Commentary on Ken Ham's "Why Won't They Listen" Lecture
I ran into a set of four videos totaling around 68 minutes by Ken Ham at answersingenesis.com with the interesting title Why Won't They Listen?. I thought it was going to be why so many people don't listen to young Earth creationists but instead it was about why so many people do not listen to Christians about Christianity. The start was good. The answer is that when you preach the gospel you need to understand the language and the culture of the people you are talking to. Quite right. He then went on to make the point that modern people who discount the Bible are quite unlike Christians of today or the people of hundreds of years ago. Quite right. The approach many Christians still use within Western culture today was valid up to around a hundred years ago or so but people outside the church are different now and a new approach is in order.
Then his reasoning went bad. His prescription for what should be done today is to teach people Genesis first. Naturally that means that young Earth creationism comes first. Then, when you tell them about Christ, Ken says that they will understand. My reaction was, well, he just doesn't understand modern culture at all. Modern people are looking for an understanding of the world that MAKES SENSE. In the old days, people in authority in the church could simply intimidate people into believing that the authorities in the church knew everything, so you should just believe them, OK! But modern, rational and scientific people are looking for something that MAKES SENSE. They can think for themselves and they are not afraid to say that the stories, especially those found in young Earth creationism are ridiculous. One of THE most ridiculous stories is the young Earth creationist interpretation of Noah's Flood. I think I was around 10 years old and had an appendix operation and I was there in the hospital and along comes a priest and I told him how it didn't make any sense. The Emperor's New Clothes story applies quite nicely to the young Earth creationist view of the world. Just as that one boy could realize that the emperor was in his underwear, every thinking person today can tell you that young Earth creationism is ridiculous.
Instead, modern people take a look at the results of modern science. Modern science (well, I should really say 19th century science) produced a view of the world that is pretty good, in the sense that, on the surface, it seems to make sense. It features, first of all, an old universe and an old Earth. The evidence for an old Earth and an old universe is undeniable so this becomes a nice solid foundation on which to build a view of the world. Then scientists went on to claim that everything in the world is happening by chance. This makes it easy to explain why things on Earth are bad: there is no God out there running things. Everything happens by chance and that's why there are so many bad things happening in the world. That's why we have natural disasters, disease and death. Then chance produced life and human beings. It is a story that hangs together very well. At least on the surface it is a story that hangs together very well and on the surface it's not the least bit funny. Of course when you dig beneath the surface you find out that life happening by chance is impossible and evolution by chance is impossible too. So actually it IS just as funny as young Earth creationism. The scientists, however, manage to cover up the problems with a lot of scientific sounding mumbo-jumbo. Most people never dig deep enough to find this out so they go and accept what science has come up with. The consequence is that science wins and the Bible loses.
Then there is something else worth mentioning. Ken Ham claims that starting people off with the story of Christ doesn't work on modern people all that well, so again, Genesis, and therefore, young Earth creationism must come first. I have to testify that it didn't work that way with me. After I found out that Christianity does make sense I wasn't all that interested in the right way to interpret Genesis, I wanted to know more about God! People today in Western Civilization are looking for meaning, hope, purpose, joy, love and a better future. They're finding that materialism, money, sex, power and relationships can't really satisfy them and political movements can't fix the world up either. Christianity can provide people with a better future provided they are willing to give up their sinful, selfish nature. Life on Earth is your chance to try out selfishness to see if you like it. If you like it you can keep it and if you don't like it you can ask God to take it away and He will. So my prescription is to explain life on Earth in a way that MAKES SENSE. Tell people that if you follow God you'll be on your way to a better life now and a perfect world once you reach Heaven. Christians ought to know this.
So in these videos, Ken Ham has missed it completely. It looks like he does not understand modern Western culture at all. It also seems like he does not understand Christianity at all. And of course, young Earth creationism is a major reason why, and possibly THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON WHY, people won't listen to Christians. After all, if the first book of the Bible is ridiculous, why bother with the rest?
PS: I actually think Ken Ham does understand all this but ... I'm not going to say what I think.