In Defence of Ken Ham

Yes, you read that right.

I’ve not yet watched the whole of the debate video on YouTube, but I have read a fair bit of commentary in the last day. Predictably, creationist sources say their man did good and science still starts with the rejection of god, while science sources are pulling apart the creationist claims as they have done for years.

One part that seems to me to have gained the greatest notoriety is the responses to the question “What would make you change your mind?”

Many have jumped on Ham’s response that he’s a Christian and so basically nothing could persuade him that is wrong. While it is fully understandable that a science mind would see that as closed minded, mocking it for what it seems misses the big picture behind that statement.

In my Christian days, I would have answered similar. To the Christian, the salvation that God provides is the whole point of life and it shapes everything. Christianity is not just a belief, it’s a lifestyle. The whole point of the Christian faith is that the effects permeate the whole of your being and shape your whole life and, through the Holy Spirit, one becomes a different person. With that level of immersion, it is simply not possible to answer a the question posed with a glib, “If someone showed me the evidence.” This is especially so if you believe that the devil is involved in misdirection and that he will tempt you with doubts and lies.

So Ken Ham’s response to that question is exactly what one should expect from someone who takes their faith seriously and wants to guard themselves from what is perceived as bad and spiritually unhealthy. Scoffing at the answer reveals a lack of willing to understand the subject.

Of course that doesn’t mean his arguments are right, they’re not. He is however being genuine and honest in his response and it shows how deeply seriously he takes his Christianity and how much it means to him.

To Ken Ham, his creationism is part of the package of his Christianity and the two can not be separated. Show him that creationism is wrong and you challenge the very core of his Christianity. That is not an easy ask and it will never happen in a single conversation or even a single piece of evidence. For me it took years, lots of evidence and it was a major head fuck.


But what about the Christians who don’t accept literal creation?

There are many more liberal Christians who don’t accept literal creation than there are creationists. That’s a good thing. However, ask them the question of what would cause them to change their mind about their faith and you’ll get similar answers. Accepting evolution does not change the value of their faith to them and some will simply choose not to consider that they might be wrong.


What question should be asked?

I think the question was too simple and was not the right one to ask. Instead I would seek to separate Christianity from a literal creation and ask a question such as, “How would it affect your Christianity if you were shown that evolution was true.”

If I had asked that question I am not sure how I would have answered but I think I would answer that it would cause be to question my faith. In the end, that’s exactly what happened.

Arguments Creationists Should Avoid

Anwers in Genesis has a useful page listing some of the arguments that a Creationist, faced with defending their beliefs (

The list is broken into 3 section, arguments never to use (9), arguments to avoid (12) and common misconceptions (8). The lists are not as long as I initially expected, but going through the list and ticking off those I had subscribed to was interesting.

Section 1:

1) Moon dust thickness proves a young moon

3) NASA computers found Joshua’s missing day and Hezekiah’s sundial reversal

5) Darwin’s deathbed recantation

6) Flash frozen Woolly Mammoths

Section 2:

1) Evolution is just a theory

2) Macroevolution / Microevolution

8) Human and dinosaur tracks found together

10) No rain before the flood

11) The speed of light has decreased

12) There are no transitional forms

Section 3:

6) Women have one more rib than men

7) Archaeopteryx is a fraud

In my defence, most of the items above all came from one source, that of a book I read in about 1990 by an American pastor who was a staunch Creationist and the uncle of someone I worked with. I don’t remember the name of the author or the book.

However, I should also admit that taking the majority of my information and foundation for belief from a single source was a little naive. At that time in my life, I was interested in scientific understanding but I was also in the early years of living on my own and developing my Christian faith as my own and no longer in the shadow of my parents. That one book set me on a path for most of the next 20 years and oh how different things might have been if it were not for a chance conversation.

At least I can now be honest and admit, yes I did once believe those things, and laugh at me past silly self with a minimal amount of embarrassment. I think shame in the past at this point would not be productive. I may as well embrace my past mistakes and move on. It does of course concern me that there are many who still belie the items I have listed above. This can only be explained through ignorance. That ignorance may not be entirely the fault of the believer, it could be the fault of person (or persons) who continue to peddle the myth, or it could simply be in some cases that the believer simply does not know where to go to check and test. They need help from others to discover the truth.

