Ken Ham Advocates Intelligent Design

This is a surprising rant from Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. He’s famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the mind-boggling Creation Museum.

As so often before, ol’ Hambo is angry. We imagine that once again he’s red in the face, foaming at the mouth, and rolling around chewing the carpet. He just posted this on his blog: Oldest Stone Tools?

But before we discuss ol’ Hambo’s latest, we need to know what he’s upset about. That’s reported at the PhysOrg website: Oldest-known stone tools pre-date Homo. They say:

Scientists working in the desert badlands of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered. The tools, whose makers may or may not have been some sort of human ancestor, push the known date of such tools back by 700,000 years; they also may challenge the notion that our own most direct ancestors were the first to bang two rocks together to create a new technology.

Interesting, huh? Here’s one more excerpt about how the age of the tools was determined. They quote geologist Chris Lepre of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Rutgers University, who dated the artifacts. He’s a co-author of the paper about the discovery, which was published in Nature: 3.3-million-year-old stone tools from Lomekwi 3, West Turkana, Kenya. This is what he said:

[A] layer of volcanic ash below the tool site set a “floor” on the site’s age: It matched ash elsewhere that had been dated to about 3.3 million years ago, based on the ratio of argon isotopes in the material. To more sharply define the time period of the tools, Lepre and co-author and Lamont-Doherty colleague Dennis Kent examined magnetic minerals beneath, around and above the spots where the tools were found.

The Earth’s magnetic field periodically reverses itself, and the chronology of those changes is well documented going back millions of years. “We essentially have a magnetic tape recorder that records the magnetic field … the music of the outer core,” Kent said. By tracing the variations in the polarity of the samples, they dated the site to 3.33 million to 3.11 million years.

Now let’s see what ol’ Hambo thinks about this. You can already guess that he doesn’t like that stuff about 3.3 million years. That’s blasphemy! He begins by making a couple of obvious creationist points:

1. The fallible dating methods based on assumptions are not discussed — just presented as supposed fact

2. Man’s evolutionary ideas continue to change.

Ol’ Hambo is horrified at the way science keeps revising itself when new data is found. Scripture is so comforting — it never changes! Now here’s where Hambo gets interesting, and we added some bold font for emphasis:

3. Scientists recognize evidence of deliberate design in stone tools — but not in DNA!

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s a Discovery Institute argument. In fact, the Discoveroids posted about this yesterday — see Stone Tools Are “Most Important Discovery” in a Half Century — and a Score for Intelligent Design, in which Klinghoffer said, with our bold font:

The tools don’t look like much — see here for a gallery of images. If you stubbed your toe on one, wandering the badlands of West Turkana, would you look down in wonder or kick it aside? Most likely kick it aside. This is not Paley’s pocket watch we’re talking about. The discrimination that they are tools was made via a design inference, and the media coverage is clear about this — they just don’t call it by that name.

Ah yes, William Dembski’s Design Inference. Klinghoffer’s essay was so predictable that we ignored it, but now ol’ Hambo is using the same argument. He says:

Interesting how they recognize the evidence of design looking at stone tools: “I have seen some of these artifacts in the flesh, and I am convinced they were fashioned deliberately.” Of course, when these same evolutionary scientists look at DNA, the most complex information system and language system in the universe, they conclude it was not fashioned deliberately but happened by natural processes!

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Hambo sounds just like Klinghoffer. Here’s one last excerpt from ol’ Hambo’s rant:

I’m reminded of when I’ve often had someone at a conference come to me and say something like, “But the Bible is not a scientific textbook!”

I then answer, “I’m glad it’s not a scientific textbook like the ones used in public schools and universities, as they change all the time. But the Bible is primarily a textbook of historical science — it is God’s infallible historical science that doesn’t change! It is an infallible scientific textbook.

The bible is “an infallible scientific textbook.” Hey, that one is a keeper!

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22 responses to “Ken Ham Advocates Intelligent Design

  1. Creationists miss one major point about biological systems. DNA and cells and organisms replicate or reproduce. DNA can mutate in small ways or large ways and is subject to the pressures of natural selection or drift. Stone tools don’t replicate on their own, so of course they have to be produced by the hand of a human or our immediate ancestors. Any replicating system can change over time due to environment pressures, from the test tube to an entire organism or population. Design is not needed for change in replicating systems. It only looks that way.

  2. Well. duh! There’s an even simpler (or rather, even simpler-minded) explanation available to Creationists troubled by the discovery of “stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans,” to wit:

    These pre-human stone tools were used by the Intelligent Designer (Blessed be He/She/It/Them!) to fashion our Privileged Planet!

  3. michaelfugate

    The analogy was already a failure when Paley used it (see Hume) and is an even bigger failure today because we now have well-established evolutionary theory in place.

  4. Mark Germano

    The Bibke is a textbook of historical science? I could have sworn I’ve heard that “observable science” is preferable to “historical science,” but I can’t remember who keeps telling me that.

  5. I’m reminded of when I’ve often had someone at a conference come to me and say something like, “But the Bible is not a scientific textbook!”

    I then answer, “I’m glad it’s not a scientific textbook like the ones used in public schools and universities, as they change all the time. But the Bible is primarily a textbook of historical science — it is God’s infallible historical science that doesn’t change! It is an infallible scientific textbook.”

    So the Bible is an infallible “textbook of historical science,” is it? Then I guess pi = 3 (Kings 7:23-26) and the planet Earth is a flat disk (Isaiah 40:22 and other references). I know, I know: 3 is just an approximation and “circle” just a metaphor–but these are people who insist that every word of the Bible is true as written. They can’t have it both ways.

    But maybe he means the Bible is infallible only when it comes to “historical” matters such as Creation. That, of course, is heresy to your hard-core fundamentalists, and makes no sense on logical grounds–why would the Bible be so selectively correct?

  6. the Bible is primarily a textbook of historical science

    This is what he thinks is the primary purpose of the Bible? Rather than bringing the good news about Jesus? Helping us get to Heaven?

    This is what Paul … the prophets …

    Words fail me.

  7. michaelfugate

    Fails at both history and science – does Ham think two negatives in this case make a positive?

  8. Ham on the Bible: “I’m glad it’s not a scientific textbook like the ones used in public schools and universities, as they change all the time. But the Bible is […] God’s infallible historical science that doesn’t change!”

    Modern textbooks are often revised because ongoing research steadily advances human knowledge. Bronze Age texts don’t change because the Bronze Age is kind of … over.

  9. What changes wrt the Bible is between what the words say and what the readers say.

    The Bible, for example, does not have anything about change or fixity in populations or species, whether before or after the Flood. But it does say that the Earth is fixed and the Sun goes around it.

    Among other changes that occur between the words and preaching.

  10. Doctor Stochastic

    Which mis-translation of The Bible is the infallible one?

  11. It seems hard to imagine that stone tools were made so long ago and are identifiable as such, but let’s assume this is true. The question then is, were they intentionally constructed (read designed to creationists) 3.3 million years ago, or were they made serendipitously as a result of whacking different stones together, purposely, or accidentally, striking or dropping them, and as a consequence provided some positive use, serendipitously, for whatever the users tried them on. Thomas Edison came up with the electric light bulb, but he wasn’t the first nor was his workable version his first attempt. Many people came up with workable light bulbs, and Edison plowed away testing different materials for filaments, as did other people. His “final” solution was the best for his day, but to say it was “designed” by him to loosely use the creationist term of a one-time shot to make the bulb is absurd.

  12. Creationists almost always say something like, “The fallible dating methods based on assumptions are not discussed — just presented as supposed fact.”

    That is some of the silliest nonsense they come up with, and that’s going some.

    To a creationist, Assumption = automatically wrong (unless it one of their assumptions of course.)

    They never get around to actually looking at the assumptions in radiometric dating because they know the earth is ca. 6,000 years old so those dating methods are automatically wrong which means the assumptions are automatically wrong. QED, eh?

    Creation “science” strikes again…

  13. Ham, you doofus! Of course textbooks change! Science is in the business of making new discoveries! Would you expect a modern geology text to make no mention of plate tectonics? An astronomy text to not mention pulsars (or galaxies, for that matter)? A physics text to not mention radioactivity?

    I have an old, turn-of-the-century high school general science text that speculates mountain ranges formed because of wrinkling as the earth shrank from cooling. Oh — and it made no mention of radio waves. Teaching science must have been much simpler back then. Y’know, Ken Ham, you were born about a hundred years too late. No, wait. Make that about 600 years too late. You would have been happiest before the Renaissance.

  14. The “surprise” I expected was not there. YEC peddlers always advocated ID in it’s basic god-of-the-gaps form. And pseudoscience-peddlers of all “kinds” always “borrow” specific arguments from other “kinds” when it suits their purpose. And they encourage the “borrowing” of theirs, even by competiors, as long as it helps promote denial of mainstream science. So to see specific DI language from Ham is not surprising at all. But I see nothing that indicates that Ham is now supporting the DI’s “big tent” strategy that he has long criticized, specifically their indifference to, and occasional acceptance of ~4 billion years of common descent. In fact at the end he clearly disagrees with Behe’s admission that the Bible is not a science text. Despite the clever language, it’s a bait-and-switch. Ham clearly wants his audience to think that Bible is THE science book. Behe does not.

  15. There are two ways to be infallible. One is to be always right.

  16. If I recall from earlier musings by Ham, he regarded ID as theologically wrong because it didn’t explain problematic organisms as a result of Eve eating a forbidden fruit. If ID were true, then dangerous animals, deadly bacteria and viruses etc. were intentionally designed, rather than coming into existence as the consequences of original sin. In other words, without the sin, God would be evil.

    This is something the DI could also conclude from their “theory” – that an evil designer fits the “evidence” more closely than a good designer.

  17. Ed says: “If I recall from earlier musings by Ham, he regarded ID as theologically wrong because it didn’t explain problematic organisms as a result of Eve eating a forbidden fruit.”

    Correct. Hambo has previously been critical of the Discoveroids. See, for example, Food Fight: Ken Ham vs. Intelligent Design.

  18. One of the advantages of not having anything positive or substantive to say, is that one does not have to deal with any problems.

  19. He is still critical of the Discoveroids, despite “borrowing” their language for his convenience. But like any pseudoscience peddler he will rarely volunteer criticism of any other pseudoscience. Unlike Discoveroids, however, he will criticize other anti-evolution positions if someone else brings it up.

  20. “The fallible dating methods based on assumptions”
    are exactly the kind of observational science Ol’ Hambo claims to accept – when it suits him.

  21. Whenever Ham uses the word scientific in any positive sense he means ‘infallible revealed truth plus today’s observations confirming that infallible truth’. Or – if the sense is negative – it’s the ghastly devilish lies that result from true science being ‘hijacked by secularists’.

  22. Ashley Haworth-roberts: “Whenever Ham uses the word scientific in any positive sense…”

    As different as Ham and the Discoveroids are in their strategies and apparent beliefs regarding alternate “origins” explanations, they are joined at the hip in the methods of peddling pseudoscience. One of essential tactics is to “define terms to suit the argument.” Another is to selectively mine evidence and quotes that, out of context, appear to support one’s argument. At least in the minds of audiences who either want to believe them or are not very interested either way. Unfortunately those who take the time and effort to keep track of all their inconsistencies are few in number. And far too many of them dwell far too much on what these pseudoscience peddlers apparently believe – no one knows, Ham may be a closet “Darwinist” for all we know, and I’m almost certain that most Discoveroids are – and far to little on the games they play.