Last year, officials at the Grand Canyon decided plaques with quotations from the Book of Psalms had no place in a national park. That decision was later overturned and is now under review. But now, apparently, a book's alternative view on how the Canyon was created is too "religious" for some prominent evolutionists who want it removed from bookstores in the park.

"Grand Canyon: A Different View" (Institute for Creation Research, May 2003) is a 104-page "coffee table book" compiled by Tom Vail, a veteran tour guide of the Canyon. For years he told people how the Grand Canyon had formed over millions of years. Then Vail met Jesus — and now the tour guide has a different view. Thus the title of the hardback pictorial, which contains the essays of 23 contributors, many of whom hold earned doctorates in science.

Vail's book presents a view of the Canyon's formation not normally heard by visitors to the park. That view, held by creation scientists and a growing number of secular geologists, maintains that the Canyon was formed by a lot of water over a few thousand years — not by the slow erosion of the Colorado River over millions of years. The Grand Canyon exhibits "classic flood geology," Vail says. "It's just on a scale that's so massive, the evolutionists can't see it."

Vail's explanation of the Canyon's creation, however, does not sit well with the presidents of seven science organizations, who in December urged in a letter to the park superintendent that the book be removed from Canyon bookstores because of its "religious" content. That recommendation was referred to National Park Service headquarters in Washington, DC.

Associated Press now reports that David Barna, a spokesman for the Park Service, says officials there are preparing to draft a letter telling Grand Canyon administrators that the book's claims fall outside accepted science, so it likely will not be restocked.

Contributor's Reaction

One of the contributors to Vail's book is Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian apologetics ministry. He says the effort by evolutionists to ban the book is "remarkable."

"Although Tom's beautifully illustrated book is low key, it still has managed to shake up the evolutionary community and its strongly held beliefs about the Grand Canyon and its supposed history of millions of years," Ham says. He adds that he is hopeful that the controversy will lead people to read and consider the alternative, scientific viewpoint in the book.

And what about the book being removed from Canyon bookstores? Ham sees no purpose behind the demand by the evolutionists. "Since the book shares the conclusion of most Canyon geologists — whether creationist or evolutionist — that most of the Canyon was created in a relatively short period of time, why then shouldn't its visitors be exposed to this view?" he asks.

Ham's organization believes that a worldwide flood covered the earth only a few thousand years ago, and that as the flood receded, huge lakes formed. They later breached their earthen dams and rushed through northern Arizona, carving out the Canyon quickly. Ham offers as one example of evidence of that view a large canyon system near Mount St. Helens in Washington. That system, approximately one-fortieth the scale of the Grand Canyon, was formed relatively quickly after the volcano erupted in 1980.

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