Apr 11, 2006

Young-earth science author to speak at Liberty

by Angela Franulovich

Liberty University’s Center for Creation Studies will host a talk by the author of the controversial book “Grand Canyon: A Different View” on April 18. 

Tom Vail, the book’s author, is a Grand Canyon rafting guide and co-founder of Canyon Ministries. His book sparked a national controversy in 2003 and throughout 2004, after seven top-ranking evolution scientists petitioned the National Park Service to remove it from park bookstores. 

As the petitioning scientists said, “The book is not about geology but, rather, advances a narrow religious view about the Earth.” 

However, despite continued opposition from the evolution community and an investigation by the Interior Department, Grand Canyon bookstores still offer Vail’s book to the park’s more than 4 million visitors each year. 

Vail’s book promotes a young-earth creationist interpretation of the natural formations found in and around the canyon with striking photography and contributions from some of the world’s most prominent creation scientists and researchers. 

According to creation scientists, the issue behind the controversy has to do with each camp’s interpretations of the evidence. 

For example, evolution scientists require an old Earth to account for the theoretical time required for organisms to evolve from a common ancestor. Therefore, they generally teach that the canyon’s rock layers formed over millions of years and that the canyon was carved by the Colorado River over time.
However, young earth creationists, like those who made contributions to Vail’s book, believe that a global flood laid the fossil-containing layers swiftly, and that a forceful burst of trapped water later carved the canyon in an equally swift fashion. 

The issue, or controversy, becomes a case of a little water over a long period of time verses a lot of water over a short time period – historical events, both of which would require after-the-fact data interpretations. 

“For 15 years, I taught the evolutionary model of how the canyon was formed, but it never really made complete sense… (Then) when I studied the creation model, things started to come together,” Vail wrote in his book. 

According to Vail, “the Grand Canyon is not only a chilling museum of death, with its trillions of fossilized creatures … it is also a reminder to Christians that God’s Word is true and can be relied upon.”
Canyon Ministries offers Christ-centered rafting trips through the Grand Canyon and runs rafting tours for both Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research. 

A local resident and former Liberty University professor Phyllis Kester said she took the “trip of a lifetime” with Canyon Ministries last June. 

“(We) entered the Colorado River just below Lee’s Ferry and traveled nearly 200 miles on the river as it wound through Grand Canyon … You average about one rapid per mile on that stretch, (and there are) some pretty large rapids to contend with since the river has to drop an average of several feet per mile,” said Kester. 

Before the end of their seven-day river run, Kester said her group tackled Lava Falls Rapid, with its “heart stopping 13-foot drop in elevation.” 

According to Kester, Vail’s presentation is a chance “for the faint hearted” to enjoy the trip and “stay dry.” 

“Both in his book and in his presentations, Tom combines a creationist’s view of the Grand Canyon with stunning photography,” said Kester. 

Vail will hold a public talk on Tuesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in DeMoss Hall 1113. An open question and answer period will follow, and copies of “Grand Canyon: A Different View” will be available for purchase.

Contact Angela Franulovich at afranulovich@liberty.edu.

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