The Official Student Newspaper of Calvin College Since 1907
March 5, 2010
Volume 104, Issue 21
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Op/Ed
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Ham uninformed, embarrassing

Ken Ham (who is president of “Answers in Genesis,” to which millions of evangelical Christians subscribe for enlightenment on matters of science and faith) has recently published quite personal attacks on two of my friends and colleagues, Daniel Harlow and Davis Young. In a recent writing (see Daniel Camacho, “Ken Ham Singles Out Calvin,” Chimes, Feb. 26, 2010, p. 15), Ham tells people they should pray for Professor Harlow (who is, by the way, one of the most competent scholars of the Bible in the country and one of the most earnest Christians I know) because he encourages students to learn and to take seriously the theory of common ancestry (aka “evolution”) and its evidence. In a separate publication on “Answers in Genesis,” Ham also attacks the Christian character of Calvin’s professor emeritus of geology, Davis Young (also as devoted a Christian as anyone I know), for having won the prestigious Mary C. Rabbit Award in science (check out the list of past winners.)

The title of Ham’s piece, “Compromised Calvin Professor Wins Award from Secular Universities,” speaks for itself. Dr. Young’s Christian failing is presumably that he has written for years to expose, as Ham sees it, the woeful misinformation that the “young-earth” people propagate about geological science under the auspices of “Flood Geology.” (To further Davis’s purpose of discrediting this folk theology and science and distinguish the unique Christian academic character of our college, Calvin’s publicity team should hang the Rabbit Award banner from the rafters, and why they have not proudly done so — except for a little blurb on the home page that quickly came and went — is anyone’s guess.)

Some readers should perhaps know some things about Ken Ham, if they don’t already. For a little while Ken Ham taught applied biology in an Australian high school; he has no degrees in any theoretical science, nor any professional training in early antiquity, biblical studies or theology. (To say that he’s only incompetent in these areas is benevolent.)

He teaches parents how to teach children that dinosaurs exited Noah’s ark in what is now Turkey about 6,000 years ago (only to be killed off quickly by changes in climate brought about by the flood and thereby, we imagine, thwarting God’s design, via the ark, to save the dinosaurs from extinction by drowning instead). His Dinosaur Museum offers theatrical productions that dramatize how these “real-live” dinosaurs not so long ago (think “The Flintstones”) inspired our worldwide myths of dragons (he finds dinosaurs in the Old Testament, too). Yes, he sells this stuff with a straight face while unsuspecting saints are buying in the millions — literally (the high-tech dino-museum itself cost 27 million dollars).

Before we start bowing our heads in prayer for our compromised profs, I invite everyone (especially students) to consider some words that St. Augustine wrote in the fifth century in his work, “Genesis Taken Literally” (ancient “Answers in Genesis,” as it were).

“Now it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an unbeliever to hear a Christian presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn … If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our sacred books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven?” (Book One, Chapter 19.)

Augustine had the contemporary embarrassment and the vast ignorance of Christian flat-earth creationists in mind. They urged the faithful not to listen to pagan science of the time, which taught that the earth was a sphere. Genesis, they thought, taught otherwise. Augustine’s response to them pretty well sums up for me what our response to the matter of Ken Ham and young-earth creationism ought to be now.

 
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