Science and religion. Mutually exclusive fields? Some people say science and religion can exist simultaneously, and harmoniously. I, on the other hand, quite disagree.
If one wishes to preserve intellectual integrity, science and religion cannot take equal priority in one’s mind. They can only exist together if there is compromise, meaning that you either tolerate a little bit of bad logic, bad science, or you dilute your religious views to the point where there is really no substance to them.
Nowhere can this be seen more than in Ken Ham’s book, “The Lie: Evolution.” Ken Ham is the founder of Answers In Genesis, a “Creation Science” organization, dedicated to converting the entire world to Christianity, whether they want it or not.
There is one important thing to point out here. It’s one thing to let a logical fallacy slide here and there, for your own sake; to preserve your own belief system. If you choose to accept bad logic as proof of God, so be it. But to lie to people who may be ignorant of the facts, to imply that your views are “scientific,” to exploit this ignorance, that is an entirely different issue. It is, for lack of a better term, evil. If I were a Christian, I’d say it was “of Satan.” But, being an Atheist, I’ll just say that it’s immoral, deceptive and, to say the least, dishonest. Not, what I think, Jesus would want. Would Jesus want us to distort information (lie) in order to persuade others to accept Him? If Jesus were real, would we really have to distort information (lie) in order to persuade people of his reality?
I think the main problem is that there is either (a) a complete lack of understanding as to what evolution is, or (b) there is a deliberate attempt to mischaracterize and misrepresent (lie about) what evolution is and how it works. I think choice (b) is more likely in Mr. Ham’s case. I mean, people would not believe on the sweet name of Jesus if evolution were true. Therefore, Ham’s only option is to lie his head off to try to keep people from accepting 150+ years of solid science.
Main Theme Of The Book
This book has a pretty pernicious underlying theme: lying. The pot is definitely calling the kettle black in this book. Bad logic is so blatantly rampant, lying and misconceptions abounding so bountifully that I can hardly contain myself.
To start with, the major premise of this book is that evolutionary theory is the root of all evil in society. From this premise follows the false dichotomy: you are either for God or against Him. And not just God in general, but specifically the God of the Christian Bible – and in Ham’s case, the King James version of the Bible. Accepting evolutionary theory is equated with being “against” the God of the Bible. What about every other religion in the world? In one fell swoop Ham totally eliminates the possibility of anyone else’s opinion, other than his own.
Now, it would seem that if one was so confident in one’s position, one might offer some scientific evidence of this position. Right? You would think so. But, not in this case. Not any real evidence, anyway. Not any evidence that would be consistent with the supposed standards he holds evolutionists to.
In cases where a reasonable person would offer proof, Mr. Ham simply presents Bible verses, or appeals to authority. For example, on the topic of geology, Mr. Ham says in reply to a student he is talking with that…
Even if your geology professor were here and said things I don’t understand because I’m not a geologist, if what he says disagrees with the Bible, then he is wrong.
No evidence presented, whatsoever. It is clear that Ham has no interest in evidence. He’s already made up his mind – facts or no facts to support his conclusion. If no evidence exists to support creationism, he will simply manufacture it. Or, if that fails, he will simply resort to trying to poke holes in evolutionary theory. This is the total opposite of how the scientific method works. And on that note, a segue…
Mischaracterizing The Scientist
How do scientists arrive at their conclusions? They observe phenomena (as is the case with observational science), or they examine evidence. Wherever the evidence points, that’s what scientists will tend to accept as truth.
This is not what Ham wants you to believe. He wants you to believe that scientists accept evolutionary theory in the same way he accepts Christianity… with faith. There’s one big problem with this. Where did the idea of evolution come from? Did Darwin just “make up” evolution? Was he just sitting around one day and decided that he wanted to, as Ham claims, destroy the foundations of Christianity? No. Of course not.
Evolutionary theory came about because of overwhelming evidence (see Evolution Is A Religion?). Darwin wasn’t just going on a whim and making things up willy-nilly. He observed speciation in finches (among other animals as well), and determined that there must be a process by which their different characteristics originated – and that mechanism is called natural selection. And as we have discovered more fossils (including many, many transitional fossils, which Ham refuses to accept on an ideological basis), the evidence piles up that evolution has undeniably occurred. It is undeniable, except in Ham’s case. It’s easy to deny anything with the right amount of bad logic and lies.
In the first chapter of the book, there are two illustrations outlining what Ham says are myths and “truths” about scientists.
Four Commonly Believed Facts About The Scientist In The White Coat:
He is unbiased.
He is objective.
He is infallible.
He wears a white coat.
Well, isn’t that neat. Sweeping generalization. One of my favorite logical fallacies.
Then he goes on to show…
Four Truths About Scientists:
He is biased. (Look at his books!) *Books in the picture: Origin Of Species, Modern Zoology, Gould, Modern Science, etc.
He is NOT OBJECTIVE!
He is HUMAN!
He seldom wears a WHITE COAT!
Wow, Ken Ham. How objective you are!! Such broad generalization accompanied by a complete lack of evidence! You wouldn’t happen to be human, would you?
No evidence whatsoever of these points. No specific persons given, or in what way they were biased, not objective, or even if they were human! And do you have pictures of these scientists without their white coats on?
I suppose I can’t say he offers no proof, whatsoever. He does offer this little trinket of information regarding evidence for accepting the Bible…
…modern science, which enabled the development of the car, arose when people began to base their science on the Bible. Therefore, this machine runs according to the laws which God made.
Wow. False premises, a non sequitur and an appeal to authority. There are more logical fallacies than there are sentences here. Great job, Ken! You’ve managed to fit all of these fallacies inside a blatant lie.
Religion has fought science tooth and nail since the beginning. How many people have died in the pursuit of science? Killed by the religious zealots for calling into question their precious Bible? Galileo was nearly killed for claiming the Earth was round. What a heretic!!
All of this, and Ham has the audacity to claim that these things arose when people “began to base their science on the Bible?” Give me a break!
Evolution Is A Religion?
I particularly enjoy this type of attack against evolution. Evolution is, in Mr. Ham’s eyes, a “religion.” Interesting. Let’s take a look at that proposition.
Wikipedia has this to say about the definition of religion…
A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term “religion” refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.
Evolutionary theory actually came about through the use of the scientific method…
Scientific method refers to the body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.
Now let’s look at the evidence. That’s what an intellectually honest person would do… not someone who lies for Jesus.
To start off with, Darwin was not the only person to “come up with” evolutionary theory. Pierre Maupertuis, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, and even Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, among countless others, had been observing the evidence. Most Creationists, like Mr. Ham, would like you to think that Darwin simply came up with the idea of evolution out of nowhere. That it was just a convenient way to remove God from the process of life.
Lines of evidence for evolutionary theory come from everywhere, not just Darwin. I mean, look at the work of Gregor Mendel. His work was going on at the same time that Darwin was developing his theory, completely unbeknownst to either one of them.
I could go on and on, but instead, I’ll refer you to this page. An excellent resource for all of the evidence for evolution. Scientific, testable evidence. Not a faith, or religious belief.
The bottom line is that science is based on evidence. Religion is based entirely on faith. The evidence for evolution has withstood 150+ years of scientific scrutiny. Nothing we have discovered has been able to disprove or discredit it.
Ham’s Christianity Is Dangerous
Chapter 2 is entitled “Christianity Is Under Attack.” In this chapter, Ham makes another great logical fallacy. His appeal to pity. He talks about how the evil evolutionists are repressing Christians, and that evils are taking over the world because people accept the theory of evolution.
Then there’s the false dichotomy that runs rampant throughout the book: You’re either Christian, or you’re against God.
God’s absolutes dictate that there are rules by which we must abide. Christianity cannot co-exist in a world community with relative morality as its basis. One or the other will yield.
What about Buddhism? What about Islam? Did Ham forget about these other religions?
He makes the point that there is no room in his version of reality for any other opinion than his own. Strict adherence to the Bible.
If the Church wants to be successful in changing society’s attitudes toward abortion, pornography, and homosexuality, it is going to have to fight the issue at a foundational level. The foundational basis of evolution needs to be destroyed and the foundational basis of creation restored to its rightful place of importance.
So Ham equates evolution with all sorts of evils, which is a complete non sequitur. He says that…
…the clash we see in our society at present is the clash between the religion of Christianity with its creation basis (and therefore absolutes) and the religion of humanism with its evolutionary basis and its relative morality that says “anything goes.”
I’d be interested in his sources for this supposed “anything goes” morality he’s speaking of. To say the least, this is a false premise.
(As a side note, just to put some perspective on things, let’s take a look at what some statistics say about morality and where evil comes from. Just to make things fair, since Ham insists that evolution is the cause of so much evil in the world. A study was done fairly recently concerning religion as it relates to prison populations. The numbers I’d like to point out real quick: Christians make up approximately 76.6% of prison inmates. Atheists (those darn evolutionists) make up… get this… 0.4% of our prison population. Yeah, those evolutionists are pretty evil, aren’t they?
I will admit that there are definitely problems with this study, as Michael had pointed out in his comment on this post. Even so, the amount of error required to make these differences negligible would have to be massive. There is still a disproportionate difference between Christians and Atheists in prison.)
Anyway, because of his arbitrary, non sequitur link between things which he perceives as “evil,” and their supposed cause (evolution), he deems it necessary to destroy the foundational basis for evolution, regardless of whether or not it is true.
And what would be the result of one person, group or organization being in control of what “truth” was? Have you ever read 1984 by George Orwell? That is the kind of world we should expect, if Ham had his way.
Imagine the Ministry Of Truth, going around and destroying any information it deemed “untruthful,” erasing it from history – not because it was unscientific, but because it didn’t aid the cause of the establishment. Eliminating anyone who questioned the truth set forth by the establishment. Do the Crusades sound familiar? Imagine the Crusades today, with the technology and weapons we have available.
It may sound extreme, but far from unrealistic. Think of the power exerted by Hitler during his reign. And he was far from being an Atheist, which Ham and his cronies like to portray. Hitler wrote this in Mein Kampf:
What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and the reproduction of our race…so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe…Peoples that bastardize themselves, or let themselves be bastardized, sin against the will of eternal Providence.
You could draw similar parallels between this statement and what Ham wants to accomplish. To convert everyone to Christianity, with the elimination of everyone else. In fact, I challenge you to tell me what’s different about Hitler’s quote and Ham’s philosophy of worldwide Christianity. They are one and the same. For Hitler, it was the Jews, or those who weren’t of “Aryan descent.” For Ham, it’s anyone who isn’t Christian.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I don’t suppose Ham to be such a militant Christian. But this book, this entire point of view is shared by a great many. And many of those feel it is their duty to spread Christianity by any means necessary. A good documentary on this topic is called Jesus Camp. A frightening look at what militant Christianity can do to people (especially children).
Science does not claim to have all of the answers. We are, as Ham says, all human. Our knowledge is imperfect. But science does the best that it can, with the evidence available to reach a real understanding of the world around us. Our ideas are always changing. Not drastically from one extreme to the other, as Ham would like you to think. Evolution is still undeniable, even though some very small details as far as the mechanism of evolution may be refined over time.
Religion, on the other hand, and in particular, Ham’s version of Christianity, claims to have all of the answers – right now. It is arrogance at the highest level. No matter what evidence we come across, no matter what conclusions it leads us to believe, Ham says that if it disagrees with the Bible, it’s wrong, regardless.
And what reason would one have to think that way? What has religion ever delivered to mankind that would better the human condition? As Carl Sagan once said, “Science delivers the goods.” Every bit of technology, everything that makes our lives easier, our understanding of the Universe and how it works… these all from science and its efforts.
Religion has no place in the scientific realm. They cannot mix. As Ham says, one side will have to yield. And I prefer truth over faith.
So this has been an unusually long entry, but I felt it needed to be written. Thanks for sticking with me through the whole thing and let me know what you think. If you’re going to criticize me, make sure your rants are free of logical fallacies and false premises. I don’t respond to illogical criticism.
Read a book.
I’ll also point out that, if you really are interested in understanding what evolution is all about, check out the Evolution 101 Podcast. Dr. Zach does an excellent job of explaining everything you need to know about how evolution works.
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