Message repetition and AiG source cues

Like these ICR materials, Answers in Genesis media also contain cases of Source Attraction, though in much higher quantities. Only a dozen of these incidents can be classified as either flattery of the audience or the Plain Folks device, while the remainder are appeals to common Evangelical Christian values. In particular, Answers magazine repeatedly affirms that as

Echoing credibility 81 a creationist ministry AiG wholly believes in humanity’s imago Dei. Unlike God-hating atheists, and noncreationist Christians, AiG’s members truly accept Christian ideals concerning human significance and uniqueness.71 This recurrent focus appears so often that it forms part of AiG’s cases of Message Repetition. What is particularly interesting about Message Repetition in Evolution Wars media is not only that it is a unique characteristic of AiG communications, but that Answers articles are, on average, the shortest in word count when compared to other antievolutionist materials. Consequently, not only do Answers in Genesis writers utilize Message Repetition, but they do so while using less text per article. AiG’s occurrences of this message variable can be subdivided into two broad categories, described here as negative and positive repetition, which are featured in Figure 3.4. The positive variety involves reiterating messages that affirm YEC’s contentions and extol the virtues of creationism. This is exemplified in repeated claims about the image of God, or recurrent statements that the Earth is clearly young. On the other hand, the second form of repetition entails criticizing an opposing viewpoint time after time. This includes repeating that scientists base evolutionary theory on dubious, unempirical assumptions. Though there is some intersection between these two Message Repetition subdivisions, the vast majority of AiG’s cases can be classified as the positive variety, which include repeated statements affiliated with Source Cues.

The majority of AiG’s positive repetition incidents occur within articles that reiterate how organisms demonstrate clear proof of design from an omnipotent creator. These positive occurrences involve restating that particular animals “reveal complex creative design,” or that a certain plant was “specially designed” to survive in a harsh environment.72 Consequently, the articles in which such Message Repetition appears generally describe biological intricacies of flora or fauna and then repetitively contend that such “designs speak of a Creator,” and are clearly “a marvelous testimony to the Creator’s careful design.”73 Cosmetic variation is prevalent within this repetition, specifically in the form of reworded statements communicating

Antievolutionist Message Repetitionidentical messages

Figure 3.4 Antievolutionist Message Repetitionidentical messages. For instance, an article may declare that certain animals have been unmistakably “designed,” “engineered,” or “equipped” by God for survival. The message is the same, though the vocabulary conveying the point is slightly altered in its repetition. These reiterated claims are also interspaced throughout articles, spread out across paragraphs. While such incidents are generally categorized as positive repetition, they sometimes incorporate assaults against evolution within their attestations of supernatural design. For example, in an article describing the defense mechanisms of porcupines, Dan Breeding not only repeats that the animal’s abilities are designed but that these mechanisms could not have resulted from natural processes. “God specially designed their defensive mechanisms,” he claims. “They did not result from random mutations.”74

In addition to repeated messages associated with supernatural design, the next most commonly reiterated dispatches include assorted statements that can be described as religious instruction. These occur within articles that discuss pressing theological issues as well as matters of Christian ethics. Such repetition is contiguous with Source Attraction, as it involves recapitulating shared moral values that AiG maintains with its targeted audiences. For example, in one piece engaging the long-lasting question of why God would allow evil and suffering in the world, the author echoes a similar message that “sin explains the horrible things we see in our cursed world.”73 These types of repeated statements also include cosmetic variation, while emphasizing shared Christian beliefs. With regard to this, AiG contributors use a variety of assertions to reaffirm that humans were bestowed with a divine nature and intrinsic value at the time of creation. In this vein, Bau-cham notes again and again, in altered form, that humankind is “the crowning glory of the creation of God,” while Menton repeats such remarks as “the mind and soul of man and his God-given ability to communicate with our Creator distance him from the beasts.”76

AiG’s remaining positive cases of repetition occur within articles that address three important Young Earth Creationist topics: the concept of biblical kinds; the Bible’s reliability as a source of information that truly refers to six literal twenty-four-hour days of creation; and descriptions of the Noa-hic flood as the best, scientifically verified, interpretive tool for deciphering geological phenomena. A number of articles dealing with these particular subjects restate such statements as, “Only a literal understanding of Genesis makes sense of these facts”; “Only an unprecedented, global flood can explain what we find at [the] Grand Canyon”; “the word day in Genesis 1 refers to six 24-hour days”; and the Bible is “a real book of history that can be trusted.”77 Collectively, these recurrent statements align with Answers in Genesis’ claims of credibility associated with the authority of scientific facts, and the truth of the Bible.

Finally, the remaining incidents categorized as negative repetition can be found in articles claiming that geology’s uniformitarian premises are based on unverifiable assumptions, and Answers pieces that either accuse

Echoing credibility 83 non-creationist Christians of feeble capitulation or that criticize evolutionary theory and its proponents. For example, a number of times it is repeated that contemporary radiometric dating methods rely on “unprovable assumptions” and that old-Earth theories “are based on lots of assumptions, not observed facts.”78 Also, Answers in Genesis’ writers echo claims that non-creationist Christians are compromising the Bible by assimilating secular dogma into their hermeneutics, and that evolution is simply a modern-day creation myth designed to expunge supernatural explanations.79

In directly comparing Darwin-skeptic values with evolutionary interpretations of human nature, such statements frequently coincide with the Contrast Principle and Negativity Effect, which will be detailed in Chapter 5. Additionally, Answers in Genesis’ media also advertise the celebrity status of procreationist individuals whenever possible. For instance, if contributors are actors or athletes, such as Kirk Cameron, the former star of the American sitcom Growing Pains, their popular acclaim is mentioned.80 These reports often overlap with Social Proof (Chapter 6), and they can include individuals such as pastor John MacArthur, who is celebrated within Evangelical Christian circles.81 References to well-known Evangelical coincides with the expressly religious tone of AiG’s messaging, which is also characterized in the organization’s greater focus on invoking credibility associated with God, the Bible, or revered persons of faith. In fact, while ICR’s use of Source Cues is centered primarily upon communicating secular, scientific expertise, Answers in Genesis’ writers use appeals to sacred authority to a greater degree than any other Evolution Wars organization.

In point of fact, Answers magazine actually exhibits the largest proportion of Source Cues incidences, and AiG writers exert noticeably more effort to articulate Christian ideas as well the religious impetus catalyzing Young Earth Creationism. This includes a pronounced tendency to focus on scriptural support rather than scientific evidences or secular credibility. For instance, while Answers articles do stress the organization’s scientific foundations, AiG materials are less concerned with communicating the organization’s reliance on science than they are with articulating an unwavering dependence on holy writ. In this vein, Answers writers demonstrate an increased likelihood of appealing directly to God and his “eyewitness account of the earth’s history” as sources of credibility.82 While unapologeti-cally catering to Christian audiences, AiG media often explains that creationism is based primarily upon the authority and reliability of the Bible’s teachings. These teachings are described as superior to any scientific conclusions because Christian scriptures represent God’s personal testimony of the creation event. In discourse that also infuses Answers in Genesis’ use of the Contrast Principle and Negativity Effect, articles pit the credibility derived from God’s wisdom against the unreliability of human minds and their imperfect scientific predictions. “That sums up what the creation/evo-lution battle is all about,” explains Ham. It’s “all about authority - God’s infallible Word or autonomous man’s fallible word.”83

Furthermore, Young Earth Creationism is described as the only worldview option that aligns most congruently with Christian values and God’s version of the facts. Therefore, going against creationism means intentionally denying God’s trustworthiness, as well as core Evangelical ideals.84 These truths are described as being thoroughly obvious, and Answers writers often state that “The Bible clearly shows,” or “Scripture clearly teaches” creationist premises, in an effort to demonstrate how creationist ideas are championed by God himself.85 Also, Answers in Genesis members draw upon the credibility of both Jesus and the biblical authors to reinforce AiG’s readings of scripture.86 These assertions are akin to similar claims made by Institute for Creation Research writers, and as one AiG contributor asserts: “Moses confirms that Genesis is a literal account of creation in six days (Exodus 20:11), and Jesus Christ affirmed that God made Adam and Eve at the beginning of creation (Mark 10:6), not millions of years later. This excludes any possibility of an ‘old earth.’ ”87 Through such declarations, AiG writers underscore the preeminence and divine sanction of its literal hermeneutic, causing the boundaries between the credibility of God’s eyewitness testimony, the religious authority of Jesus Christ, the biblical authors, literal interpretations of the Bible, and Darwin-skepticism to become indistinguishable. As a result, any rejection of Young Earth Creationism is likened to a denunciation of scripture itself, its writers, and the Messiah. “Either we believe Christ and embrace the entire Bible as our own absolute authority, or we reject both Christ and the Bible as imposters,” Don Landis tells readers. “The authority of one is inextricably bound up with the other.”88

