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

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  100 reviews
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 counter-intuitive role Noah's Flood played in the development of both geolog ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 27th 2012 by W. W. Norton Company
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Mar 24, 2013 rated it liked it
For the longest time, I've been trying to avoid the Noah's Flood Controversy. But, in a certain sense, I've stepped right into the controversy by reading this book . . . for better or worse.

David Montgomery's book is largely a readable history of how interpretations of the Biblical account of Noah's flood have affected the earth sciences. Early on, such geologists as Georges Cuvier, Georges-Louis Buffon, and John Woodward assumed that geology would never conflict with a proper understanding of G
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
My fascination with flood myths goes back to Atlantis. During my "great mysteries of the unexplained" period in about seventh grade, I read about the theory that Atlantis was really the island of Thera, where a volcanic eruption in the 20th century BC destroyed the comparatively advanced civilization of the Minoans. Much of the island was obliterated; it was as if the city really had sunk into the sea.

From there, I went on to read Orson Scott Card's short story, Atlantis, which tied the mythic c
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crisis-of-faith
When I began, being a Christian, I became concerned that I picked to read another book that would rip and tear at my faith, but I was wrong. David Montgomery sums up for me his thesis in this work (He just took an entire book of geological and archeological explanations to get there):

Like most geologists, I had come to see Noah’s Flood as a fairy tale—an ancient attempt to explain the mystery of how marine fossils ended up in rocks high in the mountains. Now I’ve come to see the story of Noah’s
Edward Sullivan
Montgomery examines a variety of flood and creation stories across centuries, cultures, and religions. He provides an accessible and enthusiastic 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. Still, he insists that faith and science "can peacefully coexist," and his extensive documentation shows that the revival of creationism, as it exists today ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 iss
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A genial refutation of young-earth creationism

Montgomery generally keeps this story about how the earth's geology refutes any version of a literal Noahic flood light on detailed scientific language. And, it is written as a story.

He takes the reader to various geological formations in the world thatr have been key to the development of geology as a science, while narrating how key figures from geology's history have studied and analyzed such formations. At the same time, he narrates the history o
Jeff Rowe
Mar 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Kind of lightweight and could use alot more color pictures. That’s a statement I never thought I’d use in a book review, but it happens to be true in this case. At one point, the author quotes St. Augustine who says (paraphrasing), it’s dumb to insist on the literal interpretation of Genesis because when it contradicts what people can see with their own eyes, they’re going to toss out the entire Bible. This is in 400AD, mind you. So, for the chapter on the author’s ascent up the Grand Canyon tha ...more
Rhodes Davis
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book was very educational. I didn't like the section on Biblical Criticism which comes off simplistic but as simplistic as some Biblical experts discuss geology. That is often my criticism of authors who try to expound on complexities outside of their area of expertise and miss the nuances and specialized knowledge in these areas. As noted, when non-scientists try to expound on the depths of biology, astronomy, and geology the chance of misinformation and inadequate handling of the evidence ...more
David Montgomery's book is excellent through its first 12 of 13 chapters, focusing on the geological evidence against the biblical global flood myth. The final chapter takes a stumble, as Montgomery veers from his strength - geology - into philosophy, where he seems not to have read much. He seems to stake his belief that science and religion are compatible (despite all their centuries of conflict, the basis for the rest of the book) on a perhaps unwitting reinvention of Stephen Jay Gould's regr ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Very very good, the depth of geological understanding shines through , gentle, readable, not condescending to fundamentalists, While steadily and solidly explains geology. Surprising in places, more evidence for various floods than I expected. some flood stories /myths probably founded on fact. the Noah world wide version completely refuted . Some moments of utter brilliance, comments about Mt Ararat built on / after the sedimentary rocks that were supposed to be laid down in Noah's flood are a
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
This book provides a thorough summary of the overwhelming evidence for modern science's understanding of the age of the earth and the mechanisms by which topography is formed. More importantly, the author describes the history of the science we now know as geology, and how it was influenced by Christianity and the quest to find evidence for Noah's flood. Rather than being another attack in the war of science vs. religion, this book attempts to demonstrate how inextricably linked the two endeavor ...more
Jerry Smith
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
I saw Montgomery interviewed recently and that conversation led me to this book. It is not normally the sort of book I would pick up since my position on the veracity of the biblical flood account is fairly well established. However, there are always gaps in knowledge, and it pays to have one's assumptions challenged lest they turn out to be unreasonable presuppositions.

Overall I did learn things from this account but I found the line very unsatisfactory, as though DM was deliberately trying to
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, science
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 geolog
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a fan of David R. Montgomery's scientific books geared towards non-scientists, or at least non-academics. I thought this would go in to more depth about the geological proof of different great historical floods, perhaps even be able to pinpoint which one is the flood that inspired the tale of Noah's Ark. But it's more of a general exploration of the flood theme.

A good portion of the book is a description of how the science of geology and understanding of geological history evolved over sever
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Since first walking into my first geology course at Indiana University in 1972, I’ve been in love with the subject, as well as anthropology, archaeology and history.

So I stepped into David Montgomery’s “The Rocks Don’t Lie: A geologist investigates Noah’s flood” (W. W. Norton & Company, 320 pages, including notes and bibliography) with great anticipation. Upon completing the book, I felt really satisfied.

