Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Creationism, A Trip to the Dark Side
Answers in Genesis, publisher of Creation magazine, held a creationism seminar/sermon in Marietta on September 15-16, 1997 at the Roswell Baptist Church. Several AU/Atlanta members attended, and I put together this report from our impressions of that event.
The main chapel of the Roswell Baptist Church was near capacity for Ken Ham, Director of Answers in Genesis. I was surprised that the lecture was extremely short on science and very long on scripture. Maybe it's because I haven't been to one of these shindigs before, but I just assumed that a movement that calls itself "creation science" would have some science to it. Or perhaps because Ham was preaching to the faithful, he knew he wouldn't need much evidence for his claims. Whenever he did present some bit of scientific material to make his point he was always sure to precede it with statements like, "Bear with me, this won't take long." This seemed to indicate that to this audience even pseudoscience was a bit too much like a trip to the dentist. Ham's presentation was much more concerned with imploring his listeners not to give in to the temptation to surrender Genesis to science. He proclaimed, "We must desecularize, de-evolutionize our thinking. ...If you can't defend Genesis you can't defend Christianity." This statement was followed by a healthy dose of criticism for churches not adhering to his own literalist doctrine.
Ham first began by demonstrating how scientists who asserted that Tyrannosaurus rex was a carnivore had to be wrong. His evidence? A slide showing the fearsome chompers of T rex was whisked off the display and replaced with a verse from Genesis 1:30, "And to every beast of the of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat." Therefore, Ham concluded, all animals at the time of creation were vegetarians according to Ham, including T rex. Meat-eating did not occur until after the Flood and was a result of sin. His presentation was decorated with colorful cartoon slides to emphasis key points. As Adam and Eve held up the forbidden fruit they were watched not only by the serpent but by a friendly brontosaurus as well.
Ham placed creation in opposition to "random, undirected processes" and argued his case using Mount Rushmore as an analogy (this, incidentally, is straight out of a recent issue of Creation magazine). First he proposed that Mount Rushmore was not actually created, but occurred by accident. Wind and storm erosion over many years caused, by pure chance, the likeness of the presidents to appear on the rocks. After sufficient chuckles from the audience he then went on to conclude that since it was impossible for Mount Rushmore to have happened by chance, therefore it was also impossible for something as complex as life to have happened by "random, undirected processes". Of course, this has nothing to do with evolution, since evolutionary theory does not say that life occurred by "random, undirected processes", but these small points seem lost on Ham and on his audiences as well.
Perhaps the most disturbing element of Ham's presentation was the absolute disdain he held for the people who had made careers and lives out of the pursuit of scientific truth. His simplistic and insulting remarks smacked with such blatant religious intolerance that when they prompted "amens" from the audience I felt truly afraid. Even NASA was not above his contempt. The recent discovery of the rock from Mars, perhaps containing evidence of bacterial life on the red planet in the past, was nothing more than a publicity stunt to get NASA in the news and get more money for their programs. Ham shook his head with disgust as the audience voiced their disapproval. I thought of the astronauts and even friends I have known who have worked for our space program and thought, "Is this what they deserve?"
Some of his remarks echoed slogans from the "Religious Right", such as "America is no longer a Christian nation; it is a pagan nation." However, I did laugh right along with the audience at one of his remarks. Ham also asserted, "The atheists understand Christianity better than the Christians." However, I have to admit some of his statements were simply lost on me. What possible sense can one make out of a statement like, "Natural selection is the opposite of evolution."
The recent rejection of Creation magazine by the Athens (GA) Regional Library System was played for all it was worth to promote the magazine and to show that libraries are hostile to Christianity. At the end of the lecture when he solicited the audience for subscriptions to the publication he exclaimed, "It's better than National Geographic!"
The final part of the lecture was a call to action, a call to arms, against the godless, atheistic, anti-Christian evolutionists who had vowed to destroy Christianity and everything it stood for. To make his point he had another cartoon slide, one of two castle towers with cannons on top of each. The bottom of one tower was labeled EVOLUTION, the other CREATION. Rising up from the word EVOLUTION, pasted on the tower's side were the words ABORTION, PORNOGRAPHY, HOMOSEXUALITY and LAWLESSNESS. Rising up from CREATION were FAMILY, MARRIAGE, GOD and TRUTH.
The next slide showed the two towers again. The "creation" tower was pristine and undamaged, but the "evolution" tower was blasted at the base. According to Ham, this is the way things should be. At the conclusion Ham explained that the cartoons used in the presentation were from the Answers in Genesis publication "A is for Adam", a children's book.
Ham referred constantly to the public school system and went on to catalog all the social ills that derive from including evolution in curriculum. His constant criticism of public schools appeared to be little more than a thinly-veiled call for creationist intrusions into science classrooms.
This lecture was the first of three to be presented over the course of two nights. There was to be another one following this one in thirty minutes, and then a third the following night. I had intended to go to all three to learn all I could. But I had seen enough. Quite frankly, I just couldn't take anymore.
By Skip Evans, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.