“Ken Ham Clubs Baby Seals” (or, it may be time for him to rethink his ministry strategy)

I recently posted some thoughts on reading Genesis like an adult. Ken Ham disagreed, and so posted a response, “Peter Enns Wants Children to Reject Genesis.”

Ham’s well-known chosen method of settling differences with Christians seems to be: attack first and ask questions, well, never. This is especially true when in comes to reading the creation story in Genesis as a literal depiction of historical events.

For Ham, the gospel hangs in the balance, and any disagreement with him is de facto a disagreement with the Bible and God himself. You are, therefore, “the enemy.” Gray is not a color on his rhetorical palette.

Given his well-publicized track record, I think it is fair to ask whether in Ham’s universe it is possible, (1) to be Christian, and (2) disagree with him on Genesis. Sadly, I suspect not.

But if in Ham’s mind is it actually possible to be a follower of Jesus AND disagree with him on Genesis, I would suggest that his engagement of his Christian opponents be more shaped by his acknowledgment of their shared Christians bond.

Now, of course, all Christians (at least that I’ve ever come across) in tense moments will fall off the wagon, so to speak, and forget themselves and say something they regret later. But, normally (hopefully) that doesn’t go on for long, and Christians will recommit themselves to acting like Christ once they realize it. Ham, however, has made those regrettable behaviors into a deliberate “ministry” strategy–and, what is far worse, encouraging his followers to do likewise.

One need only read the title of his recent post to see the problem, “Peter Enns Wants Children to Reject Genesis.” What I say in my post is that adults should not read Genesis like children do. That, I think, is a rather different point, not a subtle difference. But Ham’s “Enns wants to harm your children as he clubs baby seals” approach aids his ultimate goal–to score points by discrediting those who fall on the wrong side of his all-or-nothing ideology.

In other venues, this is called propaganda.

Ham’s tactics read more like political ads than how Christians should speak to each other: painting the other in a wholly negative light; employing highly charged rhetoric; quickly labeling his opponents and misrepresenting them to dismiss them more effectively; bullying; and generally not being a very good listener. His rhetoric is also marked by supreme self-confidence that he speaks for God, and is punctuated by the passive-aggressiveness move to ask his followers to “pray” for the person in question.

Ham has made a sub-Christian pattern of behavior into a way of life.

Along with the rest of us, Ham must try to live a life shaped by what Jesus taught and what the Bible as a whole has to say about the words we speak (or type), what we entertain in our minds, and harbor in our hearts. This is a difficult task, to be sure, but Ham does not seem to have taking the log out of his own eye on his daily spiritual warfare to-do list.

Ham, with all his zeal for “obeying the Bible,” would do well to turn that same relentless focus on himself, to do a bit of spiritual inventory, and to recall that what Christ requires of us first, foremost, and always, is a mark of love and humility. Lest, as Paul reminds us, even if we move mountains and have all manner of knowledge, we are hollow and useless–just a noisy cymbal.

If Ken Ham is willing to consider acting as Jesus commanded, I would like to make a concrete suggestion.

For one week, whether in print, in a blog, or in a public presentation–try to disengage old patterns of behavior and create new ones.  

Feel free to disagree, but don’t take cheap shots, don’t label, don’t demonize, don’t besmirch anyone’s good name, don’t assume the worst of others and model that same behavior for your followers.

Rather, assume that you may have something to learn from others, that you may be wrong on some things, and perhaps that one need not be right 100% of the time to be a true follower of Jesus. 

Don’t be quick to take offense when you feel provoked. Ask, rather, the good and wise God to gift you with patience, and to see that reasoned discussion with other Christians is not “compromising the gospel” but a way of living the gospel.

Work to preserving the good name of your opponents, even as you disagree. Be charitable, avoid slander, and promote the good name of others. 

None of us is perfect, but the question I have for Ken Ham is, “Would your ministry cease to exist if you lived this way?”

I suppose that is a question we all must ask of ourselves in one way or another. But right now, I’m asking Ken Ham.

 

  • Doug

    Bravo Dr. Enns. Bravo. Well spoken. Kind, but firm. And truth directed exactly at the place Mr. Ham needs to hear it the most. I’ve been waiting for someone to say this to him for a long time now. It would be a wonderful thing if he would read this and appropriate it, because it is exactly right, as sad as that is to say.

    • ashley haworth-roberts

      Mr Enns’ blog post has been flagged at this UK-based community forum:
      http://forums.bcseweb.org.uk/viewforum.php?f=1

    • Jim H

      Presumably Christians would all agree, as they have historically, that the God of the OT is the God of the NT. That is, Jesus was there at the beginning, for those familiar with the passages/theology. I guess the question is what does Christ Jesus say about creation and Genesis? There is not a soul alive that was there when it happened…except Christ. I’m not defending Mr. Ham per se, although I’m sure others will state differently, but his argument seems to be one of determining authority for positions postulated. It is hard to deny that Scripture clearly has a paradigm and that any other interpretation is not of Scripture but of man and his own thoughts. If there is such reference within Scripture that interprets Genesis differently, perhaps someone reading this can provide it. If not, to Ken Ham’s point, the support for non-literal reading of Genesis is coming from man. And it seems equally obvious to seasoned readers of Scripture as to its opinion of man, his heart, and his pride. I don’t think even Ken Ham would state he can scientifically prove Genesis (although there is evidence all around us). He even states that one can disbelieve Genesis and still be a saved Christian. But he does have a point. In what authority is one formulating such opinions? Are they one’s own, from other men, or from the Word itself? It isn’t hard to read the Bible and figure out there isn’t anything there that even comes close to supporting evolutionary dogma. It seems more that many wish it into the Bible. The entire exercise is a matter of faith. And Scripture also states in Hebrews 11:6 that “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

      • Phil Miller

        This isn’t about believing Scripture, and it’s not even really about anything like Scripture inerrancy or infallibility. It’s about how Scripture was meant to be read. Genesis was never intended to tell us the how of creation. Historically, it has never been seen as such. Ham’s interpretation and method is actually the historic anomaly here.

      • http://JeremiahDiehl.com Jeremiah Diehl

        Well said Jim! I fully agree with what you just said.
        Jesus confirms the Genesis account by quoting and affirming it. If Genesis were in error, Jesus could not have done so.

        • Ron

          So, Jesus is not allowed to use metaphors or allegories to make points? Come, sir,

      • Ron

        What gives the Bible more authority than the people who say it has more authority? Seems to me that only beings that are in some way peers can invest credible authority in another. Even if there is a “God’s Word”, how could any human make a credible claim that they know what is “His Word” and what is not, since all the words came through mere men. Satan is supposed to be pretty shrewd; couldn’t he have fooled these people, and/or the people who selected Genesis to be in the Bible canon? Seems to me that having faith that these people were led by God is tantamount to having faith in people, not God. I doubt I am making myself clear, but hopefully the knowledgable reader can fill in the gaps.

  • http://thepoorinspirit.tumblr.com/ @El_Alkatraz

    This is an unfortunate case where one person has elevated one’s doctrine/concept to the level of accepting or rejecting the Gospel.

  • http://seldomwrong.blogspot.com SWNID

    As a lesser object of Ken Ham’s scorn, I am very pleased to be associated with you in that experience, Dr. Enns.

