The Embarrassing Speculations of Ken Ham

This guest post is by UC supporter Pete Lefevre.

Out of a morbid sense of curiosity, I watched the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate this past week. For me, the origins of our earth and our species have been amply explained through scientific inquiry and those who argue for a 6,000-year-old earth — who treat Genesis as a science and history textbook — have not fully considered the numerous and powerful arguments that might disturb their closed system.

That accusation might well be hurled back at me, so if you’ll allow me some special pleading, I was an adherent to the creationist view for many years. I’ve spent inordinate amounts of my life in American Evangelical Conservative Protestant churches. While this particular subculture of religious expression may not have a printed list of required political, historical, and scientific beliefs I can assure you that if you show any deviance from the expected norm (if, for example, you accept observation of redshift as a reliable dating mechanism for the universe, or accept natural selection as an explanation for the development and variety of life) you may find yourself isolated if not shunned. These churches are not open-ended discussion groups. It’s believe or leave.

So I suited up, showed up, and saluted the flag in a manner of speaking. But my inveterate reading habits did me in. I took great comfort and courage from much of the Bible. I also took great comfort and courage in reading Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Michio Kaku. There came a day when I could no longer take seriously the claim that the Bible is a historical account of the earth’s creation or of humanity’s appearance on it. My struggle to fit measurable observations of the universe into the fragmentary and superficial depiction of its creation in Genesis became too difficult. If you believe God created the world 6,000 years ago, then you must believe in miracles. And if you believe in miracles, then it’s completely possible that God created the world 6,000 years ago. A perfect circle. An echo chamber, actually.

Once I stepped away from the echo chamber, I suddenly found myself starved for science. Spending all those years in a realm of guesswork, speculation, and the adamant assertion of opinion as fact, I suddenly found enormous relief in simple statements of unshakable clarity. Light moves at 186,000 miles per second. To anyone’s knowledge it always has and as far as we know it always will. There is no room for debate here, no second opinion, no court of appeal. Blessed assurance, light moves at 186,000 mps.

Yet …

I had to watch the debate and I wanted Ham to do well. I wanted to hear a legitimate case. It had to be scientific. It had to be unshakable. I wanted to hear him out without a dismissive attitude, without condescension, without the unwarranted pride that can accompany a freelance writer armed with bullet points forged out of a fondness for trade paperback non-fiction.

The more I listened, the more I realized my long flirtation with the creationist viewpoint was the infatuation of a teen who had found his first explanation of origins. I was too intimidated to wrestle with Darwin. Big words. Hard concepts. Easier to just take Genesis at its word and move on with my life.

More accurately, my acceptance of Genesis as a literal account seemed rooted in fear. Fear of angering a jealous, all-powerful, and potentially rage-filled God, fear of social isolation, fear that rejection of creationism would lead to rejection of other things in the Bible, like love, joy, and peace. I mean, once you open the gate …

I had to realize that these perceptions I had were disfiguring me. They weren’t helping me grow, they were stifling my growth. And it was time to get up, clench my fist and say, “No more, I’ve had enough.” This was made abundantly clear as I listened to Ham and Nye. When you start with the perspective that the Bible is inerrant, historically and scientifically, any contrary evidence has to be explained away. The explanations sounded plausible enough when humanity knew much, much less about the cosmos and about biology. With every scientific advance, though–the heliocentric solar system, the relativity of space and time–the fundamentalist was faced with two choices: find ever more implausible explanations, expand Biblical interpretation to make room for the new facts, or question one’s own preconceptions.

Ham has fully committed to implausibility. Take for example the back-and-forth about Noah’s ark. The story as told is in primary colors. It is simple in the way Aesop’s fables are simple. It is not superficial, or unintelligent. It’s just simple. Yet in order to reconcile belief in a young earth with the incomprehensible number of living organisms (and the equally incomprehensible number of organisms that have gone extinct) Ham and others must read deeply between the lines of this story: “Kinds” are not species; who are we to say what kind of shipwright Noah was?; God exists, and He works miracles, so a boat with 14,000 animals on it floating for a full year is completely possible. These assertions, patched together out of pious guesswork, aren’t in the Bible, but Ham is quite willing to reach outside his text to create fantastical scenarios in order to protect his belief system. Such embarrassing speculation diminishes the Bible rather than honors it.

