A Response to Ken Ham: Letâ€™s Make Peace
Reproduced by permission from the Evolving in Monkey Town blog
by Rachel Held Evans, July 30, 2010
I’ll admit it: I love Rachel Held Evans. Not long ago, we reviewed her funny, winsome, thoughtful memoir called Evolving in Monkey Town, a book that encourages a faith that is willing to question, think through, discuss, and hold with an open hand much of the party line that passes for “truth” in fundamentalism/evangelicalism today.
Now she has done a brave and civil deed. She has written a post in response to Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, pleading for an end to the trench warfare over creationism that we have also written about extensively here at Internet Monk. I wrote and asked her permission to reproduce the post here, and she graciously said yes.
So, here is her post…in my view a shining example of Romans 12:18â€”“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Evolving in Monkey Town made national news last week when it was featured in a Nashville Tennessean story that was picked up by USA Today. Â The story described various views regarding the evolution-creationism debate and included my perspective that young Christians long for a more nuanced, constructive approach to this issue.
â€œMy generation of evangelicals is ready to call a truce on the culture wars,â€ I said. â€œWe are ready to move on.”
This quote caught the attention of Ken Hamâ€”president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, the organization behind the famous Creation Museum in Cincinnati. Â In a blog post, Ham wrote:
â€œWell, Rachel, I have news for you. Â Your generation is not ready to call a truce in this battle in the culture wars; in fact, we are finding more and more people are getting enthusiastically involved in fighting the culture war by standing uncompromisingly and unashamedly on Godâ€™s authoritative Word.â€
According to Ken, the fact that thousands of young people visit the creation museum each year proves that this army is growing. But if you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, the numbers tell a different story. Young adults are leaving the church, with some studies suggesting that up to seventy percent of Protestants age 18-30 drop out of church before they turn 23. (In fact, Ken himself has observed this phenomenon.)
While the factors behind the trend are complex, I think I speak for a lot of young Christians when I say that you canâ€™t argue us back. We are tired of fighting. We are tired of drawing lines in the sand. We are tired of Christianity being cast as a position in a debate when it is supposed to be a way of life.
What we are searching for is a community of faith in which it is safe to ask tough questions, to think critically, and to be honest with ourselves. Unfortunately, a lot of young evangelicals grew up with the assumption that Christianity and evolution cannot mix, that we have to choose between our faith in Jesus and accepted science. Iâ€™ve watched in growing frustration as this false dichotomy has convinced my friends to leave the faith altogether when they examine the science and find it incompatible with a 6,000-year-old earth. Â Sensing that Christianity required abandoning their intellectual integrity, some of the best and brightest of the next generation made a choice they didnâ€™t have to make.
The reason I speak out about this issue is not because I am passionately committed to the theory of evolution; itâ€™s because I am passionately committed to the fact that itâ€™s not worth leaving the faith over! And it’s certainly not worth breaking fellowship over either.
Ken likes to frame his position as an unwavering commitment to the authority of Scripture, but in reality his is an unwavering commitment to one interpretation of Scripture. Young earth creationists seem unbothered by abandoning other elements of biblical cosmologyâ€” like a stationary earth (Ps. 93:1; Prov. 8:28; Job 38:4) and a solid firmament (Genesis 1:6; Job 38:22; Ezekiel 1:22; Daniel 8:10)â€”but they tend to cast a literal seven-day creation as such a fundamental element of the Christianity that oneâ€™s faith cannot survive without it.
But I am a living breathing example of the fact that it can. Â I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I believe that the earth is old.
I am not asking Ken to change his interpretation of Genesis or even his devotion to it. If he believes it is the best interpretation, then he should continue to commit his outstanding energy, creativity, and resourcefulness to promoting it. I respect his conviction and I count him as a brother in Christ because, at the end of the day, Ken and I agree on whatâ€™s most important â€”that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.
All I am asking is that he honor this common bond and join me in making peace, in acknowledging that there is enough room in Christianity for both of us and that we can talk about this issue without our weapons drawn. We donâ€™t need a Church in which everyone agrees on the age of the earth. We need a Church that is committed to the Apostle Paulâ€™s instructions that â€œif it is possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all menâ€ (Romans 12:18).
How are we ever going to be at peace with all men if we canâ€™t even be at peace with one another?
I am ready to call a truce, and I hope that Ken Ham will join me.
117 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Ken Ham”
Yes, I count him a brother in Christ too. He can believe lots of things different from me. My issue is how he treats people. He, and many of the cultural warriors seem to be ignoring Jesus’ call to Love our brothers first. Ken would say “I love everyone by helping them to understand the world the way I do” but this is flawed. We are called to Love first…. not “Love after you have conformed to my idea of what you should be”
He has so much pride, I am amazed that no one has helped him understand the problems with that.
A little late to the party here, but I thought I’d share an anecdote if anyone was interested.
I have met Ken Ham personally, albeit many years ago when I was an emphatic YEC, and he was something of a hero of mine. He came to speak at my church, to talk about the absolute necessity of a YEC view of Genesis. At the time, I was convinced that the YEC position was both a biblical necessity, and also scientifically sound. It took many years, as I delved more deeply into both Christian scholarship and science, and as my own faith grew and matured, but I eventually have come to the conclusion that neither is true. Anyway, I only remember two things from his talk. One was a joke (which I still find funny today) involving the recently released Jurassic Park movie, and the other was a dismissive comment he made about another movie Contact, decrying its atheistic (as he saw it) message. I don’t remember the exact nature of the comment, however. Even then, this comment made me frown a bit, because my mother (also a devout Christian) and I had recently went to see the movie together, and we both came away from it with a greater appreciation for the awesomeness of the universe, and of the Creator. Yes, I’m aware that Sagan was a non-believer, but his ability to popularize the awe-inspiring nature of the Creation was second to none, in my opinion. After the talk, I went up to the podium to congratulate him and introduce myself. I then related the experience my mother and I had of Contact. His response was curt and dismissive, along the lines of “That may be, but it was still a movie calculated to lead people away from God.” I remember nodding in agreement, but left the stage with something of a bad taste in my mouth. Looking back, I think that was probably the first sign that things weren’t exactly the way I thought they were in the realm of YEC.
That said, I want to make it clear that I still count Ken Ham as a brother in Christ, even if I have come to disagree strongly with both his views on Creation and the manner in which he presents those views. I just wish I was as confident that he would still consider me to be his brother in Christ, given my current views.
He says outright that if you don’t belive everything that *he* says, you are not a “true Christan”. as others have said, he puts his words (his interpretation, such as, dinasours lived at the same time as people) on the same level as the Bible. This seems to be dangerous ground to me. What ever happened to “the Wisest of mans wisdom is more foolish then god’s foolishness”.
Rick, how do I observe gravity? (not the effects of gravity, but gravity itself.)
besides, the entire post is not about “is science correct” but “it shouldn’t matter. Christians should have fellowship, not war with each other, even if they disagree on the age of some rock” Did you even read the original post?
Rick said “It is woefully inadequate to trust in creationism” How true! 🙂
I trust in Jesus Christ. I do not trust Ken Ham. All the same, I am not at war with him either.
He can call himself whatever he likes with his honorary degrees.