  • http://alexleitch37@hotmail.com Alexander (alex) leitch

    I enjoyed reading this article……… Genesis is a divisive book. jesus quotes more form it that any other book and bases his whole life and ministry on overcoming the result gained in the fall of humanity. There is no doubting that St Paul too claims the very essence of jesus life, death and resurrection only make sense in connection to the Genesis account of creation and the fall – Jesus is the second Adam (to the catholic and orthodox Mary is the second Eve)………. I have many friends who have gone to great lengths to explain the non literal reading of Genesis and I admire their passion and intellect – but as yet no one can explain it to me in full where the literal pats start and end and the literal parts start and end…….. If Genesis records a myth then Jesus died to save the world from a myth and if a myth the why all the need for the literal parallels to the genesis account in the crucifixion of Christ (for the parallels are undeniable). Through a woman the deception comes – through a woman the salvation comes – from a tree a life (good fruit) that brings death – from a tree (cross) a death that brings life………… both settings a garden etc etc………. if genesis is myth (albeit an incredibly appropriate one) why the need for literalism in the crucifixion……. I openly admit that I do not possess the intellect to discern these matters (I am still trying to love my self and my neighbours) I am still at 44 taking baby steps……. so I leave all the other stuff to the grown ups of the world of academia and theology and hope that they carry themselves with the highest regards to where I am at – trying to be loving and graceful to everyone ……….. I certainly feel for the John the Baptists and the other prophets of the Kingdom whose penchant is to proclaim the gospel loudly and passionately and even sometimes violently (we all scream at a child who is about to run with scissors or run onto a road)………….. can you imagine how John the baptise would have reacted to people telling him to “calm down and take it easy” – “yea yea the Saviour of the world is coming – yea yea makes straight the way prepare the way – ok ok I heard you the first time ……………sheesh John don’t have a cow about it”…….. ha ha ha……….. there certainly seems to be palace for going over the top and palace for calm and collected discourse …………….. I remain like a child and read Genesis like child (I hope with all my heart it is true)…….. I leave my heart open to have a non literal interoperation explained to me but as yet all attempts t do so fail miserably…………….. we may all be just a bunch of mixed up unruly children understanding nothing ……. but I hope with all my hear we will be known as God’s children (unruly or not)…………. :) st alex in Perth W. Australia

  • Myron Williams

    Thank you for your insightful comments. At one time I lived near the “Creation Museum” and while the exhibits are creative they are much like other fantasy museums or exhibits; grounded in some truth, but not easily evidenced.

    Your challenge seems like one we all need to take, for grace does not demand 100% accuracy in our beliefs or actions as you well state. Blessings as you continue to challenge our thinking and faithfulness.

  • toddh

    I was expecting a more scathing blog post from Ham after I reading this one first. Despite a few cheap shots, I thought Ham pretty much engaged with the substance of the earlier post. He betrays his prejudices with statements like this though:

    “What makes Hermann Gunkel more trustworthy than Genesis? What gives him more insight than the authors of Scripture, who were directly inspired by God to write what they did?”

    I think it’s very difficult to have a reasoned discussion with someone who buys into circular reasoning like this, where Genesis is assumed to be inerrant, and thus can never be questioned by Gunkel, Enns, or anyone else. Best to just move on and leave Ham in his closed off, airtight little world.

  • Pingback: Peter Enns VS Ken Ham: Let’s be Christians About This | Alex DeMarco

  • http://Beingconsistent.org Joshua

    Regardless as to where anyone stands, Dr. Enns your title “Reading Genesis like an Adult” is provocative at least and intentionally belittling at worst. I’m not certain you can call for civility on that low ground. I’m not sure you can expect to quote Gunkel on his extra biblically influenced hermeneutics and expect anything less than a passionate opposing response. You cannot play it the way you did and cry foul win it’s played back in like fashion.

  • http://www.servicemusic.org.uk/ David Lee

    In the interests of attempting fairness, I put your blog-post side-by-side with Ham’s blog-post.

    Then I ignored what both of you had written.

    Instead, I was struck by one interesting and fundamental difference beyond the content. Yours has this opportunity for response and active dialogue; his is a closed, irrefutable polemic with no opportunity for human engagement.

    Your offering, and his refusing, of invitation to respond seems to reflect something deeply theological about how you and he read scripture, and how you and he see God’s continuing engagement with, or closed dictatorship of, his people through scripture.

    How might the Incarnation speak into this? What might be the understanding of prayer in these two diverse views?

  • Bill Smith

    Peter, I agree with Joshua – your original writing was not entirely free from the very thing you accuse Ham of doing. The title is certainly provocative. However, even more troubling, is the tone of this posting in response to Ham. It reads to me to be written in the way in which you ask Ham not to respond. While you suggest “don’t take cheap shots, don’t label, don’t demonize, don’t besmirch anyone’s good name, don’t assume the worst of others and model that same behavior for your followers” and you call for “a mark of love and humility,” you say things like “Ham has made a sub-Christian pattern of behavior into a way of life.”

    • http://www.beretta-online.com/wordpress Glenn Peoples

      “Ham has made a sub-Christian pattern of behavior into a way of life.” – Is it wrong for Peter to complain like this that Ham does it all the time, Bill? If so, why?

  • http://www.alexjdemarco.com Alex

    Although I share your concern about the necessity for Evangelical leaders to step up to the plate and deal with critical scholarship for the sake of their followers, I think the approach could be more effective if it were adjusted somewhat. Here are some thoughts: http://www.alexjdemarco.com/2012/09/peter-enns-vs-ken-ham-lets-be-christians-about-this/

  • Jeff Best

    I believe that God had to enlighten His people “in the beginning” as we would our own children. We don’t start our children off with algebra, we teach them basic math and build their knowledge until they are able to understand more advanced information. The same can be said for the bible. Those early in the faith have to be taught the basics before they can move on to the complicated stuff God is trying to teach us.

  • James

    As we say in discussion groups–attack the issues; don’t discredit persons. Easier said than done.

  • http://true-horizon.blogspot.com Bob

    Beautiful. I really hope he’s listening but precedent does not beget optimism. Hopefully, he can allow God to change his heart … Even if he’s right about the issues.

  • Bart Breen

    Middle Ground (argumentum ad temperantiam) — The fallacy of assuming that the middle ground between extreme points of view is the logical place to find truth. The middle ground is most often invoked when there are sharply contrasting views which are deeply entrenched. (Example: “Opinions on abortion range from banning it altogether to allowing it on demand; thus the correct view is restricted abortions.”)

    Those attempting to reconcile Ken Ham’s positions and tactics with the very reasonable observations of Dr. Enns are mistaken,, I believe, in their opinion that pointing out what Ken Ham does is the same thing as doing what Ken Ham does.

    Ken Ham has a long track record of discord with people who are basically in agreement with his overall position. He has had legal wrangles with his own organization in Australia. He has been removed from Homeschooling Conferences by people of his own Young Earth Position because of his disrespectful and combative practices.

    Ken Ham clearly live by a code of his way, or the highway and regardless of what others may think about the orthodoxy of his position, his orthopraxy is sadly lacking.

    I Cor 13 might be a good place for Kan Ham to camp and return to Genesis when he’s let what is said their soak in for a while.

    Just a thought.

  • Jake Enns

    Hey Peter, How come I never heard of you till now?
    Thanks for a very thoughtful, kind, but clearly pointed post. I appreciate it.

    • peteenns

      Are we related? :-)

      • http://jakeenns@blogspot.ca Jake Enns

        Peter, I am sure we are related in Christ, but I don’t think we are closely related biologically. Likely closer than a total stranger from another far corner of the globe (since when do globes have corners?).

