The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Ken Ham, home schooling, and theological orthodoxy

From Christianity Today: Creation Museum Founder Disinvited from Homeschooling Conferences

Ken Ham, founder and president of Answers in Genesis, was disinvited from several homeschooling conferences after he criticized a fellow speaker at two Great Homeschool Conventions conferences and on his blog.

“The Board believes that Ken’s public criticism of the convention itself and other speakers at our convention require him to surrender the spiritual privilege of addressing our homeschool audience,” wrote Great Homeschool Conventions conference organizer Brennan Dean in the email dismissing Ham.

“Our expression of sacrifice and extraordinary kindness towards Ken and AIG has been returned to us and our attendees with Ken publicly attacking our conventions and other speakers,” Dean wrote. “Our Board believes Ken’s comments to be unnecessary, ungodly, and mean-spirited statements that are divisive at best and defamatory at worst.”

Back in the mid- to late-1990s, we were a home school family. Our children were in their early elementary years, and I am convinced that my wife gave them an excellent educational foundation. While we were deep into home schooling (which requires the commitment and involvement of both parents when possible) we attended a number of meetings of a Christian home school parents’ group in St. Louis. As I expected, the parents and leadership of this group seemed to be largely made up of young-earth creationists, but due to our strong commitment to both Christ and the Scriptures I felt we still had enough in common with them to make our participation worth while. Over time, it became clear that the leader had a rather authoritative side to her, and that any viewpoint other than young-earth creationism would not be tolerated. The last meeting I was at I remember her warning—perhaps ordering would be a better word—parents not to take their children to the St. Louis Zoo because of the new talking statue of Charles Darwin. I wouldn’t be surprised fifteen years later if some parent were feeling guilty because they did take their son or daughter to the zoo, with possible spiritual damage to the child.

Many Christian home school conventions and curriculum fairs do not allow exhibitors or speakers who teach any sort of old-earth creationism or theistic evolution. That is why it is refreshing that some home school organizations have recently invited a broader range of speakers to their conventions. I first read about the present controversy regarding Ken Ham almost two weeks ago on Dr. Jay Wile’s Proslogion blog, where he wrote An Opportunity for Critical Thinking! Dr. Wile, a young-Earth creationist himself, acknowledges that there has always been somewhat of a diversity within the church regarding the interpretation of Genesis 1, that as a Christian one can believe in an old Earth and still be within the bounds of Biblical orthodoxy, and that it is healthy for home schooled Christian students to be exposed to a variety of viewpoints. Wile pointed out that Ham was quite upset that a Christian home school group would invite a theologian who accepts both an old Earth and evolutionary biology, Dr. Peter Enns, to speak at the same convention that Ham himself was speaking at. Ham wrote the following on his Around the World with Ken Ham blog:

Sadly, one of the speakers also listed to give presentations does not believe in a historical Adam or historical Fall (he will also be promoting his “Bible” curriculum for homeschoolers). In fact, what he teaches about Genesis is not just compromising Genesis with evolution, it is outright liberal theology that totally undermines the authority of the Word of God. It is an attack on the Word—on Christ.

Ham continued to criticize both the convention and Dr. Enns, and eventually it became too much for the convention organizers, and they “disinvited” him from future conventions.

The present controversy has nothing to do with Ken Ham’s outspoken advocacy of young-Earth creationism. The convention organizers specifically state that they themselves are YECs. Ham has always been rather outspoken and passionate, and I don’t think anyone has a problem with that. What hung Ham in this case was the way in which he criticized both his opponents, such as Dr. Enns, and the organizers of the convention. The convention organizers gave their reasons for their decision in their public statement about the situation:

Dr. Ham was removed for his spirit not for his message. As an invited guest, Dr. Ham’s spirit toward our convention was unkind. Dr. Ham’s spirit toward our attendees was not gracious. Dr. Ham’s spirit toward other speakers was unprofessional. In short, a proud, ungrateful and divisive spirit was projected from Dr. Ham. Regardless of the message, Dr. Ham’s approach sullied the atmosphere of the convention.

It wasn’t about Ham disagreeing with Enns or others at the convention, but how he went about doing it.

My personal experience in interaction with Ken Ham has been positive. Back in November, I had wrote a post entitled Ken Ham and I are in complete agreement, in which I applauded Ham for his clear presentation of the gospel of Christ. Somehow Answers in Genesis took notice of this, and Ham responded with Do Old Earthers and Young Earthers Agree on Anything? in which he acknowledged that he doesn’t tie salvation to belief in a young Earth. He went on to state that he viewed acceptance of an old Earth as a distortion of Scripture, but I in no way took this as a personal attack.

Perhaps his passions got the best of him this time.

