Ken Ham: The History of Death

This is your lucky day. The question you’ve all been asking yourselves is about to be answered, and by the best possible authority. Who is that? Surely you know — we’re speaking of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia.

This appears at the website of his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG). Even the title will thrill you. It’s Was There Death Before Adam Sinned? And it’s written by ol’ Hambo himself! Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and his scripture references omitted:

When Charles Darwin wrote his famous book On the Origin of Species, he was in essence writing a history concerning death. In the conclusion of the chapter entitled “On the Imperfections of the Geological Record,” Darwin wrote, “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”

From his evolutionary perspective on the origin of life, Darwin recognized that death had to be a permanent part of the world. Undoubtedly, he struggled with this issue as he sought to reconcile some sort of belief in God with the death and suffering he observed all around him, and which he believed had gone on for millions of years.

This struggle came to a climax with the death of his daughter Annie — said to be “the final death-knell for his Christianity.”

Very touching. What does it have to do with death before Adam? Stay with us. Hambo says:

Belief in evolution and/or millions of years necessitates that death has been a part of history since life first appeared on this planet. The fossil layers (containing billions of dead things) supposedly represent the history of life over millions of years. As Carl Sagan is reported to have said, “The secrets of evolution are time and death.” This phrase sums up the history of death according to those who believe in evolution and/or millions of years.

Oh, how horrible! There must be a better way to look at things. Let’s read on:

Rather than “time and death,” the phrase “sin and death” sums up the history of death according to the Bible. From a perspective of the literal history of the Book of Genesis, there was a perfect world to start with described by God as “”very good”” — but it was marred because of Adam’s rebellion. Sin and its consequence of death entered the world that was once a paradise.

Even if death existed before Adam’s sin, there couldn’t have been all that much of it. The world was still new. There’s so much we don’t understand. Hambo continues:

The idea of millions of years came from the belief that most of the fossil-bearing layers were laid down millions of years before man existed. Those Christians who accept the idea of millions of years and try to fit it into the Bible also must accept death of animals, disease, suffering, thorns, and animals eating each other before sin. But all of this flies in the face of the clear teaching of Scripture that such things could not have existed until after sin.

Hambo then gives a couple bible verses to support what he says. They’re from the New Testament except for this from Genesis where, after the sin, God tells Adam & Eve:

In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return

About that, Hambo tells us:

God decreed that our bodies would return to dust (physical death) as a result of sin. There is no doubt there could not have been human death before sin.

No human death before sin? Yes, but Cain and Abel came later. There weren’t any other humans at the time of Adam’s sin, so how could there have been human death? We’re still confused. Here’s more:

[T]here is no verse of Scripture that specifically teaches that there was no animal death before sin. However, there are passages of Scripture that, when taken together, lead us to conclude this.

Again, there wasn’t much time for any death, animal or human. But Hambo will undoubtedly clear everything up for us. Moving along, he mentions some problems:

Problem: For those Christians who believe in millions of years, the fossil record that is claimed by secularists to be millions of years old has in it numerous examples of animals having eaten other animals — supposedly millions of years before man! This is contrary to the Bible’s clear teaching that animals were vegetarian originally (before sin).


Problem: Those Christians who believe in millions of years for most of the fossil layers to form must accept that diseases like cancer were in the bones of animals before sin, and that God described such diseases as “”very good”.”

Hambo resolves those problems like this:

[W]hat kind of God would He be to call that corruption “”very good””? So the whole originally perfect creation was put into bondage to corruption by God’s curse recorded in Genesis 3.

That makes sense. Another excerpt:

From the above and other passages of Scripture … we have good reasons to believe that animals could not have eaten other animals and died of diseases before sin. The only other ways animals could have died would be from old age (wearing out) or accidents (catastrophes, etc.) — but these would not fit with everything originally being “”very good”,” and would not fit with Paul’s teaching in Romans 8 that the whole creation groans now because of sin. We can therefore conclude with confidence there was no animal death before sin.

Ah, all the problems are solved. On with the article:

In reality, the battle between creation and evolution, between young-earth and old-earth views, is in fact a battle between two totally different histories of death. For the Christian, which history of death you accept has major theological implications.

Hambo’s article is rather long — and repetitive. Here are a couple of excerpts we plucked from the final third of it:

The Bible makes it obvious that death is the penalty for our sin. In other words, it is really our fault that the world is the way it is — God is a loving, merciful God. When we sinned in Adam, we effectively said that we wanted life without God. … The true history of death, as understood from a literal Genesis, enables us to recognize a loving Creator who hates death, the enemy that will one day be thrown into the lake of fire.

And now we come to the end:

Which history of death do you accept? Is it one that makes God an ogre responsible for millions of years of death, disease, and suffering? Or is it one that correctly places the blame on our sin, and correctly represents our Creator God as a loving, merciful Savior who wept at the tomb of dead Lazarus?

It’s a difficult decision. But upon much reflection, we’ll go with the loving God who exterminated almost the entire planet in the Flood.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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29 responses to “Ken Ham: The History of Death

  1. What a sad, strange man.

  2. Stephen Kennedy

    Hambo’s long, rambling, repetitive and mindless essay on death is further evidence, if any was needed, of how absolutely out of his mind he is.

  3. Holding the Line in Florida

    Hey SC that was priceless. Like you, I will certainly go with Hambo’s loving God who wiped out almost all living things because he was POed with us for being exactly what he knew we were going to be. Wonder what irritated him about dinosaurs though. Guess they were sinning big time too!! I suppose T-Rex and Bronto having illicit fornication too!!

  4. So the moral of this story is that some sky fairy blames zebras for letting some woman in a garden eat an apple, so now the slow zebras get eaten by lions? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

  5. In the perfect world, with no death, how many humans and other animals would be in the world today? Maybe the question should be, how deep would be the layer of animal life covering the surface of the globe? Those on the bottom would be miserable, but they could not die.

    Also, in the perfect world, we would all be naked, as we were before Eve ate the forbidden fruit. For some reason, that seems less than perfect to me….

  6. He’s joking, right? He can reconcile the idea that his god can initiate a plan that his omniscience must have allowed him to know that it would require the damnation of countless souls, but he can’t rationalize Yahweh letting animals get sick? Has he ever even read the book he keeps referring to?

  7. “[W]hat kind of God would He be to…” What flavor of humble piety allows a sinful mortal to encourage his readers to presume they can pass judgement on any matter concerning the conduct or policy of their chosen supreme deity? Would it be the kind of piety that should be prefixed with the term faux?

  8. The Omphalos hypothesis is the argument that God created the world recently (in the last ten thousand years, in keeping with Flood geology), but complete with signs of great age.

    This is what Ham is trying to convey to some extent I think.

    But another thought, if Adam and Eve had not “sinned” and they went on with their begatting, and their offspring begatting, with each other, and so on, and so forth, I pose this mathematical exercise for the reader. If the earth is but 10,000 years old, and all this rabbit-like begatting went on, and NO DEATHS occurred at all during that time since “all was good,” what would the population of the earth be today?

  9. What a sick, twisted little thing ol’ Hambo is. He and his coterie of similarly sick, twisted, and demented comrades who collectively make up AiG are made the worse by their deliberate lying to and thereby, in my opinion, intellectually abusing children. They are disgusting throwbacks who must be pushed aside and defeated.

  10. But…didn’t God commit the first murder..for a pelt..because he forgot to make Adam with fur?

  11. If A & E drank water, they were consuming one-celled animals. Eat fruits, vegetables or grasses and that part of the plant dies. Or were all those not important deaths?

  12. You’ve just got to love the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent and perfect creator, creating something that would rebel against them (as they must, by the definition of their being, always known it would) – and then believing they have license to blame that creation for its rebellion, and in their omnibenevolence condemn their creation to eternal damnation. Yet even more, despite their omnipotence, only being able to conceive of, and create, one way that that creation can be saved that is based on simple gullibility.

    Everytime I hear about Yahweh, he becomes less like a god I feel worthy of worship – and even less like one that can actually exist by his own definition.

  13. Mary L asks

    Eat fruits, vegetables or grasses and that part of the plant dies. Or were all those not important deaths?

    I fear most of us here are not appreciating just how perfect was the Prelapsarian Paradise which Hambo proclaims with the full authority of God Himself.

    What part of “no death” don’t y’all understand? Not one single solitary living cell–animal, plant, or protozoan–perished until the moment Adam and Eve decided they just couldn’t keep their hands off that Washington State Red Delicious.

    So: plants subsisted entirely on water and sunshine. Not even a single leaf ever died, so the soil was absolutely sterile and devoid of any nutrients–which the plants didn’t need, in any case. And as for animals, it wasn’t simply that all creatures were herbivores rather than carnivores, for there was absolutely no need to eat at all! After all, no one could ‘die’ from starvation, so eating was not only unnecessary, it would have been absolutely futile. Imagine Adam tucking into a large Waldorf salad only to find it passed all the way through his alimentary canal to emerge just as fresh and palatable as when he first consumed it!

    Which really means, what need had any creature for an alimentary canal? Never mind the old chestnut about whether or not Adam had a navel–the real point is, he had no esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, bowel, anus &c &c.

    Adam was completely incapable of ever cutting himself even with the sharpest shard of obsidian, for that would have entailed the death of some skin cells. He was able to hurl himself from the highest cliff and walk away totally unscathed, with no bruises or broken bones. Indeed, he could swim the entire width of the Atlantic underwater, as he could not drown–which raises the question of whether or not he needed lungs or nostrils &c &c. Basically, Adam was something like the Terminator or Superman–except he was immune to Kryptonite.

    It must follow, of course, that without death there was no pain, the function of which is now to keep us out of harm’s way but had no place in the wonderful world before the Fall.

    Yes, there are some apparently odd features of this Perfect World–but that’s only because we are so corrupted by our sin and adherence to Darwinism. It’s a little weird to think, that when Prelapsarian Adam and Eve…ah, ‘coupled’, that none of the millions of little spermatozoa released thereby could ever die, but carried on wriggling and swimming away indefinitely. And one wonder how the Dung Beetles, who could only have been rolling little pebbles around pointlessly, felt about their Sisyphean and meaningless labours. We just have to trust that the Grand Ole Designer, in His/Her/Its/Their Infinite Wisdom, comprehended it all…

  14. @Mary L – if you read Ham’s article, you will see that he covers the Plant Problem by insisting that plants are not “alive” in the same sense humans and animals are, and hence can’t “die”. Therefore, even if Adam and Eve ate fruits and vegetables, and the animals ate grass, this did not constitute “death” in Ham’s book.

    For all his cute little cartoons setting out the various versions of the history of death, Ham however never discusses the problem so evident to many of us here: What would stop a deathless world from being utterly overpopulated? Perhaps he could argue that perfect, God-fearing humans could be commanded to stop procreating while the human population was still sustainable — but what about the animals? Did Yahweh plan to miraculously cancel their sex instincs, once there were many enough of them?

    It would seem to make more sense not to start with single couples, but to create the entire intended planetary population of “immortal” animals AND humans directly, eliminating all need for reproductive organs and different genders. Also, in this scenario the misstep of one couple would not cause “inherited sin” to spread to all subsequent generations.

    Then it would also be perfectly clear that evolution was impossible, since evolutionary processes absolutely require many generations following one another, natural selection working on the variations that arise.

    But Yahweh just had to do it the illogical way, which even in a best-case scenario (no Fall) would have required massive interventions later to prevent overpopulation.

    One can understand why many find Ham’s (or the Bible’s) scenario appealing. Precisely because our instincts are shaped by evolution, we have a strong tendency towards self-preservation (people indifferent about dying would take greater risks and their genes would be less likely to be passed on). So we don’t like the thought of death, epsecially our own.

    Hence religious memes (mental viruses) can exploit our dislike of death by assuring that if we just believe in the right stuff, we will gain “eternal life”. The whole aging and dying thing is supposedly just an unfortunate, but ultimately passing phenomenon in cosmic history, brought about by some kind of “Fall”.

    But of course, all the evidence is that death has been around as long as there has been life, and when higher nervous systems evolved, life became subject to suffering (though life also got pleasure — Ham consistently neglects the bright side!) So once again, Ham must simply throw all the evidence out of the window.

    Perhaps sometimes, as adult people, we must simply face the awesome possibility that the universe is not like we would like it to be. The other option is religion.

  15. Megalonyx speculates: “And one wonder[s] how the Dung Beetles, who could only have been rolling little pebbles around pointlessly, felt about their Sisyphean and meaningless labours.”

    Because of my years of research into the dung beetle, I have given considerable thought to that problem. The only logical answer is that they weren’t needed or created until after the sin of Adam & Eve.

  16. Megs, that was awesome, a magnificent reductio ad absurdum taunt that goes deep into the bizarre and fragile world inhabited by Hamfist & Co.

    All opposable digits up!

  17. Pete Moulton

    H.K. Fauskanger suggests: “Perhaps he could argue that perfect, God-fearing humans could be commanded to stop procreating while the human population was still sustainable — but what about the animals?”

    That sort of shoots down the whole “Be fruitful, and multiply” thing, doesn’t it?

  18. What the Bible has to say of plants not being alive and thus not capable of death:
    John 12:24 (KJB)
    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

    Programmed cell death (apoptosis) is an essential part of growth in many multicultural organisms (for example, in the formation of separate fingers).

  19. H.K. Fauskanger notes that Hambo

    covers the Plant Problem by insisting that plants are not “alive” in the same sense humans and animals are, and hence can’t “die”. Therefore, even if Adam and Eve ate fruits and vegetables, and the animals ate grass, this did not constitute “death” in Ham’s book.

    OK, but that only says that Adam and Eve could have eaten fruit and vegetables, but doesn’t touch the real problem of why did they need to eat at all if there is no death?

    Ham quotes Genesis 1:29-30 (my bolding): And God said [to Adam and Eve], “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

    But what if Adam and Eve, instead of defying God’s command to keep their hands off the apple, had protested against the rule with a hunger strike? Except, they couldn’t experience hunger, because they had no need at all to eat because they could not die! What did they need with food? Or air?

    As per my previous post, it is absolutely clear–from the word of God himself–that Adam and Eve had no organs of digestion or indeed respiration; really, they were sacks of completely indestructible skin that were mostly filled with something like Styrofoam packing peanuts like Amazon use in their parcels, but also–in order to fulfill the divinely-mandated ‘be fruitful and multiply’ commandment–a set of complementary genitals, and sensory organs for finding one another. So not at all recognisably human–but after all, they were made in God’s own image (and you don’t suppose God has, say, an anus, or nostrils, &c &c). This conclusion is as scripturally sound as you can get.

  20. Oopsie! Typo in above: [edited out!]

    Typographical errors were also impossible in the world before the Fall, I am certain…

  21. Megalonyx speculates wildly by daring to say: “you don’t suppose God has, say, an anus”

    I wouldn’t presume to say such a thing. After all, he created the Seventh Planet.

  22. Pete Moulton

    “After all, he created the Seventh Planet.” As you say, SC, but that isn’t exactly His anus… Or is it? This seems like a question for our favorite creationist and follower of the Knights of [the seventh planet], none other than Casey Luskin. If anyone presumes to know, it’s gotta be Casey.

  23. Eddie Janssen

    Why would God create a very huge universe, complete with a small solar system, at all? Just so that one of the millions of life forms on one of the planets of that solar system would worship him?
    And if he was not competent enough to create a lifeform that would worship him, why punish them with all sorts of torment after death. Shouldn’t he blame himself for having done a lousy job?
    It all sounds really pathetic, like the little boy with a terrarium who every now and then kills or torments one of the animals in his terrarium.

  24. @Mega: “when Prelapsarian Adam and Eve…ah, ‘coupled’”
    That’s easy. They didn’t.

    @Faus: “he covers the Plant Problem”
    That’s actually similar to WL Craig’s (if it’s him; I’m not entirely sure) coverage of the problem of animal suffering. Animals don’t really suffer from pain, because they don’t have a soul or something.

    “What would stop a deathless world from being utterly overpopulated?”
    Oh, come on – no sex, hence no kids. Personally I would prefer “no sperm and eggs, hence no kids”, but I’m not a fundie, just a sex crazed atheist who does it for fun. Fundies have sex for children.

    “what about the animals”
    No sex either, of course.

    @Pete: ““Be fruitful, and multiply”
    No, this isn’t shot down, because god in his infite wisdom only issued this order after the Fall. It’s a punishment. And because we all know that women are even more evil than men it’s them who have the fun of birth pains.

    @Mega: “why did they need to eat at all if there is no death”
    Because they had no sex of course! What else is there to do in the Garden of Eden besides praising the lord?

    @Eddie: “Why would God create a very huge universe …?
    To teach you a bit of humility and modesty.
    Everyone should learn one thing after reading this blog for a couple of months: as soon as you say “f*** science and consistency, praise the lord and ad hoc explanations” there is an answer to everything. Postulate X: god. Postulate the opposite of X: also god.

  25. Pete Moulton

    @mnbo: “What else is there to do in the Garden of Eden besides praising the lord?” I guess you could converse with the snakes…

  26. The more outrageous the claim, the more contortions are needed in an attempt to justify the claim. Hambo obviously has theological Ehlers-Danlos. Why not just go with the obvious – since everything was created in 6 days, it seems clear that the time-line to eating the apple was only a couple of days later – hence, not need for anything to die in such a short time span!!

  27. Some more musings akin to “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin”…

    Does God have a navel? It is often asked if Adam had a navel, but what about God? Are we created in his image, or not?

    It’s been asked (by Megs) if God has an anus. Well, how about a penis? And if so, what does he use it for? And just who is created in God’s image, anyway? Just us men? What about women? Does God also have fully-developed breasts? And a uterus? Just how is God’s plumbing put together, anyway? If He has a penis, does He also have a vagina? How does that work? although it would come in handy having both if Satan were to tell Him to “Go [edited out] yourself”. Or is there a Mrs. God? And if so, why haven’t we been told about her?

    So many questions. Guess I should go look for Answers in Genesis.

  28. There being a Mrs. God would go a long way in explaining the bouts of Old Testament wrath.

  29. Hell Heaven hath no fury like a woman scorned?