This post will be my last post on Ken Ham for at least a week. I promise. I may still tweet one-liners, though. @panth_ian
Many of the posts on #POPChrist and on my friend Joel’s blog ‘resurrecting orthodoxy’ have been about Ken Ham and the teachings of AiG. Below, there is a link to Joel’s initial post on this topic called “Why I am Not Teaching This Year” and will give you (my wonderful readers) a better understanding of why Ham is on our minds at the moment.
As I express in my post “The Heresy of Ham” and Joel expresses in his post “My Ultimate Frustration with Ken Ham”, both of us have many interests beyond challenging Ken Ham and the folks at AiG. In a way our interest in Ken Ham is only because the teachings of Ham and even more significantly his “uncompromising” either/or presentation of this non-central Christian doctrine get in the way of our true passion. Joel and I are Christian educators. We love teaching and we have a particular passion for teaching young Christians, young Christian men and women who are eager to love God with all their minds. Ken Ham and AiG get in the way. They place a stumbling block in front of our students and in front of many well meaning Christians under their influence.
Do I exaggerate? Ask my friend, if I exaggerate. My friend Joel has been a dedicated secondary school teacher for longer than I have know him and I have known him for twenty years. Twice in the past decade, after being hired not only to teach but to develop the biblical studies and worldview curriculum at Christian secondary schools, he “did not have his contract renewed” when new leadership arrived on the scene. In both cases, the new principal or headmaster was already under the influence of Ken Ham or YEC teaching and began openly “promoting” the teachings of AiG or YEC.
In his role as teacher, was Joel as his accusers suggested teaching his students the theory of evolution and promoting their acceptance of it regularly in his classroom. No. As a teacher of biblical studies and worldview classes, that would be outside his purview and was at the time outside his comfort zone in terms of knowledge. No, teaching what biologists mean by evolution is best left to the science department.
So, what did Joel teach? In the biblical studies class, he taught his students to take the historical context and the literary genre of Genesis 1-11 seriously when they interpret it. He was making accessible to them not liberal scholarship but conservative Christian scholarship that they will later encounter when they (as their parents want them to do) attend Wheaton, Baylor, Duke, the list could go on.
In his worldview class, in the senior year, as students prepare to go off to college and be confronted with new ideas, he taught them about influential figures like Charles Darwin. In light of the kind of debate which the media tends to promote, he taught them that there are different views with respect to Darwin’s theory. He taught them that Christians have differing ways of engaging Darwin’s theory, i.e. Young Earth Creationism (AiG), Intelligent Design Theory, Theistic Evolution (biologos), etc. Did he promote anyone of these views? At the time, as he states in his blog, he did not particularly care to which view his student’s were drawn. His job as a high school teacher in a worldview class was not to “sell” one of these Christian views but to present them. Just as he presented the views of Marx, Hitler, Communists, and Capitalists without selling them. Just as he presented the views of Freud and Jung, etc.
Apparently, teaching his students to take Israel’s history seriously (notice how Ham’s biblical narrative jumps from Genesis 11 to Matthew 1:1, for instance see 1h 17m in Nye/Ham debate) and not “selling” Young Earth Creationism to his students is already enough to make Joel a “compromised Christian”, “a spokesperson for the serpent”, etc. in the eyes of the Hamites. So, Joel who has dedicated his life to educating evangelical Christians, who has two Masters degrees from respected Christian Graduate institutions and a doctorate in the Old Testament studies, is “let go” and replaced by someone with less experience, less credentials and for likely the same amount of money who will teach the Hamite doctrine.
I doubt Joel is alone in his experience but read Joel’s own words. If you have a similar experience, please share it with us. Please read Joel’s post. Follow the link below:
Source: Why I am Not Teaching This Year…and the Heresy of Ken Ham
7 thoughts on “Why [my friend] is Not Teaching This Year…and the Heresy of Ken Ham”
Who teaches without expressing which point of view is correct? Sure one should learn about everything but man let’s face it, when talking about the absurdity of evolution or the evils of Hitler for Pete’s sake say it’s wrong. Your friend deserved to be “let go”. And to blame Ken Ham is a cowardly act ignorance. Tell your friend the postmodernist movement has some openings.
Thank you for taking time to comment. I hope you will read some of my other posts in order to better understand my perspective.
Now, with respect to your comment:
You can go to my friend’s blog and see his own account of his experience. For years, he taught Genesis 1-3 in its historical context. He taught the students how it would have been understood in its ANE context in contrast to Egyptian, Babylonian, and Canaanite myths.
Yes, one can and should teach that Hitler was evil. One can and should teach that everyone Marxism has been put into practice human dignity has been undermined. Moreover, in America, one can teach that a free market economy is superior to communism and socialism. However, some subjects are open to debate or simply taught by way of comparison.
I can teach my students about Republicans and Democrats. I might even declare my political leanings but it would be inappropriate for me to tell my students who to vote for.
One can compare Freud and Jung? Or one can ask a student to argue that Freud has a better understanding of human psychology than Jung? In either case, unless you are an expert the question is not going to be resolved in a high school classroom setting.
So, in some cases, especially where a teacher is undecided herself, one way of teaching that material is to lay out the different theories or perspectives. Suggest which way one is leaning. Give the merits and problems with each and leave it to the student (and the students parents, and community to decide for themselves). If I am teaching a World Religions class at a secular university, while I will likely disclose my own Christian commitments, I would be remiss if I taught my course in such a way that it was an apologetic for Christianity.
Questions about the age of the earth have been discussed throughout church history but have never been part of the creeds. In other words, it is not an essential doctrine like Christ’s divinity or the resurrection. In a private Christian school, if my friend had taught that some believe that Jesus did not rise from the dead or that he was not truly God, then he would be remiss to not tell them that Christian teaching is that there was a literal resurrection and Christ is divine.
On a secondary issues, like the age of the earth or whether human beings have souls or whether people really do speak in tongues or how old the earth is, it is quite appropriate to say Christians disagree on this issue and then to lay out the various perspectives. Christians do this all the time in Four Views and Five Views books.
As for blaming Ken Ham, it is directly a result of his influence that my friend was let go. For Ham and his followers, whether or not one believes the earth is less than 7,000 years old has become the decisive and defining doctrine. (Despite their protests to the contrary.) How can a man be called a coward who refuses to teach a false doctrine even though he knows it will likely cost him his job?
No, the cowardice is not my friend’s. The cowardice is with those who are afraid to have alternative views presented. The cowardice lies in the underhanded ways in which they betray with a kiss.
Hey, is this the Same Steve Taylor from the AiG website? Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, Steve. I think Ian’s comments are pretty extensive, but I’d love if you also checked out my blog and commented on the number of posts I’ve written about AiG and YEC. What Ken Ham is teaching is provably false, both in regards to science and in regards to the Bible.
Evolution is a scientific theory, not an “anti-God religion” or a worldview. When Ken Ham presents it as such, he is purposely deceiving people, making them unable to even truly analyze what evolution actually says. When he says, “The law of biogenesis proves evolution is false, because life cannot come from non-life from natural processes,” well—evolution doesn’t claim that in the first place. It tries to explain how life adapts and evolves to produce the varieties of life we see today; it doesn’t try to explain how life initially started.
The choice Ken Ham and YEC gives is a false choice: either creation or evolution. Of course God created; He still creates today. But evolution is trying to explain the processes by which God creates. Some of the theory, like all scientific theories, will prove to be true; some will be proven false by later scientific discoveries–whatever ends up being the case, it is not a rebellion against God, it is not “anti-God,” and just because it tries to explain the natural processes that bring about the varieties of life, that does not mean it is atheistic, just like if I took the time to explain all the mechanisms and inner-workings of a grandfather clock–that doesn’t mean I’m denying there’s a clock-maker.
Oh…here’s a few things from my blog you might like to read:
There’s plenty more, but this is a good start!