Defending the Christian Faith in Today’s Worldview – Ken Ham

This lecture was kind of all over the place. It had more of the technical details I’m interested in than the others, but it also had a lot of trying to convince Christians that creationism is important. Because he was bouncing all over, and I couldn’t keep up with my notes, this post is going to be difficult to follow.

Ken started this lecture off by showing us their new advertisement in Times Square:

Does that mean I met the real Jesus at the Holy Land Experience too? I’m glad I got his autograph! The fact that Noah was animatronic is missing from the Bible, but it does explain how he managed to live 950 years.

Then Ken started ranting about how “historical science” is different than “observational science”:

“It doesn’t matter is found, the evolutionists will always have an answer. Always. You know why? Because no matter what you find you modify your model to fit the find.”

Contrary to Ken’s assertions, this isn’t just true of “historical science”. It’s true of science in general. Scientists observed that Mercury’s orbit didn’t quite match that predicted by Newton’s equations, and Einstein’s general relativity replaced Newton’s universal gravitation. Scientists observed that electrons seem to be more free to move around than protons, and the Rutherford model of the atom replaced the Bohr model. And my husband has observed that the expression of the gene that regulates his protein doesn’t fit in the current model. And he is desperately trying to figure out how the model needs to be revised to account for these observations. None of that is “historical science”. It’s just science. The models are refined as you observe new evidence.

When we find new observations that don’t fit into the current model, we come up with a new model that explains the difference. Then we create a hypothesis based on the new model that predicts something different (that has not yet been observed) from the existing model. Then we test it to see if that prediction is true.

There’s only one way you can be sure to understand all about history and how it all happened and what it’s all about. There’s only one way. You can use someone who’s always been there, who knows everything, who doesn’t tell a lie, who reveals for us the key evidence that we need to know to give us that story. Does anyone know anyone like that?

There’s only one other possibility. Man has to figure it all out.

No, I don’t know anyone like that. I don’t think anyone like that exists. Fortunately, I do know that man has done a very good job of figuring things out.

The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about the structure of the atom. It doesn’t tell us anything about electricity. It doesn’t tell us that illness is often caused by germs, and that we can prevent it with hygiene and drugs to kill those germs. Man had to figure all of that out. And we did a very good job of it. Why are the same techniques so inadequate for figuring out what happened in the past?

Also, why is the Bible so useless at figuring out the present? Where are all of the scientists saying “I was just reading the Bible the other day and I came up with this great invention”? If we had  looked to the Bible and noted that seizures are caused by daemons, would we have treatments? We observed people with epilepsy. We built new and better equipment to observe what was going on better. And we developed treatments that allow them to live normal lives. Even for defeating daemons man seems to win out over the Bible.

Next he got back into why Christians shouldn’t believe in evolution:

“There are Christians that say you know, God could have used the big bang. Well it’s not a matter of what God could have done, its a matter of what God said he did.”

I kept this quote just to emphasize the difference between AIG and the intelligent design theorists. AIG doesn’t believe in God because evolution is impossible. They believe evolution did not happen because God said so. The two ideologies are contradictory and incompatible.

Back to the Bill Nye debate:

“One of the statements Bill Nye made was that you would expect out of order fossils. Well here’s the thing. According to evolutionists you find fossils in a particular order. Why are there no out of order fossils? Because they often find fossils out of order, so then they just say the range has increased so they are no longer out of order!”

Well Ken, I’m touring the Bergess Shale this summer. If I find a fossilized bunny rabbit I will be convinced. If we “often” find fossils out of order, then I expect I shouldn’t have much trouble finding a clear example if I travel the world looking for one over the next two years.

But of course you don’t actually mean “often”. You mean that there are a handful of examples, so unconvincing that you don’t even want to list them, of anomalies in the fossil record that were plausibly explained by extending the range organism. You do not mean that someone discovered a precambrian cow. Presuming cattle outnumbered dinosaurs before the flood, shouldn’t we at least have a few Jurassic cattle?

