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The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood

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In Tibet, geologist David R. Montgomery heard a local story about a great flood that bore a striking similarity to Noah's Flood. Intrigued, Montgomery began investigating the world's flood stories and, drawing from historic works by theologians, natural philosophers, and scientists, discovered the counter-intuitive role Noah's Flood played in the development of both geolog In Tibet, geologist David R. Montgomery heard a local story about a great flood that bore a striking similarity to Noah's Flood. Intrigued, Montgomery began investigating the world's flood stories and, drawing from historic works by theologians, natural philosophers, and scientists, discovered the counter-intuitive role Noah's Flood played in the development of both geology and creationism. Steno, the grandfather of geology, even invoked the Flood in laying geology's founding principles based on his observations of northern Italian landscapes. Centuries later, the founders of modern creationism based their irrational view of a global flood on a perceptive critique of geology. With an explorer's eye and a refreshing approach to both faith and science, Montgomery takes readers on a journey across landscapes and cultures. In the process we discover the illusive nature of truth, whether viewed through the lens of science or religion, and how it changed through history and continues changing, even today.


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In Tibet, geologist David R. Montgomery heard a local story about a great flood that bore a striking similarity to Noah's Flood. Intrigued, Montgomery began investigating the world's flood stories and, drawing from historic works by theologians, natural philosophers, and scientists, discovered the counter-intuitive role Noah's Flood played in the development of both geolog In Tibet, geologist David R. Montgomery heard a local story about a great flood that bore a striking similarity to Noah's Flood. Intrigued, Montgomery began investigating the world's flood stories and, drawing from historic works by theologians, natural philosophers, and scientists, discovered the counter-intuitive role Noah's Flood played in the development of both geology and creationism. Steno, the grandfather of geology, even invoked the Flood in laying geology's founding principles based on his observations of northern Italian landscapes. Centuries later, the founders of modern creationism based their irrational view of a global flood on a perceptive critique of geology. With an explorer's eye and a refreshing approach to both faith and science, Montgomery takes readers on a journey across landscapes and cultures. In the process we discover the illusive nature of truth, whether viewed through the lens of science or religion, and how it changed through history and continues changing, even today.

30 review for The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    For the longest time, I've been trying to avoid the Noah's Flood Controversy. But, in a certain sense, I've stepped right into the controversy by reading this book . . . for better or worse. David Montgomery's book is largely a readable history of how interpretations of the Biblical account of Noah's flood have affected the earth sciences. Early on, such geologists as Georges Cuvier, Georges-Louis Buffon, and John Woodward assumed that geology would never conflict with a proper understanding of G For the longest time, I've been trying to avoid the Noah's Flood Controversy. But, in a certain sense, I've stepped right into the controversy by reading this book . . . for better or worse. David Montgomery's book is largely a readable history of how interpretations of the Biblical account of Noah's flood have affected the earth sciences. Early on, such geologists as Georges Cuvier, Georges-Louis Buffon, and John Woodward assumed that geology would never conflict with a proper understanding of Genesis. Whether they used Noah's flood to explain certain rock formations or considered the flood to be a more minor and insignificant affair, these scientists brought their understanding of the Bible into dialogue with their geological findings. For the most part, it has only been in the last hundred years or so that some Christians have had a hard time reconciling geological findings with their interpretations of the Bible. This, Montgomery argues, has a lot to do with the influence Ellen Gould White's visions had on George Price. White claimed that in her visions, she saw God create the universe in six twenty-four hour days and flood the whole earth during Noah's lifetime. Believing White's visions to be authentic, Price, an untrained geologist, popularized young-earth creationism in the face of conflicting evidence. In the end, Montgomery concludes, young-earth creationism is a misdirected form of pseudo-geology supported by those who are unwilling to change their interpretation of the Genesis in the face of geological findings. Montgomery implicitly calls young-earth creationists to adopt the same attitude as such scientists as Woodward who are willing to interpret the Bible alongside geological findings. For the most part, Montgomery's book is fairly good. There are, however, a few areas that he could have improved on: (1) He should have acknowledged earlier on the distinction between young-earth and old-earth creationists. Though he does acknowledge this distinction in the end, throughout the book he conflates 'creationists' with 'young-earth creationists'. I found this really annoying. (2) In chapters eight and nine, Montgomery seems to suggest that Genesis was written/compiled after the Babylonian Captivity. This would date Genesis to the fifth or sixth centuries BC, an impossible date. To be honest, I think Montgomery confuses the return of the Jews from Babylon to the Holy Land with Abraham's journey out of Mesopotamia. (3) Though the contents of The Rocks Don't Lie show that Montgomery isn't thick-headed, the way in which he opposes 'reason' and 'faith', 'science' and 'religion', is quite simplistic. (Note: he makes up for this somewhat in the final chapter). He uses these terms as if we know what 'science' really is, as if there is a single 'scientific method', and as if we can completely separate acts of faith from scientific investigations. Montgomery should have been more careful with his use of these slippery words. (4) Finally, the title of the book is a bit frustrating. The title, The Rocks Don't Lie, suggests that, unlike documents such as the Bible, rocks do not need to be interpreted. It suggests that we have direct access to the truth through 'the rocks themselves'. But this is simply untrue, as any reading of Montgomery's book will attest. It has taken scientists hundreds of years to figure out what rocks mean and so, in many cases, we could have said that 'the rocks tricked us'. I think that the final lesson Montgomery wants to teach us is that BOTH geology and theology involves hermeneutics. The proper interpretation of rocks and Scripture is not necessarily the first interpretation that comes to mind. In each case, we investigate the material with a worldview that affects how we look. There is no 'absolutely direct' and 'unmediated' access to Truth, whether this be through rocks or Scripture. Both scientists and believers should be humble enough to admit that their interpretations of rocks and/or Scripture can be modified with new findings.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Aerin

