Science

Questions From an Evangelical Pastor

i have a question

Recently, Joel Yoon, the Covenant Theological Seminary-trained pastor of Gospel City Church in Seoul, South Korea, sent me a thoughtful email containing several questions. Since Joel was polite, I thought I would take a stab at his questions. Joel wrote:

I find your blog fascinating! I am a pastor and I stumbled across your website through a random google search. I would like to ask you a question and I believe it doesn’t fall in the category of any questions you wouldn’t want to discuss.

I read that your walk away from Evangelical Christianity was largely based on you understanding of Scripture. In addition, it seems that not only did your faith unravel due to your view of Scripture, but your blog also seems to reveal that you now have resentment towards Christianity. My question to you is twofold:

Are there parts of Evangelical Christianity that you still appreciate? If so, could you share why?

As an agnostic and practical atheist, is there any part of life that makes you question your views or at least makes you curious about a deity? If so, what would that be?

In order to better understand where I’m coming from, let me share why I ask this: Granted, my theological beliefs give me a bias, I’ve always found it hard to believe the world we have now was created simply by chance. I’m not even arguing against The Big Bang theory or evolution. I’ve just saying that in some sense, I’ve found it harder to be an atheist when I see and experience this world. For example, learning more about the complexities and the beauties of this world, or thinking about and experiencing love, or just even the whole idea of pregnancy, birth and life, these areas of life have made me feel like one needs more faith to not believe in God than to believe in him. So I was wondering, with your journey from being so deeply embedded in a Judeo-Christian worldview — and now a staunch agnostic/atheist —  is there anything that makes you even a little bit curious?

My abandonment of Christianity primarily rests on my rejection of the Bible as an inspired, authoritative text. I think it is impossible to be a Christian and not, to some degree, believe the Bible is God’s Word. Since I came to understand that the Bible was an errant, fallible, contradictory text, there was no possible way I could continue to call myself a Christian. I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically reject all the beliefs that are the foundation of Christian orthodoxy.  I realize that some people are able to reduce the Bible to God is love and Jesus love me too, but I was unable to do so. Christianity, along with its sister religions Islam and Judaism, are text-based religions. I can’t imagine a Christianity without some sort of fidelity to the written Biblical text.

That said, my deconversion certainly had an emotional component. This was not clear to me at first, but I now can see that my loss of faith started when I began looking for a Christianity that mattered. Over time, I became disaffected, realizing that regardless of what name might be over the door, churches are all pretty much the same — social clubs focused on meeting the needs of its members and improving club enrollment. Does this mean, as Joel suggests, that I have resentment towards Christianity? Not in the least.

Not all Christianities are created equal. I generally think that liberal and progressive Christianity is benign, doing little to no harm to unbelievers. While I have a different set of problems with liberal Christianity, I don’t think being part of such churches harms people. I cannot say the same for Evangelicalism. Evangelical Christianity is inherently Fundamentalist, and Fundamentalism is a cancer that must be eradicated wherever it is found. (Please see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?)  I am well aware of the fact that Evangelicalism is a somewhat  broad tent, but I am of the opinion that Evangelical belief and practice can and does cause psychological damage and results in intellectual stagnation. Does this mean I am resentful? I don’t think so. It does mean, however, that I do have strong opinions about Evangelicalism. When doubting Evangelicals ask for my advice I usually encourage them to seek kinder, gentler forms of faith. There are sects and churches that promote diversity and tolerance. These sects often encourage unencumbered intellectual inquiry. Evangelical churches cannot do so because they are bound by their interpretations of the Bible. Since I place great value on reason and intellectual pursuit, I could never in good conscience recommend people attend Evangelical churches. Both McDonald’s and the local gastropub serve hamburgers, but that’s where the similarity ends. I view Evangelicalism as McDonald’s. If you have never eaten any other hamburger but a Big Mac, you will never know how good the burgers are down at the gastropub. Once people eat a real hamburger, they will never want to eat a Big Mac again. So it is for Evangelicals. Until they venture outside of the safe confines of their little box, they have no idea about the wonders (and dangers) that await them. (Please see The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You are in it  and What I Found When I Left the Box.) Once free of the constraints of their Bible box, people rarely return. They don’t necessarily become atheists, but they also don’t return, to use a bit of Biblical imagery, to Egypt — the house of onions and bondage. Once freed Evangelicals realize that the potential paths to freedom, happiness, and fulfillment are many, they rarely return to their former beliefs.

