Young Earth Creationists killing Christian credibility?

Ken Ham is an excellent marketer and salesperson for Young Earth Creationism.Ken_Ham

I should know — much of my professional background is in marketing, working with some of the most talented marketers and sales people on the planet.

I got the chance to hear Ken Ham. He was speaking at a home schooling conference my wife and I attended.

What I experienced from Ken Hams was masterful rhetorical skill; skillfully crafted,

fear-driven persuasion; and artful manipulation of the audience’s emotions to get them to buy into his vision of Creationism.

I grew up a Young Earth Creationist. It sounded fantastic when I was 14. But in time I came to recognize that in order for Ham’s vision of where we came from to make sense, you have to dramatically revise most of our modern, scientifically-verifiable understanding of life and the universe. (The speed of light, for example.)

Young Earth Creationism played a major role in my brother Bryan losing faith and becoming an agnostic. YEC backfires badly on the smartest and most curious students. Bright kids walk away from faith literally every day because Ken Ham forces them to choose between the Bible and science.

This leaves Christian parents heartbroken, terrified and defensive. It makes for tense conversations with your 22-year-old college senior at Thanksgiving dinner.

This launched my 10-year journey of writing Evolution 2.0.

By refusing to consider that secular science may have some accurate facts — dismissing them whole cloth — Young Earth Creationists cannot have a productive conversation with people who understand empirical science.

This kind of stubbornness leaves you stuck.

This destroys the credibility required to have a meaningful conversation with non-Christian people.

When folks like Ham stand up and claim to speak for all Christians, we lose face in the debate.

The good news is, there’s a better narrative that allows for God and evolution — religion and science — to coexist. One where all of modern science’s discoveries only support the mystery of God, not debunk it.

This video may give you a new perspective…

Click here now to get 3 chapters from my new book, Evolution 2.0, right now. 


A closer look at Genesis 1

Is Evolution Biblical?

269 Responses

  1. Donald Smith says:

    Everyone’s (Christian) giving advice on how to best witness. After 22 years of reading this controversy I’ve rearily seen someone who teaches and argues against God admit that an argument is convincing. It doesn’t matter who well thought out and presented it is.
    This is primarily a spiritual battle, not an intellectual evidence based one.
    Look at the way atheists pounce on YouTube comments, or book and audio-video reviews. You never get real science. Rather than science you get “Second Opinions, chapter 5, verse 4.” Or “my scientist is better than yours.”

    From what I can see. Once you say the Bible, a spiritual battle ensues. Ken Ham is right to stick with the Bible. Is he perfect? Am I his accuser?

  2. Daniel Everett says:

    I guess this whole issue boils down to trust. Do you trust God completely? Is His written word the truth? All of it? Or does evolution have some of the answers? Or even all of them?

  3. Darren Saunders says:

    Dear Donald,

    What you call a “spiritual battle” is I submit an emotion versus reason battle. Faith is not evidence for anything, it is the substitution of emotion for evidence. Someone who “thinks” with emotion is not going to be persuaded by evidence or argument, they already KNOW they are right as the arbiter of their reality is themselves (for all they can actually show). You say Ken Ham is right to stick with the bible a priori… Why? Why not the Koran? The Vedic scriptures? The Torah? All of which claim to be divine revelation. All these earnest, sincere people of faith using the same mechanism to reach radically different conclusions. For all they can show people who think thusly are making a deity of their feelings and dignifying them with the term “faith” or holy spirit and so forth. I submit such a position is founded upon the most monstrous arrogance whereas that of science and atheism proceeds from the more humble premise “I do not now and am not going to pretend I do”. The assertions of the latter are ideally tentative while the former requires flawed limited human beings to pretend to absolute certainty (as Ken Ham does when he says absolutely nothing could ever persuade him that the bible is not true). The consequences of such thinking are playing out nightly on the news.

