IN THE United States, creationists have long waged a strong political campaign to have their ideas recognised by the courts and the educational authorities. But in this part of the world, it seems, their strategy is rather different. The Creation Science Foundation, the largest Australasian creationist organisation, regards the “top down” approach of their American counterparts as unproductive: it is more effective, says CSF’s Carl Wieland, to work first on developing a broad base of popular support. In an article titled “Linking and Feeding,” Wieland outlines their strategy of making contact with people (“linking”) through subscription to their magazine Creation, and then providing them with ongoing creationist material (“feeding”). This material is then read by the recipients’ friends and family
The article is available on CSF’s New Zealand website (http://www.christiananswers.net/aig/aignews/csfnewsn.html), which has been up and running since February this year. Permission to reprint it in the NZ Skeptic was, perhaps not surprisingly, declined, but for those with Internet access, it makes for very interesting reading. Wieland sees the CSF material as instrumental in changing the hearts and minds of people within God’s army, becoming part of an ongoing, spontaneous, pulsating outreach which is far more active than anything man could ever coordinate, and able to penetrate places (such as public education) which would fiercely resist a frontal assault.
It is very clear from the article that Wieland sees New Zealand as fertile ground for the CSF’s work. He begins with an anecdote about an address he made in a large Auckland church, in which he was frustrated by his inability on that occasion to promote the Creation magazine, which he regards as the cornerstone of CSF’s strategy.
This approach has been followed in this country for some time now. I first became aware of the CSF in 1995, after seeing an advertisement in a home-schooling newsletter for a presentation by Peter Sparrow, who was touring the country at that time under the auspices of the CSF (see NZ Skeptic 38). Of the 100 or so in the audience, only myself and two others I’d notified were not already committed creationists — Sparrow’s tour received very little promotion outside of church circles (many home-schoolers are creationists not wanting their children corrupted by evolutionary ideas, hence that newsletter advert), and it was clear he was preaching to the converted. There seemed to be no attempt made to reach out to the uncommitted — that, presumably, was a task for those in the audience to tackle in the future. I suspect there have been a number of other visits organised by the CSF since then. Wieland himself has been here at least once, and a visit by a Dr Andrew McIntosh in February was noted on the CSF(NZ) website.
It should be noted that there is another Australian creationist organisation, the Creation Research Institute (not to be confused with America’s Institute for Creation Research — remember the Judaean People’s Front in Life of Brian?). This is a splinter group from the CSF; its founder, John Mackay, visited New Zealand last year. Again, the audience on the occasion I saw him consisted almost entirely of the faithful, though the meeting had been advertised in the Waikato Times, in the church notices (Sparrow’s meeting wasn’t). In any case, the message was much the same, though if anything Mackay was even less concerned with any pretence of scientific objectivity.
So far, though, it is the CSF which has the stronger presence in this country. According to the website they have an office in Auckland with three new staff members. They also have the backing of an organisation which is now world-wide. They have a number of publications and other resources including, as well as the very professional-looking Creation magazine, a so-called Technical Journal. For a long time, creationism has seemed a predominantly American phenomenon. But quietly, ever so quietly, they are now on the move in New Zealand.