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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Upset Creationist

Posted by jlwile on July 16, 2012

Last week, I posted an article about three different things that have recently upset some atheists. It seems that in writing that article, I upset a creationist. Ken Ham, the president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, took offense at the article, claiming that it took “a slap” at Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. Before I respond to his unfounded claims, I do want to make it very clear that I am a big fan of the Creation Museum, as anyone who has seriously read my materials should know. For example, back when the Creation Museum celebrated its one millionth visitor, I wrote:

As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I have some problems with the Answers in Genesis ministry. At the same time, however, Jesus tells us that we must judge a tree by its fruit (Luke 6:43-45), and the fruits of the Answers in Genesis ministry show that it is a very good tree.

One of those fruits is the wonderful Creation Museum, which just recently welcomed its one millionth guest. This is a remarkable achievement, given the fact that the museum has been around for less than three years.

What makes the museum so popular? Well, unlike many museums, it actually makes its visitors THINK. Rather than just mindlessly repeating the dogma of the day regarding origins, it actually shows how strongly a person’s preconceived notions can affect the conclusions that he or she draws from the scientific data. It also has a lot of world-class displays, including one of the famous fish eating another fish fossils and an amazing discussion of the construction processes that could have been used by Noah to build the ark.

There are some things I don’t like about the museum, but they pale in comparison to the things I like about it. I know most evolutionists are furious about the Creation Museum, and it’s easy to understand why. The more people think, the less they will believe in evolution!

In addition, when atheist blogger Dr. PZ Myers visited the museum, I complimented the security staff, discussed how excellent one of the exhibits is, and mentioned that Ken Ham’s behavior towards those with whom he disagrees is significantly better than that of Dr. Myers. Even in the article that offended Mr. Ham, I indicate that the Creation Museum is significantly more scientifically accurate than most museums, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History! In the end, there is just no way to make the case that I am anything but a huge fan of the Creation Museum.

With that out of the way, let me respond to three things that Mr. Ham brings up in his article.

First, Mr. Ham says that I missed the point of the exhibit that has the “millions of years” wrecking ball bashed into the side of the church. Specifically, he says:

Actually, he has missed the whole context of the wrecking ball knocking against the church and the message the room is presenting. My guess is that Wile breezed through without watching the exhibit’s videos and getting the full, real message there.

Of course, that’s not at all true. First, I have visited the Museum a total of five times. The first time, I was given a detailed behind-the-scenes tour shortly before the museum was open to the public. Since then, I have led two student groups through the museum, I have led an individual student through the museum, and finally, I visited the museum with friends. In none of these visits did I “breeze through” the exhibits.

The message of the wrecking ball exhibit is quite clear: the concept of millions of years has destroyed the church. Each of the student groups I led through the museum got that exact message, with no prodding from me. In addition, Answers in Genesis makes this statement over and over again. You can go to their website and listen to an audio entitled, “An evangelist….Destroyed by Millions of Years.” One of the things they sell in their online store is described as follows:

In this short booklet, we want to introduce you to some of the reasons Christians cannot accept millions of years, without doing great damage to the church and her witness in the world.

In addition, you can read an article by Mr. Ham himself, which says:

Bottom line—evolution is really not the problem as much as the age of the earth. Millions of years is the problem in today’s world that has resulted in a loss of biblical authority in the church and culture and has led to an increasing loss of generations from the church.

Whether we are talking about the materials from Answers in Genesis or that particular exhibit in the museum, the message is crystal clear: the concept of millions of years has destroyed the church. I strongly disagree with that message.

Second, Mr. Ham claims that my article might keep people from coming to the Creation Museum. He even suggests that my answer to a commenter’s question will probably put a damper on her visit to the museum. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth! As Mr. Ham quotes in his article, I tell the commenter that I would be very interested in hearing what she thinks is good and bad about the museum after her visit. In my mind, that should make her visit more interesting. After all, when someone asks me to report on an experience, I always pay more attention, because I want to make my report as accurate as possible.

In addition, Mr. Ham obviously ignored an answer I gave to another commenter. When one commenter said that she and her family were headed down to the Creation Museum for the nativity, I replied:

That sounds great, Teej. I have never been down there for the nativity.

This hardly seems like the response of someone who wants to keep people from coming to the Museum or put a damper on their visit!

Third, I am rather mystified by Mr. Ham’s assertion that by stating I strongly disagree with some things in the museum, I am somehow taking a slap at Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum itself. In order to be a supporter of Answers in Genesis, must I agree with everything it states? Must I wholeheartedly agree with 100% of a museum’s content to be a supporter of the museum? Of course not!

I disagree with many people whose work I strongly support and appreciate. For example, my favorite author right now is Dr. David Berlinski. He is a secular Jew, so I obviously disagree with him on all sorts of issues. However, I strongly encourage people to read his work, because most of what he writes is truly excellent. I even disagree with some of the things my pastor believes! Nevertheless, I am a big fan of my pastor and the church I attend! There is even a commenter on this blog with whom I disagree on many issues. However, I have stated before that I am truly happy that he comments, because his thoughts add to the discussion, even when I disagree with him. In the end, disagreement does not mean condemnation! It simply means that two parties don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue.

Mr. Ham ends his article this way:

By the way, AiG extended very gracious hospitality to Dr. Wile when he visited us several months ago. We get enough criticism from those who oppose the Creation Museum—which we expect—but it’s sad when it comes publicly from those who should be our friends in defending the Bible’s accuracy.

The first part of that statement is very true. I met with Mr. Ham several months ago, and he took time out of his busy schedule to show me the facilities where work is being done on the exciting Ark Encounter that is being planned. In addition, he showed me the museum’s impressive collections that are not on display. That gave me a chance to examine specimens I hadn’t even been able to find in books! I have talked about that experience with many people, including many of my fellow scientists who are skeptical about the Creation Museum.

I am truly grateful for the hospitality that Answers in Genesis extended towards me, and I am obviously a big fan of the Creation Museum. I was not publicly criticizing the Creation Museum or Answers in Genesis in any way. I was simply outlining the areas in which I disagree with them. I am sorry if my comments even implied otherwise.

Comments

37 Responses to “Upset Creationist”
  1. Peggy says:

    It is Ken Ham’s response to other people that makes me not want to patronize his ministry. He comes across very arrogant to me. I have had three wonderful Pastors – all with Doctorates – who have helped me in my spiritual walk and that of my children. Ken Ham makes me think that they are not adequate teachers and he alone has the answers as far as the creation of the world. I will rely on my Bible. No article would turn me off more than the words that come from Ken Ham himself.

  2. Inazuma says:

    Dear Dr. Wile,

    I sympathize with you! I feel you are being picked on unjustly. Anyone who has read your material knows you are very HONEST but also very gracious and respectful to those you disagree with. That is one reason why I respect you and your work so much.

    I even recently subscribed to Answers magazine at your recommendation! I hope Ken Ham will take this post to heart and realize you aren’t against him, or attacking him and the creation museum.

    Inazuma

  3. Mary says:

    Ihave heard lots of things about Mr. Ham. Unfortunately, I think he is always on the defensive. Hopefully, God is working with him on fixing that.

  4. Holly Banks says:

    Dear Dr Wile, We are sorry for this situation. It is very painful to be misjudged. Please continue to be your usual objective and gracious self. I would just like to add that two intelligent home schoolers who left the faith as young adults were, in part, disappointed to learn that Answers in Genesis is not as accurate as they had thought. I believe this contributed some small part in their loss of faith. We appreciate your careful distinction between opinion and the Word of God. I believe it is a lack in that area that causes many of the problems within and without the church.

  5. kennethos says:

    Ken Ham has done a great job with the museum (even with my complaints about it!). Sadly, he also has extremely thin skin. We need good soldiers for a cause of creation; we need even better troops to explore and defend what the Bible actually says and teaches about creation, and not add their nonsensical reasoning and conclusions to the matter. He and the Creation Museum sell a picture of Christianity that cannot stand without a very recent young earth and no animal physical death prior to the fall. These are newer “doctrines” that younger, skeptical believers reading the Bible with logic and proper reasoning skills will quickly grasp cannot be sustained in the face of “science.”
    The sooner we start living in 2012, and stop desiring 1912, the better. Perhaps then we can actually interact with our world for the Lord.

  6. Stanley says:

    Apparently, Mr. Wile, you are unfamiliar with the 11th Commandment:

    “Thou shalt not question any of the decrees of Ken Ham, lest thou be labeled an acceptor of ‘millions of years AND evolution,’ charged with godless idolatry of science, and sent to the fires for heresy.”

  7. jlwile says:

    Kennethos, I will have to disagree with you on your statement that a very recent young earth cannot be sustained in the face of science. In fact, I find a young earth to be significantly more compatible with science than an ancient earth. However, I do agree that a dogmatic insistence on the age of the earth does significantly more harm than good.

