I have been asked many times if I think creationist Ken Ham is a sincere Christian. It certainly would make things easier if Ham were a money-grubbing Elmer Gantry. We could then dismiss him as a con artist and shake our head at those who are duped by his pleas for money to fight the secularist horde at the gate. However, as I ponder my own one-time blind devotion to Jesus, I’m inclined to think that Ken Ham sincerely believes the Bible is a God-written science and history textbook. I’m sure there’s nothing that will convince Ken Ham, at the ripe old age of 64, that he is not absolutely right. Ham believes that God speaks to him and has called him to preach the creationist gospel. When people are certain God is on their side, there is little hope of disabusing them of their belief.
Now, we may rightly think Ham’s beliefs are ignorant and superstitious, but millions of people hold to similar beliefs, and we should at least acknowledge that they are sincere believers. Before we can understand Ken Ham, we must first understand his belief system. A lot of atheists and evolutionists fail to do this, foolishly attacking Ken Ham the person and not Ken Ham’s beliefs.
Ken Ham is a true-blue fundamentalist, and part of his religious DNA is the belief that the world will become more evil the closer we get to the rapture. Ham believes there are Satanic forces at work trying to destroy Biblical Christianity. Anyone who has been a part of the Evangelical church for any length of time knows how this kind of paranoid thinking permeates Evangelicalism. Atheism is on the rise in the West and Ham sees this as an attack by Satan on all he hold holds dear. He fears that if he and his followers don’t repel secularism, atheism, evolution, and non-Fundamentalist Christianity, that America will be judged by God and destroyed.
Everything Ham does is an attempt to promote Biblical Christianity and turn back the unrelenting attack of Satan. Yes, Ham makes a good living off his work, and his promotion of young earth creationism attracts millions of dollars in fees and donations, but I suspect that Ham would still do what he does even if he isn’t financially remunerated.
I remember when I used to think like Ken Ham. It was never about the money. My goal was to preach the good news of the gospel to as many people as possible. I was willing to go to great lengths to serve God, even if it meant living in abject poverty. My calling in life was to obediently follow the teachings of the Bible and be a faithful messenger of God to a lost and dying world. There was a time in my life that Ken Ham and I would have been best buds.
When secularists, atheists, and scientists attack Ken Ham the person they make themselves look bad. They need to focus on his beliefs. Using reason, they need to challenge his assertions, knowing that they may not cause Ham to change his beliefs. There are always doubting Christians lurking in the shadows, watching our behavior and reading our writing. These are people who are most likely to be swayed by sound intellectual arguments.
I may hate what Ken Ham believes and I may think those beliefs promote ignorance, but if my objective is to counter his beliefs, I must focus on what he teaches and not on his person (even when it is very hard to do so). To put it in religious parlance, I must be a good witness and I must always remember that people are going to judge me by the words I say and write. If I personally attack someone, I know that some religious readers will not hear what I have to say. And I don’t blame them.
My friend Kerry left a comment that I think sums up well what I am trying to say:
Name calling does nothing to advance the understanding between world views. I didn’t do it as a believer and I don’t do it as a non-believer in Christianity. I do, from time to time, rework the pithy little sayings so many Christians use, such as; “Love the sinner but hate the sin” which I change to “Love the believer but hate the belief.” For the various beatitudes that get quoted, I usually quote from Confucius or Buddha which sound the same but are a little bit different. They of course do not notice until I point it out to them and educate them on the fact that these sayings are some 600 years before God gave them to the Jews. There are ways to make the point about the facts we as atheists have embraced without doing it in a manner that closes off all minds and debate.
I am well aware of the fact that Ken Ham does not afford me the same treatment I’ve outlined in this post. While I find this irritating, I must be a better man than he is, if for no other reason than it points out that a person can treat others with decency without being a Christian. I wish more atheists would understand this. I know, it’s hard to be kind and decent towards people who think you are a reprobate and are headed for God’s S&M chamber in the bowels of the earth. If humanism is the way forward for the human race, then we must kill people with our kindness (and our facts).