    My fascination with flood myths goes back to Atlantis. During my "great mysteries of the unexplained" period in about seventh grade, I read about the theory that Atlantis was really the island of Thera, where a volcanic eruption in the 20th century BC destroyed the comparatively advanced civilization of the Minoans. Much of the island was obliterated; it was as if the city really had sunk into the sea. From there, I went on to read Orson Scott Card's short story, Atlantis, which tied the mythic c My fascination with flood myths goes back to Atlantis. During my "great mysteries of the unexplained" period in about seventh grade, I read about the theory that Atlantis was really the island of Thera, where a volcanic eruption in the 20th century BC destroyed the comparatively advanced civilization of the Minoans. Much of the island was obliterated; it was as if the city really had sunk into the sea. From there, I went on to read Orson Scott Card's short story, Atlantis, which tied the mythic city's destruction to the story of Noah's flood and placed them both in the Red Sea basin as it filled at the end of the last Ice Age. Ever since, I've been fascinated by what real events, if any, lie behind ancient myths of natural disasters. Though I know many tantalizing theories have been proposed over the centuries, I'd never had much luck finding good books on the subject. Fiction was fine, and credulous paranormal accounts had some entertainment value, but there didn't seem to be much out there otherwise. So when I learned that a UW geologist, David R. Montgomery, had written a book on Noah's flood, I immediately bought the book and went to his talk. The book does discuss various flood myths and their evidence in the geologic record (from Noah to tsunami myths in Pacific island cultures to ancient Scandinavian and Tibetan myths that seem tied to the breakage of glacial dams). However, its focus is more specifically on the history of Christianity's relationship with geology, culminating in modern creationists' antagonism toward, well, reality. It wasn't what I was expecting, but it turned out to be a fascinating read. At his talk, Montgomery stressed two points that became salient as he was researching the book. First, the debate has never been between science and religion. Throughout history, most scientists were religious, and religion was elastic enough to accommodate scientific discoveries. Science has always asked how? while religion asks why? - they are not attempting to ask or answer the same questions. Instead, the ongoing debate is within religion on how to view science, and that has changed over time and varies between denominations. Second, modern creationism's antipathy toward science, especially geology and evolutionary biology, is a very recent phenomenon, coming to the fore only in the last fifty years or so. Previously, even the most hard-nosed fundamentalists seemed to have no problem accepting the day-age theory (the idea that the six "days" of creation were not 24-hour periods but correspond to prolonged epochs) or the gap theory (that after the universe was created, the Bible elided a significant period of time which elapsed before the creation of man, allowing for geologic processes to transpire). Even the idea that Noah's flood was a local phenomenon, not a worldwide deluge, was fairly well accepted among the faithful. (Evolution has always been a harder sell, but many denominations have accepted it with the proviso that God was guiding the process.) Conversely, in earlier times, most considered examining the universe with a scientist's eye a holy endeavor, since Nature is "God's other book". Studying it could only confirm and amplify the Bible's teachings, not controvert them. But in the 1950's an influential book, The Genesis Flood, was published that really kick-started the modern creationist movement in the United States. Its authors, John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, did not set out to fairly evaluate the science, but admitted that they were only including the scientific discoveries that seemed to corroborate Genesis while ignoring all others. Still, the book had the veneer of scientific rigor - it read like a textbook and included copious footnotes. It seemed to lend credence to the creationist viewpoint. Reading The Genesis Flood, Montgomery was surprised to find that it actually included a perceptive critique of the geology of the time. Plate tectonics had not been discovered, and without it there were many anomalies science couldn't explain - how did marine fossils end up in lofty mountains? What besides God could have the power to raise mountains anyway? And in another vein - if a flood didn't kill the dinosaurs, what did? Science didn't yet have credible answers. That their critiques are now obsolete hasn't phased the creationists of today, but again, reality has never been a major concern for them. Still, young-earth creationism is only the latest tactic in the long history of Christianity's struggles with science. Montgomery puts it well: The push-and-pull, the back-and-forth through history between science and religion is more of a dance than a war. I now think of it as an awkward egalitarian waltz, with the partners trading off the lead, sometimes moving one step ahead, other times following behind, and occasionally stomping on each other's toes. As long as humans are going to trust a cryptic, ancient book to provide answers to life, the universe, and everything, there is going to be friction with the more mundane, empirical answers provided by science. Still, archaeology and geology have provided evidence that Noah's flood may be based on a real event after all, whether as a massive river flood in Mesopotamia or as the filling of the Black Sea. Religious texts may yet shed some light on science. Even if the oral tradition sometimes seems like a millennia-long game of Telephone, these stories are the closest link we have to the experiences of our ancient ancestors, and versions of the Genesis flood story have been found dating back to the Babylonians some 5,000 years ago. It may be one of the oldest stories we have. How fascinating that this account of a potentially real event has come down to us through so many hundreds of generations. Even if, like me, you tend to view the early books of the Bible as a pack of myths, even myths are based on something. On the whole, then, there seems to be good reason for thinking that some and probably many diluvial traditions are merely exaggerated reports of floods which actually occurred, whether as the result of heavy rain, earthquake-waves, or other causes. All such traditions, therefore, are partly legendary and partly mythical: so far as they preserve reminiscences of floods which really happened, they are legendary; so far as they describe universal deluges which never happened, they are mythical. James Frazer, Folk-lore in the Old Testament (Original review date: 21 September 2013)

  3. 5 out of 5

    John

    When I began, being a Christian, I became concerned that I picked to read another book that would rip and tear at my faith, but I was wrong. David Montgomery sums up for me his thesis in this work (He just took an entire book of geological and archeological explanations to get there): Like most geologists, I had come to see Noah’s Flood as a fairy tale—an ancient attempt to explain the mystery of how marine fossils ended up in rocks high in the mountains. Now I’ve come to see the story of Noah’s When I began, being a Christian, I became concerned that I picked to read another book that would rip and tear at my faith, but I was wrong. David Montgomery sums up for me his thesis in this work (He just took an entire book of geological and archeological explanations to get there): Like most geologists, I had come to see Noah’s Flood as a fairy tale—an ancient attempt to explain the mystery of how marine fossils ended up in rocks high in the mountains. Now I’ve come to see the story of Noah’s Flood like so many other flood stories—as rooted in truth. The discoveries of science have revealed the world and our universe to be far more spectacular than could have been imagined by Mesopotamian minds. To still see the world through their eyes is to minimize the wonder of creation. Our interpretation of the world around us fundamentally shapes our outlook. We will only look for evidence that confirms our beliefs if we have already decided how and what to think about something. But if we keep our minds open, we may be surprised at what we discover. You might be interested in Christian View of Science & Scripture by Bernard Ramm (He's Baptist)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Montgomery examines a variety of flood and creation stories across centuries, cultures, and religions. He provides an accessible and enthusiastic 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. Still, he insists that faith and science "can peacefully coexist," and his extensive documentation shows that the revival of creationism, as it exists today Montgomery examines a variety of flood and creation stories across centuries, cultures, and religions. He provides an accessible and enthusiastic 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. Still, he insists that faith and science "can peacefully coexist," and his extensive documentation shows that the revival of creationism, as it exists today, has nothing to do with either science or faith. Thoughtful and fascinating.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Montgomery's subtitle may be a little misleading. It's more like "geologists investigate" -- a history of geology with Noah's flood being a turning point for the scholars, amateurs, scientists, and believers. It's a somewhat uncomfortable book for me. Holding two contradictory ideas is difficult. One of my big take-aways, however, is that many of the arguments current day creationists make are rehashed ideas. "Nothing new under the sun", right? Family members may disown me. It's long been an iss Montgomery's subtitle may be a little misleading. It's more like "geologists investigate" -- a history of geology with Noah's flood being a turning point for the scholars, amateurs, scientists, and believers. It's a somewhat uncomfortable book for me. Holding two contradictory ideas is difficult. One of my big take-aways, however, is that many of the arguments current day creationists make are rehashed ideas. "Nothing new under the sun", right? Family members may disown me. It's long been an issue, trying to reconcile science and faith. I think Montgomery's final chapter suggests that maybe we shouldn't bother. Or perhaps he's saying more that the two do not have to be diametrically opposed. As a folklorist, his (and other's) surprise that the stories people tell might actually have a basis in truth is funny. It's kind of a "well, duh" moment, but it does illustrate a problem with science. It becomes its own dogma, has its own practitioners, its own "faith." And, big take-away #2, a hidebound resistance to scientific knowledge will lead religion to obsolescence. That's not quite the right word . . . futility? ridiculousness? Montgomery quotes a few people who make this particular point. If you continue to refute what is plainly seen, then you weaken your other claims. Personally, I think of the creation story in Genesis as a cosmology, a way to explain the world in terms people of the time could understand. Noah's flood, however, seemed more of a truth. A legend rather than a myth, to use my folkloric training, because you have a place, a time, a named person. The proliferation of flood narratives backed that up, in my mind. I'm not thrilled with Montgomery's treatment of the story in Genesis as merely a Mesopotamian story passed down through generations, but maybe it is. . . and why does that preclude it being a true story? I think Montgomery does fall on the side of it having some truth, just not a global catastrophe. All in all, an interesting read that Montgomery has tried to keep fair and balanced, respectfully making his argument and pursuing the history of geology as it relates to Noah's flood.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Socraticgadfly

