The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth

Can Noah's Flood Explain the Grand Canyon?

Hill, Carol, Davidson, Gregg, Helble, Tim, Ranney, Wayne, Eds.

Gregg Davidson, Joel Duff, David Elliott, Tim Heble, Carol Hill, Stephen Moshier, Wayne Ranney, Ralph Stearley, Bryan Tapp, Roger Wiens, & Ken Wolgemuth, Authors.

Endorsements by Paul Copan, Kenneth Keithley, C. John Collins, Wayne Grudem, David R. Montgomery, Davis Young, John W Geissman, John Warme

Part 1: Two Views

Foreward, Ranney

p 11 "Flood geology .. does not provide a credible scientific understanding of how oil and gas reservoirs have formed .."

1. Introduction, Authors

2. What is Flood Geology? Moshier & Hill

p22 Discusses Nicholas Steno (1635-1686) of Denmark, one of the fathers of geology. Leonardo da Vinci noted that shells on the high mountains were deposited in the same way that they were on undisturbed sea floors, so that supported uniformitarian view. Geologic community was divided between catastrophists and uniformitarians.

p23 Comments on "The Fundamentals" (1910-1915) and the fact that they weren't "young earth". Role of Seventh-day Adventists, prophesies of Ellen Gould White (1827-1915), then George McCready Price (1870-1963) noting that he sought but did not receive the support of Christian geologists of his day. Then Morris & Whitcomb's "The Genesis Flood".

p24 "Thus, the perceived disconnect between modern geology and the Bible emerged essentially from the beliefs of a small group of textual literalists in the early twentieth century. When viewed in relation to the beliefs of many earlier Church theologians and the first Renaissance scientists (who set out to reveal God's glory), the common claim that all biblically minded people believe in a young Earth has little historical precedence."

p24 Does a review of YEC, which I'm not summarizing here. One new element that I was not aware of is the presumption that all the continents were together and that all the continent separation took place during the flood year. This was called "catastrophic plate tectonics". I heard about this from Baumgardner at the SES conference and the Ratio Christi conference, but didn't know it included all plate tectonics.

p24 Box of incredible nonbiblical events required for Flood Geology view. After this list, ends with "all in 150 days!" These events all have to do with Mt Ararat:

  • Sediments and dead animals were deposited from flood waters
  • These sediments turned into fossilized rock
  • magma was extruded into and up through the sedimentary rock, with miraculous shielding from significant alteration by the heat of this molten magma
  • volcanic mountain range raised to 17000 ft
  • the molten rock cooled at a miraculous rate.
  • Noah's ark landed on it, all in 150 days!

p25 Discussion of no death before the fall

p25ff Biblical problems with Flood Geology. Mentions Chicago Statement, which disavows ironclad literalism. Discusses "Eretz" mistranslated to mean Earth, mistranslations of all to mean the whole earth when there are many counter examples in scripture. Box on the problem of oil - Noah used pitch, probably from oil seeps or tar pits.

p27 Box titled "Infallible View?" is a pretty good statement of presuppositionalism.

p27-28 Bible does not say animal death came from the fall

p28 Garden of Eden location including diagram on p28. Is on Earth's surface as we presently find it - gave several supporting items - "All of these clues further identify the Garden of Eden as being located on the Earth's surface as we presently find it, not on a catastrophically altered and buried landscape." Six miles of sedimentary rock beneath the Garden of Eden/Persian Gulf.

p28 "How could Eden, which existed in pre-flood times, be located on top of over six miles of sedimentary rock supposedly deposited during Noah's flood?" Pretty strong and articulate argument against flood geology.

p29 "flood geology starts with the answers and works backwards to what questions should be asked."

p29 Table Figure 2-6 of basic precepts of flood geology compared with modern geology.

3. Time Frame of Flood Geology, Helble & Hill

p32-33 The grand staircase

p34 1. Crystalline basement rock

p35 2. Supergroup. Comment on p34, this supergroup had to form at the rate of 7ft per year if it were to form pre-flood in the 1650 years that YECs attribute to the time between creation and the flood.

p35 3. Tilting and erosion of supergroup, deposit overlying layers.

p35 Flood model presumes a single supercontinent that was violently fractured and thrust apart during the flood year.

p36 4. The grand staircase. Figure 3-7 on p37 a great picture of the grand staircase.

p37 Bryce Canyon and the higher rock layers.

p38 YEC position must deal with "dinosaur escape" since eggs and fossils of dinos are found in layers which are modeled to be later in Noah's flood.

p39 Another serious problem for YEC is the abundance of freshwater fish fossils in "post flood" lake deposits when presumably all freshwater fish would have perished in a global flood when saltwater invaded the entire surface.

