Ken Ham Claims Atheists Secretly Believe in God

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses how the Creation Museum’s Ken Ham says atheists secretly believe in God:

You can read more details about the story here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Dirk

    Damn, he got me!

  • quawonk
    • Spuddie

      As an apostate Voltronian (of the Lion sect, curse be unto the “Vehiclies”), I understand where the video is coming from.

  • mikespeir

    Then I guess he doesn’t need to waste any more of our time convincing us.

    • trj

      Maybe that’s why he never bothered to actually present any convincing arguments.

    • viaten

      But Ham still wants to keep suggesting to others that “something’s wrong” with atheists. “Believing” but not confessing “by mouth” as the Bible says? There’s gotta be something seriously wrong there.

  • Coolred38

    That’s like being straight but secretly wishing you were gay.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I get the point, but the choice of analogy makes it sound as if you’re saying that being straight is a rationally and ethically preferable condition.

  • Chopper

    Is it ironic that I think Ken Ham is secretly an atheist?

    • viaten

      I wonder how many fundamentalist preachers there are who really are atheists in one sense or another. Some might be “in complete denial”, some might know they are complete cons, some be not care as long as they’re making money, some maybe just like being on stage playing the preacher role. I wonder how many believe in the same way their most ardent followers seem to.

      • Thackerie

        Look up The Clergy Project.

        • viaten

          I’m well aware of the Clergy Project, but those preachers became well aware of their doubts and lost faith. I wonder how many preachers are “in denial” in some form or other.

          • ThinkingTheist

            Why would participating in the Clergy Project imply “lost faith”. I affirm The Theory of Evolution and the Bible because I find no conflict between the two. (And before anyone posts the usual uninformed nonsense attempting to analyze my beliefs, I hold multiple Biblical studies degrees and am a born-again evangelical minister.)

            • TCC

              TT, do you know what the Clergy Project is? It’s not merely a group of theologically liberal ministers; it’s a group for active ministers who are having doubts about their belief or have abandoned them entirely.

            • viaten

              There are probably some in The Clergy Project that were like you or still act like you do and may well know the Bible at least as well as you do. Clergy are screened before they get into The Clergy Project. One thing, the main thing actually, they all have in common is that they no longer believe in their religion, or at least have very serious doubts, even though some, perhaps many, are still be preaching as they always have. Some of them are looking for a way out or ways to deal with the situation they’re in. Look it up and read about it. You might want to join someday.

            • Agrajag

              Because the clergy project is not about accepting evolution, plenty of christians do. Here’s how the clergy project self-describes their purpose: “The Clergy Project is a confidential online community for active and former clergy who do not hold supernatural beliefs”

              I think we can agree that a priest that “do not hold supernatural beliefs” has “lost faith” (well, in principle I guess he could’ve faked it from the start, but I doubt that’s common)

          • magsmagenta

            I believe the vast majority of religious people are in denial to some extent, and always have been, otherwise they would no be so sensitive about being ‘Offended’ or ‘Blasphemy’ or anything which challenges their delusions.

            • viaten

              Either that or they smile and endure it or consider themselves above being offended, and say things like, “God/Jesus still loves you”, and “I’ll pray for you.” I think they’re just as much in denial.

      • J.W. Browning

        The Joel Osteens and Pat Robertsons have to be atheists. How could they really believe and then bilk millions out of people? If I had a wrathful big guy in the sky looking over my shoulder I would toe the line. They don’t believe. It’s just profitable to claim to.

        • viaten

          Not believing, being atheist, seems straight forward. There doesn’t seem to be many different ways of “not believing”. But believers can believe in different ways depending upon what is going on in their minds. I could see bilking preachers “believing” in some sense, thinking they have a God given charisma and talent to pull in money to bring more people to God. But it wouldn’t surprise me if many, but not necessarily all, of them started out wholeheartedly believing but now their (non admitted, maybe even to themselves) belief is scaled way back to something very liberal or deist or even atheist. Don’t think the big name preachers have to be either fundamentalists or total atheists. They very well might not believe what they preach, but they might still believe something.

    • momtarkle

      I secretly believe that Ken Ham is the reincarnation of Ham, son of Noah. I bow before him.

    • flapjackboy

      He’s 99.9% atheist.

  • Mick

    When atheists came up with the idea of an atheist church I cringed – just like I cringed when some atheists thought we should call ourselves “Brights”.

    Thankfully the business about the “Brights” has died a death, but the fundies are never going to let us forget the ratbaggery of an atheist church.

    The Ken Ham argument will be used by believers for decades to come as “proof” that atheists secretly believe in god. Even the liberal Christians will say to themselves, “You know it’s probably true. They probably do believe in god, but are just too proud to admit it.”

    • phantomreader42

      They’ve been using the same idiotic argument for centuries already. The fact that it’s a load of crap never stopped them before.

    • James Huber

      If you don’t like the idea of an atheist church, don’t join one. But if you’re only argument against it “religious folks will get the wrong idea” then all you’re doing is finding a new way to let them tell you what to do.

      • # zbowman

        Y’know that feeling where you know you can respond to something if only you can muddle the words together, and then you look down and someone’s already said the same thing you wanted to and laid it out clear as sunlight?

        Yeah.

      • TrentJ

        I disagree with the entire notion. I believe I have the right to do that without someone snidely commenting, “Well then don’t join one!” I, like Mick, cringed at the thought of an Atheist church, singing hymns about a collective absence of belief, using our knowledge of Dawkins to make ourselves feel superior to one another. The whole damned idea reeks of the things I most hated about the church and seems like some desperate need to “return home.” Whatever else this is, it’s a grotesque distortion at the least.

        • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

          I highly doubt they do the things you suggest. You’re judging it withoutany eexperience.

          • TrentJ

            … Did you not watch the video? Did you not hear how Hemant Mehta described Sunday Assemblies? Some have live bands that you sing along to as described in this other youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8OEEN_v1vs

            But that’s just the particulars. It’s the notion that bothers me, the concept of it. And whether you agree or not, having a bunch of atheists congregate every Sunday for services does lend credence to the misconception that atheism is a religion. I cannot support this church service, the idea behind it, nor the unintended message it sends.

      • J.W. Browning

        I like the idea. Church, assembly call it what you will it’s just semantics. We have a group that meets on Sunday morning at a bookstore coffee shop. We usually have a presenter of a subject talk that lasts about 15 minutes. Heathen Toastmasters if you will. We all jokingly refer to our meet ups as “Church”. They even call me Rev. because I am a ordained Celebrant.
        Labels, never let em bother me.

  • Baby_Raptor

    The only deity I believe in is Littlepip.

    • Mike Hitchcock

      His Noodliness forgives you.

  • viaten

    I’ve heard a few atheists play the same game as Ken Ham. “You really don’t believe in God; you just don’t realize it or don’t want to admit it.” There can be some truth to that since some atheist former Christians will say how they realized they were holding belief against doubts they came to admitting they really had deep down. But very rarely, I think, if ever, has it happened the other way around.

  • viaten

    I have no problem with atheists “congregating”. It could certainly be a good thing, just as long as they don’t start calling themselves “true” atheists.

  • Michael Harrison

    While I do have a tendency to anthropomorphize nature and see intelligence where there is none–as is the case with most people, thanks to the evolutionary history we share–I can easily dismiss this with a quick realization of, “But that doesn’t make any sense!” However, a more vital point which I wish people of his ilk would address is that even if I were 100% convinced of the existence of his god, this in no way means I would consider such a repugnant monster worthy of worship. In fact, if I did believe in Ken Ham’s god, I would think Ken Ham is either a coward too afraid to stand up to unjust authority, or a psychopath.

    That said, I do have some sympathy for Creationists, for one reason: apparent design resulting from natural processes, while factual, is highly counterintuitive, and results from intricate interplay among many varying levels of feedback. However, just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean we should pretend it doesn’t exist.

    • Michael Harrison

      When I tried to see if my description of evolution worked with some other self-organizing system, I was struck with insight. Looking to economics, we have the invisible hand of the market, which is another anthropomorphic construct used to make aggregate behavior easier to understand, and many of the same people who worship a god resembling the one Ken Ham worships also worship it.

