Ken Ham: If you don’t take the Bible literally, there’s no reason to wear clothes

Ken Ham, the Australian chinstrap who is perhaps most famous for getting schooled by Bill Nye for over two hours about the origins of life, claimed last week that if you don’t take the Bible literally and use it as a rationale to ban same-sex marriage, then what’s the point of wearing clothes?

As Ham said:

Think about the issue of marriage, because that’s a big one in our culture right now. If the history in Genesis is not true, then how do you define marriage? What do we do with marriage? In Matthew 19, when Jesus was asked about marriage, he said, “Haven’t you read, ‘He made them at the beginning male and female’?” And by the way, that’s another issue today: gender distinction. Jesus’ gender distinction — male and female — right from the beginning, and he says, “When a man leaves his father and mother and cleave unto your wife and you will be one flesh” based on the fact that the woman came from the man…And so the doctrine of marriage is based there upon the literal history of Genesis. But if that history is not true — if there was no literal Adam and Eve — then what is marriage? Why is it to be a man and a woman? It’s only a man and a woman because God invented marriage…

Ken Ham, via Wikimedia Commons

Ken Ham, via Wikimedia Commons

And even think about the issue of clothing. The origin of clothing is right there in Genesis. God gave coats of skins to Adam and Eve because of sin. Personally, I believe that was the first blood sacrifice as a covering for their sin…but if you abandon Genesis’s literal history for marriage and say marriage can be two men or two women or whatever you want, well why not abandon clothing? And even in this nation right now, we see a movement…with some women’s groups in various parts of the country where they’re saying “If men can take their tops off, why can’t we?” and why not? I mean, where do you draw the line, unless there’s an absolute authority that says why not?

As Hemant Mehta pointed out, since this apparently needed to be pointed out, “According to one study, clothing’s been around for roughly 170,000 years, long before the mythological Adam and Eve ever existed.” We don’t wear clothes because God told us to; we wear them because they protect us from the elements. And because we have flair.

With arguments like these, it’s hard to imagine how these guys think they’re going to win back the hearts and minds of a country that’s moving steadily away from them on questions of morality and corresponding public policy. They don’t seriously expect this to sound anything other than ridiculous to someone who doesn’t already agree with them, right?


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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40 Responses to “Ken Ham: If you don’t take the Bible literally, there’s no reason to wear clothes”

  1. Ken says:

    Bill Nye schooled no one. He made no sense and couldn’t even understand the concept of observational science. His “proofs” of evolution are all simply assumptions, present day—unsupported—explanations of something that happened in the past which no human observed.

  2. Nelson The Cat says:

    For once I’m kind of in agreement with Ken Ham. If the Genesis myth isn’t factually correct, we should all take off our clothes. I’m more than willing to take on the job of deciding who goes first.
    (Hint: It won’t be Ken.)

  3. Rick B says:

    there are certainly places in the world today where clothing is almost
    non-existent among non-westernized people. Only religionists seem to
    have made some sort of connection between clothing and modesty or
    chastity or morality, etc

    My first reaction is to suspect an association with agriculture and the growth of cities in both institutional religion and the need (or desire) for clothes.

    Nakedness may be permitted by the use of fire, something that appears to have started with homo erectus about 2.3 million years ago. Fire made it possible to survive cold nights with minimal fur, and the Long Hunt would be an evolutionary pressure to evolve less fur.

    Fire, together with meat, allowed or even required cooking. The vegetarian Great Ape spends most of his waking time finding and gathering sufficient food to survive. Cooked meat caused a sharp increase in available calories and much reduced time to produce them.

    This permitted the brain to grow larger, to where the human brain required 25% of the total calories a human eats. This allowed the cognitive complexity that permitted language to develop, and the social processes of long child development made it necessary because women were restricted to caring for immature children for so long.

    I’m still working on the book The Prehistory of the Mind by a British archaeologist (Steven Mithen) who uses anthropological evidence to indicate how the human mind evolved.

