For 30 years, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has advocated a literal, straightforward reading of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Interestingly, his staunchest critics have been fellow Christians.
Ham believes that God is the Creator of the universe and that it took six literal days for God to create everything. That view, he says, is a consequence of accepting the authority of the Word of God as infallible. To reject that belief is to undermine that authority.
Yet many Christians, he laments, not only dismiss the literal reading of the Creation account but also feel embarrassed by it.
"In today's modern scientific age, many Christians believe it's an embarrassment to accept a straightforward reading of Genesis and that Christians should not reject the majority view in the scientific community that accepts millions of years and other evolutionary beliefs," Ham, whose ministry is behind the Creation Museum, told The Christian Post this week.
The Christian apologist recently blogged about the criticism his ministry receives from mostly within the church.
"The criticism from Christians happens so often that we (sadly) have now come to expect a steady stream of negative comments whenever we proclaim the truth of the history of Genesis," he wrote.
But it doesn't come as a surprise to him. In fact, the reason he founded Answers in Genesis 19 years ago was "to help bring reformation to the church and see Christians accept the full authority of the Bible, starting from its very first verse," he explained to CP.
One supporter of Answers in Genesis was stunned to encounter opposition to the literal six days view. The supporter, identified as J.C. from Boise, Idaho, described that incident to AiG.
"I was at the gym, in the locker room, telling a pastor how great the [Creation] museum was. Pastor Jack asked me, 'You believe in a literal 6 days?'
"'Absolutely!' I replied.
"Then out of nowhere, a man came around the corner who overheard our conversation said, 'Ken Ham is a piece of c-,'" J.C. recounted. "This man went on to tell me that he has four degrees, studies fossils, bends light, is a Christian, and is a follower of Reasons to Believe and its president Hugh Ross. But out of his same mouth he called a fellow Christian a piece of c-. There was no sign of the humble heart of a Christian.
"I can't believe that I have fellow brothers and sisters wanting to side with 'scientists.'
"This has been a real eye-opener for me."
Dinesh D'Souza, a Christian who authored The Roots of Obama's Rage and co-directed "2016: Obama's America," counted himself out of the "fundamentalist" Christian circle, saying last week in a debate in New York City that creation science is "nonsense."
He rejected a "fundamentalist," or in this case literal, reading of the Bible, claiming that only 3 percent of Christians subscribe to that.
"D'Souza clearly rejects the historicity of Genesis," Ham observed. "In response to evolutionist Dr. Lawrence Krauss, who said that the Bible is wrong because it teaches that light was created before the sun, D'Souza agreed with Krauss.
"[H]e continues to say that he does not appeal to the Bible to support any of the arguments he makes but argues on the basis of reason alone. But God's Word is true and illuminating, and human reason is flawed (Genesis 3). D'Souza is handicapping himself with that kind of strategy, and the debate is lost even before it starts."
D'Souza was arguing against the motion that science refutes God in an Intelligence Squared debate.
Answers in Genesis is largely known for advocating a young Earth view – that the universe is about 6,000 years old. That belief, Ham argues, comes from the Bible. If you start with the Bible alone, without considering any outside influences, you cannot come up with millions or billions of years of history, Ham states.
"However, the reason they don't believe God created in six literal days is because they are convinced from so-called 'science' that the world is billions of years old. In other words, they are admitting that they start outside the Bible to (re)interpret the Words of Scripture," Ham maintains.
"There aren't separate sets of 'evidences' for evolution and creation – we all deal with the same evidence (we all live on the same earth, have the same fossils, observe the same animals, etc.). The difference lies in how we interpret what we study."
Ham has made it clear that AiG's main thrust is not "young Earth" but simply biblical authority.
According to a study conducted by America's Research Group and published in Ham's Already Gonei, more than 40 percent of surveyed twenty-somethings first had doubts that all the accounts in the Bible are true during their high school years. Among those who said they do not believe all the biblical accounts are true, 14 percent said it was because "science shows the world is old."
More recently, a LifeWay Research survey found that 43 percent of Protestant pastors don't believe the earth is 6,000 years old while 46 percent do.
Genesis, Ham contends, is the most-attacked book of the Bible and he's hoping to get Christians to reclaim "the foundations of our faith," starting with the first verse.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.