According to answersingenesis.org,
“Ken has been awarded two honorary doctorates: a Doctor of Divinity (1997) from Temple Baptist College in Cincinnati, Ohio and a Doctor of Literature (2004) from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.“
James the Mad:
In general, I canâ€™t wrap my mind around ANY part of â€œsomething coming from nothingâ€. Conceptually we may say we understand it but experientially we have absolutely nothing for comparison.
You (and I also) have trouble with the notion of â€œCreating entire sets of fossils for the different â€œagesâ€ of the world, creating the impression of stages of development that never existed?â€ Thatâ€™s what I meant by saying that the implications are staggering. You and I and probably anyone else who might happen upon this gadflyâ€™s ruminations will truly be staggered. We hear much talk and song about the awesomeness of God and we are told that Godâ€™s ways are not [manâ€™s] ways, but facing the implications of such rhetoric is another matter altogether.
I have no problem in principle with the concept of an omnipotent God speaking the universe into existence in an instant. To use a rather bad pun with no sacrilege whatsoever intended, the devil is in the details. The moment that universe or solar system or biosphere or ocean or tree or man appears, a great unending history also appears implicitly. It reminds me of the story an old woman who heard a lecture by a bright young cosmologist about how the earth was suspended in space on nothing whatsoever. Afterwards she told him, â€œI believe the earth rests on the back of a very large turtle.â€ Smugly he replied, â€œAnd on what does the turtle rest?â€ â€œSonny, itâ€™s turtles all the way down!â€ Existence always implies history. Have you noticed the proliferation of Interstate signs announcing yet another â€œhistoricalâ€ town named such and such. Of course. Every town has a history!
The very existence of Adam implies the prior existence in historical succession of at least one sperm and one egg, a zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, preadolescent, etc. These (necessarily implied ) stages are also, in your words, â€œstages of development thatâ€ (in this singular case)â€never existedâ€. Not only are the stages implied but also the processes bringing them about; processes that also never occurred.
Although there are time differences in orders of magnitude between the stages of development in the fossil record and the stages of development of a human being, the problem still remains in both cases. Just as a â€œmatureâ€ Adam implies the previous existence of processes that generate a human zygote, so too a â€œmatureâ€ leaf impression in a sedimentary rock layer also implies processes of fossilization.
Did Adam have to wait for the created trees to produce fruit that he could eat? Would we expect to see geologic features of the earth such as ocean basins, canyons, flood plains, etc. to appear without their corollary structures such as pointless deltas at the mouths of rivers or moraines at the margins of glaciers? Rivers emptying into oceans have deltas, trees have rings, humans have that ubiquitous belly button and lots and lots of rocks contain fossils, all of which would be pointless and dare I say misleading on â€œday one .â€œ
The obvious objection of the scientific community to creation â€œout of nothingâ€ is the lack of process. Should young earth creationists (or any sort of creationist) also demand that the creator must have used process that we understand in his creative works?
I do not claim that fossils were necessarily present at the very beginning but only that this would be no more misleading than any other part of the creation. Neither am I suggesting that the entire fossil record from dinosaurs on down (up?) is some sort of creation embellishment with no subsequent historical repetition. The truth is that this idea about fossils really bothers me but if we can accept that the original man was created in non-regular way why not the original fossils also.
What I am suggesting is that those who believe that â€œIn the beginning God created . . .â€ and especially that he could have created instantaneously in the relatively recent past need to face the implications of those beliefs. I suspect that this is a debate which neither side of the young earth issue would welcome.
While we can certainly learn many things from Genesis about the nature and character of the creator we should remain humble about our ability to understand his methods.â€God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.â€ (Job 37:5)
Admittedly this â€œappearance of ageâ€ discussion is at best a tangent to the story involving Ken Ham and Rachael Evans. Perhaps it can be seen as a good example of Rachaelâ€™s â€œcommunity of faith in which it is safe to ask tough questions, to think critically, and to be honest with ourselvesâ€ rather than a minor skirmish in Kenâ€™s larger vision of an ongoing culture war that he thinks must be inexorably linked to faith and fellowship among followers of Jesus.
I find a great incongruity between the notion of a necessary cultural war being waged by followers of Jesus and his teaching that the peacemakers are blessed. I know that for many Christians peace is a bad word and its pursuit in this world is considered a foolâ€™s errand; nevertheless I would like to opt out of the cultural war (and maybe other wars too) and instead go for the blessings of peace.
P.S. It may be of a little interest and no significance but I did spend several decades teaching science in Monkey Town.
Amen to that!
Someone mentioned the money involved in Ham’s operation. I would add the quest for political/cultural power involved as well…a visit to his ‘museum’ helped me understand Ham’s ideas a little better (valuable for perspective) but it also revealed the deep bond between YEC and conservative/right-wing politics…the place oozed it from almost every pore… in other words, there’s more to toeing the party line than just believing the earth was created in 6 days…you must also believe that anyone who dares question that interpretation is soon going to be, or already is, a godless, hedonistic, nihilistic, totalitarian liberal out to destroy God’s american city on a hill…you must believe that outlawing homosexuality, abortion and reinstating forced morning prayers in school will make America righteous again…you must believe….etc. etc…
Ham’s teachings and his museum are also about getting out the ‘christian’ vote: And as a young evangelical…that is what I’m sick and tired of…I’m tired of every issue being used by some in american christendom as a way to manipulate me into giving support to a crony carnal political party(s) that pays lip service to Jesus, democracy and fetuses, but loves money and capital accumulation, despises the poor and immigrant, favors traditionalism over innovation, loves war and making its toys and worships american pride and exceptionalism. As Rachel and others are discovering, there’s a Jesus breathed fresh air outside of that oppressive bondage that Ham and his fellow laborers would like to chain us to…So Ham, keep wringing those hands because we’re leaving the camp, and we ain’t marching anymore…
(That may sound like a battle cry…It is not… I want to join with Rachel and her call to peaceful coexistance…but the Yecs also must graciously and in a Christ-like way allow us young ‘compromisers’ to go awol in their cultural war…but if they want to banish and persecute us…we’ll humbly accept it.
This has been going on long before you and me…religion has always been the thing that detours people from God. I think the problem is that we allow these things to distract us from God. If you ever found faith in God, it is still there. Leaving religion is one thing, and I think a very good thing. But do not let human argument and ignorance come between you and God. Most of all, why do we care what other people think? As a Christ follower, I have Christ in me. I should follow only Christ, never any man or their teaching. (Ps. 118:8) Christ in you can lead you into all truth, and I believe truth is not a matter of right and wrong, only following the leading of Christ.
The primary problems of an old earth is “Is death/suffering good” and “Where does suffering/evil come from”?
Most OE will agree that death and suffering are evil (although some deny this). The second question is harder (I have not seen any satisfactory answer).
Of course, those who deny that suffering is evil do not need to answer the second question, but they tend to be less popular 🙂
Rick do you mean to suggest that there has never been a case of evolution observed?
(For whoever has to moderate this comment because of all the links, they’re all to wikipedia, sorry about that.)
From what I’ve seen, the die hard YEC see the rejection of the 6000 year old earth as a rejection of the doctrine of original sin. Without original sin (so they reason), Jesus’s sacrifice, for some reason, becomes moot and meaningless. This then directly challenges the meaning of the gospels and removes Jesus’s importance.
