Already Compromised is the follow up to Ken Ham's book, Already Gone, that was published a couple years ago. This book is currently making a prominent appearance on the homeschool circuit so it's worthy of an extended comment here. So buckle your seat belt.
First, a preliminary comment: I'm the sort of person who honestly tries to go into any new experience with an open mind, sometimes skeptical but willing to be pleasantly surprised and looking for the good. I'm also the sort of person who isn't afraid to admit I was wrong about my first impression. Basically, what I'm trying to say here is that I didn't go into this just looking for stuff to disagree with. I honestly tried to give it a fair shot.
The idea behind this book is genuinely interesting. Ham and his colleagues surveyed leaders of 200 Christian colleges for their views on science-faith issues. To be more specific, they interviewed people in four key positions: university president, academic dean/VP, science department chair, theology/religion department chair. They talked to 312 (out of a potential 800) people. 223 of these were from schools who belong to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and some of the schools were only loosely affiliated with denominations while others required students to make a profession of faith. So keep in mind that we're working on a spectrum of Christian beliefs and commitment here.
There is some good information in the book (assuming Ham is being fair and accurate in his reporting). But like any research, it's important to maintain a firm grip on how the data is being interpreted and applied. In my opinion, that's where many of the book's problems rest.
Ham sets the stage by talking about the great Ivy League schools, such as Princeton and Harvard, that were founded by Christians but have now slipped into liberalism. So the question is, are other Christian colleges headed for the same fate?
I'll cut to the chase here. Ham's answer is, yes. But I'd like to qualify that answer in this way. The chief reason he answers yes is because of his belief that the inerrancy and authority of Scripture ought to be inextricably linked to the age of the earth question. (See my previous post, "Redefining Inerrancy." If you do not understand this fundamental premise, you won't understand what Ham is trying to argue or why he's so upset.) So when you get almost 36% of Christian college leaders responding with Noah's flood being local rather than global, then that's seen as a slippery slope to becoming Harvard or Princeton. Here are a couple examples from the book. (Click to enlarge.)
See the trend? When asked an open-ended question, there was wide agreement. But when they asked a more specific question, one that revealed the respondent's views on the age of the earth, then there was more disagreement. In Ham's logic, it's not enough to believe in the Genesis account. You must believe in his interpretation of the Genesis account in order to be considered a true believer in inerrancy. Same with the extent of the flood.
One of the more unfortunate parts of the book is that Ham spends an entire chapter naming those Christian colleges and individuals which, in his view, are leading the slide toward the way of Harvard and Princeton. The Southern Baptists are in trouble because of Bill Dembski and his belief in "billions of years and evolution" (really?). The Nazarenes are in jeopardy because of guys like Darrel Falk and the acceptance of theistic evolutionism. William Lane Craig could potentially bring down my alma mater, Talbot School of Theology, because of his openness to an ancient universe. (Aside, Biola has part of its official doctrinal statement a denial in theistic evolution, but Ham doesn't mention that.) Of course, he gets a jab in on John Walton and Wheaton College, as well as several former and present faculty at Calvin College. My mentor, Dr. Jack Collins at the seminary I attend, Covenant Theological Seminary which is part of the Presbyterian Church in America also takes a hard hit.
The bottom line is, if you don't buy into Ham's assertion that inerrancy and the age of the earth are inextricably linked and both first level doctrines, then he isn't going to recommend that Christian parents send students to your college. And just in case you're curious, the book does include a list of colleges that get the Ken Ham seal of approval (read, they only employ young-earth faculty and teach young-earth creationism). For some who frequent this blog, that might become a list of colleges to avoid.
Already Compromised is not an academic, impartial treatment of statistics. It is a biased editorial and propagandized use of data. (How's that for blunt?) It is geared toward Christian parents who are afraid of their children becoming a statistic and losing their faith in college. If you know how to read around Ham's propaganda, some of the findings his team reports are intriguing. And I agree with Ham that there is reason for concern. I think there are some Christian colleges who are in danger of becoming liberal. I just don't happen to agree with Ham's barometer for detecting the problem (beliefs about the age of the earth) so I don't agree with his solution either (send your child to a young-earth college). Old-earth creationism is not the problem; theistic evolution might be a contributing factor in some situations to the problem; and young-earth creationism is not the solution. I do think Ham is right about the fact that the doctrine of inerrancy, including the historicity of the Bible, is a dividing line between conservatives and the slide into liberalism, but I don't agree that inerrancy should be tied to the age of the earth. That's where Ken Ham and I part ways.
So there you have it. This ride has now come to a full and complete stop and you may unfasten your seat belt. If you can get a copy of the book from your church library (probably located right next to their copy of Hugh Ross' books), it might be work a quick skim.