Review: Grand Canyon: A Different View

While my family had kept this book on the shelf for years, it was not until I heard a podcast that suggested reading Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail that I finally opened up the book. I will be honest, I initially was not sure what to make of this book, and I was leaning towards disliking it. For a good portion of the book, I had no idea what the message and point of the book was. But after discussing it with my husband, I realized that I had gone into the book with the wrong understanding and perspective, and by the end, I came to enjoy and appreciate it.

I suppose that, in a way, such a change in my perspective was the point of the book. While my foundational perspective didn’t change – I have the same fundamental beliefs as the author and contributors – I got a glimpse at how easy it is to be misguided by faulty presuppositions. You see, I went into the book thinking this was an apologetics book like those I had read before. I thought this was going to be a book on geologic facts about the Grand Canyon and the Flood, as well as how to use that information in defense of the faith. But while I would still call this an apologetics book, this was not like the others I had read. Instead, this was a book similar to ones that you might find in a bookstore at the Grand Canyon about the many facets of the Grand canyon. This is a book to leave on your coffee table to look at and admire all the various wonders of the Canyon. This book is meant to be a brief read. This is a book not meant to boggle the mind or overload the reader with numbing numbers and scientific jargon, but a book to introduce the reader to the wonders of God’s creation, the impact of the Flood on one of America’s best-known landmarks, and why any of it should matter to you.

As I said, Grand Canyon: A Different View doesn’t get into all the gritty scientific details about the Canyon, but it does provide a brief overview of science, the Bible, and worldviews in the early sections of the book. I felt these parts were a little fast-paced and not as detailed as I would like, but those are fleshed out in other books devoted to the subject, and such detail was not the purpose of this book. The author simply provided the background in a way for the reader to understand and not be overwhelmed.

The book goes through a variety of topics, including: the Flood, the history of geology, the RATE project, fossils, the formation of the Canyon, the life zones, various flora and fauna of the Canyon, and the experiences of many people who have visited the Canyon. But instead of approaching these topics from a secular perspective, as other books of a similar nature would do, the author approached them from a biblical perspective, a “different view,” if you will.

Each two-page spread displays a brief article by a scientist about some aspect of the Grand Canyon accompanied by beautiful images and a scripture verse. The pictures made the book, and I think some of them especially helped drive the world-wide flood narrative promoted in the book. Some images that I found particularly impactful were images of folded sedimentary layers and the images of stark distinctions between layers that showed evidence of the world-wide, cataclysmic Flood. These images, coupled with the brief articles by scientists, such as Snelling and Humphries, drove home points such as the faults of secular geology, how features of the Grand Canyon lend itself to rapid deposition, and how science supports the Biblical narrative.

While I did love the images, and many were breathtaking, the layout leaves something to be desired. Some image placement seemed a little haphazard, and you would often have small chunks of text separated from its body paragraph. The layout often made it difficult to read smoothly, but again, the pictures, to me, were really what the book is about. They displayed the amazing sights and experiences found in this awe-inspiring place. Without them, the text would have been lacking.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I think I had the wrong idea when I started to read this book. I think I went into this thinking it would be an in-depth discussion of the geology of the Canyon and its connection to Creation and the Flood. Instead, I think Grand Canton: A Different View is supposed to be an overview of all the facets of the Canyon and how they show God’s power, creation, and glory as well as how its geology connects to the Flood. But instead of expounding on every or any particular point, the author wanted to give an overview in brief for a wider variety of people to enjoy. While it may not be my favorite apologetics book, I enjoyed and appreciated the book for what it is. It also taught me about why I shouldn’t walk into books with faulty presuppositions and without an open mind!

This is true in life and science as well. We go through life with these ideas of what is true and false based on presuppositions, on a worldview or foundation of what we believe, but with no consideration of why we have them and why they sometimes conflict (or appear to conflict) with what we experience. In the case of the author, he once accepted the science as he was told it as gospel truth without question. That is, until a woman presented him with a different view. Once his beliefs and presuppositions were challenged, and he took a new look at what he believed, his mind was changed. Now, he works to share the love of his Creator and his love of the Canyon with hundreds of people every year.

This is his final message at the end of the book. If you go to the Canyon, you will find at the very bottom the bedrock of all those layers, the rocks that some believe were present on Creation week. That is the foundation of all that rests on top. And this is true for us as well. There is a foundation or “bedrock” to all you believe, and it holds up what makes up your worldview. This is not only concerning what you believe about the Canyon, but your whole view on life and what matters, what is true. So he asks you, what is your foundation? What do your beliefs rest upon? Have you considered what they are, how to be better defend them, and how they might need to change? These are questions we are all presented with every day. But now the question is, how will we face them? I enjoyed this book and learned much by the end, and if you choose to pick it up, I hope you will, too.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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