Ken Ham’s inconsistency

Ken Ham claims that to hold a different view on the age of the earth undermines the word of God, yet his ministry approves of the The Bible series on the History Channel.  That is inconsistent.  I still think his ministry has much to offer, but I wish he would be more charitable to those that disagree with him on the age of the universe and I wish he was more discerning on this movie series.

First, to be clear, I am as inerrantist as you can get on the Bible, firmly believing that the original writings turned out just the way that God and the writers wanted them to and that they have been transmitted to us in a highly reliable fashion.  And I’m as anti-Darwinian evolution as they come.  I truly enjoy friendly debates between young earth and old earth creationists and see merits in both sides.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m undermining the word of God by saying we don’t know precisely how old the earth is, and that it could be much older than 6,000 years.  If you think that is undermining the word of God, then this may not be the blog for you.

Ham’s primary error is saying that if you don’t agree with him on the age of the earth then you don’t care what Genesis says.  That is a counterproductive non sequitur. Via Noted Apologist Calls Out Evangelical Leaders Who ‘Undermine the Word of God’.

He believes in a literal interpretation of the creation account found in the Book of Genesis.

“I’m not attacking these people personally and I’m not saying they aren’t Christians or preach the Gospel or I don’t respect them,” Ham told Christian Press News. “I’m dealing with a particular issue that is important in which God’s Word is being undermined. Wittingly or unwittingly many of these famous Christian leaders are really undermining the authority of the Word of God.”

Ham mentioned, in particular, John Piper, founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, co-pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla. Dr. R.C. Sproul and Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, as Christian leaders who have drifted away from teaching a young earth perspective.

“Many Christian leaders today will say ‘who cares what Genesis says and what does it matter about the age of the earth as long as you trust in Jesus. We need to go out there and preach the Gospel,’” said Ham. “But the point we need to understand is the Gospel comes from this book called the Bible and if generations of people have been led to believe they can’t really trust the Bible or lead to doubt that you can trust its authority or doubt its history – eventually they will reject the Bible and won’t listen to the Gospel.”

If someone truly said, “Who cares what Genesis says?” then that would be a major issue. But that isn’t the case here.  Saying that not only begs the question by assuming that others are wrong in their interpretation, but it is an attack on the people by claiming that they know they are wrong and don’t care.

If Ham’s ministry cares that much about authority — and I think they do — they shouldn’t have given such a fluffy review to The History Channel’s The Bible just because they liked how it treated their favored issues.

I have no issues if people want to watch the series.  It can make a great springboard to encourage people to read the word of God for themselves and to point out the errors in the movie as well as the key theological themes that it didn’t address.  But I wish people were more charitable on in-house Christian debates.

38 thoughts on “Ken Ham’s inconsistency

  1. Neil, I couldn’t agree with you more. Well said. I didn’t watch “The Bible” (we don’t have cable anyway) but as is generally the case with made-for-TV movies about the Bible, I heard it was a mess. I’m surprised to see someone as “conservative” as Ham backing it.

    • My guess is that he was just really happy to see his hot topics favorably displayed (Creation & Noah). I just thought it was ironic that they gave a pass to the errors that really do undermine scripture. But now I’m repeating myself ;-).

  2. I haven’t seen this series, though my mother let me know that it was going to be aired. We don’t have cable and haven’t watched broadcast anything in so long that spotting a commercial at a friend’s house seemed strange and foreign to me.

    I have only recently come to “young earth” theology through the Answers in Genesis website and have found all the information there to be quite intriguing, and full of correction for many of my own beliefs that I’ve grown up holding. In that regard, I’m grateful for the site and the ministry as a whole.

    I don’t disagree with you on your point of this blog or even on your point of the potential of undermining the gospel with a held view of the inability to know a precise age of the earth. Even with a literal interpretation of the Bible, precision cannot be obtained.

    However, this got me thinking (dangerous, I know, ha!). I wonder what an “old” earth, void of death and decay, would look like. What evidence might we find of such a world that lived for an extended period before the fall of man? Did living organisms stop growing at a certain point? I know animals and humans do that, but does vegetation stop growing?

    Mind you, I’m not trying to argue. I’ve become an avid reader of yours over the last year or so and appreciate your blog. And, I don’t know about this for certain. I just think it’s definitely worthy of exploring with conversation.

    • Hi Levi,

      Thanks for your comments. I actually enjoy the old earth vs. young earth debates, as I get interesting points from each of them. I just don’t like it when either side accuses the other of not really believing the Bible. I appreciate Ham’s ministry and the larger work they do.

      I think there are many intriguing questions in both directions. Part of the challenge is reading the Bible without presuppositions. If the 7 days are literal 24 hour days, why does the 7th day last longer than 24 hours? Why were carnivores born carnivores if animal death wasn’t part of the original plan? If there was literally zero death of any kind before the Fall, wouldn’t bacteria overwhelm the earth? And so on.

      • You’ve raised some interesting questions yourself. How sure are you on your presuppositions that you’ve displayed here in your questioning? Oh boy, this would be a wonderful conversation. I don’t know if we can pull it off on a blog comment section, though.

        With all the focus on evolution to be or not to be, one thing has been pushed into the corner as an accepted given though it is just an assumption, as well. And that’s an old earth. With the militant style the secular world uses to shove this down our throats, doesn’t it at least invoke a raised eyebrow?

      • Who says carnivores were born carnivores? According to Genesis, they were all originally plant-eaters. It was the fall that led the eat meat also. If the 6-days weren’t literal, then what do you do with Exodus where it gives the reason for resting on the 7th? If God worked for 6 indeterminate time periods, how does that make sense? THere is way too much evidence for the 6 days being literal to discount it. The only reason one needs to discount it is to fit in evolution’s billions of years.

      • Exodus 20 (and the parallel in Deut) – the Ten Commandments. The one about the Sabbath. God uses the fact that He created everything in six days as the example of only working six days. If the days of creation weren’t literal, then the days man should work can’t be literal either.

        If the days aren’t literal, how old is Adam after the seventh day (which does not continue, by the way)? Without a definite length of time, nothing makes sense. The Hebrew is as plain as it gets.

        I suggest a review of this article:
        http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v7/n2/24-hour-days

      • I don’t think that we need other verses to “demand” 7 24 hour days. I think that unless there are other verses that demand that they NOT be 7 24 hour days, then we need to go back and reexamine both sets of verses and decide which ones are being initially interpreted incorrectly, less we concede a contradiction.

      • I worded that incorrectly. Retry: I think that unless there are other verses that demand that they NOT be 7 24 hour days we can take them as they are and accept them as 7 24 hour days. In the event that other verses do, in fact, demand a different time length, then we need to go back and reexamine both sets of verses and decide which ones are being initially interpreted incorrectly, less we concede a contradiction.

        There. That’s better.

      • I’m curious about the long seventh day you speak of. I hadn’t heard anything on this before so I had to Google it. From what I found, this belief stems from the seventh day not following the “there was morning, there was evening” pattern and an interpretation of Hebrews 4. Is this all the biblical “evidence” there is to support a lengthy creation week beyond seven 24 hour days?

      • Levifelton.blogspot.com is my blog. I did start a WordPress blog to mirror it at one time for the purpose of switching, but I abandoned that attempt after finding out I didn’t like it as much. I’m not sure what blog you had on file. Hopefully it’s straightened out.

    • Levi, I think you have made some incorrect assumptions about what a Biblical old earth creation model would look like. Ken Ham’s representation of what old earth creationists believe is deceptive at best.

      • My old earth creationist model isn’t based off of Ken Ham’s teaching. Like all people in my generation, I grew up as an “old-earther” since that’s what we are all taught virtually everywhere. I also, grew up in a Christian church and thus I have always been a “old earth creationist”, but I have only recently begun to delve into some of my own logical inconsistencies surrounding my beliefs in this particular area. Any help sorting this out would be appreciated.

        What incorrect assumptions stand out to you from my comments here?

      • “I wonder what an “old” earth, void of death and decay, would look like. What evidence might we find of such a world that lived for an extended period before the fall of man? Did living organisms stop growing at a certain point? I know animals and humans do that, but does vegetation stop growing?”

        All of your assumptions are yec assumptions laid over some kind of ancient earth.

        http://reasons.org is a good place to start.

      • It’s ok. Neil’s got my back with following up with a well-balanced list of oec list of assumptions, evidently. ;)

        I’ll check out your link and get back with this.

      • Reasons.org is not a good place to start. Hugh Ross’ version of OEC is heresy. He claims there were souless humans before Adam and Eve. You can’t have any human before Adam and Eve because the Bible says they were the first human. Ross is one of the worst compromisers out there, having bought the evolution theory hook, line, and sinker.

      • First I need to clarify; the word I used was “soulless” with the meaning of being without a spirit. In the dichotomous view there is body and spirit, or soul and spirit – the soul being the body/person. Trichotomy teaches body, soul, and spirit – the soul being the part of the person as to who they are as personality, and the spirit being – well, we are spiritual beings who commune with God spiritually. Apparently Ross is trichotomous and says there is body, soul and spirit.

        Okay, I’ve read about Ross’ claim many times in the past that he teaches mankind existed (hominids) but had not spirit – i.e. were “soulless” with no spiritual part in their make-up. From what I have on hand I can give you this:

        In Ross’ book, The Genesis Question, p53, he says that when man was made (6th day) (bara) it was to distinguish something new being added – the spirt. That is, until that time man had no spirit but did exist as body and soul. So, therefore, Adam & Eve were the first with a spirit (or soul). So all previous humanoids along the evolutionary trek had no spirit, and what made Adam and Eve special was their spirit. But humans existed previous to them.

        In the Reasons to Believe pamphlet, Genesis One, Dinosaurs, and Cavemen,
        Ross says, “Starting about 2 to 4 million years ago God began creating man-like mammals or ‘hominids.’ These creatures stood on two feet, had large brains, and used tools. Some even buried their dead and painted on cave walls. However, they were very different from us. They had no spirit. They did not have a conscience like we do. They did not worship God or establish religious practices. In time, all these man-like creatures went extinct. Then, about 10 to 25 thousand years ago, God replaced them with Adam and Eve. …”

        Ross agrees that these “man-like” creatures were much like humans today in that they buried their dead, made tools and musical instruments, painted artwork, etc, but they just didn’t have a spirit.

        In another statement Ross says these other man-like creatures may have gone extinct as a result of the appearance of Adam and Eve rather than long before them. (Fingerprint of God, p.160)

      • You seem to be conflating “man like” and “hominid” with “human.” Hominids were not-human, therefore, there is no claim of “soulless humans.”

        As I see it, the charge you have made against Hugh Ross is baseless.

      • So the evolutionist gives a name to human beings that existed prior to the time Adam & Eve were around, and these humans have every quality of humans today, we can’t call them humans because Ross’ evolutionist worldview says they were before Adam & Eve? Every single fossil known as a “hominid” – supposed cro-magnon and Neanderthal, e.g. – are human in every respect except for their supposed timeline doesn’t fit where evolutionists need them to be, so they are discounted as being human by evolutionists and the likes of Hugh Ross!

        They are humans, every one of them, and they weren’t around millions of years ago – they are post-Adam humans. Evolutionary bias is in YOUR way. Even Ross said they were human in every way except for not having a spirit – as if HE would know that!

