Ken Ham’s Uncharitable Inaccuracies

A few weeks ago I attended the National Apologetics Conference, sponsored by Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES). One of the sessions was a moderated discussion between Dr. Richard Howe and Mr. Ken Ham on the topic “God’s Word or Man’s Word: From Where Must Apologetics Begin.” Ken Ham is a well-known young earth creation writer, speaker, and ministry leader. Richard Howe is a seminary professor, writer, and speaker. Both men are young earth creationists and both hold to the inerrancy of scripture.

Since both men agreed on what the scriptures taught, the discussion was not on the age of the earth. Their disagreement was on what methods are proper for Christians to use when reading and deriving the meaning of the Bible. Ham continues to use the phrase “God’s word or man’s word,” saying that it is illicit to start from a human conclusion and apply it to interpreting the Bible. Howe contends that we must compare scripture to what we know about the real world. Howe would say that when Jesus says “I am the door” we know things about humans and doors and conclude that Jesus was using a metaphor, and He is not made of wood.

In the talk, both men were asked questions by the moderator and the audience and gave their positions. The problem came a few weeks later when Ham sent out a fundraising letter, which you can read here. Although Ham agrees with Howe in what Genesis is saying, Ham portrayed the event in an uncharitable way:

  • Howe’s view is “a plague in the church”
  • “the battle over the age of the earth came down to God’s infallible Word versus man’s fallible word.”
  • Ham said he was “planting seeds and encouraging those who do believe in Genesis to stand for the truth” as if Howe did not believe Genesis.
  • Several times Ham keeps mentioning the issue of age of the earth, even though that was not the topic
  • Ham claims many academics, presumably Howe and SES, hold that the average person cannot understand the Bible for themselves
  • Ham mentions seminaries have “compromise positions” on the Bible that “twist the scriptures”

SES was rightfully concerned, and published a response which you can read here.

I attended the discussion and have a recording of it. Ham’s statements do not align with what actually happened. Despite the fact that there was no disagreement on the age of the earth, Ham continues to paint it as if there was one. He is painting a picture that Howe and SES’s positions are a plague, accusing them of compromising scripture, making false claims about what they stand for about the Bible, even twisting the scriptures.

What is so disappointing is that this conference is one of the few places that is trying to get Christians together to have a safe discussion of the issues without name calling and mud slinging. The conference invites Christians to discuss the issues openly and charitably.

Keep in mind that Howe and SES are in the strongest camp of inerrantists. Both the seminary and this particular professor have defended Biblical inerrancy in the strictest possible terms. Anyone who knows Richard Howe knows that he takes a very strong position on the inerrancy of the Bible and has done so all his career. Howe even agreed with Ham on what the Bible says, but this was not good enough for Ham. The use of the phrase “God’s word or man’s word” is used uncharitably and inaccurately.

It seems that not only does Ham not allow someone to disagree on what Genesis says, but also will not allow anyone to disagree on the way we come to the conclusions about what Genesis says. He misrepresented what happened at the conference in a fundraising letter, painting the position to donors that he was defending the truth of scripture against the compromising plague of attacks from seminary professors. Ham’s statements are untrue. Ham either knows the difference in what he is saying and does not care, or genuinely does not understand what the whole discussion was to be about. He painted this issue in light of age of the earth, even though age of the earth was not at issue. Therefore Ham is the one making age of the earth the issue.

In making these statements, Ham is ensuring that Christians cannot even have a dialogue about how to approach the Bible. He turns an attempt at a calm academic discussion into an emotional appeal for support for his ministry. He has lowered his credibility and damaged the ability of well-meaning Christians to discuss the Bible and come to a common understanding of what it means. In that, we cannot recommend Ham or his approach to the issue.

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Minute Details in Acts Show an Accurate Eyewitness Account

In Acts 13, we find Paul the apostle traveling around the Mediterranean region. This chapter is typical of the last half of Acts, in that it mentions a series of minute details about local geography and people:

  • v.1: mentions several names. Listing these men serves no theological or political benefit, only historical and biographical.
  • v.4: “they went down to Seleucia”: From Antioch, Seleucia is down to the ocean.
  • v.4: they sailed from Seleucia to Cyprus, a correct sailing route.
  • v.5: “they arrived in Salamis” which was a port on the east side of Cyprus
  • v.6: “they had gone through the island to Paphos”: this city was on the west side of the island of Cyprus
  • v.7: Sergio Paulus was the proconsul:  It mentions this man, his first and last name, and his title. He is known to historians, for in 1887, archaeologists found a stone with his name chiseled into it. The details in this verse place Paul in a city with a known leader and dates it to the early 40’s AD. This is about 20 years after Jesus, too early for myths to develop, since eyewitnesses were still alive.
  • v.13: They sail from Paphos to Perga, which would be a correct sailing route.
  • v.16:  Paul is in a synagogue and begins to speak. He stands up and “motions with his hand.” There is no reason to mention this tiny detail unless there was an eyewitness there who saw it.

