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.
â€œIn order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,â€ stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. â€œIt is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is â€˜no comment.â€™â€
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 Barnaleapt 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.
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?