  3. It would probably be prudent for any Christian, especially high profile orthodox Christians, not to endorse a teaching on Christianity, or its elements, when taught by avowed or practical atheists on a channel hostile to Christianity. A couple of premises are worth noting. 1. Satan is very crafty (Gen 3:1) 2. He who is not with Jesusis against Jesus>; and he who does not gather with Him scatters. (Matt 12:30)

  4. I watched “The Bible”. I didn’t mind it however there were many discrepancies. 1) Once again we get the bold fearless Moses who makes strong declarations to his people. Not the Moses who found public speaking so difficult he had to have Aaron help him. 2) Sarah watched from a distance weeping when Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac. I may be mistaken but I thought it was a 3 day hike. Plus they had a lamb get tangled in the brush instead of a ram. Do they not read well? I guess a lamb was easier to find than a ram for the casting?

    All this aside I think it’s great that people are watching a show about the bible, even if it has errors. It was the #1 cable show with 13.1 million viewers. That’s much better than watching Snooky or Zombies.

  5. So much could be said about your commentary, including the age of the earth, but I’ll only deal with your first paragraph and two comments you made.

    A. On the contrary, the AiG review mentioned several problems with the series. It was not a “fluffy review” as you wrote in a later paragraph, though the reviewer did express surprise that Hollywood got a lot correct. For example, the reviewer noted the following problems with the program (these are direct quotes from the multi-part review):
    —“Though Adam and Eve are treated as historical people, their light-colored skin doesn’t account for the more middle-brown color they must have had in order for our gene pool to produce all the skin shades we have today.”
    –“It’s doubtful the Ark was drippy as depicted, and the film’s animals were the ordinary species we see today, rather than a more ‘created kinds’ assortment. And unlike the rainbow in the film, the biblical rainbow didn’t show up until after Noah’s family left the Ark.”
    –“The scattering of people from the Tower of Babel—the basis for our many languages and the isolation of people groups—is skipped. The story of Lot moving to Sodom is in the movie, but Sodom’s true character, as described in the Bible, is missing. Scripture indicates that the problem with Sodom was rampant homosexual behavior, a concept noticeably missing in the film.”
    –“Several problems mentioned here weaken the film’s potential to present the Gospel message on its own. Even in biblical events that paint pictures of God’s justice and mercy to be later fulfilled in Christ’s sacrifice, the film often misses the chance to make that connection clear.”
    –“The fact that we need to trust God to take care of our sin problem—while pictorially depicted in repeated sacrifices (Hebrews 10:1–4) leading to the Lamb of God’s crucifixion in a few weeks—is not explained well.”
    – “While the series does a reasonable job of showing the chronological history of the Bible leading to Christ, it fails—after the initial mention of the origin of evil after the Fall—to make clear just why Christ came.”
    –“The ‘many infallible proofs’ that Jesus really rose from the dead didn’t get much screen time. The scriptwriters substantially adapted those they did cover. Though it was clear in the movie that Christ’s followers knew He truly died and was alive again, I cringed when one attested ‘He did not die; He is still with us.’ This was a very poorly written line. ‘He did not die’ does not mean the same thing as ‘He died and then came back to life’!”

    A fluffy review? I think not.
    B. Lastly, you say in the opening paragraph of a column you have entitled “Ken Ham’s inconsistency” that you wished Ken “was more discerning on this movie series.” Now, it was one of his staff members who wrote the 5-part review, not Ken. Also, by its very nature, a movie or TV review can be subjective. Just as a movie reviewer for a newspaper may express an opinion, it is not necessarily the view of the head of that organization.

    Thank you.
    –Mark Looy, AiG

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Lastly, you say in the opening paragraph of a column you have entitled “Ken Ham’s inconsistency” that you wished Ken “was more discerning on this movie series.” Now, it was one of his staff members who wrote the 5-part review, not Ken. Also, by its very nature, a movie or TV review can be subjective. Just as a movie reviewer for a newspaper may express an opinion, it is not necessarily the view of the head of that organization.

