Answers in Genesis
What Answers in Genesis?
Answers in Genesis (AiG) is a non-profit Christian apologetics ministry with a particular focus on supporting young Earth creationism and a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. 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 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.
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 2014.
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). 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
Answers in Genesis rejects modern scientific consensus on 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.
Answers in Genesis emphasizes a presuppositional rather than an evidentialist approach to apologetics. The "About Us" section of their web pages states:
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. 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 proposes 'baraminology' to classify life forms based on the description in Genesis 1 to reproduce “after their kind”.
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.
Morality and social issues
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.
"Answers in Genesis" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (with minor edits), under GFDL.