Joel asks “Are there parts of Evangelical Christianity that you still appreciate?”  I think what he means to ask is, are there aspects of Christianity that I miss? Professionally, I miss preaching and teaching. Personally, I miss the communal aspects of being part of a church —  things such as dinners, banquets, and social activities. As atheists, my wife and I are, at times, lonely. We are two pebbles in the Evangelical Sea. While my wife is quiet about her lack of faith, I am not. I regularly write letters to the editor of the local newspaper, challenging Evangelicals who write letters about evolution and creationism, homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Christian nationalism, or whatever “sin” is stuck in their craw. (Please see my two latest letters, Letter to the Editor: Is the Bible the Objective Standard of Morality?  and Letter to the Editor: Evangelical Hysteria Over Transgender Bathroom Use) I am a public figure who is widely known as THE atheist. Local Evangelical outrage over my letters has proved to be quite an eye-opener, a reminder of the fact that Christian food, fun, and fellowship is predicated on right belief. Because we are unwilling to bow to Jesus, my wife and I must live with the fact that we are not going to have very many local friends. We are, however, grateful for the countless people we have met and befriended through this blog and social media.

I will assume that Joel is using the word “God” to signify the Christian God or the Evangelical God. Do I have any doubts or questions about my rejection of THIS God? No, not in the least. I have weighed this God in the balances and found him/her/it wanting (Daniel 5:27). I have been an atheist for almost eight years. During this time, scores of Evangelicals have tried and failed to show me the error of my way. I think I can safely say that I have heard every Christian argument there is for the existence of God and the veracity of Christianity and its supposedly supernatural religious text. None of these arguments has proved to be compelling. I have concluded that the Christian God is a human fiction, brought to life centuries ago by men attempting to explain their understanding of the world. Science has reduced the Bible to a Cliff Notes-sized book of ancient interesting stories and spiritual sayings. It has very little to say regarding life in the 21st century. I certainly would not use the Bible as some sort of road map or blueprint. Does the Bible have value? Sure, but having spent most of my life reading and studying the Bible, I can’t imagine what more I could possibly glean from its pages. Unlike Evangelicals, I do not think the Bible is an inexhaustible well of wisdom and truth. Having read the Bible from cover to cover more times than I can count, I think I can safely move on to other books. Evangelical Rousas Rushdoony once said, most books aren’t worth reading once let alone twice. So it is with the Bible.

I have numerous friends who are liberal Christians, universalists, and deists. I readily admit that I think someone can look at the biological world and the wonders of the cosmos and conclude that some sort of deistic God set things into motion. However, I fail to see any possible way to get from there being A GOD to that deity being the God revealed in the Christian Bible. Any attempts made to bridge these two only raise more questions. Why the Christian God and not any of the other Gods humans worship?  Perhaps some unknown God created everything. Maybe, just maybe, earth is some sort of lab experiment for an unknown advanced alien race. Why do Evangelicals so quickly shut off their minds to any possible explanations but the ones they hear Sunday after Sunday at their houses of worship? (Please see Why Most Americans are Christian.) As atheists such as myself point out, Evangelicals are every bit as godless as atheists when it comes to other religions. I will assume that Joel thinks certain religious beliefs are false. If so, doesn’t this mean that he is atheistic towards these no-God religions? The only difference between the Joel and me is that I am atheistic towards one God more than he is.

Neither Christians or atheists can give a satisfactory answer to the various questions that have plagued man from the first moment he looked skyward and pondered the question, where did THAT come from? Evangelicals believe that their God is the first cause of everything. They can provide no empirical data for this claim. Either you believe it or you don’t. Evangelicals, by faith (Hebrews 11), believe their God is everything. Atheists look to science to give them answers about the universe and human existence. As the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate made clear, science is willing to say, we don’t know, but we keep looking for answers. Evangelicals, on the other hand, appeal to the Bible. God said _______________, end of discussion. Ham repeatedly appealed to the Bible, a book he believes teaches the universe was created in six 24-hour days, 6,021 years ago. Science says the universe is billions of years old and that it likely came into existence through what we call the Big Bang. This, of course, is not a definitive, final answer. That’s what is so great about science: questions continue to be asked and theories are constantly being rejected or modified. I know of no better way to understand our world. Saying, God says or the Bible says no longer works. We now know too much to return to the ignorance found within the pages of the Bible. That Evangelicals continue to reject what science tells us about our world is troublesome and a hindrance to human progress.

I have often wondered how differently things might have turned out for me had I been raised in another manner. Suppose I had been raised a Presbyterian and went to Harvard instead of an Evangelical Bible college? What if I had been taught to value the sciences and rigorous intellectual inquiry? Would I still have ended up where I am today? I don’t know. Alas, little is to be gained from pondering what might have been. I am where I am and I am comfortable with the path that has led me to this point in time. I have many fond memories from the 50 years I spent in the Christian church and the 25 years I spent pastoring Evangelical churches. I am grateful for the many opportunities I had to help other people. In many ways, I am still a pastor, doing what I can to help others. The difference of course, is that there are no threats of hell or promises of heaven. The humanist ideal now motivates me to help all living things. No longer concerned with what lies beyond the grave, my focus is on helping fellow travelers make the best of this life. As a father of six children and grandfather to eleven, I want to use the what time I have left to make this world a better place in which to live. Things such as global warming, climate change, war, and Donald Trump threaten my progeny’s future. I owe it to them to do what I can to leave to them a better world, one not ravaged by religious ignorance, hubris, and greed. I also want to leave for them a testimony of sorts; of a man who lived a good life without God; a man who was loving, respectful, and kind. If I accomplish these things, it will be said of me, he did what he could.

Intelligent Design’s Missing Link: The Naughty Little Secret of Creation Science

guest-post

Guest post by Dane Fletcher (pseudonym)

Christians play the theory of intelligent design like a philosophical checkmate. It’s chronic actually. Like chest-thumping silverbacks theistic ideologues in my corner of the cosmos swear that “design science” steals the origins debate.

I’ve been a committed, evangelical believer for over forty years. (I’m no outsider just hurling rhetorical stones.) The last ten years I’ve been a full-time pastor. And in that time I’ve found that us fundamentalist types worship our theological certainties nearly as much as we do our God.

And when we’re not worshiping them we’re wielding them like some kind of sacred bludgeon — but I digress.

I’ve seen it! (And done it.)

Christian Pep Rallies

On any given Sunday evangelical leaders will trot out their design science experts to cacophonous “Amen!” choruses. I’ve witnessed the committed masses nearly swoon over Ben Stein’s Expelled. Bring in apologist hero de jour, Michael Behe, and you’ll pack the place.

It’s preaching to the choir at best.

Believers already buy into the arguments; they’re sold. Further, in my experience these events have little to do with education or with understanding the relevant arguments.

They’re about confirmation. They’re about reinforcing what the conservative, evangelical faithful already believe.

They’re Christian pep rallies more than they are honest, scientific inquiries. I’m not mocking. I sympathize with the creationist mindset that undergirds the fundamentalist’s faith.

In fact, I know it very well.

Everywhere I Looked

As an evangelical believer I saw God — everywhere. (My version of God, of course.) Every time I felt small under a starry sky I just “knew” God was there. Every time I trembled at the majesty of a lightning flash; every time I stood silenced by a roaring ocean; every time I cradled an infant or marveled at a sunset—everywhere I looked — I saw convincing evidence for God…for my God.

I suspect I’m not alone.

Even the garden-variety Christian snobbishly contends that her 21st century, fundamentalist, evangelical, contemporary-pop, western, Judeo-Christian version of the creator is the only game in town.

Even more, she’s certain that just about everything she sees proves it. It’s a lesson in confirmation bias for sure. (But that’s a post for another day.)

Here’s the problem: every religion that boasts a creation story believes the same thing! Every sycophant that stumps for a creator — any creator — is certain the existence of the universe proves her highly specialized version of God.

Everyone observes the same universe, but…

Christians think, “Jesus did it!”

Jews believe, “Jehovah did it!”

Muslims insist, “It was Allah!”

And on, and on, and on…

Which Creator?

Same universe, same evidence — opposing creators. Every believer interprets the evidence through the tinged-with-bias lens of their peculiar religion. As such, we see what we want to see. We see what we expect to see.

We see our rendition of a creator.

And why not? I mean, what gives Christian fundies the keys to the kingdom? If Christians can claim the cosmos as proof — why can’t the competition? In the end, however, every religion has as much proof that their specific god(s) created everything as do aliens from another galaxy.

None.

The universe bears no particular authorial stamp. But that doesn’t stop the faithful. They’ll argue their pet theory as if the Almighty himself signed the cosmos like some celestial da Vinci signing the Mona Lisa.

For many of the faithful, this is a new thought. (And it’s a risky thought.) If the seeming design of the cosmos isn’t proof of any specific deity the entire Intelligent Design argument is moot…at least as it relates to validating any specific god(s).

The Missing Link

So, what’s the naughty little secret? What’s intelligent design’s missing link? It’s simply this: Whatever intelligent design may prove — it does not prove enough.

Believers image that it does — but it doesn’t.

