Ken Ham: Booze, Evolution, and the Bible

There’s an article in Discover Magazine titled Human Ancestors Were Consuming Alcohol 10 Million Years Ago. It says:

Using the tools of paleogenetics, scientists have recently traced the evolutionary history of an enzyme that helps us metabolize ethanol, the principal type of alcohol found in adult beverages. Scientists believe early human ancestors evolved their ethanol-digesting ability about 10 million years ago to fortify their diet as they shifted from a tree-based lifestyle to a more ground-based lifestyle.


This genetic switch to alcohol tolerance occurred at roughly the same time as apes moved from the trees to the ground. A period of rapid environmental change was putting pressure on ancient species, as forest ecosystems transitioned to grasslands.

Ordinarily we wouldn’t write about that, but we do so now because it came to the attention of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

As you might expect, ol’ Hambo is furious, and he can’t wait to correct those godless scientists. His response is Human Evolution and Alcohol? We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us and many of Hambo’s bible references omitted. First he mentions the article in Discover Magazine and then he says:

How should Christians understand this study from a biblical worldview?

Beautiful! Hambo cuts right to the essence of the problem. He tells us:

Well, according to the Bible, humans were created fully formed and functional in the image of their Creator. Adam was created from the dust, and Eve from his side. Humans did not shift from a “tree-based lifestyle to a more ground-based lifestyle” because humans did not evolve from ape-like ancestors. And the history of human origins described in the Bible is supported by the observational evidence.

Yeah, Hambo’s got evidence. Let’s read on:

Also, evolutionists, despite all their efforts, have been unable to come up with even one indisputable human ancestor. All of the examples given by evolutionists for our evolutionary ancestry easily fall into one of three categories. They are either parts of humans and apes put together (such as the famous hoax Piltdown man), apes that have been upgraded to a humanlike status by emphasizing certain characteristics (such as Lucy), or humans that have been downgraded to ape-like status by emphasizing certain characteristics (like Neanderthals historically have been).

Uh huh. There’s no evidence for human evolution. Hambo continues:

But none of these are real ape-men — they are only ape-men in the minds and imaginations of those committed to the worldview that life evolved over millions of years. To learn more about supposed ape-men I encourage you to order [some creationist book].

Okay — Hambo has decisively demolished the fantasy of human evolution. What about alcohol? He turns his great intellect to that topic:

Now, alcohol is mentioned throughout the Bible (Genesis 27:28; Proverbs 20:1; Ephesians 5:18), with the earliest reference being post-Flood when Noah consumed too much wine and became drunk (Genesis 9:21).

For that earliest reference about Noah, Hambo only mentions Genesis 9:21, but here is that passage in context (King James version, of course):

20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Your Curmudgeon won’t comment on the ghastly deed committed by Ham (the biblical one), nor will we digress about the use of that tale to justify slavery. It’s not important for this post, but you can read about it here: The Curse of Ham.

Hey, Hambo says we should have a biblical worldview, so there’s another early mention of wine that Hambo somehow forgot to cite. It’s in Genesis 19. You know how that one goes. Right after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, one of Lot’s daughters says to the other:

32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

Verily, there much to be learned about alcohol in the bible. Anyway, here’s more from Hambo:

Our bodies having the enzymes they need to be able to metabolize the ethanol found in alcohol (these enzymes are also used to break down natural alcohol molecules found in various foods) has nothing to do with evolution.

If Hambo says it, you know it’s true. And now we come to the end:

When we read studies or news articles like the recent story about human evolution and alcohol, we need examine them in light of what the Bible teaches. Life, including human life, did not evolve so there is no reason to search for the evolutionary beginning of anything.

That is so true! When you have the bible, there’s no reason to do any research about anything.

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

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29 responses to “Ken Ham: Booze, Evolution, and the Bible

  1. Hambo is a characature of himself: Dumb as a bag of hammers and crooked as a dingo’s hind leg.

  2. Gee waldteufel, what an insult to the dingo. Some of my friends have them as pets. But I get your point. I certainly wouldn’t eat off the ole Hambone. What a sham (bone) he is. Where do I donate to delete?

