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Book Review: Who Am I? Solving the Identity Puzzle, by Martyn Iles, Executive CEO of Answers in Genesis | Righting America

by Paul Braterman

Paul Braterman is Professor Emeritus in Chemistry, University of North Texas, and Honorary Research Fellow (formerly Reader) at the University of Glasgow. His research has involved topics related to the early Earth and the origins of life, and received support from NSF, NASA, Sandia National Labs, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He is now interested in sharing scientific ideas with the widest possible audience, and was involved in successful campaigns to persuade both the English and the Scottish Governments to keep creationism out of the science classroom. He is a regular contributor to  3 Quarks Daily, and blogs at  Primate’s Progress, paulbraterman.wordpress.com

Book cover of Martyn Iles’s Who Am I? Solving the Identity Puzzle. Image via Amazon.

Martyn Iles, as many readers will know, was managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby until sacked by the Board in February 2023, was appointed Chief Ministry Officer of Answers in Genesis in May of that year, and in November was promoted to Executive CEO, working alongside Ken Ham, who remains as Founding CEO.

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There is one important difference in style between Iles and Ham. Ham, in the tradition of Henry Morris and, before him, George McCready Price, argues that science supports his version of Bible-based Young Earth Creationism. Iles, however, does not even condescend to discuss such mere details. As he posted on Facebook in October 2022, “Truth is in the [biblical] word itself. Other things are true insofar as they conform to it.” Moreover, Iles is clear in his own mind that his understanding of the Bible, however far-fetched, is the correct one. So when he tells us what it means, he is speaking for God.

On his appointment, Iles wrote,

Just as evolutionary naturalism has threatened the faith of so many, postmodernism and new critical theories threaten the faith of a new generation. 

Given his position at the head of the world’s leading Young Earth Creationist organization, we need to know what he has in mind by this laconic statement, and we can gain some insight into this from the book under discussion here.

The book itself, like others from the same publisher, appears to be directed at young adults. It is an easy read, with large clear print, and the text is liberally illustrated by silhouettes of young people, generating a warm and welcoming impression at odds with the fundamentally dictatorial nature of the content.

 . . . . . . . . . .

Iles begins by deploring what he sees as the modern emphasis on the self:

Actually, I didn’t realize you could use it [self-] as a prefix quite so much until I started my research. Self-ideation, self-love, self-discovery, self-definition, self-perception, self-determination, self-narrative, self-image, self-concept, self-esteem … All of these I have encountered in contemporary works on identity. This word has brought with it the age of the inward turn — the looking at the self. 

Notably absent from this list: self-knowledge.

He goes on to build up an enormous superstructure on a very narrow theological base. He makes extensive use of a handful of verses from the opening chapters of Genesis:

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Genesis 1:28) 

Increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it. (Genesis 9:7) 

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22) 

From this he infers that there cannot be an overpopulation problem, that it is a duty of fertile couples to have children, and that concerns about such large-scale matters as climate change are fundamentally misplaced, since these things are in the hands of God and, to use his expression, when we imagine that we can affect them we are “getting too big for our boots.” This is the sin of pride, and pride is a very serious sin indeed. Climate alarmism (his expression) is only one example of such pride, part of a list that includes

abortion, transgenderism, queer sexuality [sic], critical race theory, feminism, family breakdown, …, childlessness, cultural Marxism, post-modernism, and all that stuff. The common thread is this: all of them seek to usurp God’s authority as Creator by redefining what He has already defined. All of them seek to do His job for Him, only better. 

He accepts unquestioningly the interpretation of Genesis 3:15:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

as the very first prophesy of the coming of Jesus. In this interpretation, which goes back to the 2nd Century CE, the serpent is identified with Satan, the woman’s offspring is Jesus, born of a woman, the bruising of his heel is the agony of the crucifixion, and the bruising of Satan’s head is Christ’s triumph over evil.

From this he infers that the highest vocation of woman is motherhood, and that Satan bears special enmity towards pregnant women and babies. Satan is very prominent in Iles’s view of the world, and is mentioned 11 times in this short book.

Male and female roles were spelled out at the creation. God decides to create woman because:

It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. (Genesis 2:18) 

And Adam is duly appreciative:

This at last1 is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. (Genesis 2:23). 

Thus, according to Iles,

woman was made with such care and purpose that she perfectly complemented and completed him [man]. She too was not made to be alone. The two became one. 

One, but different:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15) 

Iles draws our attention to two words, which define a man’s God-given purpose; first, to “work,” and second to “keep.” The reference to “the garden” directs attention to his external responsibilities. And so, he tells us, men are called to industry and must beware the sin of idleness.

Why, Iles asks, was it Adam that God addressed by name after the Fall:

Adam, where art thou? (Genesis 3:17, KJV) 

This although Eve and the serpent were also present at the scene, the serpent was the primary initiator of the sin, and Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit. The reason for singling out Adam is that, as a man, he had primary responsibility for what had happened in the garden that had been entrusted to his care. Responsibility is a male prerogative.

Of women, Iles says

The woman was at her best when making another person their best. That was her commission. And it spills over into her motherhood too. Only women are mothers, and this is a good and beautiful thing indeed — a commission from God, for which she is designed biologically, psychologically, and spiritually. 

Iles goes on to mentions meekness as part of woman’s special virtue, and uses the word “meek” with reference to women on seven separate occasions.

In a passage worth quoting in full, he compares the different ways in which men and women go about getting their own way when not entitled to:

While men might prefer to exercise illegitimate control through brutishness, force, and cruelty, women tend to use different methods. They play games. They manipulate circumstances. They might even get their girlfriends involved to “make” things happen or drop ideas, seeds, and prompts through third parties. Their minds are always storyboarding, working out what people are thinking, how they’re feeling, and preempting next moves. They operate in the realm of the emotional, subjective, and interpersonal. To use such powers of discernment to manipulate circumstances and control outcomes is ultimately an abuse of those feminine giftings. They were given to be exercised selflessly and meekly, without the taint of self-will and premeditated outcomes. There is a difference between godly help and controlling “femcraft.” 

And when challenged as to what the besetting sin of woman might be, as compared to idleness in men, he answers “Control.” As he put it on Facebook (6 June 2023):

A word like “independent” is a direct assault on God’s design for women… A woman who prizes strength in independence is a woman rebelling against her nature. 

There you have it. You and I may think that our identity is a puzzle, but the book promises in its title to solve it for us, and does so. We may even have imagined that there are many possible solutions, but Iles knows God’s design, and there’s the end of it.

The rest of the book is devoted to theological questions, with heavy emphasis on our sinful nature, but since I have no special insight to offer on such matters, I will leave it there.2

  1. “At last” because in between the two verses cited, we have the creation of the animals, and their being brought to Adam as potential partners and found wanting for that purpose. But if you include this in your materials, you will find yourself with something far more interesting than Iles’s blinkered moralizing. ↩︎
  2. This review originally appeared at Panda’s Thumb; for the full review, see here. ↩︎