Answers in Genesis
|Answers in Genesis|
|Type||Christian apologetics ministry|
|Purpose/focus||Young Earth creationism, Christian apologetics,
|Headquarters||Hebron, Kentucky, USA|
Answers in Genesis (AiG) is a non-profit Christian apologetics ministry with a particular focus on supporting young Earth creationism and in doing so challenges the mainstream scientific consensus on the matter and reinterprets scientific evidence in favor of a young earth. It also advocates a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. The organization has offices in the United Kingdom and the United States. It had offices in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, but in 2006 these seceded to form Creation Ministries International.
- 1 History
- 2 Views on science
- 3 Morality and social issues
- 4 Creation Museum
- 5 Ark Encounter
- 6 Criticism
- 7 Controversies
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Answers in Genesis resulted from the merging of two Australian creationist organizations in 1980. One was founded in the late 1970s by John Mackay, Ken Ham, and others as Creation Science Educational Media Services. Its founders believed that the established Christian church's teaching of the Bible was being compromised. The group merged with Carl Wieland's Creation Science Association in 1980, becoming the Creation Science Foundation (CSF) that later became Answers in Genesis.
In 1987, Ken Ham was seconded by CSF to work for the Institute for Creation Research in the United States, then in 1994 left ICR to found Answers In Genesis-USA. Later that year, CSF in Australia and other countries changed their names to Answers In Genesis so that all the sister organizations would share the same identity.
Due to a "miscommunication, understanding regarding document submittals back in August of 2002," according to then-CEO Bill Wise, Answers in Genesis-US "did not meet all of the Better Business Bureau's accountability standards" (emphasis in original) for 2003. Answers in Genesis-US has now been listed as meeting each of the Better Business Bureau's 20 standards for charitable accountability.
Following turmoil in 2005, by February 2006 Answers in Genesis-USA and the UK office withdrew from the AiG family, retaining the brand name and the Web site. The Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and South African branches rebranded themselves as Creation Ministries International (CMI). After some of AiG's comments in late 2006, Answers in Genesis became involved in a legal dispute with CMI. CMI has accused AiG-USA of damaging and publicly defaming their ministry. In 2007, CMI filed suit against AiG-USA alleging a variety of wrongdoings.
CMI opened offices in the UK and US during 2006, initially as a distribution point for their periodicals, Creation magazine and the Journal of Creation In June 2006 Answers in Genesis launched Answers. as a replacement to CMI's Creation magazine. AiG-US and AiG-UK no longer distribute Creation or the Journal of Creation in the United States or the United Kingdom. Answers in Genesis started an on-line journal, Answers Research Journal, in 2008 which was widely criticized in the media and in scientific circles. Also in 2006, the National Religious Broadcasters awarded Answers in Genesis their Best Ministry Website award.
In May 2007, AiG launched the Creation Museum in the United States, a 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) museum designed to promote a young Earth creationist perspective, and criticism of Darwins's evolutionary theory. The museum received criticism from groups like National Center for Science Education and petitions of protest from the mainstream scientific community.
In December 2010, AiG announced plans to build a full-scale version of Noah’s ark as part of the Ark Encounter “themed attraction” in Northern Kentucky. The Ark Encounter will be built and managed by a for-profit corporation called Ark Encounter, LLC, at a total cost of $150 million. Currently, the attraction is set to open in the spring of 2016.
Financing and fundraising has been an important part of the ministry. Its US revenue in 2005 was $13.7M. According to Charity Navigator, in FYE 2006, Answers in Genesis had $13,675,653 in total revenue and $12,257,713 in expenses. In 2006, Answers in Genesis was also listed by Ministry Watch, an independent organization which reviews Christian ministries for transparency and financial accountability among other things, as one of their Shining Lights "top thirty" exemplary ministries.
AiG employs a staff of Christian evangelicals, two of whom have doctorates from secular universities, including AiG's science director Georgia Purdom in genetics (Ohio State University, 1999), and David Menton in biology (Brown University, 1966).[not in citation given] AiG previously employed Jason Lisle, who earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics,. Lisle left AiG in 2012 to join the Institute for Creation Research as the ICR's New Director of Research.
Views on science
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Answers in Genesis rejects modern scientific consensus on archeology, cosmology, geology, linguistics, paleontology and evolutionary biology in favor of a worldview which sees the universe, the Earth and life originating about 6,000 years ago. AiG claims their views of origins, based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, define what should be considered good science. They consider it positive that the intelligent design movement has produced resources supporting the biblical creationist viewpoint, but are critical of intelligent design for failing to mention the Christian God and the age of the Earth.
