Sure, It's Funny That Ken Ham Is Planning a Nephilim vs. Dinosaurs Exhibit, But Did You Read the Revealing Tweet-Storm That Followed?
Creationist Ken Ham is a holy hypocrite, at least as far as his claim to follow only the strict text of the Bible goes. Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis and the brains behind the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter theme park. The last of these is a partially taxpayer-funded religious indoctrination center in the shape of a replica of Noah’s Ark. In this Ark, Ham happily twists both history and the Bible to create a Bible-adjacent pseudo-historical fantasia of what he imagines life was like before Noah’s Flood. In the latest affront to history and to reason, Ham released photos yesterday on Twitter and Facebook of a new diorama he plans to add to the Ark. It features Nephilim giants fighting humans and dinosaurs inside an amphitheater.
Note that the amphitheater is built in the cyclopean style of Mycenaean Greece, while the decorations are in the Minoan style. (The Ark already depicts other antediluvian sinners as Mycenaean Greeks or Minoans as well.) The people in the amphitheater, and the combatants, wear a mixture of styles from various ancient Near Eastern cultures. It’s laughably funny, not just in terms of what it literally depicts but also in terms of the 1960 Ray Harryhausen-style aesthetic that governs it.
There is of course no evidence for amphitheaters in the time period that Ham assigns to the “wicked” pre-Flood world. Indeed, the reference books I consulted say that the earliest amphitheater known to history is that of Pompeii, c. 70 BCE. Perhaps they were going for more of a stadium feel? It’s still hard to find these kinds of arenas prior to the Greek Archaic. I am not aware of any from the Bronze Age or earlier that match the type Ham proposes for his Nephilim-dinosaur fights.
But while the image of Nephilim battling humans and dinosaurs caused fits of outrage and laughter across the internet, few paid attention to the more serious and disturbing set of tweets which followed.
Ham has clearly been emboldened by Donald Trump. In an early morning tweet-storm yesterday, Ham parroted Trump’s Thursday attacks on the media, accusing the national and local press of a conspiracy to undermine the integrity of his operation. “Much of the media does to @AiG & @ArkEncounter & @CreationMuseum what they're doing in politics--spreading fake news to deliberately malign,” he wrote. “Many reporters in much of mainstream media don’t report but push their agenda as they do to undermine @AiG & @ArkEncounter & @CreationMuseum.” He called on the public to hold the media accountable for their attacks on Answers in Genesis and Christianity, which he conflated as one and the same. The similarity between Ham’s words and Trump’s can’t be coincidental.
This morning Ham posted an updated version of the tweets to Facebook:
He added on Twitter that “Secularists seem to have nothing better to do than sit at their computer waiting for latest tweet from me so they can show their intolerance.”
However, Ham’s brand of Christianity is more like Bible fan fiction than the Christian faith most members of mainstream churches would recognize. It is important not to let Ham define what it means to be a “real” Christian, since his version is a modern confabulation of Victorian fundamentalism and bonkers pseudo-historical speculation. As I have reported in the past, his Ark encounter features elements drawn from fringe history, including visions of Mexican-style pyramids in the antediluvian world straight out of Ignatius Donnelly’s Atlantis, a fictitious global snake-cult drawn from Victorian pseudo-history and Theosophy, and claims about prehistoric global mapping technology that closely parallel ancient astronaut theories. He also happily invents fake details about Noah’s life that can’t be found in the Bible or even in the apocryphal literature of the ancient world.
It’s disturbing that Ham wants to characterize criticism of his taxpayer funding gambit as an attack on religion, but entirely in keeping with the political thrust of evangelical conservatism that he would portray questions about his operation as an attack on religion.
It is high time that we all stop treating Ken Ham like he has some sort of special connection to God just because he claims to use the Bible to justify all of his prejudices and because he hates science. Instead, we need to recognize him for what he is: Just another power-hungry, cash-grabbing fringe history freak who uses appeals to the supernatural to justify his political preferences.
This isn’t merely an academic argument. We live in a country where 40% of Americans profess to believe Earth was created 10,000 years ago, but more importantly we live in a time when the current vice president, Mike Pence, has forcefully pushed for the teaching of creationism and/or intelligent design in the nation’s schools. “Only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe,” he said on the floor of Congress when serving as a U.S. representative.
