The Pseudohistory of Ken Ham

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

Though many people focus on the scientific issues in the AIG version of YEC, the pseudo-history is just as interesting and important.

This article by @TedDavis is really good. It seems that @Joel_Duff wrote:

The Genesis Flood may be the best known expression of modern creation today but its content certainly wasn’t novel. Whitcomb and Morris mostly just modified the work of Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) George McCready Price’s writings from the first decade of the 20th century. Price’s student and a number of other SDA followers wrote numerous books and tracts on flood geology and the new “creationism.” In the 1930s they formed the Deluge Geology Society (DGS) which restricted member to those that believed that the creation week was “six literal days, and that the Deluge should be studied as the cause of the major geological changes since creation.”

One notable non-SDA member of this society was Henry Morris who would eventually co-author The Genesis Flood in 1961. In most versions of the history of creation science found on the Answers of Genesis website one could be forgiven for thinking that The Genesis Flood were a special creation itself.
Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter to Usher in a Modern Day Reformation? – Naturalis Historia

Then Ham responds with:

Dr. Duff is just following the distorted historical analysis of the openly agnostic, apostate Seventh Day Adventist historian, Ronald Numbers (whom he refers to in the article). Young-earth creation is not a novel view invented by Seventh Day Adventists. It was historic Christian orthodoxy until the 19th century when the millions of years myth was popularized by atheist and deist geologists (and some professing Christian geologists who ignored Genesis), as is documented in the first three chapters of Coming to Grips with Genesis . In the early 19th century, most of the church quickly compromised with millions of years, but the young-earth “scriptural geologists” at that time raised biblical, geological, and philosophical arguments against those old-earth ideas and reinterpretations of Scripture, as The Great Turning Point documents.

And @TedDavis’s conclusion?

Why do Ham and company go to such lengths to create an alternative history of creationism in which Price and the Adventists don’t receive proper credit? Is it because (like those Christians mentioned by Morris) they don’t want their movement associated with a Christian sect that is sometimes viewed with suspicion? Perhaps that is part of the picture, but I think there’s a much bigger reason behind it. The tangled history of modern creationism threatens the simplistic, highly inaccurate narrative AiG hammers into their followers: that Young-Earth Creationism is, and always has been, the “zero-compromise” option for all devout believers in the authority of the Bible. The real story, as we have seen, is much more complicated than AiG’s rhetoric indicates. The fact that Ham and AiG are so blatantly twisting the facts here, and are so critical of those like Duff (and Numbers) who are trying to set the record straight, does not reflect well on the credibility of their organization.

This is closely related to the work by @kkeathley here: The Origin of Young-Earthism 50 Years Ago.

It is really worth reading this history. The origins of YEC is important for understanding our current situation. Far from being the “traditional” view, the AIG version of YEC is a large departure from traditional theology of Genesis.

(Mark M Moore) #2

It is amazing to me how hard some people will work, and the lengths to deny the facts they will go to, in order to cling to the idea that scripture is plain in its meaning and does not require deep study or thought to learn what it is really saying. They will work harder, even to the extent of sacrificing honesty, to cling to that idea than the amount of work it would take to really dig into the Word and see what it really says. I guess to do the latter you have to love it, and that’s where the breakdown occurs. It is a shame that so many of these people are angrily opposed to the idea that they have anything important to learn about the bible. A part of that is insisting that it is simple and easily understood with minimal effort.

(George) #3


I think you are reacting to the resistance some exhibit to the idea what YOU see is personal revelation.

(Mark M Moore) #4

Well, that too. But they had the same mindset on discussions about the length of the creation days BEFORE I received the revelation about Adam. Or women as teachers. Or any topic which required nuance and getting into the original languages and/or understanding the context or culture in which the statement was made. My wife says its more about trying to harness scripture to the service of cultural outcome they prefer rather than knowing what the scripture actually says. I recently had one of them ready to cut the story of the stoning of the adulteress out of the bible because it was at odds with some cultural outcome he wanted.

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The story of Young Earth Creationism reminds me a lot of Geocentrism and the church. For centuries it was just kind of understood that everything moved about the Earth because that is intuitively what it looks like to the human mind. It wasn’t until Copernicus and others came around that the early beginnings of science started to challenge long held beliefs.

The same happened to a literal Genesis. The Bible spoke of a recent creation and a global flood, and in the absence of anything to the contrary people took these stories as literal history. Once again, scientific findings started challenging those beliefs, and in most of the world people realized that it was like Geocentrism. We simply made the wrong conclusion at one point, and scientific discoveries showed us where we had erred.

This is where the SDA movement and the Fundamentalist movement came in. This movement sought to counter these scientific writings with their own scientific claims. This differs a lot from the historic position on Genesis which never took on a scientific bent. If you read Price’s work, then Morris, and then Ham the lineage is obvious. You can still find YEC arguments today that got their start with Price.

It is probably accurate to say that the default position for much of christian history was YEC. However, “scientific creationism” (a term used by YEC’s like Morris) is relatively recent, and that definitely got its start with the SDA church and other christian sects around the same time.