The second half of Acts has hundreds of these types of details. Such minute facts show that the writer had an intimate knowledge of the land, the people, the leaders around the Mediterranean. The details serve no theological or political purpose, and do not help with any plot line in the story.  If this were a historical novel, as critics suggest, it would be a very poor one, for the plot line does not allow for much of a novel, and the details serve no purpose in a fictional story.

The only purpose for these details is to show that it was from an eyewitness who was in that region in the first century.


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If We Have Transgender, Are We To Have Trans-Sanity?

There is an old Jimmy Stewart movie called Harvey, where a crazy drunk man sees and talks to a six-foot invisible rabbit.  By the end of the movie, the sane people are talking with the non-existent rabbit. What is worse, an insane person whose internal mental state is not aligned with external reality, or a sane person who goes along with them and treats them as if their mental state aligned with what is real?

It’s getting increasingly difficult to keep up with the sexually liberated world. Hugh Hefner was concerned about a sexually restricted world. Our society has freed itself so much that it’s hard to keep up. Now we can have trans-age.

A 52-year-old father of seven has now declared that he is a little girl, and says he is living like one. (see here).  So now we have transsexual and trans-age. Our liberals and social justice warriors, having accepted the first, have no logical grounds to object to the second.

I have no idea what happened to this man’s family. If it turns out that he abandoned them to go play sex games, he would certainly not be the first to do that. But it would seem that our citizens would be more interested in having a family that is paying for themselves and being productive members of society rather than ensuring someone has the right to pretend they are childish. On second thought, he is not pretending, but actually being childish.

Even if we go down the path of insanity and accept this person’s view of self, there are several problems. First, the person claimed to change ages at will. If someone is trans, they would not be able to just change identities so easily–did not Lady Gaga tell us they are born that way? Next, the news stories claim this person has a job in the winter driving a snowplow. Six year old girls are not allowed to drive heavy equipment. So it would seem that this person is trans part of the time and not others.

If the age portion of this trans person can be changed at will and only lived part of the time, why could not the sex part? Why are the rest of us having to put up with such mental disconnects?

Michael Brown reminds us of a few other trans problems (see here), which I will add to my list. It gets crazier and crazier trying to keep up, but here is my list of people whose internal mental state does not match external reality, yet seem to be accepted, even protected, by society:

  • The increasing numbers of people such as Miley Cyrus who self-identify as gender fluid, being neither a fixed male nor female, but moving between genders.
  • The people who believe they are male or female even though they are biologically the other gender.
  • Ja Du, the white man who believes he is Filipino.
  • The man who was born Richard Hernandez, who claims to have changed to a transgendered female, who then changed himself into a reptile.
  • Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who self-identifies as black. She was fired from her job at the NAACP.
  • The Norwegian woman who believes she is a cat accidentally born in a human body.
  • The natural-born biological man locked into a psychiatric hospital who believed he was pregnant.
  • Jewel Shuping, a sighted who mentally identified as blind, so she talked a psychologist into pouring drain cleaner into her eyes. She is now officially blind.
  • The man Gary Matthews who believes he is a dog.

Similar to Miley’s gender fluidity, it seems that the trans-age and the trans-specie people often move between the extremes: sometimes old, sometimes young, sometimes human, sometimes an animal. If we accept one fluid person, are we not obligated to accept them all?

We have a long enough list that we need to categorize them now: trans-gender, trans-racial, trans-specie, trans-ability. Here are my questions:

  • We are told we must accept this 52-year-old transgender father’s views that he is female. If so, how can we logically and consistently say to him that he is not a child, as he self identifies?
  • Why do we fire a trans-racial person from their job because they are in reality not that race, while accepting other trans people? Saying ‘because it is different’ is not sufficient. Fundamentally why is it different, when each example is so similar?
  • By accepting every sexual view that anyone can dream up, are we not doing away with any ability to declare anything abnormal?
  • What if someone were to say that their sexual identity was to force sex on the unwilling? On what basis could we say this is not a legitimate identity? It cannot be because others are being hurt, for many of the individuals in the list are allowed to hurt others. What of this father’s family that he abandoned?
  • Apparently some of the trans people on the list above can move between identities, whether it be because they are identity fluid or for the practical sake of getting along in life. If this is so, why must the rest of us accept trans people for what they want us to think they are?
  • Why have otherwise intelligent people accepted all this nonsense?

