Writer for Calvin College Newspaper Lashes out at Answers in Genesis

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The Chimes is a weekly student newspaper of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the February 26, Volume 104, Issue 20 edition, a guest writer (Daniel Camacho), presumably a student at Calvin College, lashed out at me for AiG’s recent “State of the Nation 2” address that I presented. Among many accusations, he accuses me of numerous “lies.”

Now, I am used to being accused of lying by many secular humanists and atheists. After all, for those people who do not believe in an absolute authority or standards, they define “truth” or “lies” however they want. For instance, because we teach that molecules-to-man evolution is not true, they, thus, accuse us of lying, as they believe molecules-to-man evolution is fact! However, when someone who presumably is a Christian accuses me of “lies,” but then does not document the specific charges, this is a very serious matter indeed.

So, I challenge Mr. Camacho to document his “lies” allegation and all the other accusations (and not because he has different beliefs or interpretations, but because he can document an outright lie and has a clear understanding what “truth” and “lie” mean as defined by our absolute authority—God and His Word). It reminds me of a child who throws stones at others and then ducks behind the woodshed so he can’t be held accountable.

As a teaching example for blog readers, I have reprinted this emotional outburst that lashes out at me and Answers in Genesis—along with comments from me interspersed throughout. In a way it is a sad exercise, but I believe a significant one as the Chimes printed this acommentary—as it illustrates clearly the overall state of this Christian college, which is one of many institutions that continues to contribute to the undermining of biblical authority in our culture. They will have much to answer for when Christian educators stand before the Lord one day—and they will be held accountable.

Ken Ham’s recent address singles out Calvin College . . . Young Earth Creationist combines bad science with bad theology and bad politics . . . Daniel Camacho . . . Guest Writer
The culture wars still linger in the air. Some want to prolong these unprofitable wars by fabricating battles, such as the one between science and religion.
Even in our “State of the Nation” address (as we have stated many times before and is obvious from reviewing our website), I do not say the battle is between “science and religion.” I do show that others (both Christian scholars and secular ones) attempt to portray creationists as pitting science against religion; however, as I presented in the “State of the Nation” address, there’s an important difference between “historical science” and “observational science.” Whether one is a Christian or non-Christian, creationist or evolutionist, we all basically accept the same observational science. It is in the realm of “historical science” (i.e., beliefs about the past that can’t be directly tested by observational science) that the battle about origins ultimately occurs.
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, exemplified this in his recent “State of the Nation 2” address, which can be viewed online.

Ham delivered a speech that was as memorable and irrational as his one-liners. It is rare to find in one single talk so many lies, inaccuracies, and caricatures covering the wide spectrum of history, sociology of religion, politics, science and Biblical exegesis (more could be listed!).

It is a very serious accusation when someone who would presumably testify to being a Christian accuses another Christian of “lies.” So, Mr. Camacho, document the lies! In fact, I publicly challenge you (as you wrote this public article) to a debate—even at Calvin College if you want—in regard to your accusations concerning the creation/evolution/Genesis issues that you raised. Are you prepared to stand publicly and document your accusations? Also, we are surprised that the paper’s editors would allow such an accusation like this to be printed when no documentation of an alleged lie was offered. Very poor journalism.
Ken Ham’s vehement opposition to evolution, which has been the essence of his entire career and the life-blood of his projects (e.g. the Creation Museum), was evident throughout the speech. He continues to credit evolution with being one of the reasons for the collapse of our society.
If one listens to the presentation carefully—and reads numerous articles I and others at Answers in Genesis have written—one will find that we do not “credit evolution with being one of the reasons for the collapse of our society.” The reason society is collapsing—from a Christian perspective—is sin! There is an evolution/millions of years connection to what is happening, though. The more the culture believes evolution (which is taught as fact in most of the public education system and in the science classes at Calvin College—although at Calvin, God is added to the evolution process), the more they reject the Bible—and when they reject the Bible as the absolute authority, then they build their thinking on man’s opinions. This results in moral relativism, which now pervades the culture.

And the more the church compromises God’s Word by allowing the secular views  of evolution/millions of years (really the pagan religion of the age) to be used to reinterpret Scripture, the more these generations will give up God’s Word. As is documented, two-thirds of young people are leaving the church.

