Bring on the hecklers?
Why should CMI be grateful for objectors who heckle at our public presentations on creation? Because of the effect it can have on witnesses, as the letter from our second correspondent, Shane R. (Australia), testifies.
But first, this piece of written ‘heckling’ arrived from Canadian correspondent William C., in response to our earlier published viewpoint re ‘global warming’. William included two website links which we have deleted as per feedback rules; one merely explained carbon dating, the other presented a summary of claims regarding global warming from National Geographic. He continued:
CMI’s Dr Don Batten’s responses are interspersed throughout William’s email below:
Actually, as far as the modern era in the educated West is concerned, the idea that the earth is old is a new idea, invented/popularized in the last 200 years. The idea of it being billions of years old only became widely accepted in the 20th Century. Before the mid-1800s, most people believed the earth was thousands of years old. See for example, how the first edition of Encyclopedia Britannica accepted a young earth. There were pagan ideas of vast eons of time that go back a long way, but that is another matter not related to scientific evidence (see The long story of long ages). Also, evolutionists claim the earth is 4.6 billion years old, not six billion years.
This shows that you have not done much research on this matter, on our website or even on secular websites. Carbon dating does not prove the earth is billions of years old because it can only be used to date items that are thousands of years old. The reason for this is that carbon-14 decays so quickly (half-life of 5730 years presently) that if something were just 100,000 years old, it could not be dated using carbon-14 dating (there would not be any carbon-14 left in the sample). Carbon dating is good evidence against millions and billions of years, because if you collect any coal, even that which is supposedly hundreds of millions of years old, you can get it carbon dated and it will therefore be ‘dated’ at thousands of years. Even diamonds that are supposedly billions of years old have been consistently carbon dated as thousands of years old. So, contrary to your understanding, carbon dating is actually evidence against the belief in an old earth.
Note however, that no method applied in the present can prove the earth is billions of years old and nor can any technique prove it is thousands of years old. That is because all such methods involve making assumptions about what happened in the past. How do believers in long ages (billions of years) account for the carbon dating results that give thousands of years? They invent ad hoc hypotheses to try to explain the addition of the carbon-14 recently, a long time after the fossil formed (these hypotheses don’t work, but that’s another story). See The dating game. For a review of some significant research on radioisotope dating that turns the “billions of years” on its head, see Radiometric dating and old ages in disarray.
Actually, the Bible is the only eye-witness account of Creation and the history immediately following, so it is good evidence for an age of the earth of thousands of years. See Real history: the timeline of the Bible.
I assume you mean someone who lived 400 years ago who believed the world was flat. Actually, you would have trouble finding such a person 400 years ago, because it is a myth that literate people generally believed that the world was flat in the past. The myth was invented by anti-Christians in the 1800s.
For stacks of evidence (data) that suggest the earth is much younger than billions of years, see Age of the earth: 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe.
I hope this helps answer your questions.
Hecklers did unintended good
Just before we present an encouraging letter from Australian correspondent Shane R. about the impact of a public presentation by Dr Carl Wieland nearly 20 years ago, here are some associated comments from Carl to readers who have done, or are contemplating doing, public ‘creation evangelism’. (See, e.g. Street preacher says creation ‘is the issue’, ‘Curious Earth’—Taking creation evangelism to the streets and Volunteers proclaim creation at a major music festival.) Carl wrote:
“Anyone who witnesses publicly re the creation/evolution issue can be encouraged by this letter from Shane, I believe, because it is only nearly 20 years later that I got to find out about this impact on a life. It happens from time to time just like that, i.e. that one only gets told many years after the event. So, too, all you who minister faithfully can be sure that you will only occasionally get to hear of the impact on lives that you make, but you are making them, i.e. the fruit is happening, whether you hear of it or not.
“Note, though, it is not uncommon to hear that public creation presentations when hecklers are active generate life-changing impact in at least one person in the audience. One guy who became a medical missionary was wavering on Genesis and the Bible’s authority and had had a lot of correspondence with me on that; he came to a creation seminar I did in Melbourne many years ago, heckled by attending Skeptics members. He came up to me on that occasion with tears in his eyes, in effect repenting of all compromise, and has stayed solid ever since”.
Editor’s note: Carl sent the above comments as an encouragement to his fellow speakers, but expressed extreme reluctance about the publication of this letter, being effusive in its praise for him. But CMI’s other editors pressed for it to be published as an encouragement to everyone who faces hecklers in their witness to calmly and patiently stand for the truth of God’s Word.
Here’s Shane’s letter:
Around 19 years ago you spoke at a lunch-time lecture with Q&A at [an Australian] University.1 I was in the crowd, near the back, arriving late from a lecture across-campus.
You sat on a chair, with a cane2 under one hand, while most of the fairly packed crowd stood around you.
You spoke calmly and with authority about the Bible’s account of history and the evidence for its truthfulness.
You waited patiently each time a particular Physicist heckled your presentation, then continued.
The incredible onslaught of accusations that same person leveled at you when you asked if anyone had a question was distressing, revealing much about the heart of that man.
(I’m pretty sure I remember him being so worked up that he was actually spitting as he spoke!)
Your respectful and measured response, especially over deep-time dating methods, impressed me immensely as I experienced God’s Spirit responding with joy to your faithful witness.
I was then about 28, a mature-aged undergrad engineering student, a true believer and in the Spirit, but very lacking in Christian-worldview-based knowledge. To that moment I had never experienced the witness of a Christian who had a solid understanding of the Bible as God’s plainly revealed truth.
My Christian experience to that time had been filled with compromisers and controversy-avoiders.
No one really spoke in defense of God’s Word publically or in personal witness to its truth.
Then along came a gentle man, who spoke so kindly, even when spoken to so rudely, yet without compromise and with no avoiding of the BIG issues. I was changed forever that day.
God did a work in my life all over again through your example.
I believed for the first time that I could genuinely give a reasoned account for the hope I had in Christ Jesus.
I thank God for you often Carl.
Sincerely in Christ,
Andrew H. from Australia:
I suspect that I will not be the only one to respond in agreement with Shane R on Carl’s God-given humility and commitment to the Truth, for the Lord made Himself known to me through Carl in a similar way, even longer ago than to Shane (before Carl’s accident). The development of CMI is entirely the Lord's work, but without God-given men, willing and committed, none if it would have occurred. Sometimes God’s direction in our lives seems off the wall, but He gives us so much to praise Him for.
Wildee R. from Philippines:
Thank you for presenting this article. It is a great encouragement. It only solidified my resolve. This time it won’t matter how many hecklers come if even only one bystander’s mind would be challenged and will have the opportunity to turn to the God who saves that is all that matters.
- Identification withheld for privacy and strategic reasons—Ed. Return to text.
- At that time Dr Carl Wieland required a walking stick, and had to sit during his presentations, a legacy of a horrific road accident—you can hear his testimony about it on his 2009 DVD presentation Walking Through Shadows. Return to text.