What's in a name?
John Stear, March 2006 (revised May 2006)
The Australian ministry of Answers in Genesis (AiG) has changed its name to Creation Ministries International (CMI) and has created a new web site, Creation On The Web. Before commenting further, a brief history of AiG might be helpful.
The first creationist organisation in Australia was begun in 1977 using the name Creation Science Association (CSA). In 1979/80 CSA combined with a Queensland group and became Creation Science Foundation Ltd (CSF). In 1987 Ken Ham was seconded by CSF to work with an American organisation Institute for Creation Research (ICR). In 1996 CSF assisted Ken Ham to form an independent ministry in the US which was initially called Creation Science Ministries but, on 10 November 1997, along with CSF, it changed its name to Answers in Genesis (AiG).
AiG, which incorporated the Australian, UK and New Zealand ministries, enjoyed an harmonious relationship with its Australian counterpart. Indeed, according to CMI, the US arm of AiG relied heavily on the Australian creationists for much of its content. Now, a little over eight years later, the Australian ministry of Answers in Genesis (AiG) has changed its name to Creation Ministries International (CMI). AiG is now AiG-USA with affiliations only with AiG-UK.
While on the surface this might appear to be a simple strategic move, when one looks closely at the way CMI has reacted it becomes apparent there is more to it than meets the eye. On their new web site (scroll down to "Brief History") CMI states -
"The AiG website was developed in the US and hosted there. It was largely dependent for its intellectual content on the scientists and thinkers in the parent corporation, in particular such as Dr Don Batten, Dr Jonathan Sarfati, and Dr Carl Wieland. These and other writers were heavily contributing to the site until late 2005/early 2006, when the US ministry withdrew themselves from the international ministry group (with the exception of the UK) with an expressed desire to operate autonomously, without e.g. website content being subject to an international representative system of checks/balances/peer review involving all the other offices bearing the same 'brand name'.
"At that time, in the midst of discussions about this and other differences in operating philosophy (not involving the statement of faith or similar), the Australian office was formally invited to form its own website. This required a new name to avoid confusion.
"The four national ministries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa) which were committed to continuing their focus and operational 'team' philosophy, and to continuing to forge and strengthen a representative international ministry alliance structure (based on Proverbs 11:14), then rebranded as Creation Ministries International (CMI)."
So AiG-USA didn't like "being subject to an international representative system of checks/balances/peer review ...". There may be a need for checks and balances, but peer review? In Ken Ham's simplistic creationist world his peers are probably the more rabid fundamentalists in the USA who view any attempt by a creationist organisation to "rationalise" its irrational arguments against science as something approaching heresy. For example, see my article dealing with AiG's attempt to chastise the loony Kent Hovind. The fact that the article rebuking Hovind has reappeared on CMI's web siteonly reinforces my speculation.
It's interesting to note that there is not one link to AiG on CMI's web site, or at least I couldn't find one. And AiG-USA's web site only features a link to AiG-United Kingdom rather than its once bosom pal in Australia, see Contact Answers in Genesis. One could reasonably expect like minded groups with close philosophical ties to, in normal circumstances, link to each other. But these appear not to be normal circumstances.
Reading between the lines (and ignoring the word "intellectual", and appellations such as "scientists" and "thinkers") I reckon that CMI is a mite dirty on AiG because, as they say above:
"It [AiG] was largely dependent for its intellectual content on the scientists and thinkers in the parent corporation, in particular such as Dr Don Batten, Dr Jonathan Sarfati and Dr Carl Wieland. These and other writers were heavily contributing to the site until late 2005/early 2006, when the US ministry withdrew themselves from the international ministry group (with the exception of the UK) with an expressed desire to operate autonomously ..."
Another puzzling aspect of this separation of AiG-USA and CMI can be found in an announcement by Ken Ham, AiG-USA's CEO, concerning the launching of a new magazine, Creation ANSWERS, which replaces the Creation magazine in the USA. Following Mr Ham's announcement of the launch, CMI, on their web site, had this to say -
"Creation magazine has for over a quarter of a century always been produced by the Australian ministry (now renamed Creation Ministries International), and was purchased in bulk by Answers in Genesis USA (from a special printing by us within the US) for distribution to a mailing list to which we have no access. [my emphasis]
"Our notification of the cessation of this arrangement was the web announcement by AiG-USA in late February, when we were almost ready to print the batch in the US (subscribers in other countries have not been affected). [my emphasis]
"On this announcement, it was stated that US subscribers would be automatically 'upgraded' to another magazine, unless they chose to have their unused subscription money refunded. In reality, of course, you have the choice of continuing with Creation, whether you want the substitute magazine in addition or not." [my emphasis]
The fact that AiG-USA preferred to notify CMI that they (AiG) were ending their magazine purchasing arrangement via an announcement on their web site is strange indeed - no friendly discussions? No attempt at negotiation?
Because of this abrupt termination of a long standing and hitherto successful arrangement, perhaps CMI can be forgiven for its somewhat bitchy reference to "a mailing list to which we have no access", "another magazine" and "substitute magazine". And CMI wouldn't have been amused by AiG-USA's curt statement "(The Australian publication Creation magazine is no longer distributed by Answers in Genesis in the USA ...)". The absence of at least a helpful link for those who might want to continue to subscribe to the Australian publication is puzzling.
In fact, CMI, in an email to subscribers, has been forced to make a request to former subscribers to their magazine and journal to notify their US friends and contacts that the two publications are still available in the USA, see Creation Ministries International: Hamstrung by AiG.
So there we have it. The only acknowledgement by AiG-USA that a split has occurred and that CMI exists is via an incongruous link on AiG-USA's home page to More past articles. These "past articles" lead one to what should be the big news story of the decade, the separation from its US counterpart and the renaming of the Australian ministry. The announcement under the heading A new name in the creation family merely states -
"You may have already noticed that some of the former Answers in Genesis ministries have changed their names to Creation Ministries International (CMI). Under new board leadership, the CMI ministries have philosophical and operational policies that have them moving forward with unique goals and objectives.
"The boards and staffs of Answers in Genesis–USA and the United Kingdom will continue to pray for God's rich blessings on our brothers and sisters in CMI as they seek His perfect will for their ministries."
Surely a link to CMI's new web site rather than a reliance on the vagaries of God's blessings would be a more practical or at least speedier way of ensuring the success of CMI in their fight against science.
Such bloody mindedness on the part of AiG-USA surely doesn't auger well for a cooperative relationship between what should be kindred spirits in the anti evolution crusade. Perhaps the Lord does work in mysterious ways.....