Grand Canyon Association's book store. The woman answered the phone, “hello? Can I help you?” “Yes,” I said, “I'm looking for a book, but I forget its name... could you help me find it if I told you what it's about?” … She was clearly taken aback; “Um...” she said, “I can try...” “Perfect!” I said, “I'm looking for a book that talks about how god created the Grand Canyon 6,000 years ago.” “Oh!” exclaimed the woman, “you're looking for A Different View.”
A different view indeed. For those of you unfamiliar with Fundamentalist Christianity and Creationism (tactfully disguised, today, as Intelligent Design), here is a crash course:
- The Bible is 100% accurate.
- The Bible says that god created the world in 6 days.
- The Bible includes a genealogy list from Adam, the first man, going right up to historical figures – it's simple math to deduce the age of the Earth.
- The Bible says the world is about 6,000 years old – certainly not more than 10,000 years old.
… And that about does it. Various “facts” and “scientific” data are tossed into the mix to make it appealing, but these are always formed around the theory itself, making Creationism decidedly bad science.
The Grand Canyon: A Different View went on sale at the Grand Canyon book store in 2003 after being approved by the National Park Service. It is written by a Colorado River guide who converted to Fundamentalist Christianity and promptly “updated” his scientific understand to include the
preachings of anti-intellectuals like Ken Ham. Here is a clip from the book:
“Based on the lineages laid out in the Bible, God created the heavens and earth and everything in them in six literal days about 6,000 years ago. Contrary to what is widely believed, radioactive dating has not proven the rocks of the Grand Canyon to be millions of years old. The vast majority of the sedimentary layers in the Grand Canyon were deposited as the result of a global flood that occurred after and as a result of the initial sin that took place in the Garden of Eden. As the great post-Flood continents and mountains began to rise from the waters of a global deluge (Genesis 8:3‒5), a huge chasm was formed that is now the Grand Canyon of Arizona. Inland waters, rushing down to the newly deepened ocean basin, rapidly excavated the 5,000-foot-deep layers of mud, silt, and sand that had been deposited during the year of the Flood. And the fossils found in the rock layers are remnants of the plants and animals that perished in the Flood.”
This is objectively absurd. But the real problem is that this book is being totted around as merely a “different” view by the National Parks Service (and by extension, our government) and not as a “wrong” view. Imagine if the National Aeronautics and Space Administration began carrying a book discussing the merits of astrology as a viable alternative to astronomy (don't get any ideas, NASA!). The issue, in other words, isn't that this book was written – people are free to express themselves and believe whatever crackpot idea they want – no, the problem is that it is being promoted, directly or indirectly, by the Federal government. The woman from the Grand Canyon book store assured me that this book is not sponsored by the NPS. Not officially. But, dear government, when you sell this book along side credible books about the Grand Canyon in the official Grand Canyon book store... well, it sure looks like you're sponsoring it to me. The book has been on government book shelves since 2003; its well past the Bush administration, let's get rid of it. Let's again have a meaningful separation of church and state.