    • Donald Smith says:

      I don’t know of anyone who is not relying on faith and emotions in the creation and evolution controversy. I cant agree with the generality of your reply, because its too generic and I can’t see who it applies to.
      Other claims for a divine origins have to be accepted on the claims they make. Choosing to believe the bible is to choose all of its teachings and it covers the entire history of this planet. That’s what people are emotional about.
      Saying the earth created itself is just as much an idol as all the other idols mentioned in the bible, because from a biblical perspective nature is given all the attributes of God. This may not satisfy you but it begs the question, why can’t you allow an alternative position? Why put all your eggs into the atheist basket. Do you really think you’re using different evidence the those who disagree with you? You’re looking at the same evidence and just as it is with sacred text, so it is with science. You observe your experiences and make an interpretation of them. I think its a false argument that thinks if a person believes “God did it” they believe they have all the answers. From what I can gather thats always been the starting point and I can’t think of anyone who believes that.

  4. When I was 18, I reluctantly became an atheist after 6 years of wrestling with the narrative that you either have to choose YEC or reject God, without being afforded a viable alternative to split the false dilemma. It wasn’t until I had lost all faith that I finally started to encounter the writings of individuals who take seriously the sciences that affirm an old earth and find signposts for God’s existence within that evidence, without distorting the facts.

    It was then a great relief to be able to believe in God and let science be science. I was a casualty of the propaganda that you must choose between fundamentalist YEC and the Big Bang or evolution, and it’s made me really passionate about showing people how the Big Bang and evolution can be a coherent part of a Christian worldview ever since.

    • Ryan,

      There are MANY MANY MANY stories like yours out there. Like my brother’s – which ultimately led to me writing Evolution 2.0 (which I think you would greatly enjoy).

      Please come back and post some more. And tell your story as often as you can.


  5. B.A.Christian says:

    Is Eisegesis the way you interpret the Bible or is it Exegesis?
    Do we need “Special Knowledge” in this case brought in from something called science to rightly interpret the passages or does it mean what it says? Is death the hero of the plot or the last enemy? Does consensus of geologists, biologists and astronomers determine truth? Are ad hominum attacks on another Christian’s character what Christians should be engaging in?

    • It is not possible to understand the Bible – even Jesus’ parables about seeds for example – without knowledge of the physical world.

      Yes, it is necessary to incorporate what we know about nature to properly interpret Genesis.

      I am not attacking Ken Ham personally. I am attacking what he does, because he is teaching numerous things about science that are demonstrably false.

    • B.A.,

      I really need to point something out here – and that is the presumptiveness and, to be blunt, religious arrogance of your statement “Does consensus of geologists, biologists and astronomers determine truth?”

      Well, strictly speaking, the consensus of scientists does not itself determine truth and any honest philosopher of science will freely admit that.

      However in science we do have many things that any person can reasonably verify as fact. Like the phenomenon that gravity operates very consistently. Any reasonably educated person can follow the logic and confirm calculations that are used to determine that a star is 100 million light years away.

      A reasonable application of logic and knowledge of the speed of light (which you can measure and which in measurements is not changing) verifies that yes, that star is in fact more than 100 million years old.

      It was not clear 1,000 years ago that the earth is old. But it is very clear now, except to a very small pocket of people who follow Answers In Genesis and ICR.

      Nobody else believes the earth is young on empirical grounds – at all – unless they are married to a very particular and peculiar Biblical exegesis.

      Contrast this with Neo-Darwinism, which is challenged on empirical grounds by people in MANY MANY fields, many times having no religious connection to Christianity whatsoever. See the “Salem hypothesis”

      Now I certainly can respect people for holding to unpopular views because of their faith convictions. On a certain level I can observe Mormons believing, in faith, that the American Indians are actually a lost tribe of Jews and I can also respect that they endure ridicule for that.

      But this belief is not supported by genetics at all. We have tools for proving or disproving this that Joseph Smith never had, and science proves the Mormons wrong.

      And YEC is equally without support from empirical science.

      The same Christian who argues against the Mormon position on American Indians with modern science – or defends Biblical history with archaeology – is being hypocritical when he insists modern science is wrong about the age of the earth.

      What YEC defends itself with is a pharisaical attitude that “we have the truth, we are the righteous ones and those ignorant secularists are walking in darkness.” It smacks of religiosity and it reminds me of the pharisees we read about in scripture. Because in this case it is the religious people who are walking in darkness because they cannot even see something that is right in front of their face – mountains of evidence that the earth is very old.

