Was I Fair to Ken Ham?

Ken Ham complains that I was not precise enough.  I think I was.

Here’s the issue: On his blog today, leading young-earth creationist Ken Ham chided yours truly for saying “Ken Ham” when I really meant something like “conservative Christians.”  Ham was reacting to a recent post of mine in which I asked about Ham’s inordinate influence over some conservative Protestant colleges.  In that post, I noted Ham’s recent pronouncements about leading evangelical schools such as Calvin College and Bryan College.  I wondered if conservative schools had to bend over backwards to satisfy Christian critics like Ham.  Did schools like Bryan College have to toe the Ham line in order to maintain their support base among conservative evangelical Protestants?

Be More Precise, Please

Be More Precise, Please

Ham said I needed to be “more precise.”  Ham made the fair point that Science Guy Bill Nye often used the unfair rhetorical strategy of reducing all creationism to simply Ken Ham.  Of talking about creationism as if it were just a one-man crusade to bilk taxpayers and fool schoolchildren.

When it comes to Bill Nye’s language, I agree with Ham.  Bill Nye–with whom I generally agree–does not always seem to understand creationism.  In a recent post, for instance, I agreed with Mr. Ham that Bill Nye “Misse[d] the Boat on Creationism.”  I have also agreed with Mr. Ham that Mr. Nye’s use of phrases such as “Ham’s followers” is sneaky and unfair.

But in this case, I was not doing any such thing.  In my essay about Mr. Ham’s influence on conservative Christian colleges, I was talking precisely about the work of Mr. Ham and Answers In Genesis.  If I was incorrect about the influence of Ham in the recent controversy at Bryan College, I’ll apologize.  But I won’t apologize for mistakes I didn’t make.

Ham also notes that I expand my questions to include the state of conservative evangelical colleges and sexual assault.  As ILYBYGTH readers know, this is a question that has been bandied about here recently.  Those who are new to the blog will not be aware that we do not simply attack “fundamentalist” schools as rape havens.  Indeed, our recent string of commentary began with questions about a journalist’s unschooled presumptions about the nature of fundamentalism.  We do not assume that sexual assault is somehow unique to conservative religious colleges, but it does seem that there is a connection between the opaque authoritarian cultures of many conservative colleges and a culture that blames the victims of sexual assault.

The central point of interest to me, though, then and now, is whether and how Mr. Ham has come to wield such authority over conservative evangelical colleges.  In the case of Bryan College, at least, Ham’s worries led to changes at the school.  I can’t help but wonder if Ham’s say-so is of enormous influence at similar colleges and universities.  This is not a question about conservatism in general.  This is not a question about creationism in general.  This is a specific question about the influence of Mr. Ham’s Answers In Genesis ministry.

 

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5 Comments

  1. zmil

     /  May 10, 2014

    As a (relatively) recent alumnus of Bryan College, and a graduate of their biology program, it’s my impression that few members of the faculty, at least, thought of Ken Ham as someone worth listening to. AiG and CORE are about as far apart in approach and ideology as it’s possible for YEC thinkers to be, and have had plenty of rather feisty disputes in the past. I would say that the Bible department, as a whole, even further from AiG theologically, although there was so much diversity in views in the department that it’s probably not wise to lump them all together.

    That said, it seems fairly clear that the recent push towards greater conservatism in this area came from the administration, and I know nothing of what they think or thought regarding Ham. I know that Dr. Livesay (and his wife even more so) were big fans of Todd Wood and CORE, but whether they actually paid close attention to the work being done there, and the profound differences between CORE and organizations like AiG, is unclear to me.

    Reply
  2. Don’t feel bad. It’s the constipation talking, as always.

    Reply
  3. You were fair.

    Reply
  4. Donna

     /  May 15, 2014

    Yes, you were fair.

    Reply
  5. Why care about Ham’s influence on Christian colleges? Why not worry about some liberal’s influence on secular colleges?
    BTW, the rapes will continue because of the culture liberalism has establsihed.
    Fundamentalist Christians call it sin. What do liberals call it?

    Reply

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