The Lies of AiG

More and more often find myself wandering into the pit of despair that is Answers in Genesis’s website. And I have certainly noticed a lot of lies. When I say lie, I do not refer to biblical or scientific extrapolations that are contentious, but rather objective facts. Here is one such example:

“The Hittites are supposed to have been overrun by the peoples of the sea about 1200 B.C. and ceased to exist as a nation, but in the ninth century B.C. we find the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III fighting an all-out war against the Hittites … rather hard to explain if the Hittites ceased to be a nation 400 years earlier.”

A lot of these lies require a little more context than just one quote, but I have a whole host of them copied down. People cite these “facts” that seemingly dismantle my worldview to me all the time; they would if they were true. When children are blatantly lied to it certainly does not inspire trust in anyone.

2 Likes

The misinformation is disheartening. Before this thread continues, I would like to remind people that the Christians who write for and read AIG are brothers and sisters in Christ, and even if they are not participating in this discussion, we should talk about them with the same grace we would extend guests here. So please remember that it is fine to disagree with ideas, fine to point out errors, and fine to lament the negative effects of these ideas and errors. But it is not fine to attribute negative motivations to others, speak for their thoughts, feelings, or reasoning processes, or judge the sincerity or validity of their faith. (As per our discussion guidelines.)

9 Likes

I have never dug to deeply into their site because to me it’s ridiculous. It’s in the same category as conspiracy theories. As stated though I don’t believe it makes them evil or anything. I think that regardless of the lens through which you read genesis 1-11 has no bearing on intelligence or salvation. It’s simply about understanding that specific subject of science. I had someone once link to them in argument, actually in a very personal local Facebook group with the congregation I attend.

The link ended up saying something about how genesis says plants were here first, including those with fruits, and then afterwards insects were created and that makes sense because how else would milkweeds and monarchs exists. I was a bit confused on what they were saying snd had to tease it out but essentially they were saying that in order for butterflies to exist they have to eat nectar from flowers and in order flowers to exist they have to be pollinated by butterflies and so they had to be created within a day of one another for them to exist.

I was instantly thinking, no… that’s not how any of that occurred. It was such a misunderstanding of evolution, ecology, and natural selection. I’m not a big history buff on ancient civilizations so I could not say either way about the exact example used.

In my experience the majority of active Christians invoiced in going to church and being in biblical forums don’t believe in evolution but takes a more literal approach to genesis 1-11. Which can be frustrating, but it’s not an actual stumbling block for me. It mostly does not alter any of my theology.

But I do believe that sites like AIG often sets up younger adults and teens for failure when they get to college and are faced by views thst you must choose science or faith. That’s why I try to stay open about it. The more initial hate and shock we all absorb the less that those in the shadows will have to face when they express it themselves.

This is exactly how they abuse their power. Not everyone can be extremely knowledgeable in every subject, so on some level we have to take the “experts’” words. It just so happens that children tend not to be knowledgeable enough to rebut in most all of the topics they cover, rendering them easy to convince.

1 Like

Thanks for raising this Jack,

The bigger issue is the very existence of the AiG site, in that it is an aggregation point for ignorance and misinformation. As has been said already in this thread, most people only gain a modest level of knowledge about a small number of things and so do not necessarily know enough to know what AiG says in incorrect. Some will fact check, but the majority will look to that site for the answer and sadly stop there.

What happens is that year after year, these ‘answers’ are built up and up to the point of being a vast database of ignorance that has the appearance of an authority. The YECs who have doubts or questions arising from experiences with atheists or watching a science video that shows evolution properly and how it works and explains things so well, can go to AiG and always find ‘information’ that calms them down and pulls them back into the cult of ignorance. Some escape, some see through it all, but many are kept in the cult by AiG.

But where is the corollary to this in the scientific world? Most science based websites are too technical, or don’t approach these sorts of questions with a theistic point of view, and don’t frame answers in the way that suits the questioner. Wikipedia is useful, although also not theistic in its presentation, and it isn’t structured in such a way as to quickly address the kinds of questions these people might ask.

The best site is probably talk origins. http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/other-links-evol.html and within this site you will see a menu options ‘Christianity and Evolution’ http://www.theistic-evolution.com/
This page discusses a Christian’s perspective and experience in dealing with the kinds of questions YECs have. Another resource is https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/search/topics.php?topic_id=13 which again is very informative but not necessarily framed in a theistic way that is very accessible to Christians.

