Angry at ‘tourist captains’
Published: 5 June 2010(GMT+10)
Australian correspondent Doug N. wrote to us describing how the world has changed since his college days, and asks what we can do about it.
Hullo and greetings, I am a Christian and when I attended college some 65 yrs ago we were given to understand that God created the universe in seven days.
Also that the time from creation to the birth of Christ was approximately four thousand years.
I still hold that belief and attending church for all those years hasn’t changed it.
I have faith in God’s Word.
Now we hear many references of such and such being millions and millions of years old.
Tourist captains are great ones for this describing rocks and skeletons and carvings in rocks. This makes me angry.
How do we as believers of the Bible accept that or explain our understandings?
Thanks for a simple answer to this question of mine.
CMI’s Dr Tas Walker replies:
It is good to receive your email.
Yes, you are right that tourist guides are great ones for describing rocks and skeletons as being millions of years old. I wrote an article about my experience of this when my wife and I travelled through Central Australia. The travel bug.
How Christian tourists handle this situation depends on their personality. I try to avoid embarrassing the tourist guide in front of others but will raise the issue with them in a chatty way if a suitable time occurs. I will even offer them a piece of literature such as Creation magazine or a brochure if it seems appropriate. Sometimes I will make a comment to other tourists nearby about something that indicates the millions of years are not correct. But I try to avoid embarrassing the tour guide.
That is what I have been told to say. I’ve only been here for two weeks.
I know of other people who will also speak out on such occasions. Usually, the tour guides are only passing on what they have been told and don’t know of any other explanation. I know of one person who is quite outspoken in a nice way. The tour guide was showing us some fossils of a fish said that the fish was our ancestor. This person laughed and said, “That is ridiculous.” The tour guide said, “I thought so, too. That is what I have been told to say. I’ve only been here for two weeks.”
I know of someone else who responded to a tour guide in an interesting way. When the guide mentioned the age of a cave as 62,000 years old the person said, “I thought that by now it would 62,000 and one years old. You said 62,000 last year!” It was a bit of a joke but it had the effect. And later this person had a talk to the guide and ended up giving them a copy of Creation magazine.
I know of another lady who recently travelled through central Australia and commented that the idea of millions of years is presented everywhere you go. Yet, she said that the evidence for the Flood is plain to see. She also said that, although she is only a lay person, she would challenge the tour guides (in a nice way) on the ages of millions of years on every occasion. She said they would invariably back down on the age question, saying that that is what they had been told to say. She said they were even less informed on this issue than she was.
One of the key statements to make is that people did not see these things form and so they are only speculating. This can be framed as a question which is always better. Polite questions are a powerful way of getting people to think. We can ask things like, “How do they work that out?” “How do they know what the reading was originally?” Or we can make statement like, “I’ve heard that these numbers are just based on assumptions” or “There is lots of good evidence that the world is not that old” or “There are lots of scientists who see evidence that the earth is only young.”
Once again, thanks for contacting us. Next time you go on a tourist outing I hope you are able to share some of these ideas and find it stimulating and enjoyable rather than frustrating. A small collection of our brochures may be useful (A great way to spread the news and 18 booklets answer questions).
All the best.
Scientist, Editor, Speaker
Creation Ministries International (Australia)
Thanks for your helpful comments. My family and I recently toured Tasmania and encountered the same claims of antiquity. Of course we all rely upon the many signs, plaques and dates that are encountered while on holiday. However, it seems that from the highest echelons in science to the slightly more humble tour guide, Australians like to make a good story better by stretching things a bit. We’ve perfected ‘My … ’s older than your … ’ beyond the limits of credulity. There is a lot of kudos in having the oldest this or that.
This goes on my “keep forever list” because it is straightforward plain talk like this that I can understand and don’t have to worry if anyone else can either. What’s more, the intellectually elite can almost understand it, too.
Good response to that query. The best way to get across an alternate point of view is definitely NOT to be alienating anyone.
You mentioned experiencing this yourself as you travelled through central Oz. We also did a road trip where we spent a few days in the Flinders Ranges. We elected not to do any guided tours (we have our own 4WD), however we drove along a ‘Geological Trail’ which followed Brachina Gorge in the Flinders Ranges National Park, a little north of Wilpena Pound. As we drove along this dry creek bed, there were signs every 50m or so indicating ‘so and so geological feature was formed so many squillions of years ago’. Interestingly, they all stated that these features were all formed underwater, but threw in these ancient-of-days time scales. They’re getting it half right i guess. But something else that strikes me about these is that these ages are never presented as estimates or theories, but solid unshakeable fact. We bumped into a few amateur geologists as we drove along, and i was thinking to myself that these guys picking up rocks in a creek bed have probably never questioned these figures they’re given, and have probably never heard that anyone else does either. It was a little saddening actually.
Anyway you’ve probably been there yourself, whatever the signs say it’s a beautiful part of Australia. Keep up the good work.
I think it is very important to let people know when they are wrong. I admire persons that are willing to openly challenge tour guides in public, as long as it is done like Jesus would have done it. My approach is also like Tas is doing it. I agree that polite questioning is very powerful. When the guide ask for questions, one can ask him: “How sure are you that that fish is our ancestor?” Also, don’t forget about email—When I hear something for example on the radio saying things are millions of years old, I try to email the radio station or presenter with an attached CMI article. I did it now very recently: Someone from North West University (SA) referred to Dr Craig Venter that created synthetic life on the radio! I emailed him and attached the article, “Was life really created in a test tube? And does it disprove biblical creation?” He has not answered my email (yet). CMI, thank you very much for making it possible to defend the faith so effectively. May God bless your work.
Your points in this article are good ones. I think that giving a brochure to a guide is a simple, non-confrontational way of spreading the message: just smile, hand over the brochure, and say “Here is some wonderful information that might interest you”, or “Here is some information that I found very helpful and I think that it will interest you”.
1Peter 3:13–17 is relevant here:
“13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (NIV)
Note the very important “gentleness and respect” in verse 15: in modern language that’s “consideration of others”. Jesus said “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 7:12 NASB)