Listening to Ham convinced me more than ever before that he, and others of his convictions, have completely missed the point about both science and faith. The well-known Aesop told a fable about an ant and a grasshopper. The ant collected food during the summer and the grasshopper was lazy. Winter came, the ants had food, the grasshopper didn’t, the ants lived, the grasshopper died. Now, what comes at the end of the tale? All together now: “And the moral of the story is…” In this case, it’s Don’t Be Lazy.

Talking with fundamentalists, I feel like I am having someone tell me that the point of the story is that there was a real ant and a real grasshopper and the insects actually had a verbal discussion about the moral implications of sloth. True interaction isn’t possible because the basic principles of discussion aren’t shared. Ham wasn’t making a scientific case; he was defending the Bible using scientific language. His is a god of nursery rhymes and blocks, defended by lip service to science and history. As more observations are made, as more advances in measurement are secured, he will find himself–as religious extremists found themselves when faced with Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, and Einstein–forced into ever more absurd positions, or compelled towards violence and intimidation. One must wonder how absurd the positions will get before fundamentalists too find blessed assurance in the speed of light.

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  • Andy

    Excellent post.

  • Lena

    Thank you for putting into words what I have been frustrated by for the past several years.

  • JenellYB

    Thanks for sharing such a personal level experience of what it may be like for those caught up in that kind of thing. While such as Ken Ham is so immediately fake and absurd to such as myself, with a more open and educated perspective from an earlier age, I still find myself struggling to understand the mindset of those that seem so bought into such things, take it seriously, and seem to really believe they are holding as valid a view as anyone else.

  • Pasha

    Here is where I believe the bible and science agree:
    1) Genesis 1:1 The spirit of God hovered over the hydrogen masses of the big bang (waters). (Water the ancient oral word for the first element. The text is from oral tradition. We make a mistake to read it as a “literal” text. I hate the whole “literal vs metaphorical” debate. It is “oral” not literal, a very different thing, but not metaphorical either. (See Walter J Ong’s “Orality vs Literacy.”)
    2) He created the angels on “day four”. (Genesis 1:15) The stars are synonymous with angels in scripture, see Isaiah 14, Job 38, Revelation 12 etc.
    3) The land produced the plants. (evolutionary) Genesis 1:11
    4) The land gave birth to animals (evolutionary) Genesis 1:24
    5) God created both people (Genesis 2:7) and animals (Genesis 2:19) from the ground (evolutionary) which agrees with the creation story of chapter 1.
    6) The rivers Gihon and Pishon in Genesis 2:11 and 13 are in Africa, even Ethiopia, where humanity originated (evolutionary).
    7) When God took the “rib” or “part of the man’s side” in Genesis 2:21 he was actually breaking a stick off an X chromosome. leaving behind a Y and creating XX from the first X, leaving the man with an X and Y.

    These are just a few examples from Genesis 1 and 2, that when read as an oral text it is possible to see that the ancient stories actually support evolution. Both God’s creation and evolution are true. Both science and the bible are true. It is just the stubborn silly people who insist on reading the creation stories “literally” that miss the great richness and depth of meaning in the stories. I personally get excited every time the bible and science agree. So what if we can’t answer all the questions. Let science do its job, it has never actually disagreed with the bible, just with myopic people who read the bible wrong.

    • adam

      And it is just that the ‘word of “GOD”‘ does not say what it means or mean what it says.

      If god is not going to be literal, then he should have been universal, apparently he was neither, or this type of conversation would be unnecessary.

      A better read, IMHO

      The people who wrote and told these stories were ignorant.
      They created series and series of mythology to explain the world from their ignorant view, because these had to be all oral, exaggeration is used to make the story memorable. By the time they were collected and written they because political tools of the powerful to manipulate people and have remained so since.

      Science is just the evolution of understanding.
      Faith is the desire for the comfort of that ignorance..

      • Pasha

        That is such a literacy based world view response. You are the kind of people that make the non-event debate so frustrating. Please open your mind to viewing the world differently than you have to date.

