My daughter having to memorize Ken Ham's 7 C's

(Christy Hemphill) #1

So, for the next three weeks my kids are taking part in a “classroom experience” for homeschooled MKs sponsored by our organization. They put these on twice a year and next to Christmas with their grandparents, it is the highlight of my kids’ existence. They get to see their English-speaking friends from around Mexico and have teachers other than their parents for a change.

The program is staffed by our organization’s itinerant education specialist and volunteers from the US (usually retired school teachers.) One of the volunteers this year (he has come down in the past and we are really grateful he came again because he is wonderful with kids) is a very enthusiastic YEC supporter. He is teaching my oldest daughter’s history and Bible class. Yesterday she handed us a pamphlet from the Creation Musuem and told us she had to memorize the Seven C’s of Creation History. My husband and I made it clear what we thought of Ken Ham’s approach to the Bible and science, but we told her she should learn what she was told to learn, and when she was asked questions about it, it was perfectly acceptable to answer in the form of “Ken Ham believes that …” She got 100% on her quiz today.

She is supposed to do an oral report on the C - Confusion - which is the Tower of Babel story. Needless to say, as linguists, my husband and I do not really see eye to eye with Ken Ham on the history of language dispersal. Our plan is take her over to the linguistic center’s library and check out a couple Genesis commentaries. What a great teachable moment. When you want to know what a Bible passage is all about, you don’t go to, you find a good OT scholar or two and read what they have to say.

How do you all handle this kind of thing? Any suggestions?

(Christy Hemphill) #2

Look what I found in our library:

How to Read Genesis by Tremper Longman
IVP Bible Background Commentary by John Walton, Victor Matthews, and Mark Chavalas
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, ed. John Walton

My daughter will be so excited that her mom is such a nerd she thinks reading commentaries together should count as mother-daughter bonding time. :older_woman:

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #3

You’re a better person than I. If that happened in my neck of the woods, I would be having words with someone. I already have to coach my kids to not be in-your-face in telling certain conservative families what they believe about dinosaurs and floods and things because we want to continue to be able to have their parents over for game nights. If it was coming from the school itself… that would be hard for me.

(Christy Hemphill) #4

Well, we did have words (nice calm ones) with the coordinator two years ago when it was an issue (with the same volunteer) in science. She is on furlough right now though. I think we have an understanding that no young earth stuff will be taught as science. But this is Bible and history.… Also last time there was another family who also objected. Their kids are in the younger class though this time, so we are the only ones who would have a problem. My daughter said when he passed out the booklets, several kids said stuff like “Oh, Ken Ham, we have lots of his books at home!” “We love Ken Ham at our house!” I told her not to mention what we think of Ken Ham at our house, but if pressed she could admit she sides with 99.9 percent of the scientists when it comes to science.

The seven C’s aren’t so bad if you ignore the explanations:
Catastrophe (I think I’d replace it with Creation Reboot)
(I’d add in Covenant)
(I’d add in Church)

Planning some of those ourselves. No talk of gender theology, politics, or science. Good thing everyone can talk about work and kids ad nauseum. Or how many sheep to trade for ore. :sheep:

(Mervin Bitikofer) #5

I have trouble putting aside my concerns about catchy lists contrived to communicate concepts in commemorable ways. It always makes me wonder what really important thing(s) they left out because it didn’t make the cut --(i.e. start with the right letter).

Watch out for those sheep-ore trades. In our circles when we encounter different philosophies about how (or if) the thief should be used, it can become an exercise in diplomatic self-control. I tried making a different set of rules for “Mennos of …” where the thief becomes a “tornado” and the menno-“KNIGHTS” are really disaster relief workers, among other rule changes. It never caught on though. Greed is more fun.

(Christy Hemphill) #6

House rules are the best! We often play with our kids which drives my husband crazy because all his carefully crafted strategy depends on other actually trying to employ strategy of their own. Now he plays Puerto Rico online so he can play with grownups. (And so I can waste time here and feel like less of a slacker.)

(Mervin Bitikofer) #7

Wow – that is out of my league, given that I don’t even know what “Puerto Rico online” is in this context. But no matter. This is a great place to hang out.

(Christy Hemphill) #8

Oh, there is a whole world of nerdy German strategy games. Catan is the gateway drug.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #9

Now I’ve been so warned!

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #11

My wife has also been drawn into the vortex of online nerdy German games, though her “drug of choice” is not Puerto Rico (yet, anyway…). Apparently being tandem Biologos-and-online-German-strategy-games dueling-laptop couples is a thing. Beware! :smiley:

(Mervin Bitikofer) #12

Biologos seems to be my hard-core drug lately. Or if it is a gateway … then gateway to what would be the million dollar question (for which I bet Ken Ham has an easy answer!). I don’t think I can make it through a day (even at work --such as right now while my students are happily finishing their pre-calc exams) without checking in here. If I tried to fast from this, I’ll probably start getting the shakes after half a day.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #13

I think BioLogos Forum participation is the gateway drug, and being a moderator is the hard stuff! :smiley:

(Christy Hemphill) #14

Hey, I can quit anytime.

(Christy Hemphill) #15

So, to get back to the topic and our little dilemma, this is the assignment she came home with for the weekend.

She has to prepare a written and oral report on Confusion - The Tower of Babel that involves

  1. Read all of Ken Ham’s information on the website I linked.
  2. Describe the topic in 1-2 sentences
  3. Explain why it is important in the whole picture of the History of the Earth
  4. Explain how it relates to the other six Cs
  5. Tell of any scientific or historical evidence or Scripture that shows this C happened
  6. Explain what non-Christians may think of this C
  7. Summarize everything in one statement.

I am at a bit of a loss as to how to help her approach this, since it obviously has not dawned on her teacher that there are people in his class who object to almost all Ken Ham’s premises.

Should she summarize the material she was given and then basically say, “However, other Christians, like me and my family have a different perspective…” Should she even get into the details of what we think at all? She is only eleven and very much a people-pleaser type personality. It’s not like she enjoys debate. But on the other hand, I think this kind of situation is going to come up again and again, so maybe it’s best to have her start learning how to stick up for herself.

(Christy Hemphill) #16

Maybe the bulk of her report could be “what non-Christians and my parents think of this C and Ken Ham in general”

(James McKay) #17

There’s actually a very important point here that YECs need to be made aware of. One thing that at least some non-Christians do with YEC claims is fact-check them rigorously – and they are far less forgiving of mistakes and misunderstandings than other Christians. What YECs may be inclined to shrug off as bona fide misunderstandings with excuses of “we all make mistakes,” non-Christians see as flat-out lying.

I tell them that it’s therefore vital to make sure their claims are watertight, to go back to the original sources, to check whether the scientists being quoted really did say what they’re being made out to have said, or whether dating methods really do work in the way they’re being made out to work, and so on. Being found to be in error on verifiable and demonstrable facts such as these undermines the credibility of your entire Christian witness.

(Phil) #18

Well, number 5 should nice and short. :slight_smile:
Kids at that age are pretty concrete thinkers still, so it is OK to have an 11 year old look at it in those terms, so long as they know there are different ways to interpret the story that are valid. It is tempting as a parent to push in a little much (I had a difficult time being hands off with science projects- not succeeding I’m sorry to say, but I can make an awesome rubber band powered car…) but as a home school teacher, that is sort of your job at the same time.
The other issue is how to handle it in such a way that will not undermine respect for the teacher, and that will not poison their relationship with you.
My thought is to not push too much, perhaps trying to direct things toward what it means to us today. Maybe a little lesson on conceit (to throw in another C) arrogance and pride.
Number 7 (Summarize everything in one statement) makes me smile. Everything? Good luck with that. .Maybe “Conceited construction contractors can create catastrophic consequences.”

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #19

Exaaactly. :smiley:

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #20

Thinking through this and what @jpm said, I think what I might encourage my kids to do in such an unenviable circumstance would be to respond to question 5 with something like, “not much” (though more diplomatically and in a complete sentence) and then in question 6, say, “Non-Christians, as well as many Christians, point to the overwhelming scientific evidence for an old earth and for an ancient origin for human language diversity. Many also feel that linguistic diversity is an amazing, beautiful treasure and a blessing from God, and that when people see it only in terms of a punishment for sin, it takes away from that.”

By using the verb “point to,” it shows your kid thinks this group of people might just be right. By including a parenthetical “and many Christians,” it sends a somewhat subtle message that, “You guys don’t have a lock on what it means to be Christian.” But it’s also maybe a little less confrontational because it shows she’s sympathetic to this view without coming right out and saying directly that she disagrees with the teacher.

(Christy Hemphill) #21

Well, this is what she (with some help) came up with.We basically decided to ignore Ken Ham and his timeline where creation happens in 4000 B.C. and just write about the Tower of Babel based on commentaries. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes over on Monday.

In Genesis 11:1-9, we read that God confused the languages of the people building the Tower of Babel because he was not pleased with them. Genesis 11 is important in God’s story because it contrasts with the covenant God makes with Abraham in Genesis 12. At Babel the people wanted to make a name for themselves and avoid being scattered. God told Abraham he would make a name for Abraham and he sent him out to bring his blessing into the world.

The story of the Tower of Babel takes place in Mesopotamia. Archaeologists and geologists have found evidence of people moving into the plain between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers at the end of the fourth millennium (before 4000 BC). This period of history involved technological advances in architecture and urbanization. Shinar in Genesis 9:2 refers to Sumer. This civilization built big cities such as Ur, Eridu, Uruk, and Nippur around the early third millennium B.C. In early Sumerian times people did not live in cities, they were basically temple complexes with several ziggurats. (See picture.)

The Sumerians made mud brick and then discovered they could bake the brick and make it waterproof like stone. These waterproof bricks covered the outsides of important buildings like ziggurats which were built to honor deities. Ziggurats are like pyramids but they are filled on the inside with dirt. The main feature is a ramp or stairway that leads up to a little house for the deity. The deity was supposed to come down from heaven and live in the little house where the people gave the deity food, a bed, and clothes. Since the people were taking care of the deity they believed the deity would help them and bless them.

In Genesis 11:1-9 the people want to build a tower so that God will come down and bless them. But God is not pleased with this and he confuses their languages so the project stops and the people scatter.

Most non-Christians and some Christians don’t believe that all languages and cultures literally began at the Tower of Babel.

This story teaches several main points. God does not have needs that people can meet. God will carry out his plan for bringing his presence in his own way and his own time. We can’t manipulate God’s presence or his blessings. We are not supposed to be selfish with God’s blessings, we are supposed to bring them out into the whole world.