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The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 10): This is the End–Rebuttals, Final Thoughts, and the Wicked Servant

The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 10): This is the End–Rebuttals, Final Thoughts, and the Wicked Servant

This will be my final post discussing Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge’s book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. I hope these posts, no matter how comical and/or frustrating they have been, have been able to help crystalize precisely the methods, tactics, and rhetoric that YECists like Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis routinely use. And, if I may state right at the start, I think the fundamental problem with YEC (and there are many) is that it truly thinks that scientific questions regarding the age of the earth are core religious issues that are a threat to the Christian faith. Simply put, the only reason Ken Ham rejects radiometric dating, for example, isn’t because he really thinks there is a more convincing way to date rocks; rather, it’s because he thinks old rocks threaten the Christian faith, and therefore, he is willing to pull any and all possible explanations out of thin air in order to try to discredit modern scientific discoveries.

Of course, those “explanations” aren’t explanations at all—they are just more smoke and mirrors that he constantly employs in his arguments. And this is precisely what we see in HH’s take on the final two rebuttals of the Nye/Ham Debate.

Ken Ham’s Second Rebuttal
The first clarification Ken Ham put forth was that YECism was not “Ken Ham’s model,” but rather God’s account of creation. By saying this, Ham is (once again) putting forth rhetoric that insulates him from any criticism, and that perpetuates his narrative that “secularists” are “attacking God.” He wants people to believe this is a religious war, and not a simple scientific question, and so he consistently presents his view as God’s view—to question him is to attack God and the Bible.

Amazingly (once again), HH then claimed that Bill Nye failed to address the debate topic. Again, the topic was “Is YECism a viable scientific model for origins.” And, as we’ve seen, all Bill Nye did was provide evidence for an old earth that would refute the claims of YECism—that, to me, is addressing the topic. But apparently not for HH: “[Nye] changed it to attack ‘Ken Ham’s view,’ but never really addressed creation as a whole to see if it is a viable model of origins in today’s scientific era. …He was more persistent at ad hominem arguments against Mr. Ham” (187).

That should concern everyone. For not only did Bill Nye stick to presenting actual scientific evidence that challenged the YEC claim (which again, was the topic of the debate), but I never once remember him “personally attacking” Ken Ham. The only ad hominem attacks came from HH all throughout their book: “hostile atheist,” “ignorant of science,” “attacking God,” “using the serpent’s tactics.” It is so blatant throughout the book, that to read that above quote is simply chilling to me, because it is so blatantly false.

In any case, the rest of Ham’s second rebuttal was a rehashing of his previous statements: (A) Bill Nye an agnostic and must borrow from the Christian worldview to use the laws of logic; (B) Bill Nye doesn’t know his science well enough to even know the difference between “species” and “kinds” [Side Note: there is no scientific classification of “kinds”—that is something YECists have made up, just like “historical science”]; (C) All of Bill Nye’s evidence of ice cores, tree rings, etc. are assumptions and unreliable because “he wasn’t there” and “one can’t prove the past;” (D) Noah had access to highly advanced technology in the pre-flood civilization that would put our modern technology to shame [Side Note: Again, think about what Ken Ham is claiming!]; (E) Distant starlight isn’t a problem for YECism because AiG has come up with their own models to explain away distant starlight—besides, “there is a God who can easily get light from created stars to earth just like He commanded in Genesis 1:15” (191) [Translation? “Poof!”]

HH concluded their assessment of Ham’s rebuttal as follows: “Mr. Ham’s rebuttal was concise and accurate…. This is what a rebuttal should be” (192).

I’ll let the reader assess the accuracy of that assessment on his/her own.

Bill Nye’s Second Rebuttal
When turning to analyze Bill Nye’s response, HH noted that Nye had said he was unsatisfied with Ken Ham’s responses because they failed to address the fundamental questions of the debate (i.e. is YECism a viable scientific model). HH’s response was: “Mr. Ham completely undercut the very reason Mr. Nye was on stage,” (192), and then proceeded to harp (once again) on the fact that Mr. Nye was an agnostic and couldn’t account for the “laws of logic,” and therefore Mr. Ham clearly won the debate because he “dealt very carefully with the debate topic…” and “Mr. Nye did not do this” (192).

If I may translate this: After Bill Nye provided his evidence for an old earth, and then asked Ken Ham to provide his evidence for a young earth, the response Ken Ham gave was, “I totally gave evidence! You didn’t, you agnostic! Laws of logic! I’m a Christian! I win!”

What can you say to that? I am a Christian, and that reaction personally offends me.

In any case, Nye brought up (again) the 680,000 snow layers that Ham didn’t sufficiently explain, to which HH responded with, “You clearly don’t know the difference between observational and historical science!” Then they said, “Mr. Nye claims to be the ‘science guy,’ but it is Mr. Ham who truly understands the meaning of the word ‘science.’ Mr. Ham taught the audience how to think about the issue correctly” (193). Can you spot the ad hominem attack there? Do you see that Ham never addressed the issue?

And then Nye brought up (again) the mathematical problem YECists have when they claim all of today’s current species came from a mere 2,000 kinds of animals a mere 4,000 years ago—that translates into 35-40 new species per day. HH’s response? “There were only 1,000 kinds on the Ark!” Well, that would make the math even more impossible, wouldn’t it? But HH simply moved on.

Then Nye brought up (again) the extraordinary claim that Noah and his family could have built the Ark by themselves. HH’s response? “To deny Noah was an extraordinary shipwright, Mr. Nye needs a better answer than his opinion” (194). No, if HH is going to claim Noah was trained in shipwright school and used highly advanced technology, HH has to provide evidence, which they do not do.

Nye brought up the fact that the pyramids in Egypt are old than 4,000 years. HH’s response? Those are just man’s fallible dating methods—the pyramids were build after the flood.

And what about Nye’s point that there are millions of deeply religious Christians who do not accept Ken Ham’s YECist claims? HH’s response: “Mr. Nye is deeply religious. Let me repeat that. Mr. Nye is deeply religious” (199).

So what about those Christians who don’t agree with Ken Ham? “…they are acting like humanists on this point. They are mixing two different religions—man’s word and God’s Word. How did God view the Israelites when they mixed their godly worship with the Baal worship in the Old Testament? The Lord was not pleased and often judged them severely” (200). So there you have it, Christians who don’t agree with Ken Ham—you’re acceptance of the reliability of radiometric dating is no different than Baal worship…you’re going to get severely punished. You had better repent.

And finally, Bill Nye made a point that in science, scientists routinely try to make educated guesses about what they should find, based on the evidence that they have. And if something is proven wrong because of new evidence, they throw that discredited idea out and continue to try to understand more about the natural world. Well, HH scoffed at this notion and said, “…biblical creationists don’t have to guess! They already have a revelation from the One in whom are ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3)” (205).

 Just to make clear, with that quote HH is admitting that YECists don’t do science and, in fact, don’t need to do science, because they believe that Colossians 2:3 is saying that God has given all the relevant scientific information in the Bible. Someone needs to tell them that Paul is not talking about scientific information in Colossians 2:3.

As they always do, HH shows that they base their rejection of science on their gross misinterpretation of the Bible.

Final Thoughts
So there it is: the “analysis” Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge put forth in their book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. I’m going to forego the section of the book that dealt with the “question and answer” part of the debate. As you can probably tell, after ten posts, much of this simply gets redundant.

But I do want to touch upon HH’s “Final Comments” in their book, for they truly do sum up what is so wrong with YECism.

Amazingly (once again) they claim that Bill Nye never addressed the debate topic—they even quote the debate topic, and still somehow claim that Nye never addressed it. Therefore, they claim, “By avoiding the actual issue, he lost the debate out of hand” (280).

And then, when it comes to the question of whether or not YECism was a viable scientific option for studying origins, HH says this: “the debate showed that creationists do observational science and even excel at it in today’s modern scientific and technological age” (280). Allow me to show my frustration here, but…

La-di-fricking-da! That wasn’t the debate topic! The debate topic, that you just quoted, was whether or not YECism was a viable model for origins (what you call “historical science”)! So for you to say, “We won the debate because creationists can do observational science and technology,” is simply insane—you are blatantly changing the debate topic! Using your own fictitious categories of  “observational science” and “historical science,” anyone can clearly see that the ability to do “observational science” isn’t evidence that YECism is a viable model for “historical science”!

HH then concluded by quoting Ken Ham that his goal for the debate was to “defend the Christian faith,” and he knew he just did his best to “unashamedly stand on the authority of God’s Word and share the saving Gospel” (283).

Well, as a Christian, I feel it is important to share one’s faith and to stand on the Word of God. But the fact was, the topic of the debate was whether or not YECism was a viable scientific model. And that is something that Ham simply was able to prove.

And, to add insult to injury, HH ended their comments in a truly arrogant and condescending fashion: “For those Christians reading this, please be in prayer about Mr. Nye and his salvation. Be praying for Mr. Nye to repent and receive Christ as Lord. And be praying for those who are not saved reading this book that they will be able, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to see through the false religion of evolutionary humanism in its various forms” (284).

Honestly, such comments make my blood boil. I try to make these posts pointed, direct, and sometimes humorous, but I simply cannot make a joke about such pharisaic arrogance. Of course, I hope Bill Nye comes to the Christian faith, but such comments coming after an entire book where HH’s insults Bill Nye left and right is just condescending and infuriating. I can guarantee you that Bill Nye probably is a little further off from coming to the Christian faith, precisely because of Ken Ham’s condescension and arrogance. When I read that quote, all I can think of is “God’s name is blasphemed among the nations because of you” (Rom. 2:24).

Thus ends my month-long critique of Inside the Nye/Ham Debate, as my way of commemorating the three-year anniversary of the debate. In time, YECism will go the way of the countless other fringe movements that die out, simply because they are not true. Of that, I am sure. In the meantime, though, it is frustrating to see how people can so blatantly mislead, misrepresent, and distort the Christian faith, and do it with such religious zeal and conviction that they are right, everyone else is wrong, and they are being persecuted for their faith.

I’m sorry, but the one with the club who is constantly beating on Christians and non-Christians alike is not the one being persecuted. That’s the persecutor. That’s the “wicked servant” who beats his fellow slaves (Matt. 24:48-49). That might sound harsh, but I think that is blindingly true.

I hope you’ve found these posts informative, worthwhile, and hopefully witty in places. More than that, I hope they have shed light upon the tactics YECist groups like Answers in Genesis routinely use in their debates and arguments.

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 7): Unleash the Kraken! (i.e. How AiG Dismisses the Evidence and Attacks its Opponents)

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 7): Unleash the Kraken! (i.e. How AiG Dismisses the Evidence and Attacks its Opponents)

In my past six posts reflecting on the Nye/Ham debate of three years ago, I focused on how Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge (HH) “analyzed” the debate in their book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. Specifically, I looked at how discussed the five-minute openings of both Bill Nye and Ken Ham, and then how they elaborated on Ken Ham’s 30-minute presentation. My essential metaphor has been HH’s use of “smoke and mirrors” to obfuscate the actual issues regarding the creation/evolution debate, and to instead convince people that evolution is the same thing as atheism, and that there is a culture war to fight.

In the next couple of posts, I will now focus on HH’s “analysis” of Bill Nye’s 30-minute presentation, but I want to do it in a rather different way than the other posts. Now, it is virtually impossible of me to adequately cover every detail of HH’s 70-page critique of Bill Nye’s presentation. I found reading those pages to be both surreal and frustrating. I imagine that if you ever have gotten into an extended debate with a YECist acolyte of Ken Ham, you will understand: diversion, personal attacks, bizarre claims from left field, random Bible references that come out of nowhere (and have little or nothing to do with the actual original context of that particular verse)…it goes on and on until you feel your head spinning. Not to sound unkind, but those kinds of “debates” end up being an incoherent mess spoken with a certainty and conviction that does not match the rhetoric.

