The Tower of the Devil

We were driving into Wyoming and South Dakota and had gone out of our way to get to this place. My three young children had tired of singing, road games, looking for prairie dogs, and imagining creatures in the clouds. We came around a corner in the road and the object on the cover of this journal stood directly in front of us. "What is that?!" my oldest daughter asked in a voice that roused her siblings. My wife and I answered in unison, but with different answers. I said, "an old volcano neck," and my wife said, "Devil's Tower," the name given to this old volcano neck. My three children (remember they were young at that time) had never been too enamored with my scientific explanations so they ignored me and starting firing questions at their mother: "Did the devil make it?" "Does the devil live here?" "How did the devil make it?" "Can we see the devil?" I looked at my wife and said, "You gave them that answer so their questions are all yours." No amount of reading about legends of bears or other animals clawing at the mountain and causing the columns seemed to help. My lecture on columnar basalt, rock hardness, and the odd petrology of the area did not impress anyone either. Eventually the prairie dog town near the Tower replaced the initial curiosity.

The recent Heaven's Gate incident reminded me of the film Encounters of the Third Kind that had an alien contact with mankind take place at Devil's Tower. The Cheyenne River Sioux and at least 20 other Indian tribes journey to this place to observe the summer solstice during the month of June every year. The Sioux call it He Hota Paha and consider it to be central to their spiritual legends because it is "the heart of everything."*

Taking unusual physical objects and making them objects of worship is as old as man himself, and inevitably turns out to be destructive physically and spiritually. Much of the New Age religion has bought into this kind of activity, and the emphasis on the physical continues to be a cancer that eats at the churches as a whole.
Jesus said it clearly in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world." Let us admire the Lord's handiwork without worshipping it. Science can help us sort out and identify the fakes and frauds, but ultimately we must learn to focus on the spiritual. --John N. Clayton

*US News and World Report, June 16, 1997, page 12.

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun98.