Faith Based Parks

This article at Time.com starts off talking about a park run by creationists that adopts the 6000 year old view of how life came to be and the belief that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is false. Which I guess is acceptable since it is a private park run by creationist.

But then comes the bombshell of the changes in the National Park Services, specifically the Grand Canyon National Park.

Two-thirds of the way across the continent, some four million people annually visit Grand Canyon National Park, marveling at the awesome view. In National Park Service (NPS) affiliated bookstores, they can find literature informing them that the great chasm runs for 277 miles along the bed of the Colorado River. It descends more than a mile into the earth, and along one stretch, is some 18 miles wide, its walls displaying impressive layers of limestone, sandstone, shale, schist and granite.

And, oh yes, it was formed about 4,500 years ago, a direct consequence of Noah’s Flood. How’s that? Yes, this is the ill-informed premise of “Grand Canyon, a Different View,” a handsomely-illustrated volume also on sale at the bookstores. It includes the writings of creationists and creation scientists and was compiled by Tom Vail, who with his wife operates Canyon Ministries, conducting creationist-view tours of the canyon. “For years,” Vail explains, “as a Colorado River guide, I told people how the Grand Canyon was formed over the evolutionary time span of millions of years. (Most geologists place the canyon’s age at some six million years). Then I met the Lord. Now I have a different view of the Canyon, which according to a biblical time scale, can’t possibly be more than a few thousand years old.”

An attempt by Joe Alston, the Grand Canyon National Park superintendent, to block the sales of the book was overruled by NPS headquarters under the premise that a high-level policy review of the matter would be launched and a decision made by February 2004, but that never happened:

According to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), an organization that includes many Park employees, papers obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that no review has ever taken place. Indeed, PEER claims that the Bush Administration has already decided it will stand by its approval for the book and that hundreds more have been ordered. “Now that the book has become quite popular,” explained an NPS flack to a Baptist news agency, “we don’t want to remove it.”

Additionally, the Grand Canyon National Park no longer offers an official estimate on the age of the canyon, the publication of guidance for park rangers that reminds them of the lack of a scientific basis for creationism has been blocked, and the National Park Service has allowed the placment of bronze plaques bearing Psalm verses at Grand Canyon.

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch is indignant, “If the Bush Administration is using public resources for pandering to Christian fundamentalists, it should at least have the decency to tell the truth about it.”

 

30 thoughts on “Faith Based Parks

  1. Herman Georing once said of the Russian peasent, ” Give a kulack some potatos and a bottle of vodka and he will live in shit his whole life.”
        Maybe 100 years from now after America has been thouroughly mind fucked by these christian fundamantalist know-nothings and thier short sighted political enablers an invader will say,
    “Give Americans a bible and Christian dogma to live by and they will happily squat in blessed poverty”
    When these morons get sick and want the newest medical treatments science has to offer the admitting form could have a space for religion and the doctor could tell them that the faith healer will be down directly to administer a dose of the holy spirit. Maybe then their ranks could be effectively reduced and the rest of us won’t have to suffer their presence.
      Don’t get me wrong if you want to beleive that
    Rush Limbaugh is the second coming and that having his baby will make you holy, then by all means screw away. Just don’t push this bullshit on the rest of us secular fools who are just trying to make a decent life for ourselves in this hard enough dog-eat-dog world! Ignorance is bliss but knowledge is power, so go ahead and beleive blindly and sooner or later a true demagogue will emerge to lead a crusade or revolution, if its in my life time I know what side I’ll be on. The side that uses these idiots faith agianst them!

  2. What a sad day for Geologists and Physicist. It must be hard for them to wake up and grab their TIME mag only to read that their whole careers are worthless. That carbon dating idea was hip while it lasted! It’s also good to know that those damn Bible thumpers are still consistently inconsistent when it comes to direct interpretation. I mean the earth can’t possibly be more than 6000 years old because the Bible says, but on the other hand when we all learned the story of Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego we were told it was symbolic and metaphoric and not to take it literally. Glad that’s clear!!

    [/pissed off sarcasm]

  3. This is my first post.  Les, I’m happy that I stumbled across your website a few weeks ago! 

    I too was shocked to hear that the National Park service allowed this awful textbook to be sold along side with books about the Grand Canyon that contain legitimate science. I think that it is part of an anti-science trend (particularly with regard to evolution) we are seeing in America today.  I fear that it will only get worse now that most of the moderates have abandoned the Bush administration.  I worry that Bush’s potential Supreme Court nominees will not only support overturning Roe v. Wade, but may also overlook their earlier decision not to teach Creationism in the science classroom. 

    A push to teach creationism, under its new guise of ‘Intelligent Design’, has already made it past school boards in Wisconsin and Pennsylvannia (sadly, my former and current home).  People with no formal science training are deciding on what goes into the science curriculum using the argument of “fairly showing both sides” of the debate.  These people seem to think that if evolution is somehow magically shown to be wrong, Intelligent Design wins by default.  That’s exactly like saying that if Einstein’s relativity is wrong, then the Earth really *is* at the center of the universe. 

    One of the problems is that few teachers are opposing the school boards against this introduction of pseudo-science into the science classroom, and instead would rather not mention anything that could cause controversy.  I’ve given a few astronomy talks at local elementary schools and was told by the teachers not to mention the age of the solar system because it could upset some of the students (I assume that their parents are Young-Earth Creationists).  At several of the public astronomy talks I have given, people have come up to me afterwords and asked me why don’t I believe in the Bible, which clearly states that the Earth is only 6000 years old (though they never can seem to find the passage that claims this).  In response I simply tell them that the Bible was not meant to be a science textbook.  If it were, there would be problem sets at the end of every chapter and the answers to the odd numbered questions would be in the back.”

    My favorite quote from Mark Twain: “For three hundred years now, the Christian astronomer has known that his Diety didn’t make the stars in those tremendous six days; but the Christian astronomer doesn’t enlarge upon that detail. Neither does the priest.”
    – Letters from the Earth

  4. And in Oz, Family First (a religious gruop which has apparantly got some influence with the government), is calling for creationism to be taught alongside evolution in publicly funded schools.
    Refreshingly, more moderate religious leaders have been quick to tell them exactly where they can shove their daft ideas smile

  5. Quasar,
    Yes, please don’t infer that we can prove that Proxima Centauri is just over 4 1/2 light years away, becuase then you might let it slip that the Virgo cluster is a mere 20,000,000 light years away.

    Oh, but what is a light year? Why, it is the distance light travels in a year. So the light from the Virgo cluster, which “sprang” into existance suddenly, has been travelling a mere TWENTY MILLION YEARS.

    That can’t be – the universe is only 6,000 years old.

    Why, Einestin, Euclid, and Tycho must be all wrong. Every single one of them. About everything. Science is, after all, only a “theory.” By “theory,” I mean that it is a guess. A wild guess.

    Some scientists would postulate that a “theory” is a premise that has been proven by numerous experiments, investigations, research, and study, but that’s just a cop-out. If it were true, then they’d call it something else, like “truth.” That’s why the all the truth we need is contained in the King James Edition of the Bible. The Taliban had it right: we need to all live like it is 799 AD.

  6. Great post Rufus-Leroy. I love the idea about “the chosen” not having the ability to use the science that benefits them at the same time dismissing the science that does not support their flat-earth dogma. They do not have the desire or the capacity for logical thinking to determine that they are being used to create power bases for tyrants and the ultimate obediant slaves.

    Unfortunately a good portion of the rest of us have turned to mind-numbing entertainment and self-medication to ease the pain of seeing our world turning back to the dark ages.

  7. Thus the fear of many.  The Bush Administration starts a new arms race with the Russians by pressing forward with “Star Wars” which in many people minds is a “First Strike” tool in the hands of the Great Crusader.  If they can’t shoot you your free to shoot them.

  8. Hmm. perhaps that was unclear and a bit off-topic Sorry, I try to avoid posting from the hip. I really prefered a secular U.S. Governement.

  9. I personally don’t support the teaching of Creationism in public schools.  If they are going to do that they might as well hit every other theory and story there is as well, Greek mythology, Native American folklore, aliens, etc.  The problem I have is that if evolution is going to be taught they could at least let the students know its not a perfect proven fact.  I hope everyone has done enough research to know it’s not entirely flawless.  Oh, and don’t misconstrue this post to be evolution vs. creation.  I don’t fight that battle.

  10. Theocrat

    Please don’t let facts get in the way of your search for truth.

    > The problem I have is that if evolution is going to be taught they could at least let the students know its not a perfect proven fact.

    Please elucidate which part is not “perfectly proven”: Biogeography, Paleontology, Embryology, or Morphology.

    Oh, and while you’re at it, please provide a simple proof of how many angles can dance on the head of a pin.

  11. Which part(s) of evolution do you think has been perfectly proven?  Bryan, I’m supposing you meant to ask for proof of how many angels dance on a pin head.  To that question I would say I was not aware angels danced on pin heads.

  12. Like Eggman said. Especially those of us who follow the Lord Eggman.(another post) This looks like another example of my theory that the stongest human motivation is fantasy. RE: the O.J. trial, there are 900 million Catholics in the world, one billion Muslims, etc. Are there any great pieces of music or works of art that are not about someone’s god? We love fantasy. How much money does Disneyland make in a day? Facts, however, are boring and, since few of them are in the Q’ran, generally are not the Truth. I wonder if we could start a cult devoted to facts? LOL

  13. From my limited understanding of the nature of science, science is a model of the universe based on   Occam’s Razor(take the simplest solution with fewest assumptions). Therefore given current scientific knowledge, macro evolution without external influences starting almost 4.4 Billon years ago a 100 million years after the earth had formed is the simplest solution.

    Admitedly there are gaps in the fossil record, but to mix metaphors, when Mendel first produced his periodic table, it had numerous gaps, and when these gaps were filled by what was predicted by the table the overall idea was proved correct.

    The most disturbing attempt to explain the size of the universe was to say that light speed was variable, ignoring the fact that in recording light speed in a vaccum there has been not the slightest change recorded beyond increased accuracy.

    I’m not an atheist, my beliefs are difficult to pin down, but I think if the evil god of the King James literal bible wanted educated people to believe him, something like “The language of life has four letters and winds in a six sided spiral” in genesis, might make things a little bit more convincing that genesis is more than just a myth.

  14. Hi Theocrat

     

     

    Which part(s) of evolution do you think has been perfectly
      proven?

     

     

    Thanks for asking! By “perfectly” I’m going to draw from the
      “perfectly proven” theory of electricity. Can we both agree that
      electricity shocks you and runs your TV? Okay? Good.

     

       

    • Biogeography: perfectly proven; specific species live in a
        specific region or area (ex: shellfish live in a specific tidal zone
        only) because they can live in that climate and subsist on
        plants/animals in that environment. Some species die out (Raphus
        cucullatus
      ) over time, and some change over time (F.
        catus
      ). Species can move from one region to another as
        continents/climate/the species changes.
    •  

    • Paleontology: perfectly proven; the fossil record shows us many
        types of plants and animals that are no longer in existence today
        (e.g., Phillipsia Harpetida).
    •  

    • Embryology: perfectly proven; embryos from various species start
        off looking very similar, then they diverge as they develop.
    •  

    • Morphology: perfectly proven; every plant and animal has a
        specific structure. Some structures are common across species.
    •  

  15. Embryology is the easiest one to start with.  Here is an excerpt from a biology text book add on:

    The whole idea of gill slits was established in 1891 by Ernst Haeckel when he produced a series of drawings of vertebrate embryos proposing that they represent a kind of tree of life. The drawings supposedly showed that all vertebrates pass through all of their evolutionary history in arriving at its final state. He used the drawings to prove what he called the Biogenetic Law. Haeckel was such an enthusiastic evolutionist that he altered his drawings in order to prove his point. These errors were discovered before he died and he was tried in a court of his fellow professors at the University of Jena in Germany and found guilty of fraud.
    Even though it has been known for almost one hundred years that the drawings of Haeckel and the
    Biogenetic Law are not true very little effort was made to find out exactly what the truth is. Michael Pitman in 1984 reported, “Had he (Haeckel) started at the logical place, the zygote, he would have realized that different classes of egg differ greatly in yolk content, size and shape, cleavage patterns, blastula, and in the organization which prepares them for gastrulation. Haeckel’s series begins at the point when these diverse early stages converge, just before organ formation. This seems, for reasons unknown, to be the only tolerable intermediate stage. Thereafter, divergence again occurs into the diverse adult types.

  16. Not this again.  Theocrat, you can get a good picture of the evolution debate in the archives here at SEB.  I’ll confine myself to pointing out a methodological problem with your approach.

    You, like many who doubt evolution, pick nits with its perfection or completeness.  This is the same argument Holocaust deniers use, when they insist on proof for an exact number of Jews killed, before they will concede Hitler was a monster.  Or, for that matter, it’s like denying gravity or electricity because we don’t understand them perfectly.  Evolution is established beyond doubt.

    And I’ve got news for you- disproving Haeckel’s overeager generalization (ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny) is like pointing to Piltdown Man as a disproof of evolution.  Read some real literature about it, for example “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” by Dennett, or any of the websites by real scientists (clue- I don’t mean Kent Hovind) and then come back here for a real debate.

  17. leguru,

    Where did you get those numbers from?  I’ve done a fair amount of writing on the topic of human development (and as such have read quite a bit of work written in the area) and as far as I know the only people who really buy that strong of a thesis (namely that 90% of a person’s personality is determined in utero) are John Tooby, Leda Cosmides, Jerome Barkow, and David Buss (and from what Buss tells me he doesn’t exclude that environmental conditions play a large role in determining complex behaviours, he just thinks that many of those complex behaviours are just aggregates of simpler behaviours developed in the womb).  Now this might seem like there’s some support for the belief that behaviour is mostly genetic of mostly fixed at birth until you realize that of all the numerous people who work in the area only these four really argue that so much work is done by genes in early development.  Moreover, even they acknowledge explicitly that it doesn’t make sense to talk about the function of genes in isolation with environment.  That said, there’s no reason to think that a good environment for the development of children requires parents of both sexes.

  18. zilch maybe you would like to provide some websites of real scientists that have something to say to discredit the embryology argument or that make a better case why embryology helps perfectly prove evolution.  I don’t know where to look.  I’m not about to read a preexisting thread with a few hundred posts that will more likely have the organization of a food fight than a rational step by step debate.  I’ve played this game before as well.

  19. Theocrat.  What embryology argument?  Who says embryology perfectly proves evolution? No one I know of.

    Sorry, maybe I wasn’t perfectly clear what “it” was you should read about- I meant evolution, not Haeckel’s ideas about embryology.  Try:
    http://www.gate.net/~rwms/EvoEvidence.html
    for starters, or google “evolution”.

    BTW: If you can “perfectly prove” gravity to me, I will “perfectly prove” evolution to you.  You do believe in gravity, don’t you?

  20. What i posted about embryology was in response to Bryan’s claim.

    Embryology: perfectly proven; embryos from various species start off looking very similar, then they diverge as they develop.

    So my point still stands unaddressed.  Many biology textbooks still have Haeckel’s drawings in them as if they were fact.  I don’t believe one should be allowed to teach somethign as fact that is clearly fraudulent.  Why don’t evolutionists stand up for changing the text book instead of just the crazy creationists?  IF the evolutionists themselves know its wrong why don’t they teach otherwise.  Or else one would suppose that the teachers and professors teaching biology from these textbooks would have enough respect for their science that they wouldn’t encourage the school to buy textbooks with falsities in them.  That is the issue I wish to address.  Not so much the evolution debate itself.

  21. theocrat,

    Highschool text books in chemistry still have the Bohr Model of atoms.  No one actually believes that atoms actually have such a structure.  It’s included because it’s easy to understand for people without a chemistry background.  Much the same can be said for the pictures in biology texts.  Also, highschool biology texts are generally 10 to 20 years out of date.  Indeed, very little study goes into embryology as a basis for homology anymore.  In fact homology is more often considered in terms of cladistic terms nowadays (though that’s actually starting to change now too).  I don’t think your embryology example is a sound argument against evolutionary biology.  It is however an argument about the inadequate science education that highschool kids get….

  22. I submit the theory that a thinking fundamentalist is an oxymoron. That we are being lead into armageddon by a bunch of lunatics that would kill their own grandmothers if it would advance their cause. Thank the Budda that I live in Japan. My daughter is 9 years old and can recongnise a developing embryo. I went to the site that critics Well’s reasoning and she recognised the picture faster than me. confused My son is twelve and can already do simple algebraic formulas. We will pay a very big price for the dumbing down of our schools.

  23. Pop Tarts-  thanks for finding exactly the right link for Haeckel.  I don’t know much about what’s available on the Net.

    Theocrat:

    Many biology textbooks still have Haeckel’s drawings in them as if they were fact.

    Oh? I went to junior high in the 60’s and even way back then Haeckel’s ontogeny-recapitulates-phylogeny was known to be flawed, an oversimplification at best.  If any modern textbooks still present it as a simple fact, I would be very surprised.  Give us titles and authors.

    Socialist Swine and Larkinsjapn- unfortunately all too true.

  24. One can “perfectly prove” theories of Gravity and electricity. One can perform actual experiments that are repeatable, something key to the scientific method. I’m still waiting to see that repeatable experiment that shows evolution to be true.

    Oh, And theocrat: I was doing a search and this place popped up. Take my advice: Don’t try to teach these pigs to sing. Their faith is too strong to be shaken by mere evidence.

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