In any case, in this post I want to do something different. Instead of trying to rationally explain how irrational most, if not all, the critiques HH gives of Bill Nye in their book, I am going to give you a taste of it. After all, if there’s one thing to realize about the arguments of YECism, it is this: the power of their argument does not come from well-reasoned and articulated points about either science or the Bible. The power of their argument is found in the sheer volume of invective, condescending statements, and hysteria. It wears opponents down, and by doing so, it gives the impression to their followers that they’re winning the argument, when in reality, they are just putting a strobe-light and a mirrorball into their fun house of mirrors, and blinding everyone.

Overview of Bill Nye’s Arguments
That being said, a brief overview of what Bill Nye argued is necessary. Basically, Nye put out a number of scientific arguments that point to an old earth, thus refuting Ham’s claims for a young earth. In addition, Nye also raised specific questions regarding Ham’s claim that there was a world-wide flood 4,000 years ago, and that the story of Noah was a historical event. Nye’s arguments ranged as follows:

  • Fossils in Kentucky are evidence of an ancient earth
  • Ice cores in Antarctica are evidence of an ancient earth
  • Bristlecone pine trees have 9,000 rings, and thus are older than 6,000 years
  • How can plant life survive underwater for an entire year?
  • The impossibility for all the various rock layers to settle so quickly after the Flood
  • The fossil record is evidence of evolution and an ancient earth
  • How could animals get to Australia from the Middle East, a mere 4,000 years ago?
  • The impossibility of the millions of species today to have developed that quickly from the animals that came off of Noah’s Ark, a mere 4,000 years ago
  • The impossibility of one man and seven family members to build an Ark
  • YEC’s lack of predictive ability
  • In order for YEC to be true, natural laws would have had to change in the past
  • The distance of starlight points to an ancient universe

There were numerous other sub-points made, but overall, the above list sums up Nye’s presentation. And as you can see, they were specific scientific arguments that are worth addressing in an honest fashion. That, though, is something HH chose not to do. So without any further adieu, I present to you my summary of HH’s 70-page critique of Bill Nye’s presentation in one post…enjoy…(actual quotations will be italicized). [Please note: I am writing as HH…these are not my opinions!]

Ham and Hodge Go on the Offensive: Changing the  Topic, Fossils, Ice Cores, and Pines
Well, right out of the gate, Mr. Nye showed he was not playing fair. He “immediately changed the agreed topic of the debate (Is creation a viable model or origins in today’s modern scientific era?) to something else (Does Ken Ham’s creation model hold up? Is it viable?)” (81). Let’s get one thing straight, this isn’t Ken Ham’s model…it’s the biblical model that God told us. How dare Mr. Nye devalue creation!

In any case, Mr. Nye first talked about the fossils in the rock layers here in Kentucky, and he claimed that they were, in fact, millions of years old. Someone untrained might have thought Nye gave a devastating argument…but of course he did not! He just merely assumed what he claimed he was proving. Not only that, he clearly didn’t understand creationism: Noah’s Flood laid down all those rock layers!

Then Mr. Nye tried to convince people that the ice cores in Antarctica had 680,00 layers, and therefore that showed 680,000 winter-summer cycles, hence 680,000 years. Wrong! Ice cores don’t come with labels on them! Here in Kentucky you can get multiple ice layers in one winter! He’s just assuming that each cycle represents a year. Just assumption and guesses…that proves nothing!

And what about the Bristlecone pine trees that have 9,000 rings? Mr. Nye would like you to believe that proves they’re 9,000 years old. Wrong! That’s just an arbitrary claim and more assumptions! Many trees can have multiple growth cycles and multiple rings in the same year. Mr. Nye can’t prove that those trees got only one ring per year—he’s just assuming that. Now, “the bristlecone pines, with its dry climate, doesn’t readily afford multiple tree rings, but to assume the climate has always been identical to that of today is without warrant, even by Mr. Nye’s standards” (87). It’s just all fallible assumptions—God’s historical science textbook (the Bible) tells us that the Flood causes massive changes in weather patterns. So no…those trees prove nothing, other than the fact that Mr. Nye is using man’s historical science to battle God’s historical science.

HH on the Global Flood, Rock Layers, Skulls, and Kangaroos
And then Mr. Nye tried to say that claiming a global flood could lay down all those different sediment layers in a short time was unreasonable. Well, that’s just him claiming his own authority and questioning God! Concrete (“which is in reality artificial rock”) can solidify very quickly—who’s to say that couldn’t have happened with the rock layers after the flood? Was Bill Nye there? No, he was not!

And then Mr. Nye showed a bunch of different skulls on a slide, and tried to argue that you can’t really tell which ones were human or ape. Well, “this was a very poor attempt by Mr. Nye to intimidate people into believing his evolutionary view. Anyone can quickly show a slide depicting lots of skulls, claim this is evidence of evolution, and move on! That was a very unfair tactic by Mr. Nye, and not becoming of someone truly wanting to debate the issue of origins in a carefully thought-out way” (95).

And then Mr. Nye mocked YECism by asking, “How could animals from the Middle East make their way to Australia?” Well, there could have been a land bridge; or they could have floated to Australia on driftwood. Why can’t creationists come up with models based on their beliefs? Mr. Nye will never accept them, though, because he just wants to mock the Bible!

He also pointed out that if kangaroos travelled from the Middle East to Australia, then why are there no fossils found anywhere on the route from the Middle East to Australia? Well, “just because one doesn’t find the fossils of animals in an area doesn’t mean those animals didn’t live there. …Not finding fossils someplace is not a good indication that they never existed there…” (97-98). Clearly, Mr. Nye’s assumptions are not reasonable at all!

HH on Kinds, Species, Noah’s Ark, Ancient Technology, and the Fossil Record
Mr. Nye then totally claimed Mr. Ham said something he never said. Mr. Nye said that Mr. Ham said there were 7,000 kinds of animals on the Ark. Mr. Ham never said that! He said there could have been 8,000! But it could have been as few as 1,000 kinds…in any case, that’s Mr. Nye for you! Just blatantly misrepresenting things! He didn’t even know the difference between “species” and “kinds!” Clearly, he didn’t do his research. “The more I listened to the debate, the more I realized that Mr. Ham’s understanding of the nature of science and the origins issue was way above that of Mr. Nye” (102).

Mr. Nye then mocked the Bible by saying it was not reasonable to believe that Noah and his family could have built an Ark. Well, how does he know that Noah wasn’t an expert shipwright? After all, he could have studied for 500 years before he built the Ark! Besides, the ancient technology of that time was probably pretty amazing; unfortunately, but the time of the Age of Exploration, much of that knowledge had been lost. In addition, Noah could have hired workers; men like Methuselah and Lamech could have helped. We just don’t know.

But Mr. Nye won’t accept this, because he’s relying on autonomous human reason—he’s a materialist, and he has no basis for the laws of logic and reason! He has to borrow from the Christian worldview! How dare he try to make a logical argument against God!

Then Mr. Nye asked, “How could only eight people take care of all those animals on a floating zoo?” Well, “I want the reader to understand that Mr. Nye’s accusation implying bad treatment of animals is one tactic used by skeptics against those who believe the account of Noah’s Ark in the Bible” (110). Noah would never neglect those animals! Mr. Nye’s accusation was just a vicious attack.

This is the actual illustration the book gives to argue for AiG’s view of the fossil record and rock layers.

After that, Mr. Nye tried to convince people that the Geological Time Scale is true, and that all those fossilized animals were buried in sediment millions of years apart. Well, that is just an evolutionary story based on Mr. Nye’s worldview and religion of naturalism. We look at those same fossils and say they were all laid down during Noah’s Flood. Same evidence—different interpretation! Why can’t our beliefs be taught as science too?

We need to just state the obvious: evolution is no different than Greek mythology. “Really, Mr. Nye’s evolutionary belief is nothing but a human fairy tale about origins similar to the Greek myths” (122).

HH on Scientific Predictions, Natural Laws, and the Big Bang
And then, Mr. Nye started to harp on “predictions,” and how YECism doesn’t make scientific predictions. He had the audacity to say, “Ken Ham and his followers.” Let’s be clear, “it is not Ken Ham and his followers, but rather Mr. Ham and fellow followers of the Bible” (125). Anyway, why is Mr. Nye so hung up on predictions? He’s a materialist! “Why would his religion with the teaching that nothing is immaterial include a concept like predictability, which is not material? This is self-refuting for the materialistic worldview that Mr. Nye has been professing” (125).

But if you want to talk about predictions, the Bible is full of them—they’re called prophecies. So why do evolutionists reject biblical prophecies and rely on “the failed ‘prophecies’ or ‘predictions’ by secular scientists (e.g., dropped transitional forms, changing evolutionary ideas), and yet keep coming back for more (125)! It’s a spiritual issue, really—they are sinful and are in rebellion against God.

And can you believe it? Mr. Nye again accused YECists of saying that the natural laws have changed. “Creationists do not say that natural laws have ever changed. Mr. Ham said this. …he couldn’t understand what Mr. Nye was really saying here, as it didn’t make sense” (126).

Mr. Nye also tried to point to various dating methods, like radiometric dating, in an attempt to “prove” that there are rocks that are millions of years old. Well, you can’t trust radiometric dating. “Uniformitarian dating methods simply assume something has been uniform in the past—that is, unchanging” (139). Besides, radiometric dating is just filled with assumptions, and are just unreliable.

With that kind of absurd accusation, it shouldn’t surprise you that Mr. Nye believes in the Big Bang. But you know what the Big Bang is? It’s just an unprovable assumption. In fact, it is a disprovable assumption, because the Bible gives a different view that disproves the Big Bang! The Big Bang says that stars came before the earth; but we know that’s not true! Some Christians try to say God used the Big Bang, but that creates more problems. “If Christians attempt to force the Big Bang into the Bible, they have to say that God’s Word in Genesis in regard to the creation of the earth and the sun is totally wrong! (129).

And by the way, that means that the stars aren’t expanding because of the Big Bang—we know they are expanding because God is stretching them out. Just consider Isaiah 42:5: “Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out…” There are lots of other verses just like that: all giving accurate, scientific information about the universe. “On the basis of God’s Word, Christians would expect to find the heavens stretching as well as evidence of it having been stretched. This stretching is a great confirmation of what was predicted based on the Bible” (133).

Speaking of stars, Mr. Nye then made an outrageous claim that the elements (as in the table of elements) were created when stars exploded! “Has anyone observed this? No. Has anyone repeated this? No. So at best, this is mere wishful thinking to try to tell a story about how they believe elements came about” (136). All it is, is fairytales! “Once upon a time,” those secularists say, “Once upon a later time…and an even later time!” It is all simply fiction! “It is stories, on top of stories, on top of stories. [Mr. Nye] is deliberately mixing historical science and observational science together and calling them one word—science” (137). It all is just as ridiculous as Greek mythological stories! “So whose arbitrary stories should be trusted—those of the Greek mythologists or the modern humanistic mythologists?” (138).

Sure, Mr. Nye tries to point to distant starlight as supposed “proof” that the universe is 14 billion years old—but how does he know that? It’s all just a bunch of assumptions. Genesis 1 says God created light on Day 4, and that was about 6,000 years ago…case closed. God could have created light in transit, the speed of light could have been much faster in the past [Writer’s Note: Reflect back on HH’s insistence that they don’t believe natural laws change], or there could be time zones in space. Who really knows? Was Mr. Nye there? Who are you going to believe? Mr. Nye and his humanistic fallible fairytales, or God’s historical science textbook, the Bible?

HH and Their Conclusion about Bill Nye
Well, Mr. Nye concluded that “Ken Ham’s creation model” is not viable. AGAIN—it’s not Ken Ham’s creation model—it is the Bible! In any case, “Although Mr. Nye brought up hosts of points, he really didn’t present anything that would be construed as remotely devastating to creation” (154). It was all just a bunch of assumptions, poor research, and assertions that were simply wrong.

Mr. Nye probably knew how pathetic his points were—that’s why he used the Skeptical Method in hopes of discrediting the Bible. “However, a careful check of his claims uncovers that he was not able to poke holes in the creation model built on God’s revealed Word” (154). It was like Mr. Nye took a gun, fired off a bunch of shots, but they were all blanks—and all he could hope for was that perhaps Mr. Ham would be rattled by the noise.

But of course, Mr. Ham wasn’t rattled at all! He was truly wise to ignore all that noise “and instead concentrate on teaching the true nature of science and relating the worldview conflict that was being acted out before the eyes of the worldwide viewing audience” (154).

Whew…to Conclude
So, let me, the actual Joel Anderson (not my “inner HH”), just ask: Was that convincing, or was that rather frustrating to read? Did HH convincingly address Bill Nye’s scientific arguments, or did they essentially dismiss every single one, out of hand, as “assumptions and fairytales”? Did you see the dizzying use of the five “mirrors” AiG employs in their arguments? Can you see through the smoke?

I know this post was rather long, but I wanted to put it all together in one post, so that you can have a taste of the unrelenting barrage of pseudo-science, ad hominems, and manipulative rhetoric that went on for 70 pages. In my next post, I will offer my thoughts and observations on what I illustrated in this post. After reading this, though, ask yourself how would you go about addressing any of this?

And indeed, that gets to the deeper question about all of this “creation/evolution debate”: How should a thoughtful Christian go about addressing these kinds of claims by YECism? Trust me, I know how frustrating it can be, especially when you get sucked into a debate with someone who continually parrots what is laid out in this post. I’ve probably said a few things in the heat of the moment I shouldn’t have.

So, what is one to do? What is the best way to go about it? That’s for next time.

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 5): The Last Three “Mirrors” of YEC’s Debate Tactics

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 5): The Last Three “Mirrors” of YEC’s Debate Tactics

In my last post, I began to point out five specific talking points/tactics that are routinely used by young earth creationists. We see these in play in both Ken Ham’s debate with Bill Nye and the book by Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge about the debate, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. I equate these talking points with smoke and mirrors, for they serve, not to actually make a positive argument for a young earth, but rather to obfuscate the issues and dismiss any and all scientific discoveries that challenge Ham’s claims. I covered the first two mirrors in my previous post; I want to touch upon the other three mirrors in this post.

The Third Mirror: Genesis 1-11 is God’s Historical Science Textbook
The third “mirror” Ken Ham and AiG employs whenever the argue for YEC is the claim that Genesis 1-11 is God’s eyewitness historical account of the origin of the universe, and is therefore conveying accurate scientific information.

Claiming that Genesis 1-11 is essentially historical is not anything that uncommon—a lot of people assume that. What is uncommon, though, is the relatively new claim made my YECism that Genesis 1-11 is conveying accurate scientific information. And what is absolutely astounding is the lengths to with they go in order to make that claim. In order to get to the point where he can argue that Genesis 1-11 is “doing science,” Ken Ham has to jump through a number of hoops: he must claim there are two kinds of science, and then claim historical science is just about belief (Note: if you define something as not being subject to the scientific method, then it is not science. If you say, “This kind of science is belief based on one’s religious worldview,” then it is not science.)

In any case, this is where the third “mirror” comes into play: the Bible is God’s “historical science textbook.” It is important to realize that Ham is not saying that Genesis 1-11 is “science” in the way most people think (i.e. the study of nature that is subject to the scientific method). He has already split the realm of science into two distinct categories, and has already claimed that his belief that Genesis 1-11 is conveying accurate information as to how the world, indeed the universe was formed, is scienceGod’s historical sciencethe kind of science that the scientific method can’t touch…the kind of science that is belief.

In fact, Ken Ham positively brags that Genesis 1-11 isn’t the same kind of science as “secular science,” because “secular science is always changing, but God’s Word never changes.” Of course, the reason why science is always changing is because scientists are learning new things about nature, and are thus constantly learning more—that’s what makes advances in learning about the natural world possible.

Furthermore, Ham is simply misunderstanding the biblical passages that talk about God’s Word never changing—simply put, it is not talking about how the Bible gives accurate scientific information. But this is the kind of thing that happens when someone comes up with his own definition of a special kind of science, and then couples it with very poor biblical interpretation, and verses ripped out of context.

The Fourth Mirror: Same Evidence, Different Interpretations based on Different Starting Points
With the first three “mirrors” in place, Ken Ham’s fourth “mirror” allows him to shoot down every and any piece of scientific evidence that refutes his YECist claims: it’s all about different starting points, and any information that points to an old earth or evolution is just based on secular/humanistic assumptions.

And sure enough, HH praises Ham in the book for making this very claim in the debate: same evidence, but different interpretations. Thus, according to Ham, it “actually becomes a worldview/religious debate” (53). And voila! Ham has taken what was to be a debate over whether or not YEC is a viable scientific method, and has turned it into a religious debate. And once he does that, he can then bring in the fact that his starting point is God’s infallible Word (i.e. God’s historical science textbook), but that “secular scientists” have a starting point of “man’s fallible word” (i.e. religious naturalism).

Starlight pointing to an old universe? Nope—your starting point is an assumption the universe is old, and you clearly are in rebellion against God; Ken Ham’s starting point is Genesis 1—God’s historical science textbook. The various dating methods that point to an ancient earth? Nope—you just are starting with the assumption the earth is old, and you are mocking Noah; Ken Ham’s starting point is Genesis 6-9—God’s historical science textbook.

No matter what the evidence is, Ken Ham simply dismisses it, claim it is all based on assumptions, and say his famous, “Were you there? I have a book written by God who was there!”

By strategically placing those first four mirrors throughout his presentation and books, Ham has not only made it possible to never actually address any scientific evidence that challenges his YECist claims, he also sets the stage to argue for his real agenda: the culture war. That is the fifth mirror.

The Fifth Mirror: The Religious Culture War
The fifth mirror is really what all the other four mirrors are angled to, for it reflects Ham’s real concern. Arguing for YECism is simply a means to this end. And indeed, the last few pages of the chapter are devoted to it.

After blowing a lot of smoke into the debate (the smoke will be looked at in the next post), Ham brought his 30-minute presentation to a close by hammering home what his real concern and real agenda was: fighting the culture war. For he is convinced that evolution and claims of an old earth are systematic attempts by secular humanists to undermine the Bible and to encourage immorality in the culture.

Now to be sure, I do believe there is a significant culture shift going on in our society that is disturbing; and yes, I think the more our culture succumbs to the secular thinking of the Enlightenment, the more our culture is going to disintegrate, for the Enlightenment worldview is rooted in philosophical naturalism, and is decidedly hostile to Christianity.

It is just that none of that is rooted in scientific discoveries regarding the natural world or the age of the universe. But this is Ham’s foundational point to his entire organization and life’s work: in order to save the culture, we must convince people that Genesis 1-11 is scientifically true.

To be clear, what will save the culture is the Church bearing witness to Christ, caring for the poor and needy, living out cruciform lives that are willing to lay down their lives for others, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives as they see Christians bearing the image of Christ. Trying to convince people that Genesis 1-11 is a special kind of science that isn’t subject to the scientific method, and attacking anyone who isn’t convinced of such an argument is not going to save the culture because it’s not true.

Ham’s Grand Finale: Marriage, Death, and Clothing
In any case, in a debate that was focused on the question of whether or not young earth creationism was a viable scientific model for origins, Ham concluded his presentation by talking about how “biblical creationism” is vital for Christian doctrine, and then calling for Christians to fight the culture war.

Ham’s first concern was marriage. Obviously, there is a controversy raging in our current culture about gay marriage—I am not going to wade into those waters. But I do want to point out the curious claim by Ham that marriage is a doctrine. Yes, the Bible clearly assumes marriage is between a man and a woman; yes, throughout all of history and all cultures, up until the later part of 20th century Western society, marriage has always been between a man and woman—but marriage isn’t a doctrine; and for that matter, the reason why marriage has always been understood to be between a man and a woman isn’t because the Bible says so, and it certainly is not dependent on whether or not there was a historical Adam and Eve.

Simply put, the argument for traditional marriage is not dependent on whether or not Genesis 2 is about two historical people.

Ham’s second concern was with sin, death, and Christ’s atonement. Yes, the Bible is clear: Christ came, suffered, died, and resurrected in order to cleanse us from sin and conquer death itself: that’s the salvation message. But apparently, Ken Ham believes that is all contingent on whether or not Genesis 2-3 is literal history. He objects to evolution because that would mean there was death in the world before Adam, and that would mean God didn’t create a perfect world at the beginning.

As HH writes, “If death had been around for millions of years prior to sin, then death would be very good and perfect, as God described everything He made as ‘very good.’ This would undermine the very reason for Christ’s atoning sacrifice” (78). If evolution were true, HH claims, then “we would expect to see death in heaven” (78). Therefore, “Believing in millions of years undermines the atonement—and undermines the WORD. As Christ is the WORD, not believing the WORD is an attack on Christ” (78).

Now, theological question of death is a serious one, but HH’s claims are riddled with problems. I’ve written about this issue in other posts (here and here), but to make a quick point, early Church Fathers like Irenaeus, did not teach that God created a “perfect” world or that Adam was created “perfect.” In fact, he said that such a teaching was a gnostic heresy. Simply put, they taught that suffering and death, while obviously not good, are still inevitable parts of this creation, and that it is through suffering that we grow into maturity and the likeness of God, as Christ demonstrated and now empowers us to do through the Holy Spirit.

Simply put, Ham’s premise is wrong: “very good” does not mean “perfect,” millions of years does not undermine the atonement, and it certainly isn’t an attack on Christ. But in any case, notice the effect of the rhetoric used here: HH is telling their readers that being convinced of what astronomy, biology, geology and genetics have discovered is to attack Christ. That is a scare tactic if there ever was one. In a debate over whether or not YECism is scientifically viable, Ham is telling people that they are in danger of hell if they doubt his YECist claims.

The final “doctrine” Ham mentions is…clothing. Now, I do not see how clothing is a doctrine, but nevertheless, when discussing this part of the presentation, HH states, “Clothing is a biblical doctrine. Originally, man had no shame in a perfect created order” (77), but because of sin, we now have shame, and that’s why we wear clothes.

Ham is wrong on two counts:

  • His assumption that God created the world and man “perfect.” To a point, the Bible doesn’t say that, and the early Church Fathers didn’t teach that.
  • His assumption that Genesis 2-3 is to be read literally as history, and not metaphorically.

In any case, you might be asking, “What does this have to do with the culture war?” Well, Ham is concerned with the increase of nakedness in our culture. I for one have not seen naked people walking our streets, but apparently, Ham is alarmed over nakedness. Apparently, Ham believes that if we don’t teach Genesis 2-3 is literal history, then more people are going to start walking around naked.

I just honestly don’t get that.

And Finally…
By the time we get to the last two pages of HH’s analysis of Ham’s presentation, we are light years away from the debate topic. Here are the points they made:

  • There is a bias against creationists in public schools
  • The origins debate isn’t a scientific one, but a religious one: “It’s a battle over religion—that of God or that of man: Christianity versus humanism” (78).
  • Public schools are forcing the religion of atheism on students
  • Public schools “arbitrarily define science as naturalism and outlaw the supernatural” (79).
  • Ken Ham showed “the implications of the secular religion that is being forced onto students and the subjectivity or arbitrariness behind it” (79).
  • In a secular worldview, you have gay marriage, euthanasia, and abortion.
  • A literal/historical reading of Genesis gives us the doctrinal basis for “clothing, truth, honor, logic, science, medicine, knowledge, morality, kindness, helping the elderly and diseased” (79).
  • In a secular worldview “everything is meaningless and nothing really matters” (79).

And after all that, HH concludes: “Creation is the only viable model of historical science confirmed by observational science in today’s modern scientific era” (79).

Let me make just three points:

  1. None of those points had anything to do with the debate topic.
  2. By making those statements, Ham has essentially convinced his followers that if someone is convinced by modern science (of course, he’d say, “If someone believes evolution,” because he wants to convince people it’s a religious issue, not a scientific question)—that they are therefore brain-washing nihilists who are for gay marriage, euthanasia, and abortion, etc.
  3. And finally, the last statement made was not proven at all…at all.

