October 22, 2017

Creation Wars: Remix

I wonder if, at times, the Lord would like to rethink the creation story. I wonder if he wants a chance to rewrite how the whole thing began.

“Look,” says the LORD God, “it went like this. It was kind of boring to just sit around and stare at nothing. So in the year 4004 B.C. (I still have the date circled on my calendar) I had this idea. There was this big button on my desk—it was red, if you want to know—and I pushed it. From the time I released the button until every galaxy, every star, every black hole, every planet, every moon existed only twenty-two minutes elapsed. I know it was twenty-two minutes because I cut out all the commercials. I selected an obscure planet in an obscure galaxy and began to tinker with some things that moved on their own. I started off with fish and birds, and once I had those down, I moved on to mammals. Insects were a big mistake, but there you have it. Finally I made my masterpiece: a human. I made it—him, to be specific—from dirt, not from any other living thing, like monkeys. Then I made another, this one prettier. Their names were Adam and Eve. Once I was done I looked at my watch and, what do you know?, exactly, to the second, six days had passed. Six twenty-four hour days. I thought, ‘This calls for a celebration.’ So I took the next day off and played golf. I won. I always do.”

Wouldn’t that have made things so clear? Then we would have no question about how old the earth is or how long it took God to make things or how humans came to be. And God, being God, certainly could have inspired the writer of Genesis to tell the story in a very specific way, giving all the details we need to never again question how the universe began.

Only God didn’t do it like that, did he? And thus we have the never-ending Creation Wars. More fun than a barrel of monkeys. Or dirt. Whatever.

In just this last week we have had shots fired from a pseudo-scientist, a controversial theologian, and a thick-headed bully. In turn these are Bill Nye (the Science Guy), Peter Enns, and Ken Ham. Nye started things off by saying that children should not be taught creationism. Children, says Nye, should be taught the facts as science has presented them.

“The Earth is not 6,000 or 10,000 years old,” Nye said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s not. And if that conflicts with your beliefs, I strongly feel you should question your beliefs.”

Nye dares to suggest something that is anathema to most Christians: questioning the way things are, or at least the way things appear. And that is where Peter Enns comes in. On his blog this week, Enns called for Christians to read Genesis as adults, not as children. Children, he said, have a difficult time understanding that their favorite stories are not true. (Try reasoning with a four year old that Peter Rabbit was not a real rabbit, and real rabbits don’t walk on two legs and talk.) But adults don’t. He goes on to say that some of the stories in Genesis are—gasp!—only legends used to help explain the inexplicable. Adults should not be thrown by this; children would be; so let’s grow up and read Genesis like an adult. An interesting argument, one that has merit, but also has holes that need to be filled in.

And then here comes the class bully, Ken Ham. The president of Answers In Genesis (not Questions In Genesis, mind you—questions are not allowed) and of the Creation Museum in Kentucky wrote an essay for his blog titled “Peter Enns Wants Children To Reject Genesis.” Really. Read Enns’ essay and then tell me where he calls for children to reject Genesis. Tell me where he calls for children to reject anything. Yet ham-fisted Ham calls out Enns for leading our dear children down the path of destruction by teaching them to reject Genesis as nothing but a bunch of fables.

Does anyone else wish Ham would just go away?

Enns, who has a much greater sense of humor than Ham (meaning Enns has one, and Ham doesn’t), responded with another blog essay, “Ken Ham Clubs Baby Seals.” (Oh how I wish I had thought that one up!) Enns says,

Ham’s well-known chosen method of settling differences with Christians seems to be: attack first and ask questions, well, never. This is especially true when in comes to reading the creation story in Genesis as a literal depiction of historical events.

For Ham, the gospel hangs in the balance, and any disagreement with him is de factoa disagreement with the Bible and God himself. You are, therefore, “the enemy.” Gray is not a color on his rhetorical palette.

Given his well-publicized track record, I think it is fair to ask whether in Ham’s universe it is possible, (1) to be Christian, and (2) disagree with him on Genesis. Sadly, I suspect not.

So here we have an, at best, agnostic engineer masquerading as a scientist saying that parents should not even bring up a god who intervened in space and time to create out of nothing what now is, a theologian saying that it is ok to consider some of the account of creation as recorded in the Bible to be story, and a closed-minded museum director saying that everyone who does not believe exactly the way he believes is no friend of God. Do you see why I say it would have been so much better if the Lord had given a very clear, play-by-play account of creation?

I side with Peter Enns in all of this. Enns understands that Jesus is the key to everything, not a literal belief in what was never meant to be taken literally. Enns responds to Ham in a very respectful manner while still calling attention to his boorishness. Bill Nye’s comments don’t surprise me, and frankly I really don’t care what he thinks. Ken Ham does not surprise me either, and that is what is sad about this whole thing. God does not need Ham to defend him. God can take care of himself, thank you very much. Were Ham to humbly consider Enns’ argument and still disagree with him, that would be one thing. But that is not Ham’s way. Anything that smacks of a question is a threat to authority—the authority of the Bible, which needs guarding at all costs.

Only it doesn’t. And the one doing the most harm to the authority of the Bible is Ham, who is calling for Scripture to be something it was never intended to be.

Ken Ham Clubs Baby Seals indeed.

Comments

  1. What is Enn’s epistemological basis for his claims; his authority? His authority is human reason. Why does that need guarding at all costs ?

    Enns attacks and demeans those he disagrees with to defend human reason as ultimate authority over Scripture. Enns is no less a bully than Ham. Yes, all those serious conservative scholars are wasting their lives walking in infantile fantasies, as well as Jesus, Paul, every church father and great theologian until the 18th century; they were simpletons.

    This isn’t a fight about creation, it’s a fight about Scriptural interpretation. It’s a whole different thing to say Scripture lies, or, excuse me, contains “legends” as Enns does, than it is to question YEC or consider the fit of Genesis and evolution, as Michael Spencer did, while retaining a high view of Scripture.

    Enns is offering the same historical critical interpretation of Scripture that started in 18th century Lutheranism. It has led nowhere. What’s the consensus critical-historical understanding of Gensis? You’ll get as many answers as there are critical-historical scholars.

    The method is dangerous to faith. If you believe Scripture contains false statements, that belief undercuts the historical claims of Scripture, which are necessary, (but not sufficient by itself) for faith. If Scripture contains legends, there is no epistemological basis for claiming any knowledge whatseover at all about God or Christ.

    Why isn’t it also childish or unenlightened to think God wanted bloody sacrifice for atonement, or would punish those he doesn’t give faith to, or that he would come to earth as a man, or would create rebellious demons, or tolerate evil at all? It becomes ultimately subjective, based on everybody’s individual understanding of history and aesthetics. Why don’t we get rid of all of that stuff, and just give lip service to the parts we think are pretty?

    Oh, that’s already out there, Episcopalianism. Look at Europe and our mainline denominations to see where that leads. Pastors who reject the Trinity, the resurrection, or Christ’s divinity are common.

    You don’t have to agree with Ham, but Enns is playing a much more dangerous game. There’s no reason to waste time on any of it if he’s right.

    • I don’t think Enns is “playing a much more dangerous game”, for two reasons. First, there is no evidence that Ham embraces a superior (or even a different) epistemology or theology. Ham has actually told people that “real” science (whatever that is) demonstrates that the earth is young, there was a global flood, etc. In other words, he is operating under an empirical rational world-view, the same as Enns (there is a long, philosophical foot note that goes here, but I’m tired). Secondly, Ham makes his money – lots of it – by systematically and intentionally lying to his audience. This goes beyond the fact that nobody with a brain takes him seriously – this is about his integrity. This is just the latest case where Ham is lying. Blatantly. Of course, one could argue that Ham is just too dumb or illiterate to actually understand printed media, but that seems a bit of a stretch. I understand your concerns – I am a confessional believer myself, and believe that God’s word is entirely true and trustworthy. But while we are justified in not taking Ham’s junk science and theology seriously, we shouldn’t so lightly dismiss the danger he poses.

    • Thank you, boaz, for articulating what I could see but not describe.

      Mr. Dunn, what is your response to boaz?

    • Boaz — You say “all those serious conservative scholars are wasting their lives walking in infantile fantasies, as well as Jesus, Paul, every church father and great theologian until the 18th century; they were simpletons.”

      Many of the church fathers, while not neglecting the literal aspects of scripture, interpreted almost all of the OT typologically. The current wars between “religion” and science are a very modern thing and would have baffled most of the fathers. (The issue with Galileo had as much to do with Italian politics and educational bureaucracy as it did with science.)

      • “Many of the church fathers, while not neglecting the literal aspects of scripture, interpreted almost all of the OT typologically.”

        But they didn’t believe that the typological nature of the OT negated its literality as so many do today. If you would have asked them if the OT was literal or figurative, they would have said “yes, both.” There is no reason to mythologize scripture in order to harmonize it with science. There are good theological reasons to believe in an old earth even if you do take the historical narrative in Scripture literally.

        • Yes, thanks for that clarification, TPD.

        • Yes, but what the fathers meant by literal and what modern Christians mean by literal are not always the same thing. St Augustine in ‘City of God’, for example, puts forward the reading that when God said ‘Let there be light’ this refers to the creation of the angels (since clearly the sun had not been created yet) and that when God separated the light from the darkness, this refers to the war in heaven between the angels loyal to God and those who sided with Lucifer. This, to him, is a literal reading of the text, dealing with things that literally happened. I don’t know many YECers (or indeed many Christians of any kind for that matter) who would regard that as the literal meaning of Gen 1:3-4 though.

          Or take Thomas Aquinas (granted, not a Church Father technically, but certainly pre-Darwinian and not someone who would find much common ground with John Shelby Spong). Aquinas was perfectly willing to accept that death existed before the Fall, for animals if not for humans. For most YECers, that’s a slippery slope that will ultimately lead to calling into question the whole gospel. But Aquinas didn’t see it that way.

    • boaz, Augustine says in his “Confessions” that if he had to believe in Genesis “literally” he could have never become a Christian. Most Protestants I encounter respect Augustine, so I wondering what you have to say about him accepting Genesis in a less than “literal” manner.

    • Matt Purdum says:

      Wow. Either I read Genesis in the most crabbed, flattened, literalist, pedestrian way, or I’m denying the resurrection. That kind of calculus really has to stop.

      • If there was no historical Adam, there could be no fall; and if no fall, there is no sin; and if no sin, there is no need of the Cross, and if Christ be not raised from the dead…
        Everything we believe is based on the evolutionary chain of propositional truths.

        • And I think the “propositional truths” approach to Christianity and Christian doctrine is what some take issue with.

        • And I would say that stories can convey truth about human nature just the same as historical facts.

          • I was attempting to point out the complex evolutionary model in building such a transactional chain looks to me a lot like the DNA of theological darwinianism.

          • That Other Jean says:

            I believe that the writer(s?) of Genesis did what we do today–constructed a narrative to explain the facts as they knew them. When our knowledge grows, the narrative changes to fit in the newer bits. We have newer tools and a greater scientific understanding of the origin of the universe, so our narrative is different from that of Genesis.

            Some people are comfortable leaving God out of that story, some not. We do not yet, and may never, have the facts to say absolutely. That is, as it always has been, a matter of faith.

        • Surely there is non-mythological evidence of sin.

          • Yes; All men sin, therefore all men (humans) die. We know that. It is a non-mythological fact. We believe the fruit of our actions is eternal separation from God. Jesus took that fruit for is so we don’t have to if we accept it.

          • (Sigh) I meant that we have everyday experience of sin, under whatever name. The connection with death is purely mythical, as is all this nonsense about eternal separation from God. (Who’s “we,” pray tell?)

        • Then perhaps this is a reason for interpreting the gospel along the same lines as Enns on Genesis–as a collection of stories which, though not always literally true (especially in the case of impossibilities like miracles), are still meaningful. Or would this cause too many people’s heads to explode?

        • Matt Purdum says:

          “If there was no historical Adam, there could be no fall.” I don’t think that necessarily follows.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Ees Party Line, Comrades.

            Now imagine if Ken Ham had all the life-and-death power of the State to enforce it. Just like Calvin in Geneva or the Taliban in Afghanistan, carrying out God’s Will.

            P.S. Ken Ham WOULD club baby seals if that would advance The Cause of Young Earth Creationism.

          • Does anyone know if Ken Ham has a position on what the fruit eaten by Eve and Adam was? Are we bound to believe it is an apple, or will we be damned as non-believers if we think it could have been a quince or a pomegranate – or even worse, we think of it as an apple because the Latin translators could not resist making a pun on “malum”, ‘apple’ and “m?lum”, ‘evil’?

          • That great theologian Eddie Murphy revealed it to be marijuana.

          • I always thought it had something to do with the golden apple of the Garden of the Hesperides that started off the whole Trojan war.

          • And if the duck floats, it’s made out of wood.

        • Certainly, but the question on which belief centres is “Do you or don’t you believe in the atonement for original sin?” not “Do you or don’t you believe the world is six thousand years old?”

          When the people were asking the disciples after Pentecost “What must we do to be saved?”, the reply was not “Accept only the correct calendar calculations for the date of creation.”

          • Thank you, Martha. Perfectly stated.

          • Nor were the disciples at Pentecost asking about atonement for original sin – because Augustine wasn’t yet born. Nor were they talking about penal substitutionary atonement, because it’s precursor “the satisfaction theory of atonement” hadn’t shown up either (not till the 11th C did the archbishop/bishop? come up with that “gem” – and got killed for it).

          • I think you mean Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

          • Loo’s got a good point. Peter on Pentecost didn’t call the people to repent for Adam’s sin; he called them to repentence from their own sin.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Certainly, but the question on which belief centres is “Do you or don’t you believe in the atonement for original sin?” not “Do you or don’t you believe the world is six thousand years old?”

            Not according to Christ at the Last Judgment scene in Left Behind: Volume 12… 🙂

        • Ichabod worte;

          Everything we believe is based on the evolutionary chain of propositional truths.

          Really?

          Truth is not the sum total of all the correct facts.

          Truth and accuracy are not the same thing.

          Truth transcends correctness and accuracy.

          Love transcends even all of that.

          Tom

          • I was hoping people wouldn’t miss the irony there about evolution… You should read that proposition together with my footnote below that.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          If there was no historical Adam, there could be no fall; and if no fall, there is no sin; and if no sin, there is no need of the Cross, and if Christ be not raised from the dead…

          That chain reminds me too much of the one Fr von Spee cited when he blew the whistle on the Witch Hunts during the Thirty Years’ War:

          “If no Witches, then no Devil. If no Devil, then no God.”

    • “Enns is offering the same historical critical interpretation of Scripture that started in 18th century Lutheranism. It has led nowhere.”

      Very true. Go down that road to its logical conclusion and you end up with the impotent “christianity” of John Shelby Spong.

      • And therefore it must be false? Really, that’s the best you’ve got? Good luck in your quest for a more robust (read “macho”), less intellectual version of Christianity.

        • Gerald,
          My point wasn’t to build an argument from the ground up regarding the truthfulness of Enns’ or Spong’s approach. My point was to agree with Boaz’s assessment of where that approach leads. Spong’s version of “christianity” isn’t Christianity. His “christianity” is just one way to God. His Jesus is the ultimate example rather than being The Way, The Truth, and The Life apart from whom no one can come to the Father. Please don’t evaluate my comment in light of a point I am not making.

          If you want to discuss the intellectual strength of Spong’s approach I would recommend you read the transcript of the Bethel College debate between Spong and Dr. William Lane Craig. One doesn’t need to resort to mythologizing scripture in order to remain intellectually honest.

          • Meanwhile, others doubt the validity of your rather narrow version of “Christianity.” Who’s to say who’s right? This is not the sort of issue that can be resolved with a hundred college debates.

          • My “rather narrow version of Christianity” is defined in the Apostles’ Creed. So almost 2000 years of Christian tradition says it is right. After all, we have to agree on some basics if we are to meaningfully discuss Christianity.

          • TPD – are you accusing Enns of denying the Apostles Creed?

          • Rick,
            Not Enns, Spong.

          • So no one who disbelieves in the resurrection of the body (an item in the creed) can be considered a Christian…?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Good luck in your quest for a more robust (read “macho”), less intellectual version of Christianity.

          If you want that, just move to Seattle and puppydog Bee Jay Driscoll and Macho Christian Cage Fighting.

      • At least Spong uses reason. Quite honestly, he’s one of the few Christian theologians I still read. At least he has grappled with some of the interesting questions and with the historical milieu in which Jesus would have found himself (if he were real). Spong probably kept me Christian longer than I would otherwise have. He was the first theologian I ever read who suggested that I did not have to take the written word literally.

        And this was important, because for me, a literal reading could not be substantiated by other facts. And if the Almighty could simply fix it by working some magic, well, why go through the elaborate routines in the first place. 40 relentless days of rain over the entire world would have created havoc with the water chemistry and killed all the fish and squid and such. Were they on the ark too? How did the penguins and sloths get home after the flood? YEC disagrees with archaeology, physics, astronomy, biology, etc. A literal reading simply created too brittle of a faith for me. Spong gave me the elastic to make it work.

        Yes, you might say, but you are an apostate so clearly this was horrible for you. But it might be noticed that the faith I am in now still treasures Genesis. However I have not run across one YEC among all the Reform Jews I have encountered.

        To be honest, I consider it Christianity’s shame in the US that atheists have to argue against YEC. It should have been the Christians arguing against it. The mainliners et al can’t complain that atheists lump them all together with the YECers as representative of Christianity. Had they given a muscular defense of the compatibility with science and Christianity, they wouldn’t have that opinion.

        • “A literal reading simply created too brittle of a faith for me.”

          Maybe it would help if I explained what I mean when I say I understand the Bible “literally.” I mean that I believe that the events really happened to real people who described them in the best words and with the best ideas they had available. Does the sun go around the earth? No, but it sure rises and sets from our perspective. Did the flood cover the whole earth? Maybe not but it wiped out the entire known world of Noah. If we observed those events we would describe them very differently since our understanding of the world and our vocabulary is different. Given this, I’m sure that a stricter literalist would say that I don’t read the Bible literally.

          However, my view is very different from the person that says that there was no flood. That the flood story is just a made up myth that conveys some truth on par with Aesop’s fables. I believe the things in the Bible really happened and that God did those things. But I believe those things are described my ancient minds with ancient ideas and with ancient vocabulary.

          • You start running into some difficulties with your “partial literal” approach. If Noah’s Flood wasn’t a worldwide deluge that ripped the world apart and put it back together, then there are some really … interesting explanations for other things.

            Is Adam the first human, created from dirt approximately 6000 years ago, roughly 120 hours after Earth popped into existence? If so, and the Flood was a localized event, then there are some REALLY interesting explanations needed for what we see.

          • DanSanto,
            Even before science raised questions about the age of the earth, there was no consensus on if the creation days were 24 hours. In fact there are good theological reasons to believe otherwise (Hebrews 4). Also, the Bible itself testifies to the reliability of God’s revelation via his creation. That said, I think that we have to take seriously the idea that the universe is 14+ billon years old and the earth is 4.5 billion years old. There is nothing in the Bible that demands otherwise.

          • Agreed. It’s just not a clear dividing line as to which things are literal and which aren’t. Here’s a possible view:

            Creation as 6-24: not intended as literal.
            Adam and Eve as real people approx. 6000 years ago: literal
            Adam and Eve as freshly created from dust/rib: not intended as literal
            Fall: intended as literal
            List of generations: complete and literal
            Flood: localized and not literal over all the globe, but over all that area.
            Post-Flood: intended as literal

            It’s not necessarily an obvious dividing line as to which things are intended as literal and which aren’t. Some combinations will have complicated explanations (including the full-literal account)

          • And that issue of the distance around a circle. Is it 3 times the diameter or not?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Apparently some theologians never heard of “rounding off”.

        • spongs views on the historical jesus aren’t very useful. I really can’t wait for maurice Casey’s new book , and more essays from the Jesus Process.

      • Someone please help me understand the difference between following logical conclusions and slippery slope? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

        One can argue A=B, B=C, therefore A MUST equal C, as long as you ignore the fact that ‘A’ can also equal ‘R’. Often the appeal to logical conclusions narrowly defines the limits of “logic”.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      boaz – and you (or Ham) do not use reason when reading/studying Scripture? The truth just sort of magically floats into your mind, bypassing all rational faculties?

      The ability to read, to comprehend, requires Reason.

      I thin you do not realize it, but you are advocating Gnosticism.

    • If you read ‘Genesis for Normal People’ by Enns you get more of a feel where he is coming from. Its $5 for the kindle.

      in this short work he tries to paint the picture of what Genesis would have meant to the Jewish people, and how it ties into the birth of Israel.

      I think it is fair to say Enns would say it was not written in the context of the enlightenment project with its main goal being communicating cosmological theory.

    • Boaz, you’ve forgotten what Michael Spencer said about Scripture and the YEC interpretation. He was not an inerrantist or a literalist. Quote —

      “The young earth creationists believe that Genesis 1 is ‘literally’ a description of creation. I do not. It is this simple disagreement that is the cornerstone of my objection. I believe that Genesis 1 is a prescientific description of Creation intended to accent how Yahweh’s relationship with the world stands in stark contrast to the Gods of other cultures, most likely those of Babylon. Textual and linguistic evidence convinces me that this chapter was written to be used in a liturgical (worship) setting, with poetic rhythms and responses understood as part of the text. It tells who made the universe in a poetic and prescientific way. It is beautiful, inspired and true as God’s Word.”

      (To Be or Not to Be, or Why I’m Not a YEC)

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Chaplain Mike, I have come up with a term that I use to describe myself in these matters: I’m a contextualist.

  2. This is going to be a juicy conversation!!! Some people are going to read this and start to foam over another way of thinking about Genesis.

  3. *sigh*

    Things like this make me glad to be Catholic, where this is not “either/or” but “yes/and”.

    (Heck, we have had priest palentologists!)

    THIS is what happens with solo scriptorum…..no context, and not seeing the forest for the trees..

    • Well, Pattie, the Vatican has strongly fought against evolution during the 19th century (but, of course, at the time, the Vatican was also against religious freedom, check the “Syllabus”). This is what happens with an infaillible magisterium…

      Saying that Ham’s type of creationism steams from Sola Scriptura is, in my eyes, an oversimplification at best.

      • Granted. I am merely frustrated because I have been subject lately to strident atheists who seem to be under the impression that ALL Christians are YEC and anti-science. As the old saying goes, they give ALL of us a bad name.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Take it from someone with 20 years in-country in Furry Fandom:

          There is only so much you can do to distance yourself from Loud Crazies who proclaim to everyone (especially the media) that They’re One of You and You’re Just Like Them. Especially when the Loud Crazies have no job or life and can devote 24/7/365 to promote Their Cause.

        • One of the reason that the atheist lump all Christians together is that there has been little effort among non-literalist Christians to distinguish themselves from the others. Where was the Pontifical Council for the Sciences during the young earth wars back in the 70s and 80s? Where were the Lutherans and the Episcopalians?

          And why is it this Sophisticated Theology (a line usually sneered at by atheists and sometimes trademarked) is not taught in the Church? Not even frequently taught to teens in catechism class? Not taught from the pulpit? This sophisticated theology has to be read on one’s own because the churches that accept it as not heresy are too cowardly to trumpet it from their pulpits or in their catechism classes.

          A young man in the UK has written a Handbook for Atheists. I believe he was reared in a non-Christian home (it could have been Hinduism, I’m not sure) and he stated in a radio interview that this sophisticated theology that the theists are always saying atheists don’t get is not taught to children. Children get the gods will punish you if you misbehave simplistic theology and as they grow they are not frequently offered anything more sophisticated than that!

          • cermak – your questions are definitely valid, but you should know that there are some who work diligently to move beyond “the gods will punish you if you misbehave.” For our catechism class this week we are reading Pete Enns.

          • I think this inextricably linked to the increasing number of people who simple can’t think well and/or have never studied logic, rhetoric, or philosophy. It is by no means limited to Christians or theology. Why do you think Bill Maher is able to make money?

          • non-literalist Christians to distinguish themselves from the others.

            Most of us didn’t realize there was an issue till the egg hatched about 15 years ago. Before then the YEC crowd kept quite and to themselves for the most part. I suspect the Internet has something to do with this.

            Plus most of the non YEC Christians I know are somewhat dumbfounded by the arguments from the YEC crowd. Things like 2+3+4 =3 and such. Where do you start?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “2 + 3 + 4 = 3”?

            Is that anything like “Two Plus Two Equals Five”?

    • And some of our priest palentologists got into trouble – I’m thinking about Teilhard de Chardin who was snookered by the Piltdown Man hoax. Though if the Creation Wars stuck to pranks like that, I think it would be less wearing on the nerves for everyone 🙂

      • Dan Crawford says:

        Teilhard may have been “snookered” by Piltdown Man, but he had no doubts about Who created the universe – he was an important influence on my thinking – one who helped me avoid the assertion of some creationists that the science and scientific instruments upon which we base so much of our understanding of evolution have been rigged by God to “mislead” us. Such a god. Teilhard’s vision of God as subtle, awesome, and ultimately incomprehensible to even the most sophisticated human reason has been a great consolation to me when I read comments defending Ham and his disciples.

    • “THIS is what happens with solo scriptorum…..no context, and not seeing the forest for the trees.”

      +1 (Made me smile.)

  4. Oh, and as to Bill Nye, worldvieweverlasting had an entertaining response:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxqnfk9MtMU&feature=player_embedded

    • This “worldvieweverlasting” guy makes me want to convert to…whatever religion is farthest away from what he is.

    • wow that was painful.

    • If the guy in that video is purporting to aid the cause of the YEC crowd, he ain’t helping…

      I’m generally non-violent, but 5 seconds of that was enough for me to want to slap him in the face. Ughh…

      • I think you blokes had an emotional reaction to the young man’s ability to shred Bill Nye’s pseudo-rationalism.
        He did a fine job with the use of reasoned satyre and challenged well the irrational assertions of Nye. Would you not grant that? Did each of you actually watch the entire video?

        However, I will grant that the video style is not of my flavor; I’ve never had a scrap of appreciation for the “MTV-unable-to-focus-attention-for-more-than-3seconds” style, but all of the people I know who are under 30-35 seem to connect with that (deranged) mode.

        I’m not sure if the video was promoting YEC, but it certainly did side with the proposition of a Creator. I think certain evolutionary theories do a decent job of explaining some of the geological/biological evidence. I don’t think I need to oppose evolutionary theory in general in order to support trust in the God who created then restores His Creation.

        Tom

        • “I think you blokes had an emotional reaction to the young man’s ability to shred Bill Nye’s pseudo-rationalism.”
          No.

          “He did a fine job with the use of reasoned satyre (sic) and challenged well the irrational assertions of Nye.”
          No.

          “Would you not grant that?
          No.

          “Did each of you actually watch the entire video?”

          Yeah, 18 minutes I’ll never get back.. Didn’t see the young man ‘shred’ nye’s pseudo-rationalism, just saw him smugly insult a non-Christian, don’t see how that helps…

          ‘pseudo’ rationalism means ‘false’ rationalism. I’d suppse Nye is trying to be ‘truly’ rational the best he can, and has come to conclusions that I think are wrong. How rational are any of us? I think I’m reasonable, but I’ve been wrong quite often. You, me, etc., that kid, Ham, Enns, are all trying to do our best with what we have…so I think a lot of humility and silence would go a long way…

          • Ok, then. How ’bout if I substitute “reasoning” for “rational”?

            BTW, I think i made it clear in my initial comment that the kid’s “style” certainly leaves much to be desired, however, he did expose Nye’s “failures of reason”.

            Sure, we all think we’re “reasonable” until our reasonings are shown to be invalid. Of course, it’s very unreasonable to hold to assertions which are flawed.

            Does Nye even give the impression that he entertains the possiblity of being mistaken in his presuppositions concerning “science”? If he had said, “from where I stand and what I know I think it isn’t reasonable to believe anything other than what I think about evolution, but you know, I could be wrong, so I need to practice some humility when people disagree with my assertions…”?? Nye behaves no better than Hamm.

            If Nye said what he said in those video clips in a pub with his friends no one would be concerned. Nye didn’t speak well–even for an engineer.

            People will listen to Nye simply because he’s a Personality and he’s winsome. That wins the day, especially on TV — which, to say the least, is not a medium known for critical content or thought.

            T

        • I admit that I turned it off after a few minutes, unable to take any more. My first reaction was “Ugh, another one of *these* people.”

        • I couldn’t make it more than 20 seconds. Sorry, if someone comes off as an ass, I’m generally not going to waste my time listening to him. That’s my reaction, and I’m a Christian. So I can’t imagine he’s winning many converts.

  5. Evangelicals don’t “do” mystery.

  6. Folks, it’s turtles all the way down.

    ‘Nuf said.

    • Well,the turtles further down might be mythological or symbolic, but the turtle on top had better be real, or else we’re all just wasting our time!

    • Martin Romero says:

      Well, at least it’s not a huge turtle travelling through space…

  7. Can’t we (Christians, at least) all just agree that God created everything and leave it at that? Why the need to figure out how? The how isn’t even nearly as important as the Who anyway; from a Christian POV the how is just another fruitless argument that should be avoided.

    le sigh

    • Matt Purdum says:

      Hey, I think we’ve forgotten our postmodernism. Ham defends his reading of Genesis because that’s where he derives power — his power to lie, bully, and fearmonger. I wouldn’t want the man alone with young people, throwing guilt and fear around like that.

    • I heard somewhere that “how” is a very poor theological question. We probably should leave it in the domain of science.

  8. If you don’t care what Bill Nye thinks, why do you are what Ken Ham thinks?

    • (“care” not “are”)

    • I suspect because Ham calls himself a Christian, and even argues that you have to believe the way he does to be “right” – and has implied more than once to be “right with God.”

      • Correct. If Nye were to say that unless I believed lock, stock and barrel all he is saying I am not saved by the blood of Jesus, then I would care what he is saying. He’s not, so I don’t.

        • But isn’t he saying the approximate equivalent in atheist language?

          • Yes. But this community is (mostly) not atheist.

          • Yes.

            And in the Worldvieweverlasting video the young man calls Nye out on the atheistic/extreme secular equivalent of Nye’s inference that certain kinds of people (Christians) are doing their children intellectual harm and therefore are harming Society. WTF !!

            Tom

          • Yeah, I don’t understand how Fisks’s response could possibly be more off-putting than Nye’s original vid. Fisk’s message: Jesus died for Bill Nye. Nye’s message: I hope you and your kind die off.

        • Okay, I get that. But the world is full of Christians who say things you would disapprove of. Are you going to monitor all the TV evangelists too, and keep track of every stupid thing they say?

          • Gerald, this YEC thing was one of Michael’s issues too, because of where he ministered and its role in his denomination. One of the main differences between Ham and others, like the televangelists you mention, is that Ham is saying a certain reading of the Bible is the only legitimate reading, and there are entire denominations and serious groups that agree. In addition, the larger issue of science vs. faith has been a live issue in the broader culture politically. Ham has a significant following in fundamentalist homeschooling circles and in places many of us have fled, to move into the post-evangelical wilderness. It is part and parcel of the post-evangelical circus that IM has critiqued from the beginning.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        As in “No Man comes to the Father except by Ham’s Six-Day YEC”?

        “Are You the Gatekeeper?” — Ghostbusters

  9. Creation vs evolution debate. God always wins, fortunate for us.

  10. I don’t know if these 3 fully display all the viewpoints we should be looking at.

    You need to at least include Walton and Sailhammer in this post.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    EVIL-ution.

    Right up there with Homosexuality as Bright Red Christian Murder Flags.

    Guaranteed call for Jihad.

  12. Honestly, this post sucks. It is a screed – loud yelling, but nothing more. The exact same tone exists in the most shrill of Ken Ham’s articles. It is nothing but sound and fury.

    I miss Michael – he lambasted people and ideas, but he also managed to do it without devolving to an obnoxious screech.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      So don’t read it then.

      • IM is on my feed. It is on a declining trend IMO. This one just took such a nosedive off the deep end into a shrill, content-less diatribe that I decided to make a comment.

        I’m sure they notice in website traffic or whatever. Maybe they’ll notice my comment and get a clue why their traffic is dropping off so much of late.

        There are still occasional posts that are adequate, enough to keep it on my morning feed, but it used to be the highlight of my day every time I saw a new IM post. Now I read through them quickly. Maybe in another year or two I’ll stop reading altogether, and you’ll be free of even my extremely sporadic comments.

        • “It is on a declining trend” And I have to say I think this site is IMPROVING, big-time. Sure he wouldn’t like me at all, but CM seems like my kind of guy. Chaplain Mike, you have been a big help to me. Still rereading your posts on the magnificat for example. Thank you for choosing to spend your time making the world a better place. I appreciate it.

          PS Zero interest in ‘creation wars,’ desperately fascinated by the Cross.

        • …and we have met the “I don’t like what you’re saying, Spencer would never, I’m gonna stop reading” comment quota for the week!

          • Shoot. Is that a common thread these days?

            I haven’t bothered clicking through for a long time. Sorry to pile on if there are already a lot of people are already saying it.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            According to my local morning drive-time radio station, YES. They get nastygrams along that line every time they open their mouths. (And mouthiness is one of the requirements for a talk-radio host.)

  13. Most of you are missing the point of my post. Peter Enns wrote an essay saying that we should read Genesis as adults, putting aside our childish ways of being afraid that something we held dear may not be as we thought it was. Whether you agree with him or not, this is a legitimate point of view. Ken Ham, having read (I can only assume he read Enns’ post before he responded) this, says that Enns is telling children not to believe in Genesis.

    I don’t care whether you think the universe was created in 144 60-minute hours, or that it is 13.5 billion years old, or that it is turtles all the way down. I don’t care if you agree with Enns’ or Ham’s viewpoint on the reading of Genesis. What irks me is that Ham is lying in his response. Enns in no way is saying children should reject Genesis. Ham should be ashamed of what he wrote. The fact that he is not, and that he will continue to do this over and over, undermines any good he may have done or will ever do.

    That is the point I am making in my post.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Ham has all the Utter Righteousness of one who KNOWS he Speaks for God — If God only KNEW what was REALLY going on.

    • Well, I got it 😉

    • Why bother with Ken Ham at all? Why not just tune him out?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Because he has followers. Lots of followers. And even more not-quite-followers that he influences.

        And still others who associate him with Christ. (After all, he claims to Speak for God’s Truth.)

        Ever heard of the Yiddish phrase “Shanda fur die Goyim”?

        • I looked it up. Well, those horses are out of the barn. Ken Ham is just one of many Christian spokespeople whose comments regularly embarrass their coreligionists.

        • Why are we not linking to the 700 Club regularly if this is the argument for listening to idiots?

        • If your church has a homeschool support group, then Ham already has a big foot in the door and is affecting the views and decisions made in your church. Yes, everyone should at least understand who he is.

    • Maybe Ham really believes that rejecting his interpretation of any portion of scripture — or even suggesting an alternative interpretation — equals a complete and utter rejection of scripture in its entirety. He hasn’t gone so far as to claim infallibility, but I suspect he’s a little foggy on where he stops and God begins. Maybe Ham suffers more from solipsism than dishonesty.

    • I think that most the readers here “got it”, Jeff. That’s just not what most wanted to talk about.

      “Spiritual maturity is moving from confident arrogance to thoughtful uncertainty.”
      (Randall Arthur)

    • I got it. Most of the comments have been “off point.”

    • You’re being much nicer than I Jeff in assuming he read the thing. The response he wrote would suggest otherwise. 🙂

  14. Ham was a guest speaker at my former church a few years ago. From what I saw, he was:
    1. very organized with all his charts and slides-hard to follow though, especially after he tried to explain humans lived side-by side with dinosaurs.
    2. charismatic in his presentation
    3. a good salesman as he hawked (and sold) countless DVD’s and books that day-most bought the DVD’s for their children.
    4. He did ask for questions. There were none. I suspect people either bought it hook, line and sinker or, like myself, sat there trying to connect the dots to his theories.

    He did say a few times everyone else is wrong if they didn’t believe in the literal interpretation of creation because this belief was the foundation to all other beliefs in the bible. After listening to Ham and reading about all the controversy, I’m rather laissez faire about it myself. The beginning happened, the end will happen-it’s the middle that keeps me busy.

    • And, yes, Jeff, I agree, Ham did lie. He did what he always does–sees what he wants, hears what he wants and reads what he wants through the lens of his preconceived notions and puts it ‘out there’ as fact. I read the posts you sited and I didn’t see Enn’s was promoting the swaying of children to reject Genesis, but I can see how Ham drew those conclusions when his mind is already set to defend nothing less than literalness. His attack on Enn’s was ridiculous and you’re right-God doesn’t need to be defended. But Ham has made a lot of money doing just that (see article on the law suit in Australia) and will, sadly, continue to do so (see the articles on his upcoming adventure land).

      I doubt he’ll be ashamed, provocative sells.

      And, sorry about missing the point. Your post was heavy on the creation controversy. Thanks for clearing that up.

  15. I believe that scripture is a gift that God has given to humanity. I believe He wanted us to have that particular collection of ancient writings. I believe that He was involved in both their composition and their canonization, and I believe His imprint and reflection can be found there for those with eyes to see.
    God, however, did not see fit to give us an all-purpose, comprehensive answer and interpretation manual to go along with the Bible.
    He has not seen fit to give us a play-by-play, verse-by-verse breakdown of what should be read literally or figuratively, what is factual historical account and what is message-centered allegorical fiction, what was aimed at a particular cultural group at a particular point in history and what is universal to all people at all times.
    When it comes to those things, we have been left to our own knowledge, reasoning, and reading comprehension skills — and whatever revelation or insight He chooses to provide through His Spirit. That’s just the obvious reality of where we stand and the predicament in which we find ourselves when it comes to scripture.
    I could be wrong on this, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that this is the case — that we are in a frustrating realm of uncertainties and near infinite possibilities — because God has willed it so. If He truly wanted mortal human beings in a fallen world to know everything they need to know about everything and what His will is regarding all possible situations and circumstances, then I’m thinking He would have given us that knowledge in some form or another.
    Just think about it. Imagine that He gave us a set of scriptures that was so minutely specific about every eventuality and so purely literal in every word and passage that it leaves no room for any kind of variation in interpretation. What would we do with that knowledge? Could we create a perfect Kingdom of God by following all the numbered instructions? Or would we create a totalitarian religious hell with Jesus’ name on the sign out front?
    I’m under the opinion that a healthy degree of uncertainty leaves room for things like faith, grace, and genuine relationship with God — at least in our present fallen state.
    And maybe scripture isn’t so much about giving us a complete list of answers as it is about moving or drawing us in a desired direction.

    • +1

      Ham and his ilk need their certainty that they know EVERYTHING about God, who just happens to approve of them and them alone.

      “My ways are not your ways, and My thoughts are not your thoughts”

      • +1

      • Ham and his ilk just don’t seem to understand that a necessary part of showing proper respect toward scripture involves approaching it with a humble, moldable heart and mind, as well as a healthy helping of realistic honesty regarding the limits of one’s own understanding.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Ham and his ilk need their certainty that they know EVERYTHING about God, who just happens to approve of them and them alone.

        Another aspect of “My Perfectly-Parsed Theology has God all figured out! How Dare God go against My Perfectly-Parsed Theology!”?

    • LOVE IT!!!!!!

  16. Coincidentally, I just received Peter Enns’ book, The Evolution of Adam in the mail yesterday. Looking forward to reading it, and then commenting on a future post.

    • Interesting title. Even Christians who accept evolution, generally suppose that humans possess “souls” which other animals (even other primates) lack. In other words, they want there to be a disconnect, when there is continuity. (For example, some people think God added a soul to some already-evolved prehistoric hominid, whom we call Adam. But of course there was never such a bottleneck that our ancestors were reduced to a single mated pair, and it’s hard to imagine any concrete change that could be accomplished in a single generation.) I wonder how Enns handles this.

      • That book isn’t really so much about evolution as much as it is about Biblical interpretation. Enns isn’t a scientist, he’s a theologian. The point he makes again and again is that the Biblical authors weren’t really interested in answering the question of how all humanity came into being as much as they were interested in answering who the Jewish people were/are.

        • Thanks for the description. Yes, the beginning of Genesis basically sets the stage by recounting the origin of everything the editors could think of–the world, life, humanity, clothes, death, childbirth, work, the agriculture vs. pastoral conflict, different languages, various neighboring peoples (whose origins are usually presented in an uncomplimentary way)… To what degree these stories were believed to be true (whether by their authors, editors, or audiences) is a difficult question, but the fact that many stories are told twice indicates to me a certain hesitancy. And even ancient commentators noticed various plot holes (such as the origin of Cain’s wife) which they sometimes found creative ways to fill. But certainly the focus is on the Patriarchs (in Genesis), the Torah (in the five books of Moses), and the rocky relationship between Israel and God (in the OT generally), with the return from Babylonian exile as kind of the finale.

          • Regarding the stories being told twice, Enns (and quite a few other scholars) chalks this up to the “documentary hypothesis”. There are different variations of the theory, but the standard model says that the first creation account in Genesis was written by the P, or “Priestly” tradition. Hence you get the image of God building the place where He can dwell. It’s focused very much on God speaking. The second account is written by J, or “Jahwehist” tradition.This account is more focused on the human side of the story. It’s not so much about God’s decrees, but rather humanity’s purpose

            Anyway, the way Enns and Ham approach the Bible couldn’t be more different. Enns has dedicated his life studying the language and culture. I am pretty sure that Ham’s grasp of these things is elementary at best. I’ve not seen any evidence that he has any training in either.

          • @Phil – I was reading on Enns’ blog recently that he doesn’t accept the documentary hypothesis, but (as I recall) does accept a two (written and oral tradition) source hypothesis.

          • Michael,
            I think I found what you were referring to in his blog, and I see what you mean. I think what Enns is getting at is that while he may not buy into the theory whole-hog, he does see some good in it. In more conservative circles, though, the term has kind of become a bogeyman. The whole theory involves judgments about the redactors motivations that I don’t think Enns would necessarily support. I think, though, that he would say that the whole idea of J,E,P and D streams for the OT isn’t necessarily wrong. At least after reading The Evolution of Adam and Genesis for Normal People, that’s the general idea I got from him.

            But anyway, I don’t think I’ve given too many spoilers… I think you’ll enjoy the book.

          • I was thinking of the themes emphasized by the editors (i.e., R), not their source material, whatever this might have been.

        • Phil, you are supposed to preface your comment with SPOILER ALERT!!!! for those who haven’t read the book yet. 🙂

  17. Matt Purdum says:

    David Barton and Ken Ham will stop their lies when the money dries up, but there are probably enough superstitious, fear-driven bigots out there to keep them in royalties for years to come.

    • ????

      Maybe you can explain to me how sincere non-scientists are bigots because they buy into Ken Ham’s tripe

      • Matt Purdum says:

        Actually, no. It’s in the subtext. If you can’t discern it, I can’t help you.

        • It sounds to me like you are looking in a mirror.

          I am trained in science and can easily see that many sincere people buy Ham’s line because they just do not know any better and can’t distinguish science from quackery. BTW I have real problems with Ham and his entire approach. It took me less than an hour to get the local head of creation science in my state in a corner.

          I have lots of fun trying to explain why Ham and his ilk are wrong, but I won’t stoop to insulting people who don’t know any better.

  18. I’m not ready to say Ham lied. It seems to me that a simpler explanation is that he’s a very poor reader of other people’s work.

    • Ham is a charlatan, and a snake-oil salesman. I’ve heard speak too, and, well, he gifted at making it sound like he knows what he’s talking about, but when it comes down to it, he simply doesn’t possess the scientific education necessary to make the pronouncements he makes. He has a fake PhD (honorary), and he’s made a living at selling books to evangelicals.

      Why is it that Catholics and Orthodox Christians are not overly concerned about the age of the earth and this nonsense? But yet for some evangelicals this somehow becomes a key issue… I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s because evangelicals have treated the Bible as if it’s some big instruction manual or “God’s big book of propositional truths for humanity”.

      Sometimes I think we want to treat the Bible as if it has all the answers simply because that takes away the need for us to actually have faith to a degree. If I get in a car with a friend and ask him where we’re going, and he says, “trust me, you’ll love it”, I could demand he give me all the answers about what routes we’re taking, how long it will take, what the destination is exactly like, etc. Or I could sit back and enjoy the ride. Demanding all the details isn’t really necessary for my enjoyment of the trip, and the fact the my friend doesn’t offer all details doesn’t necessarily mean he was untruthful.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Maybe it’s because evangelicals have treated the Bible as if it’s some big instruction manual or “God’s big book of propositional truths for humanity”.

        Chaplain Mike’s opinion is this happened during the Age of Reason and Industrial Revolution, when the Bible came to be viewed as some sort of Spiritual Engineering Manual or Instruction Manual of point, point, point, fact, fact, fact by those whose “minds were filled with Wheels and Metal”.

        In a slightly-different context, Martha of Ireland speculated that this was a delayed side-effect of the Reformation, where iconoclastic Reformers dismantled existing folk religion leaving only the Bible. Folk religion charms, wards, and protections were transferred directly to Bible texts, leading to a view of Bible as magic spellbook. Add CM’s speculations about the Industrial Revolution/Reason mindset and Grimoire morphs into Engineering Manual.

        Another factor is the Calvinists in the Reformation era. The Calvinists were some of the most extreme Reformers, turning everything into Systematic Calvinist Theology approaching Ideology like we’ve seen in the 20th — all-consuming (theo)logical systems of Life, the Universe, and Everything. (FORTY-TWO!!!!!) Again, a Spiritual/Social Engineering approach where Theo(logical)ry is Perfect no matter what Reality says.

      • My only contact with Ham was through Peter Enns’ blog. You probably know a lot more about him than I do. I still think, however, that calling him a liar or a charlatan, even if true, doesn’t really add to the argument. My point is this: if he reads Enns so poorly, why should we pay attention to his reading of Scripture?

        • My point is this: if he reads Enns so poorly, why should we pay attention to his reading of Scripture?

          Good point.

          Personally, I think he fulfills the role of an apologist (in the negative sense) for people. He reaffirms their previously held beliefs, and he gives them “ammunition” to perpetuate their argument. It seems kind of odd to me anymore, but back when I was in the thick of things, I remember that it was always important for us to try and give people “winning” arguments they could use against “secularism” and the like.

          It’s not that I don’t think there’s a role for proper apologetics in the church. It’s just that way Ham and some others go about it, it becomes more of a “protect the fort” mentality than simply answering questions in an honest way.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Or it morphs into an “Anything Goes as long as We Win.” I’ve been on the receiving end of that too many times.

        • I think the main reason to pay attention to Ham is because he seems to have such a strong influence and a lot of people feel that Ham is as dangerous to Christian faith because he leads people to believe that faith in Jesus hinges on one’s interpretation of Genesis. Ham thinks the opposite; for him anything other than YEC leads people to apostasy (I guess it’s a slippery slope-type argument).

          I’m very thankful that even during times when I believed in YEC I knew that there were Christians like C.S. Lewis who did not, so I never thought my faith hinged on whether or not I could believe in literal six 24-hour day creation.

        • My point is this: if he reads Enns so poorly, why should we pay attention to his reading of Scripture?

          Because the group he leads, AIG, is the driving force behind the YEC educational material you’ll find in many (maybe 1/2 or more) of the evangelical churches in the USA. Plus many materials for the home school movement. It was when my kids were rotated through the Ken Ham YEC curiculum at my church in middle school that I got involved in the issue. Did a LOT of reading, (even bought Humphry’s book), and came to the conclusion that he was ruining the lives of the kids who believed his spiel. He basically teaches that there’s a world wide atheist conspiracy to use fake science to discredit true Christians. And that his AIG is one of the few groups in the world doing true Godly science. They throw all kinds of generally accepted science under their bus and tell kids you just can’t trust people called scientist as most of them are liars or fools.

          • I have written a few times about conspiracy theory on my blog. It is a very handy tool for people who don’t want to come to terms with facts that upset their worldview. Actually, the study of conspiracy theory as a sociological phenomenon is fascinating. Amazon has some good books on the topic.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Yet Another Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory with SATAN! pulling the strings of all the Sheeple.

            And when Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory logic takes effect, there is no way to bring the Conspriacy types out of their filthy little stable of Speshul Sekrit Knowledge (“Occult Gnosis” of What’s REALLY Going On) into Aslan’s Land. The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.

          • Pay attention to what your youth group leaders are teaching your kids. If yours is a conservative church, they are probably already at least using Ham for reference material if not teaching Ham word-for-word and having the kids watch his dvd’s.

      • Yeah, I’m not ready to call Ham a charlatan just yet. I’m still convinced he actually believes his own schtick, which would make him just a commercially successful run of the mill fundamentalist. But who knows, maybe he’s just an atheist who’se found a pot of gold!

        • I guess I think being a charlatan has less to do with one’s motivations or confidence in their beliefs and more with the validity of the claims they’re making. I think there are many people in the prosperity gospel movement, for example, who genuinely believe what they’re preaching, but I’d consider them charlatans because they’re false claims are making them richer and their followers poorer.

          • Yeah, no, I don’t give prosperity preachers nearly that much benefit of the doubt. They’re nothing more than professional mega-con artists. Especially Benny Hinn.

      • [quote]Ham is a charlatan, and a snake-oil salesman. I’ve heard speak too, and, well, he gifted at making it sound like he knows what he’s talking about, but when it comes down to it, he simply doesn’t possess the scientific education necessary to make the pronouncements he makes. He has a fake PhD (honorary), and he’s made a living at selling books to evangelicals.[/quote]

        What’s worse to me is that, as best I can tell from his bio, he has no theological training or qualifications either. I’m not saying one should have a Ph.D. to be a Sunday School teacher or have theological opinions, but if one is going to present oneself as an ‘expert’ and influence multitudes one should probably have some formal training. At basic course in hermeneutics might do Ham (and therefore the rest of us) a world of good.

    • Well, that is certainly possible. I know other fundamentalists who blatantly lie, but they are sincere and even caring people. They just don’t know how to think or read. This is more common than you might think. On the other hand, Ham has made up numerous “scientific” facts and pretended that they are real. I’m not sure you can fabricate ideas whole cloth like that without sacrificing your integrity.

  19. Professor Failure says:

    “So here we have an, at best, agnostic engineer masquerading as a scientist”

    I’m an academic scientist. I consider Bill Nye a scientist. He may be an applied scientist, but attempting to slag him as “just an engineer” is out of bounds.

    • Professor Failure says:

      Oh wow, a he’s a “pseudoscientist” too? Why? Because he worked for Boeing and not UCSD?

      I can’t take anything else in this piece seriously. Represent his credentials fairly.

      Do you even know them?

      • Wow. You can be considered a scientist with just a Bachelors degree?

        from his web site:
        Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, License # 21531Cornell University, Ithaca NY – 1977
        PhD Honoris Causa, Doctor of Humane Letters, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD – 2008
        Honorary PhD, Goucher College, Washington DC – 2000
        Honorary PhD, Rensselaer Polytechnic, Troy NY – 1999

        I don’t see how an honourary doctorate cuts it.

        This is not a slag on Bill, I like the guy and my kids watched him. But I thought that I actually had to earn the Doctorate before I could be considered a bona-fide scientist, or at minimum some degree beyond under-grad.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          Depends which Science, and what you do with your degree.

          Also, as a geologist, I might have opinions about say evolutionary biology, but I would never stand up and lecture about it. I’ll generally stick to the parts of geology that I know. Which, btw, confirms that the YEC’ists are completely out to lunch, with knobs on.

          • I thought about a career in Geology after I did my comp sci and interviewed the head of geology dept at University of Calgary (late 80’s) I thought combining the two would be great.
            He was old school and kind of threw cold water on the idea!

            I worked at Aramco and most of the earth science guys had a minimum of a masters degree.

        • “Science Guy” not scientist. One can be a fan and promoter of science and not be a scientist per se.

        • I am the same as you Klasie, I have learned to stick with what I know. I went an looked over Ham’s site and certainly was not wowed by his credentials.

          I have some scientist friends who are in some pretty serious scientific work, and they had to work hard to earn the right to be called a scientist, and I think usually an undergrad degree does not cut it. It is not until you do Masters or Doctoral level work and are contributing to our knowledge base.

          I am like Nye, undergrad degree and I work in industry. I am a fan and promoter and do not think I could claim something for which I did not legitimately do the work to be recognized by the science community as being one of them.

        • My B.S. is a Bachelor of SCIENCE, Animal Science.

          I put that science into practice. Am I a “scientist”?

          T

          • In the world that I know you and I would be classified as technicians.

            I think scientists push forward our limits of knowledge, have a research component and publish.

            Having said that Tom, can you go to something like a conference of scientists and they consider you an equal, or, one of them?
            Because the real test is how does the scientific community view what we do?

            I knew one guy who worked as a scientist (30 years ago) at a major agricultural research facility, did papers and traveled world wide. He confided to me that he did not have a doctorate, just a masters. But because of his work he was viewed as a member of the scientific community and was often referred to as Dr. Kitson, so his work was of high enough caliber that he was considered a scientist.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Ken, it depends on your world. I don’t have a PhD, but I do have publications, work in a consultancy, do work on which people make very big economic decisions, do innovation etc etc.

            Research Scientists. Applied Scientists. Technicians. etc etc

            Pigeonholing is a perilous exercise. If you were a scientist, you’d know that 🙂

      • I don’t think Jeff meant to insult with the term. I thought as you, that he meant it as a swipe as pseudo-sciences are typically things such as astrology, chrystollography, phrenology and other truly non-scientific looks at things natural or imagined. I think, however, he meant it in the form of not having a PhD unlike say Dawkins or Hawking.

        • Nye’s comments should be judged on their own merits, not according to whether he has a particular degree. People with Ph.D.’s ought to be the first to say this. No credential is a guarantee against error.

          • But it is very fair to say ‘is this his area of specialization and does he actually know enough to make a statement?’

            The reason the YEC guys get away with what they do is that sometimes they pontificate on areas of science that they have actually not studied. For example Duane Gish was commenting on paleontology which was not his area of study.

            So although a credential is no guarantee against error, lack of qualification to speak on an issue is an impediment.

          • Do you mean Ham or Nye? Nye was voicing what amounts to a political or religious opinion, to the effect that religion is bad for children. No amount of experise is likely to resolve this question. I would compare the situation to back when Capt. Kangaroo (I forget his real name–he was the popular host of an American children’s show) got media coverage for criticizing corporal punishment.

  20. Can someone tell me what Ham’s or the YEC view is on the Mars Curiosity Rover? Waste of time because Genesis doesn’t mention life elsewhere in the solar system? I imagine the YEC view is exceedingly earth-centric. So is the view antagonistic or indifferent to space exploration?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Definitely not supportive.

      A 6016-year-old, ending tomorrow-at-the-latest, Earth-and-some-lights-in-the-sky Cosmos has no room for Mars Rovers.

  21. Homo Sapiens has been around a million years or so.
    AND..
    Adam was a historical being.

    GOD violated the “prime directive” around
    10k~ years ago and walked with Adam.

    Biologically the same as homo sapiens,
    he was longer a feral child.

    He was something new.

    Homo Sapiens + walk with God = human.

    If you don’t think an encounter with God can
    fundamentally change an sufficiently advanced ape
    into something just below an angel, much of the bible
    is not going to make sense to you either.

    I realize this brings up more questions than it
    resolves , but at least they are different questions.

    • And the Sons of Gods and giants were Neanderthals (give or take a few thousand years)

    • What specific trait do you suppose distinguished “Adam” (read: human beings properly so-called) from his forebears? To call them “feral” is confusing, since we usually use the word to distinguish “tame” (i.e., human-raised) animals from “wild’ ones, or animals / humans returned to a wild state; but this would not be an issue for humans (unless you mean, tamed by God). If you are imagining there to be a difference of lifestyle (i.e. food source), or perhaps ethical behavior, I think you will find more continuity than sudden innovation.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        This might be the difference between biological and legal definitions. In nature, a lot of things blend imperceptibly into another, with no clear dividing line. But in Law, you have to have a defined boundary. Like “how many hairs make a beard?” Law codes have to define a breakpoint somewhere.

        Adam in this case was the first who fit the legal definition of “made in God’s Image”.

        And if the YECs would look back farther than 6016 years, they could claim evidence of an Adam and Eve event some 70,000 years ago during the Toba supervolcanic explosion. Human DNA drift evidence shows an extreme “genetic bottleneck” like a near-extinction event back then (population low point estimated as low as several hundred to a couple thousand), Mitochondrial DNA drift shows a single female ancestor (dubbed “Genetic Eve”) dating from that time, and other DNA drift suggests a single male ancestor (dubbed “Genetic Adam”) both of whose marker genes spread through the entire human population crowding out all others. If they weren’t so fixated on 4004 BC….

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          P.S. Post-Toba, human archaeology shows a sudden increase in complex tools and artifacts; the going theory is that complex language (able to transmit more complex thoughts & concepts than “EAT!” or “SMELLY!” or “THING!”) developed around the time of the Toba bottleneck. Complex language allows transmission of abstract concepts and thoughts, away from “to a dog, a finger is a finger and that is that.” In many ways, it’s a convenient dividing line between Animals and People.

          Could the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and “eyes being opened” refer to the ill-defined emergence of Sentience/Sapience? Where abstract concepts like Good and Evil (as opposed to “HUNGRY!” or “ME WANT!”) emerged? And with Knowledge of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, comes the potential to Do Wrong. Could the Old Story of the Fall be a poetic way of showing that emergence from concrete to abstract thinking, from emotional states to abstract thought, and the emergence of What Is Right and What Is Wrong alongside What I Want?

          • That is…as good an answer as can be had. It seems to interpret the “soul” (or seat of human nature) essentially as grammar. Not that I favor rationalizing the Eden story, but you could even connect this with Adam naming the animals!

            “Good” and “evil” are abstracted from rules of social behavior, only some of which are strictly ethical. (Many amount to etiquette or political deference.) The Hebrew Bible is a good example of a “moral” code which lumps the likes of “Do not kill” (tribal insiders, except under certain conditions) with dietary regulations and the like. I do not see this as qualitatively different from the behavior of, say, chimpanzees, who enforce certain behavior (such as food sharing) among themselves. This is very much an in-group code, which would not apply to outsiders. In the Bible, it is not until the latter prophets (under the influence of multinational empires) that you get universalizing themes.

      • ‘What specific trait do you suppose distinguished “Adam”’

        His relationship with God.

        I was suggesting that feral children might
        give us a glimpse of the pre human.

        It makes no sense to talk about a person apart
        from the community he is embedded in. We draw too
        much of our being from the the others around us.

        God became one of those others for the first time
        and …

  22. I just finished Robert Webber’s book Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Story. He gave probably one of the best descriptions and prescriptions of Genesis I’ve ever heard or read. Description: He calls Genesis 1-11 the liturgy of creation (never heard it called that before). Prescription: “The purpose of the Genesis account of creation is doxology (right praise); it calls us to a posture of praise.” Must to the annoyance of most Christians I know, I’m ok leaving it at that.

    • Good choice, that book. I remember reading that. We have to always remember that Genesis 1 is poetic, not historical. There is so much symmetry and symbolism going on, treating it like a scientific treatise is just plain whack. YEC is pretty much missing the forrest for the trees.

  23. Another contributing view would be that of Stuart A. Kauffman, a theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher who studies the origin of life on Earth, as well as a professing atheist and Darwinist. In his book, “Beyond Reductionism: Reinventing the Sacred”, Kauffman goes into great detail explaining that reductionism – reducing all science to molecular interactions – cannot explain origin of species. He proposes a view which he calls an “Open Universe”, that there are forces in the universe beyond molecular science, which give rise to complex life, requiring a more diverse ways of viewing and understanding the universe, that there is room for religion and myth as part of this process of understanding in a symbolic sense – not all that different from Paul Tillich’s rebuttal of Einstein’s New York Times article “Science and Religion”. He raises some interesting points, particularly on the limitations of reductionism. As one critic stated, he does seem to use some strawman arguments against reductionism, treating all reductionists like Stephen Weinberg. But I think he opens a much needed middle ground between the rabid polarized views on either side of the cosmology debate.

  24. Long before the creation wars, Calvin had a great comment on the text:
    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/in-the-beginning/

  25. Pardon the interruption. The entire question is at least a decade out of date. Science has advanced to the level of giving us a clear glimpse of the astounding (and non-mythical) technical content of GENESIS. Ken Ham knows it and Peter Enns knows it. Old traditions die hard. Feel free to check it out, search under my full name plus, for example, Questions Arising Species Origin; Tree of Life Species Origin; Signalled Evolution and Tree of Life; Explanatorium Quantum DNA; Creation Theory; etc. etc.

    Philip Bruce Heywood. ex. Geological Survey of Queensland (Ken Ham’s home State in Australia. Can’t say we are barracking for his return, in his present and ongoing state of mind!).

  26. OK, the page you link to claims to have unraveled the mysteries of the universe, but the page looks like it was designed by a fifth grader in 2002… Seems legit to me!

  27. So: 226 comments (counting this one). Let’s see if “Homo Wars” can do better…

  28. And now it’s quite clear that we don’t agree on how to interpret Scripture or the fundamentals of Christian faith, as evidenced by the above comments. So how exactly is it that we are different from Hindus with their huge array of different household gods and cultic practices? How do we know that we worship the same God when we interpret his message so variously and unharmoniously?

  29. moonlight says:

    Enough already with Christians beating up on other Christians who believe in a literal, six day creation (YECers), or treating them with contempt, or as though they are heretics, are anti-science, or ignorant hillbillies. I see these kinds of bad attitudes at otherwise fine Christian blogs all the time.

    Ironically, at some Christian blogs by bloggers who are theistic evolutionists, who also complain that more conservative Christians make “secondary issues” into primary, divisive ones, they, not the YECs, are the ones taking the age of the earth topic (which some may consider secondary) and making it into a huge, big scandal.

    In other words, some of the “I believe the earth is billions of years old” Christian advocates are doing the very thing they claim they dislike (making the age of the earth into a huge deal, and showing disrespect for those Christians who don’t share their views).

    I’m a YEC (Young Earth Creationist), but I do not bash theistic evolutionists or old earth agers – but they make disrespectful comments about YECs all the time.

    Refuting Theistic Evolution and Old Earth Creationism:
    http://hipandthigh.blogspot.com/2011/06/refuting-theistic-evolution-and-old.html

    • I’m a YEC (Young Earth Creationist), but I do not bash theistic evolutionists or old earth agers – but they make disrespectful comments about YECs all the time.

      This post was really about Ken Ham’s comments. And he does what you are describe to people who are not YEC all the time. It is his standard approach to the subject.

      Personally I have no problem with Christians who believe in a 6000 YOE. By faith. But when they start talking trash about science or promoting bogus science, I start to make noises. And that’s what fires up many/most (but not all) of the talk you are referring to here.