Ken Ham Hates the Enemy Within

If there’s one thing Ken Ham is bothered by more than atheists, it’s Christians who don’t interpret the book of Genesis literally. And after one of them called him out because his young earth creationism was chasing people away from Christianity, he went on the attack:

Progressive Christians, or those who believe in evolution, are “more dangerous to Christianity than the atheists” are, says Creation Museum CEO and President Ken Ham. He made the argument in response to criticism that his insistence on Young Earth Creationism is driving believers away.

“Apparently they call this sort of thing ‘Progressive Christianity.’ I guess that means ‘evolving Christianity’ – whatever the secular world believes about where they came from, you accept that as infallible and then change their assumed fallible Word of God to fit! So sad,” Ham wrote on Facebook Friday, as he was responding to a critical post written about him in the “Unfundamentalist Christians” blog about his upcoming debate with “The Science Guy” Bill Nye in February…

“Mr. Ham, they’re leaving the church because of people like you: people who fervently create walls, erect barriers, establish rigid rules for what one must believe in order to be a Christian,” the blog continued, arguing that Ham’s version of Christianity is not about right practice but about “right belief.”

“They’re leaving the church because by essentially demonizing everyone who doesn’t agree with you, you’ve made believing in Young Earth Creationism* more important than Jesus’ explicit commandment to love God and neighbor.”

In his post on Friday, the Creation Museum CEO called the article a personal attack against him, and said that it holds “man’s word as infallible and God’s Word as fallible.”

“Any attack on the WORD is an attack on Christ the WORD,” Ham insisted.

No, this is illogical. The criticism of him is over the interpretation of the Bible, it’s not an attack on the Bible. This is fine with me, of course; I’m glad Ham is chasing people away from Christianity. But this is the case because he’s being so illogical and making claims contrary to the evidence. To which I say: Keep up the good work, Ken!

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  • Chiroptera

    Any ideology or belief system that cannot accomodate reality (like evolution) is pretty worthless and even dangerous since it will eventually lead its followers to do something contrary to basic reality, like jump off a building thinking you can fly, commit mass suicide to ride the Hale-Bopp space ship, or continue to burn excessive amounts of fossil fuels ’cause scientists are all charlatans.

  • dogmeat

    To a certain degree I guess the guy arguing with Ham is right, but only in so much as the silliness of creation led me to question the rest of the silliness in the book which led me to question the whole idea. The demand, by Ham, that “true believers” must effectively dismiss reality around them does damage the “legitimacy” of faith, but to be fair it didn’t really have much (if any) to begin with. The foundation of belief is a cocktail of cognitive dissonance and circular reasoning with a dash of arrogant “if I can’t understand it… MAGIC!” One can’t really blame Ham for that.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    To be fair, dinosaur riding would be pretty awesome.

  • Larry

    Meh. Its like two people arguing whether a unicorn is white or a paler shade of gray.

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    Larry,

    wasn’t that “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” by Procol Harum? (Or Procol Haram, depending on your viewpoint.)

  • birgerjohansson

    “Christ the WORD”

    Soo….Christ can be reduced to a string of digits/letters? Can I download a Christ app? Or must the computer have the capacity of a human brain to become truly omniscient with the Christ program?

  • Nick Gotts

    Ham has a point. Historically, it looks very much as though, once the Bible is subjected to rational criticism, there’s no place to stop. After all, if most of the OT that appears to recount events is clearly not true, because it conflicts with itself or with reliable external knowlege, why not apply the same critique to the NT? Once you do that, you find that (for example) at least one of the birth narratives of Jesus has to be made up, since they plainly contradict each other (and in addition, both are historically utterly implausible). But if the birth narratives are unreliable, who but a fool would believe the resurrection narratives?

    Besides, is it not the case that the more fundamentalist or literalist sects are maintaining their numbers better than the more “liberal”?

  • brucegee1962

    And here I was reading the article hoping that Hamm was going to weigh in on the merits of the classic Star Trek episode. Evil Kirk would just karate chop him, though. That would be awesome to watch.

  • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

    Actually, they’re both right, and it’s why some people become atheists.

  • eric

    Ahhh, sectarianism. Two kids in a playground, playing cops and robbers with finger guns, arguing over who shot who.

    The adult thing to do is not to take sides. Its not to analyze trajectories and angles and declare, yeah, Alice’s finger was pointed at Bob but Bob’s was pointed somewhere else. The adult thing to do is let’em play, and step in only to prevent the kids from hurting each other. And thus…secular government is born. :)

  • freehand

    I wonder what Ham’s stance on slavery is, then? After all, the modern Christian’s (public) rejection of slavery is a recent secular modification of Christian values. There’s certainly no biblical justification for it.

    Modusoperandi: To be fair, dinosaur riding would be pretty awesome.

    Does look like it:

    http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/classic-disney/images/12837097/title/swiss-family-robinson-screencap

  • jbhodges7

    To persuade fundamentalist Christians that it is better NOT to take the Bible as inerrant and to be read for the “plain meaning of the text”, try reading them the teachings of Jesus, as reported by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Jesus says, very plainly, that (1) to be saved, you need to actually DO all the things that Jesus commands his followers to do (2) his followers should follow the entire Law of Moses, except for the dietary laws (3) his followers should sell everything they own and distribute the money to the poor (4) his followers should practice strict nonviolent pacifism (4) his followers should overfulfill the Law, obeying the spirit as well as the letter, abstaining from all sin even in their thoughts, even to the extreme of self-castration to avoid thoughts of lust, which are spiritually equivalent to adultery.

    Whenever I quote the words of Jesus to a Christian, always, without exception, they immediately reply “He didn’t mean THAT.” They absolutely refuse to take the words of Jesus literally.

  • had3

    It’s love god and thy male neighbor. No loving of thy female neighbor as she’s someone else’s property.

  • Rike

    Personally, I don’t think Ham cares about Christianity at all. What’s important to him is how much money he can extract from people for his own purposes.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    The criticism of him is over the interpretation of the Bible

    I humbly disagree. The progressive Christian’s position is far less tenable and far less intellectually honest. You cannot just sweep Genesis and Exodus away as fiction without losing the whole narrative. You lose: original sin, special creation of humans, humans with souls and (other) animals without souls because humans are animals, and more.

    Without original sin, there is no need for Jesus the sacrifice, and the central story and teaching of the entire thing because ludicrous and nonsensical. What kind of sense can you make – for example – from Roman Catholic doctrine? Jesus died for our original sin, which we inherit from Adam, except that there was no Adam and thus there can be no original sin and thus there was no need for the crucifixion nor resurrection, which renders the entire Christian story ludicrous. It’s incoherent.

    It takes a far greater kind of intellectual dishonesty to be a progressive Christian compared to a fundamentalist Christian. The fundamentalist could just be ignorant of material facts. The progressive Christian has to be ignorant of his own purported beliefs or willing to engage in ridiculous mental backflips.

  • Michael Heath

    EnlightenmentLiberal,

    You’ve built a strawman of all liberal Christians. Consider Andrew Spong whose wrote several books on Christianity.

    Mr. Spong doesn’t accept that we’re saved from Hell by a sacrificed and risen Christ, or that Jesus is God or a god. Instead he sees the biblical Jesus character as having some imperfect insight into the god of the universe. To him Jesus serves as a conduit to God only in the sense he concludes the biblical Jesus character was an extraordinary protagonist imperfectly reported by human authors and editors of the Bible.

    Spong’s obviously not a biblical inerrantist and doesn’t attempt to claim extraordinary biblical assertions are true. Instead he considers the Bible as a human legacy of his culture where these human authors and editors were imperfectly attempting to know God, its nature, and how we should respond. He tries to leverage their efforts in his own quest for a better communion with God within the realm of what science understands.

    It’s cafeteria Christianity on steroids, but it’s far more coherent than fundamentalism or evangelicalism because it doesn’t require one accept the impossible or reconcile the contradictory claims of the Bible. It’s not all that different from Thomas Jefferson’s Christianity, who practiced the more original form of deism. Not in regards to the deistic conclusion of a non-intervening god since Spong and Jefferson both believe/believed in a providential god. But instead a reliance on reasoned speculation best revealed by nature; where they look to some passages of the Bible as inspiration and insight in regards to the efforts by their cultural ancestors.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Michael Heath,@16

    Bishop Spong’s views may be far more coherent (in your opinion) but it is not even Christianity, unless your definition of Christianity is nothing more than anyone who accepts “Jesus (whether he was real or not) was a nice man and a good teacher.” Once you say Jesus was not a deity you have stepped outside even the largest circle of Christian orthodoxy.

