The Correction the New York Times Refuses to Print

The venerable New York Times has a policy that “welcomes … information about errors [that appear in its pages] that call for correction.” That welcome was tested last month when AiG saw that the creationist position on a worldwide flood was totally misrepresented in an 18 January Times article (reporting on the attempted book ban of a non-evolutionist book, Grand Canyon: A Different View, from Grand Canyon bookstores).

AiG wrote The Times to correct its inaccurate story. As of today, the paper has refused to admit its error, even after three contacts with its editors.

So for public consumption, here is the letter that the New York Times refused to print, followed by the subsequent (unedited) exchange that AiG had with its editors after we had submitted this letter to the editor:

Dear Editor,

The Times inaccurately reported (January 18) that creationists believe the Grand Canyon was created during the six days of creation (Genesis 1), rather than after Noah’s Flood (Genesis 8-9). Such a basic misunderstanding regarding the nature of the controversy that is now raging over a non-evolutionist book about Grand Canyon is surprising.

In our model, a large body of water (left over after a global flood) had collected in what is now modern-day Colorado. It breached its natural, earthen dam, and an immense torrent of water rushed through Northern Arizona, and carved out the Canyon.

Creationists, therefore, reject the traditional evolutionist view that the Canyon was cut by the Colorado River over millions of years. The book’s Ph.D. scientists—several of whom have conducted serious research at the Canyon—present the case (now accepted by most evolutionist geologists who have studied the Canyon) that it was formed by a lot of water over a short time.

Park visitors should have equal access to all points of view regarding legitimate scientific theories of the Canyon’s formation.

Mark Looy, Vice President for Ministry Relations

Answers in Genesis, Florence, KY

From: Public []
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 7:27 PM
To: Mark Looy
Subject: Re: Letter to the Editor--error to correct

Dear Mr. Looy,

Thank you for your message. I have forwarded your concerns to Bill Borders, the editor in charge of following up on corrections.

If he does not believe that a correction is merited, either he or I will let you know.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Borders []
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 5:49 PM
To: Mark Looy
Subject: Creationists and the Grand Canyon

Dear Mr. Looy:

I am sorry that you received no reply to your earlier correspondence with The Times. I don’t know what happened to it, but we certainly did not mean to seem unresponsive.

The reference in the Jan. 18 article you cited was not intended to be a comprehensive account of various creationist theories about the origin of the Grand Canyon—or anybody else’s theories, for that matter. Tom Vail’s book is at the center of the controversy that the article was describing, so it was natural to describe to readers what Tom Vail’s theory is. I don't see an error here, so we will not be publishing a correction.

Thanks very much for writing, and for holding The Times to a high standard.

Best, Bill Borders, senior editor

3 February 2004 (evening)


With respect, the creationist position regarding the “when” of the Canyon’s formation is at the very heart of the current controversy, and was totally misrepresented by The Times. Moreover, there is no creationist theory that argues that the Canyon was formed during the Creation Week. Author Tom Vail did not say this in his book, and offered what is the only scientific, creationist theory of the Canyon’s formation. There are no “various theories” as you claimed below.

Please ask the reporter where he supposedly found this unusual belief in creationist circles. You will discover that he probably just shot from the hip on this one, and was not even aware of the book’s basic message.

The Times got it completely wrong. Even if it was a minor point in the article (and it was not), wouldn’t you want to see that a correction be printed? It would be akin, chronologically, in reporting that evolutionists believe the sun was created well after the earth and the appearance of plant life—you would certainly print a correction of that misrepresentation of the evolutionist position, wouldn’t you?

After talking to the reporter, you will discover that he made a mistake. Hey, we all have feet of clay—we all make mistakes in this fallen world. But if you decide not to print a correction to such an obvious error, I would ask that I be able to dialogue with another editor of rank there (or a readers’ ombudsman, if appropriate).


Mark Looy

Vice President – Ministry Relations

As of our web posting today: 1) The New York Times has not responded to our 4 February email, which was re-sent on 10 February. 2) The National Park Service in Washington, D.C., still has not issued its final decision on whether Grand Canyon: A Different View—which presents the views that the AiG letter above mentions—will remain on the shelves of the six bookstores at Grand Canyon National Park. After thousands of emails poured into Park offices in Washington, D.C., the bookstores had to re-order 300 copies of the book due to the recent publicity, a very positive free-speech development in this ongoing controversy.

We will keep you posted.


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