Are you excited by this news? Are you appalled by this news? Are you angered by this news? Are you totally confused by this news because what’s “Answers in Genesis”?
Whatever your reason for clicking through to my blog, welcome. I hope you find my posts on this organization and the linked resources helpful and informative as you prepare for the arrival of Ken Ham and his Fantastic Ark in the Great White North.
Whether you are a churchgoing Christian like me, an atheist, agnostic, or come from an other faith tradition, you should become familiar with Answers in Genesis and the possible implications for its official arrival in Canada.
What is Answers in Genesis and Why Should You Care?
If you visit www.answersingenesis.org (I encourage you to visit their website and dig deep), they offer this description of their organization:
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to enabling Christians to defend their faith and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus particularly on providing answers to questions surrounding the book of Genesis, as it is the most attacked book of the Bible. We also desire to train others to develop a biblical worldview, and seek to expose the bankruptcy of evolutionary ideas, and its bedfellow, a “millions of years old” earth (and even older universe).
AiG teaches that “facts” don’t speak for themselves, but must be interpreted. That is, there aren’t separate sets of “evidence” for evolution and creation — we all deal with the same evidence (we all live on the same earth, have the same fossils, observe the same animals, etc.). The difference lies in how we interpret what we study. The Bible — the “history book of the universe” — provides a reliable, eye-witness account of the beginning of all things, and can be trusted to tell the truth in all areas it touches on. Therefore, we are able to use it to help us make sense of this present world. When properly understood, the “evidence” confirms the biblical account.
In other words, the primary purpose of Answers in Genesis is to promote Young Earth Creationism (YEC). Ken Ham and his newly appointed Canadian representative, Calvin Smith, believe the universe to be only 7,000 years only. This belief lies at the very heart and foundation of their so-called “biblical worldview.” For this organization and those indoctrinated by this organization, reading Genesis as an “eyewitness” and therefore “scientifically reliable” is as much a credal dogma as the traditional affirmations of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus have been for the majority of the world’s Christians. Indeed, as I have suggested in other posts and as some of Answers in Genesis own materials state failure to interpret Genesis 1-3 as an “eyewitness account” of the origins of the universe and as the lens through which we ought to interpret scientific evidence is to call the Creator a liar and is tantamount to rejecting Jesus Christ and his gospel.
As I have argued elsewhere on this blog and my friend Joel Anderson has argued in his book The Heresy of Ham, traditional Christian faith has never required belief in a young earth, the rejection of the natural sciences, nor even a “literal” reading of Genesis. (I must place literal in quotes here as well because what modern YECs like Ham assert to be a literal or plain reading of the text involves a great deal of imaginative interpolation and creative reading into the text.)
Why Should You Care?
I’ll confess that is precisely what I thought a few years ago when I first heard about this organization and their (now completed) plan to build a full scale Noah’s Ark in Kentucky. I knew some Christians who believed the earth was only a few thousand years old. No big deal, I thought. Some people believe in Bigfoot. In high-school, I believed in alien abductions and some Christians think the earth is young. It doesn’t affect their day to day life. It seemed a marginal issue and, at the time, less pressing than whether one should sing hymns or choruses in church and how many of each.
Nevertheless, you should be concerned because Answers in Genesis are very good at what they do. They are an effective propaganda machine and they are coming into your neighbourhood. I have already indicated that I view their singular emphasis on a particular interpretation of Genesis 1 as heretical. Yet, I will go one step further and say that if Ken Ham had built a compound instead of an Ark the cult-like nature of the organization might be more obvious.
Ham and those who follow him see themselves as at war with “secular culture” and see themselves as the defenders of God and “biblical culture.” As children of modern fundamentalism (and the original Fundamentalists had too little to say against evolution and in defence of a young earth for Ken Ham), their worldview is formed in reaction to what they perceive as the threat of modernism and the theory of evolution is the primary threat to the Christian faith (as they see it) and the source of changing cultural values. Like Donald Trump, Ken Ham plays on those underlying and, perhaps, unspoken fears that many people face all the time in a changing world and lends legitimacy to those fears by placing them within a grand us against them narrative. The true and trusting children of God, the defenders of the God and his Word, are pitted against Satan and his insidious teaching that human beings are nothing more than animals and cosmic accidents.
Notice what happened there, Answers in Genesis conflates atheistic materialism or modern naturalism with the scientific theory of evolution. Moreover, in their propaganda, these are really the only two options. There is no room for debate. If you are a Christian and accept the findings that the earth is millions of years old, that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago long before human beings arrived on the scene, and that the universe is billions of years older, then you are already a “compromised Christian” and if you press the issue, you will be labelled as I and others have “the voice of the Serpent (aka Satan)”.
Why Should Non-Christians Care?
To that I will say, look to the United States. Although Ken Ham is no fan of Donald Trump, I suspect that a poll would reveal a strong correlation between Trump’s base and those who would praise Ken Ham for being a brave defender of the Word of God and at least be open to the idea of a young earth. Climate Change denial, for instance, is part and parcel of the rejection of the teachings of “secular scientists” that Answers in Genesis promotes. An imagined era in the past when “Christian values” reigned and everyone had two cars and retirement plan is also in the background of Ken Ham’s culture war model.
As the teachings of Ken Ham permeate into Canadian culture and conversation, the divisions that are already there will be amplified. For what once was a fringe issue and a marginal question will be transmuted into a question about the eternal destiny of individual souls and the ultimate fate of the world.
What Can You Do?
The best way for Christians to prepare themselves for the Answers in Genesis propaganda campaign is to know the history of Christianity and to learn how to read the Christian Scriptures well. Elsewhere on my blog, I have indicated many resources with links so that you can follow up and educate yourself. Indeed, isn’t this something Christians should strive to do anyway with a text that they claim to hold as authoritative. Answers in Genesis takes advantage of ignorance. They prey upon people’s ignorance of the Bible and their inability to interpret it well. They prey upon people’s ignorance with respect to the sciences especially evolutionary theory, geology, and astrophysics. So, now is the time to pursue that interest.
Non-Christians are likely to be less susceptible to the teachings of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis but if you engage with YECs on social media remember that aggressive, angry, attacks feed into their narrative. Keeping a level head and taking the higher ground may be more persuasive to spectators than that biting barb or insult.
In the coming weeks, I intend to write more posts and find out what I can about Calvin Smith and where Answers in Genesis will be headquartered. In the meantime, browse my blog for my past posts on Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, check out Joel Anderson’s blog for the same reason, for a scientific perspective see Joel Duff’s blog and finally check out Biologos to engage with Christians who do not see a conflict between evolution and Genesis when read in light of its historical and literary context.
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