From: Ted Davis (TDavis@messiah.edu)
Date: Fri Sep 05 2003 - 12:30:44 EDT
So Ken Ham is coming. A good time will not be had by all, I'm afraid.
You write: The only familiarity I have with Ken Ham is when I glanced
through one of his books and saw a cartoon illustration. It depicted two
fortresses in warfare against one another, the first labelled Christianity
and the second Evolution. On the side of Christianity was truth, honour,
God, etc. On the side of Evolution was racism, genocide, euthanasia, etc.
I found it to be the perfectly wrong frame for a productive dialogue about
science and faith issues. This is my only impression of his arguments and
approach, so I need to know more.
Ted: The cartoon you mention is very well know, widely used in creationist
presentations, even available as a wall-mounted picture that at least one or
two of my students' families have in their homes. It (and several others)
can be found in Ham's book, The lie : evolution : Genesis - the key to
defending your faith. (Incidentally, some of the cartoons in that book have
a striking similarity to cartoons widely used in the 1920s on both sides of
the Atlantic. The cartoonist for the Sunday School Times, E.J. Pace, was
highly effective at ridiculing evolution. His visual motives reappear often
in antievolutionist literature. The particular one about a castle I have
not seen in Pace, but half a dozen other cartoons in that book are very
close to Pace cartoons.)
As for responding to Ham, your goals sound appropriate. Many will find Ham
more convicing than you, I am guessing, b/c Ham is slick and has had lots of
practice. Also, he keeps it as simple as he can, whereas modern science is
rarely that simple. Ridicule is part of his toolbox too--Rimmer used it
very well in the 1930s to win the audience, if not necessarily the
If I were in your position, I would push the Galileo issue. What I mean
is, raise the question whether we should *always* in *all circumstances*
insist on the "literal" meaning of a given text, esp when it seems to
contradict other information that we think we know. Use the example of the
earth's motion and the roughly one dozen scriptures that seem to contradict
that. It's a safe example--I doubt your pastor has ever preached against
Copernicus, though a few geocentrists are found among the creationists.
Then, examine the two Genesis creation stories carefully--and do emphasize
that there appear to be two such stories, whose details are not fully
consistent. (such as the order of events--animals then humans or vice
versa) Also look at the fourth day of creation, where the sun and moon are
created expressly to mark out time and to give day and night, yet we've had
time and evening/morning since day one. (This passage has been a source of
speculation since the earliest years of the church, long before "modern
science". It has long been questioned, for example, whether the first three
"days" are "days" at all, since the sun and moon aren't there.)
In other words, raise some fair questions about *what* a *literal*
interpretation of the text actually gives us.
That leaves you latitude to question whether Ham's "biblical" science is
really the only "biblical" view.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Fri Sep 05 2003 - 12:32:39 EDT