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

David R. Montgomery
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 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


“Starred review. 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.” (Publishers Weekly)

“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 - Booklist)

“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)

“A MacArthur Fellow presents a surprising perspective on Noah's Flood by interrogating the rock strata in a roadbed in Kentucky.” (Publishers Weekly)

About 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.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 54 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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112 of 123 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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7 of 7 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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book! November 27, 2012
By Shields
Great book! Fascinating history on geology and its origins. Those fascinated by earth's formation will find this book intriguing. Also, Christians who believe in old earth will appreciate this book as well.
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8 of 9 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 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 5 hours 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 1 month ago by Paul Foerster
5.0 out of 5 stars The author, a man of science and religion, attempts to reconcile his...
By the 1840s, geologists put away the idea of a global flood as myth. The facts were clear and overwhelming. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sean Estes
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Geology Primer
This book is very informative, well written and easy to understand. My grandchildren love for me to read it to them.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicolaus Steno Then and Now -- Geology & Theology
David R. Montgomery's knowledge of the early geologists is impressive, particularly that of Nicholas Steno who interpreted geologic features as evidence that Noah's flood reshaped... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Judy B. Gardiner
2.0 out of 5 stars The rocks are dry
I guess I'm not as into geology as I thought I was when I bought the book. I found this well written but dry - hard to stay interested. After 80-100 pages, I gave up.
Published 4 months ago by Bennett E. Werner
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Book!
I bought this book mainly out of interest in the way major catastrophic events have effected people living in areas like the Red Sea. Read more
Published 5 months ago by HelenMetung
5.0 out of 5 stars Floods
To contemplate floods one has to go back to the ice ages and one extreme example of a major flood was the breaking of the ice dam that was what created Lake Missoula and carved out... Read more
Published 6 months ago by longjohnsilver
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for anyone interested in approaching...
One should understand the contents of this book before approaching a geologist at a public outreach event with an innocent question, because it broadly presents the contexts and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Benjamin B. Brink
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for history lovers.
Very informative about the history of geology and the religious debate over Noah's flood. It doesn't bash anyone and should be a pleasure for anyone to read regardless of... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jerrod Lessel
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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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