rangers are avoiding discussing the age of the Canyon and its development through the aeons conflicts with our own experience of listening to their talk sessions. At no time have we been exposed to the creationist theories and all information provided by the Rangers has complied with the present scientific understanding of the Canyon formation. Our experience with the Ranger sessions range from the 1980s until the present time and at no time have they varied their information from that found in reliable scientific sources.

  32. Shawn S.

    They should put in in with books on Indian Spiritual mythologies about the Grand Canyon. :) You see those in some national parks.

  33. Chris G

    Don’t worry only 2 more years of Bush left and all can be ok with no mad men.

  34. Yup, there is a special place reserved for George W. at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to mull over his sins of the past, (he can always borrow reading material from the Village Book Shop!

  35. “…that’s 0.05% of the age of the Earth!”

    Hehe. Cute BA. Cute. ,-)


  36. Noah’s flood? what?

    no my friends… everybody knows it was Pecos Bill !!!


  37. Troy

    One thing that flood advocates always convienently ignore is why should the fossilized organisms in the rocks be stratified? If there was a flood how could they be in nice little ribbons? The flood hypothesis doesn’t even survive a cursorial review, it doesn’t pass any kind of smell test. That said, I don’t object if they sell that creationist book in the gift shop, so long as it doesn’t get exclusive billing.
    (P.S. I wonder how the creationists explain Mammoth caves?)

  38. I published a review myself at Amazon.com, and commented on it on my blog, Turning Left. My comment, of course, links back here to this wonderful post.

    The book is just an insult to believers — all believers, not just Christians, SteveT. Any Christian Scripture Scholar worth anything teaches Genesis 1-11 as the Creation Myth. Myths are very powerful in every culture, and their importance lies in the truths they’re trying to convey. Anyone reading the Genesis Creation Myth who walks away believing that it’s just about two naked little people running around in the woods stealing fruit is missing so much.

    A Great Flood? Read Gilgamesh!

    How sad that this is all being reinforced by our government.

  39. Daffy

    And still the Republican loyalists will make excuses for this stuff. Nothing will shake their faith in their party. Nothing. Ever.

  40. mln84

    On the point of the Park Rangers not talking about the age of the Grand Canyon, is there any evidence of this? (I hate to get all “science-y” and want evidence rather than a “statement from authority”.) The PEER press release just throws that line in once, contains no quotes from park employees or visitors, and doesn’t mention it again in the rest of the release. On the other hand, as evidence to the contrary, the NPS’ site about the GC does talk about an age of 5-6 million yearsfor the canyon, with rocks at 2000 million years old. (http://www.nps.gov/grca/faqs.htm#old) As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”

  41. spacewriter

    Someone asked about a river creating the Grand Canyon. That river is the Colorado River and it has played a large part in the erosional history that is the Grand Canyon. But the canyon is the result of a number of processes acting to carve out the sights we see today. Erosion is the big one, by water, wind, and freezing/warming of ice. There were/are active volcanic regions nearby and their actions also played a part. The Canyon is also underlain by a number of fault lines (I have a map of them somewhere around here and it’s pretty fascinating). Any shifting along fault lines causes rock to be exposed, and then acted upon by erosional forces.

    here are some good links to discussions of geology of the Grand Canyon area:




    But yes, the action of water played a HUGE part, over millions of years.

  42. spacewriter

    RE: the question asked above about water action forming the Grand Canyon. The answer is yes, but along with other forces like volcanism, wind and ice erosion, and tectonism. IN fact, the GC is underlain by a series of faults; any movement along them will expose rock to erosion, etc.

    Here are some sites to read more:




  43. Test

    Am I blocked from posting here?

  44. I have been trying to say that I thought we continue in the thread Grand Canyon under attack, but my posts here would not go through. I have raised a log on the BAUT forum

  45. Bob, it’s good to know this wasn’t your experience at the park! I only have the PEER article to go on about what the rangers have been saying. However, I have been getting email about the book, and I’ll post a followup soon. Stay Tuned.

  46. Steve

    I read through some of the reviews on Amazon’s website, and one reviewer pointed out that the book is displayed in the “Inspirational/Spiritual” section. If this is true, I’m ok with that.

    Unfortunately, many of the reviewers supporting this book seem to be missing the point: We don’t care about your religious beliefs; we care that your beliefs are being presented as science.

  47. Wendy

    I wrote the following letter to the GC association, borrowing text from some of the entries above, and adding my own ideas. Thanks for this. When I was too young to appreciate it, my family took us to the Grand Canyon. None of us understood the significance of the geological layers. Since then, I’ve seen a geology series on PBS that shows the passage of time by rafting past the layers on the Colorado River. I do remember, tho, having fun there, and in other national parks. Now, the parks are about the only places left to get away to someplace unpaved.
    Here is the text of my email:
    Dear Friends
    The book, called “Grand Canyon: A Different View”, about the idea that the Grand Canyon is very young, is inappropriate for sale in your bookstore both because it’s on sale in a facility of a national monument, and because it is not science. This is standard creationist rhetoric, and is grossly wrong. The appreciation of nature is not a religious experience. Some people love to call the beautiful southwest “God’s Country,” but that is an individual assessment — not an adjective to be applied by the secular government. The giftshop/bookstore may try to slide on the idea that the concession is private and not a government agency. I object — the giftshop should be held to a stricter standard since it is in a national park instead of a storefront or in a church.

  48. Roger Peritone

    You think Bush is bad?? I’ve found something worse… Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort’s board game! When you go to his site and search for it, you find it. This turns out to be not a joke by the site I’ve shown below.



  49. Melusine

    Steve, I read that also – that in the actual bookstore it’s in the “new-agey” section – but on the online bookstore it’s in the Natural History section as I mentioned previously. This may seem anal on my part to be bothered by that, but if I were a geologist who studied, trained and observed the Canyon for years and wrote a book, I’d feel insulted that Vail’s book is in the Natural History section with mine. And apparently some of the Park geologists have disdain for this Creationism business.

    Really, they should have a Myths, Folklores and Legends section about the Grand Canyon. I’d be fine with that…maybe. But given the AIG connection to Vail and these $2,000+ Creationists excursions Vail leads, I get the feeling that $$$ and some connection has much to do with this. This stuff almost always seems to lead to money or political expediency as the bottom line.

    But there are buyers for every seller…I wonder how the book sells at the actual store. It must sell.

  50. Karnalis

    Being an Arizonan, a scientist, and a tour guide (not with the NPS, alas), I find this to be more than just, oh…incredibly and unbelievably offensive! The Grand Canyon is akin to a sacred place to me. To promote the sale of ridiculous lies about its origins takes away from the canyon’s true majesty and denegrates the reputation of the National Park Service. Not only that, but it’s a slap in the face of each and every person who has stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon and been awed by the true history of the Earth as they marvelled at its ancient beauty. I think ol’ Teddy Roosevelt might have some words for our current so-called president.

  51. Nic

    Oh, this is so depressing.
    The Canyon is so beautiful, the photos I took in ’91 are hopeless – not because I did a poor job taking them, but a 6×4″ just does no justice.
    And that formed in a few thousand years?

    I don’t think so. (I was going to say something angry and rude, but Phil would have censored it…)
    I am English. I’ve been to Stonehenge. Several times. It is several thousand years old. Roughly, I suppose built at the same time as Noah’s (supposed) flood.
    It is impressive, though possibly smaller and nearer to an ugly road than you’d

    Go to Stonehenge. There are big stones. They weigh many tons. Amazing that people moved them somehow.

    But (and this is kind of subjective), though you get an impression of age from them, it is utterly obvious that this is a man-made structure and comparatively
    Go skiing. Look, really look, at a mountain. Then go look at Barringer Crater in Arizona or look at the white cliffs of Dover. These guys are *old*.

  52. Anyone who saw the footage of what happened in Boscastle, in southern England, a couple of years ago when a flash flood swept through that village, sweeping several cars out to sea (luckily no one was killed) will see the power of a sudden flash flood, which is when most of the damage is done. Could not a massive amount of fast moving water create some of the features seen at the GC?

