Forrest Gump famously said, “Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get.” That saying most certainly does not apply to YECism in general, and Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis in particular—you always know what you’re going to get when you read their material and watch their videos: pseudo-scientific claims, really bad biblical exegesis, open condemnation of Christians who don’t agree with AiG, and constant double-speak regarding how they’re not questioning the salvation of those compromised Christians, but at the same time calling them “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who “speak with the voice of the serpent,” who are “undermining biblical authority,” and who are “systematically trying to destroy the faith of young people.” Newsflash: if you’re calling someone a wolf in sheep’s clothing, you clearly don’t believe they’re a follower of Christ.
So why do I read Ham’s stuff, and why do I write about it? Because I feel that most thinking Christians are frustrated with Ham and are at a loss as to how to address YECism. Hopefully these posts help crystalize exactly the problems with the “gospel of YECism,” and offer insights as to how to go about addressing it. I am convinced that there are a whole lot of Evangelical Christians who say they support Ken Ham’s “ministry,” but they really don’t know just how out there he really is. If these posts and my book help shed light on precisely what Ken Ham and AiG claims and says, that will be a step in the right direction.
Having said that, there are a few items in Already Compromised that I have not yet addressed, and so in this last post I wish to conclude my review of the book with tying up some loose ends.
Science: Provisional Theory or Unchanging Dogma?
One thing that struck me as extremely odd in the course of Already Compromised was a passage entitled, “Science in Perspective.” Ham began by asking the reader to choose between two options regarding the proper understanding of science:
- “Science gives us objective knowledge of an independently existing reality.”
- “Scientific knowledge is always provisional and tells us nothing that is universal, necessary, or completely certain about the world.”
He then says the following: “The reason this is an important question is that science education in our schools is solidly based on proposition A. This is exactly what you would expect from the science being driven by naturalistic philosophy” (57). I wrote the following in the margin of my book: “WHAT? NO!”
Ken Ham has provided the reader with a false and deceptive choice. Yes, because science is based on the consistency of the laws of nature, it is “objective” in a sense. A person’s belief (or disbelief) in God, for example does not affect the fact that light moves at a constant speed in a vacuum. At the same time, every scientist worth his salt will tell you that the scientific enterprise is always provisional—that’s how advances in scientific discovery are possible. Still, that doesn’t mean “nothing is completely certain” about the natural world. It is a given that when we say, “We know that such and such is true…” that we mean, “Based on what we have discovered about the natural world, we have come to this conclusion about this or that phenomenon…but this conclusion might change or altered if and when a new scientific discovery is made about this part of this scientific theory that doesn’t quite make sense yet.”
And yet, for some reason, Ham claims that the “secular world” teaches science as some sort of unchangeable dogma. The irony is that is exactly how Ham and YECists present their own “historical science.” Elsewhere Ham has blatantly contradicted the above statement when has said things like, “Science textbooks are always changing because they are always discovering new things…but God’s Word doesn’t change, and that is why the Bible [i.e. Genesis 1-11] is God’s science textbook—He got it right, so who are you going to believe—man’s fallible word or God’s infallible Word?”
You can’t have it both ways: you can’t claim secularists teach science as an unchanging dogma, but then criticize science textbooks for having to be constantly updating because science is always discovering new things and changing their theories, and then present Genesis 1-11 as “God’s unchanging scientific dogma.”
Sharing Table with Compromised Christians?
Another ironic point in the book is in the chapter entitled, “Worth Fighting For,” in which Greg Hall discusses a debate he witnessed between Intelligent Design advocate Phillip Johnson and atheist/scientist Dr. Will Provine. Hall pointed out that not only did he appreciate the vigor of their debate, but he was especially impressed with the fact that both man declared how they had the utmost respect for each other, and that they were planning to have dinner together after the debate. Hall then says (quite correctly actually), “Our relationship with the world, as Christians, should be the same. We should be connected to and sincerely engaging with those who may vehemently disagree” (70).
When I read this, I immediately thought back to a post Ken Ham wrote back in October of 2014, entitled, “Should I Have Dinner with BioLogos?” It was a response to an article Dr. Deborah Haarsma had written, entitled, “Ken Ham, We Need a Better Conversation (Perhaps Over Dinner?)”, in which she basically came to the defense of Hugh Ross in light of some attacks Ham had levied at Ross, and then made a public offer to sit down and have dinner with Ham to discuss their particular views on the creation/evolution debate. Well, to cut to the chase, Ham’s answer was this: NO WAY! He then proceeded to warn his readers that just because someone might say they believe the Bible is inspired, “does not mean they take it as written!” And then, he ended his post by equating AiG’s work with the work of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and BioLogos (along with Hugh Ross) with the opponents of Nehemiah.