I think it much better to go back to when we knew what normal was. The Bible has told us that when we throw out a moral absolute, we are lost in a sea of relativism. It would do all of us good to go and read what true love is:  look in the Bible and read the little book of 1 John.

(addendum: Regarding the woman who believes she is a cat–in my high school there was a girl, Lou Ann, who acted like a cat. She hissed at people, meowed, and did cat paw movements with her hands. We all thought she was doing it for attention. We treated her like a human and expected her to be a human. We did not live in her fantasy and pretend she was a cat. Last I knew, she is living as a human female. Perhaps we should take the same approach with everyone else in this trans-messed-up world.)


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Is There Academic Bias In the Sciences?

I readily admit that I am not trained in any of the technical sciences, nor in math. Therefore I rarely comment on these fields, and usually then only to quote an expert who has published in the field. I hold that Christians would do ourselves better if we were to not comment in fields that we know little about. Likewise, atheist scientists would help themselves much more if they stopped commenting on fields where they know so little, such as religion and philosophy.

My career has been in human learning, perception, and studying the way people do the things they do. The concepts in these fields are ones that I am knowledgeable and can readily comment.

When people approach a problem with a mental paradigm, typically their research reinforces what they have already concluded to be the case. Anomalous data is ignored, but not because they consciously choose to bias their research, but because their minds do not perceive the data that goes against their views. They literally do not see the conflicting patterns. Why does it take so long for old scientific views to be disproved and replaced? There are several reasons, one of which is that humans do not perceive data that does not fit their worldview.

Another factor influencing human behavior is how much emotional attachment a person has to the views they hold. If a view of religion is held by a loved one, we tend to be attracted to that view. If a view of religion is held by someone whom has hurt us, we tend to be repelled by that view. Emotional attachments are strong, despite our best attempts otherwise.

I was at a major university, waiting in a lobby to meet with a committee that was to consider one of our Ratio Christi Christian apologetics clubs. In the same lobby was a physics professor who was scheduled to speak to the same committee, only he was speaking to the committee against our club. Since I am not a public figure, this man knew nothing of me, and only knew of our organization what he could glean from our website. I shook his hand and told him my name. In less than five seconds, this man began a quite lengthy emotional diatribe against me and the organization I was standing for. He barely stopped to breathe, keeping going on and on about how wrong we were. He was quite emotional. I attempted dialog, but made no progress, for he was not listening to anything I was saying. My few attempts at polite conversation merely increased his agitation. What was the root of his concern? The entire thing stemmed from a single sentence on our website that rejects theistic evolution.

Now this person is a recognized faculty member at a major university. His field of study is technical and difficult. He must be an intelligent person or he would not hold the position he does. Yet his judgement was so clouded that he did not even stop to ask me what conclusions I held, what my intentions were, to what degree I had thought through my positions, or anything else.

This one professor is arguably an example of a much larger problem. Our friends in the technical sciences, at least the atheist ones who are antagonistic towards Christianity, hold themselves out to be the bastions of cold logic and hard reason. Yet in truth they are nothing of the sort. Often they are as blind and biased as the random person we meet at the bus stop. Examples are not hard to find:

  • Atheist Richard Dawkins, who stood at a podium on the mall in Washington, DC and declared that the universe clear to the bottom has no evil and no good, then a few minutes later in the same speech called religion evil.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology climate scientist Judith Curry resigned her academic position because all the research funding and career paths were all going in one direction. In a practical sense, she was not allowed to do research that went against the grain.
  • The numerous graduate students and faculty members who feel they must hide their faith to keep their jobs. A friend of mine approached a Christian who was on staff at Rice University and invited them to his home for dinner with some fellow Christians. The staff member was afraid to come for fear that if the school found out he was Christian, he would lose his job.
  • The repeated use of ad hominem terms for people with which they disagree. For example, the term “creationist” is regularly used against Intelligent Design researchers, as if that term trumped the mathematical and technical challenges in their publications.