  53. Ty

    [Could not a massive amount of fast moving water create some of the features seen at the GC?]

    Simply? No.

    For the long answer, read the links several people have posted above.

  54. Tim G

    This administration is so…medieval.

  55. “The NCSE rocks…”

    Ha ha! Get it? Rocks!

    Never mind. Late night…

  56. Marc Sandefur

    My hat is off to George Bush and his efforts at promoting creationism. I believe that he has done science a great service. Now before everyone gets all excited (as a kid I delighted in stirring up a hornet nest or two) what I mean is that he is setting up a huge backlash against faith based “science” that will last for years. Minority extremists get a visibility that is out of proportion to their numbers because they are passionate about their beliefs. Bush serves to rouse the passion in the rest of us. Emotion is the fuel that motivates and gets things done. The sensible rational people of the world are the sleeping giant that is being awakened by George Bush.

  57. Melusine

    Yeah, but it sucks that it has to be that way. )-8~

  58. Melusine

    Perhaps I should have said “stinks.” Sorry.

  59. Nigel Depledge

    G Birch said:
    “The earth is only 6,000 years old, because the Bible says so?”

    In fact, the Bible does not state the age of the Earth. There is an unspecified gap between the old and new testaments. Bishop Ussher, who calculated the famous date of 4004 BC, used a set of Babylonian records to bridge the gap between old and new testaments. He also had to choose between three different versions of the old testament, all of which gave different lifespans for the patriarchs (and hence different spans of time for the events in the OT), but he was helped by the discovery of a text that correlated with one of these three.

    However, his date is not consistent with Chinese Imperial records, that form a consistent record that gives a minimum age of the Earth that is over 6000 years. So, even shortly after the young age of the Earth was first “determined”, it was called into question.

  60. SCR

    Bush junior is the worst President the USA has ever had. The backlash against him overseas is already immense and has already done the nation a colossal amount of damage. For the next few decades (at minimum) his destructive legacy will be a millstone.

    The harm his anti-science, anti-rationalism, pro-religious nonsense “education” policies have caused – among well, pretty much all his other policies* – is staggering, long-lasting and will take years to undo.

    * With the possible exception of the space exploration latest initiative which has, alas, yet to move from rhetoric into reality – or garner the massive funding it needs. (Has the $ been spent already in the futile waste of Iraq? I fear so.) … Sigh.

    That creationist baloney is being served up at the the Grand Canyon National Park – a world heritage natural wonder is a scandal as theBA rightly observes.

    But compared with some of the other blunders its only a minor one. No-one has yet been directly killed or forced to suffer physically. Just children’s (& adults) brains potentially scarred, and thinking people insulted and offended.

    America, you really, really must get rid of this wretched, neo-fascist administration sooner rather than later.

    Democrats – show some spine and start impeachment proceedings over Bush’es conspiracy to committ mass murder by invading Iraq based on lies. Show the world that you are different, that you are angry, that you really do care and, for pity’s sake, START ACTING! Much as the rest of the world hates to admit it, the US is the global leader, the global superpower and trend setter – and the direction being set now is walking off a cliff without a parachute!

    Republicans – Please for heavens sake wake up! Stop backing George the Second (also known as George the Lesser and George the Mad) just because of his father, his rhetoric and your blinkered partisanship. The man is a dangerously deluded, numbingly ignorant, and appallingly arrogant fool. That like science,like basic geology and the age of the planet is fact beyond any serious dispute.

    As too is is the fact that those pulling Bush II’s strings are the bunch that George the First (George the Elder, George the pretty much sane) excluded from his inner circles because of those neo-cons ideological extremism and lack of understanding. It is now historical fact that the Neo-cons have got all the foreign policy and most other decisions disasterously wrong and their critics were right.

    The time to debate the accuracy of that reality is long over, the time to remedy the situation is this very second -earlier if possible. Please just pull your heads out of the sand and stop digging the hole you”ve been burying yourselves deeper and deeper into. Recognising you’ve sunk too deep, stopping the digging by apologising to the rest of the planet and climbing out by reversing your current policies as fast as possible is what’s needed.

