Dear Ken Ham: You Can’t Have It Both Ways

PZ recently wrote about Ken Ham’s attempt to discredit opposition to creationism being taught in Louisiana schools.

While biblical creation may not be provable through tests and observation, neither is molecules-to-man evolution (or astronomical evolution). And in fact, the evidence that is available to us concerning our origins makes sense in the biblical creation-based worldview, not the evolutionary one.

That seems . . . contradictory. Let’s look again:

While biblical creation may not be provable through tests and observation, neither is molecules-to-man evolution (or astronomical evolution).

You can’t prove this origins stuff! Ken Ham has often made a distinction between “observational science” and “historical science.” The idea is that you can use tests to learn about the world as it currently is, but you can’t test what happened in the past, so science can’t actually speak to that. Of course, this doesn’t make sense. If I come upon a town ravaged by a tornado, I can tell what happened in the past even if there is no tornado for me to look at in the present. Still, regardless of whether or not it actually holds water, this is an argument Ken Ham makes quite often.

Okay, next sentence:

And in fact, the evidence that is available to us concerning our origins makes sense in the biblical creation-based worldview, not the evolutionary one.

Wait. I thought he said it’s not provable. Now he’s saying that the evidence points to the Biblical creation story. Does not compute.

This is the contradiction I was caught up in during the many years I spent as a young earth creationist. I was assured by the Answers in Genesis books that I read, along with others, that the evidence really did point to young earth creationism. Pages and chapters and books of putting forth evidence and proof. Red blood cells in fossilized dinosaur bones, human artifacts found in rock layers supposedly millions of years old, rock layers in the Grand Canyon completely out of order, fish fossils at the tops of mountain ranges—all this and more I was told was proof of the veracity of the biblical creation account.

And then I started looking at other sources and found that all of the supposed proofs I was taught either were simple falsehoods or had easy explanations well known to scientists. The supposed evidence I thought I’d had turned to sand and fell through my fingers and I found that there was a mountain of evidence for the theory of evolution.

Ken Ham and others responded to me—yes, actually responded directly to me—by saying that the evidence didn’t matter, that there was no way for science to say what happened in the past, and that the only thing that mattered was trusting what the Bible said. In other words, Ken Ham wants to have his cake and eat it too. To one audience he pretends to have evidence, but then when challenged on this score he turns around and says evidence is irrelevant and science can’t speak to our origins. I’ll finish by offering my own response to this twist in argument:

Dr. Purdom is right that I was taught that creationism was true not just because the Bible says it, but also because the physical evidence we have confirms it. . . . If this is not what Answers in Genesis teaches, well, it needs to end the false advertising and stop pretending to care about evidence.

Listen to this clip, for example. Ken Ham is clearly discussing evidence. Seriously, listen to it. Evidence, evidence, evidence. Furthermore, he says “many scientists just don’t want to believe in a worldwide flood, because it means, well, the Bible is true.” If AiG doesn’t care about evidence, it needs to stop being deceptive like this.

Indeed. Which is it? “We have all the evidence and science on our side” or “science can’t speak to our origins”? It really, really can’t be both.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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