While we rejoice at how the Lord has been blessing AiG’s ministry, especially over the past six weeks with the tremendous attendance at the Ark Encounter in Northern Kentucky and also at the Creation Museum (a 75% increase in attendance), there has been a resurgence of opposition to AiG. Secularists and even some compromising Christians have noticed and are upset at the impact of AiG’s two major attractions in reaching hundreds of thousands of people this summer. In addition, they are perturbed to see the vast international media coverage the Ark has received, plus the advertising that is seen everywhere (e.g., Ark TV spots during the Olympic Games and on other TV channels, and hundreds of billboards along major interstates across the nation).
Much of this opposition has come in the form of people using the media, Internet, and social media to attack this Bible-affirming ministry. Accordingly, AiG regularly writes to the editors of newspapers and magazines, websites, and blogs to correct misinformation about AiG. Most recently the attacks have centered on the life-size Ark, which opened last month. The one claim that we have rebutted time and time again is that taxpayer dollars were used to build the Ark. In reality, the construction of the Ark was privately supported through donations and a bond offering. Yet the myth continues that money was taken out of Kentucky’s treasury to help construct the Ark.1
The Columbus Dispatch
We think you will find it instructive to see not only our response to secular and sometimes Christian media when AiG is unfairly treated, but also the replies we receive (or never receive) from those media outlets. On occasion, we rebut letters to the editor in newspapers that circulate false information. In the instance below, Dr. Georgia Purdom, of our staff, responded to a biomedical scientist whose letter was printed in the leading newspaper of Ohio, the Columbus Dispatch. (Columbus is the state capital and the location of its prominent school, The Ohio State University). Because her op-ed was never printed by the Dispatch, we are posting it here.
During an exchange of letters sent to the Dispatch editor, a biomedical scientist indicated that, in his decades of research and teaching, he had not come across one biologist who had questioned the validity of biological evolution (July 19 letter). As a graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in biology (specifically molecular genetics), allow me to . . . exhibit one to the contrary.
While biblical creationists are a minority in the sciences, there are thousands of practicing scientists in the US who reject evolutionary ideas. On our full-time faculty at Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, we have two PhD staff that earned their doctorates in biology from Ivy League schools, Harvard and Brown. Other staff scientists hold doctorate degrees from fine institutions like Indiana, Vanderbilt, and the University of Sydney. Even a quick Google search using key words like “creation scientists” would reveal the credentials of several hundred such scientists worldwide with terminal degrees. In Korea alone, there are 500 PhD scientists who are members of the Korea Association for Creation Research.
In addition, a good friend of our organization recently received his doctorate in a biology-related field from Ohio State. He had to keep his beliefs to himself, concerned that by revealing his doubts about evolution, he might not be able to leave OSU with a doctorate.
We encourage readers of the Dispatch to visit our Creation Museum (about a two-hour drive south of Columbus) and engage with our credentialed faculty. Visitors will discover that there are highly qualified scientists who do not accept biological evolution. Not only that, my colleagues and I have had hundreds of articles published in secular, peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Georgia Purdom
Petersburg KY 41080
We, as well as our supporters, sometimes respond to negative articles and commentaries about AiG that appear in Christian media. The well-known magazine Christianity Today offered a rather negative review of the Ark Encounter last month. (Read “My Encounter with Ken Ham’s Giant Ark.”)
The article was so disappointing and misrepresentative of the Ark project, that one of the leading pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention wrote a rebuttal letter to Christianity Today. As of this date, it has not been printed. Here was his response:
My wife, three daughters, and I had the opportunity to visit the Ark Encounter last Thursday, and I would like to write in response to the July 2016 article, “My Encounter with Ken Ham’s Giant Ark.”
Our family’s experience was quite different than the one portrayed by the writer, Mr. Cort Gatliff; for we were blessed and assured of the truth and reality of our faith in Christ and the Gospel. Our family had the unique privilege of touring the Ark with Ken Ham. As we walked through all three decks of this impressive structure, full of the highest-quality exhibits, I noticed all the evangelistic and Bible-affirming content in the Ark.
Throughout his article, Mr. Gatliff seems to express anecdotal evidence to self-fulfill his own cynical prophecy regarding Christians who believe the book of Genesis as history. The writer says that he likes to cover the “quirky” ways in which Christians can express their faith.