It’s smoke and mirrors for sure. Maybe those in the know we’re hoping nobody would notice that their precious intelligent design argument is a few bricks shy of a full load.

Some Christians are so certain that the intricacy of the universe validates their version of God that even suggesting otherwise is like denying gravity.

But here’s the thing…even if it’s true, even if we concede that the existence of the universe sufficiently validates the notion of intelligent design, what does it prove? (It could be used to prove a lot, I suppose.) What it does not prove, however, is that the God of Christianity is the designer.

To get from proving intelligent design to proving the specific identity of the designer(s) the believer must supply several missing links. Proving intelligent design just does not prove evangelicalism’s (or any other isms for that matter) version of God.

When I first admitted this it was a game-changer.

I had to confess that many of the proofs I used to validate my faith were no proof at all. And as far as specific religions go… the design argument equally validates every one of them that claims a creator.
It devastated me when I realized that I could no longer count on the universe to validate my faith. With all of its intricacy, beauty and wonder, I had to admit that I could not consistently and honestly claim the cosmos as proof of my God.

I realized that I had one set of rules with which I judged my faith and a different, stricter set with which I judged all others. How could I consistently claim the cosmos as my God’s handiwork when I had no more evidence of the fact than anyone else?

I couldn’t.

These days, I’m learning to write my “beliefs” in pencil rather than etching them in stone. Have your own experience or opinion? — please, share it.  Give someone else the opportunity to think a new thought!

Thanks for reading!

Scott Gillis Plans to Show Local Evangelicals that Evolution is a Lie

creation ad

While there are certainly Evangelicals who are theistic evolutionists — a strange mix of theology and science — most Evangelicals are creationists. Despite a century and a half of scientific progress, most Evangelicals still believe that Genesis 1-3 accurately, literally, and absolutely describes how the universe came to be. While some Evangelicals are old earth creationists, subscribing to either the gap theory or the belief that God created an aged universe, most Evangelicals  believe that God created the universe in six 24 hour days, 6,021 years ago.  Here in rural Northwest Ohio, I suspect the majority of people believe in creationism.

On Sunday May 1st, Scott Gillis and  Creation Ministries International (CMI)  traveling carnival roadshow will be peddling ignorance at Solid Rock Community Church in West Unity, Ohio. According to a Bryan Times advertisement, Gillis will answer questions such as this:

  • Does God exist?
  • How can anyone believe in religion when science has neither a need nor a place for God?
  • Is evolution happening today?
  • If God is a God of love, why do we suffer and die?

According to the advertisement, Gillis will “expose the bankruptcy of the evolutionary myth.”  He also plans to explain how “the scientific evidence, when properly understood, confirms the details of the biblical account.”

In the end, as Ken Ham made clear in his debate with Bill Nye, for Evangelicals, the final answer to every question is THE BIBLE SAYS!

And Scott Gillis? Is he a scientist? Of course not. Gillis has a B.A. in Religious Studies from Oregon State University. According to CMI’s website:

His (Gillis) education still left him with doubts regarding the inconsistencies between evolution, science, world history, and a straight-forward reading of the Bible.

Years later, a friend who was a paleontologist demonstrated to him how scientific evidence actually makes more sense when interpreted within the clear context of the Bible’s account of history. This, along with Creation magazine, ignited a blaze in Scott to seek answers to the nagging doubts that plagued him. Once he realized that science and the Bible were not at odds with each other, he experienced a sustained joy, a renewed commitment to the Word of God, as well as a bold desire to share this life-changing message with others.

Scott now uses this conviction to impact our culture with easy-to-understand presentations that uphold the authority of God’s Word and is one of CMI–US’s most effective and popular speakers. Scott also desires to challenge others to equip themselves to be ready with answers (1 Peter 3:15) to impact their world.

Creationism has never been about science. It is a theological system of belief rooted in Biblical inerrancy and a literalistic interpretation of the Bible. According to creationists,  every question can be reduced to the printed words found in the Protestant Bible. God has spoken….end of discussion.

Notes

CMI doctrinal statement

cmi doctrinal beliefs

I thought this was a hoot.

cmi atheist

Ken Ham Proves Yet Again That He Doesn’t Believe in the Sufficiency of Scripture

ken ham

Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis and stand-in for Captain Noah on the Kentucky Ark of Ignorance, is well-known for pointing to the Bible — God’s science textbook — as THE (only/final) authority when it comes to understanding how the universe came to be. Ham is noted for telling Bill Nye that the Bible was all-sufficient, that it alone explains how everything came to be. But here’s the thing, Ham doesn’t really believe this. Here’s proof of my contention:

ken ham tweet

Ken, I ask you, why do we need to read your materials? I thought all we needed to do is read Genesis 1-3. Now you are saying that the Bible is NOT sufficient for our understanding of how the universe and biological life came to be. What’s up with that?

