Ken Ham’s “State of the Nation” Address

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February 18, 2010 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by the BioLogos Editorial Team. You can read more about what we believe here.

Ken Ham’s “State of the Nation” Address

On Wednesday evening, Ken Ham, President of Answers in Genesis, and the head of the Creation Museum in Petersburg Kentucky, gave his annual "State of the Nation" address. Since Mr. Ham singles out BioLogos in his speech and expresses grave concerns about what we are trying to do, we have been asked by some of our readers to comment. We encourage all to watch his talk. Mr. Ham graphically illustrates our gravest fears. He is misleading his audience in ways that will continue to do much harm. So what is the BioLogos response? Please consider reading (or rereading) three of our recent blogs. Karl Giberson has written poignantly about his visit to the Creation Museum last Fall. At about the same time, I wrote about my attendance at a seminar put on by the Institute for Creation Research. Finally, I want to point to our more recent essay: “Why BioLogos?”

Mr. Ham states that two-thirds of churched young people abandon the faith of their youth as they enter into adulthood. The answer, in contrast to what he suggests, is not better training in young earth creationism. Heaven forbid! This is the very thing that is causing many to abandon their walk with the Lord. BioLogos exists primarily to help those same young people realize that their Christian faith need not be tied to Mr. Ham’s view of a 10,000 year old earth. God’s Word and our life in Christ is much more profound than that! If Mr. Ham and his followers want to continue to believe in a young earth, that is up to them. However, implying that one’s life in Christ depends upon holding a particular view of the earth’s age is not fair to our young people. We, all of us who share the BioLogos’ view, exist to show them that nothing could be further from the truth than this.

Submitted by Darrel Falk


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Daniel Mann - #5305

February 25th 2010

Gregory,

Once again, it’s as Jesus predicted: A man can’t serve two masters without preferring the one [Darwin] over the other [Jesus]. Every evolutionist I have ever dialogued with has shown me his readiness to compromise Scripture in order to make it comport with Darwin.

According to Darwin, life had always been a “survival of the fittest” mess, leaving room for no Fall (nothing to fall from!). In contrast, the Bible claims that everything started “very good” and has gone downhill from there, requiring a Savior and a restoration (Acts 3:21). These are irreconcilable positions.

Consequently, you accuse me of being closed to the findings of science, while evolutionists have amply demonstrated that they are closed to Scripture.


Gregory Arago - #5310

February 25th 2010

Daniel,

Quickly re-reading this thread, something struck me in our ‘conversation.’ 

I wrote: “What would it take for you to forgive Darwin & come to terms with the fact that many Christians are not Scripture-centric & that evolutionary theories can, when limited, be compatible with a robust Christian faith?”

You responded to: “What would it take for you to … come to terms with the fact that many Christians are not Scripture-centric & that evolutionary theories can, when limited, be compatible with a robust Christian faith?”

Why did you leave out the question about what it would take for you to forgive Darwin? Why not address it, Daniel? There are no lions around listening in a den.

Let’s ask the question: What would Jesus the Christ do? Would Jesus forgive Darwin?

If he would, then why won’t you?

Gregory


Daniel Mann - #5311

February 25th 2010

Gregory,

I left out “forgive Darwin” because I didn’t think it relevant to our discussion nor to the comments that I subsequently made.

I hold no personal bitterness against Darwin, nor to atheists—many are better people than myself—nor to evolutionists. However, I am troubled by un-truths that have taken captive the minds of precious people.

Perhaps this is because, for years, I had been searching for truth, having come from an agnostic, Jewish background. I had suffered grievously as I was allured by one worldview to another, from one promise of happiness to utter disappointment, from one therapy to the dump-heap of vain and morbid introspection. It was only in Christ that I gained freedom, as Jesus had promised:

•  To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32


John VanZwieten - #5345

February 25th 2010

Daniel,

Thanks for sharing a bit of your grace-encounter with Christ.  It usually does help to hear the heart behind the positions.

There is no doubt that untruths about who man is and who God is (or isn’t) can and do take “captive the minds of precious people,” and that some of those untruths have been presented as following from or as part of Darwinian evolution.

As a result of our conversations, I’ve been taking a closer look at the doctrines of “infallibility” and “inerrancy” that has been quite interesting.  “Inerrancy” basically insists that the earlier doctrine of “infallibility” must be applied not only to the faith and practice presented in scripture, but just as well to any place the scriptures speak to science, history, or any other matter.  While scripture itself does not explicitly say this, inerrancy is said to be inferred from a variety of scriptures, many of which you have quoted earlier.

(cont.)


