Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Use of Fear by Answers in Genesis

Ken Ham, president of the Creationist organization Answers in Genesis, recently posted an essay on his website warning Christians of the “new atheists.” It’s nothing more than the same old tactic of trying to scare people in supporting him, but I wanted to discuss it briefly. Ham starts by saying:

We’ve warned you about them before on our website—but now they’re on a much more aggressive march all across America. No longer are they just staying in their classrooms or writing books and articles in the comfort of their offices. They are “the new atheists,” and they are aggressively going after your children, your liberties, and your faith!

Right. So we’re supposed to stay out of sight and out of mind while Christians get to say whatever they want in the public arena. Ken Ham smells like a freedom hater to me. As for atheists trying to go after Christians’ children, liberties, and faith…well, if educating children how to think for themselves is what all that means, then sure. Is it wrong for children to learn how to make choices for themselves and how to look beyond the Bible to gain knowledge about the world around them? Obviously, Ham would think it’s wrong after seeing him in the documentary Friends of God brainwashing children with the line: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!” Ham knows that religion loses too many true believers once people start thinking rationally.

Ham then goes into a long elaboration on how terrible it is that atheists dare express their opinions, particularly Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. To me, it just looks like Ham’s scared of Christians having to share the spotlight, but of course he uses fear to rile up his supporters:

Evolutionary indoctrination has produced generations (even in the church) who doubt the Bible. Barna Research discovered that of teenagers today who call themselves born-again Christians, only 9% believe there is such a thing as absolute truth. These young people are ripe for “secular evangelists” like Dawkins and Harris.

I automatically question how accurate that 9% figure is (it seems like it should be much higher), but it’s all nothing more than Orwellian scare tactics to keep people from learning something on their own. When Ham paints atheism as something to be feared, people close themselves off to understanding it. It works all the time. Just look at the US after 9/11 and the lead up to war with Iraq. A majority of Americans closed themselves off from rational thought out of fear right when we most needed to be reasonable. Ham’s trying to achieve the same thing.

Finally, how else could a religious leader finish except to ask for money?

As we begin this new year, I ask you to consider what you might do to partner with us. The website and future museum are wonderful ways we can counter the atheists’ message of meaninglessness and hopelessness—and offer the precious gospel instead.

Once again, painting atheism as something it’s not. *Sigh*

To sum it all up, I wanted to share this letter because it displays one of my major problems with organized religion. Almost all are based on fear and use fear to maintain power. The only reason this tactic perseveres is because fear is the best way to keep people in line. No free, civilized society should stand for it. Now, I'm sure Ken Ham is sincere about his beliefs, and I have no problem with that, but that doesn't mean should be allowed to scare people into believing the same thing. It's coercive and ethically wrong.

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