A Journey down the Great Unknown
On July 12, I found myself at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona, with 27 other Christian leaders, mostly academics, preparing for a seven-day trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. This was truly a trip of a lifetime. Travel was aboard inflatable rafts built from WWII surplus pontoons. Few people ever get to experience the River or the Canyon in this fashion. Those wishing to take a private trip can wait for upwards of ten years for a required permit! The trip itself is not for those who are unwilling to experience a little hardship. Once in the great canyon—187 miles from Lee’s Ferry to the helicopter pad that provides access to the Bar 10 Ranch on the rim—the trip itself is 6 days with little possibility of seeing the “rim world” which can be up to 6000 feet above the river. We spent six nights on the river sleeping under the stars. There was still another 80 miles or so of Canyon to Lake Mead. To make the full trip without the aid of a motorized boat can take up to three weeks!
The goal of our trip was to promote young earth creationism. The trip was conceived by Answers in Genesis and Canyon Ministries to introduce the geological evidence to Christian leaders who might question a young earth. Not quite half of the participants were old-earth men or at least doubtful about 6 24-hour day creation. Frankly, after seven days in the Canyon, I came away with a renewed sense of commitment to the Genesis record. Not that I doubted the biblical text before the trip, but to see the evidence displayed in living color before my eyes was a compelling experience.
In the conventional wisdom (evolutionary), the Canyon was cut by the Colorado River over hundreds of millions of years. According to young earth creationists, the Canyon was formed in the days following the Flood as the waters from that catastrophic event receded. Being a neophyte to all things geological, I found myself overwhelmed with information during the exciting trip. We heard from a team of four men—Andrew Snelling, a geologist; Terry Mortenson, a creationist; Bill Barrick, a Genesis scholar; and Tom Vail, a Canyon expert. They described what we were seeing and how it all fit the OT narrative. We also had the chance of running something like 170 sets of rapids including the infamous Lava Falls (the most dangerous navigable rapids in the US) in which the river drops 37 feet in under a quarter of a mile.
The trip was punctuated with warm fellowship, getting to know men from around the world, including pastors from Australia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom as well as closer colleagues, including a friend from Northland International University. It also was highlighted by good food. On the bus ride out to the Canyon—6 hours from Las Vegas—we introduced ourselves and described our idea of “roughing it.” My idea of “roughing it” was no ice for my beverage at dinner, which I assumed would characterize our trip. Would you believe that in fact, we did have ice, all the way through the canyon? We carried it with us and even on Friday night, I enjoyed a cold glass of water.
I am grateful to the Lord for this experience and grateful to the folks at AiG and especially Tom Vail, whose vision made this trip possible. If you are looking for something that is both inspirational and exciting, I cannot recommend more highly a trip down the Colorado River to see the handiwork of God in the Grand Canyon. In the coming weeks, I will post other comments about this great trip.