Are You Epistemologically Self-Conscious?

Epistemology is the study of knowledge – how we know what we know.  When a person has a belief, it is reasonable to ask the person “how do you know this?”  The way in which a person responds to this kind of question will reveal his or her epistemology.  All people have an epistemology because they have some beliefs, and they have reasons for their beliefs.  But not all reasons are good reasons.  And if the reason isn’t very good, then there is a good chance that the belief is wrong.  So epistemology is very important if we want our beliefs to correspond to reality.

Most people have not consciously reflected on their own epistemology.  They haven’t stopped to ask themselves, “How do I ultimately know anything?  What are the standards by which truth is determined?  And are these standards reasonable?”  It is obvious that all people do have an epistemology because it would be impossible to know anything without some kind of system of knowledge – and people do know things.  But most people are not aware of their own epistemology.  They are not epistemologically self-conscious.

Some might say, “Who cares?  I’m not a philosopher.  So why should I be concerned with epistemology?  It is enough that I do know things.”  But in fact, our epistemology is crucially important because if it is wrong, then many of our beliefs derived from that faulty system will also likely be wrong.  If our epistemology is wrong, then we could be wrong about everything we think we know.

The reason for a belief must itself be believed for a good reason – and so on.  Suppose Jenny says, “I understand they are building a new apartment complex down the street.”  We might ask, “How do you know this?”  Jenny responds, “Bill told me.  He said he talked with the construction crew.”  Is this a reasonable answer?  It depends.  The reason for Jenny’s belief is Bill’s statement.  But is Bill’s statement reliable?  If it is, then Jenny’s belief is reasonable.  If not, then Jenny’s belief is irrational.  So we must know something about Bill in order to know if Jenny is being rational.

For example, it could be the case that Bill is a notorious liar.  If Jenny knows this, then it would be irrational for her to believe his statement without additional reasons.  But let’s suppose that Bill has shown himself to be trustworthy.  Even in this case, Bill could still be mistaken.  Maybe he has a mental disorder that causes him to hallucinate from time to time.  Bill may honestly believe that he talked with a construction crew, when in fact it never happened.  So Jenny’s belief is contingent upon both Bill’s honesty, and the reliability of Bill’s mind and sensory organs.

Jenny’s belief also depends upon the reliability of her own mind and senses.  Perhaps Jenny hallucinates on occasion and only thought that she talked with Bill.  Perhaps Bill does not actually exist, being only a projection of Jenny’s delusion.  How can Jenny know that her own mind and senses are reliable, such that she can know that she really talked with Bill?  Most people just assume that their senses are reliable without thinking about whether or not this belief is reasonable; they are not epistemologically self-conscious.  But these questions must be answered if we are to be confident that we have knowledge of anything at all.  If we are to be considered rational, then we must not continue to act on unsupported assumptions.

Christian epistemology makes knowledge possible.

The Christian worldview alone makes it possible for us to answer these questions and have genuine knowledge.  This is because knowledge stems from the nature of God (Proverbs 1:7, Colossians 2:3).  God has revealed some of His knowledge to us.  Some of this knowledge is hardwired directly into us, and other knowledge is revealed by God through tools that He has given us – like logic and reliable sensory organs.  The Christian worldview gives us rational justification for all the things that we rely upon in order to have knowledge.

For example, consider the rationality of the mind.  If we had no reason to believe that our mind is rational, then we would have no reason to trust any of our own thoughts.  In that case, we couldn’t know anything!  In the Christian worldview, we can have some degree of confidence in our mind’s ability to be rational since human beings are made in the image of God.  God’s mind is perfect by His nature.  And God has given us the ability to pattern our thoughts after His.  In fact, for our benefit, God has commanded us to pattern our thoughts after His, so that our thoughts will be truthful (Isaiah 55:7-8, John 14:6)

As another example, we can trust that our senses are basically reliable because God has created them (Proverbs 20:12).  What our eyes see and what our ears hear do correspond to reality.  Of course, on occasion our senses fail us because we are finite and also because of the curse.  An optical illusion is an example of this, and so is a mirage.  But God has given us several different senses and the rationality to compare data from different senses so that we can discern these rare instances.  So we can be confident that our senses are basically reliable.

As a third example, consider the laws of logic.  We use these laws instinctively to rightly judge certain kinds of truth claims.  We know that the statement, “My car is in the garage and it is not in the garage (at the same time and in the same way)” is false because it violates a law of logic.  But how do we know that laws of logic are reliable?  Even if they work sometimes, can we have any confidence that they work all the time, or in future situations that we have never experienced?  In the Christian worldview laws of logic are a reflection of the way God thinks.  Hence they will necessarily be right because God’s mind defines truth.  Laws of logic will be true everywhere in the universe and at all times because God is omnipresent and does not change.  We can know laws of logic because we are made in God’s image, and can think in a way that is consistent with His nature.

As a fourth example, we can have knowledge of morality – “right” and “wrong.”  God has revealed to us how we should behave according to His will.  And God will hold us accountable for our actions.  Hence, all people have an objective reason to behave according to the standards laid down in God’s Word.  We are morally obligated to our Creator.

The failure of secular epistemologies

Non-Christian worldviews would make knowledge impossible.  By this, I certainly do not mean that non-Christians can’t know anything.  Clearly they can.  But this is despite their worldview and not because of it.  My point is that if reality were the way non-Christians claim it is, then knowledge would be impossible. The reason is that these unbiblical worldviews cannot justify those things necessary for knowledge.  So while a non-believer might offer a reason for a belief, he or she cannot ultimately justify the reason itself from a non-Christian foundation.

For example, “I know Saturn has rings because I have observed them with my eyes through a telescope.”  But this assumes that our eyes are reliable – a Christian concept.  A person might say, “I know two contradictory claims cannot both be true because this violates a law of logic.”  Quite right, but apart from Christianity there is no reason to believe that laws of logic are universally and invariantly reliable.

As a specific example, consider the most common secular worldview – that the universe is the result of a big bang, followed by billions of years of cosmic and then biological evolution.  In this worldview, people are merely the inevitable unplanned result of chemistry acting over time.  There is no grand scheme of things, no ultimate mind upholding the universe, and no ultimate objective meaning.

Can a person holding such a view ever have good reasons for his beliefs?  Evolutionists do rely upon laws of logic, upon their mind and senses, and upon morality.  And these are good reasons – in the Christian worldview.  But in the secular worldview, can these reasons be justified?  If not, then a secularist would be irrational to believe them.

Why in the secular worldview should we suppose that our mind has the capacity to be rational?  Rationality involves choice; we consciously consider the various options and then choose the best.  But in the secular worldview, the brain is simply chemistry – and chemistry has no choice.  Chemicals always react according to prescribed laws of nature.  In the secular worldview, there is no more reason to trust a human brain than there is to trust in reading tea leaves.  Both are just the inevitable result of chemical reactions.

Should we trust that our senses are basically reliable?  Not in the secular worldview.  According to evolution, our sensory organs are merely the result of accidental mutations – those that did not decrease our survival value and were therefore not eliminated.  Some people might suppose that our sensory organs are reliable because they have survival value.  But this does not follow logically.  Chlorophyll has survival value in plants; but this does not imply that chlorophyll reliably informs the plant about the outside world.

Should we trust in laws of logic?  In a chance universe, there is no reason to expect there to be laws at all, nor laws of logic in particular.  Even if we grant their existence, the secular worldview cannot account for their properties.  Given that the universe is in a continual state of change, why should laws of logic be exempt?  We all assume that they will be the same tomorrow, but this belief is unwarranted in the secular worldview.  Why would they be the same everywhere?  How can the human mind know about them?  Why does truth always conform to laws of logic?  The secular worldview just doesn’t have a good reason for such things.  The existence and properties of laws of logic are unjustified in the secular worldview.  And hence, any belief based on them is also unjustified in the secular worldview.

What about knowledge of ethics?  Morality is about what should be, not what is.  In a chance universe, who decides what should be?  One person thinks that a particular behavior is commendable.  But another person disagrees.  Who is right?  Morality can only be subjective in a secular worldview; it is relative to the individual.  And of course, this isn’t truly morality at all – merely personal preferences.  In a secular universe there can be no such thing as an objective “right” and “wrong.”

Rationality

What is the difference between a rational person and an irrational one?  A rational person has a good reason for his or her beliefs.  An irrational person does not.  But what we have seen above is that only the Christian worldview can allow us to have good reasons for our most basic beliefs – our presuppositions.  Apart from the Christian worldview, any reason that we offer for any belief cannot be ultimately justified.  It would appear that there are only two options for a person to hold.  One can either be a consistent Christian, or one can be irrational.

About Dr. Lisle

Dr. Jason Lisle is a Christian astrophysicist who writes and speaks on various topics relating to science and the defense of the Christian faith. He graduated summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University where he double-majored in physics and astronomy and minored in mathematics. He then earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Dr. Lisle specialized in solar astrophysics and has made a number of scientific discoveries regarding the solar photosphere, including the detection of giant cell boundaries using the SOHO spacecraft. He also does theoretical research and has contributed to the field of general relativity. Since completion of his research at the University of Colorado, Dr. Lisle began working in full-time apologetics ministry, specializing in the defense of Genesis. He has written a number of articles and books on the topic. His most well-known book, The Ultimate Proof of Creation, demonstrates that biblical creation is the only logical possibility for origins. Dr. Lisle wrote and directed the popular planetarium shows at the Creation Museum, including “The Created Cosmos.” He now works as director of research at the Institute for Creation Research.
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411 Responses to Are You Epistemologically Self-Conscious?

  1. Chris C says:

    Great post Dr. Lisle. Very well done. Glad to see a new one from ya.

    • Sebastian Osborn says:

      Please forgive me Dr. Jason Lisle, but I can’t seem to find any other sufficient way to contact you. I read your comment rules, but I need to address an issue that is not relevant to this specific topic.

      I believe that you made some very good observations on the speed of light in terms of measuring distance and synchronizing clocks, but what about the method scientists use involving a spinning disc? The faster the disc spins, the less radiation gets through the disc. This is one of the supposedly more effective ways of figuring out the speed of light. Is there a way to refute this method of determining the speed of light? Is there something wrong with this method? Can I suggest that this issue needs to be addressed with an article?

      • Dr. Lisle says:

        Hi Sebastian,

        That’s a very astute question. The answer is, yes, a spinning disk can be used to measure the round-trip speed of light, but not the one-way speed. The reason it cannot measure the one-way speed is because matter is not infinitely rigid.

        So if you had two disks on opposite sides of a spinning shaft, and these disks have holes in them at identical locations, as you speed up the shaft rotation, less light will get through. Is this because (A) the light has taken some time to travel along the shaft such that disk B has rotated relative to disk A? Or, is it (B) that the light is infinitely fast toward the observer, but the shaft has “twisted” slightly such that the holes of disk A are no longer exactly aligned with the holes of disk B?

        When not rotating, what causes the shaft to maintain its shape? Answer: The electro-chemical bonds between the molecules. This is an electromagnetic force. But this force is not instantaneous – it travels at the speed of light. If the one-way speed of light is different in different directions, then the rotating shaft will naturally twist since the electromagnetic force between the molecules is faster one way than the other. Hence, less light will get through even if the light is instantaneous.

        I hope this helps.

  2. Brian Forbes says:

    “In the Christian worldview laws of logic are a reflection of the way God thinks. Hence they will necessarily be right because God’s mind defines truth. Laws of logic will be true everywhere in the universe and at all times because God is omnipresent and does not change.”

    I don’t think this is sufficient logical support for using logical laws. For one, God doesn’t define the laws of logic for us. We discern them from living in this world. Since God allows for the supernatural on rare occasion, we can’t be sure of anything in the Christian world view. In the end, we accept laws of logic on faith.

    I have a hypothetical example of how the use of logical fallacies can lead you to a false conclusion. According to the Christian worldview, God made the world’s languages. So if someone misused a word in English, we would counter with the “all true Scotsmen” fallacy and say that the word was used incorrectly. Seeing the logical fallacy, and absent God’s divine wisdom, he continues to use the word incorrectly, saving his pride and creating confusion. In this case, too, it’s impossible to be perfectly logical, and even if we were going to try to be logical, we would accept his downright dumb conclusion about word definitions.

    That was just one of many hypotheticals I could use to show that laws of logic aren’t always sufficient. I’ve seen it happen in real life too, but I can’t recall the anecdotes. Even if I could, it wouldn’t be considered logical to use them in a peer-reviewed paper, for instance. We still need faith. Logic isn’t everything.

    • Reese says:

      A few questions for Brian Forbes, you wrote:

      “That was just one of many hypotheticals I could use to show that laws of logic aren’t always sufficient.”

      If the “Laws of Logic aren’t always sufficient” as you suggest, what standard reasoning did you use to come to the conclusion that “the laws of logic are not always sufficient?”

      “Even if I could, it wouldn’t be considered logical to use them in a peer-reviewed paper, for instance.”

      Are you saying “them” (as in the Laws of Logic) wouldn’t be “logical” to use in a peer-reviewed paper? Why wouldn’t the Laws of Logic be considered logical in a peer-reviewed paper? Again what standard besides the “illogical” Laws of Logic would you propose using?

      “We still need faith.” Logic isn’t everything.”

      How would you define faith? We define faith as belief is things not perceived by the senses. We can perceive when a contradictory statement has been made like the car is parked in the garage and the car is not parked in the garage at the same time in the same way.

      “Logic isn’t everything.”

      Dr. Lisle was not claiming that Logic is everything. I believe he was simply pointing out that it’s only the Christian world view that can account for the Laws of Logic.

      • Brian Forbes says:

        By your arguments you show two things:
        1. It doesn’t seem possible to argue people in and out of positions without logic. I might even say that logic is a necessary component of argumentation. Still, “because I said so” can work to convince people from time to time.
        2. People can hold positions without using logic.

        Therefore, we need faith. That was my point. I define faith as trust or confidence. I don’t know a lot of people who don’t have faith in logic, but I know even fewer who are willing to reject a “law” of logic or two when it seems like the law is in error. Dr. Lisle even gives a couple examples of when a particular law doesn’t apply. And how do we know the law is faulty in those cases? There’s something higher than logical laws. That higher thing is called faith. We will even sometimes use faith to value intuition over logic.

        “them” was referring to anecdotes.

        • Jonas says:

          1. It’s always possible to argue people in and out of position without using logic. That’s what you call bad arguments and bad tripping, like some crackheads blabbering incoherently with each other. Or one man talking about politics in chinese while the other is responding in french about sports. Or its just a bad argument that persuade people to believe and follow a wrong belief. There’s no law of logic happening there. The point is Logic establish proper communication between individuals. Like both cannot be true at the same time and at the same sense. (a cannot be non a). And you can communicate and convince people without using law of logic. You are just violating it

          2. That’s what you call illogical position. Logic has something to do with the way people reason and communicate.

          The law cannot faulty just because there is faith. Faith and logic can be different whiteout contradicting each other. For instance the Law of nature runs its course in the universe. And since there is an outside agent beyond the physical world i.e. God, he can suspends it if He wants to, from time to time which He did on record. And it doesn’t mean the Law of physics or Chemistry is in error. It just the case of faith operate differently from logic.

  3. jp says:

    “God doesn’t define the laws of logic for us. We discern them from living in this world”.

    yes but how does a person determine what is “logical” about there “discernment” concerning this world? if this world is made of up discerning minds they need to have something “solid” to draw from in order to determine what is “logical or not”.

    in fact logic in its self is a product of a mind. and if we can see its existence throughout the world then perhaps we can see that logic is something that is transcendent of cosmological properties. for if they where apart of the cosmological properties then they are subject to change and or space and time. but laws of logic are available anywhere in the cosmos and are not subject to anything yet anything with a mind is.

    one would be rational to infer that since these laws are so solid and since they are available to shape our line of thinking and help us to make “right and wrong” choices, they are provided for us to draw from and use.

    only in the secular line of thinking does this rationality become useless. for if the secularist agrees with this logic he should no longer be a secularist but if he disagrees with it then he abolishes his ability to “know” if he is in fact correct about an alternative..

    • Brian Forbes says:

      The point I was making is that logic is only a tool we use to determine truth. We don’t accept the laws of logic by using the tool of logic. We accept them by faith.

      • Brad says:

        You just like to say that so you can make your own wacky bronze age faith seem more reasonable. Good luck with that.

        You’re a modern day geocentrist.

        [Dr. Lisle: Instead of just spouting off a knee-jerk reaction to something that goes against your beliefs, try to put your thoughts together in a coherent way that forms an actual rational argument. This would be far more effective.]

  4. Micah says:

    Good to see another article from you Dr. Lisle, it was a good read, thanks!

    Micah

  5. zilch says:

    Epistemology evolved, just as self-consciousness did. I can trust my knowledge and my senses to the same extent and for the same reason I breathe: because it works to keep me alive. It evolved to do so, and it does pretty well. What need have I of “absolute certainty”? This is just a relict of the way words work. While useful and indeed indispensable in circumscribed systems of formal logic such as mathematics, there’s no guarantee that anything like absolute certainty about the Universe as a whole is forthcoming.

    cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

    • James Lashley says:

      “Epistemology evolved, just as self-consciousness did. I can trust my knowledge and my senses to the same extent and for the same reason I breathe: because it works to keep me alive. It evolved to do so, and it does pretty well.”

      So pragamitism is the test for truth? If it works, then it’s true?

      “What need have I of “absolute certainty”? This is just a relict of the way words work. While useful and indeed indispensable in circumscribed systems of formal logic such as mathematics, there’s no guarantee that anything like absolute certainty about the Universe as a whole is forthcoming.”

      Are you “absolutely certain” of that?

      • Brad says:

        Asking “are you absolutely certain of that?”

        This is the absurdity if presuppositional apologetics.

        It’s childish and dishonest.

        [Dr. Lisle: Actually it is quite an intelligent and revealing question, though you seem to have missed it. A person who argues that nothing can be known for certain is being inconsistent if he thinks that his belief is itself certain. On the other hand, if he thinks he can be wrong about nothing being certain, then he admits to the possibility that indeed things can be certain. The question shows the intellectual inconsistency of the position. Do you understand now?]

        • Brad says:

          I don’t argue that nothing can be known for certain. Here is one thing I know with absolute certainty:

          “I know with absolute certainty that I don’t know everything.”

          What do you have to say to that?

        • Brad says:

          [Dr. Lisle: Actually it is quite an intelligent and revealing question, though you seem to have missed it. A person who argues that nothing can be known for certain is being inconsistent if he thinks that his belief is itself certain. On the other hand, if he thinks he can be wrong about nothing being certain, then he admits to the possibility that indeed things can be certain. The question shows the intellectual inconsistency of the position. Do you understand now?]

          How do you know any of that?

          • Jonas says:

            He used his reason God gave him to understand and know truth. How about yours? Who gave it to you anyway? Your parents? Yourself? The molecules in your head? Who? How do you know any of what you are saying, epistemically?

            • Havok says:

              Jonas, it’s almost as if people like yourself and Jason Lisle don’t realise the existence of non-theistic epistemologies.

              • Dr. Lisle says:

                My mentor on this topic, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, specialized in epistemology; his doctoral dissertation was on the topic. Although I’m well aware of a number of epistemologies, I have not seen any – apart from Christianity – that can account for induction. Have you?

      • zilch says:

        James- some kinds of truth are only approacheable through pragmatism- “what works” is all we have. But that’s okay- it works to assume the Sun will come up in the East tomorrow, even though I can’t be “absolutely certain” of it.

        • James Lashley says:

          Bless you zilch,
          Please don’t think I am trying to be rude or just contentious.

          “James- some kinds of truth are only approacheable through pragmatism- “what works” is all we have.”

          Is this assertion absolutely true, or a pragmatically true?

          “But that’s okay- it works to assume the Sun will come up in the East tomorrow, even though I can’t be “absolutely certain” of it”

          Are you absolutely certain, that you can’t be absolutely certain of it?

          • zilch says:

            James- don’t worry, you don’t seem rude or merely contentious to me. Thanks for your concern.

            That said, I’ll do my best to answer. Yes, my assertion is “pragmatically true”. The Sun continues to rise in the East, morning after morning, even though I see no way of being “absolutely certain” of its continuing. But my “pragmatic certainty” is high enough that I would bet my life on it.

            Likewise, I can’t be “absolutely certain” that I’m not a brain in a vat. But I’m willing to live with that uncertainty.

            And to answer your second question, no, I am not “absolutely certain” that I can’t be “absolutely certain” about it. But it doesn’t seem likely, barring a revelation by the Sun God- or getting hit on the head with a rock.

            People say they’re absolutely certain of things all the time- and often they’re wrong. I’d rather be wrong about things I don’t believe in absolutely, but merely pragmatically- then I won’t explode.

            • James Lashley says:

              “That said, I’ll do my best to answer. Yes, my assertion is “pragmatically true”. The Sun continues to rise in the East…”

              But, you don’t know that your (assertion is pragmatically true) with absolute certainty?

              “Likewise, I can’t be “absolutely certain” that I’m not a brain in a vat. But I’m willing to live with that uncertainty.”

              But, you don’t know that (your willing to live with that) with absolute certainty?

              “And to answer your second question, no, I am not “absolutely certain” that I can’t be “absolutely certain” about it. But it doesn’t seem likely…”

              But, you don’t know that (it doesn’t seem likely) with absolute certainty?

              “People say they’re absolutely certain of things all the time- and often they’re wrong…”
              But, you don’t know (they’re wrong) with absolute certainty?
              Would it be fair to say you live in a world of “I don’t know”?

              • zilch says:

                James- I don’t understand your question. I’ve already told you I don’t know these things with absolute certainty. Asking if I know that I don’t know with absolute certainty doesn’t make sense. If you like, I’ll say that my uncertainty goes all the way down the infinite regress you’ve made of it, but that infinite regress has no informational value. It’s just a word trick, with no real-world referent.

                Can you show me what’s the difference between claiming that you are “absolutely certain of something”, or claiming that you are not “absolutely certain”, but, say, certain enough to bet your life on something, say the Sun rising? Does it make you a better person? Do you behave more nicely or more accurately? Are you happier? I don’t get the point.

                • James Lashley says:

                  Firstly. Thank you for your time in indulging me in dialogue, and for your congenial demeanor. I am very much appreciative. And again, please do not construe my challenges as personal attacks. If I seem a bit coarse, please do forgive me, it is not intentional.

                  “…It’s just a word trick,”

                  It’s not a word trick. I am simply holding you to the standard you have dictated for yourself. As it seems you set the same and then appear to make knowledge claims expecting them to be accepted as valid.
                  I responded to your original post because I saw it as an assertion on your part as a truth claim. But given your admitted uncertainty why should this, or any other claim, be accepted as valid?

                  “…with no real-world referent.”

                  In an earlier post you stated you couldn’t be certain you weren’t a brain in a vat. However, you now presume to inform me regarding reality.

                  “Can you show me what’s the difference between claiming that you are “absolutely certain of something”, or claiming that you are not “absolutely certain”, but, say, certain enough to bet your life on something, say the Sun rising?”

                  Pragmatism fails in that one needs to know the proper function of a thing before one can determine if it works or not. That very thing pragmatism cannot give you.
                  It doesn’t tell us if something is good, right, or true. Consider as well, that what is true may not have an immediate pragmatic practical connection.
                  I would also question, how can we discern what is true between one person’s pragmatic experience and another’s separate experience?
                  I understand that you say it works. But, why do you assume it will work? You use induction within your worldview, however, how does your worldview justify the same?

                  “Does it make you a better person?Do you behave more nicely or more accurately?Are you happier?I don’t get the point.”

                  According to your worldview, from what, or where, do you derive a morality? I have the capability in mine to say “I am absolutely certain that it is wrong to torture and murder for fun”.

                  zilch, this is what I contend. You do have absolute certainty about some things. However, you suppress the truth in unrighteousness. I would encourage you to take Colossians 2:2-3 to heart, (I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him.) Herein lies the key. Recognize that you, as have I and everyone else, have sinned against a Holy God. Turn from that sin and accept Christ’s sacrifice for it (past, present, and future). And confess Him as your Savior and Lord. My prayers will be for you. God Bless.

                  • zilch says:

                    James- thanks for the considerate tone. But I’m afraid we will have to agree to disagree.

                    You say that I am making truth claims for my worldview, but ask why you should accept any claims I make, since I admit uncertainty. First off- you don’t have to accept any claims I make. I’m just telling you my point of view. Second- you are assuming, without stating so, that any claim that is not absolutely certain is not valid. But why? Many things in the world, even in your world, are obviously uncertain, but I’m pretty sure you still regard them as truths- for instance, that children should not play on freeways, even though it’s not certain they would come to harm.

                    And as I said, it’s obviously the case that people often are absolutely certain about things that are wrong. For instance, you, as a Christian, believe that Jesus is God, or the Son of God. Are you absolutely certain? Well, I know lots of Muslims who are just as sure as you are that Mohammad was a prophet of Allah. You can’t both be right, can you? That means that it’s quite possible to be absolutely certain and to be wrong- and I’m sure you can think of many other examples yourself.

                    So “absolute certainty” is just another claim which might also be wrong. What advantage do you get from claiming “absolute certainty”?

              • Brad says:

                You don’t know anything with absolute certainty. You’re a liar if you say otherwise.

                [Dr. Lisle: Are you absolutely certain of your claim itself? If not, then you cannot rationally state, “You’re a liar if you say otherwise.” The claim “You don’t know anything with absolute certainty” is an absolute claim, and you stated it as if you knew it with certainty. Do you?]

                • zilch says:

                  I don’t think you’re necessarily a liar if you claim to be absolutely certain about something, Brad. You can also simply be mistaken. To me, lying implies being aware that one is not truthful.

                • Brad says:

                  Mr. Lisle, I refuse to call you doctor.

                  [Dr. Lisle: Being disrespectful is not a substitute for a rational argument. Often when people cannot defend their position rationally, they try to belittle their opponent, as you have done here. It shows that your position is weak and based on emotion rather than logic.]

                  I know some things with absolute certainty.

                  [Dr. Lisle: I agree. But earlier you said, “You don’t know anything with absolute certainty. You’re a liar if you say otherwise.” And you have now said otherwise. My point is that you might want to be more careful in the future about calling people liars.]

                  • Brad says:

                    On this one point, you’re absolutely, 100% correct.

                  • the_ignored says:

                    Interesting point, Jason.

                    Just as you people may want to check out your accusations that we all “know” that your god exists but are just “suppressing” the truth!

                    [Dr. Lisle: Actually, this is God’s accusation (Romans 1:18-23). And it is objectively provable. People reveal their suppressed knowledge of God when they rely on His laws of logic, or expect Him to uphold the universe in a uniform way, or when they appeal to objective moral standards. These things cannot be justified apart from the biblical God.]

                    After all, aren’t you implying that every single non-xian in the world is a liar when you say that?

                    [Dr. Lisle: Again, the claim is God’s. Romans 1:25, 3:4.]

                • Brad says:

                  How do you know I cannot be absolutely certain?

                  • Josef says:

                    Brad,

                    You were the one who made the claim that we can’t be absolutely certain about things and said that if we claimed to be able to be absolutely certain about things, then that would make us liars.

                    It seems that you’ve spouted off so many ad hoc reactions that you can’t even keep up with your own arguments.

                • James Lashley says:

                  I equate knowledge as a justified true belief. If someone thinks they know something, but in reality what they think they know is false. Then they, in fact, did not have valid knowledge or simple put, they did not know it.

                  At this point, since you have given up absolute certainty in regards to knowledge and you are “just telling me your point of view”, I see no point in continuing. Your uncertainty of your uncertainty, serves to concede that my certainty is possible. With my worldview, I can claim absolute certainty. Whereas for you to actually refute my claim with any validity, you must step out of your uncertainty. Otherwise, you are a man with his eyes closed claiming blindness, telling myself and others that we also are blind, despite our telling you we see light.

                  With that, my friend I will give you the last word. As it appears we may be running out of room.

                  God Bless you my friend.

                  • zilch says:

                    We always do run out of room in the end, do we not? Thanks for the cordial exchange, James.

                    You say that I cannot refute your worldview with any validity. I agree: with your standards for “absolute certainty or nothing”, that’s correct. However, I don’t wish to refute your worldview. I don’t see the need for it myself- my life is fine and dandy without it- but if it makes you happy, then more power to you.

                    cheers from cool Vienna, zilch

                  • Brad says:

                    How do you justify your certainty?

                    How do you know you know anything?

  6. The Christian worldview alone makes it possible for us to answer these questions and have genuine knowledge. This is because knowledge stems from the nature of God (Proverbs 1:7, Colossians 2:3).

    How do you know this?

    [Dr. Lisle: God has revealed it in His Word. Did you not read the verses?]

    • the_ignored says:

      The ancient Greeks told them; after christians came along and told the greeks that the nature of the christian god, which the greeks had never heard of before, was the REAL reason that the greeks were able to know anything!

      [Dr. Lisle: No. God has revealed Himself to all people (Romans 1:18-20), and this necessarily includes the Greeks.]

      • the_ignored says:

        How do you know that?

        [Dr. Lisle: God has revealed this in His Word.]

        Where you there?

        [Dr. Lisle: No, but God was. And God has revealed this in His Word.]

        I’m sorry, but such a faulty book really isn’t a good basis for making those kinds of assumptions.

        [Dr. Lisle: God doesn’t make assumptions; He knows everything. On what basis do you judge the Word of God to be “faulty?”]

        Besides, think:

        Why couldn’t “god” have “revealed” his son’s sacrifice to the entire world when it happened, just as he somehow “revealed himself” to all the people of the world before?

        [Dr. Lisle: There could be many reasons why God choose to do things the way He has. But none of these are relevant to the truth of God’s Word. It would be a ridiculous argument to say, “Why does Joe eat pizza for breakfast? You don’t know? That proves Joe does not exist!” In the Christian worldview, God is not obligated to give us His reasons for doing what He does, even assuming we have the intellectual capacity to understand them. God has chosen to use people to spread the message of His offers of mercy and salvation. There is no logical problem with this.]

    • How do you know the words are true?

      [Dr. Lisle: If they were not, it would be impossible to know anything because there could be no justification for those things necessary for knowledge. And it is possible to know some things.]

      • zilch says:

        Dr. Lisle: I agree, it is possible to know some things, even if we can never be absolutely certain of them. But of course, in your view, if we don’t know something with absolute certainty, then we don’t know anything. There are a couple of problems with this viewpoint, which have been pointed out here before by several people, but I’ll try to state them as clearly as possible.

        Okay. You have not shown how cheerfully admitting to not possessing the absolute truth adversely affects ones life. We non-possessors of absolute truth get by just as well as you who claim to have it. We can walk as well as you, do math as well as you, and we behave at least as well as you. If you have any evidence to the contrary, I’d love to hear it. And I don’t mean saying that we will burn in Hell- that’s another argument.

        But perhaps you are not concerned with outward manifestations, but solely with our ontology. You might well grant me all of the above but say that even if we non-absolutists perceive and ratiocinate and behave as well as you, we have no “justification” for our beliefs or morals.

        There are a couple of possible responses to this. The simplest is to say “so what? I can live nicely without justification for my beliefs, so who cares?”. Another is to say: you are defining “justification” in such a way that it simply requires a god behind it by definition. This is fine if you assume the existence of God, and if you can show that He is the only possible source of certainty. But you have not done so; and I was under the impression that you were trying to perform an internal critique; that is, show how atheism is incoherent or illogical based on its own premises, not on yours.

        cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

      • “If they were not, it would be impossible to know anything because there could be no justification for those things necessary for knowledge. And it is possible to know some things.”

        It’s possible to know things without justification.

        [Dr. Lisle: In logic and philosophy, knowledge is actually defined as “true, justified belief.” So it is impossible to have knowledge without justification. You can have beliefs without justification, but not knowledge.]

        For example, I know that I am thinking (whatever “I” might be defined as), and I’m certain of that — it’s self evident.

        [Dr. Lisle: How do you know that? How do you know that you are the one doing the thinking? If you cannot even define “I” then how can you be certain that “I think?”]

        Also, I know that I don’t know everything, and I’m certain of that too.

        [Dr. Lisle: How do you know that you don’t know everything? Unless you know everything, how can you be certain that what you think you know is actually true, and therefore “known?” By the way, I agree with your belief that you don’t know everything. But I maintain that you can’t really know even that without relying upon Christian principles.]

        This is also self evident (that is, the contrary is impossible).

        [Dr. Lisle: You are asserting that it is impossible to know everything? How do you know that? How do you know that there cannot be a Being who knows everything?]

        In those two examples, my certain knowledge is independent of anything other the existence of the entity referred to as “I”,

        [Dr. Lisle: Two problems: (1) You don’t have certain knowledge of the two examples you gave – at least you haven’t yet explained how you do. (2) You claim that even these examples are dependent on the entity referred to as “I.” But how, on your own worldview, do you know that “I” (you) exist?]

        therefore it is false to say that it depends on the truth of particular words of scripture (or anything else, for that matter).

        [Dr. Lisle: God claims that knowledge begins with Him (Proverbs 1:7). Indeed He is the truth (John 14:6) and all knowledge is hidden in Him (Colossians 2:3). Apart from God, apart from the truth of the Christian worldview, we couldn’t know anything at all. We’ve seen this demonstrated in many conversations on this blog. Unbelievers just cannot rationally justify those things necessary for knowledge, such as the reliability of senses, or the properties of laws of logic.]