      You lost a lot of credibility with that one. A movie reviewer for a newspaper is a little different than a reviewer for a dogmatic Christian group reviewing a movie about the Bible. And I don’t mean dogmatic in a pejorative sense, just a descriptive one. Some dogmas are great. But one of my objections to AIG is how shrill you all get if someone doesn’t agree with you on the age of the earth. You act like it means they don’t believe in inerrancy, etc. If you are going to hold that lack of charity then don’t get whiny when people point out your fluffy reviews that sort-of got your hobby horse issue right but did a horrible job on so many other things.

      • You lost a lot of credibily with your response to this comment. You totally missed the point that it was clearly demonstrated that the main premise of this blog all hinged on the idea that Ken Ham gave a gleaming two thumbs up to a tv show that you found to be full of errors. Mark demonstrates that not only was it not the high marks of approval you fallaciously made it out to be, but that it was not even the accused that authored the piece despite the fact that you never made that known in your blog. Then rather than accept correction, you continue to label it “fluffy” and make a flimsy argument that could easily be turned back on you, your lack of charity,and your whininess when someone points out the gross errors in your misrepresentation for the sake of a blog topic.

      • A more thorough reply: I didn’t say that Ken Ham gave it a “gleaming two thumbs up” or “high marks of approval.” Let’s revisit my opening paragraph:

        Ken Ham claims that to hold a different view on the age of the earth undermines the word of God, yet his ministry approves of the The Bible series on the History Channel. That is inconsistent. I still think his ministry has much to offer, but I wish he would be more charitable to those that disagree with him on the age of the universe and I wish he was more discerning on this movie series.

        So I noted that it was his ministry writing the review, not him, whereas you said that I claimed that he personally gave it a “gleaming two thumbs up.” And I used the world “approves” whereas you claimed I said it was given “high marks” of approval. Wrong on both counts. Oh, and if you run a ministry, don’t play fast and loose with the ” . . . not opinions of management” bit.

        So you claimed my errors were “gross” and that I misrepresented him, yet you misrepresented me here for all to see. What would that make your errors? You said I whined and lacked charity. And perhaps they would have if I had actually done and said what you claimed. But I didn’t.

        How would you self-assess your straw-man arguments against me? Whiny? Lacking charity?

        You attacked me — in error — for not accepting correction, and claimed I did it on purpose for “the sake of a blog topic.” Quite the mind reader there! So I hope you’ll take some advice yourself: Please read more carefully and don’t put words in my mouth. Otherwise, you come across a bit hypocritical — doing the exact thing that you accuse me of.

    • I am a big fan of AIG, but even though they demonstrated some of the problems with the series, overall it the organization recommended it. It should have been warned against, an not given any credence. Just because they get some things right, that does not justify recommending it – after all, cults get some things right but I would never recommend a cult.

      • For the record, Neil, I wasn’t putting words in your mouth by describing your blog in my own words. This can be seen by the absence of the use of quotation marks, save for the one single quote of “fluffy.” Which, I believe was your own word used to describe the review in subject. So, evidently, it’s alright to use our own words to describe how we feel about others’ writings and therefore unnecessary for you to call me out on all my misquotes that I didn’t make.

        Also, for the record, I apologize for saying “authored the piece despite the fact that you never made that known in your blog”, as I see that you did, in fact, make that known in your blog. Though, the title was a bit misleading.

  6. I note that the author of this blog has not yet acknowledged that he might have been wrong to say that Ken should have been “more discerning” about the movie series. We point out that Ken did not take the opportunity to be discerning, for he neither wrote the TV reviews nor approved them, much less watched the TV programs for himself. And yet he gets the blame for another person’s review—and the review was a solid one anyway and was misrepresented here on this blog.

    Glenn, the AiG reviewer only “recommended” the series in the sense (and as she stated in her review) that it could be used for things like water-cooler talk as a way to talk about the Bible and the Christian faith to others. Yes, she noted that some of the scenes were faithful to the biblical text. However, because of the several problems with the series that we have pointed out, AiG will not be selling the DVDs. (The series’ producers asked us if we wanted to carry the set.) The fact that we will not sell the DVDs shows that we actually don’t recommend the series for Bible study. Therefore, we did not offer a “fluffy review” — again, I gave many examples of the problems with the series. Yet with a headline of “Ken Ham’s Inconsistency,” the author of this blog attempted to take a swipe at Ken for the AiG review—and it was a review wrongly labeled as fluff.

    Finally, under Ken’s leadership, we are not as monolithic as you might think. For example, we have a section of our website (the Answers Research Journal) where there is an exchange of ideas where creationists offer differing viewpoints (e.g., in geology, the question of the nephilim, the vapor canopy idea, etc., etc.). There are many areas where we present different views on topics and where Ken does not determine where AiG should stand. Furthermore, Ken reviews and approves very little of what goes on our website any way, especially if they are things like reviews in which one person’s opinion can be different from another’s, yet both people accept biblical authority in Genesis (e.g., the canopy idea).

    Frankly, noting your misrepresentations, I point out that you do not know us much at all and how we operate.

    Perhaps you will consider accepting these corrections. Thank you.

    –Mark, AiG

    • I note that the author of this blog has not yet acknowledged that he might have been wrong to say that Ken should have been “more discerning” about the movie series.

      Feel free to note that all you like. Note it on the AIG page. Because I wrote the original carefully, and have carefully re-read this post, and I stand behind it all.

      We point out that Ken did not take the opportunity to be discerning, for he neither wrote the TV reviews nor approved them, much less watched the TV programs for himself. And yet he gets the blame for another person’s review—and the review was a solid one anyway and was misrepresented here on this blog.

      1. The title mentioned Ken, then the post specifically noted what “his ministry” said.

      2. If he can’t own what his site says, he shouldn’t be the leader. Or he should change what it says.

      Perhaps you will consider accepting these corrections. Thank you.

      They don’t impact anything of what I’ve wrote, but I am glad to let you note that here and wish you the best in your ministry. And I’ll repeat that you all come across rather defensively for a ministry that says things like the quotes in my post. Yeah, as if Piper or Sproul said, “Who cares what Genesis says?” or that old-earthers are undermining the word of God.

    • Mark,
      
I’m sorry, but anything with the amount of error that series had, especially knowing who organized it and who the advisors were, has no business being recommended for anything. Sort of like Mel Gibson’s Romanist propaganda, “The Passion of the Christ.”

      What I think AIG should have done (and I personally wrote to AIG my disappointment) was to say something like, “Hey, this series got some things right, but we can’t recommend it for Christians or even for ‘water cooler conversations’ because of the gross errors and the false teachers who were advisors for it.” I think recommending it for anything was wrong.

      Unlike Neil, I agree with Ken Ham and AIG that those who do not accept a literal 6-day creation taking place about 6000 years ago are picking and choosing what part of the Bible to accept as literal. Neil may call that dogmatic or uncharitable, but I suspect that Neil would be just as dogmatic and uncharitable with those who claimed the Bible shouldn’t be taken literally when it says homosexuality is wrong–after all, how can you be charitable when dealing with that? Polite? yes. Charitable? No.

      While if I had written the review, I would have said “AIG’s inconsistency,” some people use the name of people who head up – or most visibly represent – organizations, etc. I understood that to be the idea here. After all, when we say General Patton won such and such a battle, we know that it was all those who actually did the fighting who won it, and yet the guy in charge gets the headline whether the battle was won or lost.

      • Mark is nitpicking and ignoring the counterproductive and false things I quoted Ham as saying.

        Anyone who thinks I deny inerrancy or undermine the Bible by not agreeing with Ham’s views on the age of the earth is welcome to spend his time at other blogs and not here, just as I noted in the post. I don’t have the time for such counterproductive stupidity.

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