Also, by no longer having humans as a creature created in God’s image, and just another amazing creature who has managed to find a way to survive, it removes humans from being responsible for their actions. (I’m incapable of actually following this line of logic- if anyone can help, I’d appreciate it.)
I don’t believe either of these are true, but from what I see, they seem to be the central arguments for how people justify their casting non-YEC positions as heresey.
That was Kent Hovind (Dr. Dino), the guy who’s currently in jail for tax evasion.
YO Fish-meister…..when does your “MAXIMUM ECONOMIC BENEFIT” study bible hit the stores….I need one….
Where’s Justin Martyr when you need him? Well, dead, obviously . . .
I suspect it had to do with The Culture War.
Which in itself is probably a result of the Cold War and Christians getting blindsided by radical social changes in the Sixties; one LiveJournal rant traces the marriage of Evangelical Christians and the Republican Party to the 1964 Goldwater Presidential campaign, when both groups joined against the real threat of the Soviet Union and its political philosophy. And when the counterculture that had been building through the Fifties reached critical mass in the Mid-Sixties, everything in American society — including the Godly Golden Age of Peak Church Attendance — got thrown upside down all at once.
You see, ringing in the Christian Culture War has married Christianity to one wing of politics and reduced everything to Political Power Struggle. And when anything is reduced to Power Struggle, there are only two end states possible. In the imagery of George Orwell:
1) MY boot stamping on YOUR face.
2) YOUR boot stamping on MY face.
And the only way to avoid (2) is to make sure of (1).
It also provides quite an emotional payoff — I Alone Stand For God And All Righteousness Against The Evil Other. Here Ahura-Mazda, There Ahriman, Lock and Load, Bring It On.
… not to mention, if you are going to be seen as “kooky” by the culture at large, YEC is the WRONG issue to die for. It’s not what our faith is about. The resurrection of Christ IS, no questions. This is a matter of priorities. 1 Corinthians 15:19.
uh, that dictionary quote doesn’t really do anything to bolster your cause at all.
Science is the ONLY tool for making inferences about the age of the earth. Getting your information from the Bible is at best useless. When it comes to scientific matters, science overrules the Bible 100% of the time. Rejecting science simply leaves you with either no information or wrong information.
Dear Ken Ham,
No truce is needed. I am doubtful that YEC attracts new adherents and people brought up to think it, tend to leave (by your own admission).
I am confident it will not last another generation. 🙂
Regarding my phrasing above — I didn’t mean to imply that there aren’t plenty of well-educated Young Earth Creationists. I was thinking more in terms of the fact that most of the YEC literature (especially Ken Ham’s stuff) is squarely aimed at a popular audience rather than an academic one & the composition of enthusiastic YEC’ers reflects this fact. Likewise, people in moderate churches or lots of exposure to the academy tend to be have run into other viewpoints and, though they may be YEC, the dogmatism drops off somewhat.
Sorry to be unclear.
“Newtonâ€™s law of gravitation is not observable” – really?
So you are saying that true science does not need to observe something to conclude it is true? Well how did anyone come to believe Newton’s law without observing it to be true. Scientists confuse me with principles that seems to be based on post modernism more that rationalism.
I guess I have a difference of opinion with the current scientific community of what observation means.
All I was trying to say was in terms of creation and evolution we do not have enough facts to make scientific observations. And scientifically evolution is impossible. That is a provable fact.
So for our young people we have failed as the church if we have let the argument be framed around science. It is woefully inadequate to trust in creationism and evolution.
Please see my note to Riley Allen above.
As to your comment, inference requires knowledge on which to base the inference. The error I made in my post was not making this clear. We do not possess in the “scientific” community adequate truth to make inferences because what happened to the earth during creation and during the flood we cannot know for sure.
Therefore science is inadequate at best for usage in making inferences about the age of the earth.
I have one more for you and others who would even entertain evolution as “reasonable”. Based on simple mathematics and probabilities it is scientifically impossible for evolution (as taught by Darwin and his disciples) to have occurred. With the most exaggerated estimates from “science” of how old the earth and using the most optimistic of probabilities, there isn’t anywhere close to enough time for even the simplistic of organisms to have evolved. Its not possible.
Like I said above, we must frame the argument for the young to be about the goodness of God and His redemptive nature, not about pseudo science applied to the age of the earth and evolution.
sciÂ·enceâ€‚ â€‚/ËˆsaÉªÉ™ns/ Show Spelled[sahy-uhns] Show IPA
1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a “body of facts” or “truths” systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
2. systematic “knowledge” of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
4. systematized “knowledge” in general.
5. “knowledge”, as of “facts” or principles; “knowledge” gained by systematic study.
6. a particular branch of “knowledge”.
7. skill, esp. reflecting a precise application of “facts” or principles; proficiency.
Please tell me how anyone “learned” and “informed” can be sure of what has happened in recent and ancient history to the world physically and to “life forms” generally. How many times have those who have claimed to be scientist been proven wrong by new knowledge and new technology. “Science requires observation” of facts, truth, knowledge.
In order for “science” to draw accurate conclusions about anything we see about the earth and the nature of life forms, it must have provable foundation for its observations. No one knows what may or may not have happened geologically or archaeologically during the “days” of creation. And no one can be sure what would happen the earth if it were covered by water for forty days. There is no body of evidence because there are so many “holes” in the revealed truth about creation and the flood. We do not have much in the way of details in the decription we’re given. And many people are so guilty of imputing their position or presuppositions into it. Speculation in these areas is not science.
You sir, are rude at best and woefully deficient in your pseudo scientific intelligence.
We need to teach young people to trust in the goodness of God without regard to science. Science can’t prove that. What we have in revealed truth is deficient to prove any “scientific” position of creation and evolution so why let them leave the faith for scientific reasosn? We are focusing on the wrong thing if we let Ken Ham or anyone else frame the argument in scientific terms.
Point taken – you had my attention right up until you mentioned fossils. I just can’t wrap my mind around that one. Creating entire sets of fossils for the different “ages” of the world, creating the impression of stages of development that never existed? I’m going to have a hard time digesting that one, since it seems both pointless and misleading.
P.S. No, you didn’t miss anything. Mine was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to Rick’s use of a YEC definition of science to try to invalidate the entire discussion. My bad.
Just like the Hebertists, the Dantonists, the Jacobins, the Stalinists, the Khmer Rouge, and the Taliban. Once they run out of Infidels, they start on the Heretics.
What do predators eat after they’ve killed off all the prey?
Hi Eagle W,
I am not referring to you when I said “grace ought to make us more gracious” though this is true of all of us, what I meant was that I am sorry you have come under so much intolerance at the hand of evangelicals. There are evangelicals who are gracious. Hang around I Monk.
May the God of compassion, mercy and lovingkindness revealed supremely in the compassionate Jesus of Nazareth rekindle your faith, inspire and encourage you and may you find a fellowship where you are accepted just as you are and ins spite of different views.
Hi Eric, Eagle amd Mike,
It would help if Ken Ham could see that there are different pooints of view on inerrancy among evangelicals as well as different viewpoints on creation. Gabriel Fackre listed 6 different views on inerrancy /infallibilit: transmissive in errancy, trajectory inerrancy, intentional inerrancy, unitive infallibilty, essentialist infallibility and Christocentric infallibilty (The Christian Story:Vol2, Eerdmans, 1987 pp63-73).
