Canyon shows development of the earth

On Wednesday night my pastor described God's providence as "a very deep subject."  I thought of that on Friday as I looked at Providence Canyon located in middle western Georgia just below Columbus.  Within Providence State Conservation Park are about sixteen fingers of canyons, the largest of which is 300 feet wide and 150 feet deep.  They actually derive their name from a nearby church, Providence United Methodist Church.

As we walked through the muddy floor of the canyon and looked up at the layered sides we could have drawn the conclusion that the canyon was formed over millions of years.  The beautiful canyon walls with many different colored soils have caused many to call it the "Georgia's Little Grand Canyon."  Not everybody has appreciated its beauty however.  A former governor of Georgia once said, "To me it was the ultimate in horror..."

Why would he describe it that way?  Because he knew the real history of the canyon; in the early 1800's the area was rich land probably used for farming and no canyon existed.  However, in the mid 1800's just as truth was being washed away in Europe with the publication of "The Origin of Species" this area of Georgia began to be washed away to form these canyons.  But these canyons were not formed by millions of years and a trickle of a stream but by cloudbursts and downpours.  Factors like the topography of the land, the degree of slope and the character of the soil together with heavy rainfall probably contributed to its formation because we know this is what is the cause of its continued growth today.  However, although no one knows this for sure, the common explanation given by the Parks Service is that poor farming practices stripped the land of all natural vegetation removing the stabilizing cover of trees, shrubs and their root systems.  Although this explanation can and does cause rapid erosion it is becoming overdone by many who preach that man is evil and that nature is divine.        

Many canyons cut into the landscape of our world most notably The Grand Canyon in the western United States.  The common explanation given over the years is that a lot of time and a little bit of water caused these canyons to form.  This explanation is pure conjecture.  Mankind has never observed a canyon form with millions of years and a little water.  However, right here in Georgia we observe a canyon formed within a short time frame due to large amounts of rainwater. 

Dr. Emmett Williams conducted research at Providence Canyon between 1984 and 1994 measuring the continual growth of the canyon.  He found that the canyon was enlarging due to lateral and headward erosion.  He told me recently that the erosion continues today to the extent that some of his measuring stations have been completely washed away.  His research caused him to conclude, "that catastrophic events are more effective in causing extensive erosion and deposition than gradual slow processes.  Both types do occur but catastrophic events are more devastating."

In addition, a rainstorm in March of 1990 caused him to draw an even more intriguing conclusion.  The Park Superintendent observed that 13.5 inches of rain fell on March 17.  This catastrophic event produced "six feet of deposited sediment along the bank of Turner Creek."  This sediment deposit was an obvious indication of catastrophic erosion.  However, in just three years the normal erosive forces removed almost all evidence of the 1990 rain.  Therefore, this caused Dr. Williams to ask whether natural erosive processes are masking evidence for other catastrophic events.  This becomes a very important point when we consider how most geologists evaluate the past.  Most of geology assumes uniformitarianism which is defined by the dictum, "the present is the key to the past."  Williams concludes, "In more realistic terms, the present may obscure the past!  Also a more recent catastrophe may destroy evidence for an earlier one!"  For example, when we consider the effects of Noah's Flood Williams writes, "Much prior evidence of catastrophic erosion during and immediately after the Flood could have been destroyed.  Thus catastrophic erosional processes could have been more active in the past than we can imagine and finding evidence for such events may be impossible.  Such possible conditions make the job of catastrophists more difficult when speculating about past occurrences."

Providence Canyon provides the honest observer with not only valuable information about the formation of canyons but also a valuable lesson about drawing conclusions.  Any time we hear claims for geologic formations we must realize that, except in places like Providence Canyon, the geologist was not there.  Conclusions then are based on assumptions that must be questioned.  We can also appreciate the efforts of creationist scientists like Dr. Williams who, under difficult conditions, have given us evidence for Noah's Flood.

Side wall of Providence Canyon showing erosion that continues with each successive rainfall.

Page 108

Previous Article   Table of Contents    Next Article

Home Page

Perhaps you could get my column published in your local paper, too! Have your newspaper editor contact me. Also, feel free to email me with any of your questions, comments or disagreements.

ŠTom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen