Who is really making things up?
by: John Tyrrell
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It was widely reported this week that Ken Ham, founder of the Answers in Genesis website, founder of the Creation Museum, and still trying to be founder of something called Ark Encounter, announced that extraterrestrials would be going to hell because they can’t be saved by Jesus.
Ham responded to those reports stating that he didn’t say that at all. “I realized that these writers seemed to actually believe this nonsense about aliens in hell that their headlines blared!” According to Ham, he could not have said aliens would go to hell because he believes aliens don’t exist.
OK - then what did Ham actually say in his original blog entry that was the source of these headlines?
“And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.
Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word). To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.” (emphasis added.)
Now I’ll agree with Ham – he did not specifically say aliens would go to hell – only that they could not be saved. And he did open the section saying he did not believe they even existed. But, if he does not believe in their existence, why even deal with the hypothetical? It’s not such a stretch to read into his comments the idea that in the event intelligent extraterrestrials actually do exist, then, as they cannot be saved, they are going to hell. It is a simple consequence of following Ham’s simplistic Christian theology to its logical conclusion.
It’s not that great a leap to infer that's what Ham meant.
What really seems to have happened is Ham failed to complete his argument – even in his clarification. If he concluded with something like this (and he did not) “As aliens could not possibly be saved, God would not have bothered creating them,” then he would have clearly put the emphasis on his disbelief in intelligent extraterrestrial life rather than alien salvation. More importantly, he might have precluded the misinterpretation of his remarks. Instead, he demonstrated an inability to carry an argument to an intended logical conclusion. And that failure on his part directly contributed to the misinterpretation of his intentions.
Now in his “clarifying” blog entry, Ham goes on to accuse atheists and secularists of making things up so as to attack Answers in Genesis – and this reasonable misinterpretation of his intentions is Ham’s smoking gun.
But Ham himself is thoroughly experienced in making stuff up with far less reason than those who assumed Ham had intended to indicate extraterrestrial, if they exist, are automatically bound for eternal hellfire.
Let’s start with Ham’s claim in the quotation above that “the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe.” Where in the Bible does it clearly make this claim? Ham does not give a source because it does not exist. A clear claim to this effect is not in there* – Ham made that up.
When the answer is not in Genesis (or in the Bible at all) – Ham makes it up and claims it actually is in the Bible.
In the entry where he claimed hypothetical aliens could not be saved he went on to write:
Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions! The search for extraterrestrial life is really driven by man’s rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution!
Pure fiction. A straw-man argument completely misrepresenting motives for looking for extraterrestrial life. This is not a misinterpretation by Ham. It’s Ham making stuff up.
And who is desperate? Not the secularists. It is Ham who is desperately making stuff up. He desperately makes up false assertions about the motives of scientists because he knows that every scientific success undermines his dishonest claim that the answers are in Genesis. His only out is to attack science by making false assertions - by making stuff up.
Ham goes on to say:
Many secularists want to discover alien life hoping that aliens can answer the deepest questions of life: “Where did we come from?” and “What is the purpose and meaning of life?”
Maybe Ham could produce some secularists who feel this way. I don’t know any. I suggest that extraterrestrials possibly could help us in our questions about the origins of life - such questions are scientific questions, but the issues of “Where did we come from?” (in the sense Ham uses it) and “What is the purpose and meaning of life?” are more religious questions.
I suggest it the absence of a decent list of names justifying the word “Many” to open that quotation, Ham’s claim is not a misunderstanding, it is just Ham making stuff up.
Ham concludes his “clarifying” blog entry with a video, a little over a minute long, saying “AiG astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner helped me search the heavens for aliens using a telescope, and guess what we found!”
Somehow, with that huge professional-grade telescope, Ken Ham and his astronomer found no aliens.
Ham, in conclusion invites others to look saying that not finding aliens will “prove that we are right.”
Somehow he conveniently ignores all those reports of UFO sightings and alien abductions - recognizing them would require giving credit to the skeptic community for debunking them.
And that highlights a key difference. Scientists, secularists, atheists,agnostics, skeptics - what ever name you apply to members of the side of rationality - we follow the evidence wherever it leads - even if it means debunking alien sightings in spite of wanting to find extraterrestrial life. We are looking for the truth. Ham on the other side is only interested in what supports his worldview. And as for what doesn't support his view - he has no trouble in making stuff up to refute it. Ham already has The Truth - and he can't permit reality to get in the way of that.
If Ham wants to accuse secularists of making things up, he should first clean up his own act.
*It can be argued that Romans 8:20-21 can be interpreted this way, but it is by no means a clear statement – a lot has to be read into it.
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