I recently got into a discussion with a few street preachers.
The conversation was somewhat interesting — not interesting meaning “stimulating,” of course, but interesting meaning “amazing what some people believe.” For example, they told me that Catholics aren’t real Christians. While for some definitions of “real Christians,” they may have a point — the Pope is as different from Christ as humanly possible — absolutely all Catholics consider themselves true Christians.
Anyway, the youngest of the group is, if nothing, a good arguer and convinced me that I could not write off the book he was handing me, Answers to the 4 BIG Questions, simply because Ken Ham was a co-author. (“Ken Ham!?” I exclaimed, thinking of his laughable position on evolution. “That guy is a joke!” Our street-preaching friend noted correctly that my perceptions of Ham did not necessarily merit outright rejection of the book. But it turns out, my hunch was quite correct.)
This book goes off the tracks at step one: Picking four big questions. Without even going into the answers, here are my critiques of the questions themselves:
Question 1. “But doesn’t evolution explain our existence?”
No. No, it doesn’t, and no scientist would say that evolution by itself “explains our existence.” As Carl Sagan famously noted, if one really wanted to make an apple pie from scratch, one would first have to create a universe, fill it with atoms, etc., etc. Evolution is part of “how we got here” but does not and could not explain the whole universe. (Any believers reading should take note that most atheists are — at least intellectually! — fine knowing that science has not explained why the universe exists at all. We don’t feel the need to pretend to know that a mythical being created it.)
Question 2. “How did different ‘races’ arise?”
If that is one of the four biggest questions on your mind, I can only assume you are racist. But Biblical literalists always surprise me, and apparently if God created exactly two people — Adam and Eve — then we should not expect to see so many races, especially without evolution, making Africans, Asians, Native Americans, Europeans and the like a direct challenge to your notion of God.
I remember seeing a question regarding skin color in a science museum as a child. I understand that melanin causes skin pigmentation and is important in resisting sun damage, so with a rudimentary understanding of evolution we might expect populations living in areas with a lot of sun — e.g. Africa, not so much England — to have darker skin.
Not a very perplexing question.
Question 3. “Cain’s wife–who could she have been?”
This is the part where I start laughing. If one takes Genesis as a parable or myth, it’s a pointless question.
But to Biblical literalists, it’s significant. This book actually states that one of Adam and Eve’s other children became Cain’s wife. Of course, this leaves the assumption that one of the first, few humans on the face of the earth decided to run away with the murderer of her own brother to start a thriving family. Then again, the Old Testament is almost always that messed up.
Question 4. Does God exist?
Probably the only question in the book that is legitimately one of the big ones.
Of course, my answer to this question is “depends on how you define God.” The Christian God is a contradiction in terms and probably cannot exists. Some god could possibly exist, but I have not seen proof of this and remain unconvinced. Fair enough, right?
In general — terrible book, terrible questions, and as always, atrocious pseudo-science from the Answers in Genesis people.