Then he bounced back to the irrationality of atheism:

From the perspective of someone who’s an atheist, when they die they cease to exist. When people like you die they cease to exist. If they cease to exist, and the people around us today cease to exist, why do they bother to do anything? Why bother fighting creationism? What does it ultimately matter? Yeah they can say it matters because of the here and now and all the rest of it, but so what? Eventually you won’t even know! And you won’t even know you existed! They know. The knowledge of God is written on their hearts. They have a conscience! They know! Otherwise they wouldn’t bother.

Ken, how do you like it when people say the only reason you believe in the Bible is that you’re a homophobic misogynistic bigot? No reasonable person could believe that crap, you just like the excuse to beat your wife and children. You must believe the earth goes around the sun because it says so in the Bible! You think slavery and genocide must be good because they are in the Bible. And my imaginary friend says you don’t even exist!

Could you consider for a moment that other people’s beliefs might also be more complex and nuanced than some absurd caricature? Stop telling me what I must believe.

Having thus defeated the atheists, he moved on to other religions.

“There are people that say, you know, why not other books? Why not the Qur’an or why not…you know there are books written about Budda and Hindus have books and they have their sacred writings. Tell me one other book that does this. This book, the Bible, claims to be, over 3000 times, the word of God, who has always been there. And it reveals to us a very specific history. What other book gives us the origin of space, the origin of time, the origin of matter (God created the heavens and the Earth), the origin of water, the origin of the earth, the origin of dry land, the origin of plants, the origin of sea creatures, of sun, the moon, stars, the origin of sea creatures, the origin of life, the origin of land creatures, the origin of man, the origin of women, the origin of marriage, the origin of clothing, the origin of death, the origin of cultures, the origin of language the origin basis of understanding fossils, the flood of Noah’s day. What other book does that?”

Well, the Qur’an has all of those stories with slightly different details, so obviously that one. And pretty much every religion has some kind of creation story. Those are the common questions that religion was created to address. So as far as religious texts go, almost all of them.

 It gives such a specific history if it was true what would you expect to find? You would expect to find that there was only one race. Well guess what the human genome project found in 2006? There’s only one race. If it was true that God created the animals after their kind what would you expect? Each kind of animal would only produce it’s own kind. Guess what? Dogs only produce dogs. Cats only produce cats. Elephants only produce elephants. If this was true, that there was a global flood, you’d expect to find millions of dead things buried by rock laid down by water all over the earth. What do you find? That’s exactly what you find. And if the tower of Babel really happened then as they split up they would have taken accounts of the flood and creation, and they would have changed them, but ours would have been similar to the Bible The Jews borrowed their stories from the Babylonians, but they are the original. You have gods, not just one God, but gods, fighting and procreating and you have man being fought over by these gods and all sorts of issues, like with the flood, and they have all sorts of things about gods cutting each other in half, and gods that die. I mean if you have a look at which one sounds like the original. One Babylonian account has the boat a cube shaped seven stories high, that wouldn’t survive the flood very well!

You think the Noah story is so much more plausible than all other flood myths that we can obviously tell which one is true? I’m going to hold off on discussing which boat shape would be more likely to hold up to the flood until I finish my analysis of Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study and Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood, but I certainly don’t think it’s obvious that Noah’s boat was better. In addition, here’s a short list of things that make the flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh more plausible than the one in the Old Testament:

  1. Team of workmen built the boat, not a family of 8.
  2. Flood not necessarily global.
  3. The flood lasted only 6 days and 6 nights.

That’s 359 days less food and poop to deal with, as well as less need to exercise the animals.

Furthermore, having a bunch of gods disagree over whether the flood was a good idea makes a lot more sense than a single omniscient God that floods the earth and then regrets it after.

I start with God’s word. Bill Nye starts with man’s word.

Actually Bill Nye starts with observations of how the world works today. You start with man’s word, transmitted orally for centuries by illiterate nomads, written on scrolls, copied by people with an agenda, translated…

Science is the state of knowledge. So when they say science is in conflict with the Bible they are saying knowledge is in conflict with the Bible. Who’s knowledge? Is it false knowledge, is it true knowledge? What do they mean?

I don’t even know where to start with that.

What they’re saying is, we look at the earth and all the processes going on today, and we use that to understand the past. But how do you know that that’s always the way it’s been? When I said to Bill Nye it hasn’t always been the same because there was a global flood, he accused me of saying the laws of nature changed. The laws of nature don’t change. The events in the past have been different than the present.

I’m not sure why Ken objects to this. By definition a miracle involves suspension of the laws of nature. Does Ken claim that the 1st law of thermodynamics held while God caused the flood? That’s a lot of energy to balance. How could radioactive decay rates change without changing any laws of nature? How did God create the universe matter without violating conservation of matter? If the flood didn’t require the suspension of some laws of nature, what’s stopping it from happening again tomorrow?

My understanding was that God has temporarily changed the laws of nature, at least in the past, and those events are called miracles. If he’s saying that the laws of nature held as they are through those events I’m not sure what he means.

He used the same “creation orchard” picture from the Bill Nye debate:

“Creation orchard” picture I recognized from the Bill Nye debate.

Note that we start with a single branch, presumably representing one uniform kind with no variation at creation. The lines spread out fairly gradually into various species as we move toward the flood. The flood is about 2/3 of the way into the diagram, so it’s actually pretty close to scale. The flood narrows it down to a single kind again, but they immediately spread out to the width they had before the flood.

This seems really odd to me. Why do they take so long to spread out in the beginning, when God told them to “be fruitful and increase in number”? But post flood, when God gives them a new, very powerful predator, is when they really thrive! And if anything wouldn’t genetic variability have been lost in the flood? Remember, we can’t create any new information. So if anything they should spread out slower and to a smaller overall width.

Then the dinosaurs go extinct, which if the diagram is to scale is around 1000BC. But most of their “proof” of dinosaurs coexisting with humans is from late Roman to the middle ages. Why wouldn’t they want to show the dinosaurs being alive for over 2/3 of the history of the universe? Do they think people might find it harder to believe if they showed that?

Even more interesting is the apes. Notice the huge number of species of ape that appear immediately after the flood and then disappear just as suddenly. Even before the dinosaurs. This presumably represents all of the extinct homonids that they don’t consider human.

But the variation into species is caused by natural selection narrowing down the perfect gene pool to the genes that are best suited for a particular environment. So all of that variation should be apes adapting to their environments. Why would they adapt to the environment and then immediately go extinct? If the environment just wasn’t suited for apes, then all of the apes would die. None of them would reproduce, and there would be no selective pressure to branch out into species. Speciation implies that not only did some survive, but that a consistent set of genes was advantageous to survival.

If the diagram is approximately to scale, the post-flood time frame for these species is about 500 years. That’s only 20 generations for most apes. They went from generic ape kind to Australopithecus to extinction in 20 generations?

So why did they draw the extinctions so soon then? Remember, if it is to scale we are talking about 1500BC. And a lot of these fossils were found in the area of Egypt. We are well into the written history of Egypt by this time. Why is there no mention of them? And the flood to now is only 160 ape generations, so it doesn’t get a lot more practical anyway.

When they find a fossil they say it’s a transitional form. If evolution is still going on point to a living animal that is a transitional form. Shouldn’t we see something?

At this point it became very clear that Ken Ham really doesn’t understand evolution. This is not universally true of YECs. I’m really not sure why no one within his organization has pointed out how ridiculous this makes him sound.

When you look for a transitional form, you are trying to explain how a particular feature evolved. You look for older species that do not yet fully have the feature you are examining, but are part way there. Like a fish that does not yet have legs, but maybe has fins that could partially support it’s weight and were used to crawl around the bottom of the pond.

You can’t look for a transitional form for a feature that has not yet developed. There probably are a lot of transitional forms existing today. But until we invent a time machine we’re not going to know what features develop a few million years down the road.

We do have the transitional forms for some of the smaller evolution events we have been able to observe. For example in the e. coli long term evolution experiment we have frozen samples of transitional forms between the bacteria that could not metabolize citrate and the bacteria that could. But Ken Ham doesn’t accept that anything we can demonstrate is evolution, so of course he’s not going to accept these as transitional forms.

We have millions of people, billions of people been brainwashed in a fairy tale. Because they love darkness rather than light.

I honestly can’t believe he said that, not me.