For more on this type of bias, see the works of sociologist George Yancey, such as his book Hostile Environment: Understanding and Responding to Anti-Christian Bias. Bias is amplified when we mix in subjects with moral implications such as whether or not God exists.

I am sure those in the technical sciences have little patience with those that they disagree. I also have little patience when obviously biased scientists extend beyond their areas of expertise and make poor statements about theology and philosophy. The academics have a responsibility to deal with issues with calm and respect. When they do not have both, they are betrayed by their bias.


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Who Can Help Us Out of Our Confusion Over Trans?

The modern trend toward trans-ing things seems to be continuing. Not content to be transgender, now we have transracial. The first well-known person to identify as another ethnicity than the body they are in was Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who was working at the NAACP as a black woman. When it came out that her parents were both of white European decent, she was fired.

We now have the case of a white male born as Adam, who changed his name to Ja Du and is telling everyone that he is actually Filipino (see the story here). Since he thinks he is internally a Filipino, why, we should have no hesitation to consider him one.

We must be very careful, since modern liberals tell us that it is a moral crime to, on one hand, reject a person’s internal identity, and equally horrible to appropriate someone else’s culture. If I merely like Filipino food and open a Filipino restaurant, the liberals are quick to call me morally reprehensible for stealing someone else’s cultural identity. But if I am internally Filipino, then it is a crime to not accept me for what I claim to be internally.  It is so hard these days to satisfy the social justice warriors.

The social justice warriors appear confused. Some of them tell us there is a fundamental difference between a person’s gender identity and their racial identity. They tell us that we should accept a transgender person but reject a transracial person. Why is this so? Well, because it just is. Their sophistry against transracial claimants never seems to give many reasons other than we ought not confuse the two.

So now have a fairly good list of people whose internal mental state does not align with external reality:

  • The increasing numbers of people such as Miley Cyrus who self-identify as gender fluid, being neither a fixed male nor female, but moving between genders.
  • The people who believe they are male or female even though they are biologically the other gender.
  • Ja Du, the white man who believes he is Filipino.
  • The man who was born Richard Hernandez, who claims to have changed to a transgendered female, who then now changed himself into a reptile.
  • Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who self-identifies as black. She was fired from her job at the NAACP.
  • The Norwegian woman who believes she is a cat accidentally born in a human body.
  • The natural born biological man locked into a psychiatric hospital who believed he was pregnant.

So now we have enough specific examples to ask a legitimate question: How long should society go along with someone whose internal mental state does not align with reality? To be consistent and fair, we cannot fire Rachel Dolezal from her job while accepting and encouraging transgendered people. How can we be consistent?

In the midst of our quandary we are referred to a certain Dr. Stacey Scheckner. Being a licensed psychologist, she is somehow qualified to tell society what we should accept morally. She tells us that we should consider “who they really feel inside” and “life is about finding out who you are. The more knowledge you have of yourself, the happier you can be.”

Rather, there is a much more sensible approach. If someone’s internal mental state does not align with reality, we should help them to align their mental state with what is real. In actual fact, a person born white is not of African or Filipino decent. And a person born male is not female, no matter what their internal mental state is.

A much better source of guidance comes from the Bible, which has more than a little to say about the human condition. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that we cannot know ourselves fully, and if we did, we would not like what we find there. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The most deceived person is the self-deceived person. What modern social justice warriors, psychologists, and liberals should realize is that all people are confused in their inner being. Searching inside a sick person is not the place to find health. Rather, to cure the sick we must look to a healthy person, even a physician. Jesus is called the Great Physician, and has the cure for the human condition: creating us as a new person from the inside out.

Left to ourselves, we are all confused and without a moral compass. When we look to the wisdom of the ages in the Bible, we find that we have a sure moral guidance. Jesus tells us that He will direct our path.


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Does Secular Historian Josephus Give Historical Corroboration to the New Testament?

Flavius Josephus was a historian in first century Rome. Of Jewish heritage, he was commissioned by the Romans to write a history of the Jewish people. Josephus mentions Jesus in two passages, one very brief and a second in more detail.

The first passage merely mentions that the Jewish officials brought to trial “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.” (Antiquities 20.9.1). This passage corroborates the facts that Jesus existed, James existed, they were brothers, and Jesus was called Christ.