Using such rationale, Answers contributors also tie trusting in creationism to trusting in God himself. “Although there is tremendous physical evidence of a global flood, ultimately, it is a matter of trust in a perfect God who created everything (Genesis 1:1), knows everything (Colossians 2:3), has always been there (Revelation 22:13), and cannot lie (Titus 1:2),” explains Bodie Hodge. “The only alternative is to trust imperfect, fallible human beings who can only speculate on the past (see Romans 3:4).”89 Furthermore, while these materials do appeal to scientific evidence and expertise, the credibility of scripture is frequently intertwined with the trustworthiness of science, such that each is described as supporting the other while cumulatively endorsing Answers in Genesis’ messages. Scripture allows creationists to more accurately interpret scientific evidence, while science upholds scripture and confirms its divine status. With a blend of sacred and scientific appeals to credibility, audiences are told that the Bible not only informs science, but science reciprocates by corroborating scripture’s veracity.90

Along with such claims, more overt appeals to expertise and evidence parallel those found in ICR media, which are manifested as references to credentials and experience, broad appeals to science and factual data, as well as claims that the organization is conducting exceptional research. Within AiG materials the most prominent of these three are descriptions of credentials and experience. Though such references to credentials and experience

Echoing credibility 85 appear less frequently throughout Answers than in ICR’s Acts&Facts, they still constitute an important element of AiG’s persuasive cues, and are often part of author profiles accompanying the organization’s media outputs.91 These lists of credentials are almost always repeated for the same author, even if that individual has made numerous contributions within a single magazine, and regardless of whether those contributions appear directly one after the other.92 Answers issues also contain articles devoted almost exclusively to underscoring AiG members’ scientific competencies.93

In contrast with ICR communications, however, AiG materials seldom declare that scientific pioneers were creationists, and infrequently assert that leading contemporary scientists are Darwin-skeptics. On the few occasions where this does happen, however, Answers writers make a point of reminding audiences that creationists can truly be first-rate scientists. As one article states about Andrew McIntosh, a University of Leeds professor, “McIntosh is not only a renowned scientist but also a young-earth creationist,” which is a “nice reminder that scientists can be both Bible believers and excellent researchers - in fact, their work is inspired by the Creator Himself.”94 While such cases are relatively uncommon, Answers contributors often concentrate upon the religiously affiliated credentials of modern procreationist Evangelical leaders, as well as the theological training of AiG members. For instance, Answers articles include contributor profiles focusing upon religious education as much as any scientific competencies. Seminary degrees and ministry experience are detailed in order to demonstrate a writer’s mastery of scripture and Christian theology, which are concerns more pertinent throughout AiG media than in any other Evolution Wars communications.95

Such descriptions of religious accreditations and expertise are again evocative of AiG’s tendency to appeal to religious authority over secular competencies. Together with this concentration, Messenger Credibility-generating allusions are still made to science or scientific data. These consist of relatively vague statements which assert that in “virtually all areas of science, we find evidence that strongly confirms the Genesis account of creation,” and relay how science “confirms the message of the Bible.”96 Such comments tell audiences that each and every field of empirical science unequivocally substantiates Young Earth Creationist beliefs.97 “If the Bible is really what it claims to be, a revelation from an omnipotent Creator,” posits Ham, then the “history that is revealed to us will make sense of the evidence of the present, and observational (empirical) science should confirm this history -and it does!”98 Moreover, readers are told that a preponderance of scientific facts is best explained by, and most harmoniously connects with, Darwinskeptic perspectives.99 As a matter of fact, even the conclusions of countercreationist scientists inevitably verify creationism because, while “their goal may be to discredit His Word,” they still “may unwittingly be uncovering truths about their Maker.”100

Though the use of scientific imagery is almost solely an ICR Messenger Credibility attribute, occasional incidences can also be found throughout

Answers.101 Alongside a scattering of images featuring lab coat accoutered researchers peering down microscopes, are declarations that creationists are conducting frontline science. In fact, scientific research is described as being a divine mandate, because “God has given us dominion over the earth and expects His people to study His creation to find answers.” Additionally, God “is at work today, building a community of faithful scientists who desire to discover how God filled the earth with such a cornucopia of species within His created ‘kinds.’ ”102 These reports draw credibility from the suggestion that not only does science confirm creationism, but antievolutionists are themselves occupied with cutting-edge scientific research. AiG writers describe how “creationists are pursuing major new research projects,” and are actually making novel discoveries from preexisting observations.103 Information is supplied to audiences regarding the scientific pursuits of well-trained “creation researchers,” “creation scientists,” “creation geologists,” “creation biologists,” and even one “creation botanist.”104 Accordingly, readers are told that the credibility of Young Earth Creationism is as strong in its scientific application as it is in its empirical evidences.

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