Responding to Matt Walsh on Young-Earth Creation
On October 18, 2018 popular blogger Matt Walsh published a video titled “Why I’m Not a Young Earth Creationist.” Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter, responded to Walsh’s video two days later in a blog post. On November 16, Walsh posted on Facebook that he would be responding to “Ham’s accusations” due to the number of his followers who “trust Ham implicitly and think that he is an authority on a wide range of scientific and theological topics.” Walsh believes they need to hear his side so they can “decide whether [to] continue to trust [Ham] or not.” He responded with a video titled, “Responding to Ken Ham’s Distortions and Misinformation.”
Ken Ham responded today to Walsh’s reply in Answers News (available to watch above). Now, we have seen some comments on social media saying this is a private matter between the two men, possibly thinking of the passage of the Bible from Matthew 18. But Ken has taken no offense from Walsh. The passage reads:
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother (Matthew 18:15).
If you don’t read this Matthew passage carefully, you can falsely conclude that it teaches that when you see a professing Christian in error, you must contact them in private. Rather, the passage applies to a person who has been sinned against and teaches that a Christian should meet in private with the Christian who has sinned against him. Though harsh and unfair in his very public opinions about Ken Ham (Walsh initiated this public argument), Walsh has not done evil towards Ken. Public theological disagreements between people don’t constitute evil/trespass being perpetrated on anyone. Walsh’s very public pronouncements about the authority of Genesis, heard by tens of thousands of people, are fair game to be critiqued in public.
For his part, Walsh has apparently taken this matter very personally. If he had thought Ken had sinned against him, Walsh should have approached Ken privately. On his end, Ken is exposing Walsh’s very public theological error regarding biblical authority, equipping believers on why such teaching is not biblical and the dangers such compromise can lead to, and is not taking this as a personal Matthew 18 matter. Frankly, Matthew 18 is applied much too broadly nowadays.
Walsh has misunderstood Ken’s original intention, which Ken pointed out in the Answers News broadcast earlier today.
Missing the Heart of the Issue
Walsh begins by explaining why he felt the need to respond to Ken’s blog; “Ham . . . attacked my faith. Rather than simply rebutting my opinions, he attacked my faith.” However, Ken did not attack Walsh’s faith. He declared something that AiG has stated for years about those who choose to accept man’s ideas over God’s Word: “by accepting the dogma of secular science, Walsh completely ignores the context of God’s infallible Word” and emphasized the point that what Walsh is really saying (whether he realizes it or not) is that we should “rely on man’s fallible word [rather than] trust God’s infallible Word.”
The real issue is a battle over authority: who will you trust? God’s infallible Word or man’s fallible word?
It’s important to emphasize that over the years, Ken, as he quotes Christian leaders who accept millions of years, while he might have a great respect for them and would applaud much of what they write and say, that regardless of how prominent they are, if these leaders are using man’s fallible dating methods to reinterpret Scripture, they are using fallible ideas to reinterpret God’s infallible Word! Ken has been saying this for 40 years—one only has to read his books like The Lie (1987),
Already Compromised, Already Gone, and many more to know that.
Perhaps Walsh misunderstands these statements and takes them as a personal attack on his faith because he is not familiar with young-earth creation arguments and/or has missed the real heart of the issue? Over the years, we’ve repeatedly made the point that this is not a battle of science vs. religion, or science vs. the Bible. Ken has written articles explaining that a young earth is not the real issue, such as this article dating back to 1998! The real issue is a battle over authority: who will you trust? God’s infallible Word or man’s fallible word?
We believe the Bible is abundantly clear on the issue of the age of the earth. We claim it is not ambiguous, as Walsh claims. The arguments for a young earth are many and can be easily found on our website (see, for example, this article). Therefore, the battle over the earth’s age is on a foundational level: will we trust God’s clear Word in Genesis or will we embrace the secular thinking of our day that came out of an atheistic/agnostic worldview?
I would also encourage you to read this article by Ken that really sets out the reason why he is so passionate about this particular issue, so that people will not believe that Ken claims it’s a salvation issue (which it’s not): “Millions of Years—Are Souls at Stake?”
A Battle Over Interpretations
The battle is over two different interpretations of the exact same evidence. Walsh claims creationists must look through scientific literature and cherry-pick what they like (he uses the example of rock paintings that appear to be of dinosaurs) and argues “no, that’s not real, no that’s not real, no you’re wrong about that” to everything else. That is entirely untrue. Creationists don’t ignore the scientific data. Instead we look at the exact same data and interpret it very differently from evolutionists because we have different starting points.
The real issue is man’s word vs. God’s Word: who will you trust?
Creationists start with God’s Word. It is not a science textbook, of course, but it is a history book (Genesis chapters 1–11, like the rest of the book, are clearly historical narrative and meant to be taken as such). So we take the history the eyewitness Creator has provided (i.e., creation in six days, genealogies to tell us how long ago that was, a global flood that shaped geology, the event at the Tower of Babel that divided the languages, etc.) and use that framework to interpret the evidence.
