Issues with Answers in Genesis

When I say I have issues with Answers in Genesis (AiG), I’m not referring to their Young Earth Creation (YEC) interpretation of Genesis 1-11. My issues are with the considerable amount of time and effort they spend leveling false accusations against those who believe in Old Earth Creationism (OEC). AiG is the most widely followed YEC ministry, and unfortunately their divisive tactics have a significant impact on the Christian community, thus my focus on their ministry specifically. I’m not making the case for OEC or refuting YEC arguments on this post. Those arguments are handled elsewhere and there are plenty of good resources available.

*OEC and YEC throughout this post refer to Creation-ism and Creation-ist interchangeably*

I (like many OEC’s) have YEC friends. The vast majority of my friends are YEC. Fortunately this is not a point of division or conflict and we’re able to lock arms together to serve the Lord in ministry. We all understand we’re not differing on our interpretation of passages related to the deity of Christ, the resurrection, or other first tier issues, but rather a third tier issue. Most importantly we understand this is an issue of interpretation; not inerrancy. That’s a very important distinction worth repeating:

 

This is an issue of interpretation; not inerrancy.

 

I’m not sure how many different ways this message can be communicated by various OEC’s, yet AIG continues to falsely accuse OEC’s of undermining inerrancy as well as attacking the cross, the Word of Christ, and the person of Christ Himself. This is a textbook example of committing the Strawman Fallacy, which inevitably leads to ad hominem attacks.

Those are extremely serious accusations… and this is coming from brothers in Christ toward other brothers in Christ.

If you’re an avid watcher of TBN like I am (sarcasm font not available), you may have seen a recent roundtable discussion with Ray Comfort (YEC), Sean McDowell (OEC), Hugh Ross (OEC), Eric Hovind (YEC), John Bloom (OEC), and Ken Ham (YEC) discussing creation and evolution. One need only see the opening remarks of the discussion to quickly see the problem with the approach Ken Ham takes. He is not focused on coming together with other Christians to counter the secular worldview being forced upon us and our children. Rather, his sights are set squarely on his fellow brothers in Christ who do not agree with his interpretation of Genesis 1-11, accusing them of being compromisers and actual partakers of the secular worldview itself.

Everyone else on the panel opens up by standing together against the atheistic/Darwinistic worldview (though it eventually does turn into a YEC vs OEC debate – thanks Brother Ken). He opens up by stating his big issue is one of Biblical authority. A noble issue to be sure and one everyone on the panel would agree with, but his aim immediately focuses on the wrong target; other Christians. He accuses those who disagree with him of “allowing the culture to invade the Church” and quickly draws a direct comparison from those who attack the resurrection of Christ to those who question his YEC view. He accuses OEC’s of “unlocking the door to Biblical authority” and places the blame for “losing Biblical authority, losing the culture, and losing 2/3 of the young generation” squarely at their feet. Yet again, VERY serious charges!

and this is just in his opening remarks…

Elsewhere he has said:

“Christians who believe in an old earth (billions of years) need to come to grips with the real nature of the god of an old earth — it is not the loving God of the Bible.”

“The god of an old earth cannot therefore be the God of the Bible who is able to save us from sin and death.”

“There’s no doubt — the god of an old earth destroys the Gospel”

I wish I could say I was surprised by this, but sadly it’s par for the course. The common themes of compromise, undermining Biblical authority, forcing false interpretations, and many other untrue charges are thick in AiG articles, publications, curriculum, speeches, etc. Unfortunately this mindset overflows into many of the Christians who follow their ministry.

Even in this recent “clarifying” post by AIG (not Ken Ham directly), they claim many of the statements above are taken out of context.

“Most old-earth creationists either do not recognize this truth or have chosen to ignore the dichotomy their belief creates. Also, theistic evolutionists generally accept the big bang theory, which creates additional problems.”

AiG has a habit of lumping all OEC interpretations in with Theistic Evolution (TE) despite the fact this is clearly not the case. Ministries such as Reasons to Believe are very clear on their stance against Darwinian evolution and reject TE, yet AiG consistently goes after all shades of OEC with the ferocity of the Spanish Inquisition… except unlike the Spanish Inquisition, everyone expects the AiG Inquisition.

The author also claims adherents to an OEC view are in sin and need to be corrected by their YEC brothers:

“Consider the final words of the book of James. “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19–20). Of course, this must be handled with gentleness and respect. Paul wrote, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).”

