Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Ted Davis on Ken Ham

Ted Davis has a post at BioLogos on Ken Ham's Alternate History of Creation.  He chastises Ham for his recent attacks on Joel Duff , saying that his treatment of   creationist history is a “...distorted historical analysis of the openly agnostic, apostate Seventh Day Adventist historian, Ronald Numbers.” Ham claims that young earth creationism was historic Christian orthodoxy until the 19th century (a claim supported by Todd Wood but challenged by Joel Anderson).  Davis writes:
This somewhat ad hominem attack on Numbers and the blanket dismissal of his extraordinarily careful work is very troubling. The strategy of “debunking” Numbers’ careful conclusions is gaining in popularity, and it bodes badly for the future of the body of Christ, since it constitutes a set of “alternative facts” rather than the truth and unfairly maligns a scholar who always seeks to be fair to people whose views he doesn’t share. (Having known Numbers for thirty-five years, I speak from extensive personal experience and knowledge of his professional activities.)
Let me remind Mr. Ham of what Whitcomb said about Numbers’ book. Whitcomb and his close friend Morris both feature prominently in that book, and Whitcomb provided Numbers with some of the correspondence that Numbers used in writing it. In a talk from 2005 published by Ham’s organization, Whitcomb says, “Dr. Morris agrees with me that this is an objective study by one who claims to be an agnostic on the subject of ultimate origins.” The tone and content of this comment—written by someone who is even closer to this subject than Ken Ham—undermine what Ham recently told his readers. Whitcomb said that it presents the historical details without bias, whereas Ham describes it as a “distorted historical analysis.” They cannot both be correct.
Davis is correct. Numbers” book is a wealth of information and an excellent read.  That the granddaddy of them all, Henry Morris, thought it was also accurate is quite remarkable.  Ham is in his own world, here.  Joel Anderson makes a good point that, in all of the early church councils, especially those that produced the creeds, the age of the earth was never debated:
...please note that there is absolutely no insistence anywhere—not in any creed or church council or pronouncement ever—that the early chapters of Genesis were to be read and understood as a point-by-point historical and scientific account of the creation of the material universe in general, and of the first human beings in particular. The historical fact is that early Church Fathers, as well as Christian leaders throughout Church history, held to a variety of interpretations of the early chapters of Genesis1
Davis focuses on the fact that Ken Ham ignores the role that George McReady Price played in the beginnings of the young earth creation movement, relegating him to casual mentions here and there.  He further points out that this is in sharp contrast to the role that Price's works played in the writings of Henry Morris, who spoke favorably of Price, an Adventist.  Price is known to use the writings of Ellen White, also an Adventist, as the basis for much of what he concocted about modern geology.  Ham seems to be unwilling to admit this, as well.  Davis then hits the nail on the head:
Why do Ham and company go to such lengths to create an alternative history of creationism in which Price and the Adventists don’t receive proper credit? Is it because (like those Christians mentioned by Morris) they don’t want their movement associated with a Christian sect that is sometimes viewed with suspicion? Perhaps that is part of the picture, but I think there’s a much bigger reason behind it. The tangled history of modern creationism threatens the simplistic, highly inaccurate narrative AiG hammers into their followers: that Young-Earth Creationism is, and always has been, the “zero-compromise” option for all devout believers in the authority of the Bible.
This is why Ken Ham ruthlessly attacks any scriptural interpretations that do not line up with his.  As long as "millions of years" can be tied to atheistic or apostate thought, then he can be content to lob grenades at Christians who do not think like he does.  After all, he believes he has the spiritual upper hand.  That this is, at heart, dishonest, is nothing new for AiG.  Ham has been caught in several “terminological inexactitudes” before (the riding dinosaurs, the motive behind the building of the ark encounter).  This is just another one.  


1Anderson, J. E. (2016). The Heresy of Ham: What Every Evangelical Needs to Know About the Creation-Evolution Controversy [Kindle iOS version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

3 comments:

  1. Hi Jim, do you ever do book reviews on biology or science-religion? It is often difficult for those of us whom are not trained in the sciences to know what to read. I have wasted enough money on rubbish books. Although, I am currently reading "Understanding Evolution" by Kostas Kampourakis omn my work breaks and it is a very good read.

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    1. I can recommend any of the following books:
      • “Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution” and “I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution” (the Reader’s Digest version) by Denis Lamoureux
      • “The Nature of Creation: Examining the Bible and Science” by Mark Harris
      • “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” by Francis S. Collins
      • “The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions” by Karl W. Giberson & Francis S. Collins
      • “Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes!” by Denis O. Lamoureux
      • “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation” edited by Keith B. Miller
      • “Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution” by Kenneth R. Miller
      • “Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, & Evolution” by Deborah B. Haarsma & Loren D. Haarsma
      • "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne
      • “Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body” by Neil Shubin
      • "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” by Donald R. Prothero
      • “Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe” by Simon Conway Morris

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  2. Great question. I am currently working through Adam and the Genome, by Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight. The book deals with the genetics of the origins of modern humans in a way that is completely accessible and easy to understand. Dennis also has some very good shorter pieces on evolution at the BioLogos site. The second half of the book deals with the question of the historical Adam. I haven't worked through that section yet but what I have read is quite good. I hope to review the book for my blog once I have finished it.

    I will tell you one book to avoid like the plague: Science and Human Origins by Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe and Casey Luskin. It is rife with errors, sleight of hand, and general misrepresentation of the evidence. I was going to review that for my blog but reading it raised my blood pressure so high, I wasn't sure I could get through it.

    That help?

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