From Prime Minister Tony Blair to schoolboys in Leicester, it seems everyone’s talking about Ken Ham’s recent meetings in the United Kingdom.
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis-US, began his 17-day tour of the UK and Spain on 6 March 2002. His first major stop was Emmanuel College in northeast England, where on Saturday (9 March) he spoke on “The relevance of Genesis” and “A young Earth is not the issue.”
Who would have expected such vitriol in the newspapers just because a US speaker had given a couple hours of talks on the authority of the Bible at a small British school?
But the passionate hatred of creationism has been percolating through the nation, reaching all the way to parliament. It seems that they don’t want any of that “American religious extremism” reaching their shores.
“I just read the article in the Telegraph about the AiG museum. I just wanted to say
‘thank you’ for helping to equip people to understand the greatest
deception of our time [evolution]. Keep up the good work! God bless
-M.P. (by e-mail)
The timing of these news stories is amazing. While the world media was turning its eyes to the panel debate on “intelligent design” in Ohio, USA, 11 March (see Ohio—First US State to Teach “Intelligent Design”?), another story quietly appeared in the Sunday edition (10 March) of the Daily Telegraph, a major British paper with a circulation of over a million. The story, titled “Fundamentalists re-create Eden, with dinosaurs,” opens: “American scientists are outraged over plans” by AiG-US to build a $14 million Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky.
The article, written by David Poole in Los Angeles, is filled with outlandish errors. For instance:
Daily Telegraph article says
“A recent survey in the magazine Scientific American reported that 45 per cent of Americans believe that God created life some time in the past 10,000 years.”
Scientific American (February 2002) quotes a Gallup poll, and 45 percent of the respondents said God created humans-not “life”-in the past 10,000 years.1
“Two years ago the Kansas Board of Education reversed a decision to ban mentions of Darwin in schools.”
The teaching of evolution in classrooms was unaffected by the board’s action-the board simply cut a few references to evolution in the state science standards.2
The proposal is to allow teachers to discuss difficulties with evolutionary theory.
“Ohio is proposing a similar initiative to forbid teaching of scientific evolution.”
The proposal is to allow teachers to discuss difficulties with evolutionary theory.3
Such errors are indicative of the press’s careless treatment of the facts. How can readers trust the opinions of these media moguls, if they can’t even get their facts right?
Without any attempt at impartiality, the reporter picked Eugenie Scott (an atheist and rabid opponent of AiG) to comment on AiG’s museum. Poole summarized her views this way: “The new creationist museum [is] a sermon disguised as scientific study intended to hoodwink the public.” So much for objective reporting.
An alarmed press reported on Ken Ham’s meetings in the UK, which began in early March. Richard Dawkins, vice president of the British Humanist Association, opened the attack with a scathing editorial in the Guardian (9 March 2002). His tirade, “A scientist’s view,” likened creationists to “Holocaust deniers” who want to “infiltrate the staff of an otherwise reputable school, and energetically promote their inanities to a susceptible generation.” He closed with near-religious adulation of the role of evolutionary teachers in spreading the faith:
“Any science teacher who denies that the world is billions (or even millions!) of years old is teaching children a preposterous, mind-shrinking falsehood. These men disgrace the honourable profession of teacher. By comparison, real teachers, teachers who respect truth and evidence whether in science or history, have so much more to offer. Today’s children are blessed with the opportunity to open their minds to the shattering wonder of their own existence, the nature of life and its remarkable provenance in a yet more remarkable universe. Teachers who help to open young minds perform a duty which is as near sacred as I will admit. Ignorant, closed-minded, false teachers who stand in their way come as close as I can reckon to committing true sacrilege.”
This same edition of the Guardian carried three other articles on creationism, including the leader “Matter of faith: creationism at the taxpayers” expense.” The paper accused Emmanuel College in Gateshead, England, of teaching creationism at the taxpayers” expense.
Emmanuel, classified as a “beacon school,” is one of the Labour government’s recent experiments in supporting private faith schools. The national Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has given the school high marks, and parents are clamoring to get their students into the school-in fact, only a small percentage of students who apply are admitted. The school head, Nigel McQuoid, is an ardent Bible-believer. Some of the teachers at this non-denominational secondary school are creationists, and in the words of the Guardian, they “are undermining the scientific teaching of biology in favour of persuading pupils of the literal truth of the Bible.”4
McQuoid opened his facilities for Ken Ham and AiG-UK on 9 March to hold a one-day creationist conference, although the Saturday meeting was not officially sponsored by the school. (An outside group rented the facilities and invited AiG to speak.) Andy McIntosh and Stuart Burgess were the two other speakers.
The media response to the Guardian articles was intense. In fact, a member of parliament, Jenny Tonge, challenged Prime Minister Tony Blair during question time about his views on reports that a school in the Northeast (Emmanuel) was teaching creationism alongside evolution. Although he sidestepped the issue a bit, he acknowledged that diversity is a good thing. His comments sparked BBC to conclude,
“There is a serious side to all this. Many people are deeply worried that, by encouraging faith schools, the prime minister is also encouraging sectarianism and the placing of faith before science. Others believe it is only right that those with strongly held beliefs are allowed to educate their children in the way they wish. It is an argument that has not yet been joined but, thanks to the prime minister’s question time performance, is now set to become a major talking point.”5
That same day (13 March), scientists called for an Ofsted review of Emmanuel’s teaching qualifications. It is likely that they will also demand a review of the UK’s national curriculum, which currently allows teachers to give any viewpoint on origins science (unlike schools in the US, where the US Supreme Court effectively barred such teaching in 1987).
It’s exciting to see how God’s enemies are bringing national attention-free of charge-to AiG’s efforts to defend the authority of God’s Word, and to call the languishing church in the UK back to its roots in Genesis!
Please pray for Ken Ham, as he brings this life-changing message to Spain next week.