Is that really what James and Paul had in mind in their epistles? Are OEC’s in need of being saved from a multitude of sins and death of the soul as James mentions here? One need only read Galatians 5 and the rest of 6 to see this is clearly not applicable for Paul’s admonition either. He continues…

“Our goal in pointing out the error of old-earth creationism is driven by a love for Christ’s church. We do not want to see them led into a serious error, and we desire to see our brothers and sisters remove the “high places” of old-earth beliefs. Still, we realize we are sinful and fallible. If our actions are ever motivated by our own pride instead of love for God and for fellow believers, then we would be in the wrong. If such a case arises, we hope someone would love us enough to respectfully point out these faults.”

I’m not judging the motives of AiG, but I can judge their clear statements which cause division in the body of Christ. While they claim it is possible for an OEC to be a true Christian, their actions and even their words clearly say otherwise. If their motive is indeed love for their brothers, I can say as an OEC I feel zero love from Ken Ham or AiG in their attempts to save my soul from destruction… and as we all know, feelings are important, especially mine. (I really do need a sarcasm font)

Continuing on:

“Think about this carefully—if we don’t correct fellow believers who are in error, then we don’t truly love them. No sane parents would fail to correct their own child who runs dangerously into the street, because they love the child and don’t want harm to come to him or her. Similarly, we do not want to see our brothers and sisters led astray by worldly teachings that have done so much to undermine people’s trust in Scripture.

What we are saying to old-earth Christians is that they need to cling to the biblical view of God and jettison the faulty views of God demanded by their old-earth views. They need to accept biblical authority and all that comes with it, including the Father who loved us so much He sent His Son to die for our sins—not His own carelessness or ineptitude.”

So OEC’s are being “led astray”, “undermining people’s trust in scripture”, “need to cling to the biblical view of God and jettison the faulty views of God”, and “need to accept biblical authority”? Really? Notice the intentional bridge from OEC to TE in that last statement., implying the OEC view undermines the Gospel.

I do actually agree with him on approaching a brother when one believes another brother is in error, which is my motive for this post. If I ever see an OEC making any of these kinds of claims against YEC’s, I will confront them in the same manner in which I am AiG in this post… probably moreso.

 

Again, I’m not offended by the YEC interpretation of Genesis 1-11. AiG is entitled to their interpretation and I thoroughly acknowledge there is zero conflict with one holding to YEC and also maintaining strict orthodoxy (including Biblical inerrancy). What I do take issue with, and hopefully more of my YEC brothers and sisters will as well, are the extremely divisive tactics used by Ken Ham and AIG against their brothers and sisters in Christ. Hold fast to a YEC interpretation, but can we please stop this business of implying OEC’s are out to destroy the Bible?

This is an issue of interpretation; not inerrancy.

Followers of Jesus Christ are on both sides of this fence, and our energies should not be spent slandering and attacking one another over our differing interpretations of Genesis 1-11. There will always be differences between YEC’s and OEC’s, but there doesn’t need to be division in the body of Christ over it.

For instance this past year I was greatly encouraged by Ligonier inviting Stephen Meyer to speak at their annual conference, the friendly panel discussion, and then this follow up article by Dr. Sproul. John Piper has also led by example, serving on a council of Elders with OEC and YEC represented.

I truly hope more YEC’s continue to turn from the divisive mindest of AiG, and most importantly my hope is that AiG will themselves turn from their consistent stance of attacking brothers so that we can band together, arm in arm, and fight the real enemy.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

DISCLAIMER: Blog entries made by individual authors reflect the views of the author and not necessarily the view of other CAA authors, or the official position of the group at large.
About Chad Miller

Chad Miller became a Christian in late 1997 and instantly gravitated toward apologetics, even though his conversion had little to do with apologetic arguments. He originally started with "in house" apologetics to properly determine what version of Christianity was true, and then moved into the area of classical apologetics later.

He's continuing to grow further in his knowledge and understanding this crucial area of ministry, and one day hopes to serve as a lay Pastor of Apologetics. Contact him via Twitter if you have any questions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissa.c.travis Melissa Cain Travis

    Great article, Chad. I’m encouraged that Henry Morris III, John Lennox, and Bill Dembski will all be at the National Apologetics Conference together this October.