John VanZwieten - #5346

February 25th 2010

But proponents of “inerrancy” say that it should only be applied to the extent that we have correctly translated and interpreted scripture to get at the original author’s message to his audience (using the grammatico-historical method.)  This allows inerrancy to survive many of the more obvious problems such as imprecise N.T. quotations from the O.T., “phenomonalogical” descriptions of the cosmos, approximations in numbers, etc.  Furthermore, I think it allows inerrancy to survive any possible challenge, since all that needs to be asserted is that whatever objection has been shown simply wasn’t the original authors intent.

The downside seems to be that the church is always years if not centuries behind advances in science and understanding history.  So for years the church claims that the Bible proves some version of flat earth, then when we can’t hold out any longer we change and say the Bible never said the earth is flat, it was just mis-interpreted.  Then we do the same with geocentrism.  I’d love to see a comprehensive list of things the church has changed its mind about centuries after the discoveries were made.

(cont.)


John VanZwieten - #5347

February 25th 2010

Right now global floodism and 6-day creationism seem to be our favorite things to say the Bible proves no matter what scientific discovery shows.  As Jordan pointed out, the biblical justifications for this are earily similar to those made for geocentrism.  How long before these -isms are no longer seen as a required part of the “inerrant” view?  Another century?  And how much egg will the church be left with whiping off its face in the meantime?

To the Biologos folks:
Given the dominance of the inerrancy commitment within evangelicalism, is it really worth taking on inerrancy directly with accomodationist understandings of scripture?  (This seems prevalent in many of the articles I read here lately.)  If the major goal of Biologos is reaching harmony in faith and science, might that harmony be more easily achieved by reconciling big-bang cosmology and biological evolution within the inerrancy viewpoint?


Gary Aish - #5349

February 25th 2010

John, it’s mostly only a particular types of protestant churches that don’t accept evolution. The Catholic church has acknowledged it for many years and, judging by Gregory’s link, the Eastern Orthodox church accepts it also.

It comes down to what the authority of scripture really means. NT Wright’s essay “How can the Bible be authorative” (google it) gives a good summary of the options and highlights the unrecognised implications of the “fundamentalist” type view.

Gary


Gary Aish - #5350

February 25th 2010

Also, “accomodation the scripture to science” is really the wrong way of looking at this. What we are doing is trying to get a more true understanding of what it really is, this book of books that has been handed down to us. It’s a matter of taking seriously this record of how God has worked with people and acknowledging that God has accomodated himself to them to get his message across in a way that they understood. The texts are very much of their time and for their time and it’s a difficult and serious effort to try and translate these to our time and culture, which means us first translating ourselves to their time and culture.

Gary


Daniel Mann - #5388

February 26th 2010

John,

I admire your responsiveness and reconsideration of what has been discussed. In this, you are truly a model for me.

I too marvel at the interpretive blunders of the church and would love to catalogue the errors along with the “correctives.” However, equally interesting for me are the influences that caused the interpretive blunders. While you assume that the blunders occurred from an unbiased assessment of Scripture, I think that there were also powerful cultural/scientific biases that inclined the interpreter into his errant interpretations. For example, “flat earthism” and “geocentrism” represented the prevailing wisdom or science of the day. Perhaps the church’s acceptance of evolution also represents accommodation to the wisdom of the day, and then we “find” Scriptural reasons to go along with it?

Let’s apply this to Noah’s worldwide flood. Certainly, belief in this doesn’t reflect the prevailing science, but perhaps it’s entirely allegorical? I might be willing to go in this direction if it wasn’t for the later Biblical commentary on the flood.

continued…


Daniel Mann - #5389

February 26th 2010

continued:

For instance, Peter says:

“But they [scoffers] deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” 2 Peter 3:3-7

Peter argues that if God destroyed the world once, He will do it again. Only if the flood had been historical fact could Peter make this argument and also say that “they [scoffers] deliberately forget.” You can’t forget about something that never happened!


John VanZwieten - #5396

February 26th 2010

Gary,

Thanks for pointing me to Wright’s essay.  Here’s the link for others: http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Bible_Authoritative.htm

When I said “accomodationist” above I wasn’t referring to an attempt to “accomodate scripture to science,” but rather the understanding of revelation where God inspires human writers who include their erroneous view of science, history, etc. along with God’s intended message to us.

I think it is a mistake to suppose that scripture inerrancy is only held by a narrow section of American protestant churches.  Rather I would say it is the dominant view within evangelical churches.

Since the “inerrancy camp” is also the greatest source of opposition to accepting evolution, if BioLogos wants to convince Christians of evolution, that camp is where the work must be done.  It seems there are two basic approaches: 1) overcome the commitment to inerrancy, 2) show how acceptance of evolution fits within the inerrancy viewpoint.

Pastor Tim Keller, for example, seems to work within approach #2.  While approach #1 may be more comfortable for those who already accept evolution science, it might simply antagonize the inerrancy camp rather than convince them.


