On one hand, Ham never misses an opportunity to gin up hysteria over the secular horde that is, according to Ham, trying to destroy America. He routinely overplays his hand and it is hard to take him seriously when he does this.
On the other hand, atheists and secularists often do make their attacks personal. Instead of attacking Ham’s ideas, they attack the person, using invectives and disparaging words to demean Ham and those who believe like he does. I have, on occasion, done it myself. (and I am trying to do better in this regard)
Ken Ham stands as the representative for Young Earth Creationism. His beliefs are no different than mine were for many years. I suspect many of the readers of this blog were at one time Young Earth Creationists.
Ham’s literalistic interpretation of the Bible is generally consistent, and I commend him for sticking to his guns, no matter what comes his way. I generally have more respect for people who take the Bible as written and don’t try to reinterpret, massage, or reinvent the text when they are faced with teachings that make them uncomfortable. Of course, this way of thinking is a two-edged sword since there are a lot of things in the Bible that most Christians wish weren’t in the text. (i.e. God’s genocidal behavior, approval of slavery)
Now, this does not mean I think Ken Ham’s beliefs are rational or intellectually satisfying. I think modern science, history, and common sense, clearly show that Ham’s beliefs are ignorant and are best left buried in the past where they came from. Yes, millions of people believe just Ham does, but this does not mean their beliefs have merit. Millions of people are Mormons, and I have no doubt Ham thinks they are deluded. A large number of people believing something doesn’t necessarily make the belief true.
I think his beliefs impede progress, encourage intellectual sterility, and any attempt to teach his beliefs in the public school system must be stopped. Our children are already science-ignorant, so we don’t need to add to their ignorance by teaching them Creationism or Intelligent Design. (unless it is taught in a World Religion class, a class I think EVERY student should be required to take)
Evangelical Christianity is dying, ever-so-slowly. The extreme Fundamentalist end of Evangelicalism, represented by people like Ken Ham, James Dobson, and the like, is dying even faster.
Time is on our side. We must be vigilant and continue to stop any attempt to sneak Evangelical beliefs, especially Creationism, into the public schools. If we successfully do this, Evangelical beliefs will be pushed back into the church and home where they belong. Given enough time, maybe another generation or two, Evangelicalism will be a shell of what it once was. Yes, there will always be Ken Ham’s, but their influence will be minimal. I have no doubt that this is a battle that we WILL win.
This is why we should not waste our time personally attacking people like Ken Ham. Let’s challenge their ideas and beliefs. Let’s make public their beliefs and judge and critique them according to science and reason. If we do this, we will, first of all, keep some people from being attracted to Evangelicalism, and second of all, we might be able to help those who want to be free of the narrow, close minded, stifling constraints of Evangelicalism.
Of course, it would be nice if Ken Ham did the same. While he rightly complains about the personal attacks, he turns right around and does the same thing. In the post I mentioned above, Ham wrote:
However, I find so many atheists who are not just intolerant of what we believe as Christians but are intolerant of us personally. Why? The Bible tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
(Jeremiah 17:9)—so because of sin it is going to be a lopsided battle. While a true Christian may be intolerant of an atheist’s belief, the atheist is often intolerant of the Christian personally.
Instead of practicing what he preaches, Ham disparages his critics by saying that they are deceitful and desperately wicked. I am sure Ham will say that he is just repeating what GOD said, but he using the Bible to personally attack people. (a common Evangelical practice)
Ham might also want to send his followers a memo about not attacking people personally. Several of his followers, coming directly from his Facebook page or associated with Answers in Genesis, have personally attacked me, going after my “emotional” state instead of my ideas and beliefs.
All the way around, the level of discourse needs to be raised. Atheists hurling invectives at Ham and his flowers, calling them child abusers unfit to be parents, does nothing to advance the atheist cause. Christian parents are free to educate their children as they wish, and quite frankly, if the only deficient aspect of their education is that they were taught Creationism, I think they will survive. This is nothing that can’t be corrected at the college level.
Evangelicals need to stop demeaning and disparaging atheists, humanists, and secularists. Hurling Bible condemnations our way, attempting to make us look like immoral, indecent, vile creatures, is not only untrue, but not what Jesus would have done. (Jesus reserved his sharpest criticisms for the religious)
Now, do I think anyone is going to listen to me?
But, I said it. It needed to be said. Do with it what you will.