4. Time Frame of Modern Geology, Hill & Moshier

p42-43 Sequential sketches of formation of the different regions of Grand Canyon.

p44 Grand Canyon plus the grand staircase has more of the entire geologic record than anywhere else

p44 Begins a time frame forced into the sometimes artificial time frame of YEC to give a more direct comparison.

p44 1. Crystalline basement rock, proterozoic. In the Inner Gorge, metamorphic rock. Lots of geology terms. Discusses plutons, which are massive bodies of granite, schist, dikes which cut across layers and project from certain layers, sills which extend parallel to the layers (I'm thinking like window sills). Some of these structures date to 1.7Gyr.

p47 2. Grand Canyon Supergroup. Some parts of it contain stromatolites, dating from 1.25Gyr to 740Myr from dating underlying ash beds.

p48-49 3. Tilting and Erosion of the Supergroup and deposition of overlying layers - separated by hundreds of Myr. Enormous gap in time represented by the Great Unconformity. Contain paleozoic organisms, fossils 541-252Myr, no modern life, not even dinosaurs.

p49 4. The Grand Staircase. 252-65Myr, mesozoic organisms, lots of dinosaurs.

p50 5. Bryce Canyon and Higher Rock Layers, Cenozoic

p50 Diagram of 7.Deposition of Grand Staircase strata, 5000 to 10000ft, and 8.Removal of mesozoic strata over Grand Canyon area and carving of Grand Canyon.

Part 2 - How Geology Works


5. Sedimentary Rock Types and How They Form, Moshier, Helble & Hill

p60 Multiple limestone layers, highest cliffs are limestone. Limestone forms in marine environments from shells of tiny sea creatures.

p61 "No limestone has ever been documented to form from floodwater- either in the laboratory or from field observations - not even in floods as massive as those forming the Channeled Scablands in Washington State."

p62 A Clay Problem - box claims clay layer takes 1000s of years and forms from older rock, case against flood geologists claim of millions of cubic miles deposited during flood.

p63 Box argues against advancing flood waters as cause for the whole Tapeats, Bright Angel Slate and Muav limestone layers.

p63 Redwall limestone and Muav limestone speak of a long time in a marine environment, not weeks in a flood. Also tend to form close to where they form since they dissolve upon transport.

p64 Coral reefs >1000ft thick. Figure 5-17 photo of 4 turbidity flow regions separated by more normal sedimentary layers.

p65 Coconino Sandstone 1000ft thick.

p65 Fish-eating-fish fossil and discussion.

6. Sedimentary Structures: Clues from the Scene of the Crime, Hill & Moshier

p67 Most of the structures in the Grand Canyon are commonly associated with modern shallow-marine to coastal-land environments.

p70 Cross-bedding, Coconino cross-bedding 28-31 degrees, typical of desert dunes

p71 Trace fossils = tracks of small creatures in Coconino sandstone.

p71 Table of fossil and track locations

7. Using the Present to Understand the Past, Moshier & Davidson

p74 High cliffs testify to hardening into rock before the canyon cut was made.

p74 Comments on the consistency of natural laws

p75 Bright Angel shale 270 ft thick with fossil trilobites and brachiopods.

p76 Muav limestone between lower Bright Angel shale and Redwall limestone above.

p77 Redwall limestone 500-800ft sheer wall, holes near top a testament to changing water level, 320Myr deposit, 10Myr at holes.

p78 Coconino Sandstone shows evidence of desert sand origin.

p79 Toroweap siltstone and Kaibab limestone sitting on top of Coconino Sandstone. Summary of the five different landscapes, each with analogous modern environments. Makes that case that the processes of making the Grand Canyon layers are still in operation.


8. Solving Puzzles: Relative Dating and the Geologic Column, Moshier & Davidson

p82 Good photo showing Hermit Formation, Coconino Sandstone, Toroweap Formation, Kaibab Formation. See pg 32 diagram to place them in Grand Staircase.

p83 Box "Least Astonishing Explanation", a kind of Occam's Razor approach.

p83 Starts a description of the principles of geology that are used to establish order of layers.

  1. Principle of lateral continuity
  2. Principle of faunal succession p84
  3. Principle of original horizontality
  4. Principle of crosscutting relationships

p85 All evidence points toward a canyon carved in pre-existing rock strata.

p86 Good diagram of geologic column

p86 The order of fossil groups in different layers appeared to be consistent from one locality to the next, even on different continents.

p87 Discussion of how combination of relative dating, primarily by fossils, and radiometric dating has pinned down the segments of the geologic column.

9. So Just How Old Is That Rock? Wiens

p91 Box with summary of radiometric dating isotopes.

p92 Examples of radiometric dating of ash beds at 1255Myr and 1104Myr. Confirmation of a 1250Myr by magnetic alignment comparison.

p92 Discusses carbon dating to explain that it is not useful for dating rocks.

p93 Section on reliablility of radiometric dating.

p94 Plate tectonics and the mid-Atlantic ridge. Maximum ages of 180Myr at the edges of the continents. Spans 3480 miles in 180Myr or 1.2inches per year. Other measurements range from 1.1 to 1.7 in/yr. With the precision of today's measurements, the rate has actually been measured to be about 1 inch/yr. Considers the proposed "catastrophic plate tectonics" by flood geologists. If you assume a change in decay rate during the flood, then must assume the spreading changed in the same way.

p95 Discussed the 300,000 yr spurious date for Mt. St Helens reported in so much young earth literature to argue that radiometric dating is completely unreliable. This is a good discussion.

p96 Cardenas lava as one that can be reliably dated at about 1Gyr. Discusses how to create the appearance of unreliability. Dating of an igneous intrusion Figure 9-12 and 9-13.

p97 Western Grand Canyon lavas - improper sampling. Box "Could Decay Rates have been much faster in the past?.

This is a really well done chapter by Wiens.

10. Missing Time: Gaps in the Rock Record, Moshier & Hill

p99 Definition of an unconformity.

p100 Figure 10-1 is a diagram of 19 unconformities in the Grand Canyon

p101 flood geologists .. deny that there are any unconformities above the Great Unconformity.

p107 Two boxes critical of flood geology.


11. Plate Tectonics: Our Restless Earth, Tapp & Wolgemuth

p109 Criticism of "catastrophic plate tectonics" or "runaway subduction".

p110 Good overview of plates and plate tectonics.

p111 Criticism of "catastrophic plate tectonics" using the 1.1 to 1.7 inch/yr.

p112 Good map of plates from USGS. Discussion of 2011 Japan earthquake, Richter 9.0, 155miles of fault involved, maximum motion 88ft, average rate of 3 inch/yr since last earthquake.

p114 Himalayas rise about 1/2 inch per year. Diagram of how sea fossils got high in Himalayas.

p115 Laramide episode abt 80-40Myr and "Basin and Range" episode abt 20myr as episodes of plate activity.

12. Broken and Bent Rock: Fractures, Faults and Folds, Tapp & Wolgemuth

p117 Box on catastrophic plate tectonics and the assumption of forming the Grand Canyon features while flood debris was soft.

p118 Arguments against bending while soft and catastrophic plate tectonics.

p119 Interesting photos of fault movement at San Andreas Fault: A shifted fence and an aerial wide shot of the fault line.

p120 Faults in the Grand Canyon

p123 Faulting of Supergroup layers and Vishnu schist.

p124 Dramatic folds in Vishnu schist, granite dikes

p124 Above the Great Unconformity, folds take immense bends, called monoclines (one incline), Fig 12-12 of the Kaibab monocline. Several monoclines in Grand Canyon.

p126 Box: Can faults form in wet, soft and pliable sediment?

Part 3 - Fossils: What Story do they Tell?

13. Fossils of the Grand Canyon and Grand Staircase, Stearley

p131 Recap of faunal succession

p131 "The fact that some types of fossils are never found together is our first clue, on a global scale, that fossils do not represent animals that were buried in Noah's flood."

p132-133 Table Figure 13-1 of types of fossils by geologic era.

p134 Box on Cambrian Explosion. Emphasizes the survivability of hard-shelled species and expresses some skepticism about soft-shelled creatures leaving fossils, so is a little different from the dramatic appearance of advanced life described by the Discovery Institute.

p136 Box on young earth evolutionists - the proposing of super-fast adaptation after the flood to produce the extreme variety of species seen today.

p136 Emphasizes that fossils of land animals are not found at all in the Grand Canyon. Argues against global flood and for great antiquity. Good, strong anti-flood-geology argument on this page.

p137 Up through the Supergroup, no multicellular organisms

p137 Paleozoic era above the Great Unconformity

p138-139 Illustrations of fossils

p141 Box "Half a Story Told"

p142-143 Gets more direct about asserting that the types and associations of fossils observed are not indicative of a global flood and in fact are strong counter evidence.

p142 Box Nautiloids in redwall limestone as example of associated species as you would naturally find them in their original environment, not as scrambled by a catastrophic flood.

p143 Mutually exclusive arguments (box)

14. Tiny Plants - Big Impact: Pollen, Spores, and Plant Fossils, Duff

p145 Principle of floral succession

p146-147 Diagram of plants vs time


  • Precambrian - marine algae are the only photosynthetic life
  • Cambrian - algae and fungi on land, then now-extinct vascular plants, then seed ferns and other ferns
  • Permian - conifers
  • Cretaceous - flowering plants

p149 Study of pollen and spores

p150 Illustrations of pollen and spores, discussion of floral succession of such.

p151 "in spite of hundreds of square miles of exposed surfaces throughout the Grand Canyon, not a single unambiguous pollen grain from a flowering plant has ever been discovered in any unaltered rock layer below the rim. This alone should be enough to categorically reject a global flood explanation for the Grand Canyon layers."

p151 Box "Is pollen from flowering plants found in any Grand Canyon rocks?"

15. Trace Fossils: Footprints and Imprints of Past Life, Elliott

p153 Photo of a trilobite track in the Bright Angel Shale

p154 This chapter discusses tracks preserved where they actually occurred in contrast to bones, etc., which could have been transported.

p154 Tracks of Chelichnus gigas, Fig 15-2

p154 Coconino sandstone formed from vast sand seas called "ergs". Permian era ~275Myr. Crossbeds and trace fossils are elements of the evidence for this. There is no evidence of aquatic organisms.

p154 Tracks of Chelichnus bucklandi and Chelichnus giga . Good evidence of having been made on sand slopes, with up slope and down slope examples.

p155 More track photos

p157 Discussion of how the tracks were preserved.

Part 4 - Carving of the Canyon

16. Carving of the Grand Canyon: A Lot of Time and a Little Water, a Lot of Water and a Little Time (or Something Else?), Helble & Hill

p163 Diagram of proposed lakes by flood geologists after the flood for their breached dam hypothesis

p164 The Breached-Dam Hypothesis

p165 Hopi Lake and Bidahochi formation, 6-16Myr

p165 Box - 600ft limestone face at Redwall Limestone, case for hard rock when canyon was cut.

p166 Grand Canyon layers still soft?

p167 Skepticism about breached dam

p168 Disagreement between flood geologists.

p168 Discussion of the Channeled Scablands of Washington state to show what the runoff is like from a major ice dam breach. Shows contrast with the Snake River gorge. Includes photos.

p169 More discussion of the Channeled Scablands, which have reliefs of 60 to 300ft.
"The Channeled Scablands provide an exquisite field site for seeing what is left behind by a magaflood - and that site looks nothing like the Grand Canyon!"

"The landscape of the Channeled Scablands is a compelling argument against a megaflood origin for the Grand Canyon."

p170 Mt St Helens discussion - evidence by comparison that the Grand Canyon layers were rock when they were carved.

p170-171 Canyon Lake Gorge. In July of 2002, 25 inches of rain overran the lake's emergency spillway and carved a canyon. Gave data for volume of water vs volume of earth excavated.

p171 Providence Canyon in Western Georgia, initiated by unwise agricultural practices, features somewhat similar to Grand Canyon but changes happen much more rapidly because it is soil rather than rock.

p171 Discusses projections of age for carving of Grand Canyon, and estimates 61 cubic miles of water and 6 million years.

17. How Old Is the Grand Canyon?, Davidson, Hill & Ranney

p173 Discussion of when the layers were eroded.

p174 Geologists in general agreement of a maximum on the order of 80Myr, but says that's about the "end of agreement".

p175-176 Scenarios 1 & 2 for the penetration of the Kaibab uplift, which posed about 3000 ft high barrier that the Colorado River had to penetrate.

18. Life in the Canyon: Packrats, Pollen, and Giant Sloths, Duff

p180 Carbon date range 20000 to 10000 years for packrat middens, midden being a name given to the pile of leavings by the packrats.

p182 Carbon dating of giant sloth poop about 11000 years with juniper and ash tree remnants.Indicative of a cooler, wetter climate in those days.

p183 The deepest dung carbon dated to 35000 years, suggesting that the giant sloths occupied the caves for about 25000 years. In the same caves were human-made twig artifacts that carbon dated to 6000 years, suggesting that there was no overlap of the humans and giant sloths.