This is a very different starting point from evolutionists who start with the present and use it to interpret the past. They ignore the history in God’s Word and instead use present-day processes and rates to try and explain the past. This approach to science was developed by those who did not believe God’s Word and is an interpretation imposed on the evidence.
Therefore, the real issue is man’s word vs. God’s Word: who will you trust? By accepting man’s word over God’s Word, Walsh is really (whether he means to or not) encouraging his followers to trust man over God in this issue.
It’s an Issue of Interpretation
As we’ve said many times on our site and in our public talks, there are two different kinds of science: observational vs. historical science. Walsh appears not to understand the distinction, hence his confusion that creationists, in his words, “cherry pick a few bits of data from each of these disciplines while rejecting most of the rest of it.” Observational science deals with the present and is directly testable, observable, and repeatable. It’s the kind of science that builds space shuttles, smartphones, and makes medical advances. Creationists and evolutionists can largely agree on issues of observational science.
Historical science deals with the past by studying rock layers, fossils, artifacts, and so on. Because the past is history, it cannot be directly tested, observed, or repeated. So your starting point and what you believe about the past directly determines how you interpret the evidence in the present. If you start with an evolutionary view, you will interpret the evidence through that lens. If you start with a biblical worldview, you will interpret the exact same evidence through a biblical lens.
Biblical Creation—It Matters!
And this debate is not a topic of little importance. As Ken mentioned in his blog, the book of Genesis is foundational to many of the current social discussions that Walsh engages with on his platform.
- Why is human life sacred? Because we’re made in the image of God, which only comes from taking Genesis as written, as literal history (Genesis 1:27). If we evolved from ape-like creatures, we are not made in God’s image but are just animals.
- Why is gender male and female? Because God created us this way (Genesis 1:27) and has defined our sexuality. If we just evolved, why does God define our sexuality?
- Why is marriage for one man and woman? Because God created the first marriage and he defined it as such (Genesis 2:24). If we evolved, God didn’t create marriage, it’s just an evolved institution therefore it can be whatever we want it to be.
And most importantly, the issue impacts the gospel. Why did Jesus have to come and die if death is not the penalty for sin? If the idea of millions of years is true, then millions of creatures, as well as “pre-humans,” died before sin. Walsh admits that human death is the penalty for sin, but also affirms death over millions of years (something he says: “raises a question about why God would let this very violent process of life and death go on for millions of years”).
Clearly there was no death of animals or humans before sin.
But if God used evolution, then almost-human-but-maybe-not-quite-human creatures were dying before modern humans finally arrived. In this view, how can there be a literal Adam who rebelled against God and brought death into creation? In this view, humans are simply a product of slow and gradual evolution and death had already existed in creation for millions of years so death can’t be the consequence of sin. But Scripture claims God’s creation, before sin, was “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and that it groans today because of our sin (Romans 8:22). Clearly there was no death of animals or humans before sin. Therefore, creation cannot be millions of years old. Rather, the fossils and rock layers from which the millions of years come from are products of the catastrophic global flood of Noah’s day.
Has Walsh Read Our Literature?
Walsh’s 40-minute video served to prove the point that Ken made in his original blog post: it appears that Walsh has not read (or has read very little) literature by biblical creationists who believe in a young earth. He repeatedly mischaracterized the young-earth position (something Walsh vehemently accuses Ken of doing to him), indicating he has read little of our literature. He admits in the video that he has read our literature, but adds,
Why should I have read his literature? He [Ham] is a person, I believe, with an incorrect theological view and he has taken it upon himself to spend his time advancing that view as the only correct view. That doesn’t make him an expert! Just because someone stands up there, or they make a website and they call it Answers in Genesis, that does not make them an expert on theological interpretations or science. So I don’t have to consult with him before . . .forming my opinions.
We point out that Answers in Genesis, with several hundred full-time staff, is the world’s leading creation-apologetics ministry. We’ve published thousands of articles, written dozens of books, produced several videos, built a Creation Museum and a full-size Noah’s Ark filled with world-class, well-researched teaching exhibits, and hosted conferences around the world. If Walsh wants to understand what creationists like us believe, and why we believe what we do, it would seem logical to consult the literature of the world’s leading ministry on the topic. Ignoring it is intellectually dishonest and makes his rebuttal weak.
Ken does not expect anyone to believe in biblical creation because he merely says so. He encourages them to do so because God has clearly told us in his Word what he has done.
Unfortunately, he does not appear to have read much of our literature because his arguments and characterizations of creationists do not reflect the published works (something that many of those watching and commenting on his live video have pointed out).
Walsh also never mentions that Ken—who has certainly never claimed to be an expert on everything but who has studied, spoken, and written on Genesis for several decades—is not the only person who writes for Answers in Genesis. We employ many theologians and scientists who are experts (and hold advanced degrees, including PhDs from Ivy League schools) in their respective fields. They also review everything AiG publishes and states in public to ensure the highest of scientific and biblical accuracy. But perhaps Walsh is unaware of this because before he started making his public comments, he had not read our literature.
