When people say, “Are you a young Earth creationist?” I want people to also understand that, you know, the reason we believe what we do is not because we’re young Earth creationists. It’s because we’re biblical creationists. As a consequence of taking the Bible as written, we believe in a young Earth. But we’re not young Earth first.This answer would be perhaps a tad more believable if a large chunk of the AiG website weren't geared toward dismantling old-earth and evolution arguments. The front page of the site contained, just a minute ago, no fewer than three articles on how to demonstrate young earth creationism.
In other words, young Earth is not the issue. It’s just a consequence of the way we take Scripture. … We’re biblical creationists; we’re all about the Bible; we’re all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ham also prefers the term “biblical creationism” to ”young earth creationism,” suggesting that there is only one way to look at how God created the universe and only one way to interpret the Genesis creation stories (there are two). In their writings about this, there is a continual tendency to conflate the notions of a "biblical" creationism with a literal reading of the scripture. They are not the same thing.
Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis has a post on what church thinkers through the ages thought about the creation days and the writer of the post, James Mook, manages to contradict himself within the space of two paragraphs. First he writes:
In its first 16 centuries the church held to a young earth. Earth was several thousand years old, was created quickly in six 24-hour days, and was later submerged under a worldwide flood.One paragraph later, we get this:
The Church Fathers (AD 100–600) were theologians after the apostles. Based on Scripture, they opposed naturalistic theories of origins. Some, including Clement of Alexandria (c. 152–217), Origen (c. 185–254), and Augustine (c. 354–430), interpreted Genesis 1 allegorically. To them, the six days were a symbolic presentation of God’s creation in one instant.If they were a symbolic presentation of God's creation in one instant, then they clearly did not think that the creation played out over six 24-hour days. It is, further, unfair to argue that the church fathers were young earth creationists because they thought the earth was young. Everybody at the time thought the earth was young. There was no evidence to the contrary. Now there is, plenty of it.
When asked about whether or not the age of creation is a salvation issue, he appears to say one thing but mean another.
Nowhere in the Bible does it connect salvation to the age of the Earth. Right? If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. Romans 10:9. In other words, salvation is conditioned on faith in Christ. Faith alone. Grace alone. Christ alone.
And so, then people say to me, “So, you can believe in millions of years and still be a Christian?” Well, I know many Christians who believe in millions of years. It’s not a salvation issue.
And then if people say to me, “So, it doesn’t matter?” I would say, “Yes, it does matter.” And the reason I say “Yes, it does matter” is because, ultimately, it’s an authority issue. In other words, where you get the millions of years from, you don’t get that in Scripture.
He is absolutely correct that nowhere in the bible is the age of the earth connected with salvation. Score one for Ham. The problems begin with what he says afterwards. What he continues with reveals a very false understanding of the history of science and the denigration of the work of some very devout men of God.
Not only that, but if you’re going to believe in millions of years, the idea of millions of years really came out of atheistic and deistic naturalism of the 1700s and 1800s, from people who wanted to explain the fossil record and natural processes without God. So, the fossil record was supposedly laid down before man. Now, the fossil record is a record of death. Now in the fossil record, there’s lots of examples of diseases and bones like of dinosaurs, cancer, arthritis, other diseases.
He claims that you don't get “millions of years” from scripture. The problem is that you don't necessarily get six consecutive 24-hour days from scripture, either. That idea was added by Wycliffe, in the late 1300s. As pointed out above and by many different theologians, many of the early church fathers did not interpret the creation days literally. These are people that lived within the first three centuries after Christ, who were integral in spreading the gospel. And, somehow, I am supposed to believe that they are wrong and Ken Ham is right? This is not an authority issue at all. This is an issue of interpretation.
Additionally, with his “millions of years” quote, Ham is making a point of demonizing the people that earnestly tried to understand how the world worked and what clues it yielded about how it was created and when. Many of the researchers who worked out the geological layers in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds such as Georges Cuvier, Adam Sedgwick and William Buckland were strong Bible-believing Christians who wrestled with the data that they uncovered, in an effort to understand how it fit with God's word. Cuvier, who developed the idea of catastrophism, concluded that there had been many world-wide floods over a long period of time, of which Noah's flood was the last. In his farewell speech to the Geological Society of Britain, Sedgwick, who was ordained Anglican minister and thorough evangelical said this about the great flood:
Bearing upon this difficult question, there is, I think, one great negative conclusion now incontestably established -- that the vast masses of diluvial gravel, scattered almost over the surface of the earth, do not belong to one violent and transitory period. It was indeed a most unwarranted conclusion, when we assumed the contemporaneity of all the superficial gravel on the earth. We saw the clearest traces of diluvial action, and we had, in our sacred histories, the record of a general deluge. On this double testimony it was, that we gave a unity to a vast succession of phenomena, not one of which we perfectly comprehended, and under the name diluvium, classed them all together.Since Sedgwick's time, the evidence for a world-wide flood has not gotten any better. In fact, as Carol Hill, another Christian geologist points out, there is no evidence for it, whatsoever. For Ham to denigrate the work of these scientific giants as being the products of atheistic and deistic naturalism is not just incorrect, it is insulting.
To seek the light of physical truth by reasoning of this kind, is, in the language of Bacon, to seek the living among the dead, and will ever end in erroneous induction. Our errors were, however, natural, and of the same kind which lead many excellent observers of a former century to refer all the secondary formations of geology to the Noachian deluge. Having been myself a believer, and, to the best of my power, a propagator of what I now regard as a philosophic heresy, and having more than once been quoted for opinions I do not now maintain, I think it right, as one of my last acts before I quit this Chair, thus publicly to read my recantation.
It also reveals that he knows very little about the history of geology. Further, he knew very little about the lives of the people he was denigrating. Sedgwick remained an evangelical Christian throughout his life, as did Hutton and Cuvier.
Theologians and scholars have wrestled with the Genesis creation accounts for centuries in an effort to try to understand them and their subtlety and breadth. Ken Ham reduces them to a flat, bare bones account that holds little more than a sterile textbook. It is a grand story of God's creation. Whether it happened in six days or over the course of four billion years is irrelevant.
I would encourage you to read the whole interview, in which Ham pretty much condemns every view of creation that does not comport with his. This, above all, is what makes Ham controversial. He is, perhaps, the most divisive person in Christendom.