This is a synopsis of a fuller version that has appeared in 3 Quarks Daily.
Panda's Thumb readers will be familiar with Answers in Genesis, its position as the most vocal and best funded of Young Earth Creationist organisations (assets in excess of $82 million; owner of the Kentucky Creation Museum and Ark Encounter), its links with the Cornwall Alliance and hence with the fossil fuel industry, and its use of biblical arguments to dismiss concerns about the current environmental crisis. In my own reading of AiG materials, I have detected a progressive repetitiveness and loss of vigour. I have also noticed worrying signs of openness to the suggestion that we are living in the Last Days, with all that that implies for the abdication of long-term responsibilities.
These worries are intensified by AiG’s appointment last month of the lawyer Martyn Iles, until recently Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, to the newly created post of Chief Ministry Officer. Ministry is after all AiG’s entire reason for existence, and Iles, a skilful orator, also has a track record of effectiveness in political interventions, and in fundraising. Ken Ham is now 71, and we can expect Iles, 34, to become increasingly important in shaping AiG’s direction.
Iles is an extreme religious conservative, defines reality itself in religious terms, argues from Genesis that God approves of population growth, preaches that Christians must dismiss the findings of climate change science as “cultural Marxist rubbish,” because “God’s sustaining providence is crucial to our understanding of this world,” and regards the World Economic Forum as part of a grand conspiracy bent on suppressing individual liberty.
You can see Iles at his most frightening in his YouTube video, The Truth of It, Climate Totalitarianism (notice the carefully crafted title of the YouTube series, as well as of this particular item). In this, he uses quotations from Genesis to claim that this planet was created for the benefit of mankind.
It follows that environmentalist policies are misguided. And where do such policies come from? From evolutionary thinking, of course. “I understand why they’re getting it wrong, because they basically believe that human beings arose on this planet quite by chance, and in time proceeded to go on a destructive, and a murderous, and exploitative, and a cancerous rampage, which must now be stopped.”
Like a judo player, Iles now uses the very force of the environmental argument as a reason for rejecting it. “If I thought we were here by chance, and we were just one of the gazillions of planets and we were just very fortunate to be in the position that we are in, I would think the future was pretty uncertain, and I’d get pretty nervous.”
However, “Genesis is quite clear that what we see in the world around us was substantially put there for human use, and enjoyment, and sustenance, including plants, water, minerals, and animals.” The word minerals is the only reference in the piece to fossil fuels, but its significance will not be lost on his then intended Australian primary audience.
Consider the logic of this argument. Restraint in resource use is unbiblical, and therefore uncalled for. Unbelievers have cause for anxiety, but for believers this anxiety is unnecessary, because God. I am forced to conclude that he sincerely believes that we are in the End Times, or, if not, that God will somehow intervene to save us from the foreseeable consequences of our actions.
To sum up, an eloquent preacher who is also a skilled political operative is rising to the top in the world’s most significant creationist organisation, while objecting in principle to concerns about what we are doing to the planet, because worrying about the planet is God’s job, not ours, and He will look after it all in His own good time.
Not good news.