Grand Canyon:
A Different View

Grand Canyon: A Different View
Special update on Grand Canyon book-ban attempt:

Several thousand write Park Service about book-ban controversy

20 January 2004
Updated 26 March 2004

The book featuring four AiG contributors among others, Grand Canyon: A Different View, has made headlines worldwide after leading evolutionists demanded that the book be banned from bookstores at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, USA. This effort at censorship prompted several thousand people to write the US Park Service. [See Help stop a book-banning effort!]

This photo-essay book by Tom Vail is a collection of striking photographs and essays written by twenty-three well-known leaders within the creationist community. They reject the evolutionist view that the Canyon was carved by the slow erosion of the Colorado River over millions of years; instead, these scholars present the case that Grand Canyon was formed by a lot of water over a relatively short period of time.1 The majority of the book’s contributors have doctorate degrees in science, and several of them have conducted serious geological research at the Canyon.

Some bizarre perspectives about this growing controversy have appeared in newspapers ranging from Taiwan to the Times Daily of Alabama. The New York Times on Sunday, 18 January, mistakenly reported that creationists believe the Canyon was created during the six days of creation (Genesis 1), rather than after Noah’s Flood (Genesis 8-9)!

Another total misunderstanding of the creationist view was expressed by a California man who wrote a letter to the editor for the Los Angeles Times. He presented the straw-man argument that creationists believe that during the Flood itself, the Canyon was carved by the Flood waters, and these same waters also concurrently laid down the strata along the sides of the Canyon. This geological impossibility is a caricature of the creationist view, which argues that after the Flood, a large body of water, which had collected in what is now modern-day Colorado, breached its earthen dam, resulting in an immense torrent of water rushing through Northern Arizona, carving out the Canyon—all occurring after the strata had been deposited.

Here is that man’s unusual letter, followed by a rebuttal that Dr Jonathan Sarfati of CMI-Australia submitted to the LA Times (as of today, 20 January, the paper has chosen not to print it).

‘A Flood of Controversy’—January 10, 2004

Re ‘Religion, Geology Collide at the Grand Canyon,’ Jan. 7: Creation science books make fascinating reading. Did you know that the sedimentary rock layers visible in the Grand Canyon were laid down by the Old Testament flood at the same time as the flood cut through them to form it? Amazing.

Another interesting thing is that the vast amounts of water (many times the volume of all the oceans put together) required to cover the entire Earth to a depth of over five miles above the current sea level came from titanic caverns. After the flood this water drained back into said underground chambers. We need these creationist geologists to find all that water and end water shortages forever.

–David A. Lathrap, San Diego

13 January 2004


David Lathrap’s letter (January 10) about Noah’s Flood is partly right, and if he did some actual study, he might get it all right—surely all the more reason to keep the information about the evidence for creation and a global flood available rather than censoring it (as is the case with the attempted ban of Grand Canyon: A Different View from National Park Service bookstores, a text which argues for a worldwide flood).

Yes, the layers of the Grand Canyon were laid down by a massive flood, as shown by the huge extent of the formations and the flat boundaries that show little evidence of vast times of erosion. And Mr Lathrap is right that the flood probably carved the canyon—but this was in the later stages when water flowed off the continents and formed vast channels. Most non-creationist geologists who have studied the Canyon now agree that massive flooding rapidly carved it.

Also, there was no need for the flood waters to cover the mountains at their present heights. If the earth’s mountains and ocean trenches were totally evened out to make the earth’s surface spheroidal, the water now in the oceans would cover the whole globe to a depth of almost two miles. More on this fascinating topic can be found at Geology Q&A.

Uplift of mountains and sinking of ocean trenches would allow the waters to flow off, just as Psalm 104:8 (NASB) indicates!

–Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., Answers in Genesis

Queensland, Australia

Published: 8 February 2006


  1. Many evolutionist geologists who have studied the Canyon also share the idea that lots of water formed Grand Canyon in a relatively short time. However, they envisage that the rapid bursts of erosion occurred millions of years ago and were separated by long periods of time. (See e.g. Perkins, S., The Making of a Grand Canyon: Carving this beloved hole in the ground may not have been such a long-term project, Science News 158: 219-220, 2000.) Evolutionist geologists would also say that that the strata along the sides of the Canyon were laid down over millions of years.