Young-Earth Creationism in 2021: The Dawn of The New Creationist, Part 2

Pick up a copy of The New Answers Book Volumes 1-4 from the young-earth apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis and you could be forgiven for thinking that young-earth creationists have the definitive answers to every question: If the world is young and its surface was completely worked over less than 4500 years ago, how would you go about identifying which parts of the geological column were laid down during the Flood versus those from post-Flood deposition?  How would you explain the lack of evidence from Flood rocks of the existence of mammalian species before the Flood and complete absence of any dinosaur fossils in any post-Flood sediments? How could just a few individuals preserved on Noah’s Ark have given rise to thousands of species of land vertebrates in just a few hundred years and where is the evidence for such rapid development?  How would you explain the diversity of fossil hominids and how would you decide if they were descendants of Adam and Eve or separate non-human creations (see “Bones of Confusion: A Homo naledi scorecard). How can creationists explain evidence of multiple Ice Ages? Could some dinosaurs have had feathers? Was light created in transit to Earth to tell us about stars that never existed? What effects did the sin of Adam have on the physical realities of the rest of the creation?  

These are just a few questions for which, to the layman, young-earth creationists seem to have provided answers yet, it doesn’t take much research to discover that there are significant unanswered questions and hotly debated ideas swirling around in a diverse young-earth community.   

Most of these questions have remained disputed within the creationist community for many decades.  Had I written about the state of young-earth creationism in the year 2000, I likely would have compiled nearly the same list of contentious questions and topics among creationists as I do now. 

In 2021, as I survey the young-earth creationist landscape I see a new brand taking root that I called The New Creationists (TNCs) in part one of this series.  While they do have some new answers to these old questions, my label TNCs is due less to their particular answers to these long-standing questions and more due to the approach they take to creation apologetics that sets them apart from the Ken Ham-style parachurch mega-ministries.

Let’s first take a look at creationism and see how the YEC landscape has developed over the past 20 years, thereby allowing for the dawn of The New Creationists. In the next installment, we will attempt to articulate some of the defining characteristics of TNCs.

A lack of unity among creationists highlights the need for The New Creationists

Lacking consensus on such critical questions such as the position of the Flood boundary in the rock column and the scale of post-flood speciation has resulted in many competing theories and highly contentious debates.  Combined with strong personalities and interpersonal conflict, all of this results in a somewhat fractured young-earth creationist’ community, or we might say, a lack of community.

Lest you think I am exaggerating, consider the origins and purpose of Logos Research Associates and the ugly divisions and eventual breakup of Answers in Genesis in the early 2000s.

Many of you may never have heard of Logos Research Associates but this organization, or fellowship as they call themselves, has been around since 2008. It brings together creation scientists from creation ministries, academia, and independent scholars with the hope of fostering community through facilitating communication and joint research projects.  This organization is probably unknown to the average church member, but they hope to seed ideas into the whole academic and creationist community.  To this point, their influence and effect on the creationist landscape appear to have been modest at best.  

One of the goals of Logos was to foster better relationships among creationists. Recently one of their members, Dr. Wilson, Senior Fellow of Natural History at New Saint Andrews College, penned a letter “exhorting goodwill within the creation movement.”  That letter encourages greater harmony within the community,  but its very existence also points to the divisions that exist. I encourage all to read the whole letter, because it  is very well written and has good intentions.  The positive nature of the letter makes it all the more disappointing that, thus far, very few creation scientists have signed onto its proposed vision.

To the point relevant to the need for The New Creationists I spoke of in my previous post (The Dawn of the New Creationists,Part 1), here are the relevant portions of this letter: 

 “We write this letter to make appeal to a community we love. It is apparent to us that division in the creation apologetics movement is widespread and at times there has been clear evidence of ungodly actions and sinful anger.”

Dr. Wilson is speaking not just to the Young-Earth community here but also to the broader creation apologetics community including old earth and evolutionary creationists but later he makes it clear that reconciliation is needed within the Young-Earth community itself:

 “Not only does it displease our Lord when we YEC creationists are not on speaking terms with each other, it is a poor testimony to the watching world. Will they know we are Christians by our love or by how staunchly we refuse to make things right. We think it is impossible to reconcile because it is impossible to get them to admit they’re wrong and I’m right about a particular creationist model or ministry philosophy. We are sure the enemy is quite pleased at the growth of the root of bitterness that he has cultivated in the YEC community over these years.”

A wide swath (70 as of this publication) of credentialed scientists are part of this fellowship including Dr. Guliuzza, the new president of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), other ICR employees, staff from Creation Ministries International (CMI), numerous individuals working in academia, many members of regional creationist organizations and independent scholars. Who is missing from the fellowship? Notably, none of the AiG scientists or staff are listed.  I am not privy to any of the recruitment efforts or the reasons why none of the AiG staff have signed on, but it doesn’t take much imagination to infer part of the problem. 

Logos Research Associates was founded in 2008.  This was right at the height of an acrimonious division that occurred within Answers in Genesis.  For four years prior there had been an internal power struggle and in 2008 most of that was becoming public (some of that history can be found HERE. I also have copies of most of the documents mentioned).  Eventually, Creation Ministries International would be founded—a form of rebranding really—by a large group who found themselves out of Ken Ham’s good graces.  

Ken Ham, many years earlier had left ICR to start AiG. Having now spurned  former cohorts who went on to form CMI and already having separated from ICR, the current Answers in Genesis staff find themselves in some measure isolated from the other two main YEC communities. Despite all this turmoil, AiG clearly remains the most influential player in the young-earth community as measured by donations, support, literature sales, and speaking opportunities.  The position AiG takes on any particular question—and they address issues that go far beyond creation science these days—has the greatest chance of becoming established in the broader Christian community.  As such, all other creationists operate in a world in which their consumers, and most importantly their donors, are most influenced by AiG.   

What does all of this have to do with my thesis that we are witnessing the “Dawn of The New Creationists”?

The fractures leading to the formation of CMI have never completely healed.  Many of those spurned and offended by Ken Ham are still feeling the sting today.  Even so, some members, most notably more recent hires that were not part of the historical split, have been able to collaborate to some extent.  Interestingly, with respect to their interpretation of scientific evidence for creation and their means of doing apologetics, CMI and AiG remain nearly indistinguishable. They are cut from the same cloth. Their differences stem from personality conflicts and differences of opinions about organizational structures and ministry style, rather than any fundamental statement of faith, apologetic methods, nor even some of the things that other creationists disagree about, such as the status of hominin fossils, position of the Flood/post-Flood boundary and so forth.  Their messages are remarkably similar and to the average person listening to representatives from either one speak, they would likely not notice any differences between the two.

The third leg of the mega-YEC ministries, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), also shares a similar mission, pension for particular forms of rhetoric, and essential doctrinal positions with CMI and AiG. However, ICR is set apart from these other ministries by some rather significant disagreements about how to interpret the scientific evidence within a young-earth paradigm. (e.g. position of Flood boundary in the geological column, the nature of natural selection, and how speciation happens and response to ICR, Programmed filling, not natural selection). Interestingly, ICR has been the most outspoken about the dangers of the new creationism that I bring attention to in these posts. They have published several critical articles identifying significant dangers, in their eyes, of The New Creationist or Young-Earth Evolutionists as one ICR writer has labeled them. We will have more to say about this in Part 3 of this series.

Differences in interpretation of scientific evidence notwithstanding, the big three young-earth ministries share similar statements of faith and generally operate in the same way, using a stable of hired speakers and content producers whose goal is to spread the established young-earth gospel.

The strange mix of unity of approach to apologetics combined with disunity in personality and interpretations of the physical evidence of creation, is partly where I find my thesis which proposes that there is a group of creationists, mostly made up of individuals in or around academia rather than employed by YEC ministries, that has become increasingly more organized and recognizable, and therefore has gained a larger voice in creation evangelism. I will make the case that this group, which I am calling The New Creationists (TNC), shares a core set of principles and ideas about the methods of creation apologetics and answers to some long-standing scientific problems for creationism. This is what sets them apart from traditional young-earth creationism and offers a possible route to a future form of creationism that could be a real force within the creationists community.

In the third part in this series, we will identify the core principles or characteristics that define The New Creationists.

Disclaimer:  

In this and the posts to follow, I am proposing an interpretation of the current state of Young-Earth Creationism.  It results from my extensive reading of creationist literature, following many YEC leaders and some of their fans on social media and listening to their seminary and presentations for over 20 years. This is my thesis and my framework for predicting possible future directions that young-earth creationism apologetics may take over the next decade.

Just so there is no confusion here, I am not proposing that the members of the New Creation blog are a monolithic group or a different species of creationists set wholly apart from other YECs. I am simply offering up the observation that they fit a general profile that puts them collectively into a different basket from the typical creationists of the past 40 years. 

All YECs have some connections and some common views despite their many differences.  There is no complete discontinuity among any individual or group of creationists.  The director/writer/producer of Is Genesis History? has talked about the future of creationism (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJWsG0n-9Ds ) where he emphasizes the need to work together, while acknowledging that there are many unresolved problems in creation science. He may have fostered some collaboration across diverse disciplines and between creationists from what had been different “silos” but the creation ministry that has formed since the film’s release reflects a particular approach to creation apologetics which is not universally held among all creationists.  There are identifiable subgroups or sub-baramin if you prefer within creationism even while they all operate with some shared principles. 

In the last installment of this series I will provide links to literature and websites that best represent TNCs. I will also provide a video reviewing the ideas I’ve presented here as well as reflecting upon what the next steps in this evolution of creationism may be and how those changes may unfold.

Editing kindly provided by MC

Comments

  1. Louis Wachsmuth says:

    Thank you for your time and efforts. This is not an easy path.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I thought this was going to be short note and its ballooned into a 10,000 word series and I have a zillion other projects I had on my to-do list before this even appeared on my radar.

      Like

  2. rjdownard says:

    Creationists have adaptively mutated before (their embrace of plate tectonics and speciation within kinds) so naturally mutations among them will generate an evolving landscape there.

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  3. robert byers says:

    Creationists should decide if we have NEW CREATIONISTS. Uts a right define oneself and not opponents.
    We simply get more folks, get smarter, clobber the bad guys. indeed one new emerging idea is seeing marine mammals as only post flood ark occupants. no more creation week creatures. new indeed and welcome and finally. indeed i saw the host of this thread post on another blog where this subject came up. When you start off with the basics of the truth on origins you have a greater gravitational curve to figure out the important but hidden truths. Leggy whales is a new emerging idea in yEC and I predict t rex being seen as a toothy tirkey is not far away. indeed this blog has documented the constant squeezing of creatures into fewer managable kinds.

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    • All described as “frontloaded evolution” . Created Kinds were geared with multipurpose genomes chockablock with variation-inducing elements that are misinterpreted as remnants of viruses (LINEs, ERVs, SINEs, etc).Published in JoC 2008-2009 and summarized since 2009 in my dutch book Terug naar de Oorsprong, and only available now as “Darwin revisited-how to understand biology in the 21st century”. YECs and OEC should read my book, which explains the biology of kinds.

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  4. Robert, please don’t imply you’re part of the “New Creationists..” Your extreme, poorly defined, far-fringe ideas that are not accepted by either the new or old creationist leaders and groups, let alone mainstream scientists. If you think I’m wrong, cite some evidence to the contrary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • robert byers says:

      Why are you judge of me or anything???? Creationists are the judges if they are.

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      • Robert, I’m not judging you as a person, I’m just noting that your claims are so outlandish (such as the idea that marsupials and placental animals were the same Genesis “kinds”) they are outside any serious form of creationism. Of course, you won’t see many YECs or nonYECs addressing your claims, because they have to have something substantial and coherent to address in the first place. The few YECs who have engaged you seem to largely share my assessment. For example, a YEC going by “Faith” at the Evofantasy blog writes that you are “one of the least articulate and most confusing creationist posters at EvC…” If you want to develop a better reputation or be taken more seriously, then as advised many times before, please try to do more reading and study in relevant fields, so at least your comments will be more coherent, whether or not anyone agrees with you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • rjdownard says:

          Whatever brand of New Creationism there may be, Robert reflects a broad segment of the bottom feeder branch of the Old Creationism: people who know very little about it and generally make up stuff as they go along. By comparison a higher level bottom feeder like Kent Hovind at least cites who he copies now and then, but Robert is more a freewheeling improve guy.

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          • I assume you meant to say Robert is a freewheeling “improv guy” rather than “improve guy.” Of course he could improve his approach and credibility, if he’d take the advice to do more reading and study, especially in biology. It’s hard enough to keep up with all the developments in origins related fields, even if one does a lot of reading, let alone without even trying. Robert, no offense, but have you ever even read a biology book?

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            • rjdownard says:

              Indeed Ye Olde Typo … Robert has never to anyone’s direct observation improved anything. Improv it was.

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