PEER (Public Employees for Envronmental Responsibility) has an update on the continuing effort to change geological science so that it better fits with a biblical (Iron Age) worldview. If you remember, the controversy began in 2004 with the proposed sale of a creationist book at the visitor center that describes the Grand Canyon as having been carved out by Noah's Flood. Of course professionals who conduct actual geologic research protested, but to little avail, other than the Park Service said it would review its decision. Now, from the new headlines:
HOW OLD IS THE GRAND CANYON? PARK SERVICE WON’T SAY — Orders to Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology
And from the introduction:
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. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Bear in mind, this is the ONLY way creationists can gain acceptance for ludicrous ideas that have absolutely no scientific backing: it will have to be legislated so that everyone must follow this idea or else. PEER's Executive Director says it best:
“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.’”
Park officials have completely aborted their responsibilities to promote quality education and present the best science available. Instead they cower to fundamentalism and promote fairy tales as fact. In doing so, they have made a mockery of the National Park Service regulations (from the 2005 NPS Director's Order #6 on Interpretation, ironically approved after the creationist book went on sale):
8.4.2 Historical and Scientific Research. Superintendents, historians, scientists, and interpretive staff are responsible for ensuring that park interpretive and educational programs and media are accurate and reflect current scholarship…Questions often arise round the presentation of geological, biological, and evolutionary processes. The interpretive and educational treatment used to explain the natural processes and 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. The facts, theories, and interpretations to be used will reflect the thinking of the scientific community in such fields as biology, geology, physics, astronomy, chemistry, and paleontology. Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes. Programs, however, may acknowledge or explain other explanations of natural processes and events. (Emphasis added)
Well, they missed implementing this regulation by a long shot. The book is neither written by anyone within the "scientific community", nor was it "peer-reviewed", nor does it represent the "best scientific evidence available". The larger question, however, (and as implied by the PEER article) is whether officials and park interpreters are actually allowed to public discuss the scientific evidence for the age of the Grand Canyon. If not, I would have hoped that a minor rebellion had ensued at the office. As a government employee for the Forest Service who is also responsible for interpretive materials on our forest, I would be going ballistic if I were told not to discuss scientific facts on the prehistory of the forest. Understandibly, there are jobs at stake (again, creationists need to threaten people's livelihoods to get their message across - it has no integrity of its own), but somebody at the local level must be ignoring such directives if they do in fact exist.