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 - #5430

February 26th 2010

John,

I was using them interchangeably. Perhaps I need to consult your link.


John VanZwieten - #5431

February 26th 2010

Gregory,

For someone who hasn’t been part of literallist, inerrancy expressions of the Christian faith (and I’m not saying I know if you have), it can be difficult to understand the depth of feeling and commitment to that position.  To expect someone to drastically change such a position in such a relatively short period of time is too much.  Just by dialoguing with people of other views, Daniel goes further than many (most?).

Anyway, it’s probably not the Daniels of the world BioLogos can impact most profoundly.  It’s probably more the young people in the original post who lose trust in scripture (and then God) when presented with the scientific evidence for evolution.  If BioLogos can show a third way that lets those young people pursue both faith in Christ and scientific evidence, they will have done more than their part.


Mike Gene - #5436

February 26th 2010

Whoa.  This thread is still active.  Okay, then….

Hi Daniel,

You write, “Certainly, people leave the church for many reasons, but I think, based on the many testimonies, a very big reason is Darwinism.”

Don’t fall for the spin.  As I said, people almost always leave the church for painful and personal reasons. It’s like a divorce or running away from home – a decision rooted far more in emotion than intellect.  Yet don’t expect those reasons to be aired as the *public* reason for leaving the church.  Acceptance of “Darwinism” is usually the after-the-fact rationalization for a private break that occurred earlier (or was well under way).


Mike Gene - #5437

February 26th 2010

cont…

“However, despite the denials of TEs, they have seriously undermined the credibility of the Bible by undermining its teachings about the physical world, and if we can’t trust these teachings, then we have no reason to trust the spiritual ones.”

That’s illogical.  Since scientists, for example, are most knowledgeable about the physical world, does that mean they are the most trustworthy when it comes to matters of the spirit?  Over my life, through my experience with other people, I have found there is no correlation between knowledge of physical truth and spiritual truth. 

And if you think about it, your objection sounds a lot like the question of the Serpent in the Garden.  How can you trust the teachings of the Bible?  Why, let’s appeal to the Tree of Knowledge!  Ironic, eh?


Mike Gene - #5438

February 26th 2010

cont…

“This also opens the door to a serious interpretive problem. If the message isn’t to be found in the historical level and only in the figurative, then we have the liberty to read into Scripture almost anything we want.”

But Daniel, two times you yourself have made this very move in dealing with the teachings from Matthew and Psalms.  The very accusation you make against Christians who accept evolution could be made against you if/when you encounter another Christian who takes *those* verses literally.  Your ground is not as solid as you think it is.


Mike Gene - #5439

February 26th 2010

cont..

“The problem is far more serious. When we accept evolution, we accept a worldview antithetical to the Biblical, which teaches that God created everything as “very good” and we screwed it up (Gen 3).”

Now this is the one, and only, core problem.  It does not depend on the reading of any particular verse from the Bible, but instead represents the thematic thrust of all of Scripture and Christian tradition – this is a fallen Creation and the responsibility for this Fall rests on our shoulders.  How can this be reconciled with being brought into existence by evolution?  Stephen Jay Gould once quoted a letter that spelled it out nicely:

cont…


Mike Gene - #5440

February 26th 2010

“Pope John Paul II’s acceptance of evolution touches the doubt in my heart. The problem of pain and suffering in a world created by a God who is all love and light is hard enough to bear, even if one is a creationist. But at least a creationist can say that the original creation, coming from the hand of God was good, harmonious, innocent and gentle. What can one say about evolution, even a spiritual theory of evolution? Pain and suffering, mindless cruelty and terror are its means of creation. Evolution’s engine is the grinding of predatory teeth upon the screaming, living flesh and bones of prey.… If evolution be true, my faith has rougher seas to sail.”

This is the core issue that TEs need to deal with. 

[BTW, am I the only one who thinks the 1250 letter/post restriction is not a good idea?]


Mike Gene - #5441

February 26th 2010

HI Gregory,

You ask, “Mike, do you accept that *some* kinds of ‘evolution’ are incompatible with Christianity?”

Sure.  For example, the popular notion of “evolving” into some higher form of consciousness is incompatible with Christianity, whether it comes in the form of some New Age expression or some secular neo-eugenic expression.


Daniel Mann - #5470

February 27th 2010

Mike,

You maintain that in order to trust the spiritual teachings of the Bible, we don’t require confidence in the physical teachings.

