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Living “Biblically”?

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Well—he claimed he lived “biblically” for a year—and wrote a book (to make a lot of money, of course). He even came to the Creation Museum and interviewed me and others. Nice guy—but he is obviously in all this for the publicity/notoriety—and of course the financial gain of the book and any possible future movie proceeds. One just has to groan at something like this—“living biblically” he claimed—that’s another issue in explaining how he misconstrued much of Scripture and does not understand Christianity.

New York Times book reviewer Hannah Rosin wrote a review of the book, The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs. In her review she states the following:

Jacobs is a fellow journalist and thus a neighbor of sorts . . . . In The Year of Living Biblically, he attends to the soul, turning himself from a guy who is “Jewish in the way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant” into a follower of “the ultimate biblical life.” This means spending a year strictly following a typed list of more than 700 biblical rules, including the obscure (don’t wear garments of mixed fibers, bind money to your hand, pay the wages of your workers every day) and the potentially awkward (don’t touch your wife seven days after her “discharge of blood,” bathe after sex and don’t tell lies, in their many variations).

You can read her entire review (incidentally, the Creation Museum gets a mention).

A. J. Jacobs has a lot of information that it is in his book and on a blog. Here is an excerpt from some of what he wrote about his visit to the Creation Museum and interviews with Ken Ham, Mark Looy and others:

I told my friend Ivan—a good Catholic—that I was considering visiting a creationist museum and he let out a loud groan. “Those people give Christianity a bad name.”I understand what he’s saying. It’s the way many Jews feel when we see a billboard announcing Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as the Messiah. Or the way many gay men feel when they see a Rip Taylor tossing a handful of confetti. It’s kind of embarrassing. Like Ivan, I’ve always taken evolution to be a cold, hard truth. As indisputable as the fact that the sun is hot or that Charles Darwin married his first cousin (the latter of which I learned in the encyclopedia and can’t get out of my head).

But creationism is Biblical literalism at its purist, so I need to check it out. I researched various creationist hotspots—both Jewish and Christian—and found a handful of possibilities. But nothing came close to Answers in Genesis. This is the $25 million, soon-to-open Kentucky-based museum—the Louvre for those who believe God made Adam less than 6000 years go from dust—started by an Australian evangelical named Ken Ham.

AiG is still under construction, which is fine by me. There’s something appropriate about seeing the creation of a creationist museum. So I flew down to Cincinnati, a few miles from the site. . . . I’m greeted by the publicist Mark Looy, a gray-haired man with a gentle, schoolteacher voice who guides me to a door that lets us into the lobby. It is, in a word, awesome . . . Mark introduces me to Ken, the founder of AiG. Ken is wiry and energetic 56-year-old with a red Van Dykish beard. He quizzes me about my last book, the one about reading the encyclopedia, and I end up telling him about my ill-fated appearance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I was stumped by the question “What is an erythrocyte?”

“It’s a red blood cell,” says Ken.

He’s right. I’m thrown off-guard. A creationist who trumps me in science knowledge—that’s unexpected and unsettling. . . .

“There is only one race, the human race,” says Ken.

The creationists are surprisingly liberal on race matters. Racial intermarriage is considered just fine. In fact, they think Darwin’s theory can lead to racism because minorities are sometimes seen as evolutionary lower forms of Homo sapiens. They are also progressive on Darfur. On other topics—including abortion and gay marriage—they are down-the-line conservatives. . . .

Consider AiG’s resident astrophysicist, Jason Lisle. Mark introduced me to him proudly. “A real, live PhD who believes in creationism. Here he is, in 3-D.”

Jason has meticulously parted hair, looks a bit like Paul Rubens, and is sweet in an unforced way. He tells me it wasn’t easy being a creationist PhD student. He had to stay closeted about his beliefs and write for the AiG magazine under a pseudonym.

Now here’s the interesting part: like mainstream scientists, he thinks the universe is billions of light-years big. But if it’s that big, and only 6000 years old, the light rays from distant stars wouldn’t have time to travel to earth. Shouldn’t the night sky be black?

“That’s a tough one,” he says. “But it’s not a killer.” There are several possibilities.

  1. The speed of light may not have always been 186,000 miles per second. Perhaps it was faster when the universe began.
  2. The time zone analogy. “You can leave Kentucky and arrive at Ohio at 4pm. In the same way, there may be something to continuous time zones in space.”
  3. Something called gravitational time dilation. I didn’t quite understand it, but it had to do with our galaxy having a special place in the universe.”

Well—and so it goes on.

Kansas Brought Back Memories

In addition to the report I gave in my last blog about my meetings in Wichita, Kansas, I wanted to mention that this city was one I spoke at during my first-ever speaking tour of the USA nearly 25 years ago. What was thrilling was that there were some at this meeting last Saturday night who still remember that tour! I also visited Wichita a number of times after that. One man told me that he heard me speak there 20 years ago (as a teenager), and now he is a teacher making sure his students understand the origins issue correctly!

I also remember my first visit to Kansas 25 years ago. At one church, the pastor announced, “As you know, we don’t allow someone with a beard to speak in this church [I didn’t know the Bible spoke against beards! Of course, it doesn’t!]—however, Ken is an Australian, and that is why we will let him speak, as beards are culturally OK in Australia.” That was my introduction to the church culture in America—which is an interesting culture I must say! I’ve learned a lot in 20 years and it is true one has to really understand the different types of churches and their various interesting styles, emphases, and so on, to know how to minister in this country.

I am off to Florida later this week for a series of meetings at a Christian school conference.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

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