YEC Invasion

From: Josh Bembenek (
Date: Fri Sep 19 2003 - 11:22:03 EDT

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    I wish to update you on the process of working through Ken Ham visiting our
    church on October 5th. A colleague from Southwestern Medical Center (best
    described as a theistic evolutionist) and I met with the pastor and three
    others involved in leadership here at Watermark and we had a very productive
    conversation which cleared alot of air. Although I was unable to convince
    them that Ken Ham would be uneffective toward the goal of creating an open
    dialogue about origins, we agreed that this should be one of our primary
    goals. The simple difference is that they do not agree that Ken Ham will
    work against that goal. This is quite tricky business as conversations
    between Michael and Alexian on this list strongly elucidate: who is
    reasonable in making a particular deduction and who is unreasonable, and
    also, who gets to decide? For those who begin with a "straightforward"
    reading of genesis, the argument of appearance of age is reasonable. For
    those who begin elsewhere, (and not necessarily with "evolutionized
    thinking" as Ken Ham would argue, but perhaps a different view of the bible
    or give more weight to the evidence of science) this does not appear to be
    very reasonable. I believe that we all enjoyed the conversation and
    benefited from hearing the others' perspective. One troubling aspect for me
    was that they felt that the particular rhetorical strategy of Ken Ham (which
    uses the word evolution in the place of methodological naturalistic atheism)
    was not out of place due to the mass perception of what evolution means. My
    belief is that regardless of what perceptions people have, we need to clear
    the air and clarify the real issues: we disagree with philosophical
    presuppositions that some scientists use scientific authority to pronounce
    as the only logical possibility, as opposed to disagreeing with population
    genetics or the process of random mutation and natural selection operating
    in the natural world. This point was even conceded by Michael Ruse in his
    recent science article dealing with issues of evolution and faith, which I
    forgot to mention. If scientists can realize that they need to start making
    the distinction between science and philosophy, so can we. The fault we
    have with scientists is with extrapolation, not with data, and my concern is
    that Ken Ham does not adequately delineate that distinction, especially when
    he attacks the reliability of scientific methods/ scientists credibility to
    obtain factual data. We have not yet resolved this issue, but the
    leadership charged us with presenting our case as airtight as possible for
    them to make thier final decision about Ken Ham speaking. Any comments
    regarding this issue would be exceptionally useful.

    The most disconcerting aspect of this whole process was the fact that Ken
    Ham began inquiring with the leadership as to "who this Josh Bembenek" guy
    is after getting wind of what I had been posting on this listserve. Through
    my words here, I gave the false impression to Ken that I was a part of the
    leadership at Watermark and was working with them to prepare a seminar
    before and after Ken Ham's visit for the purpose of debunking what he said
    and making him look bad. I wish to publicly declare on this list that none
    of those intentions are mine, and that my goals are to provide a open
    dialogue useful for all Christians of any sort of view on origins. This
    includes those views held by Ken Ham and those who think like him (which I
    think is a majority at my local body- meaning that a goal to be insensitive
    to those views would be quite unproductive.) I also gave the leadership of
    the church the strong impression that I was viewing the sitation as
    something like "the smart science guy alienated and fighting against the
    dumb, dogmatic church folk." This is embarissingly not my intention, and I
    regret fully that they had that impression based upon what they saw from
    this listserve. Anyone here who had a similar impression, I would like to
    clarify that this is not the situation, despite the impression I gave. The
    leadership of our church is more than open to working through the matter,
    and hadn't even been given a chance to dialogue with me before I began
    posting on the issue here. I admit to feeling confrontational towards the
    leadership, but I had yet to know their position and was not aiming to
    convey anything about their intentions or motivations. My goal in coming to
    the listserve was to data mine those who are familiar with Ken Ham's
    approaches and arguments for the purpose of being prepared to explain to the
    leadership why Ken Ham, IMO and that of others, is not effective in creating
    an open dialogue about the issue of origins. Hopefully that shoud clear the
    matter and we can move forward. This example should serve as a strong
    caveat for those here on the listserve, as it has for me; people are
    watching. We aren't exactly behind closed doors here, and things I may say
    that many will understand in a certain way can easily be interpreted
    differently by others, and we might all benefit by being aware of that.

    Josh Bembenek

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