Well just got back from Leicester listening to Ken Ham talk about creationism this Thursday evening. Handed out a few leaflets to people attending on science education, but it became clear during the talk that Ken Ham’s version is smoke and mirrors.
His talk centred on there being observable science. That there was only the same facts, but that a creationist looked at it from the standpoint of the Word of God and others from the human reasoning stand point. What he seemed to suggest is that from our respective biases we drew conclusions from the same evidence – but his was true because it was based on the Word of God.
No – the world being billions of years old is confirmed by geology. He did show a video claiming that Mount St. Helens showed that the world could be created in a very short space of time – which it does not of course. There was a video on the Chameleon (shown in the Creation Science Museum) which suggested that swivelling eyes, and a brain that could process the information, let alone the ability to change colour, was proof enough that God did it.
Talking to one of the Answers In Genesis (AiG) staff outside the talk he claimed that I could not have a form of morality because it was not based on the bible. I pointed out that even the view of morality based on the bible had changed, and that in civilisations without the bible moral codes had developed. I even mentioned John Rawls and how the veil of ignorance worked – this went over his head because he said that human reasoning could not say why the holocaust was wrong. I pointed out that it was wrong to kill people on the basis of their belief or ethnicity, how did I know? Well because it was arbitrary and I would not want to live in such a society that did – and part of that was empathy with people and the whole veil of ignorance thing. That I could recognise such action as being a crime against humanity.
Ken Ham himself mentioned that Genesis was the foundation for the Christian message, and that evolution was wrong in the common descent because of it. In short, the literal interpretation of Genesis was essential not only to Christianity but also to moral virtual because secularism by not being based on God’s Word would lead to evil like abortion, pornography and gay marriage – even racism(?)
The display for this was two battle ships fighting one another. A recurrent theme was that secularism was not about being neutral – it was open hostility to God’s Word. It misses the crucial point that secularism is not based on whether you believe in evolution or not, faith or not, abortion or not. The principle is that the state does not use it’s power to enforce religion on it’s citizens, allowing them the right to their consciences in this regard but not to have dominion over another over a faith claim. But no, apparently morality is not something that atheists can have.
He also mentioned about seeing the Ben Stein movie Expelled. I kind of see watching Ken Ham talk as my way of making up for not seeing it in Minneapolis. One video Ken showed was two palaeontologists digging up a dinosaur fossil, and one says that it is millions of years old and the other that it is 4,300 years old because the bible tells me – then leaving it at that with no evidence accept that the bible says. As if both sides were just two different points of view like whether to support Manchester City or Man United – only that one side would be for justice and glory.
All the videos depended on the audience going “Wow, how amazing, so complex, there had to be a God.” Then Ken Ham following up with bible scriptures. At one point the Trinity was mentioned in scripture given proof by the perfection of creation. The leaps being made within seconds of one association over the other were breathtaking and liquid refreshment was needed to get over the nerve of someone that was prepared to say that they loved science and yet could pretend that the facts supported that the earth was thousands of years old and their view of Christianity.
The lecture ended with a look at the various books and DVDs we may want to buy. I was able to pass on that opportunity. The way that AiG staff can say that they do not want intelligent design in schools but Ken Ham can say that they should get involved in school boards to promote creationism is a double faced show. They do want books in the school libraries that denote the earth as a few thousand years old. They want society to be based on their human interpretation of the bible (something they do not accept – it is God’s of course) and the sooner we live our lives to the message of Christ the better.
There was the part where apparently with death and all an atheist has no purpose. May as well just die now. But through Christ we have meaning and a reason to live a life based on God’s Word. He quoted Dawkins as saying get used to the truth when asked if it was a bleak message science mentioned about existence. It missed the part that what we feel about facts is neither here nor there only whether they are true to be called that. Being alive makes us the lucky ones and we can find our purpose for ourselves.
The problem with Ham’s message is that this means taking away my rights, and making science second fiddle to what they claim the bible tells us. Ken Ham even claimed that Genesis was the only creation account that told us everything – clearly therefore it was true! Apparently no other religion now or before tells us about our origins. Later on he showed us a video that talked about how the aboriginals had a similar tale of creation to the bible. Which made me wonder how much of the double talk the listeners were hearing.
In the end we headed down the pub and showed that far from life having a pointless existence, lacking any meaning when you reject a sacred text as being literally true, there were things worth living for. Not just beer, but companionship and that it is better to talk about things as they are then talking about things as you wish they were.
Was the protest worth it? Well it was difficult to get the people to talk about science – ended up with the argument that personal revelation in their lives was more important then human reasoning. It gave them comfort, and meant that they knew what was right because it was in the bible. One of them had never heard of Lot and the seduction of him by his daughters – this surprised the gentleman because an atheist knew the bible. It surprised me because he worked for AiG and the account is in Genesis after all. I had asked him how we knew paedophilia was wrong as it was not mentioned in the bible. Not even in the ten commandments – graven images more of a sin then that? He tried to say that it was an affront to god – I asked if paedophilia was too? He could not bring himself to say that human thought derived such acts to be immoral and unethical – for him that could only be derived because of the bible.
Please do not think this is just a bunch of crazy people who mean us no harm. They really believe it is to the betterment of society that they project their belief onto how science is discussed, and that society must embrace Jesus (as defined in their ministry) before the world becomes a happier place – or Armageddon comes. They really cannot conceive that the world could have a noble purpose without that kind of belief. I beg to differ, and hope that science education is not befallen to faith claims but to evidence which is not based on the stand point of a religious text.
My thanks to Pennie and Chris who gave me a lift, and to fellow Leicester Secular Society members who attended the protest.