I first heard about The Rocks Don’t Lie from Janet at Across the Page. David Montgomery is a geologist who in his own words set out to “present a straightforward refutation of creationism…” [by creationism he means young-earth creationism]. What he ended up writing was somewhat different. He doesn’t come anywhere close to accepting a young-earth creationist viewpoint but he does discover a “much richer story of people struggling to explain the world-and out place it it” than the “standard conflict between reason and faith” that he was expecting.
Montgomery looks at the history of the development of the field of geology and the history of different theories about Noah’s flood and Biblical creation. The interesting thing is how much these two histories intertwine. Early geologists were often also clergy who were setting out to find proof of a Biblical flood. He also traces the emergence of modern day young-earth creationism.
Overall, I found the book very interesting. I felt like Montgomery is mostly fair to both “sides” although young-earth creationists may disagree. He is somewhat dismissive about a trip he takes to the Creation Museum, but I found that understandable. As a Christian who definitely believes in an old earth and in evolution, I found his treatment of faith to be very reasonable. I disagreed with some of his arguments about Biblical interpretation but that was a relatively small part of the book and not his area of expertise. The other major flaw is that color pictures or maps/diagrams would have added so much to this book. A lot of the descriptions of rocks made my eyes cross a little trying to imagine what he was describing in my head. A color photo would have been very welcome.
In the end I most appreciated the central thesis which is that it is possible for science and religion to coexist in a way an attempt to better understand our world.
..just because science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God does not mean that it says religious faith is an illusion. Thoughtful discussions of the relationship between science and religion are impossible when fundamentalists disguise religious arguments as science and scientists dismiss religion as childish superstition. In reality, faith and reason need not be enemies if one views ignorance as the enemy of both.