YOU all know that Ken Ham is the creationist entrepreneur behind the infamous Creation Museum. Ham also operates the creationist website Answers in Genesis (AIG). That site has a Mission Statement that tells you what you need to know in order to evaluate the scientific value of Ham’s work.
But Ham isn’t alone. He has a colleague named Mark Looy, described at the AIG site as:
… a co-founder with Ken Ham of the fast-growing (275 staff) apologetics ministry of Answers in Genesis and its new high-tech, well-reviewed 70,000-square-foot Creation Museum near Cincinnati …
Looy has written a letter-to-the-editor which appears in the News Journal of Mansfield, Ohio. He’s upset about this letter which appeared in that paper on 13 August: Modern-day Christians too willing to embrace false and ignorant notions. That letter criticized the Creation Museum.
Here are some excerpts from Looy’s response: If you think Ken Ham’s ignorant, would you debate him? Looy says, with bold font added by us:
Would the letter writer (Aug. 13) who stated so confidently that our Creation Museum president, Ken Ham, is “ignorant,” “an embarrassment to critically thinking and scientific Christians,” and someone who makes Christians “appear as blinded fools” be willing to engage Ken in a public debate on the book of Genesis? … An impartial moderator is what we would seek, plus a respectful attitude on her part. I hope she will accept the challenge.
A bold challenge indeed! Here’s how the Looy letter concludes:
In the end, we trust that the debate audience will come to believe that both a plain reading of Scripture and adding up the chronologies in the Old Testament are God’s testimony to the earth’s true age, and that attendees will reject the opinions of fallible people.
Mark Looy, co-Founder, Creation Museum
But what is there to debate? There is no scientific debate as to whether the earth is 6,000 years old, or whether there was a global Deluge in the recent past — those notions have been refuted long ago. Nor is there a scientific dispute as to whether all life on earth evolved over hundreds of millions of years and is related by common descent.
We’re aware of denominational disputes about how to read Genesis in connection with the theory of evolution, but such matters are best left to theologians. See: Statements from Religious Organizations. Somehow, we doubt that the Catholics, or the Anglicans, or the Methodists, or any of the others that accept evolution are interested in debating Mr. Ham’s interpretation of Genesis. The best case against Ham’s position was made more than fifteen centuries ago. See: St. Augustine on Creationism.
If there were a theological debate about Genesis, as Looy proposes, we assume that Mr. Ham can make a well-practiced presentation to justify his interpretation, and representatives of sects that disagree could make good presentations for their own interpretations. Who cares what an “impartial moderator” might decide? Neither party to such a debate will persuade the other.
Each side feels that its arguments are overwhelmingly powerful — but those boneheads on the other side somehow don’t agree. That’s how it is with denominational disputes, and that’s why we have so many denominations.
What do we learn from this? We learn that neither side has a persuasive case. If such existed, it would prevail and there would be no more debates. But the debates never end.
So they’ll just have to live with their disagreements, or — as sometimes happened in the past with religious disputes — they can go to war. But no matter what they decide to do about the situation, the question of how they interpret Genesis is strictly a matter to be decided by the denominations themselves. Scientists are — or should be — uninvolved in sectarian disputes, at least when speaking as scientists. If a scientist is also a churchman, then he can debate theology in that capacity.
Your Curmudgeon’s position, which you know by now, is one of indifference as to whether the sectarian disputants ever resolve their disagreements. As long as they don’t get aggressive, we’re not concerned with their debates.
We’ve previously expressed our opinion as to why scientists shouldn’t debate creationists about scientific issues. It’s like the absurdity of astronauts debating with moon-landing deniers. At best, creationists offer little of substance. See: Ignorant, Stupid, Insane, or Wicked. We’ve also said this before, but if you’ll forgive us, it’s worth repeating here:
Writing letters and making speeches are fine things to do, but we have misgivings about live debates with creationists. It’s bad strategy, because the mere appearance of a respected scientist on the same platform gives creationism credibility and creates the illusion that there’s some kind of scientific controversy that’s worth debating — and that creationists are qualified to debate with knowledgeable scientists. It also generates press attention. Creationists are not deserving of this.
There is also a tactical reason never to engage in a live debate with a creationist: They typically use their time to make numerous and often erroneous claims, all spewed out in a rapid-fire barrage that is impossible to rebut in the time allowed. Live debates are fine for politics, but not for science.
As for Mr. Looy’s challenge, here is your Curmudgeon’s response — a couplet from the lyrics of Louie Louie:
Louie Louie, oh no
Me gotta go
That ain’t much, but it’s all that the issue deserves.
See also: Ken Ham: “Why Won’t Anyone Debate Me?”
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.