He will attack if he thinks he can get publicity out of it, and he is a master at getting publicity. The more your book and GAE take off, the more he will want to exploit your popularity and discredit you personally. Ham will claim that you reject the Bible because you do not accept a literal account of Genesis.
The single best response to that IMO is “Christianity begins with the resurrection of Christ”, as someone on these pages once expressed.
One possible way of approaching a Ham debate would be to use an AiG essay against them. Dr. Faulkner wrote an infamous article criticizing flat earthers, and all you would really have to do is a find & replace to insert YEC in place of flat earth, and your argument would be largely complete.
I do want to be clear on one point. Talking about Jesus and the Resurrection might be a good strategy or tactic, but I’d talk about Jesus even if it was a poor strategy or tactic. I really believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and I also believe I am personally obligated to truthfully declare Him if I am to follow Him.
Instead of pronouncing beliefs in some sort of virtue signaling contest, perhaps it would better to simply point out that one can keep their Christian faith while still accepting evolution and an old Earth, as exemplified by Josh and other Christian scientists. Evolution is no more a threat to Christianity than Heliocentrism was. In fact, it would be Ham who is agreeing with (misguided) atheists who claim that evolution does disprove Christianity. It would be interesting to hear why Ham sides with atheists instead of his fellow Christians.
It would be hard to predict what would transpire in a Ham-Swamidass debate, but I can predict the following AiG write up.
Dr. Swamidass is a christian who accepts the darwinian worldview and rejects the biblical account of creation and the flood, while strangely allowing for God’s special creation of Adam and Eve. We were looking forward to this debate and the opportunity to present the scientific case that the biblical model is reliable in every verse, not just the ones we like. So we were surprised to find that Dr. Swamidass, who holds a senior position at a major research university, made several elementary mistakes during the debate, and had to be corrected even in areas of his supposed expertise. Instances of these include
<< Insert garbage here>>
We do not doubt Dr. Swamidass in his sincerity, however it is disappointing that a christian would set himself up as an authority over the authority of scripture. Unfortunately, it became clear that he has not bothered to familiarize himself with the extensive literature that we and others have produced over the years which demonstrate that the evidence, when not interpreted with the atheistic bias, actually favors a young earth just as the bible says. He raised a number of tired, evolutionist talking points which have long been discredited, and for which our responses could have easily have been found on our website. Our hope is that Dr. Swamidass, when he considers the real evidence, will himself come to the truth. We must be on guard against compromise from within the church, as well as challenges from without!
True, but YEC tends to regard their reading as the only legitimate “plain meaning” of the Bible. All other interpretations, such as OEC and EC, in their view are compromises intended to accommodate secular science.
Ah, but you see, in this arena virtue signalling is very important, perhaps more important than the content itself. This applies in general to all sorts of interactions, but especially when communicating with fellow Christians. When a conservative evangelical Christian asks me what I do and I describe my beliefs and research to them, to gain trust and credibility I feel the need to bring up certain buzzwords and themes, such as
design (especially when talking about science)
being comfortable with actually quoting some biblical verses and citing where they come from
also, in some quarters, which Bible translation you quote from is a form of virtue signalling! If you use the RSV, for example, you’re likely in a more liberal church. NIV = generic evangelical, like the Intervarsity type. ESV = complementarian conservative baptist (Grudem et al.). KJV-only = fundamentalist of a certain kind.
being comfortable talking about certain common apologetics talking points such as the Resurrection or the fine-tuning argument. I notice that many TEs are reluctant to do this.
From simply looking at the vocabulary that someone uses when describing their faith, I can easily predict what kind of Christian they are - fundamentalist YEC, OEC, evangelical, liberal, or something in between. For example, once someone says the word “Darwinism”, even passingly, I know for sure that they are not fully on board with evolutionary science. If someone brings up “intelligence”, I know they are sympathetic to ID to some extent.
I think Biologos and many TEs have for a long time tried the approach where they simply point to Christians who believe in evolution. But it doesn’t fully work, as we’ve seen. You need to show, not just tell, that you are a Christian.
I wouldn’t call it virtue signalling, as much as communicating in the language they understand that you are the same type of Christian as are they.
The YEC audiences I engage would probably agree that BL/TE are Christians too, but they would also say they are a different type of Christian. Wearing evolution on my sleeve, but starting with Jesus and the Resurrection, using the right language, they walk away agreeing not only that I am a Christian, but I am the same type of Christian as them. That is the key point.
Once again, I emphasize that this is not merely a show for me. I really am the same type of Christian as them. So it is like speaking my mother tongue in a foreign land.
Having left the church decades ago, I am probably not as sensitive to this as I once was. Digging back through the memory banks, I do remember being put off by what I considered overuse of mindless platitudes and puffery (I am not trying to demean anyone, just describing my own reactions and views). I fully admit that my personal bias has probably leaked over into this discussion. This specific criticism of mine would probably only apply when speaking to closet atheists in a church congregation.
A good list of bullet points here, Daniel. Regarding the one immediately above, I’d make a distinction between the original RSV and the new RSV. (I don’t know if they still use the distinctive for the newer translation – NRSV – if they don’t, that could confuse older folks who are used to the distinction.) The original RSV (I think ca. 1910 NT, ca. 1952 OT) was very close to the King James in language, except for the modernization of obvious archaisms to make it sound like modern English rather than Shakespeare’s English (and to get rid of some serious misunderstandings caused by changes in English meanings since 1611). In that, it was reminiscent of the American Standard Version of 1901. Many who would describe themselves as conservatives could be quite happy with the old RSV. (Of course, the Study Notes to the Old Testament portion, which I have in my 1975 version, are filled with uncritically historical-critical and liberal conclusions, but the translation itself was fairly cautious and traditional.)
Yes, true. And the same can be said for TE/EC vocabulary: “co-creatorship of the creatures”; “design perceived only through the eyes of faith”; “Wesleyan” understood as in contrast with “Calvinist”; an almost obsessive concern with “freedom” (not just of the human will but of nature itself); praise for the allegedly nearly infinite creative capacity of “randomness”; the loose throwing about of the word “providence” (when used as a vague substitute for an intellectually clear account of the relationship between God and evolution); “Barth, Newman, and Pascal” (invoked as authoritative theologians who have allegedly shown how wrong and bad natural theology is); defensive bristling or evasion when the term “guided” evolution is used; “consensus science” uttered with the intonation of almost religious reverence – all of these verbal clues, when found near each other, tend to be giveaways that one is reading a TE/EC.
Yes, that’s exactly right. If one says, “I’m a traditional evangelical Christian” but then, in all kinds of ways, appears (at least on the most natural meaning of his or her words) to be denying or skeptical of certain key Christian doctrines, or of the inspiration of all of the Bible, many evangelical Christians get nervous. Some of them may then look to someone like Ken Ham, who does not appear to question core doctrines. This is most unfortunate, as Ken Ham is not the best representative of classical Western Christianity, not even among living representatives, let alone those who have passed on (Lewis, Chesterton, Calvin, Luther, Aquinas, Augustine, etc.).
The ideal opponent to debate Ken Ham would be someone whose Christian doctrinal credentials are beyond reproach, yet who is theologically open to evolution understood as descent with modification. The most obvious person who comes to mind is our friend Jon Garvey, but I can’t easily think of a North American counterpart. Maybe Denis Lamoureux could do it, since he’s an active Pentecostal and no one could accuse him of accepting evolution because of Enlightenment doctrines against God’s hands-on activity. But I don’t think Denis has command of the whole Bible (as opposed to his Old Testament field) or of the Christian theological tradition. Maybe a tag-team debate, where Denis was paired with someone like William Lane Craig, against Ham and some other YEC, would be the best. That way, the defects in Ham from both a Biblical and a systematic point of view could be exposed.
It’s important for “conservative” Protestants to see that, even if Ken Ham is right about evolution, he still isn’t a very good Christian teacher or theologian. I regard Ken Ham’s greatest intellectual sins as not against science but against Christian theology – he vulgarizes it in a populist, demagogic way which I don’t like. That approach plays well in America, unfortunately, but hopefully American Protestants can be shown better models, from their own traditions, than Ham.