  • rvs

    Ham’s mode of epistemological bullying is something that I have seen in the writings of several evangelical theologians at prominent seminaries. There is a bitterness in tone that intrigues me here. Fear-mongering. Cult-of-objectivity mongering. Hell-mongering. If this were not a serious topic, then I would describe him as bordering on the slapstick in his behavior (I find myself thinking of that I Love Lucy episode where the chocolate factory assembly line overwhelms the girls, and I find myself wondering if the best response to Ham is to hand him an anvil and walk him toward a cliff, which is obviously not the sort of Christian response that Peter so rightly calls for at the end of the article above). Ham talks like a man who is frustrated. This is not an attempt on my part at name-calling; rather, I am simply trying to describe the type of rhetoric by which he has been possessed.

    • peteenns

      True. This is beyond Ham. We need to resist the temptation to answer in kind, though it is very hard. But, not answering in kind doesn’t mean not answering firmly, even bluntness. I am assuming you would agree.

      • rvs

        I very much agree. Christians need to respond firmly and bluntly. I find that satire often works better than the syllogism in cases such as the Ham scenario, which is to say that your clubbing-of-baby-seals remark is great, helpful, teacherly. The title of this post edifies. I also found myself thinking about all of those church and university statements of faith that talk about not appealing to literary genres or rhetorical modes while considering Genesis (i.e., the Bible, apparently, is to be seen as a proposition-generating machine, sort of like The Magic 8-Ball–but not as fun).

  • http://www.internetmonk.com chaplain mike

    Right. on. target.

    Thanks for this, Pete.

  • Ted

    I just read your article on Genesis and your response to Ken Ham, as well as Ham’s blog. It seems to me you are over reacting to his disagreement. He reasoned through three points of difference, quoting you in context, and provided an alternative understanding. I would hardly call this “bullying”. I tend to agree with Ham, that it seems you have low veiw of Scripture. Jesus did not have a problem with the authority of the Torah. If we truly want to be like Christ, we should to adopt His source for truth.

    • John I.

      “Low view of scripture” is a pejorative and not informative phrase. Both have a “high” view of Scripture in the sense that they view it as God’s word, rather than the mere musings of humans.

      The difference lies in their respective views of how God Himself wants us to understand and use His written word.

      On this issue, Enns has the “higher” view because he wants to understand what God wants us to do with it, whereas Ham has the “low view” of scripture because he is imposing upon it Enlightenment ideals (i.e., human ideals) as to objectivity and the nature of written texts. Ham is limiting God to communicating only in concrete terms and images, or in a very limited range of easily identified metaphors; Enns is willing to let God do anything he wants linguistically and rhetorically, and is working at finding out what that is. Ham views God’s Word as being entirely easy to understand, being an answer to modern man’s current questions, and thus completely within man’s abilities to grasp. Enns, on the other hand, views God’s Word as being simple in some respects (path to salvation and discipleship), but hard or not perspicacious in other respects, because it partakes in and expresses the ineffable and mysterious greatness of God. That is, for Enns (unlike Ham) the Bible is not reducible to simplistic propositional statements that exhaust the text of its meaning and implications.

      Ham assumes he knows the mind and manner and way of God and that he thus point to Genesis and state unequivocally that “this means that”, whereas Enns more humbly admits we cannot be 100% certain of all that God is saying through these verses though we can be certain that at the least God is stating that He made everything (and not other Gods; and he did it without help; and that everything is therefore subject to Him). Enns takes seriously Paul’s observation that the heavens and earth declare the glory of God. That is, we can closely examine the universe using the faculties God gave us, and be certain that our investigations will reveal God’s glory. Ham does not trust our ability to find God’s glory in the physical universe, nor does he trust God to have given us enough faculties (and by common grace preserved enough of them from total evil) to be able to reliably determine anything by examining God’s universe.

      And that is why I believe that it is Enns, not Ham, who has the higher view of Scripture.

      John I.

  • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

    Well, I read both the original post and Ken Ham’s response, and given Ken’s basic premises, I thought his response was thoughtful and restrained. He obviously feels strongly about the issue, and rightly so, but he avoided name calling and ad hominem arguments.
    I also thought that the point he made about the relationship between the Bible and ancient Near Eastern mythology is well worth taking. The Bible obviously comes to us in a cultural context, and employs much of the language and literary forms of the day. Yet the Bible seeks to convey something different, something unique — a monotheistic worldview that stands in sharp contrast with the surrounding polytheism. If the literal truth is that the universe was created ex nihilo by a single, all-powerful Creator-God, then how would the story come down in a pagan culture that refuses to acknowledge the one true and living God? And isn’t Adam treated elsewhere in the Bible as an actual, historical figure? And all one has to do is read the atheist blogs to see that Ken’s fears are justified — the new atheists appeal to modern biblical criticism in support for the idea that Christian theology is based on a metaphor, and is therefore hopelessly deluded. The literal truth is that the human race does NOT share a common ancestry (and least not from a primeval human being).

    • peteenns

      Bob and others, you may may have missed much of my point. I am not reacting simply to his response to my post (as poor as it was) but to his pattern of engagement.

      • Believer01

        Your post was pretty agressive and untrue. It was poor.

    • http://www.internetmonk.com chaplain mike

      Ted and Bob, really? If one were to cut out every cheap shot, propaganda tactic, example of poor logic, and misrepresentation in Ham’s article, there would be very little left.

    • John I.

      And there are far more people, including atheists, who use (or have found) Ham’s over-literalism to be a barrier to belief or the very thing that pushed them from belief to unbelief.

  • Elijah

    Good response. Having been home schooled with Ken Ham’s curriculum, I can attest to the fact that this has been Ham’s mode of disagreement for a while (that is, at least 15 years). Furthermore, contrary to what he says in the conclusion of his blog post, it was arguments like those I grew up hearing from AiG which led me to almost abandon the faith, as I came to the point that I could no longer accept such positions as tenable and wasn’t sure that there were other Christian options (“real” Christian options that is). Thankfully, I came to understand that disagreements over the interpretation of Genesis do not constitute gospel issues. Keep up the good work Dr. Enns … some of us out here are really appreciate of it!

  • http://www.trippingandstumbling.com/ Joe

    I finally got around to reading all of this. (Ken Ham was in my State a few months ago speaking at a local mega-church.) Until reading his thoughts, I had no idea that you, N.T. Wright and the others at Bio Logos had “Low” view of scripture. Personally, that made my giggle a bit. I’ve run across others who seem to think that if you do not take every once of the bible as literal then you can’t accept the resurrection and so on. (Flawless logic there.)

    When he was in town, Ham sold his account of Genesis as some type of Anti-Racist message, because all humans have the same mother and father originally. Not to be mean or crude, but doesn’t he realize that he is telling everyone that they are a product of incest? Call me crazy, but I always figured that YHWH placed early humans in the Garden…not the set from “Deliverance.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Banjo? Do Ah hear a banjo?

      • John I.

        and a set of spoons clickin’ on someone’s knee. Yee haw.

  • Tom

    What a childish response, to attack someone because he rebuts your article. Mr. Ham did not try to look into your mind and your thinking as you claim to have done to him. I was really hoping for a more enlightening article and maybe even some civil dialogue. We appear to live in a world where debate is no longer tolerated and we quickly descent to personal attacks.

    • John I.

      You live in Ham’s world?

    • Believer01

      Tom, great point.
      Childishness in those responses is unbecoming of any believer.

    • http://existingbetween.wordpress.com/ Joy F

      Have you seen the number of times Ken Ham has slammed Peter Enns? This is just a response, a humorous one, that I didn’t take to be insulting. But Ken Ham has been trying to pick a fight fr a long time – note the response to the response on his page!

