Friday, January 06, 2017

Ken Ham and the Missing Dinosaurs

Ken Ham got into a twitter war with the WaPo, after one of its writers posted an article in which it was written that all of the dinosaurs died out during Noah's flood.  The WaPo has since updated the article to correct the view.  It mostly serves as a vehicle for promoting the film "We Believe in Dinosaurs," which is an examination of creationism in the US.   Here is part of what Vicky Hallett wrote:
[David MacMillan] joined the directors of “We Believe in Dinosaurs” for a recent Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) to explain why some people accept “creation science.”

One key question: Why is it called “science”?

The label is popular with creationists, MacMillan writes, because it allows them “to set themselves up as participants in an equal controversy, as if there are two equal sides to choose from.” To bolster that idea, he adds, “some creationists also try to mimic the appearance of hypotheses, research, and so forth.”

When a child is raised with creationism — as MacMillan was — it’s the default position. If that’s what’s taught in school, the curriculum limits exposure to the mainstream evidence that life on Earth is far older than some Bible-based believers insist it is.

“The whole focus of organized creationism is advancing the idea that all the evidence can be interpreted in a variety of ways and everyone is biased,” MacMillan writes. “Plausible deniability, you know?”
This is not so unlike the Hammish one's insistence that there is no such thing as "historical science" because nobody was there to observe what happened. "Were you there?" is his catchphrase for that.While there is uncertainty in the scientific world, the idea that there are always two ways of interpreting evidence is nonsense.  Often, there is so much evidence supporting one particular interpretation that the alternatives are thrown in the dustbin of history.  Phlogisten, spontaneous generation, inheritance of acquired characteristics are examples of these.

So is creation science.

As Hugh Ross once pointed out (paraphrased), every single young earth creation argument suffers from one or more of three main problems: faulty assumptions, faulty reasoning, and failure to consider alternatives.  For Ken Ham, the earth was created 6ooo years ago.  There can be no alternative to this viewpoint.  All of the evidence has to point in that direction.  (This is where the heresy comes in).

Anyway, Ken Ham responded to the original WaPo article with the following tweets:
Hey @washingtonpost we at @ArkEncounter have NEVER said Dinosaurs were wiped out during Flood-get your facts right 

I challenge @washingtonpost to show ONE instance where @arkencounter supposedly says Dinos died out during Flood! 
None of this, of course, helps Ham.  Now he has to defend the argument that, somehow, in the last four thousand years, dinosaurs disembarked from the ark, mysteriously all of them died out and No Written Records of Their Existence Were Kept.

David MacMillan took to the pages of Panda's Thumb to address young-earth creationism and his role in it. Critical to this account is that he is a former young-earth creationist. He suggests that Ken Ham's response to the WaPo article is not surprising:
Ken Ham gains an advantage by playing the persecuted saint; he has recently even compared his movement to Martin Luther and the Reformation. But more immediately, he takes offense because he has invested so heavily in one specific, defined, detailed narrative, to the point that getting these kinds of explanations “correct” becomes a central religious necessity. To most of us, it might not seem to make much of a difference whether he’s claiming dinosaurs died during the mythical flood or immediately after, but to stridently religious creationists like Ham, the Post article might as well have claimed he believes in the world of Harry Potter.

Most ironic, however, is that the Post article wasn’t nearly so incorrect as Ham insisted. True, the Ark Encounter features numerous caged dinosaur pairs – I’ve seen them in person – but their Flood narrative is invoked to explain why dinosaurs went extinct. In fact, the Flood is their automatic explanation for virtually everything we observe, particularly the mountains of evidence that run contrary to a 6,000-year-old world.
About the focus of young-earth creationism, he has this to say:
Creationists construct a dizzying array of ad hoc explanations for every possible piece of evidence, because at the root, they aren’t actually interested in developing testable models or creating useful theories. What’s important to them is presenting an appearance of the scientific process in order to maintain their authoritative position. That’s why organized creationism has thus far been largely impervious to scientific debunking: it’s not about science, it’s about faith, faith in the rigid system of beliefs they present to their followers.
It is this viewpoint that allows Ken Ham to castigate all other forms of creationism and insinuate that his version of events is the only Christian one. For those interested in how David MacMillan came to part ways with this movement, there is a multi-part post in the Panda's Thumb in which he discusses how the movement works.


  1. Once again Ham has been (briefly) lecturing readers of his blog about so-called historical versus observational science.

    You know - the sort where you insist there was an ice age just after the flood mentioned in Genesis (not in the Bible and not in the geological or historical evidence for the last 4,500 years) whilst simultaneously denying that there is no connection whatsoever between measured rising atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions which we know have been caused by human activity, and measured recent worldwide temperature increases that have led to melting glaciers, melting arctic sea ice and sea level rise.

    On their homepage AiG say "We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth." Not even trying to be a science website, then.

  2. Sorry - I think I forgot the link:

  3. Sorry again. That should have read " whilst simultaneously denying that there is any connection ...".

  4. Hi Jim,

    I'm having trouble finding the Reddit AMA and the WaPo article. Could you kindly post links to them?

    Chris Falter

  5. Sorry, I have since embedded the WaPo article. Keep in mind it is the updated version. Here is the twitterfest: