ANSWERS IN GENESIS
ANSWERS IN GENESIS TIMELINE
1951: Ken Ham was born in Cairns, Australia.
1980: After teaching public school, Ham and his wife, Mally, decided to minister full time and founded the Creation Science Foundation (CSF).
1980: Dr. Carl Wieland handed over his magazine, Creation, to CSF. Ham merged Wieland's Creation Science Association into the Creation Science Foundation.
1987: Ham and his wife moved to the United States and located in the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in San Diego to help the Creation Science Foundation gain more international influence.
1993: Ken and Mally Ham believed that it was time to begin a new U.S. ministry and resigned from ICR (Mark Looy and Mike Zovath followed, helping to found “Creation Science Ministries.”
1994: Answers in Genesis (AIG) was founded in Florence, Kentucky.
1994: AIG's first major conference held in Denver, Colorado, with around 6,000 attendees. The first ministry newsletter was mailed
1996: The Boon County Fiscal Court denied AIG's proposal to build a Creation Museum to serve as headquarters for the AIG ministry.
2000: AIG purchased fifty acres along Interstate 275 in Petersburg, Kentucky for the museum.
2001: Construction on the Creation Museum began.
2005: AIG-U.S. and AIG-Australia separated due to leadership issues.
2007 (May 28): The Creation Museum opened.
2010 (December 1): AIG announced the construction of the Ark Encounter LLC.
2016: The Ark Encounter Project is scheduled to be completed.
The longstanding tensions between the scientific and biblical narratives have flared historically whenever advances in various scientific disciplines have raised questions about the empirical validity of biblical accounts of creation. For example, around the beginning of the nineteenth century, the development of Geology as a discipline, with its findings that the Earth was far more ancient than suggested by the account in Genesis, led to increased support for Gap Theory and Day-Age Theory as alternative theories for the discrepancy between geological and biblical accounts. Gap Theory posits that there was a long time-gap between the first two days of creation as chronicled in Genesis while Day-Age Theory proposes that the days of creation listed in Genesis were themselves long periods of time (thousands or even millions of years). Most recently, evolutionary creationism, which postulates that God created life and humankind while evolution constitutes an explanation for how life developed (Saletan 2014).
Beginning in the 1960s, conservative Christian groups of various kinds have mounted active opposition to evolutionary theory with creationism, in part due to the struggles over a variety of issues (e.g., science education, sex education, prayer in schools) in the public school system. One outgrowth of these struggles has been the formation of a variety of museums, research institutes, and foundations defending the biblical creation narrative (Numbers 2006; Duncan 2009). Creationist museums are found primarily in the United States, but there is a sprinkling of such museums around the world (Simitopoulou and Xirotitis 2010). The most prominent creationist museums in the U.S. was established by Answers in Genesis.
Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis (AIG), received his bachelor's degree in applied science from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia and a degree in education from the University of Queensland. He went on to become a public high school science teacher. Ham expanded his educational credentials with an honorary Doctorate of Divinity in 1997 from Temple Baptist College in Cincinnati, Ohio and another in Literature in 2004 from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia (Answers in Genesis n.d.). In 1979, Ham left teaching to become a full-time minister with his wife, Mally Ham. Initially, they established Creation Science Supplies, a book ministry, and Creation Science Educational Media Services, a teaching ministry. Later, these two initiatives were combined to form the Creation Science Foundation (CSF), co-founded with John Mackay. Even at this point, Ham had dreams of building a museum that taught history as it is recorded in the Bible.
In 1986, Ken Ham reported feeling that he was called by God to travel to the United States and continue his ministry there. The CSF board in Australia sent Ham to work with Dr. Henry Morris's Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in 1987 as a speaker; he remained the Director of the Australian CSF ministry until 2004. Ham went on to lecture not only in the U.S. but also in the U.K.
After working with ICR for seven years, Mally Ham approached her husband about separating from the research group to form their own more “layperson-oriented” creation organization. Ham then resigned from ICR, along with colleagues Mark Looy and Mike Zovath, and together they formed Creation Science Ministries (CSM). Supported by donations, CSM was able to become an independent organization, while still maintaining a sister-relationship with CSF-Australia. CSM began its first year of ministry in 1994 and changed its name to Answers in Genesis. The name change was intended to reflect the importance and authority of all scripture, not just the portion pertaining to creation. Soon after, CSF-Australia changed its name to Answers in Genesis as well. In the same year, the three original founders relocated their families to Florence, Kentucky to establish a headquarters for the organization. Two-thirds of the United States' population lives within 650 miles of Cincinnati, Ohio, which is only fourteen miles from Florence, giving considerable accessibility to a substantial portion of the American population.
