Ken “Hambone” Ham, operator of the Creation Museum, and a noted young earth creationist (YEC), states in no uncertain terms that no one is good. Of course, in classic Hambone style he contradicts himself just a few words later.
Recently atheists and other secular humanists decided to promote a “National Day of Reason” in opposition to the National Day of Prayer, which was held last Tuesday. These secularists stated that “We are trying to make a better world on our own by emphasizing good works and good deeds on the day” (emphasis added).
I couldn’t help but smile when I saw this statement about secularists wanting to do “good deeds.” So how does an atheist or agnostic determine what is “good”?
I’m reminded of Luke 18 where the rich young ruler came to Jesus:
Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Luke 18:18–19)
There is only one absolute standard by which anyone can determine what is “good,” and that is from the absolute authority who is all “good”—God! Outside of such an absolute standard, “good” is whatever you want to make it to be (if you can get away with it)—it is totally subjective. Some people think it is “good” to steal, for instance. When a culture abandons the absolute standard for what is “good” (as this culture is progressively doing in throwing out God’s Word), then we will see people doing what is right in their own eyes—as we are increasingly experiencing. The recent announcement by the president of the USA in support of “gay” marriage is just one such example—he abandoned the absolute standard for what is “good” and now is wanting to impose his subjective opinion on the nation.
Ham has no love for atheists, agnostics, humanists, deists, liberal Christians, and practioners of non-Christian religions. In fact, he has no love for some who fly under the same Evangelical flag as he does. Ham requires that Evangelicals be circumcised on the 6th literal day just like he was before he will consider them part of the true-blue, blessed by God, sanctified Christian church. Ham is a God said it and I believe it Christian. In his worldview there is no room for discussion, debate, difference of opinion, or nuance.
Ken God has spoken!
In honor of Ken Ham, I want to take the Bible exactly as written. Ken uses Luke 18:18,19 to “prove” that no one is good. He could have used other verses like Romans 3:10:12:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
In using Luke 18:18,19 Ham has a conundrum on his hands. In this passage Jesus says very clearly that no one is good. He is responding to the rich young ruler who called him “good teacher.” Jesus replied:
Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
Jesus makes it clear that no human being is good. Only God is good. Now Jesus is talking with the rich younger ruler as a human being. Since no human being is good then Jesus is not good.
Of course the standard Evangelical comeback is that Jesus was God and human so he was good. But what about his human nature? At best, all one could claim is that Jesus had a split nature, that he was good and bad.
Looking at it this way it seems to me that Jesus was just like every human being I have ever met. Not the God part, of course. Jesus wasn’t God and neither is anyone else. Jesus was a mixture of good and bad just like every human being is. All of us are capable of doing good things and doing bad things.
Evangelicals like Ham, if pressed, must admit that their theology says EVERY human being, Christian or not, is bad. In the delusional world of Ken Ham, good only comes from God. God enables human beings to do good, even non-Christian human beings. God gets all the credit for the good in the world and human beings/Satan get all the blame for the bad.
This works out perfect for God. He can do whatever he wants and if it turns out bad it is our fault or Satan’s fault. In O.J. Simpson parlance, the glove never fits.
Ham believes the Bible is the absolute, infallible, impeccable standard of good. I suppose he makes some attempt to argue away the passages that promote or condone slavery, incest, prostitution, and killing anyone who doesn’t worship the Christian God. No Christian believes every word of the Bible, not without resorting to some sort of Bible-gymnastics.
Many of us have come to the conclusion that the “good” God of the Christian bible is anything but. He certainly can be good, but he is often a mean spirited, capricious, arrogant son-of-a-bitch. He is a God, according to the Bible, who is quite willing to use violence to get what he wants. We should be glad such a good God does not exist.
If the Bible is God’s absolute standard by which good is measured, why do Christians disagree with one another about what constitutes “good.” Ham accuses atheists of making it up as they go……..is it any different among Christians?
Every human being determines for themselves what is good and bad. Our upbringing, exposure to religious or philosophical teachings, social environment, education, and social contracts we make with one another, help us determine what moral and ethical standard we will live by.
Ham, and Christians like him, demand an absolute source for determining good and bad. They put their faith in a book that has not had an entry written in it for over 1900 years. The world has changed dramatically since Jesus walked the shores of Galilee. While the Bible may offer us an occasional nugget of wisdom, it has little to say to us when it comes to morality and ethics in this modern day. In fact, it teaches things that thinking people now abhor. (though I am rethinking the whole concubine thing)
We have outgrown the bondage of the Bible. Where Ham sees degradation and people doing whatever they want to do, I see freedom. The freedom to do good things, and yes the freedom to do bad things.
In classic homophobic fashion Ham focuses on the issue of gay marriage. President Obama’s support of gay marriage is a sign to Ken Ham that we have abandoned the absolute standard of good and have instead turned to a subjective standard of good. (situational ethics)
He is right on the first part. We HAVE abandoned the Bible standard of good. We have weighed the Bible’s treatment of homosexuals in the balance of decency and civil rights and found it wanting.
It is a sign of progress when we no longer consider a class of people evil, reprobates, and the enemy of God. Homosexuals are human beings, just like me, Ken Ham, and everyone else. They are capable of doing good and bad just like any human being is. As far as them being married? How does two men or two women marrying each other affect my life or Ken Ham’s life? It is a non-issue. It makes no difference at all.
The good news is this……….we are winning the battle against the Ken Ham’s of the world. The bad news is that this is a generation-long battle, a battle that my grandkids will still be fighting long after my ashes are spread along the shore of Lake Michigan. We must be strong, willing to push back at EVERY attempt to drag the world back into the constraints of the Christian Bible.
Christianity has had 2000 years to work its magic. Look at what it has given us. While I am in no way suggesting that Christianity is evil, I am suggesting that Christianity has proven to be a failed standard by which to govern people. There is a better way, a way that supports and promotes diversity and celebrates individuality. It is called secular humanism.
For those who are unsure about what I mean when I say secular humanism, let me finish this post with the Council of Secular Humanism’s answer to the “What is Secular Humanism?” question:
Secular Humanism is a term which has come into use in the last thirty years to describe a world view with the following elements and principles:
- A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.
- Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.
- A primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.
- A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.
- A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.
- A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.
- A conviction that with reason, an open marketplace of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.