It’s not “Human Reason vs. God’s Word”!

Perhaps you have heard the origins debate as being about “human reason” on the one hand, and “the Bible” on the other. Many evolutionists like to frame the debate this way. It creates a “heads I win: tails you lose” type of situation. By contrasting the Bible with “reason”, they are implying that the Bible is unreasonable. They may use some other terminology. Whether framed as “Rationality vs. faith” or “science vs. religion,” the implication of framing the debate this way is that the Bible is anti-reason, anti-science, anti-rational.

But nothing could be further from the truth! The Bible is very pro-reason, pro-science, pro-rational. In fact, the biblical God is the basis for these things (see The Ultimate Proof of Creation). God made our minds and He wants us to use them. We are supposed to think in a way that is consistent with the character of God – that’s what rationality is.

And so it is really a shame that many Christians also frame the debate this way. Yes, I have seen “reason” contrasted with “God’s Word” coming from Christian literature. Perhaps by “reason” they mean “secular philosophy.” (If so, then that is what they should say!) But secular philosophy is not biblical, whereas human reason is. The Bible tells us to reason (Isaiah 1:18) and gives us examples of it (Acts 17:2, 18:4). Perhaps by “human reason,” they mean “secular reasoning.” But this is very misleading. Not all humans are secularists! Are not Christians also human? Even Jesus is human (and God as well), so there is nothing wrong with that. By allowing the debate to be framed in such a way, such Christians have inadvertently accepted the standards of the secularist. And what happens when we allow the critics to determine the parameters of the debate in such a way? The answer is: we lose the debate.

A debate is supposed to show that one position is more rational than another. So if you allow your opponent to define his position as the “rational” position in contrast to yours, then you have pretty well lost at the outset. The Bible tells us that we are not supposed to engage in a debate using the critic’s foolish standard (Proverbs 26:4). Do not allow the secularist to define his position as “human reason” and yours as “faith” or some equivalent term. The fact of the matter is both creationists and evolutionists have a type of faith, and both use some degree of reasoning.

What then is the difference? The difference is our starting point – the standard upon which we build our reasoning. The Christian should take the Word of God has his or her ultimate standard. We are supposed to reason from the truths given to us in the Scriptures. God’s Word is like a solid rock; and reasoning that rests upon that rock will stand. What is the alternative structure on which non-Christians attempt to build their thinking? There is none. God’s Word is the only ultimate standard by which can truly know anything about anything. Yes, we can learn new truths about things outside the Bible, mathematical truths, facts about ducks, or quasars. But the only reason we can know these things is because our mind and our senses have been designed by God to interface with the universe in a way that is truthful. If our mind and senses were just the result of chance mutations that conveyed survival value, there would be no reason to think we could ever know the truth about anything!

So when people reason from an ultimate standard that is not God’s Word, they are really simply basing their thinking on an arbitrary opinion. But there is no reason to trust an arbitrary opinion. The Bible refers to such people as being like a “fool” who builds his house on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Since the house does not have a true and proper foundation, it is destroyed by the first storm that comes along. Likewise, those who reason from a secular opinion rather than God’s Word will find their philosophy is easily destroyed by rational analysis.

1,213 Responses to It’s not “Human Reason vs. God’s Word”!

  1. Castaigne says:

    You say: “So when people reason from an ultimate standard that is not God’s Word, they are really simply basing their thinking on an arbitrary opinion. But there is no reason to trust an arbitrary opinion.”

    If God’s Word is the ultimate standard, then why do you Protestants declare that each man can interpret the Bible whichever way they deem best, a heresy we Catholics refuse to acknowledge?

    [Dr. Lisle: Answer: we don’t. So your entire argument is a straw-man fallacy. We affirm that there is only one primary meaning of any Scripture, and therefore only one correct interpretation.]

    We Catholics have one doctrine.

    [Dr. Lisle: Okay, but that doesn’t make it right.]

    You Protestants…well, you have a different arbitrary standard depending on which sect’s church you walk into.

    [Dr. Lisle: No. My ultimate standard is the Bible alone. It’s not my preacher, or my friends, or the pope. I might gain insight from my preacher – nothing wrong with that. But Jesus tells me that I am to live by God’s Word (Matthew 4:4), and not the traditions of men (Matthew 15:1-9).]

    Who is more correct, the Apostle’s Baptist Front for the Forgiveness of Jesus, 16th Reclension, or the 7th Day Adventists, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    [Dr. Lisle: “Who is more correct?” Answer: the one that most lines up with the Bible. We can immediately reject the Johovah’s Witnesses as hertical, since they reject the Trinity as clearly taught in such passages as John 1:1-3, etc.]

    Should I treat the words of Fred Phelps, Bryan Fischer, David Barton, or Glenn Beck as the God’s Word?

    [Dr. Lisle: No. Nor the pope, by the way. It is only God’s Word that you should treat as God’s Word. Clear?]

    No, we Catholics recognize that all Protestant heresies

    [Dr. Lisle: That is a question-begging epithet fallacy.]

    are “arbitrary opinions”

    [Dr. Lisle: Hardly. Protestants (and Catholics) may sometimes deviate from God’s Word – and that is an error. But the Bible should be our ultimate standard by which we test truth claims. Luke commends the Bereans for testing doctrine by the Scriptures (Acts 17:11).]

    and that science never conflicts with the God’s Word.

    [Dr. Lisle: I actually agree that when scientific evidence is interpreted correctly, it will never conflict with God’s Word.]

    That is why the Catholic Church recognizes evolution and why we have dismissed the Young Earth Creation heresy as simply that.

    [Dr. Lisle: Since evolution would render science impossible, this is inconsistent with your previous claim. Science is predicated upon uniformity in nature, which is based on God’s promise in Genesis 8:22, which is predicated on the historical accuracy of Genesis. By the way, trusting that God got the details right in Genesis is not heresy; quite the opposite. Jesus took Genesis as literal history (e.g. Matthew 19:4-8), and so did the apostles (e.g. 2 Corinthians 11:3, Jude 7,9,11,14).]

    Once you cease your heretical meanderings,

    [Dr. Lisle: This is a question-begging epithet fallacy. “Heresy” actually refers to a deviation from the essential doctrines of Christianity. For example, if a person argued that good works are necessary for or to maintain salvation, that would be heresy since the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).]

    you will find that your whole diatribe on “It’s not human reason vs God’s Word” has been discussed and settled by the Church for over 500 years.

    [Dr. Lisle: I wish that were so. But sadly, many professing Christians do not put the Bible as their ultimate standard and base their thinking on it as Jesus taught that we should do (Matthew 7:24-27).]

    • Brian Forbes says:

      You know what I’ve always had a problem with – about the Catholic church? The religious holidays are largely intertwined with the pagan ones. I’m not saying I believe everything in this book, but Hislop makes a strong case in “The Two Babylons” that Catholicism is a hybrid of paganism and Christianity. I would love to be a Catholic otherwise.

      I think it’s also important to note that we are not judged by how we keep the Church’s commands anywhere in scripture. I only see us being condemned by not keeping God’s commands, which come through his prophets, both spoken and written. I would rather be guilty on that day of having believed Jesus’ interpretation of Genesis than having believed the modern Catholic interpretation of it.

    • Dr. Lisle says:

      I have seen it. No, I’m not going to respond. This person is majoring in the minors, and I don’t engage in that sort of thing.

