I’m now a tour guide
How do I include a creation perspective?
Published: 14 July 2020 (GMT+10)
Recently, a CMI friend emailed to tell us they had been appointed as a tour guide for a popular tourist attraction near where they live and asked for help. We often receive inquiries like this.
This friend, who will remain anonymous, said, “I am not a scientific person, and before I got the job, I told them that I have no experience in geology, fossils or palaeontology. The only view presented at the site is that of evolution over millions of years. I love people, and if I can present a balanced view where people walk away thinking about how we got here and Who got us here, that would be a good outcome. I might have bitten off more than I can chew, but I believe God has put me in this position to glorify his name in all I do.”
Technical and scientific issues
They then went onto say, “I have a few questions about this tourist attraction. Being a long-term follower of CMI, I was hoping you could help me to answer some of them, so I can present a balanced view.” They then listed some technical/scientific questions about their tourist site.
Dr Tasman Walker’s comments here on this inquiry.
These technical issues are one important aspect to understand about the tourist attraction, whether it’s a fossil site, a cave complex, an unusual rock formation, a spectacular canyon, a conservation park, or any of a multitude of other places. The tour guide is usually trained in what to say about the attraction, and there are often interpretive signs around the site. All this information about the site would almost always be framed within an evolutionary worldview. However, a creationist guide would also need to understand how the attraction would be explained within a biblical worldview.
Creation.com has multitudes of articles that deal with famous locations and tourist sites around the world, and principles from these articles can be applied to other sites. (Some examples are Valley of Fire, Nevada, Haleakala volcano on the Island of Maui, Hawaii, A receding Flood scenario for the origin of the Grand Canyon, The awesome wonder of Wilpena Pound, Australia, Stone Mountain, Georgia (USA), The Jenolan Caves, Australia, Siccar Point, Scotland, and many, many more.) There are also articles on creation.com that deal with the geological processes that formed these places. (Example of this are Geological strata: they’re everywhere, Granite formation: catastrophic in its suddenness, More evidence against so-called paleokarst, Inselbergs, Mud experiments overturn long-held geological beliefs, Rapid cave formation by sulfuric acid dissolution, Sandy stripes, and many, many more.) Our goal at CMI is to help people understand these tourist sites from a biblical point of view.
Concerning these technical issues, it would be useful for a tourist guide to Google whether there are issues that scientists are still debating about this tourist feature. Usually, there are lots of unresolved questions still being researched, and it would be helpful to be aware of these.
For a creationist tourist guide, the second important aspect involves presentation. How will the tour guide present creation information to their audience?
This is how Dr Tasman Walker responded directly to the guide who recently contacted CMI.
You said, “I would like to present a balanced view to our visitors.” As a Bible-believing creationist this will be tricky for you, especially concerning your relationship with those who are employing you. It will be important to appreciate your employer’s attitude, whether they will be angry or accepting of your view. This will help you decide how open you can be about sharing the creation perspective. Here are some other suggestions.
If you have discovered questions that scientists are still investigating, you could mention this. E.g. “There are lots of mysteries associated with this tourist attraction, lots of as-yet unanswered questions. Scientists are still working on them.” And you could drop one or two into your commentary as you go through. This would create interest for your audience and make the point (without saying it directly) that there are different views among scientists about the attraction.
With a public commercial audience, it would not be a good idea to criticise evolution/millions of years and push creationist views. Envisage your role like that of a news reporter where you present the information. You can include some creationist ideas but you do not openly advocate a particular position. In that way you will come across as being objective, and that will remove any basis for a complaint against you. This article “How do I do my assignment about evolution?” discusses this issue in more detail under the heading “Don’t overtly argue the creationist position.”
When you are describing how your tourist attraction formed, try to do it without mentioning any dates. Just describe the processes. E.g. “First, huge sediment formations were deposited over this whole area covering many hundreds of kilometres across the landscape and kilometres thick. Then the whole area was disturbed and folded. In fact, you can see the folds in this particular tourist attraction—look over there. Then the whole landscape was eroded away. Kilometres of sediment were removed and carried out of the area—you can see this over there.” This is just an example of the sort of narrative that you can develop. It is purely for illustration of how to do it. As they listen to you and look at what you are describing, the processes will usually be obvious to people.
You can add interest by appealing to the imagination. For example, with volcanic deposits you can ask them to imagine fiery clouds of smoke and ash blasting high into the sky, or wide rivers of lava flowing across the land like water but glowing red. Or if you are talking about a granite pluton you can ask your group to imagine they are deep beneath the surface of the earth with kilometres of rock above them. You could get them to imagine a vast underground sea of magma (liquid lava) so hot that it glows red in the dark.
If you are questioned as to when these events happened, you can reply using the geological terms such as Devonian, Pliocene, etc. Creationists are not too averse to use these terms without the dates. However, that might be complicated for your audience. If you are pressed on the dates you can say, “The generally accepted date for the limestone is xxx million years, etc. However, as you would appreciate, that is based on assumptions about the past. There are some geologists who use different assumptions and quote different ages.” You will need wisdom in handling this.
It is important that you do not come across as proselytising but as presenting information that will be interesting and useful for your audience. Also, it is important not to get into any arguments. You can just say, “My aim is to present a range of information about this tourist site. It is a complicated system and scientist are still working on many puzzling questions about it.”
So, these are a few suggestions. You will need wisdom in the way you do this, but the Lord has promised to provide that (James 1:5). Also, you will discover your own distinctive way of handling it, which will be great. I’m sure it will be a very enjoyable and fruitful journey for you.
All the best,
Dr Tasman Walker
Scientist, Writer, Speaker