This is an overview of the history surrounding the book controversy.
Statement: The original goal of the book was to present a layman’s explanation of the scientific evidence for a young earth as seen in the Grand Canyon, the same evidence people see on Canyon Ministries’ rafting trips. Just because the science presented in the book provides “a different view” does not make it bad science. There are 23 contributors to the book, including 17 scientists, 14 of whom have PhDs in fields of geology, paleontology, biology, biochemistry, physics, and geophysics from colleges like Harvard, Penn State and Princeton.
It is unfortunate that a relatively small number of people have turned this into a legal issue. Now the debate is a “free speech” issue and whether or not the book should stay on the shelves in the bookstores at Grand Canyon National Park. It is my hope that the Park Service will do the right thing and keep the book on their shelves.
Brief history of the controversy surrounding the book: The book was published in May, 2003. It was accepted by and first shipped to the Grand Canyon Association for sale in National Park bookstores in late July 2003. Though reported otherwise, the book has always been sold in the “inspirational” section of the bookstores and has not been moved.
The first “questioning” comments were in a book review by Dr. Wilfred A. Elders, first printed in Eos, September 23, 2003, and reprinted here (see review). On December 16, 2003, a letter from the presidents of seven major scientific societies (see letter) was sent to the Superintendent of the Grand Canyon National Park. On January 5, 2004, the Associated Press released a short piece on their news wire (see AP article) that started the ball rolling.
On January 9, 2004, the Alliance Defense Fund wrote a letter on my behalf to Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior (see letter) discussing the legal issues involved and the potential ramifications should they choose to remove the book from the stores.
On January 25, 2004 David B. Shaver, Chief, Geologic Resources Division, National Park Service wrote a memo subjected, “Sale of the Creationist book at Grand Canyon.” It opens with a statement that, in part, says:
“Based on our review, we recommend that the book not be sold in park bookstores because the book purports to be science when it is not, and its sale in the park bookstore directly conflicts with the Service’s statutory mandate to promote the use of sound science in all its programs, including public education.”
You may read his complete memo here (see memo). (Sorry for the poor quality, but they did not send me a copy.) After the article was released by the Associated Press, the issue made the news in print and over the airwaves across the country and around the world. The book title was found on over 2,500 websites and the National Park Service received thousands of emails on the issue.
The story has been carried in most major newspapers across the country and on at least 4 other continents. Several television and dozens of radio stations as well as several magazines have carried the story as well.