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Government-supported IDiocy

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  • hexagram14@aol.com
    Creationism in Our National Parks by Donald Prothero ... If you thought that censoring talk about global warming and suppressing the free speech of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 10, 2007
      Creationism in Our National Parks
      by Donald Prothero

      If you thought that censoring talk about global warming and suppressing the
      free speech of government scientists was bad enough, last December the
      government reached a new low. According to documents released on Dec. 28, 2006 by
      the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Bush
      administration appointees will not allow rangers at Grand Canyon National Park to
      mention that the earth is more than a few thousand years old. “In order to avoid
      offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders
      to suspend its belief in geology,” said PEER 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.’” I have been unable to confirm this
      report in my own enquiries among rangers and on the NPS website, but perhaps
      the order is still being considered at the NPS and has not yet been forced on
      the rangers.

      This is just the latest step in a creeping introduction of religious
      fundamentalism to our National Parks. Under the “faith-based” initiatives of the
      Bush Administration, the National Park Service (NPS) is now creating “
      faith-based” parks by placing crosses in numerous places, and Biblical verses on the
      plaques overlooking the Grand Canyon. These plaques were reinstated by Bush
      appointees after the NPS director had them removed on advice of lawyers in the
      Department of the Interior. In August 2003, the creationist book Grand
      Canyon: A Different View, by Tom Vail, was introduced to the Grand Canyon
      bookstore. It promotes the absurd idea of young-earth creationists that every layer in
      the Grand Canyon (PLUS its subsequent carving) can be explained by Noah’s
      flood. There were national protests from geologists, all the relevant
      scientific organizations, and NPS personnel (including the entire NPS geologic staff),
      and Park Service Superintendent Joe Alston blocked its sale. But Bush
      appointees at the NPS headquarters intervened and overruled Alston. NPS Chief of
      Communications David Barna then told Congress and reporters that there would be
      a review of the issue, but no such review was even requested, even after 3
      years — and the creationist book is still on sale in the Grand Canyon! And it
      is clear that the Bush appointees in the NPS are pandering to the religious
      right. According to an NPS spokesperson Elaine Sevy, speaking to a Baptist
      news agency, “Now that the book has become quite popular, we don't want to
      remove it.”

      The political bias of the process is even more starkly revealed by the way
      in which the NPS policy approves books for sale in its parks. The policy
      clearly states that the books are supposed to reflect only the highest quality of
      science and support approved interpretive themes. According to records, Grand
      Canyon officials rejected 22 other books for placement on the shelves in
      2003, and approved only one — the creationist book. In 2005, the NPS approved
      Director’s Order #6, section 8.4.2, which states that “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.”

      This raises even larger, more troubling issues. It’s already bad enough that
      only a minority of Americans have even a limited understanding of evolution,
      and a majority still believe the creation story is literally true. It’s
      worse that creationists have effectively destroyed the teaching of evolution in
      science classes around the country by pressure on school boards and textbook
      publishers, even though the courts have ruled against them every time. Now
      their attack is focused on geology and the age of the earth, making one of our
      most essential sciences highly vulnerable. If creationists managed to put
      their bizarre notions of geology into place, do you think that we would have
      another new oil discovery, or find any more precious minerals or groundwater? Not
      likely! Their first attack is naturally in a place like Grand Canyon, which
      is so popular and so clearly shows the immense span of earth’s history, but
      who’s to say where they'll strike next? Many of the national parks, such as
      Petrified Forest and Dinosaur and Badlands and John Day Fossil Beds, also
      display an impressive record of fossils changing through time in way that cannot
      be explained by the Bible. According to PEER Director Ruch, “As one park
      geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book
      entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan.”

      For further details…



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