In my previous article, I responded to the claims of Professor Kenneth Keathley, and I kindly asked him to correct his erroneous statements about Ken Ham and the young-earth creation movement. While I’ve appreciated my previous interactions with this fellow brother in Christ and while I admire his winsome demeanor, since this article was posted, I have been disappointed by Keathley’s response and wish to further elaborate my concerns.
Unlike many of the exchanges I have had with opponents of young-earth creation, Professor Keathley’s errors were not a matter of disputable issues. We were not disagreeing with him about fine points of doctrine, arguing over secondary Scriptural issues, or dividing along denominational lines. Our contention was not a matter of biblical interpretation or even a dispute about a particular scientific finding. Instead, I asked Keathley to remove his factually erroneous accusations against Ken Ham—accusations that are verifiably false.
My main request was that Keathley correct his error about the historical development of young-earth creation views on speciation. Keathley claimed that Ken Ham embraced evolution because Ham and Answers in Genesis embrace speciation. Furthermore, Keathley claimed that this was “big news” because “young-earth creationists have traditionally accepted micro-evolution while rejecting macro-evolution.” What did Keathley mean by these terms? “Micro-evolution is the variety and change that occurs within species. . . . Macro-evolution is the idea that species evolve into other species” [emphases his]. He underscored his announcement with statements such as, “One thing is for sure, this is not your father’s young-earth creationism” and “[Answers in Genesis] have shifted significantly from the positions argued by early young-earth creationists such as Henry Morris and Duane Gish.”
I pointed out in my initial article that Morris embraced speciation in his seminal work, The Genesis Flood, in 1961. If Keathley doubted my claim, he could have easily fact-checked it on the internet. For example, he could have done what I did, which was to visit the website of the organization that Henry Morris founded, the Institute for Creation Research. I typed “Henry Morris speciation” in the search box, and the website returned eight articles.
One of the articles1 by Morris made a startling admission:
Today, creationists do exactly what Morris did in 1946. We approximate the “kind” boundary at the classification rank of “family.”2 For example, I do it regularly in my technical, peer-reviewed science papers on the genetics of origins (see “Recent, Functionally Diverse Origin for Mitochondrial Genes from ~2700 Metazoan Species” and “Mitochondrial DNA Clocks Imply Linear Speciation Rates Within ‘Kinds’”).
Contrary to the statements of most evolutionary writers, few (if any) creationists have ever advocated the idea of absolute fixity of species. The Biblical unit of biological taxonomy, of course, is the Genesis “kind” (Hebrew, min).
It may be worth mentioning that this fact was stressed in my first book on creationism some 55 years ago:It is well to observe at this point that the Bible does not teach the fixity of species. . . . Thus, it is probable that the original Genesis “kind” is closely akin to what the modern systematist calls a “family.” And let it be stated in no uncertain terms that there is no evidence that evolution ever has occurred or ever can occur across the kinds. [quote from Henry M. Morris, That You Might Believe (Chicago: Good Books, Inc., 1946), 48, 49.]
Thus, as I pointed out in my earlier article, young-earth creationists have been saying the same thing about speciation for 70 years. Keathley is making a factually false announcement.
Keathley’s error is all the more significant because it forms a fundamental plank in his accusations against Ken Ham. In other words, Keathley’s claims about Ham are not limited to the fact that creationists embrace speciation. Instead, Keathley paints an erroneous narrative about the development of this creationist view in the introduction to his article, in parts of the middle section of his arguments, and in the major conclusion of his article. The quotes I already highlighted above are examples of this. In short, Keathley’s main accusation against Ken Ham is based on a demonstrably false assertion.
Keathley’s main accusation against Ken Ham is based on a demonstrably false assertion.
To be sure, Keathley has had opportunity to acknowledge his error. As the time stamps on his blog show, since my initial article was posted, he’s been actively responding in the comments section of his blog. Yet he has not removed the error from his posts.
Keathley’s failure to promptly retract his errors is troubling. If Keathley is unable or unwilling to get the most basic facts right about his opponents, should he be taken seriously when he tries to criticize them? Furthermore, if these errors are not tangential but, in fact, central to his criticisms of his young-earth opposition, can he really be trusted to be a credible source of information on young-earth creationists?
As a fellow brother in Christ, I wish this article would not have to be posted. I respect Keathley as a fellow believer, and I admire his commitment to training the next generation of pastors and shepherds of the church. I sincerely hope he corrects the mistakes that he has made, and I trust that this follow-up article will be the impetus for him to do so.