  3. The whole story of Lot & kids is a pile of BS. Assuming it happened. Why?
    Well I dare anyone to get so drunk that they cannot recognize their kids and then try to get a good hard on. No I think he just told them the stupid ‘we are all there is’ and then raped the kids. Just like most of the holier than thou males of the buyBull.

    But back on topic, it does not matter what any scientist digs up or discovers the holey dimwits will refuse to acknowledge it as evidence.
    Which is why when I talk to any of these dims I only ask them where is their evidence and experiments to show the science of their claim? What don’t have none? You are dribbling BS!

  4. These would be the same daughters that Lot offered to the ravening mob in Sodom, with a merry “You can rape their virgin asses off”. Obviously the young ladies thus formed the impression that non-consensual sexual activity was no big deal, as far as their father was concerned, but thought that if he were presented with two bouncing bundles of joy of which he was dad and grandad, he might change his mind.

    What a charming approach to morality. And so biblical, too.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    I just find it so amazing that he can so easily toss aside hominids, then still demand an ape-human ancestor. That’s not moving the goal posts, that is taking away the ball and demanding a touchdown pass.

  6. Good ol’ Ham at it again, I see.

  7. Are there people who take Ham seriously?

  8. Does he really believe the stuff he spouts; is he just whistling in the dark?

  9. Another glaring bit of cognitive dissonance embedded there, methinks: Holy men imbibing demon drink with divine impunity. What tangled apologetics will this prompt?

    Gosh, I need a beer already.

  10. As to whether he believes what he says or not, that’s a tricky question. Ham probably does believe that there are no transitional species between humans and their definitely non-human predecessors. It’s truly wonderful what can be achieved by the careful cultivation of invincible ignorance. You can believe anything, with no intellectual dissonance at all, if you make certain that you never learn anything about the subject. Ham gets his lies hot from the creationist noise machine, and it’s odds-on that he has never in his life accessed a respectable science source, not even a popular one.

  11. I just remembered this from a couple of years ago: AIG Defends Lot’s Righteousness.

  12. What strikes me is how many statements he makes which have no Biblical backing. For example, according to the Bible, humans were created fully formed and functional in the image of their Creator. Yes, it says
    that humans were made in the image of God. But that is that is usually not taken to mean materially so. Then, there is a passage before God breathes into him. And isn’t the idea that Ham is promoting tantamount to Omphalism? And, last of all, the Bible doesn’t say it. It doesn’t say “fully formed and functional”.

    The Bible doesn’t say that humans were not tree-dwellers.

    The Bible doesn’t say that humans were not ape-men. You will not find anything denying the existence of ape-men. Maybe the concept of an animal-man didn’t exist in the Ancient Near East, maybe it did. But the Bible doesn’t say that Adam was not an ape-man. How can I be so sure? Because at least in the KJV there were no apes, not in the sense of today. Europe didn’t know about the existence of gorillas, chimps, orangs or gibbons. They knew about monkeys, only the English used the word “apes” to refer to what we call monkeys. Again, I’m not sure about whether the ANE knew about apes, but we can be sure that the infallible KJV didn’t; anyway, you can’t find anywhere in the Genesis creation accounts anything denying non-human or mixed-human animals, whether primates, monkeys,
    or apes.

    Perhaps the most important is this: Life, including human life, did not evolve. No, the Bible does not say this.

    Maybe it’s just being careless about what they heard from others. People make mistakes. But, if you think it is important what the Bible says, check before repeating it.

  13. Take that, gay marriage! The Bible says it’s Lot and his daughters. Not Lot and his sons!

    That’d be gross.

  14. TomS, one of the truly striking aspects of fundamentalism is the amazing ability that they have to add to or subtract from the texts that they call the inerrant word of God. Ham is doing it, above, as you note. But they all do it, and when they’re caught with the very words that they say are holy, they simply ignore it. At the very most they hotly deny it, and then repeat it. They do the same when warping facts from science – as Ham also does, above. Point out their gross errors, show them evidence, and they simply ignore it or deny it.

    It’s weird to watch. For anyone brought up to have the slightest respect for text – not just the Bible, but any composed text – it’s actually horrifying. These are minds that operate on a bizarre series of misconstructions of reality. What’s most surprising is that within their own environment, they often function very successfully. It’s a demonstration, I suppose, of the fact that the human environment is largely a construction of a human community.

  15. Trust Ken Ham to dig up Piltdown Man again. That notorious hoax was exposed by evolutionists, not Bible-bangers–and it was suspected in the first place on evolutionary grounds, since its combination of features (a humanlike cranium and apelike jaw) ran directly counter to the evolutionary trend indicated by other (legitimate) fossil finds.

  16. Diogenes Lamp says: Take that, gay marriage! The Bible says it’s Lot and his daughters. Not Lot and his sons!

    Yes, Lot was no nancy boy. On the other hand, the daughters seduced him to preserve his seed. They (and those who wrote the tale) were obviously unaware that females are carriers of their parents’ seed.

  17. “supported by the observational evidence”
    Whenever Ol’ Hambo pulls off that one I think of the totally observational evidence of galaxies moving away from each other and of the background radiation found by Penzias and Wilson. As observational evidence according to Ol’ Hambo has to be repeatable he surely won’t mind if I repeat those two pieces of observational evidence – which both refute Young Earth Creacrap.

  18. Ham concedes that there were apes with human characteristics and humans with ape characteristics. Ham also believes that only two real humans (with only human characteristics) were created. So were the others just early experiments as God honed his techniques? What happened to them? Were they on the ark? Were they drowned in the flood? Were some of them allowed to be in the garden? Why are they not mentioned in the bible?

  19. Hey, Ed! Easy now! Hambo’s just making this stuff up as he goes.

  20. “And the history of human origins described in the Bible is supported by the observational evidence” (there’s just one human race alive today folks, who would have guessed it).
    Except when the evidence points away from the history of human origins described in the Bible:
    “Paleogenetics is an emerging field that resurrects ancestral proteins from now-extinct organisms to test, in the laboratory, models of protein function based on natural history and Darwinian evolution. Here, we resurrect digestive alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH4) from our primate ancestors to explore the history of primate–ethanol interactions. The evolving catalytic properties of these resurrected enzymes show that our ape ancestors gained a digestive dehydrogenase enzyme capable of metabolizing ethanol near the time that they began using the forest floor, about 10 million y ago. The ADH4 enzyme in our more ancient and arboreal ancestors did not efficiently oxidize ethanol. This change suggests that exposure to dietary sources of ethanol increased in hominids during the early stages of our adaptation to a terrestrial lifestyle. Because fruit collected from the forest floor is expected to contain higher concentrations of fermenting yeast and ethanol than similar fruits hanging on trees, this transition may also be the first time our ancestors were exposed to (and adapted to) substantial amounts of dietary ethanol.”
    Thus it appears that a mutation needed to occur for the ADH4 gene to be better able to metabolise ethanol in past species of the genus Homo and then our species.
    Research like this – the conclusions of which fit in comfortably with pre-existing knowledge of evolutionary change over time – is very worrying to YECs. They cannot debunk it. All they can do is deny that it is scientific, deny that paleogenetics is proper science anyway, assert once again that “life did not evolve” and insist that “the history of human origins described in the Bible is supported by the observational evidence”.
    I would have thought that when previous species from which we appear to be descended were mostly arboreal they might have spent some time on the ground, as great apes alive today do (though maybe edible fruiting plants with fruit that ferments were less abundant than today)..

  21. Hambo is right! God made us in his own image, and that’s why he also loves alcohol and created the excellent Martinique Rhum I’m actually sipping.

  22. “Ham concedes that there were apes with human characteristics and humans with ape characteristics. Ham also believes that only two real humans (with only human characteristics) were created. So were the others just early experiments as God honed his techniques? What happened to them?”
    Good questions, which made me think. Based on the normal YEC paradigm, either these apes with human-like characteristics were all on the ark (represented by a pair of the ape ‘kind’ though not modern humans or even neanderthals obviously), or they ‘evolved’ sorry adapted and became new species after the flood (but then most of them apart from today’s living apes mysteriously went extinct in recent millennia). The only alternative – apart from disbelieving the Bible or at least disbelieving the opening chapters of Genesis and accepting evolution and deep time – is extinction pre-flood (with only today’s apes or their ancestor ape species represented on the ark). However, the Bible text has no concept of species extinction (which would on average be rather less likely to have happen anyway if creation was only around 6 millennia ago anyway, until humans recently started damaging the environment – yet it is thought that 99% of species, though some may have been tiny bugs, have gone extinct).
    If you email Answers in Genesis and ask them this question I predict that you will either receive NO convincing answer or perhaps NO answer whatsoever (if you were a YEC you would probably either not even think of such questions or you would not dare ask them and just shrug your shoulders and move on – still denying new ‘science’),

  23. @Dave Luckett
    That may be most certainly is the most infuriating thing about the creationists. They have no recognition of contradiction or any incongruity. Neither in the real world of science or in reading a text. This nonsense about the difference between “observational science” and “historical science” is one of the ways of refusal to deal with reality. That is all that it is.
    Ham knows that most of his audience doesn’t know what the Bible says, so when he says something like: The Bible says that humans didn’t live in trees, he knows that he can get away with it. He might even believe it, himself! His flock are not critical enough, to reflect on where the Bible might have said that. His opponents are willing to believe that the Bible would say something as stupid as that. And the few who do know, have been so worn out about important points that we don’t really care enough to call him out on it.
    What would have happened in the Nye-Ham show, if when Ham said that he had this book which says such-and-such, if Nye would say, “The Bible does not say that”? Truth is, nobody would care.

  24. @mnbo
    About “observational science” – let me take you back to 1950. And you “believed” in Newton’s laws applying everywhere. Even on the surface of
    the Moon. Even though you could not repeat that there was gravity acting on the Moon. “How do you know? Where you there?” Are we supposed to believe that it wasn’t “real science” until the astronaut (I just looked this up: David Scott on Apollo 15, just before return from the Moon August 1, 1971) dropped a hammer and a feather and “repeated” it? That was some lucky guess on his part, wasn’t it. Or is it that we are able to know things scientifically even if they are too distant to be there?
    No, the difference between the two sciences is nothing more – nor less – than an excuse for not accepting reality.

  25. Of course, TomS. I just think it fun to beat Ol’ Hambo on his own terms as well. Galaxies moving away from each other and that background radiation belong to repeatable “observational science” and still falsify YEC.

  26. Booze as a biblical remedy for the trials of poverty and depression.
    PROVERBS 31:4-7
    It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
    Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
    Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
    Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
    (King James Version).

  27. I have just tweeted about this, after reading what Ken has to say.

    You have quoted Ken, So did I. “unable to come up with even one indisputable human ancestor.” Because if you then click the link to the AiG page on Neanderthal, it then says this “We view them as the fully human ancestors of some modern humans, probably some Europeans and western Asians”

    So which is it Ken, humans have no ancestors, or the Neanderthal is an ancestor to modern man.

    So then which one was Adam and Eve?

  28. Karl
    Ham is using two different definitions of ancestor – ancestor species and ancestor individuals. Part of what happens when you attack science and try not to stick to precise definitions in an attempt to confuse or spread scepticism about ‘historical’ science. And there appears to be circular reasoning too. “They must have been human thus there they were not an indisputable ancestor of today’s humans – we dispute this”.

    Either this is Ham or it is his totally incompetent ‘research team’ writing what is essentially c**p for him.

  29. @Ashley Haworth-roberts
    I agree.
    One of my favorite responses to an attack on “evolution” is to point to the fallacies of composition/division, to confuse what is true of an individual and the group, the origins of the individual and the origins of the species.

    And I see the attack on “historical science” a sign of how overwhelming the scientific evidence must feel even to the creationist that he is driven to the extreme of excluding much of our knowledge.