Young Earth Creationists killing Christian credibility?

Ken Ham is an excellent marketer and salesperson for Young Earth Creationism.Ken_Ham

I should know — much of my professional background is in marketing, working with some of the most talented marketers and sales people on the planet.

I got the chance to hear Ken Ham. He was speaking at a home schooling conference my wife and I attended.

What I experienced from Ken Hams was masterful rhetorical skill; skillfully crafted,

fear-driven persuasion; and artful manipulation of the audience’s emotions to get them to buy into his vision of Creationism.

I grew up a Young Earth Creationist. It sounded fantastic when I was 14. But in time I came to recognize that in order for Ham’s vision of where we came from to make sense, you have to dramatically revise most of our modern, scientifically-verifiable understanding of life and the universe. (The speed of light, for example.)

Young Earth Creationism played a major role in my brother Bryan losing faith and becoming an agnostic. YEC backfires badly on the smartest and most curious students. Bright kids walk away from faith literally every day because Ken Ham forces them to choose between the Bible and science.

This leaves Christian parents heartbroken, terrified and defensive. It makes for tense conversations with your 22-year-old college senior at Thanksgiving dinner.

This launched my 10-year journey of writing Evolution 2.0.

By refusing to consider that secular science may have some accurate facts — dismissing them whole cloth — Young Earth Creationists cannot have a productive conversation with people who understand empirical science.

This kind of stubbornness leaves you stuck.

This destroys the credibility required to have a meaningful conversation with non-Christian people.

When folks like Ham stand up and claim to speak for all Christians, we lose face in the debate.

The good news is, there’s a better narrative that allows for God and evolution — religion and science — to coexist. One where all of modern science’s discoveries only support the mystery of God, not debunk it.

This video may give you a new perspective…

Click here now to get 3 chapters from my new book, Evolution 2.0, right now. 

Related:

A closer look at Genesis 1

Is Evolution Biblical?

244 Responses

  1. Donald Smith says:

    Everyone’s (Christian) giving advice on how to best witness. After 22 years of reading this controversy I’ve rearily seen someone who teaches and argues against God admit that an argument is convincing. It doesn’t matter who well thought out and presented it is.
    This is primarily a spiritual battle, not an intellectual evidence based one.
    Look at the way atheists pounce on YouTube comments, or book and audio-video reviews. You never get real science. Rather than science you get “Second Opinions, chapter 5, verse 4.” Or “my scientist is better than yours.”

    From what I can see. Once you say the Bible, a spiritual battle ensues. Ken Ham is right to stick with the Bible. Is he perfect? Am I his accuser?

  2. Daniel Everett says:

    I guess this whole issue boils down to trust. Do you trust God completely? Is His written word the truth? All of it? Or does evolution have some of the answers? Or even all of them?

  3. Darren Saunders says:

    Dear Donald,

    What you call a “spiritual battle” is I submit an emotion versus reason battle. Faith is not evidence for anything, it is the substitution of emotion for evidence. Someone who “thinks” with emotion is not going to be persuaded by evidence or argument, they already KNOW they are right as the arbiter of their reality is themselves (for all they can actually show). You say Ken Ham is right to stick with the bible a priori… Why? Why not the Koran? The Vedic scriptures? The Torah? All of which claim to be divine revelation. All these earnest, sincere people of faith using the same mechanism to reach radically different conclusions. For all they can show people who think thusly are making a deity of their feelings and dignifying them with the term “faith” or holy spirit and so forth. I submit such a position is founded upon the most monstrous arrogance whereas that of science and atheism proceeds from the more humble premise “I do not now and am not going to pretend I do”. The assertions of the latter are ideally tentative while the former requires flawed limited human beings to pretend to absolute certainty (as Ken Ham does when he says absolutely nothing could ever persuade him that the bible is not true). The consequences of such thinking are playing out nightly on the news.

    • Donald Smith says:

      Darren
      I don’t know of anyone who is not relying on faith and emotions in the creation and evolution controversy. I cant agree with the generality of your reply, because its too generic and I can’t see who it applies to.
      Other claims for a divine origins have to be accepted on the claims they make. Choosing to believe the bible is to choose all of its teachings and it covers the entire history of this planet. That’s what people are emotional about.
      Saying the earth created itself is just as much an idol as all the other idols mentioned in the bible, because from a biblical perspective nature is given all the attributes of God. This may not satisfy you but it begs the question, why can’t you allow an alternative position? Why put all your eggs into the atheist basket. Do you really think you’re using different evidence the those who disagree with you? You’re looking at the same evidence and just as it is with sacred text, so it is with science. You observe your experiences and make an interpretation of them. I think its a false argument that thinks if a person believes “God did it” they believe they have all the answers. From what I can gather thats always been the starting point and I can’t think of anyone who believes that.

  4. When I was 18, I reluctantly became an atheist after 6 years of wrestling with the narrative that you either have to choose YEC or reject God, without being afforded a viable alternative to split the false dilemma. It wasn’t until I had lost all faith that I finally started to encounter the writings of individuals who take seriously the sciences that affirm an old earth and find signposts for God’s existence within that evidence, without distorting the facts.

    It was then a great relief to be able to believe in God and let science be science. I was a casualty of the propaganda that you must choose between fundamentalist YEC and the Big Bang or evolution, and it’s made me really passionate about showing people how the Big Bang and evolution can be a coherent part of a Christian worldview ever since.

    • Ryan,

      There are MANY MANY MANY stories like yours out there. Like my brother’s – which ultimately led to me writing Evolution 2.0 (which I think you would greatly enjoy).