The scientific community considers young Earth creationism to be pseudoscience which "shares none of the essential characteristics of scientific theorizing." Consequently, scientific and scholarly organizations, including United States National Academy of Sciences, the Paleontological Society, Geological Society of America, Australian Academy of Science, and the Royal Society of Canada have issued statements against the teaching of young Earth creationism.
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.
Since their methodology rejects naturalistic scientific explanations of the origin of the universe in favor of the supernatural, creation science is considered to be a religion by the National Academy of Sciences.
Cosmological views and the distant starlight problem
Answers in Genesis believes that all stars and planetary bodies, including the Earth, were created around 6,000 years ago. They reject most of the mainstream scientific thinking behind dominant theories of cosmology.
A young universe is challenged by the distant starlight problem, which presents the dilemma of how light from objects millions or billions of light years away could be observed in a young universe. Some creationists have attempted to answer this with explanations involving God creating light en route, or by claiming that the speed of light was faster in the past, an argument also referred to as c-decay. Answers in Genesis rejects both of these proposed solutions and tentatively prefers a model proposed by creationist physicist Russell Humphreys called "White Hole Cosmology". This creationist cosmology requires that the Milky Way lie near the center of the universe, a suggestion which AiG believes is supported by claims of quantized redshifts.[unreliable source?] Creationists Hugh Ross and Samuel R. Conner have rejected Humphreys' model on scientific grounds.
The idea of the Milky Way existing near the center of the universe is similar to modern geocentrism, but AiG has intentionally distanced themselves from claims that the planet Earth is the exact center of the universe. AiG believes that the creationists' distant starlight problem is similar to the historically significant "horizon problem" of the Big Bang theory. While the general consensus of cosmologists is that the horizon problem is solved by inflationary theory as a model for the universe, there is no creationist consensus on the solution to the distant starlight problem.
Origin of life and evolution
Answers in Genesis’ position on the separation of evolution from abiogenesis is that the two processes must be “differentiated in technical resources” but that they are “connected in philosophical assumptions and are not entirely separate as some evolutionists claim.” In science, abiogenesis is an independent hypothesis from evolutionary theory, which takes it as axiomatic that self-replicating life existed in the distant past, whatever its origin. Answers in Genesis include in their critique of evolution the claim that a naturalistic origin of life is virtually impossible, where life is defined as the first cell. They refer to the idea of spontaneous generation of cells being all but abandoned after Louis Pasteur's work, and conflate it with abiogenesis. They calculate the probability of a cell spontaneously coming into existence as less than 1 in 101057800, similar to estimates of some other creationists, such as Michael Denton, and believe this requires a better explanation than what they call "mere chance". As is common, they cite a calculation by astrophysicist Fred Hoyle. Critics assert these calculations and claims are based on a number of errors, calculating on the basis of "mere chance" which is not part of the relevant theory, misunderstanding what probability calculations mean, underestimating the possibilities and inevitably failing to produce a meaningful calculation.
Answers in Genesis believe that evolution by natural selection or genetic drift can only cause variability by reducing the genetic information or shifting existing information around. Answers in Genesis has written a number of articles about natural selection. They state that "...It cannot be stressed enough that what natural selection actually does is get rid of information.", citing an example of natural selection removing genes for short fur in cold climates. Biologists hold that mechanisms such as gene duplication and polyploidy provide new information and that duplicate genes can mutate rapidly, which may change their function. Answers in Genesis denies that copying genes provides new, usable information, arguing that such duplicated genetic information is merely an additional copy of the original information.
Novel adaptations corresponding to what Answers in Genesis creationists would claim necessarily require an "increase in information" appearing in an organism's genome have been described by scientists, one example being nylon-eating bacteria that evolved a new enzyme to digest nylon, a polymer that wasn't invented until 1935. Scientists repeated these results in the laboratory when they forced a strain of Pseudomonas to evolve nylon-digesting enzymes by leaving them in an environment which contained no nutrients other than the man-made by-products of nylon.
AiG believes evolutionary theory "will inevitably lead to a magnification of the effects of sin," such as is the cause of social problems including abortion and racism. The organization has accused Hollywood of using "subtle tactics" to slip in "evolutionary content". Movies and television programs they have criticized for doing this include The Munsters, Lilo & Stitch, Bugs Bunny cartoons, Fantasia, and Finding Nemo.
