The First Nagging Doubts

Colorado River in the Grand Canyon from Desert...

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The first doubts that led me to really question my acceptance of creationism came with a visit to the Grand Canyon. My wife and I enjoyed a wonderful two week holiday to the Eastern USA before our daughter was born.

We started and ended in Las Vegas, urgh, we didn’t like the place at all; so fake and artificial and materialistic.

From Vegas, we did a big loop that encompassed the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, London Bridge, Sedona,San Francisco, some geyser or other, some Redwoods, Yosemite andDeath Valley. We loved it, utterly loved it.

I started the holiday as a creationist and ended the holiday seriously wondering if I’d been duped all those years.

I just couldn’t stop the questions.

When it comes to all things science, my attention is easily kept, even if understanding has trouble keeping up. I like to see how things work and like to question why. As a result, I am very much a nature man, this is very likely connected to my upbringing in Zambia, where nature was always all around.

What this would mean is that every time I visited somewhere I’d look for evidence of the past, too see how and why formations would happen and then imagine the process happening in front of me. That’s part of how I appreciate nature.

Up until this point, my favourite place in the world had always been Victoria Falls on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border. I’ve visited it numerous times as a child and an adult. The noise of the water is immense and the power that is visible is jaw dropingly huge. Then I saw the Grand Canyon and I was blown away by the scale and the peace (when you can get away from your fellow tourists). Suddenly my favourite place in the world had a challenger that was a serious contender. I’d seen Niagara Falls a few years previously and that didn’t even come close, so to be so utterly taken with the ruggedness and barrenness of the Grand Canyon was unexpected.

We saw sunset and the following sunrise over the canyon and several hours either side.

Looking out over the canyon I examined the rock structures and the layers. I looked for the erosion marks on isolated outcrops. I kept looking at the features I saw and trying to fit them with my creationist beliefs and struggled. The jagged edges didn’t fit with a catastrophic flood carving it out in a short time. Something gentler was required.

I looked at the mighty Colorado River, which looked like a small stream from the vantage point we were at. I tried to imagine it as a surface river gradually carving its way down through the rock. It seems an incredible feat and would surely take so long that it would be almost impossible to imagine that period of time. If this river has carved such a huge valley, canyon even, how come others rivers haven’t? Why is it so unique? Yet as I continued to look, I could see sections that I could easily imagine where previous paths of the river.

Could it be that my firmly held beliefs could be upset by simple observation and imagination?

Well yes, as it turns out.

During the rest of the holiday I would ponder these unsettling and yet invigorating questions and look at other features in a new light. Like the petrified forests north of San Francisco, Half Dome Rock and the glacier valley in Yosemite, rock features on the drive into and out ofDeath Valley.

So the start of the end of my creationism had begun, it started as a slow process of self realisation helped along by curiosity about nature.