The Struggle of Answers in Genesis

We have previously written about the glaring scriptural problems which are somehow ignored by creationists like Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia.

Ol’ Hambo stridently insists on the truth of what is written in the bible (young Earth, six-day creation, Noah’s Ark, etc.), yet he ignores the inescapable, multiple statements that The Earth Is Flat!, and The Earth Does Not Move! We also wrote about a pathetic attempt by Jason Lisle (when he worked for Hambo) to explain away The Scriptural Value Of Pi.

Today, at the website of Hambo’s creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), they just posted Contradictions: Hanging on Pillars of Nothing? It was written by Erik Lutz, about whom we know nothing, but we can imagine the jokes about his name he must have endured in school. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us. He begins by quoting two clearly contradictory scriptural passages:

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He has set the world upon them. (1 Samuel 2:8)

He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing. (Job 26:7)

Actually, the bible has other references to the pillars of the earth. In addition to the one Eric mentions, there are also these:

Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. (Job 9:6)

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? (Job 38:4)

The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. (Psalm 75:3)

It’s interesting that the Book of Job not only mentions the pillars of the Earth, but it also has that cryptic phrase that the Earth hangs on nothing. One could reconcile them by assuming that the Earth is sitting on its pillars, and the whole rickety assembly is resting on nothing. That could have been what they thought, back in the days of the Babylonian empire. Anyway, Eric then says:

At first glance, these verses appear to contradict each other: how can the earth rest on pillars and at the same time hang on nothing? In addition, the idea of earth having “pillars” and “foundations” seems to defy observations made by astronauts who have seen our planet from afar.

Yes, that’s a problem for scriptural literalists like AIG. It must bother them a lot, because they posted this same article more than five years ago, and we wrote AIG and the Pillars of the Earth. As we noted then, Eric “clears up” the problem like this:

The supposed contradiction quickly disappears when we examine the context of each passage and recognize it as figurative language. … We know that the earth does not literally have foundations and a cornerstone like a building; instead, God uses this figurative language to create a mental picture for Job.

Oh. But we also know that the universe isn’t 6,000 years old, and the Earth with its various species weren’t created in six miraculous days. But AIG says that stuff is different. Why is it different? Because it’s The Truth.

Eric desperately attempts to explain why the creation scientists at AIG have a solid reason for making the choices they do:

Critics of our ministry often ridicule Answers in Genesis because we endorse the historical-grammatical hermeneutic. They claim that we must take everything in the Bible in a wooden literal sense. However, the historical-grammatical hermeneutic recognizes figures of speech are used in everyday language, and we should interpret them as such. When we interpret Scripture, we strive to find the author’s intended meaning. Just as we use figurative language today, so also the writers of Scripture often used figures of speech, especially in passages written using poetic language like the examples above.

Got that? AIG knows what they’re doing. Really they do. And now we come to the end:

So, God hangs the earth on nothing, but it’s not just dangling in space. He has firmly fixed an orbit for our planet and upholds it securely in its proper place in our solar system.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The Earth has an orbit and a proper place in the solar system — just as it says in the bible. Somewhere.

How long can this kind of nonsense go on? When will the undeniable facts of reality overwhelm AIG’s fantasy empire? And if that should ever happen, what will they do then? Will Hambo command his few remaining followers to follow the example set by the Heaven’s Gate cult and the Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple in Jonestown? Who knows? Most cults endure for centuries, even millennia, without that kind of ending. Creationism has been around for a long time. It will probably be around for a while longer.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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26 responses to “The Struggle of Answers in Genesis

  1. Will AiG ignore this too and carry on insisting that neanderthals were really ‘us’ and appeared sometime after the Bible’s tower of Babel episode?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35992612

  2. Ken Phelps

    “…upholds it securely…” – Mmmmm, which way was down again….

  3. Gotta love it: It’s the LITERAL word of God…except when it ISN’T How convenient!

  4. PS I’m not sure there’s a contradiction between 1 Samuel 2:8 and Job 26:7 but clearly there’s an apparent contradiction that AiG feel the need to address and explain. As is the case with the apparent contradictions between verses within Genesis 2 and the chronological account of Genesis 1. That is God’s Word needs to be ‘clarified’ in order to reveal that there are ‘no’ contradictions. I expect AiG have also addressed the apparent inaccuracy of Matthew 12:40 (was Jesus three nights in the Earth).

  5. “Mmmmm, which way was down again….” He’s not saying that north is up and south is down (or vice versa in Ken Ham’s case perhaps) he’s referring to Earth’s (nearly!) constant and (nearly!) unchanging orbit around the Sun.

  6. The Bible does not mention precession. So neither does Lutz. Seems like a sensible strategy for a right thinking Bible literalist and six-day creationist.

  7. Ken Phelps

    @AH-r – Well I’m not so sure. On occasion, after A Certain Number of Beers, it has been my unshakeable conclusion that the earth and all upon it was plunging precipitously in *some* direction other than its intended path.

  8. michaelfugate

    And I thought HGH was human growth hormone! All those athletes have really been taking historical-grammatical hermeneutic instead – how does that help performance? It certainly doesn’t help creationists.

  9. The Curmudgeon asks “When will the undeniable facts of reality overwhelm AIG’s fantasy empire?” It is pretty clear that facts overwhelmed them long ago, but they are too busy sleepwalking to have noticed.

  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apsidal_precession
    Also the extent to which Earth’s orbit is elliptical is not constant over long (million year) timescales.

  11. The simple solution to Ham’s enigma regarding pillars:
    The earth rests on 4 pillars, the pillars rest on the back of a giant tortoise, who rests on the back of an even larger tortoise, and so on and on. It’s tortoises all the way!

  12. “When we interpret Scripture, we strive to find the author’s intended meaning. Just as we use figurative language today, so also the writers of Scripture often used figures of speech, especially in passages written using poetic language like the examples above.”

    Aargh. I could have sworn Hambo claims Scripture was written by the big guy who made his intentions pretty clear. Now we learn there are multiple writers with different intentions? And some hid their meaning? Sigh.

  13. To be fair, the writer of Job has God engaging in a long rant, boasting about how mighty he is, rather than explaining nature to the rather persecuted Job. The rant contains a great mix of claims, some of which are obviously poetic (like loosening the belt of Orion) and some of which are fairly accurate descriptions of familiar animals. It is hard not to take the writer’s detailed description of a fire breathing dragon as intended to be literal, since it is part of long list of actual animals and is described in the same way as the others.

    The pillars of the earth could be a poetic turn of phrase, or it could be a literal statement of what the writer believed held the earth in place. I think it was a bit of both, i.e. the writer thought the earth rested on some sort of foundation and used a poetic phrase to describe it. The writer also mentioned that God had a treasury of hail, which he kept for use in times of trouble – that was probably also close to an actual ancient belief.

    If Ham and his minions could simply accept that the story of Job is just that – a story – then the whole problem would be solved.

  14. RetiredSciGuy

    SC:
    “Who knows? Most cults endure for centuries, even millennia, without that kind of ending.”

    That’s right. Just look at Scientology. Well, maybe not centuries or millennia, but decades, anyway. So there’s still hope for “that kind of ending.”

  15. Charles Deetz ;)

    One of the more memorable sermons for me was our (female) pastor talking about Genesis 1. She said she would skip the usual discussion of the book and covered its poetic style, language, references (and historical facts of the time it was written). I’m sure some listening wanted her to declare it “true”, but she certainly did a good job in explaining how the chapter was written purposefully, yet certainly not as a fact or science.

  16. waldteufel

    Our Curmudgeon muses, doubtless while feeding his magnificent dogs with small, cuddly animmals: “Creationism has been around for a long time. It will probably be around for a while longer.”

    Groups like AiG, the Discoveroids, and ICR will doubtless infect our society as long as their spoon-fed and drooling followers can be coaxed to feed from the trough of foolish superstition. I fear that these benighted souls will often be seen shuffling through make-believe Ark “replicas”, dropping their shekels in carnival barkers’ outstretched and greedy hands.
    As much as I despise professional creationists (aka Liars for Jesus), I see many of their followers and clients as victims who should be offered a way out of the cycle of ignorance they find themselves in.
    Our greatest hope for change here is education with heavy emphasis on real skeptical thinking and how to apply the scientific method. Keep shining the light on creationist cockroaches and watch them scatter . . . . .

  17. If the buyBull–the word of gawd –is full of figuratives and metaphors then it can mean ANYTHING I wish it to mean!!! Great!! It means NOTHING!!!

  18. Dave Luckett

    Come, now. It means what it means to the recipient. That’s basic communication theory.

    Of course, a reasonable person would also ask, what did the text mean to the originator(s)? And, if the meaning were important, would spend some effort in trying to comprehend the culture, language and world-view that produced it. But that would take scholarship or at least some considerable reading, and – here’s the real problem – the willingness to put oneself in the hands of others, and learn. Ham won’t do that. He doesn’t need to learn. He already knows.

    But he’s in one of his many cleft sticks here. If he is to propound the folly that Genesis must be read as a literal account of events, because the Bible is the revealed word of God, and God speaks literally, then he cannot understand the texts in any other way. But this is impossible, for there are many internal contradictions in the texts, like this one. So he tells us that one or another or all of the alternatives are poetic metaphor.

    So why can’t he extend this valuable and necessary insight to Genesis 1-11 at least? He can read Job and/or Isaiah or the Psalms as metaphorical. Why not Genesis?

    The simple answer is pride. Ham knows he’s right about Genesis. He’s been saying that for forty years, and he’s not going to say anything different, because see above. As he admitted in the debate with Bill Nye, nothing could change his mind. Genesis is to be read literally, because Ken Ham says so. Job and Isaiah may be read metaphorically, because Ken Ham says so. Authority. Pride in his own authority. Hubris.

    Funny. “Hubris” may be defined as “pride such as to offend the gods”. If ever there was evidence that there are no gods, the lack of apparent Divine displeasure with Ken Ham would constitute such evidence. I mean, Ken Ham’s an example of Job the other way up.

    But it’s pride. It really is as simple as that.

  19. Eric Lipps

    Creationists apparently feel the Bible is true as written, except when it isn’t.

    That is, where the Bible says something that not even they can defend as written, suddenly they start talking about “symbolic language.”

    How long can this kind of nonsense go on? When will the undeniable facts of reality overwhelm AIG’s fantasy empire?

    The whole sorry story of creationism demonstrates that at least for some people, there are no “undeniable facts of reality.”

  20. And creationism stems from the pride which cannot admit that one’s body is physically related to the bodies of chimps and other apes.
    The fact that it is so obviously true makes it all the more an affront to one’s pride.

  21. In that pi article about our good friend Jason our dear SC helpfully quotes Ol’ Hambos’ faith statement:

    “The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs.”
    Underlined by me.

    “the writers of Scripture often used figures of speech”
    Figures of speech typically are not factually true.
    Ah well, creacrappers rarely choke with their first lie.

  22. RetiredSciGuy

    About π in the Bible:

    If the Bible were inerrant, it would need to use a method of expressing numbers that could accurately represent π. To do so, the God should have revealed the decimal system of nomenclature, including the concept of zero, to the original authors of Scripture.

    That didn’t happen, or if it did, the authors ignored it. Or perhaps those scriptures were lost. In that case, God would have realized it, and repeated His inspiration. Again, that didn’t happen.

    Kinda makes me doubt this whole “inspired by God” thing. So, I guess I’ll be having a hot time in eternity. See ya there, folks!

  23. The decimal system doesn’t represent pi exactly.

  24. Nothing in the Bible says that the original autographs are factually true.

    We have no reason to believe that there were original autographs.

  25. I found a bizarre youtube channel recently (April 3rd) that had the a HA! revelation that because the webcam at the Amundsen-Scott south pole station showed considerable illumination after the sun went down on the vernal equinox. This was proof of their flat earth theory corollary that only the coast of Antarctica exists, the rest is the Biblical firmament.
    Of course the jokes on them, during early April the south pole is in twilight as the sun spirals around just below the horizon.