Nothing says Christ-like character more than, not only rejecting an offer to “come let us reason together,” by fellow Christians, but then publicly denouncing them as your enemies and bragging about how you are attempting to build more walls of division.
An AiG Questionnaire for Prospective Students
In the very last appendix of Already Compromised, Ken Ham’s son, Bodie Hodge, provided a questionnaire of 15 questions for Christian kids who are getting ready to go to college to use as they investigate possible Christian colleges. These 15 questions, Hodge says, “can be used to present to a pastor at a church or a Christian college to see if the institution really believes what the Scriptures say, whether they admit to biblical authority or not” (228). Basically—these questions will reveal whether a church or Christian college really is Christian, or whether they are compromisers who are hell-bent on destroying your faith.
Out of the 15 questions, guess how many have to do with Genesis 1-11? If you guessed upwards of 13, you’d be correct! Here they are. For your own enlightenment, I am going to include in bold some of Hodge’s comments regarding some of these 15 questions.
- Is God triune (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) or not?
- When did death and suffering enter into the world (for man and for animals)?
- Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Creator?
- Do you believe the days in Genesis are literal approximate 24-hour days or not? (Question 4 allows you to really start testing to see if the institution believes the Bible as the authority, or if man’s ideas about millions of years has begun to creep in). (231)
- Should Genesis be interpreted in the style it is written (literal history) [MY NOTE: that’s not they style it is written in], or should it be interpreted in some other fashion (i.e. in light of millions of years and evolution)? (Question 5 is important because you can determine how the institution thinks—whether biblically, or humanistically. Humanism is a religion that has humans as the ultimate authority). (231)
- Have human male and female been around since the beginning of creation, did they evolve from a lower life form, or did God create them millions of years after creation? (Question 6 reveals if the institution believes in long ages of some sort. If one answers that humans evolved, then they obviously don’t believe the Bible in Genesis). (232)
- Do you believe there are intelligent alien life forms? (Question 7 reveals how much evolutionary thinking may have infiltrated). (232)
- Did God use a big bang? (If an institution believes in the big bang, then they are holding to the atheistic view over God’s view given in Scripture). (232)
- Was the Flood of Noah’s day global or local?
- Do you believe Satan rebelled before or after the end of day 6 of the creation week discussed in Genesis 1-2?
- Why don’t people today believe the Gospel when we boldly preach it? (Question 11 reveals if the institution really understands why people are walking away from the Church at an alarming rate, or if they even realize the gravity of the problem. If people don’t believe Genesis is true, then why would they believe the gospels?) (234)
- How many races of people did God create? (Question 12 allows you to see if the institution really believes that all people came from Adam and Eve, or whether they have worldly racist ideas that have crept it). (235)
- Was the fossil record primarily laid down by Noah’s Flood and how does this relate to the age of the earth?
- Is Genesis important when preaching the gospel in today’s culture? (Not everyone will get this correct, but if they do, then they’ve been listening to creation ministries—which is a good sign!) (235)
- Are there any legitimate contradictions in the Bible? (Some Christians have a very low view of Scripture due to evolutionary influence, whether they realize it or not). (236)
There really is no need to go through each one of the questions in AiG’s questionnaire—they say all that really needs to be said. It is abundantly clear, as I said in an earlier post, that AiG is solely concerned, not with the New Testament, not with 38 books in the Old Testament, and not really even with Genesis itself, but only chapters 1-11. That is the heart and soul of their “gospel,” and they use it to routinely judge and condemn any and everyone who doesn’t measure up to what they deem is the right way to interpret Genesis 1-11.
I am reminded of somethings Paul said in Galatians: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Gal 1:6-9 NIV)
When it comes right down to it, AiG is not really about “doing science” or even about trying to properly understand Scripture. It is about promoting a paranoid narrative that says: (A) This country used to be Christian, but now (B) it is going to hell in a liberal handbasket precisely because scientists, atheists, and compromised Christians are rebelling against God, and have decided the best way to plunge our culture into an immoral morass is by claiming the universe is billions of years old.
Now, I am no liberal, and I do think our country is morally adrift these days, but anyone who thinks the cause for our current moral confusion is because there is a conspiracy regarding the age of the earth is just a fool. For that matter, we’re deceiving ourselves if we think the United States was ever a truly Christian nation in the first place. Sin and immorality is always present, it just pops up in different forms as time goes by.
As for Ken Ham and AiG, when they present a questionnaire to help determine if a Christian college, and 13 out of the 15 questions are somehow directly related to their pet issue of creation/evolution, and there is, outside of a generic question about the Trinity, absolutely zero questions regarding anything else of traditional Christian teaching and belief, it is safe (and obvious) to say that AiG is doctrinally, theologically, and biblically off-balance at best…and as I’ve said before, heretical at worst.
I think it is at worst.