This morning, a friend sent me a link to a press release from PEER, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The release has the sensational headline, “How old is the Grand Canyon? Park Service won’t say,” then goes on to suggest that interpretive rangers are encouraged to offer a creationist / religious theory for the Canyon’s creation along with a geologic one.

I didn’t remember anything like that from my trip to the Canyon a few years ago, and a quick search of the Park Service’s Grand Canyon page clearly says the oldest exposed rocks are “2000 million years old,” so initially I was a bit confused. Further on down in the release, though, it becomes apparent the ruckus is about the book “Grand Canyon: A Different View,” a book of essays that suggests the Canyon was formed by a single catastrophic flood instead of millions of years of erosion.

The obviously controversial book was the only one of twenty-three potential books that was approved for sale in the Park’s bookstore in 2003. Despite protests from the rangers at the Canyon, NPS Headquarters overruled and allowed the book’s sale. PEER is pushing back again, hoping new director Mary Bomar is more receptive, and will actually complete the policy review her predecessor promised in 2003 but never delivered.

While I agree the book probably doesn’t have any place in the Park’s bookstore, I’m not sure if I buy PEER’s domino theory that it’s the first step in the Administration’s Master Plan to make Creationism the Official Position of the Park Service. Has anyone out there ever had a ranger give them a religious answer to a scientific question?

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