On Opposing Views, Ken Ham wrote an opinion piece about the creation of the new Answers in Genesis video showing a young boy pointing a gun at the camera while a voice-over says, “If you don’t matter to God, you don’t matter to anyone.”
Along with my opinion that it is a fear-mongering, horrible message to convey, the video has been lambasted here and here and here (among other places). Video aside, however, Ham’s writing shows just how morally bankrupt he is. He asks, without God, why should we protect each other or act with kindness and understanding to our fellow human beings?
Here’s one passage in particular.
If we are truly just evolved from ape-like ancestors, then why should we fight for the sanctity of life and protect and cherish it at all costs? Why is it important for us to exercise self-control when we are angry or frustrated? Why should we deal with problems with love and understanding instead of violence if there is no sanctity of life? If God really doesnâ€™t matter and perhaps does not even existâ€”if Darwin was right all along and we just randomly evolved from ape-like creatures, if we arenâ€™t fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of a divine and loving God, then go aheadâ€”let survival of the fittest rule supreme.
This is an all-too-common refrain heard from fundamentalists. I’ve addressed it here and here already, but just to emphasize the point… if you can’t come up with reasons to act kindly toward your fellow human beings without the threat of eternal damnation, then you’re morally bankrupt from the get-go. If you are only acting “morally” because of the dictates of a 2,000 year old manuscript, you’ve got no moral foundation. Christianity, in particular, is a free pass to sin your life away.
Oh, but there’s more from Mr. Ham!
If the Ten Commandments are ripped off the walls of our schools and courtrooms and disregarded as a basic ethical God-given code of conduct, then who should care if kids are killing kids and men are attacking defenseless women in their driveways at home at night? We watch animals hunt and tear each other apart every night on the Discovery channel. If you donâ€™t matter to God, than tell meâ€”do you truly matter to anyone? If God doesnâ€™t care about what happens to you, is anyone else obligated to care?
If I wasn’t already familiar with Ken Ham’s general shenanigans, I would say the preceding paragraph was satire. Sadly, it’s not. In one paragraph, he displays his ignorance not only of evolution, but of human nature… of human psychology.
I’m sure that a vast majority of parents in the world would eagerly say that, even if a god didn’t give a rip about one of their children, that child would still matter hugely to the parent. The idea of a caring god is not a factor in why people care about their children… or their friends… or their family. At least, it isn’t for people who honestly care about others. Caring based on biblical dogma is shallow at best and intellectually abhorrent at worst.
In addition, I’ll go out on a limb here and speculate that even without the idea of a divine creator, almost all human beings can come up with reasonable distinctions between lower animals and humans. Most people can probably recognize how human behavior is (generally) based on more than just primal instinct.
It seems that Ken Ham is incapable of doing that. If God doesn’t care about us, he postulates, why would we act any differently than predator and prey on the Discovery Channel?
Ken Ham is the kind of person that I would not let near my daughter unsupervised. I wouldn’t feel safe having her around someone who is only acting kindly because he’s just following some ancient rules, fears divine retribution, or believes that a supernatural deity is keeping him under control. I’d hate to think what horrible actions are tempting Mr. Ham, contained only by his faith in a god. His irresponsible statements imply that humans are like barely contained rodeo bulls, precariously held in check only by the surrounding fence of God’s love.
The problem is that the fence is imaginary. If that’s the only reason people act kindly toward their fellow human beings, then as a species, we’re doomed.
Fortunately for us, it’s not the only reason. For most people, it’s probably not even truly a factor. And actually, I doubt that Ken Ham is a dangerous (other than intellectually) person chomping at the bit to steal, rape, and murder. I think he, like most humans on the planet, can tell right from wrong and act kindly without having to reference ancient dogma. People don’t need it to be good.
To be bad, however, and feel righteous about it… almost invariably requires religious dogma. Stephen Weinberg once said, “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” I suspect Ken Ham would disagree with that statement, given his apparent notion that God is the only thing that makes us good.
…but he also thinks the Ten Commandments are a good ethical code of conduct.