You may recall that last month we wrote about a tragically confused child who challenged a NASA tour guide’s description of a moon rock said to be 3.75 billion years old.
The child’s challenge was to ask: “Were you there?” and it made her mother so proud that she wrote about it to Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. He runs the online creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), and he also created the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.
Ol’ Hambo was so thrilled that he blogged about it, and in response to that we wrote: Ken Ham Disciple Exposes NASA’s Godless Lies.
It seems we weren’t the only one wrote about the incident. Today, at his own blog at the AIG website, ol’ Hambo writes: Were You There? He says:
Recently, I wrote a blog item about a young girl who very politely challenged a guide at a NASA exhibit about the supposed billions of years date for a moon rock.
Well, we have found that certain secularists and atheists regularly monitor my blog and Facebook. They really get upset when they hear of any instances of children learning about the truth of God’s Word, starting in Genesis. They continually use the term “child abuse,” for example. They want to indoctrinate children with the idea that they are just animals and life has no meaning or purpose. These are the same people who usually support killing millions of children by abortion.
That’s Hambo’s defense! He calls his critics “secularists and atheists” who think that “life has no meaning or purpose,” and he also suggests that they support “killing millions of children by abortion.” Hey, Hambo: Is that the best you can do?
But he wasn’t talking about us. All that your Curmudgeon did was blandly report the incident, just as Hambo described it, and then we trusted your intelligence, dear reader, to reach your own conclusion about the child’s behavior and Hambo’s approval of that behavior.
Anyway, Hambo’s personal blog post today serves only to introduce his much longer article about the situation, which appears elsewhere at the AIG website. It has a great title: Were You There?, and it offers his answer to what he claims is this question that was sent to him:
I understand you teach that the world was created in six days a few thousand years ago. I just have one question: Were you there?
Good question. Here are some excerpts from Hambo’s response, with bold font added by us:
Thank you for sending us your question. The simple answer is “No, we were not there.” And we have never claimed to have been there. This question is based on one that God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding”
Maybe God asked that question and maybe he didn’t. We don’t know because we weren’t there. Let’s read on:
When teaching children, we tell them they should politely ask the question “Were you there?” when talking to someone who believes in millions of years and molecules-to-man evolution. If someone replies by asking the same question, as you have done, we say, “No we weren’t there, but we know Someone who was there, Someone who cannot lie, who knows everything, and has always existed. And this One has revealed to us what happened in the past in His history book called the Bible.
The “Hambo Maneuver” may superficially seem to be a devastating debate tactic, but it’s subject to the same logical objection as the First Cause argument. Specifically, it cannot survive its own premise.
If one begins with the premise that everything has a cause, and then works his way back to God’s being the cause of the universe, the game isn’t over yet. It has just begun. The conclusion that God created the universe isn’t exempt from the premise that brought you to that conclusion. The premise that “everything has a cause” demands that you persevere and seek the cause of God — which leads to the absurdity of an infinite series of earlier gods. The traditional “solution” is that when one gets to the desired moment in the causal chain, he arbitrarily abandons the suddenly inconvenient premise, leaving him with God as an “uncaused cause” — a conclusion which contradicts the premise. Whether one capriciously abandons the premise at the “right” place in the causal chain, or diligently pursues it to an infinite series of gods — the argument is an absurdity. There’s nothing wrong with the premise; but it doesn’t lead to the desired conclusion.
Hambo’s “Were you there?” maneuver is far worse. While causality is a valid premise, Hambo’s premise — that nothing can be known without eyewitness testimony — is manifestly absurd. But setting that aside, Hambo’s Maneuver — like causality — has no logical stopping point. If it’s valid to reject an explanation when the explainer says “No, I wasn’t there,” then even if he says: “But I know someone who was there,” it’s fair to ask: “How do you know he was there if you weren’t there?” And Hambo’s technique of insulting the questioner doesn’t resolve the issue. Here’s what we mean:
Even Hambo will admit that he wasn’t there when scripture was initially written by a succession of scribes. Because he wasn’t there, it’s fair to conclude that Hambo has no reason to believe that the content of the scribes’ scrolls comes from God. All we have is the word of those scribes that they wrote what God told them to write. Did it really happen as they say it happened? We don’t know, and neither does Hambo. We weren’t there.
Are we to blindly assume that the scribes really were taking dictation from God? There is no logical reason for that assumption. So where are we? Was God really there or did he arrive later? He says he was there (or so the scribes claim), but how do we know? It’s traditional to grant him credibility because he was present at the Creation, but that credibility depends on his having been there. We weren’t there to see for ourselves, and the scribes weren’t there either. So it’s rather circular to give him credibility based on a claim we can’t verify. Is it blasphemous to avoid fallacious circular reasoning? We don’t think so.
If eyewitnesses are as essential as ol’ Hambo claims they are, then his whole edifice necessarily collapses. Just as the child refused to accept the NASA tour guide’s lecture about the age of moon rocks, we can’t take anyone’s word about anything unless we were there to see for ourselves. That’s not obstinance; it’s what we learn from ol’ Hambo himself.
We can’t leave this subject without offering something better than Hambo’s Maneuver. How about this? When a claim is made, one can properly ask: “How do you know?” A scientist can give some meaningful information in response to that question, and a child can learn something of value that way.
Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.