But this is the point of the five “mirrors” employed by Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis: to avoid answering actual scientific challenges, to demonize anyone who challenges his YECist claims, and to frighten his followers into thinking that evolution = atheism = attacking Christ = moral degeneracy = ultimately hell.

I’ve had countless debates with YECist Ham acolytes, and these five “mirrors” come into play every time; and every time, it is obvious that they are convinced that I am anti-Christ because I disagree with Ken Ham. It is ultimately sad and tragic. They are so caught in this mental loop that just bounces everything off of these five “mirrors” that they cannot see anything else.

It reminds me of what Leah Remini has recently said about her time in Scientology. She said that when you are in it, you are so convinced that the fate of the universe hinges on your devotion to Scientology, that you are willing to accept the most outrageous and illogical claims Scientology makes, and you actually convince yourself that anyone who criticizes Scientology is an insidious enemy, not only to Scientology, but to humanity itself. You can’t think straight, and you actually believe that all the problems in the world go back to Lord Xenu and brainwashed thetans attaching themselves to people’s bodies.

In my book, I argued that YECism is essentially a heresy, but it wasn’t necessarily a cult. The more I think about it, though, I think it just might have all the markings of a cult. Now that I’ve pointed out the mirrors of YEC tactics, in my next post, I will discuss the smoke of YEC that HH puts forth in their analysis of Ham’s presentation.

The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 1): A Month Long Celebration of the 3-Year Anniversary! (My critique of “Inside the Nye/Ham Debate”)

The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 1): A Month Long Celebration of the 3-Year Anniversary! (My critique of “Inside the Nye/Ham Debate”)

Three years ago, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” and Ken Ham debated each other at the Creation Museum. The topic of the debate was this: “Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in Today’s Modern Scientific Era?” By that time, I was already pretty convinced that young earth creationism was not true, but I hadn’t yet really delved into really investigating it beyond just some of the more general themes. And so, when the debate rolled around, I made sure to watch it. I knew I didn’t agree with Ken Ham, but I thought, “Surely, there must be something worthwhile to consider regarding his claims.”

Needless to say, by the end of the debate, I was shocked: for all practical purposes, Ken Ham had said absolutely nothing. I ended up writing about twelve posts on my old blog, analyzing the debate, discussing the meaning of Genesis 1-11, and sharing my thoughts on what I was learning about how the early Church Fathers viewed Genesis 1-11.  By the end of that school year, some of my comments about Irenaeus and Orthodoxy’s view of Genesis 1-3 were used by my headmaster at the time as justification for terminating my employment. In time, much of those posts made their way into my book, The Heresy of Ham.

Yes the book cover might look familiar….

In any case, watching that debate, quite literally, changed the course of my life. Last year I even purchased Ken Ham’s book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate, in order to get a glimpse about how he felt the debate went. He and his son-in-law Bodie Hodge co-wrote the book, and it was even more shocking than the debate. The book essentially takes the reader through the various parts of the debate, and supposedly gives extra insights into the debate.

In reality, the book is nothing more than shockingly bad propaganda. I can liken it to the sort of pictures you may see in a partisan media source of an opponent of that media source. To touch upon the current political mess in America, Vox will always portray Donald Trump this way and Hillary Clinton this way:

Crazy Trump: “The camps will have huuuge walls!”
Patriotic Clinton: “I’ll be ready for that 3 AM call!”

By contrast, Breitbart will portray these two a little differently:

Let’s Make America Great Again!
Me wants the precious!!!

Why is that? Because each media source has clear agenda they are pushing; therefore, they purposely choose pictures to bias you either for or against any certain candidate or figure before you even read the article. Such actions are intentional, and intentionally try to influence you before anything is even said.

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate is like that all the way through. In fact, it is so blatant, that is what shocked me most of all. I was well aware of the actual debate claims the book covered—I had watched the debate and had written on it. But what stood out to me was how Ham and Hodge purposely tried to manipulate their readers by the way in which they discussed the debate. I knew at some point I would have to write about it.

Well, that time has come! The three-year anniversary of the Nye/Ham Debate is upon us, so what better time to analyze Ham’s analysis of that debate? Throughout February, along with my continued series on “The Ways of the Worldviews,” I will also be writing a number of posts about Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. After all, just today, Ken Ham sent out TEN TWEETS within ONE HOUR, calling to people’s attention that this was the three-year anniversary of the debate, and he even wrote a post of his own about it, where he encouraged people to buy a copy of the debate along with the book Inside the Nye/Ham Debate.

So I figured I’d help him out in spreading the word about, not only the debate, but also what he and Bodie Hodge actually say in their book about the debate. I think you will find it eye-opening…at least those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. So, let’s jump in and get our feet wet.

The Introduction
Before Ham/Hodge (HH) even get into their analysis of the debate itself, they open the book with some introductory comments. And one of their first introductory comments was how the debate wasn’t fair from the start: “Due to the nature of the topic, the discussion was not set up as a fair debate” (27). The reason they felt it is unfair was because the topic was, “Is creation a viable scientific model for origins?” That meant that Ham had to defend his position, whereas Nye could just attack Ham’s position, and not have to defend his own.

Of course that would be the case, HH mused, because, “Evolutionists…do not want to defend their position, but are willing to attack the opposition, which gives them the edge” (27). So allow me to point out the book’s first manipulative tactic: accuse “evolutionists” of not only being cowards unwilling to defend their position, but also of being those kind of mean people who only want to attack others.

By contrast, HH portrays Ken Ham as a veritable angel bathed in light, willing to undergo such unfair persecution: “Mr. Ham probably agreed to the debate topic knowing it would be skewed against him; that considered, it was very gracious for him to entertain the debate, ‘knowing how the cards were shuffled’” (28). Not only that, but HH wanted the reader to know that Ham showed even more grace by agreeing to speak first, and thereby giving Bill Nye the opportunity to have the final say.

Why would Ken Ham be so gracious, after already showing grace by accepting such an unfair debate topic? I’ll let HH explain: “Mr. Ham told me…it was most important for him to know that the message God had laid on his heart was heard clearly—even if that meant giving Bill Nye a seeming tactical advantage. And as anyone who watched the debate knows, Mr. Ham presented not only the biblical creationist worldview, but also unashamedly and clearly shared the gospel of Jesus Christ” (28).

But that’s not how Bill Nye is presented in the introduction. HH pointed out that Nye said after the debate that he took his debate tactic from the young earth creationist Duane Gish, whose tactic (known as the “Gish Gallop”) was to throw so much information out in rapid fire succession, jumping from point to point, that it wouldn’t give the opponent time to adequately address it all, and he would end up looking foolish. Nye essentially tried to do to Ken Ham the same thing YECists do to others.

If you’ve ever seen Duane Gish debate, you know that is exactly what he did. Well, HH simply said, “That’s misconception of what Dr. Gish did,” and then proceeded to accuse Nye of just throwing too much information out there in order to try get Ken Ham bogged down in details. But don’t worry, HH assures the reader that “Mr. Ham didn’t take the bait and stuck to the debate topic” (29).

Well, I watched the debate, and I have to say, I didn’t see Ken Ham present the gospel of Jesus Christ. But upon reading the introduction, I saw clearly what HH really wanted the reader to see: (A) what a cowardly attacker Bill Nye was, and (B) what a selfless, gracious, clever and godly man Ken Ham was.

…all before anything about the actual debate was discussed.

So, do you think the introduction is just a version of the Trump/Clinton pictures from your favorite hyper-partisan media source? I sure do.

Ken Ham, Bodie Hodge, and Georgia Purdom, showing off Ham’s book, “The Lie”

Just wait until HH’s discussion of the actual debate gets going.

I hope you enjoy my month-long celebration of the three-year anniversary of the Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debate. It will not so much be an analysis of the scientific claims made in the debate, as it will be an analysis of the manipulative tactics Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis use in place of making any actual substantive arguments. You can go to youtube and watch the segments in question as you read my posts. There will be plenty to hear and read…that is, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Ken Ham Denies the Power of the Resurrection!

Ken Ham Denies the Power of the Resurrection!

Yes, I know, that is quite a provocative and scandalous headline for a post, isn’t it? It’s one thing to take issue with Ken Ham’s claims about science or his interpretation of Genesis 1-11, but should we really question his belief in the resurrection of Christ? Isn’t that to essentially do the very thing so many people are upset with Ken Ham for doing—questioning one’s Christian faith simply because he/she has a different interpretation of Genesis 1-11? I mean, argue science and biblical interpretation all you want, but let’s hold off on accusing anyone of denying the resurrection.

Well, far be it from me to suggest that Ken Ham denies the resurrection of Christ…no matter how provocative the headline might be. Let me be crystal clear: I have no doubt whatsoever that Ken Ham believes Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead. But I came across one of his many tweets earlier today, and it just got me thinking about how Ken Ham, you, I, and probably many people in general tend to view, or more properly fail to view, the resurrection. And yes, in a roundabout way, I think this affects how we view science and evolution (not to mention virtually everything else).

Ham’s Twitter Argument
But perhaps I should first share what Ken Ham’s actual tweet was. It was quite simple, really—just a typical Ken Ham/AiG argument for YEC in less than 140 characters:

God describes death as an “enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26). God didn’t use death to create—death is the judgment for sin.

Ham’s tweet encapsulates a basic argument by AiG that (A) evolution requires millions of years of death to account for the varieties of life we see today in the natural world, but that (B) Genesis 1 tells us that God call His creation “good,” Genesis 3 tells us that death came to Adam and Eve because they sinned, and I Cor. 15:26 call death an “enemy.” Therefore, if evolution is true, then Genesis 1 is a lie, because death would have been part of creation, and God would be calling death “good;” Genesis 3 is a lie, because death would have been occurring for millions of years before Adam and Eve; and I Cor. 15:26 is a lie, because how could death be an “enemy” if it was part of creation from the beginning?

Now, in this post, I am not going to go into a detailed exegetical argument regarding those passages in order to refute Ken Ham’s claims. Instead, I want to expand on what I wrote as a response tweet. When I first read Ham’s tweet, something about it just struck me as odd: “God didn’t use death to create.” Rather quickly, I hit “reply” and tweeted this:

God didn’t use death to create? Mmm…The cross, tomb, then resurrection/new creation! Looks like He CAN use death to re-create!

22 year old Joel at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem (circa 1992)

Rethinking Death’s Role in the Resurrection and New Creation
No, I wasn’t trying to be cheeky with my response (okay, perhaps just a bit!)—I was actually being serious. When I read Ham’s tweet, I couldn’t help but realize that, although what we see in the resurrection of Christ is certainly the defeat of death. But there’s something else: we see the use of death as the means by which new life—Christ’s life—is realized. Simply put, the resurrection of Christ hails the breaking in of the New Creation, and God used death to bring it about.

In the death and resurrection of Christ, we see the power of God on full display: He brings new life out of death and suffering; the New Creation is birthed through the pain of death. And I have to tell you, I’m not sure too many people really get the significance of that. I mean, we should, because it’s all over the place throughout the New Testament:

  • Romans 5:3-5 talks about boasting in our sufferings because ultimately the end result is the realization of the Christian hope…the resurrection of the dead and becoming fully like Christ.
  • I Peter 4:13 talks about rejoicing in our sufferings because we’re sharing Christ’s sufferings, and that we therefore will rejoice even more when his glory is revealed.
  • Romans 8:18-25 equates present sufferings with creation in birth pangs, and what’s the hope when a woman suffering birth pangs? That’s right, a new birth. In Paul’s analogy, that hope is being set free from this present age’s bondage to decay and death.

The entire New Testament bears witness to this very thing: it is through suffering and death than the New Creation is born…and then death will be no more.