  4. paulginandes says:

    I’m no expert, but from what I have learned so far, humans still have the same number of hairs per square inch as the great apes do today. We just have finer, softer hair, so it’s almost invisible on many people. Humans are the only primates that sweat, so in effect, our hair got lighter and shorter so that we could more readily perspire to shed heat, thereby dramatically increasing our ability to sustain levels of physical exertion that would not otherwise be possible. Such as hunting game, the long chase, etc. Without our perspiration, we could not follow game at any rate of speed effective enough to allow it to be caught. So, biologically speaking, our “nakedness” predates the use of clothing. And there are certainly places in the world today where clothing is almost non-existent among non-westernized people. Only religionists seem to have made some sort of connection between clothing and modesty or chastity or morality, etc. Except that the rates of infidelity and out of wedlock births are higher among the clothed cultures of the world than they are among the naked ones. Rape is prevalent in those middle eastern cultures that demand that women be completely covered up. So, clearly these nudity obsessed christians like Ken Ham have had their psyches totally twisted up by their religions. They have no idea what they are talking about.

  5. PattyJM says:

    Which raises a question. Did our ancestors lose their fur because they were wearing clothing? Or did they invent clothing because they had already lost their fur?

  6. The_Fixer says:

    Yeah, you’d think that the “Big Guy” would be able to brush off non-worshippers. Or perhaps “change their hearts”, as so many Christians have claimed he has done to them. Why can’t he change everyone’s hearts?

    Apparently, he’s so powerful that he can’t do that… or something.

  7. The_Fixer says:

    It’s “marketing.”

    Kind of like in the movie Dogma when George Carlin, as the bishop, unveils the new, hip Jesus (thumb up and all) in an effort to market him to young people.

    Christians throughout history have appropriated mythology from other cultures so that they could market themselves to that culture. “Oh, you believe that? We believe that, too! Come join us (and bring your wallet).”

    Ken Ham is too stupid to know how to preach to anyone other than the converted. If the future of Christianity is left solely in his hands, there would be a giant generational Christian Die-Off in the years to come. Most Millennial-generation people get nothing from him, and would never consider his point of view to be anything other than stupid.

    Personally, it makes sense to me that humans started wearing clothes because it was a pain in the ass to run around naked all the time. We’re somewhat fragile, and I am sure early humans got tired of bleeding every time they brushed up against scratchy surfaces, got their genitals injured in everyday activities, and got their feet punctured by sticks laying on the ground. It had nothing to do with a (nonexistent) God, it had everything to do with practicality.

  8. Rick B says:

    Perhaps god gave us clothes because he stole our fur and we still had to survive the winter – perhaps even on glaciers.

    Actually, the interesting question is why was it an evolutionary advantage for one line of primates to cease to grow fur and instead begin to wrapping themselves in furs from hunting? Remember that primates had previously been herbivores living on fruits and similar plants wherever they could be found. Hunting and fishing would have greatly expanded the potential feeding grounds. In evolution this may also have been associated with an upright walking bipedal primate.

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  10. DoverBill says:

    Like Jeb!?

  11. DoverBill says:

    Has this dip-shit not heard of a gentleman’s club?

    Perhaps, God gave us these also because of sin… or is it the sinner?

    But I do thank Him for boobies.

  12. bpollen says:

    Now THAT is the good part of a Minnesota winter. There aren’t many.

  13. quax says:

    See he lives in Australia, so it’s easy to see how he makes this mistake, one he’d be quickly cured from if he’d ever experience a proper winter.

    Then again, if you know that the earth is flat it is clear that winter is but a figment of the imagination.

  14. BeccaM says:

    There are some (or many) parts which just don’t make sense. The ‘Curse of Ham’ (aka, the documented reason why the Israelites claimed they were compelled to enslave the Canaanites…and why Christians later would justify the enslavement of Africans) is one of the weirdest and least consistently translated passages. Various versions:

    Version 1 (the most common modern Christian interpretation): Seeing Daddy Noah nekkid was such a horrible, horrific sin all by itself, Ham and ALL of his descendants were cursed forever. (Seriously, this one is up there with she-bears slaughtering a pack of children for making fun of an old geezer’s baldness, in terms of a ridiculously disproportionate punishment for minor transgressions.)

