Ken Ham: How Snakes Got Their Venom

We’re writing about this one because it’s such a classic example of creation science. It’s titled How Did Snakes Get Their Venomous Bite?, and it appears at the blog 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.

Whether ol’ Hambo actually wrote the thing isn’t entirely clear, because although it’s signed “Ken,” at the end it says: “This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.” Actual authorship isn’t important. What is worth noticing is the style and the flow of the argumentation. It’s a fine example of creation science, so it’s worth a look to observe how it’s done. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and Hambo’s scripture references omitted:

If God called His creation “very good,” then why does it include dangerous venomous snakes today? Are secular researchers on the right track as they examine the snake genome in order to find clues about gene evolution in humans? The answer is clear when you start with God’s Word and remember that there are two kinds of science.

Ol’ Hambo is saying two things: (1) the bible — “God’s word” — is the key to understanding everything; and (2) although some science is acceptable to people like Hambo, because the bible has nothing to say about it, other science — anything that contradicts Genesis — must be ignored, because it’s “man’s word.”

We’ve discussed Hambo’s “two kinds of science” in Common Creationist Claims Confuted in the section titled “Operational” science vs. “Historical” (origins) science. And if you haven’t seen it, take a look at The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Creation Science.

Okay, back to Hambo and snake venom. He mentions an article in Nature World News: Snakes: The Evolution of their Venomous Bite, and he dismisses its research into the genetics of snakes because:

[E]xamining these genes to try and understand how genes supposedly evolved in humans or how snakes supposedly evolved their venom is a different kind of science — historical science. This kind of science is not directly testable, observable, or repeatable. What you believe about Earth’s history will largely determine how you interpret the evidence.

Hambo’s creation science depends only on what he believes, and that’s entirely based on his interpretation of the bible. Let’s read on:

There is no need to appeal to naturalistic processes to explain the complex structures and elements necessary for venom production and delivery. Venomous snakes show clear examples of having been designed. But how should we understand killer designs from a loving Creator?

That’s the same loving creator who destroyed the Earth in Noah’s Flood and who gave us Ebola, cancer, and loads of other nasty things. The problem of God’s quirky behavior always pops up, and creationists like Hambo have a handy answer — it’s not God’s fault, it’s ours. He continues:

Well, Scripture tells us that originally all of creation — including snakes — was “very good.” Genesis also says that the animals (and Adam and Eve) were originally vegetarians. So in a perfect world there was no reason for snakes to kill or harm other creatures with venom. It wasn’t until after Adam and Eve sinned and death and suffering came into the world that defense/attack structures, like venom, were necessary. These structures may have had a good purpose in the original creation and then were used for new purposes after the Fall, or they may have been expressed sometime after the Fall (mediated design) as snakes adapted to a fallen world.

The Discoveroids, who pretend that their “science” isn’t scriptural, don’t have that handy explanation. To them it’s all design anyway — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here’s more from Hambo:

Either way, deadly venom and the pain, suffering, and death caused by other attack structures are clearly consequences of the Fall and the Curse — not an original part of a “very good” creation!

All clear? Sure it is. Moving along, the article has the usual conclusion:

Whether you start with man’s word or God’s Word makes a huge difference in how you interpret the world around you. If you start with man’s word, then death and suffering have always been part of nature and always will be — they are the very things that are supposed to drive evolution.

What Hambo calls “man’s word” is what we call verifiable evidence. It’s reality. Hambo ignores reality whenever it conflicts with his holy scrolls. And here’s the predictable end:

But if you start with God’s Word, you get an entirely different picture. Death and suffering were not an original part of creation. They are the result of mankind’s sin, and someday they will be removed from creation.

So there you are. If you follow Hambo’s article as a template, you too can write cutting-edge creation science articles. Hey — there’s a market for that kind of thing. So if you get bored with the real world, you can always make a living writing for creationist outfits. And here’s the best part — you don’t need a lab, you don’t need to do research, and you don’t need to know anything. Good deal, huh?

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27 responses to “Ken Ham: How Snakes Got Their Venom

  1. Well, Scripture tells us that originally all of creation — including snakes — was “very good.” Genesis also says that the animals (and Adam and Eve) were originally vegetarians. So in a perfect world there was no reason for snakes to kill or harm other creatures with venom. It wasn’t until after Adam and Eve sinned and death and suffering came into the world that defense/attack structures, like venom, were necessary. These structures may have had a good purpose in the original creation and then were used for new purposes after the Fall, or they may have been expressed sometime after the Fall (mediated design) as snakes adapted to a fallen world.

    Or in other words, after the Fall, snakes evolved defenses and attack mechanisms to survive in a now harsher environment. Along the way, they also evolved away from veganism to carnivorousness.

    Tsk, tsk. Too much more of that, Ken, and they’ll take away your key to the executives’ prayer room.

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    So I see a euphemism there for evolution: “mediated design”. Googling that hits on AIG and ICR articles on top. The AIG article explains it thusly:

    It’s still “design” because God made those traits and gave them to His creatures to use, but God used special events or other conditions to bring out the design.

    So even by their own definition it is still God’s fault that the trait to make venom was still part of the original creation, even if it wasn’t used right away.

  3. While not overt Hambo is also once again saying the absurd, that plant’s aren’t alive.

  4. (Curmy, opening sentence: “We’re writing about this one because it’s such a classic example of creation science.”)

    It’s absurd to posit that an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, all-loving personal creator deity would curse the entirety of his/her creation into constant suffering for all eternity because of the misdeeds of two deviants s/he created with traits that would guarantee their disobedience. The very idea is the epitome of ludicrous farce.

    Still, in a similar vein to the topic at hand, one must wonder, “How Did Cretinists Get Their Asinine ‘Science’?” Presumably, here too the interpretation of germane evidence depends on whose word (or Word, if you must) one begins with. Moreover, the derailment of the Original Divine Plan (© 4004 BCE) precipitated by The Fall & The Curse™, together with a pinch of micro-macro malarkey and some observational-vs-historical folderol, would have to play a significant part in this stasis (i.e., non-evolution)…

  5. Perhaps Mr Lie is getting tired of hitting his head against the brick wall of reality. We know from his recent rant against airlines that he suffers chronic back pain. It must be difficult to be bothered to even try when the Devil’s literally on your back.

  6. Thanks, Con-Tester. Typo fixed.

  7. I really wish Ken would have enlightened us on his theories of the pre-fall uses of snake venom.

    I’m partial to use as an ice cream topping (if you say there wasn’t ice cream in the garden of eden, you are dead to me!). But I can also see its importance as a mechanical lubricant, the first WD-40, if I may. It would have come in handy on the washing machine that Ken says Noah had on the Ark.

  8. I always find it amazing how this idiot says ‘they were all veggie eaters’ as if that make them good! Its the same argument used by hypocritical vagans. What makes that ‘good’?? because old Hambo can’t hear their screams? Because they don’t have faces? Because they are not all warm and fussy?? IF we are so special why did gawd not allow us to eat everything to begin with??? After all gawd said we could!!!!
    Old Hambo is just a speciest bigot. But then he’s religious so being a bigot is normal.

  9. OffTopic trivia…WD40 was not developed as a lubricant. it is a solvent for cleaning, which is also slippery. But after years of using it as a lubricant I can say that it aint all that good to use for anything longer then a few minutes. Silicone spray is much much better.

  10. It is probably a waste of time to take this sort of nonsense seriously, but here goes. I believe that snake venom is a fine example of gene duplication and subsequent evolution: duplicated genes for salivary proteins evolved to become more toxic. This is testable in real time, since the odds against unrelated genes being very similar are astronomical.

    This explanation has the virtue of annoying Discoveroids as well as AIG, since it represents a gain of genetic information through random variation and natural selection.

  11. So Kenny boy’s thesis is that rattlesnakes eat mice because a couple of mythical people ate something that some mythical god said they shouldn’t. That thesis is bat-**** crazy!

  12. Richard, I commend you for coming up with a win-win situation.

  13. Oh, that’s why lions have sharp pointed teeth and long, sharp claws, and superb musculatures … to hang onto carrots as they devour them. I always wondered about that.

  14. @Steve Ruis
    Here’s your vegan lion:
    Vegan Lion

  15. Creationism is like a lawyer defending his client, an assassin caught with a sniper rifle with a telescopic sight, and announcing to the jury that when he bought the rifle, he got it to hammer nails into the wall.

    Or alternatively, he originally bought a stapler, but by “mediated design” it later turned into a sniper rifle with telescopic sight.

    Creationists concocted the idea of “mediated design” (in the early 20th century it was called “orthogenetic evolution; the term “mediated design” I believe originated with Todd C. Wood) in order to evade the evidence of evolution observed to increase complexity and information. It means we’re winning, and they always need new ways to make creationism non-falsifiable.

    If “mediated design” were true, anything could turn into anything else. Monkeys could turn into people, cows could turn into whales, horses could turn into unicorns, humans could turn into X-men, and creationists could turn into honest human beings. But we never see it happening.

  16. BTW I have often read creationists saying that T. rex’s banana-sized teeth are designed to eat watermelons, pumpkins, etc. That’s not a fringe argument, nor a parody; it’s mainstream creationism… at least when they talk amongst themselves. They don’t whip it out in front of neutral audiences.

  17. Alan Feuerbacher

    This nonsense from Ham reminds me of my own exit from the goofy Fundamentalist cult Jehovah’s Witnesses more than 30 years ago. It’s amazing how similar Ham’s rationalizations are to those of the JWs, who on other fronts condemn the young-earth creationism of Ham and others as “unbiblical”.

    In 1982 the Watchtower organization published a series of articles on creation in its magazine “Awake!” One question they tried to deal with was a generalization of the snake venom problem: why do animals kill and eat each other? The final answer was something like Ham’s: “due to Adam and Eve’s sinning, it’s no wonder that the animal creation became chaotic.” Of course, they failed to deal with everything that Ham failed to deal with, like the fact that no matter what excuses one comes up with as the reason for the “chaos”, God is still the creator of the structures and behaviors of predation, which proves that God is not a loving god. Apparently many readers of “Awake!” wrote in pointing out how stupid those arguments were, and JW literature has not touched the subject since.

    The JWs are an interesting subset of creationists. They’re kind of a chimera of young and old earth creationists, and today they don’t know exactly what they teach. Until the mid-1980s they taught that the creative days of Genesis were 7,000 years long, so that life is no more than 20,000 years old. But the earth itself might be the billions of years old indicated by science. After the mid-1980s they use “millennia” when talking about the length of the creative days. This allows old-timers to hold on to the old teachings, but younger JWs to accept normal geological dating methods, with no one the wiser because they really don’t want to think about the problems this confusion causes.

  18. Sez Ken: ” Genesis also says that the animals (and Adam and Eve) were originally vegetarians.”

    This is another example of Kenny making up stuff and putting it into scripture. Genesis doesn’t say that.

    Genesis 1:29 says that man and all the animals were given green plants and fruit with the seed in it to eat. It does NOT say that they could not eat meat. It does not say that carnivory didn’t happen. Later (Gen 9:3) man, and ONLY man, was specifically allowed to eat meat – but that permission was not given to the animals, implying that they didn’t need it, some of them being meat-eaters already.

    God also said there that “every creature that lives and moves will be food for you”, a permission that he revoked later in the Torah, declaring some animals “unclean”, and then, according to Paul, changed his mind again in New Testament times, on account of the gentiles were fond of pork and prawns and stuff. This is the God who is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever, and who doesn’t change his moral rules. Yeah, right.

  19. Ken gives a long boring argument (TL;DR) in answer to his own question. He also drags his research team in to help. All that was needed was one simple statement, “I don’t know, I wasn’t there.”

  20. We are supposed to trust our intuitions in coming to the conclusion that features of life are intelligently designed for a purpose. For example the defense mechanism of the bombardier beetle; the elegant design of eyes, wings and talons of a falcon; the acute senses, the protective coloration, and speed of various prey; and cobra venom. Our brains can be trusted to see that those things are designed. Yet they weren’t really designed for life in the Garden of Eden, were they? Adam was surely puzzled as to why rabbits were so fast, or why gazelles were prone to stotting, or hens cared for their chicks.

  21. Alan from UK forgets a detail: Ol’ Hambo may not have been there, but his god certainly was and he provided a testimony in the Holy Bubble. See? That’s the kind of mistakes you make when you don’t start with the divine word.

  22. But if you start with God’s Word, you get an entirely different picture.

    Put a different, more accurate way: If you start with the creation myths of an ancient middle eastern tribe, collected and committed to writing roughly 2500 years ago by unknown persons, you get an entirely different picture. You get a pre-scientific one, just like Ham.

  23. No wonder that snake got Eve to sin. He was starving.

  24. @Ed & mnbo
    I’m sure that you realize this, so you will excuse me if I make it explicit. What Ham says that the Bible says is different from what the Bible says. And if one starts from what Ham says that the Bible says, and proceeds with little guidance from evidence or logic, it is no surprise that one gets a picture bearing little resemblance to reality, not even what would be recognized in the Ancient Near East.

  25. mnb0 23-December-2014 at 3:55 pm
    said, “Alan from UK forgets a detail”.
    But the Bible does not say what Ham says. Ham just takes a few selected phrases from here and there and weaves a sciency-sounding essay out of them.

  26. Ah – but here you guys forget the most important thing: Ol’ Hambo’s god himzelf appointed Ol’ Hambo to explain what the Holy Bubble saiz. So even if whot Ol’ Hambo saiz appearz to be different from whot the Holy Bubble saiz it’z ‘cuz the Hully Spirot haz left you and the Holy Bubble still saiz whot Ol’ Hambo saiz the Holy Bubble saiz. Checkmate, you atheist materialist utitlitarian communist Democrat fascist nazi Darwinist evilutionist!

  27. Arrrrgh! what utter insanity!

    How would a snake be able to graze? About the only thing they’d be able to break off in swallowable pieces would be mushrooms. And now I suppose Ham is going to tell us that mushrooms weren’t toxic before the Fall, either.
    Oh! Wait! That’s where snakes got their venom! All figured out!

    Ken Ham — master of the “Just So” story.