  7. Glad you’re back, brother.

  8. Joanne says:

    Dr. Lisle,

    I was wondering if there are other Creation Astronomers out there other than yourself, Dr. Faulkner and those linked with the 4th day alliance? How many Creation Astronomers are out there?

    • Dr. Lisle says:

      In terms of those who have a doctorate in astronomy/astrophysics, there are six that I know personally. Of course there could be many more who have chosen not to go public at this time.

      • DaveMc says:

        I assume that includes Hugh Ross who disagrees with the 6000 yr age. If Neil DeGrass Tyson is right that there are maybe 7000 astrophysics PhDs, then shouldn’t you be working on the 6999 of them who do not accept your god-created-light-in-transit hypothesis, instead of impressing fundamentalists here with your pretzle-mental-digitation of logic terms? And yes this is an ad hominid comment, since real debate with a presupositionalist is pointless.

        • Josef says:

          “Ad hominid comment”? Presumably you mean to admit that you’re committing the ad hominem fallacy.

          Since you continuously (and apparently admit to) use fallacies of reasoning, and admit that you’re not interested in debate (with the pretense that it is “pointless”, i.e. an excuse to actually engage because of your own failures to refute the transcendental argument for God’s existence), you’re pretty much nothing more than an internet troll.

          • Brad says:

            There are no valid arguments for he existence of god.

            [Dr. Lisle: The transcendental argument as used in “The Ultimate Proof of Creation.”]

            • Jeff Krause says:

              Brad, how can you prove a universal negative? As Bahnsen said to Stein in their debate, no one can prove that there’s no (good/valid) arguments for the existence of YHWH, and he was 100 percent correct. Also, do you have universal knowledge to make such a claim? And, as Dr. Lisle noted, the TAG argument is proof of the existence of the Christian God, and not general theism. No other worldview can justify a universal, abstract and invariant laws, such as the laws of logic. So, before you go on and continue to utilize the laws of logic, please justify them in your worldview, whatever that is.

              You see, Brad, you can reject the Christian worldview with your words, but you can’t reject it in your experience. The fact that you are even attempting to argue your point assumes that there’s universal standards of reasoning, and for your worldview to be true, you must justify these standards.

              So, please justify your use of logical laws…

          • DaveMc says:

            OK, Josef, what evidence do you have for the light-created-in-transit hypothesis that does not depend on the presupositional stance that “well
            the writings of the Bronze Age Jews (old testament) indicate that the earth is only 6/maybe 10 millennia old, so light from other galaxies cannot have been traveling for billions of years as it so clearly appears to 99.9% of astrophysics PhDs ” ? Do you really have any such evidence that does not depend on Lisle’s absurd presupositional stance? If so, I will be happy to debate you. But if you are just going to throw his pseudo-logical, presupositional, Christian worldview nonsence at me, then I have already become bored with what I have heard and read from these guys — Hovinds, Ham, Comfort et al — and my forehead is getting sore from my palm ;-)

            To call the fundamentalist Christian presuposition stance logical is a huge logical fallacy in itself. If you can’t see that, don’t bother me; I would not bother to respone

            • Josef says:

              OK, Josef, what evidence do you have for the light-created-in-transit hypothesis that does not depend on the presupositional stance that “well
              the writings of the Bronze Age Jews (old testament) indicate that the earth is only 6/maybe 10 millennia old, so light from other galaxies cannot have been traveling for billions of years as it so clearly appears to 99.9% of astrophysics PhDs ” ?

              Everyone has presuppositions, atheists included, so biblical creationists should not be faulted for having presuppositions. And our presuppositions are what makes up our worldview which dictates how we view evidence.

              Only by presupposing the biblical God, can we truly have knowledge. For instance, apart from God, how do you know you can trust your own ability to reason? Only the Christian worldview can provide the necessary conditions to even be able to study the universe; given your atheistic presuppositions, scientific inquiry would be an impossibility. (Btw, I am intentionally choosing to ignore the fallacy of chronological snobbery and the faulty appeal to majority.)

              Do you really have any such evidence that does not depend on Lisle’s absurd presupositional stance?

              This is another question begging epithet; you haven’t demonstrated that Dr. Lisle’s stance is absurd. And if it were so absurd, then you should be able to easily refute it, which you have not. You’ve instead continued to resort to using fallacious arguments. I can’t stop you from using fallacious arguments, but the use of fallacious arguments is usually indicative of someone who cannot rationally defend his position and thus far, you haven’t shown otherwise.

              If so, I will be happy to debate you. But if you are just going to throw his pseudo-logical, presupositional, Christian worldview nonsence at me, then I have already become bored with what I have heard and read from these guys — Hovinds, Ham, Comfort et al — and my forehead is getting sore from my palm

              That’s nice, but palming your forehead is not a refutation. Also, again, if the transcendental argument is simply “pseudo-logical” (something I find highly ironic that you’d have a problem with since you have not demonstrated yourself to be someone who values logic) then you should have no problems with refuting it.

              To call the fundamentalist Christian presuposition stance logical is a huge logical fallacy in itself. If you can’t see that, don’t bother me; I would not bother to respone

              Again, if the transcendental argument is fallacious, then you should have no problems with demonstrating just that. Merely asserting that it is doesn’t make it so.

          • daveMc says:

            P.S
            My ad-hominem COMMENT is not a logical fallacy, because it’s not even an argument; it’s just a comment. I am not attempting to debate you (although I am giving you the opportunity to debate me — about distant starlight ) My original comment was just to Joanne, who seems to be a rationalist — one who puts evidence and logic above revelation and (biblical) authority, unlike religious fundamentalists.

            BTW, do you even know how many years there are in a lightyear?

            • Josef says:

              Ok, obviously my correction fell on blind eyes. I was correcting what you called the ad “hominid”. Ad “hominem” is what the fallacy is called.

              I have to chuckle a bit when you make claims to value logic and rationality when your posts are laden with logical fallacies; if you place value on logic, then you certainly have not been demonstrating that on here. Besides, why are you relying on logic when it does not comport with your worldview?

              Also, I think your question just demonstrated that you’re the one who does not even understand what a light year is, as a light year is a measure of distance not time.

              • DaveMc says:

                1 the spell checker was half to blame for my hominid/hominen spelling error . (As with Lincoln and JFK spelling is my tragic flaw)

                2 You have not responded to my question about Psalm 14:1 (below). But Dr Lisle has chimed in to support my position that an ad hominen comment is not a logical fallacy when it is not part of an argument .

                3 I know perfectly well that the number of years in a light year is 0, unlike the typical creationist I have met. But now that you have proven you are atypical (in my opinion) there, I continue to be interested in having a debate on Lisle,s extraordinary, radical distant-starlight-created-in-transit hypothesis. As per Carl Sagan, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Do you have any?

                • Josef says:

                  Perhaps I mis-read what your original intention was, but all the same, my correction had mainly to do with the spelling of “hominid” when it is “hominem”.

                  As for my response to Psalm 14:1, I didn’t see the need to respond since by the time I started to comment on here, Dr. Lisle had already responded. (And since I respond during my free time at work, I can only respond as time permits.)

                  As for starlight distance, since Dr. Lisle is on here, I would prefer that you direct questions concerning that to him. I am not an astronomer and don’t really know much about the field other than the very basics. So I cannot pretend that I can hold my own concerning the details of the starlight distance models.

                  However, you may not like the answers I give from the presuppositional perspective, but not liking them isn’t a refutation of them. And like it or not, only the Christian worldview makes scientific inquiry a possibility. Because only the Christian worldview can account for laws of logic and why we can rely on them. You claim you value logic, so please explain how in your worldview, you can account for the existence of logic and how do you know you can always rely on them?

                  • daveMc says:

                    > .. so please explain how in your worldview, you can account for the existence of logic and how do you know you can always rely on them?

                    OK. My years of studying sciences , math, history etc in jr.high, high school and college and 45 years of life experience (including lots of computer programming) since has demonstrated to me the logic is completely reliable .

                    [Dr. Lisle: I appreciate the attempt. But there are several problems with this answer. You are attempting to justify laws of logic based on your past experiences. One problem with that is that your experiences are very limited compared to the entire universe. And so it is a logical leap (the fallacy of a hasty generalization) to conclude that we can always rely upon laws of logic in all locations merely on the basis that they have worked in a tiny fraction of the universe. You are trying to justify a universal on the basis of particulars.]

                    [Second, this answer assumes “uniformity” which is also unjustified apart from the Christian worldview. Uniformity is the principle that God upholds the universe in a consistent way such that when conditions are sufficiently similar, a similar outcome occurs. Uniformity allows us to make reasonable predictions about future events (If I stub my toe, it will hurt) based on past experience (when I stubbed my toe last week, it hurt). Apart from uniformity, there is no reason to expect that laws of logic will work today simply because they worked yesterday.]

                    Supernaturalism, including religion is not.

                    [Dr. Lisle: What is your basis for that claim?]

                    Prayer does not work, although random chance makes it appear to to some folks.

                    [Dr. Lisle: What is your evidence for this? God does listen to the prayers of His people (Psalm 116:1). And He often honors our requests (Numbers 21:2-3). Of course, God is not required to do as we ask.]

                    BTW, please notice that I was mistaken about which fantastic YEC hypothesis Lisle espouses, as I replied to John W. below. Here is a good article on Lisle’s ASC hypothesis: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Anisotropic_synchrony_convention

                    [Dr. Lisle: There are some errors in that article unfortunately. Be careful about citing non-peer-reviewed websites.]

                    • the_ignored says:

                      So, what are the errors?

                      [Dr. Lisle: There are many. If you have a specific argument that you want to make, I’ll consider examining it and pointing out any problems.]

                      By the way, you do know that the “graceful exit” problem was solved in 2000 right? I pointed that out to you once before, but I don’t see that post anywhere.

                      [Dr. Lisle: Unfortunately, your claim is false. Secular cosmologists continue to struggle with the graceful exit problem. One of the more popular claims today is “eternal inflation” in which there is no exit at all for inflation in many regions of the universe. In this view, inflation continues in most regions of the “universe” creating an infinite “multiverse.” Of course none of this is scientifically testable.]

                  • daveMc says:

                    > .. You are attempting to justify laws of logic based on your past experiences.

                    [profanity removed. Profanity is not permitted on this blog, though I welcome rational discourse.]

                    YES (so to speak)! To justify it to myself.

                    [Dr. Lisle: The problem is that uniformity (the expectation that past experience will help predict future outcomes) is unjustified in your worldview. Therefore, anything based on it is also unjustified. In other words, you have absolutely no logical reason to believe that because something has worked in the past that it will likely work in the future. This was the issue that David Hume struggled with and failed to resolve. Only the Christian worldview can justify uniformity. In the Christian worldview, God is beyond time and knows everything – so He actually knows what the future is with certainty. And God has revealed to us in His Word that He will uphold the future like the past, and hence the basic cycles of nature will be in the future as they were in the past (e.g. Genesis 8:22).]

                    What else can I do? What else can anyone do?

                    [Dr. Lisle: You have two options: you can be irrational, and continue to believe in uniformity and logic despite having no logical reason for them; this is akin to a child believing in the Easter bunny. Or, you can repent and embrace the Christian worldview, which will give you rational justification for the properties of laws of logic and uniformity in nature. Hypothetically, you could try to come up with some other justification for uniformity. But all who have tried that have failed rather spectacularly.]

                    You expect me to believe something just because someone tells me to? Is that how you think?

                    [Dr. Lisle: No. Right now, this is the way you are thinking. You are believing in evolution not for rational reasons, but because it is what others have told you – Daniel Dennet, Richard Dawkins, the television, teachers, etc. I’m encouraging you to actually think through the implications of what you have been taught. Most people don’t. Most people don’t think through the fact that universal, invariant laws of logic can never be justified in a non-Christian worldview, and yet they continue to believe in invariant laws of logic. It is irrational to continue to believe in something without justification.]

                    If you had been born in Yemen, would you be preaching Islamic presuppositionalism?

                    [Dr. Lisle: No such thing. Nor is there atheistic presuppositionalism, or any other except Christianity. The presuppositional argument can only prove Christianity, because it works by the impossibility of the contrary, showing how non-Christian worldview would make knowledge impossible.]

                    I was raised in a very conservative Christian community — Indpls. 50s.
                    But I also had excellent secular teachers. Preachers did not make sense to me. Science teachers did.

                    [Dr. Lisle: There is nothing wrong with having respect for secular teachers. I have had secular professors that have been very good, and I have learned from them. But it’s best to be discerning, and actually think about what your teachers teach rather than blindly accepting it, as you seem to have done at least with some teachers.]

                    Supernaturalism fails.

                    [Dr. Lisle: evidence? We’ve already seen that the alternative (naturalism) would make it impossible to justify laws of logic or uniformity in nature. It seems to me that since naturalism is self-refuting, this establishes the alternative.]

                    I have never seen prayer work, except by chance.

                    [Dr. Lisle: How do you know? How do you know that God doesn’t answer the prayers of His people? You say “except by chance” – but how do you know that a particular set of seemingly chance occurrences have not been planned and executed by God? What kind of experiment could discern one from the other? (I’ll put aside for the moment the fact that you cannot really know anything on your worldview since you have no basis for laws of logic or uniformity).]

                    The logical people I have known have not been religious, in general.

                    [Dr. Lisle: Several problems here. First, the properties of laws of logic are unjustified in a secular worldview. So the fact that you think logic is something to be followed only makes sense if Christianity is true. Second, how do you know – without begging the question – who is being logical? Third, everyone is religious; everyone has beliefs about the world, truth, morality, and so on, even if one of those beliefs is “God does not exist.”]

                    the religious not logical. YOU don’t make sense.

                    [Dr. Lisle: Logic is predicated upon the Christian worldview. When you say, “You don’t make sense”, does this mean you don’t understand something I’ve said? If so, please ask and I will try to clarify. If it means you think I have made a fallacy – a mistake in reasoning – then please indicate where, and give a reason as to why you believe this to be the case.]

                    When you say that my failure to believe that the Bible is entirely true is because I do not presuppose that it is entirely true and then throw around logic terms expecting me to be wowed, I have to wonder whether you are a charlatan or just waco.

                    [Dr. Lisle: Wow – you’ve really misrepresented what I’ve said. You have committed a straw-man fallacy – a misrepresentation of my position. Regarding logic terms, these are the standard fallacies that you would learn in a basic logic class, or you can even look them up on the internet. I have a book on them that explains them in detail and it’s an easy read: “Discerning Truth.” In most cases, I have actually defined the fallacies for you, and explained why they are fallacious. I’ve used the English terms, not the Latin. So they should be pretty clear. If you still don’t understand, feel free to ask and I will clarify.]

                    The documentaries that I watch and books I read on geology, astronomy, biology make excellent logical sense that the universe it around 13000000000 y.o.

                    [Dr. Lisle: I’ve seen documentaries that state this, and then tell the story. But I have yet to hear a rational argument for billions of years. If you think you have one, feel free to post it here. Otherwise, I’m going to presume that you are committing the fallacy of appeal to authority – believing something just because other people believe it.]

                    Your geo-centric ASC idea is just nuts.

                    [Dr. Lisle: Do you have a rational or scientific objection to it? The fact that you describe it as geo-centric is compelling evidence that you don’t understand it (because it is not geo-centric).]

                    Even Hugh Ross does not agree.

                    [Dr. Lisle: That’s a good sign since Ross is one of the least rational people I have ever met. It’s when Ross agrees with me that I get concerned that I may be wrong.]

                    What clear thinking astrophysicist PhD would? Can you name even 2?

                    [Dr. Lisle: Sarker and Stachel. I guess you didn’t read my paper on it, eh? Yes, other astrophysicists have used the ASC convention. These were referenced in my paper. By the way, Albert Einstein also allowed for ASC as I documented in the paper. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v3/n1/anisotropic-synchrony-convention ]

                    When I was 14, in communicants , class they show us a movie about Einstein’s Relativity theories. It was pretty interesting until in the middle the narrator suddenly started quoting John 3:16 , as if Einstein was validating christianity with his science. I was like “What?” In the same way, when I hear you tell even younger kids “If you give up the Bible, you really give up the possibility of knowing anything”, I’m like “What? This guy lectures on logic? All my friends and acquaintances in Japan can’t know anything because they don’t take the Bible seriously?” If you have to spin that comment, it was pretty poorly presented in the first place.

                    [Dr. Lisle: Dave, your comment here makes no sense. I’ve shown that Christianity must be true in order for knowledge to be possible. And your rebuttal seems to be that people in Japan do know things even though they don’t accept Christianity. But that isn’t a cogent counterargument, because I never claimed that people must profess Christianity in order to have knowledge – only that Christianity must be true. Because Christianity is true, people can have knowledge whether they profess Christianity or not. There would be no basis for laws of logic or uniformity in nature apart from Christianity – things that are necessary for knowledge. So:
                    1. If knowledge is possible, then Christianity is true.
                    2. Even non-Christians have knowledge. (So knowledge is possible)
                    3. Therefore, Christianity is true.

