Is Jason Lisle a Flat Earther?

Jason Lisle is our favorite creation scientist. He’s the new Director of Research at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). We recently posted Jason Lisle Describes the Earth and the Moon, but he’s made some more news today. No, he didn’t come out as a flat-Earther — not specifically. Our title will be explained at the end.

At the website of the Christian Post (CP), which describes itself as “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website,” they have this headline: Letting Science ‘Interpret’ Scripture Is Slippery Slope, Says Young Earth/Universe Creationist. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A “young earth” creationist, who also believes the universe is much younger than many astronomers calculate, says once people begin to rely on science rather than the Bible to answer questions about our origin, even for just parts, they are asking for trouble.”

They’re talking about Jason, about whom they later say: “Lisle is the director of research at the Institute of Creation Research. His team of scientists investigate and demonstrate the evidence for Creation.” Jason says if you rely on science, you’re “asking for trouble.” If that’s the conclusion of Jason and his “team of scientists,” we assume they’re not having much luck demonstrating the evidence for creationism. Anyway, we know you don’t want any trouble, so we urge you to pay attention:

“It’s a very slippery slope when you decide that there are some sections of the Bible that you are going to allow the secular scientist to tell you what it really means,” said Dr. Jason Lisle, during an interview with the press shortly after his debate at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics with astronomer and pastor Dr. Hugh Ross, who argued for a universe that is nearly 15 billion years old.”

Beware of those slippery slopes! If you’re not careful, you can end up in the Lake of Fire. Let’s read on:

“You’ve opened a very dangerous door,” Lisle continued. “Basically, you’ve decided to say that ‘I’m going to make the secular scientist my ultimate standard by which I interpret the scriptures’ and if you are consistent with that, and most people are not, thank goodness, but if you are well, hey, most scientists don’t believe the resurrection of the dead is possible.”

Wow — science opens a dangerous door. Let’s keep that door shut! The article continues:

“Some people will say they can live with the inconsistencies. They’ll tell me: ‘Well, it’s just Genesis that I allow the scientists to tell me what it meant,’ Lisle explained. “But, what we’ve found is that children will see that inconsistency, and they will be more consistent, they will reject all of the Bible. They’ll say, ‘Well, mom and dad don’t really believe in the Bible because they don’t believe in the first few chapters. Why should I believe in the Gospel?’ We’ve seen that happen. The statistics are just alarming. We see the students walking away from church in droves.”

Jason is right — it’s gotta be all or nothing. Here’s more:

“When you make an age estimate scientifically you have to make certain assumptions, and for that reason you can never really prove the age of something scientifically,” Lisle said. “You need a history book and fortunately we have a history book and not just any history book. It’s the history book by the one who actually did the creating, the one who never lies and the one who knows everything – that history book is the one written by God.”

Admit it, dear reader — there’s no way to argue with Jason about that. Moving along:

Lisle was asked about his thoughts on the argument by some that the origin’s age is not an issue of salvation.

[He said:] “I would argue that although you can be saved apart from believing in six days, in a way, salvation does not make sense apart from creation in six days. If you believe in millions of years, if you believe the fossils are millions of years old, you have death before Adam sinned, in which case death cannot be the result of Adam’s sin if it was already there for millions of years. If death is not the penalty for sin then why did Jesus die on the cross?”

He’s right again. So where does flat-Earth come into this? In a sense, our title is unfair, because Jason didn’t discuss it. But if the question were put to him, he’d have to answer that it’s flat. We’ve previously given you a large list of scripture passages that clearly say so — see The Earth Is Flat! And Jason must also believe that The Earth Does Not Move! That’s why he’s our favorite creation scientist.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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34 responses to “Is Jason Lisle a Flat Earther?

  1. Charles Deetz ;)

    SC is right. Once you believe in the Truth(TM) of the Bible, you need to believe every last word. Its a slippery slope after all. And at that point there really is no point in him even talking to a scientist, let alone debate one.

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    Apparently he and Ross have debated a few times. Here is a digestable tit-for-tat summary from 2010. Like these summaries of Jason’s points: “if you pre-suppose my interpretation of Genesis, then the universe is young”, or this: “any evidence for an old universe is wrong”.

  3. ..A “young earth” creationist, who also believes the universe is much younger than many astronomers calculate,…

    If you don’t immediately spot at least 3 errors in that excerpt alone, go back to when you first heard that there was a creationism/evolution “controversy” and start over.

    First, there’s no need for the quotes around “young earth,” as it is used by people on all sides without it. Second, one simply does not know if a YEC believes in any particular age of the earth, only that he/she claims it. Third, what the heck is “also” and “many” supposed to mean? YECs claim that the earth is at least 5 orders of magnitude younger than 99+% of astronomers calculate, and a slight majority of self-described creationists concede.

  4. According to Genesis, there was no death until the fall … (excuse me) … The Fall, but everything had just been created, so nothing was really all that old in the first place by the time death began. A quick Google puts this leave of time between about 45 minutes (some blog) and “not much more than 10 days”, but “much less than 130 years (AiG). So all the death starting at The Fall would have been well within normal life spans for the time (recall Adam and Noah lived a freaking long time).

    So what’s the big deal with no death before Adam sinned? It’s not like anything would have died anyway? I suppose a few critters might have been eaten, but the critters don’t get saved, so it’s pretty much irrelevant to the issue of salvation in the first place.

    OK, maybe trying to makes sense of YEC is maybe a bad idea, it’s but nothing a nice cold Leinenkugels’ Oktoberfest can’t fix. 🙂

  5. TA – you hit the nail on the head with your last paragraph…which sent me to the refrig for a Dale’s Pale Ale!

  6. Stephen Kennedy

    Of all the creationist kooks out there, I am convinced that Jason Lisle is by far the kookiest. I do not think there are any others who are as hostile to Enlightenment values as he is.

  7. Warren Johnson

    Poking around one day at the Answers in Genesis website, I found a paper by Lisle that made bizarre argument about the speed of light depending on direction (so that astronomy could be reconciled with a young earth?). The Curmudgeon might find that a fun paper to mock.

  8. Warren Johnson says: “The Curmudgeon might find that a fun paper to mock.”

    We had several posts about it, for example: Jason Lisle’s “Instant Starlight” Paper.

  9. Back in the Old Days, when Henry Morris was running things, there apparently was promulgated a statement that “Not a single one of our gang, er, group of dedicated scientists, also belongs to the Flat Earth Society,” or some such. Well, one intrepid fellow stuck his head up and said, “But, I do!” They, as it was reported at the time, fixed that incongruity by dememberizing that man forthwith.

    Sorry about the fake quotes. but my memory is not as reliable as it once was.

  10. Charles Deetz ;)

    I take what I said before back, re: instant starlight. Once you have proven one of the basic scientific facts of our existence wrong, you must be raised to demi-god. All hail Jason Lisle, who knows more than all of science and God himself who created starlight.

    (I’ve seen the Instant Starlight paper before, but didn’t really notice or care that it was Lisle.)

  11. @Tomato Addict:
    I’ve been meaning to do this calculation for awhile now. First published here!

    For simplicity’s sake, I’m considering the universe to be a sphere with a radius of 13.8 billion light-years, and the smallest volume into which a person can reasonably fit as 2 cubic meters (2m x 1m x 1m). Now, starting with an initial population of two people, and assuming a generation time of 20 years (because we know that Jason Lisle would not approve of teenagers having sex) I have calculated (simple exponential growth; remember, there’s no death) that the entire observable universe would be filled with people in just over 5,200 years; if you make the generational age 25 years, that pushes the time to 6,500 years. As these figures align perfectly with the age of the universe as published by the Nobel-winning creationists in the peer-reviewed journals of astrophysics, I conclude that the universe is filled with people packed closely together.

    I recognize that this calculation ignores certain difficulties, such as the fact that virtually all of the observable universe is an almost perfect vacuum at 3° K, with no arable land for growing crops, no fast-food outlets, and no beds on which people could continue to procreate, but that is all philosophy and historical science, and hence valueless.

    By the way, if you are so unimaginative as to only consider the land surface area of the earth, it would be covered with people packed closely enough so as to make further reproduction somewhat difficult logistically in 1,120 years (20 year generation) or 1,400 years (25 year generation).

    Contrary to bible babble, death is a good thing.

  12. TA — I’m all for a Warsteiner dunkel, preferably on tap.

    Anonymous admits,“…but my memory is not as reliable as it once was.”

    Evidently so. It seems as though you’ve even forgotten your name. And I thought I was having problems!

    Back on topic — how can any thinking person take biblical literalists seriously? No one seriously believes Greek or Roman mythology to be factual; so why do so many give so much credence to ancient Hebrew mythology? Really — what’s the difference?

  13. I appreciate JL’s honesty. It’s obvious that he is emotionally driven by fear and I strongly suspect that that is true for every single creationist.
    At the other hand, if JL wants to be consistent, he should abandon every single technological development since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden of Eden, being a product of that very same science. After all A and E eating the forbidden fruit was a scientific experiment too. Unless JL doesn’t take this literally, which means he is on the slippery slope himself.

  14. retiredsciguy dares to say: “No one seriously believes Greek or Roman mythology to be factual”

    It is most unwise to scoff at the immortal gods.

  15. @Mark Joseph – I’ve wondered (but not enough to do the calculation) about the expanding sphere of life. At some time the radius of the sphere must be increasing at a speed greater than the speed of light. (How does it fill a sphere of radius of millions or billions of light years in only thousands of years?)

  16. If anything about the “controversy” is worth never forgetting, it is this:

    The kookiest activists (e.g. Lisle) have an audience of about ~25% of the public – committed YECs and a few OEC sympathizers. More people know the activists’ names than agree with them. Whereas the shiftiest ones (Discoveroids) have varying degrees of support from as much as ~75%, including many that accept evolution but think it’s fair to teach “alternatives” in science class. And most of them cannot name one Discoveroid, let alone know that nearly all of them either concede ~4 billion years of common descent or just play dumb about it.

  17. Frank J, are you considering also that their fan base is dwindling over time? And if these are the incipient stages of a population growth profile (which they surely are), the rate at which that fan base is shrinking will accelerate. On the downside, there’s the observation that many “Nones” uncritically buy into all sorts of other irrationalities.

    From the above link:

    “[T]he percentage of Americans who say the Bible should be taken literally has fallen in Gallup polls from an average of about 38% of the public in the late 1970s and early 1980s to an average of 31% since.”

    Something seems to be gradually and steadily eroding public support for fundamentalism.

  18. @Con-tester:

    Interesting stat. It conflicts with the constant 30+ year rate of 40-45% that chooses the “humans were created in their present form in the last 10,000” years in the more frequently-cited poll. But that only adds to the evidence that wording is crucial. When unequivocally worded, only ~20% are young-earthers (and I suspect most of them are, or would be, Omphalists). It also supports the conclusion that 90+% of people – including most who accept evolution – simply don’t give it 5 minutes’ thought, and what little evolution they learn in school is quickly replaced by misleading memes that have pervaded our daily conversation.

    So….when scam artists or their trained parrots say “let the students decide,” the proper answer is “They already decide, but the propaganda you are peddling seeks to prevent that.”

  19. Con-tester: “On the downside, there’s the observation that many “Nones” uncritically buy into all sorts of other irrationalities.”

    No one would like to see organized religion go away than I, but those results are not encouraging. Those “other irrationalities” include what I consider the “central pseudoscience” of ID. Many people who would have (and may have) said in the 80s “I guess something like Genesis is true” now say “I guess something like evolution is true, but I hear that it has gaps.” I contend that the latter is more “malignant.” Circa 2000 I had friendly debates with a Genesis-literalist co-worker. He eventually conceded that the evidence doesn’t support his belief, but he took it “on faith” anyway (presumably as God’s test of faith). I was reassured that he would not likely spread more falsehoods to others. Unlike the latter, who only have to spread bogus “weaknesses” and not even state even the vaguest “what happened when” claims of their own “theories.” Because most people – including most of us critics who ought to know better! – are trained not to ask.

  20. @TomS Exponential growth will eventually outpace cubic volume, and ignoring relativity must eventually exceed the speed of light (but see that One-Way Speed of Light link above).
    Taking gravity and relativity into account, the increasing mass might collapse into a black hole before it could exceed the speed of light (that calculation is beyond in). 😉

    Where is Gabriel H when we need him?

  21. retiredsciguy, above: some kind person at the site fixed that for me. Not my memory this time, but pushing the wrong key when completing my reply.

  22. I think that it is interesting to contrast the treatment of three different features of the natural world in the Bible and in reading the Bible.
    1) The Earth is not flat.
    2) The Earth is a planet of the Sun.
    3) Species change over time.
    Up until the rise of modern science (let’s say before the year 1500), what was the near-uniform opinion of those who read the Bible?
    (1a) Just about everybody agreed that the Earth is not flat. A few people said that because the Bible said that the Earth is flat it must be flat, but the majority opinion was to accept the reality of the shape of the Earth, and somehow or other accommodate the Bible with that.
    (2a) Just about everybody said that the Earth was fixed in space and that the Sun went around the Earth and that the Bible said that.
    (3a) Just about nobody had any opinion about the fixity of species (or “kinds”) and nobody noticed that the Bible had anything to say about that.
    And what do today’s creationists and such have to say about these?
    (1b) Just about all creationists agree that the Earth is not flat.
    (2b) Just about all creationists agree that the Earth is a planet of the Sun.
    (3b) Just about all creationists say that species (or “kinds”) are fixed. (There are some that are not so sure about that.)
    For me, the interesting question is how to explain the different treatment.
    How does mere human reasoning and naturalistic evidence influence what one says about the physical world and what one thinks the Bible says about the world? I have my own opinion about the explanation, but I wonder how the creationists explain it? Are they compelled to say that everybody for more than a thousand years misread the Bible? Do they acknowledge that their reading of the Bible is influenced by mere human reasoning and naturalistic evidence?