  8. Teri says:

    I have just recently started reading your blog and disagree with you on some things. However, i am impressed with how civil you are in your interactions with those you disagree with. It saddens me whenever I see Christians attacking each other verbally in various forums. I am a big fan of my churches motto which states “In essentials,unity, in non-essentials, liberty, in all things, charity”
    Iron sharpens iron.How else are we truly going to know what and why we believe what believe if we don’t have others to counter and challenge our suppositions? Keep up the good work, Jay :)

  9. mlbozer says:

    I love both Dr. Wile and Ken Ham! Both have been instrumental in teaching me Biblical truths and have pointed out how those truths are evidenced in the world God created. Neither of them (no man) has all of the answers but both of them have been used by God to instruct me and my homeschooling family. I pray there would be peace between them. I believe they accomplish much more working in harmony than when they are airing their differences to the world.

  10. Andrew says:

    So, Kan Ham Believes ”evolution is really not the problem as much as the age of the earth”. While you believe Evolution is more of the problem?

  11. jlwile says:

    Andrew, I do think that evolution is much more of a problem than the idea that the earth is old.

  12. Andrew says:

    Okay, Yeah that’s what I thought :)

  13. W. Brown says:

    I rather agree with the first commenter, Peggy, who says “He comes across very arrogant to me.” Indeed, he does, and it doesn’t reflect well on his ministry, however good it may be. Perhaps he just had an absolute stinker of a day or something. After all, all of us have our ups and downs.

  14. gracekalman says:

    You may assure Ken Ham that I am very excited about my visit to the Creation Museum. I simply dislike the possibility that information I have been given could be false. In the matter of the wrecking ball, I would just wave that off as a difference in opinions. Everything I have heard from both you and my friends has just made me more eager to visit. Also, Ken Ham clearly doesn’t know me. I am so very optimistic and enthusiastic that putting a damper on me might be desirable. However, I am also very gullible, and I trust Dr. Wile not to take advantage of that.

  15. kennethos says:

    Dr. Wile:

    Jay, I will happily re-phrase things if I need. Since we’ll disagree on certain areas (age of the earth, etc.), I have no problem agreeing on everything else.
    Dogmatic decrees (either from the Old Earth or YEC positions) are a problem, especially if used as a litmus test for faith.
    I used to be a YEC…until I went carefully through Genesis while learning Hebrew in seminary. I saw what the text said, and didn’t say. That led me, kicking and screaming, into following what the text says, not what I want it to say.

    Btw, here’s a link to some videos on grammar in Genesis:

    http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/videos/

    You, or other readers, may find them useful.
    Thanks for the discourse, and for the civility!

  16. Keith J. says:

    I used to be a huge follower of Ken Ham growing up in a conservative Christian homeschooled household. When I grew up I really started to listen to what he was saying a lot closer and I also investigated what the other side had been saying straight from their mouths and not through the AiG filter. As such, I realized that what I had been taught was wrong, and I also lost my Christian faith. Now, looking back I find that the reason I was a Christian was because of my belief in a young earth and special creationism, not because of Jesus and the resurrection. I now understand the reasons people have for their Christian faith lot better than I used to. I haven’t myself found another good reason to once again become a Christian, but just like everyone else, believer and non-believer alike, I make observations around me and to try and figure out the truth of reality.

  17. jlwile says:

    Thanks, Grace. I suspected that nothing I said would put a damper on your visit. I have no idea why Ken Ham would think that.

  18. jlwile says:

    Thanks for the link and the civility, Kennethos. I tend to read more than watch videos, but I expect they will be of interest to some of my readers.

  19. jlwile says:

    Keith, I will be praying for you. I pray that you have an encounter with the risen Christ so that you will become very well acquainted with genuine Christian faith!

  20. My Dad was Head of The Petroleum Engineering Dept at The University of Tulsa, so I have a great interest in geology. For the sake of time, I will not delve into the science, i.e. Polystrate Fossils, Coal Seams, Smooth uplift, Carbon 14 dating, Magnetic Field decay, exquisite fossilization, et cetera. However I would like to point out that when I study about the sedimentary layers, the only logical conclusion that I can draw is Catastrophe on a global scale, a Biblical Flood. To deny a global Biblical Flood is to deny the truth of Gods Word. The people of Noah’s time reaped what they sowed globally. Galatians 6:7 KJV “Be not deceived ; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth , that shall he also reap .” A consequence of their sin was that animals were killed on a global scale long after the fall of Adam. This death and suffering will one day end with The Return of Jesus Christ. Christians long for His Return. I believe the animals look forward to this day as well. Romans 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 1 John 4:16 …God is Love… I believe God Loves the animals, so much based on many verses. It tends to verify that yes indeed The Original Creation was without any death or suffering of any kind. Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made , and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. I enjoy sharing The Gospel of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ because I want to do what Jesus says in Matthew 28 and Mark 16. I want to see as many people enjoy the wonderful future God has planned for us in The Lord Jesus Christ keeping in mind that The Return of Jesus Christ is not only a Great Day for us but a Terrible day for some. Joel 2:31 KJV
    The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come .

