For the last couple of days there have been a number of post-debate analysis between Ham-Nye. Let me just say at the outset that I am not as negative on the debate as I am on the pro-Ham reviews of the debate. What I mean is that while I still don’t agree with Ham’s argument for creationism and I still don’t think this debate should have taken place. But he was only mildly derisive toward old earth creationists. And the aftermath could be worst if Nye was a better debater. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that most of the pro-Ham reviewers did not really get into the substance of the debate as to why Ham did so well. But they speak in generalities of how Ham is able to undauntingly contrast his Christian worldview against Nye’s atheist materialistic worldview. And that to them is considered a victory. Really? Who was even challenged by what the other side said? If you can’t even create a challenge for the opposition how can that be considered doing well. It would have been better for Ham to just hold a camp revival meeting and just proclaim the gospel maybe that would have been more fruitful.
There are other examples that I could use to illustrate this but I want to highlighting just two examples from men that seem quite reasonable at other times, but not in this case. The first example comes from Michael Egnor at EN&V.
I think that Ham did very well — he pointed out the important differences between observational/experimental science and historical science, and he made the important point that historical science is particularly influenced by metaphysical assumptions. Darwinists like Bill Nye do their historical science from a materialist and atheist perspective, and it clearly taints their insights.
Unlike Nye, Ham was honest about his own perspectives — which are Biblical and for which I have great respect and much agreement.
You can look at this link for a more detail analysis of Ham’s Observational science.
What I want to focus on is Egnor’s praise of Ham for doing well. The reason why Egnor thinks Ham did well is because Ham pointed out Nye’s science was based on his metaphysical assumptions. Ham also based his science on metaphysical assumptions but at least he is honest about it. In essence Ham did very well because he is honest and Nye is not. Before I continue on I can’t help but ask is Egnor’s analysis based on his bias due to his perspectives being aligned with Ham’s? And also because he has “great respect and much agreement” with Ham? Could this admiration have possibly tainted his own judgment of how well Ham did in the debate?
But back to my main point about these favorable debate performance by Ham. Did these reviewers, Egnor and Dougherty which I am about to quote, show how Ham masterfully employed Cornelius Van Til’s presuppositional apologetics to stifle Nye’s arguments. Did Ham made any convincing argument of how the historical science of the historic Christian faith is superior to the historical science of Nye’s materialistic faith? The majority of Ham’s arguments amounts to the Bible said it I believe it and that settle it. This is the problem. But before I elaborate on this let me give another example of this tribal loyalty support for Ham.
This next one comes from Michael Brendan Dougherty of The Week. His article is titled “In defense of creationists”. I don’t know who Dougherty is but I do know Admiral Dougherty in the Star Trek movie Insurrection. I am not trying to compare the two, okay, maybe just a little bit.
In most times and most places, I have a load of sympathy and even admiration for six-day creationists, “young Earthers,” and fundamentalists. As the debate between Ham and Nye unfolded, I found myself more and more disgusted with some of the self-styled “sophisticated” Christians performing their giggles at Ham for all the world to see.
There was something just a little ugly about all these Christians rushing up to their platforms, drawing attention to the sweat on their brow, putting a concerned look upon their faces, and proclaiming that fundamentalism is a “modern” error. And then when they were sure everyone was listening, lifted up their eyes heavenward to pray, “God, I thank you that I am not like this mouth-breather Ken Ham.” With a great urgency, but very little understanding of cosmology or the various theories of evolution, they recited their absolute fidelity to these theories. These anxious-to-please Christians were telling important truths, but in the spirit of a lie.
Let me make a side comment not germane to the point of this post. I have to say Dougherty is a great writer. I wish I am half has good as he is. He reminds me much of Christopher Hitchens who has the ability to browbeat you and still make you say wow that was so good. But I have to point out I am not sure how Dougherty knows that some of these Christians that he is chastising are “self-styled sophisticated” and they are performing for the world to see. And I wonder just how sophisticated and how much understanding does anyone need to have on cosmology and the theory of evolution before they can disagree with Ham? And on the flip side how sophisticated and how much understanding does someone need to have before they can agree with Ham’s 24-hourism? And it seems a bit much for Dougherty to assume how these Christians are praying before their God.
But back to my main point.
On the other hand, I’ve always found those Christians who hold to six-day accounts of man’s origin difficult to refute and even more difficult to despise. There is a certain strength and flexibility to their tautology. Further, even though they’re wrong on the science, they are right about the things that really matter to the human heart and to human civilization.
All orthodox Christians agree with the theological statement that God created the world ex nihilo — that is, out of nothing. And so it is a kind of nonsense to say that the fundamentalist is refuted by the fact that the speed of light travels thus and so, and we can see light from stars much, much further than 6,000 light-years away. Do we really think that a God who daubs the great blackness with burning stars cannot hang their light as well? It would be like saying a carpenter cannot paint a piece of crown molding before it is installed.
If Ken Ham is getting rich telling things he knows to be false, he’s a shameless fraud. But the bulk of creation’s fundamentalists are deeply sincere. And, better than that, they are willing to be, in St. Paul’s words “fools for Christ’s sake.” They do not live for the world’s esteem. And so when the world next discovers a sophisticated ideology to get around “Thou shall not murder,” I’d rather have one cussed fundie next to me than the whole army of eye-rolling Christians lining up to denounce him.
In essence what Dougherty said is that Ham is better than those self-style “sophisticated” Christians who criticize Ham’s YEC because Ham courageously upholds the core values of the Bible of which 24-hourism is a part. Even more, Ham like the best of our Christian tradition, he is willing to be “fools for Christ’s sake.” 1 Co 4:10 is indeed a high calling and Paul was also using it to mock the Corinthians, but we must be careful not to fall into the category of (Psalm 107:17 ESV) Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction, or Prov 10:14, 13:20.
I don’t even want to speculate on Ham’s or AiG’s motives and how rich they are getting from all of this. The important thing is, what is the truth and are we faithful in attesting to the integrity, inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God. So let’s connect these two themes from Egnor and Dougherty. They find Ham’s debate performance favorable because they agree and admire his tenacity, courage and unflinching faithfulness to the Word of God.
But here is the problem. This dogmatic, undaunting, unapologetic, unyielding defense for the Word of God is great. I love this kind of zeal, and I try to be that way myself. However, when you are wrong these virtues become a stench. And instead of being fools for Christ’s sake, we become fools because of our own pride, stubbornness, ignorance and even greed. Dougherty runs afoul when he imply that those who disagree with Ham on 24-hourism also doubt God’s power to create as the way YEC have prescribed i.e., the appearance of geological time and starlight in transit. On the contrary, we have no doubt about God’s omnipotence but we do have doubts about Ham’s and AiG omniscience and their ability to speak Ex cathedra; I know this might be hard for some YEC to believe. But I think Ham and AiG do not speak for God and their understanding of Genesis 1 is wrong.
And there is another problem with Ham and AiG with their zealot and nuclear approach to 24-hourism. It is great if you are fools for Christ’s sake but if you are fools because of your own sins then it is no longer the world that is at fault. You have now become a stumbling block for those who would believe. Think about it. This is analogous to a Christian who preaches against adultery, gambling and drinking with the same zeal that AiG does with 24-hourism. But then people discovered this Christian is violating all of those sins. This person’s witness have become a stumbling block. You wouldn’t praise them in a debate for speaking against these sins saying “at least they are willing to be fools for Christ’s sake because they support Biblical morality.” Ham is in a sense guilty of the same hypocrisy. Throughout the debate he kept insisting that we can’t know the past, both Christians and atheists alike. Any conclusion of the past is based on our presuppositions. This is what Dougherty referred to as his honesty. Then he justifies his presupposition by saying the Bible is the only source of truth, because God wrote it and He was there. (This is his famous moniker argument.) But that cries afoul of hypocrisy. Because how does he know the Bible is the Word of God without historical science (his term). This makes Christianity look bad and we should not be praising him for this performance.
But when Scripture clearly shown that there are multiple literal meanings to a word and reality has clearly shown that the meaning that Ham and AiG have chosen is wrong, then you need to repent. But instead of repenting they have doubled down and demand Christians give them Ex cathedra and omniscient authority. This has happened before in the Church when it had much more power and influence over believers. The Church including Luther and Calvin believe Scripture supports geocentricism and branded Copernicus a heretic. And the atheists have been beating Christians with that stick ever since. It is sheer folly to argue against the revelation by God in nature and His special revelation through Moses on a word that have multiple literal meanings and say that I’ve made up my mind and I don’t care what God is telling me in His revelation in nature. This is exactly what Ham and AiG is doing, ignoring God’s revelation. The Bible is not a science cookbook don’t turn it into one.
Finally what is most disturbing and disconcerting with Ham, AiG and YEC for me is that they are so obstinate on this secondary issue, they have turned it into a core test of salvation. A YEC have tweeted after the debate saying Casey Luskin at EN&V and implying OEC in general has more in agreement with atheists than creationists.
First of all, contrary to YEC belief, OEC are creationists also. I don’t know what Casey’s stance is on the age of the earth, but I believe he is a Christian or as he puts it a Messianic Jew. So although both OEC and YEC believe we are saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ the Second Person in the Trinity, we believe in His bodily death and resurrection, we are repentant sinners, we believe in Heaven and Hell and His second coming, we believe God is the Creator of all things and reject Darwinian evolution, but because OEC think YEC is wrong on 24-hourism we are considered to have more in agreement with atheists? This is dangerous to put their egotistic interpretation above everything that is essential to our faith. According to Hugh Ross who said during a break in a debate he had with Ken Ham, Ham told him that he can’t worship the God Ross believes in because He allowed death before the Fall. Are you kidding me? Is Ken Ham really saying he is willing to put the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Creator, God and the savior of his soul behind his self-righteous 24-hourism? If that is true I might have a problem worshipping the God Ham worships because the God that I know from Scripture comes first above all else. To be fair Ham did say in the debate in referring to OEC that he is not saying we are not Christians. So I am not sure how to reconcile these two different statements. Maybe his debate with Ross on the John Ankerberg program was from an earlier date and he no longer holds that view. I can only hope.