Creationist Nonsense: Were You There?

It seems that a previous post of mine caught the eye of Ken Ham (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/conspiracy-against-creationism-and-ken-hams-intollerance/) and he felt the need to comment on it. I should feel honoured that one as humble as me has caught the attention of such a high profile Creationist.

One commenter on my post kindly copied Ken’s Facebook comment to my blog post, otherwise I may never have known.

Ken’s final paragraph gave me cause to chuckle:

Well this person wouldn’t like our Starting Points Room at the Creation museum now would they!! This person has no concept of the difference between historical science and observational science. Your kids will they–particularly those who were taught to ask ‘Were you There?’

The “Were you there?” question is one that I’ve known about for some time. Children are encouraged to ask prominent evolutionary scientists this question in response to their assertions about how we know certain facts. The implication behind it is that if you didn’t see it happen, how can you be so sure? I imagine that Creationist preachers taking this line can then go on to explain that we know the Bible to be accurate because its written down for us by eye witnesses to these events and so if they ask themselves the same question the answer is “no, but I know a man who was.”

This line of logic may work on children, but it doesn’t survive the critical examination of intelligent adults. So to see an intelligent adult actually using it in this way genuinely makes me sad.

The worst part of this line of reasoning is that it actually misses the point of the scientific study of evolution. I wonder if that’s intentional.

The scientific study of evolution is about the physical evidence and the corroboration of that evidence across different disciplines. People and their testimonies are neither sought nor trusted. A man might lie, rock strata, tree rings, varying fossil shapes and genetic relationship maps do not lie. These are there for people to examine and draw their conclusions from. If someone gets it wrong, there will be someone else along to spot it. When different interpretations come up, there is a healthy scientific discussion about it. People get impassioned and eventually the more accurate descriptions survive. Occasionally, when further evidence pops up, long held ideas get to be overturned.

This is good science; and it means that if your radical idea is to be accepted by anyone other than yourself, it has to survive immense scrutiny.

Asking “were you there?” is neither good science, nor intellectually sound. It’s the equivalent of sticking out your tongue, putting your thumbs in your ears and waving your fingers while blowing a raspberry. It serves no useful purpose.

The temptation is great to ask back, “were you there in the garden of Eden? Or on Mount Ararat? Or at the battle of Jericho?”. I’ve already given the hint as to what the answer will be. “I didn’t need to be, those who were there wrote it down, see.”

Poorer is the Creationist who takes that line and considers it weightier than the history we see in world around us.

Creationists like Ken Ham will mock the use of evidence taken from the physical world, calling it “observational science” and “garbage”. I wonder how much of this observational science is utilised at the creation museum. Does he only use physical evidence that the Bible specifically mentions? Surely he wouldn’t use fossils with an interpretation of his own that’s not mentioned in the Bible would he? What about a description of erosion that contradicts science but is not found in the Bible? I don’t know the certain answers to those questions, but given the creationist stance on evolution and the global flood, I think I can safely say that the Creation museum interprets observed science and uses an explanation that doesn’t match the prevailing understanding.

Dare I label this hypocrisy? I think I do!

I’m no longer interested in Church at all

A few months ago I made a decision that I was not interested in attending church any longer and that included being involved in activities there.

Its not all long ago that I was happy to attend and happy to help out. I’m not entirely sure what sparked the change in attitude. I suspect it was no individual thing that drove this decision; rather it was a gradual adjustment of perspective.

The final straw came when my wife volunteered us both to help out in the weekly youth club. I didn’t particularly respond positively and the result was the accusation of me putting on a face like I’d been told to do something I didn’t want to do. The back story here is that some members have become unhappy with the church and withdrawn. This included some who had been involved in the youth club. Being in dire need of assistance, my wife did the honourable thing and offered help from a couple with past experience of youth club.

I went along for a couple of weeks and did my best, but frankly my heart wasn’t in it and it showed. Its hard to pretend to be an enthusiastic youth leader when you really aren’t engaging with the bigger picture. I had fun in the games but found the story time and biblical elements even more uncomfortable than when I sit in church.

The result was I had to admit that I was being turned off church and was at a point where I really didn’t want to be there at all. My wife has been very gracious in this and I suggested that I stop altogether because the last thing she wanted was a husband who resented church because it was forced to be there for the sake of appearances.

I didn’t see this coming

The honest truth here is that this has taken me by surprise. I never expected to be in a place where I was stopped church altogether and would seriously wonder if I was heading along a path towards being ‘anti church’. I’m not there now, but I do wonder if one day I will become disillusioned with people of faith to the point that I become anti organised religion to the point of some of the vocal atheists I know.

I’m not there yet, so let’s not get too carried away just yet.

I think there are two main reasons for my change in stance. One is that I am not at all comfortable being in a church service environment any more. Everything is so familiar, and yet so strangely alien. I know most of the hymns and song off by heart, I have heard most sermons and children’s talks. However, its not a world view I identify with anymore and the arguments I hear all get disassembled in my mind. I simply can’t engage on either a spiritual or intellectual level.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to articulate how and why I made this transformation of attitude. For the moment I can’t, I only know its happened. Maybe it was inevitable and I was just being naive or denialist in thinking I could continue to be supportive of church; probably both.