Sometimes that help only comes from those who are more scientifically literate and also happen to reject that form of Christianity. That can be a problem. It was for me on several occasions. When faced with being corrected on science by someone who disagrees with your Christian faith is difficult because you find yourself in a situation where the foundation of that faith itself is questioned and if that questioning comes from a non-believer then the only course of defence is to reject all they say.

I applaud what the Answers in Genesis are doing here. They are trying to ease the lot of enthusiastic Creationists by guiding them away from problem topics. However, there is one obvious sting here; this list can only grow longer, an problem argument can never revert to being a good argument. At what point does the list become so long that Creationism implodes?

The Christian (Theist) Challenge


To follow on from the atheist challenge (, thebiblereader ( has created 10 questions for Christians.

The 10 questions can be found here: and rather than repe4at the questions I’ll let you pop over there to read them and I’ll provide the answers below that I think my former Christian self would have replied. This will be an interesting challenge for me as it will provide me with an opportunity to attempt to think as I once did about God and salvation and examine those thoughts through my new eyes.


1)      Religion is a man made concept and as such there will be elements of religiosity that do conflict with God and the Bible. Those conflicts would be entirely the fault of the people involved and not at all to do with God. God and His word, however, do not conflict.

2)      A lot depends on the context of this, I can recall certain situations where immediate danger to my family could have resulted in this sort of interpretation out of a desire for retribution. However, in the cold light of day in my western life in glorious England, I really can’t see how that might happen. Even with absolute certainty that it was an instruction from God I can’t see myself going ahead with it.

3)      God always was and since he created the laws of physics when he created the universe, there is no violation as he is outside of those laws.

4)      Yes, of course its inerrant. Perceived errancy is down to misunderstanding the context of the situation.

5)      Its not right or justifiable by today’s standards. Life in those times were different and the rules of war and engagement. God wasn’t ordering killing for killings sake. Nasty killings were going to happen anyway, wars of that nature in those times would have been very brutal. God’s instruction on dispatching the enemy did not make the end result any worse than it would have been anyway. This was a kill or be killed scenario and utter oblivion of the enemy reduces the chance of a repeat performance later on.

6)      God did not make a mistake. He intentionally gave us the option of following him or not. The choice had to be ours to make. Having a creation of adorable puppies that mindlessly stick to his heals and wishing to please at every one of his whims is not what he intended to create. Through a free will choice, comes imperfection as a consequence of those choices, when they are made truly and freely. Would a creation of those puppy-like followers be perfect? I would say not.

7)      Yes he will hear. God might help that person get find the way again, or he might know that they will manage it anyway and so not intervene. The Christian might never know which.

8)      I never considered that this could even be an option. I can’t imagine what I would do.

9)      Being a creationist. The proof would have been that creation was wrong and evolution right after all because the unpacking of that would mean so much of the bible simply can’t be true and that kills the foundation of the gospels dead. (As it turns out, this is precisely what happened)

10)   I had always been happy to admit to indoctrination. I was happy with that because I was secure in my faith. Other Gods were not compatible and so they could not be believed in. Other religions were violent, cultish or a bit New Age and fluffy. None of which were attractive.

Oh Science, Why do you Change so much?

One of the barriers I had when it came to evaluating the claims of science with those of creationism was the issue of the changeability of scientific claims.

Creationism offered a reliable, solid and unchanging account of how the world began and is now. God made it the way it is and our inability to understand or explain certain things was a failing of science and proof of God’s created world.

For me, reading about new discoveries and how they would change the way scientists thought about some things was evidence that scientists couldn’t make up their minds and that science was a lost cause with little ability to properly explain. Couldn’t they just read the bible and see how constant everything is and how it was all created as it should be and as it is now?

Science changing in response to new knowledge or understanding was seen as a bad thing thing.

It took a very long time for me to appreciate that a change in understanding does not automatically mean that everything beforehand was wrong. A change in understanding or a new discovery does not invalidate what has gone before, it typically clarifies. A complete overturning of previous ideas is not especially common, and it gets rarer as more is known and understood.