        • adam

          Do you have a better (more accurate or useful) explanation?

          Or definition?

          Why are my ‘kind of people’ (what ever WE are) so frustrating?

          WHY would I want to view the world differently than I have to date?

          ad hominem noted.

          • Pasha

            Adam, did you notice my above 7 examples of where the bible supports evolution? Or is that as soon as you hear the word bible you dismiss it as fairy tales and refuse to assess the text honestly?

            I personally hate the whole creation vs evolution debate. There are two camps who believe the same thing. They believe that a text must be interpreted “literally” word for word. I.e The young earth creationists say “the text says six days, therefore six days it must be, therefore science is wrong.” The atheist camp says,’ “evolution is correct (which I don’t have a problem with), the bible says six days, six days is wrong, therefore the bible is wrong”.

            But both camps are wrong! They insist on reading the words with a very narrow literal interpretation, you can tell they would flunk any serious literature class in the world in high school let alone university!

            What is orality? If you have an open minded view of the world I suggest that you read someone called Walter J. Ong, the leader in the field of orality studies. Orality is a poorly understood topic, because we as literacy based people tend to grossly misunderstand it and look down on it. We should not be so narrow minded.

            Consider that psychologists and neuroscientists are saying that our brains are being re-wired by how much time we spend on the internet. The internet revolution is actually changing the way we view the world. Depending on how old you are (unless you have lived with the internet your whole life), you have already changed your world view at least once because of this. In the same way that the internet is re-wiring our brains now, literacy rewired the psyche from an oral to a literal world view. You have to get inside the head of the other to begin to understand it. I am a linguist in Siberia studying oral languages and I have been doing just this, so I think I have something to say of value on the topic of “orality vs literacy”.

            If you are not prepared to understand orality from a scholarship point of view, then do not waste your time having an opinion on this topic as you have nothing of real value to bring to the table.

          • adam

            The bible is a collection of stories and letters from the oral tradition, As such it DOES contain fairy tales (it’s equivalent) based on superstitions CREATED by IGNORANCE.

            There are also a good deal of mythology, social constructs and a few rules for getting along as a society.

            The bible is EITHER the work of an omnimax god or it is not.

            If it is, then that god would know how it would be interpreted to divide and cause harm, for political parties (churches and religions) to use it’s word to torture, mass murder and and intimidate to gain power and wealth. IF this is the case then this god is inherently EVIL.

            IF it is the word of an omnimax loving god, then that god has FAILED, as it is vague, bloated with imagery that is not universal or timeless and it is self contradictory.

            Orality appears to be JUST another god of the gaps attempt.

            You do understand the more we study and learn, the more we know about nature and the less we know about god?
            Adam walked with god in the garden (though he was able to hide from god behind a tree). Gods used to be responsible for thunder and lightning, the sun rising, a successful hunt. Now he hides as an IDEA in things like orality, or the philosophical ruminations of interpretations of quantum mechanics.

            IF you have valuable insight on orality, it is certainly not coming across. Perhaps if you focus on explaining it better rather than spouting ad hominems, you would be more successful.

            Do you have a better (more accurate or useful) explanation?

            Or definition?

            Why are my ‘kind of people’ (what ever WE are) so frustrating?

            WHY would I want to view the world differently than I have to date?

            ad hominem noted.

          • Pasha

            You do realise that this is not an atheist website right? Perhaps find another place to spit your venom.

          • adam

            It is EASY to see who is really spitting the venom.
            MORE ad hominem noted.

            I am speaking what I see as the TRUTH.

            IF you have a perspective that better defines TRUTH you FAIL to project it by your continued EVASION of my questions to counter my view and your continued personal attacks, which makes it appear that attack is all you have.
            .
            .
            .

            Do you have a better (more accurate or useful) explanation?

            Or definition?

            Why are my ‘kind of people’ (what ever WE are) so frustrating?

            WHY would I want to view the world differently than I have to date?

          • Pasha

            Atheists in Russia are really friendly. Christians and atheists here get on well together. Another way that Russia is different to the west.

          • adam

            And……

            So, why cant WE get on well?
            YOU keep attacking ME personally.
            .
            .
            .
            .