  • L.W. Dickel

    Why are you Jebus fundies so afraid of acknowledging that if your Jesus was a man, as your religion teaches, then he must have had the same bodily functions as any other man. So your Jesus trotted around the ancient Middle East belching, farting, defecating and having erections. And if Jesus had erections, you know what he did with them, right?

    Bwahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahaahah!!!!!!!

    Picture that the next time your in deep prayer with your savior!!!

    • John I.

      Nice troll. Glad you could visit.

  • Jack Heller
  • Robert

    You need to grow up. Seriously.

    • peteenns

      Working on it, though it would help if you threw me a bone here.

    • John I.

      That’s why God calls us all his “children”, never his “grown-ups”.

  • Willem de Vries

    It’s all very simple really… If God used evolution, then God is a terrible liar. There wouldn’t be even a single reason for taking the bible seriously. If a book starts with chapter after chapter of untruth, why on earth would I believe the rest of it?!

    • peteenns

      Willem, if it were that simple, would anyone be talking about it? Is it possible that you have misconstrued the way in which Genesis 1 is true, conflating it your worldview rather than that of the writers of the Bible? The irony–and I understand this may be hard to see–is that the literalist perspective elevates the interpreter to pass judgment on how the Bible must speak.

      • ashley haworth-roberts

        My latest post HERE will be of interest (at 3.22 am BST on 25 September): http://forums.bcseweb.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2967&start=480
        Mr Ham has blogged in response to Mr Enns.

      • Willem de Vries

        Yes I think everybody would be talking about it. The bible makes it very clear that mankind loves darkness more than light, so it’s in our nature to evade God’s truth. Questioning everything God told us is a good strategy for that.
        Your last point is hard to see because it’s simply not true: if the literalist perspective elevates the interpreter to pass judgment on how the bible must speak, then so is your perspective. My perspective is: let the bible speak for itself. Nothing in genesis 1 and the rest of the bible, including Jesus’ very own words, suggests any other perspecive than that of a literal interpretation of genesis 1. That’s not hard to see at all. Moses, the prophets, the apostles, Jesus Himself, they all interpreted genesis 1 as history. If you would read it for the first time without knowing anything else, you also would conclude that the writer intended it as literal history. But besides that, it’s not just genesis. It’s the simple fact that a god who uses evolution clearly doesn’t have a problem with creatures suffering and dying: it’s the way he wanted it to be. That’s in perfect contrast with everything we know about God, not just from genesis 1, but from virtually every chapter of the bible. That’s why I rejected the entire bible when I somehow got convinced of the theory of evolution, and that’s why I reject evolution now I’ve come to realize the bible can be trusted after all. And let’s face it: the bible teaches that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. The rejection of God was the beginning of the theory of evolution. Sorry, but I’d rather stick to what the bible tells us.

        • peteenns

          Willem, you are most certainly not “letting the Bible speak for itself.” That is the whole point here. Even very conservative Christian biblicists see that there is more to Genesis than a literalist hermeneutic can grasp. That view actually misses a lot; it is a low view of Scripture.

    • John I.

      Not a single reason? You overreach your argument.

      Even if the Bible were treated as a document written solely by humans without any divine interaction (like Josephus’ History of the Jews), we would have enough to reliably establish the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And what does Paul call the foundation of our faith? The Bible? No. It’s the death and resurrection of Jesus.

      • Willem de Vries

        But without the rest of the bible, Jesus’ death and resurrection don’t make any sense. Paul points to Adam to explain why Jesus’ death and resurrection were necessary. If Adam wasn’t real, Paul’s argument is false and so is his statement that Jesus’ death and resurrection is the foundation of our faith. If Adam wasn’t real, there’s no reason to take any of Paul’s words seriously, because he’s obviously mistaken.

        • peteenns

          Willem, that is only half the story. The other half is that Jesus death and resurrection were a surprise ending to Israel’s story.

          • Willem de Vries

            Well, yes it came as surprise for most people back then, but not because they hadn’t been told: luke 24:6-8, Acts 8:35. But actually I don’t see how “Jesus’ death and resurrection only being a surprise ending to Israel’s story” is the other half of what I posted earlier, or what the two “halves” even have to do with each other.

          • peteenns

            Willem, with all due respect (and I mean that), that is why maybe more study is in order. I’m not saying anything new.

  • Believer01

    Mr. Enns,
    It is very sad when one in so called authority attempts to change Scripture.
    The Bible in Genesis is very clear on a literal 6 day creation and rest on the 7th.
    Your untruths are doing so much harm to true Christian education that it will be felt for years to come.
    Educators who deliberately teach lies such as you do will be judged a double portion.

    • peteenns

      You’re welcome to your opinion, Believer01, but can you see that you are (1) making assumptions about what I and others and (2) speaking for God here? Do you also realize that you are making what you consider the proper interpretation of the Bible a matter of salvation?

      Can you see why some people react as they do to what Ken Ham is doing?

    • John I.

      And how, exactly, are you proving that Enns is telling lies? I read the Bible and I don’t see it claiming a creation in six 24 hour days.

      How is Enns changing any meanings at all if all he is doing is trying to understand what it is that God means to convey to us? He’s finding meaning, not changing it. You assume that your interpretation, which you received by tradition (like Roman Catholics), is inerrant and the “true” interpretation. Enns is saying that you might be wrong. If you are the one that is wrong, then it is you and your tradition that has changed the meaning. If you are wrong, then it is Enns who is in fact finding the correct meaning and restoring it (not changing God’s original intended meaning at all).

  • Believer01

    Apostosy is alive and well in the church and is doing Satan’s bidding.
    And you are contributing. Mr. Enns you are “Clubbing Truth”.

    By the way- I imagine you think Jesus arose on the three thousandth day.
    It just follows your faulty reasoning.

    • peteenns

      And now those who, for very good reason, read the Bible differently, are “doing Satan’s bidding?”

    • John I.

      I quote, with only a minor but appropriate change, “Apostosy is alive and well in the church and is doing Satan’s bidding. And you are contributing. Believer01 you are ‘Clubbing Truth’”

      • Believer01

        No not actually.

        • John I.

          Difference of opinion, then. And I could have just as much reason for belief in my statement, as you do in yours. These sorts of statements kill discussion, discourage others from posting, and cause unnecessary disunity in the Body. Why accuse fellow Christians of apostasy or of doing Satan’s bidding? That’s a pretty nasty and unbrotherly route to take.

  • http://csaproductions.com/blog/ Brendt Wayne Waters

    Dr Enns, while I agree with you overall and am (as usual) greatly underwhelmed by Mr Ham, there is a degree to which I find your article very amusing.

    I happen to be a YEC, but unlike Ham, I recognize that that’s MY belief, and have no problem with any theory of origin that doesn’t totally exclude God from the picture. Yet yours is the first voice EVER (of any portent, at least) on the non-YEC side of the issue that doesn’t treat all YECers exactly like Ham treated you. I am incessantly told that simply because I am a YECer, I am *inherently* (insert your favorite uber-fundy characteristic here) with no exception and no possibility of redemption until I reject YEC theory. Every last thing of which you (rightly) accuse Ham — with the exception of asking others to pray — has been done to me in the name of non-YEC.

    I hope that some of our non-YEC brethren notice that your article is applicable to ALL believers and take your words to heart as to THEIR behavior and attitudes, too.

    • peteenns

      Thanks for the comment Brendt. The only YECs I don’t have much patience for are ideologs in power who use their views to manipulate and mislead others.

      • http://csaproductions.com/blog/ Brendt Wayne Waters

        Yup – that was clear from your article – one in which you didn’t foam at the mouth, even though it’d be understandable if you did. ;-) Which just adds to the universal applicability of your words.

