I have so much hate to give. (damonite) wrote,
I have so much hate to give.
damonite

Answers in Genesis.

As many of you know I probably read far more than I should about fundamentalist Christian positions. In the past I've watched all of Kirk Cameron's "Way of the Master" series, read numerous articles and papers about creationism and various other biblical positions, and read Christian critiques of various parts of modern culture and how we're all going to hell. Recently I read "The Blind Watchmaker" and am in the process of reading "The End of Faith." Taking a small break from this, I trotted over to the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis.

I actually found a fairly decent article considering the normal stuff you find on these sites. It's an article by Ken Ham explaining to Christians how to talk to non-Christians who demand proof for god. Written in 1999, Where's the proof? attempts to answer the question of how to prove god's reality without the bible. Though it starts out promising, it quickly spirals in on itself and tears its own premise apart.

Starting out by stating that all of us start with the same group of facts and that only our axioms differ, I thought there might be a new approach to trying to prove the validity of the bible from some other point. Sadly, after a bit of linguistic gymnastics, Mr. Ham went right into quoting the bible, leading us into familiar territory for these sorts of discussions.

What struck me as truly bizarre, and the reason I'm posting this, was the summation or tail end of the article where Mr. Ham discusses the nature of facts and reality. Specifically he states "‘Facts’ are neutral. However, there are no such things as ‘brute facts’; all facts are interpreted. Once the Bible is eliminated in the argument, then the Christians’ presuppositions are gone, leaving them unable to effectively give an alternate interpretation of the facts. Their opponents then have the upper hand as they still have their presuppositions."

This is followed up by two accounts trying to show how naturalists, logic, and reason without the bible are somehow flawed and that the bible offers a better answer. Does he do this by discussing naturalism, logic, or reason? No. He does this by nitpicking at solipsism. He doesn't call it that, but that's the beauty of conflation. He's used one name - naturalism, and married it to solipsism when he defines it:

1) "A young man approached me at a seminar and stated, ‘Well, I still believe in the big bang, and that we arrived here by chance random processes. I don’t believe in God.’ I answered him, ‘Well, then obviously your brain, and your thought processes, are also the product of randomness. So you don’t know whether it evolved the right way, or even what right would mean in that context. Young man, you don’t know if you’re making correct statements or even whether you’re asking me the right questions.’"

Congratulations, you've talked to someone who clearly hasn't thought out their own belief systems and is no indictment of reason or naturalism. It is, however, an indictment of this man's belief systems and their shaky ground. The correct answer to Mr. Ham's questions would be to point out that we are not the product of random processes and that while we have no direct contact with reality personally, the reality we do have contact with is consistent and can be accepted within the framework of human subjectivity. No holy text can change our connection to our reality, only the way we choose to accept or reject aspects of it.

2) "On another occasion, a man came to me after a seminar and said, ‘Actually, I’m an atheist. Because I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in absolutes, so I recognize that I can’t even be sure of reality.’ I responded, ‘Then how do you know you’re really here making this statement?’ ‘Good point,’ he replied. ‘What point?’ I asked. The man looked at me, smiled, and said, ‘Maybe I should go home.’ I stated, ‘Maybe it won’t be there.’ ‘Good point,’ the man said. ‘What point?’ I replied."

Using a guy who absolutely doesn't believe in absolutes as an example is a terrible idea. He already destroys any credibility he has before Mr. Ham even needs to respond to point out what's wrong. However, he does respond, with all the wit and cynicism of a teenager who just discovered his first philosophy primer. I expected there to be a third example where a person tells Mr. Ham that we are all just figments of someone else's imagination, but Mr. Ham's ill thought out assault on naturalism seems to have ended here.

And his attempt to answer the questioner's issue of proving the bible without the bible? Mr. Ham either believes it cannot or should not be done and simply explains that the Christian ought to continue to use the bible as the basis for all discussion and debate regarding such matters. To his credit, he does explain that the Christian ought to use the bible and observed fact together to prove the validity of the Christian world view. However, it seems he relies on his adversaries being unprepared to answer the challenges the Christian will throw forth. "Forcing the debater to logically defend his position consistent with science and his own presuppositions (many will find that they cannot do this)."

When Christians meet those of us who can defend our positions logically, can explain the observed fact better and more consistently, and can point out where the science and observed fact falls apart in a Christian world view? I wonder what Mr. Ham would say to that?
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