    • Josef says:

      Chris,

      That has already been discussed. Basically what it comes down to is that Dr. Lisle hasn’t confirmed or denied being a Calvinist. Since he works for ministries that are non-denominational that are focused on creation evangelism, I can see why he wouldn’t want to disclose that information. Unfortunately, if someone is not a Calvinist, but they find out that Dr. Lisle is, then that person might not even want to hear what Dr. Lisle has to say about creation, physics, or astronomy anymore. It essentially becomes a stumbling-block for them. The same is true if Dr. Lisle happened to disclose that he is an Arminian.

      Also, the author of that article has a problem with the way Dr. Lisle answered a feedback question, but again, AiG is a non-denominational ministry, so Dr. Lisle answered his question in such a way that neither a Calvinist or Arminian should have a problem with it. Ministries like AiG have been pretty forthright about not getting involved in the Calvinism/Arminianism issue, methods of baptism, Saturday or Sunday worship, and other issues that are peripheral to the central gospel message.

      And to top it off, the author doesn’t even state how Dr. Lisle is wrong. Because the way Dr. Lisle uses the transcendental argument outlined in The Ultimate Proof of Creation, is a way in which any consistent Bible believing Christian can use. There are might be some elements of the transcendental argument that might make more sense from the Calvinist’s perspective, such as certain views of epistemology, but Dr. Lisle doesn’t get into that in his book so it’s really a non-issue.

  2. Chris C says:

    Dr. Lisle,

    What are your thoughts on the question, “could the universe have both existed and not existed at the same time and in the same sense before there were human minds?” It seems to me that that hypothetical is not plausible. Because “before the universe” would mean that there was no universe, which would mean there was no concept of universe that could be used to contradict the absence of a universe.

    • Dr. Lisle says:

      I’m not sure that I understand. The Christian can reject the concept as a violation of the law of non-contradiction. A non-Christian can’t ever answer the question within his own worldview because he has no basis for the law of non-contradiction.

      • Chris C says:

        It’s a question that christians ask unbelievers to show the absurdity of proposing that laws of logic are dependent upon human minds. I hear it all the time, I have even used it myself a few times. I was just wondering what your take on it was. It seems to me that it doesn’t make sense to hypothesize about the universe both existing and not existing BEFORE the universe existed. Because before the universe existed there was no universe that could exist or not exist. Unlike “the car is in the parking lot and it is not the case that the car is in the parking lot,” that example can be used because cars and parking lots exist. “Before the universe” implies that the universe did not exist yet, so how can it be used in an example of a hypothetical contradiction?

        [Dr. Lisle: I see. I think the question is a great way to expose inconsistency in secular thinking. If a secularist wants to posit that laws of logic are the product of human thinking, then I ask if they must apply before people existed. In the secular worldview, the universe existed for billions of years before minds evolved. So I was asking if laws of logic apply after the universe came to exist but before there were any minds. Of course it is nonsense to assume that contradictions were actually possible before people existed. But a secularist cannot reconcile that fact with his belief that laws of logic are an invention of human minds, if indeed he holds that position.]

        • Steve says:

          What I am understanding from your initial post is that the person responding is wondering how can non-contradictions (or logic, in general) exist before humans. I would say that logic and non-contradictions, etc existed before humans arrived on day 6 because it was God that created everything including laws of logic. It does not take a human to identify and write down a law of logic in order for that law of logic to exist. It has always existed from the moment God created it.

          It’s a common point of confusion with non-Christians about the Bible. “Oh those Bible stories were stolen from older stories” and such nonsense. It’s like they believe Bible was written in real-time. A history book is a book that has recorded events that happened in the past. Just because one source has a similar sounding story doesn’t mean that the later recordings “stole” it from the earlier recordings.

          • Chris C says:

            No, my question was strictly about whether or not the “universe” example was a good one, but I realize now that I confused “before minds” with “before the universe.” Not sure how that happened, but I agree that the LoNC existed before human minds (because laws of logic are not dependent upon human minds). That was my mistake. Sorry for the confusion.

      • Tony says:

        *sigh* i think we already been through this Dr.Lisle logic is descriptive and not prescriptive, you responses to me about how they cant just be descriptions makes no sense what so ever, the idea of the “laws” of logic being prescriptive makes no sense

        [Dr. Lisle: They cannot be descriptions of the universe or the nature of the universe for the reasons we already discussed. So that there is no misunderstanding, by “prescriptive” I mean that they dictate what truth relationships are possible without exception, and may be used to prescribe future situations. They do not merely describe what has been or what is now, because this would not justify our expectation that they will continue to be binding in future, not-yet-observed situations.]

        [Of course you do believe that laws of logic will work tomorrow, and for the same reason I do: they stem from the thinking of God who is beyond time. The Bible says that all unbelievers do know God since God has made himself inescapably known to all people, but they suppress that truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18-22). This is why you know about laws of logic and can use them, why you expect the universe to be orderly and understandable, why you rightly think that your senses are reliable, and that your mind has the capacity to be rational. And it is why you have an innate sense of right and wrong. But you have been unable to account for any of these things in a self-consistent way on your professed worldview. None of these things would make sense apart from the Christian God.]

        • Tony says:

          is that a joke? i told you over and over again and i have answered your claims over and over again ad nausum but it seems you just refuse to accept the answers i gave you or anyone else how gave you just shows that you don’t like the answers !

          [Dr. Lisle: So far you haven’t been able to answer most of my questions. And the few answers you have given have been fallacious. In each case I have explained why, and you haven’t been able to give a cogent counter-argument. In particular, you have not been able to account for the universal, invariant, and exception-less nature of laws of logic. You just assume these things on blind faith and go on your merry way. But this is intellectually childish. A rational person has reasons for his or her beliefs. You don’t.]

          in case you don’t know a descriptive law can never actually be broken,

          [Dr. Lisle: Oh, certainly they can. Descriptions can only reflect the way the universe is now or has been in the past based on our observations. No one has observed the future! So you would not be able to rationally defend your belief that laws of logic will work tomorrow if they were merely descriptive of your past and present experiences. For example, you might observe “what goes up always comes back down.” This observation might be confirmed many times over, and you might call it a descriptive law. But then Sputnik was launched, and that law is broken. In your worldview, you have no rational reason to think that laws of logic will work tomorrow, or one minute from now for that matter.]

          also you must assume the truth of logic holds to discover that they don’t work! So if they stopped working we cant actually know if they dont work anymore!

          [Dr. Lisle: Yes, I agree with those sentences. You are actually using a transcendental argument. Very logical. But of course, you are attempting to use logic to defend logic. Your reasoning is circular. Do you see that now? Is your circular argument fallacious? If so, then we must reject it.]

          • Tony says:

            “you are attempting to use logic to defend logic. Your reasoning is circular”
            it is not circular you are just in denial i wasn’t using logic to defend logic, i was just giving an example of what would happen if they stopped working

            [Dr. Lisle: In that case, then logic remains unjustified in your worldview. You have no reason to believe it. You merely have stated what you think would follow otherwise. But if you have made no argument, then I have no reason to accept your claim.]

            ” So far you haven’t been able to answer most of my questions. And the few answers you have given have been fallacious. In each case I have explained why, and you haven’t been able to give a cogent counter-argument. ”
            I answered all of them it’s you how just dont like them so you make up either ad hoc rebuttals or not even understand my point

            [Dr. Lisle: For example? Can you list one example where you’ve made a case for the properties of laws of logic, or uniformity, or morality, for which I was unable to find an objective error in your reasoning? If not, then I must dismiss your claim as rationally unwarranted.]