Also, it is not true to say: “Ken Ham’s vehement opposition to evolution, which has been the essence of his entire career and the life-blood of his projects.” This is a gross misrepresentation and distortion of the ministry of Answers in Genesis. The main emphasis is on biblical authority and the gospel (as can be seen for instance in our latest www.iamnotashamed.org national campaign). Certainly, we deal with evolution in regards to its affect on how people view biblical authority, but the essence of our ministry has always been biblical authority and the gospel.

It is interesting to see how Ham rips verses out of the Old Testament, verses that apply to the covenant relationship between God and the nation of Israel, and applies them to America. He openly admits that he believes America is a Christian nation that was built upon the authority of the Word of God.
Because we live in a sin-cursed universe, there can never be a totally Christian nation. However, as I said in the “State of the Nation” address, it is true that the majority of the founding fathers were Christians, and they did build the worldview of this new nation on the Bible (that is a fact easily documented). The USA has been (as far as I know) the greatest Christianized nation in the world. And even though God gave specific blessings—and curse warnings—to Israel, His principles apply to all people (as God does not change) and all cultures, regardless—as I explained briefly in the presentation.
Ham has recently expanded to his list of “compromisers” and “corrupters” in his address to include Obama, the Gap store and Intelligent Design proponents. He is also critical of the BioLogos Foundation, which was recently started by Francis Collins to promote the compatibility of faith with science. To add to this list, Ham singles out Calvin College. Yes, our college.
Actually, I did quote from what these people openly state to illustrate that they undermine biblical authority, and I show that a number of them take the secular views of the age and reinterpret the clear teaching from God’s Word.
“. . .  A college I know teaches evolution as fact and teaches millions of years, a Christian college, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan . . . They are being told the Bible is not inerrant . . . You might as well throw the whole thing away, which is what a lot of people do these days because of that sort of teaching.”

During this portion of the speech, Ham quotes the Chimes, specifically an article by religion professor Daniel Harlow, to prove his claims.

Yes, I did do that. In fact, let me give you the quote from the Calvin College professor I used (and the reference to the article in the Chimes, where you can read the entire sad article for yourself):

“To begin with, the Bible itself nowhere claims that it is inerrant (free of factual errors of any sort). . . . When thoughtful Christians turn to the historical narratives in the Bible, they see ancient authors who wrote according to the methods and standards of their own day . . . . But they made occasional errors of fact in areas like geography, chronology and political history. To acknowledge this is not to demean Scripture but to accept it as it is . . . . Here are two examples of minor factual errors in the Bible, one taken from the Old Testament, the other from the New. One, Daniel 5. . . . Two, Luke 2. . . . There are several minor glitches like this in the Bible. . . . But . . . inerrancy is simply not a property that Scripture either claims . . . [In the] Christian Reformed Church, we do not affirm it. So there is nothing misguided or deceitful, much less dangerous, about the Bible teaching that our students receive at Calvin College.”

Daniel C. Harlow, “Consensus in CRC: Bible Is not Inerrant,” Chimes, April 20, 2007, Vol. 101, Issue 26. (Daniel Harlow, Associate Professor of Religion).

For your interest, at the bottom of this blog I look at the supposed errors in the Bible that Harlow claims and present the answers to these accusations—as documented hundreds of years ago by Archbishop Ussher and the most brilliant scientist of all time, Sir Isaac Newton. This shows so clearly the poor scholarship of this Calvin College religion professor—and the fact (as is seen by so many such professors) that he is so eager to question the Word of God and making it fallible. But he takes man’s accusations against the Bible as basically infallible! Again, see the details at the end of this blog.

The Calvin Community should pray for this man and his followers. You know what I think is wrong with society? You know what I think is compromising the Church? It’s the ideology of Ken Ham. His rigid black-and-white beliefs
I assume by “black-and-white beliefs,” this author means that because we insist that Genesis is literal history and is to be taken as written—as Jesus, Paul, Peter, and others quoted and testified to. So, does this writer himself—who insists I cannot have such a belief (because it is “black and white”)—have “black and white” beliefs by insisting that I lie and that I can’t have the belief I have? Of course he does!

Such people often think that they are being open-minded and tolerant by allowing for other beliefs, but in doing so they are dogmatically against my belief! I wonder what this student thinks of God’s “black and white” statements—e.g., “I am the way . . . . No man comes to the father except by Me,” “Choose you this day which God you will serve,” “You either walk in ‘light’ or ‘darkness,’” if you are not “for” Christ, you are “against.”

