EARTH-BASED EDUCATION IN THE CATHEDRAL OF TIME: STRATEGIES LEARNED WHILE WORKING AS A GEOLOGIC INTERPRETER IN THE GRAND CANYON
All geologic interpreters working with the public can develop diplomatic skills in dealing with the various worldviews that are often encountered on these multi-day, adventure-oriented trips. A seasoned geoscience interpreter can often anticipate where resistance to basic geologic concepts might be found – for example from church groups or participants from the Deep South. When recognized, one strategy is to bring up the perceived controversy in advance. I often begin with, “Nothing I am about the share with you is meant to challenge your spiritual or religious beliefs.” This serves the purpose of putting people at ease with the topic of geology and is an invitation to listen. I often recount the first Renaissance-era scientists who, as Bible-believing Christians, sought to use their newfound science in the search for evidence of Noah’s flood. By interjecting names and concepts that YEC’s are familiar with, a further relationship is established. If discussion follows, I might ask if the original intent or higher purpose of the Bible is to function as an earth science textbook (No!). I have found this approach to be quite useful with those who are on the fence but less advantageous with committed YEC’s.
Finally, I impart a belief that loftier geologic and theologic ideas share, at their deepest core, a common purpose. That is, they mutually serve to show how humanity is subordinate to other, more powerful concepts. Most Western religions endeavor to show how humans are acquiescent to a supreme creator, while geology in much the same way shows how the vast span of earth history dwarfs human existence. Both these belief systems show humanity as secondary.