Saturday, January 12, 2008

Who (or what) made the Grand Canyon?

Doug Chaplin over at MetaCatholic has a post about creationists. I have to be honest, until my wife and I came to the Grand Canyon to pastor a church (Doug may not be too keen about me since we pastor a pentecostal church) that I had not really thought too much about the issue of creationism or evolution. I think I had somewhat ambiguously settled on a sort of theistic evolution thinking while there was one major creation event (possibly the big bang) there are de nuevo (sp?) acts of creation taking place. I am not sure yet where I stand on issues of creation ex nilio(sp?) either. At present I I am thinking God created the Heavens and the Earth, there was the fall of Satan who then messed up the creation leading to a place of darkness that was formless and void, and then God's first act of redemption was "Let there be light" (see Allan Ross's Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Exposition of Genesis for more).

Anywho, the question around here is often "What made the canyon?" The typical Park Guide will say, "I can give you the answer to that in four words, 'the river made it.'" My wife and I want to correct the fellow and say instead, "The Lord made it." However, as Doug's post and others out there might suggest, is this necessarily true? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the river did make it. Maybe (like what happened at Mt St. Helens in Washington can show) it happened as a result of a catastrophic event such as the flood or something else and the Colorado (Red in Spanish) River has maintained it?

There is a man who runs a ministry here in the Canyon area called Canyon Ministries. He is an ardent creationist and young earth advocate (I suppose he is more about the young earth verse old earth debate than anything). A few years ago put out a coffee table type book on the Grand Canyon that has been (or was) quite controversial.

Grand Canyon, a Different View has awesome photos with pro-creationist articles spread throughout. It faced severe opposition from many an evolutionist and such that a group of scientist put out a letter asking the National Park Service to remove the book from its stores because it is misleading and does not discuss science but rather pushes religious views. I guess the NPS opted instead to put it over in the so-called "inspirational" section.

Moving on, there is a section on the Canyon Ministries website that offers "8 Grand Canyon Evidences" that "prove" the canyon did not form over thousands of years by erosion from the river but instead came about through a severe catastrophic event of biblical proportions such as the Noahic Flood (which obviously he argues for a global flood over a local flood). Each is listed as a factual statement when really they are in his words "very plausible explanations" of how the canyon came to be - again using the situation at Mt. St. Helens as an example. Incidently, there is a ministry similar to the Canyon Ministry located up near Mt St. Helens called Mt. St Helens Creation Information Center. Looking through some of these "statements of fact" I find myself not knowing enough about the issues to resist the seemingly compelling evidence. I realize all my quotation makrs probably show me being skeptical or wanting to appear so.

I think I will be needing to look into these issues more as I am sure I will be dealing with questions about such as a pastor of a church in the Grand Canyon National Park.

What suggested reading might y'all have that I consider as I ponder these matters?

At present I have Three Views on Creation and Evolution authored by J.P. Moreland, (Zondervan, 1999) and Hugh Ross' The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis (NavPress, 2001).

Let me know what you think. Thanks.



At 12:12 PM, Blogger Doug Chaplin said...

Thanks for the link. You say:

The typical Park Guide will say, "I can give you the answer to that in four words, 'the river made it.'" My wife and I want to correct the fellow and say instead, "The Lord made it."

I don't see this as an either / or type of question. A great many science and religion questions end up getting different levels of truth confused.


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