Even though the writer commends the structure of the Ark as “remarkable,” I found it sad that he peppered his commentary with snarky observations. In my research of the Ark’s development, I realized the writer made several factual mistakes. The building of a full-size Ark was something Ken considered in 2004, before the Creation Museum opened in 2007; in 2010 the Ark was announced to the public. The writer wrongly stated that it took AiG “three decades” to open the Ark. Also, Ken has shared publically that the next phase of the Ark Encounter will cost about $10 million, not $50 million. Over the next several years, it’s possible that it will require another $50 million to finish all phases of the Ark, but not the next phase.
Another disappointing aspect of the article is that the writer doubted whether or not guests will leave the Ark with a “deeper understanding of the grace, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ.” Frankly, I am surprised that he missed all of the evangelistic displays throughout the Ark, found on all three decks. Perhaps the most head-scratching comment of all is that the Ark, the writer said, can only find its “true value” by “directing us to the wood of the Cross and the one who died for the sake of the world.” But that’s exactly what the Ark presents, and how the writer did not see this is remarkable.
The writer also contends that the Ark’s exhibits do little about “teaching visitors about God.” But the entire Ark is about teaching guests about God’s Word, including His mercy. Our family left with an overwhelming sense of the presence and mercy of God evident in God’s deliverance in Noah’s day, which so powerfully depicts our salvation in Christ.
One of the final criticisms leveled against the Ark was the comment that rather than people coming to the Ark Encounter to experience God’s presence, people should engage the culture with humanitarian outreach. The Ark engages its visitors (a good portion of them are probably non-Christians) with God’s Word and the Gospel message. Christians should take care of the needy, but also utilize the Ark to present the Gospel to the neediest people of all: those heading to an eternity without Christ.
On our return trip home, our family had several opportunities to present the Gospel by using Noah’s ark as a life conversation piece.
Thank you for allowing me to respond to the article.
Dr. Michael Lewis
Lead Pastor, Roswell Street Baptist Church, Georgia
Christianity Today is no longer the theologically conservative magazine it was decades ago. For another example of how poorly CT has covered AiG, see “Can Christianity Today’s Research Be Trusted?”
The Washington Post
In our final media example, we’ll give you a glimpse into how we sometimes interact with major national media. In an article by the Washington Post on July 10, just after the Ark opened, a Post reporter contended that raising enough revenue to build the Ark had been difficult for AiG, but that the famous 2014 creation/evolution debate between Bill Nye “the Science Guy” and me helped to bring in more revenue, especially in bond sales. (Read “Bill Nye Visited a Noah’s Ark He Doesn’t Believe Should Exist.”)
We had previously stated to the press that it was not possible for people to register and purchase a bond after the February 4, 2014, debate and that the debate was not held for Ark fundraising purposes. But our comment was challenged by the Post. The reporter charged that the bond deadline was February 6, 2014, and made it a point to write that the debate took place on February 6. She essentially called us liars as to the debate’s purpose, and would not believe AiG’s statement that the debate not only did not spur the sale of bonds but was also not organized to raise revenue for the Ark. The event did not and could not raise revenue for the Ark. Here is the email that we sent to the reporter (as well as to her editor) to defend our veracity:
The paragraph in question challenged our public contention that the Nye/Ham debate did not help in raising revenue for the Ark. With your statement that the bond deadline was Feb. 6 but the Nye-Ham debate took place Feb. 4, you suggested we were not being truthful—that there were two days for people to buy a bond after watching the debate and thus we had used the event for fundraising. But nobody during those two days could have bought a bond. A person would have had to pre-register for the bond well before the debate and fill out and process a lot of paperwork before the February 6 bond closing. . . .
A person could not, for example, on the day after the debate [have] bought a bond, yet your article suggested otherwise: namely, that the debate apparently spurred bond sales.
Because we had told the media the debate didn't result in increased bond sales, you believed your research led you to a gotcha moment when you noted that the bond offering closed two days after the debate. But people would have had to register for the bonds well before the debate and had completed the lengthy paperwork, which takes days.
Why else did the piece point out that the bond “deadline was Feb. 6, 2014. The Nye-Ham debate took place Feb. 4?” The article was challenging our contention that the debate did not spur bond sales.
