Righting America

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God as Eye Witness | Righting America

by Susan Trollinger

In our last post, we mentioned in passing that Ken Ham and AiG like to refer to Genesis as an “eye witness account” to the creation. Importantly, that is their trump card on evolution.

Readers of this blog will remember that a key rhetorical move that Ham and his colleagues make at the Creation Museum (and elsewhere) is to put mainstream science (which is to say, evolutionary science) on the same epistemological plane as creation science. They do that by way of a curious distinction that they make between observational science and historical science. Whereas observational science consists of observations and experiments that occur in the present and that can be repeated, historical science consists of theories about what happened in the past—phenomena that cannot be observed or repeated. Claims about evolutionary processes are historical science as are claims about the God of the Bible creating the universe in 6 24-hour days less than 10,000 years ago.

By way of this distinction, evolutionary science has no epistemological claim of privilege over creation science. No matter any data to the contrary.

So, there they are—evolutionary science and creation science—on the same epistemological plane. They are equals when it comes to the question of what do we know and how do we know it.

Except Ham and company have a trump card. Unlike evolutionary science, creation science has a witness to the origins it claims. The very text of Genesis is that very witness. As God dictated to Moses (who they say wrote Genesis) what happened as He created the universe, He provided an “eye witness account.” No way evolutionary science can beat that.

But here’s the thing. What is an “eye witness account”? You think of some tragic event. I remember one day a long time ago when a plane crashed just shortly after takeoff. Police and other investigators were trying to figure out what happened. And it turned out that there were people on the ground who saw the plane in the sky and watched it as it crashed. Some said they saw flames coming out of one of the engines. Others said they thought they saw an explosion. Eye witness accounts.

The point is that eye witness accounts are secondary. They aren’t the thing itself. They aren’t the event itself or its causes. They are second-hand observations (more or less accurate) of something else.

How odd that this is Ham and AiG’s ace in the hole. What? God needs an eye witness? It’s not enough that God did it? He also has to serve as his own eye witness? Why would God’s creative action need to be backed up by an eye witness? And how would he serve as an eye witness to his own act?

Sometimes one has to wonder if Ham and AiG trust the text. If it’s the truth, what does God need of an eye witness, least of all himself?