Saturday, February 24, 2007


J.F. Beck made an interesting comparison recently. There had been an outcry over claims that:

[A book called] Grand Canyon: A Different View [was] being sold at the park. The book is, you see, a collection of essays written from a creationist perspective; and if there's anything guaranteed to rile committed lefties, it's creationism.
Well, creationism riles this particular right wing libertarian. But Beck went on to quote New Scientist:
The Grand Canyon was formed a few thousand years ago by Noah's flood, and not a few million years ago by geological forces, right? So says a glossy book still on sale in Grand Canyon National Park, despite scientists' protests.
and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility:
“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”
It turned out that this was a misrepresentation of the truth:
If asked the age of the Grand Canyon, our rangers use the following answer.

The principal consensus among geologists is that the Colorado River basin has developed in the past 40 million years and that the Grand Canyon itself is probably less than five to six million years old. The result of all this erosion is one of the most complete geologic columns on the planet.

The major geologic exposures in Grand Canyon range in age from the 2 billion year old Vishnu Schist at the bottom of the Inner Gorge to the 230 million year old Kaibab Limestone on the Rim.
However, Beck pointed out the curious lack of outcry over this statement from the official official Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park website:
We, the traditional land owners of Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park, are direct descendants of the beings who created our lands during the Tjukurpa (Creation Time). We have always been here.
Why is religious drivel acceptable from Australian Aboriginies, but not from American Christians? This question has been cast into sharp relief this week when it was reported that:
Britain's national collection of human remains - a unique information source on man's origins - could soon be broken up after a decision to return the bones of 17 Aboriginals in the collection to Tasmania.

The Natural History Museum in London announced yesterday that it has decided to set a precedent by giving the remains to a Tasmanian Aboriginal group which intends to cremate them in a funeral ceremony.
Professor Stringer said that destroying the material means that the bones will never be available for further study when new forensic techniques are invented. "Who would have thought a few decades ago that we would be able to get DNA from Neanderthal bone?" he said.

Professor Robert Foley, a human evolution expert at Cambridge University, said: "There is no doubt that if these remains are destroyed, our knowledge of our humanity will be diminished."
A battle is being fought over whether or not samples can be taken first for later DNA analysis. What is the justification for the Aboriginal campaign to prevent this from happening?
"When an Aboriginal person dies we have to carry out a traditional ceremony that reunites the spirit with the body, and they are settled back to earth in peaceful form," Mansell says. "Where that's been disturbed through grave robbing, the obligation is on us to settle those spirits once again through ceremony. If there are photographs taken or DNA testing of their remains, then the spirit is broken up and cannot be reunited with the body."

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