Answers in Genesis does not support laws or school board standards that would force the teaching of creationism in public schools. It is their position that forcing a teacher to present the idea of creation will only result in it being distorted by those who don't believe in it. Instead of trying to change how evolution is taught in the public schools in what former Answers in Genesis CEO Carl Wieland calls "top-down attempts" by "battering away at the education system, or the politicians, or the media", he would prefer to see influence driven by the "changing the hearts and minds of people within ‘God’s army’, the Church". AiG is opposed to what they consider censorship of educators who want to teach evidence they consider contradictory to the theory of evolution or why there is controversy regarding this subject. They also want Christian colleges to expand the teaching of creationism.
Abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia and death penalty
"Answers in Genesis" describes themselves as "pro-life", being strongly opposed to the legalization of abortion because they regard individual life as beginning at fertilization. Thus they argue that the circumstances of the fertilization are irrelevant to its status as a human life which should be protected, so oppose abortion for rape and any other case. They are also strongly opposed to euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research, but support somatic/adult stem cell research which does not require the destruction of fetuses. AiG supports the death penalty.
In claiming that homosexuality is a sin, Answers in Genesis has cited writings by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:26-27 and 1Corinthians 6:9 as well as the Old Testament Law given to Israel which called for the punishment by death for those who commit homosexual acts in Leviticus 20:13. Answers in Genesis believes that the punishments described in the Old Testament, such as Leviticus 20:13, were only valid under Old Testament law and served at that time to demonstrate what a serious departure these sins were from God's design. AiG "reject the implication that we are proposing any sort of ill-treatment of homosexuals, or rejection of the sinner, as opposed to the sin."[broken citation]
Evolution and race
AiG states that belief in evolutionary theory contributed to eugenics and racial theories which supported the policies of Nazi Germany in its prosecution of the Holocaust. AiG also claim Joseph Stalin's reading of Darwin influenced his brutal leadership of the Soviet Union. However, according to Robert Conquest, there is a consensus among historians that the later Soviet claim that Stalin read On the Origin of Species is not true as the story fails on "several obvious" accounts.
In dealing with Christendom's own violent history, AiG asserts that anyone using the Bible to justify atrocities (such as during the Crusades, the colonization of the New World, pogroms, the burning of witches, the Wars of Religion etc.) are "completely contrary to the teachings of Christ".
AiG's Creation Museum is a controversial museum displaying a young Earth and has received much criticism from the scientific and religious communities. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Answers in Genesis in the United States started planning and constructing a Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, near the Greater Cincinnati International Airport. According to Ham, "One of the main reasons we moved there was because we are within one hour's flight of 69 per cent of America's population."
Amongst its various displays and exhibits, the museum includes life-size animatronic (animated and motion-sensitive) dinosaurs, large movie screens showing a young-Earth history of the world, and a planetarium depicting creationist cosmologies and creationist interpretations of quantum physics. Model dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden are also depicted, as well as dioramas depicting humans and dinosaurs co-existing peacefully. A. A. Gill reported on his visit, "This place doesn't just take on evolution — it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology."
The Museum opened May 27, 2007 at a cost of $27 million raised entirely by private donations. The museum displays were created by Patrick Marsh, known for work on Universal Studios attractions for King Kong and Jaws.
In 2012, it was reported that the "public fascination" with the Creation Museum was "fading." In November 2012, the AiG reported that attendance for the year ended June 30 came to 254,074, which was a 10 percent drop from the previous year and is the museum’s "fourth straight year of declining attendance and its lowest annual attendance yet."
In December 2010, Answers in Genesis announced a project to build an 'Ark Encounter' theme park around a full-scale interpretation of Noah's Ark, at a proposed site in Grant County, Kentucky. Steve Beshear, the governor of Kentucky, stated that he was in favour of tax incentives for the project, and investors submitted an application for sales tax reimbursements under the state's new tourism development initiative.
Beshear's announcement of potential incentives for the park cited a feasibility study predicting 1.6 million visitors in the first year. However, it was later revealed that neither Beshear, nor state officials, had seen the Ark Encounter, LLC-commissioned study. Following policy, the Tourism Development and Finance Authority commissioned its own study that was paid for by Ark Encounter LLC. Consultant Rob Hunden, of Hunden Strategic Partners, said the project is expected to draw nearly 1.4 million visitors a year, and may require the state to widen the Interstate 75 interchange at Williamstown at an additional cost to the state of about $11 million.
