Combing the Net – 8/4/2010

Criticism of Ken Ham — Though in the past I have been a big supporter of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, in the last year or so I’ve begun to rethink his methods, if not his conclusions. At the very least, I’ve realized that interpretation of the biblical creation account is not as cut-and-dry as he makes it sound, and that his speaking is riddled with logical fallacies (which does not by itself mean that he’s wrong about a young Earth). The article linked is the best critical summary of Ham’s teaching methods from a Christian perspective I’ve heard, and deserves your consideration, no matter where you stand on your view of the age of the Earth. (HT: James McGrath)

End Times Anthem — I’m not sure which is worse: this guy’s music or his theology!

The Worst Advice Ever — It’s common advice, but that doesn’t make it good. Are you following it?

How Will We Be Judged? — When future generations of Christians contemplate our present time, what will they think of how we have fought against the great sins of our day? What are our “blind spots” which will be so clear to our ancestors?

Happy Birthday, Brother — Though it’s more than a week belated, my dad has written a pretty cool post in honor of my brother’s birthday. Though every father is probably prone to brag and exaggerate on his sons, I can testify that David really is as impressive and talented as Dad makes him sound, and we’re all very proud of him! We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but outside of my wife and son, there’s no one I love more.

Here’s yet another great “sermon jam”, with clips taken from a Matt Chandler message. (HT: Timmy Brister)

8 comments on “Combing the Net – 8/4/2010

  1. Emily Williams says:

    Re: Ken Ham

    Interesting article regarding the critique of Ken Ham. I agree that the reviewer is right in his assessment of Ken Ham’s speaking style and I agree that Ken Ham sometimes doesn’t support his views with the best arguments from a theological perspective. However, I found it somewhat disheartening that he didn’t give any report about the validity to Ken Ham’s position. Often I feel Ken Ham has good points, but just doesn’t support them well, and that there is a better validation for his arguments. I felt the reviewer lead people to believe that Ken Ham’s style of discourse disqualifies his evidence and information. I felt this was a little unfair and misleading.

    The reviewer also criticizes Ham for taking 10 minutes to talk about Genesis 1 and the rest of the time to talk about opposing viewpoints. It seems to me that it’s important to talk about opposing viewpoints to see where their logic is fallable. This allows us to be better prepared to answer those who come at us with criticisms and questions.

    Recently Ben and I and my parents took a trip to the Creation Museum (thought we should go before we left Ohio!). I was excited because I thought I would get a lot of good information. However, I found the exhibits lame, devoid of information, and lacking in deep theology. I thought most of the conclusions were right, but there was no information or evidence. I was sorely dissapointed. They kept saying that their goal was to present the Biblical perspective to the outside world in a serious and compelling way, however, if I were a non-believer I wouldn’t have bought into anything that was being presented. Their exhibits were unclear and lacking support and their media presentations were tongue and cheek, opening the door even further for Christians to be portrayed as ignorant.

    I feel that Ken Ham has so much more to offer than what he sometimes demonstrates in his speaches, or definately in his museum. However, I don’t think we should be fighting amongst ourselves so much. I think there is a better way of reviewing Ken Ham’s speech without demeaning him at the same time. There’s no need to call his voice whiney for instance. I think this reviewer discredits himself by not presenting a respectful critique despite that he does have some good points to make.

    • Brandon Skaggs says:

      On the topic of the Creation Museum.

      When my wife and I visited the Creation Museum two years ago our expectations were to hopefully experience something at least on par with an average natural history museum. With those expectations in mind I believe in most ways they were met and in some ways exceeded. The exhibits may not have been as informative as they could have been but a balance between experience and content had to be maintained. When a person walks into a evolution exhibit they are told this is man evolving from an ape or these dinosaur bones are 600 million years old, why? because scientist say so. The modern American public, creationist or evolutionist wants its information pack up nicely into quick, easy to digest bites. People come through the doors with their theology (or lack thereof) and ideas of the origin of life. To be honest, most people, myself included visit any museum for informative entertainment.

      Anywhere you can see an animatronic Methuselah and Paul is OK by me!

      • Emily Williams says:

        Brandon,

        I’m glad that your experience at the creation museum was entertaining and fulfilled your expectations.

        Personally, I don’t go to museums to be entertained, and I expect more from a Chistian museum than a secular one. If all Christians can do is “be on par” with their secular counterparts than what do we have to offer the world but another opinion not based on any true evidence? We have more to offer than that because we have the truth, and I believe that should be reflected in our museums. Biblical truth is not meant to “tickle the ears” or eyes of those encountering it. It’s designed to stop you in your tracks, because that is the nature of God, and to portray any less in our rendering of the Bible and our God is to do a disservice to our faith.

        • Brandon Skaggs says:

          Emily,

          Amen. Thinking about a previous link John posted on his blog may account for my personal initial expectations. “Why Church Coffee Is Often So Bad”

          I believe our viewpoints on the purpose of the museum may be different. I personally see the museum as a place for believers, not an apologetic presentation. Like the cross and resurrection, to an unbelieving world they are now in our time considered foolish and borderline insane ideas.

          The benefit of a well done theological presentation would be for the Christians. A place you can take your children that teaches a world view that is in line with what you teach your children and makes it fun and interesting.

  2. John Gardner says:

    Thanks for the plug, John. You have a big birthday coming up later this year…. you are just as impressive. love, dad

  3. Mark Looy says:

    John:

    Greetings. Thank you for your past support. (I could not find your name in our database, though, but maybe our record-keeping is faulty; my assistant looked for a John Gardner in Tennessee in our records but could not find it.)

    I tried reaching you through two different channels, but did not hear back from you. So I will modify what I was intending to send you privately, as I comment on your support of a negative review of one of Ken Ham’s videos.

    In a 45-minute church service, and in a sermon delivered to laypeople (not an academic setting), Ken can’t possibly cover all the views of Genesis in detail. Asking Ken to give a church message to laypeople that is of a technical nature (i.e., essentially an exegesis of Genesis) is not appropriate for that setting. And then also expecting Ken to rigorously refute all possible alternatives is just not reasonable for a Sunday sermon. Not even the most technically trained, exegetical preacher could do that in 45 minutes.

    We have other DVDs, several web articles at AnswersInGenesis.org, and books that go into depth; one book is “Coming to Grips with Genesis,” produced by 14 theologically trained scholars.

    Of course, when Ken does a multi-hour seminar, he (and any AiG teaching partner) will go into such matters more in depth – and that’s the case as well with some of Ken’s other DVDs.

    As someone in California indicated to me last week, the video review you linked to was a “cheap shot.” Respectfully, it could not have been (as you wrote) the “best critical summary” of Ken’s teachings, for Ken could not go in-depth on what we teach.

    You stated that Ken’s “speaking is riddled with logical fallacies.” You did not cite one example in your piece. Please do so, and we can address it. While you seemed sympathetic to an author who criticized Ken for not going in depth, we consider it unfortunate that you did not choose to devote even a few words in giving a specific example of where Ken may be wrong.

    Regards,

    Mark Looy, CCO, Answers in Genesis

    • John Gardner says:

      Hello, Mark. Thank you for your comment. I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I’m not sure what channels you used, but I never received any earlier communication.

      Let me start by saying this: I am not a “past” supporter of AiG. I consider myself a supporter still, though perhaps less enthusiastic than in the past. I have been to the museum several times (theoretically as John Gardner from Tennessee), as well as multiple seminars, including a three-day seminar with Mr. Ham at my church. I probably own just about every book AiG has published.

      Perhaps the tone of what I wrote along with the link to the review was harsher than intended. Apologies. When I write these daily links posts, I tend not to say very much. For clarity’s sake, I would probably have been better off saying either more or less in this instance. Allow me to clarify now.

      Personally, I remain convinced of a young earth. However, I no longer believe that the interpretation of Genesis 1 is as simple as AiG makes it sound. There are far too many biblical scholars whom I respect a great deal (several of whom are listed in this article on AiG’s website) with different interpretations of Genesis 1 for me to discount their arguments as casually as AiG seems to do. I do not believe the dedication to the integrity and reliability of God’s Word evidenced by men such as Sailhamer, Grudem, Erickson, and Geisler to be any less than that of Ken Ham. Nor do I believe that the doctrines of sin and salvation are necessarily watered-down or confused by the preaching of all proponents of an old earth (John Piper is a name that comes to mind), though I would say that arguing for an old humanity (which Piper does not) does create major problems.

      My specific issue is more with Ken Ham’s style of speaking. I tend to agree with another commenter on this post that his points are valid, but that he does not always make the best argument for them in his speaking sessions. I understand that there are time constraints (though I didn’t discern a noticeable difference in his manner of speaking between his longer seminar and his 1-hour sessions) and that he is speaking to laypeople rather than scientists or theologians. I sympathize with the challenge of addressing such a broad and controversial subject in such a short period of time.

      Still, my experiences of hearing Mr. Ham speak have always seemed more entertaining than educational. For the most part, in situations such as at my church and at Thomas Road Baptist (the location of the video critiqued in the above review), Ken Ham is speaking to those who already agree with him on issues such as the age of the earth and the historicity of a global flood. Unfortunately, I felt like most of the people at our church came away not with a better understanding of creation apologetics, but with a feeling that those who believe anything other than what Ken Ham teaches are either stupid or don’t love the Bible, which is simply not true. This is the result of a modus operandi that seems to be geared more toward ridiculing those with whom he disagrees rather than giving them a fair critique or equipping others to refute their claims. He draws audiences in through jokes, cartoons, and repeated catchy phrases like “billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth”, but then glazes over some major issues and dismisses them as laughable. Frankly, these are very weak and fallacious debating techniques, and I believe he could do better.

      These are the type of things that were addressed in the review to which I linked. This is why I said I felt it was a good critical summary of his “teaching methods”, as opposed to his actual teachings. Maybe I read it wrong, but I didn’t get the sense that Mr. Jepsen was taking issue in his review with any of Ken Ham’s conclusions, but with the manner in which he presents them. In fact, he even says that he is not disagreeing with Mr. Ham’s points, but has been focusing on his “arguments and tactics.”

      Because of this, and because his description of how the material was presented on that DVD is consistent with my own experience, I believe many of the concerns Jepsen raised are valid. If he was attempting to pass judgment on the entirety of Ken Ham’s or AiG’s work based on a 52-minute video, then it would indeed be a “cheap shot” as you say. That’s just not what I took away from his review.

      For the record, I do think that the materials published (both in print and online) by AiG are much more helpful. I thank you for your efforts to spread the Truth of God’s Word, even though we may not always see eye-to-eye regarding methods. May God continue to bless you.

      ~John

  4. Mark Looy says:

    John: Greetings. I had tried to reach you a few days ago through this comments section, leaving a message in a comment box indicating that I was trying to contact you — and I requested your email address so that we could communicate privately. I also tried reaching you through a church you are associated with (at the moment I can’t remember the name of the church). Please send me your email address; you have mine. Thanks. Mark

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