Ken Ham and his followers may think they’re defending Christianity and ensuring that our faith will be passed along to future generations, but the reality is they’re putting our children and grandchildren at risk of rejecting the faith entirely.
I think what’s particularly tragic is that it doesn’t have to be this way; what Ken and those in the Young Earth Creationist movement have done is created a flimsy faith built on a house of cards. They have literally invested themselves into turning a faith that was built to weather the fiercest storms, into a faith that can collapse from the smallest breeze.
As a result, Ken Ham’s version of Christianity is setting our children up to reject the faith entirely. Here’s why.
First, the religion of Ken Ham is built upon the wrong foundation. As he articulated yesterday on Twitter, his religion is founded upon not just the book of Genesis, but a very specific (modern, not ancient) interpretation of Genesis:
Genesis is like the foundation of a house. One has to build from the foundation to ensure right Christian structure (worldview). The more Christians ignore/compromise Genesis, the more secularized the church will become–which is happening. Speaking this am @firstbossier
— Ken Ham (@aigkenham) November 12, 2017
What is tragic about insisting that a particular interpretive approach to Genesis is the foundation of Christian faith and worldview, is the fact that it is ironically unbiblical.
Regardless of how Genesis may or may not be best interpreted, Jesus actually claimed that he is the foundation we must build our faith on (Matthew 7:24). In addition, Jesus rebuked religious leaders who built the foundation of their faith on the Hebrew Scriptures, and articulated that refusing to put him (Jesus) first, resulted in completely misunderstanding the point of those Scriptures (John 5:39).
Thus, even if Ken were right about a Young Earth and his hermeneutical approach to Genesis, he’s still wrong. The Christian faith and worldview is founded upon Jesus Christ– anything else is idolatry, even if it’s idolatry wrapped in a Bible case.
Secondly (and here’s where Ken’s faith structure sets our kids up to reject the faith entirely), instead of saying, “Here’s how we think Genesis should best be interpreted, but we could be wrong– so let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”, the religion of Ken Ham tells kids, “Here is the only way to understand Genesis– and if we’re wrong, nothing else in the Bible can be trusted.”
How they fail to see the unnecessarily precarious position they box themselves into is beyond me. It’s one thing to get the foundation wrong, but it’s another to step that up a notch and say, “If we turn out to be wrong, the Bible cannot be trusted.”
In this way, as a Christian and minister who disagrees with Young Earth Creationism, my most pressing concern isn’t that kids believe the earth is only 6,000 years old.
My most pressing concern is that kids might believe the entirety of our faith is untrustworthy if Genesis is understood in any other way.
For these children who grow up and begin to find modern science compelling and at odds with the Young-Earth worldview, they become high risk for abandoning the faith because they have been preprogrammed and convinced that without Young Earth Creationism, the entire Christian faith is now called into question.
Sadly, our faith doesn’t have to be this way– a faith rooted in Jesus is strong and secure.
A faith rooted in a specific hermeneutical approach to one section of Scripture? Well, not so much– and they know it.
Ken Ham has built a house of cards where there wasn’t one to begin with.
Our faith is not fickle. Our faith is not fragile. Our faith does not depend on a specific hermeneutical approach to Genesis.
And to teach children that it actually is, is far more dangerous than teaching them the earth is only 6,000 years old.
I would take this issue even further.
If the Universe was created 6000 years ago, then it would have been created with every physical piece of evidence pointing to a creation that is billions of years old. Ice layers, rock layers, fossils, the physics that created the rings of Saturn, the dying stars that were supernova’s whose light is reaching us hundreds of thousands of years after the event. The light of distant galaxies that has taken billions of years to reach our eyes…
All of these things would have been created by a Loving and Truthful Creator in order to deceive us.
Like the men of Ai who carried stale bread and wore worn out clothes to simulate a long journey, the entirety of the physical Universe speaks of an ancient origin that is a reflection of God’s eternal nature. This is not ‘The Truman Show’ that Ken Ham is foisting upon good-hearted, but non-thinking believers. This is a Universe that displays the immense scope of God’s character in both time and space.
Ham is doing tremendous damage just as you point out. My son and I have had to talk things through numerous times in order for me to try to rescue him from throwing the baby out with Ham’s bath water.
Finally, I used to be somewhat challenged by the idea that the Universe was so immense and the earth so small as to be a speck of dust in an endless desert. Then one day a question sort of popped up. I am not saying it was God asking this question, but I am saying it is the kind of question God might ask… “Jim… what size Universe would you feel best with?”.
The answer was as infinite as imaginable.
I agree with your point of view, your article has given me a lot of help and benefited me a lot. Thanks. Hope you continue to write such excellent articles.
You may be right that Ham’s “foundation” for faith is rickety and defective, but I think you’re gonna be disappointed if you think that kids-in-danger-of-becoming-atheists parsing the sentence above critically would lead to anything except the exact same thing. As soon as you have to start splitting theological hairs to justify a seeming contradiction–in what way is worshiping a deity in the form of an historical man, and images thereof, not idolatry?–you’re gonna lose a whole lot of your audience.
Perhaps, 3lemenope, you inserted what you think you saw in the sentence you highlighted but it wasn’t there. Where is the word “worshiping“?
I disagree with Ham’s literalist interpretation of the creation story, but your position about it pushing children out of the faith is simply false. The fact is that mainline, more liberal, churches are the ones losing people and growing churches are almost exclusively more conservative. Here’s article about it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/01/04/liberal-churches-are-dying-but-conservative-churches-are-thriving/?utm_term=.453ec855f4f4
Based on the example questions, the article’s definition of “liberal” and “conservative” seems pretty off-centre: I would consider myself a (fairly) liberal Christian but would still agree that Jesus rose literally from the dead and that God can (at least sometimes) answer prayers with miracles. It’s YECers that Ben is concerned about. Another factor is that I have seen statistics that most of the growth of expanding churches comes from people switching churches, rather than new Christians. Bear in mind that if fundamentalism is going to put people off church, it’s not going to be primarily the fundamentalists it puts off.
The church has lost it’s way I think, and worryingly so, but I don’t think YEC fundamentalism is the answer (indeed it’s part of the problem); then again extreme liberal theology largely abandoning any spiritual aspect of the faith for God and Jesus being merely placeholders for being nice to people probably isn’t the solution either.
I suspect what is needed is spiritual renewal: the Church needs to become a place where one can truly encounter God. Fundamentalism substitutes rule-making and doctrine, liberalism warm feelings and wishful thinking: neither will apparently do. As to how this could be done? Any answers welcome!
Not quite. Your “more conservative” “churches” convert vast numbers of people. If any serious percentage really stayed, the world would consist completely of Seventh Day Adventists, every one of ’em an ex-Mormon.
What we’re looking at is a whole lot of thrashing around. The number of Adventists, like the number of white American Mormons, is pretty much flat. They have a fair number of new adherents every year, and roughly equal numbers slough away. Those two particularly energetic sales operations are growing in the Third World, but it’s basically rice-Christianity, people going to the most available church because it’s part of joining the modern world.
Net net, the decline of American churches covers all the brand-names. You’ll notice, however, that there is no large band of “The Episcopals lied to me” or “The Romans are cheats and liars” schools of thought. People leaving the mainstream churches continue to regard them fondly and to value their teaching and moral values.
Disenchanted “conservatives,” your term, are by contrast common, loud, angry, and influential.
I think if one were pressed to name the single greatest issue riling up scientists and educators today, it would be the Young Earth Creationist movement(s). Mr Ham is basically the personification of it. It’s a teaching that essentially removes the objective reality from science and replaces it with nonsense. We’re not just talking biology and archaeology here. But nearly all scientific disciplines have to be thrown away. Chemistry, Physics, Biology (including all of modern medicine), Archaeology, Paleontology, etc, plus all of their sub-disciplines. And in so doing either destroys the career paths those children who grow up with this nonsense can take, or puts them years, even a decade behind the curve for the lucky few that are able to eventually dig themselves out of the indoctrination.
Putting religion in direct conflict with science, particularly in areas where insurmountable evidence exists (as it does in biology, for example), is quite possibly the single worst mistake that a faith-based movement can make. It only ever ends in tears. And for people like me, for scientists and educators, the it creates an anger that is so great we start not to care where our metaphysical bullets begin to fall. Because of that, it *IS* a danger to organized religion well outside of YEC bounds.
But in another sense, this might be exactly what Ken wants. I don’t think Mr Ham is stupid, and I don’t think most of the people running AIG are stupid. For them its a money making enterprise. And for Mr Ham I am uncertain, but my feeling is that he believes that he can retain adherents only if they remain less educated and ignorant of the reality of the world. I’m positively sure that he knows that his movement is a pile of nonsense. He may be doing it because he wants to martyr himself to the cause and not because he thinks he can win.
” the single greatest issue riling up scientists and educators today…Young Earth Creationist movement(s)”?
Uh, no, Matt. Ken Ham might be an issue for people in the Head-of-a-Pin biz. (Meself, I find the author’s “there’s only one way, Jesus” notion a ridiculous bit of extreme particularism.)
Scientists and educators simply aren’t interested in this stuff at all. It’s not on serious people’s agenda.
