PEER: National Park Service "Deliberately" Avoided Review of Creationist Book
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Dec 30, 2006 at 02:15:31 PM EST
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has revisited the problem of Creationist infiltration of the Grand Canyon National Park bookshop, and charges that the National Park Service has misled the public over assurances that it would "review" the appropriateness of the NPS selling a Creationist book.

The controversy was widely reported early in 2004, after geologist Wilfred Elders drew attention to the presence of Thomas Vail's Grand Canyon: A Different View. Elders dismantled the book's claims, and concluded that it is

...not a geological treatise. It is "Exhibit A" of a new, slick strategy by biblical literalists to proselytize using a beautifully illustrated, multi-authored book about a spectacular and world-famous geological feature. Allowing the sale of this book within the National Park was unfortunate. In the minds of some buyers, this could imply NPS approval of young-earth creationists and their religious proselytizing.

Amid complaints about "Faith-based parks", the NPS promised a review - but three years on, it seems that promise was a lie meant as a sop to the scientifically-literate.

In a letter to new National Park Service (NPS) director Mary Bomar, PEER director Jeff Ruch complains that:
...In August 2003, the Park Service approved a creationist text, Grand Canyon: A Different View, for sale in park bookstores and museums. The book by Tom Vail claims that the Grand Canyon is really only a few thousand years old, developing over a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. That same month, the Grand Canyon National Park superintendent appealed to NPS Headquarters for a "review of the book in terms of its appropriateness" for sale in a park-sponsored facility.

In repeated public statements and in response to inquiries from members of Congress, NPS Chief of Communications David Barna stated that NPS would conduct a high-level policy review. He distributing talking points stating: "We hope to have a final decision in February [2004]." In late February 2004, Mr. Barna crafted a letter which was sent to concerned members of Congress stating: "We hope to have a final decision on the book in March 2004." That draft was rewritten in June and finally sent out to Congressional representatives with no completion date for the review at all.

In fact, the promised review never occurred. According to responses PEER obtained from NPS under the Freedom of Information Act, NPS deliberately avoided conducting the review in order to let the controversy die down. Meanwhile, the Grand Canyon Association ordered hundreds more copies of the book and offered it for a time for sale on the internet site as "natural history" (it is now the sole offering in a heretofore nonexistent category labeled "inspirational")....

An accompanying press release adds further details:

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..."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.'"

And as for the book itself:

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

The release adds:

PEER is also asking Director Bomar to approve a pamphlet, suppressed since 2002 by Bush appointees, providing guidance for rangers and other interpretive staff in making distinctions between science and religion when speaking to park visitors about geologic issues.

During the 2004 controversy, Barna's persective was that

"We are not getting away from teaching science -- that's what we do. But while we're out there giving these geology lectures, we must recognize that people have their own beliefs"



Display:
How about a booklet RIGHT BESIDE IT,  with reasoning as laid out at this site:  http://www.inu.net/skeptic/


by Concerned on Sat Dec 30, 2006 at 09:00:49 PM EST

At this site, check out "The Myth of the Great Flood".  There is some pretty good reasoning in it.

by Concerned on Sat Dec 30, 2006 at 09:02:57 PM EST


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