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Jul 13 2014

Ken Ham knows

This article is a bit old, but it recently popped up in one of my news feeds, and I had to smile a little.

Time is actually a created entity. The first verse of the Bible reads: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis added).

A study of this verse reveals that God created time, space, and matter on the first day of Creation Week. No one of these can have a meaningful existence without the others. God created the space-mass-time universe. Space and matter must exist in time, and time requires space and matter. Time is only meaningful if physical entities exist and events transpire during time.

“In the beginning . . .” is when time began! There was no time before time was created!

It’s a classic example of how superstition can corrupt your thinking to the point that you can look right at the truth and even report what you are seeing, without ever actually seeing the truth you are looking at. If there was no time before time began, then there has never been a time when time (and space and matter and energy) did not already exist. In other words, there has never been a time when the material universe did not already exist. And since there has never been a time when the material universe did not already exist, then there has never been a time when it could have been created. Not even by a God.

Ken Ham knows this. He looks right at it and reports it to us. And yet, as you can see by the way he phrases it, he still believes that at some point in time, God created a universe that did not exist before that point. It’s a self-contradiction, but it’s what he believes, despite what he knows.

He even elaborates on the implications of what he believes.

When I’m teaching children, I like to explain it this way. There was no “before” God created. There was not even “nothing”! There was God existing in eternity.

“Eternity” is a period of time, which means that before the beginning of time, there was no eternity either. God himself could not exist before the beginning of time, because there’s no such thing as “before the beginning of time.” It’s not a question of lack of power, it’s a lack of opportunity. There was no “before.” There was, as Ken Ham himself points out, “not even ‘nothing’.”

But think about what he’s saying so casually. There was not even “nothing”? So much for the old canard about the scientific universe coming from nothing! If there has never been any “nothing” for the universe to come from, then obviously it did not come from “nothing.” Ken Ham knows this, he even explains it to young children, but he still routinely insists that, to be an atheist, you have to believe that the universe came from nothing.

You have to wonder if it makes him nervous to wander so close to the limits of his worldview, especially when he immediately retreats into the familiar territory of Believer’s Agnosticism.

This is something humans, as finite created beings, can never really understand. That’s why the Bible makes it clear there is always a “faith” aspect to our understanding of God. Now, biblical faith is not against reason, but such things go beyond our understanding.

Pay no attention to the self-contradictions in the argument, folks! Assume that faith is not against reason, and then use faith instead of reason. Just take my word for it that you’re too stupid to understand what I’m saying, and don’t worry about how “eternity” can exist before time if there is no “before.” And by the way, did you remember to support my ministry this month?

Ken Ham’s hand-wavy obfuscations aside, what he’s really making clear is that to believe the Bible, you have to be willing to accept self-contradictory stories—aka “lies”— in order to be a faithful Christian in Ken Ham’s book. He knows the truth: that there has never been a time when it would have been possible for God to create the material universe. He simply prefers to believe something that contradicts the truth. And ultimately, isn’t that what faith is all about? If it were really true, it wouldn’t be faith, it would be science.

21 comments

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  1. 1
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    This is something humans, as finite created beings, can never really understand.

    Defeatism will set you free!

  2. 2
    Al Dente

    Ham is saying his god is unknowable and yet Ham claims to know what his god wants.

  3. 3
    Marcus Ranum

    biblical faith is not against reason

    It is! Belief without evidence is the exact opposite of reason.

  4. 4
    Pierce R. Butler

    “Eternity” is a period of time, which means that before the beginning of time, there was no eternity either.

    Various metaphysicians (metaphysicists?) would argue against this, and they even have a historical point.

    Back in the 19th century, and I dunno how far earlier, many philosophers drew distinctions between the “eternal” – that indeterminate, undetectable, infinite dimension occupied by God & Co – and the “temporal” – the physical universe we all know and (on good days) love. The latter term became “secular”* in our time, from a Latin root meaning “century” (note the French siecle and the Spanish siglo), implying existence subject to material events.

    On any sort of closer examination, the concept of “eternity” pops like a bubble of non-evidence and incomprehensibility, but that seems enough to trigger an awe reflex among the believers, which they then take as “proof” of its right(eous)ness.

    * Note that the $1 bill includes a seal with the words “Novus Ordo Seclorum”, usually translated as “New Order of the Ages” – the US founders’ somewhat justified boast of originality in political structures. If confronted with hyperchristians demanding that atheists must for some reason refuse to use currency marked “In God We Trust” (and if fortunate enough to possess a paper dollar at the time), pull one out, point to that last word under the mystical pyramid-with-an-eyeball, and counter-insist that they renounce all such – literally – secular documents. Most believers’ skulls are too thick for literal head-explosions, but at least you should get some enjoyable splutterings.

    1. 4.1
      Deacon Duncan

      The thing about eternal vs temporal is that even if you make a distinction between the two, they are still defined in terms of a chronological relationship, since causes precede effects and since actions are a form of change, which in turn is a difference between conditions at one point in time and conditions at some other point in time. In order for any “eternal” force or agent to act to cause the universe to come into existence, eternity must be chronological.