Learning is not linear

For reasons I can’t fully explain, my expectation of scientific knowledge was that new discoveries should confirm what we already know (a created world) and that as scientific knowledge expands, so does the validation of that. The concept of science uncovering the unexpected and leading to tangential discoveries was alien and only served to illustrate to me that science was deceivable.

Failure is always an option

I was wrong of course, but realising that took an awfully long time and was a very gradual process. Scientists of course love to be proved wrong on a theory because being wrong is still a positive scientific result and means that the premise that was used for that test can be scratched off and something new tried. This is the point of the scientific method, test something, multiple times and if your expectation is wrong then you know more work is required to get the right answer. This is not a failure of science, quite the opposite in fact. It’s a validation that science does not care what you think, it merely acts according to the rules of the universe. The object of scientific testing is to find out those rules.

This is how we know that the planets orbit the sun and how to get spacecraft to the moon. It is how we know about fluid dynamics and a whole host of other things. The process of scientific testing could also be referred to as trial and error; test stuff and respond to the results, make a prediction and see if the test confirms or contradicts.

It’s the only way to learn and to assume that we already know the right answer without that imperial proof is arrogant.

Creationists are still making the same mistakes.

I read a small number of creationist blogs and every now and then I see a post that falls into the same traps as detailed above. I recognise the thinking there and I understand why they are thinking the way they do. I was there once and I get it.

I also understand why they are wrong.

I have on occasion made a comment to try and point them in the correct direction. The reply is usually predictable, because I have been there before as well, I know the standard responses.

I have tried to use this knowledge and my experience of having been there to add a considered and accurate correcting response. I know a single comments will never change the creationist mind, but hopefully my comment will help to sow the seeds of truth and eventually it will be counted as a contributing factor.

Sometimes my attempt at helpfulness has been responded too as if I was being argumentative, that’s a shame because that has never been my position. I know how that feels and it never works out well, (

How we lost a great friend

Long before we got married, my wife and I had a very good friend. Actually he was more her friend than mine. I inherited him as a friend when we started dating. He was the one person who knew and understood her better than me. When we had a major hiccup one year into our relationship, it was this friend who she turned to for support and he provided it while still being a good friend to both of us.

There is no doubt he was her best friend and its very likely she confided in him much more than she did to me during those years. I am okay with that. They had known each other for longer than they had known me, I was the intruder into this friendship.

However, this friend had issues. He had a difficult home life and he despised his father, every now and then he’d let his darkness show and we would get a glimpse of the pain he was hiding. Normally though he was a very jovial and fun person to be around. I guess he needed it to be that way.

I never met his father, he never seemed to be at home, but I did meet his mother on a few occasions. She was a pleasant but very quiet person. I do recall this friend had an awful lot of freedom at home, given his teen years. Not just a computer and TV in his bedroom, but a phone as well. His bedroom was right at the top of the house, out of the way of everyone else and large enough to include a sofa area too; visiting friends always went directly up there, no exclusions.

As soon as he left school and got his first job, this friend moved out of home and bought a small flat; smaller than his bedroom almost. Girlfriend and I spent a lot of time visiting him there.

Moving out of home changed our friend. For starters he became a little freer in talking about his home life issues. He would only visit home when he knew his mum was at home alone so he could see her on his terms. He talked a lot about dropping off the radar so he could be free of his family, I remember an attitude of grim determination fuelled by hatred.

We were all committed Christians at the time and in our mid-late teens. We attended many evangelical services and socialized in a Christian youth group and then a Christian 18+ group as we aged. We had bible studied together and prayed together and partied together many times with our wider Christian friendship group.

But our friend was continuing to have his issues and he moved on. He got a job in London and started living there, renting out the flat he had bought. He started attending church there in London too. Seeing him became more and more of a logistical challenge and contacted started to peter out.

By this time girlfriend and I were engaged. She missed her friend though and made extra effort to continue the contact, travelling into London and going out of her way to maintain the contact.

Then the bombshell dropped.

He told her he was gay.

