In Matthew 7, Jesus told his disciples that they were to beware of false prophets – people who would teach untruths and lead people astray. Jesus then gave a very simple test: no bad tree can produce good fruit, so just look for the “fruits” of their teaching. Elsewhere in Scripture, we are told what spiritual fruits are: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Where we see a breakdown or lack of love, joy, kindness, etc, we need to be alert to potential false teaching.
I was interested, in this context, to see Ken Ham’s latest pronouncements. Ken Ham is one of the world’s foremost young earth creationists, basing his pseudo-scientific views on a literal interpretation of the Bible’s accounts of creation. Young earth creationism is scientifically indefensible, and in my opinion fits into the “false teaching” category. All truth is God’s truth, and when someone denies plain truths evident in nature, they’re being just as false in their teachings as those who teach false theology.
Last week NASA announced that they expect to find alien life within a few years. Ken Ham and his organisation, Answers in Genesis, released a statement calling on NASA to stop wasting money. There is no alien life, Ham claims, because all life descends from Adam, and Adams sin affected the whole universe. (Stick with me on this ‘logic’:) Since Jesus died on this earth, no aliens would be able to be saved. God wouldn’t do this. Therefore, ipso facto, there can’t be aliens, so NASA is wasting money.
Huffington Post reported on this issue by stating the obvious implication that if aliens exist they will go to hell. Ham denies he said this. But here is what he actually said:
Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word). To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.
It almost seems unnecessary to point out how stupid this is.
But let me descend briefly into the Narnia of young earth creationism and aliens. Assuming there are aliens, and assuming we should take the opening chapters of the Bible totally literally, we still don’t have to say what Ham says. Adam might have existed as the first human being, and may have sinned and brought death to the whole universe including aliens on distant worlds. And Jesus’ death and resurrection may have happened on this earth. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t apply universally. In fact, Jesus said he had other “sheep” that we knew nothing of.
But my brain just melts when I try and engage with this level of stupid.
So, let me go back to the fruit issue. Assuming you can get your head into the same headspace as Ken Ham, and believe that aliens would be subject to God’s wrath. Why wouldn’t you immediately want to find ways to bring the Gospel good news to them? Surely NASA finding them opens up a line of loving communication of the Gospel to these sad aliens? But no, fundamentalists of this ilk are almost all bereft of love. Their message is of wrath and hate. By their fruit we shall know them. Indeed.
Sadly for young earth creationists, they need to confront the reality of their position. Ken Ham, their spiritual and intellectual godfather, has done nothing more than simply take their position to its logical conclusion. And by its fruit you shall know it. It doesn’t work. It isn’t true.
Huffington Post printed a follow up article, by the way, if you’re interested in reading further analysis of Ham’s argument. It can be tough to call myself a Christian when I have to share the label with guys like Ken Ham.
Here’s a video response from Ken Ham and one of his accolytes. They’re standing in front of a toy telescope (that’s what it looks like) in broad daylight, “looking for aliens” and entirely not succeeding. They then mock the reporters who did little more than just report on what Ham had said and pointed out implications. And then they jokingly reverse the statements they made on their own websites.
Oh well, you watch it and decide for yourself. By their fruit you shall know them. If this guy is the world’s leading authority on young earth creationism, then the movement is doomed and can be ignored. Sadly, some Christians make it an article of their faith and a litmus test for everyone else. By their fruit you shall know them. Let’s see how it all works out for them.