                    By analogy, our ability to breathe proves the existence of air. Now imagine someone responded, “No it doesn’t! My friends and I don’t even believe in air. And we can breathe just fine!” Would that be a good counter-argument?]

                    Thunderf00t, Potholer54, P.Z.Meyers,
                    Wildwood Claire,
                    Richard Dawkins,
                    Daniel Dennet et al make sense.
                    You and Ham and Comfort and the Hovinds just make me laugh and palm my face. Thanks for entertaining me

                    [Dr. Lisle: But do you have any evidence? Quantum physics may not “make sense” to you, but that doesn’t make it false. The Easter Bunny might make sense to young children, but that doesn’t make it true. I want to know if you have any logical reason for your beliefs. Do you?]

                  • daveMc says:

                    > … I’ve shown that Christianity must be true in order for knowledge to be possible.

                    You , Dr.Lisle, have done nothing of the kind!
                    You have only shown that you want fundamentalists to BELIEVE “Christianity must be true in order for knowledge to be possible”.

                    [Dr. Lisle: No Dave. I have shown many times in many ways that only the Christian worldview can account for the properties of laws of logic, and uniformity in nature, as two examples – and these are necessary for knowledge. If you disagree, try making an actual counter-argument instead of just making an unsubstantiated claim. Namely, show how you can – apart from Christianity – account for the universality and invariant nature of laws of logic, or laws of nature. If you can’t, then I think we will all consider this case closed.]

                    As you explained to Eric Hovind “We never should have said that the mind is superior to the word of God”.
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGWszaXmrCw . But since the “word of God” has actually been written by humans (with the possible exception of the Quran, which claims to be the actual word OF God, not words ABOUT Him ;-) ), that statement is just silly.

                    [Dr. Lisle: It saddens me just how little people know about the Bible and the Christian worldview. It would be helpful if you were to study what it is you are against in order to avoid these straw-man arguments. God used human agents to pen His Words (2 Peter 1:21), such that all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). The Koran actually endorses much of the Bible, while simultaneously contradicting it. Did you know that?]

                    YECism has failed on every front, biology, (embryology), paleontology, geology, astronomy. e.g:

                    [Dr. Lisle: This is a fallacy called “elephant hurling.” All these fields strongly confirm biblical creation. More importantly, all these fields are contingent upon the Christian worldview, because they all rely upon uniformity in nature. And as I have covered countless times before, uniformity in nature cannot be justified apart from the Christian worldview.]

                    There is NO evidence that photons approaching the earth move 6 orders of magnitude faster than when they move away.

                    [Dr. Lisle: There can be no evidence of this or evidence to the contrary according to the conventionality thesis. However, ASC is a legitimate convention, and the light-travel-time under this convention is zero when directed toward the observer. If you have an actual counter-argument, I’ll be pleased to read it.]

                    ( No Lorentz violations have been observed as of 2013 … —
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-way_speed_of_light )

                    [Dr. Lisle: ASC does not violate Lorentz. I guess you haven’t read John Winnie’s paper on this subject. The equations of relativity can be derived without any one-way dependence as Winnie has demonstrated. This was referenced in my paper.]

                    You can’t convince most educated people of that ,

                    [Dr. Lisle: It seems that you believe whatever most other people believe. Is that correct? This is the faulty appeal to authority/majority. Christianity would require you to actually be discerning, and use your brain to think rationally instead of just believing what everyone else does.]

                    so you use Van Til’s DESPAIRING presuppositional apology to appeal to the intuition of fundamentalists.

                    [Dr. Lisle: If it is so weak, then it should be very easy for you to refute it. Why haven’t you?]

                    This guy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOfda86OA2k makes sense. You don’t.

                    [Dr. Lisle: Do you ever think for yourself to provide an actual rational argument? Or do you just believe what you hear on youtube?]

                    But keep trying! The more you express yourself, the more you discredit fundamentalism.

                    [Dr. Lisle: That’s kind of how I feel about you. :-) Why do you think I allow evolutionists to comment on here?]

                    • DaveMc says:

                      I am not debating you.

                      [Dr. Lisle: It rather sounded like you were. You posted claims contrary to what I wrote, and you attempted to give reasons for them and why you think I’m wrong.]

                      The OVERWHELMING wealth of books and documentaries out there are more than sufficient for that.

                      [Dr. Lisle: This is the faulty appeal to authority/majority. Ironically, in a previous post you stated,“You expect me to believe something just because someone tells me to? Is that how you think?” But not it seems pretty clear that this is actually how you think. Namely, you believe because someone else told you what to believe in a book or documentary.]

                      I am just sharing my 60 year perspective and giving you a chance to further demonstrate that you are just an apologist for a silly idea rather that a real scientist with real scientific research to do — research which might persuade a those 6,994 PhDs who just role their eyes at your ideas.

                      [Dr. Lisle: I am frequently impressed with how many fallacies people can pack into a single sentence. “My 60 year perspective” appears to be a subtle appeal to (self) authority. “You are just an apologist” is a (mild) ad hominem fallacy. “Silly idea” is a question-begging epithet. “Real scientist” is a “no true Scotsman fallacy.” “Real scientific research” is also a “no true Scotsman fallacy.” “Those 6,994″ is an appeal to majority fallacy. “PhDs” is a faulty appeal to authority. And “role their eyes at your ideas” is a question-begging epithet. (Eight in one sentence – that might be a new record.) In any case, I thank you for posting.]

                    • daveMc says:

                      SEE sept. 21 comment in wider area below …

        • John W says:

          Dr. Lisle does not rely on light-created-in-transit to resolve the distant starlight problem. In fact, he actually directly refutes that idea in the paper which presents his actual solution to distant starlight:
          http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v3/n1/anisotropic-synchrony-convention

          It would be quite beneficial to read if you desire to hold an informed discourse on distant starlight.

  9. Pingback: Early September 2013 Presuppositional apologetics links | The Domain for Truth

  10. Pingback: Are you confident of your knowledge? | Luv Notes To Daughters

  11. DaveMc says:

    Great Question, Joanne

    An even better one might be: How many YEC astronomers are ther who are not on the payroll of some YEC religious institute?

    • Josef says:

      Dave, your point is nothing but a circumstantial ad hominem fallacy because whether the creationist astronomers work for a creationist ministry or not does nothing to refute their arguments. I suppose I’m not surprised, as it seems that skeptics never seem to want to make their points with cogent arguments. I could also ask, “How many secular astronomers are not on the pay roll of some secular institute whose goal is to spread the lie that the universe is 14 billion years old?”

      • zilch says:

        This would be a good argument, Josef, except for the fact that the Universe itself seems to be on the payroll of the 14.54 billion year institutes. How else can you account for the evidence?

        • Josef says:

          All evidence must be interpreted within a worldview. Evidences does not speak for itself.

          Biblical creationists and secularists both have the exact same evidence, because we have the same earth, same rocks, same universe, etc. But only the biblical worldview makes knowledge possible.

          For example, to even begin to examine evidence, we must know that our senses are generally reliable. In the Christian worldview, we can trust that our senses are generally reliable because we’re made by God. But in the atheistic worldview, there really isn’t any reason to know you can trust your senses are reliable. How do you know what you perceive with your senses actually corresponds to reality?

          • zilch says:

            I know that what I perceive with my senses corresponds to reality, at least pretty well, by the same reason you do: my picture works. I don’t need any god to tell me that two plus two equals four, or that the Sun rises in the East- I can simply observe it. The real world trumps any book or belief.

            • Micah says:

              Thats not gonna work zilch. When you say ‘my picture works’ you are already assuming that your senses (i.e. eyesight, memory etc.) are reliable. Thats the very question at hand so your argument ends up being: I know my senses are reliable because my senses are reliable

              Can you provide a logical reason for how you know your senses are reliable and corresponds to reality?

              • zilch says:

                Micah, you ask: “Can you provide a logical reason for how you know your senses are reliable and corresponds to reality?”

                My reason for believing that my senses are (pretty) reliable and correspond to reality is that they work. I add two apples to two apples, and I have four apples, over and over. Logic is a reflection of how reality works, not vice versa.

                • Micah says:

                  Hi Zilch,

                  Unfortunately you are still assuming what you are trying to prove.

                  In order for you to know that you really have four apples or even two for that matter. You must first assume that your brain can actually register memory reliably and think properly.
                  Of course this is what i was asking you to prove so assuming it would be illogical.

                  Also, you cant know that logic is a reflection of how reality works without first assuming your brain is capable of understanding how reality works. But as you’ve already stated, you couldn’t even know if you aren’t a brain in a vat. So on what basis do you assume the reality you perceive to be true?

                  Thanks for taking the time to comment.

                  Micah

                  • DaveMc says:

                    FACEPALM! So what does any of that have to do with Jesus saving you from guilt you inherit from an imaginary ancient ancestor who was conned by a talking snake?

                  • zilch says:

                    Thanks for the civil tone, Micah. That’s not something to be taken for granted in such discussions.

                    That said, I don’t think we’re going to make any progress here. But I’ll try putting my view a bit differently.

                    You, and the other Christians here, hold the view that one cannot know that ones senses and reason are valid unless one has some sort of transcendental knowledge: the certainty that the world is logical, that things are as they seem.

                    I dispute that. For me, the real world, as well as I can perceive and understand it, trumps any construction of words. My perception and understanding of the world is uncertain, as I and others here have also said, but that does not affect the fact that it works. I breathe, I eat, I walk, I talk, I live my life, probably much as you do yours, all without any “absolute certainty”.

                    And as I’ve also said, it’s obvious that people are often “absolutely certain” of things that are untrue. So what does “absolute certainty” give you? If it gives you peace of mind, more power to you, but I don’t need it.

                    cheers from cool Vienna, zilch

                  • Micah says:

                    >Thanks for the civil tone, Micah. That’s not something to be taken for granted in such discussions.

                    Agreed, it seems origin debates can get way to heated sometimes. It’s great when we can discuss these things in a civil manner. I appreciate you taking the time to come on here and to actually give reasons for the claims you make.
                    >That said, I don’t think we’re going to make any progress here. But I’ll try putting my view a bit differently.

                    I understand that my attempts to make you see the irrationality of the evolutionary worldview may not have much progress, but I am called to defend the Bible (1 Peter 3:15) and that includes Genesis.
                    >You, and the other Christians here, hold the view that one cannot know that ones senses and reason are valid unless one has some sort of transcendental knowledge: the certainty that the world is logical, that things are as they seem.

                    Well, no, we hold the view that one cannot know that ones senses and reasoning are valid unless the Bible is true. That’s because only the God of the Bible can give us the preconditions necessary for things like unchanging laws and the general reliability of our senses. We can know this because God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) and He created us as well as the universe. Because of that, it logically follows that what we perceive to be reality is correct.

                    >I dispute that. For me, the real world, as well as I can perceive and understand it, trumps any construction of words.

                    But the problem is, you cant possibly know what is real and what isn’t, without of course first assuming that your senses are reliable.

                    >My perception and understanding of the world is uncertain, as I and others here have also said,

                    Its not just uncertain, its completely unknowable. The only way to have even a little bit of certainty would be if you relied on some past experience. For example, I might have a high degree of certainty that my neighbor’s dog will bite me if I go over to his house today. I could have this high degree of certainty because the last 4 times I did go over there, the dog bit me. But if I had never gone over there I wouldn’t have any reason to assume the dog is going to bite me. Likewise, to have any degree of certainty you would have to rely on your senses. But since there is no reason in the evolutionary worldview to believe your senses are reliable, this means anything you think you might know, you don’t really know at all.

                    >but that does not affect the fact that it works. I breathe, I eat, I walk, I talk, I live my life, probably much as you do yours, all without any “absolute certainty”.

                    But how do you know it works? Can you logically explain that without assuming what you are trying to prove? How do you know you aren’t just a plant on some distant world and these things, breathing, walking, talking, etc. aren’t just the side effect of photosynthesis?
                    >And as I’ve also said, it’s obvious that people are often “absolutely certain” of things that are untrue. So what does “absolute certainty” give you? If it gives you peace of mind, more power to you, but I don’t need it.

                    Its not about having absolute certainty, its about whether you can logically justify the fact that you know anything at all. The Bible gives us a rational justification for why we can know things. The evolutionary worldview cannot.
                    Again, I appreciate the comment!

                    Micah

                    • zilch says:

                      Okay, Micah, I think we’ve reached an impasse here. The fact that I manage to breathe, eat, walk, talk, and live my life, doesn’t mean anything to you: you say that it’s all an illusion unless I embrace the Bible. You are entitled to your opinion. cheers from cloudy Vienna, zilch

                    • Micah says:

                      >Okay, Micah, I think we’ve reached an impasse here.

                      Please understand I’m not trying to be hard-headed with my responses, I simply want people to back up their claims with logical support (i.e. They shouldn’t be begging the question or assuming what they are trying to prove.).

                      >The fact that I manage to breathe, eat, walk, talk, and live my life, doesn’t mean anything to you:

                      It means a whole lot to me, God has given you life and the ability to reason properly. You have the same value to Him that I do. Within the Biblical worldview, I have a good reason to believe that you are actually walking and talking and breathing.

                      >you say that it’s all an illusion unless I embrace the Bible.

                      Well, no, I said that you couldn’t have any degree of certainty that it wasn’t just an illusion. The evolutionary worldview just can’t provide a reason to trust our senses.
                      And saying ‘it’s because our senses provide survival value’ isn’t going to cut it. Grass survives perfectly fine and it doesn’t have reliable senses. So people within the evolutionary worldview are left still unable to explain how they can know they aren’t just a blade of grass on some planet and everything they think they know is merely the side effect of photosynthesis.

                      If you are okay with that then I’m sorry. But I think I will stick with the rational position.

                      Thanks for commenting.

                      Micah

      • DaveMc says:

        My comment was to Joanne, not to the YEC sheeple who cannot see the absurdity of Lisle,s presupositional stance. If you cannot see the self contradiction in his comments that non Chistians can know things in spite of the “fact” that their nonChristian worldview makes knowledge impossible, then there is no point in my debating you. I have learned that arguing with religious fundamentalists is pointless. So my post is only to congratulate and encourage Joanne and other rationalists who come to this blog to do a bit of face palming.

        • Josef says:

          My comment was to Joanne…

          That’s nice, but fact is you posted your comment on a public blog. And all comments are fair game to respond to. Besides, my original point still stands in that you committed the circumstantial ad hominem fallacy. But, like I said, I’m not surprised as it seems that atheists don’t seem to mind using fallacious arguments.

          …not to the YEC sheeple who cannot see the absurdity of Lisle,s presupositional stance.

          Here you commit another logical fallacy in argumentation: the abusive ad hominem fallacy; this again supports my claim that atheists don’t seem to mind using fallacious arguments in their argumentation.

          Also, this is a question begging epithet, as you have not provided any evidence that I’m merely following Dr. Lisle’s beliefs blindly or that Dr. Lisle’s presuppositional stance is absurd.

          If you cannot see the self contradiction in his comments that non Chistians can know things in spite of the “fact” that their nonChristian worldview makes knowledge impossible, then there is no point in my debating you.

          You don’t seem to grasp the argument. The reason unbelievers are able to know things is precisely because their worldview is false!

          I have learned that arguing with religious fundamentalists is pointless. So my post is only to congratulate and encourage Joanne and other rationalists who come to this blog to do a bit of face palming.

          Ironically you call people of your position “rationalists” when you seem to have no problems with continuously using fallacious arguments showing that you don’t care for rational debate. Furthermore, given your worldview, you have logical basis to trust your own ability to reason. How do you know that logic is the correct way of thinking?

          Only the Christian worldview can account for the existence of logic and why we can rely on it.

          • DaveMc says:

            Is Psalm 14:1 an ad hominen logical fallacy or just an ad hominen comment? I humbly seek your elucidation.

            [Dr. Lisle: Your comment here is a bifurcation fallacy. Psalm 14:1 is not ad hominem at all, and is not an argument but a Psalm. The Bible uses the term “fool” not in a name-calling sense, but to describe people who, though they may be intelligent, refuse to use their intellect properly – those people who don’t think through the issues but act stupidly. Namely, they use God’s laws of logic, depend upon God’s upholding nature in a uniform way, appeal to God’s moral standards, all the while denying God. Their position is rationally absurd.]

            • DaveMc says:

              I guess you didn’t see the ?mark. It was not a comment but a question.

              [Dr. Lisle: When you provide two possible answers, neither of which is correct, the comment is fallacious, even if it is posed as a question. Questions can be fallacies (Look up “Complex question.”)]

