An Open Letter and Challenge to Ken Ham, Creationist (Not So) Extraordinaire

Balaam's Ass


Dear Mr. Ham:


You see, there’s this book.


Sound familiar?


Yes, and it is in fact called the Bible.


And whether one calls it the Inspired Word of God or an anthology of fairy tales, it is the most fascinating and complex book ever composed.


I love it dearly, despite how you abuse it. In fact, I live by it.


Yet here’s one of the most interesting things about “this book”: you can’t find an original copy of it anywhere. It’s like one of those missing link fossils you and your Creationist chums are always going on about, laughing over a six-pack of near-beers.


Shh! Don’t let the cat out of the bag!


As you and I both know (and as Bill Nye couldn’t quite articulate), the Bible is a compilation of thousands of codices and pieces, sometimes fragments, written in numerous ancient languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Syriac). Oh sure, big chunks of the Bible can be found in the four great uncial codices: Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus. Then there’s the Dead Sea Scrolls. But not a single one of them are the Bible, are they?


Then there are all of the textual variants, sections of various passages in different manuscripts that don’t quite align with one another.


Then there’s the complicated matter of the biblical canon. Some books got in, some were rejected. Some are in one Bible, not in another.


Wait, so maybe there are “these books.”


Gee, why did the Immortal Creator of the Universe make the Bible so darn difficult to piece together? Heck, nearly as complex as all those geologic strata you and Mr. Nye were quibbling about.


Kind of sheds light on the foundation of your worldview, doesn’t it?


As rehearsed and polished a speaker as you are, anyone who knows the first thing about hermeneutics knows that your fundamentalist worldview is built on a sandy foundation (and, yes, I enjoy the irony of that remark). Oh, I’m pretty sure that you know this, and I’m pretty certain that you know your scam goes right over the heads of most confirmed Creationists.


Unfortunately, they’re unable to differentiate a potassium argon radiometric reading from two rabid mating possums. So by the time you’ve piled a bunch of terminal degree professors into a telephone booth—who deceptively forget to mention that they simply refuse to apply the scientific method to historical inquiry—your followers think you’re the bloody pope.


By the way, Bill Nye, despite his professed limitations as a theologian, was very astute to repeat over and again that you represent the Ken Ham Creationist Model. It is, in fact, your model. It is your interpretation.


The Creation Museum crowd cheered you each and every time you said, “You see, there’s this book.”


Each time they did, I realized more and more that Bill Nye missed the mark overall. It’s not his fault, really. He did what any scientist or engineer would do: he presented evidence for a scientific theory. He repeatedly made the case that his aim was to produce a predictable, functional model to explain the origins of the Universe and life on Earth.


What he failed to realize is that he could have felled you with one swift chop of the hermeneutical axe.


Creationism in fact fails because of “the book.”


The Bible is the one and only foundation of your personal cosmology. Fair enough, everyone needs a foundation.


Guys like Bill Nye rely on observation, the senses, with a pinch of Gadamerean sensus communis, as the bedrock for their cosmological worldview.


But your brand of wanton fundamentalist cosmology fails because you cannot find ONE DAMNED PASSAGE in the entire Bible that compels the reader to interpret Genesis literally.


You interpret everything in Genesis literally—the Creation Account, Adam & Eve, Noah’s Flood, the Tower of Babel, Balaam’s Ass, etc.—simply because.


You see, there’s this book. And I know a whole damned lot about it do.


I grew up believing men like you. Being deceived by men like you. Trapped by men like you.


But now I’m free. An enlightened Believer. That’s right: a Christian.


And I’m going to keep calling out your bullshit every single week with this modest national voice.


And not just me. There is a whole army of progressive Christian writers cropping up all across this country, many of whom, like myself, once upon a time were trapped in fundamentalist communities until folks like Bill Nye showed us the way out.


And we’re going to keep calling out the bullshit of you and your fundamentalist cronies. Every. Damned. Day.


I challenge you to a debate. Publicly. Any day. Anywhere.


In front of a lectern. Written words—why not here on Forward Progressives? Hell, I’ll even take you on with a Flannelgraph.


But the subject will be biblical hermeneutics and biblical scholarship. Because that is your true Achilles heel.


And you know it.


Oh, of course you won’t take up the challenge.


Because your followers have a modicum understanding of the Bible. And the first time I say, “You see, there’s this book, it’s called the Jefferson Bible” they’ll sit up straight in their seats with a puzzled look on their faces. And they’ll listen.


And for some, the scales will begin to fall from their eyes.


Unlike Bill Nye, I actually speak Fundamentalese.


Anyway, below follow some articles of mine you might like to consider reading.


You are an antichrist. And I live to call out you and your ilk.


What the Hell is Christian Fundamentalism?


What Every American Should Know about the Biblical Definition of Capitalism: Part I


What Every American Should Know about the Biblical “Definitions” of Marriage


The Bible, Rated X


{Originally published on the website Forward Progressives on February 4, 2014. The website recently closed down without maintaining an archive. The original article received more than 1 million views.}



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