. . . and lack of charity parallel the mentality of the new atheists, including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. In fact, I believe these two streams are twin mutations of modernity. It is either faith or reason. It is either religion or science. They both share a rhetoric of fear, making exaggerated claims about how the other side is taking over the nation and world. No wonder all of their followers are massively paranoid.
Once again this is a total misrepresentation of what we at Answers in Genesis say and what I stated in the “State of the Nation” address. It is certainly not “religion or science.” Go to the “State of the Nation 2” address and view it and see for yourself.
You know why a lot of people are throwing away the Bible today? It is because of people like Ken Ham and his twins. People are being forced to decide if the Bible is divine or human.
Now, that is an interesting statement. “People are being forced to decide if the Bible is divine or human.” Hmmm. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Actually, God inspired people in a special way to write His Word for us. So, God’s Word is both divine and human—but the overriding fact is it is of divine origin and inspired by God; so, it is the infallible, inerrant Word of God (regardless of what fallible human professors at Calvin College claim).

You know why evolution is causing unbelief? It is because Ken Ham and his twins are forcing people to choose between creation and evolution.
Really? Actually, watch the “State of the Nation” address. I very clearly—a number of times—state that the choice is God’s Word or man’s word!
You know one of the reasons why American Christianity is in a bad state? Because of the idolatrous nationalism of people like Ken Ham; an idolatry that elevates America above the world, and equates it to Israel, betraying our ultimate allegiance to the City of God. How are Christians in America compromising the truth? We are running around scared, paranoid and void of the hope of the Gospel we proclaim. We want to grasp for power, while Jesus chose the Cross. This nation was never Christian; in fact, no nation has ever been. We await that city with foundations built by God, as strangers in our nation, embodying as best we can the Kingdom for this world.
The Creation Museum is proof that Ken Ham and his ideas have a lot of money and power behind them. But the Word of the Lord is the only thing that endures forever. Culture wars will fade away
Just like the secularists, and as part of the usual name-calling and other emotional accusations, this author resorts to the comment: “The Creation Museum is proof that Ken Ham and his ideas have a lot of money and power behind him.” Interesting statement, considering the budget of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum is only one-fifth the budget of Calvin College, and the assets of the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis ministry would be many, many millions of dollars less than the enormous assets and large buildings of Calvin College! And the Creation Museum is just one small museum compared to all the secular museums that are worth a total of billions of dollars. In fact, Answers in Genesis is just one small ministry compared to the thousands of other ministries around the world—and he singles us out as having so much money and power?

For this writer, it is apparently OK for Calvin’s millions of dollars’ budget and millions of dollars in assets to be used to indoctrinate generations of students and others in a philosophy that clearly undermines the authority of God’s Word. But when a smaller organization like Answers in Genesis, with a much smaller budget and fewer assets, proclaims the authority of God’s Word and the gospel, we are accused of having great power and a lot of money! Remarkable.

The real “power” of the Answers in Genesis ministry is honoring God’s Word. Go to the www.iamnotashamed.org web outreach and see the real power behind this ministry. However, I do agree that “the word of the Lord is the only thing that endures forever.” But why would God allow His Word to endure forever, even in the perfect new heavens and earth, when Calvin College professors (and presumably this student who, it seems, agrees with the Calvin College professor of religion I quoted in my presentation) say there are errors in the Bible. So, God’s Word, even with these supposed errors, will endure forever?

Calvin College Professor’s Claim Regarding Supposed Errors in the Bible

As stated above, I have included below a more detailed quote from the Calvin College professor where he outlines what he claims are errors in the Bible. Then, I have included comments from Archbishop Ussher’s Annals of World History and Sir Isaac Newton’s Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms (both available from our online bookstore). Keep in mind that Ussher and Newton made these answers available around 300 years or so ago—thus, the answers to these supposed errors have been around for a long time.

Here is what the Calvin College religion professor stated (taken from the article in the Chimes referenced above):

Here are two examples of minor factual errors in the Bible, one taken from the Old Testament, the other from the New. One, Daniel 5 features a king of Babylon named Belshazzar, whom it identifies as the son of Nebuchadnezzar. According to Babylonian records, though, Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar, and he never reigned as king of Babylon. Two, Luke 2 states that the emperor Augustus ordered a worldwide census in the year of Jesus’ birth, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. According to Jewish and Roman sources, however, Quirinius initiated a census only in Judea, and it occurred in a.d. 6, some ten years or more after the birth of Jesus, who according to Matthew was born before Herod the Great died in 4 b.c. Luke may not have hit a home run on this one, but he was certainly in the ball park. There are several minor glitches like this in the Bible.”
Here are the answers taken directly (without comment) from Ussher and Newton respectively to these supposed errors:

Usshers’s Annals of the World

4000a AM, 4709 JP, 5 BC
6051. Augustus ordered that all the Roman world should be taxed. This taxing first happened when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. {#Lu 2:1} From this, a little book was made by Augustus, containing all the public riches, as well as the number of Roman citizens and armed allies. It listed the navies, kingdoms and provinces, and it recorded what tribute and customs were required to be paid. {*Tacitus, Annals, l. 1. c. 11. 3:267} {*Suetonius, Augustus, l. 2. c. 101. s. 4. 1:309}
6052. Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was called Cyrenius in the Greek, Kυτιωιου or Kυρνινιου, and had been a consul at Rome for seven years prior to this. Strabo wrote about the Homonadensians, a people of Cilicia: {*Strabo, l. 12. c. 6. s. 5. 5:479}
“Quirinius overcame them by famine and took four thousand men and distributed them into the neighbouring cities.” the same as Publius Sulpicius Quirinius with the Romans
6053. Tacitus wrote: {*Tacitus, Annals, l. 3. c. 48. 3:597,599}
“He was a valiant warrior and ambitious in all his duties. He had the consulship under Augustus. He was famous, for he won the citadels of the Homonadensians by assault and obtained the ensigns of triumph.”
6054. Augustus himself had decreed that the magistrates should not be sent into the provinces as soon as they had left office. {*Suetonius, Augustus, l. 2. c. 36. 1:207} They should wait five years after their term of office expired. {*Dio, l. 53. (14) 6:227}
6055. After that, Quirinius obtained the proconsulate of Cilicia. He could be sent into nearby Syria, either as censor, with an extraordinary power, or as Caesar’s governor, with ordinary power. [K531] He would still retain the proconsulship of Cilicia and Sextius Saturninus, the governor of Syria. We have often read in Josephus that Volumnius and Saturninus were both equally called governors of Syria, whereas only Volumnius, was the governor of Syria. {*Josephus, Jewish War, l. 1. c. 27. s. 2. (538) 2:255} [E792] A little later, Quintilius Varus was made successor to Saturninus, with the proconsular authority. So nothing is incorrect, in that Quirinius may be said to have succeeded to, or rather to have been added to, the office of administrating Caesar’s affairs, as King Herod was. Josephus noted that Herod was to be the governor of all Syria. {*Josephus, Jewish War, l. 1. c. 20. s. 4. (400) 2:189} This was so constituted by Augustus, in order that Herod was added to the governors and so that all things would be done according to his wishes. {*Josephus, Antiq., l. 15. c. 10. s. 4. (360) 8:175} Hence both would govern together. Tertullian stated: {*Tertullian, Against Marcion, l. 4. c. 19. 3:378}
“There was a tax raised under Augustus in Judea, by Sentius Saturninus.”
6056. Luke stated, when this same taxing was made: {#Lu 2:1,2}
“when Cyrenius or Quirinius was governor of Syria.”
6057. Luke would rather mention him than the governor Saturninus, because he would compare this taxing with another that was made ten years later by the same Quirinius, after Archelaus was sent into banishment. He stated that, of the two taxings, this was the first taxing and this was the time of the birth of Christ.
6058. When this first taxing was enacted, Joseph went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, called Bethlehem. He was of the house and lineage of David and would be taxed there with his wife Mary, who was due to deliver. {#Lu 2:4,5} Bethlehem to be enrolled
Newton’s Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms
579. Notwithstanding his oath, Zedekiah revolted and made an alliance with the king of Egypt. {#Eze 17:15} Therefore, in the ninth year of Zedekiah in 590 BC, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and its cities. {E302} In the tenth Jewish month of that year he besieged Jerusalem again. In the eleventh year of Zedekiah in 588 BC in the fourth and fifth months, after a siege of about eighteen months, he took and burned the city and the temple. {#2Ki 25:1,2,8 Jer 32:1 39:1,2}
580. After he was appointed king by his father, Nebuchadnezzar reigned over Phoenicia and Coele Syria for forty-five years, and after the death of his father for forty-three years. {Ptolemy, Canon} {*Josephus, Antiquities, l. 10. c. 11. (219) 6:279} He lived for thirty-seven years after the captivity of Jeconiah. {#2Ki 25:27}
3.1.2 Evilmerodach (561–560 BC)
581. His son Evilmerodach succeeded him and is also called Iluarodamus in Ptolemy’s Canon. Jerome states that Evilmerodach reigned seven years in his father’s lifetime from 569 to 563 BC, while his father ate grass with oxen. {Jerome, on #Isa 14:19} After his father’s restoration, he was imprisoned with Jeconiah, the king of Judah until the death of his father, and then succeeded his father on the throne. In the fifth year of Jeconiah’s captivity in 595 BC, Belshazzar was next in power to his father Nebuchadnezzar and was designated to be his successor. {#/APC Bar 1:2,10-12,14} Therefore, Evilmerodach was even then in disgrace. When he came to the throne he brought his friend and companion Jeconiah out of prison on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. {#2Ki 25:27,29} Thus Nebuchadnezzar died at the end of the winter in 562 BC.
582. Evilmerodach reigned for two years after his father’s death. Because of his lust and wicked behaviour he was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissaros, or Nergalassaros, in 560 BC according to Ptolemy’s Canon.
3.1.3 Neriglissaros (559–556 BC), Laboasserdach (9 months 556 BC)
583. Neriglissaros, in the name of his young son Labosordachus or Laboasserdach, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar by his daughter, reigned four years, according to Ptolemy’s Canon and Berosus, including the short reign of Laboasserdach alone. According to Berosus and Josephus, Laboasserdach reigned nine months after the death of his father. {*Josephus, Antiquities, l. 10. c. 11. (231,232) 6:287} For his wickedness he was murdered at a feast by the conspiracy of his friends with Nabonnedus a Babylonian, to whom by consent they gave the kingdom. These nine months are not listed separately in Ptolemy’s Canon.
3.1.4 Labynitus or Belshazzar (555–538 BC)
584. According to Ptolemy’s Canon, Nabonnedus, or Nabonadius began his reign in 555 BC, and reigned eighteen years until the midsummer of 538 BC when Cyrus conquered him and captured Babylon.
585. Herodotus calls this last king of Babylon, Labynitus, and says that he was the son of a former Labynitus, and of Nitocris an eminent queen of Babylon. {*Herodotus, l. 1. c. 188. 1:235} By the father he seems to mean that Labynitus who was the king of Babylon when the great eclipse of the sun predicted by Thales put an end to the five years of war between the Medes and Lydians in 585 BC. {*Herodotus, l. 1. c. 74. 1:91} This king was Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel calls the last king of Babylon Belshazzar, and says that Nebuchadnezzar was his father. {#Da 5:2} {E304} Josephus calls the last king of Babylon Naboandelos by the Babylonians and he reigned seventeen years. {*Josephus, Antiquities, l. 10. c. 11. s. 2. (231) 6:287} {*Josephus, Antiquities, l. 10. c. 11. s. 4. (248) 6:295} Therefore, he is the same king of Babylon as Nabonnedus or Labynitus. This is more agreeable to the scriptures than to make Nabonnedus a stranger to the royal line since all nations were to serve Nebuchadnezzar and his posterity:
“And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him.” {#Jer 27:7}
586. Belshazzar was born and lived in royalty before the fifth year of Jeconiah’s captivity, which was the twelfth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in 595 BC. Therefore, he was more than thirty-four years old at the time of the death of Evilmerodach in 560 BC, and so could only be none than Nabonnedus, for Laboasserdach, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was a child when he reigned.
As Paul says in Romans 3:4, “let God be true but every man a liar.”

You can watch the “State of the Nation 2” presentation on the AnswerLive website. For a small fee, you can download the video to your computer. You can also purchase the DVD from the Answers in Genesis online bookstore.

Also, we recommend Doug Kelly’s Genesis-defending book Creation and Change and Joseph Pipa’s article “Reformed View of Origins?” Both men are highly respected within Reformed circles (Calvin College is of the Reformed tradition).

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying, Ken

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