The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood
David R. Montgomery
W. W. Norton & Company, 2012
320 pp., $26.95
Science in Focus: John Wilson
The Rocks Don't Lie, Part 4
I'm grateful to the three writers who responded to David Montgomery's book, and to Montgomery himself for being willing to go where the evidence led him—even when, as he explains in his preface, it changed the nature of the story he set out to tell.
And I hope Montgomery will continue on the journey that he started here. Take a look at his concluding chapter, "The Nature of Faith." Clearly what he intends here is a fair-minded assessment, but again and again in these few pages, unexamined assumptions trump his good intentions.
"While science has much to offer us," Montgomery writes, "from vaccines to space travel , religion can help humanity frame essential social, moral, and ethical decision, such as those arising from the uses of science and technology." Hmm. What's the next sentence? "Of course, history is also replete with examples of religion being used to subjugate, control, and persecute."
Set aside the fact that the scope of religion as suggested here is severely limited and focus rather on the asymmetry. Science gives us vaccines and space travel. That's nice. But what about nerve gas and atomic bombs? Isn't history replete with examples of science being used to subjugate, control, and persecute? You can imagine the protesting response. That's not science! That's people using science. Really? What about vaccines and antibiotics? That's people using science, too.
I'd also like to hear from you about the issues raised by Montgomery's book. Some of you have already written; I hope I'll hear from more of you. Thanks for reading.
John Wilson is the editor of Books & Culture.
Copyright © 2013 Books & Culture. Click for reprint information.