My hope and prayer is that good would come out of this kerfuffle. Specifically, I would like to see the following happen:

  • That there would be a restoration of fellowship between all parties involved that would demonstrate Christian love and forgiveness.
  • An acknowledgement from young-Earth creationist leaders that one can be an old-Earther and be thoroughly orthodox in their Christian beliefs. One’s interpretation of Genesis in regards to the age of the Earth or the extent of biological evolution is secondary, or even tertiary, compared to doctrines such as the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith in Christ. I get rather weary of the if-you-don’t-agree-with-AiG/ICR-you-are-a-compromiser attitude that is often expressed.

Grace and Peace


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This stirred up a bit of a hornets nest for Wile (the creator of the popular Apologia science curriculum, though he no longer owns the company), as evidenced by the 508 comments (as of this morning) on Wile’s post. Many wrote to support Wile’s “bigger box” view that a greater diversity should be encouraged within the Christian home school movement, but there were plenty of comments such as the following:

Years ago I read Dr Wiles [sic] position statement on vaccinations [Wile is a supporter of childhood vaccinations]. In my correspondence I found Dr Wile to be arrogant and anything but a “critical thinker”. So it comes as no surprise to me that he is in the camp of those who pay lip service to inspiration while supporting those who would undermine it. Frankly, I am happy to see the real Jay Wile exposing himself for what he really is, a fraud.

——————–

You are a wolf in sheep’s clothing spreading lies just like the rest of the perishing world. Repent.

——————–

It is time heretics such as this Enns fellow and you are silenced. Where do you get your money from anyway? Is someone paying you to blaspheme the Word of God? You know like Richard Dawkins or Larry Krauss? Repent while there is yet time.

I guess one can be a young-Earth creationist and still not be able to pronounce all of the YEC shibboleths correctly.

March 28, 2011 - Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Christianity, Creation in the Bible, Old-Earth creationism, Origins, Theistic evolution, Young-Earth creationism | , , , ,

20 Comments »

  1. I am a homeschooling parent and this latest ‘incident’ and the reactions from the YECists have me seriously shaking my head.

    I am a Theistic Evolutionist (tried being YEC for a while, but it just didn’t gel) and I am surrounded by many homeschoolers who are AFRAID of exposing their children to mainstream science. I have to ask, “Why so much fear of ‘other’ beliefs?”

    Lastly, shouldn’t parents be allowed to choose the curriculum that best fits their family’s needs? Do we really need an outsider to monitor our choices? I mean, come on, give us some credit!

    Ever since this came up, I was kind of wondering if you would write anything about it, and I am glad that you have!

    Like

    Comment by Kathy | March 28, 2011

  2. From a previous comment: “I am a Theistic Evolutionist”

    Are you also a theistic gravityist or do you just invoke supernatural magic for evolutionary biology?

    For your information, even religious biologists never use the word “theistic” because there’s nothing theistic about the foundation of biology (evolution).

    I suggest if you’re going to accept the reality of evolution you should have the decency to not pollute it with religious ideas.

    darwinkilledgod dot blogspot dot com

    Like

    Comment by Human Ape | March 29, 2011

  3. I agree that evolutionary theory is a-theistic, ie the concept of God does not come into play at all.

    However, I feel that Theistic Evolutionist is just a handy way of saying that one is a believer in (a) God and that one also accepts evolutionary theory.

    Would the term Evolutionary Creationist be better?

    Like

    Comment by Kathy | March 29, 2011

  4. Please ignore Human Ape. He goes from blog to blog dripping saliva and spreading vitriol. I have run into him a couple of times before. It ain’t worth it.

    Like

    Comment by The Singular Observer | March 29, 2011

  5. Thanks, Singular Observer.

    Like

    Comment by Kathy | March 29, 2011

  6. Then theistic garbage man would be a handy way for a garbage man to say he believes in your fairy.

    You don’t pollute any other branch of science with the worthless word “theistic”. So why stick it into biology? You insult the world’s biologists when you do that.

    Perhaps you are admitting evolution threatens your Christian fantasies if you can’t stick Jeebus in there somewhere.

    Singular Observer, instead of complaining about normal people you should listen to them. Do you want to cure your disease or not?

    Like

    Comment by Human Ape | March 29, 2011

  7. HA, once, and once only, will I address you:

    You are prone to speak about religion as a disease: Well, there is plenty of evidence for religious activity going back to the beginning of the Neolithic at least, and possibly much earlier, in vitually every single neolithic culture. Now let’s suppose that it is all myth. well, in that case we will have to come to the conclusion that it fulfilled a developmental (evolutionary) need. Maybe as a coping mechanism? If that be the case, then why are you calling it a disease, we are you railing against it? Because religious people have done bad things? Every single group/tribe/entity does bad things against those outside, and those under their power/outside their circles. Read up on Taijfel’s Social Identity Theory.

    Your rantings in ravings, from here to Quod Libeta to many other sites are evidence of psycological imbalance, maybe even illness. I have follwed your ravings before – it is either imbalance, or just a case of extremely bad breeding. Here’s a tip: If you want to engage people, speak to them with reason and facts, don’t rant and rave. Your behaviour makes you no different than the next Fundamentalist Preacher pounding his pulpit – I know, I grew up under those. As a matter of fact, there is very little difference between your rhetorical devices and those of Westboro Baptist, or Al-Qaida, or some of the nonsense coming out of the North Korean Propoganda machine. Same psychological phenomenon, different group.