Contemporary creationists can be divided into “old earthers” and “young earthers.” The former postulate that science-based dating of the evolutionary process is correct but that the process itself was initiated by a Creator. The latter, the strong creationists, attempt to validate biblical dating and the biblical creation narrative. Answers in Genesis (AIG) can be categorized as Young-Earth Creationists (YECs). AIG asserts that the Bible is the word of God and the absolute authority on all matters. The Board of AIG explains that any evidence in any area of knowlege must be confirmed by the Bible to be valid. As AIG puts the matter, “no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record” (Answers in Genesis 2012). Therefore, AIG accepts the Bible as the accurate historical account of Earth's creation recorded in Genesis 3:14-19 (Ross, 2005). From its perspective, the organization of the natural world is “irreducibly complex” and could only have been originally designed (Petto & Godfrey, 2007).
On February 4, 2014, AIG leader, Ken Ham debated renowned scientist, Bill Nye on the question "Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins?" and provided an explanation of AIG's view on science. AIG makes a distinction between observational science and historical science. During his presentation, Ham commented that “People by and large have not been taught to look at what you believe about the past as different compared to what you observe in the present. You don't observe the past directly. Even when you think about the creation account, we can't observe God creating.” Ham and his followers therefore hold that mainstream science is not viable because there was no one in the past to observe any events that transpired. AIG accepts the natural laws of mainstream science, but believes they have divine origin, which allows for their belief in a six-day creation (Foreman, Ham, and Nye 2014).
With its increasing speaking ministry, radio program, and web outreach, AIG searched for a building site in northern Kentucky fortheir creation museum. Two efforts to rezone land for the project met strong opposition from evolution proponents and other secular groups. Despite this resistance, hundreds of radio stations began featuring AIG's Answers program. By 2006, AIG's website, AnswersInGenesis.org, was chosen out of 1,300 ministries to receive the “Website of the Year” award from the National Religious Broadcasters. The website has gone on to host about 25,000 visitors a day. The AIG magazine, Creation, which was originally published in Australia, is also distributed in the United States. In 2006, however, AIG-US discovered that over half their subscribers did not renew their subscriptions after one year. The organization recognized the need for a new magazine, Answers , which would feature biblical and scientific articles about the origins controversy and emphasize the biblical worldview with practical applications. Further differences between the American and Australian branches caused AIG-US to stop distributing Creation and focus solely on Answers. After only five years in operation, Answers received the “Award of Excellence” from the Evangelical Press Association (Ham n.d.).
By 2004, AIG was able to obtain the site for its Creation Museum, fifty acres near Interstate 275. The museum opened on May 28,2007. Ham created the Creation Museum to spread “Biblically correct science” to the public and to try and bring Creationism into the mainstream. He preferred a museum to a church because museums are accepted as places of public education and for the display of scientific research findings. Further, a museum is a more engaging environment in which to encourage learning among children. Finally, a museum could connect directly with visitors and AIG's message would not be filtered through mainstream scientists or the government (Duncan 2009). According to Ham, AIG simply wants the Creation Museum to tell people that “the Bible is true and the Bible is God's word, that's what it's all about” (Jacoby, 1998). The museum features a planetarium, the Johnson Observatory, SFX Theater, a petting zoo, an insectarium, a zip-line course, dinosaur fossils, and animatronic exhibits. The Creation Museum was very successful in its first year, attracting 404,000 visitors but suffered declining visitation, with only 280,000 visitors in 2012.
AIG announced plans in 2010 for a project to build a full-scale version of Noah's Ark and biblical village. The Ark Encounter, is to belocated on 800 acres near Interstate 75 in Grant County, Kentucky and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016 (Ham, n.d.). The Ark Encounter is described as “a 160-acre park with a life-size replica of Noah's Ark built to stand 500 feet long and 80 feet high” (Goodwin 2012). Initial construction plans were delayed until 2014 due to a weak economy and a decline in visitation to the Creation Museum (Goodwin 2012). Based on outside consulting term estimates, AIG has anticipated 1,600,000 visitors in its first year, as well as improved visitation. The initial financial projections were also optimistic as a result of tax breaks pledged by the State of Kentucky; these were withdrawn after considerable controversy concerning church-state separation (Alford 2010; “Kentucky” 2015). AIG subsequently announced plans to sue Kentucky over the withdrawal (Linshi 2015).
