Ken Ham’s Big Fat Lie

Ken Ham’s book, The Lie, is apparently 25 years old now. Somehow I’d managed to miss out this book during my creationist years and so I have not read it. A page about the book on the AiG website did make me sit up and pay attention though (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/au/what-is-the-lie).

Leaving aside the mountain of scientific evidence that soundly refutes creationism, Ken Ham does at least have one very good point to make. That is that if you accept evolution, there is some compromise to be taken when believing the Bible. Many people have made this point over the years. Some argue that compromise and the Bible do not mix and any compromise you make when reading it effectively means you are following a flawed faith.  This was certainly a view I held for a long time and reading some of what Ken Ham writes, it would seem he has a similar perspective.

I’m not that black and white about it anymore. I do find significant difficulty matching Genesis with known Evolutionary facts and historical evidence. The Biblical narrative simply does not fit and those are the reasons for my eventual leaving Christianity.

There is a certain honesty in the literal creationist belief system. That is the uncompromising acceptance of the Biblical accounts as absolute fact. Yet this position does have its issues, especially when faced with the weight of science. It is such a shame that we now know that the early Genesis chapters are not factual events and are simply amalgamated stories. This reveals literal Biblical belief to be founded on untruth (or a Lie even).

Pauls Words

At the start of his page, Ken Ham quotes 2 Thessalonians 2:11 (And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.) Reading that page I get the impression the whole of the AiG ministry hinges around this verse. The implication being that the lie being referred to is evolution.

Being curious about the context I read around the verse. This chapter opens with Paul talking about an apparent false teaching to the Thessalonians to do with the Lord having already come back (vs 2). This false teaching apparently came from a misunderstanding of something Paul said and he attempts to put that right in this letter. He goes on to talk about the “man of lawlessness”, which commentators seem to indicate referrers to the anti-Christ. I wondered at first if Paul was referring to the person behind the false teaching, but the next reference (vs 9) does seem to indicate the anti-Christ, or at least someone close to him.

Whatever it is Paul is referring to, he goes on to talk about end times and then makes the statement that Ken Ham quotes.

If Paul is referring to end times, the context of this quote is clearly related to that and the delusion that God sends is directly related to the lies told in relation to falsehoods spread during end times. This makes me wonder what this has to do with evolution. Unless we’re already in end times, evolution is completely out of scope here. So now Ken Ham needs to show that the prophesy and global wickedness associated with end times and all the tribulation that follows it are happening now. He also needs to show why that verse should be referring to evolution, especially difficult because nowhere in the bible is evolution or the processes that lead to it, mentioned.

There is also the not so small and highly inconvenient issue that he is accusing his god of intentionally making people believe a lie which will result in their condemnation. Actually, that issue exists even if the verse is not talking about evolution. To be honest, I’m far more interested in how a perfect god explains that than I am about the semantics of what the lie is actually referring to.

I think tying this specific verse to evolution is a blatant deception, or at least a risky strategy. Of course, having not read The Lie, it is possible I’ve jumped the gun here and he’s referring to wider end times nastiness. If that’s the case, then he still needs to show how we are in end times and that evolution is wrong, which it isn’t.

Ken Ham’s whole ministry is based on the lie of creationism. It’s a lie that fooled me for many years and it’s a lie that continues to fool many more. I’m glad I’m out from under it.

 

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Arguments Creationists Should Avoid

Anwers in Genesis has a useful page listing some of the arguments that a Creationist, faced with defending their beliefs (http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/arguments-we-dont-use).

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?

Poor, Poor, Joseph, What You Gonna Do?

Having already accepted that the Creation and Flood stories in Genesis were not true, (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/noah%E2%80%99s-ark-gilgamesh-or-just-a-story/) and (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-problem-of-adam-and-eve/).

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, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Red_Sea). 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, (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/noah%E2%80%99s-ark-gilgamesh-or-just-a-story/) and (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/the-first-nagging-doubts/). 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, (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-problem-of-adam-and-eve/).

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 (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/the-first-nagging-doubts/), 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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-problem-of-adam-and-eve/). 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.

Creationism is just denialism

Its easy to say this now that I have stepped away from my creationist beliefs, but that doesn’t stop it being true. All that creationism does is look for things in science that are not clearly defined and try to punch holes in them in an effort to create doubt and therefore, by association, add credence to creationism.

I acknowledge that I’ve just been very negative about creationism and so now sound like every other sceptic or atheist on the internet. The thing is, I’ve been there and I know its true.

When I think about the things convinced me that the world was created in 7 days, its things like the falsehood known as Piltdown Man that had me believing that evolutionary science was misguided at best and fraudulent at worst.

The trouble with creationism is that it starts with an assumption; that the world (and therefore the universe) was created in 7 days and then looks for the evidence to support that. This active searching for supporting evidence means that there is an already agenda, this is very bad science and its cynical religion.

When you are that person, as I was for many years, you just don’t see it. People brought up in church hear time and time again of the changeless God, the same, yesterday, today and forever. For me, this unchanging mindset was a problem because it created in me an assumption that the world was created as described in Genesis and had not changed since.

This made it very easy to be critical of the scientific method.