In May 2011, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority voted unanimously to grant sales tax rebates of up to 25 percent of project capital costs over a 10-year period up to $43.1 million for the $172 million project that's otherwise being financed by a group of private investors. Ark Encounter will not receive any money up front, but will get a rebate of the sales tax collected after the first year and every year after that for ten years. Groundbreaking for the $172 million Ark Encounter project is expected in August, 2011, at the Grant County site because of approval for tax rebates.
Organizations concerned with the separation of church and state are divided on the question of subsidies for the project. The Americans United for Separation of Church and State state that "[t]he government should not be giving tax incentives for religious projects. Religion should be supported by voluntary donations, not the government." The American Civil Liberties Union state "[c]ourts have found that giving such tax exemptions on a nondiscriminatory basis does not violate the establishment clause, even when the tax exemption goes to a religious purpose".
In an editorial in late December 2010 The Courier-Journal questioned the potential cost to the state government of the project, including highway upgrades and the likelihood that increases to hospitality industry infrastructure would seek further subsidies.
Groundbreaking was supposed to start in 2011, but in 2012 after two previous push backs, it was announced construction would start in 2014. AiG cited fundraising problems and declining interest in the Creation Museum as reasons for the delay.
The scientific community considers creation science to be pseudoscience which "shares none of the essential characteristics of scientific theorizing." Consequently, scientific and scholarly organizations, including United States National Academy of Sciences, the Paleontological Society, Geological Society of America, Australian Academy of Science, and the Royal Society of Canada have issued statements against the teaching of creationism. As a result, the National Center for Science Education, a science advocacy group, criticize AiG's promotion of non-science. In direct response to AiG, No Answers in Genesis is a website maintained by members of the Australian Skeptics and retired civil servant John Stear for the purpose of rebutting claims made by AiG. In June 2005, AiG-Australia staff accepted an invitation for an online debate with representatives from the Australian Skeptics in Margo Kingston's section of the Sydney Morning Herald. Also the website talk.origins includes scientific responses to claims made by AiG's authors.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported, "Cincinnati Zoo and the Creation Museum launched a joint promotional deal last week to draw attention to their holiday attractions." But following an outcry of criticism, the zoo ended the relationship after two days.
Ham's beliefs and tactics have also been criticized by other creationists. Answers in Creation, an Old Earth creationist website, has called Ham willfully ignorant of evidence for an old Earth and said he "deliberately misleads" his audiences on matters of both science and theology. Astronomer Hugh Ross's organization Reasons To Believe, a progressive creationist organization, is a critic of Answers in Genesis. Ross has publicly debated Ham on the age of the Earth and the compatibility of an old Earth with the Bible, as well as other AiG staff. Young Earth creationist Kent Hovind criticized AiG after the group called his claims "fraudulent." Hovind removed a link to AiG from his website and said AiG was "misguided" for criticizing other creationists, including Hovind's alleged "cure for cancer." Hovind also claims they "overreacted" and "misunderstood" issues and Hovind criticized AiG for claiming he wrote something that he did not.
Richard Dawkins interview
In 1998, Answers in Genesis filmed an interview with Richard Dawkins, a prominent evolutionary biologist at Oxford University. Segments of the interview were included in From a Frog to a Prince, a video distributed by Answers in Genesis, and posted on their web page. AiG asserts the video shows Dawkins nonplussed and pausing for 11 seconds when asked by the interviewer to "name one example of an evolutionary process which increases the information content of the genome". The video then shows Dawkins apparently giving a long, convoluted answer that fails to answer the question.
This is discussed in Chapter two, Essay three of A Devil's Chaplain, a collection of selected essays by Dawkins, as follows:
In September 1997, I allowed an Australian film crew into my house in Oxford without realizing that their purpose was creationist propaganda. In the course of a suspiciously amateurish interview, they issued a truculent challenge to me to ‘give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome’. It is the kind of question only a creationist would ask in that way, and it was the point I tumbled to the fact that I been duped into granting an interview to creationists – a thing I normally don’t do, for good reasons. In my anger I refused to discuss the question further, and told them to stop the camera. However, I eventually withdrew my peremptory termination of the interview, because they pleaded with me that they had come all the way from Australia specifically to interview me. Even if this was a considerable exaggeration, it seemed, on reflection, ungenerous to tear up the legal release form and throw them out. I therefore relented.
My generosity was rewarded in a fashion that anyone familiar with fundamentalist tactics might have predicted. When I eventually saw the film a year later, I found that it had been edited to give the false impression that I was incapable of answering the question about information content. In fairness, this may not have been quite as intentionally deceitful as it sounds. You have to understand that these people really believe their question cannot be answered!
The Australian Skeptics claim the film was carefully edited to give the false appearance that Dawkins was unable to adequately answer the question and that the segment that shows him pausing for 11 seconds was actually film of him considering whether to expel the interviewer from the room (for not revealing her creationist sympathies at the outset). Dawkins reported to the Australian Skeptics that the interviewer shown in the finished film was not the same person as the person who had originally asked the questions. Dawkins and Barry Williams also said that the question had been subsequently changed to make it look like Dawkins, who was answering the original question put to him, was unable to answer.
Gillian Brown, AiG producer of the segment, responded in the 1998 Prayer News article: Skeptics choke on Frog: Was Dawkins caught on the hop? Brown claimed Dawkins had been made aware of the interviewer's creationist sympathies. AiG also claim that the raw footage shows that Dawkins, after pausing for 11 seconds, asks that the recording company stop recording the video. On the AiG video, the question is asked by a person who was not present at the recording. According to Brown, this was not deceit, but "Because my question was off-camera and off-mike (though clearly audible on the tape), it could not be used in the finished production. That is why the presenter was recorded later, repeating my question as I had asked it."
Legal controversy with Creation Ministries International
On May 31, 2007, Creation Ministries International ("CMI") filed a lawsuit in Supreme Court of Queensland against Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis seeking damages and accusing him of "unbiblical/unethical/unlawful behaviour" in his dealings with the Australian organisation.
Prior to the split, the Australian group had been producing magazines, "Creation Magazine" and "Journal of Creation", which were then distributed within other countries by local groups. The Australian group had no access to the list of subscribers in the USA. AiG discontinued the distribution arrangement, and produced a new magazine of their own, called "Answers Magazine" and represented that to subscribers as a replacement. Creation Ministries International is claiming $252,000 (US) in damages for lost revenue by misleading and deceptive conduct in relating to lost subscriptions. The case also concerns use of the trademark "Answers in Genesis" within Australia, and misuse by Ken Ham of his position as a director for the Australian group to cause them detriment.
In comments to news reporters, Ken Ham dismisses CMI's accusations as "totally preposterous and untrue". Creation Ministries has made a large collection of documents available detailing their side of the case. An editorial analysis of the situation, including reference to estranged co-founder John Mackay's allegations in 1986 of necrophilia and witchcraft against Ken Ham's personal secretary is offered in an account in the Reports of the National Center for Science Education.
In February 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered Australian-based Creation Ministries International into arbitration with Answers in Genesis over copyrights and control of affiliates in other countries (Answers in Genesis had asked for arbitration).
In April 2009 the ministries reached a settlement and ended their dispute.
In the spring of 2009, Answers in Genesis posted a billboard in Texas with a young boy aiming a gun towards the camera with the words "If God doesn't matter to him, do you?". The same image was used in a TV ad. AiG's justification for using this form of advertisement is concern over the rise of dramatic school massacres in America and around the world, and specifically one in Finland where the killer posted a video mentioning putting "natural selection back on track", an appeal to Social Darwinism (the rhetorical appeal to phrases such as "natural selection", "the struggle for existence" or "the survival of the fittest", in furtherance of a social ideology) AiG contends that this indicates that school massacres are in part created by the teaching of evolution in public schools.
In March 2011, the Board of Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc. (a Young Earth Christian group) voted to "disinvite" Ken Ham and AiG from "all future conventions" due to Ham's words about other Christians making "unnecessary, ungodly, and mean-spirited statements that are divisive at best and defamatory at worst." In letter to Ham and AiG, the Board wrote, "We believe that what Ken has said and done is un-Christian and sinful." AiG responded: "It is sad that a speaker and ministry, which stand boldly and uncompromisingly on the authority of God’s Word, are eliminated from a homeschool convention."
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- Dispute settled
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- Answers In Creation Old-Earth creationist site allegedly demonstrating numerous errors in the work of Answers in Genesis
- No Answers in Genesis website A site explicitly critical of Answers in Genesis
- National Center for Science Education
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- "Fellow Christians Aggrieved by Business Practices of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis", Christian Faith and Reason May 27, 2007