How to respond to Ken Ham & his colleagues who say “Just look in the book”

35


Discussion by: rod-the-farmer

I watched the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham with considerable interest.  There were some points I thought Bill (and especially Bill, of all people !) could have raised.  When Bill made some comment to the effect that "We just don't know the answers to a lot of things" Ken Ham threw in several times his standard response "I have just the book for you"– meaning the bible.  I would have jumped in with a reminder of the curiousity of children.  How many times have we seen & heard a child asking "Why ?" about something.  Remember that phase they went through?   You may recall the Bill Cosby album "Why is there air ?"   "Why is the sky blue ?"  "What are the lights in the sky ?"  "Why are most plants green ?"  "Why do tadpoles turn into frogs ?"  And surely we have all at one time or another reverted to the parental response "Because I said so."  Please don't say "God created the universe in six days."  That is no answer at all.  It's no help. It doesn't tell us or them anything. and the risk is you frustrate the children.  You persuade them there is no point asking questions, as they won't learn anything from the answer.   Who wants to damage their children like that ?

While we may have been too busy at the moment, or not sure of our facts, we run the risk of crippling, if not killing, the adorable sense of curiosity in children.  Let's treasure that wide-eyed innocence.  We need to take a minute to sit down with them, and say something like "Well, let's see if we can find a book or some other reference where we could look up the answer together.  First, we could try the dictionary."  When you think about it, it was the first primitive 'internet' device.  Find a word, and you often learn not just the explanation, but the root of the word, as well.  Maybe you even stimulate the curiosity of the child to check out some of those references.  "What is a Greek, Daddy ?"  Next, we try the library.  You may even have a personal collection of reference books in a sort of home library.  Think about what you might have lying around.  Old National Geographic magazines.  Science books you've had since you were younger.  Sure, some may be slightly obsolete, but they are better than nothing, which is what you get with Ham and his book.  Even that obsolence is a lesson worth discussing.  Science marches on !  How about literature – adventure stories, history.  No so much material at home ?  OK, how about the town library ?  Any of these will help instill in your child a love of reading, and an appreciation for what you can learn from simply reading a book.  Once you light that fuse, stand well back ! 

I am intrigued by the potential of giving a child an e-book device, and loading it with reference material about the world around them.  I almost wish I had one of suitable age to try that !  Then, if you have a computer, you can show them how to look things up on the internet.  Every door opens into a room with more doors, leading to more rooms, and still more doors.  An explosion of knowledge – or at least information.

Compare this with "God created the universe in six days."  The End.  No further discussion, no links, no footnotes, no references to pursue, nothing.  End of story.  "Everything you need to know is in that book."  Almost no question a child might come up with regarding the world around them will be answered in that one book.  How much have we learned about the world around us since 500 BCE ?  The bible is simply not big enough physically to contain all the knowledge humans have accumulated over the past 2,500 years.  Pick a subject – any subject.  It is not there.  Come to think of it, it has been translated many times over the intervening centuries, and I for one cannot recall reading about any efforts to update it to include sections on using soap & water, cooking meat until it is done, brushing your teeth, or anything like that.  Something useful, that might have saved a life or two, and that became common knowledge during the intervening years.  Actually, there is no mention of any of that accumulated knowledge at all.  The contents were frozen, and they stopped collecting useful info 2,500 years ago.  And what's with the bit about not eating shellfish anyway ?  Children whose curiosity was discouraged when young, when they grow up and become adults, what level of participation will they have in society generally ? 

I bet many of us have met people who seem singularly incurious about the world around them.  And how do we react ?  We tend to draw back, to avoid having any conversation with them, as having little to contribute.  They are not really functioning members of society.  Do we really want to raise our children so that they turn out like Sargeant Schultz of the TV series Hogans Heroes ?  "I know nothing, I saw nothing!"  Society requires we all participate to the best of our abilities, to be aware of what is going on around us, and to perhaps have some level of interest, if not high levels of knowledge, about the issues of the day.  Let's not cripple them with "Goddidit" – no further discussion required, or even allowed.  Those of you who have small children in these times should consider yourselves lucky beyond description.  YOU get to help create a wonderful human being, knowledgeable about many things, and curious to learn more.

35 COMMENTS

  1. Well put. I remember as a child asking my grandpa(the only religious person of any influence in my life) “Why is…?” and being kind of put out when he told me “God made it that way” or “because God had a plan.” They were such disappointing answers. Even at 5 I thought there had to be a better answer than that. Luckily I figured out the god thing was BS when I was 11.

