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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Grand Canyon Controversy ]

GRAND CANYON: ANOTHER VIEW

Psalm 104:24

Our study in this message is Psalm 104:24, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your possessions.” I chose to speak on this particular verse in this psalm because this verse appeared in the Los Angeles times January 7, 2004. What possible reason could the Los Angeles times have, which is not known as a defender of the Bible or the Christian religion, to present this verse to its readers and in a most favorable light. This paper has the largest circulation of any paper in California and probably in the nation. I hope great multitudes of people read this edition of the paper and this particular article.

The Times saw fit to mention this verse because something very important happened. in connection with this verse which was newsworthy
Above the article in which this verse is mentioned was this headline in large letters: RELIGION AND GEOLOGY COLLIDE AT THE GRAND CANYON. The verse appeared in the paper in a very unusual form. The verse appeared in a beautiful color photograph of a plaque located in one of the largest National Parks in America, the Grand Canyon. This plaque is located at one of the most scenic points that gives a panoramic view of this beautiful canyon in all of its splendor. Just below this plaque many tourists are seen viewing this gigantic, beautiful and scenic canyon. On this plaque are written these words in seven lines in large letters in the form of a poem from the old King James version:

O Lord, How manifold Are thy works!
In Wisdom hast Thou made them all;
The earth is full Of thy riches.
----Psalm 104:24

Immediately under these words, written in smaller letters are these words:
Father Almighty, wonderful Lord,Wonderful Creator, be ever adored;
Wonders of nature, sing praise to You. Wonder of wonders–I may praise too!

Below this photograph and plaque, the Times makes this statement: In another religion controversy at the park, plaques at tourist stops that were ordered removed have been returned. Critics say the U.S. is endorsing one spiritual point of view.”
The religious controversy at the park is about who or what created this canyon and how old it is. There are two views as to how this canyon was formed. One view is that of Bible believing people, including some Christian scientists, who believe that the canyon was made by an act of God, either at the original creation or at the time of Noah's flood.. It is widely believed among Christians that this beautiful canyon was produced by the flood because the earth was completely covered by water for over a year, and we know what avalanches occur in the mountains of Californian by heavy soaking rains. It is thought reasonable that such a catastrophe might cause some great geographical changes in the surface of the earth. When I was there and gazed on this beautiful sight, the first thought that came to my mind was that it was probably formed by the flood of Noah. That is the Biblical view, and if it be true, the Grand Canyon was formed less than 10, 000 years ago.

The other view is that of those in the scientific world who reject the Bible as the inspired word of God. This is called the evolutionary view. It is also the view of some Bible believing people. However, all who hold to this view have to reject the first eleven chapters of Genesis as the inspired word of God. They cannot accept those chapters as true, literal history. They consider what is said about the creation and the flood as only traditions or legends of the ancient Hebrew people. According to this view this great canyon was formed by one river, the Colorado river. That river is now at the bottom of the canyon which is a mile deep. At one time there was no canyon there, just solid earth and rock; and the river was on surface a mile higher than it is now. The canyon is over a hundred miles long, 8 to 15 miles wide and over a mile deep. The scientific view is that this 10 mile wide chasm in northern Arizona was carved by the Colorado river 5 million to 6 million years ago. The view is that it would have taken that long for this river, ith the help of rain and wind, to chew and dig its way through many layers of solid rock and wipe out all rock and dirt 10 miles wide. This is the way it descended and is now at the bottom of the canyon, a mile deep. I have never head it explained how a river could remove rock and dirt that is ten miles wide. These are the two views.

The story in the L.A. Times stated that Bible believing people in 1970 donated three plaques to the park, and they were installed at three scenic locations. Quotations from the book of Psalms were written on these plaques, and one was Psalm 104:24 which is the text of our study. On another plaque is written Psalm 68:4, “ Sing to God, sings praises to His name, lift up a song to Him who rides upon the clouds. His name is the Lord, exult before Him.” The people who donated these plaques were Bible believers and believed that this magnificent canyon was an act of God, and they believed that these plaques wold give Jehovah God the glory and honor that belongs to him. However, for a short time last summer these plaques were removed because of a complaint made by the ACLU. But last summer the Park Service Deputy Director ordered the brass plaques returned and sent the people who donated them a letter apologizing for having removed them. The status of these plaques honoring God are still in question, and the ACLU will put up strong fight to remove them. Yet I think what happened is very encouraging to Bible believers and the Christian religion. It shows respect for God, and it shows there are people in high places who are willing to take a stand and give Christians the right of free speech to declare their beliefs. The Los Angeles Times is to be complimented for publishing this article that speaks of Christian beliefs in a favorable light.

This article in the L. A. Times also introduced to its readers another interesting fact about how and when the Grand Canyon was formed. It related that there are two different views on how this canyon was formed; many people are unaware of this fact. Most scientists agree with the view that rangers at Grand Canyon National Park tell visitors–that the 10 mile wide chasm was carved by the Colorado river 5 million to 6 million years ago. However there is a book in the Park's bookstore that tells another story about this canyon. It has been on sale since last summer and is entitled:“Grand Canyon: A Different View.” The author of the book is Tom Vail, a veteran Colorado river guide. In his book he asserts that the Grand Canyon was formed by the Old Testament flood, the one Noah's ark survived, and can be no older than a few thousand years. Thus there are two different views even among the Park employees.

