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The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood [Kindle Edition]

David R. Montgomery
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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

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 counterintuitive 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.

Editorial Reviews


“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)

About the Author

David R. Montgomery is a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington and a 2008 MacArthur Fellow. He is the author of The Rocks Don't Lie and two other award-winning popular science books.

Product Details

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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rock Solid Book October 24, 2012
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.
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117 of 128 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a geologist, so I was already aware of a lot of this material - but by no means all of it. The science is presented in very clear language and is accurate. The history is also presented clearly. Not being an historian, I really appreciate the extensive bibliography!

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.

Is this book necessary? Sadly, it is. There are still many people who dismiss religion as scientific heresy, and those who dismiss science as religious heresy. As a person who has worked with those who dismiss religion, I can tell you that they would benefit from reading this book with an open mind. As a person who teaches in a part of the USA where many people dismiss science, I can tell you that they, too, would benefit. This book will never be considered seriously by the most extreme of either camp (see other reviews for evidence of this).

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of both the argument some make for Noah's Flood, and the argument that science and religion cannot peacefully - and beneficially - coexist.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent mixture of history and science February 25, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Montgomery's book is really a paean to the triumph of reason over superstition and institutional inertia of thought. Not as much of a science book as I would have anticipated, you won't find anything in the way of difficult mathematics here, but the scientific concepts are laid out in easy-to-understand bits wrapped around an engaging narrative of the events that led to the discoveries being discussed.

While it is a pretty throrough demolition of Young-Earth Creationism, Montgomery does attempt to speak ecumenically in the final chapters while discussing the limits of knowledge - but the overall message is clear: You may be entitled to your opinions, but you aren't entitled to your facts. If you believe the Rocks Don't Lie, it's hard to square that with the circle of religious fundamentalism.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scripture Confronting Science: A History April 26, 2013
This book is not quite what I was expecting; it's a lot more. Using Noah's Flood as his focus, the author takes the reader on a historical journey in which science and biblical scholarship confront each other. Beginning in the ancient world and continuing on to the present day, the progression of religious beliefs pertaining to the origin and evolution of humans (and of the world), is carefully followed in the face of mounting scientific discoveries (especially in the field of geology) that seriously challenged those beliefs.

I found this book to be generally clear, often lively, frequently captivating and relatively accessible. A few of the detailed geological processes described were a bit hard for me to follow; but the historical evolution of scientific thought and that of theological concepts (most of the book) were quite engaging from my perspective.

I did find one error: On page 5 it is stated that carbon-14 decays to carbon-12. This is incorrect: carbon-14 decays by beta (-) emission to stable nitrogen-14. This is correctly explained much later in the book (p. 192) where carbon-14 is discussed in more detail. Consequently, the fact that this error crept in is rather odd.

I think that this book should especially appeal to those interested in the history of science, the evolution of religious thought, the birth of creationism and the interactions between science and religion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed it
A fabulous book. I really enjoyed it
Published 13 days ago by Whibley
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the very best treatments of these topics that I've ever read
An outstanding narrative of selected geological issues and important historical perspectives on the interplay of science and certain religious understandings. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Joe G
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and fair
As a man of faith and reason, it's a real challenge to place the first words of the Bible. Further, the centuries-old angst between organized religion and science has made it... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Noah Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great short history of geology and creationist.
Published 1 month ago by John Sievers
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Learned a little more about geology and also some science history. Interesting book.
Published 2 months ago by Frank Klos
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I absolutely loved this book and I wish it would reach a much wider audience than it probably will. What a refreshing, intelligent point of view on the religion/science debate. Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars My Book of 2014, and years to come.
I've read this book about three times now, and find something exciting that I overlooked every time. It's a lot more fun to read than it is to try to give an idea of what's in it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by MollyM/CA
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 months ago by Di
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Very well written
Excellent! Very well written. The author has taken what many (myself included) have considerer a very drab subject and written it in such a way that I could not put the book down... Read more
Published 7 months ago by kbmpolymath
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis of geological results leading to the conclusion...
Excellent analysis of geological results leading to the conclusion that there have been multiple disastrous floods in different parts of the world in different geological eras, not... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Paul Foerster
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More About the Author

David R. Montgomery was born in 1961 Stanford, California, and studied geology at Stanford University before earning his Ph.D. in geomorphology at UC Berkeley. He teaches at the University of Washington where he studies the evolution of topography and how geological processes shape landscapes and influence ecological systems. He loved maps as a kid and now writes about the relationship of people to their environment and other things that interest him. In 2008 he was named a MacArthur Fellow. He lives with his wife Anne in Seattle, Washington.


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