Ham Boners Exposed
Sir Jim R Wallaby
The Skeptic (Vol. 14, No. 4)
As a man of the world, I am not one who would normally take umbrage at literature that others would consider offensive, so, when a colleague handed me a copy of a small tract entitled Dinosaurs and the Bible, no maidenly blushes mantled my damask cheek. I do, however, draw the line at the corruption of the minds of the young and I was rather astonished to find that this work did not carry a warning label that it was Restricted and not available to persons under 18.
The work of one Ken Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed is available through the Creation Science Foundation [now Answers in Genesis]. The tract begins with a statement, "An aura of mystery surrounds the dinosaurs" before going on to observe "...there are no real mysteries at all, once you have the key information that is not generally known and is withheld from the public [my emphasis]. Now I am not sure where Mr Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed, has been hiding, lo these many years, but if there is anything about dinosaurs that has been "withheld from the public" then it must be information of such an esoteric nature that even motion picture producers and advertising agents have not heard of it. So ubiquitous has the dinosaur become indeed, that I would be surprised if some or other popular singer had not named his unfortunate progeny Triceratops or Muttaburrasaurus.
Mr Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed gives a brief history of the discovery of dinosaurs and points out that the name was coined by Dr Richard Owen, who he parenthetically notes was a "creationist". Be that as it may, if Mr Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed cared to read a little about Sir Richard Owen, and his distinctly "different" sort of creationism, he would probably find it very difficult to welcome him into the fellowship of the Creation Science Foundation. Though Owen was widely regarded by his contemporaries as a mean spirited and spiteful individual, even these characteristics would probably not be sufficient to make him a likely candidate for membership, if only because he was also a scientist of considerable skill and accomplishment.
If the gentle reader will excuse me, I would like to diverge from my main theme for a moment here to make a cogent point. Mr Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed, and others of like kidney, delight in pointing out that various distinguished scientists who trod the earth prior to the early part of the 18th Century were "creationists". And so they were, or at least those of them who had a European heritage. They were creationists because, with the limited knowledge they had of the natural world, that was the best theory available to explain how life had originated and flourished. But it was because of their work and their advancement of knowledge that this theory maintained less and less credibility until its fall became inevitable. If not Darwin, then someone else would have driven the final nail into the coffin of Biblical literal creation. It was a theory which had, by the mid 19th century, exceeded its use-by date.
If you will bear with me a little longer, let me draw a parallel with the work, in a different field, of a contemporary of Charles Darwin, French chemist Louis Pasteur. Pasteur is credited with the introduction of the "germ theory of disease". Until Pasteur made his very important discoveries, disease was generally considered to be caused by bad "humours", (ie blood, phlegm, choler and melancholy). This, like special creation, was the best theory available at the time and it is reasonable to suppose that eminent scientists of the day subscribed to it.
Although the world still contains many cranks in the pseudo-medicine field who are equally as determined as creationists to deny the new insights into the natural world given to us by science, it is our good fortune that we do not appear today to have organised groups harking back to the past and citing eminent 'humourists' at every turn.
The thought being father to the deed, perhaps I should not have raised that point, as the merest mention of the concept is very likely to make the establishment of a Humorous Science Foundation inevitable. If that turns out to be the case, I offer the readers my sincerest apologies in advance.
Back to the minim opus of Mr Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed, who certainly exhibits a rather felicitous turn of phrase. To his own question "How big were dinosaurs" he responds "Some were as small as chickens, and others were even smaller". What an extraordinary way to put it; but more and better is to come.
After allowing that some dinosaurs are even larger than a chicken, he delivers himself of this final devastating statement, "The average size of a dinosaur, however, was probably about that of a small horse". I ask the gentle reader to take a deep breath and consider that statement for a moment. What on earth could it possibly mean? It seems that Mr Ham, B, etc., subscribes to the sort of logic which holds that the average Australian has slightly less than one testicle, slightly less than one ovary, and slightly less than two legs.
One question, "When did dinosaurs live?" is answered by a straw man of his own devising. Proclaiming that evolutionists hold that dinosaurs ruled the world for 140 million years before dying out 65 million years ago, and explaining (if it needed explaining) that scientists do not dig up bones labelled with those dates, he delivers this gem of historical fatuity, "No scientist was there to see the dinosaurs live through this supposed dinosaur age." An interesting statement, worthy of a Nobel Prize in the Bleeding Obvious at the very least, but also worth bearing in mind for what follows.
