Interview with Dr Richard Bliss, Ed.D. Curriculum Director Institute for Creation Research, U.S.A.
Q: Dr Bliss, many people are claiming that the world-wide resurgence of interest in creationism has been caused by dissatisfaction with science in general. Do you see this as a contributing factor?
A:I believe the leadership in the scientific enterprise has imposed a dogmatism on people. The population are now beginning to recognise that this has taken place and they are becoming very sceptical about scientists and the scientific enterprise in general. This is a very real problem which is developing and could become serious if not corrected soon.
Q: What other factors might account for this interest in creationism?
A: One factor is that many people have analysed this whole question of evolution and have found they had serious doubts about it all along. However, the scientific community has imposed its views on people so intensely that the present resurgence of a scientific framework for creation, within which you can correlate scientific information, is like a breath of fresh air. People are running for it and are beginning to make their own comparisons, and they are making them with great joy.
Q: In the United States and in Australia too, many people are claiming that creationists are only political activists. Is it true that politics has been used to implement creation in secular institutions in the States?
A: I would not say that politics is being used, rather that very interested parents are working through the proper political channels in order to encourage their school districts, and their states to implement the creation model as an alternative to evolution. Prior to this we have taught only evolution from Kindergarten through High School and have literally programmed students’ minds in that direction. Now parents are saying ‘We have had enough and we are going to use the political process to change this around, if teachers won’t do this voluntarily.’
Q: Dr. Bliss, Does I.C.R. have a policy of using political activity to achieve this?
A: I.C.R. does not carry out any political activity. What I.C.R. will do is to come in and act as an expert witness, if asked, but they are not involved in any political activity of a local nature.
Q: You are not the instigators?
A: We are not the instigators of these political actions that are going on.
Let me give you an illustration of this. Recently I returned from one of the States where I was invited to give a lecture on the two model approach and how it could be implemented in their school district. Well, there were local political motives for this, but they brought me in as an expert witness. We have no objection to doing this.
Q: Do you think the results of these court cases and various legal actions have really been positive? Or do you think, in the long run, they may have caused more harm than good?
A:I think the results of the court cases to date have caused more harm than good because people have gone into legal action with poor preparation—they haven’t done their homework, so to speak, and consequently creationists have lost. This has been very damaging to the creationist movement but despite this I would say that today there is groundswell in favour of the creation movement across the USA
Q: Could I ask you the, what do you see as the main aim of I.C.R.?
A: The main aim OF I.C.R. is to acquaint the populace throughout the world with the credibility of the creation model. I.C.R. has three main thrusts: information, education and research. The information section is entailed in our books, in the things that we write. We hope that we will inform people throughout the world that the creation model is a very credible model, within which we can deal with scientific data. We could go a step further too, and point out that education is part of it. We are very much concerned with education from Kindergarten through grade 12; and from the university into graduate school; and into normal life. Finally, of course, we have individuals who are very much engaged in research, who are spending much of their time gathering more information to put into this pool of knowledge.
Q: Would I.C.R. be responsible for most of the creationist literature that is available in the world today?
A: I would say that. Yes Ken.
Q: In Australia the major part of the criticism of creation science comes particularly from theologians, pastors, teachers, and particularly Christian teachers. Would you agree that such a comment applies here in the States?
A: Yes, I think that is true. In fact, I would say the most vociferous antagonists that we have are theistic evolutionists—people who will say, ‘I believe in God. Don’t tell me I can’t believe in God when I take an evolutionary stance.’ They become our real antagonists. On the other hand, the atheist is generally willing to give us the time of day because he will say ‘Well, look, there is no God to begin with, even though you are saying there is one.’ It is interesting to note that atheists have written to us and said they believe both models should be taught. I never hear a theistic evolutionist say that to me.
Q: Many Bible Colleges and Theological Colleges of Australia are either teaching theistic evolution, of the Gap Theory; or if they do teach creation, they are not particularly keen on emphasising that students take Genesis literally even though they might be anti-evolutionists…
A: You will find in our Bible Colleges and Seminaries in the USA that you can count with one hand, the number that are not teaching theistic evolution. At least 50% of the Christian schools in our country would fall into that same category.
Q: Is the position changing and if so, how rapidly is it changing?
A: Let me say first of all that within the Christian schools we are seeing a rapid movement towards a more creationist position. We are finding a lot of teachers who are now teaching young people the importance of creation as far as a scriptural world-view of life is concerned. Also in the high schools and the elementary schools, we are starting to see this kind of movement coming along quite rapidly—I would say because of the curriculum such as A Beka and A.C.E. and others are putting out, along with the lectures and the debates.
We are affecting the elementary and high schools quite significantly. We are also seeing an effect on the Christian colleges but here it is much slower because many still want to be associated with and be in the good graces of the intellectual scientific community which is screaming out ‘Evolution! Evolution!’ But I would repeat ‘You can count on one hand, the number of Christian colleges that are true to the scriptures and creation.’ Most are not even willing to explore the scientific premises for creation.
Q: Do you think many of them are willing, underneath it all, to change that position?
A: I do not think some would be willing under any condition. I have met… in fact, we have had conferences with some of these people and in violent anger they have stormed at us calling us various kinds of names because we take a scientific creationist position. That would indicate that their position is not going to be changed regardless of what the date tells us.
Q: Dr. Bliss, many theistic evolutionists say that Creationists are making it hard for people to believe in the Bible, whilst on the other hand they are making it easy because they don’t insist on a literal view of Genesis while science is teaching evolution. How would you answer them?
A: Ken, that is one of the greatest fallacies of the day. We know by the testimony of the incoming letters, as well as the people who come to us; that what we are doing is bringing a light and a breath of fresh air into the mind of the individual Christian who has been told that science contradicts everything he believed in, and that the creation as described in the book of Genesis could not have been that way. Young people are coming to us and saying ‘Thanks for straightening me out.’ I once had an individual come charging up on stage after a lecture and say, ‘Dr. Bliss, you have changed my position, scientifically!’ But more importantly he said ‘This has changed me spiritually tonight.’
Q: You would believe then that the Biblical foundation of origins is foundational to all other Christian doctrines?
Q: Was there ever a time when you believed in evolution and if there was, can you briefly tell me why you rejected it?
A: Yes, I was an evolutionist. All my training is in biology and general science. My training in ‘education’ was ‘religious’ but my training in ‘biology’ was ‘evolutionary’. There was a time when I was studying at one of our major universities and I was taking a course in ‘animal species in evolution’. I was challenged by one of my colleagues to write about the evolutionary question. I took him up on the challenge and researched information on evolution. I got hold of a book by G.A. Kerkut, called The Implications of Evolution. That started me on the way. Kerkut was an evolutionist, but from cover to cover, he tore down all my evolutionary castles. When I started out on this study I thought that maybe he wasn’t making the proper citations, or maybe he wasn’t quoting these individuals properly. It was over this period while working on this paper that I started thinking that evolution wasn’t so great. Then, over a period of about three years, and as I investigated further and further into this question I became more and more excited about it.
Finally, I came to the conclusion that the creation model was a far better model within which to correlate scientific information, than was the evolution model. Strange as it may seem, scripture had nothing to do with my ‘evolution’ from an evolutionist to a creationist!
Q: It was some of the scientific information?
A: It was the scientific data.
Q: Were you a Christian as an evolutionist?
A: I was an agnostic at one period of time, in my earlier training - and then there was a period when I was not a ‘raving’ agnostic. Then as a theistic evolutionist I was very comfortable with the idea that God created things through evolution. I was very satisfied with that.
Q: One missionary came back from his work with the Australian Aborigines and said ‘We got nowhere for years preaching just from the gospels. But when we started with them back at Genesis, to give them a real history of the flood, of Noah, and what sin is, how they originated, who Christ is, they got the whole historical perspective.’ Then when he preached from the gospels the results were phenomenal…
A: Ken, this is essentially what Missionary Author Don Richardson says, …They had Creation in Their Hearts. He started with the book of Genesis and talked about the common Creator … then the native is sitting here and he is saying, ‘Wait! I am a part of this. This is my roots. This is my heritage.’
Q: Dr. Bliss, we believe it is very sad that many Christian missionaries in the past have not given native peoples a true sense of history or belonging. They haven’t had the common basis of Noah and Adam to build on … and so have gotten nowhere with the Gospel for years.
A: I think Ken, you’ll find this same syndrome in any current Christian community which says ‘Accept the Lord Jesus Christ and that is the end of it. That’s all … there’s no more to it.’ ‘I’ve done it! Now I’m saved!’
That is fine but we cannot forget the responsibility that comes with acceptance. In many cases they are not taught the history that shows this responsibility, because we’ve skipped the book of Genesis. We’ve skipped the roots. I personally feel that immediately after a person is saved, the very first thing we ought to do is bring them to the book of Genesis and say, ‘Now look what happened back here. There are the roots, this is where you came from. Now do you see the importance of getting out and evangelising and being a witness?’