  2. One positive outcome of the debate is the religious side seem to be arguing amongst themselves.

    On Wednesday, televangelist Pat Robertson — for at least the second time — dismissed Young Earth Creationism as “nonsense” that is “making a joke” of Christianity. Robertson made the remarks in response to the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, the leader of the Creation Museum and Answers In Genesis:
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/ken-ham-strikes-back-after-pat-robertsons-creationism-diss

    Yesterday, Ken Ham went on the attack. He pushed back against Pat Robertson’s “misinformed and deceived” denunciation of Bishop James Ussher:
    https://www.facebook.com/aigkenham/posts/567509843339697?stream_ref=10

    Kudos to CdnMacAtheist for his/her comment too. I would love to see someone argue Ken without promoting one scientific fact. Instead everything Ken says, respond with: “Ken – were you there?” “Did you observe it with your eyes?” “How do you know it is true then?”

    • In reply to #3 by itraining:

      One positive outcome of the debate is the religious side seem to be arguing amongst themselves.

      On Wednesday, televangelist Pat Robertson — for at least the second time — dismissed Young Earth Creationism as “nonsense” that is “making a joke” of Christianity. Robertson made the remarks in response…

      ITraining. In need therapy. I clicked on the links…. Help me. My eyes. My eyes. The American Taliban in full cry.

    • In reply to #3 by itraining:

      One positive outcome of the debate is the religious side seem to be arguing amongst themselves.

      On Wednesday, televangelist Pat Robertson — for at least the second time — dismissed Young Earth Creationism as “nonsense” that is “making a joke” of Christianity. Robertson made the remarks in response…

      To be honest, I think it’s better in the long run if the most vocal of the Christian leaders remained batsh1t crazy. That’s the only way fence-sitters are going to be turned off by the religion and run far, far away. If Christian dogma were to become more moderate and seem more accepting of science or gay people or women’s reproductive rights, we could lose the fence-sitters forever.

      Even in the US, religiosity is going down every year, and I think it’s due to people being turned off by the likes of Robertson, Falwell (before he kicked the bucket), and Hamm. I want Robertson to continue saying repulsive things, and I never want Hamm to ever believe evolution is true. The more Hamm and Comfort continue ignoring the truth about evolution and making fools of themselves, the more they slit their own throats. If they’re able to convince a few people to believe their nonsense along the way, so be it. I think they’re doing a much better job of turning people away from religion en masse.

  3. We, my wife and I, have lapsed slightly but we used to give our daughter an ask the parents session. She was encouraged to ask us a ‘how’ or a ‘why’ question. We really must start those again, she asked some great ones. However I guess we are ‘blessed’ because we don’t live in the US. Listening to so many of the posters on this board I find it seriously sad that you are so afflicted by religion, and I don’t just mean the occasional theists.

    I watched (sorry this is an admission of a slightly sad TV viewing habit) an episode of Dr Phil last night. It was about the aquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin (very sad and my sympathies to all involved). However the moment that had me most amused was when it was reported that Zimmerman is supposed to have declared that “It was all God’s plan”. The appalled faces of the audience members as if somehow this declaration is somehow truly offensive. As if their God would send in someone to kill Trayvon. This would be the same God who, in a fit of rage, wiped out all of mankind leaving only Noah, his family and a boat full of wildlife. Damned right that God could send in a hit man for one innocent kid armed only with sweeties.

    I honestly think what America needs is to get someone to slap them round the face and say “Listen to yourselves, you sound demented!”. I mean really America, do you really need to have a debate with these people. When are you doing the Christmas special with the 8 year old’s that still believe in Santa?

  4. “where you there” can be used a lot more.

    is that a genuine copy of the bible? are you sure?

    where you there when it was printed?

    where you there when it was translated?

    where you there when it was compiled?

    where you there when the texts were written?

    where you there when they decided to write 2 different versions of the creation?

    were you there when they wrote 4 different versions of the gospels?

    were you there when they decided which texts to discard?

    where you there when jesus was born in bethlehem?

    were you there when jesus was born in nazereth?

    • Not only was Ken Ham not there, none of the authors of the Bible was “there” since NOTHING was written until 4 decades after Jesus’ death…assuming, of course, He ever lived. I think that was the marketing genius of the early Christians. There was never anyone who could fact check anything. It was all hearsay from the beginning.

      In reply to #6 by SaganTheCat:

      “where you there” can be used a lot more.

      is that a genuine copy of the bible? are you sure?

      where you there when it was printed?

      where you there when it was translated?

      where you there when it was compiled?

      where you there when the texts were written?

      where you there when they decided to writ…

      • In reply to #13 by jay__wilson:

        Not only was Ken Ham not there, none of the authors of the Bible was “there” since NOTHING was written until 4 decades after Jesus’ death…assuming, of course, He ever lived. I think that was the marketing genius of the early Christians. There was never anyone who could fact check anything. It was…

        you mean there was no one taking notes at the cruicifiction when jesus was telling one robber he could go to heaven for saying nice things after the other one said mean things?

        I thought that was the most important message in the bible. say nice things about jesus and win a prize

        • In reply to #22 by SaganTheCat:

          you mean there was no one taking notes at the cruicifiction when jesus was telling one robber he could go to heaven for saying nice things after the other one said mean things?

          According to at least one bible scholar (Reza Aslan in his recent book Zealot) if there were others crucified with Jesus most likely they weren’t robbers. Crucifixion was reserved for the worst enemies of Rome which usually didn’t include robbers. Most likely they would have been political trouble makers who in one way or another were (as Jesus was perceived to be doing) challenging the authority of the Roman state. Aslan claims that even the gospels support this and that the original texts in Greek the word used to refer to those crucified with Jesus is more appropriately translated that way than as robber.

        • In reply to #22 by SaganTheCat:
          >

          you mean there was no one taking notes at the cruicifiction when jesus was telling one robber he could go to heaven for saying nice things after the other one said mean things?

          It seems no one was taking notes about the structure of the cross or means of attachment either.

          An ossuary at the Israel Museum contains the sole physical evidence ever found for the Roman practice of execution on the cross

  5. I would like to ask Ken Ham, why, at the time of the flood, the Egyptions who were building the pyramids didn’t get their feet wet?
    Were they there? Their history says they were.

    I don’t know how the book is going to answer that.

  6. The last time I heard ‘goddidit’ from one of those schlubs, I then asked whether ‘he’ used blue paint to ‘do it’. I was about 6 or 7.
    The expression on that particular schlub’s face was, well, very intriguing, yet troubling at the same time.

  7. The problem with any claim of ‘it’s in the book’ or questions like ‘were you there’ is simply the myopia that accompanies it. Ham assumes what he himself cannot possibly know and ‘was not there’ to witness as being true with absolutely no evidence but expects to be taken seriously. Ham is part of a sad industry of personalities that thrive on the willingness of religious believers to accept even the most improbable notions to cling to any sense of validity for their ideas.

    This sort of drivel does not wash with a well informed public, and even other religious people see through the BS of his reasoning (if it can be called that). I think it best to let Ham and his ilk to return to the obscurity from whence he came. Your silly notions are noted, but your 15 minutes have expired. please step away from the camera and perhaps scream from the street corners or your silly museum if it pleases you. But none of this will make his views any more respectable or even remotely accurate.

    • In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

      Harry Potter is very competent at magic and broomstick flying! Not only have I looked in the THE book, but it has been confirmed by the other books and the video evidence!

      Yep! I read the books and saw the video footage myself!

      • In reply to #11 by joeyisared:

        In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

        Harry Potter is very competent at magic and broomstick flying! Not only have I looked in the THE book, but it has been confirmed by the other books and the video evidence!

        Yep! I read the books and saw the video footage myself!

        Hi Joey. Despite your independent confirmation, I still have trouble with the religious belief in Harry Potter, the supernatural goings on, the ‘voluntary’ tithing to the ‘HP business’ & most of all, the incessant praying by all the Harryheads that He will return (yet) again…. 8-)

  8. I hate to be a wet blanket on this discussion, but I watched most of the debate with my two sons, and while Bill Nye obviously won the war of facts he lost the battle of style and clarity. Ken Ham was the better teacher and presenter. He spoke clearly using simple language easily understood by the average “non-science” viewer. Bill became enmeshed in scientific detail that was lost on many viewers. Ham was like a big boxer clumsily going for knock out punches, and I desperately wanted Bill to counter to jaw and drop him to the mat, but he could only manage a few jabs to the ribs. For example, it was long into the debate before he finally pulled his astronomy card for the “Were you there?” question, but even then he did not make it clear that the entire science of astronomy is based upon being “there” in the past instead of here in the future.

    The reactions of my boys perfectly summed up the performances of both men. My 14 year old easily debunked Ham’s nonsense, my 11 year old asked lots of questions about Ham’s nonsense, but after 5 minutes of Bill Bye’s presentation, both boys left the room.

    I wish I had pinch hit for Bill, but, of course, I’m just a nobody who’s study the topic for 20 years.

  9. joyisared:

    In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

    Harry Potter is very competent at magic and broomstick flying! Not only have I looked in the THE book, but it has been confirmed by the other books and the video evidence!

    Yep! I read the books and saw the video footage myself!

    And I went to school with one of the actors in the films ! Surely no more proof is needed ?

  10. FYI: Jesus told the young, rich ruler, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

    Ken Ham is spending $27 million on a life sized ark.

    • In reply to #16 by Nordic11:

      FYI: Jesus told the young, rich ruler, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

      Ken Ham is spending $27 million on a life sized ark.

      He is also using steel in its construction, and it is probably the wrong shape anyway.

      Cuneiform Tablet Tells Giant Ark Story – A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
      >

      The 3,700-year-old tablet describes a giant, circular coracle with wooden ribs that was waterproofed with two kinds of bitumen. He adds that Hebrew scholars would have encountered such texts during the Babylonian exile.

      But Ham was never bothered about accuracy of anything anyway!

      BTW. Ham seems to be borrowing the money as unsecured loans from gullibles, who think they are going to be repaid from visitors’ entrance money when / if it opens to the public!

      • Hey alan,

        Good to hear from you!

        Steel? Fascinating! I’ve never heard a word about it.

        Enjoy a great evening!

        In reply to #18 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #16 by Nordic11:

        FYI: Jesus told the young, rich ruler, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

        Ken Ham is spending $27 million on a life sized ark.

        He is also using steel in its construction, a…

  11. Several times Nye referred to the Bible as a book written over several hundred years by different authors, translated many times, finally into American English. A point Ham never answered, among many others.

    I must agree with Rod that learning is a wonderful process. The day I never attempt to learn something new will be the day I go senile or die. There are exceptions, as with today. I was trying to connect my Samsung smartphone to my Samsung laptop ! You would think it would be easy ! Oh no it wasn’t ! Download KIES software, do this, do that, and the buggers still won’t say hello to each other ! At least 1.5 hours wasted !

    (To be fair it’s probably operator error !)

  12. Nordic11

    Jesus told the young, rich ruler, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

    But why does an Almighty God allow anyone to be poor ? As I see it “treasure in heaven” is the same thing as “pie in the sky”.

    All the best to you Nordic.

    • Hi DArcy

      Great question along with why is there sickness, sin and death. These are the troubling questions of my faith. When I find the answers, I’ll let you know.

      Cheers!
      In reply to #19 by Mr DArcy:

      Nordic11

      Jesus told the young, rich ruler, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

      But why does an Almighty God allow anyone to be poor ? As I see it “treasure in heaven” is the same thing as “pie in the sky”…

  13. Ken Ham’s challenge to “just look in the book” is a good opening to ask him back “what’s in that book”. He used it to justify his points. Ken Ham is a highly respected intellectual in the field of religion, so, he is expected to be well aware of what’s inside his “book”. If l will ask him to comment on the following passages in his book (l assumed he meant the Bible):

    1. Genesis 8:21 versus Exodus 12:29, 14:28 and Joshua 6:2 & 21, 7:24-25
    2. John 7:8 versus 7:10
    3. John 1:34 versus Matthew 11:2-3
    4. John 3:17 versus Matthew 10:34-37
    5. John 10:30 versus John 14:28
    6. Matthew 28:10 versus Luke 24:33, 36

    The foregoing passages are just a tip in the iceberg compared to the huge contradictions and inconsistencies that littered in his book. I also watched their debate that l wish Bill should have thrown these passages to Ken Ham when he challenged Bill to “just look in the book” and see for himself (Ken Ham) if his book can be counted as a credible evidence to prove his point.

    • In reply to #20 by Non:

      Ken Ham is a highly respected intellectual in the field of religion, so, he is expected to be well aware of what’s inside his “book”.

      . . . . . .Only by some of the YEC contingent!
      The mainstream “Old Earth” Christians, regard his as the village idiot and an embarrassment to Christian intellect!

  14. We should only be interested in ensuring his audience doesn’t decide to settle for just “look in the book”. People such as Ham, being so financially successful from such a detrimental practice are not a target for our informing. I’d be willing to assume these guys know exactly what they’re doing. This shit didn’t cease being a business, in the dark ages.

  15. I always wanted to know HOW god did it. God made the world in 6 days. That doesn’t explain HOW he did it. People always say that the bible is great literature, but seriously. The author couldn’t expound a bit on that?

    • In reply to #25 by JoeT:

      I always wanted to know HOW god did it. God made the world in 6 days. That doesn’t explain HOW he did it. People always say that the bible is great literature, but seriously. The author couldn’t expound a bit on that?

      Me too! I was always intrigued with the actual mechanics of the procedure. How was prayer supposed to work? It appeared as if there were many channels connected to the god character and the more prayers offered, the better chance of success. It never made sense to me and I wasn’t going to be brushed off with any of this ‘mysterious ways’ nonsense.

  16. “Why?”

    “Because….”

    This is a game that can go on indefinitely unless you happen to believe in final causes (e.g. God). It is much better to circumvent the repetitive game by changing the “Why?” into a “What”, “Who”, “Where” or “When”. All these questions have a concrete thing, a person, a time or place as an answer. The answer to a “Why” is just another link in a possibly infinite causal chain. Answering it does not give us any more meaningful data to understand the world with.

    I am intrigued by the potential of giving a child an e-book device, and loading it with reference material about the world around them.

    Give them access to the internet. Wikipedia. Google. There it all is. No need for Ham’s book of lies.

    • In reply to #30 by Stuart Coyle:

      “Why?”

      “Because….”

      This is a game that can go on indefinitely unless you happen to believe in final causes (e.g. God). It is much better to circumvent the repetitive game by changing the “Why?” into a “What”, “Who”, “Where” or “When”. All these questions have a concrete thing, a person, a time…

      I’m responding to the “possibly infinitie causal chain” part of your post. One possible such chain is an infite series of Gods, each of which is the cause of the God after him, and the last of which is the cause of this Universe. Another possible such chain is Hoyle’s steady state model, where the Universe extends forever back in time. Both are logically possible; neither really answers the pseudo-question “Why does the Cosmos exist?” The question looks reasonable, but since it cannot be answered, it takes on the aspect of a mystery. Suppose that the infintie series of Gods exists, Then we could still ask, “Why does the infinite series of Gods exist?” and this would have no possible answer.

      If however the Cosmos has a definite beginning, and this seems to implied by modern science, then there is no infinite series of causation but, equally, there is no possible answer to the question, “Why the Cosmos?” Twist and turn as we might, this question can never have an answer.

      You equate a “final cause” with God, and many religious people do the same, but claiming that something is its own cause is not the same thing as explaining it. We can still ask, “Why this self-causing God and not something else?” And that is a question that the self-causing God himself could not answer.

  17. I once asked a creationist why there are black people in the world. I knew the answer but wanted a leading religious answer. He reply that God marked Abel(for committing a sin) and he believed it was a black skin. Therefore all children from him were black. I reply that did he think that all black people were sinners because Abel had sinned. He thought that black people were more able to sin then white people. This lead into a racist argument where I wanted evidence of all nonsense. He said the Bible has all the answers on all matters.
    The conversation went on about the age of the Universe. He said that “God” made the earth in 6 days. I asked “what about the other planet outside the solar system”. He said that only God would know the answer to this and when he returns he will explain everything. I felt that this was a op out of serious questions. Not something which I could understand.

    When science tries to find answers to questions which, 2000 years ago +, people knew nothing about. You would think that creationists would question their beliefs or at least believe “God did it” but look at the evidence that it was done in millions of years rather then 6 days. They are so closed minded in their views.

  18. Excellent post Rod!

    My 3 boys, 28, 26 and 25 are all atheists. They were brought up in an atheist family. I never preached my atheism to them as religion was rarely discussed.

    It is my belief that non belief is a default position in adult who have had little or no contact with religiin at an early age. I believe people also question and learn more as atheists because they do not just accept things with no evidence.

  19. I agree with your belief Pete that its a default position for adults who have had less or no exposure to religion to not just believe in anything without imperical evidence. I would like to add to your observation in that adults in affluent societies are less likely to be influenced by customs and traditions due to proximity to sources of informatios about anything. A fertile ground for Atheism to flourish. But, in economically depressed societies, people are so easily brainwashed in embracing a belief in supernatural that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as pomised to them by Ken’s BOOK, that will nourish their hungry body and soul, a solid wall to lean on when the goings get rough. “Askand it shall given. Knock and it shall be opened. Believed and you shall have life everlasting”. For the poor and destitute, who can refuse this offer from Ken’s BOOK?

    Access to information to the THIRD world poor fellas is the KEY to liberate them from the sopernatural.

Leave a Reply