    A genial refutation of young-earth creationism Montgomery generally keeps this story about how the earth's geology refutes any version of a literal Noahic flood light on detailed scientific language. And, it is written as a story. He takes the reader to various geological formations in the world thatr have been key to the development of geology as a science, while narrating how key figures from geology's history have studied and analyzed such formations. At the same time, he narrates the history o A genial refutation of young-earth creationism Montgomery generally keeps this story about how the earth's geology refutes any version of a literal Noahic flood light on detailed scientific language. And, it is written as a story. He takes the reader to various geological formations in the world thatr have been key to the development of geology as a science, while narrating how key figures from geology's history have studied and analyzed such formations. At the same time, he narrates the history of Christian theological thought on literal vs non-literal biblical interpretation in general, and specifically on the Noahic flood. He intertwines the two in discussing how different strands of Christian thought reacted to these scientific findings. Basically, by the end of the 19th century, a literal or semi-literal young-earth creationism (if not 10,000 years or less, certainly no more than 100,000 years) had fallen out of favor with the great majority of theologians in most of the Western world. With the exception of the United States. Montgomery puts YEC developments in the historic context of: 1. Anti-evolutionism and the Scopes trial of the 1920s and 2. Anti-communism and the Cold War, etc., of the late 1940s and beyond. As talk of "culture wars" continues, and as Montgomery stretches YEC roots back to the Second Great Awakening, this is good to remember. Now, what result will the book have? More liberal evangelicals, or even some moderate ones, may become more open to more aspects of an old-earth creationism and one with less divine interventionism. But, if Montgomery hopes this will appeal at all to conservative evangelicals, let alone fundamentalists, it won't, for precisely the reasons he mentions YEC thought arose in the first place. It's still a good read, and for anybody who wants to debate a YEC fundy on the issues, a handy starting point. (I would never waste my time myself.) But, because of the caveat about not convincing the YEC-ers (and it being a bit "thin"), it falls a bit short of 5-star status.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Rowe

    Kind of lightweight and could use alot more color pictures. That’s a statement I never thought I’d use in a book review, but it happens to be true in this case. At one point, the author quotes St. Augustine who says (paraphrasing), it’s dumb to insist on the literal interpretation of Genesis because when it contradicts what people can see with their own eyes, they’re going to toss out the entire Bible. This is in 400AD, mind you. So, for the chapter on the author’s ascent up the Grand Canyon tha Kind of lightweight and could use alot more color pictures. That’s a statement I never thought I’d use in a book review, but it happens to be true in this case. At one point, the author quotes St. Augustine who says (paraphrasing), it’s dumb to insist on the literal interpretation of Genesis because when it contradicts what people can see with their own eyes, they’re going to toss out the entire Bible. This is in 400AD, mind you. So, for the chapter on the author’s ascent up the Grand Canyon that traverses 600 million years of incontrovertible rock evidence, why not give us some full color plates so we can see with our own eyes? Worm tunnels in the Tapeate Sandstone, for example, showing the layer couldn’t have been flood sediment, would be nice to see. Siccar point which opened up the “dizzying chasm of infinite time” to Hutton and his pals was shown on the cover at least. But an annotated picture in the text would be nice. Anyway, a single illustrated book on the Grand Canyon portion would pretty much seal this guy’s thesis. The rest is just gravy. But it is pretty interesting to find that the early giants of geology were primarily driven by the desire to prove their religious beliefs, and to see how that slowly unraveled. The part on decoding ancient cuneiform tablets and finding the story of Noah in the epic tale of Gilgamesh that predated the Bible by hundreds (a thousand?) of years was pretty impressive. But it peters out in the end with the periodic catastrophic flooding of North America. What does that have to do with anything. But in the end, it’s a pretty informative book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rhodes Davis