AIG has met some opposition within the conservative Christian community. For example, in March, 2011, the Board of GreatHomeschool Conventions, Inc. (GHC) voted to disinvite Ken Ham and AIG from “all future conventions [as Ham made] unnecessary, ungodly, and mean-spirited statements that are divisive at best and defamatory at worst” (Blackford 2011) about another speaker at the convention. The board stated that “Ken's public criticism of the convention itself and other speakers at [the] convention require him to surrender spiritual privilege of addressing a homeschool audience” (Blackford 2011). Ham, in his blog, explained that Peter Enns of the BioLogos Foundation teaches misleading information about Genesis that compromises Genesis with evolution and is an “outright liberal theology that totally undermines the authority of the Word of God” (Answers in Genesis Board of Directors 2011). After the allegations against Ham being un-Christian and sinful were made, AIG launched an internal investigation of GHC, but has yet to find any resolution (Answers in Genesis Board of Directors 2011).
Predictably, AIG has received heavy criticism from scientists representing a variety of disciplines who regard the Creation Museum as a “monument to scientific illiteracy” (Kennerly 2009). According to Jerry Lipps, professor of geology, paleontology, and evolution at University of California, Berkeley, even most mainstream Christians do not agree with AIG's interpretation of Earth's history. Lisa Park, a professor of paleontology and a firm follower of Christianity views Creationism as focusing “on fear... [and] a malicious manipulation of the public” (Kennerly 2009). Daryl Domning, professor of anatomy at Howard University claims it imbibes visitors to the museum to believe in “a major distortion and misrepresentation of Christianity as it is of science” (Kennerly 2009).
It is not surprising, therefore, that Ham's initial plan to locate the museum next to Big Bone Lick State Park, which is the birthplaceof vertebrate paleontology in North America, drew vigorous opposition from scientists (Goodwin 2012). From the scientists' perspective, this location implied that the local government was giving support to a sectarian religious group. Ham's proposal was subsequently denied after several zoning disputes and legal proceedings, and he then decided to move his museum strategically closer to the Cincinnati International Airport.
The most direct confrontation between Ham and an opposing scientist took place on February 4, 2014 in a public debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham at the Creation Museum. Nye argued in a YouTube post that “Creationism is Not Appropriate for Children.” He stated that “If we raise a generation of students who don't believe in the process of science, who think everything that we've come to know about nature and the universe can be dismissed by a few sentences translated into English from some ancient text, you're not going to continue to innovate” (Lovan 2012). For his part, Ham attempted to substantiate the YEC model of the universe's origins. He reasserted that Earth was created by God approximately 6,000 years ago and dinosaurs and humans once coexisted, as it is specifically stated in the Genesis. Nye sought to refute Ham's claims by citing widely supported observations by scientists that the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Ham responded that “I believe science has been hijacked by secularists...and that there is a difference between historical science and observational science” (“Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham” 2014). Nye pointed out that a variety of methodologies (radiometric dating, ice core data, and the light from distant stars) supports the position that the Earth is much older than 6,000 years (Lovan 2012). When Ham referred to the Genesis flood narrative and Noah's Ark, Nye pointed out that the Ark as described in the Book of Genesis would not float. Nye also pointed out that, using Nye's calculations, an ark containing 7,000 kinds of animals would require that approximately eleven new species would have to come into existence every day for the Earth to contain all presently known species (O'Neil 2014). While Ham does not have appeared to have won over a majority of the audience, he seemed unconcerned. From his perspective, the publicity generated by the debate was a source of fundraising for AIG's construction of the Ark Encounter theme park (Chowdhury 2014).
Alford, Roger. 2010). “Full-scale Replica of Noah's Ark Planned in Kentucky.” USA Today, December 3. Accesed fromhttp://usatoday30.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2010-12-05-noahs-ark-kentucky-creation-museum_N.htm on 27 February 2015.
Answers in Genesis Board of Directors. 2011. “Kicked Out of Two Homeschool Conferences.” answersingenesis.org, June 10. Accessed from https://answersingenesis.org/ministry-news/core-ministry/kicked-out-of-two-homeschool-conferences/ on 31 January 2015.
Answers in Genesis. 2012. “Statement of Faith.” Accessed from https://answersingenesis.org/about/faith/ on 6 January 2015.
Answers in Genesis. n.d. “Ken Ham.” Accessed from http://creation.com/ken-ham on 7 January 2015.
Blackford, Linda B. 2011. “Founder of Creation Museum Banned from Convention.” kentucky.com, March 24. Accessed fromhttp://www.kentucky.com/2011/03/24/1682122_founder-of-creation-museum-banned.html?rh=1 on 31 January 2015.
Chowdhury, Sudeshna. 2014. “Bill Nye versus Ken Ham: Who Won?” The Christian Science Monitor, February 5. Accessed fromhttp://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-357806905.html on 26 January 2015.
Duncan, Julie A. 2009. Faith Displayed as Science: The Role of the Creation Museum in the Modern Creationist Movement . Honors Thesis, Department of the History of Science. Cambridge: Harvard University.
Goodwin, Liz. 2012. “The Creation Museum Evolves: Hoping to Add a Life-Size Ark Project, The Museum Hits Fundraising Trouble.news.yahoo.com, July 5. Accessed from http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/creation-museum-evolves-hoping-add-life-size-ark-170347907.html on 31 January 2015.
Ham, Ken. 2009. “If You Don't Matter to God, You Don't Matter to Anyone.” Answersingenesis.org , April 20. Accessed fromhttps://answersingenesis.org/sanctity-of-life/mass-shootings/if-you-dont-matter-to-god-you-dont-matter-to-anyone/ on 29 January 2015.
Ham, Ken. n.d. “The History of Answers in Genesis through December 2014.” Accessed fromhttps://answersingenesis.org/about/history/ on 7 January 2015.
Jacoby, Steve. 1998. “Culture Clash.” Cincinnati Best & Worst 33: 80-86. Accessed from http://books.google.com/books?id=7u0CAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA80#v=onepage&q=50%2C000&f=false on 29 December 2014.
Kennerly, Britt. 2009. “Paleontologists Brought to Tears, Laughter by Creation Museum.” Phys.org, June 30. Accessed fromhttp://phys.org/news165555744.html on 29 January 2015.
“Kentucky: No Tax Break for Site of a New Noah's Ark.” Associated Press, December 11. Accessed fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/11/us/politics/kentucky-no-tax-break-for-site-of-a-new-noahs-ark.html on 27 February 2015.
Linshi, Jack. 2015. Noah's Ark Theme Park Group Sues Kentucky Over Withdrawn Tax Breaks.” TIME, February 3. Accessed fromhttp://time.com/3694802/ken-ham-genesis-kentucky-lawsuit/ on 27 February 2015.
Lippard, Jim. 2006. “Trouble in Paradise: Answers in Genesis Splinters.” Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 26(6) .Accessed from http://ncse.com/rncse/26/6/trouble-paradise 14 January 2015.
Lovan, Dylan. 2012. “Bill Nye Warns: Creation Views Threaten US Science.” AP Online, September 24. Accessed fromhttp://www.highbeam.com/doc/1A1-07009c71ef51419a98865a691635f294.html on 26 January 2015.
Numbers, Ronald. 2006. The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design . Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
O'Neil, Tyler. 2014. “Science vs. Bible? 5 Arguments for and Against Creationism From the Ken Ham, Bill Nye Debate.” The Christian Post, February 5. Accessed from http://www.christianpost.com/news/science-vs-bible-the-5-best-arguments-for-and-against-creationism-from-the-ken-ham-bill-nye-debate-114005/pageall.html on 26 January 2015.
“Richard Dawkins Interview.” 2010. AIGbusted.blogspot.com, December 26. Accessed fromhttp://AIGbusted.blogspot.com/2010/12/richard-dawkins-interview.html on 29 January 2015.
Ross, Marcus R. 2005. "Who Believes What? Clearing up Confusion about Intelligent Design and Young-Earth Creationism." Liberty University. Accessed from http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/bio_chem_fac_pubs/79 on 5 January 2015.
Saletan, William. 2014. “Creativity for Creationists.” Accessed from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2014/12/evolutionary_creationism_jeff_hardin_reconciles_
evangelical_christianity.htmlon 28 December 2014.
Simitopoulou, Kally and Nikolaos Xirotitis. 2010. “The Revival of Creationism in Contemporary Societies: A Short Survey.” Bulletin der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Anthropologie 16:79–86.
Wieland, Carl. 2005. “Rushing in—Where Wiser Heads Might Not.” answersingenesis.org, April 12. Accessed fromhttp://web.archive.org/web/20080307123315/http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2005/0412zimmer.asp on 14 January 2015.
David G. Bromley
27 February 2015