          • Tony says:

            “In that case, then logic remains unjustified in your worldview. You have no reason to believe it. You merely have stated what you think would follow otherwise. But if you have made no argument, then I have no reason to accept your claim”
            no,i showed that it s impossible for logic to stop working, if they (logic) are descriptive, then they are dependent on the thing they describe to stay true, and its impossible for the things they describe to become untrue!

            [Dr. Lisle: Two problems here. The original problem (you are tying to use logic to justify logic, i.e. reasoning in a circular fashion), and you’ve made things worse for yourself by adding a new problem. Namely, you’ve suggested that logic will not change because the thing it describes will not change; but previously you claimed that logic describes reality or the nature of reality. But in the secular worldview you can never know that reality or the nature of reality will not change. This the problem of “induction” – a fatal error in the secular worldview as David Hume explained. You’ve tried to solve one problem by appealing to another problem. There is no basis on the secular worldview to believe that the future will be like the past, and consequently no reason on your worldview to believe that logic will remain valid tomorrow.]

            [And again, your reasoning is circular. How did you show “that it’s impossible for logic to stop working”? By “showed”, do you mean that you demonstrated this logically? If you did not demonstrate your claim logically, then we can dismiss it, and your claim remains unjustified. If you did demonstrate your claim logically, then you have begged the question in using logic to justify logic. It truly amazes me that you don’t see this.]

            • Tony says:

              uh no the very description of the universe prevents logic from changing!

              [Dr. Lisle: That doesn’t make any sense. It’s a non-sequitur.]

  3. Chris C says:

    Dr. Lisle,

    How would you respond if an unbeliever told you he knows his memory is valid because it matches up with his friend’s account (who is there with him during the time of questioning)? In other words he knows x happened because his friend was there and he can testify that x happened. Would you challenge his friend’s memory… or move onto validity of reasoning?

    • John W says:

      Ask him how he knows that his memory of his friend’s account is valid. Dr. Lisle addresses this situation on p.94 of his book, The Ultimate Proof of Creation if you want a more throrough discussion of the topic.

      • Chris C says:

        Yea, I read it four times. I’m very familiar with the book. The scenario I am putting forward is that they are both present during the questioning. So they are together sharing the same memory with you.

        • Josef says:

          Chris,

          That doesn’t make sense because in order to decide whether or not his story would match up with his friend’s story, he’d have to be able to trust his own memory to know what his friend says is accurate.

          It’s essentially like claiming that someone can know a rubber ruler is an accurate tool for measuring because it can be compared with another rubber ruler, i.e. the blind leading the blind.

          • Chris C says:

            He’s not saying he knows his friend’s story is accurate because it matches up with his. He’s saying that HIS story is accurate because his friend’s matches up with his. Is that not a reason to believe his memory of x is valid?

            • Josef says:

              But wouldn’t he have to already trust his own memory to be able to make the determination of whether or not his friend’s memory matches with his own? That would basically put him back to square-one.

              • Chris C says:

                Yes he would have to trust his own memory, but his friend’s corroberation is what justifies that trust, because it matches up with what he is saying. How does he know it matches up? Because they are saying the same thing.

                • Josef says:

                  That really doesn’t answer it. Because in order for his friend to tell his account and the other guy to say, “Yeah that’s what I remember too” he’d have to know his memory is reliable to even know that his friend’s story corroborates his own. And it somewhat shifts the problem on to his friend.

                  When a Christian says his memory is reliable, it isn’t simply on the basis that there’s an external source that tells him so. It’s because the source itself is reliable (the word of God himself) that gives justification for our memories to be reliable.

                  Again, this is like measuring something with a rubber ruler and taking a second rubber ruler to verify the measurement of the first one. Two faulty sources put together do not make a valid one.

            • John W says:

              How does he know that the memory of his friend’s story matching up with his own story is reliable? He would have to presuppose that his memory is reliable for that corroboration to have any significance, which is the very thing he is attempting to demonstrate.

              • Chris C says:

                It has significance because it matches up with what he is saying. What are to say to that, that it’s just a coincidence?

                • Josef says:

                  Actually you could ask if it is a coincidence. Because coincidences do happen, even in the atheist’s worldview, so how do they know this isn’t one of them?

                  Also, just because their memories (or what they think are their memories) match, that doesn’t prove that either one of their memories are reliable. Haven’t you ever been in a situation where both you and a friend of yours thought you remembered something but you realized later that both of you were wrong?

                  I know I’ve had this happen plenty of times such as when discussing details of a movie or sporting event. We might think a certain play went a certain way when in fact, it did not.

                  • Chris C says:

                    Hey guys, I gotta go to bed now because I work nights. But I really appreciate the feedback. I get what you guys are saying, I’m just trying to think of ways the unbeliever could respond. I’ll go over your responses a few more times later and hit you back if I think of anything. In the mean time, Dr. Lisle feel free to add anything to the conversation. Thanks and God bless you guys.

                    • Josef says:

                      You’re welcome, Chris. Good luck with witnessing to this guy, I hope it goes well.

                      Basically to reiterate again, I would ask him how he knows his memory is reliable. If he says, “Because my friend’s account is what I remember” I would point out that he is relying on his own memory to even know that his friend corroborates his own. Thus, he is begging the very question he is being asked. Because to even know that his friend’s memory matches his own, he’d have to already know his memory is reliable.

                  • Brian Forbes says:

                    You know, these kinds of arguments are what make me think that this idea (we can’t know anything without the Bible) is true but unconvincing. When you start saying, “Hey, man, you don’t know that what both of you saw actually happened, because you have to trust that your memory compared with his memory wasn’t a coincidence!” Imagine that kind of defense made by a homicide defense lawyer. lol! It’s pretty silly. It’s silly because the argument only works academically. In the real world, people use faith. And our memories can be very trustworthy.

                    • Josef says:

                      You know, these kinds of arguments are what make me think that this idea (we can’t know anything without the Bible) is true but unconvincing.

                      Not everyone is convinced by rational arguments. In fact, some people are convinced by irrational arguments. What actually convinces people is very subjective and personal. And I know a lot of people who aren’t convinced by evidential arguments because they just re-interpret the evidence to fit their worldview.

                      When you start saying, “Hey, man, you don’t know that what both of you saw actually happened, because you have to trust that your memory compared with his memory wasn’t a coincidence!” Imagine that kind of defense made by a homicide defense lawyer. lol!

                      Well just how would you prove that it wasn’t just a coincidence? Do you not agree that coincidences happen?

                      It’s pretty silly. It’s silly because the argument only works academically. In the real world, people use faith. And our memories can be very trustworthy.

                      Simply calling an argument silly is not a refutation of the argument. But, I would agree that our memories are generally reliable, because even the unbelievers are made in God’s image. However, why do we just take this for granted? And what do we put our faith in? Faith is only as good as what you put it in. If someone says, “I know my memories are reliable because evolution is true” then that is an irrational reason to trust your memories.

                      The fact that the unbeliever does rely on his memory shows that he does know the biblical God. Because if he truly believed he is just re-arranged pond scum, then there would be no reason to think his memory is good for anything other than survival value.

                    • Micah says:

                      When you start saying, “Hey, man, you don’t know that what both of you saw actually happened, because you have to trust that your memory compared with his memory wasn’t a coincidence!” Imagine that kind of defense made by a homicide defense lawyer.

                      The example you gave is a very good example of just how much people take the reliability of their senses for granted. I would argue that someone who believes in evolution really has no basis for a judicial system. The reason being of course that they can’t justify why their senses are reliable, or why experimentation works. They couldn’t even know if they were actually at the courthouse or not.

                      I think the reason this type of argument sounds ‘silly’ is because the reliability of the senses is just taken for granted far too much.

                      The biblical christian has a good reason to use the judicial system because they have a good reason to trust their senses. Other worldview’s do not.

                      The problem is, that when people debate, they need to be able to justify these things otherwise all the arguments they make that flow from that will be rendered arbitrary and useless. Its important to have reasons for what you believe….the reliability of your senses should not be excluded from that.

                      I do think there are many many people who would probably find this argument very unconvincing. But it wouldn’t be because the argument is ‘silly’ or irrational. It would be because they themselves are irrational. The argument is still a very good and rational argument, even when people are unconvinced.

                      Just my thoughts on this.

                      Micah

  4. Brian Forbes says:

    Micah wrote:
    I do think there are many many people who would probably find this argument very unconvincing. But it wouldn’t be because the argument is ‘silly’ or irrational. It would be because they themselves are irrational. The argument is still a very good and rational argument, even when people are unconvinced.

    “The Ultimate Proof” is a rational argument, but I don’t think it’s always an effective argument. I’m not sure if there’s a net gain or net loss with it (depending on your goal), but if this were a political campaign, and we were going out to get votes, I wouldn’t invest my money in this strategy. Telling people who trust their senses that they don’t have a rational basis to TRUST their senses will often (usually?) fall on deaf ears. If I had to promote an argument for Creation, I’d pick one of these three:
    1. Bill Cooper’s After the Flood – genealogies from Noah to kings of Europe
    2. Ian Taylor’s In The Minds of Men – bias in the history of the ToE
    3. Steve Austin’s work at Mt. St. Helens vs. the Grand Canyon

    Those arguments cannot be refuted. They can be denied, but there’s no rational basis for rejecting them, at least that I’ve ever seen. And even more important, they don’t require much abstract thought. People can get lost in their abstract thoughts. You have to convert someone to being rational before you can convince them of the ultimate proof. Even mostly rational people choose to believe things sometimes. Nobody is all rational. It’s akin to trying to convert someone to Christianity by first trying to convince them that the Bible is true. It’s so much more effective to pray for their broken leg and have it completely healed on the spot. (This happened with my brother in law.) Both are good methods, but I’d put my money on the miracles. But if I have lots of money, I might use it on a particular kind of person (i.e. the arrogant, smart, spiritually blind, programmer / engineer / rocket science / math genius type). If they were old earth Christians, I would probably just flip over to Luke 3 or 1 Chr. 1. Everyone has different axioms. We become all things to all men that we might win some. (1 Cor. 9:22)

    But even more important than the argument itself, we need to keep our ears open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God is always working, and we need to tune our ears into his channel.

    So, to sum up. The ultimate proof is rational, but unconvincing, at least to me. There are better arguments to use on irrational people.

    (Note: Dr. Lisle, if you respond with inlaid text, I probably won’t see it right away. It doesn’t show up on your RSS.)

    • Josef says:

      Brian,
      I do hear what you’re saying, and I do agree that the way we witness to people should be on a case-by-case basis. In the event that I am talking to an old earth Christian, I will actually start from Scripture. Because if the person is a Christian, then he should have the same worldview that I do and it could just be a matter of showing him how the myth that the earth/universe is billions of years is unbiblical. It could just very well be that the person hasn’t thought about it. If he resists, then he is not submitting to the Bible’s teachings, and from here, I’d have no choice but to show him the irrationality of his claims.

      Also, I have the three books you recommend, and they are good books. But I would not say that there is no possible come back for them, as evidential arguments can just be reinterpreted to fit the worldview of the person.

      With the transcendental argument, it is actually impossible for there to be a rational argument against it. I realize that it might not convince everyone, but that can’t be helped. First off, because God is the one who grants sinners repentance (2 Tim 2:25). Second, because proof is different from persuasion. If someone doesn’t want to believe something, then it doesn’t matter how good the argument is. We shouldn’t base an argument’s worth on whether or not it can convince people. As I said before, what people find persuasive is often personal and, unfortunately, sometimes even irrational.

      • Brian Forbes says:

        “evidential arguments can just be reinterpreted to fit the worldview of the person”

        The comebacks would have the same qualifier you used in regard to the transcendental argument. They don’t have a “rational” argument against my 3 evidences.

        “First off, because God is the one who grants sinners repentance (2 Tim 2:25).”

        I can’t make God work. I can only ask and wait for eyes to see Him working. So I take care of my end of it.

        “Second, because proof is different from persuasion. If someone doesn’t want to believe something, then it doesn’t matter how good the argument is. We shouldn’t base an argument’s worth on whether or not it can convince people.”

        That’s a great distinction to keep in mind. I don’t agree with the conclusion, though. If the goal is to convince people with sound arguments, I say that the three sound arguments I listed are better for convincing people than showing that they can’t know anything without the God of the Bible. They could fall back on all the irrational arguments we all use, such as, “You think I know? I don’t know everything! But it seems to me that…” They know where their faith is, and for many, that’s all that counts. Logic is secondary.

  5. Christy Kellner says:

    Just caught your article, “Reason vs. Faith” and it’s a great article. Have you stumbled across Aquinas? Aquinas was one amazing theologian!!!! He reconciled the Stoics to the Church. His philosophy is still very much alive today b/c he never turned away from truth and had an amazing simple way of explaining common sense and combining faith and reason. For a more modern day interpretation of marrying faith and reason, I would recommend Chesterton (he had a major impact on C.S. Lewis’ Conversion) and Peter Kreeft. Philosophy is the handmaiden of Theology. You just can’t be a good philosophist w/o being a good theologian and vice versa. Good luck in all your future endeavors.

  6. Jordan Schaeffer says:

    Dr. Lisle,

    I first wanted to say that I am a huge fan of yours. I know that most of the disscussion was a couple of months ago but I was just recently reading the (lengthy) discussion with Ashley and Tony and I had a question. As I was reading your posts, I was trying to think of how I would respond if I was an evolutionist. Here is my question: It’s regarding the argument that it is begging the question to assume the laws of logic (and the basic reliability of our senses, etc.) in order to prove the laws of logic. I understand how this is a devastating blow to an evolutionist. However, from a biblical standpoint, don’t we have to assume the laws of logic, in order to argue that the Bible provides a foundation for the laws of logic? For some reason, I can’t seem to figure out how this isn’t assuming what we are trying to prove (albeit with an extra step in the middle). In other words, if I was to state that the only (logical) foundation for the laws of logic (and also uniformity in nature, the basic reliability of our senses, etc.) is found in the God’s Word, wouldn’t I need to assume the laws of logic in order to argue that?

    In Christ,
    ~Jordan~

  7. Milton McAngus says:

    Dr. Lisle
    Thank you for making the trip out to Hawaii to speak at CCPH in August 2013 at what had to have been great personal hardship. How can I get a copy of the presentation you gave at the Sunday service? I was present and greatly impressed with your message. I have since purchased The Ultimate Proof of Creation as well as Discerning Truth and can’t wait to engage my Ohana with the great tools you have added to my belt.
    Keep up the good fight

  8. Helena Constantine says:

    The kind of indentured servitude that you are pretending is the only form of slavery endorsed by the Bible is something limited to fellow Israelites.