      Of course, all kinds of fun also ensues whenever you try to put eternity entirely outside of temporality. “Eternity with God” ceases to be “live forever” if you try and make eternity non-chronological. Likewise, “eternal punishment” becomes something other than an endless experience of suffering, since there’s no time for anyone to suffer, or to perceive themselves as suffering. The blessings of heaven and the torments of hell are reduced to something smaller than the tiniest sliver of the tiniest subdivision of a second.

      Or imagine time as a long filmstrip stretched out somewhere below God, and God looking down on it from some kind of transcendent “above.” Sure, that makes God seem all ineffable and mysterious and awesome and stuff, but it also means that “past” and “future” do not exist for Him—everything is “below.” Which means you can test God’s power to intervene in the temporal world by praying for Him to alter the past. Well, “past” for us, but no different than “future” to God. If He can’t change the past, then He can’t change the future either, since they’re both the same thing from His perspective.

      Plus, from that perspective, it’s meaningless to speak of anything being created at all. It’s just there, eternally. From the perspective of a timeless eternity, the universe has no chronological beginning and no chronological end. You can’t say, “At this point in eternity, the universe began, and earlier than that there was no universe,” because that violates the requirement that eternity have no time (and thus no chronological order). Even going to metaphysical extremes in trying to put God into some kind of space He could create from, you end up with an eternity in which the material universe is uncreated and uncreatable.

    2. 4.2
      alanuk

      It is well known that Americans worship the almighty dollar. “In God We Trust” merely states that this is your new god now. Rather like Aaron and the golden calf. Or, having gone off the gold standard, “Please accept this piece of paper in lieu of a real golden calf”.

      1. abusedbypenguins

        The insulting stupidity on the back of US currency is easily redacted with a green sharpie. I’m on my third sharpie and one will redact a lot of currency. It couldn’t read “In each other we trust” or ” In the treasury we trust” or “In the constitution we trust” but no, it reads “In imagination we trust”. That is an insulting stupidity based on religion, which is dumber than dirt.

  5. 5
    Menyambal

    It’s kinda funny, Ken selling this idea. It really isn’t supported in the Bible.

    In all my Christian life and atheist reading, I have only twice encountered the idea that God exists *outside* of time. (The first was a philosophy professor who seem really pissed that we didn’t know that. The second was a creationist book by …. Ken Ham.) It isn’t a popular idea.

    There are many instances of God living inside of time. God spent six days creating, then took to walking in the garden in the cool of the evenings. Later on, he is hanging out when Satan shows up, they make a bet about Job, and they fuck him up and watch the aftermath in real time.

    There are none of God living outside of time, just a few references to his patience and long life, that could maybe be interpreted as Ken Ham does. And then Jesus’s idea of BRB.

    It’s all Ken Ham, and it is bad.

  6. 6
    colnago80

    If the current hypotheses of the origin of the universe being the result of an instability in the quantum vacuum are correct, then the quantum vacuum existed before the universe existed. In fact, if the multiverse hypothesis is correct, then other universes may have existed before the one which we inhabit did.

    1. 6.1
      Deacon Duncan

      That’s also a possibility, however what that says then is that this particular material universe is part of a larger material context in which time (at least) exists. In other words, it pushes back the boundaries of what constitutes “the beginning,” with no consolation to the superstitious of course.

  7. 7
    Thorne

     

    There was God existing in eternity.

    But if God created Time, then eternity ended. Which means it wasn’t eternal after all!

  8. 8
    John Morales

    There was no time before time was created!

    An incoherent assertion, because the concept of creation relies on the concept of temporal sequence.

  9. 9
    Ed

    Does this idiot realize how incoherent he is?

    It is logically possible that God created everything at that this includes other worlds with intelligent beings. In fact a fair number of Christians and other believers are open to this possibility.

    Ken Ham-baffling possibility # 2—Some atheists doubt that there is life on other planets based on the opinion that conditions favoring it are highly unusual and unlikely to exist in multiple places. Others don’t think it’s too far fetched to imagine several planters with life or even advanced civilizations, but that they would probably be so widely scattered as to never come into contact with or even knowledge of each other.

    To sum it up, here is Ham`s narrow universe of false alternatives: Either God created life on earth and only earth or there is no God and it evolved all over the place because evolution is magic spontaneous generation and if it’s true, the universe should be filled with space ship traffic jams.

    Everything he didn’t think of:

    –God exists and creates (through either fundamentalist-style creation or guided evolution) whatever he pleases anywhere he pleases and doesn’t have to reveal it to humans in scripture anymore than he had to reveal antibiotics or subatomic particles. The same basic idea could be true in a polytheistic universe; just substitute “the gods” for “God.”

    –There is no God and life evolves only very specific, sensitive conditions. These may be limited to earth or to earth and a handful of other places.

    –The material conditions for life to evolve are relatively common across the universe and require no gods to explain it.
    ——–

    Furthermore, if earth is the only place with life, this is arguably VERY incompatible with theism and creationism. Far from proving that the universe is custom made for humans, it would seem to show a completely meaningless cosmos in which living things have no place outside of a tiny, insignificant corner of mindless infinity.