After some back and forth, the reporter wrote to us that the Post is "standing by” its article and "will not be making any corrections to the story.” Any fair-minded person, however, will see the error of the Post’s claim that the debate was used to increase the sale of bonds and that we had lied about it.
Readers’ Reaction to Media Reports
The reaction we often get from anti-AiG skeptics who have read things about us in the media can be illuminating as well. After our op-ed was printed in Kentucky’s leading paper, the Courier-Journal of Louisville, we had a highly revealing email exchange with a critic. He had accepted the lie that taxpayers in Kentucky were helping to pay for the Ark’s construction (the amount was $0). His first email to AiG expressed his opposition to the state “giving tax money” to build the Ark, though we have refuted this time and time again.2 He also claimed that AiG, by law, had to open its hiring to non-Christians; however, a federal judge in January ruled otherwise and also ruled that AiG is in compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it comes to hiring.
Here are excerpts of an email (typos and all) he subsequently sent to AiG about our op-ed, around the time the Ark opened:
Hello Mr. Looy,
Every time I read your opinions in the state's newspapers, I cringe when I realize how ignorant the people of Kentucky must be if they buy your creationist opinions as fact when science continues to debunk christian theoories about the history of the Earth.
How you can preach that the earth is 6000 years old when fossils, carbonn dating and astronomy clearly demonstrate that the Earth is millions of years in age? Also, the theory that dinosaurs and man co-existed on this planet is just ridiculous, also dangerous. . . .
I would defend your right to believe as you wish if not for your mission to convince others to accept your opinions as fact. This is, in my opinion, the most damaging aspect of the christian followers. You are taking impressionable young minds and filling them with ideas that are laughable, were they not so dangerous.
I view you and those of your ilk in much the same way as I view any religious "leader". Trying to convince people that yours is the one and only true faith, does a disservice to the same people you are recruiting. Religion is a divisive force, both in the US and across the world. Each follower of the more than 2400 gods in over 5000 religions worldwide believe that their is the one, true faith when in fact none of them are.
I believe that racism and religion are two attitudes that the world would be better off without. It is heartening to see that the young people in the US are overwhelmingly less religious than their parents. Like racism, religion will die out as more young people think for themselves and are less inclined to believe the garbage that their parents indulge in.
Please stop filling people's minds with your propaganda. Religion has beaten out nationalism as the source of more wars and the accompanying murders that foul this beatiful universe. The true answers in genesis are the opposite of what was written (and rewritten and . . . ).
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
I did not see that you have marked your email as confidential, so I will use your email [but will hide your full identity] as an instructive tool and put it [on] our website.
For one, we can point out that carbon dating has nothing to do with dating things to millions of years (even an evolutionary scientist would agree). Also, there is tremendous compelling evidence for dinosaurs living in relatively recent times; see: https://answersingenesis.org/fossils/3-soft-tissue-in-fossils/.
Second, you argue that religion is the source of more murders than any other movement. Yet the two most murderous people of the past century were Darwinists, who applied "survival of the fittest" ideas to weed out the "weak": Hitler and Stalin.
You have never retracted your false claim that taxpayer dollars financed the construction of the Ark, and you still ignore the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that allows religious groups like ours to have an exemption in hiring, which was upheld in federal court earlier in the year when a judge decided that the state was wrong in its attempt to force our ministry to hire non-Christians, which would have violated the 1964 Act.
Yes, let's allow "people to think for themselves," as you plead, and not censor viewpoints that you find objectionable. In fact, our Creation Museum presents the beliefs of evolutionists (in a fair way), but then examines them according to good science. . . .
May I ask: what in your background, perhaps when you were young, has made you so antagonistic towards Christianity?
What to Do?
I learned many years ago that ultimately only God can protect a person’s or ministry’s reputation, and we have to trust in His sovereignty in such matters. At the same time, we also need to remember all the verses that teach both human responsibility and God’s sovereignty as they work hand in hand. Because some people really don’t understand how agenda driven some of the media has been against the Ark, and because so much misinformation has been picked up and distributed by even some Christian media, we believed it was important for this article to respond to some of the blatantly wrong and misleading material presented in some prominent news sources. At the same time, we do recognize that we can never stop such a barrage of misinformation, for “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).