If you go out into the secular world. If you go to the secular museums here in Alberta, if you go to the public schools, if you go to the professors at the Universities, and then you go to the museums in England, for example, or Bolivia, or to the teachers in those countries all around the world, those secular teachers, or in Russia, or in China, it doesn’t matter where you go, here’s what you notice. Or the television programs, the Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, PBS, whatever it is, here’s what you notice. The secular world has the same one, basic message. And they’re in union. They agree. Little differences, but it’s in the school textbooks. School textbooks in Canada are the same as the ones in America, are the same as Germany. What do they say?

Life arose from natural processes. There was a big bang billions of years ago. And they’ve all got much the same dates. You know, about 14 billion years ago. And how the earth and life arose and one type of animal changed into another and ape-like creatures into people. Isn’t that the message? Isn’t it the same the world over?

Now, you go to the church. And you ask the average church goer, the average Christian believer, pastor, deacon, Christian College professor, Bible College professor, Seminary professor in our world today so what do you believe about evolution?

Well, I’m not really sure.

Well could be, but I don’t know.

Well I believe Genesis is just figurative.

Well I believe Adam was real, but he was just an ape-like creature.

I’m not really sure.

I think millions of years fit between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. There’s a gap.

Well I dunno.

Well I think the days were millions of years long.

Well I think there’s a gap between each day of millions of years.

Well I think there was a global flood.

Well I think there was a local flood.

Well I’m not really sure.

Well I believe in the theistic evolution.

Well I believe in progressive creation.

Well I believe in the gap theory.

Well I like the framework hypothesis.

Well I think the day-gap-day-gap theory.

Well I believe in days revelation theory.

But anyway trust in Jesus!

 

 

Do you know why we all these different views and none of them work?They are all attempts to introduce man’s ideas of millions of years somehow into the Bible!

Or perhaps because they are all attempts to reconcile some ancient illiterate nomad’s ideas with reality.

Then he recounted his encounter with a woman who “called herself an atheist” that visited the Creation Museum:

Atheist: See we are real scientists. We start with evidence, and we are prepared to change our theories. You aren’t prepared to change. We are. We will change if new evidence comes along.

Ken Ham: You’re an atheist.

Atheist: That’s right.

Ken Ham: You don’t believe in God.

Atheist: That’s right.

Ken Ham: The Bible’s not true.

Atheist: That’s right.

Ken Ham: You’re not prepared to even consider the account of creation and the flood in the Bible?

Atheist: No, not at all. (So why was she at the Creation Museum?)

Ken Ham: Are you prepared to change any of that?

<Applause and cheers>

He didn’t actually give her response. I’m not sure what it was. I know mine would have been yes. It would take some very convincing evidence. Perhaps even extraordinary evidence. But yes, I am prepared to change my beliefs. I just need someone to give me a good reason.

You see no matter what evidence she finds she’s already decided there is no God, the Bible is not true. And that is why no matter what they find, they’ll always have a story. They’ll always change their beliefs. They’ll change their ideas. Why? Because you’re talking about the past, and therefore they can continually change.

The Bible never changes. God’s word never changes.

 

Hold on. You were just accusing her of being unwilling to change, and now she’s too willing to change? How does that work?

How can they change their starting point? They can’t. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
If it’s only God that can change them what’s the point of your ministry?

Jesus comes to the tomb of Lazarus. The first thing he says is “take away the stone.” Couldn’t he have with a thought removed the stone? Couldn’t he have made it disappear? But he didn’t. What humans can do he got humans to do. I don’t understand why God works this way, but all through the scriptures you see it. 

So if I care about human suffering even though I don’t believe there is an ultimate purpose, I’m obviously lying. I lie because I’m addicted to sins, which I generally don’t actually commit. But that’s because I know in my heart that they are wrong. So I’m lying to myself and condemning myself to eternal torment so that I can justify a lifestyle that I don’t actually live.

But you devote your life to changing people’s minds that you believe you cannot change. To convince them to believe in a book that says their minds cannot be changed. And that makes sense, for reasons even you admit you don’t understand.

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One thought on “Defending the Christian Faith in Today’s Worldview – Ken Ham

  1. Pingback: Ken Ham Conference – Overview | Skeptasmic

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