Here is the problem. How do we get YECs to look to sites like this instead of AiG?

I know the point of objection you put was related to scriptural contradictions and historical facts, but all of the ‘information’ in AiG is equally distorted and misleading. What is needed is a more comprehensive effort by Christians that accept evolution, to reach out to those trapped in the YEC cult and get them to visit other sites like those above, and of course this site.

Lastly @Christy, I want to address your point about impugning the motives of people who are spreading misinformation. An atheist friend of mine says that if JWs come to his front door than they are not passive witnesses and therefore should be held to account for the accuracy of the ‘information’ they are broadcasting. The view is that in the same way that we would want a media outlet or broadcaster coming in to your home via the TV to fact-check, we would also expect the same from anyone coming to your front door. It is their responsibility to have done the research and independently checked that what they are saying is true.

I would argue the same when it comes to internet. AiG has a moral and ethical responsibility to get it right, but deliberately does not check the ‘information’ it publishes because that would not be in its interests. Its interests are not in the truth but in pushing an ideological agenda. But here is where I take it a step further, in that those who visit AiG and then take what they read and use it to proselytize as if they have the facts without doing any checking or really understanding the subject matter, are taking it upon themselves to be spokespeople for that site. These people are proxy broadcasters and carry an equal moral and ethical duty to checking their facts before broadcasting them as facts.

In my view, if you chose to do that, then you relinquish any right to object to people reacting adversely, including impugning your motives. I think this is valid because we are right to think that if someone has had the opportunity to approach legitimate sources and check the information but has declined to do so, there must be a reason for that. I think you have a responsibility to know your stuff and if you cannot be bothered or are too biased by your prior beliefs, then in my view you are fair game.

So I think it is precious of these people to cry foul when they are accused of deliberately misleading people or even of lying. If you don’t want to be accused of these things, then check your facts, bother to understand the science and the history, and bother to go to appropriate sources. Why must it be that we are all expected to be so polite and simply speak to the points they raise without a murmur? Why should we confer some quasi-legitimacy to their views by treating them like any other view? Not questioning their motives constitutes tacit acceptance of the validity of holding and espousing those views alongside people who have done the work to check their facts. Allowing these people’s motives to go unchallenged is to disrespect and devalue that legitimate efforts of those who do the hard work of researching things properly and challenging their own beliefs. Why should we not question the motives of people who are spreading ignorance and misinformation? There is value in community outrage and condemnation, and it is right in my view for us to point to people who are engaging in duplicitous behavior that comes as a result of failing in their moral and ethical duty to know their stuff.

The key is to understand that this is willful ignorance. It is a deliberate choice to not hear both sides, and to learn information that might lead them to change their minds. They know that they are pushing just the information that might convince the faithful to think a certain way, and avoiding presenting information - that they know is out there - that may be counter to their objective.

Hence I would say that it is within the biologos discussion guidelines that we have a right to at least suggest negative motivations on the part of those who seek to knowingly preach ignorance on AiG or on this site. On the biologos ‘What we believe’ page’ point 11 is as follows:

1. We believe that conversations among Christians about controversial issues of science and faith can and must be conducted with humility, grace, honesty, and compassion as a visible sign of the Spirit’s presence in Christ’s body, the Church.

There is no humility in pretending to know things that you don’t know.
There is no grace when these people are not meeting their moral and ethical responsibility to check their facts before pushing them into the minds of others.
There is no honesty in knowingly broadcasting one side of a story sourced from just one website
And there is no compassion, in my experience, towards those who disagree with them.

In summary therefore, while I will abide by the advise of the moderators, but I suggest it should be the policy of this site to allow a fair but of latitude when talking about the motivations of the AiG site and its salespeople. I bow to the will of the community of course. :wink: :grinning:

1 Like

You make a good case, Peter, and I agree with most of your well thought out position. We just need to remember that the people following these organizations are sincere and while misled, are trying to follow God’s lead as best they can. I am reminded of Denis Lamereaux’s recent interview on the podcast, when he mentioned that God meets people through YEC using divine accomadation. If you are a concrete thinker and have little knowledge of science, the literalist version of things may be the only way you can see it. Of course, that is addressing the YEC worldview rather than the specific organizational claims you address, but we should be careful where we tread.
One of the problems with organizations, is that they tend to place the well being of the organization above their ethical duty and the principles they were created to serve. We have seen that in churches, and also in these para-church organizations. I think many are willing to sacrifice honesty to protect financial interests.

2 Likes

Forgive them, they know not what they do. It’s not their fault. It’s no one’s fault. This is what unenlightened carnal minds do. Reality is crazed for them, like a shattered car windshield. It will take millennia if ever for these memes to age out. We just have to be nice. Says he!

Such creationist memes can be defeated by better memes. That’s not really the main issue. A certain kind of evangelical protestantism must be the broader target because that is what spawned the possibility of people like Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, et al. in the first place. It won’t take millennia to overcome the “lies of AiG” via Ken Ham, since “voluntary self-isolation” is now more clearly understood. A bit of a corrective “revival” or “wake up” may do enough to change the balance for many YECists who really must understand the wall they are up against includes the majority of fellow religious (who likely haven’t split, ruptured or fragmented as much as they have), just as many USAmericans are probably feeling some kind of a shift or movement around themselves both politically and spiritually in one way or another these days anyway.

This and more on Ken Ham, AiG, etc.

The worst endure. The poor we will always have with us, and they are among the poorest of the poor, intellectually, no matter how perversely materially wealthy. They are crazed with fear. Religion does that to a significant minority. Formalizes their fear.

I agree they have a moral duty to get facts right and should be held accountable. But when we start speaking to the reasons they aren’t getting their facts right and assigning internal motivations (their lack of interest in getting facts right, their desire for money or power or influence, etc.) we are speaking about the minds of others and we don’t really have access to that. You can argue that these negative assumptions are warranted based on your experience, but that doesn’t make them gracious, and in order to encourage productive and generous dialogue we ask people to refrain from speaking for what other people think, feel, and believe. You are welcome to speak for your own negative thoughts, feelings, or beliefs in response to AIG.

Questioning motives and challenging motives and expressing your own skepticism about motives is acceptable and is not the same thing as explaining their motives for them. You can question someone without acting like you already know what goes on in their head. You can only speak definitively about your own motivations.

This is speaking for someone else’s mental state, and we ask people not to do that.

I know many of the people here are triggered in one way or another by AIG and company because of their own baggage and history, and as a result, threads about YEC organizations can descend quickly into bitterness and insults. While we recognizing that this hurt is real, it’s not an automatic license to make every public conversation a venting session. People are welcome to use the PMs with other users if they feel the need to express these feelings with like-minded people.

1 Like

We can’t do anything about it. The YEC has to ask themself, “But what if I’m wrong?”, and then seek out the information themselves. That is, in essence, what science is.

We aren’t trying to convince AiG they are wrong. We are trying to help their audience feel comfortable enough that they question what AiG has taught them. As the old saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

4 Likes

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful responses. It may well be that this site, with the focus being on charity and grace, is not the appropriate forum to make allegations or even speculate as to the motivations of individuals or of the owners of AiG. I respect that.

In the broader context of communicating with these people though, outside of this site as it may be, I would like to put forward some additional points for your consideration, merely as a talking point germane to the forum topic.

I have learnt from the atheist community something that I think is valuable. They have spoken of challenging the taboo of not questioning religion, and say that it is fair game to questions ‘its’ claims, and ‘its’ actions., given that ‘it’ seeks to affect public policy and so on. I feel this is a legitimate argument and should be applied in all situations. Whether it be in the political or religious spheres, where our opponents seek to influence people in power, or indeed seek power, to enact legislation that effects our way of life, and enforces their worldview, we are entitled to put some serious questions to them. But let me take this a little further.

The underlying point is that we need to hold everyone to a standard of truth and veracity and intellectual honesty no matter their beliefs, politics or creed, in whatever domain of human discourse. We should not allow people to play the ubiquitous ‘get out of jail free card’ of ‘sincere and deeply held beliefs’ to free them from accountability for their actions. Because what it seems to me that you are all saying, and with the greatest respect, is that people are not to be blamed for being misled or ignorant.

There is a question here of personal responsibility. We are talking about grown ups here. Adults who can vote, drive a car and rear children. If they commit a crime and say they did not know there was a law against their actions, we could quickly say that ignorance of the law is no excuse. We say that because we believe that as an adult, as a member of our society, as a citizen, you have a duty to us all to know the law. We would not accept an excuse from a perpetrator of tax fraud that they were getting their advice from a site called ‘Answers in Make-Believe tax law’. We would not excuse them because of a sincere belief that the site they sought their advice from was convincing and in line with their previously held beliefs about tax. We would not allow them to pretend to be the victim.

