Ken Ham, Biblical authority, Truth, and the Square Root of 256

May 27 2007 Published by under Rant, Science & Religion

I'm pretty sure that nowhere in the Bible does it say that the square root of 256 is 16. I happen to know that, yes, 16 squared is 256. Therefore, if I were to tell you and attempt to convince you that the square root of 256 is 22, I would be lying, in that I would be telling you something that isn't true.

But, the "mind" (I hesitate to use that word) behind the new Creation Museum, Ken Ham puts to shame even ultraliberal postmodernists who assert that the results of science are merely a social construction. He says:

Many of the media reps chuckled when I said that the people responsible for this banner did not believe in the Bible as the absolute authority and didn't believe in the God of the Bible and therefore had no basis for deciding right or wrong, and thus logically could not accuse us of a lie!

In other words, his basis for determining the truth of a statement is the Bible. Never mind integrals and differentiation (math that, um, works), the Bible's not real big on a table of square roots. As such, Ken Ham cannot assess the truth or falsehood of the statement "the square root of 256 is 16."

What a sad intellectual life.

Even sadder that he feels so superior about it, and that he thinks that so many people seem to recognize his narrow view of reality as superior.

It also makes me feel amazingly inadequate to realize that this dork was able to raise $27 million.

13 responses so far

  • "It also makes me feel amazingly inadequate to realize that this dork was able to raise $27 million."
    I remember Scott Aaronson making a comment to that effect a while back. Even though scientists, mathematicians and other technical folk have a reputation for being more "rational", we certainly seem to be markedly less rational in arduously demanding that our ideas match reality while charlatans make buttloads of money.

  • Or "make buttloads more money than we do", I should say...

  • mollishka says:

    I get and agree with your point.
    But you example of the truth in math makes me think about one of the arguable differences between science and math at their most fundamental level. We as human beings can clearly imagine a world in which the universe is only 6000 years old; there are even philosophically self-consistent ways to do this. Science involves looking around and realizing this is most likely just a stupid idea. Math, on the other hand, either is or isn't; there isn't any data to be consulted, just like there isn't any way to self-consistently have math work and for the squareroot of 256 to be 22 (unless we're working in base 2, of course).

  • Rob Knop says:

    Yes, true. But what Ken Ham's quote says is that logic itself, or at least the judgment of the truth or falsehood of a statement, requires a Biblical basis, which is (if possible) even more absurd than the regular creationism you talk about.

  • Mim Song says:

    But the Bible does say that pi = 3.0. See 1 Kings 7:23: 'And he [Hiram on behalf of King Solomon] made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.'
    So this book should not be used to teach science or math.

  • Steven J. says:

    I think that Ham mispoke, here, or perhaps he was slightly misquoted. His point (if past articles on AiG's website are a guide) was that if you don't accept the Bible, you have no good reason to object to untruths or deceit, or any other immoral behavior, since you have rejected the Bible's Author, the Source of morality.
    Note that instead of arguing that he's telling the truth, he complains that his critics have no grounds for objecting to lies. One might suppose that he does have such grounds, but apparently he has struggled heroically to overcome them.

  • Chris' Wills says:

    ...It also makes me feel amazingly inadequate to realize that this dork was able to raise $27 million.

    Sort of like the comment "Ifn your so smart how come you aint rich?"
    Why feel inadequate because you aren't a good liar and/or con-artist and that you can think for yourself?
    If you had been you wouldn't be an astronomer, you'ld be a politician. You, like many people, are infected with honesty and have a code against mis-using others; Ham has found antidotes for these afflictions.

  • Pseudonym says:

    Mim Song: The Bible does not say that pi = 3.0. At best, the Bible implies that in one particular construction, to the limit of measurement of a bunch of mostly illiterate nomads, pi is about 3.
    The key thing here is that there's a difference between accuracy and precision, and every scientist should know the difference. Pi = 3 is very accurate, but it only has one digit of precision. Pi = 3.32 is more precise, but less accurate.

    So this book should not be used to teach science or math.

    Definitely.

  • Mark C says:

    Steven J.--
    "I think that Ham mispoke(sic), here, or perhaps he was slightly misquoted. His point (if past articles on AiG's website are a guide) was that if you don't accept the Bible, you have no good reason to object to untruths or deceit, or any other immoral behavior, since you have rejected the Bible's Author, the Source of morality."
    No, I think I read it exactly as Ham intended. He spews the typical fundie meme that Christians have the corner on morality, and that others, particularly atheists, have no basis for morality at all. So apparently those who have abandoned Christianity after being taught right from wrong in a Christian household now have lost those morals. But I have to know: Why do all you atheists keep marrying?

  • Dustin says:

    But, the "mind" (I hesitate to use that word) behind the new Creation Museum, Ken Ham puts to shame even ultraliberal postmodernists who assert that the results of science are merely a social construction.

    I'm speaking from a bad experience I had back in the undergraduate days and a class called "Philosophy and Religion" when I say that you'd be surprised at how often the YECs and the Stoners side with each other when it comes to the philosophy of science.

  • SLC says:

    For those who are mystified by the YECs, I suggest perusal of a thread (link attached) on Jason Rosenhouses' blog in which I and an individual calling himself Science Avenger have been having a running discussion with a YEC calling himself Jon S. The vapidity of Mr,. Jon Ss' arguments has to be seen to be believed.
    http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2007/05/the_times_on_the_creation_muse.php#comments

  • Of course, if the Bible did say the square root of 256 is 16, then we could all yell about how it forgot that the answer is actually 16 and -16. Then there could be a religious schism, with fundamentalists touting the evil of negative numbers ("We need only positive forces for good!"), and the Negatists who realize that the bible is only complete up to about 50 AD, and new scriptures (The Holy CRC Handbook) go on from there.
    Or maybe this is all just imaginary?

  • Rob Knop says:

    Yeah, I guess I should have said that 16 is a square root of 256, not the square root of 256.
    It's not imaginary until you take the fourth root of 256....
    -Rob