            Do you have a better (more accurate or useful) explanation?

            Or definition?

            Why are my ‘kind of people’ (what ever WE are) so frustrating?

            WHY would I want to view the world differently than I have to date?

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Who peed in your cheerios this morning Adam?

          • adam

            No one, why?

            If Pasha has something new for me to learn, I am open.

            I already understand ad hominem and avoidance.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            We have no issues with atheist input or the input from a variety of faith views and perspectives. We can learn from each other even if we don’t see things the same or even if it seems that a comment is abrasive . There are lines, of course, but we do give a lot of leeway

          • Pasha

            Like I said before, atheists that I know here in Russia are friendly, not vicious about their beliefs. Where as, sadly these days atheists in western countries (where I come from) are vicious and attacking most of the time throwing words around like “IGNORANT” etc. This is not polite form.

          • adam

            Ignorant IS the descriptive definition.
            IF we are searching for TRUTH, then our words are best used accurately to describe and clarify not inaccurately to obfuscate.

            They lacked the knowledge to explain the universe accurately.

            When they BELIEVED that the earth was the center of the universe and BELIEVED that the sun rotated around the earth, they were IGNORANT of the FACTS.

            They weren’t idiots, they JUST lacked knowledge.

            Do you know how the sun rise and sunset would look on earth, IF the sun WAS rotating around the earth?

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I admit, that I do not like the word “ignorant”, mainly because people tend to use it as an insult. But how adam is using the word, its quite apt.

          • adam

            Religion relies on emotional attachments to words.
            And religion often tries to co opt words (in the same fashion that co opt traditions, Saturnalia, Ishtar, etc.) to manipulate ‘meaning’ and obscure truths that don’t support their dogma.
            This is a huge hurdle for us to actually communicate effectively, but it makes it more convenient for spewing dogma (politics) and shouting down and shutting down opposing views.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            For me, its not so much religion that has put an emotional attachment onto a word, but how it is used, or what personal experience a word attachment has to me. And you are right, recognizing that the word is not the problem, but either its usage or our perception is a big hurdle to overcome

          • adam

            Think propaganda. And who power is generated FROM and FOR propaganda.

            Propaganda is ALL about EMOTIONAL appeal.

            When you can attach a negative emotion to a purely descriptive word you have power over the use of that word.

            Racial slurs operate in the same way, but they will invent or distort words already in use.

            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fag

            They are meant to DEHUMANIZE humans.

            If you corrupt words to mean something that they otherwise are, you corrupt the language.

            If you can corrupt the language, you can corrupt the culture and corrupt the people to do your bidding.

            Religious POWER is all emotional.
            Primarily FEAR.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        Just because they didn’t have literary culture, and their understanding of the world around them was still in its infancy, in no way does that imply that they were ignorant. Yes, they created series and series of mythology, but cultures have been doing that all through history. We still have all sorts of modern myths that some people take as fact.

        Science seeks to explain the how, and where and when.
        Faith seeks to answer the why.

        Both can offer comfort and understanding.

        • adam

          Of course it MEANS that they were ignorant.

          ig·no·rance
          : a lack of knowledge, understanding, or education : the state of being ignorant

          Why it is just a sorting mechanism of evolutionary survival.

          It is a byproduct of trying to determine patterns for survival.
          I.e. I killed a large animal today that will feed my family for a week.

          Determing a way to insure that happens regular you learn association.
          I.e. That animal goes to the water hole early in the morning almost every morning, at least every morning I was carrying a bears tooth.

          And surmising that the reason was related to the bears tooth.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            For some reason that line of thinking has me thinking of Bud Light commercials.

          • adam

            Perhaps because it is relatable?

        • Pasha

          The interesting thing is that Walter Ong says that oral people are far more adept at hearing spiritual voices. I tend to think that the stories they told can be trusted.
          People often speak about the bible being inerrant, infallible etc. I think they are barking up the wrong tree, and they always try to squeeze it into their own frame work. But I do think the ancient creation texts are reliable and faithful when interpreted orally.
          I agree with you in that it does not matter if we don’t understand everything. I happen to like that there is some mystery. But when ever the Bible and Science do agree, we should let them. They really are not the enemies that some people make them out to be. In truth Science and the Bible are actually very good friends.

          • adam

            Do they hear spiritual voices outside their own imagination?

          • Pasha

            Trying going walk about in nature and disconnecting from modern society for a while. Encounter silence. Wait until all the voices in your head stop. Then listen.

            I hope you are able to ponder how wonderful that could be.

          • adam

            I have done so MANY times.

            You don’t even need to walk about in nature, just quiet and a bit of solitude.

            When all the voices in my head stop, there is just feeling.
            Emotion
            It can be wonderful or it can be terrifying depending on the emotion.
            But still there is nothing outside my own mind/body present.

            I have studied and had shamanic or mystical experiences.
            They exist ONLY in my mind.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Ah, the mystical route. I get that.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      I like the possible connectivity you use in that list. It offers some interesting theories. Its possible that the lyrical rendering of the Genesis account hint that the writers knew more than we realize. It is also possible that we are taking modern knowledge and interjecting our understanding into their’s because it kinda sorta fits. We, of course have no way of knowing.

      Of course we know so little about people in the days when literacy was rare, and writings more so. We get tiny glimpses of what they knew, from those few scraps of text, from ruins, from myths and legends. So much is lost, so many questions unanswerable.

  • Sheila Warner

    “It’s believe or leave.”

    I left.

  • Adam334

    “If you believe God created the world 6,000 years ago, then you must
    believe in miracles. And if you believe in miracles, then it’s
    completely possible that God created the world 6,000 years ago. A
    perfect circle. An echo chamber, actually.”

    I would like to know something from the author (Pete Lefevre). You don’t believe in miracles? Unfundamentalist or not, you still claim to be a Christian. To be a Christian you have to believe and receive the fact that Christ, born *miraculously* by a virgin, lived *miraculously* perfect life (thought and deed), preformed *miracles*, fulfilled written prophecies from hundreds of years before he was born, and resurrected *miraculously*!!!! Not seeing your connection with Christianity at all.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      There are Christians who do not believe in parts or all of the doctrine of Christ. To them a virgin birth is not necessary, as well as other elements. As for the fulfillment of prophecy, that is a stretch for many, as well. Yet they are all Christian

      You see Christianity is a much more diverse faith than many realize. The majority are Catholic in construct, with 1.2 billion members, They have different schools of thoughts and range from liberal to conservative theologies, with most of the sub-sections being groups attached to a particular country, Protestants at 600 to 800 million, make up the second largest group and have 33,000 sub-sections. The range of theology in this group is mind boggling, And then there are nine other major denominational groups in Christianity, several with smaller sub-sections.

      Just because your sub-section of Christianity teaches things a certain way, and others do not, do not make them or their adherents any less a Christian than your’s.

      • Adam334

        I agree on your assessment of the Christian church as a whole, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe any Christian is better than another. We all have sinned. If you brake one commandment you are guilty of all! But when you receive Christ, you are made righteous, and there is no hierarchy in that.

        About the virgin birth (and other related topics), When you stop believing in these small, seemingly insignificant elements, you are gradually digging holes in your belief complex. To exemplify, if you say that Jesus was not born by a virgin, than how would He be the Son of God? If he is not the Son of God, He couldn’t have risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Consequently, He wouldn’t have prepared a place for us, then there would be no hope for salvation.

        Those who are constantly taken away from the Word are likened to a person who removes a couple supports from the base of a skyscraper. It stands for a little while, and it even still looks the same…..but soon you begin to notice cracks inside some of the rooms, the doors won’t close, and something just doesn’t seem right. In time, the building doesn’t appear quite straight. It’s not long until either the materials fail and falls (“and great was it’s crash”) or someone takes notice and has to initiate a repair effort.

        • Steven Waling

          Some pillars are load-bearing, some are merely there to be decorative. Love God & love your neighbour: load-bearing. Virgin birth? miracles? decorative.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Dang, if that doesn’t need a quadruple like.

          • Adam334

            Really, Steve? So you think God constructed the Word to have *ornamental* truths? Have you ever witnessed a miracle? If a man lives in a cave all his life and never sees a train, does this make the train nonexistent?

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

            There is publicly verifiable evidence of the existence of trains. Do you have publicly verifiable evidence of miracles?

            “Science replaces private prejudice with publicly verifiable evidence.”
            youtube.com/watch?v=9Cd36WJ79z4

          • Adam334

            Yes, many people saw what Jesus did, and heard what He said.

            With that foundation, I have experienced and seen miracles with my own eyes!

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

            Sorry, that’s not publicly verifiable evidence. Those authors can’t even agree on the Jesus story. From what location did Jesus supposedly ascend? How many days after his supposed resurrection? Let me know.

            Yeah, I’ve seen “miracles” too.

            The shamans are forever yacking about their snake-oil miracles. I prefer the Real McCoy — a pregnant woman.” —Robert A. Heinlein

          • Adam334

            Nearly everything Jesus did was in public, and was written down. We have witnesses who testified, albeit very long ago. Tell me this….you seem to know very many quotes of famous people, particularly Thomas Jefferson. How do you verify that these quotes were written by our 3rd president? You seem to have at least some level of faith in historians who have discovered these letters, but how do you really KNOW it was from the president? They could have been completely fabricated! You weren’t there to witness him writing the letter, or to receive the letter. And *YET*, you still base much of what your believe on his writings.

            By the way, I used to think a lot like you. I was raised to believe that miracles are falsehood. Until I experience them for myself *PUBLICLY*, it was undeniable.

            “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth!” Sir Arthur Canon Doyle – Sherlock Holmes

            “With God, all things are possible.” – Jesus Christ’s ethical teachings…..

          • Sheila Warner

            A miracle is simply an occurrence that defies a logical or scientific explanation. How many times do we hear things like “it’s a miracle he survived” after someone is rescued? And, there are some people who defy all medical expectations and recover from illnesses or accidents and doctors throw up their hands and say they cannot explain what happened. Sometimes the laws of science are turned on their heads. We can’t understand it, so it’s a miracle to us. Some things are eventually discovered. I believe in miracles because there are some things that defy logical explanations. Miracles don’t have to be religious in nature to occur.

          • Adam334

            That is dependent on you definition of “religious”.

          • Sheila Warner

            I’m a Catholic, and my church thrives on miracles. Some of which I agree with, and some which I don’t. The beauty of Catholicism is that private revelations–visions–are not required to be believed. If the Church deems them worthy of belief, it is still up to the individual as to whether or not s/he believes it. I’m not keen on burying a statue of St Joseph upside down in order to sell a house, for example, and I doubt that wearing a scapula is a guarantee of entry into heaven.

          • Adam334

            I am non-denom, and my church also thrives on miracles! People are getting healed miraculously, prophecies abound, and it seems that these private revelations you speak of abound, too. Have you ever experienced any of these for yourself?

          • Sheila Warner

            Not me, but a dear friend of mine has.

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

            You really don’t get what publicly verifiable evidence worthy of scientific inquiry is.

          • Adam334

            Hey Brian, I’m sorry I called you an ignorant fool. You are *not* an ignorant fool, you are made in the likeness of my God and highly intellectual! I guess I got a little worked up in the conversation. I hope you forgive me.

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

            God loves and forgives you. Read ten pages of Randell Helm’s Gospel Fictions and ten pages of Gregory Riley’s The River of God: A New History of Christian Origins. Go in peace.

          • Adam334

            Yes, He does!!! Thank you for that reminder. If I find them at the library, I will! Is there anything I can pray with you about? Are you in need of anything? I believe God wants to show Himself strong to you!

          • Sheila Warner

            Why is it that Christians themselves see certain truths as “decorations”? Isn’t there a list that “real” Christians have to adhere to, while other doctrines are nonessential? I’ll give you a few: speaking in tongues, baptism by immersion, the literal interpretation of the Bible, KJV vs every other translation out there….yes, some of what is in the Bible is decorative.

