This happened earlier in the month and somehow completely escaped my radar, but it’s too strange to just ignore: Creationist Ken Ham now has an honorary doctorate.
What sort of school would give an honorary degree to someone whose career is devoted to miseducating children?
That would be Dayton, Tennessee’s Bryan College, a school that made news in 2014 when it forced all faculty members to sign a statement saying “all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve” and they sure as hell didn’t evolve “from previously existing life forms.”
Christian author, Ken Ham, served as the ceremony’s featured speaker and received an honorary doctoral degree from Bryan College in science. Ham serves as the President of Answers in Genesis as well as founder of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky.
“During Commencement, Ken Ham delivered a powerful challenge for Bryan graduates to be over-comers and well-diggers enabling the water of life to quench the spiritual barrenness of our culture,” said Dr. Stephen Livesay, President of Bryan College. “It was an honor to present the man I consider the foremost spokesman in the world for biblical Creationism with a Doctor of Science degree from Bryan.”
A school that forces professors to deny science gave a science degree to a man who doesn’t understand science. Pathetic.
There’s another aspect to this story that might sound like a conspiracy theory but actually ties everything together.
Earlier this month, one of the school’s trustees resigned due to problems he had with Livesay. Specifically, Wayne Cropp said he didn’t support how Livesay basically bought land on behalf of Bryan College that boosted the school’s assets so they were in the black, a fact that contributed to Livesay’s own compensation package.
Why was he upset about that? Because the land was previously owned by the National Association of Christian Athletes… a group that Livesay ran for years. He even installed many of Bryan College’s trustees (including Cropp) on the board, presumably so they’d sign off on things like this land transfer.
Huuuuuuge conflicts of interest all around. But what does any of that have to do with Ken Ham? According to historian Adam Laats, who has written quite a bit about the Creationism movement, Livesay is sending a message to wealthy Christians and potential students’ parents that he’s taking a hard-line stance on biblical fundamentalism and that’s why they should keep sending him donations and tuition dollars.
In order to attract students with their life-sustaining tuition dollars, Livesay — like leaders at all evangelical colleges — can plant a flag for fundamentalism and young-earth creationism. In Bryan’s case, the school has taken drastic steps to purge any whiff of creationism that doesn’t meet the strict young-earth standards of Ken Ham.
… Bryan College is desperate. Like a lot of small colleges, it is running on a financial knife edge. Unlike many schools, though, Bryan has a chance to appeal to a cultural niche market. If Livesay can convince young-earthers that his school is true to their ideas about science and faith, he might just attract enough tuition-paying students to keep Bryan alive. Until then, he’ll have to cook some real-estate books to pump a few more breaths into his campus.
Ham probably doesn’t care about any of this. I doubt that’ll stop him from shameless self-promotion of his doctorate, though. He’ll be talking about that more than he talks about his debate with Bill Nye.
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