Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic paid a visit to the Creation Museum and spent some time in Ken Ham’s office listening to him spout his usual nonsense. Then he wrote about it, carefully constructing a false dichotomy so he can pretend to be fair to “both sides.”
Ham is not only a creationist but an oppositionist. He knows that his ministry, Answers in Genesis, draws the scorn of sophisticates, and so he takes special delight in portraying himself as a rational Daniel in the lions’ den of militant secularism, the lions being the media and the scientific establishment and the ghost of Clarence Darrow and millions of liberal and even not so liberal Christians and pretty much anyone who disagrees with Ken Ham.
My sympathies, by the way, do not lie entirely where you might think. I find atheism dismaying, for Updikean reasons (“Where was the ingenuity, the ambiguity … of saying that the universe just happened to happen and that when we’re dead we’re dead?”), and because, in the words of a former chief rabbi of Great Britain, Jonathan Sacks, it is religion, not science, that “answers three questions that every reflective person must ask. Who am I? Why am I here? How then shall I live?” Like Ken Ham, I am appalled by the idea, as expressed by Richard Dawkins, that “the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
So. Much. Wrong. First of all, no, religion doesn’t answer those questions. It pretends to, but that doesn’t mean it does (and of course, it comes to very different answers to it anyway). Secondly, the fact that he is “appalled” by the Dawkins quote has nothing to do with whether the statement is true or not, and he makes not even the most transparent attempt to show that it isn’t. And all of this is a false dichotomy. Even if atheism is the most appalling idea ever, that does not make Ken Ham’s beliefs any less idiotic.