Honesty is the best policy

So, this cropped up on Facebook. As before, I’m banned from both Ham’s page and AiG’s page for merely talking to another atheist, so couldn’t challenge him directly what this was about (had to wait for some others who weren’t blocked to spot it and call him out on it).HamWhere is the email? Is it so offensive that Ham couldn’t reproduce it? Would his followers be too sensitive for the foul language? Did Houston Atheists send him a large collection child pornography? Did someone link him to one of my more egregious rants? (oh, bloody hell I hope not…)

Well, it wouldn’t be in Ham’s best interest to cite it in full, would it… because you can actually find it here. Unless there’s some other Houston Atheists. Or some other homeschooling conference held in Texas in August. Or some other Ken Ham of some other Answers in Genesis. Or some other 30th-31st May 2013. If you read it yourself, in an unbiased way at least, the letter itself seems fairly polite. It’s strongly worded, sure, but it simply lays out the position; that Houston Atheist’s “vehemently oppose the indoctrination of children with radical fundamentalist theology under the false guise of science”. This is the position shared by many, and there are few (if any) ways of tiptoeing around the subject in a way that makes people feel better about it. There is no way of saying “I think you’re wrong and can prove it” that isn’t going to come across as pretty mean – you just have to grow a thick skin and Deal With It by proving yourself right.

Ken Ham, though? No way, no way at all. He just blindly asserts that the email is rude and unprofessional, and his followers lap it up unquestioningly – such is the protective bubble he keeps them in. No questions asked, no attempt to judge for themselves, not a faint whiff of curiosity about what the email actually said. Not one of his followers asked to see the evidence in the form of quotes or extracts, or even the thing in full. This is the absolute opposite to how things like science or free-thinking philosophy works, where you have to – shock horror – prove what you’re saying by showing it or demonstrating it. I know it’s quite a scary prospect to actually back up stuff and have people call you out when you don’t sufficiently do it, but it’s flown us to the moon and cures cancer, so there must be something to that method. This is the central problem with most creationists; they won’t back themselves up, or if they do it’s to the same insular sources again and again that are effortlessly debunked.

Now, this post isn’t an attack on Ham being religious or believing in God. Really, it isn’t. If I was into that sort of thing, I would do shit like send John Sentamu death threats, disown by Christian Facebook friends for merely existing, and start telling Buddhists that their religion is wrong because Jesus married a 9 year-old Aisha in order to ward off vengeful Thetans. No, this is an attack on Ken Ham being dishonest. He is making statements about something that he hasn’t cited, and we’re supposed to blindly accept what he says. Maybe the later blog post he promises will raise actual quotations (I won’t hold my breath, though) but right now he’s already poisoning the well without citing a single quote – buttering up his audience to accept that Houston Atheist’s egregiously insulted him no matter what words they actually said even if he does get around to quoting them.

It’s about how we go about doing things that’s important – what Ken Ham believes is trivial, but why he believes it is everything. And why he believes it evidently sucks.

So I have made a statement that says Ken Ham is being dishonest by feeding his followers with blind assertions with no evidence – I’ve put the screencap above to demonstrate it. I’ve then said that the email from Houston Atheists is perfectly fine, and not a foul attack on Christianity, and linked to it to demonstrate that – if anyone disagrees, then they have the material at hand to quote what is offensive, unprofessional and rude about it.

Because that’s what honest people do; and what Ken Ham does not do.

Addendum: He has released the promised blog posts and my response is “oh bugger off, Ken“. Selectively quoting the email, and claiming it wasn’t signed by someone even though it was signed by the organisation – which, you know, people can do if they like – and conveniently not quoting the parts where they offer to have a suitable venue, moderator and suggest an experienced ‘evolutionist’ for their ‘side’ – instead, trying to pretend as if such things were his own great ideas. Again, you can check the full text of the email in the link above if you disagree that this is what they said.

And just as before, not even one of his followers decided to ask for more context or the full email.