I’m only here out of curiosity: a lot of you people seem decent. But very odd.
I completely agree with the premise of this article. I’ve always seen Ken Ham as a snake-oil salesman, preaching a fad religion that, while purporting to be Christian based, is directly opposed to major tenets of Christianity. It’s just one more splinter group springing from the Religious Right in America (yes I know Ham is not native American) which only seeks exclusivity and wants to label everyone as ‘in’ or ‘out’ of ‘my’ group. He has brilliantly tapped into the xenophobia of the American Right and used it to line his pockets.
I am going to to way OT for a second. Please indulge me if you will.
Isn’t Mormonism by far more dangerous? The God, Jesus, and Prophets of Mormonism is very very different from other versions of Christianity. And they are very large group. Why aren’t they categorically disowned?
Seems to me that sowing discord (like this overblown and, frankly, hysterical article does) is more of the problem.
Why not strive for unity and just say that while I’m not a young earth creationist, I can still break bread with people who believe that? Why not say that while I don’t think YEC holds up, I can see why some people think it does. Why attack? Why make a hyperbolic statement? Dying for readership?
Seems to me that what turns kids away is not good discussion of pros and cons but crass and unrestrained finger-pointing. If there’s a problem with Ham, I would offer that the greater problem is with divisive, inflammatory, and ill-conceived articles such as this one. Do a more informed piece that doesn’t sink to namecalling and hysteria. Such can build up rather than tear down.
If you’re that zealous for the Christian faith, seek unity and do it through wise and rational appeal to the Scriptures, not through picking an ideology within Christianity you disagree with and beating it to death in an unproductive, divisive rant.
Maybe to angry people, it reads as divisive, but not to me. I would wager Dr. Corey encourages critical thought and inclusiveness instead of discord. But then, I’m not reading it angry.
Dan, are we speaking about emulating the same Instructor who was witnessed to be teaching this?
Matthew 12:30-37 (NIV2011)
How should we seek unity with broods of vipers? … did Jesus?
Don’t get me wrong, we do love those who are against us, for we do empathize with all of Man, as we can no other species on this earth, even though it is because of them that we must each carry our own cross, while boldly speaking the word of God, as students of the words and examples of our Brother Jesus, the Messiah.
The problem identified by Ben in this article is less YEC in itself, but the fact that YECers insist that if their reading if the Bible isn’t true, and Genesis isn’t “literal” in the way they say it is, the Bible is completely false and worthless and Christianity isn’t true.
I should also point out that it is generally YECers and fundamentalists who insist that Christians who don’t believe their particular shtick aren’t “real true” Christians at all, not the other way around.
It may not have occurred to you that Ken Ham is sowing discord with his fraudulent and arrogant stories and outlandish exhibit.
I wish Mr. Ham would read an article like this one.
God Did Not Write the Bible…
Personally, I’d rather not blame YECs for youngsters leaving the church. If the evolutionary theory is true then they are just following the natural logic. If we evolved gradually, then death was in the world for eons before ‘adam’. So death did not come in with Adam, there was no Fall (the world is exactly as God ‘made’ it) and therefore the Cross is foolishness: without a fall, there’s nothing to overcome or restore. That’s the simple logic. And what the heck is “sin” and “salvation” about? The God of the Bible speaks things into being, hates death, and sacrificed himself to overcome it. Evolution sits directly opposite. So if evolution is true……
I think we have to recognize the need to differentiate between physical and spiritual death in this instance. Everyone I’ve read that leans toward an evolutionary creation view (and I would put myself in that camp as well) most definitely affirms the fall, and sin, being the cause of spiritual death, the curse entering creation, and our separation from God, hence, our need for a savior. There’s really no conflict between evolution as a means of creation, if that’s how God chose to create, and the aforementioned. You’d also be hard pressed to find scriptural proof that there was no physical death before the fall, or creation in general, at best the bible is ambiguous about it. For just one example, Genesis 3:22-24 seems to mitigate against the idea of Adam and Eve being created immortal, why have a tree of life in the garden in the first place if they were immortal from the point of creation? I mention none of this to start a debate, there are way too many facets to this subject to even begin to do it justice in a comment section, I would just submit that the logic isn’t nearly as simple as you make it out to be. If you spend some time reading N.T. Wright, John Walton, Tremper Longman, or Scot McKnight, among many others, you’ll see that a lot of scripturally faithful thought has gone into these things. At the end of the day, even if you don’t agree with the viewpoints, you’ll at least hopefully come away with an appreciation for how they’ve arrived at them.
I might be able to help you out with evolution being true.
