Pat Robertson Says: “Corey and McGrath Are Right, and Ken Ham Is So Wrong It’s Not Even Funny”

Yesterday on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson was asked to weigh in on the Young Earth Creation debate that’s getting ready to take off at the Creation Museum next month between Ken Ham and Bill Nye the Science Guy. In another one of his unscripted responses to a viewer question, Pat had a surprising reply to all of the blogging buzz when he said:

“As much as it pains me to side with a couple of liberal heretics like Dr. James McGrath and Rev. Benjamin L. Corey, I have to admit that in this case, they’re completely right– the Young Earth Creationism espoused by Ken Ham is just plain ole’ silly. All you have to do is pick up a hand full of dirt, and you’ll see that it’s old.”

Pat went on to say:

“I’m sure Ken is a nice guy in real life, and I hate to sound pretentious, but I’m just not comfortable getting my science or my theology from someone who only has a bachelors degree. I realize Mr. Ham has a bunch of honorary doctorates, but let’s be honest, they call them ‘honorary’ for a reason.”

Angry with Pat’s response, a Young Earth Creationist from the audience shouted out the go-t0 question they typically ask of: “were you there??” To which, Pat replied:

“Clearly you have underestimated how old I am, just like you’ve done with the age of the earth.”

Ok, well, maybe he didn’t exactly say all that, but he might as well have

I’ve often been critical of Pat, one time publicly calling him a Jackass (sorry Pat, but my adopted children aren’t “weird” for being adopted and I like that my family looks like the “united nations”), so I thought it would be fair to point out something he said which I think is praise-worthy and relevant to the current discussion on the upcoming debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham.

A little over a year ago Pat was asked a question from a reader regarding the interpretation of Genesis and Young Earth Creationism, and actually gives a surprising answer: young earth creationism is not biblical.

In his answer, Pat points out as I did the other day, that young earth creationism is based upon a guy named James Ussher adding up some birthdays in the Bible and using that to date the earth– in spite of inconvenient things like, say, fossils.

Pat says that when Ussher claimed the earth was 6,000 years old he “wasn’t inspired by the Lord”. Speaking of scientific evidence, Pat says “don’t try to cover it up and make it look like it was 6,000 years! ”

And, perhaps the wisest advice of all, he says “if you fight revealed science, you’re going to lose your children– I believe in telling them the way it was.”

Which, is exactly correct– and exactly why I oppose Ken Ham even though we’re both Christians and both creationists. Young Earth Creationism is so silly, that our children will realize we’re feeding them a bunch of nonsense. If we do this, we risk the possibility of them rejecting the faith entirely– a potential outcome that should grieve us.

I believe God is beautiful, and I believe the message of Jesus is hands down, the greatest story ever told. However, when we misread ancient Hebrew poems and instead side for the poor theological math of a guy in the 1600’s, we risk losing a whole generation of Jesus followers by way of our own refusal to embrace revealed science.

There need not be these two sides– we can embrace revealed science AND follow the Jesus in the Bible. This isn’t a “choose this day whom you will serve” kinda debate– at least, it doesn’t need to be.

And, until we learn that, we become willing to risk the faith of our children over our own ignorance and stubbornness.

As Pat stormed off the set he was heard saying “if you want to believe that the creation process was quick like going through a McDonald’s drive through, that’s fine by me. I’m just telling you that it was more like waiting in line at the DMV.” He then said the entire discussion had him craving a  Ham on Nye sandwich, as he let out his classic chuckle.

You can watch the original (and real) Pat Robertson answer here:

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  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I do not know enough about Ken Ham or about science to defend or condemn him, but isn’t it true that he has more academic credentials in the field of science than you, James McGrath, and Pat Robertson put together?

    (This is an information-seeking question, not a rhetorical one.)

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    OR is correct below.

    However, the point that seems to be missed is that Ham arrives at his position using the Bible and theology, and filters science through this young earth theology– a theological position is his starting point, not science. While I’m not a scientist (neither is Ham) I am a theologian, unlike Ham, and this is the area where I am focusing my critique of the position.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    So, if I’m understanding you correctly, even if the consensus of the worldwide scientific community was that the universe began 6,000 years ago, you would still be in disagreement with Ken Ham over theology? And what would be the nature of that theological disagreement?

  • Daniel Webb

    I’m guessing the theological disagreement would be regarding what he said explicitly above and in other posts–namely thumping the bible and saying that it infers a 6,000 year old earth and to disagree with Ham is to disagree with god when it doesn’t infer that on either count.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I considered that, but it strikes me more as a scientific disagreement than a theological one. That is, Benjamin disagrees with Ken deriving a scientific opinion from the text. What I’m wondering is what the theological difference between them is.

  • Just Sayin’

    ANY reasonably intelligent person is fully qualified to know that Hamster is a shyster.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    There is something missing in your logic. To illustrate, imagine that you and I stood on a street corner and, through some means, identified ten “reasonably intelligent” people among those who were passing by. Then imagine that we asked those ten people whether or not Ken Ham was a shyster. It’s quite possible that some, or even all. of them would not even know who Ken Ham is, and therefore be in no position to come to the conclusion which you suggest.

    What is it that a “reasonably intelligent person” has to know about Ken Ham in order to know that he is a shyster?

  • gimpi1

    The fact that virtually all the physical evidence humankind has accumulated shows that Mr. Ham is wrong.

    The fact that Mr. Ham refuses to look at that evidence honestly and engages in logical fallacies – mostly straw man and excluded middle – in his arguments.

    The fact that Mr. Ham has been caught misrepresenting that evidence several times, and has never corrected his misrepresentations.

    Will that do?

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Only if the reasonably intelligent person was willing to accept your judgment on these matters. You’ve given him no facts from which he could make his own judgment.

    I am willing to believe that Ken Ham is a shyster, but I need more to go on than the fact that some people, including you and Benjamin, dislike him.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Point of clarification: I don’t dislike him. I’m sure he’s a nice bloke in real life, and I’m sure he sincerely loves God and thinks he’s in the right. I simply, and profoundly, disagree with him.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Point taken, and I’m glad to hear it. But I’m still wondering what your theological – since you said it is theological – disagreement with him is.

  • gimpi1

    I admit Mr. Ham is a bit of a bug-a-boo of mine – well, more my husband’s than mine – but these things can be contagious.

    As to your main point, you have said that you don’t have a scientific background. Since you are uncomfortable accepting the judgments others, may I suggest getting some scientifically accurate information? One book I constantly recommend (really, the man should pay me royalties) is Annals of the Former World by John McPhee. It’s a tour by the author across the U.S, in the company of several geologists. It’s lyrical, easy-to-understand and beautifully written. It’s also a good overview of geologic principles.

    It also shows clearly how those principles are incompatible with a 6,000 year-old earth. Good reading.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Two points:

    1) I am not so concerned about the age of the earth. Elsewhere in this thread, I agree with Benjamin that it’s at least possible to reconcile the biblical account with a very old earth. More problematic is reconciling the biblical account of Adam and Eve and all the subsequent references to them (right through to the New Testament) with evolution of all living things from a common ancestor through random mutation and natural selection. That is, it’s not clear where to fit Adam and Eve into that. Atttempts by some to consider Adam and Eve as myth or as merely ancestors of Israel rather than actual progenitors of the human race are fraught with problems when considering the biblical texts as a whole.

    2) I don’t see how it’s going to help my problem to read science literature. I’ve already said that I’m willing to trust expert opinion. The problem is how to reconcile the expert opinion of scientists with the expert opinion of the prophets.

  • b s

    I’ve already said that I’m willing to trust expert opinion.”

    But you’re not! The expert opinion of the vast majority of scientists does not agree with anything the prophets may have said.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    That puts me in a quandry. And if I have to choose, I have to choose the prophets.

  • b s

    And therein lies the problem.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    Not to mention the fact that today we know that more-or-less modern humans have been around for around 200,000 years, which puts the kabosh on the whole Adam and Eve thing, without even dealing with evolution. (See “160,000-year-old fossilized skulls uncovered in Ethiopia are oldest anatomically modern humans”, by Robert Sanders, Jun. 11, 2003, UC Berkeley Science News, just as one example.)

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    See, now this demonstrates the problem quite vividly. I read this and say to myself, “Hmm. Who am I to question Steve Greene, Robert Sanders, and UC Berkeley?” Seriously, I’d have trouble re-passing my 8th grade biology class. If you guys say it’s true, it’s probably true.

    On the other hand, the apostle Paul says God made all the nations of the earth through one man (Acts 17:6), alluding to Adam. He elsewhere referred to Adam and Eve and the progenitors of the human race. There was no need for God to tell the prophets and apostles that Adam and Eve were the first humans if they weren’t. Just because they hadn’t read Darwin doesn’t mean God had to tell them a fairy tale.

    I’m perfectly willing to be shown a different way of understanding the prophets and apostles that will allow me to accept what you are telling me, but it has to be a way that my conscience can accept. Until then, I’ll dance with the One that brung me.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    You may certainly question me. But I did provide a specific article reference for a reason (can you guess what that might be?). And Google is, literally, at your fingertips.

    I do agree with you about the “tension” with the Bible thing. What I would point out (again) is that the Bible is irrelevant to determining what is the case, because it is not the Bible that determines reality, but only reality itself, which can only be determined by actually looking at it. Otherwise, you are in the ocean with a boat that only has a propeller on one side, and can only go in circles.

    What I would also point out (also again) is that even if we completely ignore evolution we still have the simple fact that more-or-less modern humans have been around far longer than just 6,000 years or so, which demonstrates that the whole Adam and Eve story is just another religious myth (hmmm – just like the rest of the creation story).

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    “Otherwise, you are in the ocean with a boat that only has a propeller on one side, and can only go in circles.”

    This seems to illustrate your position, not mine. I accept both the Bible and science. Therefore, I have a way of learning about truth in both dimensions of reality: that is, the immaterial as well as the material. You, on the other hand, seem to be restricting your search for reality (i.e. truth) to only one dimension of reality.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    I notice you completely omitted what preceded my “otherwise”. You do know that grammatically the word “otherwise” logically requires an antecedent, don’t you?

    I wrote, “the Bible is irrelevant to determining what is the case, because it is not the Bible that determines reality, but only reality itself, which can only be determined by actually looking at it. Otherwise, you are in the ocean with a boat that only has a propeller on one side, and can only go in circles.”

    And I have no doubt that people who strongly desire to adhere to beliefs that are not based on reality (or even contrary to what we have discovered about reality) are just as strongly motivated to ignore or disparage the idea that it is reality that determines itself and that you can only actually determine what reality is by looking at reality itself. (This is why, for example, evidential testing is fundamentally important in science.)

    Your statement “Therefore, I have a way of learning about truth in both dimensions of reality: that is, the immaterial as well as the material. You, on the other hand, seem to be restricting your search for reality (i.e. truth) to only one dimension of reality” reveals a rather primitively distorted representation of science. Please do tell me how “material” the force of gravity is in the general theory of relativity, or how “material” the gamma rays of a gamma ray burst are. Reality in fact has many dimensions, and science deals with them because it deals with reality, and scientists have no issues with working with various dimensions when there is evidential reason to do so. So what I’m observing about the rhetoric you’re using is your attempt to evade the requirements of producing evidence from reality about reality.

    Yet that is precisely the issue: The fact – the fact that you are aware of just as much as I am – that religious believers of whatever stripe (whether Mormon, or Hindu, or animistic religion of a primitive tribe in the Amazon) make things up on the basis of cultural superstitions which have no basis in reality.

    So, again, I point out that when you rely on circular reasoning and just assume that what you believe on the basis of some holy book is true without dealing with the relevant evidence about reality acquired by looking at reality itself, that’s like being in the ocean with a boat with no rudder and a propeller only on one side going perpetually in circles.

    Please do not quote me out of context.

  • http://www.nathansmart.com/ Nathan Smart

    But why would Paul be privy to any science that hasn’t occurred yet? He’s speaking on what every single other person is understanding to be true. And, if he did know, through some divine help (as maybe Jesus would), who would want to have that conversation in the middle of the gospel?

  • gimpi1

    Annals of the Former World isn’t scientific literature. It’s more of a travel-log with a geologic twist. It’s poetic, with beautiful descriptions. I recommend it to people with no scientific background, because it’s a fun read, with some good science to boot.

    (Really, McPhee should be paying me for these reviews. But I mean it. It’s a great book.)

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I read McPhee’s book about Bill Bradley some years ago. The study was fascinating and demonstrated McPhee’s gifts as a writer and student of humanity. I’m sure any book he’s written would be worth reading.

    That said, my need is not to understand more of science but to understand better my Maker.

  • gimpi1

    The two aren’t mutually exclusive. If you’re interested, pick Annals up, give it a go. It’s worth a read, for fun. If you find you learn something, no harm no foul.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Time on earth is finite. We have to prioritize. Only in eternity will we be freed from the mutual exclusivity of time demands.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    There’s a biographical book about the British geologist Arthur Holmes, who was one of the geologists in the early to mid 1900’s instrumental in developing radiometric dating and using it in geology, called *The Dating Game: One Man’s Search for the Age of the Earth*, by Cherry Lewis. The books serves as a basic biography, but goes into a lot of discussion about Holmes’ work in radiometric dating and estimating the age of the earth (before corroborating work in the 1970’s with moon rocks). You didn’t make the point – but I will – that in geology it was recognized even long before radiometric dating came along that the earth has been around far, far longer than any mere 6,000 years or so, which is why young earth creationism was actually rejected in science more than two hundred years ago by the early geologists. Literally by the early 1800’s young earth creationism was an entirely dead idea in geological science.

  • gimpi1

    I know about Holmes, but not his biography, so thanks! I’ll look it up. I was aware that geology had put paid to the 6,000 year timeline in the early 1800’s. It’s depressing, how this stuff keeps being recycled.

  • Just Sayin’

    Then figure it out for yourself. There’s tons of info readily available. It shouldn’t take you very long!

  • Just Sayin’

    Are we supposed to identify reasonably intelligent people by their appearance? ANYONE with a high school education could look at Hamster’s claims and figure out they’re spurious nonsense. Failure to come to that conclusion would be WILFUL failure. E.g., evangelicals in other countries generally don’t espouse Y.E. Creationism they way that many do in your country. Why? Because it’s utter tripe.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I have a high school education and I cannot figure that out. What I can do is recognize that Ken Ham is routinely pilloried on the Patheos Progressive Christian Channel for taking the position that evolution is false – a position at odds with the scientific community.

    Ham claims that the Scriptures do not allow for evolution and makes scientific claims that he says back him up. As I’ve said, I am not qualified to judge between the competing claims about what science says and doesn’t say. My inclination would be to trust the broader scientific community simply because they outnumber YEC’s so dramatically. That said, I can’t ignore the fact that Ham is basing his decision on the authority of the Bible – a voice I also consider authoritative.

    I am willing to concede that Ham’s interpretation of the Scriptures may be invalid. What I cannot concede is that evolution fits well with the Scriptures. To accept evolution is thus to accept tension with certain passages of Scripture. That tension diminishes the authority of those passages. Therefore, that tension is untenable for me. No one can go in two directions at the same time.

    I do not consider myself a YEC because they make claims about science which I – due to my relative ignorance of the subject – am not qualified to make. I do share with them, however, the belief that God’s prophets spoke truthfully in His name. And while I am willing to interpret them differently if I can find a way to mesh their declarations with evolutionary theory, I am unwilling to dismiss their declarations because the scientific community will not back them up. Need I point out that there are a long list of claims in the Bible – including most notably the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – which the scientific community also will not back up?

    I will readily concede that you and the scientific community are in the majority. What I cannot concede is that this automatically makes you right.

  • Just Sayin’

    A very verbose way of saying that you choose to be wilfully indecisive, a fence-sitter. No tension there, eh?

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I’m on the prophets’ side of the fence.

  • Just Sayin’

    That sounds cute but meaningless. If you really can’t decide which direction to go, as claimed in your post above, then that’s your own decision to fence-sit and piously (“side of the prophets”) claim that there’s not enough evidence. Millions of others, including evangelical Christians, have no such problem.

    Your problem is cultural captivity in American conservative evangelicalism, it’s got nothing to do with the Bible.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    My position has everything to do with the Bible.

    And, by the way, if I approach the fence in an open-minded manner, offering to engage with evolutionists to see if we might tear down the fence, then you are being counterproductive to merely look askance and accuse me of being a fence-sitter.

  • Just Sayin’

    No it doesn’t, it has zero to do with the Bible. Numerous evangelical Christians all over the Western world apart from the U.S. have no problem with assessing — positively — the evidence for evolution and see it as no threat whatsoever to the Bible. It’s your cultural captivity to American conservative religiosity that leads you to equivocate in bad faith.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    Majority, shmority. The point is that is the mass of scientific research results that substantiate the scientific theory of evolution, broadly and extensively. Just as with the young earth creationists it is the mass of scientific results (in this case, geology and astronomy respectively, including related areas from physics and chemistry) that establishes the fact that the earth and the universe have been around far, far longer than merely 6,000 years or so, not merely some “majority of scientists”.

    In regard to “What I cannot concede is that evolution fits well with the Scriptures”, do note that whether or not reality fits well with the Bible is utterly irrelevant to determining what reality is. You can only find out what the real world is really like by actually looking at it, and that is exactly what science is and does, not merely rhetorically but by the very nature of what the scientific process is.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    It sounds as if you think that only what is material can be real.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    “It sounds as if you think that only what is material can be real.”

    This is incorrect. What I think is that people who make reality claims need to produce genuine real world evidence to substantiate their claims. Religious believers of whatever stripe (Mormon, Hindu, Mayan, what have you) are quite notorious for failing to do so. Joseph Smith, Duane Gish, Ken Ham, and Benny Hinn provide great examples of this.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    Young earth creationism isn’t just pseudoscience, but it’s a particularly egregious example of pseudoscience. Thus, anyone who is a huge promoter of young earth creationism is automatically a shyster. It really is as simple as that.

    A “reasonably intelligent person” would be anyone who has any decent basic education in astronomy and/or earth science, and who at least has some fair acquaintance with critical thinking in the form of recognizing fallacious rhetorical trickery used to promote snake oil.

    And, of course, the young earth creationist conspiracy rhetoric about geological science and astronomical science, in regard to the antiquity of the world, being merely a worlwide evolutionist conspiracy, and evolutionary biology being a worldwide atheist conspiracy, is a dead give-away.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    As I’ve said to others, I don’t know enough about science to judge between you and anyone else on issues of science.

    Are you as negative toward the Intelligent Design guys as you are toward Ken Ham?

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    Just FYI, I never ask anyone to “trust me”. I do endeavor to provide relevant references often, and what I do trust is that anyone who is *actually* interested in the details of a particular topic make use of the it-is-so-readily-accessible-it-is-at-the-click-of-a-button Google to dig up additional relevant scientific information for themselves.

    The IDists use the same rhetorical trickery fallacies and scientific misinformation tactics as their more ostensibly young earth creationist friends. (Indeed, the Discovery Institute has a number of young earth creationists who are official fellows of the organization.) ID is just another name – typically – for what we used to call in the “old days” progressive creationists, later known as old earth creationists, but with the emphasis on the intelligent design concept itself, obviously. But do note that, for example, Behe falls very close to the more traditionally theistic evolutionist camp, simply arguing that some basic “cell machinery” was designed by God. In regard to their promotion of religious pseudoscience, in general they are just as bad due to their usage of the same kind of corrupt tactics. But obviously in regard to how much of science they accept, since they (generally) accept geology and astronomy, it’s easy to say that young earth creationist are far more egregious in terms of their denial of science.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    It sounds as if you object to anyone speaking of science and God in the same breath.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    You’re right. I do object to pseudoscience.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    From Wikipedia: Ham has a “bachelor’s degree in Applied Science, with an emphasis in Environmental Biology, at Queensland Institute of Technology”.

    Of course, to be clear, he has never done any *scientific* research of relevance to the subject of young earth creationism in any professional journal of astronomy, geology, or biology. This same holds true for every other so-called young earth creationist scientist on the planet. Doing lab work on the toxicity of chemicals used in cosmetics and their manufacture at a pharmaceutical company, for example, simply does not give you any scientific expertise in the science of relevance to the subject. This is why the argument, which is used quite often in creationist rhetoric, that creationism is scientific because there are some scientists who believe it, is a bogus argument in terms of scientific relevance.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Are you suggesting that only practicing scientists can opine on human origins? And, if so, does that mean the rest of us – even those of us with bachelor’s degrees in science – should trust what they say about human origins?

  • gimpi1

    Well, not only scientists can opine, but I personally would put more credence in the views of scientists studying a field than someone who has no grounding in it.

    If I wanted someone to land a plane, I would choose a working pilot over someone who was interested in aviation but had had never flown. Wouldn’t you?

    Perhaps you’re unaware exactly how one-sided this is. There really aren’t any good voices on Mr. Ham’s side. Please don’t count the Discovery Institute. I live in Seattle, and they have zero credibility among the scientific community here.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Yes, I do trust experts. Yes, I would choose a working pilot over someone who was interested in aviation but had never flown. And, yes, I am inclined to trust the judgment of scientists about things having to do with science.

    The problem comes when I am told that I have to stop trusting another set of experts – the prophets and apostles responsible for the Bible. They are experts on the Creator, and they have passed on a view of human origins which I cannot easily reconcile with Darwinism. Even Benjamin agrees with me that evolutionary theory does not easily mesh with the biblical account.

    If I have to choose between trusting the scientists and trusting the prophets, I will trust the prophets. But I am looking for a way to trust both. Saying that Ken Ham is not respected by scientists does nothing to solve my problem.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I think one area to clarify, is that I’m not saying don’t trust the prophets. I affirm the inspiration of ALL scripture. However, I also argue that a correct understanding of Genesis lends itself to infinite history prior to Adam, and long “days” of creation, leaving room for an evolutionary process– at least micro evolution and perhaps even macro. I don’t believe one need reject the scriptures to leave room for an old earth and a long creation process. You could google “progressive creation” or “gap theory” to read more– I developed my position at a very conservative seminary who taught the position I now express, so it’s not something for liberals or those who reject the inspiration of scripture– many evangelicals believe it too.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I am aware of the position you are taking, and while I wouldn’t say, as you do, that the Scriptures lend themselves to this interpretation, I certainly think that they allow it. I don’t have a problem with understanding “day” as an “age.” And, yes, this could allow an earth considerably older than 6,000 to 10,000 years – in fact, practically as old as anyone would want.

    As you well know, however, it becomes much more difficult to reconcile evolution with the biblical account of the creation of living things. There are multiple points of conflict.

    What I hear Ken Ham saying is that he knows that he understands the Bible and he believes science must be accommodated to it, while you are saying that you know evolution is true and one’s biblical interpretation must be accommodated to it. That’s probably oversimplified, but in general terms that’s what I’m hearing.

  • http://baldscientist.wordpress.com/ O.R. Pagan

    With respect, I do not think anyone is an expert on the Creator. Whatever God is, it is fundamentally unknowable.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Nevertheless, I have to assume you are open to the idea. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be frequenting a blog written by someone who presumably thinks that He is knowable.

  • http://baldscientist.wordpress.com/ O.R. Pagan

    I have written elsewhere (I can send you the link if you want) that I am “A churchgoer not because I believe but because (1) I would love to and (2) I want to have someone to thank for my life and experiences on this planet.”

  • gimpi1

    I think Mr. Corey has given you a pretty good middle-path in that. I just recommended one of my favorite books in a response to an earlier post. Here’s another one; Evolution, a view from the 21st century by James Shapiro. It’s not as beautifully written as my earlier recommendation, but it gives a clear overview of modern evolutionary study.

    I recommend these because I seem to remember you in an earlier post saying you didn’t have much of a scientific background. It’s never to early to get one!

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    Here are some additional detailed overviews of modern evolutionary biology:

    *Evolution, 3rd Ed.*, by Douglas J. Futuyma (2013)

    *Evolution*, by Nicholas H. Barton, Derek E. G. Briggs, Jonathan A. Eisen, David B. Goldstein, and Nipam H. Patel (2007)

    *Evolutionary Analysis, 5th Ed.*, by Jon C. Herron and Scott Freeman (2013)

    *An Introduction to Population Genetics: Theory and Applications*, by Rasmus Nielsen and Montgomery Slatkin (2013)

    *Population Genetics*, by Matthew Hamilton (2009)

    *Integrated Molecular Evolution*, by Scott Orland Rogers (2011)

  • gimpi1

    Thanks for the follow-up recommendations. (Boy, my Nook is going to be full!)

  • b s

    Experts on the creator? What evidence do you have other than their say so?

    You say you would trust scientists in the matter of science, but when it comes to human origins you would rather trust a book written by men with bronze/iron age technology who had no means to determine anything other than looking at things and discussing the problem over scientists of today who have modern technology and can probe down from the atomic level up to across the universe? Maybe the bible does not mesh with evolutionary theory because it is a work of fiction?

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I learned a long time ago that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” I’d rather trust the experts.

    What I need is someone who understands the Bible who can explain to me how it supports evolution.

    You might ask how I feel about post-Copernican views of the earth vis-a-vis the biblical account. I have no problems at all because I don’t see the Bible ever trying to teach science. Rather, it simply uses the physical world that we can see to illustrate spiritual reality that we cannot see. Nothing that can be observed with a telescope or microscope changes that.

    Evolution, however, is a different matter. It requires us to let go of the biblical account in significant ways. That’s the difference.

  • b s

    “What I need is someone who understands the Bible who can explain to me how it supports evolution.”

    So you are looking for evidence that supports your already preconceived notion, but are willing to trust the experts? Maybe the bible doesn’t support evolution because it has nothing to do with evolution?

    “I don’t see the Bible ever trying to teach science”

    And yet you want to use expert scientific opinion to back up your views on the bible.

    “Evolution, however, is a different matter. It requires us to let go of the biblical account in significant ways.”

    Maybe that should tell you something about the validity of the bible.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Off the topic, I just want to say that I really appreciate you. It seems like you’re doing an honest process to reconcile tension in the faith, and that is commendable. In fact, it’s exactly what I’m doing. I affirm the inspiration of Scripture, but that leaves me in a lot of tension over a lot of things, and I’m learning that there aren’t always answers to that. Often, we end up living life in the tension.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Likewise, I appreciate your hosting a blog where these questions can be discussed in civility.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Being able to “probe down from the atomic level up to across the universe” doesn’t help much when it comes to judging right from wrong, good from evil, justice from injustice. On those sorts of issues we don’t need the latest discovery; rather, we need principles that have stood the test of time.

  • b s

    No, but that is not what science does and evolution is not a question of “why” but of “how.” Again, you want a book that you admit does not teach science to answer a scientific question, the answer to which does not agree with your preconceived notion of what science is, then say you would rather trust in that non-science book rather than the scientists.

    “we need principles that have stood the test of time”

    Like stoning, genocide, and infinite torture and punishment for finite offences from finite beings against an infinite omnimax superbeing?

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Since you reject the Bible as a source of moral guidance, and since we both agree that it makes no attempt to teach science, then you have no need to reconcile the views of science with it. That’s not the case for me.

  • b s

    “Saying that Ken Ham is not respected by scientists does nothing to solve my problem.”

    Creationists often like to claim they have all these scientists who don’t believe in evolution. These scientists are frequently in fields outside of biology (computer science, engineering, etc). Take a look at Project Steve. It is a list of scientists named Steve (or a variant of) who work in a field relevant to evolution and it easily outnumbers any list of creation “scientists.”

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    If “prophets” are “experts” you “trust,” what is your opinion of the Prophet Expert Muhammad?
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mohammed_receiving_revelation_from_the_angel_Gabriel.jpg

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    The Bible says there are true prophets and there are false prophets.

  • b s

    And how do YOU determine which is which?

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    By the same means as anyone else: common sense and conscience.

    That you and I come to different conclusions simply means that at least one of us is wrong.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    common sense and conscience accident of birth fify

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    As does the Qur’an. So?

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Well, since you’re tuned in to the Patheos “Progressive Christian Channel” I presume you don’t think Muhammad was a true prophet.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    I don’t regard any religious prophets from the Middle-East (or any where else) as “experts.”

    Middle-Eastern (or any where else) scientists, I do highly regard, because our common language is publicly verifiable evidence. I’m presently teaching my oldest son how to reckon الجبر (al’gebra) equations. And we’re using Arabic numbers.

  • gimpi1

    Well, we differ there. I might trust them on some things, but not on scientific matters. They simply had no way of knowing about, for example, the Americas, Pangea, the true nature of the sun (as a star), the speed of light, or so many other facts we now use to make up our world-view. I look for interest, perhaps inspiration – but not facts – in any holy writ, the Bible included

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    You right that we differ. I trust them on facts that they present as facts. If I didn’t, they could hardly inspire me.

  • http://baldscientist.wordpress.com/ O.R. Pagan

    Spot on… I use a similar analogy in one of the lectures of a course I teach in the fall. You do not go to a podiatrist for a toothache or to a dentist for an ingrown toenail. An expertise in one area of knowledge does not qualify one as an expert in every area…

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Quite so. However, the prophets are claiming intimacy with the Creator. Are we to ignore their expertise?

  • http://baldscientist.wordpress.com/ O.R. Pagan

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I do not like Robertson or many of his ideas, but when someone gets things right, one has to acknowledge it…
    @Mike: I may be wrong, but I don’t think Ham has any academic or practical experience in any scientific field, but that is hardly the issue. You can have all the appropriate credentials and still be wrong. It is a matter of the **honest** analysis of the evidence…

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I don’t like Robertson either, but trying to be fair when he says something that’s true and right…

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I quite agree that having academic credentials does not guarantee that one comes to the correct conclusion – but doesn’t that apply to Ham’s critics as well as to Ham?

    It seems to me that most of the people who believe in evolution today are doing so based on faith in the judgment of people considered to be experts (i.e. scientists). That doesn’t mean that they are necessarily wrong, but isn’t it appropriate to acknowledge the difference between knowing something because you have studied the evidence for yourself and knowing it because you accepted the conclusion someone who has studied the evidence for himself?

  • gimpi1

    Personally, I have watched my husband study the geologic features of the Pacific Northwest, including the Cascade Subduction Zone, the Cascade volcanic range, the accretion of terrains, the Rainier Lahars, Mt. St. Helen and evidence for earthquakes and tsunami. We have taken trips (If you want to never sleep well again, tour Yellow Stone with a geologist) and he has collected mineral specimens from all over the world. The geologic record does not support Mr. Ham’s views. Is enough personal study?

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I don’t understand. Are you saying that you believe Ken Ham is wrong because you trust your husband’s geological judgment or because you have studied sufficient evidence yourself to believe in evolution even if your husband didn’t?

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    You don’t understand science.

    Science is a collaborative enterprise
    Spanning the generations
    We remember those who prepared the way
    Seeing through them also

    youtube.com/watch?v=9Cd36WJ79z4

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    You are right that I don’t understand science, but I do know something about worship, and that video qualifies.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    If worship is meant in its usually context of devotion to something supernatural, then no.

    But if worship is meant in its etymological meaning, i.e., honor towards something “worthiness or worth-ship,” then yes.

    Reason is worthy of much more worth-ship than blind faith.

  • gimpi1

    Sorry to get back so late, my internet connection bit the big one thursday and just came back up.

    The answer would be both. Traveling and talking with my husband, I have learned how to read stratifications in road-cuts, to recognize the patterns in different kinds of granite (which gives you a good guess where they came from) and to understand how different kinds of mountains form. That information is simply not compatible with a 6,000 year time-span. Since Mr. Ham is adamant about that time-line, everything I have learned, both from my husband and my own observations tell me he’s wrong.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    The process you are describing to me sounds like a CSI investigation. And the ability of such forensic work to understand past events is quite powerful and useful. I do not, however, view it as infallible. By contrast, I do view anything God has said to be infallibly true.

  • gimpi1

    Well, again, we part company. I don’t regard the bible as the inerrant word of God, so I have no problem with the physical reality I have learned a little bit about.

    That’s OK. That’s what makes horses race. Interesting talk.

  • http://winging-it.me Carma

    Well and good to say “study the evidence for yourself” but most of us don’t have time or inclination to acquire advanced degrees in multiple fields of science. We can, however, read and contemplate the distilled writings of those who have studied such fields. Multiple different disciplines, from geology to astronomy, all point to a date of about 13.6 billion years as the age of the universe – and they reached that date independently, without conferring amongst themselves beforehand.

    And please, do not conflate a belief in an old universe with a belief in evolution. One can hold the belief that the science is correct in its discoveries (and that God did not lie by merely creating an appearance of age) and hold any of these opinions about the origin of life: (1) pure naturalistic evolution, (2) theological evolution in which God oversaw the process, or (3) special creation of each kind or species, including humanity. We know that if God is God then He COULD have created everything in the blink of an eye, and six 24-hour periods are in fact no more necessary to His creative process than 14 billion years would be.

    So science is just looking at how He did it, not proscribing limits on how it must have been done and what we can safely discover without falling into theological error. Remember the way the medieval churches threatened to kill scientific apostates when the idea of the earth going around the sun SEEMED to threaten Biblical inerrancy? And yet today we accept that Biblical references to the sun rising and setting on the earth are just the way people talk, not scientific rules set down in the Bible. Guess what, people: young earth creationism is no more Biblical science than geocentricity was, and the people fighting it look just as silly as the folks who imprisoned Galileo.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    You seem to have thought a lot about this. How then do you mesh the theory of evolution with the biblical account of Adam and Eve as two people created by God through special means and from which all the rest of us are all descended?

  • dangjin1

    Just so you know, Ken Ham does not need to have a scientific doctorate to be the public face of an organization talking about scientific facts. He has plenty of Dr.s researching and producing the material he uses.

    It is possible, and I know this to be true, that many scientists are not public speakers and would botch the debate. So Robertson’s and others picking that minute point to close their ears to what Ham has to say are merely looking for excuses to not listen to the truth.

    it is also unfair of them but that is to be expected from those who refuse to believe and accept the Bible.

  • http://www.ravenfoundation.org/category/blogs/ Adam Ericksen

    Amazing. “If you fight revealed science science you’re going to lose your children.” Oh man. This is awesome. Soon Pat’s going to say, “Science is revealing to us that our lgbt sisters and brothers were created that way by God. If you fight that, you’re going to lose your children.” Hey. We can pray for that day, right?

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    To be fair, the basic idea in the doctrine of young earth creationism certainly did not originate with James Ussher. Additionally, deriving chronologies using Genesis chapters 5 and 11 (along with other related information from other parts of the parts) did not originate with Ussher either. The basic doctrine was part of Christian belief for several hundred years before Ussher was ever born, and theological commentary trying to estimate the age of the earth based on using Genesis 5 and 11 was also around for several hundred years before Ussher – for example, Augustine used this in his commentary on Genesis over 1,100 years before Ussher was born. Before the advent of geological science, no Christian on the planet would have ever attempted to argue that the basic doctrine of young earth creationism was unbiblical. This historical context is completely missing from Corey’s essay.

    By the way, I’m a huge critic of young earth creationism, just so you know, so do not misunderstand what I’ve pointed out as representing some kind of attempt to promote young earth creationism. I’m just saying that the history should be represented correctly.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    What about Clement, Origen, Cyprian, Charles
    Hodge, AA Hodge, George F Write, etc, who took non-literal views of Genesis? I don’t believe a literal rendering of Genesis 1 and young earth creationism was always been the historical consensus. And, while the idea may not have entirely originated with Ussher, certainly it would be fair to say that he is the one who popularized it and caused the belief to become relatively mainstream, no?

  • Roger Patterson

    I know I am one of the “idiots,” but please consider this research. I would humbly suggest that you are ignorant of some of the relevant data. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/05/30/how-old-is-earth

  • b s

    Thank you for the link. Now perhaps you could provide one that actually points to relevant data?

  • Roger Patterson

    Apparently not. I am just a simple fool who trusts the Bible teaches a young earth. It is clear that I can add nothing to this argument. I will depart and take my ignorance with me.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    My people didn’t call you a simple fool. The point is, the Bible doesn’t teach a young earth, and furthermore it actually teaches the days of creation were not solar days, so a literal rendering of scripture does not support your view. You have to have a deeper understanding of the genres instead of taking how something appears in English to be the final argument.

  • http://www.chuckshingledecker.com/ Chuck Shingledecker

    Why don’t you believe the earth was created after YHWH slayed a cosmic dragon (Psalm 74). That’s in the Bible too. Why do you choose one creation story in Genesis over the older creation story buried in the Psalms?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Completely familiar with all those arguments– I grew up a Young Earth Creationist. Again, counting genealogies is bad biblical scholarship, and that is the foundation of the argument.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/112743459266731535020/posts Steve Greene

    Clement, Origen, and Cyprian, like Augustine, were young earth creationists.

    Ussher is not the one who popularized the chronology method or made it “mainstream”. His publication simply became the most authoritative articulation of what was already a mainstream view.

    In regard to Hodge (both of them), and Wright, we are talking about the 1800’s (in which case, they were already writing under the influence of the new discoveries in geology and trying to in some manner making the Bible fit science; Wright in particular did work in geology), and so are irrelevant to the point.

  • gimpi1

    “And, until we learn that, we become willing to risk the faith of our children over our own ignorance and stubbornness.”

    This is very true. Remember “Refer Madness.” If you try to deceive people with false or exaggerated information to manipulate them and they find out you lied, they will discount everything else you have told them. In simple terms, if you want to be believed, don’t lie.

  • Martha L

    I want to see the video of Pat Roberston talking about the Bill Nye Ken Ham debate.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    The video is from a year ago, but does address the young earth issue. It is at the bottom of the article, but I’ll re-post it here for you:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhjKuavGXAE

  • Martha L

    I watched that one. I want to see the one that’s mentioned first from the other day, but having trouble finding it via google. I’m starting to get over the shock of Robertson actually accepting that the Earth is over 6K years old.

  • Mark Caponigro

    It is not necessarily interesting, that Ken Ham does not have an education beyond a bachelor’s degree. There are creationists, promoters of “intelligent design,” who have disgracefully violated academic ethics by jumping through all the hoops to get doctorates in biology at major universities, just so they could claim they have learned all that can be learned about evolution, and in spite of that they still prefer the literalist interpretation of Genesis 1-3.
    More important is getting to the issue of authority — which very few Christians ever have the courage to make truly profound inquiries into — , both the intellectual kind, answering “What am I to believe is true?,” and the ethical kind, answering “What am I to do?” With regard to the former, and specifically the questions, What are we to believe about how the universe as we know it got started, and how the progression of living creatures on Earth got started and have continued, it is far preferable, and far more humane, to trust the scientists (cosmologists, geologists, paleontologists) than the first chapters of the Bible, because the process of thought of the former is clear, the process of thought of the latter is quite ambivalent and confusing.
    Notice the confusion of the persistent contributor to this thread, Mike Gantt, for whom it comes down to a difficult (is he being ironic?, disingenuous?) decision between “prophets” and “experts,” the former allegedly upholding the young Earth and the lack of significant speciation since all living creatures were first created, and the latter upholding the theory of evolution, and a very deep age of the universe. He apparently has no interest in another group of experts, the Scripture scholars, who point out that the so-called Bible (a disgracefully misleading name, implying that it is a unitary whole with a common outlook and message throughout, when in fact the shifts in theology and morality are terrific as the reader moves from text to text) does not pretend to anything like eternal authority, touching the lives of people who live thousands of years after a text was composed. In the case of the Priestly creation account, Genesis 1.1-2.3, composed during or not long after the Babylonian exile (6th or 5th centuries BCE), the purpose was to show the Jews that their Elohim was the creator and master of the world (and not any other god, such as Marduk), as well as to give an etiological myth for the cult of the Sabbath. For Bible-reading Christians such as Mike Gantt to insist that this account is “prophetic,” so children ought to be taught that the world got put together in six days not too terribly long ago, and conversely ought not to believe what they hear about deep-time cosmology and evolution, is not just anti-intellectual, it is inhumane, for a very biblical reason: The Word of God became flesh (John 1), i.e. assumed the human nature (St. Athanasius, De Incarnatione), thereby sanctifying what human beings properly do with their intellectual, logical faculties, e.g. science. To be a 6-day creationist is unChristian.

  • Steve67

    I am a young earth creationist but I am not commenting on whether or not the Bible teaches a young-earth creation. The problem I have with this article is in the fact that it is framed in such a way as to say “Pat Robertson is crazy but at least he’s not young-earth creation crazy.” Thus the implication being that anyone who believes in young-earth creationism is farther off the reservation than Pat Robertson just by virtue of their being young-earth creationists. Say what you want about Ken Ham but he would never say that Hurricane Katrina was God’s specific punishment on the people of New Orleans specifically, nor would he say that men who beat their wives should move to countries where that is allowed, nor would he imply that adopted kids would be better of staying in an orphanage, but Robeertson did. And I can go on and on with Robertson’s looniness.

    I am a young earth creationist but frankly my first priority is the Gospel. Ken Ham knows the Gospel. I am not so sure Pat Robertson does. In listening to Robertson’s rationale for besmirching Ken Ham, it’s clear that he doesn’t even understand the young-earth creation argument. When I hear that Pat Robertson doesn’t believe in young-earth creationism I neither rejoice nor lament. It’s perfectly consistent with his predeliction for being inconsistent in his theology and doctrine.

  • Asemodeous

    You shouldn’t be forcing your religion on your children in the first place. Leave it up to them to decide based on their own research and experiences.

  • Tree Kangaroo

    Another old queen who considers herself an expert on other people’s kids.

    I bet we can guess why.

  • kaffikjelen

    Pat Robertson is the best argument in favour of young-earth creationism.

  • kjkjcsimps

    Would someone explain “abiogenesis” to me. I have a difficult time believing that non-living substances produce something as complicated as DNA by trial-and-error over millions of years. The Lord alone has power to create life. He alone can create something where there is nothing. Enlighten me, please!

  • dangjin1

    Ha HA HA those who have to rely upon Pat Robertson, a man gone senile, to support their anti-biblical views they must be desperate.

  • dangjin1

    You all still have to answer the following question, with book, chapter and verse from the Bible:

    Where in the Bible do both God and Jesus give permission to take science over their Words?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I’ve never made that claim, so I have no need to defend it.

  • dangjin1

    if you say that Genesis is wrong an secular science correct then you have already made that claim

  • pericles9

    Thanks for the article, Prof. Corey. I just received it this morning. I know that God is listening to the Creationistas, and is She miffed!