As reported in the NY Times, geologists have discovered through improved uranium-lead dating that the Grand Canyon is 11 million years older than previously estimated.
Someone should tell the BushAdmin, which currently forbids Park Service employees from commenting on the age of the canyon out of deference for Young Earth Creationists. Indeed, the Grand Canyon tourist shop sells copies of a Grand Canyon: A Different View, a book purporting that the canyon was created by Noah’s Flood – and one geologists want removed.
My friend Patrick likes to tell the story of how his friend Barry, at Patrick’s request, tried to get a park official to tell him how old the canyon was; but the ranger refused, bearing a grimace of helpless shame as pointed him toward the book shop.*
Want a glimpse into the reasoning behind the Noah’s Flood claim? Check this site hyar. A snippet:
Well, sure. There’s no way that teeny widdle river could carve through that much rock in only 6,000 years. UNLESS, that is, there was some CATACLYSMIC event. Like, say, a really, really, really, really HUGE flood. With a guy in a boat with all the world’s animals paired up. Except the dinosaurs, who were just too damn nasty to have around. I mean, c’mon – lookit the size of them! They kept eating all the people, anyway. REBOOT!
But what if, say, the river had 17 MILLION YEARS, along with plate tectonics and other geologic forces that come along in that time? Wouldn’t that be, I dunno, “common sense”? Here’s the NY Times:
By dating mineral deposits inside caves up and down the canyon walls, the geologists said they determined the water levels over time, as erosion carved out the mile-deep canyon as it is known today. They concluded that the canyon started from the west, then another formed from the east, and the two broke through and met as a single majestic rent in the earth some six million years ago.
Previous theories had posited six million years as the earliest age for the beginning of the entire Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
That’s what’s nice about science. They revise. New data comes along, and old theories get replaced by new ones. No one’s claiming absolute proof, just reasonable certainty. And scientists, while often guilty of being condescending and impatient, tend not to frame their arguments with contentions that a failure to accept their evidence is a straight path to hell:
Dude, I know I’m a dick, but really? Eternal hellfire? Jeez….
* This paragraph reflects corrections I have made since consulting Patrick. Originally I had misreported that Patrick himself had asked Grand Canyon park officials about the age of the canyon. Actually, Patrick had read the Huffington Post story about the Park Service reluctance to give an answer, and asked his friend Barry to check it out for him.