    Thomas Helander
    (E-mail forwarded to Answers in Genesis)

  21. Jacob says:

    Well, it’s very sad to hear that Mr. Ham has either blatantly or accidentally misinterpreted your words. I always look to the better of people, and so I think that it may be a mistake. I hope that Mr. Ham will understand that you meant no harm to his ministry in any way.

    Thanks to your blog, I’ve come to learn more that perhaps we need to understand things less dogmatically than other times. I agree with pretty much everything Mr. Ham and his ministry has written, but whenever there is something that doesn’t necessarily have to be some way, like if a “day” in the Bible was 24-hours or some other timeframe, I become slightly more fluid and look to what the data says. I think that it was 24-hours, but I won’t say that can be the only way. In that case, I’ve found some interesting things about Genesis 1.

  22. Bob Perry says:

    Dr. Wile,
    We home-schooled 5 boys with your science materials and I want you to know how much we have always appreciated your approach to the material. I could never really tell for sure if you were YE or OE and I think that is a tribute to your evenhandedness. As an OE advocate, I was able to teach my sons some rigorous material that could have been interpreted either way … and that gave me the leeway to offer them both sides.

    I applaud the way you’ve handled this issue and hope that certain YE advocates (especially Mr. Ham) could take a lesson from your approach.

    (p.s. I never knew you had a blog until today but I will be back!)

  23. jlwile says:

    Thanks very much, Bob. I do try to be even-handed on this issue, as I recognize that Christians who accept the full authority of Scripture differ on it.

  24. J.S. says:

    Thomas Helander, as a former petroleum geologist myself, I was wondering if you would mind sharing what your father’s position is on the origins issue? When I was going through my conversion process, it was a lot easier to leave my belief in evolution than in an old earth, because the evidence of design in biology is so strong, while age evidences in geology can so often be equivocal.

  25. Hi Jay, I just ran across your website and will have to do some looking around. While we might disagree on YEC/OEC, I’ve always been incredibly impressed with how you handle yourself in discussion and how fair you are in the dialog and with the evidence. Kudos! I’ve been looking for a replacement for the AiG link on my recommended resources for YEC and I think I’ve found it. :) Unfortunately, I think Mr. Ham is doing AiG a lot of harm with his ways. I hope that he will realize that one day and make some changes. We really need better communication between the various positions within the church and less infighting (while still upholding some boundaries… I agree, I just think Mr. Ham as drawn the line in the wrong place). Blessings, -Steve

  26. jlwile says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Steve. I hope you enjoy what you find here!

  27. J.S. says:

    Steve, for YEC resources for your website, you might also want to consider creation.com, the website of Creation Ministries International. I follow both AiG and CMI news feeds, and while I deeply respect the scientists at both ministries, I’ve found AiG’s feeds to have become more and more theology-based and less and less focused on the science. I’ve found CMI to do a good job of presenting both the scientific and theologic aspects of the origins issue, with what I consider to be a fair and evenhanded tone similar to that of Dr. Wile’s.

  28. Thanks for the reminder J.S., I’ll take a look and probably add them as well. I initially added AiG because they seemed like the most popular YEC ministry everyone refers to, but I should have considered CMI as well (I was aware of them, but they kind of slipped my mind when I set the page up).

  29. J.S. says:

    Steve, another YEC resource, if you weren’t aware of it already, is the Institute for Creation Research. I particularly recommend Brian Thomas’ science updates: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/icrscienceupdate

  30. Vietnam 67 says:

    Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are we save through faith and that not of ourselves it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not parish but have everlasting life.

    I’m amazed at some of the comments I read where several commentors gave up Christianity because of scientific differences on the age of the earth?

    Salvation is not based on science, but by faith in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    When we get to heaven the age of the earth will be answered; but those individuals who walked away from Jesus because of science will spend eternity separated from God. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The Vs. doesn’t say “without science it is impossible to please Him”. It says without faith…If anyone in the higher school of knowledege or academia is basing their salvation on science than they are lost souls.