    • Spuddie

      Except Creationists don’t actually believe what they say in public. Explanation of natural processes and talk of “apparent design” are only means to an end.

      Its all a sham used to browbeat people into a phony acceptance of their religious ideas. A Creationist will say anything to further the idea that their religious beliefs must be taken seriously beyond notions of faith.

      Its a denial that the only reason they believe is because they have faith and nothing but faith. Creationism is about denying faith in public, so its about lying to people outside of the group. Saying anything which gets them noticed. It can be psuedoscientific arguments, it can be spurious arguments concerning morality, it could be silly insults. Anything to say, YOU MUST BELIEVE IN MY JESUS!!!!

      • Michael Harrison

        Hey, I’ll be the first to say I’m probably too trusting. (Although my friends would immediately question my use of the word “probably.”)

        • Spuddie

          A Creationist will never give a consistent argument because they don’t really believe what they say. It makes no difference which argument they use.People with legitimate arguments don’t engage in “The Gish Gallop”.

          They may start off with ignorant statements about evolution and then go into digressions about the nature of knowledge/truth, the benefits religion in general, “materialism”…

          But if you stay with them long enough they inevitably break down and state their belief comes from faith. That’s the point when they finally tell the truth and reveal, however inadvertently, that their argument was all bullshit. Once they admit to belief based on faith, they have invalidated the alleged point of creationism.

          • James Huber

            I don’t think that all of them are dishonest per se, they just come from a culture with no concept of arguments as we understand them.

            To them, the way to win an argument is to find a Bible passage that backs them up, or one that contradicts what their opponent is saying. Deep understanding, consistency and logic are irrelevant.

            They think we operate the same, just with different books. They don’t understand why we aren’t impressed when they dredge up an obscure quote from an outdated book. To us that’s completely irrelevant. To them that’s a freaking finishing move.

            • Spuddie

              I don’t think so.

              I have yet to see the “Gish Gallop” tactics used by people who argue with Creationists. Its a sign that the arguments used are just placeholders. Not taken seriously by the people using them. A shotgun approach. If it hits something, then they close in. Purely a means to an end.

              It is not a sign of a legitimate argument one believes. Its the sign of someone willfully being dishonest in order to get their way.

              The whole point of creationism is dishonesty. Its to pretend Fundamentalist Christianity is so convincing that you don’t need faith and have to accept it. How you come to accept it, is immaterial. As long as it gets you to take them seriously, the job is done.

              • James Huber

                I think you’re basically right, but missing some nuance.

                Sometimes when arguing with a Christian, an atheist will make an argument based on something in the Bible. For example, we’ll point out a contradiction.

                We’re not doing it because we take the Bible seriously. We’re doing it because we know Christians take the Bible seriously.

                If the particular contradiction doesn’t stick, or if the Christian comes up with some explanation, we’re likely to drop it and move on. This is particularly true if the atheist is just passing on arguments they found on the internet.

                It’s not that the atheist considers his argument defeated, he just knows he doesn’t know enough to push the point. Faced with a new Christian on another day he may well point out the same contradiction again.

                Viewed from the atheists point of view, that’s all perfectly reasonable. Viewed from the Christian point of view, that’s going to look a lot like a Gish Gallop.

                Obviously, Gish himself has no excuse for that behaviour. He’s supposedly a professional well versed in evolutionary theory and I don’t see any way he could honestly make the mistakes he does.

                But random guys posting in forums? They’re not necessarily dishonest, just naive.

  • raerants

    Unitarian Universalist congregations, while not necessarily atheist per se, are strongly humanist and very welcoming of atheists. If anyone is interested in this Sunday Assembly but can’t find one in their area, a UU church might be an acceptable substitute. How many other religions have bumper stickers that say “Answers Questioned”?

    I used to belong to a UU church (before I moved away) and I loved it there, despite the spiritual element. This congregation is very diverse, full of people who were raised Christian, Jewish, Muslim, full of people who are now Pagan, atheist, etc. This church was the first place where many gay kids came out, and has always been a safe space for trans* people.

    Your Mileage May Vary of course, but I think it’s worth a look.

    • bamcintyre

      As someone who finally joined a UU Church at 70, I agree. I have never met such a diverse group of intelligent, socially active people in my life. These congregations were one of the very first places to be welcoming to LGBTQ people. And while the great majority of UUs are atheist, even believers (in whatever god) are welcomed and not made fun of. We are all engaged in our own personal journey of engagement, and no one should be made fun of for their place in the journey.

    • TnkAgn

      I thought about this years ago, as I left my Lutheranism far behind me. Sure, you can go UU if you like. Kind of like a half-way house of spirit.

      As for me, no UU congregations, no churches of any kind. TCC hammers me on this, but if it’s human contact that one needs – and we all do – there are myriad avenues to get it.

      • TCC

        No, I “hammered” you for telling other people that they shouldn’t seek out these kinds of communities.

        • TnkAgn

          I did no such thing, TC.

          • TCC

            As far as I can see, you did try to discourage people from doing these things in favor of other social activities (just as you did above). In either case, I didn’t hammer you for saying that you wouldn’t go to a UU church or Sunday Assembly, so you’re persisting in lying about me (and brought me into an entirely different thread – an odd thing to do for someone who claims they’re being “stalked”).

            • TnkAgn

              Hmmm. No, TC.

      • katiehippie

        It’s not so easy in a small town. I don’t know anyone here who calls themselves an atheist and I’ve lived here my entire life. Lots of people who don’t go to church but if you talk to them about it, (as I have been doing lately), they still profess a faith. So unless you want to go to the bars or have the money to join Rotary or some such, there’s not much.

        • TnkAgn

          I lived in Wasilla AK ( pop. 8000) for years, during the time of $arah, and I had lots of opportunities to socialize, even though I was in the way minority of tolerated liberals there. I had and have friends of all faith and no faith persuasions. I find fraternal orgs to be passe’, and although I’m a veteran, I don’t care for the VFW, Legion, etc. IMO, let your interests be your guide. However, there is something to be said about not discussing politics or religion among friends.

          • katiehippie

            Population is only 4000 here so what happens is that someone who really annoys you tends to be in groups you might want to join. Either that or too many relatives. I have a lot of hobbies but I don’t do them to be social. I went to a fiber guild meeting once and the woman had cremated remains of two husbands on the shelf. I don’t seem to have gone back to that since then.

    • islandbrewer

      I agree. At least in the US, the UU church has always seemed to be a place for people who left religion, but still wanted to go to church without being required to believe in anything. They also have really awesome gay and trans-friendly sex education classes for teens.

      Personally, I like my Sunday mornings free, but it’s not a bad time if you’re into churchy stuff.

      I’ve always liked the coffee and cake sessions afterwards.

      • Emsubo

        We call today “second Saturday” at our house–nearly a year church-free after coming to reason!

  • Rebecca Mullen

    Of course he does.

  • Randy Meyer

    This reminds me of the time someone tried to convince that I must believe in God because he had heard my say ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘God damn it’ over the years. I replied that if that is his argument to try and convince me the other way, then it actually says more about him than it does about me!

    • James Huber

      I bet they have plans on Friday (Frey’s day), that they shop the post-Christmas sales in January (Janus) and maybe even open containers that have been hermetically sealed (Hermes). Point being, everyone uses language that honors gods they don’t believe in.

    • Nancy Shrew

      If anything there is more of a reason for us to use “goddamn it” or “Jesus Christ” because a) we often use them in the face of something unbelievable and b) we don’t care about using the Lord’s name in vain.

  • God’s Starship

    I claim Ken Hamm secretly knows he’s full of hot air.

    • cary_w

      I think this could very well be true. He may not be willing to admit it to himself, but I think he has some realization of the absurdity of his views, that’s why he feels the need to be so vocal about defending them, he is stll trying to convince himself that he’s right.

      I also think that the vast majority of the religious people I know (certainly a very biased sample!) don’t actually believe in God. Some will actually admit this, they go to church and pretend to believe because they like the church culture and love their families and they don’t want to lose any of that. To be fair, I live in Utah, so most of these people are Mormons, and since there is a lot more absurd thing you are supposed to believe as a Mormon as opposed to a regular Christian, I think this is more common among Mormons.