      You will see the speed of light coming up again and again in this thread. Nowhere has any YEC person adequately addressed this problem. Not in any book or blog or website or anything.

      Speed of light all by itself demolishes YEC. The universe is old, plain and simple.

      Does that make death the hero? No it does not, and if you study my model of evolution, even death itself cannot exist without life being here first. Life is the prevailing driving force.

      But yes, this one fact – earth is old and not young – does force the YEC to re-evaluate LOTS of components of their theology.

      This is not an indication that science is wrong. This is an indication that large portions of YEC theology are wrong.

      So YES, that means you have to re-think a lot of things. That is scary and painful. It is very inconvenient. It changes your theodicy. It challenges large assumptions about God and how He made the world.

      I never said this was easy.

      But I do insist it is necessary.

      Some (most?) are simply unwilling to do it.

      But if you’re not willing to do that, then your faith is old wineskins. And it is being held in place by religious pride which is actually sin.

      So I respectfully submit to you that none of us can afford to cling to provably false beliefs.

      The arrogance of YEC and its contempt for scientists – as well as its presumption that they believe what they believe because they’re all “sinful” and “depraved” and lying to us etc etc is giving Christianity a black eye. This is no minor problem. This is a major issue and Christians are on the wrong side of this one.

      It’s one of the many reasons why young people leave the church. It’s a major reason why my brother went from being a missionary to almost an atheist. YEC and its champion ministries are unwittingly and systematically turning a percentage of Christians into agnostics and atheists because they’re forcing people to choose between science and the Bible. Which is totally unnecessary.

  6. mike says:

    I’d like to commend YEC defenders on here for patiently explaining that the bible actually means what it says. The 1st 5 years of my Christian walk I felt like YEC’s were crazy because “look at all the overwhelming evidence”. Then I started to realize that if I’m going read the bible as allegory, what’s the point of even having it? Seriously, if we can put any spin or interpretation on God’s words that we want, it stops being God’s word an becomes ours. This is why you see several denominations teach that only elders or super smart Christians can properly interpret the bible. What a joke! Once I realized that God intended the bible to be read literally it made life so much easier for me. There’s really nothing to debate if you read the bible in it’s plain sense. For those who still think scientists are smarter than God I simply remind you of what Satan did in the garden (That is of course if you actually believe what it says happened!). He flipped the words “God hath said” into “Hath God said?”. Scientists are simply following suit.

  7. Bowie says:

    Is this about Christian credibility or that you are ashamed of the Word of God right from Genesis on? Did not God create all things very good without the need for evolutionary processes and making humans fully cognizant and complete from the first day of their existence without some limited understanding cavemen coming before them? Perhaps you limit God by your own limited understanding as do we all.

  8. Perry Daciuk says:

    Dear Christian brothers and sisters,

    Tuning this into a debate of Infallible Scripture vs. Science is completely false and misleading. It is also a waste of time and can force someone to make a choice that doesn’t really exist.

    First, certain scientific theories continue to morph, as more data is gathered and more evidence is found. The good remains, while the bad usually falls away after time. Of course, certain groups can espouse a certain theory (i.e., Flat Earth, neo-Darwinism) beyond what is actually reasonable (which actually requires a kind of faith to do so). But so much has been discovered and so much has been built upon that has been good and verified as such, that there are too many things we would be foolish to deny – electricity, the Internet, lasers, just to name 3 out of thousands+. Science is not the enemy. However, various people who get carried away with some unverified theory can mislead and thwart both progress and open communication on these very ideas. Unfortunately it can be hard to tell with certain topics (still in process) as to who is telling the truth or simply stating their preferred opinion (like a statement of faith). This is why scientific research is written up in papers and discussed over time and and either verified or refuted. But certain things in science become so fundamentally true they become laws. So, science is a necessary and important discipline for all of humanity. It serves a very important service. It is not the only discipline or area of research, but it has an important place that all should value. Hopefully the nonsense will fade and the truth will remain, as has happened repeatedly throughout history.

