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.
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.
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.