Book Review

Grand Canyon--Monument to Catastrophe,
edited by Steve Austin,
Institute for Creation Research, 1994, 284 pages

Unquestionably the most influential of the various creationists groups in existence is the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). When you read articles and hear talks by creationists in most denominational and non-denominational churches, they have taken virtually all of their materials from writers affiliated with the ICR. Their list of positions includes a very young earth, flood geology, humans and dinosaurs living together, and a canopy theory. Over the years, we have had numerous articles in this journal taking issue with these positions.

This book is the best we have seen from the ICR. It contains articles from 14 ICR authors, all writing sections of the 11 chapters and five indexes. It contains numerous quality color pictures, is well written, and comprehensive in nature. It not only explains the Canyon and describes formations in the Canyon, but it also goes into the fossils in the Canyon, present-day biology, meteorology, and even the people who have lived in the Canyon. There is even a chapter on things to do and see in the area of the Canyon.

The purpose of the book is to attempt to prove the Canyon was produced by the flood of Noah and to thus confine the age of the earth to the millennial view of the ICR. In the process, the authors describe flooding models at the various formations, fossils and structures of the Canyon, and they do it well. For a novice reader who has never been to the Canyon, the book is convincing and makes a good case for the position being sold. The authors are even honest about creationists’ errors in the past—like Clifford Burdick who claimed to have found the pollen of modern vascular plants throughout the older rocks in the Canyon. They admit that his sample was apparently contaminated and that the pollen is not there.

While the book is a quality book in its physical makeup, well written, and very complete in the range of subjects covered, it still presents positions that are not valid. In chapter 5, for example, titled "How was Grand Canyon Eroded?" a comparison is made between the erosion of the northwestern corner of the United States (including Grand Coulee and St. Helens) and the Colorado Plateau. To compare volcanic rocks with sedimentary rocks is like comparing steel and wood, with volcanic rocks being different in virtually every imaginable way. The treatment of the Coconino sandstone is incomplete and ignores data. The petrology of limestone is incomplete and such terms as "rapid deposition of limestone" are used in reference to the Redwall Limestone in an area that clearly was slowly precipitated. The nautiloids of Nautiloid Canyon are claimed to be aligned, indicating that they died in a strong current and yet, this writer visited this deposit in July, 1995, and found no alignment of any nautaloids anywhere in the Canyon. The authors ignore the stratification of fossils which are clearly found in layers--not mixed up as a flood would suggest.

It would take a book to reply to every questionable claim of this book, and someone will probably write one. The fact remains that this is the best thing the creationist organizations have done, and it is written with care and sensitivity to other views. If you want to know what organized creationists groups believe and why, we recommend this book. We do not agree with everything it says, and many of the positions it takes, but we commend its authors for an exceptional job.

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, March/April 1996