    The book was very educational. I didn't like the section on Biblical Criticism which comes off simplistic but as simplistic as some Biblical experts discuss geology. That is often my criticism of authors who try to expound on complexities outside of their area of expertise and miss the nuances and specialized knowledge in these areas. As noted, when non-scientists try to expound on the depths of biology, astronomy, and geology the chance of misinformation and inadequate handling of the evidence The book was very educational. I didn't like the section on Biblical Criticism which comes off simplistic but as simplistic as some Biblical experts discuss geology. That is often my criticism of authors who try to expound on complexities outside of their area of expertise and miss the nuances and specialized knowledge in these areas. As noted, when non-scientists try to expound on the depths of biology, astronomy, and geology the chance of misinformation and inadequate handling of the evidence is increased. The true geology portions are extremely interesting as is the discussion about scientific bias against other scientists who propose theories that contradict establishment thinking. Scientists collect data, evaluate the evidence, challenge hypothesis, and propose explanations but sometimes they also have to work within academic politics and structures that can inhibit the very exploration that should take place. I think Montgomery handled the apparent conflicts between the Bible and the geological record in a way that respected religion and it's contributions to geology. The book encourages Christians to consider geological evidence related to Bible events and presents observations that will resonate with old-earth creationists.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    David Montgomery's book is excellent through its first 12 of 13 chapters, focusing on the geological evidence against the biblical global flood myth. The final chapter takes a stumble, as Montgomery veers from his strength - geology - into philosophy, where he seems not to have read much. He seems to stake his belief that science and religion are compatible (despite all their centuries of conflict, the basis for the rest of the book) on a perhaps unwitting reinvention of Stephen Jay Gould's regr David Montgomery's book is excellent through its first 12 of 13 chapters, focusing on the geological evidence against the biblical global flood myth. The final chapter takes a stumble, as Montgomery veers from his strength - geology - into philosophy, where he seems not to have read much. He seems to stake his belief that science and religion are compatible (despite all their centuries of conflict, the basis for the rest of the book) on a perhaps unwitting reinvention of Stephen Jay Gould's regrettable Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA). At the risk of over-simplifying, NOMA is the assertion that science deals in "facts" while religion deals in "values" (or should only deal in values, despite religion's historic and ongoing refusal to limit itself to Gould's prescription for it). And since, according to this thesis, "facts" and "values" are two entirely disjoint domains, science and religion can happily coexist if they stay in their respective lanes. While Montgomery doesn't mention Gould or NOMA by name, his 13th chapter is essentially an argument for it. But he seems as unaware of the shelves of books by scientists, philosophers, and thinkers that savage NOMA as the late Henry M. Morris was unaware of the stratigraphy, geochronology, and plate tectonics that savaged his flood geology. For starters, is Montgomery aware of moral realism? There are quite a few serious philosophers who reject Gould's naive dichotomy between facts and values. That is, there are serious arguments for the existence of moral facts. If this is itself a fact, then at least some values are a subset of the set of facts and are therefore amenable to scientific investigation. That is, science could determine at least some moral values (as the neuroscientist Sam Harris argues in his book The Moral Landscape). The same scientific method that tells us the bible is wrong on geology can therefore determine the truth of religion's moral claims, at least in principle. In practice, contemporary science may not be up to the task, because morality is more complicated than rocks. By analogy, in the year 1800, the first geologists had no clue about how mountains managed to get uplifted. But that didn't mean religious imagination had anything useful to offer. I'm tempted to write an essay in response to the last chapter, but I'll limit myself to one example. Montgomery writes: "While science has much to offer us, from vaccines to space travel, religion can help humanity frame essential social, moral, and ethical decisions, such as those arising from the development and uses of science and technology. Of course, history is also replete with examples of religion being used to subjugate, control, and persecute. Ethics and morality do not require a religious basis any more than vociferous professions of religious belief guarantee ethical or moral behavior. Faith and reason offer different lenses through which people seek to understand the world and our place in it." Through the first twelve chapters of the book, Montgomery decries the creationists' failure to pay attention to the evidence. So why does he assert that religion can help with moral questions and then refuse to look at the evidence? Phil Zuckerman writes (in Faith No More): "Extensive research has revealed that the more religious you are, the likelier you will be to hold conservative, right-wing political views—and conversely, the more conservative and right-wing you are politically, the greater is the likelihood that you will be strongly religious. In the United States, strong religiosity and strong conservative politics go hand in hand. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule; strongly religious African Americans, for example, still tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. But this glaring exception aside, when taking into account national averages, strongly religious Americans—when compared to the less religious or irreligious—are much more likely to support the death penalty; support draconian punishment for prisoners; support the policies of former President George W. Bush; support the war in Iraq; support the governmental use of torture; oppose gay marriage and gay rights; oppose welfare spending that helps society’s unfortunate, hungry, or disabled; and oppose regulations to protect the environment." We don't have to wonder what sort of morality religion produces. We can go out in the field and measure it. (That's what social scientists do - they go out and collect data on people, like geologists collect data on rocks.) If Montgomery equates the conservative political agenda to morality, he's free to do so. But I would be surprised if a majority of his readers agree. The kind of person who reads a moderately difficult nonfiction work of popular science is more likely to be educated, progressive, and horrified by the latest political manifestation of religion: Donald Trump, who in 2016 won a higher percentage of the white Evangelical Christian vote than any previous US President. Elsewhere Montgomery repeats the lazy slur of "militant" atheists, accusing them of being as culpible for perpetuating the conflict between religion and science as the special creationists are. (To blame reason for its conflict with unreason seems a bit unfair to me, but I admit I'm biased in favor of reason. And I'm curious - how might Montgomery react to being called a "militant" geologist, for having the temerity to present some troubling facts?) I don't deduct any stars for the final chapter, as the rest of the book is strong where Montgomery sticks to what he knows. But I would urge anyone who is as unfamiliar with Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Richard Carrier, John W. Loftus, Massimo Pigliucci, etc. as Montgomery seems to be to read them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Very very good, the depth of geological understanding shines through , gentle, readable, not condescending to fundamentalists, While steadily and solidly explains geology. Surprising in places, more evidence for various floods than I expected. some flood stories /myths probably founded on fact. the Noah world wide version completely refuted . Some moments of utter brilliance, comments about Mt Ararat built on / after the sedimentary rocks that were supposed to be laid down in Noah's flood are a Very very good, the depth of geological understanding shines through , gentle, readable, not condescending to fundamentalists, While steadily and solidly explains geology. Surprising in places, more evidence for various floods than I expected. some flood stories /myths probably founded on fact. the Noah world wide version completely refuted . Some moments of utter brilliance, comments about Mt Ararat built on / after the sedimentary rocks that were supposed to be laid down in Noah's flood are almost to funny. ie My Ararat itself refutes the Noah version. Would recommend this as the best book yet I have seen on counter Noah version flood.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristian

    This book provides a thorough summary of the overwhelming evidence for modern science's understanding of the age of the earth and the mechanisms by which topography is formed. More importantly, the author describes the history of the science we now know as geology, and how it was influenced by Christianity and the quest to find evidence for Noah's flood. Rather than being another attack in the war of science vs. religion, this book attempts to demonstrate how inextricably linked the two endeavor This book provides a thorough summary of the overwhelming evidence for modern science's understanding of the age of the earth and the mechanisms by which topography is formed. More importantly, the author describes the history of the science we now know as geology, and how it was influenced by Christianity and the quest to find evidence for Noah's flood. Rather than being another attack in the war of science vs. religion, this book attempts to demonstrate how inextricably linked the two endeavors have been in the history of human culture.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Smith

    I saw Montgomery interviewed recently and that conversation led me to this book. It is not normally the sort of book I would pick up since my position on the veracity of the biblical flood account is fairly well established. However, there are always gaps in knowledge, and it pays to have one's assumptions challenged lest they turn out to be unreasonable presuppositions. Overall I did learn things from this account but I found the line very unsatisfactory, as though DM was deliberately trying to I saw Montgomery interviewed recently and that conversation led me to this book. It is not normally the sort of book I would pick up since my position on the veracity of the biblical flood account is fairly well established. However, there are always gaps in knowledge, and it pays to have one's assumptions challenged lest they turn out to be unreasonable presuppositions. Overall I did learn things from this account but I found the line very unsatisfactory, as though DM was deliberately trying to take on a mild controversy without being controversial. I wish he had more ardently picked a lane without trying to appease both sides which I think is ultimately futile and an approach I found irritating. The history of geologic thought versus scriptural takes on geomorphology were interesting. However, the history of religion's attitude to scientific advances before and during the enlightenment is hardly edifying. Penalties for suggesting heresies such as a heliocentric solar system are well documented but not given much attention here. DM seems more receptive to the idea that religion and geology/science are somehow parallel and have helped one another in the development of human knowledge and understanding. I find this to be an absurd line of thinking. It is interesting how discovery works through the ages. Science is essentially a methodology that seeks to examine the evidence and put together ideas, hypotheses and finally theories, that best explain the evidence we see, and become predictive in terms of what results they would expect us to find. An example is the fossil Tiktaalik which was discovered in sedimentary rocks as per a prediction from evolution and geology. These theories are always tentative and open to challenge, change and reformulation. This was well illustrated in the book as science strove to explain the morphology of the Earth. It's fascinating stuff. Discoveries of glacial outflows on a colossal (though not global) scale were particularly interesting to me. Religion is overlaid on this of course and as suggested by the title, we are talking about the Christian creation story here. Since this is written in unchanging scripture, evidence and facts that emerge have to be fitted into the presupposition that a god exists and that the Genesis account of creation and the flood is real. Therefore what we see today has to be made to fit that narrative, if we are to take the accounts literally. This is a fundamentally different approach from looking at evidence and coming up with hypotheses to explain what we see. I didn't feel that this point was made strongly enough. DM also writes about the various explanations put forward, some as recently as the mid 20th Century, that seek to explain how Noah's flood shaped the Earth on a young Earth creationists timescale. There is obviously a fundamental issue of geologic time versus the young Earth timeframe. 6000-10000 years is nowhere near enough time to account for geologically explanations such as plate tectonics, erosion and deposits of sedimentary rocks, the fossil record etc. Overall though this was very unsatisfactory to me. His concluding chapter tends to fall between two stools for me as well. I have my views on which account of the creation and the subsequent shaping of the Earth that I find more compelling but I actually think it is dishonest to try and assert, as Montgomery seems to do to my reading, that the two approaches are somehow compatible and have complimentary things to say, and that they are somehow mutually supportive. I may have misinterpreted what he is saying but that line of argument is, to me, patently absurd. I wish he had picked the side in a similar way to the authors of "The Genesis Flood" which I think would have been more honest.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Book

