All Features Great and Small: confessions of a conventional geologist

2013 Winter Meeting

Discussion will continue during a Meet the Speaker buffet luncheon following the worship service.

February 9, 2013
Gerald C. Bryant, MS, PhD, Director, Geological Field Institute, Dixie State College

A geologic record of Earth history is revealed in the successions of sedimentary rocks available to our probing eyes and instruments. That record is incomplete and very complex; but it is also marvelously systematic and surprisingly detailed. My study of the sedimentary record and especially my research in the Navajo Sandstone has demonstrated to me that the conventional geologic model, invoking a succession of depositional environments coupled with orderly changes in the life forms inhabiting Earth, provides a uniquely productive interpretive context.

A sacred record of Earth history is revealed in the diverse collection of documents presented in the Bible. That record, too, is highly selective and complexly orchestrated. I accept the archeological evidence for its general historicity. More than that, I am convinced of its divine inspiration by the work that it accomplishes in me and in those with whom I worship. However, it is difficult to find any points of intersection between this sacred history and the geologic record. It seems that reconciling the two accounts would enable Christians to better glorify God as Creator before a scientific audience; yet attempts to do this have proven unsatisfactory –  to me and to my secular colleagues, at least. How will Adventism contribute to effective ministry among this group of people?

Questions worth pondering:

  1. What are the process implications of the various components of the Navajo Sandstone and its overall sedimentary architecture?
  2. Were catastrophic events important in the accumulation history of this deposit?
  3. Can the Bible contribute to the interpretation of the Navajo Sandstone? If so, how?
  4. Which is interpreted more reliably, the Bible or the sedimentary record?
  5. As an Adventist geologist, which should be the higher research priority, defending my Biblical belief or improving my scientific understanding?

Gerald C. Bryant, PhD

Gerald Bryant is a sedimentary geologist and Director of the Geological Field Institute at Dixie State College. His responsibilities entail the development of field research and training programs, using the natural classroom of the Colorado Plateau. He holds an M.S. in Geology from Loma Linda University and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Toronto.  Gerald serves as an elder in the Red Cliffs SDA Church in St. George, Utah. His wife, Debra Bryant, PhD, is an associate professor of business at Dixie State College, specializing in human resource management. They have three married children who live in northern Utah and in the Pacific Northwest.

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