    [Dr. Lisle: No, it wasn’t. Perhaps the reason you are confused is because the Israelites, as God’s redeemed people, enjoyed special privileges and had special obligations not afforded to others. For example, an Israelite slave was offered freedom after six years of service, even if his debt was greater. However, anyone who had accumulated too much debt could become a slave.]

    God gave the Isrealites permission to enslave people from any other nation,

    [Dr. Lisle: No, He didn’t. The Israelites were not allowed to attack just “any other nation” for any reason; that would be unjust. There were some nations that had rebelled against God so egregiously that God rightly judged them (Leviticus 18:25,27). And God often used Israel as the instrument to accomplish His justice, but only on pagan nations – not “any other nation” as you falsely claimed. Depending on the level of depravity – the extent to which these nations had rebelled – God would sometimes allow the inhabitants to repay their debt to God by serving His people, rather than being executed.]

    beat them,

    [Dr. Lisle: Slave masters were allowed to punish slaves for sloth or disobedience of course, but never to the point of injury. If the slave was injured, his debt to the master was cancelled and was immediately set free. (Exodus 21:26-27).]

    and rape them,

    [Dr. Lisle: What?! Nowhere does the Bible allow anyone to rape another, under any circumstances. The punishment for rape is death (Deuteronomy 22:23-27). Nowhere does the Bible say that slaves are exempt.]

    jsut like any other slaves anywhere else in the world at any time (Ex 21:20-27; Lev 19: 20-22, 39-44–this lsit is not exhaustive).

    [Dr. Lisle: None of these verses state what you claim. Did you actually read them in context?]

    Paul endorses slavery as it was practiced in the Roman Empire

    [Dr. Lisle: What verse even remotely suggests that Paul endorsed slavery “as it was practiced in the Roman Empire?” On the contrary, Paul endorsed the Bible. He believed that the Scriptural standard should be applied to all areas of life (2 Timothy 3:16).]

    which included the most barbaric kind of plantation slavery familiar from its imitation in the American south (Eph 6:5-9; Col 4:1). Dishonest again.

    {Dr. Lisle: You haven’t represented the Scriptures rightly, which is dishonest. Of course, apart from the Scriptural standard, why would you have a good reason to be honest? It’s strangely ironic that you have a moral complaint against the Bible, because apart from the truth of Scripture there could be no morality at all. What happens in a chance universe just happens; there’s no “right” or “wrong” about it. And so the fact that you have a sense of morality shows that in your heart of hearts you really do know God.]

  9. Josh says:

    Your argument is just “The Bible is true because it says it’s true”.

    [Dr. Lisle: Straw-man fallacy. This is not, and never has been, my argument.]

    It doesn’t matter how you dress it up. The idea that your God is necessary for morality and logic is just an arbitrary proclamation.

    [Dr. Lisle: Actually, I’ve written many articles, and even a book, demonstrating this claim. That’s hardly arbitrary. If the claim is so obviously false, then perhaps you can produce a non-Christian worldview that will account for the existence and properties of logic, morality, and induction.]

  10. Ian Barefoot says:

    Dr. Lisle,

    I was impressed with the subject matter of your blog and the discussions resulting from your post.

    My father and I have published a short audio series that discusses biblical patterns which we believe can be observed and proven, objectively and which also validate the claims of divine authorship. I would be honored if you could review it and give your honest opinion on the subject. In my opinion, it’s all about starting the discussion so that we can begin to engage people about the bible’s merits with a framework of reason and rationality.

    Reason & Faith – Darek Barefoot
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrYCbu3tR8c

    You can find more of his writings at http://www.typologetics.com

    Thanks again, keep up the good work!

    Ian Barefoot

  11. Chris C says:

    Dr. Lisle,

    How would you define what “putting God to the test” means? I know it means to tempt God, but what else does the term encompass? And how would putting God on trial be the same as putting God to the test? Do we tempt God when we use evidences (in the way that evidentialists do)? Or does Deut 6:16, Matt 4:7, and Luke 4:12 mean more than just to tempt God? In other words, I’m having a difficult time seeing how “putting God on trial” and “putting God to the test” go together.

  12. Tom Oboczky says:

    With any and all subjects discussed, we must always start with God. Any other starting point will always begin and end in error. To think for a moment that man, in all his reasoning can come to a point where he dares compatibility in reasoning with God is quite insane!

    In contrast, the knowledge of God to man, is the same as the knowledge of man to the amoeba! Can anyone even begin to understand that God had no beginning? Or that God created physical matter purely from His will alone?

    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

  13. Tom says:

    To Ashley: 2 points, 1) The Word of God, is exactly that, the Word of God. 2) Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If you fully understand this first verse, you should have no problem believing that the rest of Scripture is truly, the Word of God.

    For example, the “days” that are in Gen 1 are 24 hour periods according to v14. This goes against what true evolutionists believe, and regardless of what anyone believes, the Word of God is still, the Word of God!

  14. Matthew says:

    Jason,

    I want to retract and apologize for an earlier error of mine. I stated and defended what I termed a “lie-of-omission”. I realize that this is not accurate and it was wrong for me to use it. I apologize for this because a “lie” is a false statement made with the intention to deceive. It is more accurate to argue for “deception by omission”. I realize this. I still believe that the Bible contains examples of divine dishonesty. I also apologize for my past snarky comments to you. I realize that I could’ve made my points without being rude and snarky. I sincerely apologize for this.

  15. Pablo says:

    This is not about science vs religion. When we talk about science we are talking about scientists, because science is not an independent entity that exists apart from men. Science is basically about scientists doing hypothesis, theories, following methods and making conclusions. Scientists are humans, this means they are not perfect. We cannot idealize science which is the result of human activities.
    When we talk about “religion”, that’s a generalization, but if we have to find something in common among religions that is the search for God, “religion” is not just another human activity but the connexion with the Creator, “religion” is about God, and it comes to us through revelation, not by human experiments or hypothesis. This means that in the end, the real discussion is not “Science vs Religion” but “some men vs (against) God”, and we know those men are unaware of the spiritual world which they deny…They attack believers but their real anger is against God, their denial of the spiritual world makes them easy targets for demons.

  16. venchi says:

    Mr. Lisle some atheist says morality can indeed be touch citing mirror neurons. What are mirror neurons exactly in relation to morality?.. What is wrong with this reasoning?

    • Dr. Lisle says:

      The atheist’s claim is an example of the fallacy of irrelevant thesis – it answers a question that is not the one asked. Namely, the question is about how to account for morality. Morality is about how people should behave. But the atheist answers this by giving an example to explain behavior. Behavior is about how people do behave. Behavior is very different from morality because the way people do behave is not always the way they should behave. People sometimes murder other people – that’s behavior, but it is certainly not moral.

      Mirror neurons are those brain connections that are active both when we do a particular thing or when we see someone else do that same thing. And so they may be involved in feelings of empathy, when we imagine what it would be like to be that other person. At best, mirror neurons might explain some of our behavior. But this is logically irrelevant to the issue of morality. Explaining why people do behave a particular way has no bearing on the question of how people should behave. I hope this helps.

