A university Geologist investigates the historical discussion between science and religion about one, global catastrophic flood.
David Montgomery encountered a local folktale while on an expedition in Tibet. The story told of a flood of such power and magnitude that it reshaped the landscape of the world's deepest river gorge. To his amazement, his investigation of the terrain around the Tsangpo River corroborated the legend. He began to wonder: Could there be proof behind other flood stories, including the most famous of them all, Noah's flood?
As a geologist, Montgomery initially approached the biblical tale with skepticism. Where creationists see a several-thousand-year-old planet resurfaced into modern topography by a single grand catastrophe, he saw the vast extent of geological time in which the worlds came and went in a grand cycle characterized by mountains rising continents eroding off into the sea.
However, digging into the historic works of theologians, natural philosophers, and scientists, Montgomery discovered a rich and long-running conversation between science and religion. The first geologists, he learned, were, in fact, clergymen. Their quest to explain signs of Noah's flood-how the shells of sea creatures could rest atop mountains-motivated Steno, the seventeenth century grandfather of geology. For centuries, biblical scholars and theologians eager to validate God's word relied on plain-sight evidence to support the creation stories of the Old Testament.
With an explorer's eye and a fresh approach to both faith and science, Montgomery takes readers on a journey across landscapes and cultures as he investigates this historical dialogue. He walks us through the miraculous topography of the Grand Canyon and the jagged coast of Siccar Point in Scotland, discerning millions of years of history embedded in the exposed layers of rock. He shares how geologists uncovered evidence for a series of massive deluges in the past.
The Rocks Don't Lie makes a powerful case for redefining the boundary between science and religion. Is seeing believing? Or, is believing seeing? Now more than ever, the distinctions between these two types of knowledge define contemporary issues of tremendous societal importance, from climate change to the way we teach science in public schools. At stake is how we interpret nature and what, if anything, we can learn from the world around us.