    It is absurd to believe that a human-centered creation would be almost entirely made up of places completely hostile to any kind of life and that the stars were intentionally created as nothing more than pretty lights in our night sky–even though we can’t even see most of them.

    It would be like a solipsist imagining that the bright city skyline he sees outside his apartment window was made to light his home when he’s out of light bulbs or to serve as landmarks to guide him to the neighborhood liquor store.

    There were two worthwhile scientists named Bacon, but so far none named Ham.

  10. 10
    Ed

    PS–Sorry to talk so much about this issue, but I masochistically read more of Ham`s inane musings on alien life and there is yet another problem with it.

    He says there couldn’t be aliens because only humans can be saved by Jesus and if there were aliens they couldn’t be saved, so therefore they don’t exist.

    Why this is mind bogglingly stupid:

    Christians believe in angels, that some angels went bad and became demons, and that demons can’t be saved. Maybe the same is true for aliens. They’d better be good or else, because Jesus salvation magic only works for humans. Hey, if some angels managed to stay off God’s sh– list, our friends from outer space can, as well.

    Then again, it’s also possible that extraterrestrials aren’t good OR evil, and/or don’t have souls, thus making a salvation vs damnation narrative for them unnecessary.

    Ham has no concept of multiple logical possibilities. He’s like a man who says “there are two and only two ways that I can get to work–a hang glider or a unicycle! Those are the only two choices and you’re some kind of subversive communist if you tell me any different!”

    I wish he would decide that the only two ways to express himself are telepathy and whispering in backwards Latin.

    1. 10.1
      Deacon Duncan

      What’s sad is that I don’t think he’s stupid, but his religion makes such horrendous demands on his credulity that rationality simply buckles under the load. And just like in the emperor’s new clothes, he thinks he’s demonstrating some superior virtue by ignoring common sense and insisting he can see what isn’t there. It’s a classic example of why religion is harmful to rational thought.

  11. 11
    culuriel

    I’ve always been amazed at how easily believers accept that their supernatural deity was not created and has existed forever, but insist that the universe must have a finite beginning, and had to, had to, be created in order to exist. It’s so much easier to accept that the universe we can reasonably accept the existence of has always existed in one form or another, and didn’t need creating. Instead, believers insist this cannot be true, and requires the eternal existence of an uncreated, supernatural deity to explain the existence of any universe.

  12. 12
    marcus

    This does not necessarily contradict your reasoning and it certainly does not support the Hamster but I like the clean logic of it.
    Stephen Hawking:
    “Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang, are simply not defined, because there’s no way one could measure what happened at them. This kind of beginning to the universe, and of time itself, is very different to the beginnings that had been considered earlier. These had to be imposed on the universe by some external agency. There is no dynamical reason why the motion of bodies in the solar system can not be extrapolated back in time, far beyond four thousand and four BC, the date for the creation of the universe, according to the book of Genesis. Thus it would require the direct intervention of God, if the universe began at that date. By contrast, the Big Bang is a beginning that is required by the dynamical laws that govern the universe. It is therefore intrinsic to the universe, and is not imposed on it from outside.”
    http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html

    1. 12.1
      Deacon Duncan

      Right, there’s still a chance that time, per se, began at some point prior to the Big Bang, and the Big Bang merely serves as a barrier beyond which we cannot see. Even though we can’t directly observe any prior beginning of time, however, we can still know logically that God cannot create time, due to the fact that all changes, including creation, are contingent on the existence of time. For a creation to occur, there must be some point in time where the created thing does not already exist, and then some cause must occur, and then at some subsequent point in time the created thing must begin to exist as a consequence of the prior operation of the cause. That’s all strictly chronological and dependent on the existence of time.

      Or to put it another way, a thing is not created if it has existed for all of time, and the one thing we can be sure that exists for all of time is Time itself. There has never been a time when time did not exist, and therefore there has never been a time when any God would have any opportunity to create it.

  13. 13
    aziraphale

    I think you’re being a bit rigid here.

    Did Tolkien create Middle Earth at a point in Middle Earth’s time earlier than any recorded event? No, his creation of Middle Earth was not an event in that timeline at all. It makes no sense to ask when in that timeline it happened.

    Is it so incredible that the same could be true of God’s creation of this universe?

    1. 13.1
      sqlrob

      Is it so incredible that the same could be true of God’s creation of this universe?

      Yes.

      We have evidence for Tolkien. Where’s the evidence for God?

    2. 13.2
      Deacon Duncan

      The reason that works with Tolkien is because Tolkien exists in the context of a greater reality, of which time is a fundamental dimension. The time dimension inside “the Middle Earth” is a derived dimension that depends on the larger enclosing context.

      For that to be analogous to our universe, you would need to assume that God exists in the context of a larger enclosing reality of which time was a fundamental component. In that case, however, God still did not create time. The only thing that changes is that the Big Bang ends up not being the true origin of the material universe. Creationism still has the same problems though, because creation is a change in conditions, and a change is a difference between conditions at one point in time and conditions at some other point in time. In other words, time is a prerequisite for change, and thus for any sort of creation. God cannot create time, he can only create things if time is already there.

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