My Response to Ken Ham About My Creation Museum Visit

The number one post of mine in over seven years, with over 14 thousand hits to date, is "An Atheist Visits the Creation Museum in Kentucky And Tells All." The hits came from (in descending order) The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, Reddit/atheism, and Dr. James McGrath's blog post Cowboys and Dragons. McGrath, an Associate Professor of Religion at Butler University, Indianapolis, wrote this:
Answers in Genesis is not defending the Christian faith, it is turning it into something that can be easily ridiculed and dismissed. The real enemies of the Christian faith in our time are not atheists who respond by offering such well-deserved ridicule, but those who distort Christianity into belief in dragons, substituting that in the place of self-sacrificial love, humility, and service to others.
McGrath also posted what he calls the cutest response to creationism.

Now Ken Ham has responded in a post of his own (which I'll link to at the end, unlike him). He claims I was unethical and visited under false pretenses, saying:
You probably know that word “chutzpah.” (A similar term is “audacity.”) I am using that Yiddish word to describe the actions of an atheist who visited our Creation Museum last week. He got in free by cheating, toured the museum, and afterwards proceeded to blast the museum on his blog-—a blog which is devoted to, as he calls it, “debunking Christianity.”

How did he get in free? He played on the generosity and sympathy of a museum staff member. The man came to the museum desk and declared that he only had a short time to spend at the museum and did not have the money in his budget to pay for a ticket. Now, he did admit that he was skeptical of the museum’s content. But the museum staff member, wanting to reach out to a person who expressed a financial need and also hoping the museum might challenge his thinking, allowed him in at no charge. We very much want skeptics to visit.

Conveniently, though, what didn’t he tell her? Well, that he was really at the museum as an atheist who was wanting to go through the museum and then would be blasting it—without having to pay. We have since learned that the man has written five books in the past few years and advertises himself as a speaker against Christianity—I doubt very much he is the pauper he pretended to be when he came here.
Yes it is true, I got into the Creation Museum for free. I didn't expect it when I told Susan, the head cashier, that I was a skeptic. But she offered and I accepted. My ex-mother-in-law took her daughter and grandson to visit the museum about a year ago and loved it. So when she heard I was speaking at a Freethinkers group in Covington, Kentucky, she suggested I check it out. Since it wasn't that far out of my way home, I thought I would at least drive past it. That's all I initially thought I would do. Then I pulled into the parking lot. I meandered inside. I asked Susan how much it costs to get in. She told me $29.

I said, "Well, I don't know. I'm a skeptic."
Susan: "Are you open-minded?"
John: "Yes, sure."
Susan: "Well then, I'll give you my pass and a ticket to see the Planetarium presentation."
John: "Thanks."

There is nothing about this conversation that indicated I didn't have the money if I wanted to purchase a ticket. I don't have that much money, people here know that. The question on my mind was whether it was worth it to buy a ticket. Perhaps because I was wearing traveling clothes and didn't expect to be seen by anyone I looked like a pauper, I don't know. But it was not intentional.

Another thing. When I said I was open-minded I was contrasting myself with the close-mindedness of Christians. How do we know who is the open-minded person? The one who is willing to learn from others and to adjust one's beliefs and conclusions in light of new information. It's the person who is willing to test what they think against the cold hard evidence. This is not playing a word game here. I really am an open-minded person when contrasted with most Christians. By far the vast majority of Christian believers are close-minded. They have the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The vast majority of them are just as sure of their faith as the militant Muslims who flew planes into the Twin Towers on 9/11, except that they just don't believe their God would ask them to do such a horrific deed. An open-minded Christian would be open to read books outside the box, visit a Freethinkers meeting, and to question their faith with the only objective test to know which religion is true, if there is one.

Furthermore, I did not visit the museum in order to write anything about it, but the ignorance was too massive to ignore. I can understand Ken Ham thinking otherwise, but them's the facts.

Ken goes on to say he isn't upset, since in the first place, maybe I will "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ." Well, maybe, if the Bible can be shown to have sufficient evidence for it along with the necessary relevance for my life. I'm always looking for these twin truths. Maybe there is something I have missed? I have read a ton of Christian apologetic books and I still do so, just in case I've missed something. I have attended Christian apologetical conferences too. But sadly, as I've written before, all I ever see is more and more special pleading and intellectual gerrymandering. All I see are more and more books like this one. Or like this one. Someone please, do something about this. The present state of Christian apologetics is a dismal failure.

I even co-wrote a book with Dr. Randal Rauser, one of the best Christian apologists, titled God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions.Even Christians on Amazon are saying Randal Rauser couldn't answer my questions and/or arguments, as did biblical scholar Robert M. Price.

Ken Ham says of me, secondly, that
...because he is an atheist, this man is only acting consistently with his worldview. I understand his actions, though I certainly don’t condone them, for stealing is against all sorts of biblical teachings, including one of the Ten Commandments. But you see, he has no absolute standard by which he lives his life. So why is it even wrong in his secular worldview to misrepresent himself to us? He can justify being a cheater.

So I understand his mindset. I really do. If there is no God, how could an atheist ever say what is right or wrong? By what standard can he make that determination? If each person decides for himself what is right or wrong, then he can argue that what he did at the museum was not wrong. Secular atheistic humanism is a belief system about what we supposedly came from (nothing), what our purpose is in life (nothing), and what happens when we die (which again is nothing). Those who believe this way are only demonstrating the truth of Romans 1—they are suppressing the truth of God’s existence in unrighteousness. They claim to be wise, but Romans 1 states that they have become fools.
As I said in my post on visiting the Creation Museum, this seems to be one of the major factors why Ham and other Christians deny the fact of evolution, fear. They think an atheist has no basis for morality so the world will go to hell in a hand-basket as more people accept evolution. There are three things to say in response. One) no one should reject the evidence for a conclusion (i.e., evolution) because he or she rejects the consequences. A noble lie is still a lie. Two) The consequences of accepting evolution are most emphatically not what Ham and other Christians believe. As I said in my post on visiting the Creation Museum, the crime, rampant sex and drug use we see in America have a multifaceted number of causes. Three) Atheists are moral people and have good reasons to be moral devoid of the belief in the Christian God. Ham and other Christians should read Greg Epstein's book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe.Or, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's book, Morality Without God?Or better yet, my personal favorite, chapter 5, "Can We Be Good Without God?," in my book Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity.If they are the open-minded ones rather than me, then they should be willing to read these books. I read their books. Why won't they read mine and others like them?

Ken Ham:
It also did not make me mad when I learned that as this atheist was leaving the museum, he left a business card with our guest services staff member—the one who had been so kind to him. The card had the words “debunking Christianity” on it along with his website address. Now he wanted her to know what he was really doing at the museum, as if he was gloating, “Ha! I deceived you.” But this behavior was consistent with his atheism.
Okay okay, I am a self-promoter. In this case I suppose it bit me in the butt. I handed Susan my card because I wanted her to learn who I am and to perhaps read my works. I actually handed my card to three workers including her. I wanted Ken to know I was there. I even asked if he was there. I wanted to talk to him. I was told by Susan that she didn't know if Ken was there and I dropped it.

Ken Ham:
Like most atheists who write negatively about their museum experience, he simply described some of the exhibits and, with lots of hand-waving, just said we were wrong. His lengthy piece really offered no real rebuttals of the scientific displays. He mocked the exhibits more than anything.
I mostly reported what I saw. No, I did not think I had to offer much by way of rebuttals since reasonable scientific-minded people see what I see, utter and complete ignorance. The evidence is there though, most certainly.

Ken Ham:
This atheist certainly saw and heard God’s Word in the museum, and we should pray for him. I understand that he comes from a church background, but apparently he did not receive any effective apologetics teaching, or perhaps it may have been weak teaching. I don’t know. So let’s pray for this atheist, that God will use His Word to convict him and lead him to salvation.
First, I welcome prayers, but let's test them. People have been praying for me for about twenty years now. I've even offered a way for Christians to test petitionary prayers for themselves right here, should they be open-minded about doing so. The one thing lacking in these type of prayers is that believers fail to specify a time frame when they want the prayer to be answered. Instead, they offer up nebulous prayers with no specified time for them to be answered. Christian, when would you like this prayer of yours to be answered? So far it hasn't worked yet. Pick a day or a week or a month or a year and ask for your request to be answered by that time. After all, surely you should tell your God exactly what you want, right? Doesn't he already know? Then do it.

Second, Ken says I didn't receive any effective apologetics training. I have one thing to say in response, *Cough*.

Ken Ham concludes:
Meanwhile, because of cheaters like this man, we are greatly tightening up our procedures to make sure that people like this don’t take advantage of our generosity just so they can mock us. Actually, this museum incident shows he did not come to the Creation Museum with any other intent but to mock and speak against Christianity. Even before his visit, his atheistic, blind-faith religion had already biased what he would write about the Creation Museum!

We’ve had a number of instances of atheists not telling the truth (for them there is no such thing as “truth” anyway) in order to take advantage of us at the Creation Museum. For instance, TV commentator and comedian Bill Maher and his video crew lied and broke the rules to sneak into AiG. Here is what I wrote about that incident in 2007. And then there was this incident in 2010. And there have been other instances. Actually, the atheists’ behavior just illustrates Romans 1 over and over again—they work to suppress the truth because they know in their hearts that God created (Romans 1: 18–19).
I am so sorry about this, but again it was not my intention to walk through the Creation Museum, nor was it my intention to write up my experiences inside of it. It just happened. I probably would not have walked through the museum if it wasn't offered to me for free. I was driving home and I had several hours to go yet. Will they now offer skeptics an application to fill out before allowing them inside for free? I do appreciate their generosity, I really do. But if their God can change minds then they should not limit what God can do with even the most hardened skeptics. Either the evidence is convincing or it is not. Either God can change people's minds (like he supposedly did with Saul of Tarsus, or James the brother of Jesus), or he can't. I hope they reconsider. Even if an atheist gives them a bad review after visiting, as they say in Hollywood, "there is no such thing as bad publicity." Any press is still good press. So unfortunately I think I did them a favor. They should welcome it, I suppose, and Ken does.

To read Ken Ham's post click here.

[Edit: My Further Response to Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis.