Fred Clark, a Christian who’s not a Young Earth Creationist, is getting frustrated by having to deal with atheists who love quoting the Creation Museum’s Ken Ham as someone who, for all his faults, at least takes the Bible literally (as it should be, the atheists say). Fred feels like atheists and progressive Christians ought to be on the same side on that issue (“Creationism makes no sense!”). Instead, the atheists side with the Creationists (“The Bible should be taken literally!”)…
Fred offers a hypothetical conversation between himself, a YEC, and an Internet Atheist:
YEC: The Bible clearly says that God created the universe in six days, 6,000 years ago.
ME: No, actually, it doesn’t. [Insert everything I've ever written or said about the Bible for the past 25 years.]
INTERNET ATHEIST: Does too.
ME: Wait … what are you doing here? And why on earth are you siding with him?
IA: I’ve apparently decided he’s the most knowledgeable, reliable and trustworthy interpreter of Christian orthodoxy and biblical scholarship.
ME: Him? He’s really not.
IA: I’ve read Answers in Genesis. I know all I need to know about what you Christians believe. And Ken Ham warned me against your seminary trickery …
My issue with this is not that Fred’s wrong on what Internet Atheists often say — but on our motivations for it. It’s not that we think Ken Ham knows something other people don’t. That guy is ignorant all-around, including on the subject of Christianity. Hell, he could rip out every page in the Bible after the Book of Genesis and nothing would change for him.
My concern with Ham is that he represents a belief that has taken hold of the majority of Americans.
Nearly half of all Americans (46%) accept Young Earth Creationism and that’s terrifying:
We go after Ham because, whether it’s right to take the Bible literally or not, more than 100,000,000 Americans already buy into that lie and he’s one of the ringleaders.
It’s the same reason atheists love to quote horrible Bible verses. It’s not because we think people should take random lines (in and out of context) from the Bible at face value; it’s because so many people already do.
This is also why I don’t find it useful to pay attention to what “sophisticated theologians” have to say. Most Christians aren’t paying attention to them, either, so why bother debating a version of Christianity so few people even know about?
If we’re still fighting Creationism battles in public schools, then we need to fight against that. When theistic evolution becomes a big problem, we’ll change our focus.