    Second, many who refer to the infallibility of the Bible insist everything must be taken literally. I hold the Bible to be the divinely inspired Word of God, which focuses on the grand meta-story of God providing redemption to mankind, whom He created in His image (it was never meant to be a scientific textbook). But we often read the Scripture with 21st century lenses and have a tendency to take all of it much too literal. The Bible is full of metaphors and analogies. God chose to have the Bible written in a human language using a number of figures of speech throughout. A “parable” Jesus told does not make it less true because the circumstances Jesus uses didn’t actually take place. Apocalyptic literature (i.e., Revelation, Zechariah, Ezekial, parts of Daniel and other Bible passages) uses a lot of symbolism. Here are three examples of metaphor over literal meaning. [1] When Jesus says in John 6:35 He is the bread of Life, are we to picture him as a loaf of Wonder bread? No, He is using metaphor to tell us something more important about himself. [3] When Jesus says in John 14:2 “In my Father’s house are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you.” does this mean we all get a physical house or presidential suite in heaven? No, It means as disciples of Jesus, God reserves a place for us in Him and in eternity. We have a place of belonging. He will take care of it. [3] When the psalmist says in Ps 17:8 “hide me in the shadow of Thy wings” are we to imagine God as a large chicken or bird of some sort? No. Again it is metaphor that speaks of a deeper truth. In God we have refuge and a place of safety. People seem to be oblivious to how much metaphor is used in scripture. They also seem to be unaware of the many different genres contained in the 66 books of the Bible. Not everything, but more than we are aware of is the result of recent Christian thinking/theology over the last 200-300 years. We have forgotten what most of the church has understood throughout most of the last 2000 years. We are also oblivious to middle eastern thought and Hebrew poetry. For example, much of Genesis 1 is very poetic, and echoes the temple structure we learn later (starting in Ex. 26). Learning all of this and grasping the wonder of what God has truly told us using multiple forms in His Word is amazing. And when you grasp how parables and metaphors can convey the most important truths, you realize you are missing something important if you take certain scriptures too literally. Of course, there are many passages that are intended to be taken literally, but this is a function of proper exegesis and hermeneutics. Any Bible scholar and most Bible school students will tell you this. So, the Bible can be the very Word and truth of God, infallible if you prefer, but everything thing in it need not all be literally true (or have actually happened exactly as described). This takes time, study, maturity and the spirit of God. I like to think both Job and the story of Jonah actually happened, but it would not unsettle me and my faith nor diminish the infallibility of the Bible if (according to some scholars) they did not actually happen, because I understand the value and use of metaphor and parables. The truth remains regardless, unless you are thinking in a way that is too western (which the Bible was not written in). Of course I can also show you historical and archaeological evidence for MANY things the Bible does consider to have actually happened. The Bible has been used time and again as an archaeological guide book to find one site after another. The events in Jesus’ life are rooted in actual history. The Bible is without reservation a book of truth, but it is also deep and layered.

    Therefore, I can without contention or compromise hold onto the truth that the Bible is the infallible Word of God AND the truths of science, which have been extremely useful to mankind and have brought us many good things. They do NOT contradict each other in my mind. You do not have to throw out one to hold on to the other if you really understand. And if we find a place where they do not agree it is invariably because we need more data, more information (either about what the Scripture is really saying, or what the scientific data appears to be saying), which requires more research. It has always been people who mess it up. There are those who like to point out that the church was against Galileo. But the true church is made up of all people who believe. It is not a physical institution. And though certain people may have opposed Galileo in the Catholic church, what about the Eastern Orthodox or the Coptic, or many believers who disagreed with those in authority at the time? The true church did not oppose Galileo, certain religious people did. My point is and remains, God’s Word is reliable and true and science helps us all. You are using the results of science every time you use your phone, or turn on the lights or your TV or computer, or wash your hands in a sink or use the toilet or heat your house, or drive a car or get on public transport or fly in a plane. It’s embedded everywhere in our modern world.

    I implore you to stop pitting Scripture against science. Both exist as a grace from God. And yes only Scripture points us to Jesus and the abundant life found only in Him. Although it is true that only Scripture has the authoritative words to instruct us on how to live, step off a high cliff or building and see if the science of gravity may also have an authoritative say in what happens to you next.

