News – Grand Canyon raft trip

Andy McIntosh
Andy McIntosh Andy McIntosh is Emeritus Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion theory at the University of Leeds and director of Truth in Science which promotes creationism and intelligent design.
01 August, 2009 3 min read

Grand Canyon raft trip

Andy McIntosh recounts a unique opportunity to see first-hand the effects of the global Flood on the rocks of the Grand Canyon.

Twenty-eight ‘Brits’ went on two rafts down the mighty Colorado river this June, under the leadership of Tom and Paula Vail of Canyon Ministries (

The towering sediments, dramatic white-water rapids, amazing wildlife, magnificent viewpoints, powerful thunderstorms, unique sounds of the river as we pitched camp each night on the sandy river bank, all helped to make it an amazing week.

Peter’s Place Initiative (set up by Anthony and Diana Panes and others) had sponsored this trip to encourage UK Christian leaders to consider the strong evidence for creation and a global Flood available in the Grand Canyon.

Tom Vail and Keith Swenson (Design Science Association, Portland, Oregon) led the geological talks. These ably showed that the geological evidence favoured catastrophic deposition of sedimentary layers up to a mile thick, followed by the cutting action of a large amount of water. This water was almost certainly the receding waters of the great global Flood.

Majesty and power

What was striking to us all was the depth of the Canyon, as we followed the river downstream. We kept seeing new strata; starting with the top cliffs of the Kaibab limestone plateau, and cutting down through ten major sedimentary layers to Tapeats limestone near the bottom.

But then the Canyon cuts even deeper, down to huge, pink, volcanic granite and jet black, metamorphic schist formations. It all towered above us in the Granite Gorge. It was here that one of our number read Genesis 1, slowly and thoughtfully, as the two boats drifted through the underlying basement rock formations.

The overwhelming sense of the Lord’s majesty and power in creation and the Flood were so striking at this point. Many in the group referred to this as the climax of the trip. Tom presented the evidence for creation and the Flood so well. I encourage all to get a copy of Grand Canyon – a different view and Your guide to the Grand Canyon – a different perspective from

We were pleased to see the first title on sale in National Park Service bookshops. There is constant pressure from the park service against such books, as it tries to insist on the evolutionary view that the river cut the Canyon (in places, 18 miles wide!) over millions of years, with the unlikely scenario of the whole plateau being raised seven times.

World views

Tom Vail and Keith Swenson showed us striking un-conformities in the rock layers, where vast layers supposedly representing 100 million years are virtually all missing. Furthermore, further up the sediments near the base of the Redwall limestone, famous for its vertical 500-foot cliffs, there are billions of nautiloid fossils (a nautiloid is related to a squid and has a conical shaped shell). They are consistently found in the same small layer and are a powerful witness to the catastrophic origin of the Canyon.

Stephen Lloyd (Biblical Creation Ministries) and I complemented the geological talks of Tom and Keith. Between us, we spoke on how world view assumptions affect our thinking concerning the Fall and its relation to the cross, and the foundational importance of Genesis 1-11.

I also gave a talk on the origin of the stars that we had seen so beautifully night after night (it was an amazing sight, sleeping under the stars each night, to see the awesome Milky Way overhead). The conversations that ensued through the week showed clearly that the Lord was working in the group. It was evident that they all were beginning to realise that the scientific facts fit well with a ‘young earth’ position.

By the end of the week, the sense of fellowship between us was palpable and the witness of this to the crew of Arizona River Runners (who ran the rafts for the 188 miles of river and rapids, and professionally set up the camps each night) was something they commented on themselves.

Juliet and I counted it a privilege to be part of this unique ministry to UK church leaders and continue to pray that it will have a lasting impact in people’s lives.


On the last Sunday we spent a day at the Bar 10 ranch on the North Rim, before returning to Las Vegas on the Monday (29 June). What a contrast!

Las Vegas is a city full of gambling, with slot machines even in the airport itself. We were pleased to leave that behind and spend a few days in Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, before returning to the UK on Saturday 4 July.

Quite apt of us to return that day, as the Americans were busy celebrating their 233 years of independence. We kept on saying to our US friends that we expected the tea and taxes back, but it always seemed to fall on deaf ears!

Andy McIntosh
Andy McIntosh is Emeritus Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion theory at the University of Leeds and director of Truth in Science which promotes creationism and intelligent design.
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