My mom called me up, asking for my help. She sent me a flier explaining that her parish is inviting a “top national speaker” and it is preparing “for this wonderful ministry” by taking a collection.
Is he talking about anti-poverty efforts or organizations providing emergency or medical services to people in need? Is he a dynamic motivational speaker, talking about ways to strengthen marriages and lead an ethical life? Is he offering information on volunteer opportunities? Is he from Heifer International? Is he from Doctor’s Without Borders? Has he just returned from missionary work in a dangerous area of the world?
He is from Answers in Genesis and my parent’s aren’t happy about this.
So I wrote a letter:
I am writing to urge you to reconsider spending $2,700 to bring Terry Mortenson as a speaker to [your church sponsored event].
Terry Mortenson, as you know, is a representative of Answers in Genesis. AiG is a Creation Science organization with many projects. If you go to their website, you can buy books, buy DVDs, buy curriculum for children, buy on-line classes, buy tickets to their Creation Museum, and contribute to their new Noah’s Ark Theme Park. From their website they certainly look much more like a business than a ministry.
Answers in Genesis does have a strong theological message. Their core message is that biological evolution is incompatible with the Bible. This is a contentious issue within Christianity. While a great deal of Christians do not find them incompatible (such as the Catholic Church and many Protestant associations), some agree with Answers in Genesis and claim that you cannot be a good Bible-believing Christian without rejecting well-accepted scientific theories.
In attempting to make their case for their alternate “scientific” view, they have constructed detailed fanciful stories such as dinosaurs and humans living at the same time and being friends, as well as other stories. According to their website, they assert that the Bible says that plants were created before the sun. So, according to them, any theory that would include a sun existing before plants (a logical conclusion considering that plants rely on the sun for photosynthesis); is against the Bible and therefor against Christianity.
Answers in Genesis maintains a hardline stance against any scientific discovery or theory that they feel contradicts their very narrow interpretation of the Bible. For example, if anyone rejects the idea that the earth is between 6,000 and 12,000 years old as many Christians do – they (in Mortenson’s own words from his paper Systematic Theology Texts and the Age of the Earth) “…are not helping but rather hindering the Church in her witness in our evolutionized world.”
Answers in Genesis is not just creating unnecessary and hurtful conflict between science and religion, but conflict among Christians. Answers in Genesis and Young Earth Creationism is a distraction, and a large commitment of resources, from what Jesus has called us to do. Think of what else, what good you could do, with $2,700.
[M. A. Melby]