    The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood by David Montgomery "The Rocks Don't Lie" is an interesting historical journey through the world's flood stories and how the Bible's greatest story influenced geology. Dr. David R. Montgomery, a professor of geology at the University of Washington and the author of "The King of Fish: The Thousand Year Run of the Salmon: and "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations" takes the reader on an explorative ride that focuses on Noah's flood and geolog The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood by David Montgomery "The Rocks Don't Lie" is an interesting historical journey through the world's flood stories and how the Bible's greatest story influenced geology. Dr. David R. Montgomery, a professor of geology at the University of Washington and the author of "The King of Fish: The Thousand Year Run of the Salmon: and "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations" takes the reader on an explorative ride that focuses on Noah's flood and geology. This well written 320-page book is composed of the following thirteen chapters: 1. Buddha's Dam, 2. A Grand Canyon, 3. Bones in the Mountains, 4. World in Ruins, 5. A Mammoth Problem, 6. The Test of Time, 7. Catastrophic Revelations, 8. Fragmented Stories, 9. Recycled Tales, 10. Dinosaurs in Paradise, 11. The Heretic's Flood, 12. Phantom Deluge and 13. The Nature of Faith. Positives: 1. Well written, very respectful prose. "Solid" science writing. 2. Accessible book for the masses. 3. The conflict between reason and faith handled with the utmost respect and care. The author does not disrespect opposing views. 4. This book's main focus is the historical interplay between biblical interpretation and the development of geology. It's the ultimate struggle to understand who we are and the rocks do the speaking. 5. The author's specialty is geomorphology, the study of processes that create and shape topography. His perspectives revolve around his expertise and thus provide the impetus that drives this book forward. 6. The conflict between creationists and the denial of modern geology. "In defending an interpretation of God's word contradicted by geological evidence, creationists abandon a long-standing belief that rocks don't lie." The author makes it very clear that most early geologists were in fact members of the clergy. The history of the conflict. Interesting stuff. 7. The author presents throughout the book those areas that are problematic for creationists. 8. Some of earth's greatest treasures are used as a background in understanding what the rocks are telling us. The Grand Canyon is a classic favorite. "A single enormous flood simply can't explain the geology of the Grand Canyon." 9. One of the strengths of this book is going through the most compelling arguments and theories in favor a biblical great flood through the years and the counter arguments that ultimately debunked them. The struggle of early Christian scientists to understand geology through the eyes of biblical glasses. 10. The author carefully goes over the history of internal conflicts of biblical interpretation as it relates to theologians. The greatest religious minds are referenced such as Aquinas, Augustine, Luther, Calvin and Origen as examples. 11. What the rocks say and the scientists who were able to understand the language of geology. The historical contributions to geology. 12. Geology, Noah's Flood, world fossils and evolution. The mammoth. 13. Catastrophism versus uniformitarianism. New theories introduced to "justify" the biblical account of the Great Flood. Day-age and gap theories. 14. Thought-provoking historical quotes, "Lyell was echoing Augustine in believing that it would be hard to convince rational men to follow a religion that denied things one could see for oneself." 15. A fascinating look at the age and origins of the biblical flood story. Recycled stories. I'm not going to spoil it. Great stuff. 16. The author does a wonderful job of going through just enough biblical scripture to keep the narrative dare I say it, flowing nicely. Biblical issues. 17. A look at global flood stories from different cultures. 18. Creationism and the problem with biblical inerrancy and how it relates to the Great Flood and evolution. The roots of modern creationism. 19. New scientific tools that helped debunk flood geology. Along with evidence from completely different approaches. 20. The author spends a chapter on how scientists can fail to see evidence when they are "sure" it doesn't exist. 21. The keys to understanding modern creationist thinking. Some of the most compelling arguments against the Great Flood including one involving Mount Ararat. 22. Excellent links and an extensive bibliography. Negatives: 1. It's a matter of preference. Montgomery's writing style is very good and polite almost to a fault; I prefer more passion, panache and conviction. 2. More visual aids would have added value to the book. Some of the illustrations were helpful but I would have liked to have seen tables and charts that summarized findings, the consensus of the scientists per era, etc... 3. A brief discussion of the scientific method as it relates to geology would have helped the layperson. 4. An appendix on carbon dating and all the different methods would have been helpful. A reference chart never hurts. 5. A book of this ilk warranted more geological maps. 6. Finally, I would have like a table of modern creationist views versus the consensus of geological findings. In summary, I enjoyed this book. Dr. Montgomery is an excellent writer who is able to skillfully educate the public on the science of geology while immersing the reader in his narrative. My main criticism is the lack of tables and charts that would have added value to this otherwise wonderful book. I would also have liked more conviction and spice behind the words, too polite for my taste. That said the author succeeds in providing the reader with an interesting historical interplay between the biblical interpretation and the development of geology. I highly recommend this book! Further suggestions: "The Age of Everything: How Science Explores the Past" by Mathew Hedman, "Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature" by Vryan Switek, "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters" by Donald R. Prothero, "Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America" by Shawn Lawrence Otto, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort Through the Noise Around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies" by Sherry Seethaler, "Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction" by Eugenie Scott, "Tales of the Rational" by Massimo Pigliucci, "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts" by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time" by Michael Shermer, "Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)" by Matt Young and "Why Evolution Is True" by Jerry A. Coyne.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I'm a fan of David R. Montgomery's scientific books geared towards non-scientists, or at least non-academics. I thought this would go in to more depth about the geological proof of different great historical floods, perhaps even be able to pinpoint which one is the flood that inspired the tale of Noah's Ark. But it's more of a general exploration of the flood theme. A good portion of the book is a description of how the science of geology and understanding of geological history evolved over sever I'm a fan of David R. Montgomery's scientific books geared towards non-scientists, or at least non-academics. I thought this would go in to more depth about the geological proof of different great historical floods, perhaps even be able to pinpoint which one is the flood that inspired the tale of Noah's Ark. But it's more of a general exploration of the flood theme. A good portion of the book is a description of how the science of geology and understanding of geological history evolved over several hundred years, leading up to present day. Advances in science and archeology led to new understandings about flood myths in the bible and across the world. This also led to a rise in a fundamentalist movement unwilling to accept science because it questioned the literal-ness of the bible. It's hard for me to imagine a time (not even that long ago) when plate tectonics and vast ancient ice age lakes were unknown. It's also hard for me to imagine not taking biblical stories as just another set of world myths that tell us something about a people from a time and place - just like the Sumerian flood myths that pre-date Noah. It was interesting to explore these perspectives in this book. This book is unexpectedly timely to be reading now, as I read about the described religion/science conflict while participating in the April 2017 Science March (where one counter-protester was vocal about her belief in a flat earth! Seriously.) While not an academic book, this isn't a quick, light read either. A good read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Since first walking into my first geology course at Indiana University in 1972, I’ve been in love with the subject, as well as anthropology, archaeology and history. So I stepped into David Montgomery’s “The Rocks Don’t Lie: A geologist investigates Noah’s flood” (W. W. Norton & Company, 320 pages, including notes and bibliography) with great anticipation. Upon completing the book, I felt really satisfied. You don’t need a degree to read this book. Montgomery, a geomorphologist at the University o Since first walking into my first geology course at Indiana University in 1972, I’ve been in love with the subject, as well as anthropology, archaeology and history. So I stepped into David Montgomery’s “The Rocks Don’t Lie: A geologist investigates Noah’s flood” (W. W. Norton & Company, 320 pages, including notes and bibliography) with great anticipation. Upon completing the book, I felt really satisfied. You don’t need a degree to read this book. Montgomery, a geomorphologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, does a great job defining his jargon — including “geomorphologist” — but I believe my three courses in geology, multiple courses in geography and my own hiking in some interesting places did help me relate well. What’s it about? Glad you asked. This book provides a fabulous history of geology as a discipline, and how it has been a thorn in the side of Christianity, from where it actually got its start. “The Rocks Don’t Lie” takes the reader on a history lesson that covers geology, the Bible’s account of Noah’s flood, folklore, archaeological discoveries — and blends the topics together. Montgomery begins his discourse with his own hikes through the Grand Canyon. This long chapter is rich in geological terms, so be prepared to read slowly and maybe keep a dictionary nearby, if you don’t have a background in the science. Do you know your rocks: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary? If not, you may want to pay close attention to his descriptions. Types of rocks and their origins are important. We learn that throughout history, according to the rocks, there have been enormous floods — from rain, tsunamis, melting of glaciers, breakdown of ice dams, river-course changes due to earthquakes and volcanoes, etc. — but never has the study of rocks turned up any evidence for a single, massive global flood. What is intriguing is how Montgomery paints us a vivid picture of how the tools of geology, of science, such as radiocarbon dating, have helped make very real connections to the folklore — of stories passed down in numerous societies — to real events documented in the rocks of our planet. The “world” of Noah likely was a local event, as were other flooding events — each becoming part of each people’s history as passed down by memories of the survivors. If you are a fundamentalist Christian and creationist, you won’t like this book. If you are a moderate Christian, open to considering how science and religion may not be an uncrossable divide, you may well enjoy the book. I found it thought-provoking … and more and more mesmerizing as I continued. The last half of the book is riveting. On Amazon.com, a reviewer and geologist who carries the moniker “Geo in Indiana” provides a great summary: “The impressive thing about this book, though, is that it doesn’t pour fuel on the arguments of those who insist on making religion and science conflict. Throughout, it spells out the origin and timing of competing beliefs about a global deluge, pointing out why many Christians see no contradictions, and why others find the arguments of geologists to be an attack on their faith. The author clearly makes the argument that Christianity has informed and guided science, and that scientific evidence has informed and guided Christianity.” This book is not a quick read. I tackled over the course of three weeks, nibbling in partial or a full chapter at a time, at least at first. By the last three or so chapters, I had trouble putting it down. If you like scientific mysteries intertwined with religion, give “The Rocks Don’t Lie” a try.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This was, at once, a fascinating and surprising book. It was not what I expected, not because I knew very little about geology but because I did not expect such a long history of investigation into the flood, creating one of the “longest-running debates between science and religion as people sought, and still seek, to reconcile scriptural interpretation with observations of the natural world (p. xiv).” Another good book lends itself to a similar but less sweeping look at geology and the flood st This was, at once, a fascinating and surprising book. It was not what I expected, not because I knew very little about geology but because I did not expect such a long history of investigation into the flood, creating one of the “longest-running debates between science and religion as people sought, and still seek, to reconcile scriptural interpretation with observations of the natural world (p. xiv).” Another good book lends itself to a similar but less sweeping look at geology and the flood story; The Seashell on the Mountaintop: How Nicolaus Steno Solved an Ancient Mystery & Created a Science of the Earth by Alan Cutler. Geology is difficult to understand from a book and lends itself well to field studies, at least for me. Nevertheless, Montgomery does a good job of explaining how the “rocks” reveal history as he takes the reader on some field trips with him, e.g., a walk out of the Grand Canyon, and explains how to “read” the landscape. But perhaps even more illuminating is his explanation of the 4-500 year history of efforts to reconcile the flood story with mounting information and understanding of the earth and its geologic features and origins. Along the way he shows how the creationist belief in a young earth has evolved and how it is preposterous. For those of us who live near the Creationist Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, it makes the book all the more interesting. But the effort to understand the “flood” and how water, weather, natural events and other factors affect the planet surface in general provides a more balanced view of how religion and science have worked to understand the creation story and how the universe works. At the end he says, “Thoughtful discussions of the relationship between science and religion are impossible when fundamentalists disguise religious arguments as science and scientists dismiss religion as childish superstition.” It was both an entertaining and enlightening read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pearl

    Geologist David Montgomery, who teaches geomorphology at the University of Washington, began tracing flood stories from many countries and cultures after a field trip in Tibet. On this trip, he noted the hundreds of alternating layers of silt and finer clay segregated into distinct layers and knew that on this arid and rocky land, there had once been a lake. He began hearing many, many flood stories; some, although not all, remarkably similar. In this book, he discusses the various flood stories Geologist David Montgomery, who teaches geomorphology at the University of Washington, began tracing flood stories from many countries and cultures after a field trip in Tibet. On this trip, he noted the hundreds of alternating layers of silt and finer clay segregated into distinct layers and knew that on this arid and rocky land, there had once been a lake. He began hearing many, many flood stories; some, although not all, remarkably similar. In this book, he discusses the various flood stories and traces their evidence in the geologic record. The book is part a history of the development of geology as a scientific discipline and part a history of Christianity's (mostly fundamentalism's) relationship to geology. He is particularly interested in the Biblical story of Noah's Flood and in the theory of Creationism. He, as well as most other geologists, debunked the Biblical story of Noah's Flood for a long time. But he discovers evidence of a very large flood in the vicinity of the one described in the Genesis story, even though not one of worldwide proportions or one in which all the details of the Genesis story would be plausible. He is clearly on the side of geology (the rocks that don't lie, although sometimes their interpreters are wrong); however he is neither confrontational nor condescending. Perhaps his best argument for science is that it is always open to evidence, even if that evidence contradicts a previously held belief. Religion, or more precisely, Creationism of the recent variety, he finds to be a closed system - one not open to new evidence. He ends up endorsing both science and religion - each in their own function and place.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David