This View is Testified to by the Early Church Fathers
And in case we forget, this view of suffering and death is pretty much what Church Fathers like Irenaeus had. I’ve written on Irenaeus before, but essentially, while he affirmed the goodness of creation, he also saw Adam as representative of immature humanity, and therefore as each one of us. Irenaeus saw Adam’s sin as an inevitability, because God didn’t create Adam as perfect—Adam was immature and naïve and, yes, therefore bound to sin. But it was God’s will that Adam (and each one of us) grow into full maturity in Christ through suffering, and yes, even death.

Irenaeus makes it clear that all this—the sin, the suffering, and death itself—was all part of God’s salvation plan before the creation of the world. Christ didn’t come into the world because God’s “original plan” got screwed up by Adam. Christ came into the world because this whole thing has been God’s plan all along. As Irenaeus says, the very nature of Christ is that of a Savior, and therefore a savior needs something to save.

Or to put it another way, when we look at Genesis 1:26-27, God created human beings (i.e. Adam) “in His image”—we are to be His representatives in the created order, and we are to act as (a) kings over the created order, (b) priests of the created order, and (c) custodians of the created order. The thing, though, is that because we are not born “perfect,” that means we are not fully “like” God yet. As the Orthodox Church puts it, we are created in God’s image, but we are not yet “according to His likeness.” To become like God is to become like Christ, and to become like Christ entails suffering as Christ did, because the way Christ the Savior saves us is through suffering and death.

Or to put it yet another way: the suffering and death of Christ explains to us the reason for suffering and death—and the reason for suffering and death is to bring about the resurrection life of Christ so we can be fully mature in Christ, and therefore be according to God’s likeness. And once that happens, death will be no more because there will be no more purpose for it…kind of like what Paul says about the Torah (re-read Romans 6-8, and note what it says about the purpose of Torah, and its relationship to death).

Now, Back to Ham…
So therefore, when I looked at Ken Ham’s tweet, I realized that he is ultimately wrong: God does use death to create. This is testified to both in the New Testament and in early Church Fathers like Irenaeus. Suffering and death are inevitable parts to this creation; they are part of God’s plan of salvation revealed in Christ to grow us up into His likeness; they are this creation’s birth pangs that will ultimately result in a new birth and a New Creation in which suffering and death no longer have any role to play.

Now, I imagine Ken Ham might say, “Well, sure, through Christ, God used suffering and death to bring about the New Creation, but they only came into existence after Adam sinned. Before he sinned, there was no death or suffering, because he was created perfect.” Well, to that, all I can say is that not only does science and evolution refute that claim, but so do the early Church Fathers, and so does the Bible itself.

Think about it. If Adam and Eve were perfect, super-intelligent, and all-wise (and let’s not forget in possession of a perfect genome!), then how could they have been tricked by a talking serpent? The whole story in Genesis 3 drives home the point that they were naïve and child-like, and therefore not fully mature, and certainly not perfect. And the reason that is so is because the description of them is the description of us as human beings. As Irenaeus said, Adam sinning was an inevitability, just like our sinning is an inevitability.

But now I’m starting to wander a bit. You can read my full treatment of Irenaeus starting here. Allow me now to wrap up my thoughts…

Perhaps one of the most astounding things to learn about the early Church is how the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ caused the early Christians to re-evaluate everything, and see everything in a different light. The Jewish Scriptures? They reinterpreted them in light of Christ’s resurrection reality. Greek Philosophy? Christian philosophers essentially Christianized Greek philosophy and showed how the resurrection of Christ provided vast new insights into reality itself. And what about science? Long before the Scientific Revolution, all throughout the “Middle Ages,” Christian monks were making advances in scientific discoveries that laid the groundwork for the eventual Scientific Revolution, that was, incidentally, brought about primarily by Christians working in the fields of science.

The resurrection of Christ isn’t just some odd, historical claim that cannot be conclusively verified, but that you have to say you believe actually happened if you want to go to heaven. Too often, though, that’s precisely how we treat it—as just another claim you have to “take on faith” in order to avoid hell. But when we do that, when we reduce it to just a “fact” we have to say we believe happened, what we are essentially doing is denying the true power of the resurrection.

Yes, I believe the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact. Yes, I believe it really happened. But because I believe it really happened, I can’t allow it to be treated as just another “fact,” for that fact changed everything. It changed how we view suffering and death, and ultimately it changed how understand the created order itself.

If Jesus’ disciples were able to shine the light of the resurrection on the Jewish Scriptures and reinterpret them in that light, and if early Christian philosophers were able to shine the light of the resurrection on Greek Philosophy and reshape it in that light, we should be able to do the same thing with modern scientific discoveries like evolution.

Christian scientists even though they are bound by the same descriptive laws and scientific methods that all scientists are bound by in their observations of the natural world, they do not believe that the natural world is all that exists. Christians believe there is a God beyond nature who has made Himself known within history, in the person of Jesus Christ. And so, although Christian scientists would be wrong to inject “God” into their descriptive work of science, they (as all Christians) are able to contemplate their scientific findings in the light of the resurrection of Christ.

Sure, such contemplation admittedly isn’t “scientific,” but that’s okay—there’s more to life than just science. And although I am not a scientist, what I’ve learned about the theory of evolution over the past few years has been fascinating, not simply because of what it has discovered and what it can explain convincingly. It fascinates me because I’ve come to realize that what we can observe in biology, geology, astronomy, and genetics bears witness to what the resurrection is all about: the natural processes we observe in the natural world mirror the reality of salvation, resurrection, and the New Creation.

In Christ, God uses suffering and death to bring about new life and the New Creation. That’s at the very heart of the Gospel, and we see this very thing, by means of analogy, in the natural world.

Ken and me…

So yes, Mr. Ham, God does use death to create: that’s the testimony of the resurrection of Christ. I’m not saying you don’t believe in the resurrection, but it seems to me you view it as not much more than a fact. That’s okay, I think too many of us tend to also view it as not much more than a fact. I think we’d all be better off to open our eyes to the transformative power of the resurrection. It’s not just a door to the hereafter; it is the key to understanding reality itself.

Like I said earlier, everything is transformed in its light, even our understanding of suffering and death.

Adam, Noah: Myth or History–and Ken Ham’s Dangerous Claims

Adam, Noah: Myth or History–and Ken Ham’s Dangerous Claims

Last summer, when I came out with my book, The Heresy of Ham, I made it a point to send a copy to Ken Ham at the Creation Museum. Not surprisingly, I never heard back from him. But every now and then I wonder if he leafed through my book—his most recent blog post is one of those times that get me wondering, for in it, he addresses one of fundamental arguments I make in my book regarding the proper literary genre of Genesis 1-11: that it is not meant to be read as historical narrative. Rather, it is best understood as being in the literary genre of ancient myth.

Genesis 1-11 is Myth…but Here’s What That Really Means
Now, granted, on the surface that claim can sound shocking—many will automatically assume I am saying that Genesis 1-11 isn’t true. But that’s not what I argue at all. In order to assess whether or not a piece of writing is true or not, you first have to understand exactly what kind of writing that writing is—namely, its genre. Once you understand its genre, you are then better able to analyze it according to the conventions of that genre, and then come to a conclusion whether or not what it is saying is true or not.

For example, Jesus’ stories like that of the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan are properly understood as parables. Although they are found within the larger Gospel narratives that tell us about the historical Jesus and what he really said and did in history, we realize that those parables are not conveying actual historical information. They are stories that the historical Jesus told as part of his teaching ministry. But the parables themselves are not historical—and we know this and are totally fine with it, because we understand that parables are a different genre than historical narrative, even though they might be found in a work that contains historical information. So what if the parables aren’t historical? They still are true in what Jesus was teaching. Simply put, the parables of Jesus are not historical, but they are most definitely true.

The same goes for Genesis 1-11. Yes, they are found within the greater book of Genesis, that contains stories about historical figures like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, but they are noticeably different in content and historically verifiable information. The places the Patriarchs are said to have gone are actual places that we can travel to today, thus the stories are rooted in a verifiable and historical geographical setting. Genesis 1-11 on the other hand simply doesn’t have any of that. On the other hand, it is demonstrably provable that the biblical stories of creation and Noah and the Flood have clear parallels and similarities to other stories from the ancient Near East that we already categorize as mythological literature.

But when we say mythological literature, we are not talking about whether or not a certain story is true; we are talking about what genre a particular story is, in just the same way we categorize the story of the Prodigal Son a parable. The genre of myth means that it isn’t trying to convey historical information in the first place—that’s not its aim. Rather, myth uses highly symbolic language to talk about, what I call, metaphysical truths about reality: is there one God or many gods? Is creation good or is it a horrible place? Are human beings worthless slaves who are meant to cower in fear of the petty and power gods, or are they created in the image of a good and just God, and therefore infused with dignity and worth?

Therefore, the determining factor as to whether or not a myth is true is not whether or not it was historically accurate. In fact, the truth claims various myths make cannot be “proven” by any scientific or historical means. You can’t “scientifically/historically prove” that creation is good or bad; you can’t “scientifically/historically prove” that there is one God who is good and just, or that there are many dangerous and petty gods; you can’t “scientifically/historically prove” that human beings have inherent worth because they are in God’s image, or that they are nothing more than worthless excrement of defeated gods.

All that is to say this: saying Genesis 1-11 falls under the literary genre of mythological literature is not saying that Genesis 1-11 isn’t true. All it’s saying is that it was never meant to be understood as history. Genesis 1-11 lays out the foundational stories that teach (A) that there is one Creator God and that He is good and just; (B) that creation is good and has purpose; (C) that human beings are created to bear God’s image and be His representatives to care for and rule over His good creation; (D) but that human beings are sinful and prone to evil, and therefore are in need of redemption so that they can fulfill their purpose as God’s image-bearers.

Those are the foundational theological truths that Genesis 1-11 puts forth, and they should shape how we understand our world. But they’re just not scientific or historical claims—and that is okay.

Ken Ham, though, just can’t understand this…
Unfortunately, in his most recent post, Ken Ham clearly displays either his inability or unwillingness to even try to understand this. He begins with, “It’s becoming increasingly popular among many Christians to claim that Old Testament characters, especially Adam and Eve, and events such as the worldwide Flood weren’t literal people or historical events. They claim they were just figures or stories created to teach some kind of theological lesson. But does biblical revelation support this position?”

As should come as no surprise, Ham answers that last question with a resounding “No!” But his entire approach just betrays a willful refusal to engage in critical thinking. From the above quote, it is quite clear that for Ham, the only kind of “truth” possible is historical facts. In making that claim, he actually ends up downplaying the importance of theological lessons. In other words, Ham is essentially saying, “The stories of Adam and Eve and Noah’s Flood don’t teach theological lessons—they’re historical facts!” (Never mind the fact that it is simply impossible to prove they were historical).

And yet, Ham does try to prove this very thing by (a) claiming the inspiration of the Bible (and that is true—the Bible is inspired), (b) lifting verses like I Timothy 2:13, I Corinthians 11:8, and Jude 1:14 completely out of context, and then making the claim that since the New Testament writers mention the Adam and Noah stories, that therefore they were affirming that they were historical events…and that biological evolution isn’t true. To that, all I can say is I still don’t see how mere mention of a person or story in the Bible equates with affirming that person/story is historical…and that biological evolution isn’t true.

News Flash: The Story of Noah IS and Example of Ancient Near Eastern Literature…and that’s okay!
He then specifically refers to the Noah story and says, “Others claim that the account of Noah and the Flood is not history but was borrowed from ancient Near Eastern cultures to teach a theological truth about God.” Again, notice how Ham actually downplays the theological truth that the Noah story is conveying, in order to argue that it must be a historical fact. Furthermore, Ham’s dismissal of seeing the literary similarities to a number of ancient Near Eastern flood myths (like that of Gilgamesh) is rather shocking, because it is demonstrably provable that genre-wise, the Noah story and Gilgamesh are very much alike.

In other words, in his attempt to “prove” the Noah story is a historical account, Ham is actually denying the what really is provable: the Noah story and Gilgamesh are really, really similar. (Now, just to be clear, there are clear differences, but those differences are found in the theological claims that are being made).

The Tragedy of Willful Ignorance
Ham then makes another rather illogical statement when he says, If Genesis is myth then the gospel—as it’s foreshadowed in Genesis 3:15 and 21—is myth also. The gospel is founded in Genesis and grounded in a literal Adam who literally sinned and brought literal death into creation as the penalty for sin. If Noah is a myth, then so are all those listed in Hebrews 11, such as Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and others. Genesis is literal history!”

In response, let me just make three observations:

  1. He clearly shows no understanding of what “myth” actually means. Rather than understand that the issue is that of genre, Ham continues to equate “myth” with “anti-historical falsehood.” You simply cannot bring someone to understanding when that person willfully keeps his eyes closed to simple proper definitions.
  2. It is absolutely false that the Gospel is “grounded in a literal Adam.” Yes, the truths about humanity that are laid out in Genesis 1-11 set the stage to understand Christ’s work in history, but to say that the Gospel is dependent on whether or not there was a historical Adam who was created out of literal dust a mere 6,000 years ago, on the same day as dinosaurs…well, that’s just not true.
  3. Finally using Ham’s logic that if Noah is a myth then so are the Patriarchs, we would have to conclude that the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan must be historical figures, because look! They’re in the Gospels, and Jesus, Peter, James and John are all historical figures!

Ken Ham’s claims, no matter how familiar I am with them, and no matter how predictable they are, still continue to baffle and amaze me. When I first learned about Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, what they taught made me angry. And then I went through a period where it was just easy to make fun of them, for their claims are so outlandish. But now, I have to say that I read stuff like this and I just am mystified, much in the same way I am when I think about how Scientologists actually believe there was a Galactic Lord Xenu. It’s easy to write the claims of Answers in Genesis off as nonsense; but the fact is, not only is what Ken Ham is teaching false; it is actually preventing people from actually understanding the true Christian faith, and is hampering their ability to come to a full knowledge and appreciation of the Holy Scriptures.

Ken Ham’s Reformation: Don’t You Dare Challenge Him! (My thoughts on his thoughts about Joel Duff’s thoughts about him seeing himself as a modern day Martin Luther)

Ken Ham’s Reformation: Don’t You Dare Challenge Him! (My thoughts on his thoughts about Joel Duff’s thoughts about him seeing himself as a modern day Martin Luther)

Allow me to give a brief back-story to the topic of this post. On January 1st, Ken Ham wrote an article for the Answers in Genesis (AiG) website entitled, “Igniting a New Reformation in 2017,” in which he compared his efforts at the Ark Encounter to that of Martin Luther. Martin Luther had taken a stand against the corruption, and what he felt was the erroneous doctrines of the Catholic Church of his day, and Ken Ham is taking a stand against the findings of modern science, which he conveniently calls “blind belief,” because the findings of modern science conflict with his insistence that Genesis 1-11 is God’s historical-science textbook.

Then on January 2nd, biology professor Joel Duff (who maintains a blog in which he discusses the creation-evolution debate quite extensively) wrote a post on his blog entitled, “Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter to Usher in a Modern Day Reformation?” In his post, he points out that Ham’s YEC has its roots, not only in Henry Morris and John Whitcomb’s 1961 book, The Genesis Flood, but ultimately in the work of 7th Day Adventist George McCready-Price, who tried to argue scientifically that there was a literal world-wide flood of Noah and that the entire universe was only about 6,000 years old.

Duff also points out that Ken Ham’s fundamental claim for YEC is rooted is his understanding of biblical authority. Ham feels that if you don’t read Genesis 1-11 as history and science, you are undermining biblical authority. And Duff, like myself, obviously doesn’t not agree. Good biblical scholarship shows that the early chapters of Genesis are not intended to be read a historical and scientific accounts. I would add that, therefore, to insist that they are historical and scientific accounts, would be, in actuality, to go against biblical authority, or at the very least, to misinterpret those chapters.

Fast forward to yesterday, January 10th. Ken Ham wrote his own blog post, entitled, “My Parents are to Blame!” in response to Dr. Duff’s post. And that is the focus of my post.

A Quick Overview of Ham’s Post
If you ever wanted to learn how to engage in ad hominem attacks, Ken Ham would be a terrific case study. The gist of Ham’s post is basically this in bullet-point form:

  • Joel Duff writes for BioLogos, who wants churches to “reject a literal reading of Genesis and believe in evolutionary biology, geology, anthropology, astronomy”
  • I’m not going to respond to his “attack article”
  • Duff ignores the work of our “highly-qualified researchers,” and needs to do “careful research” instead of “following unbelievers”
  • Duff’s language is “sarcastic and demeaning,” and he uses ad hominem attacks against me
  • It’s a false accusation that AiG has its roots in 7th Day Adventism and Ellen G. White; I got my view from my parents!
  • Duff relies on the work of “the openly agnostic, apostate Seventh Day Adventist historian, Ronald Numbers”
  • YEC was not a “novel view invented by 7th Day Adventists;” it was “historical Christian orthodoxy” until the 19th century, when atheists, deists, professing Christian geologists decided to ignore Genesis; it was then that “most of the church quickly compromised with millions of years”
  • McCready-Price didn’t “invent” YEC; he was simply “interpreting the geological record using ‘biblical glasses’”
  • This is why we need a new reformation!

Let’s Get to the Facts
As you can tell from the bullet-points alone, there really isn’t much to Ham’s post other than, ironically, a lot of ad hominem attacks—the very thing he accuses Duff of engaging in. You can read Duff’s article for yourself, I’m pretty sure you won’t find a personal ad hominem attack on Ken Ham, despite what Ham claims here.

Nevertheless, there are a couple of specific claims that we can look at more closely. First, in regards to Ham’s claim that Duff ignores the works of young earth creations, I invite you to check out Duff’s blog and skim his posts. The simple fact is that Duff regularly analyzes and critiques the work of young earth creationists. So on this point, what Ken Ham is saying is demonstrably false.

Secondly, Ham claims that YEC doesn’t have its roots in either the work of Henry Morris or 7th Day Adventism, but rather was “historical Christian orthodoxy” up until the 19th century. (We’ll ignore his claim that he got his views from his parents, though—I’m pretty sure Duff was talking about the historical origins of YEC as a movement, and was not trying to speculate on where Ham personally got his views from).

Well, to the point, that’s simply not true. First, on AiG’s own website, you can find articles like this one about Henry Morris, in which Morris is called “the father of the modern creationist movement.” They also acknowledge that George McCready-Price was the first “flood geologist” of the 20th century.

In addition, it is simply a matter of historical fact that insistence on a literal/scientific reading of the early chapters of Genesis (and hence belief in a young earth) has never been “historical Christian orthodoxy.” No matter how many times AiG makes this claim, it simply isn’t true: no early Church Father saw the age of the earth as a fundamental of Christian orthodoxy; nowhere in the creeds is such a claim made; and nowhere in Church history has such a claim ever been made…until very recently…by young earth creationists like Ken Ham. Anyone familiar with how Christian theologians have read the early chapters of Genesis throughout history knows full well that those chapters have been read and interpreted a number of ways, and that at no time was it ever insisted that a YEC interpretation like that of Ken Ham’s was part of the historical, orthodox Christian faith.

The fact is that the YEC movement, according to AiG’s own words, was started by Henry Morris in 1961. The fact is Morris was influence by McCready-Price’s work. And the fact is that YEC has never been considered part of “historical Christian orthodoxy.”

How Many Ad Hominem Attacks Can You Spot?
The most fascinating thing to me about Ham’s post, though, wasn’t his factual errors. Those are simply par for the course. What continues to fascinate me is the subtle (or not so subtle?) way Ham and AiG engages in manipulative rhetoric. The very way they even set up an article or depict an AiG “opponent” is designed to evoke fear and suspicion before one even considers what that “opponent” says. You see this sort of thing all the time with partisan websites: if a left-wing website does a story on a conservative, chances are the picture they use of that conservative is a rather unflattering picture that makes that person look either sinister or ridiculous. The same holds true for right-wing websites.

What Ham and AiG does, though, is pepper their articles and posts with little comments, all designed to get you to not like the person they want you to not like, before you really even know anything about who that person is or what that person is saying. In Ham’s post alone, I noticed several ad hominem attacks on the first reading.

  • Look at how Ham depicts BioLogos. If you are a follower of Ham, the very mention of BioLogos will cause you be fearful, for Ham routinely depicts BioLogos as an enemy to the Christian faith. Duff’s article isn’t about BioLogos at all, yet Ham makes sure to let his readers know that Duff has written for BioLogos—why? Because for a Ham follower, BioLogos = Bad.
  • Look at how Ham characterizes Duff’s article as being full of “sarcastic and demeaning language.” Again, I challenge you to read Duff’s article and see if you can find any such thing. (Granted, I can sometimes get sarcastic, but I have yet to see much on Duff’s blog.)
  • Notice that Ham accuses Duff of ad hominem attacks against himself, although he doesn’t bother to give any examples. The reason why? There aren’t any in Duff’s article. Still, the effect of the charge is obvious: Ham is saying, “Duff has nothing! He’s just taking cheap shots!” In this case the charge of ad hominem questions the character person, and is in effect an ad hominem in and of itself. (And to be clear, am I accusing Ham of using ad hominem attacks? Absolutely. Does this reflect poorly on his character? Absolutely. Do I give examples of this? Yes, indeed.)
  • In Duff’s article, he mentions the book The Creationists by Ronald Numbers, a former 7th Day Adventist. Ham characterizes Numbers as an “openly agnostic apostate 7th Day Adventist” whose historical analysis is “distorted.” Later, Ham calls him an “unbeliever.” If that’s not ad hominem, I don’t know what is. Does such a characterization say to you, “This guy makes certain claims we disagree with; check him out—we’re confident that the evidence is on our side and you’ll find his argument unconvincing”? Or is the impression you get: “Agnostic! Apostate! Danger!”? Even if Numbers is not a Christian, does that mean one should reject his argument about the historical development of YEC out of hand? Ham certainly wants you to come to that conclusion.

UPDATE SINCE THE ORIGINAL POST: Something of a highly ironic nature has been made known to me by someone who commented on this post. You can see his comments in the comment section, but I wanted to insert his insight into the post itself. It turns out that Ronald Numbers’ book, The Creationists–the one that Ken Ham asserted was full of “distorted historical analysis;” written by an author that Ken Ham described as “agnostic” and “apostate”–was endorsed by none other than Henry Morris himself. That’s right, Ken Ham’s idol, the man whom AiG praises as “the father of the modern creationist movement,” was so impressed with Numbers’ book that he wrote a glowing endorsement of it that you can read on the back cover of The Creationists. Here is what Morris wrote: “For those interested in the background of the modern revival of creationism, whether evolutionists or creationists, this book is a rich mine of information and historical insights.” Henry M. Morris, Institute for Creation Research.

To say that I find that incredibly amazing is an understatement. It borders on the comedic.

  • In conclusion, Ham (as usual with anyone who disagrees with him) accuses Duff of “compromise.” Compromise of what? Biblical authority, of course. But is Duff really compromising on biblical authority, or does he simply think Ham is wrong to insist that the early chapters of Genesis are meant to be read as the “historical science textbook” Ham claims? After all, we need to be clear: it is Ham’s claims that run contrary to (a) modern science, (b) biblical scholarship, and (c) the entire history of the Church.

In Conclusion
Next month, to commemorate the three-year anniversary of Ken Ham’s debate with Bill Nye, I will be doing a series of posts on Ham’s book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate, not to debate or rehash the arguments of the “creation/evolution debate,” but rather to analyze the tactics Ham uses when he discusses the debate. This post, in effect, is somewhat of a preview.

If you are someone interested in science, I highly encourage you to subscribe to Joel Duff’s blog. You’ll learn quite a lot. He also has a book out about the Grand Canyon that is a worthwhile read as well. In addition, if you look through my blog, you’ll find numerous articles on the problems with Ken Ham’s young earth creationism. Or, if you want a concise and thorough analysis of the creation/evolution debate, let me encourage you to check out my book, The Heresy of Ham.

UPDATE: Dinosaur Meat, the Washington Post, and Ham and (Rotten) Eggs

UPDATE: Dinosaur Meat, the Washington Post, and Ham and (Rotten) Eggs

A few days ago, to ring in the new year, I wrote a post about Ken Ham accusation that the “secular media” like the Washington Post was dishonest and intentionally spreading lies about Answers in Genesis and what they believe…not about Jesus, but about…dinosaurs.

In an article about YEC groups like Answers in Genesis, the Washington Post said that such organizations believe that (a) dinosaurs and human beings were created on the same day, 6,000 years ago, (b) had lived at the same time on the earth for about 2,000 years, but (c) that dinosaurs went extinct in Noah’s flood.

Well, Ken Ham took to Twitter, five times within the span of a single hour, to voice his disgust at how dishonest the Washington Post was: “Hey Washington Post, we at the Ark Encounter have NEVER said dinosaurs were wiped out during the Flood — get your facts right!” he tweeted. When interviewed by CBN (Christian Broadcast Network), Ham reiterated: “We don’t believe they were wiped out during the flood–that’s not what’s represented at the Ark. We believe they became extinct like a lot of other animals after the flood.”

And, as I pointed out in my last post, Ken Ham was actually correct…sort of. The Washington Post had gotten their facts wrong. It’s true, Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, in fact, do not make the claim that dinosaurs went extinct in Noah’s flood. In fact, they claim that most of them died out in Noah’s flood, but the ones Noah’s took on board with him in the ark actually survived. But, they did go extinct shortly after the flood, for the flood had caused (wait for it…) such drastic climate change, that the earth was subjected to a singular 200-year long ice age shortly after the flood—and that is what caused the dinosaurs to go extinct: the flood + the climate change and the 200-year long singular ice age in human history that the flood wrought (that apparently ended right before Abraham was born) = the extinction of all the dinosaurs.

At the same time, though, let’s face it, Ken Ham telling CBN that they believed that dinosaurs “became extinct like a lot of other animals after the flood,” isn’t really telling the whole truth of what they believe, is it? He leaves the matter of dinosaur extinction, well, rather general and hazy when he speaks to CBN. Why didn’t he just come right out and specifically articulate what AiG does believe about the cause of dinosaur extinction? Could the reason be that “massive climate change causing a singular 200-year long ice age that ended within a generation of Abraham” explanation for the extinction of dinosaurs sounds, well…just plain silly?

The Washington Post Owns Up to Its Inaccuracies!
In any case, the Washington Post revised their original article to correct their “mistake.” The new headline reads, “Now there’s a theory that Noah saved dinosaurs from the flood,” and they included the following correction at the beginning: “This article has been updated to clarify that the Ark Encounter says dinosaurs were saved by Noah’s ark from the flood described in Genesis. In fact, dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago.”

And then, in they revised part of the article to now read, “Their (creation scientists) theory is that most of the dinos were wiped out 4,000 years ago in the worldwide flood described in Genesis – except for a few that hitched a ride on Noah’s Ark. This is the version of history on display at the Ark Encounter…”

As I read the corrections, I couldn’t help but think that Vicky Hallet, the writer of the article, as well as the staff at the Washington Post, couldn’t help but crack a smile and chuckle a little. Still, I think they should have done a little more research, and explained fully what Answers in Genesis really does claim about the mass dinosaur extinction in a singular 200-year long ice age right after the flood—it would have been much more informative, thorough…and humorous.

But Ken Ham Still Wasn’t Happy
But it was pretty obvious that Ken Ham really had gotten his feathers ruffled with this whole Washington Post thing—that’s why he was squawking so loud. He also told CBN: “They really don’t like creationists talking about dinosaurs at all because kids love dinosaurs, and dinosaurs are being used to indoctrinate kids in evolutionary ideas, and we’re telling them ‘no–we can explain dinosaurs from a biblical perspective.” In fact, Ham went on to state that the whole Washington Post incident was simply one more example of the greater “spiritual battle” of the clash of worldviews.

And even after the Washington Post revised their article, Ham still went on to accuse the writer of not doing her research about what Answers in Genesis really believes about dinosaur extinction, and suggested that the only reason the article was revised was because the “issue” that he had raised on Twitter obviously had gotten traction, and thus put pressure on them to revise it. He ended with, “However, the Washington Post still did not represent what creationists teach accurately.”

And to that, I can only say, yes, the writer didn’t do her research about what Ken Ham really believes about dinosaur extinction, and yes, Ken Ham didn’t come out and openly say what he really believes about dinosaur extinction either!

I found out about both the revision to the article and Ken Ham’s interaction with CBN about the article because Ham, of course, had tweeted about it with this: “The @washingtonpost not interested in truth or accuracy now printed article re @ArkEncounter with false information.”

I don’t know what “false information” the revised article had—Ham didn’t specify. He doesn’t specify a lot of things…at least not in public.

This Whole Thing is Just Frivolous and Rather Stupid
Yes, you read the subtitle right: this is frivolous and stupid…and still, I’m taking the time to write a blog post on it. Why? Well, for one, I’m happy to realize that I’ve gotten to a place where I can read something about Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis and not immediately feel the pain and hurt I felt for the past two years, knowing that it was this kind of abject stupidity that ruined my teaching career in Christian schools. Simply put, the pain has finally gone, and my sense of humor has returned: really…dinosaurs on a boat that survived a catastrophic worldwide flood a mere 4,000 years ago, only to go extinct when massive climate change due to that flood ushered in a singular 200-year long iced age that lasted from 3800-3600 BC? And Ken Ham truly believes that arguing THAT is “spiritual warfare”? How can you not just laugh?

Heresy of Ham: Arrived at the Ark Encounter

And yet, how can you not cry, realizing that such nonsense is being sold by Answers in Genesis as being fundamental to the Gospel itself? That’s why I wrote my book, The Heresy of Ham—not to engage in name-calling, but to clearly tell people that the kind of stuff that Answers in Genesis is putting out isn’t in the Bible and has never been part of historical Christianity.

For example, you can find in AiG’s website the following article: 10 Basics Every Christian Must Know to Boldly Proclaim a Biblical Worldview. The “10 Basics” are these: (1) God created everything in six literal days; (2) radiometric dating is flawed; (3) variety happens within “created kinds;” (4) man is unique because he didn’t evolve from apes; (5) distant starlight doesn’t prove the universe is old; (6) there was a global flood; (7) there were dinosaurs on the ark; (8) all human beings are one race; (9) suffering and death happened because Adam and Eve ate a piece of fruit; (10) the truth of the Gospel is dependent on whether or not Genesis 1-11 is literal history.

Does that sound like the teaching that Jesus handed down to his disciples? Are those “basics” of AiG the true fundamentals of the Christian faith? I’m sorry, but whatever “that” is, it’s not Christianity. And the fact that many, in fact, do think that such nonsense is Christianity is why I feel I still need to write about it—to set the record straight.

The Catholic monk Thomas Merton once wrote, “A man of sincerity is less interested in defending the truth than in stating it clearly, for he thinks that if the truth can be clearly seen, it can very well take care of itself.” That’s all we can really do: just state the truth clearly about Ken Ham and shine a light on what YEC really teaches. The truth will be able to take care of itself.

At some point in the next few months, I am planning to write a number of posts on Ken Ham’s book about the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate from two years ago. It is truly eye-opening, and rather shocking, to see how he and his son-in-law Bodie Hodge talk about what actually happened in that debate. Look for the posts sometime in February.

Ushering in the New Year with Dinosaur Meat and a Big Plate of Ken Ham!

Ushering in the New Year with Dinosaur Meat and a Big Plate of Ken Ham!

It’s a new year. Some of my “New Year’s Resolutions” for my blog will be (A) to finish posting my series on “The Ways of the Worldviews,” (B) to start posting more posts regarding Biblical Studies, and (C) to get back to the occasional post about Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis, and Young Earth Creationism.

This past I’ve taken a break from Ken Ham for what should be obvious reasons. The previous two years were spent researching YEC and AiG, and writing a book on it. I need to “cleanse the palate” so to speak. In addition, ever since the opening of the “Ark Encounter,” Ken Ham has spent most of his Twitter-time either in simple promotion of his attraction or re-posting past AiG articles, many of which I have already written my own posts on.

Ken Ham Begins His New Year Angry About Media Dishonesty
This morning, though, as I was thumbing through my twitter-feed, I came across an interesting tweet by Ken Ham—actually, FIVE tweets about the SAME thing, all posted within the same hour. Apparently, it was something Ken Ham was quite upset about.

He linked an article by the Washington Post that was about an upcoming movie by Morgan Spurlock about young earth creationism. In the article, it mentions Ken Ham. Essentially what the article said was that young earth creationists (aka “creation scientists”) argue that (A) dinosaurs and human were created on literally the sixth day of time itself, a mere 6,000 years ago, (B) therefore, they lived on earth at the same time, and (C) that it was a worldwide flood during the days of Noah, about 4,000 years ago, that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct.

Well, if you read Ham’s twitter responses, it will become abundantly clear that Ken Ham was not happy with the article. Here’s what he wrote in each of his FIVE tweets within the SAME hour:

  1. New Year’s Resolution: How about media like @washingtonpost resolve to research & write accurate articles, NOT like:
  2. I challenge @washingtonpost to show ONE instance where @arkencounter supposedly says Dinos died out during Flood!
  3. Will @washingtopost correct false claim attributed to @ArkEncounter re Dinosaurs & Flood?
  4. Hey @washingtonpost we at @ArkEncounter have NEVER said Dinosaurs were wiped out during Flood-get your facts right
  5. Novel idea for a New Year’s Resolution: media do research and write accurate articles instead of usual inaccurate agenda driven ones

And, with each tweet, he linked the actual article that you can read here: Now there’s a theory that dinosaurs were wiped out in Noah’s flood.

I Was Perplexed
Needless to say, I was initially perplexed. I have read countless articles by Ken Ham and the folks at Answers in Genesis, and that’s pretty much what they claimed. For the most part, the article seemed to be quite accurate, so Ham’s objections seemed just bizarre. After all, when I actually visited the “Ark Encounter” last summer, I saw many displays (like the one shown here) that clearly show dinosaurs perishing in the flood, while Noah’s ark was sailing off on the waters.

So how could Ken Ham claim the article was inaccurate and was making false claims?

But then it hit me: technically, Ken Ham is correct. Technically, AiG does not claim that ALL dinosaurs went extinct in the flood. So let’s set the record straight as to what AIG claims, after all, they’ve written extensively about this very issue. If you want to read some of their articles for yourself, here are just a few:

  1. What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?
  2. How Did Dinosaurs Die?
  3. The Extinction of Dinosaurs

Setting the Record Straight
In a nutshell, though, here’s what these articles will tell you: (A) dinosaurs and human were created on literally the sixth day of time itself, a mere 6,000 years ago, (B) therefore, they lived on earth at the same time, and (C) that it was a worldwide flood during the days of Noah, about 4,000 years ago, that caused most of the dinosaurs to go extinct.

Do those points look familiar? They should, because that’s exactly what the Washington Post article said…with one exception. AiG doesn’t claim ALL dinosaurs died off in the flood, just MOST of them. After all, as is clearly displayed all over the place at the “Ark Encounter” and Ken Ham’s Creation Museum, AiG claims that Noah actually took various pairs of dinosaurs on his Ark, along with all other land creatures. So obviously, those dinosaurs that were on the Ark survived the flood!

And then AiG claims something else (something the Washington Post didn’t mention): due to the drastic climate change that took place as a result of the flood, a singular ice age occurred shortly after Noah and the animals (including dinosaurs) came out of the Ark, and that singular ice age lasted for approximately 200 years or so. It was during that time that the remnant of dinosaurs that came out of Noah’s Ark eventually became extinct. As you can see with the pictures provided, I’m not making this up: it is on full display at the “Ark Encounter.” 

So: Dishonest Media or Manipulative Hamean Trick?
When I was in high school, there was a tremendously popular Christian singer in Evangelical circles named Steve Taylor. One of his songs was entitled, “Guilty By Association,” a song that shined a big spotlight on the sleazy televangelists of the 80’s, and their manipulative tactics to raise money for themselves. One of the stanzas goes like this:

It’s a Telethon Tuesday for “The Gospel Club”
“Send your money in now or they’re gonna pull the plug!”
Just remember this fact when they plead and beg:
When the chicken squawks loudest, its gonna lay a big egg!
You could be smelling a crook, you should be checking The Book,
But you’d rather listen than look…the implication, guilty by association.

Now, let me be the first to say that I don’t think Ken Ham and AiG is doing the same thing as Jim Bakker and the PTL Club. But that line about the chicken squawking loudest laying a big egg just popped in my head as I read Ken Ham’s tweets about the Washington Post article. It was a whole lot of squawking over something that wasn’t really an inaccuracy or intentional deception at all. I mean, okay: technically the Washington Post was wrong to say that Ken Ham claimed that all the dinosaurs went extinct 4,000 years ago in Noah’s flood; but realistically, Ken Ham and AiG does, in fact, say that most of the dinosaurs died off in Noah’s flood, a mere 4,000 years ago, and then the rest of them went extinct within 200 years after that due to the one, single, solitary ice age in history, that lasted all of 200 years!

Do I need to clearly state that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that supports the claim that there was a single, 200-year-long ice age that happened roughly 3800 years ago? I’ll be quite honest, setting the record straight regarding what AiG really does claim makes them look even more ridiculous.

So Why the Squawking?
But why the flurry of tweet objections within the span of one hour? I don’t think Ham is really wanting to set the record straight. He doesn’t try to clarify what AiG really does claim. He just says, “Look out! The Washington Post, and all the secular media, is dishonest! They’re lying about me! They’re lying about AiG!”

And why does he do this? It’s because he’s pushing a particular narrative that he, as a Christian, is being victimized by the secular media, and that AiG is being attacked because it is defending the Bible. He’s trying to scare Evangelicals so that they will donate money to his “Ark Encounter” and Creation Museum, pure and simple.

Let’s be clear: the Bible doesn’t say dinosaurs and human beings were created on the sixth day of time itself; it doesn’t say dinosaurs and human beings lived together a mere 6,000 years ago; it doesn’t say Noah took dinosaurs on the Ark with him; it doesn’t say dinosaurs almost went extinct in the flood; and it doesn’t say a singular ice right before the time of Abraham finished the dinosaurs off.

The Bible doesn’t even mention dinosaurs at all—and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean the Bible is untrustworthy or wrong. IT JUST MEANS THE BIBLE DOESN’T MENTION DINOSAURS. The Gospel does not hinge on whether or not the Bible mentions dinosaurs, no matter what Ken Ham claims or squawks about. But I can guarantee one thing: the big egg that Ham does eventually lay is going to be a rotten egg.

Answers in Genesis, Radiometric Dating, and the Denial of Science (I’ll Take David Hume Behind Door Number 3!)

Answers in Genesis, Radiometric Dating, and the Denial of Science (I’ll Take David Hume Behind Door Number 3!)

After a while, there’s only so much you can say about the claims of young earth creationist groups like Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis. As I wrote in my book, The Heresy of Ham, the entire “gospel” of Answers in Genesis (which really is no gospel at all) can be boiled down to five basic talking points that they continually recycle, over and over again:

  1. There are two kinds of science: observational and historical
  2. Evolution is the anti-God religion of atheism
  3. Christians who accept that the universe is older than 6,000 years are “compromised” Christians
  4. All geological, biological, and genetic evidence we see today can all be traced back to Noah’s flood, 4,000 years ago.
  5. When Genesis talks about “kinds,” those are God’s own scientific classification of original animals that came on to Noah’s Ark, and from which all modern species have developed within the past 4,000 years.

Yes, AiG no doubt addresses other things as well, but I’m willing to bet that even those other “things” are somehow connected to these five talking points. That’s why my writing on AiG has gone down over the past month or so—what else can be said? Sure, every now and then Ken Ham takes to Twitter, unleashes 6-7 tweets within the span of two hours, bemoaning about how evolution is a “fairytale,” with no evidence, and that’s because atheists have a blind faith in millions of years, etc. etc.—but after a while, like I said, you just roll your eyes and move on.

Today, though, a friend of mine shared this youtube video from AiG about radiometric dating, and why it is (supposedly) unreliable for determining the age of rocks. Now, I am not a scientist, and most scientific discussion makes my eyes glaze over. My brain is wired for literature, poetry, and Biblical Studies. As I watched this short video, though, a few thoughts popped into my head that I just have to share. First, take 3:18 minutes and watch for yourself.

AiG Explains Radiometric Dating…Fairly Accurately?
As you can tell, for about the first 1:40, the AiG narrator (I’m assuming) fairly accurately explains what radiometric dating is, what “half-life” is, and how scientists come up with the age of rocks. Up to that 1:40 mark, I was somewhat surprised: AiG gave a straightforward explanation regarding radiometric dating and half-life. It actually admitted that this was “observable science” and therefore reliable. And it (by omission) admitted that the motivating factor scientists use radiometric dating isn’t “to deny God,” or “to come up with some justification for evolution.” No, the video pretty much admitted that scientists take what they observe with half-life, then calculated backwards to try to find out how old the rock in question is.

Wow! There’s no sinister atheistic agenda! Thanks AiG, for admitting that and for giving scientists a certain amount of credit and respect.

…but oh, it just couldn’t last. You knew it was coming. Somehow, someway, AiG was going to smuggle in at least one of their talking points. Sure enough…historical science.

Is That All There Is to It?
Oh of course not…if that was all there was to it, AiG would have to issue a retraction to everything it has ever said ever, and then shut the whole organization down. And that just won’t do. There has to be a way to discredit the whole radiometric dating thing of (by their own admission) observational science.

And sure enough, a mere 11 seconds later, AiG’s “historical science” makes its appearance. And how AiG introduces it is breathtaking:

  1. “It is true that we can measure a decay rate using observational science” (Got that? It’s TRUE!)
  2. “But there’s another kind of science that’s required to accurately calculate dates for rocks, and that is what we call historical science. Historical science deals with things in the past, and therefore cannot be repeated and tested.”

checkthisoutAnd right there, AiG’s untestable “historical science” takes center stage. And, as I have said elsewhere, their definition of “historical science” is self-refuting—if it can’t be tested or observed in the natural world, then it’s not science. Think about it, if “historical science” “deals with the past” yet cannot be tested or observed, then how can it deal with the past, and how would you be able to test its claims to determine whether or not its claims were true?

But of course, AiG knows the answer to that—you can’t. That’s why they define “historical science” the way they do—it inoculates their claims from any kind of questioning or testing at all. Therefore, their “historical scientific claims” boil down to this: “Trust us…what we say is correct—God gave us the historical scientific information in Genesis 1-11.”

Getting Accurate Rock Dates…You Know What You Do When You “Assume”!
The rest of the video tries to convince you that radiometric dating and calculating the half-life of rocks isn’t enough to figure out the age of rocks. You need to use that “observational science” in conjunction with some sort of “historical science” to get it right. And, as AiG states, “Since radiometric dating uses both types of science…”

Wait…what? Do you see what AiG did there? They just threw that assertion out there—and this is problematic for two reasons:

  1. The fact is, there is no such thing as ‘historical science’—no self-respecting scientist believes there is a field of science that can somehow tell about the past without appealing to any kind of evidence in the natural world.
  2. Since there is no such thing as “historical science,” it is also obviously false to claim that radiometric dating uses it in conjunction with “observational science.” Simply put, there is just one kind of science—the kind that observes the natural world and makes testable predictions based on that evidence in order to understand the natural world better.

But in any case, AiG’s canard of “historical science” really boils down to their classic line regarding “starting points” and “assumptions.” Or in other words, AiG ends up rejecting radiometric dating because even though scientists today can observe the half-life of rocks, they weren’t there when the rock was original formed, so therefore they have to make assumptions regarding the conditions of the original rock sample. As AiG states,

  1. How do they know those conditions weren’t altered somehow by some other processes in the past?
  2. How do they know that the decay rate remains constant throughout the past?

And with that (and their analogy of the hourglass), AiG confidently declares, “THEY DON’T!” “Since we did not observe the initial conditions when the hourglass started, and since we haven’t been watching all the sand all the time since then, we must make assumptions.”

And (again), with that, out goes radiometric dating!

David Hume, or the Christian Assumption of an Orderly Universe? AiG Sides with Hume!
david-humeSince we’re making assumptions, I’m going to make one here: AiG is the reincarnation at an organizational level of David Hume. If you don’t know, David Hume took skepticism to an absurd extreme, basically saying you can’t know anything for certain unless you actually witness the entire event—but even then you couldn’t be certain, because you can’t really trust your senses either. You see me throw a ball throw a window and the window shatters—but how do you really know it was the ball that shattered the window? Isn’t it possible the window just happened to shatter for some other reason a millisecond before the ball came in contact with it?

How do you know for certain?
Were you there?
Were you able to observe every split second from every angle for all time?
Aren’t you just basing your conclusion on your assumptions?
What if you’re wrong?

ken-ham-picLet’s be honest, the only “assumptions” scientists are making is that there are consistent natural laws in the universe (i.e. half-life, speed of light in a vacuum, etc.). Or simply put, the basic assumption scientists make is that the natural universe is pretty orderly. In fact, that is the assumption the original medieval scientists had as they began to investigate the natural world—and why did they assume that? Because they were Christians who believed God was a God of order—and yes, they read Genesis 1 and realized that one of the messages of Genesis 1 is that God’s creation is one of order.

Based on that assumption, scientists study things like half-life and the speed of light, and come to the conclusion (based on the testable things they observe in the natural world!) that rocks are millions of years old and that the universe is 14 billion years old. Those calculations are possible because we live in an ordered universe, created by God.

And even if one doesn’t believe in God, one can still make the same calculations and come to the same conclusions…except for AiG…for they, quite literally, deny that the universe is orderly. Ironic, eh? In this silly little video, AiG denies the basic assumption that inspired the original Christian scientists to go out and study the natural world. AiG is denying the fundamental assumption that God is a God of order, and that the nature universe reflects that very thing.

By the Way…What Does Any of This Have to do with the Bible, or the Gospel?
The subtitle here pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? AiG makes this huge deal as to why one can’t trust radiometric dating to give an accurate age for rocks (never mind the ludicrous “WWDavidHumeD” mindset of AiG)…and for what reason?

Well, if you’re familiar with AiG at all, you already know the real reason, even though they don’t put it in this video. AiG has an assumption all its own: Genesis 1-11 is scientifically and historically accurate, and if it isn’t, then Christianity isn’t true, for a scientific/historical reading of Genesis 1-11 is the foundation for the Gospel. Never mind that at no time in Church History before the 20th century was that claim ever made. And never mind the fact that everything modern astronomy, biology, geology, and genetics contradicts AiG’s claim that the universe is 6,000 years old.

No, the assumptions of AiG are not even based on anything observable. Quite the contrary, they are literally based on nothing. That’s actually ironic, for in the Old Testament, when the prophets would rail against pagan idolatry, one of the ways they would describe idols is with a word that essentially meant a breath, or vapor, or basically nothingness. And that was the point—even though pagan temples had physical idols, in reality those idols represented nothing that corresponded to reality in any way.

In a similar way, AiG actually prides itself…on nothing. Such is idolatry—the worship of an image that ultimately corresponds to nothing that is real.

We Christians often refer to God as the “Rock of Ages.” In a very poetic and metaphorical way, the radiometric dating of modern science, by showing that there are rocks here on earth that are ancient, “of ages” long past, so to speak, actually can be seen as a reflection of God here in the natural world. It’s just a shame that AiG refuses to see it. They can’t–they’re worshiping their own peculiar idol that cannot hear or see, and hence, they become like what they worship.

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