You don’t need a degree to read this book. Montgomery, a geomorphologist at the University o
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was, at once, a fascinating and surprising book. It was not what I expected, not because I knew very little about geology but because I did not expect such a long history of investigation into the flood, creating one of the “longest-running debates between science and religion as people sought, and still seek, to reconcile scriptural interpretation with observations of the natural world (p. xiv).” Another good book lends itself to a similar but less sweeping look at geology and the flood st ...more
Nov 15, 2013 added it
Geologist David Montgomery, who teaches geomorphology at the University of Washington, began tracing flood stories from many countries and cultures after a field trip in Tibet. On this trip, he noted the hundreds of alternating layers of silt and finer clay segregated into distinct layers and knew that on this arid and rocky land, there had once been a lake. He began hearing many, many flood stories; some, although not all, remarkably similar.

In this book, he discusses the various flood stories
I heard an interview with University of Washington geologist David Montgomery on the Skepticality podcast The interview reminded me of why I love science so much. Montgomery takes a global look at the historical and scientific evidence for flood stories. His findings show that there are rational, scientific explanations for why flood stories are so uncommon in Africa and so widespread in the Middle East and Europe. Although the scientific evidence refutes the idea o ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, non-fiction
I really liked this one. Much of it covers the development of Geology, how people learned about the rock formations on earth and the processes that created them and how they tried to shoehorn this information into their belief in Noah's flood. I found it fascinating the way that right from the start, some people would basically deny the evidence and others would force it into ever more implausible interpretations of the biblical story, until Morris in the mid 20th century, who decided that the b ...more
Aug 17, 2012 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: reviewed
I really wanted to read this book. It's been on my to read list for months! I like books, tv shows, whatever that merge science and religion, and this sounded like it would fit that bill. Maybe it does, but I'm not going to find out. I couldn't get past page 20 of this book. The premise was interesting--the writing was not. I found the writing to be too dry, and I found that I needed a better foundation in geology in order to full appreciate what this author was telling me. Stronger visualizatio ...more
This one surprised me. I was expecting more about rocks (geology). Instead, this book is devoted to smashing all arguments of creationists and Biblical fundamentalists to smithereens. He does it very well, but for me personally, it's a dead horse that didn't need further beating. It took Dr. Montgomery 200 pages (of 260) to get around to J. Harlen Bretz and the great Columbia River floods. The book is well written, and useful, I suppose, for those involved in arguments with creationists.

I would
Bryanna Plog
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
A recommended read for anyone interested in a well-researched and well-reasoned look at the "debates" between science and religion. Montgomery's book is at its strongest when he integrates his own knowledge of geology with flood stories he encountered around the world. The middle section of the book becomes much more historical, showing how science and religion have co-existed through changing times, which Montgomery contrasts with today's "creationisms." While the book jumps around a bit, it pr ...more
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
Montgomery does a thorough job of describing the history of geologic thought. I found the book to be very readable, and even-handed. This sentence near the end of the book, in particular, spoke to me:

"The scientific story of the origin and evolution of life, the vast sweep of geologic time, and the complexity of the processes that shaped the world we know today inspire more awe and wonder than the series of one-off miracles from Genesis that I read about in Sunday school."
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: archaeology
Great, simple, yet detailed information and well written. The author takes a while to reach conclusions on the topic but well worth learning about geology, which leads the main focus of the book, Noah's Flood.
Nathan Miller
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Essentially a history of geology as a scientific field, this book follows the progression of dominant thought on the origins of Earth's landforms. I'd like to think I learned a few things, not the least of which being that an awful lot of people contributed to the development of geology and the uniformitarian approach than just Darwin, for all that he seems to hog the proverbial spotlight. The author walks the reader through the history of thought on the subject of geology and how it relates to ...more
Anthony Lawson
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
David R. Montgomery is a geologist and professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. He has published several popular works on science, The Rock's Don't Lie is his third.

Montgomery begins the work telling the story of a Tibetan flood legend and shows that these types of folktales can have elements of truth including Noah's Flood. He then moves to a discussion of the Grand Canyon and shows that the evidence does not support the young earth creationist view of earth histor
Mark Isaak
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
A well-written and well-organized discussion of Noah's flood, with emphasis on the history of geology and Biblical interpretation as Montgomery explores how we got to where we are today. The history of geology is particularly good, but the chapters covering Genesis (including recognition of its multiple authorship) and the rise of modern creationism are more than adequate. The only semi-significant omission I saw was changing ideas of what mountain the Ark was supposed to land on. (See Lloyd Bai ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not what I was expecting! This was more history than science, a sweeping overview of the different perspectives on geology throughout history. There was some good stuff too on method. I wouldn't see this book as raw data, but a launching pad from which to interact with the more technical research works on different aspects of geological science. Eg, this book doesn't prove that radiometric dating is accurate, it just shows how they've used it, why they accept it, why others (unjustifiably, accor ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I saw this book in the Scientific American. I was intrigued, so I bought it. The first half of the book was good. I enjoyed the Science, and geology. However, the Author then started waxing eloquent about religious matters. At that point I shut the book and put it back on the self. I bought the book to learn about Geology. On religious matters the Bible is the only source of authority.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Intriguing look at the scientific/geological history of earth and the history of how geology itself developed.

I felt the author did an excellent job of expressing how myth and legend can contribute to geology, yet remains respectful to dissenting religious groups without insulting them.
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David R. Montgomery is a MacArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington. He is an internationally recognized geologist who studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies. An author of award-winning popular-science books, he has been featured in documentary films, network and cable news, and on a wide va ...more

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