Having delivered himself of these fatuous assertions, Mr Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed goes ever more rapidly down hill, as a brief selection of his following statements will show. "There were no meat eaters in the original creation. Furthermore, there was no death. It was an unblemished world, with Adam and Eve and animals (including dinosaurs) living in perfect harmony, eating only plants". Plants are not alive? What are they then, some sort of green, flexible rocks? One wonders what sort of Sc, Mr Ham has a B in the App of? It certainly contains no elements of botany, biology, palaeontology, zoology, or any other ology that is apparent.
"However, there were not very many different kinds of dinosaurs... In reality, there may have been fewer than 50 kinds of dinosaurs." This appears to be an entirely made up solution, utterly unsupported by evidence of any kind, to Noah's problem of how to fit the many thousands of different dinosaurs on the Ark, along with the millions of other species.
It is not a very convincing construct.
Mr Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed then goes on to show that dinosaurs were mentioned in the Bible, citing a reference to "behemoth" in the Book of Job. "Impressively, he moved his tail like a cedar tree. Although some Bible commentaries say this may have been an elephant or hippopotamus, the description actually fits that of a dinosaur like Brachiosaurus. Elephants and hippos certainly do not have tails like cedar trees." Now hang on a minute here, isn't this the same Ken Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed, who, just a few paragraphs back, said that there were no scientists around to see dinosaurs. Now he is using a description of a particular dinosaur, a description that is only possible because scientists, using scientific skills of deduction, have reconstructed what a brachiosaur probably looked like, to make a very dubious point that supports his preordained case?
Further, having said quite correctly that elephants and hippos do not have tails like cedar trees, he gives us to understand that brachiosaurs did.
In what way did a brachiosaurs tail resemble a cedar tree, remembering that your creationist will not have it that the Bible deals in allegory, but must be read literally. Was the Brachiosaurs tail made of wood? Did it have leaves? Did it sway backwards and forwards in the breeze? There is no reason to suppose that the brachiosaurs tail had any similarity to a cedar tree and, as the Biblical reference to behemoth is singularly unenlightening as to its appearance, we can safely say that this Applied Scientist made the whole thing up.
Perhaps that is what App Sc means in the creationist lexicon. As, no doubt he made up the references later in his tract to dragons and, of all things, the Loch Ness Monster. " ...the more we research the historical literature, the more we realise there is overwhelming evidence [my emphasis] that dragons were real beasts, much like our modern reconstructions of dinosaurs, and that their existence has been recorded by many different people, even just hundreds of years ago". The illustrations of St George aiming his lance at a Baryonyx and an Elasmosaurus sloshing around in the Scottish loch add a (possibly unconscious) touch of real absurdity to what is in fact a risible attempt to convince young children that creation "science" is not as silly as it appears.
All of this, however, is merely leading up to the point that Mr Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed really wants to make. And of course, it is that staple argument of the creation "scientist", that the world was created exactly as described in the Book of Genesis. Let us then take the Genesis story as being literally true and apply to it the same test that this B App Sc uses in denigrating the work of real scientists. No-one, scientist or otherwise, was around when God created the world and only Adam (as the subject of the creative act) was around when God created human beings.
There are in existence no books, manuscripts, design drawings or notes on the backs of recently created envelopes in the handwriting of either God or Adam, so how can we take this story seriously? Nor is there any other evidence to support such a fanciful interpretation of how things all began.
The best that the author can come up with is that "The Bible, God's very special book (an unsupported assertion), claims [my emphasis] that each writer was supernaturally inspired to write exactly what the creator of all things wanted them to write down for us..." The Bible is accurate because the Bible says so? What sort of evidence is that for anything?
I could equally claim that I was supernaturally inspired to write this piece, so that God could let everyone know that He is in no way responsible for the mindless maunderings of a bunch of anti-intellectual know-nothings, who are constantly bringing His reputation into disrepute. In fact I do so claim and with evidence to support my claim at least as good as that which creationists adduce to support theirs.
One day, while taking my ease, I was visited by a large, distinguished, white bearded entity who bore a striking resemblance to the portrait of the deity that graces the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. "Sir Jim" he saith unto me, "I commandeth thee to write a parable that exposeth the stupidity of Biblical semi-literalists. I am sick of these clowns who maketh Me out to be deficient in the full complement of My marbles. They seemeth to think I am too dumb to have thought of evolution and accuseth Me of being nothing but a cosmic conjurer - a sort of omnipotent Geller. Go forth with thy word processor and smite them hip and thigh."
Now I am not claiming that I have proof that it was the Almighty who approached me, and you cynical Skeptics may well conclude that the aforementioned description of my interlocutor could apply equally to the distinguished Editor of this inspired journal, but there is no doubt in my mind that I am spreading the Word of God, as He commanded. My story is true because my story says it is. Which makes my claim just as valid as those of Mr Ken Ham, B App Sc, Dip Ed. Or, for that matter, as those of any other self validating claim.