    I heard an interview with University of Washington geologist David Montgomery on the Skepticality podcast http://www.skepticality.com/. The interview reminded me of why I love science so much. Montgomery takes a global look at the historical and scientific evidence for flood stories. His findings show that there are rational, scientific explanations for why flood stories are so uncommon in Africa and so widespread in the Middle East and Europe. Although the scientific evidence refutes the idea o I heard an interview with University of Washington geologist David Montgomery on the Skepticality podcast http://www.skepticality.com/. The interview reminded me of why I love science so much. Montgomery takes a global look at the historical and scientific evidence for flood stories. His findings show that there are rational, scientific explanations for why flood stories are so uncommon in Africa and so widespread in the Middle East and Europe. Although the scientific evidence refutes the idea of a global flood, the geologic record from around the world shows that through earth's history there occurred from time to time, great, yet localized floods that caused disasters remarkable enough to shape such stories. These stories, passed down through generations, became powerful legends. Many of these flood stories, including the idea of Noah's flood, motivated early geologists to investigate the geological record. Montgomery summarizes their findings in this book. The middle chapters are probably too detailed to be interesting to the non-geologist but the introduction and final chapters are highly engaging to anyone interested in the historic and scientific interplay between science and religion.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I really liked this one. Much of it covers the development of Geology, how people learned about the rock formations on earth and the processes that created them and how they tried to shoehorn this information into their belief in Noah's flood. I found it fascinating the way that right from the start, some people would basically deny the evidence and others would force it into ever more implausible interpretations of the biblical story, until Morris in the mid 20th century, who decided that the b I really liked this one. Much of it covers the development of Geology, how people learned about the rock formations on earth and the processes that created them and how they tried to shoehorn this information into their belief in Noah's flood. I found it fascinating the way that right from the start, some people would basically deny the evidence and others would force it into ever more implausible interpretations of the biblical story, until Morris in the mid 20th century, who decided that the bible definitely said a worldwide seven day flood and science must either be twisted to fit, or just ignored. It really is amazing, that although there big gaps in geology due to plate tectonics not being known or understood, and he tried to take advantage of this, there evidence that did exist, even then proved the Creationist idea conclusively false, something I suspect he knew, even with his ignorance of actual science and evidence

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I really wanted to read this book. It's been on my to read list for months! I like books, tv shows, whatever that merge science and religion, and this sounded like it would fit that bill. Maybe it does, but I'm not going to find out. I couldn't get past page 20 of this book. The premise was interesting--the writing was not. I found the writing to be too dry, and I found that I needed a better foundation in geology in order to full appreciate what this author was telling me. Stronger visualizatio I really wanted to read this book. It's been on my to read list for months! I like books, tv shows, whatever that merge science and religion, and this sounded like it would fit that bill. Maybe it does, but I'm not going to find out. I couldn't get past page 20 of this book. The premise was interesting--the writing was not. I found the writing to be too dry, and I found that I needed a better foundation in geology in order to full appreciate what this author was telling me. Stronger visualization skills would have helped, too, as there was obviously discussion of the appearance of various layers of rock. I lack strong visualization skills--I have to see it to understand it, and this book was just a little too far out of my reach.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This one surprised me. I was expecting more about rocks (geology). Instead, this book is devoted to smashing all arguments of creationists and Biblical fundamentalists to smithereens. He does it very well, but for me personally, it's a dead horse that didn't need further beating. It took Dr. Montgomery 200 pages (of 260) to get around to J. Harlen Bretz and the great Columbia River floods. The book is well written, and useful, I suppose, for those involved in arguments with creationists. I would This one surprised me. I was expecting more about rocks (geology). Instead, this book is devoted to smashing all arguments of creationists and Biblical fundamentalists to smithereens. He does it very well, but for me personally, it's a dead horse that didn't need further beating. It took Dr. Montgomery 200 pages (of 260) to get around to J. Harlen Bretz and the great Columbia River floods. The book is well written, and useful, I suppose, for those involved in arguments with creationists. I would have liked to know what the author's personal religious beliefs are. My guess (based on protesting too much) is that he is a Christian who has found ways of reconciling his faith and his scientific work.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bryanna Plog

    A recommended read for anyone interested in a well-researched and well-reasoned look at the "debates" between science and religion. Montgomery's book is at its strongest when he integrates his own knowledge of geology with flood stories he encountered around the world. The middle section of the book becomes much more historical, showing how science and religion have co-existed through changing times, which Montgomery contrasts with today's "creationisms." While the book jumps around a bit, it pr A recommended read for anyone interested in a well-researched and well-reasoned look at the "debates" between science and religion. Montgomery's book is at its strongest when he integrates his own knowledge of geology with flood stories he encountered around the world. The middle section of the book becomes much more historical, showing how science and religion have co-existed through changing times, which Montgomery contrasts with today's "creationisms." While the book jumps around a bit, it provides a well-needed nuanced history to contradict today's popular "science vs religion" arguments.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sunbonnetsioux

    Montgomery does a thorough job of describing the history of geologic thought. I found the book to be very readable, and even-handed. This sentence near the end of the book, in particular, spoke to me: "The scientific story of the origin and evolution of life, the vast sweep of geologic time, and the complexity of the processes that shaped the world we know today inspire more awe and wonder than the series of one-off miracles from Genesis that I read about in Sunday school." Montgomery does a thorough job of describing the history of geologic thought. I found the book to be very readable, and even-handed. This sentence near the end of the book, in particular, spoke to me: "The scientific story of the origin and evolution of life, the vast sweep of geologic time, and the complexity of the processes that shaped the world we know today inspire more awe and wonder than the series of one-off miracles from Genesis that I read about in Sunday school."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Great, simple, yet detailed information and well written. The author takes a while to reach conclusions on the topic but well worth learning about geology, which leads the main focus of the book, Noah's Flood. Great, simple, yet detailed information and well written. The author takes a while to reach conclusions on the topic but well worth learning about geology, which leads the main focus of the book, Noah's Flood.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Miller

