Ken Ham: A Bit Too Grandiose?

We usually think of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, as just another creationist entrepreneur, albeit a very successful one.

Ol’ Hambo is famed not only for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), but also for the infamous, mind-boggling Creatin Museum, and for building an exact replica of Noah’s Ark. He promotes himself as the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else, but we’re never sure how much of that is showmanship, and how much is his sincere belief.

Some of the things he’s written in the past have troubled us, for example: Ken Ham Wants a Theocracy, and also You’re Either For Ken Ham or Against Him.

Nevertheless, we generally regard him as an amusing guy — excessively impressed with his success, perhaps, but essentially harmless. Every now and then, however, he’ll write something that makes us think he may be serious. A good example is what just appeared at his blog: Igniting a New Reformation in 2017. Here are some excerpts, with bold font conveniently supplied by Hambo:

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In 1517 Martin Luther nailed 95 theses — complaints about the church’s unbiblical “doctrines” — to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. Five hundred years later, we believe it’s time for a new reformation.

Martin Luther opposed man’s fallible traditions taking the place of God’s Word. He called the church back to the authority of Scripture. In our day when we see rampant compromise in the church, particularly in regard to the book of Genesis, we need to do the same.

Wow! Who will lead this movement? We’ll let you decide who Hambo’s choice would be. He says:

At Answers in Genesis we are dedicated to calling the church back to the authority of the Word of God. We want to ignite a new reformation.

Not much doubt about who the leader will be. Hambo continues, again with his bold font:

As I recently wrote for our January Answers Update newsletter, we want to

1. Ignite a passion in young people to know the Bible and stand boldly, uncompromisingly, and unashamedly on the Word of God from the very first verse.
2. Ignite a fervor in Christians to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3) by showing the truth, power, and authority of the Word against the false teachings of our day.
3. Ignite a zeal in Christian leaders to recognize the vital need to teach creation apologetics to children and teens (and adults, too, of course) and oppose any compromise within the church with evolutionary/millions of-years beliefs.
4. Ignite a burden in non-Christians to challenge secular icons and seek answers to the questions that have caused them to reject God’s Word, so they will discover the truths of the Bible and be saved for eternity by receiving Christ as Savior.
5. Ignite an intense desire in parents to educate their children in accord with biblical principles and raise up godly offspring who will know what they believe concerning God’s Word and why they believe what they do — and thus are equipped to defend the Christian faith against the secular attacks of our day.

That sounds very, uh, incendiary. It’s torches and pitchforks stuff. He finishes by saying:

I encourage you to join with us in igniting this new reformation. Here are some ways you can partner with us:

No, it’s not a call to arms — at least not yet. He merely encourages his drooling fans to visit his creationist tourist attractions, buy his books, and contribute money to AIG.

Maybe we’re wrong to be concerned. Perhaps Hambo is just doing what he always does — promoting his money-making schemes. Or maybe he dreams about — no, we shouldn’t speculate about that. We’re not qualified to judge Hambo, so we won’t. But he worries us.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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28 responses to “Ken Ham: A Bit Too Grandiose?

  1. Is it the meaningless numerical coincidence of a 500th anniversary that excites Ham, or the election of Donald Trump?

  2. Wonder when old Hambo actually read the 95 theses. The only doctrine posted for debate seems to be regarding the Pope and church selling indulgences. Of course Ham is a biologist not a theologian. I doubt that he really wants the bible to be authoritative, but rather his particular brand of biblical hermeneutics to be authoritative.

  3. And Ted, speaking of the Trump election, I think that Mencken nailed it many decades ago: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” — H L Mencken — Baltimore Evening Sun, 26 July 1920

  4. And while I am on a rant 🙂 I would encourage all Curmudgeon followers to read American Prometheus – the Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer. It’s a chilling reminder of what the government can do to an individual and to science.

  5. What a guy! There’s still time for him to be added to the Trump Transition Team. In fact, I’m surprised he’s been overlooked so far.

  6. Holding The Line In Florida

    I said many years ago that Hambone is a Jim Jones in the making. Still stand by that. There are two possibilities. 1. He is the typical Elmer Gantry con artist only updated for a more modern age. In that case he is harmless and good for a joke except for the turning rubes taken in by the con. 2. He actually believes what he says and the”I have this book! burn the witches” mentality is only waiting for political leverage to turn his version of heaven on earth to reality. I really believe he wants to be Oliver Cromwell. This is my concern. Given the current drift it concerns me more than ever that this is more than just a con. A while back I would have thought that eventually he and a devoted band would pull a Heavens Gate. Now I think they see a possibility of their dream come true. Shudder the thought!!

  7. @Douglas E
    Also mention Alan Turing.

  8. michaelfugate

    Can anyone name a “secular icon”?

  9. Dave Luckett

    Not Oliver Cromwell. You can say what you like about Old Noll, but he was first a genuinely pious man who was capable of rational discourse and debate – look at the Putney debates – and then, of course, a military genius. He learned – you can say he did it the hard way, but still, he learned – to tolerate other religious views, even, at a stretch, Catholicism, so long as it did not involve treason. Finally, he was personally incorruptible. He never in his life sold anything but real goods for what they were worth, and he hated political manoeuvre and corruption. It was that, not inability to work with others, that brought him, much against his will, to supreme power.

    Ham is not capable of rational debate – look at his efforts against Nye. His achievements consist of ephemera – a net presence, vaporware, his image on a screen, talking, a cloud of words, and some manifest falsehoods erected into monuments to himself. This trumpery is also his merchandise. He sells only vacuity at the highest price he can exact from fools, on exactly the same principle as the net Nigerians – no matter how ridiculous the scam, some proportion of marks will go for it.

    He is completely intolerant of any opinion whatsoever divergent from his own. He has no colleagues, and never could stand to have any – look at his exit from his own sect, or his expulsion from even the Christian Home Schooling conference, forsooth. Only abject minions are tolerable to Ken Ham.

    If he had a genuine gift of oratory, he might be a Nehemiah Scudder (for those who have read Heinlein). But Ham’s speeches, as above, consist of a plodding repetition of obvious non-sequiturs and transparent falsehoods, retailed with the con-man’s confidence that saying it again is the same as substantiating it. You have to be an idiot to take this seriously. Fortunately for Ken Ham, there are many idiots.

    Is he grateful that God has provided this abundance of prey? That is, does he believe the scam himself? There’s no knowing. It’s the shyster’s trap, of course. My own opinion – it’s no more than that, and others will differ – is that he actually does believe it. After all, the scam has provided huge benefits to Ken Ham, which is, I think, the only yardstick by which Ham measures anything. Why wouldn’t he believe it?

  10. Dave Luckett

    michaelfugate, good question. Secularity is effectively opposed to worship, even hero-worship. But perhaps Thomas Jefferson would come close.

  11. All that Hamian talk about “igniting” this and that seems to have a logical end-point where the faithful will be igniting heretics and witches.

  12. With all of that igniting I keep thinking of the Talking Heads song “Burning down the House”. I tell you what rather than having passion for some imaginary sky friend as postulated by tired old vindictive men how about having that passion for the living and living ones life!

    Douglas E I love the H L Mencken quote regarding the orange wonder in the White House. I have used so many of his quotes particularly relevant to our present sad state of affairs including the famous “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

    Clearly Hambo has been banking on this!

  13. Ceteris Paribus

    [skulk mode ON]
    Ken Ham IS dangerous, but the problem lies not in his own personal motive(s); such as fame, wealth, sincere sharing of his discovery of “truth”, or whatever. The fault that needs to be addressed is the diminished ability of the public to parse the content of Ham’s blather, and separate truth from folly.

    And for that reason I am very happy to just keep on skulking around in the shadows of these posts from SC and the many commenters. It is very cheap therapy against the havoc created by the those who, like Ham, mistake ancient scriptures for truths to be voted on and proclaimed by their governments.
    [skulk mode OFF]

  14. I wonder what Hambo’s reaction would be if some passionate blogger wrote that he wanted to lead a movement that would ignite passions against Hambo’s ark, ignite reactions against Hambo’s creation museum, ignite opposition to Hambo’s creation scientists, etc. Would Hambo interpret that language as a threat of violence and arson?

  15. Creationist Ken Ham Gets Into Weirdest Twitter Fight With Washington Post Over Dinosaurs

  16. “promoting his money-making schemes. Or maybe he dreams about …”
    In case of Ol’Hambo and his ilk that makes zero difference.

  17. “In 1517 Martin Luther nailed 95 theses — complaints about the church’s unbiblical “doctrines” — to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.”
    And of course Ol’Hambo also prefers historical propaganda to historical facts. Luther never did such a thing. I quote (but curtail)

    “There are no eyewitnesses, Luther never has claimed it and other contemporaries can’t remember anything like this either.”
    This propaganda likely comes from Melanchton (who wasn’t there – an otherwise important argument for Ol’Hambo) who wrote this after Luther’s death together which some more things that are demonstrably wrong.

  18. @DL: especially Cromwell. Everything you write about him is what Ol’Hambo wants to look like.

    @SC: “Would Hambo interpret that language as a threat of violence and arson?”
    Of course. Ol’Hambo’s interpretation of the Bible includes the desert morality that says that when we steal the cattle and the wives of an enemy tribe, we’re heroes and when they to it to us they are evil.

  19. Besides being incendiary, the language Ham uses seems very salacious: “Ignite a passion,” “Ignite an intense desire.”

    Ham also has a fascination and fixation on man’s fallibility. It’s just a short Freudian step to man’s phallibility.

  20. Dave Luckett

    mnbo: Sure, it’s what Ham would like to resemble. But Ham resembles Cromwell to the same extent that a rubber dolly resembles Amy Adams.

  21. Dave Luckett notes

    You can say what you like about Old Noll, but he was first a genuinely pious man who was capable of rational discourse and debate – look at the Putney debates – and then, of course, a military genius.

    Agreed. A complicated, fascinating, multi-faceted man, with elements of both true genius and pronounced flaws; it is far too facile to paint him as either wholly a hero or a monster. And he left us with an equally complicated legacy, for both better (securing the power of Parliament) and worse (Ireland).

    Old as I am, I didn’t know Oliver Cromwell, But you, Ken Ham, are no Cromwell…

  22. I find it weird that creationists keep referring to, and admiring Martlin Luther. Why? He wrote the book “On the Jews and Their Lies”, which Juluis Striecher in the Nuremburg trials said was pretty much their handbook for what to do to the Jews:
    Dr. Martin Luther would very probably sit in my place in the defendants’ dock today, if this book had been taken into consideration by the Prosecution. In the book ‘The Jews and Their Lies,’ Dr. Martin Luther writes that the Jews are a serpent’s brood and one should burn down their synagogues and destroy them…

    Trial of The Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 14 November 1945– 1 October 1946, Vol. 12, p.318

    Creationists, of course, are the people who say that it was “darwinism” that led to the holocaust, yet Darwin never said any of the stuff Luther did. Can you imagine if he did?

  23. @DavidK

    Ed Brayton has the perfect headline for his report of the WaPo/Ham twitterfeud: “Ken Ham Mad at Being Tied to Wrong Idiotic Theory.”

  24. Derek Freyberg

    Yes, and Jerry Coyne goes after the WaPo for their credulous article, and manages a dig or two at the Ark Park, on his website.

  25. Interestingly (to me anyway) “ignite” is related by the Indo-European family of languages to the Hindu fire god “Agni”. So it is great to see Hambo keeping the Agni in ignition!
    And while it is a bit of an oddity to see a fundamentalist successfully employ a metaphor, Hambo actually nails it. For example, those of us (unlike Hambo) who have the benefit of modern science we might say something, “goes viral”. This usually doesn’t have the negative connotation one would get from an epidemic, though for what Hambo is peddling It is actually quite apt and a good reason to avoid it and stick with the fire analogy.

  26. @Troy
    And then there is the museum of creationism – a museum being a temple to those goddesses, the Muses.

  27. I suppose to stay within the Judeo-Christian mythos Hambo could call it the “Creation Inspiratum” based on Genesis 2:7. Of course I think a better name would be the “Creation Dogmatorium”, since “inspiration” implies a mental spark that will lead to new and different ideas.