Yard Work

He looks out the window, “Gotta cut the grass again.
Every time I turn around, It’s too high.
We can’t have anyone complaining.”

He always waits until the cool of the evening:
There is less chance of burning the grass
And himself
In the merciless heat.

She looks out the window:
There’s old Juan Carlo cutting the grass again.
Someone remarks, ”Around here, no one cuts their own lawn.”

Old Juan Carlo runs over some of the flowers
Every time.
But she smiles and thanks him when he’s done.

The grass keeps right on growing
Regardless of these efforts to contain it
In its concrete prison of
Driveways and houses and
Roads we can not travel.

His mind wanders as he pushes the mower
To some place where the grass grows
unrestrained.

Her mind escapes as she plants more flowers
(Impatians-they’ll do well under the shade of this tree)
To a place where the grass and the wildflowers

Grow together
As tall as they please
And no one bothers them.

“Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” -Georgia O'Keeffe

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” -Georgia O’Keeffe

Their wandering minds end up in the same place:
A field rolling and ablaze with color.
A place where long ago a lady appreciated the beauty
Of tall grass and wildflowers dancing together.

So the lady had wildflower seeds sown throughout the hills
And along the highways
Among the grass that grows wild there.

People come now from miles around
And stare, mouths agape, at the beauty of these hills.
It’s a rare thing to see grass and wildflowers growing together
As they should.

The reason for the unique beauty of these hills is plain
To anyone who takes the time to understand.
Here, you see, along these roadsides
And all over these hills

It is illegal to cut the grass.

“But flowers feed our soul in a different way. They remind us of a God who creates beautiful things and takes notice of the tiniest detail” --Tricia Goyer

“But flowers feed our soul in a different way. They remind us of a God who creates beautiful things and takes notice of the tiniest detail” –Tricia Goyer

Posted in photography, Poetry | Tagged , | 6 Comments

How to Talk to a Former Fundamentalist

I left the world of fundamental Christianity some time ago. Many, well, okay, most of the people I knew from that time in my life seem to assume that means I have either become an atheist (I have not), that I’ve gone right off the deep end (the jury’s still out), or that I have a demon (seriously-some have asked that in completely serious and genuinely concerned tones of voice).

I get it: from the outside looking in, many observing my life would find those conclusions logical. I have lost a lot, and many a thinly-veiled cautionary-tale sermon-illustration have been told based on observing my life from afar.

But, those assumptions are wrong. The folks making them are not bad, they’re just wrong.

Over the past couple years, I’ve gotten messages like this:

“You’re never going to be happy without the Lord in your life.” Um, yes I will. In fact, I am.

“You must never have been saved in the first place.” Either this is a way for this person to justify a belief in the doctrine of eternal security, or an accusation of the sincerity with which I believed as a child, which is when I became a Christian. It is highly offensive: it often is the depth of sincerity that drives a person to seriously examine their beliefs.

“Can I just show you a few scriptures to help you?” Not unless you want to field some unanswerable questions.

“If you just get back in church, you’ll be fine. You just need some good preaching and the fellowship of good Christian friends.” For many people, especially introverts, the manipulative facets of institutional worship drive them far from their faith.

“So, all of the things you did/said/sang/taught, was that all just lies?” This is a bit like asking a doctor who studied the prevention of infection during the 1800s if their belief in the effectiveness of using leaches and their actions toward their patients based on that belief, was all lies. Asking such a question is nearly the equivalent of a slap in the face.

“If you’re okay with not having the promise of heaven, are you okay with ending up in hell?” It’s not a question of “being okay with” a belief; it is a question of that belief’s validity.

Sigh.

image

In the interest of preventing others on both ends of such conversations further frustration, anger, and pain, I thought I’d post a few things people should consider when speaking to someone whose faith has undergone a major metamorphasis:

1. Understand that people who make serious changes to their belief system and worldview do not do so flippantly. These decisions are foundational, and most often are made very slowly, after much study and grief and pain, carefully and reluctantly, because the person making them anticipates the impending upheaval that will result.

In my case, the world of fundamentalism encompassed my entire life, spiritually, socially, educationally, and materially. My entire world was wrapped up in fundamentalism. (Note to reader: if you find yourself in such a place, where everyone you know and everything you’re involved in revolves around one organization or entity, be careful: they are controlling not only your entire life, but there is also a very high probability they are also controlling your mind.)

I knew honesty with myself would do irreparable damage to many of my relationships, because those relationships were based solely on a common belief system. And I was right: nearly all of them built in the church are simply over.

2. Understand that people who reject a belief system and a church are not automatically rejecting God. Oftentimes, they are actually moving closer toward God as they have come to understand Him. A faith that does not look like the one you practice is still a faith that deserves respect.

3. We know your lines. We’ve read, and actually even sometimes have  written, your inspirational pamplets. They do not answer, nor do they even begin to satisfy, the questions we have. If they did, we’d still be sitting in the same pew.

4. We often will not discuss the specifics of what we now believe out of respect for the faith of those who believe as we once did. In my case, I do not want to cause someone to have a crisis of faith that becomes an earthquake in their life. It’s hard to speak clearly and honestly about this without seriously offending and hurting believers who I care for deeply. There is also the moral question of influencing younger people over whom I held some influence: they must be given the respect and grace they deserve to ask their own questions and find their own answers.

5. Reaching heaven, or avoiding hell, is no longer the goal of my life, nor is it the goal of many others who have left institutional Christianity. Attempting to motivate us with nebulous rewards or punishments in the afterlife will not get you anywhere.

What I am focused on is *today*. I want to be kind and honest and faithful and good because those things are right in and of themselves, not because I may be rewarded for them in the sweet-by-and-by. I do not intend to believe something because I will be punished in hell if I don’t according to the currently approved procedures of whatever the church says.

6. Words mean things, and interpretation matters. The terminology of institutional Christianity often holds a completely different meaning for those outside the church. Do not assume what one means by even the word “God” is the same as it used to be.

7. Truth is far larger than fact.

8. “But, the Bible says…” is not always a good argument. In some cases, it is actually just the opposite.

9. Saying, “If you just had faith, trusted and believed, you would know the truth,” will do nothing but frustrate the hell out of someone like me, who desperately tried to do just that for years. You can not fake it till you make it. For some people, belief does not work that way.

10. Love that is deeper than one’s belief system or worldview is a very rare and precious thing. Being able to honestly say, “I don’t see it that way, but I respect your convictions,” is the mark of a true friend.

11. It is love that gets its hands dirty that is real: the people who have shown me the most Christ-like love are those friends who have nothing to do with the church: they fed me when I was hungry, took me in when I had nowhere to go, gave me what work they could and paid more than I deserved, laughed and cried with me when I needed them. They set me on their donkey and brought me to the inn, paid for my care, and never asked for a thing in return. There is not a measurement large enough to calculate the depth of my gratitude for these beautiful heathen Samaritans, who demonstrate what it means to be human so effortlessly.

If you know someone who has left the church, or if you yourself have left, and the adjustment has been long and difficult, and just when you think you’ve lost the last thing you had to lose, the ground gives way again, be patient with yourself and with those around you. We don’t adjust easily, we make hurtful mistakes, we say stupid things and offend eachother needlessly. Change scares us, and people do dumb things when they’re afraid.

What we all need is a bit of grace.

Posted in Biblical interpretation, Change, Christianity, church, compassion, Doubt, faith, fear, friends, Fundamentalism, Fundamentalist, God, Grace, heaven, honesty, love, ministry, pain, Patience, religion, Spirituality, Truth, Words | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Interlude

Walk in the Woods
Softly
Disturb nothing.
Listen.
The leaves are singing hymns.
Look.
Let yourself see:
In the quiet noise of the woods
A soul can glimpse a world
Moved by a better
Godliness.

image

"Be glad that You have made blue for the sky, and the color green that fills these fields with praise." (-The Color Green, Rich Mullins)

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 6 Comments

Ericisms: Little Ladies’ Man

Sitting in Chik-fil-A tonight, I asked Eric an innocent question:

“Do you have a girlfriend, son?” You’ll never believe this, (Okay, some of you will actually…) but he proceeded to catalog them for me. Here’s a partial list:

Halley is Catholic-she hit him. “I’ve kissed Halley…wait. Maybe that’s why she hit me.”  (Apparently, dating Catholic women is dangerous.)

Next is Aubrey.
“What’s her religion?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? She could be-”
“She could be a Mormon! Oh God!”
(It appears religious compatibility ranks high with my young Casanova.)

Maddie is his favorite: “She’s nice *and* funny. She sounds kinds kind of weird, though.”
He’s kissed her, too. Good gracious.

“Are these girls pretty?” (He nods.) “Well, yeah! I only pick pretty girls, mom.”

The list continued: next was Kylie. She’s the most annoying one: she’s a Naggy-Maggie.
“Why do you have an annoying girlfriend?”
“I don’t know…she’s pretty?”

Allison: the bus girlfriend. She’s a bit violent: “She said if I’m not gonna be her boyfriend, she’ll claw me!” Yikes.

Up next is Lauren. Eric’s verbatim description: “She is nice. She’s a redhead. She has freckles. She’s hot: she has a spray on tan. I’ve kissed her, too.”

(Since when do nine-year-olds know about, much less actually get, spray-on-tans??)

The next girlfriend is quite mysterious: “There’s a really weird one, but I forget her name. I kissed her, too.”
Egads.

And finally, there’s Morgan: according to Eric, she has facial issues: she looks funny when she talks.

“Why are you kissing these girls?” I asked.”
“Mom! Because they’re pretty!”

I warned him of the dangers of kissing girls: “Son, you must be careful. You keep kissing them, they’re gonna wig out on you, start demanding things, and expect you to buy them a house. And if they find out you’re kissing other girls, then you’re toast.”

Heartbreaker.

Heartbreaker.

He laughed, and then dashed off to the restaurant playground clutching his Chik-fil-A balloon. Ten minutes later, he was back, without it. “Mom, I need another balloon.”

“What happened to yours?”

“I gave it to a girl who lost hers.”

Charming little ladies’ man…

Posted in childhood, Eric, Ericisms, humor, love | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

On Pursuing Happiness

So, the Westboro guy is dying, and his tragic passing into whatever comes next got me thinking about happiness, of all things. (Yes, I meant to say “tragic.” I find Fred Phelps to be a pitiful creature, an absolutely tragic figure. Certainly, there aren’t many deaths more tragic or lonely than his: few, if any, mourn his loss, and his life is largely viewed as a lesson in what becomes of an existence that revolves around hate.)

He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. -Proverbs 14:21

If only he had followed Mother Theresa's advice: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

If only he had followed Mother Theresa’s advice: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

Lots of people are going to be...happy…when this man dies. That is a thought so tragic to me, I can hardly type it. Fred Phelps, in my opinion, is the book definition of misery. I can think of no more completely thorough way to waste one’s life than to only be able to make other people happy as a result of your death.

How important is happiness to you? I could be wrong, but I doubt Fred ranked being happy very highly on his to-do list. Solomon, however, generally regarded as a fairly bright guy, seemed to bring it up a lot:

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. -Proverbs 3:13

If I were to define happiness, I’d use words like “pleasure”, “contentment”, or “joy”. Personally, for me, finding happiness then also means finding peace, and purpose, and passion. It includes contentment, achievement, exploration, learning, generosity, gratitude, adventure, and making some sort of mark on this world that doesn’t turn out to be a scar.

Happiness, then, is pretty damn important. Some misguided “righteous” folks have turned it into a bad word: happiness is self-serving and shallow and not at all Holy. (I remember so often hearing and even teaching this phrase: “You should seek joy, not happiness.”) For some odd reason, I think there’s some sort of misconception about happiness among some folks, as though the bliss that comes from a belly laugh or a good bite of steak or a great kiss is some sort of worthless thin surface-level fleeting feeling which should be avoided.

Wrong.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Ghandi

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Ghandi

Happiness is a state of mind, like its opposite, misery, in which people move and breathe in this world, often bumping into others. It matters what sort of sky one walks under: evils lurk in dark places, and nowhere is it darker than a cold unhappy heart. There is also a misconception that happiness is simply a thin bright emotional quilt used to cover misery, and nothing could be further from the truth. Happiness erases misery, like light erases the darkness.

Both states are tools to be used: we can make ourselves better people and or world a better place motivated both by our pleasure and our sorrows, but be warned: the opposite is true, too. Happiness is just as dangerous a hammer as misery when wielded poorly, as Chris Farley’s tragic end shows. (Chris’ last words, the most tragic I’ve ever read, were, “Don’t leave me,” spoken to a prostitute as she left his room the night of his death.)

As I pondered Fred’s unhappy life, and Chris’s misguided attempts to find true happiness, Mary’s song kept playing in my mind:

There is joy in simple things, in placing great value in, as Gus said, “the little everyday things, like a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, and feisty gentlemen.”  So, my friends, seek out happiness in the every day, and in the pursuit of your big dreams. Chase after it relentlessly, grab the hands of your loved ones and help them find theirs, too, and in so doing, ends like Fred’s and Chris’s will become rarities.

And that would be something we could all be happy about.

Posted in daisies, death, Fred Phelps, happiness, joy, Language of Flowers, photography | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

How to Spend $20

I met one of Chelly’s dearest friends yesterday, and immediately could see exactly why they were close: her friend is great (Hi Stuckey!). We had a wonderful lunch, and then we went for what turned out to be one of the nicest experiences I’ve had in ages:

We got reflexology massages. Chelly’s friend said, “I’m going to get a reflexology foot massage. Y’all wanna come?”

Suuuure. Why not? We’re big girls. We’ve fun. We’re cool. Or something…

We arrived at a hole-in-the-wall shop in an Asian-dominated part of town. Weird foot posters were everywhere. Nothing was in English. Chelly and I whispered encouragment to each other: “We’re broadening our horizons. Experiencing other cultures. It’s only an hour. Surely, we’ll live.”

We walked in to a peaceful open space full of giant recliners. People were resting in them as their masseuses quietly worked. Gentle music played. It was silent. We spoke quietly to the person at the front desk, who led us to our recliners. Out of nowhere came three Asian men with bamboo tubs of steaming hot water. We slipped our feet in and waited.

“Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.” -John Lennon

“Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.” -John Lennon

The Reflexology Association of Canada defines reflexology as:

“A natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet, hands and ears and their referral areas within zone related areas, which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body. Through application of pressure on these reflexes without the use of tools, crèmes or lotions, the feet being the primary area of application, reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.”

For an astonishingly affordable price (which I’ve since discovered was a steal: such massages generally run at least five times what this one cost), we enjoyed what turned out to be a full-body massage. I gotta tell you, it was marvelous. Starting on the forehead, the masseuse used firm pressure to release toxins throughout the body. They focused most of their attention on the feet and hands, and while they worked on those extremities, I could feel the pressure being release in other areas of the body. When they finished, we all just sat there in a dazed noodly state, trying to concentrate hard enough to figure out how we could get them to let us move in.

As Chelly’s friend is a beautiful free spirit, afterward we got Icee’s. The best course of action, according to the experts, is to drink lots of water after a reflexology massage, as that aids in the release of toxins from the body. We woke up a bit sore today, but we will definitely be going back.

I mean, could there be any better use of a $20 bill?

Posted in massage, reflexology | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Marching

Spring is marching
In muddy boots
across lawns and rugs and hearts.

“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"... "It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...” -Frances Hogson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…” -Frances Hogson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Such a mess, all of this growing.
All of this turmoil.
This living.

“She turned to the sunlight     And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbor:     "Winter is dead.”  -A. A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
-A. A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

It isn’t as wonderful
as the poems say:
trees stand still barren,
cold and gray,
memorials to loss.
Fog looms.

“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.” -Antione de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.” -Antione de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Brave petals
press through
darkness
aching for some warmth, some
light.

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” -Rainier Maria Rilke

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” -Rainier Maria Rilke

Posted in flowers, photography, Poetry | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Ashes to Dust

The ancient Greeks…used to chain their statues to prevent them from fleeing.” -Michael Kimmelman

Sculpted with aged dirt,
Weighted so we can not run,

We live as one with
The cold ground, chained and

Hardened as the sun
Relentlessly rises and sets.

We ache beneath
the weight of ourselves

Hoping a merciful blacksmith will hear us.
How we need to be rescued from

Stone prisons, so
These rocks cry out

And stand uncovered, yet chained.
Greek tragedies, still.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment

Bathrobes

I bought a new bathrobe.

While this means nothing significant to the Population at Large, it’s actually a big deal for me. It’s the start of a new chapter, and the end of another.

Before I got married, back when people still used typewriters, only birds tweeted, and seat-belt usage was optional, my husband bought me a robe-thick terry cloth, pink, and warm. I’ve used it nearly every day since. It’s become a metaphor of sorts.

Now, twenty-two years later, the color has dulled and the robe is thread-bare. There are holes and tears. It’s really ugly. I have to let it go: it’s not possible to repair the damage it’s incurred. My robe is too broken.

The new robe one of my own choosing. A brighter pink, a shorter length. It’s softer and more comfortable than the old one ever was. The new robe wasn’t expensive; it’s nothing fancy or extravagant, but it is just right for me. Wrapped up in it last night, I felt warm for the first time in a long time.

Nothing lasts forever. Things fall apart, life changes, and we must adapt however we can. But, there’s the softness of new bathrobes, new roads to travel, and a small tender hope that sits quietly next to the fear born in a new beginning.

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. -” -Joseph Campbell

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. -” -Joseph Campbell

Posted in Change, Divorce, Grief, honesty, hope, Life Lessons, metaphors, pain | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The (Not-So) Great Debate: Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

So, did you watch The Big Debate? Talk about your false advertising…

"Ken, there are trees older than you think the earth is." -Bill Nye "Bill, there's a book that explains it all." -Ken Ham

The Debate, in a nutshell:
“Ken, there are trees older than you think the earth is.” -Bill Nye
“Bill, there’s a book that explains it all.” -Ken Ham

It wasn’t a debate at all. It was an exercise in futility. Bill must have been as frustrated as Spencer was…

Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis fame, and Bill Nye (you know, the Science Guy) “debated” the theories of evolution and creationism the other night. As I sat there listening, frustrated, I kept trying to formulate a post that could explain to biblical creationists why Ken was losing (which, by nearly all accounts, he did).

But all of my writing fell flat. I couldn’t illustrate the chasm clearly. A few friends expressed similar frustrations, one saying he was didn’t care to watch the debate at all: he’d tried to argue the points for ages to no avail, and others saying, more or less in unison, “They just don’t get what the issue is.”

So, imagine my glee when a friend whose talents in this area far surpass my own offered the following clear summation of the chasm between the scientific community and biblical creationists. Posted with much gratitude and my friend’s kind permission. For clarity and sanity’s sake:

The debate was over when Ken Ham responded to the question, “What would change your mind?”

The answer was, in effect, ”Nothing.”

I’m sure that lots of people heard him say that and jumped for joy:  this at last was the throwdown to science that Christians were waiting for:  ”God said it, I believe it, that settles it.  We win.”  Science is fraudulent, God is eternal.

What’s tragic is that any Christian should think that a debate was necessary, if the goal was just to get to that point.  Just say it, or put it on a bumper-sticker.  You don’t have to debate anybody for that.  It’s like debating the proposition, “I’m right and you’re wrong.”  Fine, you win.

But for the rest of us, the debate was about whether Ken Ham’s Creationism is valid as science.  That was how the debate had been billed.

So for everybody who doesn’t believe what Ken Ham believes, Nye won, hands down, in that moment.  Ken Ham was basically admitting, “I don’t do science.  I confirm my prejudices.”

Science has this irritating trait of changing, and a lot of Christians have been taught that this shows the weakness of science relative to the Bible.

But in fact, science changes because what we know changes.  A scientist who does not change his opinions with the evidence is a bad scientist.   Christians have (whatever their enemies may say) historically been no slower than everybody else to acknowledge that this method is a good one, and Christians have had (like everybody else) to adjust to science, changing their interpretations of the Bible  because the evidence of creation itself forced them to either adapt or retreat into irrationality.

See, science doesn’t “prove” things.  What it does is fail to disprove them.   You put forward a hypothesis, and that hypothesis makes a prediction: “If you are right, we should see….”  I try to disprove it.  If I can, the hypothesis fails, and if not, it hangs around, growing and changing with the evidence that has not disproven it.  This is a rational method in that it depends on reason: “If your hypothesis is true, then it must necessarily follow that…”  And we can then test the hypothesis by testing the prediction.  The method infers things from observed data.  It works no matter who employs it.  Christians can do it, Muslims, atheists…. it doesn’t matter who you are, the observational data are still the same.

Ken Ham and his followers rightly detect that their interpretation of Genesis is “falsified” (disproven) by the same evidence that supports Darwinism and an old earth.  But they also believe that no observation, no data, no science can ever truly contradict their interpretation of the Bible.  If it does, the data itself must be false (so the thinking runs).   Note that for them, their conclusion (“The earth must be young because our interpretation of Genesis says it must be”) falsifies the data.  This is the reverse of science, in which the data falsify the conclusion, the conclusion does not falsify the data.

Their confidence is admirable.  But it’s irrational in two ways.

First, there is their pride that they cannot be moved from their position by any weight of evidence.  Ham has made it his mission to give them a cloak of authority to say, “Well, there _is_ no evidence on ‘the other side,” which is simply false.   HIs Answers in Genesis website calls into question scientists’ consensus about such things as radiocarbon dating, the interpretation of the fossil record, and astrophysics.  For non-specialists, the arguments there are just technical enough to sound persuasive; and now and then a good point is raised.  For instance, Answers in Genesis is fond of implying that there have been no true observations of species-change: this is not true, but it _is_ true that it’s infrequently noted in scientific peer-reviewed journals.  (Their statements are based on a quibble about what a “species” is.)

But what the non-specialist does not always know is that “problems” in science are not like “problems” in theology or biblical interpretation.   The relatively small number of published observations of speciation (which have been repeated in labs) do not falsify or contradict Darwinism.  What they do is invite us to predict what we should see under certain conditions: and unsurprisingly (for everybody but Creationists), we do see it.  The (in)frequency with which we see it is data, not a deathblow.

The second way in which the Creationists are irrational is in their antiscientific method (and this is why Ham lost the debate so badly).

Ham was fond in the debate of telling Bill Nye, “You don’t know, you weren’t there.”  It’s difficult to imagine a more bewildering comment for somebody who wants to defend his theory as valid science, because science depends on nature keeping its own records.   Your own body can tell your history to a specialist: your smoking and drinking history, what bones were broken and when, how well you cared for your teeth, even what sort of diet you’ve had.  I don’t have to have been there to see it all: your body, a physical object, remembers.  So do trees.  But so do light, and isotopes, and rocks, and water, and ice-cores.

Ham accepts this up to the point that the evidence of nature contradicts his Young Earth Creationist interpretation of Genesis (and it does contradict it, constantly).  At that point, he questions whether nature has always worked the same way.   He takes the Bible for his warrant: nature changed when sin came into the world.  Problem solved: anything that contradicts Genesis (he usually has in mind radiometric dating) is skewed by the changes in natural law.

Notice what that means, though: nature does not tell us anything we can really know, since we have no access to the pre-Fall laws of nature (except what Ken Ham tells us they were).  As an example, consider his view of the lion, which (he says) was an herbivore (plant-eater) on Noah’s Ark and in the Garden of Eden.  If you know anything about lions, you know they are incredibly badly equipped to eat plants.  Suddenly, everything we know about the physiology of jaws, digestion, teeth… out the window.  We have to invent new laws _for which there is no evidence_ to accommodate a pre-Fall nature.

As with lions, so with isotopes.  Dating rocks has to do with the decay-rate of certain atoms in rocks that has been observed to be reliably uniform.  Ken Ham can’t have that, because if that decay rate is constant, the geological record completely falsifies his interpretation of Genesis.  What to do?  Ah yes.  That rate is really _not_ constant.  And he bamboozles people who know very little about it into thinking there’s no good reason to think it _is_ constant.

All of this is to say, Ken Ham does not do science, because the evidence does not support his position, and he lost the debate badly.

But he, and his followers, believe they won, and he encourages them to always believe they’ve won so long as their beliefs resemble Ken Ham’s.   This is both sad and a little alarming.

Posted in Answers in Genesis, Biblical interpretation, Bill Nye, Christianity, creation/evolution, Debate, Education, Guest Post, Ken Ham, Truth | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments