This could be the last post on Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate that I have been preoccupied with this week (links to: part 1 and part 2). My memory of the details is fading, I can’t stand their voices anymore to watch replays and I think I said almost all I had to say anyway.
There was one part of Ken Ham’s presentation that made me appreciate the overall Bible story more than ever. Of course it won’t make me into a Christian and most of it is just silly – God created the universe with all life in it in six days, the snake and the apple, original sin, Christ as the only savior and resurrection of the dead bodies is just too much to swallow or even take seriously. Ham, however, takes it all rather literally, the story of the flood, the building of the Ark, and 6,000 year old universe, all of it.
Bill Nye repeatedly told him that there are millions of Christians out there who do not believe in YEC, Young Earth Creation, but it didn’t stop Ham even for a second. He wasn’t afraid to bring it out in the open – they might call themselves Christians but if they don’t believe the word of the Bible it’s a question of their faith, not of his theory. I quite like his honesty here. Instead of defending fellow believers he defended the word of God.
Anyway, this the story of creation as presented by Ken Ham:
This might be too “complete” to comprehend, with a typical mnemonic “Seven Cs” title that is supposed to make it easier to remember and big arrows showing correlations that might be fascinating to Christians but of not much importance to us. Here’s the simpler version:
Let’s walk through it as it might overlay Vedic explanation of what has really happened.
Creation in that picture is our Vaikuṇṭha – life was perfect, there was no suffering, and even animals were vegetarians (big point, will address later).
Corruption is biting an apple in their version and we don’t have an exact equivalent of it because in our “origin of jīva” issue exact circumstances still remain a mystery, not to mention that some believe there was no falldown at all.
Catastrophe is their flood, some kind of punishment for whatever reasons that doesn’t really make sense. We have periodical destructions between yugas and mahā yugas so that flood is probably a real thing without any particular significance and we wouldn’t have put it on our version of this chart.
Confusion is their pre-Christ period when slowly but steadily humanity degraded and lost the way. For us it’s probably Kali Yuga and the time when India was overrun by Buddhists and Vedas lost their position as the only source of spiritual knowledge. Even impersonalists followers of Śańkara didn’t add much clarity.
Christ is Christ, the only opportunity of redemption and salvation. We have Lord Caitanya but really any guru in the proper paramparā is your personal Christ, besides, we don’t need a single point of salvation, our spiritual progress is spread over millions and millions of lifetimes, we are not tied to one particular point in history, we just get placed wherever we are supposed to be.
Cross is redemption itself, conveniently carried out by Son of God on behalf of the entire humanity for thousands years to come. That’s just initiation and surrender, ahaḿ tvāḿ sarva-pāpebhyo moment. Important but, again, not a singular point for everyone for all times. Maybe we can compare it to the appearance of Lord Caitanya but Holy Name was as no less powerful before Him either, Kṛṣṇa has never left a single conditioned soul without means of attaining Him, even if with slower methods like performing our varṇāśrama duties.
Human birth as a follower of Lord Caitanya is extremely beneficial but that doesn’t mean everyone else before Him went to hell forever and ever, that’s just absurdity of Christian world view that will always puzzle us. Bill Nye pointed it out, too – what of people who lived their lives, were religious according to their traditions, but died without ever hearing about Jesus? Why do they have to go to hell for all eternity? Why don’t they get a chance of salvation?
Consummation is our return to the spiritual world, happens after we die, though we can achieve liberation and direct service to Kṛṣṇa even while in our present bodies, no need to explain a lot here.
Now, I titled this article “Ham’s circle” – it isn’t a circle, it’s a semi-circle, a one time deviation forced on all human beings and poor animals, too, for the crime committed by Adam and Eve, the original sin. Even arrows in the complete version of the same diagram go in one direction. It isn’t a circle in our model either, we reach the abode from where we do not have to return, yad gatvā na nivartante (BG 15.6), so why circle?
Because our independence is eternal and so potential for turning away from the Lord and seeking independent enjoyment is always there. We did it once, we might do it again. We don’t have to, we will not be forced to – a point that followers of “no falldown” theory can’t seem to comprehend. Considering eternity of our souls we should make innumerable number of trips down here, get saved by the Lord, say sorry, and then do it again, quite a familiar pattern of behavior in this world as it is.
So, their map of history is not that far from ours and this suggests that we all receive the same spiritual knowledge from the same source but details are slightly different. It wouldn’t be very difficult to straighten up Christianity and bring it in total agreement with the Vedas if we wanted to. Śrila Prabhupāda explained how we are not that different and gave us pointers how our views can be reconciled but Christians are not that interested in reconciliation. Their loss, we tried, they aren’t forgotten by the Lord anyway, they’ll get more births and get saved in the end if that’s what they want, or they might get stuck here forever trying to find a perfect equilibrium between sense enjoyment and religiosity like what happens with the demigods.
The driving force, or rather driving forces, and general vectors of our spiritual progress are perfectly compatible, something I didn’t think too much of before but thanks to Ken Ham I see Christians in a more favorable way now.
Well, I thought it would be the last post on this debate but there are some interesting points still left on my list and I’ll have to address them later. This will do for today.