Ken Ham’s “Already Compromised”–Part 3 of my Book Review: Why Christian Professors are Anti-Intellectual Enemies of God

“We are at war. We are at war with weapons far greater than any bomb, missile, or gun. And these weapons are aimed at targets far more strategic than any building, land mass, or army, because ‘our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world’ (Eph. 6:12). We are at war against thoughts, thoughts raised up against the knowledge of God. And these thoughts are aimed at the minds of our children” (37).

This is how Greg Hall, Ken Ham’s co-author of Already Compromised, begins the second chapter of the book. If Ken Ham set the stage with chapter 1, Greg Hall pushes the AiG narrative right out of the gate at full steam: We are at war—a culture war! And the spiritual battle of our time is over…evolution, and whether or not Genesis 1 is about six literal 24-hour days?

According to Ham and Hall, apparently so. If we suggest that Genesis 1 might not be intended to be read as a literal, historical account, then the atheist liberals win. That is the narrative that Ham and Hall project in the book. And because there are Christian colleges, organizations, and scholars who disagree with Ham and Hall, those Christian colleges, organizations, and scholars are “compromised,” deceptive, and thus, to use their war analogy, double-agents and traitors to Christianity. Here’s how they weave their narrative…

Ham and Hall’s Survey
As I said in the last post, the supposed basis for Already Compromised is a survey they gave to 312 people affiliated with various Christian schools. Ham’s basic take is this: “Yes, they agree with all the New Testament issues, but our survey shows there are some troubling problems regarding how Christian colleges view the Old Testament”—and then, as is made abundantly clear, every single question asked dealt with either Genesis 1-11, evolution, or biblical inerrancy/infallibility (defined as, “Do you believe Genesis 1-11 is literal history?”).

In the course of the book, Ham discusses the survey at three different times. First, he discusses the overall findings to these questions with the survey groups as a whole; then he specifically discusses the findings when the questions were posted specifically to professors in the religion and science departments of the colleges surveyed; and finally, he discusses the findings when the questions were posted specifically to the presidents and vice-presidents of the same colleges. The findings really weren’t that astonishing. Basically, nearly everyone agreed with the questions regarding the Bible’s inspiration, and the vast majority agreed with biblical infallibility and inerrancy. But when it came to the questions regarding creation, the flood, and evolution, there was more of a difference of opinion.

But for Ham and Hall, this was shocking: although most said they affirmed the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible, that the fact that there was a larger percentage who didn’t believe in a literal six 24-hour days creation week or a literal worldwide flood 4,000 years ago was a red flag for Ham and Hall. And thus, they conclude that those professors are essentially working for the other side.

The Enemies of God
Now, Ken Ham and his associates often say they never question the salvation of “so-called Christians” who, in their mind, “compromise” the authority of Scripture and “put man’s fallible ideas over God’s word,” but if you’ve ever honestly read what Ham and his associates have written, you’ll know that not only do they question their faith, they repeatedly line them up on the side of Satan. Consider the following quotes:

“Even if [college students] are at a Christian college, our research has proven that they may be getting hit with ‘friendly fire,’ as professors they consider to be allies attack the foundations of their faith with liberal, compromising ideas that undermine biblical authority, create doubt, and can lead to unbelief” (40).

“I do, find, however, that students have little problem understanding that the enemies of God will stop at nothing to discredit the Scripture. What they don’t understand, though, are the numbers of Christian institutions, ministries, churches, pastors, and Christian educators who are doing the same. But in many ways, these influences are more dangerous: they are a lurking and growing enemy within our own camp. These people are wolves in sheep’s clothing, many times very intentionally leading students away from the authority of the Scriptures while posing as our friends(40).

And then, after quoting a biology professor at Calvin College as saying, “Evolution is the paradigm out of which we teach biology. We’re not trying to hide things; it’s just that we’re not looking for a fight,” Greg Hall astonishingly interprets that in the following way: “Notice that they say that are ‘not looking for a fight’; this helps reveal that they realize that what they are teaching is in opposition to the Church’s teachings!” And then, “…these Christian colleges strategically take students who believe the Bible and systematically destroy that belief and teach them to believe in evolution” (43).

…Oh, but we’re not questioning their salvation! I’m sorry, but if you say someone (1) attacks the foundation of the Christian faith, (2) is more dangerous than the enemies of God, (3) is a “lurking and growing enemy in our own camp,” and (4) is a wolf in sheep’s clothing who is intentionally leading people astray and systematically destroying people’s faith…if you then turn around and say, “Oh, but I’m not questioning their salvation,” you are a double-speaking liar. Or, if I could use Ham’s often used serpent analogy, you are speaking with a forked-tongue.

Welcome to the war, indeed.

Anti-Intellectualism in the College Ranks
After accusing many professors in Christian colleges of being lurking and growing enemies of God who are systematically trying to destroy the faith of their students, Ham then devotes a chapter discussing the same survey questions as posed to the religion and science departments in various Christian colleges. He concludes that many of the science departments are more biblical than the Bible departments, and that many Bible professors are really liberal—all based on the fact that they answered Ham’s questions about Genesis 1-11 “wrong,” according to Ham.

