Ken Ham sometimes manages to cut so close to the truth it almost hurts. Today is one of those days. If you haven’t heard of Ken, he’s the homophobic, woman-hating and, oh, yeah, young-earth creationist head of Answers in Genesis ministries. AiG are, for want of a better word, the leading young-earth creationist group – their Creation Museum (presumably) has visitors, and their website looks like a mongrel cross between Scientific American and Watchtower, the Jehovah’s Witness periodical. The Ark Park, a proposed Kentucky amusement park which will combine all the fun of an inundation-themed day out with a hefty dose of biblical literalism, is going to be built just as soon as they can find enough morons to fund the thing. Or, failing that, Republicans.
So, it’s not really possible for a person to be more openly wrong about the origins of the earth and life on it. Evolution? Didn’t happen, too difficult. Earth more then 7,000 years old? A scientific conspiracy to destroy faith in the bible. Dinosaurs? Lived in the garden of Eden.
But there is one fact on which he and I agree. His ideas about the Bible make more sense than liberal Christians’. Don’t get me wrong, wooly-minded accommodationist Episcopalians are my natural political ally within that wide, wide range of beliefs that is Christianity. But I can’t help feeling that ken Ham has a point when it comes to reading the Bible:
In the sermon, the pastor challenges the accepted definition of inerrancy, claiming that the Bible has no original autographs.
There is no such thing as an original autograph of the Scripture, and to claim such a manuscript is the basis for the inerrancy is intellectually dishonest.
While it is true that we do not possess the original manuscripts today, Kremer is arguing that they never existed. He even goes so far as to claim that “the Bible is not a history book,” “the Bible is not a philosophy book,” and “the Bible is not a science book.” With all those caveats, what exactly can we trust in the Bible? More importantly, how can we trust all that it has to say about Jesus Christ? Well, that’s an exception, says Pastor Kremer.
When you come to talking about the character of God, the Bible is indeed inerrant. When you’re talking about the revelation of God in Christ, we can trust that information with perfect confidence.
My question to Dr. Kremer is this—“Who decided you can trust this section but not the rest? On what basis did you determine this? Or is it just your fallible human opinion?”
And here it is: a legitimate question. The Bible is a book filled with disgusting morality, with obvious scientific inaccuracies and with the odd bit of good stuff. How can we honestly reject the shit stuff while accepting the good stuff on the strength of the Bible alone? We can’t. To effectively decide what is and is not moral in the Bible, we need another source of information. We need something else to tell us what is good and what is not. And since godless bastards like me have a perfectly good moral compass (gays: great, women: great, people of colour: great, everybody else: also great), I might go so far as to suggest that Biblical accommodationists are imprinting their own morals upon the Bible and claiming their ideas are divinely inspired.
At least old Kenny is honest, and submits all of his judgement to some random book plucked out of history rather than just the bits he happens to agree with. After all:
After all, if we take secularist Richard Dawkins’s views of evolution and millions of years to the Bible, why not take his views that reject the Resurrection and Virgin Birth and reinterpret the Bible too?
Either the Bible is inerrant truth, or it isn’t. If it is, then there should be no real evidence against its account of history. If it is, then every tenet of the Bible must surely fall under scrutiny. That’s not to say that every passage is wrong, just that we should no longer consider any of it ‘sacred’ and beyond real criticism.
Ken Ham is so close to the truth – if we reject literalism, we have so many good reasons to reject the whole thing. He just fails to reject literalism.