In the introduction of Mr. Vail's book, the Times reports that Vail wrote, “For years as a Colorado River guide I told people how the Grand Canyon was formed over the evolutionary time scale of millions of years. Then I met the Lord. Now, I have a different view of the Canyon, which according to the biblical time scale, can't possibly be more than a few thousand years. old.” Reaction to this book has been sharply divided. The American Geological Institute and seven Geo-science organizations sent letters to the Park and to agency officials calling for the book to be removed. They don't want tourists to know about this other view. What is reasonable and right that there should be a free exchange of knowledge, that tourists should hear about both views; and then let them make up their mind? But tourists are not told about the other view, even though the Park sells the book, “Grand Canyon: A Different View.” What has happened to freedom of speech? Should not respect be shown to visitors who espouse the different view?

The status of this book at the Park is still in question., but the L.A. Times quoted this statement by a Park Service spokesman, “Each park determines which products were sold in its bookstores and gift shops. The creation book at the Grand Canyon was unanimously approved by a new-product review panel of the park and gift shop personnel.” Meanwhile the book has sold out and is being reordered. There is another book in Park bookstore, entitled, “How the Canyon became Grand” which presents the scientific or evolutionary explanation. The author of that book said about Mr. Vail's book, “I have not read the book, but I am familiar with the creation view. I think the Park Service would be remiss if it did not explain that there is not an agreed-upon story about the canyon, that there are conflicting stories. But science assumes it was not formed by a great flood or divine intervention.” This man states two important truths. One is that there is no agreed-upon story about the canyon. The second is that science assumes it was not formed by a great flood or divine intervention. I believe this book by Tom Vail, “Grand Canyon: A Different View” would be a valuable addition to a Christian's library. I plan to get a copy for myself, and I hope some of you may decide to do so.

In view of the fact that one view is biblical and the other view is
unbiblical, how can Christians make an intelligent decision on such complicated matters? It all comes down to the question, “Has the Grand Canyon been here 5 to 10 million years or is it just a few thousand years old? Did an act of God create the Grand canyon or did the Colorado River, wind and rain create the canyon? Christians should act like members of a jury, consider the evidence and make their own decision. As to the evidence, there are no eyewitnesses who saw the Colorado River create this canyon; no eye witnesses lived ten million years a go. There is no absolute evidence. Furthermore, there were no human eye witnesses who saw God create the earth. There are no eyewitnesses to testify that the flood formed the Grand Canyon. When there are no eyewitnesses, it always presents a problem to members of a jury. It means there is no absolute and indisputable evidence.

Nevertheless, the American law of Jurisprudence states that guilt or innocence may be arrived at by circumstantial evidence. I have served on a jury when there were there were no eyewitnesses, and we had to use circumstantial evidence. The judge handed us a paper for the jury to study what the law says about circumstantial evidence. It clearly said that we could use circumstantial evidence, if there is no other reasonable explanation. But if there is no other reasonable explanation for what happened, then it is against the law to use circumstantial evidence. No one saw the crime but circumstances pointed to the man. The jury in the Scott Peterson Trial will have the same problem. No one saw Scott Peterson kill his wife, but the state says circumstances point to him.

Applying these considerations to the Grand Canyon controversy, the Scientific explanation has no eye witnesses; it has only circumstantial evidence based on the layers of the earth which they think was separated by millions and millions of years. But there is no absolute proof. Thus they cannot use such evidence as proof that the Canyon was formed 10 million years ago, if there is any other reasonable explanation.
Thgere is another book they sell at the he Park Bookstore that teaches another view, and those plaques installed at scenic spots which honor and glorify the God of the Bible is evidence that there is another very reasonable explanation for that canyon. That God created the canyon at the original creation or providentially formed it by the flood of Noah is another explanation of the canyon and a very reasonable explanation. It is true that Bible-believing people do not have eyewitness evidence either. We have only circumstantial evidence. Our circumstantial evidence is the Bible, the most popular book in the world, the most admired book in the world, the most influential book in the world, and the most widely read book in the world.. The Bible holds a special place in almost every country of the world. The world-wide sales of the Bible are literally uncountable. There are complete Bibles in more than 40 European languages , 125 Asian and Pacific Island languages, and 100 African languages. That is very impressive circumstantial evidence. The Bible is the most respected book in the world. This book says that God created the heavens and the earth. The view most widely accepted by Christians is that the Grand Canyon was formed either at the original creation or at the time of Noah's flood. Furthermore, there is no other reasonable explanation. That the Colorado River could form a canyon over a 100 miles long and 10 to 15 miles wide and a mile deep does not sound very reasonable, even giving it 10 million years to do so. Really, there is no other reasonable explanation than God formed that canyon. Absolute evidence is lacking for any other view. Let us rejoice and take courage from the recent controversy at the Grand Canyon.

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