The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood Reprint Edition
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- Daily Beast
“The Rocks Don’t Lie traces the history of the field of geology through the thinking that progressively debunked the great-flood myth and left behind, temporarily, what would be resurrected 150 years later as Creationism. . . . The Rocks Don’t Lie intertwines geologic history and the author’s own field trips in an engrossing way. . . . Montgomery also shows flashes of considerable wit. . . . That’s just a taste of what’s in store for readers of this delightful volume. I came away far more enriched than I had expected to be.”
- American Scientist
““[Montgomery’s] arguments are spirited and compelling, but his most novel conceit is to frame this intellectual history of geology by giving special attention to Noah’s Flood.”
- Wall Street Journal
“We can only hope that [Montgomery’s] book will be received with the same open-mindedness with which it was written.”
- Martin Rudwick, New Scientist
- Scientific American
“Fascinating, exquisitely researched and comprehensive.”
- Seattle Times
“Examining a wide variety of flood and creation stories across centuries, Montgomery provides an enthusiastic and valuable recounting of the history of geology and how the advances in science have consistently faced opposition from the guardians of so-called religious authority, based on a literal reading of the Bible.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“Montgomery... offers a thorough critique of creationist worldviews... while treating his opponents with respect, reflecting on both ancient and modern debates and demonstrating that Christians have been arguing among themselves about these subjects for millennia. ...The combination of historical study and humility on behalf of geology makes for an extremely persuasive work. Highly recommended.”
- John M. Kistler, Library Journal
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That is not Montgomery’s primary concern. He is not investigating the flood per se but rather (as the Amazon description states), looking at the manner in which the “mystery of the Bible’s greatest story shaped geology.” For example, many of the world’s geological phenomena were explained by the assumption of a great flood, phenomena which really could not be explained in this fashion. Thus, the book looks at the relationship between science and faith and the manner in which their interaction has shaped intellectual history. It reminds me of a book like Marjorie Hope Nicolson’s MOUNTAIN GLOOM AND MOUNTAIN GLORY, a splendid book which looks at the question of why mountains were seen as images of gloom and destruction (in the late Renaissance) and as images of grandeur and sublimity (in the Romantic period). She draws on contemporary explanations of the earth and the flood to construct the intellectual backdrop for this major aesthetic change.
Montgomery’s procedure is similar. He looks at documents from the late middle ages/early Renaissance down to the modern period and outlines the manner in which studies of the flood affected views of geology. Simultaneously, he looks at stunning geological phenomena (walking from the floor of the Grand Canyon to its ledge, e.g. or looking at Everest from its base to its summit) and explaining the geological phenomena before him and the manner in which a flood would be unable to explain them. Two high points are, of course, the discovery of geological time and its parameters and the discovery of the movement of tectonic plates.
He is harsh (but polite) with regard to ‘creationist’ explanations and very lucid with regard to the ongoing debate between gradualist change and catastrophic change, giving credit to each explanation. He talks about the relationship between science and faith and strikes the right notes on the claims of each. Fundamentalist explanations fail in the face of scientific fact but science is unable to explain whether or not there is a God and, if there is, how or why He chose to create in the manner which science points toward. Montgomery likes the Renaissance notion that God reveals Himself through the book of His word (scripture) and the book of His works (created nature), the latter offering a pivotal role to scientists.
The book includes a helpful bibliography and it is written with great lucidity so that those not trained in geology will still enjoy and profit from it.
The book explains some of the basic ideas of geology by giving us an easy-to-read short introduction to the history of geology and the development of the science. It gives very nice pocket portraits of all of the important people and ideas in the history of geology (except for Louis Agassiz and his discoveries about glacial activity, whose omission sort of surprised me). It is very respectful of religious beliefs about The Flood, and shows how early Christian investigators, eager to discover and understand more about the Biblical Flood, provided the energy and imagination behind the early advances in the science of geology. At the same time, without going into a polemical rant, it shows how the evidence (the rocks) simply does not support Creationist "flood geology".
I think that this book would be a good purchase for someone who is genuinely open-minded, and interested in learning about the light that geology can shed on the subject of the Biblical Flood.
Top international reviews
- compelling read: I found I kept turning the pages.
- scientifically accurate.
- clearly explained.
- great examples to illustrate points
Finally, it's a great read, and a compelling demonstration of just how iffy creation "science" is in its arguments and views. To my mind, the best point is how the author explains how the story of the rocks show that creationist interpretations are untenable.