          • Steven Waling

            I’m sorry, I don’t think ‘God constructed the Word’ makes any sense whatever.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

          Adam, the primary Word is the ‘Verse. The one Verse. The uni-verse. Reason and science are sacred “homage” to The Big Fellow (if we must anthropomorphize) who provided them to you. Use them; don’t abdicate your mind.

          “Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

          The Bible is just written by people, quite fallible, sometimes even evil, considering some of the horrors in the Bible.

          I’m a Christian, and I don’t believe in the virgin birth, resurrection, magical spirits, or any of that Platonic (Greek superstitions of the spirit world) corruption of Jesus’ ethical teachings.

          “…I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel, and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what it’s Author never said nor saw. they have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man…” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816

          • Adam334

            I’m sorry, Brian. You lost me on the verse thing…. I think what you are saying is God’s Word is the universe…still lost. The universe is bound by laws. But if there is a God, and He at least had a hand in the creation of this universe, than couldn’t He have made secret laws that only He knew about? You are an ignorant fool to say they couldn’t be simply because you haven’t seen them. You just don’t understand them yet!

            Yes, the Bible was written by fallible human beings,…. that were filled a literal part of God: the Holy Spirit. And if God is Sovereign, than he can (and has) molded His Word throughout time to project a clear image of himself to the world (The Bible is the top best seller in the world, btw) Additionally, the Bible doesn’t depict a perfect world. A lot of bad crap happened! It depicts a real life fallen world in need of a supernatural God with a perfect plan to save humanity from it’s inevitable destruction. This is SO much greater than just Jesus’ ethical teachings. These sayings are complete wisdom, and it’s awesome that we have them written down (Glory to God). Moreover, He did something greater than just speak words. He ACTED! He preformed miracles, He went to cross to pay for our sins, and He resurrected giving us hope for a similar resurrection! If you cannot believe in this, than I fear for your soul! On the day God will judge every thought, word, and action. Will you be innocent or guilty?

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

            The thrill of religion for you is Schadenfreude, i.e., pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others, even if only imagined in your Platonic superstitions of tyrant skygods.

            “…I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel, and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what it’s Author never said nor saw. they have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man…” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816

            “The euthanasia of platonic christianity: Thomas Jefferson, Plato, religion and human freedom.” Gregory Lawrence Knittel, San Jose State University 1993. scholarworks.sjsu.edu/etd_theses/689/

          • Sheila Warner

            I know, right? I blasted the guy. Couldn’t help myself. I consider myself a Christian but don’t go around condemning those who aren’t. Sheesh. I get so sick of the hubris of some.

          • Sheila Warner

            >>>If you cannot believe in this, than I fear for your soul! On the day God will judge every thought, word, and action. Will you be innocent or guilty?<<<

            And…..the cringe factor. Why do you insist on injecting your own interpretation of the Bible as if it is a fact? Especially the part where you refer to your opponent as an ignorant fool. Yea, I really like that love of God and neighbor showing there. You fear for his soul, implying that you know for certain how God's going to judge him. How arrogant, such hubris, such gag-inducing rhetoric. Why not say "this is what I believe the Bible teaches", keep on track with the love of God you see demonstrated via Jesus, and leave your snarky remarks to yourself. This is why people don't want to follow Christianity, and people like you make it ridiculously hard for Christians like me who want to share God's love with others. Rhetoric like yours gives me heartburn.

            Do me a favor–start some kind of group that is like you are, and you guys can have a go at throwing around all kinds of wonderful rhetoric like this. That way you get it out of your system, and no one else has to be embarrassed for you.

          • Adam334

            Hi Sheila, you’re right! I shouldn’t have called Brian an ignorant fool. Thanks for calling that to my attention. I think I let my indignation bleed onto the paragraph.

            God’s judgement is real. And it scares me to think about some writers on here who really think they’re alright when the Bible clearly teaches they aren’t.

            About your comment on interpretation. I believe everything I have said can be tagged with a Bible verse on the end. If you believe I have said something that is non-Biblical in a discussion you read, than please point it out to me! Thanks for joining in the convos!

          • Sheila Warner

            Hey, I’m Catholic, so you get no argument from me about who Jesus is. If you’re a Protestant, then there are those “nonessentials” to which I referred. I’ve been accused of not being a “real” Christian, which is funny because I was a Fundamentalist for over 40 years before I became a Catholic. So, I kind of see things from both sides. I just don’t find it productive to assert that I am right and others are wrong. It’s better to “have an answer ready” when asked about “the hope that is within”. I gladly share but I don’t clobber. Thanks for your kind reply.

          • Adam334

            Awesome! If I assert anything in future conversations, it will be that God’s Word is right, no matter how bad I don’t like it. The fact that people will go to Hell is one of my driving forces in these discussions. I pray for everyone that I converse with that they will enter eternity on Heaven’s side.

            Anyway, I would like to know how this switch from “Fundementalist” to “Catholic” came about? What made you transfer?

          • Sheila Warner

            Long story. It started with a prayer, because I was frustrated with every church I attended having a different interpretation of the Bible. Some of those churches fought with each other. For example, the Baptists insist on adult baptism by immersion, while some others baptize babies. Some say you don’t have the Holy Spirit unless you speak in tongues, and others say tongues are no longer in operation.

            Years later I was introduced to Catholicism by my daughter’s then friend, now husband, and I found out that the Church teaches that it is the Church which interprets the Bible, not people. Plus, the doctrines I had been told were wrong in Catholicism turned out not to be doctrines at all (Catholics don’t worship statues). And, I found that the Church can back up its doctrines in the Bible. Of course, the Catholic Bible includes the apocryphal books as part of the canon, so there was more Bible there to begin with.

            After 4 years of attending Mass, I enrolled in the adult conversion class and a year later was received into the Church. There’s a whole lot more, but this is very long.

      • Adam334

        And, by the way, just because there are more Catholic than Protestant doesn’t mean the Catholic are right. Majority doesn’t rule, Christ rules!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/ Dan Wilkinson

      “To be a Christian you have to believe…” Except that Jesus never says you have to believe any of those things. I’m not saying those doctrines you listed aren’t important, but when you start setting up specific doctrinal understandings as prerequisites for being a Christian, you run the very real risk of subverting the gospel message itself. Yes, we should be on guard against a Christianity that is so vague that it becomes devoid of meaning, but we should be equally on guard against over-defining Christianity into a specific set of doctrinal requirements.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

      Why is it necessary to believe in miracles to be a christian? Thomas Jefferson was a christian and didn’t believe in miracles, in fact, the silly magic show is what makes atheists of people, which he observed 200 years ago, and is still true today. Unitarian/Universalists are christians and don’t much believe in miracles either. I guess you don’t get to define the term christian as if you somehow owned the Jesus Property.

  • Pasha

    Wow, this website is way more liberal than I initially thought. My ideas of accepting the orality of the creation texts would be seen as quite liberal by a bunch of conservatives. I still deem the texts to be true and I also am happy with the universe being 13 billion years old (only highlights all the more how Eternal God is). I am also happy if God wants to use evolution as part of his creation and believe the Genesis text even supports this. So I would be typecast as a liberal for thinking these things.

    But it seems that most on here do not need to believe in a physical resurrection. The problem with this is that St. Paul says if the resurrection were not actually true then Christians would be a bunch of fools. So the physical resurrection is the lynch pin of being a Christian. If one does not believe in this then they are a fool trying to be a Christian at all.

    May was well be a Jedi.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      The commenters on this particular conversation do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of all the people who come to this forum. There is a wide variety of beliefs, faith traditions, experiences etc. that are represented here, some more liberal, some less so. Because there is such a wide range of viewpoints, what one considers to be a lynchpin of Christianity, may be something else to someone else.

      • Pasha

        Fair enough. I guess I just wanted to distance myself a little bit. I don’t consider myself to be “fundamentalist” nor “unfundamentalist”.

        • Adam334

          Thanks for coming! If you back away slowly and talk in a low voice, we won’t bite! 😉 Blessings!

        • Andy

          You don’t have to consider yourself anything in particular to have good conversation. There are people at Unfundamentalist Christians that are neither unfundamentalist, nor Christian.

          Discuss.

    • Sheila Warner

      You misquote St Paul. In I Corinthians, in the NIV, he says “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” In the KJV the translation is that we are most miserable.