One of the common tactics of believers in Young Earth Creationism, and devotees of Answers in Genesis, is to reply to statements about evolution with the question, “Were you there?” Ken Ham has been pushing this approach since at least 1989, and it’s dishonest horseshit, as I’ve explained at length.
It really is a stupid question, but now my eyes have been opened, as Roger Patterson of AiG explains exactly what the question is intended to do.
“Were you there?” is a great question, but it can’t be left at that, as the author describes being taught. The intent of the question is not to simply dismiss a historical claim out of hand, but to point to God as the Creator. The clever skeptic will respond to the question by turning it back on the Christian, asking them if they were there to witness God creating the universe in six days. And that is where we turn the conversation toward God and the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
My mistake to think it was intended as an honest question. It’s not, and they admit it. It is an evangelical gimmick. The whole point is to get the
clever skeptic into an argument, so the believer can witness the gospel of Jesus Christ to them.
I think I now despise the question even more.
“Were you there?” is not intended to ask a question of personal presence, but to point to God, who was there. It is to expose the worldview and the presuppositions through which the past is interpreted. Of course we know that the person promoting the evolutionary views was not there billions or millions of years ago to witness a fish changing slowly into a land-dwelling creature. The question is intended to help the evolutionist recognize that they are making a historical claim apart from any eyewitness testimony. But Christians do have an eyewitness testimony. But a witness is only as good as his character. The witness we point to is the very Creator Himself—the Triune God of the Bible. The Father, Son, and Spirit were involved in the Creation (Genesis 1:1–2; John 1:1–5; Hebrews 1:1–4).
We know that we can trust what God has said because He is a faithful and truthful God who cannot lie or deny His own perfect character (Titus 1:1–3; Hebrews 6:17–18). Further, God has revealed to us through human authors how He created the universe and the world we live in (Genesis 1–2; 2 Peter 1:20–21). We have an eyewitness testimony that explains the historical claims we make about the age of the Earth, the origin of plants and animals, and the first humans to walk the planet.
It really is as inane and shallow as that: they ask the question so that they have an excuse to claim that God was an eyewitness, because the Bible says so. There is also this assumption that we’re unaware when historical claims are made, and that history can’t be trusted, and is lacking in objective evidence. It’s rotten nonsense all the way through.
By the way, if you haven’t read enough Christianist baloney for the day, there’s another amusing statement in the essay:
Natural selection is a real process that we can observe, and there is nothing unbiblical about new species arising through natural selection. The biblical boundary is of one kind of animal or plant changing into another kind—like a fish changing into an amphibian. In fact, the way God has designed bacteria to adapt to varying environments in the fallen world is a testimony of His power over and care for His creation.
Don’t forget that if you’re ever trapped in an argument with a Hambot: they do accept natural selection and speciation (in fact, they promote a kind of bizarre hyperevolution in which the millions of species now on the planet arose from a few thousand pairs of different “kinds” about 4000 years ago). What they do instead is propose a kind of magical barrier that limits the effects of these changes — a barrier which is undefined, for a vague group called a “kind”, which depending on who you talk to, roughly corresponds to the taxonomic rank of family.