This preparedness to treat people differently when it comes to hopelessly and farcically incorrect views is only the case when it comes to religion. While I get that this site is perhaps not the best place to push back against these people in the way I advocate, I would like to encourage people to consider that YECs are doing a great deal of harm in the USA and that this is spreading around the world right now. This destructive, anti-science, anti-reason, anti-democracy poison is destabilizing to our democracy, and is threatening our legal, scientific and educational institutions. I would like people to take a less forgiving attitude to people who spread this nonsense and ask them to demonstrate that they have studied evolution and all the related sciences properly, can explain how evolution really works (according to science) and present a properly argued and evidence-based case for their position, and that until they do that, they do not have an audience with you, and should not be allowed positions of influence over public policy. If we all take this approach, we will do more to shut down the progress of this movement.

They are adults and should be treated as such.

Sorry for going on a rant here, but this is a pet topic of mine and it is my passion to fight ignorance, nonsense and pseudoscience wherever I find it. Yes, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but it is also true that you can’t stop cancer by being nice to it.

I will continue my fight outside of this site. Thanks again for your considered responses :grinning:

1 Like

There is so much to resonate with here. I think that I and many long-time participants in this forum here feel all the same convictions you express in your posts, Peter, the necessary exhortation to stay with gracious dialogue notwithstanding. And I argue that we here are fighting that same fight. There is more than one kind of weapon against evils, falsehoods, and ‘innocent’ deceit. The direct frontal assault is one approach (often a necessary one I will concede), but it is not always the best one in every situation. Sometimes, refusing to stoop to the opposition’s tactics yourself and taking the high road of patiently pointing to (and living) the truth will be the more effective way to get people to slowly open their eyes and consider their own ways. Sometimes the outright assault does no more than drive them deeper into their tribal echo chambers and carefully vetted “news” sources that only feed their delusions. “They” seem most prepared to buttress up their views against just such a frontal assault because it’s what they themselves would do. They understand that. Sometimes the most effective tool to effect good in the world is to let the enemy spend themselves and their ammunition of deceit, while continuing to model truth and grace in your own life and words, even when it seems your side is getting nailed to a cross in the process. The light of truth does expose each work for what it is, but I do recognize it is hard to be patient as the truth seems to take agonizingly long to be “strapping on its boots”, so-to-speak, while conspiracy theories know no such caution or restraint. I think this site is an excellent provisioner of just such boots to carry truth to the many (especially here in the U.S.) that are starving for want of truth right now while being shamelessly played by their own tribal media sources who would like their listeners to imagine they are feasting on truth. There is much room for passion and anger - a time to be fashioning whips and upsetting tables against such false shepherds - especially ones that clothe themselves as pious and faithful. And many of them will refer to sites like this one in exactly those same hot terms. But it quickly becomes apparent which ones are most afraid of exposure to light and truth when one compares the insular vs. open natures in the tactics. Which site is most open to inviting all voices to come out and be heard and evaluated with data and opportunity for response and continued rebuttal? Which sites lock themselves down so that only the on-message voices voices (or at best maybe non-hostile or seeking ones) are allowed in their forums (if they even have a public forum at all)? In this way we all show our true colors, and those who know in their hearts that their “truth” does not fare well when brought out into the light are revealed for what they are [it is]. In order for that to continue, BioLogos needs to be sure it does not respond in kind the way so many of these other sites do. We are far from perfect in all this, of course, and the best of us still fall into passionate ad-hominem ourselves far too often, but as long as we recognize this and continue to call ourselves to that higher standard of gracious dialogue, and understanding, we are making use of other effective tools that also can gently rescue many sheep from the many false shepherds that vie for their exclusive attention in our society today.

Addendum to post above …

BioLogos enthusiasts are also encouraged to have the humility to know that we (as individuals here, or even corporately - to the extent that any collection of participants here can be said to well-represent the mission of BioLogos) almost certainly will not be right about everything. So humility in this, and openness to correction is perhaps the main distinction between those sources that care about truth over those who care primarily about ideology. Culturally loud voices that show no humility, no caution, no evidence of any self-reflection or self-examination at all are the voices most likely to be misleading. Give me - any day - the philosophy of accepting correction, or allowing for update and higher, better understanding - of concern for what reality actually shows whether that is convenient or not. In other words, I want to hear from the voices who know that they can be wrong and are very conscious of that fact. The best of science excels at just this attitude, but it is not a principle exclusive to science alone - even if science has perhaps done the best job of making this its creed. But in reality, there is no arena in life (and never has been) where this same attitude of humility has not been the hallmark of those who are, in the end, the most reliable when it comes to knowing and understanding reality. Our culture is literally starving for that right now, and sites like BioLogos are all too rare in helping to fill that need. May their labors continue to be fruitful on behalf of all.

