Yesterday, I came across Ken Ham’s most recent entry on his blog entitled, “Why Don’t More Scientists Believe in Creation?” It’s a rather short post, but as I read it, I realized that it perhaps perfectly illustrates what truly lies at the heart of young earth creationist thinking: it is a modern form of Pharisaism. I think what Ken Ham writes in his post is completely sincere, with full conviction that he is right, and yet he is completely incoherent in what he claims, and is actually insulting to everyone with whom he disagrees. The sad thing is that I don’t think he can see how insulting he is.
How Can “Observational Science” Confirm “Biblical Creation”?
He begins by the speakers at Answers in Genesis for clearly showing “how observational science confirms God’s Word,” and then lamenting that “despite the overwhelming evidence that supports the Bible, many people still reject biblical creation.”
First off, given Ham’s own definition of “observational science,” what he’s claiming is impossible. He defines “observational science” as the kind of science that is repeatable, observable, and helps build our technology. So how does “observational science” somehow confirm God’s Word (which I am going to assume he really means Genesis 1-2 as literal history)? For he also says that Genesis 1-2 is “historical science,” and therefore is not observable nor repeatable, and must be taken on faith. Therefore, by his own rhetoric, “observational science” cannot refute or confirm “historical science.” Yet here he is, claiming something that he absolutely says is impossible.
Secondly, what “overwhelming evidence” is Ham talking about? The “historical science” evidence of Genesis 1-11, of course. But he doesn’t say that; he implies there’s overwhelming “observational scientific” evidence—but again, that’s impossible according to his own definitions of “observational” and “historical” science.
Thirdly, Ham consistently claims that if one rejects Genesis 1-2, then one is “rejecting biblical creation,” and rejecting the idea that God created the world. Of course, that’s not true. Now of course, the complexity and beauty in the natural order does, I believe, support the idea that there is a Creator. But a differing opinion as to how that creation came to be is not the same thing as a denial of a Creator. It’s a denial of Ken Ham’s assumption that Genesis 1-2 is attempting to give a scientific account of creation; but it’s not a denial of biblical creation.
Enter Nathaniel Jeanson…and the Insults
The bulk of Ken Ham’s post is an extended quote by Nathaniel Jeanson, one of the speakers at Answers in Genesis, regarding the question, “Why don’t scientists believe in young earth creationism?” Jeanson acknowledges that something like 97% of professional scientists believe evolutionary theory to be true. Therefore, the natural question is, “If there is so much overwhelming evidence for young earth creationism, then why do so many scientists believe evolution to be true?”
Jeanson’s answer is quite straightforward: at least 70% of professional scientists are non-Christians, and therefore “have a spiritual bias and deliberately suppress the truth.” Think about that claim—that is rather insulting. He is saying, “It’s not that they are rationally convinced of evolution, it’s only because they are sinners who are suppressing the truth.” He is effectively turning the scientific issue that addresses variety throughout the created order into some kind of “spiritual war.”
I believe part of the reason there is so much frustration and vitriol by some atheists against Christianity is because of this very issue. If a non-religious person who has an interest in science finds evolutionary theory and something like genetic studies fascinating, and then that person comes across Ken Ham who condescendingly and condemningly says, “Oh, you only like that stuff because you’re a sinner and you’re trying to suppress the truth,” how do you think that person is going to respond? He’s going to be hurt, angry, and insulted because Ken Ham is calling him a “sinner,” not because of any actual sin that person might have committed, but because that person likes to study science and is convinced by the findings of modern science. In that respect, not only is Ken Ham rejecting science, he is actually calling modern science sinful.
And so, when atheists get angry with Ham, he then turns around and claims he is being persecuted because he is a Christian. No, they’re angry with him because he is acting in a pharisaic and decidedly unchristian manner, and actually claiming that such condescending behavior is Christ-like. How else can you describe this billboard advertisement, other than antagonistic, passive-aggressive, and unChrist-like? Such a message is utterly shameful.
Jeanson then turns his attention to the real problem: public schools. He claims students are taught in public schools to “suppress the truth,” and are thus never even present young earth creationism as a valid alternative—or as Jeanson calls it, opposition. Of course, young earth creationism is not real opposition. It has no scientific evidence to support its claims. That’s why it must redefine “science” so it can claim Genesis 1-11 is “historical science,” and thus not provide any compelling argument. Saying, “Genesis 1-11 is historical and scientific because I’ve come up with a category of ‘historical science,’” is not an argument.
In addition, I know from personal experience that suppressing the truth is precisely what young earth creationists like Ken Ham do. When I taught my Darwin unit in my last Christian high school, I purposely tried to lay out all the views in an even-handed manner—precisely the thing that Ken Ham claims he wants done. In response, I was told I couldn’t present anything on theistic evolution, unless I told the students ahead of time that it was wrong. The reasoning was that if I didn’t condemn a view up front, then that meant I was endorsing it.
Such actions are completely disingenuous—and yet I have no doubt that those who do such things are fully convinced they are doing the right thing. After all, they’re convinced that this is not really an issue over evidence. They are convinced it is a spiritual struggle, and that evolution is ultimately godless and satanic. They think keeping students away from any kind of even-handed presentation of evidence for evolution—even theistic evolution—is the same thing as keeping them away from Ouija boards and hard drugs.
Jeanson also claims that professional scientists, even the “professing Christians” at BioLogos, are simply ignorant of young earth creationist literature: “They’re totally ignorant of what we’ve printed, and they don’t want to consider it.” Of course, that is simply not true. Christian theistic evolutionists like Karl Giberson and Denis Lamoureux started off as young earth creationists. They know full well what young earth creationism claims. For Jeanson and Ham to claim that they are just ignorant of their claims is simply misleading.
In addition, please note the language: professing Christians. Ham does this often, saying things like, “Well, so and so says he’s a Christian, so I have to take him at his word, but…” and thus in a passive-aggressive, back-handed way, Ham is insinuating that such people really aren’t Christians. This is the same tactic the Pharisees used against their fellow Jews who didn’t follow the Pharisaic “oral tradition.” The Pharisees called their fellow Jews “sinners” if they didn’t buy into the Pharisaic claim that their “oral tradition” held as much authority as the Scripture itself.
Ham concludes in typical Hamean fashion: those who do not hold to young earth creationism (1) are blinded to the truth, because (2) they are actively suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. He says, “They have all the evidence they need, but they suppress it.” Ham then takes it a step further, and equates scientists who don’t accept young earth creationism with those who wanted to kill Lazarus: “There are examples in Scripture, like those leaders who wanted to kill Lazarus after Jesus raised him from the dead, so they could get rid of the evidence (John 12:10)!” That’s right—he actually equates people who don’t accept young earth creationism with murderers.
Now, I am sure he is completely sincere in this accusation. He really believes those who don’t accept his young earth creationist claims aren’t just wrong, but are sinful, unrighteous, suppressing the truth, blind, ignorant, and yes, no different than murderers. Needless to say, such a view should be alarming to every clear-minded Christian.
I am also equally sure that Ken Ham really cannot see how such rhetoric is antagonistic, hostile, and actually turns people away from Christianity. He can’t see it. He intentionally insults and belittles people, and then when they get angry and hurt by him, he claims he is suffering for the Gospel. It is delusional, yet such is the odd dynamic of heresy and cults.
Sincerity is not Ham’s problem. His problem is that of Pharisaism: he feels justified to condemn others as “sinners” based, not on anything in the Bible, but on his own peculiar “oral tradition” that has listed a biological theory as sinful. That’s what is driving the young earth creationist movement: not science, not the proper interpretation of the Bible…
…simply a modern manifestation of the Pharisees that Jesus condemned. Remember, the Pharisees were the bad religious guys who placed their own man-made traditions above that of Scripture itself, and readily condemned anyone who didn’t submit to their added burdens.
Such is the theology of white-washed tombs.