Even though AiG and the Creation Museum were blessed with tremendous publicity in 2007, especially with many media representatives coming here from all over the world to cover the museum’s grand opening in late May (and in the months that followed), we actually didn’t receive as much press coverage as we were hoping . . . in one sense. While we don’t wish to come across as ungrateful over the blessing of such wide coverage, we did find it somewhat frustrating at times when some newspapers—which printed derogatory statements about the museum—chose not to print our rebuttals. As we look back on the incredible year just passed, we will engage in some media housecleaning to close out 2007.
First, The New York Times Magazine printed a long article about creationist geology, and in the midst of the piece, the writer claimed that AiG’s Creation Museum has a message that you need to believe in a young earth to be saved/born again! AiG President Ken Ham quickly fired off a short letter to the editor on November 27; the writer’s charge was so outrageous and plain wrong that AiG wanted to set the record straight.
Here is the letter that The Times has decided not to print, even though our publicists have followed up with Times’ editors twice in an effort to test its stated policy that The Times “welcomes comments and suggestions, or complaints about errors that warrant correction.” Well, the editors may welcome them, but what they believe “warrants” a correction is up to their discretion.
The world’s media (plus over 275,000 guests1) have descended on our new Creation Museum in the past six months. Yet no journalist (and we have had well over 150 here) has made such a wild and bizarre claim as that by Hanna Rosin, who declared last Sunday in The Times that our “museum sends the message that belief in a young earth is the only way to salvation.”
That belief would be described as heresy within the Christian faith, and we totally reject it. In fact, it is the very opposite of the biblical teaching we present: that salvation comes through faith alone in Christ. Further, we take great pains to say that while we believe it is important to stand up for the Bible’s first book, the acceptance of the historicity of Genesis has absolutely nothing to do with personal salvation.
We find it remarkable that Rosin could have been so mistaken. She has apparently jumped to a conclusion after paying just a cursory visit to the museum. Let us state it even more firmly: if a person decides not to accept a literal Genesis, that individual can still be a devoted follower of Christ.
Such a bizarre and false charge regarding the most important teaching a Christian could ever proclaim (the precious gospel message) is terribly unfortunate. We trust such a wrong statement will not harm our reputation as a Bible-affirming organization in the eyes of the many tens of millions of American who describe themselves as evangelicals.
Answers in Genesis/The Creation Museum
The following is a second example of AiG not being allowed to rebut wild claims in a newspaper. In this case, it was a guest column in a much smaller newspaper that has a largely rural readership. It was an Indiana newspaper in which a guest columnist severely attacked AiG and the museum, and we wanted to challenge its outrageous errors. Here is the background.
In the summer, an Indiana resident who lives just a few miles from our northern Kentucky museum wrote a scathing guest column for his local paper. Almost every paragraph contained an error or a major misunderstanding. We replied with our own guest column, attempting to correct the misinformed man. The newspaper printed this man’s rebuttal to our rebuttal, and he only regurgitated some of the same errors he made the first time—and feebly attempted to justify what he had written previously. Unfortunately, the newspaper decided not to give us equal time. Even though we submitted another letter, and followed up with two phone calls and another email to the editor, we never heard back. This paper—much smaller in circulation and influence than The Times—thus also refused to give us fair and balanced exposure. The harsh Indiana critic of AiG got two opportunities to attack us, and we had only one opportunity to respond.
Here, then, is our rebuttal column that the paper did not print:
It is one thing for someone to share a mistaken opinion in a letter to the editor, but it is quite remarkable to see the same letter writer (Mr. CXXXXX) stubbornly defend his egregious mistakes in a second letter, even after he has been corrected in our own letter to the paper.
How much more adamant can Answers in Genesis/the Creation Museum be about the following things?
—AiG President Ken Ham is not—and never has been—the owner and publisher of something called “Christian Publishing Company.” We (including Mr. Ham) do not even know of such a business, and yet Mr. CXXXXX defends his assertion by stating that it must be true because he searched the Internet and found it there! Well, you can go to the Internet and “find” that President Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, that Big Foot and the Abominable Snowman have been found, etc. Finding something on the Internet does not make it true. The onus was on Mr. CXXXXX to prove this claim after we had written he was mistaken, but apparently he was unwilling to check business records or other sources. Stubbornly, he won’t let go of an untruth.
—Indeed, we will state (once again) that Darwin was NOT the first person to come up with the idea of natural selection. It was a creationist, Edward Blyth, who wrote it up in 1835 (24 years before Darwin’s Origin of Species). Mr. CXXXXX tries to deny it, but a check of science history books (and, yes, even the web: try Wikipedia) would show him that Darwin just popularized an already-existing idea and tagged it onto his belief about origins. (Blyth, though, did not believe that natural selection could be a mechanism to produce new genetic information in creatures that could, over time, turn molecules to men.)
—No, the human appendix is not vestigial. Mr. CXXXXX may have consulted an old science textbook, which may have presented the now-discredited claim that the appendix is a useless leftover of our evolutionary ancestry. The appendix (as I stated in an earlier letter, but Mr. CXXXXX chooses to deny what the medical community now knows) does have a role to play (e.g., in our gut-associated immune system). While we can live without the appendix when removed, it nevertheless serves a useful purpose. (We notice that he simply brushed off my claim of its usefulness.)
—The writer also claimed that I have been brainwashed by AiG and the Creation Museum. Actually, I am one of the co-founders of AiG and the museum (along with Mr. Ham). No brainwashing going on here.
—Mr. CXXXXX also declared that he doubted I could pass an entrance exam to college. Well, in addition to a master’s degree, I engaged in postgraduate study (under a full $10,000 international scholarship) at a premier Russian studies think-tank in Great Britain (and came very close to getting my doctorate when illness struck); I have been the grand-prize winner on two national TV quiz shows; etc. My educational background is not really the point, in spite of Mr. CXXXXX’s emotional outburst. There are far smarter people than me on both sides of the issue, including several here at the museum who hold doctorate degrees, such as an Ivy League-trained PhD biologist.
So, all the pounding on the table and insults do not change the facts. Mr. CXXXXX’s claims are absolutely wrong.
Ending on a positive note, we trust that readers will take the time to learn about the Creation Museum and consider a visit—we are right across the Ohio River from Indiana at exit 11 off I-275. I encourage Mr. CXXXXX (if he hasn’t already) to join these visitors, who, using their critical thinking skills, have seen for themselves which is the best explanation of our origins.
Because the creation/evolution controversy continues to be big news in America (and to some extent in other countries, such as the United Kingdom), we want to help you write your own letter to the editor when you would like to respond to a pro-evolution article or commentary/editorial that appears in your paper. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to provide a service of writing the letters and submitting them to the paper (and frankly it’s much better for a local reader to submit a letter rather than “outsiders” like AiG). Here are some pointers that, if followed, will increase your chances of getting a letter published:
- Check the maximum number of words the paper will allow for a letter. If you have some scientific, engineering or similar credentials, you might want to call the opinion page editor at the newspaper and ask to be considered to write a guest column instead. You may be given twice the length of a letter to the editor. Important pointer: many letters are not accepted by papers because they are too long. Always find out what length the paper will accept.
- Try to submit your piece within one or two days of the evolutionist article/letter appearing. Submitting it three or more days later makes the topic “old news” for many editors. The likelihood of your letter appearing in the paper diminishes each day you wait to submit it. (Thus, emailing your letter to the editor is better than using the mail; do not, however, send it as an attachment.)
- Do not use inflammatory language. Be respectful (yet firm).
- Have someone with excellent writing skills proof your letter before sending it.
Be absolutely sure to be accurate in what you write. Double-check your facts and main points against what you find at this website (using our powerful search engine) and other reputable sources.