    Let us seek mutual understanding, always speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and handling accurately the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). This can only happen in open honest dialogue, without derogatory comments.

    Finally I thank Perry Marshall for writing his book Evolution 2.0 – I have it on order and look forward to reading it.

  9. James C Patterson says:

    E2.0 is perfect. No questions there. I’ve been on board with this for years since I read Shapiro et al in ANYAS 2009.

    My biggest questions have to do with physics. Astrophysics, quantum physics. Relativity.

    You reference Gerald Schroder once I believe in E2. We can start there. His theory of time dilation is one reference – on his website.

    Then there’s a few more. The wikipedia on the Variable Speed of Light has all the references at the bottom. Here’s a few:

    P. Midy; J.P. Petit (1989). “Scale invariant cosmology”. Int. J. Mod. Phys. D (8): 271–280.
    J. Moffat (1993). “Superluminary Universe: A Possible Solution to the Initial Value Problem in Cosmology”. Int. J. Mod. Phys. D. 2 (3): 351–366.
    J.D. Barrow (1998). “Cosmologies with varying light-speed”. Physical Review D. 59 (4): 043515.
    A. Albrecht; J. Magueijo (1999). “A time varying speed of light as a solution to cosmological puzzles”. Phys. Rev. D59 (4): 043516.
    J. Magueijo (2000). “Covariant and locally Lorentz-invariant varying speed of light theories”. Phys. Rev. D62 (10): 103521.
    J. Magueijo (2001). “Stars and black holes in varying speed of light theories”. Phys. Rev. D63 (4): 043502.
    J. Magueijo (2003). “New varying speed of light theories”. Rept. Prog. Phys. 66 (11): 2025–2068.

    Now, I think most of those are theoretical discussions of potential issues. Not sure if there’s anything testable. But these below are more recent and seem to have a bit more meat (I’ve included the headlines from news stories in quotes):

    “Nature’s laws may vary across the Universe”
    Indications of a Spatial Variation of the Fine Structure Constant. J. K. Webb, J. A. King, M. T. Murphy, V. V. Flambaum, R. F. Carswell, and M. B. Bainbridge. Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 191101 – Published 31 October 2011

    “Speed of Light May Not Be Constant, Physicists Say”
    The quantum vacuum as the origin of the speed of light. Urban, M., Couchot, F., Sarazin, X. et al. Eur. Phys. J. D (2013) 67: 58. doi:10.1140/epjd/e2013-30578-7

    “New form of light discovered, proving Planck’s constant can change”
    There are many ways to spin a photon: Half-quantization of a total optical angular momentum. Kyle E. Ballantine*, John F. Donegan and Paul R. Eastham† Science Advances 29 Apr 2016: Vol. 2, no. 4.

    So as an OEC-based human myself, I need to be able to logically defend what my physics buddies tell me about how the speed of light (and other constants) are static…when I can point them to three recent peer-reviewed journal articles which state they are not.


  10. S.MacLaren says:

    Perry, you state that you think ” Ken Ham forces them to choose between the Bible and science.” However, I don’t feel that is the case. It it not real science that is being taught in the schools (on origins) but an idea. And it is a very, very flawed idea to promote something that has no basis in experiment and the ordered recording and the of methods used, and the analysis of the results. As a one time biologist, my lecturers and professor poured polite derision on anyone who pushed a conclusion without the necesssary hard work in demonstrating a set of actions and results that could be repeated by others to test that conclusion. But, as you are aware, so very many evolutionsist do this all the time; they use a layer of what is called the ‘body of scientific knowledge’ much of which is empirical science and this can always be re-tested to check it. However, in the secure foundations of empiricism have been inserted lumps of rotten wood. You know what I am talking about – namely the dreadful assumptions to fact of the evidence of common descent from the initial life form(s) to today. This is what is so utterly unscientific, and what I, Ken, and a host of much more knowledgeable and practicing scientist today reject absolutely as a model of origins. This is The Lie of the millenium. However, I have been recently delighted to see that evolutionist like the systems biologist, professor Dennis Noble, and a great many others have been pointing to some of the evidence that you have also highlighted in these evolution 2 pages. Namely the inheritance of ‘modifiers’ of gene expression in the next generation – a Lamarckian type of experimental outcome. It is good science, and, as a creationist of one sort, I welcome this honest rejection of most of what the neo-darwinists have peddled for far too long.