Eagle, take Chaplin Mike’s advice and don’t give up. Grace ought to make us more gracious over time.
Square Circles and the Great â€œAppearance of Ageâ€ Deception.
for James the Mad
Ponder if you will a newly minted dynamic universe moments (or six days if you like) after its creation. A quintessentially Young Earth writ large!
Adam and Eve would be hairless (it takes more than six days to grow hair) and of course they would be belly buttonless also. Being less than one year old, the trees would have no rings. The ocean basins would be empty until enough rain had fallen to fill them and of course the skies would be cloudless, at least initially, until the nonexistent oceans had time to evaporate. No canyons would yet be eroded and the night sky would be pitch black until those photons had time to complete their breathtaking journey to the human eyes.
The absurdities begin to multiply uncontrollably, limited only by our imaginations.
Unless the creator meant to deceive us, the entire universe would have to be featureless since most if not all the features as we know them are the result of processes operating through time. Surely the creator would not so duplicitous!
I do not believe that it is possible for an all powerful creator to make a square circle. The very notion is nonsense. I also do not believe that it is possible for him to create a young looking earth. Creation out of nothing is unimaginable, indescribable and most of all unbelievable even to the most serious believer.
The appearance of age in a newly minted universe is not only NOT a deception but it is a logical necessity. All of the features â€œnormallyâ€ developed through time would be there full blown: belly buttons, tree rings, clouds, oceans, canyons, and rock and mineral formations. The implications are staggering. Of course we dare not even speculate about fossils; surely they would not be there. That would be the ultimate deception. Or would it?
Sadly, this way of contemplating origins gives no comfort (nor ammunition) to either the young earth or old earth camps. True creation is certainly â€œoutside the boxâ€ of science and, if given serious thought its description is also â€œoutside the boxâ€ of scriptural inspiration.
The debate will continue to go on and a personâ€™s view on this issue will continue to be the litmus test for being alternately either an unbeliever or a scientific luddite.
PS. Did I miss something or wasnâ€™t Rachaelâ€™s book actually more about the evolution of her thinking on a variety of issues than about the origin of species?
Very very close to where “WORLDS OF FUN” amusement center is now located….. hmmmm, could there be a connection ???? Glad to have you asking your questions here @ IMONK, Eagle…..
I’m not at all sure that this is true. It certainly hasn’t been in my experience.
But even if it is, it seems to me it would be a lot better choice to be considered “kooky” for holding to a core belief in the resurrection (without which Paul tells us our faith is in vain) than to be considered “kooky” for holding doggedly to a completely peripheral nonessential such as young earth/six literal day creationism.
I like it!!
From angels with moronic names, perhaps?
Double Word to that:….. and we can accept others, opposite views and all while still holding our views, whichever side of the aisle we find ourselves on; this is a simple matter of NOT making a major out of something that 1)scripture does not speak to as clearly as we wished it did and 2) something that scripture itself does NOT elevate to an essential of the faith (in the details of a particular cosmology) Ken Ham is fighting the wrong battle, even if his view on origins is correct.
“I thng” is “I think”……. sorry, phat phingers @ work…..
Mike: We have arrived, thus far, at approximately the same place in the creation/evolution debate. I still have more questions than answers, I will say that I am MUCH more inclined to give theistic evolutions guys an honest hearing and reading since hanging around IMONK for a year or two. I’ll call that progress. I don’t know if he’s changed his mind in the last 7 or 8 yrs, but you might find David Berlinski’s “The Deniable Darwin” an interesting read. It’s a little dated, he may have moved on from this position (which is pure skepticism, NOT creation of ANY kind , though he’s been labeled that repeatedly).
While waiting for better answers, most of us here at IMONK are pushing for leniency in attributing something evil by someone on EITHER side of the aisle. If Ken Ham seems under attack, it’s because he sees such leniency to be a capitulation to grave and serious error. The kind that threatens the plan of salvation and the health of the church. These kind of blogs are a push back to that kind of position.
I don’t see Ken changing his mind any time soon, but there might be some on the fence who are willing, YEC /theo-evo or not, to at least widen the possibility of orthodoxy to include the opposite viewpoint. I thing church unity rides in the balance in how someone deals with this ‘alleged’ battle.
My pastor gave us “homework” this week, to read Romans 14 – which speaks of this very thing! He quoted (from somewhere, I’m not certain) the addage, “In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Love” – perhaps Mr. Ham should consider where his view of creation is essential or not?
As a side note, my Mom settled the whole creation-evolution debate for herself by declaring she thinks God made the world through evolution. Right or wrong, at least it shuts people up when they ask her! ~ L
Oi Vey! This sweat lodge is making me meshuganneh. And that shaman, he’s such a schlmeel.
Does he present himself as a “Dr” or “Rev”?
Overtly or by implication?
Thatâ€™s because the consider themselves part of â€œus.â€
And there’s only so much you can do to distance yourself from the nutjobs who constantly and loudly insist to everyone that they’re part of “you” and you’re just like them. We’ve had this problem in Furry Fandom since its inception. And since the nutjobs just love the media spotlight…
In the end, my belief in the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ does not depend on â€œHereâ€™s the actual cloth with tangible proof!â€ If I didnâ€™t accept the Gospel accounts and the teaching of the Church in the first place, a length of linen wouldnâ€™t do much for me either.
Problem is, a LOT of Evangelical types are into Relics (though they’d never call them that) as Absolute PROOF to rub in all the Heathens’ faces. They’re actually more into Relics than the craziest flaked-out Catholic — how else can you explain the Search for Noah’s Ark as a hunt for the Ultimate Relic?
The Church (RC in this case) has permitted veneration of the Shroud (along the lines of venerating the crucifix) but has never either authoratively ruled that it is indeed the burial cloth of Christ, nor made it a requirement of faith to believe that it is indeed a relic, if not *the* relic.
The reason being that the Shroud surfaced in the DeCharnay family with no “provenance”, no documentation/paper trail of its origin and/or history. (You see the same need for “provenance” in antiques and historical artifacts in general.) Lacking such documentation/authentication, the Church could not rule otherwise than the Shroud of Turin being “A Representation of Christ’s Burial Shroud.”
I live in a â€œHamm the Christian heroâ€ world, against whom no one shall speak.
Where YEC Uber Alles is dogma ex cathedra, and All Heretics Must Be Burned.
While I have a deep respect for the Bible as the word of God, Iâ€™ve grown to realize that terms such as â€œAuthority of Scriptureâ€ and â€œBiblically basedâ€ or simply â€œBiblicalâ€…
…Are just Newspeak that makes the Bible (and Christ) into nothing more than The Party Line, Comrades. And the only difference between Christians and Communists becomes which Party Line gets quoted.
Especially when you consider the amount of sheer Conspiracy Theory mixed into AIG and the Christian Culture War types in general.
The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.
Some 800 years ago, Mohammed abu-Hamid al-Ghazali divorced Faith from Reason within Islamic theology in his Incoherence of the Philosophers. Al-Ghazali’s theology — literally making the price of Faith Faith Faith the denial of Thinking and Reason — came to dominate Islam in the aftermath of the Mongols. Look where it got them.
Eagle, I hope you will hang around I’M for awhile. We’re seeking a better way and would love to have you join us.
Mormons don’t (usually) have influence among our own church members.
