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Front Page » November 2, 2004 » Opinion » National Park Service should be more concerned about poli...
Published 3,699 days ago

National Park Service should be more concerned about policies, less about books


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

It seems the National Park Service has a problem they are sure how to handle.

Actually, to most of us, they have many problems they don't know how to handle, but in this case it has nothing to do with land use, closed roads, nit-picky rules or consessionair problems. It has to do with a book.

The book is called The Grand Canyon: A Different View. No, it isn't a book of photos taken from an illegal site, nor is it a book criticizing the park service; it is instead, a book about creationism.

The book, put together by a born again river rafter named Tom Vail, says that the canyon was formed only 6,000 years ago, and more importantly it was created by Noah's flood. The book doesn't state that Noah's Ark ended up anywhere near the canyon, instead of Mount Ararat, but it does upset the applecart about as much as a hungry herd of horses plowing through a farmers market, because it is being sold in the books stores in Grand Canyon National Park, and some scientists and geologists don't think it should be there.

Therein lies the problem. Scientific evidence says that the canyon was formed over many millions of years by natural means, yet this book is sold in the same stores as the scientific writings. Some say it is even being displayed with the scientific books, like it falls into that same genre.

Last month a number of people in the scientific world contacted the park's superintendent asking him to see that the book be removed from the shelves because of it's lack of scientific credibility.

I guess for some people this is like having compact disks of "Farenheit 911" displayed right next to "Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal" in a video store. Both those films have true sequences in them, while also filled with a lot of hype and bias. Michael Moore's left wing leanings show up blatantly in his film, while right wingers love the Kerry bashing that goes on in the other.

Actually when one considers it, the books that condone a scientific stance on the canyons creation and one that says god dug that hole in the ground in a 40 day period of time six millenia ago, are not that far from the films either. One set of books depend on scientific "truths," which we all know began with a theory at one time or another. And as we all know too, theory changes as new evidence develops.

I remember when I was a kid the most famous dinosaur known was the Brontosaurus. A long neck and a long tale made this animal a sure thing in the world of paleontology. However, many years later someone found out that the the animal was a creation of a couple of different types of dinosaur fossils. The man who found the bones in Wyoming way back in 1879, purposely assembled the heads incorrectly. The fact is, the body he found was headless. So he used the head of the closest dinosaur he could find which was found miles away and in a completely different rock layer from the original body. This mistake in scientific thinking lasted clear until the 1970's when Dr. Jack Mc Intosh and Dr. David Berman proved to the scientific community that the body of the Brontosaurus was actually the body of an Apatosaurus. The Brontosaurus had been known as the "thunder lizard" and the Apatosaurus is known as the "deceptive lizard." Science certainly deceived everyone for years, so much so that it was only a short time ago that my childhood learning was undone by the bare bones truth.

However, what is true and what is not is often only confirmed by the faith one has in a point of view. If one supports science, they must have faith in the fact that the scientific method may eventually eliminate all that that they know for a new "set of facts" at some point in the future. So a book written about a subject which scientists had examined time and time again, based only on the faith of a belief, and without any real provable scientific evidence, would seem at the outside not belonging on the same shelf. But on the other hand, judging on the record of scientific screw ups that have appeared over the years, it could be as close to the truth as those that are maintained by academics to be the cutting edge.

I personally don't believe that the issue here should be over what is in the book, but what right it has to appear there. I hate censorship, yet I realize that the stores that sell books in the Grand Canyon are a reflection of the park service itself, and both the service and the vendors who run the stores have a right to decide what is sold there.

On the other hand, considering that the "scientific method" should include all points of view, maybe it would be best to allow it's continued sale in the park. After all, an open society should pride itself on divergent points of view, even on ideas that the experts don't always agree with or condone.

In fact, when it comes right down to it, maybe that's the very reason it should continue.


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November 2, 2004
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