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Book Review

The Answers Book

by Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati, and Carl Wieland.
Edited by Don Batten.

Creation Ministries International, Australia, 1999
Review © T. Wallace.  All Rights Reserved.


the book
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Q

uestions serve an essential purpose in every arena where people exchange and debate ideas.  They can both arise from and lead to honest inquiry into matters of truth, or they can be used as sophomoric weapons—a form of hit-and-run antagonism, when the questioner neither expects nor awaits an answer.  The recently updated release of The Answers Book, renders a compelling response to several thought-provoking questions concerning the biblical creation scenario and its relationship to empirical science.

A significant improvement over the original version of the book, this “updated and expanded” rendition thoroughly tackles “the 20 most-asked questions about creation, evolution, and the book of Genesis.”  The job is done for the most part without burying the reader in more technical details than necessary, but nor is it by any means a simplistic work.  Every key point is well documented, and up-to-date resources on many topics are suggested for further study of the relevant topics.

A Key Resource

The Answers Book should prove to be of value to a broad spectrum of people.  On the one hand, those accustomed to dismissive derision of the biblical creation account as pure religion would do well to become suitably informed on the position to which they stand opposed.  While creationists have no difficulty gaining exposure to the evolutionary paradigm as a matter of routine, proponents of evolution often are familiar only with popular caricatures—if not wholly false renditions—of the creationary counterpart.  Many of their ‘arguments’ betray this unnecessary ignorance, as they perpetuate less-than-accurate myths concerning a topic in which they would like to appear knowledgeable.  This book would at least bring them closer to a capacity for an informed response to the creationary challenge to their evolutionary beliefs.

On the other hand—and perhaps more importantly—The Answers Book provides a tremendous resource for genuine Christians who face the challenges and antagonisms of evolution’s proponents, as well as the daily barrage of popular-level media content based on the arbitrary assumption of evolutionary theory.  From the high school level on up, Christians face an ever-increasing and often hostile challenge in the scientific and intellectual arenas.  This book can not only encourage one’s faith and delight in the Bible’s reliability, but it provides well-articulated, scientifically sound, honest answers to what are often portrayed as tough (or even ‘faith-shattering’) questions, commonly bandied about by the hard-core evolution crowd.

For its modest price, this book provides a solid, understandable, and clearly documented response to some of the most popular challenges raised against biblical creation—offering to inform both ends of the origin debate’s spectrum, as well as anyone in-between.  By and large, Christians really haven’t much excuse for long remaining ignorant of the sound biblical defense contained in The Answers Book.  Yet neither do the most militant opponents of the biblical record have a reasonable excuse for advancing the fallacious arguments adeptly rebutted (if not fully refuted) by this book.

For the Christian, The Answers Book is without question a valuable tool for always being “ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you”[1] and “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God,”[2] whereas for the self-styled skeptic (for whom such notions themselves are worthy objects of derision), it does its part to “destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent,”[3] by offering sound answers to what may have otherwise been perceived as unassailable threats to the biblical record and worldview.

What’s Covered

The scope of The Answers Book had to be limited—by necessity—to a series of the most popular challenges raised against the biblical model of origins.  The authors clearly selected their content with care and a good deal of objectivity.  Refreshingly, they do not hesitate to acknowledge where ultimate answers are beyond the range of contemporary understanding, while citing the options that have been advanced thus far.  In this, they succinctly dispell the popular caricature of creationists as head-in-the-sand religionists whose dogma prohibits a reasonable, scientifically literate exchange of ideas.

The book’s twenty questions, each answered with both biblical and scientific support, are:

               Does God exist?          
               Did God really take six days (to create)?
               What about the ‘gap’ theory?
               What about carbon dating?
               How can we see distant stars in a young universe?
               How did bad things come about?
               What about arguments for evolution?
               Cain’s wife—who was she?
               Were the nephilim extra-terrestrials?
               Was the Flood global?
               What about continental drift?
               Noah’s Flood—what about all that water?
               How did all the animals fit on Noah’s Ark?
               How did fresh- salt-water fish survive the Flood?
               Where are all the human fossils?
               What about the Ice Age?
               How did animals get to Australia?
               How did all the different ‘races’ arise?
               What happened to the dinosaurs?
               What can I do?

Each of the above questions serves as the main topic of a chapter, and the answer to which is usually developed through a series of corollary questions and their respective answers.  While many other significant and thought-provoking questions are regularly advanced to challenge the biblical creation model, the twenty selected by The Answers Book authors are a reasonable sampling of those most often posed by critics.

I personally found the book a pleasant read, and an improvement over the previous version.  Americans may be occasionally slowed by a bit of British style and a few patches of more technical explanations, but the vast majority of the text is suitable for readers from high-school age on up.  The fourth and eighteenth chapters, which address (respectively) radiometric dating and the genetics of human ‘racial’ features, will probably be the most technically challenging to the average reader, due to the complexities inherent in their subject matter.

The beauty of the authors’ approach is that the reader is exposed to several comprehensible facets of the biblical creation perspective, usually with concise coverage of the technical details—and the requisite resources are readily documented for those interested in more comprehensive treatment.  This method of popular-level presentation, in which reader-friendliness prevails, but not at the expense of technical accessibility, seems to have become a standard feature in much of what is published by Answers in Genesis organization.

Also noteworthy is the humility shown by the authors as they point out—wherever appropriate—that the position or interpretation they favor is not necessarily the one embraced by every biblical creationist.  Where multiple creationary interpretations of specific phenomena or data have been advanced, several are usually cited.  And again, where satisfactory or comprehensive answers to certain questions remain elusive, The Answers Book does not shrink away from saying so.  The reader thus gains a far more fair and honest picture of the creation-science landscape than many popular evolutionists have been willing to render thus far.

A Few Highlights

Chapter one delivers just enough evidence for God’s existence to whet the appetite of the open seeker—and perhaps ruffle the stiffest feathers of atheistic dogma.  The second and third chapters do a thorough job of quashing the many contrived attempts, advanced over the years by well-meaning professing Christians, to conform and bind the biblical record to the most tentative claims of ‘science,’ when the straightforward meaning of the Scriptures and authentic empirical science has proven to have been sufficient the whole time.

Radiometric dating is often portrayed by evolutionists as immutable scientific ‘proof’ of evolution’s plausibility (via an allegedly unassailable multi-billion-year ‘age’ of the physical universe).  Chapter four is thus an important treatment of the topic, and well worth the effort required for a fact-based understanding of radiometric dating.

Typifying evolutionary ‘science,’ the ‘ages’ of an alleged human ancestor (Australopithecus ramidus) in general and a well-known primate skull known as ‘KNM-ER 1470’ in particular, are exposed by the authors as having been ‘adjusted’ by over 80% and 44%, respectively, as ‘several studies’ and their corresponding radiometric ‘dates’ have supplanted one another in just a few years.[4]  In any discipline of authentic applied science, such wide margins of error would be laughable, but the necessarily spin-doctored world of evolutionary scholarship heralds them to the public as ‘proof’ not only of evolution, but of the ‘self-correcting’ nature of ‘science’ as they perceive it.

Considering the limited space it devotes to the subject, The Answers Book concisely and effectively explains all aspects of ‘the rest of the story’ concerning radiometric dating.  From the suspicious nature of the laboratory sample submission process, to the widespread inconsistencies that pepper the empirical data, the whole facade of radiometric dating is shown to be of far less substance than popularizers of evolution are typically willing to concede.

The balance of The Answers Book similarly dispels a variety of false perceptions, accurately relating the biblical record and empirical science in connection with such subjects as the Genesis Flood, the Ice Age, dinosaurs, genetics, and much more.

Conclusion

Will The Answers Book prepare the reader for a full-scale debate with an ardent proponent of evolution?  No.  But it can serve as a solid foundation for those interested in fully comprehending how the facts of science mesh with the biblical record.  Both within the Christian community and in the world at large, an unfortunate fog of ignorance faces substantial dispersion, when exposed to the well-documented, up-to-date explanations proferred by Ham, Sarfati, Wieland, and Batten.  Whether one is a Bible-defender or a Bible-critic, without a fundamental grasp of the answers provided by these highly qualified authors, one can scarcely claim to understand how biblical creation relates to empirical science.  And no matter which side one takes, in the absence of such an understanding, one is scarcely qualified to participate intelligently and objectively in any aspect of the origins debate.

Timothy Wallace

Notes:

1) 1 Peter 3:15 (New King James Version)   [BACK TO TEXT]

2) 2 Corinthians 10:5 (New King James Version)   [BACK TO TEXT]

3) 1 Corinthians 1:19 (New King James Version)   [BACK TO TEXT]

4) Batten, Don (Ed.), with K. Ham, J. Sarfati, C. Wieland, 1999. The Answers Book, Creation Ministries International, Queensland, Australia. Pages 70-71.   [BACK TO TEXT]


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