Dismantling the Straw Man: My Review of ICR’s “Adam or Apes”

Bubbles. Orbits. Echo chambers.

Cozy little spots where we find ourselves swaddled in the warmth of groupthink. 

Tucked away, it’s easy to think that everyone agrees and disagrees along the same lines. It’s easy to think that our bubble’s opinion is the majority opinion, and of course, it is the correct one. 

It’s also easy to shoot down a position you disagree with if you never consider the position from the actual position-holders themselves. We build a big-ole straw man out of what we think the opposition believes, tear it down, and congratulate ourselves on a job well done.

In the spirit of hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth, I reserved a ticket to the premier of “Adam or Apes”, a brand-new film from the Institute for Creation Research. The Dallas-based ICR has new and beautiful facilities and produces loads of professional media. ICR’s Discovery Center hosts lots of field trips from church groups, private schools, and home schools. 

The Institute for Creation Research’s foundational principles are a young earth (less than 10,000 years), instantaneous creation, and rejection of biological evolution. ICR is a predominant source of young earth creationism spokespersons and media.

The intersection of science, faith, and culture is my passion. It distresses me to see people of faith reject science evidence for religious reasons. 

So, on a clear December night a week before Christmas 2022, I sat in a crowd of about 200 to hear – firsthand, from a premier source – why rejection of evolution and an ancient earth are both scientific and the only reasonable positions for people of faith. 

I took copious notes, but I’ve condensed it all to three takeaways from the “Adam or Apes” film and the follow-up discussion by a panel composed of the producer/host of the film and the current president of ICR. 

Takeaway #1: Evolution was all part of Darwin’s nefarious plan, according to the panel: Darwin “came up with it” (evolution) to act as a “substitute creator.” 

Furthermore, those who accept the evidence for evolution only do so because they want to live life by their own rules. It’s not the science evidence that convinces people, it’s the seduction of a “do as I please” approach to life. And – according to the panelists, this seduction equally applies to people of faith, who like me, who accept the evidence for evolution.

After the presentation, a nice ICR staffer recognized me from Facebook asked what I thought about the film. He invited me to debate or discuss with ICR staff in person or on a podcast. I thanked him politely and left it at that.

As a by-default faith-rebel in the estimation of ICR, I can’t image I’d get a fair hearing.

Takeaway #2: My goal in attending the screening was to hear the best arguments from the young earth, evolution-rejecting precinct of Christianity. Instead, I heard two hours of refuting arguments about evolution that no one is making. In 2023, ICR’s argument is still about “Piltdown Man”, a fraud exposed more than seventy years ago – and by the way – exposed by secular scientists. 

Instead of presenting peer-reviewed evidence for a young earth or special creation, a straw man built of bogus evolution arguments was dismantled.

Takeaway #3: At the end of the presentation, the panelists asked the audience to pray for ICR. Specifically, the panelists requested prayers (1) for the experiments being done by ICR researchers, (2) for results that confirm the Bible, and (3) for just one result that would catch the attention of those outside young earth creationism. 

Two hours of claiming that there is absolutely no evidence for evolution or an old earth. Claims that every bit of evidence pointing to evolution can be debunked. Claims that science actually supports a young earth and an instantaneous special creation.

Yet, the evening ended with prayers for “just one” definitive experiment.

I was there to listen and learn, so I didn’t ask a question during the Q&A time. But if I had, this would be it: If all science evidence truly supports a young earth and an instant, special creation, why are there no non-religious young earth creationists?