While I hope for the best I also expect the worst. I’m no longer a Christian, having thrown away some of my Christian material last year, God, and the evengelical church and subculture. A lot of things helped me get to the tipping point, issues such as evolution (and tithing, subjective viewpoints on the Bible, homosexuality, sexual sins, etc…) helped me to leave the faith. Why..? I saw that people like myself don’t belong in Christianity. It’s a place for the proud, and self rightousness. That comes through loudly in materials from Ken Hamm and with others involved in Focus on the Family, etc..
Grace and love is non existant and here’s the kicker for me…the older conservatuives who lead many churches and ministries in the US feel like they are under assault. That their view of scripture is challenged and they are pushing back is the reality of US evangelical Christianity. More entrenchment, more warfare, and more using the Bible as a weapon.
What once was a simple and glorious faith became so ugly. How did it get hijacked?
According to Percy French (19th century Irish songwriter):
“The Garden of Eden has vanished, they say
But I know the lie of it still;
Just turn to the left at the bridge of Finea
And stop when halfway to Cootehill.
‘Tis there I will find it,
I know sure enough
When fortune has come to me call,
Oh the grass it is green around Ballyjamesduff
And the blue sky is over it all.
And tones that are tender and tones that are gruff
Are whispering over the sea,
“Come back, Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff
Come home, Paddy Reilly, to me”.
Creation scientists give tours of the Grand Canyon to explain how the Biblical flood happened??!! Man I used to be in Mormonism and we were taught that the Garden of Eden is somewhere in Missouri 😯 Where do these ideas come from!!!!!
This post has nothing to do with “how the culture sees us.” It has to do with Christians humbly recognizing the limits of their interpretations and accepting those who hold other views.
Someone in my church got me a subscription to the “Answers” magazine. (It was a bit like getting underwear for Christmas. Woohoo!)
Anyway, in the latest issue, they went after several of the earliest fundamentalist (RA Torrey, et al) as being “compromisers” for not holding the YEC position. So, they have read them, and dismiss them all as compromised. This group will eat their own.
John–well said. One thing that I’ve found lacking in my search for answers is looking for the scholarly anomalies, i.e. the non-believing scientist who sees the universe riddled with YEC type facts, or the rare biologist who utterly rejects macro-evolution as an explaination for origins, but doesn’t hold to a YEC view. I’m not schooled beyond college level Astronomy, so everything I know and understand is reliant on others–and EVERYONE has a bias, whether religious, philosphical, or institutional. Who am I to believe?
It seems to me that we are all guilty of group-think. We cast our lots with the view that we hope to be true, or would like to be true. Even those with Ph.Ds after their names.
I just find myself in a pickle on this whole thing—I don’t believe in macro-evolution at all because the evidence just seems lacking in my estimation, but the universe itself does seem very old. And for theological reasons I accept that Adam was historical. I’m all over the place and trying to go where the truth leads me.
I just want the truth and I’m a little cranky about it!
You’re asking the same question that has been vexing me of late. I love scripture. I regarded it highly. I study it daily. I love it so much I want to understand it for what it is, not what I wish to make it. When that study takes me away from the YEC position, I’m accused of denying scripture. I have no idea how to answer this in a manner that will convince the hard YECist.
I’m not sure I agree. I was part of that culture. Faith in something that is outside science – the resurrection – is very different than faith in the Bible as a science textbook. The culture at large doesn’t see Christians as kooky as much as hypocritical and hating.
Great story, and one we should all pay attention to. It is hard to fulfill the Great Commission when we make the price of admission your brain and God-given reason, checked at the door.
Not even early 20th century; this argument has been going on for centuries. Links courtesy of Michael Flynn:
“They say, ‘We do not know how this is, but we know that God can do it.’ You poor fools! God can make a cow out of a tree, but has he ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing is so, or cease to hold that it is so.
William of Conches (taught at the Cathedral school in Chartres back in 12th century, just before the works of Aristotle were finally translated into Latin. (The Romans had not bothered with it. Only summaries in the works of the Encyclopediasts were available.)
“…One important focus for inquiry of the natural philosophy of creation were the opening chapters of Genesis. This describes Godâ€™s creation of the world and provides a logical place to ground the study of astronomy, physics, earth sciences, matter theory, botany, zoology and all other branches of natural philosophy. The Medieval method of study was by commentary, and one of the best places to begin a generalised natural philosophical discussion were the six days of creation. Many treatises on this period were written and the genre this was done in is known as Hexameral literature or Hexamera. In some cases, particularly later, it is clear that the authors were more interested in the natural philosophy elements than they were in the biblical exegesis. In these instances the biblical commentary format is playing the role of a coherent framework around which you can build a natural philosophical system.
The Hexameral tradition was born in the early days of Christianity. Two writers were highly important, one of them in the Greek world, the other in the Latin World. One was St Basil, who was born around 329 and died in 370. The other was St Augustine. Basilâ€™s commentaries were given in the form of homilies. These were given largely to audiences of tradesmen and designed to relate the creative handiwork of God to the kind of crafts which were engaged in at the time. In fact, what Basil was trying to do was elevate the role of the craftsmen by comparing it to God working upon his creation and putting it together piece by piece. The homilies contain evidence that he knew the Greek philosophical tradition quite well, although his intentions are purely devotional.
St Augustine was to prove more influential and set the tone for much later Hexameral literature with his â€˜Literal Interpretation of Genesisâ€™. What Augustine does here is very interesting. The rules he sets down for biblical interpretation are firstly that they have to be logical. Secondly, they also have to explain the expressions used in the text. Most importantly, interpretations given must be in accordance with the currently received state of scientific (natural philosophical) knowledge. So, given Augustineâ€™s criteria, a not particularly smart interpretation of Genesis in the 21st century would be that the earth is really 6,000 years old when it blatantly isnâ€™t.”
So by this account, by rejecting the literal Six Days of 24 Hours Each creation, neither St. Augustine nor St. Basil were Christians. And none of the finest minds of Mediaeval Europe, either.
Well, okay. After all, they weren’t Americans, were they? 😉
While I’m at it, can I take a moment to recommend Mr. Flynn’s fine Mediaeval Science-Fiction novel “Eifelheim” to you all? What happens when aliens land in 14th century Germany? Oddly enough, the locals don’t react in a superstitious frenzy of pitchforks and torch-wielding:
Well, since gracefaithjesus has still not rebutted my challenge to the commonly held concept of “inerrancy”:
maybe someone ought to throw THAT at Mr. Ham. When he realizes that he is holding onto his interpretation of Genesis because of a faulty doctrine and understanding of inspiration he may relent.
…When pigs fly?
Hi Mike the other Chaplin,
It is OK for Ken to hold his position of YEC but if he tried to understand why many biblical inerrantists are theistic evolutionists and others progressive creationists he might find it possible to enter into dialogue with them and end the warfare. He is a sincere believer in Christ but seems unable to accept the possibilty that he might be wrong. If I am wrong about this, then I apologise to Ken. Jesus Christ is more important than our interpretations of Genesis.
Great article, great letter and very much to the point. I converted to Christianity in university, and being a medical student was immediately thrown into this quandry. I was advised by my discipleship mentor to write on Creationism (aka The Real True Interpretation of the Bible) and fail biology. Not being a brilliant student, I couldn’t afford to do that and stay in medical school, so for a while I guiltily pretended to believe in Creationism at meetings and continued to study medicine and biology.