The second passage is longer and more detailed. It speaks of Jesus being “a doer of wonderful works,” “he was the Christ,” Pilate had condemned him to the cross, and “he appeared to them alive the third day.”(Antiquities 18.3.3)

This second passage is so detailed, in fact, that skeptics and critics are motivated to claim it is a forgery inserted into Josephus’ text by Christians in later years after Josephus died. Other than the fact that the passage is so strongly in favor of the historicity of Jesus, the skeptics have little evidence. All manuscripts of Josephus include this passage in some form.

One support for this passage is that church historian Eusebius quotes it in his history of the church. For the claim of forgery to hold, the writings of Josephus would have to have been corrupted very early, earlier than Eusebius, who wrote in the 300’s, and some early manuscripts of Eusebius exist from the 400’s and 600’s AD. The burden of proof lies with the skeptic, who is saddled with presenting more evidence than merely claiming it is too good to be true.

Even if we delete the longer passage in Josephus, his writings contain a strong corroboration for the New Testament.  Often lost is that Josephus also mentions John the Baptist:

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, who was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism.” (Antiquities 18.5.2)

This passage corroborates the New Testament account of John the Baptist, who indeed was preaching righteousness and baptism and was slain by Herod. This is a significant secular corroboration of New Testament facts. Notably this historical support comes from the pen of Josephus, who was writing a history not favorable to Christians but somewhat favorable to Rome, who had hired Josephus to write. Historical corroboration from an antagonistic source is especially telling.

Josephus also corroborates the existence of Herod’s wife, Herodius, Herod’s brother Philip, and their relationship, as mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (Antiquities, 18.5.1)

Further support for the New Testament is found when Josephus lists the books of the Bible. In his work Against Apion (1.8), Josephus supports the Protestant view of the Old and New Testaments against the Roman Catholic view, giving 39 books of the Protestant Old Testament. Catholic and Protestant questions aside, Josephus nevertheless supports that early Jews and Christians held to the same Bible as we do today.

The more evidence that is amassed, the more difficult it is for the skeptic to claim that it was all created by overzealous church leaders who corrupted the text. Rather, the passages have the ring of truth.

In summary, the longer passage claims:

  • a doer of great works
  • was the Christ
  • Pilate exists
  • Jesus was condemned by Pilate
  • rose again the third day

The other passages claim:

  • Jesus existed
  • James existed
  • they were brothers
  • Jesus was called Christ.
  • the Bible exists the books as it does today
  • John the Baptist existed
  • John preached baptism and righteousness
  • Herod existed
  • Herod’s brother Philip existed
  • Herod’s wife was Herodius
  • Herod took his brother’s wife

Again, the more the secular historian Josephus aligns with the Bible, the harder it is to simply brush away the whole thing with a wave of the skeptic’s wand. Rather, the Bible has the ring of true eyewitness accounts.

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Modern Sex: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

As I write this, Hugh Hefner has recently died. He was the founder of Playboy magazine, the first magazine to feature nude women on prominent display. He started the magazine in 1953, when views of sex were much more puritan and traditional than today. He once was quoted as saying that he wanted to take sex out of the bedroom and bring it into the living room. He used a little too much force, for today sex has gone through the living room, out the door, into the street, and into the gutter.

Hefner was recently quoted by National Public Radio as saying that romance was an illusion, some wisp of human invention. Such a conclusion is no surprise, for once we focus on the sex for sex’s sake, then all else becomes tiresome. The book of Proverbs gives a lot of advice for a man to stay away from the sexual temptress, but Hefner and his followers made sex as open and frequent as they could. Two generations after Playboy started, we have more sex than ever, but less satisfaction. Hefner was as sexed as anyone, yet realized this lack of satisfaction and concluded that romance was not possible.

Since Hefner pushed over the first domino generations ago, modern culture has turned backwards-turvy over sex. The day that the supreme court announced a redefinition of marriage by allowing homosexuals to marry, there were naked women getting their bodies painted on the steps of the New York Public Library. Just a few days after Hefner died, the US National Park Service has agreed to allow a 45-foot tall statue of a naked woman be placed on the national mall. Better hurry, it will only be there four months, and apparently there is no place else to see a naked woman, so she has to be 45-foot tall next to the Washington Monument. Why? The promoters tell us it is “to promote women’s equality,” as if two generations after Playboy made images of naked women commonly available, women still need to be naked in public to be equal.

What all playboys and nude-in-public women of equality have not learned is that romance is indeed possible. If we hold sex to where God intended it, between one man and one woman in the confines of marriage, then we can make the relationship something special and even sacred. We cannot make romance something special if we display the naked human form as commonly as breathing, for nothing common can be special.

“Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2)



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