Friday, September 21, 2007

Ken Ham fights the dictionary

Is God natural?

There's no point in expecting anything new from Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. He wants creationism in the schools and decries the resistance of educators and scientists. In the latest issue of AnswersUpdate (Vol. 14, Issue 9), Ham argues that creationists are being held back by an unfairly narrow definition of science.
In today's public schools, the Bible and its account of creation are excluded from almost all classrooms. In most cases this is due to the fear tactics and misinformation campaigns of mainstream scientists, publishers, and left-leaning special interest groups such as the ACLU and People for the American Way.

For example, most educators have been trained to insist that “science” can only apply to processes involving natural causes (naturalism), but not the supernatural.

As a result, many people (including some Christians) believe that to teach science you can never use the Bible or talk about God or creation in school.

But who ever made the determination that “science” can only mean “naturalism”? It's an arbitrary definition made up, by and large, by those who do not believe in God (and by those Christians who compromise on Genesis), and this arbitrary determination of science is meant to conform to naturalism.

At its root meaning, the word science is defined as “knowledge.” So why would we exclude any bit of knowledge that might touch on God?
Ham certainly has a point: If science relates only to those things that are natural, then the supernatural is definitely left out of the picture. The awkward point, of course, is God's unsuitability as a subject for scientific inquiry. Perhaps Ham remembers that God is supposed to be omnipotent. If he can do anything, exercising arbitrary power, how is that amenable to scientific explanation? Omnipotence has so much “explanatory power” that it fails to explain anything at all. We're back to “God did it.” How, pray tell, does one dig that conclusion out of the fossil record, comparative biology, genetics, or any natural science? The God hypothesis is ostensibly rejected by the exponents of intelligent design, who take pains to distinguish themselves from garden variety creationists. However, the garden variety creationists who push miraculous explanations for natural phenomena have yet to provide a framework for methodical investigation.

Perhaps it's unfair to expect them to do this. The God explanation is the end of scientific inquiry and creationists are perfectly happy with that. It's okay to discard fossil evidence for evolution of species or genomic evidence of the interrelatedness of life because that avenue of inquiry is closed off, the dead end provided by chapter 1 of Genesis. Ham and his fellow travelers see the supernatural as a tonic for the overreaching of scientists who imperil believers' faith in the literal truth of the Bible. God prunes away the regions where human hubris has intruded and “restores” science to a worshipful celebration of the wonders of God's handiwork. Very convenient.

That is how we make sense of Ham's willingness to curtail scientific inquiry, which he sees as an anti-God endeavor in its modern incarnation. He means to restore the centrality of his version of God, so he must denounce the naturalistic basis of science. To Ham, naturalism is not an unbiased premise.
Think about it: this is not a neutral position at all. Through policies based on intimidation and misinformation, most public schools have basically thrown God and the Bible out of schools. Educators thought that meant they were throwing religion out. But they didn't. They just threw out Christianity—and the whole basis for morality. In the guise of “science” they replaced the Christian view with “naturalism”—the basis for the anti-God religion of secular humanism.
Ah, yes. Secularism is a religion, much like not collecting stamps is a hobby. And Christianity is the “whole basis for morality.” Do you see why we cannot ignore such perniciously narrow and sectarian views? In Ham's ideal classroom, the Bible becomes a textbook for both biology and civics. The New Testament provides the universal standard for all proper behavior (presumably with a nod toward some version of the sacrosanct Ten Commandments from the Old Testament). One can imagine the thought police and heresy trials necessary to support such an oppressively sectarian system.

Those who “know” what God said and intends are ready to cram their interpretation down our throats. They plan to come for the scientists first. In a wonderful example of projection, they claim to be victims of oppression and intimidation while seeking to use those same techniques to breach the walls of the public schools. Keep your guard up.


Ian said...

Isn't the main point about teaching religion in schools (in the US) related to the "Lemon test"? Isn't it a matter of whether something has secular intent?

It isn't that the definition of science is unimportant, but how does Ham suppose that someone seeking to teach creation "science" would ever have secular intent?

The Ridger, FCD said...

Ah. The argument from from etymology. It's almost irresistible. Too bad it's not really meaningful.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Grr. Extra "from" there.

Anonymous said...


Thank goodness Ken Ham has finally denounced the intellectual Gestapo of the ACLU and the People for the American Way. I teach a humanities course at a University on the west coast, and at the start of each term I find little pamphlets exhorting me to remember and protect the Constitution accompanied by blackmail photos of me reading _Origin of the Species_. Because of these scare tactics, I've kept from arguing for the six-day creation of the earth, an apocalyptic world-wide flood, and explaining why the patriarchs of "Genesis" and "Exodus" do not really behave like modern-day sociopaths.