“Were You There?” Ken Ham vs. the Book of Job

In response to my post “Were you there?”, several people have mentioned another possible source for Ken Ham's “Were you there?” question: The Book of Job.

If that is his source for it, then it shows that his incomprehension of Biblical literature is more severe than I thought.

The message of the entire Book of Job is focused on the limitations of human comprehension, and about the fact that, when we try to force experience or other new data to conform to our preconceived theology, rather than allowing our assumptions to be challenged by new information, we badly misrepresent God. The message of Job is diametrically opposed to the stance of Ken Ham.

The final appearance of God makes this point emphatically, and draws attention to the natural world in order to emphasize human incomprehension of the wonder of the created order. But when we look at some of the details, it raises still more issues for young-earth creationism's approach to the Bible. Could you imagine the impact the speech to Job would have on science, if used in the manner in which Ken Ham and other young-earth creationists are accustomed to treat the Bible? It does not only ask “Were you there?” but also mentions storehouses for snow and hail, which ancient people assumed to literally exist, but which today we do not, because we understand weather in light of new scientific information. Ought we to challenge secular meteorology on the basis of this passage?

If the Book of Job is the source of Ken Ham's phrase, then he seems to be putting himself in God's place (a rather serious sin), rather than putting himself in the place of Job and humbling himself before God. If that is where he adopted the “Were you there?” question from, then Ham is arrogantly abrogating for himself a claim to divine knowledge, and completely missing the book's point about human ignorance.

 

  • rmwilliamsjr
    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I’m not sure that his “No we weren’t there, but we know Someone who was there…” lessens his claim to his own divinity. Because he only knows this because he has attributed divine authority to his own assumptions about the Bible’s status and meaning.

  • kinship

    So you are going to change the meaning of every biblical book to make sure you are right? What are you going to do with Hebrews 11 and 2 Peter 3? Both passages talk about God creating via speaking and not one word anywhere in the Bible concerning a process.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      What a bizarre false antithesis. First, you seem to be assuming that if a process is not mentioned in the Bible, then there isn’t one. Is meteorology undermined because the Bible simply says that God sends the rains, opening the windows of heaven? Second, Genesis 1 does envisage a process, in the sense that it seems to assume that living things are produced by spontaneous generation, and so it has God say not simply “Let there be…” But “Let the Earth produce” and “Let the seas produce” living things.

      Hebrews 11 is an important passage, which young-earth creationists really ought to take to heart. It talks about faith as evidence of things hoped for and as yet unseen, not as a valid reason to pretend that the things we can see do not exist, or that the things the evidence points to never happened. The YEC view of what they call “faith” is one of the core problems in their whole unbiblical system of thought.

      Just because your impression of a text’s meaning, reading it in English against the backdrop of modern culture and concerns, differs from that of scholars who seek to interpret the text in its original language and historical and cultural context, doesn’t mean that you can rightly assume that your impression is right while the experts are stupid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bartonbreen Bart Breen

    Ken Ham believes in the inspiration and inerrancy of his own hermeneutic.

  • Ryan

    All this debate over how literally we should take the Bible reminds me of Star Wars nerds arguing over how literally they should take the Expanded Universe.Did George Lucas mean for us to take the Thrawn Trilogy as actual fact, or as some sort of metaphor?

  • D Anthony

    Evolution is responsible for treatments to cancers, AIDS, and many psychological disorders. This is also responsible for a better understand of the human anatomy and flu shots.

    If we were to learn creationism, what good would come from it?


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