Scientific theories describe the information at had. They are true only in as much as they describe the information at hand. When more information comes, it will provide more examples of the truthfulness of the the theory OR it will suggest that there is a previous factor that is not being accounted for. Either way, theories always have a certain level of tentativeness to it. Some Christians over emphasize the amount of tentativeness that there is. With evolution, the amount of tentativeness is vanishingly small.
As for the rest of your comment, I agree completely. The only thing that I would add is that religion appears to be a product of human culture. Go to a different culture, you get a different religion.
Sadly he’s not the only one. Tuning an Evangelical radio station I’ve found biblical literalism, creationism (the Flood being the result of Pangea breaking apart, two floods and not just one, negating evolution…) nonsense, “Christianism is not a religion, nor the Bible a religious book”, persecution complex, conspiracy theories, and gems such as that women cannot rule due to Jezebel’s history on the Bible -with the Whore of Babylon mixed in as well as Jack Chick BS- or that Hell is a physical place deep within Earth, giving as proof the Well to Hell hoax.
I often wonder how those people can be taken seriously.
There are a lot of them and they vote. That is why they need to be taken seriously.
It ain’t no mystery, if it’s politics or history.
The thing you’ve got to know is, everything is showbiz!
IMHO, Ken Ham is small potatoes in the trend towards atheism. I can’t even find a single article (besides this one) on progressive Christian blogs about him. Evangelicals are similarly quiet.
If I wanted to talk about what getting people out of religion, I might bring up the current political situation.
Ken Ham and his creations are a major embarrassment.
Thus the silence.
The concept is very simple folks. Allegorical (or subjective spiritual) interpretations of Genesis 1-11 only results in the rest of scripture becoming allegory. Now you make it say what you want. Case closed. No rational objective facts/truths left to be simply believed (including resurrection).
Adapt your intellect to God’s propositional truth and do not adapt God’s revelation to your fallen intellect.
Kid’s walk away from the faith because they recognize the inconsistency.
Ken Ham is bang on (excuse the pun).
Brad, when did my intellect fall, and from what?
That’s one of the beauties of Genesis.
It helps to disabuse people of the outlandish magical notions in the Bible.
Science is better.
Except the text itself cannot be understood in a literalistic way.
Example – the sun was not created until the 4th day, yet there were 3 days before that. The normal, literal understanding of a day is, by definition, the period of time it takes for the earth to fully rotate on its axis, in the light of the sun. If the sun did not exist in the first 3 days, how can you understand them to mean 3 literal days?
Most literalists end up trying to get out of that one by arguing the sun wasnt ‘created’ on the 4th day but rather started to provide its function then or some other similar argument. But that doesnt make sense either. What was it doing the previous 3 ‘days’? A new one I read was that it was only on the 4th day that the clouds parted to reveal the sun. Except of course the text doesnt actually say that, so they’re guilty of adding words to Scripture to ensure a coherent literal understanding.
We should be mindful that as far back as Augustine (if not earlier), Christians did not insist Genesis should be understood in this way.
Well, my opinon(just an opinion, not the word of God, of course) is that it makes them feel powerful. Doubt is a useful tool, but does not give you the same feeling than certainty. They feel powerful. They feel being the only ones being right against the world being wrong. That’s enough for their taste.
Also, Christians have a tradition of congratulating themselves for being bold, fearless, innovative, iconoclastic, etc.
This may be an insightful way to describe the early Christians of ancient Rome, but things have changed in 2000 years.
Christian fundamentalism in the 21st century is something of a fish out of water.
It is traditionalist, closed-minded, stodgy, self-aggrandizing, blind, dishonest, arrogant, etc.
The situation has been reversed in 2000 years.
The fundamentalists are too blind to see this.
There’s also the fact that this is how Ham et al earn their living. It’s difficult, some smart person observed, to make a man understand a thing when his livelihood depends on his not understanding it.
I agree and not just our children but also when we share our faith with others. For example, I’ve heard it is very difficult to share Jesus in Japan because they think Christians dogmatically think of the young earth creation which they totally reject. Ham seems to reject his own question he used to always ask: “Were you there?” No, I wasn’t and none of us were. I do see scientists who are Christian on both sides of the issue but I am not aware of any scientists who are not Christians on the young earth side.
It seems to me that YEC / Ken Hamism is essentially parasitic on Christianity, and like most parasites it, as you say, can end up damaging or killing the host.
Again as you say, the Christian faith is grounded on a trust in Jesus himself which brings us to an ever closer relationship and love for God.
What Ken Hamism does is take people who have or are building that faith and convince them that their faith is invalidated if they don’t also subscribe to his YEC schtick. The all-or-nothing approach isn’t incidental to Ken Hamism, it is essential: his followers believe his nonsense because they know their faith in God isn’t nonsense, and he has convinced them if they doubt his nonsense, then they must be doubting God himself (which they don’t). The pseudo-science justifications for YEC only have to be sufficiently superficially plausible to as far as possible keep believers on board, not convince anyone else.
The damage done by this Ken Hamism parasite I would say is threefold.
Firstly, as you say, it destroys the faith of those he convinces it’s YEC or no God as soon as it becomes apparent to them YEC is full of holes.
Secondly, it also drives away people who might otherwise have come to God because it convinces outsiders that you have to be an ignorant idiot to be Christian.
Thirdly, and most insidiously, I think that because it takes such a great effort to continue to believe YEC in the face of overwhelming evidence, forcing oneself to believe YEC and defending it is likely to push aside any other aspect of one’s faith. You no longer focus on reaching God in prayer, loving your neighbour, following Jesus etc etc but all is about arguing over Noah’s flood. The trust and love of God that brought you into faith dies, and all is left is the same sort of conspiracy-theory monomania that drives moon landing hoax people and believers in alien abductions.
Brilliantly stated. Amen, amen, and amen!
Christianity in the USA is evaporating at both ends.
Ken Ham’s malarkey is pushing the faithful towards atheism.
Increasingly liberal Christianity leads people in the direction of “spiritual but not religious”.
I am an atheist.
I see the fact that Christianity is declining in the USA, and I see good reasons why it should be declining.
In other parts of the world, this decline has progressed much further.
That was an interesting analysis with good points. It seems to me that when we simplify Scripture and the interpretation of Scripture, as young folks mature and learns the processes of critical analysis, it is likely they will reject the simplified views and ideas people have tried to foist off on them.I subscribe to Marcus Borg’s idea of pre-critical and post critical faith: in my post critical faith I do not have to insist that every detail be factually, materially true true. Like the native tribal historian she quotes, “I don’t know if it happened exactly this way, but I know it’s true.” “What, I say, “snakes and donkeys don’t talk? That’s okay with me, no big deal.”
Science education the Ken Ham way…….
Yes, it is setting itself up for a fall. Any theory can be utterly destroyed by one fact that disproves it.
The fact is, they have even found trees that are older than 6,000 years.
What Ken Ham’s version of Christianity amounts to is superstition (belief in things that have been proven incorrect.)
For once Ken Ham is right.
Answers in Genesis is the Foundation of a house…..
A foundation built on sand…..
We know what happens to that, right?
Ken Ham does ‘science’
From AiG- U.S. WEEKLY NEWS May 25, 2001 Answers in Genesis Ministries International
Q: Why are kangaroos found only in Australia?
A: This may surprise lots of people, but that’s not the case.
It’s interesting: at our Answers in Genesis seminars, we ask our audience:
How many of you believe kangaroos once lived in the Middle East? No one puts up their hands. Then we ask: How many believe that Noah’s Flood was a real event? All hands go up.
How many believe that Noah’s Ark was a real boat? Yes, they agree to that, too. How many believe that two of every kind of land animal, including kangaroos, went on the Ark? Yes, they accept that.
Then we ask: How many people believe that the Ark landed in the Middle East? Up go the hands. How many people now believe that kangaroos came off the Ark after the Flood? They start to chuckle as they put their hands up.
Then we say, how many believe kangaroos once lived in the Middle East? All the hands now go up.
You see, when we think from a Biblical perspective, we know that all land animals must’ve once lived in the Middle East.
This makes me sad.
Check this site out….
“Creationism is not the alternative to Evolution, ignorance is”
Btw women must be happy that the pain of childbirth is a result of God’s curse on them.
I thought it might have had more to do with an object with a 35cm circumference pushing through a hole with a circumference of 8cm.
But then what would scientists and doctors know.
It does show that God to be a bit of an arsehole.
Well Ken Ham had to go the US to find people who would listen to his crap. That’s where most of the nutters are. He sure as hell wasn’t getting anyone listening to him in Australia.
This idea that either the Bible is 100% factually correct or it’s garbage is a very odd concept. I would really like to ask some bible literalists here where they got that idea. The reason that the Bible has authority and is relevant to people of faith today has nothing to do with it’s scientific or technical precision. That’s something that you guys impose on the text. The reason the Bible is relevant today is because the texts have inspired countless people for thousands of years and have given them a glimpse of a loving, personal God and a spiritual world beyond the physical one. That’s pretty much it guys. All the doctrine and theology that we’ve grafted on to this collection of texts is just how some of us try to make sense of it, there’s nothing inherently “divine” about any of it, and honestly, some of it seems downright evil. So can we just be honest that all of us, believers and non-believers alike, are looking for something beyond ourselves, something beyond this physical life, something that tells us that entropy is not the end of the road for us, that we have meaning and purpose, that the universe is ultimately benevolent, that the arc of history does bend toward justice, and that in anything we do, we should always strive to hold out just a bit longer because there is always hope. That is really all you can say about the Bible without sounding like a raving lunatic. Because otherwise it’s just an argument that goes something like, I’m right, you’re wrong, and if off chance you happen to be right, we should throw the whole book in the trash. That’s just not how rational people think about anything of value in this world.
Thank you Dean! A most powerful and testable truth shared succinctly with care. You have a most divine Teacher.
What pure baloney. With your view you can make the bible say whatever you want it to say.
It’s not “I’m right, your wrong…” it’s God’s right and your wrong!
And if a rational person cannot accept a simple literal understanding of Genesis, then a rational person is free to not accept a simple literal resurrection either.
No literal resurrection = no Christianity.
So called science that is used as an interpretive grid to undermine creation (6 days) would also throw out the resurrection and all spiritual matters.
You cannot have it both ways. It’s all allegory or it’s all true.
Unfortunately, the bible has been translated, retranslated, culled, and edited, by every age, every political climate over hundreds of years. What that means is unless everyone editing it had the same pure, clear reasoning and understanding, you are limiting your personal relationship with God to whichever version you read and the philosophical/ political temperment of the time. There are some seriously messed up ideas in the bible, especially in the old testament including concepts that clash with what Jesus preached. I don’t trust the myriad minds and hands enough to ever say every word of any manuscript so treated through history is 100% truth, and to even try seems like a foolish proposition. I will continue to see it as a suggested guide, bearing in mind all the inherent contradictions, and continue my own personal relationship with God as I understand the concept in my heart.
Couldn’t the earth be 4.5 billion years old and 6 thousand years old at the same time. There are many Christians who believe in a pre-Adamic race and a new creation that begins with the biblical narrative.
Nimblewill, why does it matter? What does specifics beyond our comprehension have to do with Man’s relationship with God today? We’re talking our God of grace who is older than our physical heavens which we calculate to be approximately 13.7 billion years old, relative to a full revolution of our earth around our puny sun. We’re talking our God who we sense to know only because Their image of spirit fits within all of Man. When you were three seconds old how many specifics did you care to calculate about those who chose to share their physical image with you? Looking back on less than 80 years what mattered most to you when first born?
This just reminds me of the Onion article, “Sumerians look on in confusion as God creates world.” https://www.theonion.com/sumerians-look-on-in-confusion-as-god-creates-world-1819571221
Could is too broad of concept. Just about everything could (sic) fit into that. Bring some evidence, then we could have meaningful conversation.
When people tell me that every Christian doctrine comes from Genesis, I ask them about the doctrine of hell.
Christian doctrine (a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Christian church) is of value only to those who do not know the Teacher.
The Pharisees had doctrine. The Sadducee had doctrine. Neither of those differing Jewish doctrines matched that of Jesus’ (a Jew by birth) simple commands and truth taught.
When the quest is limited to conjuring up a certain set of do’s and don’ts, this not that, to avoid eternal torture we miss the joy of simply being a child of God today; an, otherwise, spiritually and cosmically helpless child trusting in Their wisdom and care to provide for us, protect us, nurture us and take us out to the beautiful lake today to play with Them and They with us. Many, sorry not all, of us carry a small memory image of what God’s divine familial relationship is like developed when we were helpless little children of our carnal parents.
Truth is not a doctrine. A doctrine is only a guess. When we know all the truth we can bear, which scripture clearly says we each can today, doctrine is superfluous.
I know this one…
It came from Dante’s Inferno.
I totally agree with this. One thing that has kept me at arm’s length from religion in general is the attempts by some religious spokespeople to insist on treating obvious myths, allegory and poetry as scientific fact. It’s not. The earth is 4.5 billion years old (and change). Biological life evolved. All life shares common ancestors. These are not in debate, except when people don’t debate honestly.
Now, here’s the thing; Mr. Ham’s approach is sort of a “reefer madness” argument. When you lie about something – either to exaggerate its harmfulness or claim its fact when its not – and people find out about the lie, they will stop believing anything you have to say. I admit to having spent some time in that position as regards religion in general and Christianity in particular. It has been quite a relief to discover that the fundamentalist approach to belief is not only not the only one, but that there are many, many people who can embrace the spirit of a faith without demanding mindless acceptance of its ancient myths as fact.
So, good on this site and blog; I find it helpful and hopeful. Thanks.
Moving away from detailed theological arguments, I’ve had personal experience of this. As part of the school curriculum here in the UK my 7 year old son studied ‘famous Victorians’ (i.e. people living in the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-1901), including Charles Darwin. He decided that he could no longer come to church because ‘the church disagreed with Darwin, and Darwin was right’. Fortunately my son chose to come back to the church some years later, as a young adult, when he had a more mature understanding of the bible, and had experienced the love of Jesus. All the same, I do wonder how many youngsters are deterred from a church with insists on such ‘certainties’ in a world which is infinitely complex.
Excellent post and excellent critique of the fearful faithlessness of this particular culturally constrained over-interpretation of scripture (YEC); your dismantling of this hermeneutically shortsighted commitment to a few texts which simultaneously sidelines the ONE who the rest of the texts say is everything is right on target.
Could it be possible that we can legitimately take it as a sign of the waning influence of the YEC movement that no YEC trolls have graced this blog post with 500+ anti-liberal comments? Dare we hope?
Perhaps this is a sign of progress. Yet the comment sections over at Sojourners and RedLetterChristians are still regularly filled with Evangelical trolls and their frothing-at-the-mouth discipleship.
I assume they feel empowered since Trump occupied the White House, thus accounting for their well-documented expressions of rage, hatred, fear-mongering, lies, xenophobia, and support for White male sexual predators.
The same science you use to question the historicity of Genesis, particularly 1- 11, is the same science that will tell you that virgins don’t get pregnant and dead people don’t come out of the grave. The entirety of scripture is either true or it’s not. If it is, then anything other than a simple reading of the text creates an intellectual conflict. If it’s not true, then eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow we die.
AMEN to your post: Now that we know our observable universe is comprised of 2 trillion galaxies–that is 10 TIMES more than it was 2 years ago– and we can only see 4%… the remaining 96% is pure mystery… I think its safe to affirm that The Trinity loves mystery! Ought we not also love and embrace mystery?
At least scientists admit that we don’t understand what that 96% mystery is, can’t Christians also be humble and admit that we do not play God (and pretend to understand everything), instead we submit to glorious mystery and pray for even more revelations. “The bible is a book of redemption–not a book of science” and this is a quote straight from Billy Graham himself!
Excellent article. Thank you.
I’m deeply troubled by Hamm’s assertion that Genesis is the foundation of our faith, which is utter and complete heresy. There is only one foundation for our faith, Jesus Christ. Hamm is heretical also, because he dares to add his “interpretation of Genesis” as essential doctrine, which it most assuredly is NOT.
While you have reasonably identified a flawed interpretation of Ken Ham’s Young Earth creationism, you fall back to the very same critical flaw in the primacy of your faith in Jesus as the essence and entirety of Christianity. If Ken Ham’s fundamentalist hermeneutics undermines the veracity of the OT Bible, the same can be said about the central figure of Jesus himself. As more information pours in and evidence mounts against the actual existence and historicity of Jesus, then if shown to be conclusive the validity of Christianity itself can be called into question as well.
As Thomas Varenna writes in his critique of Bart Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist?
“While Ehrman spends a great deal of time analyzing the evidence, he does so in ways which ignore the more recent critical scholarship which undercuts his entire position. In other words,the case for a historical Jesus is far weaker than Ehrman lets on.” See: Thomas Varenna https://www.academia.edu/…/Did_Jesus_Exist_The_Trouble…
Robert Funk, the founder and co-chair of the Jesus Seminar writes:
“As an historian, I do not know for certain that Jesus really existed, that he is anything more than the figment of some overactive imaginations. . . In my view, there is nothing about Jesus of Nazareth that we can know beyond any possible doubt. In the mortal life we have there are only probabilities. And the Jesus that scholars have isolated in the ancient gospels, gospels that are bloated with the will to believe, may turn out to be
only another image that merely reflects our deepest longings.”
Or as Francis Beare writes in his excellent tome, The Earliest Records of Jesus:
“Everything that has been recorded of the Jesus of history was recorded for us by men to whom he was Christ the Lord; and we cannot expunge their faith from the records without making the records themselves virtually worthless. There is no Jesus known to history except him who is depicted by his followers as the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour to the World.: (1962, p. 19)
Bart Ehrman, a Jesus historist writes: ” [ the Gospels]… were not written by eyewitnesses or by people who knew eyewitnesses” and that “in the entire first Christian century, Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman historian, religion scholar, politician, philosopher or poet.”
As Robert Price write in Jesus: Fact or Fiction:
‘Even if there was a historical Jesus lying back of the gospel Christ, he can never be recovered. If there ever was a historical Jesus, there isn’t one any more. All attempts to recover him turn out to be just modern remythologizings of Jesus. Every “historical Jesus” is a Christ of faith, of somebody’s faith. So the “historical Jesus” of modern scholarship is no less a fiction.’
