Undoubtedly the title of this blog post could be taken in hundreds of different directions. However, given recent developments close to home, and the Answers in Genesis conference coming to Cedarville University on Sept. 23-24, I’d like to get people thinking about Ken Ham, his organization’s agenda, and how Scripture might very well be getting abused for the sake of Young Earth Creationism.
I say this as someone who used to be a zealous defender of everything that Answers in Genesis stands for. I viewed the Creationism vs. Evolution debate as central and foundational to the Christian life. I would sit for hours on end and listen to guys like Kent Hovind and their defenses of Young Earth Creationism…
…and then I learned more about how to study the Bible.
And now I’m not so sure that people like Ken Ham are really about humbly submitting to what Scripture has to say. Instead, they seem to hold tightly to an anti-intellectual hermeneutic of suspicion and paranoia.It’s all about “us” vs. “them,” about building thick walls and banishing the “crazy liberals” from our midst. And the more I listen to the rhetoric, the more I’m convinced that anyone can become a crazy liberal, so long as they disagree with key figures such as Ken Ham about anything.
Consider the following quote from a review of The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (by R. Stephens and K. Giberson):
Ken Ham, with no scientific credentials, no credentials in biblical scholarship, no evidence, and no research program, has become the front person, the spokesman for a large segment of evangelicalism. He proves nothing, he asserts what he finds to be truth and tells a story to make it so. He is a charismatic speaker on a mission and has become for many the authority on the evil of evolution and the dishonesty of modern science. Ken Ham and his organization Answers in Genesis have become “powerful shapers of popular opinion in America’s vast evangelical subculture.”
Ken Ham is an anointed and respected authority in much of American evangelicalism and fundamentalism.
One of the premises of Stephens and Giberson is that the broader evangelical culture has become enamored of the charismatic individual who can tell a good story, do it in a flashy and entertaining fashion, and has a message easily reduced to simple black and white points. Ken Ham is such an individual.
Why is Ken Ham believed?
People like Ken Ham and AiG claim to have a high view of Scripture and to hold to a “literal” reading… but in reality, I think that they have a low view of Scripture because they are unwilling to even consider that certain passages were not written to answer the questions we might like them to answer for us! If we don’t even try to approach the text on its own terms, then I would argue that we’re being unfaithful to Scripture.
For those of you still reading who don’t think I’m a crazy liberal yet (I can assure you, I’m not), consider the following resources as first steps in moving beyond Ken Ham, AiG, and the vitriolic debate between Young Earth Creationism and Neo-Darwinism, to what Scripture actually has to say about creation!
Check out my blog post on Biblical Creation Theology.
…and the paper I wrote on how biblical creation theology leads to doxology.
Also, the following are some interesting posts for anyone interested:
The Evangelical Brain Trust (NYT)
Anointed? … Evangelicals and Authority (RJS)
Ken Ham is a Con Artist… (via Patheos)
I, too, once believed Creationism a necessary tennet to the Christian faith. Someone once convinced me with an argument that if anyone denies the Creationist perspective, it destroys everything else that follows in Scripture. I don’t even recall the argument. I also cannot think of an argument myself that could follow from the idea.
While I myself am a Creationist, it REALLY doesn’t seem to matter. It’s not something that will come up in conversation to the average person when evangelizing or discipling. Yes, evolutionary educational background can be a stumbling block for some trying to understand Christianity, but Jesus hardly seemed preoccupied by the intellectual (or anti-intellectual) arguments of his day. Certainly that does not mean we should avoid intellectual conversations, but assuming a prioritizing of theology (dear, God, that’s a hot issue in of itself), then the issue of Creationism is a nominal issue at best.