      Please come back and post some more. And tell your story as often as you can.

      Perry

  5. B.A.Christian says:

    Is Eisegesis the way you interpret the Bible or is it Exegesis?
    Do we need “Special Knowledge” in this case brought in from something called science to rightly interpret the passages or does it mean what it says? Is death the hero of the plot or the last enemy? Does consensus of geologists, biologists and astronomers determine truth? Are ad hominum attacks on another Christian’s character what Christians should be engaging in?

    • It is not possible to understand the Bible – even Jesus’ parables about seeds for example – without knowledge of the physical world.

      Yes, it is necessary to incorporate what we know about nature to properly interpret Genesis.

      I am not attacking Ken Ham personally. I am attacking what he does, because he is teaching numerous things about science that are demonstrably false.

    • B.A.,

      I really need to point something out here – and that is the presumptiveness and, to be blunt, religious arrogance of your statement “Does consensus of geologists, biologists and astronomers determine truth?”

      Well, strictly speaking, the consensus of scientists does not itself determine truth and any honest philosopher of science will freely admit that.

      However in science we do have many things that any person can reasonably verify as fact. Like the phenomenon that gravity operates very consistently. Any reasonably educated person can follow the logic and confirm calculations that are used to determine that a star is 100 million light years away.

      A reasonable application of logic and knowledge of the speed of light (which you can measure and which in measurements is not changing) verifies that yes, that star is in fact more than 100 million years old.

      It was not clear 1,000 years ago that the earth is old. But it is very clear now, except to a very small pocket of people who follow Answers In Genesis and ICR.

      Nobody else believes the earth is young on empirical grounds – at all – unless they are married to a very particular and peculiar Biblical exegesis.

      Contrast this with Neo-Darwinism, which is challenged on empirical grounds by people in MANY MANY fields, many times having no religious connection to Christianity whatsoever. See the “Salem hypothesis” http://cosmicfingerprints.com/salem-hypothesis/

      Now I certainly can respect people for holding to unpopular views because of their faith convictions. On a certain level I can observe Mormons believing, in faith, that the American Indians are actually a lost tribe of Jews and I can also respect that they endure ridicule for that.

      But this belief is not supported by genetics at all. We have tools for proving or disproving this that Joseph Smith never had, and science proves the Mormons wrong.

      And YEC is equally without support from empirical science.

      The same Christian who argues against the Mormon position on American Indians with modern science – or defends Biblical history with archaeology – is being hypocritical when he insists modern science is wrong about the age of the earth.

      What YEC defends itself with is a pharisaical attitude that “we have the truth, we are the righteous ones and those ignorant secularists are walking in darkness.” It smacks of religiosity and it reminds me of the pharisees we read about in scripture. Because in this case it is the religious people who are walking in darkness because they cannot even see something that is right in front of their face – mountains of evidence that the earth is very old.

      You will see the speed of light coming up again and again in this thread. Nowhere has any YEC person adequately addressed this problem. Not in any book or blog or website or anything.

      Speed of light all by itself demolishes YEC. The universe is old, plain and simple.

      Does that make death the hero? No it does not, and if you study my model of evolution, even death itself cannot exist without life being here first. Life is the prevailing driving force.

      But yes, this one fact – earth is old and not young – does force the YEC to re-evaluate LOTS of components of their theology.

      This is not an indication that science is wrong. This is an indication that large portions of YEC theology are wrong.

      So YES, that means you have to re-think a lot of things. That is scary and painful. It is very inconvenient. It changes your theodicy. It challenges large assumptions about God and how He made the world.

      I never said this was easy.

      But I do insist it is necessary.

      Some (most?) are simply unwilling to do it.

      But if you’re not willing to do that, then your faith is old wineskins. And it is being held in place by religious pride which is actually sin.

      So I respectfully submit to you that none of us can afford to cling to provably false beliefs.

      The arrogance of YEC and its contempt for scientists – as well as its presumption that they believe what they believe because they’re all “sinful” and “depraved” and lying to us etc etc is giving Christianity a black eye. This is no minor problem. This is a major issue and Christians are on the wrong side of this one.

      It’s one of the many reasons why young people leave the church. It’s a major reason why my brother went from being a missionary to almost an atheist. YEC and its champion ministries are unwittingly and systematically turning a percentage of Christians into agnostics and atheists because they’re forcing people to choose between science and the Bible. Which is totally unnecessary.

  6. mike says:

    I’d like to commend YEC defenders on here for patiently explaining that the bible actually means what it says. The 1st 5 years of my Christian walk I felt like YEC’s were crazy because “look at all the overwhelming evidence”. Then I started to realize that if I’m going read the bible as allegory, what’s the point of even having it? Seriously, if we can put any spin or interpretation on God’s words that we want, it stops being God’s word an becomes ours. This is why you see several denominations teach that only elders or super smart Christians can properly interpret the bible. What a joke! Once I realized that God intended the bible to be read literally it made life so much easier for me. There’s really nothing to debate if you read the bible in it’s plain sense. For those who still think scientists are smarter than God I simply remind you of what Satan did in the garden (That is of course if you actually believe what it says happened!). He flipped the words “God hath said” into “Hath God said?”. Scientists are simply following suit.

  7. Bowie says:

    Is this about Christian credibility or that you are ashamed of the Word of God right from Genesis on? Did not God create all things very good without the need for evolutionary processes and making humans fully cognizant and complete from the first day of their existence without some limited understanding cavemen coming before them? Perhaps you limit God by your own limited understanding as do we all.

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