Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Creationism for sale at the Grand Canyon

Transcript of today's show:

Despite repeated complaints, bookstores at the Grand Canyon are still selling a book that claims the canyon was created by the biblical flood. The National Park Service has stonewalled for 4 years on a promise to pull the book from the shelves. Its officials claim that a broad range of viewpoints should be available to visitors. But park rangers adamantly disagree. They say that selling the book is simply a veiled endorsement of creation theory. [source: San Francisco Chronicle]

Listen to the 1-minute broadcast of this story [mp3]

Sound Off: Science & Faith. Our point/counterpoint regulars Shelley (the voice of science) and Peter (the voice of faith), comment on the story.

The Voice of Science: Shelley Greene, Ph.D., comments:
Another conservative Christian agenda slips innocently enough through a seemingly innocuous national agency. How did this happen, we ask in astonishment? I can hear Bush now, sitting around the Crawford ranch with his posse after a day of fishin' and cyclin': "Hey boys, why don't we get some of those Christian biblical flood stories into the bookstores of some of them national parks out west here? You know, written by some scientists of our persuasion. None of them Bible books with cartoon drawing, but those science-lookin' books. They got a lot of them now. Good way to get the word out. And the Christians will love these books! Buy 'em up by the case. What do they want with those big serious science books that say the earth's millions of years old? We have a responsibility to our people. Especially when they come to a government place. We need to get the truth out there. It's good for the people, it's good for us. I'm not just a war president, I am a God president. Got to get the word out. You know what to do boys, and don't let those liberal, a-religious park rangers cause you any trouble. We're on God's side."

The Voice of Faith: Peter Williamson, M.Div., comments:
The characteristic mark of America and the cornerstone of her greatness is the First Amendment right of Freedom of Religion, Press and Expression. We are a country who has taken great pride in its embrace of religious tolerance. Does that not also extend to tolerance generally? Does our tolerance apply to science? Does scientific tolerance stand beside religious tolerance, as would racial tolerance, ethnic tolerance, and social tolerance?

The National Park Service is 'stonewalling' because what they are being asked to do flies in the face of the First Amendment right of press, as well as our national commitment to tolerance. Singling out one book among many whose viewpoint differs on ideological grounds is the behavior we would expect from a dictatorship. Removing this book from the National Park bookstore would set a disastrous precedent and would be a tremendous insult to American values, rights, and democracy itself.