While hundreds of celebrations worldwide will be marking the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth beginning in February, one creationist ministry will be holding conferences to refute the famed scientist's theory of evolution.
Answers in Genesis, which runs the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ky., will host two free national conferences to help Christians defend their faith against a theory that the ministry sees as running counter to Scripture.
The two conferences, dubbed "Answers for Darwin," will take place at two churches - one held on the West Coast and one on the East Coast - to provide training and education for Christians regarding evolution and creation.
The West Coast gathering is scheduled for Feb. 6-7 at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, Calif. The East Coast event is set for Feb. 15-17 at Thomas Rd. Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.
"So many Christians have been convinced by the academic elite that there is some validity to Darwin's beliefs regarding evolution, and they try to find ways to compromise, and fit creation and evolution together," said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, who will be a key speaker at both conferences.
"We want to help them understand that Darwinian evolution is wrong, and that it has undermined the Christian faith and has fueled social ills like racism and abortion," he said in a statement.
Other speakers at the California-based conference include Dr. Andrew Snelling, a scientist with Answers in Genesis who holds a Ph.D. in geology, and Dr. David Menton, a staff scientist with Answers in Genesis who holds a Ph.D. in biology.
Conference topics will include "Answer from Genesis on Darwin and the Culture Wars," "Answers for Racism," "Answers from Science and Scripture on the Real Age of the Earth" and "Answers from the Fossil Record – Creation vs. Darwinian Evolution."
Speakers at the East Coast meeting will include Ham and Snelling as well as Liberty University professors Dr. David DeWitt, a Ph.D. scientist in neuroscience, and Dr. Marcus Ross, who holds a Ph.D. in geoscience. In addition to topics covered at the West Coast conference, the Virginia event will also address the topic "Answers about the 'Ape-Men.'"
Ham, a Young Earth Creationist, believes in the literal interpretation of the six-day creation story in Genesis. The Creation Museum, which he founded, features exhibits that claim the world is only 6,000 years old, dinosaurs appeared on the same day God created other land animals, and geologic features such as the Grand Canyon and fossils were created in a global flood during the time of Noah.
"Many Christians are surprised when they learn that valid science confirms the biblical accounts of creation and Noah's Flood," added Ham. "Our mission at Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum is to spread that message in order to uphold all of Scripture and therefore reach non-believers with the gospel."
A Newsweek poll last March found that evangelical Protestants (73 percent) were more likely than non-evangelical protestants (39 percent) to agree that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. Catholics (41 percent) were more likely than non-evangelical protestants to agree with the statement.
Many Christians and most members of the Catholic Church accept a brand of evolution known as "theistic evolution," which teaches that evolution was a tool used by God in the creation process.
Not all Christians will shun "Darwin Day."
Some will join in events taking place this year that mark both the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of his published work, The Origin of Species.
Pope Benedict XVI plans to attend a March conference celebrating the Origin of the Species in Rome. The pontiff has maintained that the theory of evolution is compatible with the Bible.
According to a website devoted to celebrations (darwinday.org) there are 322 events taking place in 31 countries to commemorate "Darwin Day."