In a series of feature articles prominently displayed on the Answers in Genesis (AiG) website, Creationist Ken Ham seems to promote a point of view that can best be described as postmodern relativism. In an article on searching for silver bullets, Ham writes:
“[U]ltimately, the [evolution versus creation] argument is about how you interpret the facts—and this depends upon your belief about history. The real difference is that we have different ‘histories’…, which we use to interpret the science and facts of the present.”
“Creationists and evolutionists… all have the same evidence—the same facts,” he insists in another article on evidentiary proof, emphasizing that our presuppositions frame how we interpret those facts. “Christians,” he writes, have the Bible and the stories therein provide “a set of presuppositions to build a way of thinking which enables [Christians] to interpret the evidence.” Evolutionists, on the other hand, “have certain beliefs about the past/present that they presuppose, e.g. no God… so they build a different way of thinking to interpret the evidence of the present.”
Ham thinks that creationists should point out that theories are driven by presuppositions rather than evidence. In this way, the creationist can not only justify his own set of interpretations over another but hopefully change people’s minds so that they, in effect, choose the biblical view of creation rather than the scientific view of evolution.
Is Ham channeling Foucault or Derrida here? His comments are strikingly similar to those made by postmodernists at war with Enlightenment principles. For those of us steeped in the scientific method, truth is objective, universal, and its predictions verifiable. Truth is not some warm fuzzy that emerges from tribal customs, pragmatism, or the a priori dictates of a godless worldview. As Richard Rorty put it, truth is “something to be pursued for its own sake, not because it will be good for oneself, or for one’s real or imaginary community.”
We naturalists do not want to preordain our conclusion by privileging a certain way of looking at facts. We want to go where the evidence leads. Postmodern relativism holds that science is wrong to promote universal theories over the many multicultural and local viewpoints. They say that since science has no more of a foundation than personal interpretation of facts and sources there can be no single truth. There are instead only competing contingent truths all informed by the cultural and philosophical presuppositions in which one is immersed. In other words, for postmodernity truth is nothing but an extension of power because after these culture clashes are over the winner essentially decides what is true.
Given that the facts do not lead to young-earth creationism, I guess it’s no surprise that Ham would retreat to the vague “truthiness” of postmodern relativity. Having lost the argument for creation on the merits of the evidence, it’s easy to see why other creationists harbor the idea that a secular conspiracy promotes an erroneous truth in place of the real truth. But I wonder how many dedicated creationist readers of AiG’s web site agree with Ken Ham’s approach to truth, evidence and theory?
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