“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.