Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis (AiG), makes his money by convincing Christians that they have to read the beginning of Genesis as literal and scientific history. He contends that the earth was created in six calendar days and that the Genesis flood was global, a position known as “Young-Earth Creationism” (YEC). To increase his own profile, he slandered former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, comparing the evangelical darling to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even Adolf Hitler … because he accepts the theory of evolution.
No, this is not The Onion. By engaging in this attack, Ken Ham has only forfeited his moral authority and brought shame to his own cause. He also attempted to steal the mantle of conservatism from a conservative leader beloved among evangelical Christians. Hilariously, the article he used to attack Gingrich could actually be used to encourage skepticism of evolution.
“Why be a conservative when you deny the [origins account in the] book that defines conservative (mostly Christian) values,” Ham asked. “Obama, Clinton’s [sic], Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, many school shooters, believe(d) evolution & were more consistent with their belief.”
Why be a conservative when you deny the [origins account in the] book that defines conservative (mostly Christian) values. Obama, Clinton’s, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, many school shooters, believe(d) evolution & were more consistent with their belief. https://t.co/5VXip1AMKk
— Ken Ham (@aigkenham) July 1, 2018
Sidestepping the issue of whether or not “conservative values” are “mostly Christian,” Ham’s attack is ridiculous. He suggested that because “conservative” means “Christian,” and because “Christian” must mean “6-day young earth creationist,” it is inconsistent for a conservative to be open to the scientific theory of evolution.
As if it were not inflammatory enough to deny the conservative credentials of Newt Gingrich — the man who led the “Contract with America,” who energized conservative Christians with a strong platform in 2012, and who bolstered Donald Trump’s credibility among them in 2016 — Ham went on to compare him (and Barack Obama and the Clintons) to the most murderous dictators in history.
What’s going on here? Ham and others like him are terrified of evolution, and they can’t separate the scientific theory of evolution from the philosophical and religious claims of Darwinism.
Evolution refers to the scientific theory (unproven but supported by a great deal of evidence) that life on earth evolved from a common ancestor over time. This theory has some serious scientific problems, but when considered only as science, this approach does not necessarily have religious or political consequences.
Darwinism takes evolution further. Darwinists claim that, since humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor, there is no moral difference between humans and other animals. They further claim that evolution makes God irrelevant (a patent absurdity). Many of them accept scientism, the idea that only scientific knowledge is real knowledge and therefore God cannot exist.
Darwinism has serious disastrous consequences. First, it is anti-science, as it tends to produce a rigid belief in evolution in the face of any evidence against the theory. Second, it is anti-God, as “new atheist” Richard Dawkins pointed out that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Third, and most damningly, Darwinism has spawned ruthless oppression.
In his book “The Descent of Man,” Charles Darwin expressed his fear that civilized nations were destroying the human race by helping the poor and treating the sick. According to the hard logic of random mutation and natural selection, the weak must be allowed to die so that the strong can replace them and make sure the species survives.
According to the evil idea of social Darwinism, society needs to help evolution by rewarding the fit and keeping the unfit from having babies. Eugenics, forced sterilization, and ultimately the Holocaust resulted from social Darwinism.
If there is no God, if individual human beings do not have inherent dignity, and if evolution is the process to attain a kind of heaven on earth, then it is possible to justify radical use of the state to forward evolution at the cost of genocide. The horrific Nazism of Hitler’s Germany, the totalizing Communism of Soviet Russia’s Joseph Stalin and Red China’s Mao Zedong, and the totalitarianism of Cambodia’s Pol Pot do indeed trace back to Darwinism.
Even the modern evil of abortion has its roots in social Darwinism and eugenics, with eugenicist Margaret Sanger founding Planned Parenthood. This is the link Ken Ham was trying to make.
The problem is, it doesn’t work, especially not for Newt Gingrich. It is fundamentally important for Americans to grasp that evolution is not Darwinism. Most modern Americans who accept the scientific theory of evolution firmly reject social Darwinism, and huge numbers of them also believe in God. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is open to evolution and emphatic on human dignity against abortion.
Contrary to rigid activists like Ham, it is possible and intellectually consistent for a Christian to believe in evolution, so long as the evolutionary process was set up and/or driven by God. There are at least three different ways for a Christian to interpret Genesis 1-11 without compromising the authority of scripture and the belief that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later. (One of those options is Ham’s view, but his is not the only one.)
None of this implies an acceptance of Darwinism, scientism, social Darwinism, or Nazism. Contrary to what many atheists preach, you don’t have to become an atheist if you accept the theory of evolution. You also don’t have to become a liberal.
Ken Ham didn’t attack just anyone by claiming that if you believe evolution you must be a Nazi, a Communist, or at least liberal. He attacked NEWT GINGRICH.
Newt Gingrich, the man who wrote two books entitled “Rediscovering God in America” and produced a film by the same name. Newt Gingrich, the politician who admitted his sin nationwide, saying, “I’ve gotten on my knees and sought God’s forgiveness.” Newt Gingrich, the man who led a Republican Congress to enact welfare reform under Bill Clinton.
“When they come to write the story of the New Right and conservative movement of the last quarter of the 20th century, one of the names that will be writ large is Newt Gingrich,” Christian organizer David Lane, who has convinced over 500 pastors to run for political office, told PJ Media in 2016.
Gingrich may also have been one of the major factors convincing self-described evangelical Christians to back Donald Trump so heavily in 2016. He continually defended Trump as early as August 2015, and formally endorsed him in time to be considered a potential running-mate.
Ken Ham said this guy is not conservative, and he did so referencing a recent article Gingrich wrote about dinosaurs. Here’s the kicker: Newt Gingrich’s article isn’t even advocating evolution, but showing where scientists have been wrong in the past.
Gingrich wrote about Steve Brusatte’s book, “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World.” The former House speaker argued that birds aren’t just descended from dinosaurs — they are dinosaurs.
What makes Gingrich’s argument interesting is his reference to the changing science on dinosaurs. For a long time, scientists thought dinosaurs were cold-blooded reptiles like lizards, but eventually the evidence showed them to be more like birds, to the degree that maybe birds should be considered dinosaurs.
“Dinosaurs are a wonderful example of how knowledge changes over time and how scientific conclusions must adjust to new facts and new understanding,” Gingrich wrote. He suggested that if you read Brusatte’s book, “you will have a renewed respect for the process of science and a renewed caution in believing that current ‘scientific consensus’ is unchanging and unchallengeable.”
Ironically, the very article Ken Ham reflexively attacked as Darwinistic nonsense to be compared to Communism and Nazism could be used to suggest that scientists rethink evolution. Evolution has become a “consensus” position, even though certain evidence from the complexity of DNA might present a serious challenge to the idea that unguided natural processes could result in the information-rich life in the world around us.
Rather than attack Gingrich’s article — which never even mentions the word “evolution” — Ham could have used it to suggest skepticism toward evolution may be a good scientific position.
Instead, he assailed a fellow conservative and fellow Christian over one specific reading of Genesis. Even if Ken Ham is right about creation, this is not how fellow Christians or fellow conservatives treat one another.