    Americans, there is just too little time left, too much at stake and too much damage being done to delay the removal of this warped administration any longer. It needs to happen now.

    Then you need to learn from its blunderings and see that they are NEVER repeated. Your nation and the rest of the planet just cannot afford such stupidity, waste and needless destruction again. For that matter, you can’t really afford it now ..

  61. StevoR

    As an Aussie on-looker, it never fails to amaze me, the depths America can sink to – & I’m not referring here to the floor level at the Grand Canyon.

    Bill Clinton has a consenusal sexual affair and is impeached for lying about it. The only people really hurt – emotionally not physically – are Bill’swife and family plus perhaps a couple of friends. Really itnodbodyelses business. But hegets impeached and Republicans’and Bible-Belters (geographic & personality~wise) are fuming at the ears and truy to remove him from power over it.

    Janet Jackson’s top is ripped by Justin Timberlake at a sports event and the same bunch of hypocrites (in many fnot all cases) are just about frothing at the mouth with outrage even though again no real harm was done. (And don’t tell me kids learning that women really do have mammary glands somehow constitutes harm, I’ll die laughing.) Instead of laughing it off, or treating it as the trivial strunt it was, they go ballistic using it as an exuse for censorship, ersatz “moral” outrage and again, create an national scandal and ugly debate over nothing.

    But then when another President lies his way into a needless war that physically kills tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent people, mostly civilians ,creates untold suffering and political damage for the ciountryand the West – in fact harms the globe generally … Or insists that children are fed religious lies rather than science at a world geological wonder ..

    Then its seems there’s just a shrug of the shoulders … At least from most of the people, certainly nothing like the majorly over-the-top response to the earlier examples.

    You’re a weird mob, you USA-ites, you really are ..

  62. By sheer coincidence ICR sent me an e-mail (Now when did I subscribe to this???) and they are discussing the Grand Canyon


  63. Melusine

    StevoR, your example of Clinton’s lying about his sexual affair vs. Bush and the Iraq War (and other issues) is a sore point with many of us Americans. The partisanship that prevents some people from seeing the huge difference is mindboggling to me. There are people who just refuse to acknowledge this. I don’t know what else to say to them. When domestic murder cases get tons more attention than a policy or event in the world that will have a long-lasting impact on us all, it’s terribly frustrating. I’m currently in fed-up mode…fed-up with some of my fellow citizens, that is.

  64. Buzz Parsec

    Sticks – You’re right and very very wrong at the same time! The Grand Canyon was formed by a series of flash floods such as you describe. Have you seen it? Do you really appreciate the size of it? It took a few million such floods, over the course of millions of years, to do the job. This is the geological principle of gradualism, first formulated by James Hutton in 1795 and Charles Lyell in the 1820s.

    For a landscape formed by a single massive flood, see the Grand Coulee region of Washington state. It is *very* different from the Grand Canyon.

  65. I don’t believe this for a moment.

    For starters, I looked up the National Park Service’s Grand Canyon web site. There are two interesting facts there, both pretty much highlighting the hysteria in this post.


    The bookstores throughout Grand Canyon National Park, are operated by the Grand Canyon Association. GCA is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1932 to support the educational goals of the National Park Service at Grand Canyon.
    The association provides financial support to Grand Canyon National Park, publishes canyon related books and free park publications, funds research and naturalist programs, and helps support the park’s research library and exhibits.

    So I doubt the President has much sway over what’s sold in the bookstore.

    As for guides not being allowed to say how old the canyon is–does that sound remotely possible to you? It would only under certain conditions that don’t reflect favorably on you. How about this little tidbid from the Frequently Asked Questions at the Grand Canyon web site?

    Are the oldest rocks in the world exposed at Grand Canyon?
    No. Although the oldest rocks at Grand Canyon (2000 million years old) are fairly old by any standard, the oldest rocks in the world are closer to 4000 million years old. The oldest exposed rocks in North America, which are among the oldest rocks in the world, are in northern Canada.

    I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word that you’ve posted here. It seems you have a political axe to grind, and you’ll even lie–or at the very least, not check your facts–to promote your political goals.

