A question for Ken Ham last week and a question about debates

Let me ask the general group…is debate about origins productive? With young-earthers or ID folks? When is it relationally destructive and when can it be constructive?

From YouTube I see Hugh Ross engaging both Ken Ham and Biologos. With Ham, Ross is doing his best to communicate but I cannot see how these two men are able to communicate. The listing of arguments and counterarguments and the back-and-forth seem to generate a lot of heat and little light. Is this what you have found in debate scenarios among Christians about origins? When has it come out otherwise?

I asked Ham a question last week at one of his presentations here in Dallas. At Tony Evans’ mostly African American church. It was the first time I have seen a creationist talk at a minority church.

I mentioned the chasm between creationists and science people like Bill Nye. Ham corrected me by saying it was SECULAR scientists on the other side of the chasm.

Hagar calls God “the God who sees.”

I have seen the private life of local biology professors who know what Ham teaches about them and evolution.

Dallas has a lot of culture-war going on from time to time. A number of churches and seminaries challenging the scientific consensus.

I don’t see how the churches are engaging the local professors in their isolation.

I think in many cases there is a growing chasm between the churches and their academic neighbors. Climate change has been added to the mix.

So what if there was a way to cross the chasm locally? I interviewed creationists for my dissertation committee. What if interviewing local professors about their lives and passion for science was brought to Ham by mail and local Christians?

Ham said he gets a lot of mail but told me he would try to read and respond.

I don’t see how else empathy can happen without storytelling crossing the chasm.



I don’t know Ham personally. I don’t know what his life is like or what he actually believes. I take it at face value that he is convinced of what he says he believes. Part of me is suspicious also because a lot of money is tied up in the organization. But I side on him being sincere, even if it’s wrong. Though at times he is seemingly being dishonest. Such as saying things like it’s secular scientists when he knows very well plenty of Christian ones. But perhaps it was just a loose generalized statement.

A debate is not the same thing as a discussion. They serve very different purposes. One can also turn into the other. Normally it’s a discussion turning into debate. I don’t think understanding their personal lives and passion will be that big of a deal honestly within the discussion of are they correct about the science. When you are friends with a YECist or go to church with one, a discussion is far more likely to be mutually beneficial if both can agree regardless of the interpretation, they love each other and god.

But often it’s compounded by many issues.


Why don’t you ask any hard questions? :slightly_smiling_face:

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If discussions about origins were purely about how old the earth is, or who did or didn’t evolve from what, then I wouldn’t bother with the debate. The Bible does tell us to avoid foolish controversies after all (Titus 3:9) and just getting into an argument can be counterproductive.

The problem is that it isn’t just about how old the earth is or who did or didn’t evolve from what. The big concern is the knock-on effect that it can have on how you approach other areas of science. There are many areas of science where, if you don’t treat them with respect, you can end up doing a lot of damage to your career, or your health, or even putting people’s lives in danger.

Science is built on a foundation of basic rules, principles, methods and protocols, such as mathematics, logic and evidence-based reasoning. These principles are the same for every area of science, both “operational” and “historical,” and if someone is pushing arguments that fly in the face of these principles, they will be undermining people’s ability to approach every area of science that relies on them. And they have nothing whatsoever to do with “secularism”: not following the rules will cause the same amount of damage to the Christian and the atheist alike.

This is why young earth creationism tends to be something of a “gateway drug” to all sorts of conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. For starters, it is a massive conspiracy theory itself—after all, it implies that the entire scientific community, consisting as it does of millions of researchers worldwide, has been systematically lying and falsifying evidence about the history of the Earth in a tightly coordinated manner for over two hundred years. If you believe a conspiracy of that magnitude to be plausible, there are few if any other conspiracy theories that won’t be. In addition, the arguments that it presents frequently fly in the face of the basic principles of mathematics, measurement, logic and evidence-based reasoning so completely that you can lose track of what those principles actually are, or even end up viewing those underlying principles themselves as “secular” and “sinful.”

This being the case, it would be highly irresponsible and unprofessional for a trained scientist not to speak out when faced with such bad attitudes. And such a thing should be doubly offensive to a trained scientist who is a Christian, because they bring the name of our Lord Jesus Christ into disrepute. Especially when such attitudes are being promoted with the level of aggression, intolerance and false accusations that we see coming from their most zealous supporters.


Not when one of the participants has taken this oath:

“No apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field of study, including science, history, and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture obtained by historical-grammatical interpretation.”

If the evidence was on Ken Ham’s side then he wouldn’t have to vilify science. The creationist doth protest too much, methinks.

“Secular” in Ken Ham’s world is anyone who refuses to ignore the evidence like that spelled out in the AiG Statement of Faith.

All we can do is show people the evidence. It is up to them to follow it. It is up to the creationists to decide that the evidence matters.

In the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye they were both asked what would change their mind. Nye said “evidence”. Ken Ham said “nothing”. I think that says it all.


I don’t see any way to cross the chasm. In my experience the main effort of people like Ham is directed, knowingly or not, into building a mental Maginot line that trains people to only allow approved thoughts, and anything not approved isn’t actually heard. We see it here on the forum in various threads; YEC adherents just repeat their same arguments even when what they’re saying doesn’t match what they’re supposedly responding to. YECism as far as I can judge is more about indoctrination that it is about learning anything.

And that shows because no matter what evidence is presented none of them will concede that the majority of younger people who give up on Christianity do so because it’s exactly what the YEC crowd taught them to do by insisting that the Bible has to be exactly correct about every single statement; they instead blame “secularism” – without recognizing that they just admitted that YEC-believing churches are amazingly poor at teaching people the faith.


If the debate will destroy faith then it is counterproductive and against the teaching of Christ. It is better to have faith and a naivety about science than to kill the faith altogether because it cannot live with science.

I, for one, do not fancy swimming lessons with a millstone around my neck


  • Absolutely not.
  • With neither group.
  • Always.
  • When it houses the homeless, feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, heals the sick, defends the weak, and frees the oppressed.
  • What lists?

To be honest, its no different to having different political views…they basically can not ever agree on the fundamental stuff because, fundamentally, they are different. Nothing is really ever going to change that because in order to find compromise, the individuals believe they are giving up their political positions and going over to the “other side”.

Religious vs humanism debates are no different.

When we talk about YEC verses Old Earth (TEism), i think in simple terms you are asking if a zebra can change its stripes.

Ken Hams statement about secular science is correct. God is not bound by science (contrary to what many appear to claim on this forum), God is outside of such boundaries and most YEC believe that any notion of God being second to science is heresy.

I expect some will attempt to make claims that they are not suggesting God is bound by science, however, certainly, these individuals cloud this by making theological statements that are clearly second to the science they follow.

For these individuals, if the theology doesn’t agree with the science, then the theology is wrong. The problem with such a view is that as soon as one starts to discredit even one small section of the bible, the rest quickly falls apart (the bible is so intricately linked across its pages).

A simple example is the 4th commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) in six days the Lord created the heavens and the earth but on the seventh day he rested from all his work and blessed the Sabbath day.

One cannot read the above text in Exodus 20 and make the theological claim “this is not referring to a single day”…every Israelite for well over 1500 years continued to follow that exact command and then Christ himself also kept and taught that specific day of worship for 30 years of his incarnate life on earth…its clear that Moses wanted to have his writingt interpreted specifically in a manner in which a single day at the end of the creation week was to be worshiped. This passage of scripture is one in which its intended meaning is very self evident and that meaning is supported many times throughout the rest of the bible…its even mentioned in Rev 14:12 the patience of the saints are those who keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus.

So in looking at the above example, its plainly obvious why Ken Ham would call those who do not take Exodus 20:8-11 literally along with Genesis Ch 1 and 2…“secularists”. The vast majority of scientists are those who deny there is a God and are going to search only for scientific evidence that is contrary to Genesis 1 and Exodus 20 and that is because without God, there is no logical way creation could be a miracle. The irony is, theologically speaking, miracles arent logical…thats the point and there is the chasm between secular scientific interpretation and YECism!

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Most of the traffic runs in the opposite direction. It is members of AiG who sign a statement of faith that if there is any deemed conflict with scripture, the science or history is wrong. But science does not deal in faith.

The world is what it is, and scientists merely study it. Scientists do not tell nature what it should be, there is challenge enough in unlocking what it is. Science is descriptive, not prescriptive.

Most scientists do not much care what your theology is; it is statements about science made by YEC that draw attention. If you think that the Grand Canyon was formed within the past five thousand years, then you either do not understand, or are misrepresenting, the geology. If you think you can have accelerated radioactive decay without catastrophic heat, that violates the most basic principles and so has no scientific merit. Scientists cannot help it if YEC is wrong based on evidence


The error of this idea (restated several times in your post) is that it puts science and God as separate, when the prevailing thought in EC is that God has providence and is intimately involved in scientific processes as well. If there is conflict between science and theology, either or both may be wrong and we have to have the intellectual humility to step back and see where the error lies. Perhaps you might say that we give more weight to science than theology when that happens, and perhaps so, but only because the evidence carries us there. That is why we do not accept geocentrism and flat earth, and why we accept that kidneys do not control our emotions, and our physical heart does not control our reasoning.
God is big enough and strong enough and knowing enough to work his will through what we see as natural processes. We just need to let go of the limits we place on him.


In this case, YEC’s refuse to accept observable facts because it would lead them to conclusions that they have already sworn to reject.

People are looking at the evidence in the universe to determine its history. How does that make God bound by science or second to science? If YEC is true then shouldn’t this evidence be consistent with YEC? If there was a recent global flood shouldn’t the geologic evidence be consistent with this claim? If YEC is true then secular science should lead to that conclusion.

What about theology that doesn’t agree with the observable facts?


I really can’t over-emphasise how on-point this is. Is it any wonder many YECs also buy into conspiracies about climate change, COVID-19, vaccinations, and/or the shape of the Earth?

If you’ve already swallowed the Red Pill and concluded that scientists the world over are in league with Beelezubub to undermine the Bible, discredit the gospel, and poison the minds of the young. it isn’t that far a leap to believe that there are global cabals of scientists and politicians at work for sinister ends here too.


The irony here, Adam, is that in reading the Exodus verse the way you do, you deploy a hermeneutical method that didn’t exist much before the 18th Century. In doing so, you make God’s Word, and by extension, God himself, second to a man-made philosophy of interpretation. Perhaps, those in hermeneutical glass houses should be more careful before they start throwing heresy stones.


We could talk about AIG’s statement of faith (and similar thoughts) and how it has become an idol, not truth, usurping the beauty and magnitude of God’s creation. (That also includes the magnitude of its antiquity.)

As mentioned elsewhere, YECism also belittles the import of Psalm 8:4 in this vastly huge and vastly aged universe:

What is man, that you are mindful of him?[!]

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Lists like
Evidence for the flood as the source of fossil deposition vs radiometric dating of fossils
Argument and counterargument

  • In my Youtube watching experience, I’ve never seen a list. More commonly, folks just talk about “the mountains of research or evidence” that one side or the other, or both, have.

I think you address an important point. While in science, personal testimony is suspect (Show me the data!) in Christianity, personal testimony or storytelling as you put it is central to faith, evangelism, and the life of the church. Telling what your experience has been is valuable. I think that arguing the science is usually futile, and even arguing about interpretation gets little traction, but your personal experience is hard to deny or discount in the faith discussion.


  • On the other hand, the topic is certainly interesting to me, and IMO, to others. So I’d say there’s room and opportunity for non-combative conversation and speculative “brainstorming” about it in a non-public thread, … specifically for the purpose of weeding out the trouble-makers.
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