Dialogue in Hamean Skepticism (Excerpt from Ham/Hume Post)

Last week, I was asked to share my thoughts on Ken Ham’s Humean Skepticism at a weekly interdisciplinary discussion group which explores the topic of God and Nature. They particularly enjoyed my imagined conversation between Ken Ham and his (fictional) son both for its humo(u)r and its illustrative power. Nothing in this post is new. So, I am keeping my promise. 😉

An Imagined Intergenerational Dialogue in mode of Hamean Skepticism

In light of Ken Ham’s beliefs about our access to knowledge of the past, I would love to be Ken Ham’s child. He needs a biblical name. Let’s call him Kenaan Ham. I can hear it, now.

Ham: Son, who broke the vase?

Kenaan: I don’t know.

Ham: It wasn’t broken when your mother and I left and you were home alone. Isn’t that your baseball?

Kenaan: Dad, there are many other possible explanations for why a vase might be broken and why my baseball might be lying in the shards. You are extrapolating based on your fallible human reason and your beliefs about the nature of boys and a belief that baseballs break vases. Have you ever seen a baseball break a vase?

Ham: Well, know I haven’t, Son. However, when I was a boy, I broke a window playing cricket.

Kenaan: Dad, a window is not a vase. All you have is shards of vase and a baseball that looks very similar to my baseball, and I may not even be the same boy that you left here this morning.

Ham: Son, did you . . .

Kenaan: Dad, let me finish. If there is one thing that you have taught me, its that the past is the past and when there is more than one possible explanation for the evidence, no matter how implausible, then we must turn from observational science to historical science. Dad, did you see me break the vase?

Ham: No, son, I didn’t.

Kenaan: Does it say anywhere in the Bible that I broke the vase?

Ham: No, son, it doesn’t.

Kenaan: Then Dad, I think we’ve learned all we can here. Let’s leave this mess for Mom to clean up. We have an Ark to build.

The God and Nature group is open to faculty, staff, and students. We regularly have all three groups represented. The group “evolved” out a desire of a biologist at Baylor to explore the relationship of science and theology and conversations which began when I requested a good non-polemical book on evolution. He made a suggestion. What pleasantly surprised him was that I read it. In addition, to biologists, a historian of science and religion, and a physicist, we were fortunate to have a philosopher as well who teaches a course on Immanuel Kant, David Hume, & Thomas Reid which I took a few years ago. I read my blog to the the group and it generated a great deal of discussion and confirmed some possible response from different quarters. Thank you to the group for the feedback and stimulating conversation.

If you are at Baylor University and you are interested in joining us at one of our weekly conversations, by all means contact me through this blog or through my baylor e-mail. The atmosphere is informal and jovial as well as intellectually stimulating.


Ken Ham’s Humean Skepticism or “Hey, Ham Your Enlightened Roots Are Showing”

In a recent post, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell does what Ken Ham and AIG do in the majority of their posts. She responds to a recent scientific publication in which researchers write about something related to the theory of evolution or the age of the universe. Then she and the team at AIG attempt to offer an alternative explanation of the same evidence. Their explanation is supposed to undermine the conclusions and assumptions of the scientific researchers and validate (or conform) to the texts of Genesis 1-11 which they interpret scientifically.

As title of Mitchell’s article suggests, Mitchell and AIG see the problem as stemming from differing world-views or presuppositions. From their perspective, the presupposition of the so-called “secular” scientists is that the universe is billions of years old, the presupposition of AIG (which they base on their peculiar interpretation of the Bible) is that the earth is less than 7,000 years old and that the catastrophic flood described in Genesis 6-9 was a global flood and occured around 4,300 years ago. Like AIG, I do think there is a clash of world-views and presuppositions going on in this “debate” (it cannot be called a dialogue) but it is not the clash identified by Ken Ham and AIG. The clash is between the implicit skepticism of AIG and the historical Christian tradition. Continue reading “Ken Ham’s Humean Skepticism or “Hey, Ham Your Enlightened Roots Are Showing””