Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars I found this article on WorldNetDaily. Ed suggested that it didn’t require fisking, but from the Christian point of view there are a couple of things I’d like to comment on.
I love Ken Ham president of the Answers In Genesis ministry because he’s a Christian with a brain and he has the guts to defend the faith. I also love him because he drives the God-haters nuts or I should say he drives them even nuttier.
Where to start? There are so many silly things about that paragraph. First, there’s the notion that Christians with brains are rare, and thus one had to search and search until finally Ken Ham was located. Oh joy! Oh Rapture! A Christian with a brain! Well actually there are plenty of Christians with brains, and there are plenty of Christians who are willing to defend the faith, and none of them are Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. I’m not so much commenting on Ken Ham’s IQ as I’m suggesting that he is not defending “the faith” but rather an eccentric view of Biblical interpretation that is producing misguided science. Unless “the faith” is to be equated with massive rejection of evidence over a wide variety of fields, then Ken Ham is not defending the faith. Young Earth Creationism doesn’t merely collide with geology and evolutionary biology. It collides even with archeology. There is written history that dates to before the flood date according to young earth creationists.
Thus Christians with brains such as Hugh Ross are excluded by Ken Ham’s viewpoint. Now I’m not arguing that Ken Ham doesn’t have the right to disagree with Hugh Ross, or with theistic evolutionists. He absolutely does. But people who look at or read about that museum in Kentucky should not imagine that it is dedicated to the general proposition that God created, or that it is a general defense of Christianity against some supposed secularist forces. It’s not. It is designed to advocate a young earth position, a position that is truly not tenable.
But Lofton continues saying that Ken Ham drives God-haters nuts. I’ve got to tell you that in general the response I get from non-Christians with whom I discuss any young earth creationists is one of extreme humor. I suggest that a response is necessarily precisely because the public discussion of the museum is so deceptive. Many Christians who actually have no problem with evolution may believe this museum is simply about generally seeing God as the creator, of seeing God’s handiwork in nature. It’s a good idea for them to hear that it isn’t.
I cannot speak for “God-haters,” as I’m not certain that I’ve met any. I certainly have met quite a number of people who would strongly oppose practically everything taught in the museum. I haven’t been there, but from what I’ve seen, I would be one of them.
What’s going on in the quoted paragraph, however, is not an attempt to accurately portray the situation, but rather to rally Christians against these imagined God-haters. There is nothing like invoking the word “atheist” to get the faithful ready to rally around. But the faithful need to consider two things. First, as Christians we’re not called to act as mobs trying to persecute those who don’t like us. The way Christians speak about atheists is, well, just not Christ-like. Second, when you’re trying to choose a rallying point to defend the faith, it’s a good idea to choose a solid one, something that is part of the essentials of the faith, and is likely to stand the test of time. Young earth creationism doesn’t meet that test.
But the great fun starts when Ham is quoted saying, “. . . all scientists have presuppositions that they start with to determine how they interpret evidence.” In support of this he notes that scientists search for answers in nature. I’m shocked! Scandalized even! Well, not so much. It seems just natural that scientists setting out to study nature would, well, study nature.
The word “presupposition” is a buzzword these days, and it gets abused more than it gets properly used. On the one hand, “you’re just basing everything you say on your suppositions” or “that’s all you can possibly see in your worldview” (nearly synonymous phrases) are used to end the discussion. Supposed simply being informed that I have presuppositions is supposed to end the discussion. On the other hand, the idea of presuppositions is dismissed entirely.
In fact, we all do have presuppositions. But we can actually identify them, and then we discuss whether they are appropriate or not. For example, if one is studying nature, one should, most likely seek one’s answers right there–in nature.
But young earth creationists are the master of the great presupposition, and many of them are the master of the denied presupposition. They presuppose that Genesis 1-11 (amongst other texts) contain narrative history and scientific statements. They assume that they should be interpreted primarily in a literal fashion. When some of them claim that they get to young earth creationism on purely scientific grounds, they are merely denying this presupposition. It is impossible to come to young earth creationism on purely scientific grounds. Anyone who claims that is simply denying their most fundamental presupposition.
If one eliminates this one presupposition, the entire young earth structure collapses. There’s simply no reason for it. It’s designed to explain things that just are not so.
Thus I find it particularly ironic (as in break the irony meter) to have a young earth creationist talk about presuppositions. We could also word this in worldviews. They would generally suppose that their worldview is simply the view that God is creator and sovereign. But that is not precisely the worldview. They must add all of those presuppositions about Genesis to their worldview. God is not just sovereign and creator. He is not just a God who reveals himself, or even a God who reveals himself to prophetic writers who produce sacred texts. He is specifically a God who reveals scientific data or historical narratives. There is no need to presuppose all of that. One can test each of those things.
Absent those unjustified presuppositions, the worldview of young earth creationists lacks any justification whatsoever.