In hindsight we should have realised, but at the time it came as a surprise. At the time I was very much of the opinion of many fundamentalist Christians today, that homosexuality is just plain wrong. I wasn’t at that meeting, it was just girlfriend and him. Girlfriend told friend that I would not be impressed, she was right, but it likely wasn’t the right thing to say. Friend needed some encouragement and support. He’d just told his closest childhood friend his biggest darkest secret and he hadn’t had the response he needed. In her defence, girlfriend was caught off-guard and really didn’t have much time to absorb the information. It came from left field at a time of concern and vulnerability and girlfriend was utterly unprepared to deal with such a revelation.

She did her best to reassure friend that his friendship was still valuable. However, that was the last time she would see him. They would speak once more; it was a difficult conversation with friend being withdrawn despite girlfriend’s reassurances. After that he never returned her calls and they never spoke again. He wasn’t at our wedding.

Nearly 20 years later, she still very much regrets those final moments and genuinely wishes that she could have played that conversation differently and kept a good friend. We don’t have many regrets in life but this one is by far the biggest and by a long margin.

In reality, I think he was going to disappear anyway. His bigger issues had driven him to leave his old life behind and girlfriend was the last thread linking him to his old life and I think he was going to cut it anyway. His long term plan had been to change his name and leave the country, I have no reason to doubt this happened very soon after.

This of course is no comfort to my wife and she still feels the pain of a lost friendship that she believes she had the power to retain but failed to act in the right way. On the few occasions we’ve discussed this over the years, it has made her cry; such is her feeling of loss. Friend being gay was never going to be a barrier to a continued friendship, despite the personal objections of lifestyle choice.

There have been a couple of times over the years when, in our involvement with youth work we’ve been able to use this story to caution young people on how they respond to their friends when faced with similar revelations. Its not an easy story to tell and the sense of loss has never left us, but we do hope we can use it to stop others suffering the same.


The Fear of Hell

In my life as a Christian I have heard a few sermons on the subject of hell, but none has really made much of an impact on me. Certainly not enough to stick in my mind, I am unable to recall any of these sermons, let along count them. I don’t think the number is huge, but there have definitely been a few. What I recall best is various conversations and varied opinions on the subject.

I pretty much always believed that hell was a real place; after all, you can’t have a real heaven and not a real hell can you? Many others I know take the view that hell is just not being in the presence of God; in other words, hell rather than being an actual place is simply not heaven. I always had an issue with that logic as you can’t have you next life not in heaven and not actually be somewhere else. The counter to that is the always convenient get out clause of “you can’t know what the afterlife will be like”. Hell therefore would always be a subject on which you could guarantee a variety of opinion, but very little meat to back up a viewpoint.

The teaching that I can best recall on the subject has always focused more on the assurance of being saved rather than the fear of not being saved.

The Trouble with Reading

My long held views on hell came when I read the book “The Road to Hell”. I found it an easy read and I found the conclusions logical and there was nothing that I objected to in the theology. Even now I will agree that if you are going to profess faith, this book on hell will be a useful guide.

The biggest single impact the book had on me was its warning to those with the responsibility of teaching others. The book made the point that all the teaching that Jesus gave on the subject was to his disciples (and possibly also those who already followed him) I can’t remember if that second clause was made in the book, that’s me covering my own memory; it was about 17years ago so I can’t claim to be recalling it perfectly. The key point being that the teaching on hell by Jesus was not to those who were unsaved but to those who Jesus was training to be his fishers of men. I never did check the bible to confirm that fact as claimed so I would welcome comment from anyone who has made that check.

The point that is made is Jesus would not have reserved his teaching on hell for those he was closest to if it wasn’t of critical importance to them. If hell was for the unsaved, why preach it to the converted? The conclusions drawn on the subject parallels with other biblical subjects that issue warnings to teachers, specifically “it would be better for a millstone to be tied round your neck than to lead one of my flock astray”. The essence being that hell is preached to the followers of Jesus because it was a warning to them and not a tool to be used to scare people into conversion. More crucially, it’s a warning to those who would lead and teach.

There is much more in the book about hell than just this and I think what I have recalled above probably just comes from a single chapter. It is however, my take away message from the book and what struck me most on reading it.

Motivating fear

At the time that I read the book, I had been in youth work for about five years and would be for most of the next decade. The message of the book did serve to focus me somewhat. I wanted to make sure that the message I gave was true and in keeping with the Bible. I didn’t want to invoke a hellish punishment by leading young people astray.

On balance I think its an unhealthy form of motivation but I also think that its also a good way of reminding those with responsibility and authority that they do have someone that they are answerable to and that they can’t manipulate with impunity. For those that still believe, I think it can be a good reminder of who holds ultimate authority and it is certainly more useful than preaching hell, fire and damnation to the unsaved.


Science Podcasts helped my understanding

Along my way to questioning the literal interpretation of the Old Testament stories, I got into listening to science podcasts.

The timing was quite fortunate really. Not long after the USA holiday which sparked my questioning ( I changed job and found myself working from home for prolonged periods. The result of this was I installed iTunes on my PC and started investigating podcasts. Some of the podcasts I found very difficult to listen to because in amongst the science there were many disparaging remarks about belief and faith. I found it extremely difficult to listen to those comments, but I continued because I found the science interesting and it was that that fed my mind.

I did also try out some creationist podcasts to try and balance my intake and challenge what I was hearing. To be perfectly honest, I found them deeply wanting. The scientific content of the creationist podcasts was weak and invariably the presenters would try and use biased logic to argue against evolutionary science. The result was that I very quickly abandoned the creationist podcasts and continue to consume as much science as I could.

By now it was clear to me that I was no longer a literal creationist.


The biggest side effect in embracing an old earth and the truth of evolution was the Old Testament sections that now came under the spotlight.

Old Earth, means no Genesis Flood ( for starters. I also came to realise that other well-known Biblical stories were not quite as I had believed (

The latter realisation had me questioning the Bible much more. Its one thing to accept the Bible as the word of God while also holding that Evolution is true; however, I seemed to be going further and was questioning the accuracy of key Old Testament accounts.

Following the scientific podcasts and learning about what was reliable and what was not was making me think more critically and sceptically about when I had previously believed.

What in the Old Testament Could I Trust?


This became a problem for me and was a question I asked myself a lot. The bottom line was; if I can’t trust the Old Testament, then the New Testament, which hinges on the Old Testament being reliable, can also not be relied upon to be the inspired Word of God either.

Greater scientific understanding had definitely left me with a problem…

Poor, Poor, Joseph, What You Gonna Do?

Having already accepted that the Creation and Flood stories in Genesis were not true, ( and (

The next major event in Genesis is the very well known story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers and ending up being the 2nd in command inEgypt.

First, Fast Forward to the Ending

Outside of the Bible, there is very little evidence for the Joseph story and the one of the best ways to test it is to examine the story of Moses and the Exodus fromEgyptbecause the two stories are effectively two parts of a longer narrative. The Moses story cannot possibly be true if the Joseph story is not true. While the Joseph story does not rely on the Moses story being true, it has little or no relevance without the Moses story.

The biggest obstacle in the validity of both stories is the simple fact that there is no Egyptian evidence whatsoever for the Israelites having been resident there. Without any correlating evidence, the Biblical narrative is nothing more than hearsay. The Egyptians, well known for recording lots of their history in their hieroglyphic writing, have either not seen fit to record the arrival, enslavery and departure of the Israelites, or the events simply didn’t happen as describe din the Bible.

Believing something just because its in the Bible, even though nothing else supports its story, is not wise.

The Red Sea or theSeaofReeds

This is very fascinating. The story the Exodus fromEgyptsays that the Israelites escaped through theRed sea, walking across dry land because the sea was parted, thanks to a miracle.

However, there is much confusion and discussion over what the source term actually refers to, ( Does it mean what we know now as theRed Sea? Does it really meanSea ofReeds orReedSea and if so, what body of water is that referring to?

Its not just the crossing and associated miracle that is the problem but also the places that are mentioned in the route to and from the crossing point. Not all of these locations are identified with modern locations and so cross referencing these with archaeological evidence is pretty much not possible and so not only is there no evidence for the Israelite residence in Egypt, but there is also no evidence for their flight out as documented in Exodus.

