Report on Geology Field Trip–Part 1
By John McLarty, July 1, 2016: Rocks talk. When I’m driving and see a hill, I wonder, why is it there? If I notice a valley, I ask what forces shaped it. If there is neither hill nor valley, I ask why not. What made this flat ground? I have taken geology classes at local colleges. I read geology books and occasionally hike with a friend who shares my interest and has more formal training. The last couple of years I have spent a week in the spring hanging out with a geology professor as he prepared for directing summer research projects in the Navajo Sandstone.
It was during these spring adventures with Gerry that the idea of a geology field trip hatched. We had so much fun together, we wondered if others might also enjoy learning about rocks in a place of spectacular beauty and obvious geology. The first Talking Rocks Tour this past May was our grand experiment in sharing with others our pleasure in listening to the Navajo Sandstone. I think it was a great success. The report by Robert Johnston gives a comprehensive review of our trip. I will offer just a few personal comments.
Gerry is Dr. Gerald Bryant, director of the Field Institute at Dixie State University. He drove the science relentlessly and effectively. This was not a Bible study conference or an anti-science apologetics conference. Gerry rubbed our noses in concrete, physical phenomena. Constantly. Both up close and in sweeping vistas. Theories were subordinate to the actual rock.
One of the people who expressed interest in going on the trip said he was looking for a field trip that would confirm his faith in a “recent chronology.” I suggested the trip would not satisfy him. He would do better to limit his geology study to written material. When you go into the field and actually examine the rocks, you encounter substantial “non-confirming” evidence.
Hot pancakes on cool mornings tasted good. We had veggies and cheese sandwiches practically every day for lunch and no one complained. And Kevin’s lentils and cornbread were quite tasty. But soba noodles with Thai vegetables and peanut sauce? Creamy pasta made with real cream, fresh garlic and other ingredients unknown to this writer accompanied by a cauliflower dish that I’m still savoring in my memory. This was unlike any camp dining I had ever before experienced. And was totally unexpected. (I had planned on serving rice and beans.) Thanks to Robert Johnson; You have a permanent invitation to return!
It was perfect. It was a gift. (Unfortunately, it is not something we can guarantee on future trips.)
Most of the participants shared an Adventist heritage, higher education in some field of science and personal involvement in church life. Conversations reflected those commitments and sources of knowing. The conversation was stretched by those among us who had different religious and professional backgrounds—other ways of living and knowing. The flow of words and understanding over leisurely meals was as rich as any I’ve experienced anywhere.
A Final Note Regarding Adventist Geology
The Adventist Church has no model for how the Bible Flood might have created the Navajo Sandstone or any other major geologic feature. Note, I’m not saying the Church’s model is defective or inadequate. The Church simply has no model. Not even a tentative one. If you ask the people at the Geoscience Research Institute or Biblical Research Institute how the Flood could have created the Navajo Sandstone, the Church’s answer is, we don’t know. What about the dinosaur tracks in the sandstone? We don’t know. What about the carbonate lenses in the sandstone? We have no idea. Not even a guess. Not even a conjecture. We have nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. But to be a Wilson/Goldstein-approved Adventist you have to believe the Flood did it all.
I wish the Adventist reformers trying to coerce the entire church into agreement with a vague Flood Geology could have spent the week with this group of church leaders. It might have enlarged their understanding of the speech of the rocks. For sure it would have enlarged their respect for the dedication and honesty of Adventists engaged in geological study.
For 2017, I am planning two Talking Rocks Tours: a camping trip and another week using more plush accommodations. Each trip will have a limited number of slots. You can join my email list to get information on the trips by writing to email@example.com. Please put “Talking Rocks 2017” in the subject line.
Pastor John McLarty is senior pastor of the Green Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church in Seattle. He is a contributing editor for Adventist Today.