When someone lies to us in ways that we can validate their claims, we will justifiably be suspicious of their unverifiable claims. Regarding the Gospel of Luke, NT scholar F.F.BRUCE concludes:

“A man whose accuracy can be demonstrated in matters where we are able to test it is likely to be accurate even where means of testing aren’t available. Accuracy is a habit of mind…Luke’s record entitles him to be regarded as a writer of habitual accuracy.”

This is also how juries assess the reliability of a witness – by their demonstrable truth-telling track record. Consequently, I feel that TEs are pushing a “Christianity” that will not be able to stand the test of time, nor gain any respectability among thoughtful unbelievers. (We usually throw a theory away when we find that it’s in error, and those who are pushing it are regarded as fools, especially when they know that it is honeycombed with error).

I, for one, had been unwilling to consider the veracity of the Bible. As long as I was convinced that Darwin was right, I concluded that Genesis was wrong.


Gary Aish - #5483

February 27th 2010

Hi John,

it sounds like we have come to some similar conclusions. It seems quite likely to me that the flood story is based on some actual historical event since there are similar legends in other ancient cultures like the gilgamesh story. However, the ancient Hebrews amplified it into something much more theological. Maybe the other stories in Genesis 1-11 have a similar history, i.e. some event happened and, over time, the story gathered theological meaning as people began to understand more about God. The stories are how they passed on the message, the truth about who God is and how he relates to human beings.

Gary


Gary Aish - #5484

February 27th 2010

Hi John,

yes, I’m well aware that the young earth perspective is very prevalant amongst North American evangelicals. I was just trying to highlight that there are other strong and Christian traditions in the rest of the world that have a different way of looking at thing. At least it’s been eye opening to me, coming from a fairly “fundamentalist” background, to read some Catholic theology (e.g. Benedict’s Introduction to Christianity and Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body) and see the real love these men have for Christ and the church. The Catholic church makes up a pretty large chunk of the Christians in the world but, unfortunately, evangelical Christians, in general, are pretty blind to their existance, or dismisses them outright.

Gary


Gary Aish - #5485

February 27th 2010

Hi Mike,

the sentiment in that Stephen Jay Gould quote is wildly overblown. The creatures of the world today are behaving much the same way as they always have. If you can look at all that goes on in the world and say it is all about “the grinding of predatory teeth upon the screaming, living flesh and bones of prey” then you’ve got a pretty selective view on the world.

Gary


Gary Aish - #5486

February 27th 2010

Mike,

In regard to the idea that “this is a fallen Creation and the responsibility for this Fall rests on our shoulders.”

I don’t think you’ll find anything in the bible about the world being no longer good. The biblical picture is more that creation has been cursed and wounded by humankind refusing to enter a trusting relationship with God. See Genesis 3.17 “cursed is the ground because of you” and Romans 8.20 “creation was subjected to futility”.

The Genesis story presents the truth of this, even if I don’t regard the account as historical. How it “really” happened in history, I don’t know, but the story we do have is probably more useful than a journalistic account.

Gary


Gary Aish - #5487

February 27th 2010

Hi John,

me again. Have you come across this website? http://community.berea.edu/scienceandfaith/default.asp
It’s some good reading.

Also, this audio series is inspiring too: http://www.regentaudio.com/product_details.php?item_id=748

Rikk Watts talks about the origins of the creation story, i.e. a theological polemic against the Egyptian gods. He also has, on the positive side, some interesting insight into what it means to be the “image of God”, i.e. the pattern creation of the world is like the building of a temple and the creation of man is much like how ancient religions placed the image of the god inside the temple. Thus the world is God’s temple and we are his presence in it. Also, he talks about the new creation where God takes the world and refashions it into something new.

Gary


Gregory Arago - #5532

February 28th 2010

Daniel,

Please forgive me if I sounded dismissive. I’m out of practise with sola scriptura Protestants!

You wrote: “BioLogos imposes dogmatic censorship upon Scripture claiming that Scripture doesn’t teach about the physical world” ... “at the expense of the Bible’s integrity.”

I really think your view of BioLogos as compromisers & censors is off-base & it seems to me that you ought to loosen your Bible-centrist attitude. This would allow you to embrace people & ideas currently untouchable in your literalist hermeneutic.

