I watched this online debate quite late last night; Bill Nye the science guy versus Ken Ham owner/operator of the “Creationist Museum” in Kentucky. I did not have any quibbles at all with anything Mr. Nye had to say, but of Mr. Ham, there were several questions that would have needed to be addressed. Yes, in the New Testament, “John” would say that in the beginning was the word. The word was with God, etc. Presumably, this was to show the divinity of Jesus and would suggest nothing else. That is, until you get to “Creationist” theology such as Mr. Ham espouses. If “the word” is also the bible however, no it was not at the “beginning” of creation. Nor would it have been the first form of communication in a written language. It was not the first form of communication at all known to anyone in the developing Homo Sapiens world. The cave paintings of France were among the oldest forms of communications known. Anywhere in the world, humanity communicated by visual/artistic means, long before anyone learned to write. That would suggest then, that “the word” is younger than mankind by many thousands of years.
If as Mr. Ham suggests, science comes from the Latin root “to know,” Mr. Ham spoke more from religious certitude than from any desire to “know” something. The Latin root “to know” has much in common with the Greek Gnossis “or knowledge.” But if you speak from a point of certitude, then there could be some real questions about how much knowledge you would allow and further, how much inquiry you’d permit before reaching that point of knowledge. Mr. Ham made it plain that there was no point of inquiry that could be made. The bible was the be all and end all. That is, his interpretation of it, anyway. His interpretation in fact, put Noah’s flood before the Tower of Babel. The bible I have, the Tanakh in fact, puts the Tower of Babel before the flood. Which would also suggest that Mr. Ham isn’t all that prepared to pay a very careful attention to what the Old Testament actually does say, before he wants school kids to learn the “correct” science by way of his religious certitude. So, from the New Testament intention of “tracing back” Jesus’ lineage to Adam; we know Jesus to be a Semite, a Jew and Hebrew; then Adam and his wife Eve could not be less than Semites as well.
I don’t guess that at any time, Mr. Ken Ham would have recognized that he was debunking his many claims. The “confusion of languages” at the Tower of Babel that sent groups of people to the far corners of the known Earth. It wouldn’t be until the time of Noah’s flood, that there would be some discussion of humanity’s boat building capabilities. So, how humanity presumably Semitic would have wandered to all the land masses of the Earth without a boat would have been open to question. Of course, Mr. Ham tries to explain “continental drift” that split apart a single landmass and produced drifting continents. Without of course taking into consideration that this would probably produce a massive loss of any kind of life in the bargain. Earthquakes, flooding, volcanic eruptions, landslides… something that would kill large amounts of birds, sea life, mammals, and people. Well, we know what continental drift does now, right? It does produce the effects of volcanoes and earthquakes. If you are a “numerous” people stuck on a single and massive land mass, there wouldn’t be too many survivors once the land mass broke apart and produced multiples of continents and islands.
Then there is the Noah’s flood argument. Jesus is able to trace his Semitic roots back to Adam. Then Noah’s flood of the “known” Earth, with reference perhaps to the Middle East, would have addressed the wickedness of a Semitic people whom God wished to destroy. Noah and his family, would have been the last of the Semitic peoples who would then have to repopulate the entire Middle Eastern region. Mr. Ham says that he doesn’t agree with an evolutionary theory that would change a “kind” into something else. He posits that races already existed along with the “confusion of languages” at the time of the Tower of Babel. Well, with Noah’s flood happening after the “confusion of languages,” then presumably the rest of the races would have been entirely eradicated if the flood waters were truly global in nature. Then how would Shem, Ham, and Jepheth as Semites recreate all these non-Semitic peoples? As long as “kind” (in Mr. Ham’s world view, anyway) can’t change into something else.
After Genesis, and well into much of the Old Testament, there are many tales of non-Semitic peoples occupying the Middle East at various times, inclusive of the Philistines. But it isn’t until late into the Old Testament and throughout the New, that a Mediterranean peoples are finally introduced: the Greeks and Romans. Well, Caucasians, in fact. The bible doesn’t provide any explanations for a growing realization of racial diversity. It would take the theories behind the genome project to suggest what actually did happen here. Just as it would take the science behind archeology, inclusive of carbon dating (a science which Mr. Ham held in utter contempt), to provide dates and information to prove some of what is now known of biblical history. Science that could prove some of biblical history, the very science that Mr. Ham didn’t want to admit to.
The Old Testament or Tanakh wasn’t written until the children of Israel left Egypt. I’d also suggest that Judaism wouldn’t become an actual religion, until many centuries later. It would still be the oldest known monotheistic belief by some 5,000 years. But pagan beliefs, especially those of a most primitive variety, were also far older than Judaism by likely 10,000s of years. Christianity would come into existence around 2,000 years. And Islam would be the youngest of monotheistic beliefs of around the 1,000 or so years ago. Mr. Ham doesn’t much care for history, either. As for that 6,000 year old Earth… The New Testament duly informs, “None may know the day or the hour,” of Jesus’ return save God himself. That did not stop certain Christians, circa 200 years into the new Christian faith, from trying to determine the return of Jesus and the onset of “Revelations.” It was devised according to “Jubilee.” Jesus would return once the Earth was determined to be 6,000 years old and in the next thousand years, it would be apocalyptic city. And once that pre-determined conclusion was reached, then the rest of the bible would be forced into conformity with this. Well, it didn’t happen. But the creationism of Mr. Ham, still predicates on the whole idea of a 6,000 year old Earth, some 2,000 years after the original apocalyptic idea was originally posited. Like I said, he doesn’t much get into history. An Earth that still remains 6,000 years old, waiting for that final “Jubilee” to happen, is nothing short of miraculous; snark intended.
I had to love the “victimology” whining that came from Mr. Ham, the argument that “to know or to inquire into” was originally hijacked from the Christian world view. Scientific achievements had to come in spite of that Christian world view. It is people like Mr. Ham who wish to hijack science and make it serve the certitudes, however wrong, of faith.