    Version 2 (some Christians and many Jews believe this one): It wasn’t just seeing his dad naked. Ham’s real transgression was he then went out in the village and gossiped about his dad’s hairy, bloated wrinkled old body.

    Version 3 (Talmudic interpretation): Yet another alternative says the text was mistranslated, that what Ham actually did was to castrate his own father (either literally or figuratively).

    So ya: The Bible is like IKEA furniture assembly instructions, but with more missing parts and way more violence.

  15. BeccaM says:

    Pretty much, yeah. And the Nycene tinkering with the texts didn’t seem to want to muck with the Old Testament very much, hence why Yawheh bears no resemblance at all to the New Testament revised SuperDeity.

  16. mf_roe says:

    Actually, the most compelling explanation is that when the Jewish king decreed that competing ORAL traditions be reconciled no one could prove which version was correct and they kicked the can down the road.

  17. BeccaM says:

    Yeah… or the Bible just has had really lousy editors and translators.

    Occam’s Switchblade at work…

  18. mf_roe says:

    so your saying gAWD’s perfect word is undecipherable? THE BOOK is IKEA instructions??

  19. judybrowni says:

    Well, let’s see now: my crocs flip flops are nearly as comfortavle to walk in as running shoes and I walk a mile or more a day in the city if L.A. where it would be advisable to have something on the bottom of your feet to separate you from pavement.

    Besides they’re cute, and don’t you envy the fact that I can wear flip flops until November?

    Then there’s my bra, for comforts sake as well as modesty and cuteness.

    Iron Age Old Testament bitches would have killed for one, given the chance.

    And for my cute pink and green croc flip flops, if they had th chamce..

    100% cotton undies, tshirt snd capris? Hey, bet I’m more Old Testament correct than you, bubba Cruz, with your undoubted polyester blend: an abomination of mixed fibers according to Leviticus.

    Apparently, you’re going to hell ahead of me, according to your Bybull.

  20. BeccaM says:

    Depends on who you listen to. By a direct reading, it was Noah who did it, with Noah presuming to issue the curse in God’s name. It’s one of those things though which Talmudic scholars have been arguing about for millennia.

  21. BeccaM says:

    Oh, I know exactly what you mean. By modern genetics science, there is no way the entire human race could be descended from a single breeding pair. Nor every plant and animal, as supposedly was the case after the improbable Biblical flood.

    Moreover, the Bible clearly says incest is a terrible sin. Unless the only woman available to marry is your sister. Then it’s totally cool. Don’t worry, God’ll tweak your genes so you don’t give birth to deformed monsters.

    The part though I find almost amusing is the childlike assertion that God can do absolutely anything and everything… yet he somehow can’t get by without being worshiped and nowadays has his followers do all his smiting for him.

  22. mf_roe says:

    Wasn’t Ham cursed by gAWD in Genesis?

  23. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I lived in Minnesota many years, and I never went out when it was that cold. Instead, my husband and I would stay home, get naked, and watch the winter weather from our window.

  24. mf_roe says:

    gAWD is infinitely old, most Alzheimer’s suffers tend to repeat themselves–or maybe he felt he had to repeat it so the women could follow what was happening in the main meeting.

  25. emjayay says:

    God can do anything. See how that works?

  26. BeccaM says:

    Yep. Also didn’t take ’em long to figure out how to use brains and woodsmoke to tan skins.

  27. BeccaM says:

    Aye… because obviously the survival advantages in wearing protective clothing, shoes, and warm coverings are entirely irrelevant next to the “Ermagerd, I’m nekkid! Eeeeeeeee!” body-shame factor which is Ham’s ONLY reason why clothing exists.

    But hey, let’s not forget: Ham believes in nothing which isn’t in his circularly referential Bible. There’s no mention of the necessity — or obvious benefits — of climate-appropriate clothing in his crazy old much-mistranslated post-Stone Age book, therefore these can’t be reasons at all.

  28. emjayay says:

    I’m pretty sure they peed on them too.

  29. BeccaM says:

    And a universe some 14 billion years old, with all the light photons carefully placed in transit a mere 6000 light-years or less from the Earth.

  30. mf_roe says:

    The object in question is actually an anthology of independent documents collected by an organization intent on documenting a mythology.. The individual documents and the inclusion or exclusion of such having been done in an adversarial manner.

  31. BeccaM says:

    Heck, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 tell two entirely different — and chronologically contradictory — versions of the creation myth.

  32. Don Chandler says:

    Just tell them that their religious-speak is literally nonsense. So many good quotes to choose from. Here is one from Einstein:

    ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’

  33. BeccaM says:

    It’s “a man and a woman” because that is the biological imperative for reproduction based on the DNA design of most animal life on this planet.

    However, most of us who are familiar with the Bible already know from Genesis onward, Biblical marriage is one man and as many women he cares to and can afford to own. (The only difference between these women is that of relative status, with wives — plural — having the highest status, concubines in the middle, and sexually-exploited slave having the lowest.) Monogamy is a cultural practice which became popular only when Rome conquered itself an empire. Marriage for love only became a thing around the 13th century CE or thereabouts. And marriage between a man and woman as autonomous equals under civil law is an extremely modern concept, one completely at odds with the Bible’s definition of marital unions.

    If the Bible’s mythological history in Genesis and Exodus is “true,” then polygamy and the ownership of women is supposed to be the norm. Jon Stewart put it perfectly some time ago: Marriage has never not been changing.

    As for clothing, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess a far more logical progression than “clothing exists only because the two earliest humans — a man and his female clone, the genetically improbable progenitors of the entire human species — suddenly developed an irrational and pointless sense of body-shame.

    More logical? “Gee, it’s cold and that furry animal skin looks warm, I think I’ll sleep on it.” (Time goes by.) “What was I thinking, I’ll take a part of this sleeping-nest with me!” (More time goes by.) “Gee, this animal skin is gross and maggoty…maybe it’ll be better if I scrape all the non-skin bits off and rub it with something nothing will grow in. How about this fire-ash?” Meanwhile, of course, your less astute friend who hasn’t even figured out the basics freezes to death because he’s got no animal furs or coverings — and hello, it’s the Ice Friggin’ Age — and you and your offspring go on to reproduce because smart equals survival advantage.

    But yeah… guys like Ken Ham can’t imagine any purpose for clothing other than shame-control. It’s like the elementary (no pun intended) concepts of weather completely elude him. Of course we can expect no more from a guy whose entire system of thought processes is based on manifestly flawed circular reasoning.

  34. MoonDragon says:

    Or, as Pratchett put it, 6000 years ago God created a world that was 4 billion years old.

  35. nicho says:

    I don’t know what nuts would do if they didn’t have the bible. It’s such a complex collection of — often unrelated — pieces of writing and it so internally inconsistent and outright contradictory that you can take any wacky position you want and torture some justification for it out of a few random bible passages — often poorly translated and even more poorly interpreted.

  36. Baal says:

    Sounds like this guy WANTS to get naked and only his Bible prevents him from engaging in behavior that would make him have to register as a sex offender.

  37. emjayay says:

    Just because they didn’t know the story doesn’t mean that God didn’t originally give them clothes 6000 years ago, when Adam and Eve were new. In the Garden of Eden they didn’t need clothes because the weather was always really nice along with everything else which was also really nice, including their pet Dino, not mentioned in the Bible.

  38. bpollen says:

    Yeah, that makes a WHOLE lot of sense up here in Minnesota.

    It’s 20° below zero, but since the Bible ain’t literal truth, I’m gonna go start my car nekkid…

  39. MoonDragon says:

    The Chinese didn’t know about the Bibul until relatively recently (1500 years?). Pacific islanders and arctic aboriginal peoples didn’t get the Word until the 18th century. All of those groups had clothing, the Chines and arctic groups initially, at least, because they lived in climates that, at least seasonally were incompatible with human health, well-being, and comfort. And we do like to decorate ourselves and establish status. All that without a fairy tale about incestuous doofuses.

  40. Indigo says:

    It’s good to know that Australia has crackpots too. I was getting worried that we here in the US were isolated from the rest of the world by our nutty commentators. At least Australia’s got some nut jobs of their own.

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