Ignorance and Creationism: A Response to Ken Ham

I had it drawn to my attention by John Pieret and the Sensuous Curmudgeon that Ken Ham mentioned me in a recent blog post. There isn’t anything really that needs to be said in response. On the one hand, he says he is glad that he hasn’t had the sort of education I have. On the other, he claims that there are people with theological education among his staff – and at the top of his list is Terry Mortenson, who came to Butler and was unable even to recognize audibly the difference between Greek and Hebrew. Yet he spoke as though he knew the Biblical languages, and disputed my claim that Genesis 1:6-8 refers to something solid that can aptly be translated “dome.”

And so I’m guilty as charged – I absolutely, unequivocally and unapologetically prefer knowledge over ignorance, in particular knowledge of what the Bible says, how it came to be in the form in which we now have it, and other such knowledge. I view this as preferable to the ignorance that once allowed me to make sweeping – and inaccurate – assertions about the Bible. Of course, with such knowledge comes a potentially unsettling uncertainty. But I presume that the appropriate response is to learn to live with uncertainty, rather than pretend that God gave us a Bible different than the one we actually have, so as to provide us with a certainty that perhaps we aren’t meant to have.

I should add that, while Ken Ham quotes a longer explanation of why I feel it is appropriate to remain within the Christian tradition even when my views change, one thing he edited out was my reference to having a life-changing religious experience. And since he didn’t include my testimony about how I became a born again Christian, in the interest of giving the full picture, I am sharing that link to a post where I talk about that.

Also relevant to this topic, Pete Enns shared the text of a lecture he gave entitled “The Challenge of Reading the Bible Today: Can the Bible be read both Critically and Religiously?”

Perhaps also worth mentioning, for the sake of “fair and balanced reporting”, is that I have also been quoted in the “General Dismissive Comments” section of the “Christ Myth Theory” entry on WikiQuote. :-)

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01000798494472742263 J. L. Watts

    He gets his giggles doing this and then waiting for your reaction. Further, this is what is left of his ministry – to attack. To lie. To wink at ignorance. I'll stick with your Christianity rather than his any day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12762450398018434571 J. Quinton

    There's a post over at Ephiphenom that attempts to address why people reject evolution: here. He suggests that people who are more uncertain (or uncomfortable with uncertainty) tend to reject the theory of evolution. But he offers some hope on how we might reach Creationists:But what's really interesting is that [Intelligent Design] and ["Conway Morris" Theory of Evolution] seem to be interchangeable. I wonder if presenting Darwinian evolution in CMTE terms might help to get religious people on board. After all, Conway Morris is himself a Christian, which has perhaps influenced his views on evolution!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09396016590610037737 Gordon

    Mmm. This post was sent to me as it is quite closely related to something I wrote about today. You can read it here:http://www.ecalpemos.org/2010/10/why-creationism-is-bad-for-christianity.htmlI should state that I am graduate of Edinburgh in Divinity. At the time, as an evangelical, being a student at Edinburgh caused me to be ostracised by many in the churches I was connected with. These days someone from my background just wouldn't go there at all, such is the feeling against theological education which involves the ability to examine, question and learn. Oh and learning the ancient languages (as I did and which awkwardly put me in a better position to comment on issues than many of my pastors in later life).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17899049404620738944 scripto

    From Ham's post:"Well, it is true that I personally don’t have formal theological training—but there are those at Answers in Genesis who do (e.g., Dr. Terry Mortenson, Steve Fazekas, and some of our board members). And we do have quite a number of other highly qualified theologians whose counsel we seek to ensure we are accurate in handling God’s Word.Right. And I have friends that can dunk a basketball but I don't pretend I'm on the team.

  • http://mikew1584.wordpress.com/ mikew1584

    Your dismissive because you haven't read all the relevant books! Mainstream scientist don't want to engage creationist because there afraid of what will happen to their precious Godlessness when they discover how clear it is that God created the world in six days and reveled that information with his prophets. I ask you has science explained everything? No? Then how can you trust it? The only plausible alternative is creation science!

