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.
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