Norm, Bob R., M. Gene, John, Jordan, Peter, Jesse, Victor, most recently Gary: these people all seem to accept the power of Scripture, of the Gospel & they are *not* dogmatic censors.

Again, let me reiterate that a very small percentage of all living Christians are sola scripturists. The biblical literalism you profess is largely due to having been born in America, a culture that takes the written word very seriously (e.g. constitutions and proclamations).

The Orthodox Christian priest whose writing I linked to also takes the Bible seriously. Yet he has no difficulty fitting evolutionary science into his praise for God’s creation.


Gregory Arago - #5533

February 28th 2010

Hi Gary,

Thanks for sending the link to Dr. Robert Schneider’s site. I hadn’t visited it in quite some time and he’s made some good improvements there. His ‘Resources’ page has some similarities with BioLogos’: http://community.berea.edu/scienceandfaith/resources.asp

Also, the link to Regent College was to a pay-series. There are some free lectures from Regent’s Graduate and Faculty Christian Forum available here, including one by Rikk Watts (audio not yet available):

http://gfcf-ubc.ca/2009_2010_lectures.htm


Daniel Mann - #5557

February 28th 2010

Gregory,

Truth isn’t a matter of majority-rules. It isn’t something that can be determined by a board meeting, a vote or even a delegation of scientists. Instead, Jesus declared that God had a monopoly on truth: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

Jesus exemplified this in His life. When He experienced trials, He would quote Scripture (Matthew 4:4-10). Often, when He wanted to make an authoritative statement and put an end to argument, we would quote Scripture. In fact, His life and words never departed from Scripture.

I say this because you seem to want to minimize my argumentation to something narrow-minded and limited – “sola scriptura Protestants” – and then to dismiss it because it only represents a small segment of people. Ultimately, I think that you are arguing against Jesus Himself.


Gregory Arago - #5572

March 1st 2010

Daniel,

I am *not* arguing against Jesus Christ! Do you understand how it hurts to hear you say this?

I am against the narrow view of ‘Biblical Literalism’ and ‘Scripture-centrism’, which are particularly evident in American evangelical Protestantism.

You teach at a Bible College. I am sensitive to your personal story. Yet there is no reason to suggest that Jesus of Nazareth & Charles Robert Darwin are rivals in terms of ‘masters’. We *all* know, all monotheists at least, that Darwin is *no* rival as a natural scientist to Jesus the prophet & more!

But you are accusing good people, good Christians, good scientists at BioLogos of being wrong & damaging to the Christian message. I reject this as unfair & unreasonable.

Might I ask you to re-consider your position wrt this conversation, which is focussed on the dialogue between science & religion? It is not *only* about Christian Scripture.


Daniel Mann - #5583

March 1st 2010

Gregory,

I’m really sorry that my words hurt you, although I do have a purpose for using these uncompromising words. For one thing, you disdain “Bible-centrism,” perhaps to your own detriment. I’ve tried to argue that “Bible-centrism” represents the religion of Jesus. If you are a Christian, it is so important that you recognize this well-attested-to fact. If you disagree, you need to engage my argumentation.

I wouldn’t have made this provocative case that I have been making if there was nothing that you could do to rectify your stance. I have requested (and pray) that you reexamine Scripture, asking yourself what Scripture is truly saying. (Nobody is arguing that it all must be taken “literally.” We all admit that there are many figurative or allegorical elements.)

Please know that I write in this uncompromising manner for your own well-being and also that of BioLogos and the church in general. It grieves our Lord whenever we try to accommodate Scripture to our philosophies and lifestyles. He was upset with Job’s friends because they hadn’t spoken correctly about Him (Job 42:6-8). This should be a lesson for us.


John VanZwieten - #5584

March 1st 2010

“Sola Scriptura”

I think both some protestants and some non-protestants take this doctrine the wrong way—which leads to unnecessary antagonism.

The doctrine simply means that only the Bible may bind the conscience of the believer.  It does not mean that the church and tradition are not important or even authoritative in the life of a believer—just not ultimately authoritative like the scriptures. 

Sadly some protestants think all they need is their Bible and their own intellect to know all God wants them to know, and neglect the wisdom of the saints of the ages, and sometimes even the work of the Spirit speaking through scripture.

We all should take care that our zeal to honor God’s word to us doesn’t become confused with defending our particular hermeneutic tradition—especially at the cost of Christian unity (which is also “kinda” high on Christ’s list—c.f. John 17:22-23).


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