Science revels in change, science loves the hard to explain, science even likes to be wrong. Without any of these things, scientific knowledge would never advance. In science, assumptions are only made when there is a conclusion to be drawn from the gathered evidence.

Creationism never has and never will do that.

As a creationist I scoffed at what I described as the mind changing that scientists did in trying to explain our existence. As if arrogant little me knew any better. When I peruse creationist posts I see in them the same attitude I had, the looking for the small thing that could make the scientific description even slightly questionable and then exclaim ‘Aha! See, its all wrong’.

The thing is, when all you do is look for the tiny imperfections, you miss the much bigger picture. Just because science can’t absolutely explain how the Hippo and the Whale descended from the same ancestor, doesn’t mean its not true. It is true because DNA profiling shows the relationship and anatomical similarities help with the evidence. We know the end result with certainty, even if we don’t know exactly how.

Yet as a creationist I would not and could not accept that. The dynamic world of science with new discoveries and evolving theories did not fit with my creationist worldview of a static and unchanging world where we already knew how it happened because the good book said so.

When I look back on those days I genuinely shudder with embarrassment; yet I also empathise with those who still hold that view, because I understand why they do. If only they too would open their eyes and realise that their hole picking will get harder and harder as the scientific community discovers more and more about the wonderful world in which we live.

Can You Adam and Eve It?

I don’t remember exactly when it was, but at some point in a lesson, someone asked the question about how did Adam and Eve’s sons have children when there were no other references to women being created after Eve? Not an unreasonable question to ask and certainly one that children will zone in on sooner or later.

People tend to only remember Cain and Abel, but the Bible does specifically mention that Adam and Eve had more children, including daughters. The answer given at the time was that the only possible solution is that Adam and Eves sons must have married their sisters. Cue sounds of ‘ewww’ from the assembled class.

If someone believes in the literal seven day creation and that all of mankind is descended from Adam and Eve, then there really is the one conclusion to come to. That first family had no option but to engage in incest. A titbit I would repeat years later as a leader on a Christian summer camp when faced with the same question, provoking the same ‘ewww’ response.

What about the ribs!

The knowledgeable will know that Eve supposedly came from Adams rib. This was used to confirm the fact that men have an extra rib on one side of their body; or rather a missing rib on one side of their body.

Firstly, why should Adam having his rib removed to create Eve mean that all his descendents will also have one rib missing? People who have parts of their body removed do not produce offspring with that same part missing. The assumption that God removing Adams rib means that all men will have a missing rib has no basis in Biblical teaching or logical thought.

As a child I accepted the fact without question. Even if the Genesis account of Adam and Eve was true, there is no reason at all, anywhere, that equates to all descended men having a missing rib.

As it happens, men do not have a missing rib. It proves nothing on its own, but it’s a daft thing to believe anyway.

Critical Questions

Reading those first few chapters of Genesis with a critical eye brings up many questions. Why put a mark on Cain when everyone one around would have been related to him anyway and so know what he did? Why would Cain have to build a city when there would not yet have been enough people about to justify a city? Did he build the city single handed? How long did that take? So many questions.

Not to be taken literally

Now would be a good point to bring in the fact that serious scholars do not consider that the beginning of Genesis was written to be a literal account. It is meant as an indication that God created everything and that sin is a human thing and that God reserves the right to punish his creation. That’s very simplistic, but the main point I want to make here is that to the early writers and those who would read this years later; this is not meant to be a description of what God did, merely a setting up of what we see is God’s creation.

The literal interpretation is a much more modern thing.

Still, as a young child with no reason to question this further, I didn’t. So the seed that was to become an adult creationist was sown.

Introduction

I guess this blog should really be called Confessions of a Former YEC, as I no longer identify myself as such. However, given that in this blog I shall be giving details of my journey into Fundamental YECism and on to atheism the title probably suits that context.

To clarify, YEC stands for Young Earth Creationist. That is, someone who believes that the 1st chapter of Genesis is a literal and accurate account of how the earth (and the universe) came into being about 6,000-10,000 years ago.

The journey into being a card carrying YEC is one of indoctrination, misguided teaching and a misunderstanding of science in a desire to prove prognosis. Its not all bad, it’s a path that is very definitely paved to good intentions and there is much from those formative years that I treasure still. Just because the science was wrong and the religion false, does not make the values invalid nor does it make the teaching incompetent.

The journey to atheism is the realisation of what science actually shows and the slow dismantling of all that was once held dear. This latter journey is still in progress and there is still much to learn and appreciate. Not everything that comes out of the mouth of an atheist is pleasant, I’ve witnessed more than my fair share of nasty atheistic rhetoric and it not at all becoming, if anything it slowed my journey down.

So that’s the introduction done. I have not yet mapped out any posts I want to make yet, but I have ideas I am forming so something will take shape over the next few weeks.

If anyone stops by here and deems it important enough to hang around or even has a specific question they’d like to raise on any aspect of the journey then I will do my best to be as honest as I possibly can. Maybe I’ll even make a post of the answer. Given the current climate of advancing scepticism and New Atheism (oh how I hate that term) I’d appreciate what comment people may have.