    And learn some manners and decent language, please. Your vitriol contadicts your claims to intelectual superiority. Much like the nonsense White Supremacists spout disproof their very claims.

    Yes, and I meant all those analogies. Where i came from, I personally came across most of those.

    Like

    Comment by The Singular Observer | March 29, 2011

  8. Human Ape:

    I agree with The Singular Observer. You—along with many other disciples of Dawkins—come across much like Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church. I expect name calling (“Christians are morons, idiots, mentally ill…”) from seventh graders, but this isn’t going to get you anywhere in an intellectual argument.

    I would be happy to insert the word “theistic” before any role or belief I have, because to a Christian, God is involved in every facet of the universe. Therefore…

    If I were a garbage man, I would be a theistic garbage man.

    I am a theistic father
    I am a theistic scientist
    I am a theistic citizen
    I am a theistic environmentalist
    I am a theistic skier
    I am a theistic worker
    I am a theistic neighbor

    If you believe that to believe in God is like believing in fairies, you have really isolated yourself intellectually. You need to expand your reading list a bit.

    You are welcome to comment here (within limits), but I encourage you to use reason rather than ranting.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | March 29, 2011

  9. Maybe it’s best just to ignore Human Ape. He’s obviously not interested in listening and would rather preach his own brand of atheistic fundamentalism. The Ken Ham of atheism.

    Like

    Comment by Jordan | March 29, 2011

  10. Jordan:

    Except Ken Ham is actually a pretty nice guy.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | March 29, 2011

  11. He’s certainly in sore need of God’s love (Human Ape, that is).

    Like

    Comment by Jordan | March 29, 2011

  12. I’m glad, relly, to hear that Ken Ham is a decent guy. Why are his students such jerks, though?

    Like

    Comment by Richard | April 1, 2011

  13. Richard, regardless of whether Ham and his followers do it, we shouldn’t be tossing names around.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | April 1, 2011

  14. Kathy, have you ever looked into Reasons to Believe’s (RTB) take on Creation? As a geologist, I agree with most of RTBs stance when it comes to science and the Bible, thats why I became a Volunteer Apologist with them. I’ll agree with the Great Homeschool Convention’s stance on Mr Ham and their reaction to his arrogance. While I have firends that are both Theistic Evolutionists and Young Earth Creationists, I don’t agree with their philosophy either because of Biblical or scientific reasons. As I mentioned earlier, if you haven’t given RTB a chance, check out their website: http://www.reasons.org.

    Like

    Comment by Joe | April 4, 2011

  15. Hi, Joe. Yes, I have looked into RTB. I am quite impressed with what I have seen there. I have them as a link on my blog, although I have not visited their site in a while. Thanks for mentioning them to me.

    Like

    Comment by Kathy | April 4, 2011

  16. I have heard that the Convention organisers have replaced Mr Ham with Dr Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International (CMI). As far as I am concerned, CMI is just the Australian ‘arm’ of AiG.

    Like

    Comment by Kathy | April 4, 2011

  17. Just my own take on RTB – they’re good in their areas of expertise, such as astronomy. However, when they start talking about things outside their field of expertise, such as a lot of what they’ve said about biology, they are prone to rather egregious errors – not greatly better than AiG’s biology.

    Like

    Comment by WebMonk | April 5, 2011

  18. Kathy – yes, there is no difference between AiG and CMI (review http://www.answersincreation.org/rebuttal/cmi/article/2008/20081202_cmi_worldwide.htm).

    WebMonk – I’ve heard BioLogos criticize RTB’s evolution stance based on biological grounds. Whether or not they’re warranted, I’m not sure – most of the criticism is focused on Dr Fuz Rana (PhD in chemistry with a focus on biochemistry). My personal feelings focus on how Genesis one is interpreted, which moves me away from the BioLogos camp towards the RTB camp.

    Like

    Comment by Joe | April 5, 2011

  19. Both Reasons to Believe and The Discovery Institute are EXCELLENT CHRISTIAN sources of bona fide scientific evidence for creation. I would ignore Ken Ham as “Nonsense in Genesis”.

    Like

    Comment by Darwinsnemesis | April 17, 2011

  20. *sigh* Geo, the comments you posted in your original post that are in reaction to the Great Homeschooling Convention decision disturb me greatly as a pastor. We’ve equated being ‘right’ with being saved, and in reality – we may be neither. Matthew 25:31-46 should disturb all Christians greatly. But then, after pulling the sheets up over our heads in fear, we should all return to the grace we first received.

    ugh, my thoughts are all a jumble – the vitriol is so antithetical to The Way…

    Like

    Comment by LittletonPastor | April 20, 2011


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