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

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

4.5 4
by David R. Montgomery
     
 

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How the mystery of the Bible's greatest story shaped geology: a MacArthur Fellow presents a surprising perspective on Noah's Flood.See more details below

Overview

How the mystery of the Bible's greatest story shaped geology: a MacArthur Fellow presents a surprising perspective on Noah's Flood.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Many theologians and scientists within the Christian tradition have long interpreted the biblical story of Noah’s flood as a worldwide event and a foundation for determining the geological age of the earth. In this rich, animated narrative, geologist Montgomery points out that theologians have often bent an amazing array of geological evidence to support a literal interpretation of Noah’s flood. But what does the Earth itself tell us? Using the evidence he finds in the various strata of rocks in a roadbed in Kentucky, Montgomery contends that the “440 million-year-old, trilobite-bearing limestone” is clearly not a chaotic, mixed-up product of an earth-churning flood. The rocks formed when an ancient “proto-Atlantic Ocean” led to the formation of a thick pile of sediment that gradually accumulated layer by later—stretching from Newfoundland to Alabama. Moreover, plate tectonics shatters the myth of a global flood by explaining the sequences, ages, and assemblages of rocks we find throughout the world, as well as the global distribution of topography. Brilliant and provocative, Montgomery’s exploration of scientific and theological understandings of Noah’s flood vibrantly opens our eyes to the marvels of ancient rocks that are far grander than ourselves. 20 illus., maps. Agent: Elizabeth Wales, Wales Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Ray Olson - Booklist
“Starred review. Though Montgomery obviously knows his science, he also knows how to write, so this isn't just history of science. It's literature.”
Booklist
“Starred review. Though Montgomery obviously knows his science, he also knows how to write, so this isn't just history of science. It's literature.”— Ray Olson
Library Journal
Many recent books have sought to reconcile (or tear apart) the relationship between religion and science, usually written by scientists or Christian leaders. Usually, the scientists depricate religious views as myths and fairy tales, while the religious writers bash opponents as godless manipulators of the evidence. Montgomery (geomorphology, Univ. of Washington; Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations) offers a thorough critique of creationist worldviews (including Noah's flood) 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. He admits that geologists have often stifled dissent and stubbornly rejected the idea that massive floods could have ever occurred, discounting such ideas as myths though there have, in fact, been many throughout human history. These catastrophic events likely inspired the famous stories of floods found around the globe, Montgomery concedes. VERDICT The combination of historical study and humility on behalf of geology makes for an extremely persuasive work. Highly recommended.—John M. Kistler, Washington, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Geology and history bring the relationship between science and religion into focus. For MacArthur Fellow Montgomery (Geomorphology/Univ. of Washington; Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, 2007, etc.), the science of geology provides a way to understand the relation between the Bible and the conception of nature coherent with modern science. "No other story," he writes, "has had as profound an influence on geology as that of Noah's Flood." Further, theologians have always manipulated geologic records to support literal interpretations of scripture. The author presents his view that "geologic time" provides a frame for "an entirely new creation story," which remains unfinished and ongoing, and he advocates the rebuilding of cooperation between science and faith. 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. The immense chronological spans and what is now known about the origins of the Earth and universe provoke the bitter opposition of the creationists. Montgomery 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. A forceful rallying cry for people of goodwill to join together to develop an alternative to the dangerous irrationalism that afflicts so many Americans.
Martin Rudwick - New Scientist
“We can only hope that [Montgomery’s] book will be received with the same open-mindedness with which it was written.”
New Scientist - Martin Rudwick
“We can only hope that [Montgomery’s] book will be received with the same open-mindedness with which it was written.”
Daily Beast
“An excellent example of how a serious, even sympathetic, engagement with religion need not threaten reason or compromise scientific integrity.”
American Scientist
“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.”
Wall Street Journal
““[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.”
New Scientist
“We can only hope that [Montgomery’s] book will be received with the same open-mindedness with which it was written.”— Martin Rudwick
Scientific American
“Thought-provoking.”
Seattle Times
“Fascinating, exquisitely researched and comprehensive.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393082395
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
08/27/2012
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,423,109
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

David R. Montgomery is a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he lives. The author of Dirt and King of Fish, he was a 2008 MacArthur Fellow.

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