  • http://www.creationtheory.com Philip Bruce Heywood

    Quoting Joe.
    “When he was in town, Ham sold his account of Genesis as some type of Anti-Racist message, because all humans have the same mother and father originally. Not to be mean or crude, but doesn’t he realize that he is telling everyone that they are a product of incest? Call me crazy, but I always figured that YHWH placed early humans in the Garden…not the set from “Deliverance.””

    Good point.

    There are two major ideas about how species originated. You may in fact subscribe to one with which I am unfamiliar, and do tell us about it if it has possibilities. I assume you subscribe (if pressed) either to darwinistic (=common descent) Evolution, or direct Creation. Panspermia we will set aside as it merely puts the question off into outer space.
    Tell us, according to Darwin, exactly what processes were implicated in the manifestation of a new species. Describe blow by blow the steps, ape-like common ancestor, to Man. See if you can do it without incest. Should I say, incest, recurring. Plus bestiality. Should I say, bestiality, recurring. As a geologist who spent decades trying to figure it out (I do quite a lot of figuring, as is apparent to those who can search on the ‘Net) I could not account for darwinism by any means — and neither can Dawkins and neither did Darwin himself! But it’s a new scene in Science right now and the old is rapidly giving way to the new — and the true. Incidentally; Eve was Adam’s daughter by asexual reproduction. Tissue culture/cloning/genetic engineering. Adam originally was termed, ‘them’ — all mankind, in its entirity. He was also 50% female — as is God, in whose image we were made. He was given his better half via divine genetic engineering. So he married his ‘daughter’. Here is where common descent by definition comes unstuck – how did the original parent of any species come into existence? His offspring were by definition genetically much farther apart than any two people marrying today. That is, if his children did marry each other and were not handed marriage partners by the same divine method as Adam was handed his.

    Jesus Christ himself, of course, ‘The Second Adam’, was (through Mary) made ‘in the image of God’, whilst being God, himself –Mary’s womb witnessing something of the original creation of Man. Being divinely fathered, without the blood of fallen Man, he was faultless — although he was at the same time human, as we. He is the man whom God has appointed to judge all men, having verified it by raising him from the dead and clothing him with the divine glory. The man sitting on the throne of the universe is every man’s potential deliverer, whilst being his judge, jury, and executioner. He was entirely without sin or fault.

    I was intending to comment on the blog topic. Pardon the diversion.
    Ken Ham for all his career and the career of A.I.G. or whatever names this crew have gone under, whatever he personally may believe — bless him — has been openly practicing dissemination of false information and collection of monies under deceptive and abusive practices. The only excuse is that their teachings are so obviously unscriptural and unscientific, they really are not deceptive. One can only feel sorrow about the whole shambroglio. It’s over, now. Science is revealing the astounding accuracy of GENESIS. Ken never took his Bible literally when it came to science and now science is filling in his massive gaps! Personally I disappear when certain convinced religious sects knock on the front gate and that’s all I can do with AIG.. I tried. I even paid a lot of money to get a book printed and offered it to them to give away. The reviews said it was the goods (published at my site) but Ken and his pit bulls mauled it and spat it out. Worse things will happen before this world ends.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Ken Ham Clubs Baby Seals”.

    Dude, if Ken Ham figured he could advance the cause of Young Earth Creationism by clubbing baby seals, the guy would do it.

    • John I.

      I’m sure I saw him on an icefloe near Newfoundland in Canada this spring. He was caught on one of those Greenpeace anti-sealing videos. In the noisy background I’m sure I heard, “These. thud. seals. thump. don’t. thud. believe. thwack. in. smack. a. thud. six. crack. day. thud. creation. thud. plus-they-eat-all-our-cod. thud. thud.”.

      I’ll try to find and post a link to the video on the Greenpeace website.

      J.

  • John Boyer

    Dr. Enns, the heart of the matter is whether you/we believe in the authority of the Bible or not. It becomes a dangerous path we trod when any of us begin to decide what parts of the Bible are true. For if one part is deemed false, errant, and only legendary, truly what’s left to be trusted? And who gets to decide? You? Me? I wouldn’t, couldn’t, trust either of us! As Ken Ham explains, though our salvation is not dependent on what we personally believe about Genesis, it is crucial toward our belief about the authority of God’s Word. I fear for those of us that begin to travel down that road of doubt in order to accommodate the general consensus. I also fear for those who are led astray by false teaching and those who would lead them astray. I cannot imagine the extent of God’s wrath for them! In Christian love, I ask, are you so certain of your views and position that you would be willing to risk God’s wrath? Somehow, I know that Ken Ham has made that incontrovertible decision to stand firm on the authority of God’s Word. Honestly, your stand seems to be on “sand”. Who do you think I’ll heed?

    • peteenns

      John, this issue is not whether you/we believe in the authority of the BIble. The issue is what we understand that authoritative Bible to be doing, what it is authoritative about. I don’t mean to point this at you, but this is an elementary issue that the church has thought about in all different sorts of ways, but that discussion has by-passed Ken Ham. He actually has a LOW view of biblical authority by making it speak to things it is not designed to speak towards. So, no, I don’t grant the basis of your argument.

    • John I.

      Is the Bible true or not when it states that the sun rises and sets? That the mustard seed is the smallest? The earth is flat. The earth has four corners. The stars are hung on a hard bowl called the firmament. Etc.

      Oh, so that’s metaphorical language, parables, phenomenological language and not actually literally true. Well! Since when do you get to decide which parts of the Bible are literally true and which aren’t?

      Moreover, even if Genesis 1 were completely unreliable, we could still conclude that the rest of the Bible is. In fact, even if the Bible were treated as a document written solely by humans without any divine interaction (like Josephus’ History of the Jews), we would have enough to reliably establish the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ-which is what Paul calls the foundation of our faith (i.e., Jesus, not the Bible).

      Why is it that you assume that you, and the tradition that gave you your beliefs, is correct? Why is your tradition correct and not the Roman Catholics, or Eastern Orthodox, or Anglicans? What if it is you propagating the false teaching?

      Indeed, I think it is you who is propagating false teaching about the first chapter of Genesis; you who is putting God in a box and limiting what he can do, how he can go about doing it, and how he can communicate it to us. You who misunderstands what God is revealing in Genesis.

      Furthermore, it is you who raises barriers to nonbelievers and who makes believing impossible for some believers (who then leave the faith) because you claim that we can know for certain that Genesis states that God created in six 24 hour days and that all Christians must believe this or be false teachers and dangerous and in danger of losing their faith. You, in fact, are hanging mill stones around the necks of children and others, and so living in danger of Jesus’ curse.

      And, of course, Jesus was talking about literal millstones that would hang from your neck in hell and you be tormented like the Greek Sysiphus. Or was he being metaphorical . . . hard to know. Rats. No. Take that back. I mean all language and communication is totally perspicacious all the time everywhere.

  • John

    Well, if Genesis is just a legend then maybe Exodus is a legend, and Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and Romans, are all legends, and the Bible is a fraud and Jesus Christ a liar. Sounds like a simple case here of unbelief. I think Ken Ham is right on in his assessment.

    • peteenns

      John, you are being silly here. It is a question of genre—what type of literature are we reading in the Bible. You don’t read a parable as you do a proverb, a prophet as an epistle. Honestly, john, I don’t mean to be harsh, but these are not random distinctions I am making, but part of the Christian dialogue since the beginning. I am not concerned that Ken Ham doesn’t understand these distinctions, but I am concerned that he is insisting others follow him.