      • TnkAgn

        The difference between Mormons and “regular Christians” is only one of degrees, and the patina of time.

  • lindatseed

    And I believe that Christians DON’T believe in God. Why else would they be so intimidated by people who don’t believe as they do?

    • allein

      Well, if they honestly think that God punishes us with natural disasters because we accept the wrong things, like treating gay people like actual human beings, or believing women should be trusted to make our own medical decisions, and that sort of thing, I can see how they would be afraid to have all us unbelievers around. On the other hand, maybe they just don’t like us because we are evidence that it is possible to live a good life without gods and demonizing us is less scary than giving in to their doubts.

    • James Huber

      More to the point, if they actually believed all that crap they claim to believe then funerals would look like going away parties for someone who just got married to their one true love: the prince or princess of Superhappyfunlandia.

    • Derrik Pates

      I’ve heard it said that when people spend that much time trying to convince others of something, they’re really trying to convince themselves; I think maybe there’s some truth to it.

  • infidel1000

    Ken Ham is a moron of biblical proportions.

  • advancedatheist

    And we still secretly believe in Santa Claus, otherwise we would experience despair, angst, nihilism, anomie, suicidal thoughts, etc., after we renounce belief in Santa and become Clausphemers in late childhood.

    • TnkAgn

      And a possible fatal ennui.

  • more compost

    Ken Ham is completely wrong? Who could have seen that coming?

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    I recently blogged about the whole “deep down, you atheists really believe in god” meme from Xians.

    Quite frankly, it’s an insult. Hey, Mr. Xian, Ms. Xian, I don’t pretend to think deep down that you don’t believe in your god. When you claim to be Xian, I take your word for it. Give me the same courtesy.

    But then why should we be surprised? Xians claim to have knowledge they don’t really have-they believe in an un-evidenced god-what’s one more bald assertion?

    • Derrik Pates

      I always find it funny how Christians insist that people of other religions don’t believe in their religions like Christians do. There are Christians who really (at least claim to) believe that. I don’t understand how they can manage to get the whole thing so completely wrong. You’d think stopping and thinking about it for a few minutes would make this blindingly obvious to them.

      • evodevo

        Whoa!! That would involve logic, reasoning, the ability to examine one’s beliefs objectively, and view one’s cultural background ditto. Nevah gonna happen. Especially here where I am in the bibble belt. It is common in the South to be asked up front what your religious beliefs are, and not take mildly evasive answers. You are marked as a librul atheist from day one.

  • compl3x

    Ken Ham secretly believes in evolution.

    • Agrajag

      It’s worse than that. He *knows* about evolution. That’s the thing, there’s a difference between knowledge and belief. A philosopher might claim from a purely philosophic standpoint we can’t “know” anything.

      But in everyday practical terms, we *know* that stones fall down when dropped. We *know* that each and every of the mechanisms in evolution exists and works every single second. No belief is needed.

      Ken Ham does too. He just doesn’t want to admit it.

  • mscher1960

    I think a more correct truth is that most believers secretly doubt their beliefs.

  • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

    I can just hear his rebuttal already. “But deep down, you really DO know God exists! I know you do!”

  • DaveDodo007

    Yes we do, we just want to be tortured for all eternity for erm some reason. These statements are made for the faithheads so they don’t feel stupid.

  • fmfalcao

    And how do Atheists copy christian worship?

    FM

  • Austin Breed

    There might be more reason to believe that theists don’t believe in God. Otherwise, why would they disregard certain things from their sacred texts, insist on attending schools and universities, discard Occam’s Razor when it comes to history and metaphysical claims, and not be charitable down to their very last penny?

  • bickle2

    These “churches” undermine our cause

    Iif you want to gather on a Sunday to do something productive, PUNISH a church. Stand outside a Catholic Vhurch, and remind everyone coming in and out that they are criminals financing, supporting and endorsing child molestors. Perform citizens arrest on cavy Christianiu see whose child is misbehaving lest they murder them. There’s a thousand things you can do to ruin their day. If someone doesn’t takeca swing at you, you’re not doing you job. Religion should not be emulated but outlawed.

    Or you can just sleep in, but for Pete’s sake don’t rhand them these things on a silver platter


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