It’s fashionable nowadays to demonize things you don’t agree with. Nothing you oppose is allowed to have any redeeming qualities whatsoever. Civil discourse appears to be nearly dead. That’s a shame. There are lots of people I like who I don’t agree with politically. I was struck by the friendship between Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. Charles Koch wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about how he agrees with Bernie Sanders on one important issue. It’s possible for reasonable people to disagree. It’s rarely a good idea to assume someone who you don’t agree with isn’t reasonable.
So it is for me and Answers in Genesis. There is one thing that’s part of their core beliefs that I actually agree with whole-heartedly. In case you don’t know, Answers in Genesis is an international organization based in Boone County, KY (where I live) that runs a tourist
trap attraction called The Creation Museum. It’s also building another one in Grant County that will feature what they’re claiming to be a full-sized replica of Noah’s Ark. If your question is “What was the genesis of Charles Pierce’s wonderful book Idiot America?” you’ve come to the right place! The answer is Answers in Genesis! In the past I’ve referred to the Creation Museum as the Moron Museum, but I decided a while back that it’s wrong to do that. AIG is run by a guy named Ken Ham and they collect buckets of money from people who believe in the inerrancy of the Christian Bible, including the creation stories.
Now let me get this out of the way first: Anyone who knows me knows I have no time for “biblical creationism.” The Earth is not 6000 years old. It’s billions of years old. It was not created in seven days. More billions. Humans did not live at the same time as dinosaurs. Missed that by millions. Noah’s Ark is a myth. It’s the original boat you’re going to need a bigger one of. These are not opinions. These are empirically provable facts. I no more want to “debate” this than debate that the Earth revolves around the sun. I’m not interested in talking to anyone about how “it’s just a theory.” Demonstrate to me that you have an understanding of the history of science and at least a passing knowledge of epistemology. Summarize Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions without using the word “paradigm,” for example. Then we can have a discussion worth having. Until then, never mind.
So what good can I possibly have to say about this group? To understand it you also have to know that Northern Kentucky has two Christian Identity churches and one Klan group listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map. To say this isn’t the most racially progressive place on the planet is a bit of an understatement. Most of the time it stays below the surface, though. People around here seem to prefer their racism covert rather than overt. Except these two churches. I’m not going to link to either of them. Check out the SPLC site to get their names and you then you can find them yourselves. It turns out that both of these churches really hate Answers in Genesis. Why? Because they flat out call racism wrong. Full stop. No exceptions. No weasel words.
I’m not going to lie. This surprised me when I first came across this. When I found out about these two churches a couple of years ago I threw in Ken Ham’s name as well as “Answers in Genesis” into their site searches just to see what came up. Here’s one particularly virulent recent example from one of the web sites:
The only people that are not of God are half breeds or mongrels, because God only created ‘kind after kind,’ never hybrids. If the melting pot synagogue of satan known as ‘Answers In Genesis’ wants a fast track evolution to explain the origin of the races or “people groups,” then they need not look any further than Jeremiah, which maps the movement of mongrelization. It is God Himself who will remove and move the wandering jew so that it will hurt them and harm others as well, forsaken by all of mankind. They have been purged and kicked out of just about every European nation throughout the last 2000 years, because they are evil… “the lusts of their father [god] they will do” (John 8:44). If Jesus Christ was one of these hereditary jews of mixed blood, then He was condemning and contradicting Himself. It is simply preposterous and disastrous to believe a parasitic people that worms their false religion into the sacred tenets of Christianity. [Emphasis added. Still not linking.]
Yeah, somehow I don’t get the idea that Ken Ham is getting a Christmas card from these folks in this or any other year.
The object of these folk’s ire seems to be that Answers in Genesis publishes a book called One Race One Blood. OK, it blames racism on Darwin (because everything was peachy before then!) and then veers off to disliking gay people later (because isn’t it ironic that an omnipotent God has the same biases and hangups you do? What were the chances?) But it takes one of their core beliefs, that Adam and Eve were the first people, and takes it out to the conclusion that it’s wrong to hate someone merely for the color of their skin. Heck, apparently they’re not really too keen on the term “race” at all.
Maybe there’s something cynical about this. I don’t know, but I don’t think so. I don’t want there to be. I want to believe that, on this one thing, I can say “We agree on this.” I seriously doubt there’s much else, if anything, we agree on. But on this we do. And because of that I won’t — can’t — demonize them. Given the racial attitudes often (but not always) found in churches that describe themselves as fundamentalist, you have to figure it would be easier for Answers in Genesis if they just didn’t bring it up. But they do.
I’ve always had a grudging respect for Chik-Fil-A because they’ve left a ton of money on the table by being closed on Sunday. Because I said there’s only one thing I agree with the Answers in Genesis about, I have no problem pointing out that the Creation Museum is open on Sundays. So much for all that Sabbath crap. But at least all money is welcome.