“If Genesis is not 100% factually accurate, there is no God.” With this statement both advocates of YEC and New Atheism are in 100% agreement.
I don’t know of any atheist who asserts that there is no God.
Besides even if Genesis were not accurate, there are still plenty of other holy books and gods to doubt.
They again, I don’t know if you mean generic god or the Jewish God, or the Christian God? Could you please define God?
Haven’t all religious groups imposed rules on their adherents that they claim are necessary for salvation? Islam and Christianity – and probably other religions – have always split because some want to impose new rules. Examples are many, you must be creationist, you must be pro-Israel, you must vote in a certain way. etc etc. Another blog today mentions Frank Schaeffer, heck, in the 1970s, his mother’s book was almost canonical in my circle – true christians baked their own bread and grew their own veg. I may not be a believer now, but the pastor who said ‘The gospel is Jesus’ seems to have understood the essence of his faith much more than the likes of Ken Ham.
Thank you for this, Dr. Corey. Ken Ham is perhaps the best spokesperson for Anton LaVey, in that Ken Ham is an advocate of self-serving self-worship.
Interestingly when Ive had numerous discussions with atheists on the subject, whilst they inevitably mock the idea of Genesis being literally true, a number of them also mock Christians who accept evolutionary theory as the best explanation for the development of life on earth – my view, well Im 90% there. They argue you cannot reconcile an all-powerful, loving God with the ‘method’ of evolution which involves the survival of the fittest and the continual death of species.
I´m wondering …
Would anyone who frequents this forum and blog also be interested
in being part of a more virtual theological discussion experience?
My idea is, briefly, to gather progressive Christians into a virtual room with a
live moderator where we can more fully drill down on some of the
great topics and discussions we unpack here on this forum.
It´s been nearly impossible to find people in my city who are tracking with
the journey I´m on. I´m thinking this might be the next best way to increase
fellowship while continuing to go deeper.
Dr. Corey and moderators: I´m not at all trying to cherry pick regular readers.
I´m merely suggesting something in addition to this already very helpful blog.
P.S. I have no idea how to technologically administer such an idea though
I know such technology is available. I´ve always been more of an idea person
Are you there Dean?
Would atheists be allowed?
Excellent piece, Ben. I too detest pseudoscience, and this quackery
is not a new problem. Indeed, even the renowned St. Augustine noted
in 400CE that there were people bringing the faith into disrepute by
doing exactly the things these pseudoscientists are doing. To quote him,
“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the
heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and
orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the
predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and
the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth,
and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and
“Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a
Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking
nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such
an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a
Christian and laugh it to scorn.
“The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but
that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers
held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation
we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as
unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field in which
they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions
about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters
concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and
the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of
falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience
and the light of reason?
“Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold
trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one
of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who
are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend
their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to
call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many
passages which they think support their position, although “they
understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make
[Latter quotation from 1Tim1:7]
I think that’s an absolutely amazing quotation. It tells us that even
over 1,600 yeas ago, there were ignorant people (in its literal meaning
that they are without knowing) who were discrediting the Christian
faith by making unfounded assertions about certain things, purporting to
‘know’ stuff, and supporting it from Scripture – and that in the face
of the experts of the day who really did know what they are talking about. Sounds familiar?
Thanks for this. It´s the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the gospel of a literal Genesis interpretation that´s most important.
Yes Ken Ham, in spite of his pseudoscience claims being constantly rebuked, wants people to think that the Flintstones Cartoon was a documentary. He probably thinks that will sell more tickets to his failing theme park fiasco. And all the while removing any doubt with the young and confused that what he claims is nothing short of wacko.
well put, benjamin. and if i may suggest, to check out biologos, an organization that believes you don’t have to check your brain at the door to have faith in Jesus or His word. There is also “answers to answers in genesis”, which has many scientific commenters who refute ken ham on an almost daily basis.
As far as Mr. Ham, it is also very scary as to the inroads he has made in putting forth his ridiculous agenda into christian schools and also the homeschool movement.
A charlantan, whether he knows it or not.
Ken Ham is a glaring example of the wrong headedness of American fundamentalism as an abberation of historic Christianity. He, and those like him pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ by deliberately promoting an ignorant view of the Scriptures and their status as the Word of God. His manifestation of American Christianity does great disservice to promoting the mission of God among us. Young earth creationism is nonsense, as we know. Think of all the time, energy and money wasted that could have been used to bring people to an awareness of the beauty and power of the Gospel to transform lives and build God’s presence in a suffering world.
Maybe there is evidence that the Gospel makes things worse and increases suffering. Would you think then?