Ken Ham and Biblical Authority

| By Jim Stump on Faith and Science Seeking Understanding

Last Friday Ken Ham wrote a blog post with the title, “BioLogos Funds Projects to Undermine the Authority of the Word.” Because we accept the scientific evidence for the age of the earth and common ancestry, Ham believes we are undermining the Bible and denying its authority. However, the authority of the Bible is key for all that we do at BioLogos. In fact, it is the first line of our Statements of Belief. Ham’s charge sadly masks the fact that our two organizations have substantial overlap because of our shared commitment to Christ. The difference between BioLogos and Answers in Genesis is not about the authority of the Bible. Instead, the difference is about which interpretation of the Bible is correct. And we believe that to interpret Scripture correctly, we must do more than look at the “plain” meaning of the words in our own cultural situation. Biblical interpretation–especially of Genesis, which was written so long ago in a very different cognitive environment—demands careful analysis across several disciplines if we’re to understand God’s revelation correctly.

So, to do the hard work of taking Scripture seriously, we have funded teams from all over the world to work out the implications of what God has revealed in his creation and in the Bible. Some of these teams are scholars working on research projects in science, theology, and philosophy (for example, see these projects by Jeff SchlossOliver Crisp, and Tim O’Connor). We hope their work will help to advance the conversations about the compatibility of Christianity with evolutionary creation. Other teams are doing “translational” projects which aim to present the scholarly work in accessible formats to a general audience. One of those teams is producing a set of videos filmed around the Hawaiian Islands as part of a multimedia curriculum for high school students. They are the ones Ken Ham called out on his blog last Friday. Project leaders Josh Hayashi and Diane Sweeney have offered this response to him:

Thank you for taking the time to look through our website so thoroughly and watch our films. We welcome your questions and thoughts. In fact, your review catalyzed a revision of one of the discussion questions on one of our leader’s guides that we realized was unclear. We certainly do not have all the answers. However, we atThe Author of Life, hope that our video series (which will be completed this fall) will help bring clarity to the issues, deepen relationships between youth leaders and their kids, but most of all, bring students closer to our Lord Jesus. In this way, we have similar goals, although different approaches. We believe that teens are looking for a place to have honest, respectful, and open dialogue. They are drawn to authentic questions and caring responses. It is our hope that we will help to provide that space. We want to encourage youth group leaders to honor different opinions on origins and to moderate a respectful conversation. And that is what we hope will come of this particular discussion. We strive to model for young people how fellow believers can focus on the common faith that should unite us rather than divide us.

As Hayashi and Sweeney point out, another thing we share with Answers in Genesis is a passion for helping young people grow into committed followers of Christ. However, we disagree strongly about the best way to do that. In his post, Ham argues that BioLogos and the people working with us are actually causing young people to leave the church. A recent study, though, found that when young people leave the church because of science, the reason is their churches’ antagonism to science and the acrimony of the debate over origins. We frequently hear from people who have found engagement with scientific findings and the opportunity for respectful dialogue to be instrumental in their walk with God. They say that the work of people like Hayashi and Sweeney has kept them from abandoning their faith or helped them come to faith (read their stories).

Too many people are being persuaded that biblical Christian faith is incompatible with the findings of science. Then when they are confronted with the solid scientific evidence, they are forced to choose between the clear witness of God’s creation and their commitment to Christ. As we’ve said before, we don’t think you have to choose.


About the Author

Jim Stump

Jim Stump is Senior Editor at BioLogos. As such he oversees the development of new content and curates existing content for the website and print materials. Jim has a PhD in philosophy from Boston University and was formerly a philosophy professor and academic administrator. He has authored Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming) and co-authored (with Chad Meister) Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction (Routledge, 2010). He has co-edited (with Alan Padgett) The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) and (with Kathryn Applegate) How I Changed My Mind About Evolution (InterVarsity, forthcoming).