Fw: Grand Canyon Tears America Apart in Battle Between Science andFaith

From: Robert Schneider <rjschn39@bellsouth.net>
Date: Sun Jan 11 2004 - 17:37:28 EST

You might find the article below of interest:

Bob Schneider


Sent: Monday, January 12, 2004 4:42 PM
Subject: Grand Canyon Tears America Apart in Battle Between Science andFaith

Published on Monday, January 12, 2004 by the lndependent/UK

The Grand Canyon Tears America Apart in Battle Between Science and Faith

by Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

Tom Vail is an official guide in the Grand Canyon National Park, and for
years he told his visitors how the extraordinary layer-cake rock formations
had been dug out of the Colorado River valley over a period of millions of

That, though, was before Jesus entered his life.

Now he is convinced, along with a sizeable portion of America's creationist
movement, that the formation of the Grand Canyon had nothing to do with
evolutionary geology but was rather the product of a Biblical flood - the
same one that Noah survived half a world away on Mount Ararat.

"Now, I have a different view of the Canyon, which according to a biblical
time scale, can't possibly be more than a few thousand years old," Mr Vail
writes in the introduction to a lavish picture book he has edited, entitled
simply Grand Canyon: A Different View.

The book is causing consternation among mainstream scientists because, for
the past few months, it has been on sale in the Grand Canyon National Park
bookshop. Alongside the photographs, it includes essays by more than 20
prominent creationists who use much of the language, but little of the
method, of science to support their literal reading of the Bible.

Most gallingly for secularists and scientific rationalists across the United
States, the fundamentalist interpretation of one of the great natural
wonders of the world appears to have the blessing of the Bush

Not only has the National Park Service in Washington given every
encouragement to the sale of Mr Vail's book, it has - according to one
secular interest group called Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (Peer) - blocked the publication of a detailed rebuttal of
the arguments set out by Mr Vail's contributors.

PEER sees this as part of a pattern of what it calls "faith-based parks"
policy. In a separate controversy, the Bush administration recently
overruled the superintendent of the Grand Canyon park who wanted to remove
three plaques inscribed with Biblical quotations overtly suggesting that the
Canyon was the direct creation of God.

"The Park Service leadership now caters exclusively to conservative
Christian fundamentalist groups," said Peer's executive director, Jeff Ruch.

The spat is a classically American confrontation between scientific evidence
and religious belief - a cultural faultline that has grown more pronounced
under the presidency of George Bush because of his own fundamentalist
beliefs and reliance on the religious right for much of his bedrock support.

The controversy over Mr Vail's book began last summer, when a professor of
geology from the University of California, visited the Grand Canyon bookshop
and raised a ruckus over its inclusion in the natural sciences section. In a
subsequent review for the journal Eos, the professor, Wilfred Elders,
characterized the book's arguments as "absurdities".

But the book has proved so popular that it has sold out and the bookshop has
had to reorder it from its publisher.

Mr Vail's friends are delighted, both by his success and by the controversy
itself. His publishing house, Arksansas-based New Leaf Press, has described
the dispute as "the next battlefield in the struggle for Christian rights".
On that point, at least, the creationists may well be correct.

2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

Received on Mon Jan 12 17:37:13 2004

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