  17. Zach says:

    It’s also a problem that the people who give us the Bible may have made parts of it up.

    • Dr. Lisle says:

      Critics sometimes make that claim, but they are never able to back it up with any evidence. So it is merely wishful thinking on their part, and not something they have concluded for good reasons. Even by their own secular standards, if they applied them consistently, they would have to conclude that the Bible is historically accurate. It is far more authentic than any other ancient work, and much of it has been confirmed archeologically.

      More importantly, Jesus took the Old Testament of the Bible as absolutely authoritative. “It is written” settled the matter. And as God, He would know. Jesus demonstrated His divinity by rising from the dead, and appeared to more than 500 people at once (1 Corinthians 15:6). And Jesus pre-authorized the New Testament (John 14:26). History records that eleven of the twelve disciples were martyred for their faith. So obviously they were not making it up – they died for what they believed. It’s unreasonable to think that people would be willing to die for something they knew to be false. We have every reason to believe the Bible is what it claims to be – the very Word of God – and no reason at all to believe otherwise.

  18. Colin says:

    Jason Lisle said “atheism is itself a religion – by definition – since it is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.”

    Dictionary.com said
    “noun
    1.
    the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
    2.
    disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.”

    merriam-webster.com said
    ” a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
    b : the doctrine that there is no deity ”

    thefreedictionary.com said
    “1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
    2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.”

    So, not a set of beliefs but a single belief or lack of belief (depending on if the atheist is gnostic or agnostic). No claim is made about the cause, nature or purpose of/for the universe.

    So “Dr.” Lisle, whom I actually hesitate to call a doctor if you have trouble looking things up in the dictionary, please understand that ‘sets’ usually contain more than one thing, and definitely contain more than a lack of one thing.

    • Dr. Lisle says:

      Colin, atheism is the belief that there is no God, which logically means that the universe is not caused by God, that its nature is not contingent upon God, and that it has no divine purpose. Hence, atheism is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. Now let’s see if you can complete a syllogism:
      (1) A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe is religion.
      (2) Atheism is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.
      (3) Therefore, atheism is ____________.

      • Colin says:

        No. Atheism is only a lack of belief in god. Some atheists take it a step further and claim that there is no god. That is the difference between agnosticism and gnosticism (neither of which are exclusive to atheism.

        [Dr. Lisle: Actually all atheists, by definition, claim that there is no God. That’s what makes an atheist an a-theist. The name literally means “no God.” Someone who isn’t convinced that God exists, but is also unpersuaded that God does not exist would be called “agnostic.” Don’t confuse these terms.]

        [Some atheists try to redefine terms so that their beliefs don’t sound like beliefs in an attempt to shift the burden of the proof. If we’re going to stoop to that level, then I’m an a-atheist; I am simply unpersuaded of atheism’s claims. I don’t believe the claim “God doesn’t exist” and find it to be unproven and lacking in support.]

        Even if an atheist claimed that god does not exist at all, atheism is still not a religion because they havent made a claim about what the universe is or how it formed, only how they believe it *didn’t* form. Big difference.

        [Dr. Lisle: Certainly they have. First, a belief about how something didn’t happen is, of logical necessity, a belief about how it did happen because it reduces the possibilities of how it did happen. Consider: “I’m not claiming anything whatsoever about how the windows was broken; I’m merely saying they it was not an accident. Big difference.” No. To believe the broken window was not broken by accident is logically to believe that it was broken deliberately – which is a belief about how the window was broken. You seem to think that a belief that denies a proposition isn’t a belief. But it is a belief still. Propositions can be either affirmative or negative. Moreover, any claim can be stated in either a negative way or an affirmative way by contraposition, as any logic textbook will show. Atheists, of logical necessity, believe that the universe formed naturally – without any divine/supernatural aid. That is a belief about how the universe formed. Atheists, of logical necessity, believe that the universe is an accident in the sense that it was not planned or designed by God. That is a belief about what the universe is.]

        [Second, you simply haven’t done your homework on this issue if you think that atheists don’t have any beliefs at all about the origin and nature of the universe. I’ve heard many an atheist wax eloquently about how the universe popped into existence in a big bang, followed by billions of years of cosmic and eventually biological evolution. Those are certainly beliefs about the origin and nature of the universe. And those beliefs are influenced by the person’s belief in atheism.]

        In the future, please refrain from using weak straw man arguments or defining words to suit your own needs.

        [Dr. Lisle: That’s exactly what I was going to say to you.]

        • Colin says:

          If things are as they seem and you are deleting or moderating my posts, you are a sore loser who can’t admit that he is wrong. I’m sorry I wasted my time on you.

          • Colin says:

            Also do me a favor and delete *all* of my posts. I don’t want it to look like I don’t have a response when I obviously do.

            • Dr. Lisle says:

              No, I’d like your comments to be posted for all to see. If you have a rational response, and are respectful and follow posting rules, I’ll allow it. If you can’t behave yourself as a guest on my blog, then your comments won’t be allowed.

          • Dr. Lisle says:

            You need to follow the commenting rules if your comments are to be posted. Disrespectful diatribes are not acceptable. If you have a rational response, make it.

  19. donna girolamo says:

    Hi. I was just watching your Presuppositional apologetics video . I wanted to make a comment. You speak of using “evidence only” apologetics as using the worlds wisdom or wordly logic.

    [Dr. Lisle: I’ve learned to state things more precisely over the years. I believe in the appropriate use of evidence. What is not appropriate is to accept the unbeliever’s standard for how evidence ought to be interpreted.]

    I submit, that all truth is Gods word to us, …

    [Dr. Lisle: I wouldn’t say that because God’s Word is the Bible and Christ. General revelation – while it is from God – is not properly called God’s Word.]

    all “origin of the universe” facts , all logic that is true, is from him.

    [Dr. Lisle: I agree. Therefore, when unbelievers use logic correctly, or state something that is factually true, they are stealing from the Christian worldview. We would do well to point that out. It would be inappropriate to agree with them that such truths are independent of God, or that they can be attained apart from the truth of Christianity. This is because ALL wisdom and knowledge are in Christ (Colossians 2:3). We would also do well to remember that not all of what the world calls “facts” are really true.]

    It is ridiculous to separate legitimate approaches by declaring, scientific evidence or logic is not as powerful as trying to change someones worldview by using the Word of God etc.

    [Dr. Lisle: “Legitimate” is the key word. If the Bible were not true, then scientific evidence and logic could not be rationally justified, and would therefore be illegitimate. It’s perfectly fine to use scientific evidence in a confirmatory way, but never as being superior or independent of the truth of Scripture, because science presupposes Scripture. Also, don’t underestimate the Word of God. It never returns void (Isaiah 55:11) and can induce faith (Romans 10:17).]

    The evidence in creation leaves man without excuse..why? Because God is in that truth too. He must be because he created all things.

    [Dr. Lisle: The Bible answers your question somewhat differently. Why is man without excuse? Because God has made Himself evident to man (Romans 1:19). God has hardwired us in such a way that we must know Him, and that we see His handiwork in the created order. It is only because the Bible is true that evidence is useful. So I don’t object to using evidence – I use it a lot. What I object to is when people attempt to use evidence as if it were superior to God’s Word, or pretend to interpret it in a neutral way, independent of the Christian worldview. That approach is not truthful.]

    Simply because non christians dont believe it does not make one side a worldly argument if you are still using truth from the creator himself. All approaches are good and useful, it depends completely on who you are talking to. Use evidence if that is what they examine everything by, social issues if that is their mindset, and scripture if they are religious.

    [Dr. Lisle: This is where I most sharply disagree with you. No, it is not the case that “all approaches are good and useful.” As an obvious counter-example, it is not good and useful to lie for the sake of persuading someone of the Gospel. For example, you could claim, “God will give happiness and health, and you’ll never have any more problems in your life if you only believe the Gospel.” While that approach might persuade some, it is dishonest. Likewise, it is dishonest to agree to the unbeliever’s standard for interpreting evidence. Why? Because the unbeliever’s standard is wrong.]

    [Now, I do agree with part of what your wrote. I do think it is good and appropriate to use evidence or social issues as a starting point in the conversation. We just need to do this in a way that is truthful, and faithful to God’s Word.]

    Of course the rejection of the Word proves a person wrong, …but not to them.

    [Dr. Lisle: Be careful not to confuse proof with persuasion. Proof is objective, but persuasion is subjective. If someone disagrees with Scripture, then that person is objectively wrong, though they are not subjectively persuaded of such.]

    My point is that although Gods Word is powerful it does not touch everyone powerfully, if they are unsaved.

    [Dr. Lisle: Actually, it does. God’s Word always has an effect, even on unbelievers. It just doesn’t always result in salvation. Sometimes it results in further condemnation. But it always does something. God’s Word never returns void; it always accomplishes God’s plan (Isaiah 55:10-11).]

    At the same time a single verse can propel someone right into the Kingdom.
    I know many unsaved people who have read the Bible several times…nothing changed. I think Christians miss this because when we are saved, the Word is so powerful and all consuming to us. It is hard for us to imagine people not seeing God in it.

    [Dr. Lisle: God’s Word has power whether people acknowledge it or not. Thus, God’s Word will have an effect on unbelievers, even if we cannot outwardly see what that effect is.]

    No creation evidence is proof to an atheist or will change an atheists mind necessary, but it will challenge the status quo in their very presence.

    [Dr. Lisle: Evidence can certainly be used if it is used in a way that is subordinate to the Scriptures – but not as an alternative standard to the Scriptures. One reason for this is that evidence always requires an interpretive framework – a worldview that tells the person what the evidence means. Unbelievers have a wrong worldview, and thus do not interpret evidence correctly, at least not consistently. Their worldview must be challenged if they are ever going to understand the evidence properly.]

    We are ambassadors of Christ and we need to bring back the science that points to creation back to this world. It was silenced. Great scientists of the past always knew the science pointed to creation . Now scientists and students have not heard the truth , it has been silenced, covered with deception. It will change some.

    [Dr. Lisle: I agree. But we must be careful to do this in the right way. The way in which we defend God’s Word must be faithful to that Word. And that means, among other things, that we should never treat God’s Word as inferior to man’s interpretation of evidence. What you lead people by is what you lead people to. If you lead people by an approach that basically says, “Sure your mind’s opinion of what the evidence means is the ultimate standard for judging the Bible to be true” then you necessarily lead them to the position that their mind is in a position to judge God’s Word. That’s one reason why there are so many horrible interpretations of creation today. People feel that they may judge God’s Word. In reality, it is God’s Word that judges us.]

    All ways should be used to reach the lost.

    [Dr. Lisle: No, I don’t agree. We should only use ways that are honest and truthful and faithful to Scripture to reach the lost. We should not use dishonest means. We should not use unbiblical/untruthful standards of interpretation. Evidence can be used, but not in a way that puts the mind of man above God’s Word – because the mind of man is not above God’s Word.]

    1. Both scripture and evidence, 2.just evidence at first, 3. just scripture , 4. life arguments, 5. morality arguments, 6. showing Gods love etc.

    [Dr. Lisle: Perhaps it would clarify things to explain it this way: The issue is not about what evidence may be used or when. Rather, it is about how evidence is to be used. You may use any evidence whatsoever at any point in the conversation, or even to open a door to conversation. However, the way in which you use evidence must not imply that evidence can be legitimately interpreted apart from the truth of the Christian worldview. Why? Because that would be dishonest: evidence cannot be legitimately interpreted apart from the truth of the Christian worldview. The unbeliever wants us to agree to his terms: that his mind’s understanding of the evidence is the ultimate standard for truth. That of course is false. If we agree to that standard, then we are endorsing a lie. We are being dishonest, because in fact the mind of man is not the ultimate standard for truth. God is.]

    What made me angry was when Ken Ham missed a great opportunity to show the world that each “scientific” evidence the Bill Nye presented for the “no God scenario ” had a better explanation in the “God scenario”. He was misguided in thinking it was about saving Bill Nye, or that those listening would be saved more by hearing Gods Word. it was about revealing the truth and asserting wisdom over deception. He had all of the facts to dispute the lies yet he decided against a rebuttal in many cases that would show the viewers Bill had only a theory, and not a very good one at that. Instead, viewers left the debate thinking the opposite, Ken Ham and creation had no legitimate leg to stand on. Again he separated scripture from the truth of creation. Both are truth , both are equally powerful because they are from the very mouth of God.

    [Dr. Lisle: I understand, and it’s easy to criticize when we are sitting here at a computer in the comfort of home. But having done live debates, I can tell you it is much harder when you’re actually in one. I might have used more scientific evidence than Ken did. But I would have used it appropriately, as confirmatory of God’s Word and not as some allegedly superior standard. And I certainly would not have divorced the evidence from Scripture.]

    Jesus himself used evidence without scripture to show Thomas he truly did resurrect. Thomas doubted, so Jesus showed him his hands. He then said blessed are those who have not seen yet believe, but nonetheless he gave the evidence first because he knew that is what Thomas needed.

    [Dr. Lisle: Jesus used evidence appropriately, in a confirmatory way, as we should. He never used evidence as being superior to God’s Word or as an equal allegedly neutral authority that is divorced from God’s Word or in a position to judge God’s Word. Indeed, Christ indicated that His Word was superior to creation – see Matthew 24:35; 7:24-27; 4:4. Christ further taught that even the most spectacular evidence will not persuade someone who is unwilling to believe God’s Word – see Luke 16:31.]

    [Thomas was inconsistent – believing parts of God’s Word but doubting the resurrection. When Jesus honored Thomas’s request to see physical evidence, does this mean that Jesus was endorsing the “evidence-only” approach? Or does it rather show the graciousness of our Lord in having mercy on Thomas? Christ rebuked Thomas for not believing on the basis of His Word. The implication of John 20:29 is that Thomas missed out on a blessing because of his approach. Thomas was sinfully judging God’s Word on the basis of his interpretation of the evidence. And while Christ forgave that sin, it should not be taken as an excuse for us to be like Thomas.]

    We need discernment from God to know how to approach each person individually. If we use one method predominantly we will miss opportunities for God.

    [Dr. Lisle: Many Christians accept erroneous, unbelieving standards, and try to “prove” the Bible by such errors. But this isn’t honest or faithful to God’s Word. It is important that our approach is faithful to God’s Word. There is much freedom in terms of the specific illustrations that may be used, or the order in which we bring up evidence. But we are never to suppress the Word of God, because it alone has the power of salvation (Romans 1:16).]