    Essentially a history of geology as a scientific field, this book follows the progression of dominant thought on the origins of Earth's landforms. I'd like to think I learned a few things, not the least of which being that an awful lot of people contributed to the development of geology and the uniformitarian approach than just Darwin, for all that he seems to hog the proverbial spotlight. The author walks the reader through the history of thought on the subject of geology and how it relates to Essentially a history of geology as a scientific field, this book follows the progression of dominant thought on the origins of Earth's landforms. I'd like to think I learned a few things, not the least of which being that an awful lot of people contributed to the development of geology and the uniformitarian approach than just Darwin, for all that he seems to hog the proverbial spotlight. The author walks the reader through the history of thought on the subject of geology and how it relates to Noah's Flood, particularly how new scientific discoveries and insights steadily eroded various attempts to explain how a global flood shaped Earth's surface. While the book is written primarily for the lay reader, I found the author's repeated injection of his bias to be off-putting. Lay audience or not, he should have let the truth point to itself, and stuck to "just the facts, ma'am," yet he seemed unable to resist what came across as insulting the intelligence of anyone who subscribes to a young-universe model. I don't mean to imply that young-Earth people don't have a lot of explaining to do, because the author brings up many questions that Creationism doesn't explain well. And let's face it, most global flood theories I've encountered have at least one fatal flaw. In fact, I can only think of one that doesn't: Walt Brown's Hydroplate Theory, which I was a little disappointed not to have seen mentioned in this book. Still, I kept wondering how many flash-floods and tusnamis the author has seen, whether in person or in video, if he realizes just how messy and heterogenous those things are, and how well such a scenario might line up with the idea of a global flood. And I was pleased to see he included a decent review of Harlan Bretz and his Missoula Floods, which I've long regarded as a triumph of what can happen when we pry our heads out of our butts, set aside our preconceived ideas, and follow the evidence even when we don't like where it leads. I long ago concluded one of the book's main points: that if the evidence cannot lie, and the Bible cannot be wrong, then we've misinterpreted one or both. And while I appreciate his concluding chapter, and while I sympathize with the idea of science and religion coexisting in peace, I'm afraid I must respectfully disagree particularly with said chapter's opening paragraph in which he states that the tension between science and religion isn't a war. It sure looks like that to me, and because, in my view, we're dealing with perceived threats to one's worldview. If it can be shown conclusively and unarguably that the universe did not and could not create itself, then secularists must come to terms with the existence of the divine. If it can be shown conclusively and unarguably that the universe did create itself, then Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. must come to terms with the idea that their gods might not exist at all.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Lawson

    David R. Montgomery is a geologist and professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. He has published several popular works on science, The Rock's Don't Lie is his third. Montgomery begins the work telling the story of a Tibetan flood legend and shows that these types of folktales can have elements of truth including Noah's Flood. He then moves to a discussion of the Grand Canyon and shows that the evidence does not support the young earth creationist view of earth histor David R. Montgomery is a geologist and professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. He has published several popular works on science, The Rock's Don't Lie is his third. Montgomery begins the work telling the story of a Tibetan flood legend and shows that these types of folktales can have elements of truth including Noah's Flood. He then moves to a discussion of the Grand Canyon and shows that the evidence does not support the young earth creationist view of earth history. In several subsequent chapters the author surveys views of fossils and geology starting with the early Christians and then moves to the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. Montgomery then recounts the discoveries of other flood legends that sound very similar to the biblical account. He concludes that most of these legends are likely due to various ancient catastrophes from regional floods to ice dam failures at the end of the last ice age. Along the journey through the book we have accounts of the author's visit to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky and an overview of the history of modern creationism starting with John Whitcomb and Henry Morris's 1961 book The Genesis Flood. Montgomery shows that Whitcomb and Morris were able to make a case in part because plate tectonics had yet to be discovered. He then recounts those discoveries. We are also introduced to the story of J. Harlen Bretz who was considered heretical in the geological sciences for his conviction that the evidence pointed to a large flood to explain the scablands of Washington. The story shows the complexities of how scientists can at times refuse what is quite evident from the evidence. Eventually Bretz's view won the day and today such large scale catastrophes are no longer rejected out of hand. Montgomery ends the book with a discussion of the nature of faith in relation to science and religion. From his perspective science and religion have been more of a dance through time rather than necessarily being one that is in conflict. Sure, there are specific ideas that come in conflict such as a young earth and flood geology which have been shown to be completely wrong, but in the end, science and faith can and do co-exist. I highly recommend Montgomery's book to anyone interested in the topics related to science and religion, young earth creationism, and flood geology. I would also consider it one of four books that show why and how flood geology is wrong. The others being, Davis A. Young's "The Biblical Flood: A Case Study of the Church's Response to Extrabiblical Evidence," Davis A. Young & Ralph F. Stearley's, "The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth," and finally, the multi-authored book, "The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah's Flood Explain the Grand Canyon?"

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark Isaak

    A well-written and well-organized discussion of Noah's flood, with emphasis on the history of geology and Biblical interpretation as Montgomery explores how we got to where we are today. The history of geology is particularly good, but the chapters covering Genesis (including recognition of its multiple authorship) and the rise of modern creationism are more than adequate. The only semi-significant omission I saw was changing ideas of what mountain the Ark was supposed to land on. (See Lloyd Bai A well-written and well-organized discussion of Noah's flood, with emphasis on the history of geology and Biblical interpretation as Montgomery explores how we got to where we are today. The history of geology is particularly good, but the chapters covering Genesis (including recognition of its multiple authorship) and the rise of modern creationism are more than adequate. The only semi-significant omission I saw was changing ideas of what mountain the Ark was supposed to land on. (See Lloyd Bailey's _Noah_ re that subject.) A more significant lapse is that the notes are inadequate. All quotes and several other items have their sources noted, but for other more broad subjects, one must scour line by line through the bibliography (which is complete) in search of sources that cover them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    As someone who dealt with creationists from the perspective of the field of astronomy, I found this book an educational and enjoyable introduction to the issues in geology. I was familiar with some of the evolving understanding in the field, but this book really filled in many details and personalities, from the original domination of geological thinking by Noah's Flood, to the growing problem created by the record in the rocks and biology, to the eventual recognition of uniformitarianism punctua As someone who dealt with creationists from the perspective of the field of astronomy, I found this book an educational and enjoyable introduction to the issues in geology. I was familiar with some of the evolving understanding in the field, but this book really filled in many details and personalities, from the original domination of geological thinking by Noah's Flood, to the growing problem created by the record in the rocks and biology, to the eventual recognition of uniformitarianism punctuated by catastrophes as drivers of the geological record. Like the defenders of Galileo who argued that the Bible tells how to go to Heaven, not how the Heavens go, Dr. Montgomery re-iterates that a real Divine Creator would be too big to fit in one book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    I saw this book in the Scientific American. I was intrigued, so I bought it. The first half of the book was good. I enjoyed the Science, and geology. However, the Author then started waxing eloquent about religious matters. At that point I shut the book and put it back on the self. I bought the book to learn about Geology. On religious matters the Bible is the only source of authority.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Intriguing look at the scientific/geological history of earth and the history of how geology itself developed. I felt the author did an excellent job of expressing how myth and legend can contribute to geology, yet remains respectful to dissenting religious groups without insulting them.

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