Righting America

A forum for scholarly conversation about Christianity, culture, and politics in the US
Anti-Intellectualism at Warp Speed | Righting America

by William Trollinger

In the end, is the point to make it possible for evangelicals not to think?

Bryan Osborne of Answers in Genesis (AiG)  has recently explained the organization’s purpose thusly:

The revelation that the Bible’s plain history is true, that real science confirms historical events in the Bible, and that Christians have solid answers to the skeptical questions of this age is absolutely revolutionary! . . . This is why we are so passionate about the calling God has placed on this ministry! It’s why we built the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter. It’s why we have a daily radio program and hold Bible-upholding and evangelistic conferences all over the world. And it’s why we publish books, DVDs, curricula, and our award-winning Answers magazine.

As we note in Righting America, AiG “is a creationist juggernaut” (11). But when one looks closely at the whole enterprise – as we did in Righting America – it is striking how thin the “solid answers” are. In fact, there seems to be an obsession at AiG with selling materials that dispose of theological, scientific, and moral questions as quickly as possible.

For example, one can purchase an AiG movie, “Check This Out!,” that “is loaded with six mini-videos, each covering a distinct ‘hot topic’ in the creation/evolution debate.” Topics include “Radiometric Dating,” “Pain and Suffering,” and, to wrap things up, “Evolution Refuted.” Best of all, each of these videos address “the controversy at warp speed,” i.e., in 3-4 minutes.

For another example, AiG’s Osborne and Bodie Hodge (Ken Ham’s son-in-law, who writes on nearly every possible topic) have now produced  Quick Answers to Tough Questions, which is described at the AiG store as an “excellent resource for teens and young adults” who “don’t have the time to read a big manual.” With Quick Answers “you don’t have to be an expert,” as this “graphic style book” provides “concise answers” – 500 words or less — regarding (among a host of topics) “creation and evolution,” “death and suffering,” and the “origin of life and missing links.”

Perhaps there are some young adults and teenagers who are persuaded by three paragraphs or three minutes from AiG on questions pertaining to evolution or pain and suffering. But we know from our experience of teaching at evangelical colleges that many youth – particularly, the brightest, the most inquisitive, and (interestingly) the most devout – find answers like those provided by AiG to be intellectually unsatisfying, at best.

And if these youth have been successfully indoctrinated to believe that fundamentalism = Christianity, if they have been convinced that to be Christian requires one not to think except in the most superficial fashion, then they simply leave the faith.

In our churches and in our culture we pay for anti-intellectualism.