Ken Ham is president of Answers in Genesis, which is by far the best known young-earth apologetics ministry. The organization publishes Answers, a magazine targeted for a general audience. The latest issue (Jan-Mar, 2016) has “Exotic Ark Animals” as its cover article. The article is noteworthy because it argues for macro-evolution; the theory that the species of today evolved from prior, extinct species.
Historically, young-earth creationists have distinguished between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. Micro-evolution is the variety and change that occurs within species. (Think of all the different breeds of dogs–that’s an example of micro-evolution). Macro-evolution is the idea that species evolve into other species. Young-earth creationists have traditionally accepted micro-evolution while rejecting macro-evolution. So it’s big news that Answers in Genesis has embraced macro-evolution.
In their academic and scholarly writings, members of Answers in Genesis have started to accept the notion that species evolve into other species. Last November I listened to Nathaniel Jeanson, a biologist with Answers in Genesis, present a paper at the Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Atlanta. Dr. Jeanson emphasized that Answers in Genesis does not hold to the “fixity of species.” Rather, they view species as “fluid” (his terms). Similarly, geologist Andrew Snelling (also with Answers in Genesis), argued in his book, Earth’s Catastrophic Past, that only about a thousand species were on the ark (p. 136). These 1,000 species then evolved rapidly into the millions of species we see on the earth today. An article located on the AIG website, “Mammalian Ark Kinds,” provides another example. There Jean Lightner argues that Noah’s ark contained at most 350 species of mammals, from which the current thousands of species of mammals evolved.
The Answers article argues that God created “kinds” from which the animals we see today evolved:
“He made the original ‘kinds,’ not all the variety of animals that would be born. There weren’t lions or donkeys (at least, not exactly like today). Instead, He made all the animal ‘kinds,’ that today’s cats, horses, and bears have come from. So God didn’t necessarily make both lions and tigers at the same time. He made the cat kind. From that original kind came all the cats that we find today, such as jaguars, cheetahs, and house cats.” (p. 50)
It’s important to note that Answers in Genesis is not endorsing Darwinism. There are a number of evolutionary theories, of which Darwinism is just one. But Darwinism is by far the best known, so well known that many people equate evolution and Darwinism as synonyms. Darwinism make three claims: 1) that species are mutable and can evolve into other species, 2) that all species (including humans) evolve from a common ancestor (probably a single-cell creature), and 3) that natural selection is the primary (if not solitary) engine that drives evolution. Answers in Genesis has decided to accept the first claim–that species evolve.
Answers in Genesis does not accept the second and third planks of Darwinism. They still affirm the direct creation of certain proto-species (which they call Baramins), and they affirm the special creation of Adam and Eve. But they have shifted significantly from the positions argued by early young-earth creationists such as Henry Morris and Duane Gish.
Answers in Genesis is making a significant acknowledgment. They are acknowledging that, indeed, the fossil record does in fact give evidence of transitional life forms. They seem to be trying to go where the evidence leads them and at the same time continue to hold to their core beliefs. I, for one, applaud them. One thing is for sure, this is not your father’s young-earth creationism.