  66. Irishman

    wolfwalker said:
    > There is no way that the President of the United States is going to spend any of his time on personally deciding what books should be stocked in National Park bookstores.
    … I don’t believe Bush is directly responsible for this either — with all he’s got to worry about, something like this doesn’t even show on his daily schedule. I suspect a junior functionary with more zeal than sense exceeded his legal authority.

    You miss the point. This is not about any one book decision, or any one independent decision made at any one agency. The issue is a pattern of behavior across multiple federal agencies with the one consistency being the direction of the current Presidential Administration. There is a consistent and widespread pattern of agency officials impeding the performance and dissimination of scientific data and conclusions to cater to special interests for religious and economic agendas. Most of these functionaries are Presidential appointees, or following Presidential Executive Orders and policies.

  67. I posted a similar message on my blog after reading Phil’s original article, but upon further investigation I have to say that at least the “gag order” both Phil and I took from the press release is bogus. The full details are on my blog, here:


    The summary version is, I emailed PEER directly and asked if our interpretation of their press release was accurate and that, in fact, a “gag order” had been issued to Park Service employees, to the effect that they were to answer “no comment” when asked about the age of the Grand Canyon. Jeff Ruch replied that this is a misinterpretation of the press release, and that no such gag order was ever issued.

    As I pointed out in my post, this doesn’t obviate the need to have that book removed from the shelves, but it’s important to be accurate and properly informed when dealing with issues like this. The sound and fury over something that’s not really happening dilutes the attention the very real underlying issue deserves.

    Anyway, there you have it. It looks like this myth (in the words of one of my favorite shows) has been “Busted”.

  68. Marc

    By allowing faith based science into our educational system, our next generation of “scientists” will interpret their “science” in a way that is more amenable to the conservative agenda. Whether or not this is deliberate, the end result is the same. The sort of technology this “science” generates will be interesting…

  69. John S.

    …Nothing short of miraculous.

  70. Irishman

    ***Post didn’t take. Crud!***

    Thanks, Jeff, for digging in to that. I was going to say something about having trouble confirming the details of that claim.

    What I did see was a request to the GCNP Superindent for an official answer to the question of the Creationist claims and a deferral to headquarters.

  71. Irishman

    Darren, you are correct that the park bookstore is run by the GCPA, which is a non-profit organization operating bookstores at national parks. What you overlook is that the National Park Service directive states that the NPS has direct approval authority of all materials being sold. The approval for this book is “under review” at NPS headquarters and is on sale pending their review, which has not been conducted since Dec 2003 and according the the Freedom of Information request by PEER, has not been initiated – there is no record of such a review. In other words, it is not being reviewed and the book is still on sale, granting de facto approval in hopes us pesky First Amendment types will be blind while the loud religious types are satisfied.

    Couple that with other policy decisions out of NPS headquarters affecting First Amendment issues – like the upholding of religious plaques with bible verses at several locations, the removal of “objectionable” material from the Lincoln Memorial video, etc – and there is a pattern of top-down decisions catering to religious interests at the expense of rationality, scientific integrity, and historical accuracy (see Lincoln video issue).

    The NPS is a subsidiary of the Department of the Interior, which is an Executive Branch government agency, so it is under the authority of the President of the United States. If he is not directly making the individual decisions (and nobody is saying that he is), he has appointed the people running the show who are making the decisions, and he has enacted Executive Orders to circumvent Congress and enact the “faith-based” policies. This book is not an isolated incident, but one instance out of a pattern of behavior.

  72. jj

    Funny thing is, Genesis is not a christian creation myth, it’s a Jewish one. It’s the Torah. See what happens when modern christians try to re-interpret a myth that has had sacred meaning to the jews for thousands of years? The authors of the Torah were smart; there’s a lot of knowledge about humanity in the 5 books. But, they intended them to be passed along to people intelligent enough to interpret them (and in addition to the Talmud). If you want the correct and historic meaning of those first chapters, best ask a rabbi, not a raft guide.

  73. Buck Fush

    That’s it. I’m going to New Zealand.

    Seriously, though! People need to be kicked in a very uncomfortable place, and I don’t mean the back of a station wagon. The only thing keeping me from calling Bush the Antichrist is the fact that he could never, in a million years, bring about world peace.

    That doesn’t keep me from calling him Satan, though….

  74. Arizonan

    Sorry, but all this indignation and hand-wringing is pretty predictable and a waste of time. Mark UK seems to be the only one on here in the know. I’ll bet that NOBODY in the Bush administration is really an early creationist. However, Karl Rove knows (forget W, he knows nothing) how to establish an administrative structure that is designed to win elections and to keep the right in power for as long as possible. An important part of this structure involves courting the fundamentalist right, with the consequence that stuff like this crops up now and again. However, let’s face it, this is pretty irrelevant compared to more important issues, and we all know what those are!

    Wolfwalker, of course Bush isn’t directly responsible, your attempt to distract from the main point was childishly transparent. And yes, this is an undisguised Bush-bashing post, yours was a thinly veiled Bush apologist post.

    Apologies, I know this is a political rather than a scientific rant, however, this is the real issue, it is nothing to do with science

  75. Eric

    Consider this –

    Four million people per year visit the Grand Canyon and ponder at the incredible forces which cut this chasm out of the earth. Did the small river at the bottom carve through the many layers of sediment over eons of time or did a catastrophic event carve the canyon more rapidly? These are the competing explanations for the origin of the Grand Canyon. But how could a flood have accomplished so much? As the following examples show, moving water has enormous erosion capabilities.

    In the spring of 1983 the spillway tunnel of the Glen Canyon Dam had to be operated to allow drainage of water from Lake Powell. When one of the spillways was fully opened the flow pattern changed and blocks of rock were seen hurtling out of the spillway exit. The water became red with dissolved sandstone and there were noticeable earth tremors. The spillway was immediately closed for inspection. The survey team discovered incredible erosion damage to the spillway tunnel cause by cavitation of the flowing water. In a matter of minutes, flowing water had penetrated the three foot thick, steel reinforced, walls and ripped holes into the surrounding bedrock. A 150 foot diameter hole had been cut into the rock requiring 63,000 cubic feet of concrete to repair the damage.

    In the scab lands of eastern Washington is an even more dramatic example of the incredible erosion force of rapidly flowing water. An ancient lake was blocked at the end of the ice age by an ice dam in northern Idaho. When the water breached the dam it ripped through Montana, Idaho, and Washington leaving 16,000 square miles of scarred terrain and deeply cut valleys. At one location the flood cut a 50 mile long trench 6 miles wide and 900 feet deep through solid rock! An estimated 10 cubic miles of Columbia Plateau basalt was eroded in a matter of hours by this single event. The process by which moving water can cause such extensive damage is illustrated above.

    Could the Grand Canyon have been carved out by a similar catastrophic events and processes? Many qualified geologist are coming to believe this is exactly what has happened. These geologists have proposed that a large area of the Southwestern United States was covered by water which apparently broke through a natural dam and very rapidly eroded much of the Grand Canyon to its current depth. The water for this massive erosion came from gigantic lakes left on the plateau when the worldwide flood receded.

    There are many other examples of moving water accomplishing massive geological changes. Yet all of these local examples pale in comparison with the effect a worldwide flood would have in regional geological features. If there were a worldwide flood, the illustrated destructive forces would have been in operation during and subsequent to this event. The result would be the rapid accumulation of very thick sedimentary deposits over massive regions. During such an event, valleys would be filled with sediment thousands of feet thick.

    Neither the inability of moving water to produce the massive geological features nor the lack of evidence for a worldwide flood prevents geologists from accepting the Biblical flood account as reality. Could it be a philosophical version to accepting that which is supernatural in its origin? Would a geologist who accepted a worldwide flood for the formation of our planet’s geologist features be welcomed into the present science community? Or would this “politically incorrect” interpretation cause him to be ostracized? To accept a worldwide flood as a factual event would profoundly affect other areas of science, including biology, paleontology, and anthropology. Would such an interpretation be allowed by the scientific community?

    Source: http://www.drdino.com/articles.php?spec=36

  76. Just_testing_this

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