    As Jason Rosenhouse once said (paraphrasing) if you say you are a Christian and that Elvis was Christ–you are not a Christian. To say Spong is a Christian is to say that the word has no meaning. If Spong is a Christian then you can claim to be a Muslim while denying that Mohammed was God’s prophet. Makes 0.0 sense.

    for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {

      System.out.println("To True Scotsman!!");

    }

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    OTOH, EnlightenmentLiberal in #15 is almost certainly heading toward Fact 12, The Law of Bright Darkness. Not to mention Fact 17, The “When Ken Ham is right, he is really right!” law.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “Ken Ham Hates the Enemy Within.”

    Does this mean that we’re going to be seeing a psychotic break, soon?

    Kenny, follow the instructions; if thine eye offends thee, pluck it out. Or, if your brain is filled with crazy, ventilate it.

  • Michael Heath

    heddle writes:

    Bishop Spong’s views may be far more coherent (in your opinion) but it is not even Christianity, unless your definition of Christianity is nothing more than anyone who accepts “Jesus (whether he was real or not) was a nice man and a good teacher.”

    My position is more coherent if facts matter. In Jefferson and Spong’s case, their beliefs adapted/adapt to what they understood was/is factually true. They both tended/tend to not believe that which was has been either falsified or lacks evidence and is irrational.

    In addition your description of Spong’s Jesus is a strawman. As a Christian, Spong believes Jesus is in Heaven with God and provides a conduit for Christians like himself. As a universalist, he doesn’t claim only Christians can lay claim to a personal relationship with God.

    heddle writes:

    Once you say Jesus was not a deity you have stepped outside even the largest circle of Christian orthodoxy.

    Obviously, who argued otherwise?

    I willingly associate with theologically liberal Christians in meat-world, e.g., Congregationalists. They do not demand submission to an interpretation of dogma from their members, whose beliefs vary, from trinitarians to those whose beliefs are in line with Jefferson and Spong’s. Following is my perspective on this group vs. the other group I’m subjected to in meat-world – conservative Christians belonging to denominations that claim an inerrant Bible.

    When it comes to what the biblical passages attributed to Jesus, both their framework, their emphasis, and their direct edicts, both groups fail miserably to meet the demands of all these passages. When it comes to passages on how to treat others, to become like the supposed Jesus, it’s not only not even close, Congregationalists easily win that comparison. That victory isn’t difficult given that I observe no other large influential group in the U.S. who is vociferously opposed to acting in that manner. Not only do conservative Christians behave directly contra to these teachings, they energetically and successfully influence public policy to insure harm to those Jesus’ demanded we help.

    So while it’s extremely easy to make the case of, ‘no true Scotsman’ for either group, a game I find to be mostly absurd and poorly played by nearly all – including Ed Brayton, it’s easy to make the argument that a guy like Mr. Spong is far more representative of Christianity’s best principles vs. people like James Dobson or even Rick Warren.

  • Michael Heath

    Me above:

    So while it’s extremely easy to make the case of, ‘no true Scotsman’ for either group, a game I find to be mostly absurd and poorly played by nearly all – including Ed Brayton, it’s easy to make the argument that a guy like Mr. Spong is far more representative of Christianity’s best principles vs. people like James Dobson or even Rick Warren.

    I should have also noted it’s trivially easy to make a compelling case both groups are Christians from a public square perspective. I think it’s also easy to make the case both are Christians theologically, where both merely emphasis competing frameworks. From this perspective I conclude the liberals have the theological advantage given those who are orthodox are overly reliant on arguments from both popularity and tradition along with factual assertions that have long been falsified or discredited. But again, these are all merely arguable cases, with none convincing nor could any be convincing given the lack of a controlling authority or agreed-upon dogma.

  • colnago80

    Well, MH and I have gone round and round on this subject in the past and quite obviously we will never agree.

    Now, as I understand Heddle’s position from previous comments he has made here and elsewhere, it is his position that, in order to be a believing Christian, one must believe that Yeshua ben Yusef of Nazareth physically rose from the dead 2 days after his execution, i.e. the Resurrection. This would leave individuals like Catholic theologian John Haught on a sticky wicket as he has opined that it is possible that Yeshua’s appearance after his execution could have been in a vision to his followers (e.g. if a video camera had been present, it would have recorded nothing). I don’t know what Spong’s position on this issue is but I know what Jefferson’s position was. He rejected the Resurrection period, as he did all supernatural claims in the scriptures. This is in contrast with, for example, the position of the late Episcopal Bishop of California, James Pike who rejected the Virgin Birth and opined that Yeshua was chosen as god’s messenger relatively shortly before his execution but, as I understand it, he accepted a physical Resurrection.

    Here’s a question for MH. Would he consider Reconstruction Jews who believe that Yeshua was one of the prophets of the Hebrew bible, like his ancestor Yeshus of Jericho fame, and that his teachings had something to say to his fellow Jews, Christians? It appears that their position doesn’t differ much from that of Jefferson and Spong.

  • eric

    So, enlightened liberal says the religious conservatives are the ones playing imaginary cops and robbers the right way, and the liberals are playing it wrong. Michael Heath says its the religious liberals who are playing imaginary cops and robbers the right way, and the conservatives are playing it wrong. Ken Ham also has his method of playing imaginary cops and robbers and thinks any other method is playing it wrong. SLC and Heddle evidently have their ways, too.

    The existence of such sectarian disagreements just reinforces to me that theology is a game with little grounding in reality. When people shoot real guns instead of pointing fingers and going “pow pow,” nobody argues over whether they got shot or not – its obvious. Such schooyard arguments are evidence that the game is not real. The most likely and rational explanation for such severe and widespread sectarianism is that there is no solid evidence one way or the other. And if there is no solid evidence one way or the other, you have little to no rational justification for your sectarian beliefs.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    eric #23,

    The existence of such sectarian disagreements just reinforces to me that theology is a game with little grounding in reality.

    This is greatly exaggerated. Surveys show that in general Christians believe do not, for example, believe that other denominations are apostate.

    We are not all fighting amongst ourselves.

    The loud disagreements and radical pronouncements are mostly from public figures who must take extreme positions–because those are the ones that get ink.

    Same for atheists. If you only listen blog discourse you’d think that all atheists are stratified into dictionary atheists, atheists apologists, gnu Atheists, and A+’ers. Should we conclude that the sectarian disagreements between those who think atheism must include a certain flavor of social-justice politics and those who don’t is enough to conclude that atheism is not grounded in reality?

  • dingojack

    “Surveys show that in general Christians believe do not, for example, believe that other denominations are apostate.” [Emphasis mine]

    Sorry – what was that again?!?

    Did you mean something like: “Surveys show that, in general*, Christians do not believe that other denominations are apostate**, for example.”?

    Dingo

    ——–

    * what does that mean? 50% or more? Higher? How much higher?

    ** ‘apostate’ and ‘heretical’ are different are they not?

  • Nick Gotts

    heddle@24,

    Comparing theology with atheism is not comparing like with like. Atheism is a belief system, theology is a domain of intellectual activity. Atheism should be compared with theism, or a specific theistic belief system, theology with physics or history or philosophy. Once you do that, theology’s lack of connection with reality becomes evident: there is simply no way to get beyond comparison with what earlier theologians have said to any procedure for error-elimination by confrontation with evidence. Even logical incoherence isn’t usually allowed to rule out theological views: the doctrines of the trinity and of the hypostatic union are generally conceded to be “mysteries”, i.e. incapable of logically coherent formulation.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    DJ @25,

    Sorry, that’s what I get for trying to post while preparing E&M notes. Your rendition of what I meant to say is accurate.

    what does that mean? 50% or more? Higher? How much higher?

    I linked to the Pew site which has numbers.

    ‘apostate’ and ‘heretical’ are different are they not?

    You can look at it either way. Baptists, in general and for example, don’t think Presbyterians have renounced the true faith (apostasy) or are teaching a false gospel (heresy.)

    Nick Gotts,@26

    Fair enough. Although I only agree that theology is like physics in the sense that they are both error prone human activities–but with physics having an enormously superior system of checks and balance (the scientific method). Theology has only the same checking as with the study of any book–is the interpretation plausible based on what the text contains and is it self-consistent.

    I only attempted to out that for any group (Christians, atheists) the noise made in public does not reflect the mood in the trenches. Nobody gets press (or hits) if they take the position: “You know, for the most part, it’s all good.”

  • dingojack

    Heddle – yes I thought as much.

    “I linked to the Pew site which has numbers.”

    Yes, yes I am really that much of an idiot. Thanks for the link.

    Dingo

  • Nick Gotts

    Theology has only the same checking as with the study of any book–is the interpretation plausible based on what the text contains and is it self-consistent. – heddle

    But as I noted, even self-consistency is not required. It is not self-consistent to assert that Jesus was “wholly God” and that he was “wholly man”, or to assert that each person of the Trinity is distinct and that they are each the whole of God. Yet both of these are orthodox theological doctrines.

  • Michael Heath

    eric writes:

    Michael Heath says its the religious liberals who are playing imaginary cops and robbers the right way, and the conservatives are playing it wrong

    Uh, no I did not. How about blockquoting that to which you respond. That’ll help you not misrepresent what others actually state as you do here.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    No one responded to all of my particular arguments. If you believe that Jesus was godly in some way, but also think that large swathes of your book are fiction – such as Genesis, Exodus, and more – then you have to be intellectually dishonest to some degree. It’s like saying “the Spider-Man comic books convinced you that Spider-Man is real, but that Doc Ock character? Of course that’s fictional.” There is absolutely no sound way you can arrive at these conclusions. The only way to get there is a preconceived conclusion, and then you warp the “evidence” to fit that preconceived conclusion. That is intellectually dishonest.

  • Michael Heath

    EnlightenmentLiberal writes:

    No one responded to all of my particular arguments. If you believe that Jesus was godly in some way, but also think that large swathes of your book are fiction – such as Genesis, Exodus, and more – then you have to be intellectually dishonest to some degree. It’s like saying “the Spider-Man comic books convinced you that Spider-Man is real, but that Doc Ock character? Of course that’s fictional.” There is absolutely no sound way you can arrive at these conclusions. The only way to get there is a preconceived conclusion, and then you warp the “evidence” to fit that preconceived conclusion. That is intellectually dishonest.

    Well no, one can reasonably dissect what to believe and what not to believe. The Bible is not a comic book where your analogy is fatally flawed for reasons so obvious you should be embarrassed to ask for help understanding.

    I happen to reject belief altogether, but I think an arguably reasonable argument can be made that the Jesus character from the Bible existed and had some special conduit with a theistic god; while not accepting other biblical claims that have been falsified. Like a young flat earth which the sun revolves around and which suffered from a global flood. That belief in this supposed Jesus would be be without evidence and his being a deity not only lacks evidence but also any related reasons to believe this is true. That’s why it’s merely arguable that it’s a reasonable belief. But such belief is on far superior groundwork than biblical assertions that have been falsified or narratives that are grounded in history or even factually true.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    I’m not here to argue which view of Christianity is more likely given the evidence. I’m here to argue that it’s intellectually dishonest to believe Jesus existed and rose from the dead because of the reliability of this book, and then throw out large swathes of the book, which also render the Jesus story nonsensical. It takes a special kind of willful delusion to do that.

    When I talk with fundamentalists, I don’t have to worry about arguing that we should care about what’s true. They already hold the value that there is truth, and we should care about it. They just happen to be ignorant or in denial about the evidence.

    When I talk with progressive Christians, almost the entire conversation is arguing about whether we should care about what’s true, or whether there even is truth.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “When I talk with progressive Christians, almost the entire conversation is arguing about whether we should care about what’s true, or whether there even is truth.”

    I had a conversation with a longtime friend the other day. He’s going for his 3rd divorce and said that he realized (why it took so much time and money is beyond me) that when someone says, “Well, that’s just YOUR truth.” that what they mean is, “Fuck you, give me your money”.

    I’m sorta that way with people who want to MAKE me think that they’re right. Otherwise, when it comes to “belief”, I’m a big tent kind of guy; you have to be when people have so many invisible friends.