Of course, Evangelicals don’t really believe that the Bible is one-stop and shop knowledge store. If this was really the case, there would be no need for the thousands of Christian books that are published every year. There would also be no need for “ministries” such as Answers in Genesis. Ham and his cadre of professional dispensers of ignorance have published over ten thousand articles that are meant to help Evangelicals understand what God said in Genesis 1-3. If God has spoken, why would Christians have any reason to read any of Ham’s articles? The answer, of course, is that Ham needs 10,000 loads of bullshit to cover up his irrational, anti-scientific, literalistic interpretation of the Bible.

 

 

Fundamentalist Matt Barber Says Big Bang Proves the Existence of the Christian God

ray comfort atheists hate god

Christian bloviator Matt Barber — a former boxer who evidently took one too many hits to the head — took to his blog today to regale readers with his ignorance concerning atheism. Barber, a creationist, wrote the post to detail his Bible-based beliefs about the creation of the universe. He vomits up arguments that have been repeatedly refuted, and like a peacock strutting his stuff, Barber arrogantly states that his argumentative brilliance deals atheism (and science) a mortal blow. Of course, only in Barber’s Fundamentalist universe do such arguments find adoring and cheering crowds. In the real world, suggesting that the Big Bang proves the existence of God — God being, of course, Barber’s Evangelical deity — is rightly ridiculed and dismissed.

Barber writes:

Be they theist, atheist or anti-theist, on this nearly all scientists agree: In the beginning there was nothing. There was no time, space or matter. There wasn’t even emptiness, only nothingness. Well, nothing natural anyway.

Then: bang! Everything. Nonexistence became existence. Nothing became, in less than an instant, our inconceivably vast and finely tuned universe governed by what mankind would later call – after we, too, popped into existence from nowhere, fully armed with conscious awareness and the ability to think, communicate and observe – “natural law” or “physics.”

Time, space, earth, life and, finally, human life were not.

And then they were.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Christian author Eric Metaxas notes, “The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces – gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ nuclear forces – were determined less than one-millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction – by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000 – then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp. … It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?”

Secular materialists claim it can’t be – that such explanation is a “God of the gaps” explanation and, therefore, must be banished from the realm of scientific inquiry. They demand that anything beyond the known natural is off-limits. Atheists attribute all of existence to, well, nothing. It just kind of happened. Genesis 1:1 of the materialist bible might read: “In the beginning nothing created the heavens and the earth.” Even in the material world that’s just plain silly. Nothing plus nothing equals something? Zero times zero equals everything?

And so, they have “reasoned” themselves into a corner. These same materialists acknowledge that, prior to the moment of singularity – the Big Bang – there was no “natural.” They admit that there was an unnatural time and place before natural time and space – that something, sometime, somewhere preceded the material universe. That which preceded the natural was, necessarily, “beyond the natural” and, therefore, was, is and forever shall be “supernatural.”

Reader, meet God.

In short: the Big Bang blows atheism sky high.

Scientists readily admit that they do not yet have answers for what preceded the Big Bang. Like  Ken Ham, Barber ultimately appeals not to science, but to the Bible. God said ______, end of discussion. Barber thinks that by invoking God as the cause of the Big Bang that he has provided an argument that cannot be refuted. Of course, even a child can refute this argument. If everything in the universe has a cause, then where did God come from? The God who caused the Big Bang and created the universe acted within time and space, so he/she/it must also have a beginning. Neither scientists or religionists have answers for what happened before the Big Bang. The difference is that scientists are still trying to find answers. Creationists, on the other hand, appeal to the Bible, trusting that unknown ancient sheepherders or tribal lords had a better understanding of the universe than modern scientists.

I am curious however of one thing. Is Matt Barber saying he actually believes that God used the Big Bang to bring the universe into existence? If the answers is yes, then what happened to believing the Bible, particularly Genesis 1-3? You know, the verses, if taken as written, that say God created the universe in six literal 24 hour days, 6,021 years ago. Surely creationists have no need of making an argument for fine-tuning. Isn’t it enough to say God did it?

Barber also had these things to say about atheism/atheists in general:

“They say there are no atheists in the foxhole. Even fewer when death is certain. None once the final curtain falls. God’s Word declares, “The fool hath said in his heart ‘there is no God’” (Psalm 14).”