  • Dr Roger Morris

    The main issue I have is the implied notion that if you are not an YEC, you a not a faithful Christian. I have decided not to engage with YEC on matters of science in much the same way as Richard Dawkins refuses to engage with “creationists” in general.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1625986217 Roger Morris

    As someone who embraces theistic evolution, let’s not just reserve niceties for OEC. I also believe in a creator God, but wonder if some form of guided evolution might have been God’s method. Your article seems to lump supporters of TE with Godless Darwinists, thus being guilty of similar sin to that which you attribute to AiG. Hopefully this is not just another case of kicking the next dog along the line.

    • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/author/cmiller/ Chad Miller

      Roger – I had a disclaimer in the article clarifying I do NOT believe TE’s are heretics. I had it at the end of the paragraph where I ended up putting the Monty Python reference… and as you can expect, the Spanish Inquisition won out. ;-)

      I apologize if you felt like this was dog piling on TE’s as that was surely not my intent. Obviously we have some disagreements on issues, but those can be discussed elsewhere. Thanks!

  • Karl Udy

    Having just watched the discussion the main issue also have if with Ken Ham insisting that those wh do not embrace YEC are abandoning fidelity to the Bible.

    One question that I don’t think ever got adequately made, or put to Ken Ham, was if we all have faulty reasoning, then why does he place such a high trust in his interpretation of the Scriptures against all others? Surely his reasoning is just as susceptible to the destructive power of sin as anyone else’s?

    In addition to that I found some of his tactics to be a bit below the belt. The three panelists who affirmed OEC all also acknowledged that it was an interpretation issue and that sincere Christians can, do and should be given freedom to disagree over this issue. Ken Ham does not reciprocate, which threatens the catholic nature of the church (look up the meaning of a heretic). He also quickly changed the topic by throwing a “What about …?” question, which meant that Hugh Ross did not finish his explanation of a point. To do something like this is either a sign of rudeness, or that you anticipate a point that you don’t want brought up.

    And finally I thought that Eric Hovind was way out of his depth on this panel. He went on about how we can’t trust evidence, ironically while holding a large Bible called ‘The Evidence Bible’ and didn’t seem to be able to contribute much more than being able to find the Bible passage that was being discussed (and the one time it was outside of Genesis he got it wrong!) And his last statement, which basically summed up as “Don’t think for yourself” is a cringing caricature of Christianity that many in the church have spent many years trying to dispel.

    • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/author/cmiller/ Chad Miller

      Karl, I actually had part of the blog dedicated to this argument:
      “One question that I don’t think ever got adequately made, or put to Ken
      Ham, was if we all have faulty reasoning, then why does he place such a
      high trust in his interpretation of the Scriptures against all others?
      Surely his reasoning is just as susceptible to the destructive power of
      sin as anyone else’s?”

      The only reason I didn’t include it was because it made it too long and more of a philosophical mistake that wasn’t completely on topic. However, you are 100% correct. The funny thing is this argument is used by YEC’s all the time. Just go to the CAA Facebook page on this blogpost thread and you can see it echoed there.

      • Karl Udy

        Fair enough, you’ve got to make editorial decisions in a blog post if it’s going to be any good, and the divisive nature of his approach is definitely an issue that needs to be discussed. The thing that I found surprising was that it wasn’t really put to Ken Ham during the discussion (but Hugh Ross did mention that “we all have our interpretations of Scripture and nature” in his closing remark.) I have a feeling from what I’ve seen though that Ken Ham would change topic if asked. I wonder what would happen if he was pressed in the same way he pressed Hugh Ross on some points? I guess things might get pretty ugly.

  • Shanan Johnson

    Great article Chad. This is a subject that I have been concerned about for sometime now. Recently during my theological studies at ORU I was introduced to the idea of studying Genesis from the perspective of messianic Jews. I found that they base the authority of the word of God firmly in Genesis. The refer to it in almost every teaching. They believe that Genesis is filled with God’s original intent for the earth and humanity therefore it must be closely inspected to be able to understand and rightly divide the rest of scripture. That said those who believe in Yeshua use parts of Genesis as a proof text for their belief. It’s something consider.

    • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/author/cmiller/ Chad Miller

      I think we may have a categorical error here, or maybe I’m not understanding what you’re saying.

      I don’t base the authority of the Word of God in Genesis, but I do believe the Word of God is completely authoritative and inerrant, which includes Genesis. My reasons for that are not circular though…

      Can you clarify what you’re saying here?

  • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/author/cmiller/ Chad Miller

    I’m going to be at that conference, so I’m very interested to see how Henry Morris presents his info since he’ll literally be surrounded by OEC’s. I agree though. It’s awesome that he would agree to come, and I can only assume the spirit will be friendly.

  • J_en_ai_marre

    Ken Ham does a disservice to christianity by the way he twists the facts and is deliberately misleading. What educated person can fail to be repelled by AIG articles such as the one on Ötzi the iceman: (http://www.answersingenesis.org/media/audio/answers-daily/volume-086/hi-tech-stone-aged-iceman).

    Ötzi was discovered frozen in the Alps on the border of Austria and Italy and extensive tests (by various scientific organisations) on his body and the equipment found with him show that he lived around 5,300 years ago. This is comfortably within the 6,000 years of human existence allowed by the Bible but uncomfortably nearly 1000 years before Noah’s flood which would have obliterated every trace of his existence.

    But Ken Ham thinks differently. Ken says that Ötzi lived only 3000 years ago without giving the evidence for this date and not mentioning the official scientific estimate.
    He goes on: “So how should christians view Ötzi ? Well he’s just another example that so-called stone-age men weren’t some kind of primitive early humans but were fully modern intelligent people. They lived after the flood which occurred about 4500 years ago and they used the materials around them. Yet again the Book of Genesis can shed a lot of light on such new discoveries. When you think about it, evolution has probably done more than anything in the past 100 years to undermine the christian faith….”

    Well the stone age lasted from about 2.5 million years ago to around 2.5 thousand years ago and the earliest users of stone tools were certainly primitive. However, Ötzi belonged to the transitional Copper Age and, as a member of the species homo sapiens, any scientist would concur that he was a “fully modern intelligent” person. So Ken is raising a strawman and trying to mislead people into thinking that Ötsi somehow confounds accepted science. So how should intelligent and educated Christians view Ken Ham? Is his date of 3000 years ago based on scientific analysis or has he just taken his presumed date of the flood and added 1500 years for good measure. Is he really just ignorant of what modern science says about the stone age or is he just being dishonest and misrepresenting it?

    • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/author/cmiller/ Chad Miller

      Good question. I’ll keep my opinion on that to myself… ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Leonardson/1643927885 John Leonardson

    Good choice. I believe the YEC camp needs to repent about their attitudes to their brothers. Until they do, I’m turned off.

    • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/author/cmiller/ Chad Miller

      As John and Paul said, it’s getting better all the time…

  • Peter Rufus

    Dear Chad,

    How, in your opinion, is an OEC perspective compatible with (or representative of) the origin of sin, the nature of sin, the consequences and penalty of sin, the atonement for sin (Old and New Testaments), and salvation? Of course, by ‘your opinion’ I mean your understanding of these matters from a Biblical perspective.

    Thanks, in advance.

    • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/author/cmiller/ Chad Miller

      Probably the exact same as yours, assuming you have an orthodox understanding of those issues. I believe in a literal Adam, a literal garden, and a literal fall. All of this is perfectly compatible with an OEC interpretation.

      Here’s an article by Hugh Ross that essentially lines up with where I am on this issue.
      http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201204/201204_070_Day_Age_Creation.cfm

      Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

      • Peter Rufus

        Thanks much for the reply, Chad. Appreciate your time and willingness to dialogue. I believe Richard Dawkins has asked a wonderfully poignant question that has significant bearing on the topic of OEC: “If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them without having himself tortured and executed in payment … ?”

        Why, indeed. And the answer holds the key to how we think (or ought not to think) about Genesis in light of an OEC theology which requires that physical death is a consequence of natural processes and not a consequence of sin.

        While Hugh Ross does touch on the topic of death and decay, I’m afraid he doesn’t do the subject any justice. And given that the issue of death is intrinsic to the Gospel, I’m disappointed at his rather superficial treatment.

        Here are a few thoughts to consider (and which Ross should answer).

        1. If the consequence of sin is only spiritual death, why did God stipulate that without the shedding of blood there is no atonement for sins (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22)? In other words, why does God require the real and physical death of a living being to make atonement for sins that only result in spiritual death? Is it not to make it amply clear that the penalty for sin is in fact, physical death?

        2. If the consequence of sin is only spiritual death, why does The Bible teach substitutionary atonement? (Lev 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18 and heaps others)

        The sacrificial animal dies IN PLACE OF the one making the sacrifice. Christ’s death was substitutionary too. Doesn’t this imply that while we are SUPPOSED TO DIE PHYSICALLY for our sins (not just spiritually), Christ came and died in our place?

        Why did Christ have to die physically for our sins if the death that our sin produces is purely spiritual? How would you answer Dawkins?

        • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/author/cmiller/ Chad Miller

          I had a response typed out and I clicked a link so it blanked out. Gimme some time to work up the gumption to type it again. ;-)

          • Peter Rufus

            Cheers for that. Looking forward to it. Thanks

            • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/author/cmiller/ Chad Miller

              The issue of animal death being a sticking point for YEC’s puzzles me. I don’t believe the Scripture teaches it, and I don’t see why it is necessary for the gospel or atonement. I get that it seems to magnify the consequences of sin (man’s sin caused spiders to eat flies, tornado’s, etc), but animals aren’t made in the image of God.

              As far as spiritual death/physical death, I think many of the most stringent YEC’s take the position that the death Adam would suffer was spiritual. Nobody denies part of the punishment was his physical death as well.

              “Spiritually, our first parents did die
              in the very same day they partook of the forbidden fruit. But physically, their
              lives were graciously prolonged.” – John MacArthur

              This article does a fantastic job of nailing this entire issue down, so let me know what you think. If you want to get to the relevant point of the discussion, scroll down to “Death before the fall” toward the end (though I believe it’s a good article from the top down).

              http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/six_days_of_creation.html#.UFsZJ1HyTSg

              Thanks again for the interaction!

              • Peter Rufus

                Hey Chad, Thanks for summoning the gumption to retype your response!

                A few thoughts in response to yours and the article you cited.

                “No death before the Fall” isn’t a 20th century invention. It’s a thoroughly Biblical doctrine as evidenced by other doctrines: e.g. remission of sins by the shedding of blood, plus the substitutionary nature of the atonement.

                Both these doctrines clearly show that the consequence of sin is real, physical death and not just spiritual death. The quote you used of MacArthur actually shows that death did result from the Fall (albeit in a delayed fashion, thanks to the grace of God). Also, if you check MacArthur’s stance, he’s avowedly YEC.

                Where you, and other OEC-ists are stretching scripture is your assumption that death was always part of God’s plan. But there is nothing in scripture to warrant such an assumption/ inference.

                Both the articles you cited (Ross + the other blog) do not have any arguments that refute the points I made about the sanguinary and substitutionary nature of the atonement. I’m afraid none of them nail the entire issue at all.

                Could you please respond to these two arguments specifically? Or, perhaps, you could show why you think they’re irrelevant?

                Thanks

                • Peter Rufus

                  Also, Chad, with regard to the idea of animal death resulting from the Fall, the blog states the following:

                  “In this passage, God tells Adam, “you shall surely die.” Animal death is neither stated nor implied. … It is curious then, why young-earth creationists insist the command included the death of animals.”

                  It seems that the author is oblivious to Genesis 3:21,

                  “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

                  This verse clearly indicates that an animal was killed physically in order to get its skin. And before that Adam and Eve were naked. Therefore animals weren’t killed for their skin. So why blatantly deny that animal death is neither stated nor implied when it so obviously is?

                  Also, Genesis 1:29,30 very clearly states,

                  “And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”

                  So it’s right there in black and white that vegetarianism was the order of the day (something the blog article doesn’t seem keen on acknowledging). Which means that animals were not killed for food either.

                  When I put these two together – animals not killed for food, neither killed for their skin – it’s very clear that the first time an animal was killed was to clothe Adam and Eve AFTER they sinned and saw each other as naked.

                  The implication is very very clear – man’s sin activated physical death: both, for himself and for the animal world as well. If you believe that death was part of God’s plan (so there’s no problem if He killed an animal to clothe Adam and Eve), then you are making an assumption that has no scriptural basis whatsoever.

                  This is what puzzles us YECists – how you can be so oblivious to scripture. Why would you deny what is very obvious from scripture to embrace something that isn’t in scripture at all?

                  Why deny the Word of God in order to accommodate the word of man?

  • Pingback: Conundrum: You want to get into apologetics but don’t have a degree – pt2 | Christian Apologetics Alliance

  • Pingback: Resurrection: Genesis

  • Brendan Surfer

    It’s not creationists that are causing division – it’s those who are unwilling to hold fast to God’s word that are causing the disunity and need to repent.