              Anyway, thank you for supporting my position that a comment is not a logical fallacy when it is not part of an argument.

              [Dr. Lisle: Not all attempts at persuasion are stated as a formal argument. Some are enthymemes. If you try and persuade someone of something by asking a question in a biased way – that is a fallacy.]

              However, you are a fool (and I don,t mean that as a pejorative ;-)

              [Dr. Lisle: In what way do you think I have rejected God?]

              if you think that whoever wrote that Psalm was not an (abominable ;-) name-caller

              [Dr. Lisle: I trust the self-refuting nature of your claim was intentional and tongue-in-cheek.]

              • daveMc says:

                BTW why are you wasting your precious time with a humble fool like me, when you have those 6,999 or so astrophysicist PhDs to persuade about your light-created-in-transit hypothesis? Hoping to help save my soul?

                • Josef says:

                  What makes you think he isn’t reaching out to secular astrophysicists?

                  Also perhaps he answered you because you made a comment on his blog?

                  • daveMc says:

                    He is, but they are not paying him much mind. Even Hugh Ross rejects his YEC ideas.

                    From what I have read and seen by and about him, I infer that he is not so much of a scientist as an advocate. So his research is not on the cosmos but on the psychology of people vis a vis creationism. i e You and I are his research.

                    You won’t find his books at Barnes & Noble in the science section,
                    because his publisher wants them in the religion section.

                • John W says:

                  Not only does Dr. Lisle not endorse a light-created-in-transit model, he has publicly refuted it. He holds to the ASC model. If you wish to contend with him it would behoove you familiarize yourself with what he actually espouses. You can read about it here:
                  http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v3/n1/anisotropic-synchrony-convention

                  • daveMc says:

                    Thank you so much for correcting me on this. It’s been quite a while since I was researching creationism, and I had forgotten that AIG, ICR et al had abandoned the light-created-in-transit idea (because of its implication of a deceptive god) in favor of the equally fantastic
                    ASC model, which is too geo-centric for those 6,999 or so other PhDs.

  12. Ken Gentry says:

    An excellent and important blog article. I hope it is widely read.

    • Josef says:

      Dr. Gentry,

      So nice to see you on here! I have really learned so much from your lectures and your book, “Postmillennialism Made Easy” which I think is a must read for all Christians interested in studying the end times.

  13. Patrick Gernert says:

    So I got this response when I posted a link to your latest post here Dr. Lisle. Thoughts?

    “The assumption made here is that laws (such as the laws of logic and the laws of nature) are not self existent, but rather they exist because god exists.

    [Dr. Lisle: Hi Patrick. I don’t believe the response has much merit. Even the first sentence is false. That laws of nature and laws of logic are contingent upon the biblical God is not an assumption at all, but rather a necessary precondition in order to justify their universal and unchanging nature.]

    Flashback to the beginning of the universe. No matter, no energy, no laws, what you have left is a scenario where literally anything can happen. Afterall, if there are no laws, why are we to say something can’t come from nothing? There goes the cosmological argument (likely along w/ the design argument and maybe some other theological proofs as well). In an environment where there is no restrictions on what is and is not true and what can and cannot happen, why shouldn’t we expect everything to see around us to pop into existence(including the laws of nature and logic)? It wouldn’t go against the natural order, since there is no natural order at that point for it to go against.

    [Dr. Lisle: I actually agree with most of what he or she says here. But it’s the fallacy of irrelevant thesis because it does not account for the existence or properties of laws of logic or laws of nature, which is the question at issue.]

    As for whether or not the secular worldview grants validity to the accuracy of our senses and knowledge, Why shouldn’t we trust them?

    [Dr. Lisle: This seems to be an appeal to ignorance. Namely, that we should trust our senses since there is no evidence to the contrary. But this isn’t a good reason to believe in something. The naturalist doesn’t have a reason to believe in reliability of senses.]

    After all, survival of the fittest would favor an entity whose senses closely correspond to reality over an entity whose senses feed them completely false information.

    [Dr. Lisle: This is often claimed, but I don’t think it stands up to rational scrutiny. Survival value does not equate to truth. As one hypothetical example, our sensory experiences could be merely the side-effect of something else necessary for survival – like photosynthesis. How does an evolutionist know that his senses have any correlation to reality whatsoever?]

    In fact, there is no reason to believe false senses would develop in the first place, since they have no purpose.

    [Dr. Lisle: Here, the commenter is tacitly reifying natural selection although he or she does not directly mention it. Natural selection is not goal oriented. It doesn’t think. It has no purpose. It doesn’t create. It is simply the name we give to the fact that some variations of organisms are not able to survive as well as others. How does the commenter know that sensory experience is nothing more than a necessary side-effect of the chemistry necessary for survival – like the greeness of plants? It’s not that being green has survival value. But chlorophyll does, and it happens to be green. Perhaps what we perceive as “sensory data” is in the same category. The evolutionist has no reason to believe otherwise.]

    What advantage would eyes grant you if they caused you to see things that weren’t there and made you think that the predator barreling towards you was an ice-cream sandwich? If anything that sounds worse than having no eyesight at all!

    [Dr. Lisle: To see why this argument fails, substitute anything else for “eyes.” “What advantage do kidneys grant you if they caused you to see things that weren’t there?” Answer: they filter the blood and are essential for (human) life.]

    On the other hand, the theistic worldview grants no assurance to the accuracy of our senses.

    [Dr. Lisle: I agree. It is only the Christian worldview that gives rational justification to sensory experience. Generic theism doesn’t.]

    Unlike evolution, an intelligent designer is not limited by natural selection or survival of the fittest, and can create all kinds of hallucinations and falsities for its creations and bypass any complications that might bring about (like the poor deluded human who walks off a cliff because he thinks the sky is disney land.

    [Dr. Lisle: Again, I agree. A god could do something like that. But God doesn’t. It is contrary to His nature to lie (Titus 1:2). This is why it has to be the Christian God.]

    From a secular standpoint, that would be a fatal mistake and death would put a stop to the delusion then and there,

    [Dr. Lisle: No, because this presupposes that a person can walk. But how does an evolutionist know that? Sensory experience? No – this is the very thing we are attempting to justify. A tree thinking that the sky is Disneyland is in no danger whatsoever of walking off a cliff. And there is no reason therefore to suppose that the chemical reactions leading to these false experiences would be eliminated.]

    but from a design standpoint, the designer could alter the laws of gravity to prevent the human from falling to their death or even continue to mess w/ the human’s sense of reality in the afterlife).

    [Dr. Lisle: A god perhaps. But the biblical God has promised a certain degree of uniformity in nature.]

    tldr: If there’s no god, we can trust that our senses are accurate, since they would likely have gotten us killed off long ago if they weren’t. If there is a god, we have to take it completely on faith that he/she/it gave us accurate senses.”

    [Dr. Lisle: So this is backwards. There is no rational reason to think that false experiences of senses in a tree would reduce its survival value one tiny bit. Hence, there is no reason to think that natural selection would weed out false senses. The generic theist has the same problem. But the Christian God does lie and is not the author of confusion. So we have a good reason to trust the senses He designed. I hope this helps.]

    • Patrick Gernert says:

      Thank you Dr. Lisle! That clears things up very well. I didn’t even realize how much the conversation was directed towards theism in general instead of our God until I read your comments. Thank you also for helping to explain the problems with the example he used. I appreciate your input too Zilch, thank you!

      • zilch says:

        You’re most welcome, Patrick. I believe it’s important to be exposed to different points of view- even if they don’t end up convincing you, they can make you look at your own reasoning more closely.

        Speaking of which: Dr. Lisle, even though I disagree with you, I do appreciate how clearly and articulately you write. That makes it much easier to see what the real issues are and to respond intelligently. Nice work.

        [Dr. Lisle: Thank you. I appreciate your comments and your civil tone.]

        That said- you say:

        Survival value does not equate to truth. As one hypothetical example, our sensory experiences could be merely the side-effect of something else necessary for survival – like photosynthesis. How does an evolutionist know that his senses have any correlation to reality whatsoever?

        Depends on what you mean by “truth”. If you mean “the truth that leads to eternal life”, then I would agree that survival value doesn’t equate to that. But if you mean something more like “a model of the world that fits and enables predictions”, which is my definition of truth in this context, then it’s fairly obvious that sensory experiences have a pretty direct relationship to the learning and acting upon of such truth, and have a pretty direct relationship to survival value. We can survive better in the jungle, or run across the freeway, if we’re not blind and deaf. No problem for naturalism here.

        [Dr. Lisle: A tree is blind and deaf, as far as we know. Yet it survives just fine. How do you know you are not a tree? It won’t do to say that your sensory experience tells you this, for this is the very thing we are questioning.]

        A tree thinking that the sky is Disneyland is in no danger whatsoever of walking off a cliff. And there is no reason therefore to suppose that the chemical reactions leading to these false experiences would be eliminated.

        […] There is no rational reason to think that false experiences of senses in a tree would reduce its survival value one tiny bit. Hence, there is no reason to think that natural selection would weed out false senses.

        But trees don’t think or walk, as far as we know. They don’t need to- they occupy a rather different niche than us thinkers and walkers.

        [Dr. Lisle: You have just assumed that you are a “walker” and a “thinker.” How do you actually know that? Maybe you are a tree and your experiences of walking and thinking are actually the side-effect of photosynthesis. How could you know otherwise (on your own worldview)?]

        Thus, it doesn’t make sense, on naturalism, to worry about trees walking off cliffs or thinking the sky is Disneyland. Trees do model their environment, but in a much simpler way than we do. And if a tree has a chemical reaction that leads it to, say, put out leaves in the middle of winter- this could be considered a “false experience” in a very simple way- then it will indeed be eliminated. Again, no problem for naturalism.

        [Dr. Lisle: This all assumes that you are not a tree. But how do you actually know this on your worldview? How do you know that your thoughts and sensory experiences are not the product of the chemistry taking place in the leaves of some tree. In such a case, your sensory experiences would not reliably inform you about the outside world.]

        cheers from cool Vienna, zilch

        [Dr. Lisle: Thanks for posting. I hope this helps.]

        • zilch says:

          Dr. Lisle- How do you know you are not a tree, and everything you believe, including your belief in God, is not a complicated message carved in the bark of the tree by a demiurge? You can’t prove that this is not the case either.

          [Dr. Lisle: I appreciate the attempted tu quoque. But in the Christian worldview it is indeed possible to know that my sensory experiences are basically reliable. God can give us knowledge directly, and has revealed in His Word the objective reason that we can trust in our sensory experience. Namely, God has created our senses to be basically reliable; God cannot lie and is not the author of confusion. So if (and only if) Christianity is true, I can have knowledge.]

          Call it faith;

          [Dr. Lisle: Yes, we all have faith. We all trust that our senses are basically reliable. The issue before us is whether or not that faith is rational. In the Christian worldview, where God has designed my sensory organs to be able to probe the universe, I have a good reason to have faith in my senses. On the evolutionary worldview there can never be any reason to trust that sensory experience corresponds in any way to reality.]

          call it cogito, ergo sum;

          [Dr. Lisle: As a good logician will point out, this is actually the fallacy of begging the question. When Decartes assumes, “I think” he has tacitly presupposed that he exists. (How does he know that he is the one doing the thinking?) Thus, his conclusion “therefore I am” is merely a restatement of his tacit starting assumption. A more objective starting proposition is “Thinking is occurring.” But from that premise it is not possible to conclude “Therefore I am.”]

          call it pragmatism:

          [Dr. Lisle: “What works” does not always equate to “what is true.” Nonetheless, I can give some very pragmatic reasons to embrace the Christian worldview. Not the least of these is that Christianity makes it possible to have genuine knowledge.]

          at some point you must trust your senses and rationality, whether you believe in God or not.

          [Dr. Lisle: Yes, that is quite right. But only the Christian worldview can account for this trust in a rational way. God has “hardwired” us to trust in the basic reliability of our senses, because He knew that we would need this in order to survive in this universe. Our confidence in sensory experience comes from our innate knowledge of God. Romans 1:18-23 points out that unbelievers know this, but they suppress that truth in unrighteousness. They are not grateful to God, and instead they attempt to credit “nature” for God’s provision. The Bible teaches that they became “vain” (empty or foolish) in their speculations.]

          [So yes, everyone trusts in the reliability of sensory experience. But only the Christian worldview can provide us with a rational reason to do so. Unbelievers can deny God and thereby make impossible any justification for sensory experience; but they can survive in this world only if they behave as if God has indeed made our senses and thus they are basically reliable.]

          I can’t prove I’m not a tree or a brain in a vat,

          [Dr. Lisle: Correct. I appreciate that. Apart from Christianity, it’s not possible to prove anything at all.]

          but acting as though I’m one of many living things on a planet has worked pretty well so far.

          [Dr. Lisle: Actually, you can’t even know that on your worldview. You believe that your system “has worked pretty well so far” based on your sensory experiences and your thoughts. But in the secular worldview, there is no logical reason to trust in your sensory experiences or your thoughts. They would be chance chemistry.]

          So until I see some evidence to the contrary, I’ll continue doing so.

          [Dr. Lisle: This is called the “appeal to ignorance” fallacy. This is when a person does not have a good reason for his belief, but he supposes that his belief is rational because the contrary position has not been proved. E.g. “The core of Jupiter is made of cheese, because no one has proved that it isn’t.” Besides, we do have good reasons to think that your senses would not be reliable in an evolutionary universe. Most chemical reactions that take place in the universe do not lead to reliable senses or rational thoughts. Statistically, it is highly improbably that a randomly selected chemical reaction would. And since the brain and sensory organs are non-designed chemical accidents in the evolutionary worldview, it is a statistical certainty that they would not be reliable.]

          cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch.

          p.s.- I think I’ve said this before, but it can’t hurt to repeat it: I don’t really care what people believe, as long as they behave nicely. And I suspect we would agree to a great extent what “behaving nicely” means.

          [Dr. Lisle: To a great extent, behaving “nicely” would be to treat others as we would want to be treated, as Christ commanded. This makes sense in the Christian worldview. Other people are also made in the image of God and therefore have intrinsic value. But your (commendable) belief that we ought to behave nicely makes no sense in an evolutionary worldview.]

          If you say I can’t know what “behaving nicely” means without borrowing from Christianity, and that I can’t justify behaving nicely on my worldview, then I’ll just have to live with that judgment. I think I can do so.

          [Dr. Lisle: Of course you can. You can live as if people are made in God’s image and have intrinsic value, and as if we are morally obligated by our Creator to treat people respectfully, all the while verbally denying the reason for it. That is to say, you can be irrational – live in a way contrary to your professed worldview. There are many “nice” evolutionists. I have never said otherwise. My point is that such behavior is logically inconsistent. You can either be a consistent Christian, or you can be irrational.]

          • zilch says:

            Dr. Lisle- you say:

            I appreciate the attempted tu quoque. But in the Christian worldview it is indeed possible to know that my sensory experiences are basically reliable. God can give us knowledge directly, and has revealed in His Word the objective reason that we can trust in our sensory experience. Namely, God has created our senses to be basically reliable; God cannot lie and is not the author of confusion. So if (and only if) Christianity is true, I can have knowledge.

            So, I can’t be sure I’m not a tree because my senses and my rationality are admittedly imperfect. But your senses and rationality are also imperfect, so you can’t know that what you consider to be God is not an elaborate fantasy of the mad scientist who has your brain in a vat. Your claim that God can give you knowledge directly is just a claim, which you have asserted repeatedly but for which you have provided no evidence.

            In the Christian worldview, where God has designed my sensory organs to be able to probe the universe, I have a good reason to have faith in my senses. On the evolutionary worldview there can never be any reason to trust that sensory experience corresponds in any way to reality.

            But I do trust my sensory experience, and it works time and again. What are the chances that it’s simply good luck I don’t get run over? On evolution, it’s obvious that reliable senses help increase fitness, so there’s no problem here. You admitted as much yourself in another comment.

            When Decartes assumes, “I think” he has tacitly presupposed that he exists. (How does he know that he is the one doing the thinking?) Thus, his conclusion “therefore I am” is merely a restatement of his tacit starting assumption. A more objective starting proposition is “Thinking is occurring.” But from that premise it is not possible to conclude “Therefore I am.

            I agree with your more objective starting proposition, Dr. Lisle- in fact, I came up with it myself about forty years ago. But from “thinking is occurring” you can conclude that something exists. If nothing exists, then there can be no thinking, unless you have very peculiar definitions for “thinking” and “existence”. From “something exists” or, as my brother put it, “something’s going on”, you can gradually build a more and more complex model of the world. Sure, it might all be the dream of a butterfly, but it’s still your world, even if it’s within another world, and as I said elsewhere, if that’s all that “existence” is for you, it’s still your existence- and my existence is all I have knowledge of, so it’s all I can deal with.

            “What works” does not always equate to “what is true.” Nonetheless, I can give some very pragmatic reasons to embrace the Christian worldview. Not the least of these is that Christianity makes it possible to have genuine knowledge.

            I agree: “what works” does not always equate to “what is true”. But it does often enough to enable us to, say, play a rhythm in seven with one hand and eleven with the other. Sometimes “what works” is the only “truth” we have.

            And sure, there are some pragmatic reasons to embrace the Christian worldview. I know people who have been inspired to do great things because of their belief. But that doesn’t mean the belief is true. And as far as I can see, there’s nothing pragmatic about having “genuine” knowledge: I get by quite well without it. Can you show me how having “genuine” knowledge is pragmatic? I can imagine that it might give you peace of mind if you worry about uncertainty; but I don’t.

            So yes, everyone trusts in the reliability of sensory experience. But only the Christian worldview can provide us with a rational reason to do so. Unbelievers can deny God and thereby make impossible any justification for sensory experience; but they can survive in this world only if they behave as if God has indeed made our senses and thus they are basically reliable.

            Again, these are just assertions. You’ve not shown that this God exists at all, much less that the God of the Bible is the only possible source of justification or rational reasons to trust our senses. As I’ve pointed out, trusting our senses works (at least within what we perceive as our world), and evolution provides a sufficient reason to trust them (with the usual disclaimers for optical illusions, etc.) I would rather say that believers can deny evolution, but they can survive in this world only if they behave as if our senses evolved and are thus basically reliable.

            Apart from Christianity, it’s not possible to prove anything at all.

            Sure it is: I can prove that two plus two equals four, in Euclidean base ten arithmetic. The proof follows in a straightforward way from the definitions. That is, if we accept that logic works, and it seems to.

            Outside of circumscribed systems of formal logic, “proof” is slipperier. I can’t “prove” the Sun will rise tomorrow. But so what? I can behave as though the Sun will rise tomorrow, and it does, time and again.

            Hume and Bertrand Russell were both driven to distraction by the Problem of Induction, but I don’t see it as a problem for myself: it’s rather simply a limitation of what words can do. I’ll take the real world over words anyway.

            This is called the “appeal to ignorance” fallacy. This is when a person does not have a good reason for his belief, but he supposes that his belief is rational because the contrary position has not been proved. E.g. “The core of Jupiter is made of cheese, because no one has proved that it isn’t.”

            But I don’t hold beliefs merely because the contrary, or in your example, some off-the-wall fantasy is not disproven. I hold beliefs that have evidence supporting them, and there is evidence that the Sun will rise tomorrow- and I don’t know of any evidence that Jupiter has a core of cheese. But I’ll ask my astrophysicist friend John Bally about it.

            Besides, we do have good reasons to think that your senses would not be reliable in an evolutionary universe.

            How could a tiger without reliable senses evolve?

            Most chemical reactions that take place in the universe do not lead to reliable senses or rational thoughts.

            I’ll agree with this.

            Statistically, it is highly improbably that a randomly selected chemical reaction would.

            Also true.

            And since the brain and sensory organs are non-designed chemical accidents in the evolutionary worldview, it is a statistical certainty that they would not be reliable.

            Hold your horses. So you are saying that the brain and sensory organs of our tiger are no different, on evolution, than any other “randomly selected chemical reaction in the Universe”? I guess you would also say, following this line of reasoning, that since any randomly selected molecule in the Universe is vastly more likely to be hydrogen or helium than anything else, that we are statistically almost certainly composed of hydrogen and helium. By picking a tiger (say) you’ve already picked something that is exceedingly rare and exceedingly ordered, because it’s exceedingly evolved, compared to the vast majority of things from the entire Universe. Your statistics are comparing apples with grains of sand.

            Not only that- while parts of evolution is random, or at least pseudo-random: mutations and the chance survival of catastrophes, etc, natural selection is anything but accidental. But you must know this.

            To a great extent, behaving “nicely” would be to treat others as we would want to be treated, as Christ commanded. This makes sense in the Christian worldview. Other people are also made in the image of God and therefore have intrinsic value. But your (commendable) belief that we ought to behave nicely makes no sense in an evolutionary worldview.

            Yes, the Golden Rule is a good rule of thumb for building society, isn’t it? Not surprising it’s been formulated in so many different times and places, including before the Bible, as I’m sure you also know.

            And as I’ve already said, behaving nicely makes sense without God too, for many reasons. And while it wouldn’t make sense on the evolutionary worldview if I were, say, a tree or a jellyfish, it starts to make more and more sense if I am a mammal taking care of its young, a social primate sharing food with the group, or a human trying to get along in my tribe. It starts making even more sense if I am living in a large and complex society that depends on niceness to work at all.

            Whether or not you call that an “evolutionary worldview” is moot. There are no lines I can see to draw in the gradual evolution of niceness, and no need to draw them.

            There are many “nice” evolutionists. I have never said otherwise. My point is that such behavior is logically inconsistent. You can either be a consistent Christian, or you can be irrational.

            Only if you embrace your idea of what’s logical and what’s irrational. I don’t. I don’t need to stand on a stack of words that goes all the way down. If you do, that’s fine by me. But unless you can show me that your words are standing on something, then I’ll continue to embrace the simpler solution.

            thanks again for the cordial tone, cheers from cool Vienna, zilch

  14. zilch says:

    Patrick: I know this was addressed to Dr. Lisle, but I hope you don’t mind if I put my two cents’ worth in here as well.

    I agree with your responder that there is no problem for supposing that our senses and reason are more or less accurate on naturalism. This is what you would expect from natural selection: the more accurate your picture of the world, and the more accurate your reasoning, the better are your survival chances. This is of course the direct refutation of the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism of Alvin Plantinga, which claims, as has been articulated here also, that on naturalism, there would be no reason to trust our senses and reason, because anything that works to improve fitness, even a lie, would be selected for. The obvious problem with the EAAN is that it ignores the fact that we live in a real world where you are more likely to survive if you have a more or less accurate picture, not a lie.

    I will disagree with your responder on his corollary, that a God might just as well make us believe lies, because a God is not limited. But for the same reason that the EAAN fails, this argument fails, because if we were constantly deluded by God, we would also not survive, unless He was continually saving us through miracles or something. That seems a pretty unlikely scenario to me.

    cheers from cloudy Vienna, zilch

  15. zilch says:

    About absolute certainty. I can certainly appreciate the appeal of believing that one is absolutely certain about something. Uncertainty can be crippling. But just because something is desirable doesn’t mean it exists or is accessible to us.

    Absolute certainty is a state of mind, not necessarily a reflection of reality. Obviously, people are often absolutely certain but still wrong. The fundamentalist Christians and the fundamentalist Muslims can’t both be right. This fact alone should make anyone claiming absolute certainty pause and reflect.

    I don’t see any evidence that anything like absolute certainty obtains in the messy real world. Our information about the world, and our intelligence and our reasoning power, are limited, so there is always some uncertainty in our knowledge. It’s only in circumscribed systems of formal logic that we can claim absolute certainty: for instance, that two plus two equals four in base ten Euclidean arithmetic. It’s absolute because the rules are absolute. But in the real world things are always less certain than this.

    Theists often claim otherwise. They claim that they have a hotline to absolute truth, at least as far as morals goes. I can’t prove that they don’t, but they can’t prove that they do. And as far as real-world consequences go, I don’t see any salient differences. Theists as well as atheists live their lives, are honest or not, do good or not, independently of whether they believe in absolute truths or not. How could this be so?

    This could be so because in practice, theists behave just as subjectively as atheists do. Sure, they may claim that the Bible, or the Koran, is a source of objective morality, but the existence of myriad sects, and reading the texts, makes it clear that there is no simple way to interpret them consistently. You could claim, as many theists do, that there is one absolutely correct interpretation, one absolutely best thing to do in any morally relevant situation, but they disagree about what it is, so it’s obviously not accessible to all.

    So why is there any agreement at all about morality? Why would most Christians, Muslims, and atheists, all agree that it’s wrong to torture children for fun? Because we evolved as living things who want their children to survive, as social animals who want the tribe to survive, and as cultural beings who want life to be good for all children. All qualities that evolved because they worked: the qualities, and the possessors of those qualities, tended to spread because they were fit. Of course, wiping out your enemies is also fit. These two essences are in eternal combat and balance: individualism and socialism. But the limits of growth on our finite planet make it necessary, if we want our children to have a good life, to put more stress on being social.

    More later- cheers from cloudy Vienna, zilch

    • Brian Forbes says:

      I think what you have is a lack of convincing evidence for the existence of the Christian God. I suggest you do some prayer experimentation. Take a week to purify your heart, keep from sin, and ask God to help you with your experiment. Then pray for a miracle. Make it something He is likely to want to do, and pray a lot for a month. (What is a month is the broad scheme of life? This is a very important question.) Pray it with the expectation that He will accomplish it. And just to be sure you’re not praying for something that is against His nature to do, pray for several miracles. If your heart is sincere, God will prove his existence to you. (John 6:37, 14:12-14) Take a month. Write the requests down. Pray 20x a day. Mark it on a chart. Try to believe it.

      I don’t think it’s right for anyone to ask us to believe something absent evidence, or worse, contrary to evidence, and then punish us for not believing it. I know that Christians will say that there’s sufficient evidence to believe already, but I say that God is more merciful than that. He’ll give you more evidence if you make the smallest effort.

      With that said, I point you to two sets of people. One is the friends of Daniel who were tossed into the fire. They didn’t want to dictate to God, but they gave Him their confidence. (Dan. 3:16-18) And the second group was the Pharisees, who asked, demanded, Jesus for a miracle. (Matthew 12:38-45) Have the heart of Daniel’s friends as you pray, not as the Pharisees. I say that God will reveal himself to you if you seek him with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

      • zilch says:

        Brian- thanks for your concern, but you don’t know me, and you don’t know what I’ve already done. I’ve appealed to God many times and many ways. I’ve read the Bible pretty carefully through. I’ve talked to many Christians.

        And so far, no response. I’m still open, but it’s beginning to seem to me that gods only exist in people’s minds. But I don’t really care what people believe, as long as they behave nicely (that means not holding slaves, for instance).

        cheers from overcast Vienna, zilch

        • Brian Forbes says:

          It’s true that I don’t know you, but I do know God. Try it out before you reject it. You certainly haven’t done it like I’ve described. How could God reject someone that fervent? I know it worked for me! You couldn’t convince me God isn’t real, because I’ve seen impossible things happen through prayer. Give it a try.

  16. Virgil says:

    Zilch – That’s an interesting statement, “I don’t really care what people believe, as long as they behave nicely (that means not holding slaves, for instance).”

    If God only exists in people’s minds why would it matter if people behave nicely? Without a creator, man is random molecules, without purpose, and having arrived at his present state by survival of the fittest. Thus, by preventing, or even just suggesting, that people should be nice rather than, e.g., kill off or enslave the weak, is stunting the growth of humanity. The “nice” thing to do for humanity would be to get rid of the weak.

    But, you do care “what people believe” because you are willing to draw a line in the sand over what is right and wrong. You are responding to a moral code, and that code was written on your heart by God.

    • zilch says:

      Virgil- thanks for the reply. I’ll try to answer as well as I can. You ask:

      If God only exists in people’s minds why would it matter if people behave nicely?

      This is a reasonable question and deserves a reasonable answer. But first, I’ll turn it around a bit and send it back: If people behave nicely, what difference does it make if they believe in God or not? Wouldn’t you rather be neighbors with an atheist who behaves nicely than a Christian who does not? The fact is, atheists don’t behave noticeably worse than Christians, on the whole.

      That said, it matters if people behave nicely because we evolved that way, in our genes, our culture, and our reason. Some of our nice behavior happens because social animals work well- there’s fitness in numbers. For instance, ants are the most successful insects, and chimps behave nicely in some ways recognizable to us. We humans have extended that with our cultures, including religion, to regulate larger societies. Symbiosis at many levels is a powerful force in evolution. And our reason enables us to extend our empathy to the entire planet- at least sometimes.

      So my short answer is: behaving nicely matters because that’s the way we are.

      Without a creator, man is random molecules, without purpose, and having arrived at his present state by survival of the fittest.

      Man is not random molecules, but highly ordered molecules. Man has many purposes, some of which evolved with us, and some of which we choose for ourselves. And we arrived at our present state by survival of the fittest, but not only that: as I pointed out, we also have cultures and reason that add to what natural selection gave us.

      Here you are basically saying: “the mere actions of matter and energy can have no meaning or purpose unless those meanings and purposes are something other than matter and energy”. Can you prove this?

      Thus, by preventing, or even just suggesting, that people should be nice rather than, e.g., kill off or enslave the weak, is stunting the growth of humanity. The “nice” thing to do for humanity would be to get rid of the weak.

      Only if you have a rather “unevolved” concept of “niceness”, as Hitler did. Most of us have moved beyond that. Why should I model my behavior after that of jackals? There are better ways of life than that, and luckily, most people, atheist and theist alike, agree. But speaking of enslaving: are you against slavery? If so, why? There’s no Biblical basis for condemning slavery, only regulating it.

      But, you do care “what people believe” because you are willing to draw a line in the sand over what is right and wrong. You are responding to a moral code, and that code was written on your heart by God.

      Can you prove this? The evolution of morality is perfectly plausible on naturalism for the reasons I explained.

      cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

      • Virgil says:

        Thank you for asking.

        >>If people behave nicely, what difference does it make if they believe in God or not?<>Wouldn’t you rather be neighbors with an atheist who behaves nicely than a Christian who does not?<>Here you are basically saying: “the mere actions of matter and energy can have no meaning or purpose unless those meanings and purposes are something other than matter and energy”. Can you prove this?<>Only if you have a rather “unevolved” concept of “niceness”, as Hitler did.<>speaking of enslaving: are you against slavery?<>Can you prove this? The evolution of morality is perfectly plausible on naturalism for the reasons I explained.<<

        – I can't prove to you that you're not a battery in the matrix. =) But I can proclaim what God has already said, "what may be known of God is evident in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and divine nature, so that they are without excuse," and "the works of the law are written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness."

        With much affection in His grace – Virgil

      • Virgil says:

        Thank you for asking.

        “If people behave nicely, what difference does it make if they believe in God or not?”

        The difference is eternal. In the eyes of man, attempts at being nice, or good, is something for which he thinks he can boast. Though, when a man addressed Jesus as “Good Teacher,” he responded with, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” In the eyes of an infinitely holy God, all attempts by man toward niceness and goodness are worthless. – A woman’s monthly menstrual cloth is the word picture God used to illustrate man’s attempt. Nearly 700 years before the coming of Jesus, God’s prophet Isaiah wrote, “we have sinned, in these ways we continue, and we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags.”

        The bad news is we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and there is nothing we can do about it. We are deserving of eternal punishment for our offense against the infinite God. Thankfully, the good news is that the righteousness of God is now revealed through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus – by His blood. God has given assurance of this by raising Him from the dead; the One through whom he will judge the world in righteousness.

        “Wouldn’t you rather be neighbors with an atheist who behaves nicely than a Christian who does not?”
        – Yes

        “Here you are basically saying: “the mere actions of matter and energy can have no meaning or purpose unless those meanings and purposes are something other than matter and energy”. Can you prove this?”

        – Can you name anything that happens in life that does not have a cause? Nothing is happening out of random accidental chance. As you rightly pointed out, man is highly ordered molecules. We don’t observe anything in life that is accidental randomness. – It appears to me that you would like meaning and purpose to exist, but only if it comes from meaninglessness and accidental randomness. – Btw, can you prove that energy exists?

        “Only if you have a rather “unevolved” concept of “niceness”, as Hitler did.”

        – How did Hitler avoid being evolved in his concept of niceness? How can you prove his views were not evolved? How do you know Hitler’s views weren’t more evolved than most others, and that you just don’t perceive it yet? How do you know Germany is not better off after doing what he did? – I know why Hitler’s views are wrong because they are contrary to the character of God and his revealed word of truth, which he has preserved for many thousands of years; and, because of the moral code which he has written on our hearts. You know it, as well, for the same reason, even though you may not accept it at this moment.

        “speaking of enslaving: are you against slavery?”

        – No. God says that Jesus is the κύριος and I am the δοῦλος. He is the Master, I am the slave; and no master is one who does not have slaves. Likewise, no slave is one who does not also have a master. Jesus Christ is my Lord, my Master, and all who confess Him as Lord willingly bow the knee to the One who “bought” them with His blood. – I also support voluntary slavery. If a person wants to subject themselves to slavery for whatever their voluntary reasoning I respect their choice to do with their property, themselves, as they see fit. – Regarding involuntary slavery, which I cannot support: the bible sometimes only records for us the way things are, not necessarily the way God intended. The apostle Paul, for example, never condemns the brutal Roman system of slavery when he had more than ample opportunity. That doesn’t mean it was God’s intention for humanity. – Under the Mosaic Law (which thankfully we live in the age of Grace, not Law) God gave the prescription to release some slaves in the Year of Jubilee, and he also allowed certain enemies of himself to live as slaves with the Jews, rather than killing them all off. – Some events are allowed to occur to show the glory of God. When Joseph was enslaved against his will by his brothers, we read, “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” An infinite God may have a purpose for allowing events to occur that we are not aware of in the present. God’s purpose throughout redemptive history, though, appears not to be as concerned with over-throwing failed social institutions as he is about over-throwing man’s sinful position.

        “Can you prove this? The evolution of morality is perfectly plausible on naturalism for the reasons I explained.”

        – I can’t prove to you that you’re not a battery in the matrix. =) But I can proclaim what God has already said, “what may be known of God is evident in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and divine nature, so that they are without excuse,” and “the works of the law are written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.”

        With much affection in His grace – Virgil

        • zilch says:

          Virgil- thanks for another thoughtful reply. I don’t think either of us is going to convince the other, though. Many of your answers cited Scripture, and since I have yet to see that any god exists, they are not convincing, unless they are based on the real world as well.

          You did say you’d rather have a nicely behaved atheist as a neighbor than a Christian who does not behave nicely. I think we can agree there: I’d rather have a nice Christian neighbor than a nasty atheist neighbor. Or a nice Muslim neighbor, or whatever. I have lots of nice neighbors of all these persuasions, and I don’t have any problem with their beliefs. In fact, that’s my primary purpose in haunting theistic websites: I do love arguing about the existence of God, evolution, etc, but that’s actually secondary to me: I want to find common ground so that the world is a better place to live in for everyone.

          That said, I must disagree with you about a couple of things. You say:

          Can you name anything that happens in life that does not have a cause? Nothing is happening out of random accidental chance. As you rightly pointed out, man is highly ordered molecules. We don’t observe anything in life that is accidental randomness. – It appears to me that you would like meaning and purpose to exist, but only if it comes from meaninglessness and accidental randomness. – Btw, can you prove that energy exists?

          Depends on exactly what you mean by “cause” and by “random”. There are plenty of things that are random in the sense that they cannot be predicted by us- for instance, the click of a Geiger counter marking radioactive decay, or the roll of a die. You could argue that if the Universe is deterministic, with or without God, then every click and every fall of the dice is predestined, and thus not random. But all you’ve done is take away any possible meaning for “random”. I would say that what we cannot predict, even in theory- say, the weather in New York City on a day ten years in the future- can be considered “random” to at least some extent.

          Yes, living things are not random, they are highly ordered. Where does this order ultimately come from? According to evolutionary theory, order can increase in certain circumstances in open systems, such as the Earth, that have an input of energy, as we do from the Sun. You can see simple kinds of order developing in the form of crystals and cloud formations, among other things.

          But where does the initial order for the laws of Nature come from? You got me. I’m not even sure the question makes sense. But in any case simply accepting the existence of a Universe that has a certain amount of order built in is far, in fact infinitely, simpler than simply accepting the existence of a God Who has an infinite amount of order. If you claim that God is not ordered, but pure spirit or something, then there’s no point in pretending to be logical.

          You say:

          I know why Hitler’s views are wrong because they are contrary to the character of God and his revealed word of truth, which he has preserved for many thousands of years; and, because of the moral code which he has written on our hearts. You know it, as well, for the same reason, even though you may not accept it at this moment.

          I know why Hitler’s views are wrong, because they caused immense amounts of unnecessary pain, destruction, and death. Many people from many different times and places, including before the Bible was written, would agree, even if they ascribed this agreement to their religious views. I can’t prove that it’s wrong to kill, but I don’t need to: I manage, as most people manage, not to kill, even without God. Some people need carrots and sticks to not kill, but I don’t.

          About slavery: Virgil, you seem to know your Bible pretty well. I actually know the Bible pretty well too, and I’m afraid you are cherry picking here. Yes, it’s fine with me if you want to consider yourself a slave to Jesus. I think manumission is probably a bad idea, but if it’s really voluntary, there might be circumstances in which it would be acceptible. But chattel slavery, the kind where you can simply be bought, sold, and inherited, and your children as well, is beyond the pale for this atheist, and as I said, there’s not one word in the Bible against it. About this, you say:

          Regarding involuntary slavery, which I cannot support: the bible sometimes only records for us the way things are, not necessarily the way God intended. The apostle Paul, for example, never condemns the brutal Roman system of slavery when he had more than ample opportunity. That doesn’t mean it was God’s intention for humanity.

          I’ll agree, the Bible sometimes only records the way things are, not necessarily the way God intended. But not in this case. For instance, Leviticus is clearly a set of laws, presumably godgiven, and it clearly condones chattel slavery. Couldn’t Moses simply have said, “thou shalt not hold slaves” if God doesn’t like slavery? You go on:

          – Under the Mosaic Law (which thankfully we live in the age of Grace, not Law) God gave the prescription to release some slaves in the Year of Jubilee, and he also allowed certain enemies of himself to live as slaves with the Jews, rather than killing them all off. – Some events are allowed to occur to show the glory of God.

          What exactly from the OT still counts as “Law” and what has been superceded by “Grace” is another argument, one which you Christians have not yet resolved- and probably never will, because it’s anything but clear in Scripture, what with jots and tittles and all. But that’s another problem. The main problem I find with your justification for slavery as being better than death, or being for the glory of God, is that this kind of reasoning can be used to justify any atrocity- and of course it has been.

          I’m thankful that you at least cannot support chattel slavery. But you didn’t get this from the Bible as far as I can see.

          cheers from cool Vienna, zilch

          • Virgil says:

            Zilch – Nice neighbors, nice employees, etc., are to be valued. Your courteous tone shows you’re probably a friendly neighbor to someone.

            You raise very valid questions, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

            You wrote – “Many of your answers cited Scripture, and since I have yet to see that any god exists, they are not convincing, unless they are based on the real world as well.”

            – Jesus encountered a similar sentiment from the Jews in Israel. Here, the Savior, who had been prophesied for centuries including: the one who would pave the way for his arrival; the manner and location of his coming; his lineage; the manner of and price paid for his betrayal; the type of execution and his resurrection, etc., was physical proof standing in front of the naysayers, and they still refused to believe. Jesus told them, “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?…For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

            Regarding random events – I’m not sure we’re on the same page with what we are both meaning. Since this medium has limitations I’ll just add: unpredictable events still have a cause.

            “I know why Hitler’s views are wrong, because they caused immense amounts of unnecessary pain, destruction, and death.”

            – I am under the impression that you believe life ‘evolved’ to its present state. Survival of the fittest, thus, is the explanation. What comes along with this view is that there must be immense amounts of ‘necessary’ pain, destruction, and death.

            Now, why would this evolving process have stopped in our present life? Isn’t it continual; or, maybe it has changed?

            Hitler just followed in the order of evolution, which necessitates pain, destruction, and death. Thus, in this worldview, for life to continue evolving it must contain pain, destruction, and death.

            He took the biological implications of Darwin’s theory and preserved and promoted the gene pool of what he and his team considered to be the superior race. Their logical conclusion fits correctly into the evolutionary model.

            Lots of events have happened in human history that were full of pain, destruction, and death: for example, the war for American independence; the American Civil War; the Bolshevik Revolution; Israel’s enslavement to Egypt, and Babylon; Korah’s Rebellion; the conquering of all the land of the Philistines; Jesus’ death on the cross; etc., yet, these (pain, suffering, death) cannot be the factors by which we know something is wrong.

            What I’m saying is the subjective view over whether or not pain, destruction, and death is necessary or unnecessary cannot be the determining factor of whether or not something is “wrong.” It must be something higher. If not, it is one opinion over another, and nothing more than opinion.

            One view, therefore, cannot be better than another. A society’s standard cannot be above another irregardless of the pragmatic reason and conditioned societal response. Ultimately, there is no such thing as right and wrong, moral and immoral. It is survival of the fittest.

            Also, declaring something wrong is a statement of absoluteness. What is the source of that absoluteness? It cannot be self or consensus; both of which are subjective. The laws of gravity did not come about because it was conditioned upon by nature or society. Nor were they arrived at by consensus, and did not come about because people discovered it was so.

            By saying, “Hitler’s views are wrong, because they cause immense amount of unnecessary pain” you are making a propositional statement of truth, which must be based on something objective, not subjective, otherwise, it’s just an opinion that Hitler’s views are wrong. What you find objectionable may be fine to another. This, of course, is moral relativism.

            If something is wrong, it wasn’t ‘right’ prior to societal-evolution. Things don’t cease to be ‘right’ because of a conditioned response by society. It did not become wrong to kidnap Africans after the 13th amendment was adopted into the U.S. Constitution, nor did it become wrong when enough of American society evolved or decided it was wrong.

            No, the source for objective truth is the divinely inspired, “God-breathed” word. The One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” who gives breath to all life is the final arbiter on what is right and wrong. He said, “woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”

            “Some people need carrots and sticks to not kill, but I don’t.”

            – You, like all humans, have a divine carrot and stick. It is called the conscious, on which God has written his moral code.

            “I’m afraid you are cherry picking”
            – I will have to object to that. Unless I have overlooked an area, I included all of the major categories addressed in the bible. These include: enemy nations to God, Jews to other Jews, the Roman system, and the believer’s relationship to Christ.

            “it’s fine with me if you want to consider yourself a slave to Jesus.”

            – It is not me who considers myself a slave to Jesus. I am a slave to Jesus because God has declared it. – You are also a slave though you may not recognize it as such. God has stated all men are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Through his apostle to the gentiles, he said to the church in Rome, “Shall we sin because we are no longer under the law but under grace? Certainly not. Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” And, “When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

            Lastly, we must separate the western use of slavery from what we find in the Mosaic law. There is a stark difference between indentured servitude where God wrote down in Exodus and Leviticus the humane treatment of slaves, from that of the western world of slavery, which knew nothing of letting a slave go free due to permanent harm from a slave master.

            “The main problem I find with your justification for slavery as being better than death, or being for the glory of God, is that this kind of reasoning can be used to justify any atrocity- and of course it has been.”

            – Sadly, people have used their manipulations of scripture to justify various atrocities, these actions were not biblical even though the people committing the acts have sometimes claimed to be Christian. The apostle Paul and Jude warned about these kind: “if anyone preaches to you a different gospel than what you have received from us let him be accursed,” and, “contend earnestly for the faith…. Because certain men have have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness.”

            While slavery is a difficult subject to digest, especially due to the brutality of the more modern British Empire and American usages, we must separate what an infinitely holy God has done from that of sinful man. Many people have blasphemed the Lord by engaging in slavery, the Crusades, witch hunting, etc., while claiming authority from God or his word. That doesn’t mean they were right, or that they were Christian. We should recognize, too, that an infinite God is going to do things, or allow event to occur, that finite minds cannot fully comprehend. God told his Hebrew prophet, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

            – You stated, “Couldn’t Moses simply have said, “thou shalt not hold slaves” if God doesn’t like slavery?” I agree with this sentiment because in my mind I, too, would like numerous topics cleared up with just one additional sentence in scripture.

            One thing those who have been born again can rely on is “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose,” even when it may not be readily evident.

            Until Jesus returns, though, people will be abusing the word of truth to justify engaging in atrocities. That is the nature of sin. And sin is the reason we need a Savior. Christians are called to proclaim the word of reconciliation, and be “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. Because He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God through Him.”

            With much affection in His grace – Virgil

            • zilch says:

              Virgil- thanks for another thoughtful and clear reply. Lunch is on me if you’re ever out this way.

              I said:

              “Many of your answers cited Scripture, and since I have yet to see that any god exists, they are not convincing, unless they are based on the real world as well.”

              You replied:

              - Jesus encountered a similar sentiment from the Jews in Israel. Here, the Savior, who had been prophesied for centuries including: the one who would pave the way for his arrival; the manner and location of his coming; his lineage; the manner of and price paid for his betrayal; the type of execution and his resurrection, etc., was physical proof standing in front of the naysayers, and they still refused to believe.

              These prophecies were all known to the writers of the New Testament, so they are no more convincing, without independent corroboration, than the prophecies of any book referring to earlier books. And I have not seen Jesus, so my situation is not comparable to those naysayers.

              About slavery: the fact remains unchanged that the Bible condones chattel slavery, where ownership was usually for life and included the children, if the slaves were from foreign tribes. If you don’t approve of this, even if you are enjoined from beating your slave to death within three days, you didn’t get this from the Bible. Even you admit that you’d have liked it if Moses had forbidden slavery. Why? But as I said- I don’t mind if you borrow from the humanistic worldview, if it keeps you from supporting slavery.

              You say:

              - I am under the impression that you believe life ‘evolved’ to its present state. Survival of the fittest, thus, is the explanation. What comes along with this view is that there must be immense amounts of ‘necessary’ pain, destruction, and death.

              So far so good.

              Now, why would this evolving
              process have stopped in our present life? Isn’t it continual; or, maybe it has changed?

              Evolution in some organisms has changed to favor the survival of larger and larger groups. Humans have gone the furthest in this direction, with the evolution of social traits that help build societies. These are genetic to some extent, but now largely cultural. It’s frowned upon in polite society to kill one’s neighbor for his car. This doesn’t mean evolution has stopped.

              Hitler just followed in the order of evolution, which necessitates pain, destruction, and death. Thus, in this worldview, for life to continue evolving it must contain pain, destruction, and death.

              Hitler never mentioned Darwin or evolution once as far as I know- and I’m sort of a Hitler buff. He mentions Jesus and especially Martin Luther as his inspiration.

              He took the biological implications of Darwin’s theory and preserved and promoted the gene pool of what he and his team considered to be the superior race. Their logical conclusion fits correctly into the evolutionary model.

              Even if Hitler did think he was simply carrying out evolution’s plan, this doesn’t mean that evolution is false or that Hitler was behaving logically. This is called the “naturalistic fallacy”, and it is indeed a fallacy. If we thought that non-cultural nature should be emulated all the time, we wouldn’t wear glasses either.

              What I’m saying is the subjective view over whether or not pain, destruction, and death is necessary or unnecessary cannot be the determining factor of whether or not something is “wrong.” It must be something higher. If not, it is one opinion over another, and nothing more than opinion.

              As far as I can see, it is one opinion over another. There’s no escaping that, even if you are a Christian: Christians argue at least as much as anyone else about morals. Luckily, we have enough in common that widespread agreement is often possible: for instance, that it’s not good to torture babies for fun.

              - You, like all humans, have a divine carrot and stick. It is called the conscious, on which God has written his moral code.

              I almost agree with this: I have a couple of, if not divine, at least pretty amazing, carrots and sticks. Part of it is genetic, my heritage as a social animal, and part is cultural, my heritage as a member of society. No gods necessary to behave nicely.

              cheers from cloudy Vienna, zilch

              • Virgil says:

                Thank you. I’ll take you up on that. I hear the wiener-schnitzel at Figelmueller’s is great.

                “If you don’t approve of this …you didn’t get this from the Bible.”

                – I approve of everything God has done because “his work is perfect” and he is “righteous in all his ways.”

                In the Mosaic Law, God gave his preeminent nation [Israel] special marching orders that ceased in the “dispensation of grace which was given to me [Paul] for you [us].”

                Like the slavery question, I also don’t approve of stoning: adulterers, blasphemers, and children who dishonor their parents; those engaged in bestiality, homosexuality, and presumptuous sin.

                I can understand how you feel about this slavery business, I felt the same way at one time, too. But here’s what I found after studying scripture:

                God has progressively revealed his instructions throughout human history. – He is the homesteader of the universe. – It’s his, and he gets to do with it what he wants. – He revealed instructions to Adam and Eve inside the garden that differed from outside the garden. Those were different from the instructions given to Noah, and different from that of Abraham, which were different from that given to Moses and the kingdom of Israel, and lastly, different from that given to the Body of Christ.

                Reading one economy’s marching orders into another has caused much theological confusion over the centuries.

                Just because God commanded Israel to cleanse the promised land by exterminating the Canaanites does not mean, for example, some Americans should have used that as justification for the extermination of Native Americans. God has not called believers in this age to engage in that kind of activity.

                During the days of Abraham, it was a moral requirement for a genuine believer to be circumcised. It would be wrong, today, to make circumcision a moral requirement.

                To the nation of Israel, God instructed women, who’s monthly menstruation cycle went beyond normal, to take two turtle doves to the priest. Enforcing this upon women, today, would be wrong because “we have been delivered from the law” through Jesus, “so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

                Your argument to me is that I can’t be opposed to slavery by any biblical means because God condoned slavery in the law. Yet, if that argumentative process were true you should also say that I can’t be opposed to making my wife take two turtle doves down to the local priest each month she had an abnormal monthly cycle, unless my opposition to it comes from outside of God’s word. – Such an argument denies God’s progressive revelation seen in scripture.

                Now, for those who are really bothered by God’s activity long ago with slavery, what should bother them even more is God’s killing of every human being on the face of the planet, save eight, during the worldwide flood. And for those who are troubled by that, the future should be even more alarming, regarding the nature and character of God, because he has promised that all those who reject his method of salvation will spend eternity separate from him in hell.

                Praise God, though, for salvation being provided through Jesus “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace.”

                ********
                “This doesn’t mean evolution has stopped.”

                – How can one prove evolution hasn’t stopped? In the evolutionist’s view, man comes from primordial slime. Today, we do not observe this. We observe the replication of life after its own kind. In fact, the evolutionist cannot provide any observable evidence, from the past or in the present, to show life changing from anything outside of its own kind.

                If I were and evolutionist, I would have to conclude that the process ceased so long ago that any available evidence of its process had disintegrated.

                Btw, by all appearances, society is not getting nicer in my opinion. It appears to be coming unglued.

                “It’s frowned upon in polite society to kill one’s neighbor for his car”

                – Of course it is frowned upon because it violates the moral code which is embedded in every individual, by God.

                “These are genetic to some extent, but now largely cultural.”

                – That is an unprovable assumption.

                “Evolution in some organisms has changed to favor the survival of larger and larger groups.”

                – A very large and unprovable assumption.

                “Hitler never mentioned Darwin or evolution once as far as I know”

                – He does not need to say those words to be carrying out its implications. Example: former President George W. Bush did not need to say he was a fascist or a Keynesian for us to know that, from a strict economic use of the terms, he was both, and they manifested themselves in his policies.

                Similarly, Hitler did not leave us with any writings or recordings showing he ordered the holocaust. Should we conclude he did not support extermination of the Jews?

                While we can be thankful Luther stood up against an apostate organization teaching a false gospel, we should rightly rebuke him for his very un-biblical views in numerous other areas. He is evidence that we must “rightly divide the word of truth.” Otherwise, people will use the bible un-righteously to justify sinful behavior.

                All Luther had to do was accept God’s words through Paul, “my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved,” or, “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins,” as we’ll as numerous other places. Luther should have submitted to the authoritative word of God rather than his cultural bias.

                “or that Hitler was behaving logically.”

                – The study of praxeology shows that human action is logical to the person performing the action, not that it must be logical to anyone else.

                “this doesn’t mean that evolution is false”

                – I didn’t intend to imply that it was evidence that evolution is false.

                “it’s not good to torture babies for fun.”

                – At one point in history, not too long ago, babies were burned alive, and it was acceptable/normal. But it was wrong before they did it and after they quit, not because society changed or evolved. – The reason people can get along with similar moral value systems is because of their conscience. But God warns that the conscience can become seared, and no longer offer the mind a warning system that something is wrong.

                I’m curious, in your view is it good to torture babies who are still inside their mother’s tummy or partially hanging outside of the vaginal canal, so that people can have sex without consequences?

                I ask, not because I think you believe in the following, but because I’ve heard people claim, “there can’t be a god because if there was he wouldn’t let bad things happen to innocent people.” Yet, it’s often those same people arguing for the legalized acceptance of killing the innocent, when it’s the mother who is able to stop bad things from happening to the innocent. Have they just not evolved enough?

                “No gods necessary to behave nicely.”

                – That’s another unprovable assumption that a god was not involved.

                I’ll close with one reason why I know God exists and he has proven it in my life, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” In the same way that I don’t know how to put the aroma of coffee into words, I don’t know how to describe the Holy Spirit taking up residence in my heart; but I wish it for everyone because he is “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.”

                With much affection in His grace – Virgil

              • Steve says:

                Hi guys, I’d like to jump in here because I saw zilch’s response regarding Hitler and had not heard that before. I did a little research and I hate to link to a rationalwiki page but I just wanted to show where I got this from. When I googled “did hitler mention evolution”, this was the first page that came up and it referenced the creationist argument which may or may not be an honest representation of the argument, but it said the following:

                “using Hitler’s belief in evolution as an argument against evolutionary science is an example of the logical fallacy of an argument from adverse consequences, suggesting that we should not accept the theory of evolution because it could lead to the kind of racist views perpetuated by Hitler.”

                I would like to ask Jason or Josef or whoever feels up to the task, what your opinion is on the accusation of this fallacy.

                For those of you who do not know me, I support the Bible as written and believe the genealogies show the earth is approx. 6,000 years old and respect all that AiG, ICR, Jason Lisle and others have done to help people to understand our point of view.

                I say all that to reaffirm that I was not posting a rationalwiki link because I agree with them. They are clearly biased against God and creationists.

                • Micah says:

                  Well, they are right that it would be a fallacy to argue that evolution is false on the basis that if it were true it would lead to bad consequences.

                  That said, i dont know of any creationist on this blog that would argue that way.

                  I would say that Hitlers action were in line with evolution. First, i’m not a hitler expert so i dont know what he actually believed, but i can tell by his actions that he was just carrying out evolution. That is, he was trying to eliminate what he thought to the the weaker genes and attempting to keep what he thought to be the stronger genes.

                  In closing i would just like to re-affirm what i said first, i dont think the evolutionists claim that we are committing that fallacy hold much water. At least not here on this blog, one of the main claims here has always been that evolution is false because it fails to provide any rational basis for the things necessary for science, we have never claimed (at least I havent) that evolution is false because it would have bad consequences.

                  That would be my reply.

                  Micah

                • Milton McAngus says:

                  What Hitler engaged in was Eugenics, which is a process by which humans attempt to manipulate the evolutionary process.
                  Eugenics; “the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics)”
                  It is not a rational argument to say that since Hitler attempted to use evolution for evil purposes, that evolution is therefore evil.
                  But this does beg the question of how the evolutionists’ world view can account for ultimate morality and account for ultimate standards of right and wrong. Why is what Hitler did to ostensibly help the survival of what he viewed as the fittest gene pool, wrong from the evolutionist’s perspective?
                  Morality, like logic, are not physical, but rather conceptual realities requiring a mind to conceive of them. They pre-existed, were operational, prior to man’s discovery. Being conceptual, they required a mind to conceive of them and set them into play. This is perfectly consistent with the Christian world view who expects that an infinitely logical and moral God would create a uniformly logical universe and would hard wire an understanding of His ultimate morality into mankind.
                  Btw; why are those who bring up the biblical slavery issue never interested in the fact that God used/raised up, certain nations, Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon, in order to judge Israel? Seems to me that God is very consistent in His judgments of unrighteous nations. God gives plenty of warning and opportunities to repent to the Canaanites, Amalekites, and Israelites, prior to enacting judgments upon them. Why do biblical non-believers and non-theists care what the God of the bible does in judgment?
                  “We don’t believe in the God of the bible because the God we don’t believe in does things that don’t conform to our personal moral standards.”

                  • zilch says:

                    Thanks for all the thoughtful replies, everyone. Margins are getting cramped again, though, so I hope no one minds if I start a new column, at the end of the latest replies (next page). Thanks, zilch

  17. Bart says:

    Hey Jason,

    Great article! I was recently asked by an evolutionist if truth could exist without the biblical God. I then said:

    ‘We cannot have truth without preconditions of intelligibility’

    ‘Only the biblical worldview justifies these preconditions’

    Therefore:

    ‘You cannot have truth without the biblical God’

    His response:

    “So if God didn’t exist then it would be true that there is no God? How can it be true that there is no truth?

    Your logic is sound, but the premises are false and lead to a nonsense conclusion.”

    Is my argument flawed?

    • Dr. Lisle says:

      Hi Bart,

      Your argument is fine. I think the evolutionist meant to accuse you of having a valid argument that is unsound due to a false premise. It is impossible to have a sound argument with a false premise or a false conclusion, because that contradicts the definition of a sound argument.

      His question: “How can it be true that there is no truth?” is answered as follows. It can’t be; therefore God exists.

      • Bart says:

        Jason,

        Wouldnt he need to assume that the preconditions of intelligibility exists in a universe without the biblical God in order to claim the conclusion is nonsense? Otherwise how can he ask the question “how can it be true that there is no truth (without the biblical God)”? without using laws of logic (which would not exists in an evolutionary universe)?

        • the_ignored says:

          ‘Only the biblical worldview justifies these preconditions’
          There’s the flaw….it has an unsupported assumption built into it. In fact, that’s pretty much the conclusion, isn’t it?

          [Dr. Lisle: Actually, I have demonstrated in a number of ways that only the biblical worldview can justify these preconditions. I have even written a book on it. So it is not an unsupported assumption, but a logical conclusion. If you disagree, come up with some other worldview that can justify such preconditions.]

          Why do you believe that the law of logic have to be constructed by some outside being? How can you show that it’s your outside being that made them?

          [Dr. Lisle: As I have written many times before, laws of logic must be a reflection of the thoughts of the biblical God because no other explanation can account for their existence and properties, nor how we could possibly know that laws of logic have such properties. E.g. laws of logic are universal because God is omni-present; laws of logic don’t change with time because God is unchanging and hence His thinking is unchanging. etc. etc. This is spelled out in more detail in the book “The Ultimate Proof of Creation.”]

          Aren’t they just descriptions of the universe itself, regardless of how it got here?

          [Dr. Lisle: No. First, they don’t describe the universe at all; rather they describe the correct chain of reasoning from premises to conclusions. Second, making laws of logic contingent upon the universe would never justify their unchanging and universal nature, since the universe is different in various places and changes with time. Also, we could never know that laws of logic are universal and unchanging if they were based on the universe because we have not explored all the universe nor have we experienced all times.]

          Besides:
          http://www.katholon.com/Logic.htm

          [Dr. Lisle: Here:
          http://www.reformed.org/apologetics/index.html?mainframe=/apologetics/martin_TAG.html
          ]

          • Bart says:

            the_ignored,

            “it has an unsupported assumption built into it.”

            This is an arbitrary statement because as of yet you have not given a reason for why your worldview would account for these preconditions.

            “Why do you believe that the law of logic have to be constructed by some outside being?”

            This is a strawman. Laws of logic are a reflection of the way God thinks.

            “How can you show that it’s your outside being that made them?”

            Only the biblical worldview gives reasons for why we have laws of logic, reliable senses, reliable memory, uniformity of nature, etc.

            If you disagree, by all means, give us reason under your own worldview for why these preconditions exist.

            “Aren’t they just descriptions of the universe itself, regardless of how it got here?”

            This idea fails for multiple reasons. The main reason this idea fails is because the universe is always changing while preconditions such as the laws of logic are unchanging.

            Indeed, if laws of logic were merely a description of an ever changing universe then there would be no point in debating because tomorrow the law of non-contradiction may become the law of contradiction!

            Jason Lisle has a fabulous book on the topic:
            http://www.answersingenesis.org/store/product/ultimate-proof-creation-book/

            • the_ignored says:

              Indeed, if laws of logic were merely a description of an ever changing universe then there would be no point in debating because tomorrow the law of non-contradiction may become the law of contradiction!
              I’m sorry, but WHAT? What drugs are you presuppers on, for god’s sake? Would you care to explain just how the law of non-contradiction could become the law of contradiction? If you say that such a thing could possibly happen without your god preventing it, I want to know HOW!

              Yeah, a “fabulous book”…
              http://ultimateproof.wordpress.com/

              • the_ignored says:

                Only the biblical worldview gives reasons for why we have laws of logic, reliable senses, reliable memory, uniformity of nature, etc.
                Why not any other religion? Can you show me the bible verses that even show awareness of the laws of logic?

                Now: I”m not asking for where the verse gives an example of a usage…I”m talking about where it describes the LOGICAL LAW itself.

                Lots of examples can be found in speech and literature, after all, where the speaker doesn’t know about the law he’s using.

                “Reliable senses”? Wrong. Our senses are not always reliable. Optical and auditory illusions exist, and our smell and taste buds can be affected by what we smelt or tasted right before eating something else.

                So: Your point?

                If you disagree, by all means, give us reason under your own worldview for why these preconditions exist.
                I’m still waiting for the justifications under YOUR worldview! Other than just blind assertions, of course.

                Since you don’t understand the issue enough to realize that our senses are not always reliable even under your own worldview, I suspect I’ll be waiting for a long time.

                In the meantime: some of my replies that never showed up on the blog here are stored here:
                tinyurl dot com slash npldkd5

                tinyurl dot com pembmm4

                • zilch says:

                  the ignored, you say:

                  Can you show me the bible verses that even show awareness of the laws of logic?

                  Now: I”m not asking for where the verse gives an example of a usage…I”m talking about where it describes the LOGICAL LAW itself.

                  Lots of examples can be found in speech and literature, after all, where the speaker doesn’t know about the law he’s using.

                  Quite right, of course. But of course you can go further: even if the Bible laid out the laws of logic clearly and perfectly, that still wouldn’t prove that any god was behind
                  it, any more than saying two plus two equals four proves divine inspiration.

          • Tony says:

            we have been through this Jason, another fallacy of equivocation, you confuse two kinds of “change” on purpose I might add and you confuse what logic DOES with what it IS

  18. Brent says:

    Have you come across the video that rebuts your pressup presentation by Knownomore? One comment I saw says “Logic would still exist apart from the mind of God”. that thing sounds to me like “did you stop beating your wife” question type of thing. If we say yes (due to the fact that human has autonomy and was given freedom to use logic apart from God) then we gave him the reason to reject God’s existence. If we say No, then they would say we are wrong because they can use logic all the time. So we have no choice but to tell them they can’t justify it :)

  19. Bart says:

    This is my last response as I cannot afford the time to be drawn into the blog-o-sphere and its associated ‘death by a thousand emails’.

    “I’m sorry, but WHAT? What drugs are you presuppers on, for god’s sake? Would you care to explain just how the law of non-contradiction could become the law of contradiction? If you say that such a thing could possibly happen without your god preventing it, I want to know HOW!”

    You said that the laws of logic are just descriptions of the universe. This is obviously false because the universe is always changing; therefore if laws of logic described the universe they would be ever changing as well.

    You have only demolished your own claim that, “laws of logic are a description of the universe”.

    Such a scenario is impossible in a Christian universe because laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking. Since God is an unchanging, sovereign, immaterial Being, His thoughts would necessarily be abstract, universal, invariant entities. In other words, they are not made of matter, they apply everywhere, and at all times. Laws of logic are contingent upon God’s unchanging nature.

    “Why not any other religion? Can you show me the bible verses that even show awareness of the laws of logic?”

    God cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13), and all truth is in God (John 14:6; Col. 2:3), therefore truth will not contradict itself. Since God is constantly upholding the universe by His power (Heb. 1:3), the consistent Christian expects that no contradictions will ever occur in the universe.

    “Since you don’t understand the issue enough to realize that our senses are not always reliable even under your own worldview, I suspect I’ll be waiting for a long time.”

    Actually as a Christian I have reasons to expect my senses to be basically reliable but also tainted by the effects (genetic entropy) of sin.

    “Wrong. Our senses are not always reliable. Optical and auditory illusions exist, and our smell and taste buds can be affected by what we smelt or tasted right before eating something else.”

    Your statements are continuously self-refuting. You claim that our senses are not reliable but then expect that I will reliably see (sight is one of our senses) what you have posted here. I know my senses are basically reliable because they were designed by God. However, in your worldview how do you know that everything you see is not just a consistent illusion that is a necessary result of evolution?

    Again, your very statements have only succeeded in demolishing your own worldview. That is, you must stand on biblical presuppositions in order to argue against the Bible!

  20. Lots of great comments and good arguments, but maybe it is time to explain to people how to actually adopt the Christian worldview…

    It starts by repenting of your sin and trusting the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. You must cast aside all hope that you can be pleasing to God on your own and fully embrace that it is ONLY through the shed blood of Jesus that God’s wrath toward you can be satisfied.

    Until you personally are born-again of the Spirit of God, all these wonderful arguments will seem foolish, as the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

    But to the one who believes, it is the power of God!

    • daveMc says:

      are you “speaking in tongues”?

    • Milton McAngus says:

      Michael
      Now that I have accepted Christ as my savior, have been filled with the Holy Spirit, and am born again, is it alright with you if I defend the faith with sound reasoning? I see my acceptance of Christ as a new begining, a starting point, from where I am called to do God’s will to advance His kingdom as He wills in me. Not that I believe that I can earn the salvation purchased by the blood of Christ, but in order to return the talents that He has given, with interest, upon His glorious return.
      Foolishness is a term reserved only for that which is ungodly in its approach and purpose. I don’t see foolishness being practiced here by the people of faith in their contending for the faith as God has called them.
      I pray that all Christians could exhibit the “foolishness” of the apostle Paul.
      God bless

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