“In my experience it is something common among atheists: an inexplicable, incongruent and visceral hatred for the very God they imagine does not exist. Indeed, Romans 1:20 notes, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Yet excuses they make.”

“As I see it, atheism provides a case study in willful suspension of disbelief – all to escape, as the God-denier imagines it, accountability for massaging the libertine impulse.”

I know, nothing atheists haven’t heard countless times before.

If you have some spare time during your daily constitution, you can read Barber’s post here. Warning, doing so could cause diarrhea.

Songs of Sacrilege: What Would Scooby Do? by Eddie Scott

This is the ninety-ninth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is What Would Scooby Do? by Eddie Scott.

Video Link

Lyrics

These are pretty swell times
Or it seems so to me
For science in books on the web and TV
Yes the lover of reason just has to say “WOW”!
There’s a whole lot of really good stuff out there now

You’ve got Hawking and Dawkins
Bill Nye’s a big deal
We’ve had Cosmos with Carl
And Cosmos with Neil
But there’s one voice of reason
Who always comes through

I am speaking of course
Of the great Scooby Doo

When life presents a mystery
And you can’t make sense of the clues
Before you proclaim that something spooky’s to blame
Just try asking “What would Scooby do?”

Remember that cool caper when a wicked evil ape
Or maybe some demented crazed orangutan
Was haunting all the actors on a movie set
The fact was he scared everyone away
That seemed to be his evil plan

Scooby and his friends
Did they give in to the hysteria?
Of course not
They just calmly started searching the whole area

They carried out their task
They ripped away the monkey’s mask
There was no ape at all
Just stunt man Carl was their man

When everyone seems baffled
By a strange occurrence or two
You’ll soon understand
An explanation’s at hand

If you try asking “What would Scooby do?”

Another time this ghoul was making everyone feel foolish
With his blood red cape and piercing yellow eyes
Scaring workers on a scaffold, the authorities were baffled
Why was a monster hanging out up there on their high-rise?

Everyone was scared and seemed to want to disappear
Scooby and his friends said “Something fishy’s happening here”

They set out undercover
Sure enough, they soon discovered
What others called a ghoul
Was just a robber in disguise

When people seem bewildered
By a ghost, a wraith or a ghoul
It could be a fluke
It doesn’t have to be spooks

Just try asking “What would Scooby do?”

When life presents a mystery
And you can’t make sense of the clues
Before you proclaim that something spooky’s to blame
Just try asking “What would Scooby?”
“What would good old Scooby?”
“Tell me what would Scooby do?”

So when things seem bizarre
And you’re at your wits’ ends
Be like old Scooby Doo
And his Skeptical friends

For they know it is clear
What Occam ’s razor commands
Don’t accept goofy claims
If something simpler’s at hand

When life presents a mystery
And you can’t make sense of the clues
Before you proclaim that something spooky’s to blame
Just try asking “What would Scooby?”
“Tell me what would Scooby?”
“What would good old Scooby do?”

Ken Ham Needs Atheists So He Can Fund His Monuments to Ignorance

lying ken ham

Ken Ham, also known as the ayatollah of Kentucky and a purveyor of Fundamentalist ignorance, frequently writes articles about atheism. Several days ago, Ham asked and then answered the question, Why Do Atheists Care? Here is some of what this noted intellectual genius of young-earth creationism had to say:

 Atheists get very passionate when it comes to fighting biblical Christianity. If God doesn’t exist—and life has no ultimate meaning—why do they even care?

Why do atheists get so emotional and aggressive in opposing biblical Christianity? Why does it bother them? Why does it matter at all to them?

When Answers in Genesis announced plans to build the Creation Museum, a local atheist group began attacking the ministry of Answers in Genesis and campaigning against the museum. When the museum was opened, the atheists gathered outside the museum to protest the opening of this facility. But why did they do this?

At the time of this issue’s publication, atheists are aggressively opposing a new project involving the building of a life-size Noah’s Ark, the Ark Encounter. But what is it to atheists if Christians build such a facility to proclaim the Christian message? After all, thousands of secular museums across the USA and other countries around the world are already proclaiming an atheistic evolutionary message to the public. Government schools throughout the world by and large indoctrinate hundreds of millions of the coming generations in naturalism—really atheism.

So why do atheists get so upset with a minority that stands for biblical Christianity?

During my debate with Bill Nye “the Science Guy” on February 4, 2014, Bill was asked where matter came from. In his answer he said it was a great mystery, but he loved the “joy of discovery” as he pursued such questions. In my responses to Bill’s answers, I asked him why the joy of discovery mattered to him. I explained that from Bill’s perspective, life is the result of natural processes and there is no biblical God, so when he dies, he won’t even know he ever existed or knew anything. Then, when others who knew him die, they won’t know they ever knew him, either. Eventually, from his perspective of naturalism, the whole universe will die and no one will ever know they ever existed. So what is the purpose of this “joy of discovery”? Really, the naturalistic view of life is ultimately purposeless and meaningless!

Think about the well-known atheist Richard Dawkins. Why does he spend so much time writing and speaking against Someone (God) he doesn’t believe exists? Why is he so aggressive against biblical Christianity? In an ultimately purposeless and meaningless existence, why does it matter to him if people believe in the God of the Bible and the account of creation as outlined in Genesis? Why bother fighting against such people when, from his perspective, eventually no one will even know they ever existed?

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No matter how many times atheists point out to Ham that they don’t live purposeless and meaningless lives, he continues to recite these lies as a six-year old would when reciting his memory verse in Sunday school. Ham seems to think that if he repeats the same lie over and over that it will magically become true. Later in the same article, Ham continues his lying ways by telling readers that atheists “aren’t fighting for the truth, but suppressing it” — truth being Ham’s literalistic interpretation of the Christian Bible. According to Ham:

Really then, when Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins, and others so aggressively oppose biblical Christianity, what they are doing is this. They are covering their ears and closing their eyes and saying, “I refuse to submit to the God who created me. I refuse to acknowledge that God is the creator. I refuse to accept that I’m a sinner in need of salvation. I want to write my own rules! Therefore I must oppose anything that pricks my conscience and aggressively suppress the truth to justify my rebellion.”

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So why do these who so aggressively oppose Christianity care? They care because they are desperately trying to justify their rebellion against the truth. They don’t want to admit that they are sinners in need of salvation and thus need to submit to the God who created them and owns them.

Again, Ham continues to lie, refusing to accept the reasons atheists give for not believing in his God. Our objection to Christianity, its God, and the Bible is not one of deliberate denial of truth. Far from it. Many atheists such as myself spent most of our lives reading and studying the Bible. We know the Bible from cover to cover. It is not that we have some sort of intellectual deficiency or have some secret desire to eat babies or star in porn movies. Our rejection of Christianity is based on our careful examination of its claims. Are the claims Christians make for God, Jesus, and the Bible true? The atheist says no. Rather than accept this, Ham lies and tells his followers that the real reason atheists aren’t Christians is because they suppress the truth and are in rebellion to God.

At one time I was willing to give Ham the benefit of the doubt. I thought, Ham is sincere. He genuinely wants atheists to be saved. I no longer believe this. Since Ham refuses to accurately report the atheistic/agnostic/humanistic/secularist worldview, I can only conclude that he has some sort of ulterior motive that requires him to lie about his adversaries. Would could that motive be? you ask. I think Ken Ham needs atheists. He needs an enemy to fight, a war to wage. Ham believes that True Christians® are called on to wage war against Satan and his earthly emissaries. Atheists are an easy target because most Evangelicals equate atheism with satanism (and Ham does nothing to dispel this notion). Ham knows that Evangelicals — his primary target audience — live lives that are indistinguishable from non-Christians. In order to stir up the passions of these passive Christians, Ham uses hyperbolic language when speaking of his three great enemies: secularism, atheism, and liberalism. Ham knows that stirred passions mean more donations, so this is THE reason Ham continues to misrepresent what atheists and secularists really believe. Ham lies because lying is good for business. Evangelicals, thanks to rapturist eschatology, are conditioned to believe the “world” is an awful place and should be avoid at all costs. And what better way to avoid the world than to visit Ham’s monuments to ignorance — the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.

Ham knows that his Museum and Ark theme park won’t bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I don’t know of one atheist who has become a Christian as a result of visiting Ham’s entertainment facilities. Ham’s goal has never been to save souls. The Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter are meant to reinforce Evangelical young-earth creationist beliefs. Why does Ham encourage Christian parents to bring their children to the Museum and Ark Encounter? Why are most of the things in these facilities geared towards teenagers and young children (i.e. zip line, petting zoo)? Ham’s objective is to indoctrinate another generation in the creationist way of thinking. By focusing on children, Ham ensures that when these children grow up and marry that they too will bring their children for a visit, thus providing continued income for his empire.

As with much that goes on in the name of the Christian God, it is all about money. Ham knows that the key to his future prosperity rests on his ability to generate income. This is the real reason for building the Ark Encounter. Creation Museum visit numbers and income are in decline, and Ham needs something that will stir the passions of his fellow Evangelicals, resulting in them paying his ministries a visit. By building a wood replica of a fictional boat and throwing in a few amenities homeschoolers and children will be sure to love, Ham ensures that the next couple of years will have increasing revenues. The new estimate for the completion of the Ark Encounter stands at $34 million. Opening July 7, 2016, adult tickets will cost $40 ($60 for a Museum combo ticket) and child tickets will cost $28 ($34 combo ticket). Parking will cost an extra $10. If attendance increases as Ham expects, his creationist empire will have over $20 million in new revenue.

Ham knows that fighting the atheist horde increases the bottom line, and it is for this reason he really doesn’t want to see any of us saved. If all the secularists and atheists got saved, Ham wouldn’t have anyone to rail against. And with no enemy, revenues would decline and Ham’s monuments to first and second century thinking would fall into disrepair. Ham will continue to lie about atheism because, in his mind, the end justifies the means. He cares more about money than he does honesty. For those creationists who object to my portrayal of Ham as a money-grubbing liar, the easy way to repudiate my claims is for Ken Ham and his ministries to publicly release their financial reports. Of course, it will be a cold day in Kentucky before Ham ever releases his financials.

Twenty years from now, Ham’s ministries will be in decline, facing increasing financial pressures. Ham surely knows that Evangelicals won’t treat the Creationist Museum and the Ark Encounter as they do nearby King’s Island. Once Evangelicals have visited the Museum and Ark Encounter, they are unlikely to return. Been there, done that, Evangelicals says to themselves. Imagine children being forced to repeatedly visit a museum. Doing so is not their idea of summer fun. When asked what they would rather do: visit Bro Ham’s ministry or go to King’s Island/Cedar Point, I suspect most children will quickly opt to ride roller coasters. And since the Museum/Ark Encounter combo ticket is more expensive than that of the amusement parks, many Evangelical parents will decide to take their families to one of the theme parks. Facing financial decline, Ham will be forced to scale back his empire. As science continues to draw future creationists away from his pernicious teachings, Ham will be forced to rely on fund-raising appeals or large estate donations from dead supporters. These too will dry up as older supporters die off. By then Ham will likely be dead, leaving others with the responsibility to manage the Creationist Titanic. Eventually, Ham’s monuments to ignorance will close their doors and become decaying testimonies to the dying breaths of a thoroughly discredited system of belief. I will likely be dead when this happens, so I will leave it to my grandchildren to say good riddance.

A Pictorial Explanation of How Some Creationists View the Pre-Flood World

Creationist believe the earth is 6,020 years old. Based on a literal interpretation of God’s divine science textbook — the Bible — creationists believe God, 4,000 or so years ago, sent a worldwide flood that killed all life on earth except Noah and his family and the animals on the Ark. Many creationists believe that the world after the flood was very different from the one before. Those of us who came of age in the Fundamentalists churches of the 1960s and 1970s  likely remember preachers and conference speakers waxing eloquently about the “science” of the book of Genesis. Forced to stick to a literalistic interpretation of the Bible, these promoters of the creationist myth said that prior to Noah’s flood the earth was protected by a water canopy that kept the earth in an Edenic state. This perfectly controlled environment kept plants living without rain and allowed some people to have lifespans exceeding 900 years. (See Genesis 1:6-8, Genesis 2:6, Genesis 7:11)

Yesterday, my friend James McGrath posted a graphic that perfectly illustrates the vapor/water canopy theory.

earth before the flood

Enlightened creationists — an oxymoron — will scream foul, reminding me that most creationists no longer embrace the canopy theory. Fine, but I suspect that many older creationists still embrace the theory.  This theory is hardly “ancient” history. I heard preaching on it in the late 1980s. Every Evangelical preacher I knew owned copies of  Henry Morris’ and John Whitcomb’s 1960 book, The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implication and Morris’ 1976 book, The Genesis Record, A scientific and devotional commentary on the book of beginnings. These two books, along with a King James Bible, were all Evangelical preachers needed to explain the universe.  What have creation “scientists” discovered that would cause creationists to now abandon the canopy theory? Or is the real issue that believing it makes them look like illiterate hillbillies? Craving acceptance by the larger religious community or desiring validation from the science community, creationists have abandoned a theory that was central to interpreting Genesis for much of the 20th century. Creationists are front and center in the attack on gay Christians who reinterpret the Bible to support their belief that God/Bible does not condemn homosexuality. How is abandoning the canopy theory any different? Did the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God change? How dare creationists abandon their interpretation of the Bible just because it makes them look illiterate!