The pressure on my intellectual integrity was so great that for a while I thought I would be forced to choose between giving up my new faith (less than a year old at this point) or drop out of medical school. Sorry to say, that would have been a no-brainer – I spent my whole life focusing on going to medical school. Fortunately, I found a better way. I met a doctor who was also a Christian who showed me that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, and it doesn’t have to be an exercise in double-think.
Now I look back with horror at how close I came to giving up my faith before I really understood what it was all about. It is absolutely *imperative* that we show young people that there are ways to reconcile the Bible with what they see in the world around them. Otherwise intelligent, reasonable and reasoning people are going to decide that if it doesn’t match the world, it is the Bible that is going to have to go.
I’ve heard this sort of claim before – that even believing in Christ at all will make us look like fools, so we might as well go all in. There are a few things I’d say about that. First, the latest statistics I’ve seen say that 75% of Americans claim to believe the resurrection story portrayed in the Gospels as true. Now, that may or may not be accurate, but I think the number is higher than some of us may assume. I know growing up in a conservative Evangelical environment, I was always led to believe that I was part of a small remnant of true believers and that most everyone else was out to destroy my faith. That is one thing I find prevalent in a lot of these YEC and evolution discussions.
The other thing I’d say is that I don’t think it’s fair to peg a person’s acceptance of evolution to a desire to not be ridiculed or seen as “kooky”. I think for a lot of Christians, it’s simply a matter of being intellectually honest. If I actually saw that Scripture demands that we reject evolution it would be one thing. But I don’t see that in Scripture, and as I see it now, evolutionary science makes a lot of sense.
While I’m more sympathetic to the Intelligent Design movement’s approach, I’m not hostile to AiG either. What’s interesting to me is that many non-YEC Christians, while claiming to take the high road on this blog, have themselves engaged in culture war type tactics against Ham and his supporters. I’ve got news for you all, if you believe Jesus was really raised from the dead–YOU WILL BE SEEN BY THE CULTURE AT LARGE AS JUST AS KOOKY AS AiG.
I don’t recall that characterization. But how about someone who is causing schism in the church because he insists his is the only legitimate interpretation of Genesis, and that all others will lead to the destruction of the faith?
Hi Mike,Hi Nicole,
“Ham will not reconcile because he believes he is fighting for Christ.”
How I wish that Ken would read some early 20th century Evangelical theologians like James Orr and AH Strong. Orr (an Evangelical Calvinist) wrote articles for the Fundamentals .However he also wrote a book called God’s Image in Man in which he argued for theistic evolution. AH Strong (a Baptist Evangelical) supported theistic evalution in his Systematic Theology. BB Warfield argued in the Princeton Theological Review (April 1912) that biological evolution is not inconsistent with Cavinism which he regarded as the highest form of Evangelicalism. Warfield was an articulate defender of the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the bible in the original manuscripts.
I DO wish that the scientists could do tests on the part of the cloth that we KNOW was not repaired. The last test that showed the cloth came from, I think, around 1300 or 1400, was done on part of the cloth that was repaired so skillfully it took a while to realize what had happened. I am not convinced this is the burial cloth of Jesus, either, but it would be nice to put the speculations about this cloth to rest in terms of when it was likely created.
Funny you should mention the Shroud of Turin 🙂
The Church (RC in this case) has permitted veneration of the Shroud (along the lines of venerating the crucifix) but has never either authoratively ruled that it is indeed the burial cloth of Christ, nor made it a requirement of faith to believe that it is indeed a relic, if not *the* relic.
Now, this may seem like “Oh, you Catholics! Wanting to eat your cake and have it!” but on the other hand, a bit of breathing space on matters like this does help. Myself, I’m not convinced it is the actual burial cloth, but I’m open to persuasion.
In the end, my belief in the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ does not depend on “Here’s the actual cloth with tangible proof!” If I didn’t accept the Gospel accounts and the teaching of the Church in the first place, a length of linen wouldn’t do much for me either.
Yeah, you’re onto something there. (Also vice versa–“you” as a group identify with “them” too, at least up to a point.)
A lot of groups (including both U.S. political parties, and sub-cultures within them) wrestle with the issue of what they stand for, and what to do about extremists among them. If it was racists, you would have tuned them out and/or shown them the door (I hope). Fundamentalism is similar, although liberals tend to perceive it as a less serious evil (something on the order of the Flat Earth Society). Think of its effects on gay rights or feminism, or instance. Creationism isn’t taught in a vacuum (like the Flat Earth), but is part of a political movement.
Well the Mormons are extremely influential too. So why don’t I hear any calls for dialogue and peace on the issue of whether American Indians are really Jewish? Sure it’s nuts, but so are these other guys. How come you like that group of nutcases better than this group?
While I love the effort of reconciliation, I doubt it will happen.
I truly believe that Ham views fighting for the YEC as important as arguing for the divinity of Christ. In fact, I think his belief is that if one does not accept the methods used for finding YEC (completely literalist with no room for metaphor or human perspective on a divine event) then one will inevitably be unable to take the rest of the Bible as any more than a fairy tale.
Ham will not stop or reconcile because he believes he is fighting for Christ.
Hi Mike and Rachel,
This is the good way to fight the “battle of love”. And yes, that is the only weapon Christ-shaped followers will handle.
Myself, I feel compassion toward people like Ham. As I well know, making fundamental changes in one’s thinking and beliefs can be very difficult and painful — and it rarely happens overnight. And, often, people are most vehemently opposed to such changes when they are right on verge of making them. There’s this fear that removing a single brick from the wall of one’s belief system will bring the whole structure crashing down — and one will be left lost and guideless in the ruins of uncertainty. And, sometimes, that is what happens. Being a teachable disciple of Christ is a dangerous adventure in which just about anything can happen. Heck, I’m just beginning to learn that the only way to survive this adventure with my faith intact is to cling desperately to person of Jesus — even when He is urging me to deconstruct some of the theological and ecclesiological structures I have labored to build in His honor. And when we Christians go around trying to knock holes in each other’s walls, maintaining faith becomes even more difficult.
“hey everyone, young people are leaving the church. i’ll tell you why and how to reverse the trend. all you need to do is buy my book, my curriculum, visit my museum, and think just like me! it’s that simple. think like me and young people won’t leave the church.”
someone anonymously dropped Hamm’s stuff in my box at church (i’m a youth pastor). i found myself wishing Hamm was right – that the problem of youth leaving the church was that simple. wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do to keep our young people in church was convince them of a few propositional truths? i wonder if the complete opposite isn’t more true; that is, young people are leaving the church because the church, in standing against science on this matter, is standing against rational, observational findings.
and so people come to me and say, “Pastor, what are you doing to combat the influence of evolutionary teachings in the public schools among our youth?” i reply, “well, whenever i bring up the subject, i’ve found our youth are divided and tired of the arguments on both sides, so it’s hard to have a real conversation. some are told by their parents that they must believe the earth was created in 6 days so they are adamant defenders of this position at school. others don’t see the problem. they believe God created the earth, somehow, and that’s all that matters to them.” that answer is never good enough. no answer short of a full on attack – a war – against the public schools is good enough. i hate these conversations. please, let’s make peace!
I’m not saying I am a fan of Ken Ham, but why do some people who call themselves Christian paint him as some lunatic demon-possessed fundamentalist?
“I doubt YEC is the dominant view among evangelicals (especially not very well educated ones)”
Not sure how you meant this but it comes across as a little elitist. In my experience in the Bible-belt south most Evangelicals of all levels of education tend to hold to YEC. From high-school graduates to physics professors(I live in a university town), it doesn’t seem to matter. So I think there must be something else going on rather than just educational level.
I am so thankful for the friends whom I’ve met here on iMonk, and people like Rachel otherwise I think I would go insane. I totally agree with her open letter. I live in a “Hamm the Christian hero” world, against whom no one shall speak against.
While I have a deep respect for the Bible as the word of God, I’ve grown to realize that terms such as “Authority of Scripture” and “Biblically based” or simply “Biblical” are emotionally charged terms which act as a cloaking device behind which our secure little sub culture can feel safe and superior.
People are forced to take them seriously because they are wildly influential. I doubt YEC is the dominant view among evangelicals (especially not very well educated ones), but the minority who have all the books and videos are very vocal. Consequently, If you are a pastor, lay leader, or university professor in the evangelical world and don’t tow their line, a certain portion of your audience is going to come after you because they’ve been ‘warned’ about the enemy-from-within by Ham and other creationist personalities. So if you care about your own survival, or just the future of the movement, it becomes an inevitable topic of conversation.
Then again: Refusing to talk about their ideas at all would be an interesting approach. They better known personalities like Ham basically thrive on generating a sense of crisis. Perhaps responding to them only gives the ammo. Certainly, matching their tone (a sin of mine, from time to time) only encourages them.
I doubt whether Ken Ham will accept Rachael’s gracious invitation. Ken has been involved with young earth creationism for over 30 years. He has, over that time, consistently confused his interpretation of Genesis with Genesis itself. He speaks loudly for the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the scriptures and seems to think that alternative approaches to Genesis deny biblical trustworthiness.
He seems to be on a crusade for young earth creationism and against progressive creationism, theistic evolution, age day, gap theory, literary framework hypothesis etc. He and Carl Weiland visited our church in Perth, Western Australia about 30 years ago and Ken was just as adamant about his views then as he is now.
That’s because the consider themselves part of “us.”
What a relief. The cat is out of the bag!
Next in line: Augustine.
Rachel, it is wonderful to see the spirit in which the open letter is written. As you say, spirited discussions about Genesis and its meaning still need to take place, but with much more humility, charity, and genuine curiosity. The shrill tones in which most the current conversation is held only generates anxiety and fear. Wonder would be a much better servant.
Well, then, it’s quite obvious: Calvin wasn’t a Christian.
Rachel is not advocating abandoning the search for truth! The opposite! The “peace” she appeals for is a cessation of the judgmental approach that disallows thoughtful and careful inquiry and calls those who engage in it outside the bounds of Biblical truth.
Probably does. Look at it this way–there are plenty of nutcases in the world. It’s only evangelical Protestants (right?) that feel they have to take this particular group of nutcases seriously.
Calvin: ” Moses wrote in a popular style things which without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand; but astronomers investigate with great labor whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God.”
Yes, seek peace and pursue it. But do not give up on truth.
Many Christians turn to Christian ministries like AIG, ICR, etc in that search. There they can find materials ranging from the scientific to the pseudo-scientific.
But for all the claims about the authority of Scripture, who ever starts there? Instead of reading about science, read about Scripture. Read commentaries.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void and darkness covered the face of the deep…”
“….And God said, ‘Let there be light’…
How much time elapsed in the age of the earth between “darkness” and “Let there be light”? We have no clue in Scripture.
Day One and the days that follow are the week in which God sets his creation in order for the creation of man.
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” Deu. 20
This verse is often wrongly used. Here, speaking of that week, “the LORD made” not created as in Gen. 1:1. “Made” has the same connotation as our “making” our bed. We set in order what is already there.
John Calvin, ages before evolution arrived, made many great comments on Genesis: “He who would learn astronomy…let him go elsewhere….”
sorry about the long unformatted link
FYI, the “Ham” in Genesis 6:10 is actually “Cham” (it’s a Chet, not a He).
Why anyone would trust someone named “Ham” to interpret the Jewish Scriptures is beyond laughable.
I literally shed a few tears (of joy) reading that response. Ken, do stick to your guns. Go with your convictions. We’re not asking you to burn your books or anything. But, for Pete’s sake, stop making one’s position on whether or not Noah brought dinosaurs on the ark a make it or break it of the faith! It’s getting to the point of lunacy when we refer to men like John Piper and D.A. Carson as “compromisers” just because they don’t adopt the AiG statement of faith as their 95 theses. We need to disentangle this challenging question from prayer in school and the pledge of allegiance and deal with it as family members and not as carnal Corinthians or, for goodness sake, as cultural crusaders. This is NOT, as Ham suggested, a “Here I stand” Diet or Worms issue!
Are either waging war in Christ’s name? Maybe this speaks more about you.
You are right. I hope people will respond to Rachel’s appeal, and not get enmeshed in the debate that prompted the appeal and is intended to help bring some peace to the matter.
Indeed, Clay – I’m looking forward to Mr. Ham’s firebombing … er, I mean, response.
(My Freudian slip is showing. 😀 )
@rick: I know of no such definition of science, and I’m a scientist. Newton’s law of gravitation is not observable, but we have no doubts of its truth. SO little doubt in fact that we don’t bring it up as a possible failure mode when designing rockets or satellites.
Clay, I just added a verse that speaks to your thought: “”If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Rom 12:18)
A good example for all of us. We can only control our side of things.
If a Biblical interpretation enhances capitalism, how can we object? Perhaps the entire Bible should be interpreted in a way that produces the maximum economic benefit for our country.
I loved Rachel’s book so much. She’s on the right track here, but I wonder how he’ll receive it.
Mr. Ham also has shareholders and investors in the creation museum to report to, so he has to keep lots of traffic flowing through there, and he has to keep the controversy lively to keep churches loading up buses full of youth groups for the trip. There’s a whole industry sprung up around creationism; you can even take tours of the Grand Canyon with “creation scientists” who will explain how it was formed by “the biblical flood” 4000 or 5000 years ago. So there’s not just philosophy and emotion invested in creationism. There’s real money at stake, jobs for bus drivers, canyon tour boat drivers and burro handlers. In this economy, maybe we should be encouraging Ken Ham!
Who else wishes “science” would prove that the “Shroud of Turin” is authentic, is the burial cloth of Christ, proof of the resurrection, that a man did come back miraculously from the dead? That would relegate the creation debates to background noise post haste and we could leave those poor YEC’ers alone, and vice versa. Would probably also make a lot of other debates pale in the significance we attach to them.
If Rachel is right & Christ’s church is needlessly losing many young people because they’re led to believe that they have to choose between the scientifically supported view of the Earth & their faith, it is an extremely good use of our time, energy, & resources to let them know that there are Christians who realize what the scientifically supported view of the age of the Earth is, accept that view, and remain in the faith nonetheless.
“Ken likes to frame his position as an unwavering commitment to the authority of Scripture, but in reality his is an unwavering commitment to one interpretation of Scripture.”