    • donna girolamo says:

      Thanks for your lengthy response. I dont disagree with you in regard to Gods Word being the ultimate standard, infallable and powerful. However, my point was that God spoke the world into being therefore being from his very mouth it will point directly back to him. All science (except the false theories) is from his very mouth. Its like a mathematician finding a new proof that leads to a new law, that law was Gods law and was always true, it was not created by the scientist that discovered it. Therefore, it can be used first in a debate.

      [Dr. Lisle: I suspect you still misunderstand my position, because I agree with what you have written here. Science can be used first – chronologically – in a debate. I do that often. But “first” in time does not mean that it is foundational or logically superior. And we shouldn’t treat it as if it were. Science could not operate if the Bible were not true. Thus it is both irrational and immoral to treat the Bible as inferior to the methods of science, as if we should trust science as an infallible standard, and only trust Scripture once it has passed all the scientific tests. That would be putting God to the test, and is unbiblical (Matthew 4:7).]

      Of course we should never use a lie, that was never the intent in saying we must use all ways available to us. We must use all ways like Paul did.

      [Dr. Lisle: We use all ethical ways – just as Paul did. Paul never put God to the test by treating Scripture as less than ultimate, to be judged by some allegedly greater external standard. And neither should we.]

      He was all things to all men which means he met people where they were, became interested in them in order that they would be interested in him and what he wanted to say.

      [Dr. Lisle: Paul did this in all ways that are not contrary to God’s Word. Paul did not become a murderer to reach murderers. He did not become a thief to reach thieves, or an adulterer to reach adulterers. We become “all things to all people” only to the extent permitted by obedience to God’s Word. Becoming interested in math to reach a mathematician is a great idea! But to agree that God’s Word is subordinate to some secular standard for the sake of reaching someone who believes this way – that crosses the line.]

      He did not break out scripture everytime he witnessed. He often only gave his testimony. We use social issues , science, scripture, testimony and sometimes only loving a person first. We will always eventually use scripture, it is only a matter of timing, which comes first.

      [Dr. Lisle: That’s fine, and perfectly compatible with the biblical approach that I advocate.]

      I would like to caution you to not become a Bible deist. The Bible is not God. It is his word but his presence is what causes man to become undone.

      [Dr. Lisle: God uses His Word to instill faith in people. Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Can a person come to know God’s salvation apart from His Word? No, 1 Corinthians 1:21 states, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”]

      Do you honestly think that everyone that reads the bible or scripture will be saved?

      [Dr. Lisle: No. But no one will be saved apart from the Gospel, because “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)]

      His word will never return void means that it will accomplish the purpose God intended it to ,not necessarily what man intends. It is about his promises. We must be careful not to think that we know God simply because we study the scripture and by the same token that others will know him if they hear the scriptures necessarily.

      [Dr. Lisle: That’s true. But they will never know God (in a saving way) apart from the proclamation of His Word (1 Corinthians 1:21, Romans 10:17)]

      I have also been in debates, and I understand the pressure. I am not criticizing his ability. It is obvious he missed the opportunities on purpose. For a man who writes articles on carbon 14 dating being unreliable, his silence on facts he knows inside and out was telling. He chose not to answer, this was painfully obvious.
      Creation evidence is not divorced from Gods word. I completely disagree with you and urge you to help others to seek him with all of the heart soul mind and strength because that is when He will be found by them. Prayer, meeting Jesus himself. Scripture can also touch man.

      [Dr. Lisle: Again, I think perhaps my position is not clear to you. I am not suggesting for a moment that everything that we talk about must be quoted from God’s Word. However, everything we affirm should be true and thus compatible with God’s Word. And no one will be saved apart from God’s Word. Thus, we should be ready always to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2).]

      I think we will have to agree to disagree with which approach is best.

      [Dr. Lisle: No, I don’t “agree to disagree.” The Bible tells us which approach is best, and it tells us things that we are not to do even for the purposes of evangelism. For one, we are not to answer a fool according to his folly in the sense of becoming like him by embracing unbiblical standards (Proverbs 26:4). Thus we are not to agree to false/unbiblical standards of truth. Also, we are not to put God to the test because that would be sinful (Matthew 4:7). Unbelievers like to pretend that they are God and that their mind is sufficient to judge God’s Word. But this is unbiblical because God’s Word judges the mind of man, not the reverse (Hebrews 4:12). Thus it would be dishonest to agree to such terms.]

      [Dr. Lisle: In summary, the ends do not justify the means. You could probably get someone to say that “Jesus is Lord” by pointing a gun to his head – but that would be unbiblical. That’s an extreme case that I’ve selected to make the point that we are not free to use any method whatsoever to witness. But less extreme (though still sinful) examples are when Christians tacitly agree with unbelievers that it is acceptable to put God to the test by some allegedly greater standard. This is dishonest because there is no greater standard. We must make sure that our defense of the faith is faithful to Scripture.]

      Yours is not the “only” debate approach as you indicate nor is it the best.

      [Dr. Lisle: The Bible says it is. The Bible tells us that man cannot come to know God by worldly/secular wisdom, but only by the proclamation of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 1:21). Now this does not mean, as you have indicated, that my position is that we should never use anything other than God’s Word to evangelize or to do apologetics. That too would be unbiblical. Rather, all that we do and teach must be foundationally built upon God’s Word because anything else will not stand up to rational scrutiny (Matthew 7:24-27). And, we should not “hide” the fact that our faith rests upon God as articulated in His Word “that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5).]

      [Dr. Lisle: There is only one correct way to live life: and that is in obedience to God’s Word. Anything else is sin. Yet, there is great freedom in the details of how we live a life pleasing to God. You could be a teacher, a plumber, a pianist, a painter, or many other things and give glory to God in what you do. But you could not be a thief or murderer because these are outside the parameters of godly living. And so it is with apologetics and evangelism. There is great freedom in which specific lines of evidence we present and in what order within the biblical approach. But some ways of defending the faith fall outside the parameters that God specifies – and that makes them sinful even though the intentions of the person may be good. As one example, it is not biblical to treat the Bible as secondary or inferior to some external test – yet many Christians present it this way.]

      Go to God directly in prayer and he will lead you the proper way for that individual. Everything must line up with scripture, but not everything is in scripture. Certain specifics about certain people , strategies etc must be learned through prayer. Paul was told not to go into Bithynia by the Holy Spirit not by reading scripture.

      [Dr. Lisle: When you say, “everything must line up with Scripture” you make my point. The method that most Christians use to defend the faith does not line up with Scripture, and is therefore unbiblical. In my view, it is perfectly fitting to use specific strategies for certain people, to be led by the Holy Spirit in prayer, and so forth. However, whatever strategy we use must be compatible with the way that the Bible tells us to defend it, otherwise it would be sinful. And of course, the Holy Spirit will never lead us in a way contrary to what He has written in His Word.]

      Job Verse 42:5
      shows us how just knowing scripture is not enough, we are humbled about our wretched self WHEN WE SEE GOD. we must know him, be in his presences hear his loving voice speaking directly to us in order to be fully surrendered to his perfection. This is the only way his light shines on our unworthiness.

      [Dr. Lisle: Most people do not see God literally/physically in their life. That is why God gave us His Word. And it is by hearing His Word that faith comes (Romans 10:17). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.]

      Dont miss the opportunities that God places before you. 🙂

      [Dr. Lisle: That’s always good advice. Another tip would be: always be faithful to the Bible in the way that you defend the Bible. Recognize that apart from the power of God’s Word, people cannot be saved (Romans 1:16-17).]

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