Jesse - #5400

February 26th 2010

Dan-Mann,

You said: Perhaps the church’s acceptance of evolution also represents accommodation to the wisdom of the day, and then we “find” Scriptural reasons to go along with it?

I say: That’s an interesting idea! It’s certainly not good to sacrifice solidity in Scriptural interpretation in order to accommodate what seems to be scientific fact, especially since scientific knowledge is ever changing.

On the other hand, if the evidence for evolution and such continues to build, instead of decreasing, it would be good to have a nice solid explanation for how it fits with the Bible, if possible. We should definitely not compromise quality of interpretation, but if we can work something about without compromising, it would be good, right? Just in case.
And we might actually learn some new things about the culture of the day and stuff! I know I have, from reading BioLogos and its resources.


John VanZwieten - #5402

February 26th 2010

Daniel,

I agree that Jesus and the apostles references to Genesis seem to us to imply their acceptance of those stories as historical.  Yet perhaps we simply find it difficult to relate to the genre of mythic stories and how they may be legitimately used in preaching. 

Maybe your (and my) reaction to 2 Peter 3 is conditioned culturally more than we realize.  It might have been perfectly acceptable to make a reference to mythic-genre stories without implying their historicity.  Perhaps the simple fact that the story was included in the scriptures was enough to use them as evidence and correct anyone who would “forget” them.

Also, you don’t have to go all the way to “allegorical” with Genesis.  As I understand it, the mythic genre allows for a historical occurance to be greatly embellished in order to make a more cosmic point.


Daniel Mann - #5404

February 26th 2010

Jesse,

Ideally, you’re right! All truth is God’s truth. I just can’t imagine how evolution can ever be reconciled to Scripture. They start from opposite ends – The Bible from a “very good” creation demonstrating God’s beneficence towards His creation, and evolution starts with a bloody mess – both of which necessarily say something normative about God’s ultimate purposes.

Sadly, I’ve never seen an evolutionist not mangle Scripture in their zeal for Darwin, perhaps to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).


Daniel Mann - #5405

February 26th 2010

John,

I think you have to deal directly with 2 Peter 3 as we do when we interpret any passage. We can’t simply deal in generalities but must interact exegetically.

I found your comments to Gary regarding strategies very enlightening but disturbing at the same time.


John VanZwieten - #5409

February 26th 2010

Daniel,

But genre is key to exegesis.  If we mis-characterize the genre of a passage, the resulting exegesis will suffer terribly.  If we have mis-characterized Genesis 1-10 as historical stories rather than mythic stories, if follows that we will mis-understand what Peter means when he quotes them and uses them as support in his preaching.

I’m curious what was disturbing about my comments to Gary?

In regards to evolution “starting with a bloody mess” I think maybe the whole deal has been mischaracterized for you (it was for me).  Some of the answers to “The Questions” here on the BioLogos site might present a clearer picture.


Daniel Mann - #5412

February 26th 2010

John,

I said that I found your remarks about your strategy for dealing with inerrantists disturbing because I felt a bit manipulated. But when I thought about it later, I had to accept the fact that we’re all evangelists. Even George Bernard Shaw had confessed that all good art is propaganda – the survival of the fittest idea.

I am in agreement with you about being sensitive to genre, and I think that all thoughtful Evangelicals would agree. We all want to recover the original sense and purpose of the various books of Scripture.

However, let me fine-tune something that you said about EITHER historical or allegorical. It can be both together! This makes the evolutionist’s task even more difficult. It’s not merely enough to demonstrate that a passage is figurative. He must also demonstrate that it isn’t historical.

Good luck! There’s the genealogies, the theological-worldview content which forms a seamless garment with the rest of the Bible, and also the NT’s authoritative commentaries on Genesis.


Daniel Mann - #5428

February 26th 2010

Gregory,

Let me overlook your dismissive remark and ask you a question: For what reasons are you a Christian?


John VanZwieten - #5429

February 26th 2010

Daniel,

You replaced “historical or mythic” with “historical or allegorical.”  I’m wondering if you equate “mythic” with “allegorical” or if you are simply uncomfortable applying the term “mythic” to scripture.  If so you are probably thinking of “myth” in the common use of something untrue, as in “urban myth.”  But that is not at all what is meant by mythic literary genre.  Here’s a quick primer on mythic lit:
http://www.faculty.de.gcsu.edu/~mmagouli/defmyth.htm

So both historical and mythic writings could also have allegorical uses.  In fact the flood story we’ve been discussing was used in an allegorical sense as a symbol for baptism in I Pet 3:20-21.  You are right in drawing allegory from a story neither proves nor disproves its historicity.


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