    The chickens, not the chickenosauruses, are coming to home to roost in this new and more gentle truth.

    May all who work on this new field, which has its basis in ‘epigenetics’ and physiology, be blessed and discover the greatness of and glory of God in his designs.

  11. Kenneth Heck says:

    I for one do not believe there are absolute constants in our relative universe. These constants will vary depending on existing conditions. Also, ideas which one way or another involve infinity, such as zero mass or instantaneous change, will fail once we have much more precise measurements. We need to leave behind the medieval idea of universal constants in favor of the universe as an intrinsically dynamic, relative phenomenon.

  12. Thomas Quine says:

    While very skeptical of what is generally categorized as YEC, those promoting the idea that the speed of light forces iron-clad assertions about the age of the universe really hasn’t grappled with the ad hoc nature of inflation in the cosmological models–or with the efforts of YEC theorists to resolve these issues (which they are well aware of). If their ideas are unconvincing, the main thing that orthodox cosmology has going for it is its popularity–something that neo-Darwinism has had going for itself. The only thing that really stands out from the cosmological models is that the evidence seems to be strongly in favor of some ultimate beginning of time. The cosmological orthodoxy needs the light from the galaxies to obey the speed limit and needs the background radiation to break it. Cosmic inflation is postulated to have happened at just the right time.

    • Nature is FULL of clocks – tree rings, ice layers, sediment layers, geology, radioactive decay, speed of light; and none of these rely directly on the inflation model in order for those clocks to tell us that the universe is millions or billions of years old.

      One has to take extreme liberties with all these things to embrace a young earth. (Mostly just so that they don’t have to take a liberty with the word “yom.”)

      Many YECs won’t even admit in open conversation that they’re YEC. As one YEC told me, “I don’t like leading with my chin.”

      Well, I wouldn’t either. It’s not in any way defensible. You should be more than “very skeptical,” Mr. Quine.

      YEC has demolished the credibility of Christianity in some quarters of the world, simply because it rejects facts that are manifestly and demonstrably true. Watch the kids walk out the back door and never come back. And the first ones to leave are the smart ones.

      YEC is nothing more than good old fashioned stubborn heavy-handed legalism, the same variety that has plagued religion since the beginning of time.

  13. Thomas Quine says:

    skillfully crafted, fear-driven persuasion; and artful manipulation of the audience’s emotions to get them to buy into his vision
    That is quite a negative spin. However, warning people that creationism (as well as Intelligent Design) is hazardous to their faith and appealing to their desire to feel a sense of credibility in the eyes of “the world” could be perceived (as well as a sense of safety in accepting what all true Scotsmen accept–as in bandwagon thinking) could be perceived as artful fear-driven manipulation. Personally, I don’t fully agree with how Ken Ham interprets Genesis or the rejection thereof, but I do agree that the idea that our world can be attributed to spontaneous unintelligent existence has had serious consequences for our current age of “enlightenment,” some very dreadful if fashionable. Any idea being marketed to Christians that the rejection of our worldview by “the world” (in the Biblical sense) is mainly due to insufficient acquiescence to scientific “truth” (or other fashionable ideology) sounds a lot like someone offering magic beans for my cow. No matter how sincerely those beans are offered, it’s a bad bet.

  14. Mark Notz says:

    Evolution by Intelligent Design falls apart unless one question can be answered. Evolution requires a trial and error method of life and death. The Bible says sin entered the world through one man and death began at that point. Please explain how Evolution is possible without any death, even by one single living cell.

    • Jose Lopez says:

      This may be simplistic, but the Cambrian Explosion killed evolutionary theory. Darwin was there when it all began, and he went to his grave with no answers. It’s been well over a century. No answers. I’m not a scientist, but common sense tells me there will never be any answers that will support the evolutionary process in any way, shape or form that will explain how the Cambrian animals, and body plans, came into being, or as some may say, appeared in the scientific record.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *