Ken Ham Believes Babylonian Science

It is generally agreed that early versions of Genesis were first committed to writing during the period known as the Babylonian captivity, starting in approximately 600 BC. The degree to which the Hebrews appropriated the views of their more advanced conquerors isn’t known — except that the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh existed in 2100 BC (written versions have been found from a few centuries later), and it undoubtedly served as inspiration for the tale of Noah and the Flood. Some have even suggested that it influenced the tale of the Garden of Eden.

Young Earth creationists insist that what they call creation science — based on Genesis — must be true, and all modern science to the contrary is not only blasphemous, but it’s based on false assumptions — i.e., verifiable observations and testable hypotheses. Given the Babylonian influence on Genesis, one might be curious about Babylonian science. Go ahead, search for it. Wikipedia has no entry for that topic, which isn’t surprising — there was nothing we’d recognize as science in those days. What we call science is quite new — it began with people like Galileo and Newton, and it incorporates the logic of Aristotle — of which the Babylonians knew nothing.

Nevertheless, the Babylonians weren’t idiots. Like other cultures of their time, they had some technology, such as agriculture and metallurgy, and they built cities. They had a calendar. Astronomy was primitive, as with all cultures before the invention of the telescope. Being limited to naked eye observations of the heavens, they believed The Earth Does Not Move. And being limited in geographic knowledge by their primitive transportation methods, it’s understandable that they thought The Earth Is Flat. Those beliefs found their way into several scripture passages, which we cited in those two links.

Although young Earth creationists have abandoned the idea of a flat Earth, despite its unambiguous biblical support, and most seem to have accepted the idea that the Earth moves as part of the solar system, they still insist on the truth of everything else in Genesis. Why?

The creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — posted this a few days ago: Biblical Authority and the Book of Genesis. It was written by ol’ Hambo himself, so you you know it’s authoritative. You’ve heard all this before, so we’ll give you only a few excerpts, with bold font added by us:

If you can’t trust the Bible when it talks about geology, biology, and astronomy, then how can you trust the Bible when it talks about morality and salvation? The issues of morality and salvation are dependent upon the history in the Bible being true. God does not separate morality and salvation from geology, biology, and astronomy. However, it’s popular today for liberal scholars to claim that the Bible doesn’t speak about science.

But if Hambo is so devoted to what the bible says, then why doesn’t he believe the Earth is flat? He’s never explained that. He does, however, think it’s the center of the universe — see The Center of the Universe, where AIG says:

Present astronomical knowledge recognizes no singular geometrical point in our universe — in accordance with evolutionary ideas. Consequently, there is no geometrical center and also no defined edge. No place in the universe has a special position.

[…]

However, the earth occupies the central position in the entire universe because of its God-given role, even though it may not be in the geometrical center. The first astronomical object that God created was the earth; this clearly indicates its importance amongst all of the other stars and planets. God’s attention focuses on this planet …. . The clearest indication of the earth’s central position is that God’s own Son was sent here.

You might think that if they can wiggle around like that — and completely ignore the numerous biblical declarations that the Earth is flat — they ought to be able to accommodate the rest of science. But you’d be wrong. Back to Hambo’s essay:

You see, the Bible teaches about geology. It states that there was a global Flood. The Bible also teaches about biology. God made distinct kinds of animals and plants. The Bible deals with astronomy. God make the sun, moon, and stars on Day Four for signs and for seasons. Now the Bible doesn’t deal with chemical equations or the laws of physics that helped put man on the moon, but the Bible does give the big picture in geology, biology, and other sciences, to enable people to have the right way of thinking about the universe.

Uh huh, the big picture. Let’s read on:

The history in Genesis 1–11 is foundational to the rest of the Bible. Incidentally, liberal teachers understand the best way to get rid of the Bible. First, get rid of the history (the geology and so on), because once the history’s gone, it’s then just some pie-in-the-sky religion, divorced from its foundation, and ultimately it will collapse. The Bible has been disconnected from the real world and relegated to just a collection of stories. No wonder people are leaving the Church.

The essay is far too long. Here’s one last excerpt:

Friends, we need to contend for the faith. There is a spiritual battle in this world, and it’s about time Christians were willing to stand up for what we believe, be bold, and deal with these issues. The creation movement is part of a movement that God has started to get people back to the foundation of His Word, beginning with Genesis.

So there you are. Hambo — on behalf of God — is engaged in a spiritual battle. The really tragic part is that he’s battling for Babylonian science — which doesn’t exist. But that’s where he wants to take his stand.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Ken Ham Believes Babylonian Science

  1. Ken Ham believes Babylonian science? Is that why he babbles on so? Jus’ wundrin’!

  2. The Bible does not teach that there are distinct kinds. The Bible does not ever describe kinds – no adjective modifying “kind”, no sentence with “kind” as the subject or object. At least, not with the Hebrew word MIN – there are other words which can be translated “kind”.

  3. If the lessons that may be learned from ancient stories relies on each story being true, how does this claim impact on the wisdom offered in Aesop’s fables? Not at all.

    K.H. is obviously not paying attention to the extremely high Required Ignorance Factor his claims are reliant on.

  4. michaelfugate

    If you can’t trust the Bible when it talks about geology, biology, and astronomy, then how can you trust the Bible when it talks about morality and salvation? The issues of morality and salvation are dependent upon the history in the Bible being true. God does not separate morality and salvation from geology, biology, and astronomy.

    This is a non sequitur. Why is salvation dependent on history or science? Does Ken advocate the demon-theory and exorcism for mental illness?

  5. This topic is yet another context where I occasionally like to torment a Young Earth Creationist who obsesses on his perceived superiority over all other Bible readers because he favors the “most literal” interpretation. Yet, the word “literal” is fraught with ambiguity, among other complications. I demonstrate that by telling them, “I’m not a Young Earth Creationist because I tend to favor far more literal interpretations than you liberals do.” (When they protest being called a “theological liberal”–one of the most insulting terms they can imagine–I tell them that I reject their casual cherry-picking the scriptures which they will and won’t read literally.)

    There are countless scriptures I can use to illustrate their capricious hermeneutics, each with its own trap for the unwary YECist. I’ll use an example that appears on an SC [interesting be he] link to an old post entitled The Earth Does Not Move. There we find this example:

    Job 26:7 He spreads out the northern [skies] over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.

    The typical “creation science” fundamentalist will proudly declare that ancient Bible readers had the advantage of such profound cosmological insights into modern day astrophysics long before other civilizations, and that the Children of Israel didn’t succumb to the nonsense of various other cultures where people assumed that the earth and heavenly bodies were not tethered by ropes but are held in their positions by the invisible forces of gravity.

    I respond with something like: “I don’t see how a literal interpretation finds gravitational fields in Job 26:7. It could just as easily be interpreted to mean that God commanded the earth to stay where he placed it–and plenty of other ancient cosmologies would agree with that. Yet, here again I read the passage far more literally than you do. I look at the context of Job 26:7 and conclude that this is Job’s personal viewpoint expressed in the third cycle of poetic dialogue. Literally speaking, the verse is telling us how the Job character responds to the other pontificators. We aren’t actually told whether Job’s understanding of cosmology is right or wrong. Indeed, when God speaks to Job and company from the storm through two speeches just before the book’s epilogue, God majors not on answers to the questions these men have been discussing and arguing about. Instead, God shows them just how clueless they all are, including Job in many of his statements. After all, “Were you there when….” repeatedly puts them in their place in chapters 38 to 41. [If the first three words of that recurring theme sound Ken Ham-like, I’ll leave it to you to draft your own obvious punchline!]

    This example also illustrates how many theologians have viewed the Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy. They would argue that a literal reading of the passage indicates that the Bible is simply stating the words of Job–and “inerrancy” simply means that the Book of Job accurately reflects the ancient Hebrew wisdom literature genre. Now whether Job was an actual historical person and the entire story and the poetic dialogues are based on an actual historical event is not stated. The text simply represents the kind of “teaching story” one would expect of the ancient Hebrew wisdom literature. However, considering that people don’t normally converse in polished poetic utterances, a truly literal reading of the text includes noticing that the tiny cantillation marks of the Book of Job are similar to the system found in the Old Testament only in Psalms and Proverbs. And that is yet another reminder that we are dealing with the wisdom literature genre.

    If I had to make an analogy with English language texts, consider a Shakespeare play. Does the poetic wording and structure suggest that The Merchant of Venice is a true story and the actual dialogue of an historical event? Or does it appear to be an artistic work of careful composition meant to entertain and perhaps impact a lesson in morality? I read Shakespeare “literally” and recognize it as an outstanding work of art meant to be performed on a stage. A play is “literally” what it is.

    I often challenge fundamentalist YECs to consider whether “The Word of God” means “everything in the Bible” or does it mean the words coming from God himself. A truly “literal” interpretation of “the word of God” would suggest utterances from God himself. Or is every part of the Bible “literally” the Word of God? Which interpretation is more “literal”?

    The Bible includes the sentence, “There is no God.” That is literally what it says. Yet, of course, it is part of a context where it says “The fool has said in his heart: There is no God.” So being “literal” is not the end all of hermeneutics. Honesty is important also.

    [By the way, most fundamentalists assume that Psalm 14:1 should be interpreted “literally” to mean that atheists are fools. But in the context of the language and culture, I would interpret it far more literally–and therefore declare that it is not directed at atheists at all. If we read it”literally” as the ancient Hebrews would have read it, the verse “obviously” refers to religious hypocrites who “in their hearts” make decisions as if a holy God is not watching them. Literally speaking, in that culture and language a reference to atheists [if such could have been found in ancient Israel!] would have said, “who speak with their mouth: There is no God.” So once again I would assert that I interpret the passage more literally than most fundamentalist YECs.]

    [Incidentally, the word for “fool” in that verse is NABAL, which should remind Bible-literate readers of the fool Nabal who refused to offer hospitality to David and his fighting men. The ancient Hebrews would have immediately recognized the connection between Psalm 14:1 and using Nabal as the ultimate fool who thought he could snub the Lord’s anointed one, just as if there were no YHWH watching him.]

  6. @Prof. Tertius

    Well said!

    I’d just like to say that it has always puzzled me when someone cites that proof-text of Job to say that the Earth is a planet of the Sun. Really, how can anyone convince oneself that that is a description of an orbiting Earth? Literal or figurative, whatever. Someone is letting what they wish were the case – or what an “authority” tells them – dictate what they think it says.

  7. If you can’t trust the Bible when it talks about geology, biology, and astronomy, then how can you trust the Bible when it talks about morality and salvation? The issues of morality and salvation are dependent upon the history in the Bible being true. God does not separate morality and salvation from geology, biology, and astronomy.

    All of this depends, of course, on whether or not one believes both that the Bible is the literal Word of God, dictated word for word by Him first to the ancients and then to the translators who put the Scriptures into other languages and that He meant it to be taken literally. If the first assumption is false, all bets are off. If the first is true but the second isn’t, then it’s the task of men (and women) to discern what the divine screed actually means. In either case, fundamentalism, including creationism, loses its claim to authority but the same does not necessarily hold for morality.

  8. “What we call science is quite new — it began with people like Galileo and Newton, and it incorporates the logic of Aristotle”
    Where did you get this from? Are you sure you don’t mean Euclides and co?

    Bertrand Russell, who understood a few things about this stuff, wrote at the end of chapter 22 of his History of Western Philosophy:

    “I conclude that the Aristotelian doctrines with which we have been concerned in this chapter are wholly false, with the exception of the formal theory of the syllogism, which is unimportant. Any person in the present day who wishes to learn logic will be wasting his time if he reads Aristotle or any of his disciples. None the less, Aristotle’s logical writings show great ability, and would have been useful to mankind if they had appeared at a time when intellectual originality was still active. Unfortunately, they appeared at the very end of the creative period of Greek thought, and therefore came to be accepted as authoritative. By the time that logical orginality revived, a reign of two thousand years had made Aristotle very difficult to dethrone. Throughout modern times, practically every advance in science, in logic, or in philosophy has had to be made in the teeth of the opposition from Aristotle’s disciples.”

    As for the Babylonians – they were pretty good at astronomy. It has been hypothesized that Thales of Milete could predict a solar eclipse because he knew their data, thus validating Greek philosophy and science from the very beginning. The Babylonians understood a few things about math as well.

    Nothing of this affects your conclusion regarding Ol’ Hambo of course.