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

The Rocks Don't Lie by David R. Montgomery
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Oct 01, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read from September 18 to October 01, 2012

Montgomery's subtitle may be a little misleading. It's more like "geologists investigate" -- a history of geology with Noah's flood being a turning point for the scholars, amateurs, scientists, and believers. It's a somewhat uncomfortable book for me. Holding two contradictory ideas is difficult. One of my big take-aways, however, is that many of the arguments current day creationists make are rehashed ideas. "Nothing new under the sun", right?

Family members may disown me. It's long been an issue, trying to reconcile science and faith. I think Montgomery's final chapter suggests that maybe we shouldn't bother. Or perhaps he's saying more that the two do not have to be diametrically opposed. As a folklorist, his (and other's) surprise that the stories people tell might actually have a basis in truth is funny. It's kind of a "well, duh" moment, but it does illustrate a problem with science. It becomes its own dogma, has its own practitioners, its own "faith."

And, big take-away #2, a hidebound resistance to scientific knowledge will lead religion to obsolescence. That's not quite the right word . . . futility? ridiculousness? Montgomery quotes a few people who make this particular point. If you continue to refute what is plainly seen, then you weaken your other claims.

Personally, I think of the creation story in Genesis as a cosmology, a way to explain the world in terms people of the time could understand. Noah's flood, however, seemed more of a truth. A legend rather than a myth, to use my folkloric training, because you have a place, a time, a named person. The proliferation of flood narratives backed that up, in my mind. I'm not thrilled with Montgomery's treatment of the story in Genesis as merely a Mesopotamian story passed down through generations, but maybe it is. . . and why does that preclude it being a true story? I think Montgomery does fall on the side of it having some truth, just not a global catastrophe.

All in all, an interesting read that Montgomery has tried to keep fair and balanced, respectfully making his argument and pursuing the history of geology as it relates to Noah's flood.
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