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Inside Ken Ham's Creationist Mind: No Science, Just a Huge Fear of Moral Relativism

While Bill Nye cited science, Ken Ham did something else altogether in their strange debate.

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This same logic applies to all of the moral ills Ham repeatedly brought up, which Nye seemed to struggle to respond to. After all, he came prepared for something resembling a scientific discussion, and was treated to a thinly veiled moral sermon. Thus, those already primed to be concerned with science likely went in and came out agreeing with Nye, while those primed to frame evolution as a threat to Christian ethics likely went in and came out agreeing with Ham.  

Which is why debates of this kind are unlikely to be of any real use to either side, unless they’re merely intended to raise funds or sell books. A more fruitful debate would be between Ham or any member of his Young Earth Creationist cadre and a dedicated Christian ethicist who views both theism and specific Christian ethical imperatives to be consonant with the theory of evolution. 

Over and over again, Nye raised the existence of such persons, and asked Ham to explain how it is that so many faithful Christians do not object to evolution. Ham never produced a response, other than to say, vaguely, that majorities can be wrong. But majorities can also be right, and the fact that Ham could not even venture to imagine himself hypothetically as an ethical Christian who regarded evolution as likely or true underscores the real heart of his project: this isn’t about whether or not schools should be skeptical of science, it’s about whether or not goodness can be argued for outside a Biblical literalist framework.  

It can be. The Catholic Church, which has broadly approved of the theory of evolution, nonetheless maintains highly detailed Christian ethical positions on issues from marriage to abortion to wages and poverty. Many Protestant churches, such as the Church of England and the United Methodist Church, also manage to articulate coherent ethical positions while maintaining that evolution is a viable theory. And this is why it comes down to Christians to handle people like Ham: he really is our concern, and his fears and the fears of those who believe as he does should be answered. So long as he can point to those who do not believe in God and have markedly different ethics than he does as the main proponents of evolution, his position that evolution ruins faith and Christian morality will appear at least superficially probable.





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