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Did God Use A Backhoe?

Monday, Jan. 01, 2007 5:54 PM


The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has pointed out that park rangers at the Grand Canyon are not allowed to state the age of the Canyon, so as not to offend Creationists. (The park's website does make a reference to the Canyon being 5-6 million years old in the FAQ.)

Additionally, the gift shop now sells a book entitled, "Grand Canyon: A Different View," by Tom Vail, claims that the Canyon developed on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale (that is, Noah's Flood). Vail runs a group called Canyon Ministries, and leads trips to the Grand Canyon where he presents this and other theories supporting Biblical Creation. (Vail was also a Colorado River tour guide who taught the facts – that the Canyon was formed over millions of years – and then he "met the Lord.")

So we're to believe that God, who is attributed with making the cosmos, the planet we call home, and all the varied and wonderful aspects of nature, couldn't design a river that would carve out a canyon over time? That something as majestic and awe-inspiring as the Grand Canyon must have had a suitably dramatic creation?

That's not Christianity, that's superstitious claptrap.

We can only assume that Noah lived in the Middle East. He built his ark, got onboard with the family and all the animals, and sailed as far as Turkey upon the waters of the flood. So if the flood caused the formation of the Grand Canyon, how is it that such an amazing concentration of water – enough to cut a mile down, eighteen miles wide, and nearly 300 miles long – was targeted clear across the globe from everything God wanted to vent His Wrath upon?

And what of other rivers and their respective courses?

The power of water to erode rock is seen when we walk upon the shore and find bits of shell, even bottle glass that has been rendered smooth and polished. The Tsunami that devastated the South Pacific in 2004 swept away villages and buildings … but didn't create a magical mystery trench.

It should also be pointed out that when the Bible was written, no one knew North America existed. The prevalent world view did not include a round Earth, nor other continents. So when the Bible speaks of the Flood, and the whole of the earth being covered, it attests to events the authors could not possibly have ascertained.

Flood waters carved out the Grand Canyon? Why only the one spot? Why were the mountains covered and not affected? And what are the implications of the world being covered by that much water, the weight alone of which would crush a human being?

But the issue isn't with the assorted inconsistencies and paradoxes of the Biblical record. The problem is that Creationists believe the Earth is only 5,000 or so years old, because that's their best guess given references to time in the Bible.

So, naturally, the Creationists feel they have to reconcile physical fact with Biblical accounts, no matter how far afield it takes them. (It's the religious version of Pam finding Bobby Ewing alive in the shower, what writers call retroactive continuity, or retconning. Want to explain why Jonathan Archer's Enterprise looked so different from Jim Kirk's ship? Retcon.)

The fine points of television screenplays aside, what is, perhaps, more disturbing is that Joe Alston, superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, moved to block sales of Vail's book, the National Park Service told him no. They announced that a high-level policy review would be conducted, and their decision announced in February, 2004.

PEER has found no such review ever took place.


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