Ken Ham Is Opposed to Quote Mining

Look what we found at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. Hambo’s new post is titled What Are the Dangers of Quote Mining?

You’re probably familiar with quote mining, because it’s a common creationist tactic. Wikipedia mentions it in their article on Quoting out of context. They say: “Quoting out of context (sometimes referred to as contextomy or quote mining) is an informal fallacy in which a passage is removed from its surrounding matter in such a way as to distort its intended meaning.”

We’ve posted many times about flagrant quote mining by creationists, and you don’t need any examples. Well, here’s one, and the creationist doing the quote-mining is ol’ Hambo himself: Hambo Explains Racism. Let’s see what Hambo says about the tactic today. Here are some excerpts from his new post, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

The Bible teaches atheism. That’s right; Psalm 14:1 says, “”There is no God.“” Convinced? Probably not, because you know there must be a context. The rest of the verse reads, “”The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.“’” In fact, you might be a little upset if someone twisted the Bible like this. But do Christians ever do this?

We see creationists doing it all the time — not about the bible in such an obvious way, but certainly about science texts. Let’s see what Hambo says:

Unfortunately, yes, we do. [Gasp!] Consider this quote from a letter by Charles Darwin. “The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God.” Christians have actually quoted this to show that Darwin believed it seemed impossible for chance to produce the universe.

Then he explains why it’s quote mining:

But as you should have guessed, given that Darwin is the father of evolution, this isn’t a reasonable conclusion. The rest of the paragraph was left out, and the end of the sentence says, “but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.” Darwin doubted this argument for God’s existence, not his own belief in evolution.

Hambo’s disapproval of quote mining is a surprising development. He continues:

To put it bluntly, quote mining is a version of lying. It occurs far too often in theology, politics, and even the debate about evolution. Sometimes it may be unintentional, as when we quote someone who quotes someone else. But we should not be too ready to believe a damaging quote is accurate just because it comes from an opponent.

Amazing, isn’t it? Now we’re skipping to the end:

The lesson is clear. Misquoting Charles Darwin won’t convince a skeptic, but it may damage your Christian witness. So if a quote seems too good to be true, investigate. Evolution’s shortcomings are crippling, and careful, accurate arguments will expose them. [Hee hee!] We don’t need to resort to cheap shots or quote mining. “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you” is still our motto, as Christ’s followers!

From time to time, Hambo advises against other common creationist tactics. He has this at his website, but you have to search for it: Arguments to Avoid.

Well, dear reader, what do you make of all this? Is Hambo a changed man? We shall see.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

20 responses to “Ken Ham Is Opposed to Quote Mining

  1. Ham’s post is correct. It’s truthful. It’s what we, and every other rational person, has been saying for years, decades, generations, to creationists. No matter how simple the examples Ham gives, they are good examples. It’s… it’s reasonable. Say what?

    There are two possible conclusions we can draw. One is to speculate who, in the creationist noise machine, Ham is trying to distance himself from. ICR, maybe? If there was ever a panel of grandmasters of the selected quote, it’s them. Or the DI? They’re long overdue for a kicking from the main, ruling fundawhacko Christian wing of creationism, being apostates and (gasp!) Jewish and all, who won’t come right out and say that God did it. In other words, what political agenda is Ham serving by writing this? The surface of the creationist world looks as calm as millpond, but there be murky tides and currents below, and many predators. Including predators that eat each other.

    The other possible conclusion is to wonder who this person is and what he’s done with Ken Ham.

  2. So all atheists are fools and none doeth good? In his haste to call out the quote miners Ken inadvertently reveals the stupidity of his quote. Looks like he picked the wrong week to quit quote mining.

  3. A very dangerous admission by Ham. It will backfire – if they apply it to themselves. Quote mining, that’s all what these creation “scientists” are doing all the time. They are not doing any real research, but constantly quoting proper research out of context.

  4. While in his quote mine, I think there was a cave in and a quote fell on his head and he’s been wandering around in a happy daze repeating it ever since.

    I’d be willing to bet that whoever wrote, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” was a person so ignorant they didn’t even know where the sun goes at night.

    I don’t understand why people of today consider bible scribes to be wise men. Their writings demonstrate grievous ignorance. Nothing they wrote demonstrates wisdom.

    Even the great wisdom of King Solomon couldn’t answer that question.


  5. Nothing they wrote demonstrates wisdom?
    “He that is without sin, let him throw the first stone”?
    “You shall know them by their fruits”?
    “Do not muzzle the ox that treads the grain”?
    “The merciful shall receive mercy”?
    “Better to be slow to anger than a fighter; better control one’s temper than capture a city”?
    “Don’t be over-righteous, and don’t be over-wise.”?
    “Divide your goods among seven or perhaps eight ventures, since you do not know what disasters are in store for the world”?

    Look, of course I know that there’s a lot of garbage in the Bible. It shouts aloud that it’s not the Word of God. On the contrary, it is about the most obviously human production I know, containing just about everything humans are, one way or another. But that’s the point. It has some of the best and worst of us. Sure, to read it all, the whole enchilada, is to realize that the fundamentalists are dead flat wrong about it. This can’t be God talking. But it can’t be dismissed as the product of ignoramuses, either. It’s too various, too diverse. Good, bad, stupid, smart, violent, calm, xenophobic, all-embracing – it’s all that, and much more.

    It’s just like us, in fact. Which might be its greatest strength.

  6. @Jay
    As far as the origins of the wise sayings of the Bible, more than a few appeared earlier in non-Biblical texts from the Ancient Near East.

  7. “Christians have actually quoted this to show that Darwin believed it seemed impossible for chance to produce the universe.” Indeed he did believe exactly that at one stage, Unmining the quote, which I then compare with a key passage in his Autobiography, where he incidentally undermines the entire argument from design or firt clause with sophisitcated Humean logic [I added an emphasis]:

    the following letter which was written by the illustrious naturalist in 1873 to Mr. N. D. Doedes, a Dutch gentlemen: “It is impossible to answer your question briefly; I am not sure that I can do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me our chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a first cause the mind still craves to know whence it came and how it arose. Nor can I overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the world. I am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of the many able men who have fully believed in God; but, here again, I see how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to be, that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man’s intellect; but man can do his duty.”

    Very similar to the statement and retraction in his autobiography, which I have quoted before:

    Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.

    This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of Species; and it is since that time that it has very gradually with many fluctuations become weaker. But then arises the doubt—can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience? Nor must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not yet fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.

  8. Charlie Kaufmann

    Being the x-mas season, let’s celebrate the top quote mine of Christianity: Isaiah chapter 7’s “prediction” of the “virgin” birth.

  9. @Charlie, how about “The ox knows its master, the ass his master’s crib” or “Rachel weeping for her children”, to contextualise which we have birth in a stable and the Massacre of the Innocents.

    To say nothing of the fact that Jesus “My God,my God,why hast thou forsaken me?” on the cross is the opening quote of a Pharisee’s deathbed psalm, which goes on to say the exact opposite

  10. How about the Protoevangelium. That’s a pretty good one. It’s a good one if by good I mean borderline deranged.

  11. I wonder whether it is a modern complaint to point to quotation out of context. Or even to insist on exactness of quotation. How difficult was it, a demand for the writer take care, when the source of the quotation would be buried in a scroll, or just a memory of what one had read long ago. No one believes that Plato has exact quotations of Socrates.

  12. I wonder if some flat-earther qoute-mined Ham.

  13. Once again, I can’t find anything sufficiently entertaining to blog about, so we’ll just have to go a day without anything new.

  14. Unfortunately, the post is by Steve Golden, not Ken Ham.

  15. @Glenn Branch, That explains the lack of faith that Jesus could overcome “evolution’s shortcomings” and make evolution work. For example if Alfred Russel Wallace or Charles Darwin prayed to Jesus and asked Him to evolve everything. I’m certain Ken has no such lack of faith.

  16. @richard
    But there is the clear Bible proof text which says that there is the unique kind distinguishing humans, thus a barrier to macro evolution.

  17. TomS: Oh, of course. That would be Exegesis 7:11, “Thou shall not call a distinguished man a monkey, even if he be orange of hue and have a pompadour combover”.

  18. Theodore Lawry

    I googled “why does God exist?” this morning and I got this gem from the Discovery Institute:

    Scientific Evidence That God Exists – Evolution Is A Lie
    By studying fossils we can see how organisms have changed. Also a myth. Fossils provide really good evidence for evolution. That’s a myth. Neuroscience. Evolution News. Bioethics. Intelligent Design. Scientific Research. Breaking Scientific News. Scientific Issues.

    It’s funny creationist the DI is in their online ads for themselves, but they are much more circumspect in the web pages. “Evolution is A Lie?” Really?

    On the other hand, when I google the same query now I get a shorter and wimpier ad:

    Scientific Evidence That God Exists – You Won’t Believe It
    By studying fossils we can see how organisms have changed. Also a myth. Fossils provide really good evidence for evolution. That’s a myth. Breaking Scientific News. Scientific Issues.
    ‎About Us · ‎Inquire Online

    Both of these ads link to the same Klinghoffer piece:
    New Science Uprising Episode Asks, “Just How Bad Is the Fossil Record for Darwin’s Theory?” which just talks about fossil gaps, not God.

    “By their ads ye shall know them!”

  19. Theodore Lawry

    This morning, the DI ad says:

    “Scientific Evidence That God Exists – Evolution Is A Lie
    By studying fossils we can see how organisms have changed. Also a myth. Fossils provide really good evidence for evolution. That’s a myth. Scientific Research. Bioethics.”

    So this morning, evolution is back to being a lie. How fast things change!
    “By their ads ye shall know them!”

  20. The DI ads look like A/B testing. Which ones drive the most traffic to the site? That is what the DI is attempting to discover. What do you know, they do perform some research and science. Just not about evolution.