    • John I.

      Gee, your faith hangs on a really tenuous thread. Don’t try any reasoning for yourself. Just accept the traditions of your church and stay safe in the belief that all other traditions are wrong.

      And especially don’t do what Paul says–look to the heavens and earth to see it declare the glory of God. If you do that you’ll inevitably be led astray because all that looking and investigation just leads to science and science just leads to the death of all faith. Paul was just yanking your chain, he knows that if you examine the heavens to see the glory of God, you will not discover God’s glory. If examine the heavens using the faculties and the likeness of God in you (i.e., a mind) and thus find that the physical universe reveals that God is so great and glorious that he took billions of years to create the universe–time far beyond the comprehension and ability of man, then you will surely lose your faith.

      Gee, I know what I’d do if I discovered that God did not reckon time as man does, by seasons and years, but instead by eons of time so vast that it seems incredible.

      Yeah, I know, I would conclude that there is no glory in that at all, and I’d declare that God is not glorious but in fact too small and thus must be dead and merely a figment of my imagination.

      Or perhaps I’d conclude that God did not give me any trustworthy faculties, and that his physical creation is not trustworthy when it declares that God has used billions of years, and that God is therefore a big fat liar.

      Or perhaps I’d just realize that God did not want me to think for myself, and did not want me to examine the heavens to find his glory revealed, and instead find a man that I could follow. Yeah, that’s it, I’d uncritically follow the words and traditional beliefs of some man. Why look at what God has said when you can more easily, and with less effort, just let someone else make up your mind for you?

      Oh give me a home where the YEC roam
      and the Ham and the AIG play
      Where seldom is heard a nonliteral word
      and our minds are not clouded all day

      [chorus]
      Home, home on the range
      Where the Ham and the YEC play
      Where seldom is heard a nonliteral word
      And our minds are not cloudy all day

      How often at night where the heavens are bright
      With the lies of far away stars
      Have I stood there amazed and said as I gazed
      their light was made shining on Mars

      [chorus]

      Just give me a land where the bright line is drawn
      by traditions down over time
      And apostate believers go sliding along
      with their lies down broad paths to hell

      [chorus]

      Oh I would not exchange my old KJV
      Where the Ham and YEC play
      Where the seldom is heard a nonliteral word
      And our minds are not cloudy all day

  • Josh T.

    It seems a lot of commenters here who are arguing against Dr. Enns can’t seem to figure out that the Bible isn’t a single book of a single genre that dropped out of the sky into the laps of the 12 apostles. Theoretically (though no one here is advocating this) one can think that the book of Genesis is total hogwash AND yet believe that the Gospels’ stories about Jesus are 100% historical. I can’t think of any good reason to distrust the story of Jesus that is based on how one interprets Genesis.

  • http://www.creationtheory.com Philip Bruce Heywood

    Talking about legends. This is what happens when men stop looking at Jesus exclusively and Jesus only. We immediately begin to sink. Jesus is the one it is all about. That is how miracles have been happening all over the world, at the same time as people have not technically understood parts of the Bible. Faith has to do with the heart, and the regenerated heart instinctively recognizes Christ’s words. The word of truth is basic to faith. But, talking about legends. Dogmatic YEC is all legends. That does not mean that people who have not got science cannot know God or have miracles. People who never had a clue about science made the most profound statements about science in the Bible. That is because the Holy Spirit himself created science. So inspired prophesy always aligns with factual rationality. Hence the development of science under the fostering of protestant biblical Christianity. But, legends are part of dogmatic YEC and they have been fired up as a reaction to the legendary aspect of darwinism or common descent. (Great grandad was pondscum? Really?)
    To avoid great grandad being pondscum, people have willingly owned that the Bible says all sorts of things. Personally, if pushed, I would do the same. The problem arises when people set the legends in concrete. Flood geology does not rate as a legend — it is a joke. Not as great a joke as grandad dating a chimpanzee, but scripturally and logically off the planet. Ken has been advised again and again of his jokes. If he had merely concentrated on those facts that were available, he could have been a force in the world.
    When asked how the Tigris and Euphrates could have survived ‘flood geology’, guess the response? The people after the flood were nostalgic and named the Tigris & Euphrates after some other streams they could remember. This part of GENESIS 2 dealing with pre-flood topography is legend!
    The olive tree that withstood the event so that the dove could pluck a twig, meanwhile, came here from outer space?
    I sat through a lot of evolution lectures — and if the lecturers had been dogmatic, I would have turned to something like legend to ease the mental pain. Full-on darwinistic Evolution, essentially, Animism, has been indoctrinated as religion. That is why YEC currently gets such a wide hearing.
    It’s all over, now. Technology has spoken — the same language as GENESIS.

  • Believer01

    It is very interesting how making fun of Ken Ham and the literal interpretation of Genesis, which Jesus spoke of. Adam and Eve being literal people, etc.
    Very cute remarks – very similar remarks athiests make concerning Christianity.
    Unbelief in the literal Genesis does not eradicate salvation in a believer, but may have eternal consequences to those searching for salvation.
    Doubt in the Genesis as Jesus taught may cause many to turn away from salvation because of resulting confusion.
    When all you have left is sarcasm then you have nothing. Which is what I see alot of on this thread.

    • Phil Miller

      Jesus’ reference to Adam and Eve was in a homiletic sense. He referred to them to make a bigger point about divorce in Mark. He refers to Abel to make a point about the Jews treatment of prophets in Luke. The people Jesus was talking most likely did see them as historical figures. In order to communicate to these people, Jesus was speaking them in a way that they could understand. Jesus really didn’t seem to be too concerned about getting into debates with Jewish people about the mechanisms of creation. The fact of the matter was that were wasn’t really any need to. Any Jew alive during the time would affirm Yahweh as the Creator of the world.

      And actually, that’s kind of the thing here. All Christians affirm God as the Creator. The mechanisms of how He created are something that the Biblical record really isn’t that concerned about.

    • Jessica

      Very good point here! In Ham’s article he provides Biblical back up as well as information for us to learn for ourselves, where Enns seems to sit and lace his simple opinions with sarcasm and jokes directed at Ham and puts it out here as truth. I just don’t understand how you could believe an entire book of the Bible to be simple follore and tales.

      • John I.

        Jessica writes, “I just don’t understand how you could believe an entire book of the Bible to be simple follore and tales.” It seems to me that she is using “you” to refer to “Pete Enns”. However, Enns does not “believe an entire book of the Bible to be simple follore [sic] and tales”. Consequently Jessica is wrong. The same is true if Jessica is referring to “Phil Miller”.

    • Jason

      I can tell you right now that if I had to believe the way Ham says I should believe, then I would regrettably have to denounce my belief right here and now. So, yes, Ken Ham’s teachings can certainly cause people to give up their faith. Thank God that I’m not living proof of that!!!!!

    • John I.

      As noted by many atheists on various blogs, belief in the literal Genesis does not eradicate salvation in a believer, but may have eternal consequences to those searching for salvation. Belief that acceptance of the literal Genesis (which Jesus never taught) is necessary may cause many to turn away from salvation because of resulting confusion.

    • John I.

      Thanks for clarifying Believer01. Now I realize that humour directed at pompous or simplistic or unthinking or hateful answers is wrong. Rather, I should follow your lead and accuse people with different views as apostates and minions of Satan, using the formula, “Apostosy is alive and well in the church and is doing Satan’s bidding. And you are contributing. Mr. XXXX you are “Clubbing Truth”, replacing XXXX with the name of a commenter that I disagree with. Indeed, I did try that with you, but you didn’t seem to appreciate it. My bad, obviously.

      J

  • Jessica

    I see some of your points, but most of you see Ham’s statement of believing Gunkel over the Bible as a ‘cheap shot’ from Ham. Honestly, does that mean you don’t believe the Bible, the Word of God, to be innerant? If you do believe it is in fact innerant, then how can you believe one person’s interpretation of the Bible over the Bible itself? If God is a holy, righteous, and good God, why would he fill the very first book of His Word full of lies and made up tales? That makes about no sense. I’m not putting down anyone here, I’m just simply putting the facts out there. Either you believe God is holy, and good, and without any evil in Him, or you believe He would fill his book full of folklore.
    Also, some are claiming that Jesus’ reference to people from the book of Genesis is simply Him using made up examples to better get His point across. Jesus made it clear when He was referring to parables and real-life. Why would he warn people against a sin of a prior ‘lived’ made up man? I could tell my little brother a made up story of someone who was hit by a car to warn him of the dangers of carlessly entering the street, but what impact would that have against also sharing a real life situation? He would assume it would never happen to him since I didn’t actually know someone who had experienced it. Jesus balanced His gospel between parables and real life situations, not total made-up stories that way we could learn from both. Teaching total real life situations leaves us with areas where mankind has not ventured and cannot be warned against, and teaching all made up stories leaves us with no examples of it really happening, thus not believing it could happen to ourselves.
    This is merely my opinion, if you want the absolute truth get that from God and His word, not the mere opinions of sinful and fallen men.
    God bless!

    • peteenns

      Jessica, but Ken Ham is sinful and fallen. Why should we trust him about how to read the Bible?

      • Phil Miller

        Well, he does have an honorary PhD! Certainly that means something! :-)

        • John I.

          True, and his PhD is actually more authentic than that of James White (using an extremely low bar for what constitutes “authentic”).

      • Dan

        Every human being except Christ is sinful and fallen, so why should we not trust Ham’s version of Genesis 1-11 over yours? Regardless of our fallen nature, God has made his Word available to us to read and interpret and at some point, an interpretation is either correct or incorrect.
        Your first article mentioned ancient legends found in other cultures and proposed a link between them and similar accounts found in the Bible, thus concluding that the Scriptures contain legends. Using other stories found outside of Scripture to guide your interpretation of Scripture is erroneous. Jesus Himself debunked that method of interpretation in His encounter with the Samaritan woman, when He acknowledged that the Jews worshipped according to the Truth found in Scripture and not the Samaritans (John 4:20-24). Since Scripture is the highest authority we have on truth, it should be used to interpret itself.

        • peteenns

          Dan, It’s not “my” version of Genesis 1-1. This is not me vs. Ken Ham. It is easy to feel the victor when one person is demonized for holding a different view.

          I understand your “Scripture interpreting Scripture” principle, but that does not mean you can use ANY text to make the point you want to make. Your example does this, and Ken Ham does this all the time. He uses passages that speak of keeping from evil, and says this applies to people who see myth/legend in Genesis. Remember that even the devil can quote the Bible–out of context.

    • John I.

      By Jessica’s reasoning, Jesus’ use of parables (non-literal or fictional stories) is non-persuasive. Well, that hardly makes sense.

      So, it must be true that non-literal stories can be used by God to teach valuable truths about himself and how we should live and what we should believe. Consequently, it is entirely possible that Genesis chp. 1 is non-literal but still a valuable story used by God to teach us something. Note carefully that at this point I’m not claiming that Genesis is non-literal, only that it is possible for God to be using a non-literal story (of some type) for his own valuable purpose in relation to us (similar to Jesus and his use of parables).

      The issue for us, then, is to determine what kind of story Genesis is, and what God intends us to get from it.

      Jessica (and Ham and his ilk) are short-circuiting this process by assuming that it is only possible for Genesis to be one kind of story (a “literal” or non-metaphorical reporting of historical events in which the events described correspond in every respect to reality as it occurred). Note carefully that I am not claiming that they assume Genesis is that type of story (they do provide reasons for their belief ).

      I am claiming that they don’t believe that it is possible for Genesis to be any other kind of story. That is, they don’t believe that there is any discussion on this point to be had. For them the assertion that Genesis could be another kind of story is like the claim that pigs can fly without assistance–nonsensical and so not worthy of discussion. Even worse, such a discussion is injurious to faith and sinful.

      I also observe that Jessica supports her contentions by arguments that fail; they fail because they utilize the logical fallacy of the excluded middle. Jessica contends, “Either you believe God is holy, and good, and without any evil in Him, or you believe He would fill his book full of folklore.” She asserts that there are only two possible positions without anything in between (or anywhere else, if you don’t want to be linear about the possibilities).

      But it is entirely possible, indeed very conceivable, that there are a number of other possible positions of belief. For example, maybe I believe that God is holy and good and uses genres of literature or story or narrative that are metaphorical (e.g., parables). Or, I believe that God is evil and uses only literal stories. Or, I believe that God is holy and uses folktales. Or, God is holy and the stories in Genesis are metaphorical in someway but not merely folktales. Etc.

      Finally, I note a major problem that Ham and his ilk don’t address in any significant fashion: Other historical narratives in the Bible were written by eyewitnesses, or based on oral transmission of eye witness reports, or based on documents that recorded eyewitness observations, or documents that were trusted as accurate, or some combination of these (or others; I’m not exhaustive). However, it is not at all possible that there was any human eyewitness to any of creation /God’s creative acts.

      Hence, Genesis 1 had to be revealed by God in a vision of some kind (or dictated by him in some audible way–a methodology never recorded in the Bible). Visions, however, are highly metaphorical and symbolic (e.g., Elijah’s visions, Ezekiel’s vision, Peter’s vision, etc.).

  • Christopher Watson

    Dr. Enns,

    Would you agree with Gunkle that the clearest criterion of a legend is incredibility? Gunkle limits his discussion to the book of Genesis, but I would not doubt that he would be willing to apply the same criterion elsewhere. If so, is the exodus event (including the miraculous plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the speech of God to Moses, etc.) a legend? Are the Elijah/Elisha prophetic sagas embellished with the addition of the miraculous?

    • peteenns

      I appreciate the questions, Christopher, but as phrased we would have to cover a lot of ground first and look closely at some assumptions, such as whether there is any history in the Bible (or anywhere) that isn’t embellished (is there such a thing as “brute historiography), or whether “embellished” is really the best word for it, and then get into a case-by-case discussion concerning the different passages and how each one is unique and therefore deserves different sorts of answers.

    • John I.

      “incredibility” from within what framework and by whose standard? Teh result largely depends on the starting point.

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  • Andy

    What breaks my heart is that many Christians feel that there are only two options – ken ham’s simplistic ideas or shelby spong’s barely deistic liberalism…I remember feeling that i had to choose…young people need to understand that there are other options and other conversations going on…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      But those with the best PR machines are the only ones visible. Because they are “the loudest throats” and can out-YELL all the others.

  • http://existingbetween.wordpress.com/ Joy F

    Sometimes I wonder if the debate isn’t more within the church than it is outside. Rather than world vs. church it’s actually church vs. church. I’ve never known of anyone becoming a believer because they were convinced by someone’s creation argument. Most non-Christians ho have converted that I know (which as I live in Asia aren’t even usually coming from any sort of western preconceived notional background at all) evolution wasn’t that much of a consideration. Character of Christians and of Jesus is usually the matter.

    What I wonder instead is if this is more an internal battle in the church, and if the issue is really over control and authority. Since the beginning of Christianity we have had this constant tension – how much do we allow people to question and make conclusions on their own and how much do we control and regulate those questions and answers?

  • summers-lad

    What has been largely missing from this debate (though not entirely – Philip Bruce Heywood’s point on 25 Sept about the Tigris and Euphrates was a good one) is a Biblical textual support of a non-YEC position. Plenty on how we read and understand the Bible, but little from the text itself. My starting point is that Biblical literalism in relation to creation is impossible because on a literal reading Genesis 2 flatly (or roundly!) contradicts Genesis 1. One day instead of six days (Gen2:4, although many translations don’t clearly show “in the day that God created” as the RSV does), and a completely different sequence of events. As both cannot be taken literally, we have no reason to take either one of them literally. To reply to those who said “Jesus confirms the Genesis account”, yes he did – he confirmed the purpose and meaning of it, what it says about God’s design, original innocence, that mankind has turned against God, etc, but not an impossible interpretation of the opening chapters.
    There are many honest, faithful, well-meaning Christians, some of whom have contributed to this discussion, who believe that holding to Biblical truth requires acceptance of creationism. Arguments to the contrary tend to cut no ice as they are seen as undermining Scripture. I am trying to show that Scripture itself does not support the “literal” creationist account. (It doesn’t explicitly support evolution either, but it allows room for it.) Creationism is bad exegesis as well as bad science.
    Biblical argument no.2 is that in the first creation account (Genesis 1:1-2:3), the 7th day, unlike the other 6, has no end. Implication: we are now living in the 7th day. This in due course ties into the Sabbath rest as described in Hebrews, and so gives a fuller and deeper understanding of creation than a stand-alone mechanistic reading of Gen 1 can do. Hugh Miller’s book “Testimony of the Rocks” (written in 1854) picks up this theme beautifully.

  • http://www.creationtheory.com Philip Bruce Heywood

    Summers- Lad raises the age-old contradiction with which I was wrestling years ago when preparing educational materials for teaching science and religion. Are there two accounts?
    As I have mentioned on some other thread: a contradiction is a key.
    GEN. 2:4&5 is a totally mystifying statement. The moment its implication was revealed to me, I knew the world would never be quite the same again. It can only be understood if taken totally literally. And for decades I took it literally without the technology from science to explain it — until quantum physics filled the gap. There is nothing mystifying about GEN. 2:4&5 in the modern science world.
    THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS: this is the key to GENESIS. This is the king-pin to how it was done.
    OF THE HEAVENS AND OF THE EARTH: everything — matter, order, information, species, you, me, done, finished.
    WHEN THEY WERE CREATED: referring to the actions utilized to achieve generation (of everything).
    IN THE DAY THAT THE LORD GOD MADE THE EARTH AND THE HEAVENS: which immediately says two things: the meaning of the word, ‘day’, in relation to genesis, cannot be technically 24hrs; and, God created everything instantly or timelessly but it was created over a period of time analogous to our week in our time dimension.
    AND EVERY PLANT OF THE FIELD BEFORE IT WAS IN THE EARTH, AND EVERY HERB OF THE FIELD BEFORE IT GREW: all plants and by implication all living species existed and were alive before they were tangible (plant life, especially!).
    FOR THE LORD GOD HAD NOT CAUSED IT TO RAIN UPON THE EARTH, AND THERE WAS NOT A MAN TO TILL THE GROUND:all of creation, but especially living species (with an emphasis on plants!) effectively pre-existed in some way and awaited the divine purpose before realizing or becoming visibly tangible.

    Apply the biblical fact of species pre-existence to GENESIS chapter one, in conjunction with the fossil record — everything falls into place, with total accuracy. This concurrently makes GENESIS chapter two a straightforward continuation of chapter one.

    Don’t laugh — simply find where secular origins science and quantum theory are at, right now. Those scientists aren’t laughing. They are speaking the exact same language. Science has advanced to catch a glimpse of the divine method. Mind you, as Planck himself observed, “Anyone who can think about quantum physics without getting giddy, does not know anything about it!” (Not a verbartim quote).

    The origins controversy is finished.

  • Øystein D.

    Seems to me that the way you’re talking about him isn’t any better. No, I don’t like this at all.

  • http://www.wilsongarbersmall.com Jayss2k07

    I’ve compared your blog post to Ken Ham’s response. In the interests of full and fair disclosure, I read Genesis as expressing a spiritual truth rather than a historical recitation of facts and events as they happened. I know that opens up a pandora’s box because if Genesis is myth then other parts of the Bible are likewise myth. But even some evangelical pastors read the Book of Job for instance as poetry, so the problem of what parts of the Bible are mythic and what parts are not is not a problem I’ve created. I don’t feel the need to reconcile my reading of the Book of Genesis therefore with other parts of the Bible.
    What I have found problematical in Ham’s inerrant reading of the Book of Genesis is one passage in particular which relates to his reconciliation of the Flood story in the Book of Genesis to similar Flood accounts as in the Epic of Gilgamesh. He says that, instead of the Book of Genesis incorporating earlier Flood stories, it is these other traditions that incorporated the legend from the Abrahamic tradition. Ham writes: “The events in Genesis 1–11 would have been remembered and passed down for generations. But, as man multiplied after the global Flood, later generations that embraced false gods would have every reason to corrupt those accounts and attribute them to their own idols. Hermann Gunkel and Dr. Enns get it backwards: Genesis is not a collection of legends—those legends, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Enuma Elish, are corrupted versions of the accounts in Genesis!”
    Now I understand that there are limits imposed on “Internet Biblical scholarship” by time and space . But this assertion seems to me to be particularly bold and particularly unsupported. It is a conclusion unsupported by data; at the end Mr. Ham’s argument at its core is, “It’s so because I say it’s so.” Therein lies the problem of Biblical inerrancy. Facts are stubborn things. They can get in the way. But it’s tough to cobble together a credible argument without them though. Mr. Ham has got a chicken and the egg problem, and as the proponent of an inerrant reading of the Book of Genesis he has the burden of proof to persuade that his reading is more probable than not. Without a logical chain of reasoning supported by demonstrable facts his argument is unpersuasive.

  • TheoGeek

    Hello all, I enjoyed the discussion below. I wish to make
    the following points:

    I believe that the Bible is inerrant in the way that God
    inspired it, however we humans ARE ERRANT (or imprecise in the minimum) in our
    translation of original language and full interpretation. If this is not so, we
    would not have X number of denominations differing on points ranging from
    baptism to the return of Jesus.

    We ARE saved by grace through our faith. We ARE NOT saved by
    our hermeneutics. And, thank God!

    I believe that we need to be gracious and MISSIONAL in our
    contacts with the non-believer who questions our faith based on their
    understanding of science. We must not
    tell them “You must believe X about Genesis” as the text IS be interpreted by
    Christians different ways.

    We must allow for a certain amount of COMPATIBLISM. Alternate interpretations can be compatible with
    true faith.

    In the end, the NATURE of creation is not a SALVATION
    issue. I will draw my line and stand on
    my hill when we get to the nature of the Triune God, man’s sin and necessary
    repentance, Jesus as atonement, and the work of the Holy Spirit in
    sanctification.

  • Michael Hardin

    Ken Ham is a nut job and not worth even mentioning in my opinion. He is the worst kind of fake pseudo-Christian pseudo-intellectual. His website is nothing but mish-mash Fundamentalist nonsense. No worries Peter, this guy advocates nothing important and is no threat to honest Christian scholarship.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      But he’s a nut job with influence. Including activist followers trying to rewrite school curricula and law.


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