Walsh seems to believe that Ken expects people to accept biblical creation simply because Ken says so. He makes statements to this effect such as:
It’s Ken Ham who puts himself forward as a reference. It’s Ken Ham who claims to know better than the vast majority of scientists in every field. It’s Ken Ham who claims he absolutely could not be wrong. It’s Ken Ham who says his interpretation of the Bible is the only correct interpretation. So I ask, on what basis? Where did you gain this authority? . . .
It is you I disagree with, not God. Are you God? Let me ask you, are you God? Because if you’re not, stop saying that I disagree with God because I disagree with you. The arrogance of such a statement is mind-boggling.
But Ken does not expect anyone to believe in biblical creation because he merely says so. He encourages them to do so because God has clearly told us in his Word what he has done, and we should believe God, rather than men.
Over the years, Ken has stated many times that people need to be like those in Berea some 2,000 years ago and check everything we write or say against the absolute authority of Scripture: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
To demonstrate that he has now read some of our literature, Walsh mentions one article “Billions of People in Thousands of Years?” written by Dr. Monty White (although Walsh implies it was written by Ken). He claims it is intellectually dishonest and a fair representation of our articles and, therefore, our dishonesty. He reads out this portion of the article:
Creationists are often asked, “How is it possible for the earth’s population to reach 6.5 billion people if the world is only about 6,000 years old and if there were just two humans in the beginning?” Here is what a little bit of simple arithmetic shows us.
Let us start in the beginning with one male and one female. Now let us assume that they marry and have children and that their children marry and have children and so on. And let us assume that the population doubles every 150 years. Therefore, after 150 years there will be four people, after another 150 years there will be eight people, after another 150 years there will be sixteen people, and so on. It should be noted that this growth rate is actually very conservative. In reality, even with disease, famines, and natural disasters, the world population currently doubles every 40 years or so.
After 32 doublings, which is only 4,800 years, the world population would have reached almost 8.6 billion.
He then states,
Do you see the problem here? Let’s assume “the population doubles every 150 years.” Why are we assuming that? Where did you get that figure? Ken Ham, that figure is on your website, where did you get it from? … Well I know where you got it from; you just made it up . . .You made it up so that the math would work . . . It’s so dishonest . . . You’re starting from a completely invented premise, which was engineered to lead to the conclusion you were looking for. And there’s a lot of that kind of thing at Answers in Genesis, which is why I don’t trust it as a resource.
The answer to his question about where Dr. White got that figure from is in the portion of the article that he read aloud, “this growth rate is actually very conservative . . . In reality . . . the world population currently doubles every 40 years or so.” This was a conservative figure, much lower than the current doubling rate—to make the point that even with a much, much slower doubling rate, you can still get more people than we have today in just a few thousand years. Obviously, we do not know the growth rate from creation. This was just a conservative estimate to make a point, something that is clear from the article. (Walsh also ignores the counterpoint the article makes, “If humans were around millions of years ago, why is the population so small?”)
Actually, we’re somewhat surprised Walsh would use this type of article—one not even written by Ken—to attack Ken! We would have thought Walsh would have used articles we’ve published dealing with dating methods and the age of the earth/universe, of which there are hundreds on our website, many written by Ken.
Was Ken Lying?
Throughout his video, Walsh accuses Ken in harsh terms of mispresenting and mischaracterizing Walsh’s original video, and even demands Ken publicly apologize. He says things such as,
So I am a compromised Christian? No, Ken Ham. You are lying and you know and again you need to apologize because to misrepresent one of your brothers in Christ . . . for your own selfish reasons is shameful.
But Ken was not lying, and the arrogant attitude that Walsh ascribes to Ken cannot be seen in Ken’s literature or in his public presentations. One need only watch Ken’s debate in 2014 with skeptic and atheist Bill Nye “the Science Guy” to see Ken’s gracious and humble response towards those who disagree with him. Ken stated the truth; from what Matt Walsh declared in his videos on social media, we would most definitely claim that he (like many others) is encouraging others to trust man’s interpretation of the evidence over God’s clear Word. Perhaps if he would engage with what we have published, Walsh would understand why we say that and how Genesis is the foundation, directly or indirectly, for all major Christian doctrines.
Our Invitation Still Stands
One article like this is simply not enough space to respond to all of the objections Walsh has to the young-earth view and to Ken Ham’s short response to him, and it would be redundant to do so since we have written copiously on his objections. Responses to Walsh’s objections can be found on our website with a quick search (and answers to many of his objections were linked to in the original blog post Ken wrote).
Additionally, we have publicly invited Walsh to visit the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, and we would like to extend that invitation yet again in this article. And we would be happy to arrange for him to meet with our PhD scientists and also our theologically trained staff. We sincerely hope Walsh will take us up on our offer and visit these two attractions, as well as take the time to meet with the experts we have on the AiG staff. We would appreciate the opportunity to dialogue directly with him and answer his objections to the biblical creation viewpoint.
https://answersingenesis.org/age-of-the-earth/responding-matt-walsh-young-earth-creation/ This article originally appeared on answersingenesis.org