    1 Corinthians 2:6-8 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

    1 Corinthians 2:10-16 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

    13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    I pray that I was able to shed some light (Jesus) on the subject of creation science etc. But only by faith shall we know the truth for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

  31. jlwile says:

    Vietnam 67, I think you missed the point of those comments. No one on this thread thinks that salvation is based on science. At the same time, however, faith is not divorced from science. Indeed, I would have never come to faith without science. I started my scientific education as an atheist, and it was science that forced me to conclude that there must be some kind of Creator. Once I realized this, I had to seek out who this Creator is. I read the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, a collection of Taoist works, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. I found the evidence for the Old and New Testaments to be the strongest, and that’s why I became a Christian.

    If you are taught that the Scriptures depend on a young earth (which I do not believe) but are convinced that the earth is old, that will harm your faith in the Scriptures, which will harm your faith in Christ. As Clark Pinnock is credited with saying, “My heart cannot delight in what my mind rejects as false.” I think that’s the point the commenters were trying to make.

  32. William Jordan says:

    I do have one question related to your comments. I think I am hearing you say that the days of creation don’t have to be literal 24 hour days. Where I am stuck on that issue is in exodous 20:11 where the Lord says He created the earth in six literal days and then rested on a seventh literal day. How can it be argued the days of creation were not literal 24 hour days without completely violation the word of the Lord?

    I am all for agreeing to disagree on biblical subjects where there is room for interpretation. For example your post on animal death before the fall, though not a position I agree with, is one where the Bible is not explicit and leaves room for respectful disagreement. I’d be interested in your thoughts on how the creation week could be other than six days.

  33. jlwile says:

    Thanks for your question, William. I have to tell you that I think Exodus 20:8-11 is strong evidence that the Genesis days were normal days. However, it is not proof by any means. Consider another verse that has a very similar statement: “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44a). Similar statements are made in Leviticus 11:45, Leviticus 19:2, Leviticus 20:7, and 1 Peter 1:16. Now…do you think those verses mean that we can be holy in the same way that God is holy? Of course not! When the Bible compares God and man, it is clear that the comparison is not exact. Thus, when Exodus 20:11 compares a person’s work week to the creation week, it is not necessarily exact. It is a parallel. If the proper translation of yom in relation to God is “eons of time”, Exodus 20:8-11 would read:

    “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six eons of time the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh eon of time; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

    I don’t see how that changes the meaning at all. It is simply drawing a parallel between God’s actions and man’s actions. Such parallels are never exact, so you can’t say for certain that this passage indicates the creation days were 24 hours long.

    When I was young, I rode a bicycle everywhere I wanted to go. My father used to constantly say, “Just as I have to signal my turns when I drive, you have to signal your turns.” Did that mean I had to go out and get a blinker to signal my turns exactly as my father did in his car? Of course not. I used my hands, and my father used blinkers, but we were both signaling. We didn’t do it in exactly the same way, but we were essentially doing the same thing. Since 2Peter 3:8 tells us that a day is like 1,000 years to God, people working for six 24-hour days and resting on the seventh 24-hour day would be like God working for six periods of 1,000 years (or any eon of time) and resting on the seventh 1,000 year span (or any eon of time).

    I agree with you that it is critical to determine which Biblical subjects leave room for interpretation and which do not. One way to determine that is to look through church history. At no time in the church’s history was it considered orthodox to question the virgin birth, the Deity of Christ, the resurrection, etc. However, from its earliest days, there was dissent within the orthodox ranks regarding the nature of the days in Genesis (see here, here, and here). That indicates to me that the days of Genesis are open to interpretation.

  34. Kevin N says:

    Jay,

    Ken Ham has treated me graciously in my few interactions with him, though I am an old-Earth Christian who accepts most of evolution. He has stated that what we have in common in the gospel outweighs the differences we have regarding the age of the Earth( http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2010/11/03/do-old-earthers-and-young-earthers-agree-on-anything/ ). I am sorry that he has gone after you like this, and pray for reconciliation.

  35. jlwile says:

    Kevin, that’s the kind of interaction that should exist among Christians who disagree.

  36. kennethos says:

    Jay:

    Thought you might find Mike’s latest post on genome research and Genesis thought-provoking and provocative. Hope you enjoy it!

    http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/2012/07/genesis-13-face-compatible-genome-research/

  37. jlwile says:

    Thanks for the link, Kennethos. I found the article rather inconsistent. For example, he claims to be taking Genesis “at face value,” but then he turns around and says, “However, ‘in that day’ could very easily be construed in the sense of ‘right on the heels of.’” That’s certainly not taking the account at face value. There is a reason the traditional interpretation of the church has been that Adam and Eve started all of humanity and that Genesis 1 and 2 are talking about the same things. It’s because that’s what the text says at face value. I am not saying that’s only possible interpretation. I am just saying that’s the face-value interpretation.

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