Monday, March 28, 2011

Jay Wile on Ken Ham

The one person who possibly holds more clout than Ken Ham in the homeschool community on the issue of science is Jay Wile. It goes without saying that Wile's curriculum is practically ubiquitous.

I really WANT to like Wile's curriculum. Really, I do. I'd love to recommend it to everyone I know. But I have taken issue with his misstatements about the old-earth position and the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) anti-scientific establishment undercurrent of his texts.

That said, I deeply admire his candid statements about his recent experience at the Southeast Homeschool Convention.

"An Opportunity for Critical Thinking"
The Southeast Homeschool Convention begins tomorrow, and I have six talks to give. I am excited to go, because the convention is organized by the same group that did the Midsouth Homeschool Convention two weeks ago, and it was a great success. My excitement partially gave way to disappointment, however, when I read Ken Ham’s blog entry from yesterday. Mr. Ham is a speaker at the same convention, but he is obviously upset at the fact that someone who disagrees with him will be speaking at the same venue.

He starts off his blog this way:

Sadly, one of the speakers also listed to give presentations does not believe in a historical Adam or historical Fall (he will also be promoting his “Bible” curriculum for homeschoolers). In fact, what he teaches about Genesis is not just compromising Genesis with evolution, it is outright liberal theology that totally undermines the authority of the Word of God. It is an attack on the Word—on Christ.

Then he gets really nasty. He claims that the speaker, Dr. Peter Enns, doesn’t have a Biblical view of the inspiration of Scripture and that his approach to Genesis and Romans will shock people...

Second, Ken Ham is simply dead wrong when he claims that Dr. Enns doesn’t have a Biblical view of the inspiration of Scripture. Dr. Enns doesn’t have Ken Ham’s view of the inspiration of Scripture.
Dr. Wile continues his thoughts in a different blog post a few days later. This time, he recounts his experience at the homeschool convention.

"The Southeast Homeschool Convention" (You'll need to scroll down about mid-way.)
Thus, while I think the text (on balance) indicates the Genesis days were 24-hour days, the case is far from ironclad. As a result, I am not willing to say that those who see the Genesis days as something other than 24-hour days are absolutely wrong. I think they are wrong, but I am not certain they are wrong.
Based on these statements, perhaps Dr. Wile and I aren't as far apart as I thought. Just as he isn't certain old-earth creationists are wrong, neither am I certain young-earth creationists are wrong. I am persuaded based on the biblical evidence that both the young-earth and old-earth positions are allowable. But I believe that when we turn to general revelation, the evidence is overwhelming that the earth is old. Dr. Wile sees the data otherwise. That's fine. I don't have any problem with a thoughtful person disagreeing with me as long as they don't act belligerent. Regardless of what a person believes about the age of the earth, they deserve respect, especially if they are an educated, thoughtful person like Dr. Wile. And like Dr. Wile, I believe differences offer opportunities for reasonable dialogue and analysis. Along these lines, I completely agree with Dr. Wile:
Listening to serious scholars who disagree with you is an important part of the process of critical thinking. The only way I can properly evaluate my positions is to listen to those who disagree with them. That way, I can root out any lack of discernment, poor scholarship, or misunderstandings that can lead to bad theology.
For this reason, I have long prayed that leaders from within the young-earth movement itself would have the moral courage to speak out on leaders who engage in "unnecessary, ungodly, and mean-spirited" behavior. Homeschool parents should at least have the opportunity to look into reasonable alternatives without being told they are compromising the Bible.


Fatcat said...

I agree. It's so nice to come here and hear a perspective that is similar to my own. I don't have that anywhere else.

Sara said...

I like his point: "The only way I can properly evaluate my positions is to listen to those who disagree with them." Most people are not interested in even being friends with people who have a differing opinion from their own. We mostly seem to want to be surrounded by "yes" men.


B Nettles said...

In the preface to his book, Scientific Method, British biochemist A. D. Richie comments about another scientist whose work he reviewed in preparation for writing: "I disagree with most of his views, but had I agreed more I might have thought less."