Without Moses, there is no point in Joseph

If there is no evidence for the Israelites having resided in or exitedEgypt, then it is not at all unreasonable to conclude that they were never there. It is for the Bible to prove that these stories are true and that proof is lacking.

With no Exodus and no Moses who was brought up as the grandson of a Pharaoh, then the story of Joseph is rendered irrelevant and equally suspect. More likely he never existed, my guess is its more likely that, like Adam and Eve and Noah’s Flood, his story is based on a pre existing fable.

The Questioning Continues

Having started to realise that much of what I thought was true was wrong, ( and ( I decided to more open-mindedly explore the boundary between science and religion.

The most obvious place to start was evolution. My non-acceptance of evolution put me squarely in the minority of people I knew and it was now very important to me that I challenge my views fairly and adjust accordingly.

I had now pretty much come to accept that the age of the earth was much more than the ten thousand years (or thereabouts) that creationism would have us believe. The most obvious conclusion to this was that is the earth was actually very old, and my eyes had seen the evidence for this, then many other things that relied on a young earth must also be false.

I started off with listening to various science podcasts on the subject of evolution, I also subscribed to a few creationist podcasts to try and balance out the information I was getting.

The creationist podcasts subscriptions didn’t last long. To be blunt, they were awful, the science wasn’t convincing and they lacked technical detail. By contrast the evolutionary science podcasts overflowed with technical science and evidences. The more I listened the more I realised that evolution was true and that the special creation of humans simply could not have happened as described in Genesis.

Adam and Eve are now well and truly relegated from history and into myth, (

What Next?

With the basic tenets of creationism gone; 7-day creation, Adam and Eve and Noah’s Flood, the question that remained was “What Next?”.

Well, that would be the story of Joseph and the Israelite Exodus under Moses, surely they can’t be false as well can they?

Noah’s Ark, Gilgamesh, or Just a Story?

Noah's sacrifice

Image via Wikipedia

I had never previously doubted the account of Noah’s Ark.Yet, once I started to have doubts about the young age of the earth (, I found that I was now critically analysing key events in the Bible. Specifically, key events that rely on and require a young Earth. Such as the Genesis account of Noah, the ark and a global flood.

Basic Problems with the Global Flood Account

The most obvious issue with the account of the global flood is the volume of water required. There simply is not enough water in our atmosphere to produce enough rain to fill the earth up with water to the height of a mountain. The Genesis account also mentions waters of the deep, which some have interpreted to mean great reservoirs of water below the earths surface opened as a result of earthquakes and water flowed up from them. The problem with this is that it would require huge reserves of water to cover the entire earth, reserves which simply have not been found. Something truly miraculous would be required to cause a global flood.

Then of course there is the issue of the animals. All those animals need feeding and, more importantly, watering. The carnivores would present a specific problem, plus there would have to be very strong and very significant means of separating them apart.

Post flood, there is the very real problem of how to explain that the species of animal are unique to specific parts of the world, the indigenous animals of Australia are the most obvious example.

So the believability of the global flood is found wanting, yet I managed to unquestioningly believe it for many years.

So what of Gilgamesh?

The Epic of Gilgamesh ( is a fascinating story, it probably best you follow the link or do your own searches on it rather than me repeat it all here.

The tale predates Noah’s Flood and it is suspected in some circles that the story of Noah’s Flood is a direct retelling of the Gilgamesh story, wrapped up for a different audience and several cultural additions. This is how myths, legends and stories evolve over time anyway.

Gradual Realisation

One of the key moments in me realising that the Flood account was not a real event was a documentary about the Flood, which expanded on some of the evidence I have indicated above. That same documentary drew parallels with the Gilgamesh account and I found myself compelled to question what I had previously accepted as true.

So, now I was not only questioning a young Earth, I was now questioning the validity of the Bible, or at least the validity of a literal interpretation of some Biblical passages.

Genetic evidence

Recent DNA analysis has shown that Adam and Eve could not have existed ( I would go further and suggest that this evidence also puts into doubt the possibility of Noah and his extended family being at one point in time the only human inhabitants on the planet.