Thanks for your thoughts and also your spirited support for this site and its philosophy.

To be clear, I concede that this site is not the forum for a frontal assault on the YEC brigade. My last points really were about what we should consider doing outside of this site. I understand and support your thoughts and others’ regarding the preferred approach for this site.

I do take on board your point, as the others have also said, that pushing back on these people can be counter-productive and all too often they are well-prepared with canned comebacks designed to confound all attacks with yet more ignorance. This is the insidious nature of the carefully managed ignorance machine they have created.

I believe though, that (outside of this site) we should still at least be steadfast in our demand for truth and veracity from those who seek a public audience, no matter whether it is in the domain of religion or politics, or about vaccinations, moon landings, or the shape of the earth. This ought to be a default, a universal, a social contract if you will, that affords us the common ground to say “No, I need more than just unfounded claims and conspiracy theories if you seek my audience. I need real facts, real evidence, and multiple, disparate sources in support of your claims”.

I think the role of this site is perhaps to play ‘good cop’ here. Invite them in for a chat over a cup of tea, lead by example in grace and humility as you have said, and leave them feeling that those who accept evolution are not the misguided demons they have been lead to believe. I agree with the need to maintain the high ground here, and this is an important role for this site. The ‘bad cop’ role, if you will, needs to be in the general public sphere where we are able to tackle them in a shared, secular voice as representatives of the broader community independent of one’s beliefs.

While I fully support the approach taken by this site, I will say that the success of this approach is not reflected in the increasing and disturbing spread of YEC both in the USA, Europe, Australia and NZ. Increasingly, political candidates in the USA not only have to be professing Christians, but feel the pressure to avoid support for evolution and an old earth, or openly garner votes on the basis of being a YEC. This creeping force of ignorance is a big problem and as they say ‘all that is needed for evil to prosper, is for good men to do nothing’ (sorry ladies, but that was a verbatum quote. I of course include everyone here :smiley:)

Lastly, I want to take the opportunity right now as an Australian, to apologize for Ken Ham to the USA and the world. He is every bit as bad as your Kent Hovind but with lots more money. :unamused:

1 Like

I would really, really, really love to see an updated version of Talk Origins, especially one written by Christians. It’s such a good resource, but it’s outdated and has some obviously atheist contributors, which poisons the well for some Christians. The format of the site is great, having the outline form list of creationist arguments. I got a lot out of the site when I started my journey out of YEC.

2 Likes

A post was merged into an existing topic: To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize? ID Theory vs. BioLogos

Yes, I agree that an updated version for Abrahamic monotheists would be welcome. This isn’t only for or about Christians as well, since Jews, Muslims and Baha’is all believe in the Garden of Eden origin story for humankind.

I’ve been gathering a similar but different list, and would be willing to work with others to bring a new collaborative list together. In fact, this is indeed a plan that I’ve had also for the past couple of years, since there is so much contention around primary and secondary sources in science, philosophy, theology discourse. Contact me by DM if interested.

Isn’t this what Swamidass was recently planning to do with a wiki page for Peaceful Science? He floated that idea last month, but it didn’t get much traction. Of course, it would still be a “secular list”, since Swamidass insists that “secular” means “neutral” and “fair”. I would not “trust” a Swamidass-generated list anymore than being always careful with Talk Origins.

1 Like

I think it might be best to try to approach Talk Origins with the idea of building a section within the site specific tailored to address the kinds of questions that YEC have regardless of their faith tradition. This would give them a sense that there are people associated with the site who understand and respect them and want to help them with their questions. Once they have been reassured, they might be more disposed to venture more broadly throughout the site, ever able to retreat back to the theist section if they get too anxious.

I disagree strongly that Talk Origins is the right place to build further. That’s the old, but best not the new. The expression of “especially one written by Christians” would make it considerably different than Wesley Elsberry’s project.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.