Saturday, August 13, 2016

KenHam confirms his opinion of the Divine Authority of his opinions

"I listen to God, not to man!"
As I've said before all texts have meaning only by virtue of the following "formula":

That is, a text is little more than a string of symbols which, needless to say, don't literally contain meaning - you can't put anything "inside" a symbol! Meaning comes as a result of the effects of a text as it impacts those "Interpretive Resources". These resources are a huge open ended context which includes human thinking, psychology, history and culture. As a rule one finds that fundamentalists of all flavors have a very weak view of the need of those resources - for them it's all "in scripture". You may even hear them claim that "scripture doesn't need interpreting" or that "God is well able to mean what he says" as if interpretation raises no epistemic problems. They will also attempt to make scripture a self-sufficient, self-contained universe of meaning as if scripture can have a stand-alone meaning apart its context of interpretation...see here for example.

As a consequence fundamentalists tend not to be aware of any issues with their views; after all, in their opinion they have simply read scripture and hey presto they have registered the plain, repeat plain, Divine meaning. They therefore are apt to see no need to distinguish between their opinions and God's opinions and so they tend not to subject their opinions to any self-critical reflexiveness. They are quite sure that for all Christians of good conscience those divine meanings are  plain for all to see; it seldom seems to be much of a problem to them that there are other equally genuine and convinced fundamentalist sects who will sharply disagree with them. 

We can see, then, just how attitudes like the foregoing sets fundamentalists up to be suspicious of other Christians (fundamentalist and otherwise) who disagree with them and perhaps will even accuse them of knowingly and willfully disobeying God himself.  

The upshot is that fundamentalists won't frame their beliefs in terms of "In my humble opinion"; rather they think it very likely that their opinions are God's opinions: So, if you are going to raise questions it will help in your relationship with the Ken Hams of this world if you make sure you eventually come round to their opinions! 

Anyway, evidence that fundamentalists have great confidence in the Divine authority of their opinions surfaces in a blog post by Ken Ham entitled  Dr. Andrew Fabich: “Quit Calling This ‘Ham’s Interpretation’” dated  August 5.  Ham relates that Fabich, true to the fundamentalist mindset, is quite sure that we should quit talking about "Ham's interpretation" as, of course, in Fabitch's  books Ham's opinions are squarely based on scripture, plain and simple. Therefore, on fundamentalist logic, Ham's interpretation comes with Divine Authority unlike other evangelicals such as William Dembski or Denis Alexander. Ham, needless to say, wants everyone to acknowledge this. As proof of this see below some quotes taken from the post (My emphases):

When reading headlines and news item about our new Ark Encounter or the popular Creation Museum or something I said in my blog or on social media, I often have to shake my head. I constantly see headlines and statements such as “Ken Ham’s Crazy Ark Park,” “Ken Ham Made the Creation Museum,” “Mr. Ham’s ‘Ark Encounter,’” and “Ham Dates Noah and the Biblical Flood to 6000 Years Ago.” These media reports often act as if ……a young earth and a global Flood are solely my interpretation instead of what the Bible plainly teaches……
I don’t want anyone to believe in a young earth, a global Flood, or a literal Genesis because I say so—I want others to believe in biblical creation because the Creator says so! God’s Word is clear that He created the universe in six days just a few thousand years ago and that there was a global Flood.... What I say really doesn’t matter. What matters is what God’s infallible, perfect Word says.

My Comment: Read that latter sentence as "What matters is what Ham says God's infallible perfect Word says". For Ham the logic is simple: Ham believes he knows with clarity and certainty what God says about creation therefore Ham's opinions on creation are God's opinions. There is no doubt in Ham's fundamentalist mind that his interpretation is right, based as it is, he thinks, on plain and obvious readings of Genesis. He is therefore unlikely to accept the good conscience of many Christians who are part of the academic establishment and who  do not accept that Ham's 6000 year old cosmos is the right way to interpret scripture. 

I heard it first during the Ham-Nye debate. Bill Nye [“the Science Guy” of TV fame] kept referring to biblical creation as “Ham’s interpretation,” as if the young-earth interpretation somehow belongs to Ken Ham.
You know, Christianity and biblical creation aren’t based on what Ken Ham has said, currently says, or will say. News flash: biblical creation depends on the authority of Scripture…….My point (like Ken’s and myriad others’) is that the Bible is authoritative….
The Bible is the authority. Period. I beg the media: stop calling this “Ham’s version.” Call it biblical creation…….). I am asking, “Do everyone a favor—quit calling this ‘Ham’s interpretation.’”

My Comment: Once again we have here a fundamentalist who is beguiled and seduced by false fundamentalist logic: For Fabich Ham's (and his own) opinions are to identified as  synonymous with God's very Word. Fabich sees little or no intervening epistemic process which needs to be engaged critically.

Tough luck Fabich but I for one will certainly not do you the favour of refraining from calling it Ham's or any other fundamentalist's interpretation because that is exactly what it is.  I sometimes wonder where people like Fabich keep their brains. Does he really think that all those moderate and learned evangelicals out there who don't believe in a Young Earth are suddenly going to admit that Ham's opinions are in actual fact to be identified with God's very Word?

As they "extract" meaning from Scripture Ham, Fabich and other fundies are inevitably using the open ended resource variable in the equation above. For them part of that resource is a subliminally gnosto-dualist philosophy; they are largely unconscious of this philosophy and take it for granted that other Christians think along the same lines; that's why they find it inconceivable that other Christians could disagree with them with a clear conscience.

Given the suspicions and mild paranoia which lurk in fundamentalist minds we can see why they easily fall-out with other fundamentalists and other Christians: for if you disagree with them and are persistent in that disagreement they have left themselves few options but to put that disagreement down to a willful bad conscience and therefore probably tantamount to heresy and even blasphemy. This makes them abrasive and unpleasant to deal with. It is revealing to note that moderate evangelical Hank Hanegraaf criticizes Ham's authoritarian and abrasive style. That personality trait is not just true of Ham but also of many of the fundies I have been acquainted with.   

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