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Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – September 2018

By Pastor Lloyd Pulley

It was on my bucket list. I had come close twice to doing it when I was hitchhiking cross-country and again when I drove from California to Colorado. Each time, there was no opportunity to stop. And aside from the scorpion near my tent and the six-foot king snake I encountered, it was much more than I could have expected.

I’m speaking of a two-hundred mile river ride down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon which finally happened this summer. But this week of river rafting and side canyon hiking through the Grand Canyon came with the added pleasure being with 23 renowned geologists, theologians, PhD students and pastors focusing beyond the grandeur of the canyon into its geological significance.

The trip was organized by Canyon Ministries, a Christian organization, which brought together those with divergent views of the age of the earth to observe what the layers of rock a mile deep would reveal.

Both young earth and old earth camps hold the Bible to be the Word of God and Canyon Ministries brought them together for some meaningful dialogue and lively discussion on the evidence presented in the canyon.

On one trip in past years, a notable geologist who held an old-earth view came to simply affirm his thoughts. He had read that sand deposits in the Coconino layer laid down in angled cross sections in the Grand Canyon were consistent with having come from an ancient desert, millions of years ago. To confirm this, the layers would have be composed of relatively rounded grains (as all desert sand is composed of by wind blown erosion) and would lay at a particular angle as different from sand layers formed underwater which is more angular and has a less steep angle.

He listened to the trip leaders talking about the Coconino layer and was astonished to hear about their findings. They said the angle was consistent with floodwaters laying down the deposits instead being formed by an ancient desert. Not believing this to be possible since the consensus of the geology books he had read spoke confidently of that layer being an ancient desert, he took his own measurements and samples throughout the trip and was astounded at how easy it was to determine that, indeed, the deposits of sand must have been laid down under water. He sadly concluded he may have to resign his position as the head of his university’s geology department since he realized that no one writing those books ever visited the Grand Canyon to actually measure the evidence.

I asked the leaders on the trip for the strongest evidence they had in the young-earth view. His answer boiled down to three main points.

First, between each separate rock layer in the Grand Canyon, millions of years-worth of sediment that should align with the old-earth view are missing. The missing pieces make sense in the young-earth view, but their absence is a huge blow to the old-earth view.

Second, the layers (particularly the Coconino layer) are found worldwide and show evidence of being laid down by an immense global flood.

Lastly, there is a phenomenon known as the Cambrian explosion. In just one rock layer, millions of advanced life forms burst into the fossil record immediately, which is more consistent with creation rather than a progressive evolutionary process.

The more I studied this, the more I came to see that the often-marginalized, young-earth view is not something you need to be a fool to believe. It may not be generally accepted, but the more the evidence is allowed to speak for itself, the clearer it becomes that there is a Creator who designed all the complex forms of life.

I vividly remember at one point on the trip, standing on rock that I believe was formed on the third day of creation and touching the first rock layer left by the global flood described in Genesis and looking up at a mile of rock representing God’s judgment on sin as mankind rebelled against his Creator. The God who made the world does not look lightly on sin. God, who is just, must also hold us accountable as well for the things we have done.

While God must bring judgment upon a sinful, rebellious people like us, He also devised means by which we can escape that judgment and find hope and deliverance in Jesus. The heart of thousands of years of Christian teaching is that the blood of Jesus covers every sin, rights every wrong, and creates new life when we turn to him. Ultimately, we all need to ask ourselves if we’re willing to stake our lives on our beliefs, whether we’ll trust that we know best or trust a holy, loving God.

Marj Lancaster