The fact that Ham is echoing Donald Trump’s words and line of attack suggests that the creationist isn’t just an opportunist but intentionally trying to attach his cause to that of the Trump Administration, or at least to appeal to Trump supporters. This is doubly disturbing because Ham preaches a stringent version of Christianity that claims the Bible as absolute truth and moral arbiter, while the media strategy Donald Trump uses is based on moral relativism and contempt for facts. I suppose one might argue that since both Ham and Trump want to discredit the idea of an objectively verifiable reality in favor of an absolute faith in an authority figure (God or Trump himself), the hypocrisy is more in perception than reality.
Nevertheless, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Ham is playing a political game, not a religious one, and he wants to wield the cudgel of religion for a political agenda.
2/18/2017 10:01:27 am
Ken Ham is a tool like no other, no doubt about it. He's no different than the ancient alien crowd...or any other fringe dingbat, for that matter.
2/18/2017 12:33:28 pm
What is scary is the number of well educated people that buy Ham's bs. We have a guy at work with an MS in Mechanial Engineering that buys into the whole AIG thing. When I told him that the science we use for work is the same science radiocarbon dating is based on so how could he call himself a scientist and not believe in it, his response was that he was an engineer and not a scientist
3/31/2017 01:37:32 pm
I'm going to call you a liar because either you are making the entire story up or you are changing it to fit the narrative you want so you can present your coworkers illogical excuse as evidence of the malfunctioning brain of creationists. Creationists do not disbelieve carbon radio dating. This is a lie pure and simple. There is no reason to disbelieve it as it only goes back about 10k years anyway. Even saying "the same science we use" as if your coworker believes in a different science is the epitome of going as low as you can to misrepresent someone else out of spite. Whether you think it's crazy, interpretation of evidence is what science is all about.You aren't changing science by interpreting evidence in a different way. What is unscientific is judgement based on emotional reasons like what you are guilty of. Attacking the people themselves, portraying the creationists argument as something it is not, and even plain old pathetic lying are all arguments of dishonest Narcissistic people, not the supposedly morally and intellectually superior guardians of scientific knowledge.
2/18/2017 04:11:32 pm
Maybe this is another case where I misread, but
2/18/2017 06:18:52 pm
The figure was given in the current edition of Skeptical Inquirer. I believe it was based on a survey reporting the number of people who professed belief in young earth creationism.
2/18/2017 11:14:24 pm
Uh, yeah sorry, I'm going to have to continually ask you for a link, or a cited source, since I'm not your unpaid researcher. My money says it will be interesting. "given" "believe" "professed". I'm not climbing into that pool.
2/19/2017 06:34:27 am
Guess what? I'm not paid either. The Skeptical Inquirer article did not provide a reference for the specific survey. I imagine it must have been similar to the Gallup surveys that have found somewhere north of 40% of Americans believe God created humanity in the past 10,000 years.
2/19/2017 02:11:42 pm
A lot of wiggle room and "weasel words" in those surveys as they are presented so I feel free to disregard them. Gratuitously asserted, gratuitously denied. The average americanegro I run into doesn't believe this stuff and I wonder who these surveilleurs are talking to.
2/19/2017 04:53:31 pm
"Provide me with evidence".
3/31/2017 01:26:56 pm
It is strange that you consistently misrepresent Ken Ham as believing the antediluvian depictions are anything more than an artistic guess as to what life may have been like. You also leave out the depiction of mixing Mycenaean and Minoan cultures was on purpose and present it like an ignorant mess up. You have about 90% vitriole and very little actual honest understanding or accurate depictions of his beliefs in your article here. If you really care so much, stop presenting your opinion as fact and leaving out massive amounts of detail in order to portray AIG as being dishonest. You are guilty of that yourself ironically.
2/20/2017 06:24:56 am
Wiggle room? Weasel words? The first survey he linked from Gallup includes this statement, which is the relevant one we're talking about: "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so."
2/20/2017 10:12:50 am
2/18/2017 05:22:53 pm
Of course your books lie and say that there were no older amphitheaters. They were written by lying scientists, duh. How can you believe the obvious lies in your book, when his book is so much older. Besides, the old amphitheaters were destroyed in the flood. It's just common sense.
2/18/2017 11:54:22 pm
And lets not forget, Ham's book is inerrant and inspired of god. It's up to Ham to interpret and reveal it's truth to poor, sinful humanity.
2/18/2017 07:18:46 pm
Ken Ham also epitomizes the common belief among so many that criticism is bigotry and an attack on his / her free speech. Basically what Ken Ham wants is for him to be able to spout his crap without anyone saying it is crap.
2/18/2017 07:22:19 pm
I forgot to mention another trope of those like Ken Ham is that they are true virtuous victims suffering terribly under the persecution of the evil whatevers. Ken Ham and those like him treasure and guard their victimhood like the prize, crown jewel they perceive it to be.
2/18/2017 08:00:33 pm
So he's a Democrat, then?
2/19/2017 12:46:42 pm
Does Wolter disappear shortly before Ham appears?
2/19/2017 02:45:39 pm
Wolter believes the lies others have told, and Ham believes the lies he has told himself. Completely different people.
2/19/2017 03:42:28 pm
"So he's a Democrat, then? "
2/19/2017 04:39:36 pm
Sorry. It was just a joke. Could have gone either way. Just picked dems. I had no dog in the fight.
2/19/2017 02:05:41 pm
As a religious or historical exhibit this is the pinnacle of stupid. I'd pay good money to see a Harryhausen-style film about Nephilim giants fighting T-rex though.
2/19/2017 08:39:06 pm
I know, that description almost makes it sound cool!
2/19/2017 09:20:28 pm
I can speak as a resident of the state where Ham's parks are located and say that his beliefs pretty well represent the majority of fundamentalist Christians who live here and that opposition to the tax break that helped to fund construction of Noah's Ark was minor. Anything that wraps itself in the cloak of those beliefs has wide support in this state. The groundwork for "alternative facts" has existed for decades among these believers. The state legislature in Kentucky, which fell under complete Republican control, is currently meeting and is paving the way for "Biblical literacy" classes in public schools.
2/21/2017 07:25:53 am
I will point out that there large chunks of Western culture which are incomprensible without some knowledge of Greek mythology and the stories of the Bible.This article would be quite strange without knowing about the Genesis stories, so there is some justification for a Biblical literacy class. I wouldn't want Ham or most of the Tennessee legislate teaching it though.
2/19/2017 10:45:19 pm
So the Ark artists designed a diorama depicting what it might have looked like if Nephilim (giants) and mankind and dinosaurs lived together before Noah's Flood, as Ken believes the Bible indicates. These artists used a mixture of Minoan and Mycenaean styles and that is the huge crime Ken Ham is guilty of? If you are going to pick on Ken Ham. then attack him on scientific principles not on artist's renditions. How about attacking his famous statement: If the Flood really happened, what would you expect to find? Billions of dead things in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the Earth. When we look at the Earth, what do we find? Billions of dead things in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the Earth.
2/19/2017 11:39:12 pm
Billions of dead things of all shapes and sizes. Just no human or Nephilem fossils along side them. No sign of human buildings, not even amphitheaters. Has there ever been a study to find out how many generations it would take to create the different physical features of all the people's on all the different continents. How long would it take , either from 7 couples on a boat or ancient man coming out of Africa, to spawn all these different groups with different physical characteristics?
3/31/2017 01:15:36 pm
The genetic information would already be present and the diversity of human beings on Earth is amazingly homogenous as is. A change in skull shape, a change in skin color, and a change in stature can produce a variety of different appearances. The Noahs Ark flood told of in the Bible mentions earthquakes, volcanoes, and a worldwide torrential downpour. If we found evidence of standing amphitheaters it would be more likely evidence against the catastrophic disaster depicted in the Bible. Volcanoes exploding can surpass current nuclear weapons in destructive power and energy, and theoretical super hurricanes would produce an amount of collective energy over a period of time equaling a nuclear bombardment and would likely leave nothing left on the surface.
2/20/2017 04:17:00 pm
It just doesn't strike me as a truly omnipotent Supreme Being if the answer to 'I don't like how people turned out' is 'oh well, time to drown them all.'
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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