  • http://mikew1584.wordpress.com/ mikew1584

    Mainstream science mocks creationism but cannot provide the missing link between sponges and jelly fish, create life in a lab, or find life on another planet.Mainstream science expects us to believe natural selection, just like they expected us to believe Steady State Theory.Mainstream science says evolution is fact but can not show one example of one species evolving into another. Keven Starr

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01000798494472742263 J. L. Watts

    Mike, have you read all of the relevant books? You know, by real scientists? Further, you note that science 'can't' do things, but um, can creationists? Your argument is unsound, circular, and frankly, as a Christian, I find it a little offensive. Has Creationism explained everything? No? Then how can you trust it? The only plausible alternative is real science while we leave the theology to the people of faith!

  • http://sunestauromai.wordpress.com/ sunestauromai

    James, he called me out to for my support of the Assemblies of God change to their Doctrine of Creation paper – you aren't the only one. Sorry it happened.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13483419817200339955 Paul D.

    Ken Ham's entitled to his own opinions, but the way he belittles everyone whose way of experience Christianity isn't identical to his own disgusts me. Pathetic.James's description of his own faith provides great inspiration for me, since I find my own position to be quite similar. If it weren't for honest and critical seekers like James, people like me might give up on Christianity altogether.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05009463048251525338 Steve Greene

    "Mainstream" science – i.e., in this context, real science – mocks creationism just as it rightfully ridicules all pseudoscience. Pretending that there's something wrong with criticizing, ridiculing, or mocking pseudoscience is based on the obviously false premise that there's nothing wrong with the promotion of pseudoscience.Promoters of pseudoscience, creationist and otherwise, exploit the justified credibility that science has achieved in society due to its nature of relying on diligent and careful acquisition of evidence and applying rational analysis and explanation to that evidence. Those who exploit this sense of credibility to their own illegitimate ends while ignoring the very standards of science by which scientific results are achieved deserve not just to be criticized, but criticized strongly for their misrepresentations and fraudulent portrayals.Creationist beliefs – and young earth creationist beliefs especially – including the anti-science rhetoric creationists use so frequently are religious in nature, not scientific.

  • http://revdmarkstevens.wordpress.com Mark Stevens

    I just find the guy isn't quite kosher…

  • Daniel O

    @ Paul D, I couldn't agree with you more. I remember going over to one of KH lectures in Belfast and thinking "this guy is too self involved" and most of the time he spent belittling the views and opinons of people who didn't agree to his particular views of creation, be it christian, atheist or scientists.On the other hand, Richard Dawkins does exactly the same thing in my view, anyone else agree?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04335917715944481443 Gary

    Dawkins, as I have said before, is a biologist trying to be a physicist, mathmatican, and an expert in statistics/probability. He probably is a biologist because he couldn't hack the math in physics.

  • Anonymous

    As to Ken Ham, he now openly admits he will ban all those who disagree with him.Clarity comes before agreement. Those in the fundamentalist community believe that censer ship is a viable way to protect the integrity of their 'creationism' is a sad statement, a statement that creationismcannot stand the test of FREE INQUIRY as they nee…d to Ban all those whodisagree.ken Ham'-the leading creationist's Banning all those who disagreespeaks greatly about him, and Creationism, its a tacit way of sayingopen discussion, debate is a THREAT.As to clarity, creationism is not science, its religion, unique tofundamentalist, and open discussion would quickly expose that fact, thatis why an open dialectic debate, is not allowed. That is so verytransparent,Someone in Kentucky does not care about credibility, and is a coward..

  • Anonymous

    Gary said he has read in engineering. There is a bit of math involved. But when dealing with statistics in any field, the researcher is grappling with an amorphous cloud. Gary knows this or was retired against his will.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04335917715944481443 Gary

    I stand by what I said. BTW, I have a degree in both Physics and Electrical Engineering (with the specialty in solid state and laser physics). Worked 32 years in the field, and retired because I was tired, not because someone was tired of me. Your words "amorphous cloud" describes the probability distribution of an electron cloud prety well. Although a "probibility distribution", the exact probabilities can be worked out quit exactly. Just like half-life's in radiation. They are a half life (the exact decay can be calculated exactly for the total quantity of material), but the actually reality of decay of a single atom cannot be predicted….thus says quantum mechanics. So statistics is a rather exact science, which Dawkin knows nothing about.