Ken Ham at Bryan College, receiving his honorary doctorate…in science

Now, the ironic thing is that in the course of this chapter, Ham tells his readers how disappointed he was to find that many of the PhD scientists and biblical scholars simply didn’t know what science really is—and then he devotes a number of pages to a number of standard YECist talking points like observational vs. historical science, and your starting point determines how you interpret the evidence. And he then makes the astounding claim that when scientists insist that science is limited to studying natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot consider the supernatural, that such a move “is intellectual suicide, and these scientists should know it…and so should the teachers in religion departments at Christian colleges that support and propagate such close-mindedness” (64).

Apparently, Ham thinks science departments should study the supernatural—how might they do that? Apparently, Ham thinks that when someone admits to the limitations of science (i.e. if there is a supernatural reality, science can’t tell us about it, because science is limited to studying the natural world)—that that is “intellectual suicide” and “close-mindedness.”

To be clear: Ham is accusing scientists of “intellectual suicide” because he doesn’t fundamentally understand what science is.

The Anti-Intellectual Irony Grows
The irony of Ham’s accusation of “intellectual suicide” grows throughout the book. In the next chapter, Greg Hall laments that “the current disposition of Christians seems to be an anti-intellectualism. Faith, in many circles, has been trivialized or marginalized because we have lost the desire for critical thinking and sound scholarship” (69). I wrote in my margin, “That’s you!” Ken Ham can’t even understand a fundamental concept of science, namely that it is limited to studying, you know, natural things.

I have also had numerous conversations with YECists in which I try, over and over again, to explain a basic rule of biblical exegesis: the original, inspired meaning of a passage had to make sense to the original audience and address their concerns and questions. And thus, it is wrong to claim that Genesis 1 is giving a scientific explanation the origin of the material universe because the ancient Near East was not a modern scientific culture and the Israelites would not have been asking those questions. One person asked me, “Well, how do you know the ancient Near East wasn’t a modern scientific culture?” My answer? “Because the scientific revolution didn’t give rise to modern science until the 16th century.” The person still didn’t get it—that is what anti-intellectualism looks like. And so, for Ham and Hall to criticize scientists and scholars of being anti-intellectual is ironic indeed.

And yet, the irony in Already Compromised takes another turn later on in the book, when Ham complains about the attitude many professors at Christian colleges have of him: “I am sometimes belittled and cut down by professors at ‘respected’ Christian universities because I don’t have the academic credentials that some of these people do. They think that because they have the credentials [i.e. have devoted their lives to studying and understanding their field] that they have the truth. They say, ‘How dare Ken Ham question us, because he is not trained in biblical languages; he didn’t go to Bible college; he didn’t go to seminary, etc.’ In some ways I’m glad that I don’t have those credentials, because I might have ended up like some of them: compromising the truth clearly laid forth by Scripture in the midst of a bunch of academic mumble jumble created to accommodate secular scientific ideas.”

What can you say to that? Speaking as someone who has been called a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and accused of “speaking with the voice of the serpent” after I tried to discuss and share my views with a former headmaster who was a staunch YECist (who then essentially fired me), the kind of vitriol that Ken Ham routinely spews still stings, because I’ve been at the receiving end of it in the past. It is both extremely hurtful and yet bizarrely comical.

The same man who accuses professors at Christian colleges as being “anti-intellectual,” turns around and whines that those professors don’t respect him—the one who calls them “compromisers” and “lurking enemies” who try to systematically destroy the faith of people (Gee, I can’t image why they wouldn’t respect him!)—and then essentially admits he doesn’t have any formal Bible education at all, and actually glories in that fact. 

I have come to realize that the most dangerous kind of ignorant man is the one who positively is arrogant and prideful about his ignorance.

3 Comments

  1. Wow. Ham et al seem to be really doubling down if that’s the language coming out now. As you rightly point out they simply do not get science, particularly starting with the conclusion and then forcing everything into it.

    My dream scenario is a debate between someone like NT Wright and Ken Ham. I recently came across a quote from Guy Consolmagno who suggested that YEC was ‘almost blashemous’, of which I though was a bit of an overly strong word to use. But maybe not.

    1. Well, I wrote a book entitled, “The Heresy of Ham,” so that should tell you how I feel about him!

      I think eventually, the YECist movement will take a large chunk of Evangelicalism down the path of oddball cult.

      1. The way it’s going, in the long run I suspect they are going to certainly alienate themselves from the larger realm of Christendom like you say, into a cult-like status . But it does seem to be a golden age for YEC with the sheer amount of money involved to build these monuments, movies, and propaganda. The latter is really what AiG is best at and that certainly seems to be their focus, paying bare lip-service to any scientific study. But I guess if its a war, then you use your best weapons.

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