This article is from
Creation 19(4):13–15, September 1997

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Demolishing ‘straw men’

by Ken Ham

A highly qualified scientist, who claims to believe in the infallibility of the Scriptures, recently lectured to the student body of a well known Christian college. In an attempt to rebut the teachings of the 6-day creationists, the following is one of many similar kinds of statements made:

‘But given a flood of that nature, a flood that’s responsible for all the fossils on the planet, and all the geology on the planet, then we have Noah facing a problem. He’s got this boat that’s four hundred and fifty feet long, and that boat is supposed to house all the species of life on planet earth, all the land species, for a period of one year.’1

All through these lectures, this person set up ‘straw men’ in an attempt to discredit those who believe in six ordinary days of creation, a global (entire globe) Flood, no death, disease and suffering of the nephesh animals before sin, and a young age for the universe.

Setting up ‘straw men’ is a powerful way to destroy the credibility of those with whom you disagree. Humanists are experts at doing this when opposing Christians. They make false statements about what Christians supposedly believe, and then they show how wrong these statements are!2

Sadly, those who oppose the literal (biblical, 6-day) creationists often use this same method. For instance, the quote above. However, let’s analyze his statement compared to what biblical creationists really believe:

  1. We do not say that the Flood was responsible for all the fossils or all the geology on this earth! For instance, we have published numerous articles showing that many fossils were formed as a result of post-Flood catastrophism—e.g., the Ice Age.3 A leading creation geologist states that the Grand Canyon’s basement rock is ‘Creation Week’ rock.4

  2. Biblical creationists have never said that all land species of living creatures were on the Ark. The literature makes it very clear that creationists believe that all the kinds of the land creatures listed in Genesis 6:20 (fowls, cattle, creeping things) were represented on board.5 Creationists also point out that there can be many ‘species’ within a ‘kind’—e.g.: there are many types of cats in the world, but all the cat ‘species’ may have come from only a few ‘kinds’ of cats originally.6

    The cat types today have developed by natural and artificial selection acting on the original variety in the information (genes) of the original cats, resulting in differing combinations of information, including speciation.7 Thus only a few ‘cat’ pairs may have been needed on Noah’s Ark.

Teachers have a great influence on students. Imagine how these students (and faculty) have probably been immunized against straightforward biblical creation by such misleading tactics.

But let’s go on! Here are just a few more of the many such examples that I could give from this same lecture series:

  • ‘… the leaders of young earth creationism, as non-Christians were evolutionists, whereas the leaders of old earth creationism, as non-Christians, were anti-evolutionists.’1 How can he make such an absolute statement? I am one of the leaders of two of the largest creation organizations in the world.8 I was brought up in a Christian home by a father and mother who stood solidly on the authority of the Word of God. I never believed in evolution. My motivation for being involved in creation ministry came from a deep desire to teach and defend the authority of the Bible.
  • ‘If you look at the history of the young earth creationist movement, it really flows out of a flood geology by George MacCready Price … . The young earth doctrine flows out of that attempt to interpret the flood in that context …’.1 When I first became involved in the founding of the creation movement in Australia some 20 years ago, I had never heard of George MacCready Price. The reason I was a ‘young earth creationist’ was for theological reasons—since there was no death, bloodshed, disease or suffering before Adam sinned, there cannot be a fossil record millions of years before sin.9 This has always been my emphasis—what the Bible teaches must judge man’s opinions, not the other way round.
  • ‘I hear there’s over a hundred separate arguments that are claimed to be evidences for a young earth, for a young universe. But we’ll be happy to show you the bogus nature of these claims.’1 Ultimately, the reason biblical creationists believe in a young earth is because of Scripture—not evidences outside of Scripture. Accepting the days of creation as ordinary days, and adding up all the dates in Scripture (even allowing for possible ‘gaps’ in the genealogies) gives an age of several thousand years. However, biblical creationists have shown that, using the same assumptions as evolutionists do for dating methods that give results of billions of years, there are many methods that give dates far younger than evolutionists require. Respected physicist Dr Russell Humphreys claims this for 90% of all dating methods.10All dating methods require unprovable assumptions; there are no infallible dating methods outside of Scripture!
  • ‘As you notice in the text, Adam and Eve are eating plants before they sinned, and so plant parts at the minimum were dying, before Adam sinned.’1 The speaker here is trying to refute the teaching of the biblical creationists that there was no death, bloodshed, disease or suffering of animals or man before sin. However, the students are not being told that there is a theological distinction given in Genesis chapter 1 between man and the animals (described as having a nephesh (life principle)), and plants (which haven’t). God gave plants for food originally (Genesis 1:29–30), as plants are not ‘living’ in the sense that animals are.
  • ‘The total content of the water on planet earth is only 22% of what you need to cover the mountains. Now of course, those who promote a global flood theory are aware of that problem, and so their explanation is that God eroded the mountains from a height of 30,000 feet down to sea level during the forty days. Then during the next twelve months, He popped those mountains back up …’1 In my 20 years of involvement in creation ministry, I have never known of any material from any biblical creationists indicating that God ‘eroded the mountains from a height of 30,000 feet down to sea level during the forty days’! This is nonsense. If you level out the earth’s surface, there’s enough water to cover the earth to a depth of at least three kilometres (two miles). Marine fossil layers on the tops of mountains like Everest indicate that they were covered by water at one time. Biblical creationists believe that most mountains today did not exist before the Flood, but were raised up (and ocean basins sank) towards the end of the Flood, thus causing the water to run off to where it is today. 11
  • ‘Human beings are only possible when the universe is a certain middle-aged value. If the universe is too young, it’s unstable for life. If it’s too old, it’s unstable for life. Life is only possible when the universe is between 12 and 17 billion years.’1 Has somebody told God about this ‘fact’!!? Since when can man tell God what He can and can’t do?12 He could create the universe and its life in six days (approximately 24 hours each), and place man on the earth on the sixth day—just like He said He did!13

Sadly, this sort of teaching to discredit biblical creation is prevalent in churches, Christian colleges, and seminaries today. I have often asked the Lord in prayer why He allows impressionable students to be led astray like this.

I believe the answer is in His Word, and is a warning for us. Look at the principles of Deuteronomy 13:1–4:

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

The Israelites were told that certain people would say and do things that seemed right and thus confirm that what has been said must be from the Lord. However, no matter what the experience, or how wonderful the message sounded, the Lord was testing them to see if they were prepared to take Him at His Word. If it contradicted the clear Word of God that had been given to the people, they were not to accept it, no matter how ‘great’ it seemed.

That’s why we all need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, who ‘searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.’ Unfortunately, so few in the church seem to even know what God’s Word says, let alone use it to test what is being said to them. It seems like the situation in Amos 8:11:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

There surely seems to be a famine of the Word of God today—people would rather listen to the words of fallible men.

How we need to ‘Hear the Word of the Lord’ and ‘tremble at his word;’ (Isaiah 66:5).

References and notes

  1. Quoted from the transcript of the Staley Lecture Series given by Dr Hugh Ross from Reasons to Believe at Toccoa Falls College (a Christian College), 18–20 March 1997. [This article was not intended to reflect or comment upon Toccoa Falls Christian College; it was intended to specifically deal with the statements made by Dr Hugh Ross, who was a guest speaker there.—Ed.]
  2. E.g. a book by a leading Australian humanist ridiculed the idea of Noah’s Flood by indicating that creationists believe that Noah needed aquariums for all the fish, and that whales had to ‘flop’ up the gangplank!
  3. Creation16(3):22–3, 1994; 19(1):42–43, 1996; CEN Technical Journal9(2):140–141, 1995; 9(2):142–143, 1995; 10(1):128–167, 1996; 10(2):258–278, 1996.
  4. Steven A. Austin, Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, Institute for Creation Research, Santee, California. pp. 57–82, 1994.
  5. John Woodmorappe, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, Institute for Creation Research, pp. 3–13, 1996.
    Also Jonathan Sarfati, How did all the animals fit on Noah’s Ark?Creation 19(2):16–19, 1997.
    Gary E. Parker, Creation: The Facts of Life, Master Books, Green Forest, Ark, pp. 112–115, 1996.
  6. CEN Technical Journal9(1):106–120, 1995.
  7. This is not ‘evolution’, since it is based strictly on the created information already present, and is thus limited. Evolution from ameba to man requires new information to arise by natural processes. Put another way—one involves thinning of gene pools, the other an expansion. They are certainly not the same.
  8. Answers in Genesis in the U.S. and Creation Science Foundation Ltd. in Australia [now Creation Ministries International].
  9. Did Adam understand what death was? Creation8(4):29–32, 1986; Why did God impose the death penalty for sin? Creation15(1):32–34, 1992.
  10. Creation15(3):23, 1993.
  11. K. Ham, A. Snelling, C. Wieland, The Answers Book, Creation Science Foundation, Qld, Australia, Chapter 7, 1996.
  12. The same lecturer also told students that the Flood could not be worldwide, because of the ‘limited extent of sin’. Since penguins in Antarctica had not yet had any contact with sinful humanity, God, he said, would not have killed off penguins. Of course, there are penguins in parts of the world without ice and snow, but more importantly, Romans 8:22 states: ‘For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now’. Adam’s sin affected everything, everywhere in the universe.
  13. See our pamphlet ‘Six Days? Honestly!’ Also Creation19(1):23–25, 1996.