Part 5 - A Verdict on Flood Geology

19. River to Rim: Putting All the Pieces Together, Davidson, Ranney

p188 A description as if you were making the hike up the South Kaibab Trail from the Colorado River to the rim of the Canyon.

p188 1. Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster Granite. The younger granite makes criss-crossed dikes through the Schist. The granite is dated at 1.7Gyr.

2. Grand Canyon Supergroup and the Great Unconformity

p190 The Supergroup includes 9 formally named rock formations, of which only the lowest 3 show here.At about 1 mile in on the trail are found stromatolites, colonies of single-celled organisms.

p192 The combined strata above the Great Unconformity, including the Grand Staircase amounts to about 15000ft, but suggest that about 12000 ft of Supergroup were removed before that - confusing to me.

p193 In the entire 12000 ft of Supergroup rock, there are no complex organisms at all.

3. Eroded cliff along the Great Unconformity, the Great Unconformity being nearly vertical at this point.

4. Tonto Group: Tapeats Sandstone, Bright Angel Shale, Muav Limestone

p194 Discussion of the progression from sandstone to shale to limestone. All of Cambrian age fit well with what would be expected from a gradually subsiding coastline or rising sea.

p195 47 varieties of trilobites are found in these layers. Discussion of sorting of material

p196 Trilobites are found in Cambrian layers around the world.

5. Temple Butte formation. This formation has different fossils from the Muav limestone. A channel carved in the Muav Limestone with Devonian period fossils, showing a 135 Myr gap (between Cambrian and Devonian)


6. Redwall Limestone. Mile 3-4. 98% pure calcite with up to 500ft cliffs. Of the limestones, Muav, Temple Butte and Redwall, the contacts are striking because of the dramatic changes in the fossil organisms found in them. The Redwall Limestone has bony fish, shark teeth, and lots of crinoids. It is identified as being of the Mississippian Period.


7. Surprise Canyon Formation


8. Supergroup and Hermit formation, Mile 4.0-5.8


9. 5.8-6.5 miles, includes the Cedar Ridge and Ooh Ahh Point, which were on our 2011 hike down the Kaibab.


10. Toroweap and Kaibab Formations


11. Rim at 7 miles. Not a single fossil bird, dinosaur, mammal or flowering plant anywhere on this 7 mile hike.

p205 Box challenging the presumed mechanisms of flood geologists as not being Biblical, much less science.

20. Science vs Flood Geology: Not Just a Difference in Worldview, The Authors.

p207 "For each subject addressed in this book, when the data are considered in their totality and allowed to take us wherever they lead - without foreknowledge of the answer or a predetermined outcome - we are invariably led to a history of the canyon that extends back millions of years. A recent age for the canyon can only be imagined by deciding on such an answer in advance, carefulling selecting bits of data that can be construed to fit the preconceived model, and ignoring data that do not fit. Herein lies the difference between science and flood geology - science goes where the data leads, flood geology does not."

p208 "By deciding in advance what the answer to the question will be, flood geology does not study nature to discover what processes have been at work or what events may have transpired (or for that matter, what God actually did). Rather, flood geology starts with an answer and studies nature only to find those ways that fit with the predetermined model. In this respect, flood geology is the antithesis - the very opposite - of science."

p208 "Contrary to the doctrine of flood geologists, the worldview of flood geology is not distinguished from other worldviews by its adherence to the scriptures found in the Bible. Rather, its distinguishing characteristic is adherence to a particular way of interpreting select passages within the Bible - accepted as fact, without considering any conflicting evidence within or outside the Bible. As a result, all data from nature must be force-fit into the accepted-truth model, no matter how convoluted the resulting story may become."

p208 "The message of flood geology is that what is observed in nature today cannot be used to inform us of what may have happened in the past, that fundamental laws of physics and chemistry cannot be assumed to be well understood, and - critically - that nature cannot be trusted to tell its own story. In this regard, flood geology is not only unscientific, it is unbiblical. The first chapter of Romans states that the Creator's divine nature is manifest in His physical creation - in nature. If that nature cannot be trusted to tell a truthful story, what does this say about flood geologists' conception of God?"

p208 "The Grand Canyon provides overwhelming evidence that the Earth is old."

p209 "Does in matter? It certainly does! Truth always matters."

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