Friday, April 23, 2010

Ken Ham's Updated Statement on Bruce Waltke

Many evangelicals are still reeling from the controversy surrounding the resignation of Bruce Waltke from Reformed Theological Seminary and the event has been a wake up call for scientists who profess a faith in Jesus Christ. It is not surprising, however, that the reaction by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has been different. Here is what he has to say:
It is so obvious to me that the BioLogos Foundation (now headed up by two Nazarene college professors who are ardent evolutionists and liberal in their theology) have loved having a world renowned scholar like Waltke endorse them, as they are being very aggressive in pushing their liberal theology agenda on the church. In fact, if you want to see where compromising evolution/millions of years with the Bible leads to, go to the BioLogos website and read their question and answer section.
This is an example of what Chaplain Mike wrote in his response to the dismissal of Dr. Waltke. It doesn't matter how devoted to the cause of Christ he was. It doesn't matter how much Christian scholarship he was responsible for. If he accepted evolution, his theology was liberal. Liberal? Liberal theology is rejecting the divinity of Christ. Liberal theology is rejecting the trinity. The simple acceptance of evolution does not a liberal theologian make.

Here is the litmus test Chaplain Mike described: evolution. Its evidence notwithstanding, if you accept it, you are branded as compromising your understanding of the Bible. No other viewpoint of scripture can be correct. Sad.

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  1. In my less charitable moments, I suspect Ham's simply pathological about evolution (and "millions of years"). I love science, think it and theology should be fully integrated and have worked to do so, but I know that it's not a central issue in the larger scheme of things. As you say, Christology and theology proper are much more important. But for Ham and people like him, it's an absolute deal breaker. He doesn't, to his credit, go as far as saying that evolutionists aren't Christians but he does say we're "compromised Christians". I'm sorry, but that's just not the case. It just isn't. Evolution vs. creationism is NOT even remotely that important. The guy needs to chill.

  2. Yes, he is less militant than people like Gary Bauer and Henry Morris used to be but his stance has hardened in the recent years as AiG has gained a more wide following. It is still unconscionable for him to say these things. As Darrel Falk said, Bruce Waltke is a world-renowned theologian, Bible scholar and professor. By comparison, Ken Ham is a hack. Where does he get off pontificating about the situation?

  3. Ham's deal breaker, as is obvious from a visit to his "Museum," is the "millions of years" bit. While he rails against evolution (without understanding it), it's the age of the earth that is his litmus test. In this he's echoing George McCready Price, the self-taught Adventist 'geologist' who almost single-handedly kept the flame of young earth geology alive for most of the first half of the 20th century. Price's view was essentially the same as Ham's: show that the earth is young and evolution fails as a direct result.

  4. Yes, and the amazing thing is that Henry Morris and John Whitcomb assimilated ALL of Price's junk geology without a thought of discrimination or examination. So, when Price moved on to join the choir invisible, he had willing successors. Now, Ham is carrying the torch. Amazing.

  5. I'm thrilled to have found this blog. I was brought up in a YEC environment, but started moving away from it over the last couple of years.

    First, as I started looking at geology more closely, I became convinced that the earth is in fact very old. I kind of jumped on the Hugh Ross bandwagon for awhile.

    After that, I started seeing what looked like inescapable evidence for evolution. My expertise and degree are in nutrition, and the more I studied things like human nutrition, anthropology, and the advent of agriculture (which is when human health really took a nosedive), the more I became convinced that YEC could not account for the vast ecological connectedness of this world.

    Actually, as funny as it may sound, one of the biggest issues for me that got the wheels turning on this was the existence of carnivores. I grew up with the YEC arguments like, "The T-Rex was obviously a vegetarian because his teeth were too loose to eat meat." But the world is filled with more than extinct dinosaurs. How do we explain them? How does YEC explain that the world is filled with animals that are obviously adapted -- almost exclusively -- for eating meat? Nutritionally and anatomically, these animals are meat-eaters. Not only this, but man is an omnivore whose digestive system from head to tail more closely resembles a carnivore than an herbivore. If God originally created man -- and all animals -- as exclusive herbivores, then why are there so many anatomical carnivores?

    I don't believe the Fall can account for this on YEC terms. We'd be talking about seriously funky and accelerated mutation. 6,000 years is certainly not enough time to make an herbivore into a carnivore, even by YEC standards.

    What is the YEC response to this? I tried looking it up once on AiG, and didn't find much. They said something like, "Well, we feed our dogs dog food that is cereal-based, therefore carnivores don't need meat." Or, "There's a story of a cat in the news that refuses meat and only eats vegetables, therefore it's possible for all animals to do that." These responses struck me as desperate, and the ignorance I saw was frankly embarrassing. It appeared that the YECs could not handle or explain the details.

    Not only this, but if there weren't carnivores, entire ecosystems would collapse. There is a delicate ecological balance between predator and prey. Animal life and animal death are necessary for a properly functioning world. It seems that God would have had to recreate an entirely different kind of world altogether after the Fall, if the Genesis account of creation is taken literally.

    Anyway, these were some of the issues I wrestled with that brought me to thinking about the creation/evolution issue in a fresh, new way. I'm very glad to have found your blog. It's encouraging to see another Christian with a robust stance on both science and faith. I look forward to reading.


  6. David,
    You are right about the omnivore thing. In fact, in a very peculiar fashion, our intestinal tracts are (correct me if I am wrong here) actually designed for both floral and faunal consumption, almost as if we had evolved to do both.

    The YEC response is typical: take one single example of something that supports your view and extrapolate it to the entire universe to prove your point. It is like getting a hundred people in a room and asking them all what time it is. Odds are one person's watch will be broken. That doesn't mean we don't know how to tell time. This kind of nonsense happens in radiometric dating as well.

    You know more about ecosystems and nutrition than any YEC writing about the subject. The problem is that they don't want to learn any more than they know. It is the same with evolution. That is why that ICR post by Brian Thomas was so embarrassing. It was clear that he had no interest in learning any more about a theory that he knew nothing about in the first place.

    I also noticed that the ICR doesn't leave room for comments, either.

  7. Good thoughts. Yes, it seems that YECs do a lot of over-extrapolating when it comes to isolated, non-typical, or non-contextual events/evidences.

    You're right-- our digestive systems are adapted to both plant and animal products. We lean toward the carnivore side of the spectrum, but are certainly not total carnivores. The intestines are longer than that of a pure carnivore, and we have certain adaptations like amylase, which is an enzyme for digesting starch. We've likely been eating tubers for a long time.

    The Brian Thomas post was indeed embarrassing. I'm certainly no expert in that area, but he was way off on some pretty basic stuff. It's really sad to me. I have good friends (and family) in the YEC camp and I don't revel in their wrongness. I really wish the Church could mature to the point that a more universally satisfying synthesis could be made between science and the biblical account. Some scholars are willing to try (e.g. Waltke), but the price seems high for the time being.

  8. I also wish that were the case but given what happened to Bruce Waltke, I am not holding my breath.

  9. I'm getting a bit tired of the use of the word "liberal" as a synonym for "wrong." It strikes me as short-circuiting evidence and dialog.