It’s Mister. Ken Ham was a high-school biology teacher before promoting creationism and a literal interpretation of the Bible full-time.
The fact that you even desire to have a dialogue with this guy speaks volumes. I mean, aren’t there religious issues that leave you smarter instead of dumber after thinking about them? Why is it so important to make “peace” with Ken Hamm, but not with Bart Ehrman or Gene Robinson?
I applaud Rachel for her gracious post and peace offer. As long as we feel strongly about our personal way of interpreting the Bible to the point where other views and possibilities of interpretation are seen as “dangerous” or “heresies”, we really have to ask ourselves if those are the hills we are prepared to die on and to what degree we find actual evidence that Jesus is backing us up in that effort.
Personally, the only thing I’ve ever found in the New Testament that was worth that kind of passionate dispute and emotional investment was a different gospel – something that would belittle or replace Jesus, and take the goodness out of the good news. And even there the style of engagement was more the manner of a compassionate spiritual father pleading with his children than a cold judgmental pronouncement based on a prideful conviction that prevailed.
So unless someone is prepared to charge that young or old earth proponents are presenting a different gospel (or something that leads without any doubt to it) why can’t we focus on what truly matters, just like Rachel proposed?
I mostly refuse to engage in conversation about this subject any more. Genesis is not a book on science and I refuse to read it that way. Being retired and not being a pastor the opportunity seldom presents itself anyway. But I did notice an interesting paper recently on the subject called “C. S. Lewis on Evolution and Intelligent Design” by Dr. Michael L. Peterson, a professor at Asbury College. It is 19 pages long and can be viewed or downloaded at: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.asburyseminary.edu/sites/www.asburyseminary.edu/files/Lewis_on_Evolution__Intelligent_Design.pdf
“How do I prove my high view of scripture to someone for whom the only acceptable proof would be adherence to their interpretation?”
Generally you can’t, and there’s the rub. Thus the culture wars.
Good letter and I hope many will listen and some will heed it’s advice. I think that’s entirely possible. I know there are those on both sides who can talk to each other.
However, they seem to be the minority.
I think y Ham and others like him are unlikely to change simply because they have so much invested in the view that those who disagree with their position are not simply differing in interpretation but have a fundamentally lower view of Scripture that is a liability to the faith and that must be corrected.
I don’t know how to counter this. How do I prove my high view of scripture to someone for whom the only acceptable proof would be adherence to their interpretation?
She raises a good point there: what is Mr. (Rev.? Dr.?) Ham’s view on the Galileo Case?
Back up my church’s interpretation on the grounds of the inerrancy of Scripture? Or yet another example of the Man of Blood and the Roman Church persecuting with the tortures of the Inquisition?
As for the culture wars and creationism, I feel fairly confident in saying that 90% of the rest of the Christian world hasn’t heard of Ken Ham (I wouldn’t have if I weren’t hanging around the blogosphere) so unless he wants to argue the case that outside of America there are no authentic Christians, I think maybe a look at things in a wider context could only help.
I’m not surprised at this, but why are we talking about science here in the combox? This post isn’t about science, and responses like this more or less just prove the point of the author. Don’t mean to come off harsh here, but I had more or less the exact same thing happen with a similar post on my blog a few years ago. You don’t even have to mention creation or evolution or young earth or old earth, just elude to it and so many of us take up arms and dig a trench. We become robotic in our efforts to defend a position.
Don’t we have better ways to use our time, energy and resources as Christ-followers than bicker about some of these things that, if we all think about it, we’ll never come to a consensus?
Ham cannot and will not ever accept anything other than his own interpretation as his livelihood and fame depend on his propaganda. The mantra that if you don’t believe the Hamite version, you cannot believe in the essentials of Christianity such as the resurrection, smacks of cultism.
Rick: Riley may have been needlessly harsh in his expression, but he’s right. Inference-to-the-best-causal-explanation is central to science. So when one infers a conclusion about the age of the Earth from the observable evidence, one is by no means going beyond the boundaries of science, but is rather making the kind of inference that is of the very essence of science.
Hi Chaplain. Here’s a good vid from Biologos:
Joel Hunter on the dangers of preaching on Genesis
I’m so sick and tired of bright eyed “true believers” trying to force me to join their culture war. I just want to follow Jesus and try to leave the world a bit better than I found it.
I think it is quite probable that God exists but I have my doubts. This is how faith works: not knowing everything, having an incomplete picture, but proceeding in hope and trust in the unseen. To claim absolute certainty is dogmatism or delusion.
An hypothesis that has passed numerous tests is a workable theory, but not a certainty. Christian theology is logically built with a starting assumption that God exists. (They call it a properly basic belief and thus not justified, just taken on faith).
I canâ€™t always be revising my philosophy from first principles so I generally perceive life with that assumption too. Maybe I donâ€™t have â€˜absolute certaintyâ€™ but I have hope and bits and pieces of evidence that are convincing enough to my mind and heart. God doesnâ€™t function like gravity, heâ€™s a mystery.
Really? Science cannot prove that the world is not 6000 years old because we haven’t observed the earth for 6000 years? That is a misapplication of the definition of science. With that logic, I cannot scientifically prove that I had great-great-grandparents, that any tree is older than the lifespan of an observer, or that fossils used to be living creatures and not just shaped rocks.
I would never teach that science is overruled by the Bible, because they are two different things. To ground a person’s faith in ancient Hebrew cosmology is to put it on the shakiest of sand, and if and when that faith falls, the teacher who put it there is responsible. I think that’s what Rachel is partly saying.
But as has been noted here over the last few weeks, there is more than adequate room for other interpretations of the passages in question. And given the volume of observational data available, and the necessary conclusions derived from that data, we’re left with either an old universe or a universe created with the appearance of age.
Personally I find “created with the appearance of age” to be a rather disingenious work-around, given that Rom. 1:20 and Ps. 19:1 indicate that we see God’s glory and divine nature in the heavens. I have qualms about a “god” that would mislead me by creating 11-14 billions years worth of light-waves, rather than using a process that can be discovered by studying those light-waves.
Ultimately, for me at least, it’s about worshipping a God who is big enough to have done it either way, but who probably did it with a process that started 14 billion years ago. The alternative is to tell non-believers that they are required to turn of their brains and “have faith” that God did something different from what the evidence supports. But faith is the substance of things hoped for, and things not seen, not the rejection of the evidenced we can see.
That something must be observable in a physical way is not what “Science” requires. Only a very unlearned and ill informed individual would make that kind of statement. I shudder to think of what kind of a mess you must make of trying to interpret scripture if that’s the best you can do for something much simpler like science.
Science, by its definition, requires that anything to be considered as true, it must be observable. Neither young or old earth positions are observable so they cannot be proven by observation and therefore no scientific. All physical “evidence” of either cannot take into account what may, or may not have occurred to produce such “evidence”. Therefore science cannot prove or disprove either side of the earth age debate.
Given this simple thesis, what source of truth can observations be made that can lead to reasonable conclusions. There is only one. The scripture. All else must be ignored for the reasons above. And just as Christianity cannot be proven scientifically, it must be accepted by faith in reasoned interpretation without outside – i.e.. scientific – influence. If I had to choose young versus old it would be young based solely in the most likely interpretation. I would teach it that way and let the student question all they want but not using “science” as the basis for their questioning.