  23. TomS: For me, the interesting question is how to explain the different treatment.”

    Here’s my opinion: First, as you know, I never say “the creationists,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. From your context I guess you mean evolution-deniers who are sympathetic in any way to Genesis. With them, any time they give more than a few minutes’ thought to the inconsistencies (*) they choose one of 3 paths:

    1. They select one interpretation that “feels” best and “slouch towards Omphalism” like the co-worker I mentioned above.

    2. They gradually concede old earth, then common descent, then (grudgingly) evolution, admitting that Genesis is an allegory.

    3. They join the scam, becoming more vague about their own opinion on “what happened when,” and more savvy on how to keep the “debate” on “weaknesses” of evolution – eventually making it clear that their real objection is their paranoid perception that acceptance is the root of all evil.

    So 1 and 2 admit that millions of fellow theists people read it incorrectly, but that won’t keep them out of heaven. While 3 will just dodge the question – if anyone ever asks, which is hardly ever.

    (*) For years I have wondered if the Bible quote “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” was meant as a warning to not take the stories too literally.

  24. Maybe we need an acronym?

    “The Creationists” = EDWASIAWTG
    (Evolution-Deniers Who Are Sympathetic In Any Way To Genesis)

    Simplifying …
    “The Creationists” = EDWASAWG (pronounced “Ed-Was-Og”)
    (Evolution-Deniers Who Are Sympathetic in Any Way to Genesis)

    I dunno Frank, it doesn’t seem likely to catch on. :-/

  25. Tomato Addict says: “I dunno Frank, it doesn’t seem likely to catch on.”

    Frank has his own approach to things.

  26. SC: “Frank has his own approach to things.”

    Only because everyone else’s approach is not working. Mine might not work either, but are we gonna be like scientists and at least test it out? Or are we gonna be like “creationists” and “know THE TRVTH, and not need no stinkin’ tests”?

    The fact is that the public defines “creationists” very differently than we do, and ID scammers have been getting a lot of mileage from that for years. If we use the word sparingly, and focus on the games anti-evolution activists play and not what anyone apparently believes or “doesn’t understand,” we give ID scammers a lot less to work with. And less still if we never answer a PRATT without asking them a hard question about their “theory.” We’ll never have more than ~75% on our side. But now we have only ~25%, and most of them don’t really understand or care much about science. And that’s 100% unacceptable.

  27. Frank J claims: “The fact is that the public defines ‘creationists’ very differently than we do, and ID scammers have been getting a lot of mileage from that for years.”

    They get no mileage from that because (except for extreme imbeciles, who aren’t worth anyone’s time) everyone knows what they are. Even their followers (like Don McLeroy) know. There’s no way to re-educate them or any other adult creationists. I give the Discoveroids no comfort, and frankly, Frank, I wish you’d stop implying that I do.

  28. @SC:

    You know they love (1) quote mining, and (2) playing the martyr. So even when we give them pain instead of comfort – and I don’t think you give them any comfort – in a perverse way they love the pain.

    I wish that only “extreme imbeciles” knew what they are – scam artists, who might not even believe what they peddle, but are so paranoid that the “masses” will behave as if all were permitted, that they’ll do any thing to promote unreasonable doubt. But unfortunately, ~75% of the people fall for at least some of their nonsense, including those who accept evolution but think it’s fair to teach “both sides.” I ought to know, as I was in that group briefly in the 90s.

  29. Stephen Kennedy

    I think if we just characterize them as “anti-evolutionists” we are really confining ourselves to people who deny science as it relates to Biology alone. Jason Lisle is a perfect example of someone who not only denies the findings of biologists but also attacks Astronomy, Geology and Physics. I believe “creationists” more accurately and more inclusively describes people who not only deny Darwin’s Theory of Evolution but also call into question the findings of nearly all of the Natural Sciences.

  30. A bunch of us have dealt with Lisle on various topics like science, presupp, and morality here:
    http://www.wearesmrt.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=12286

  31. @Stephen K: I think J-Lisle makes a leap to Anti-Realitist.

    And if Realitist is not a word, it ought to be.

  32. @ SC:

    To be even more clear, I think that, even among the tiny minority of those who actively fight anti-science activism, you are in the top 1%. Your reference to “Enlightenment values” alone puts you in a league of your own. But you might be able to work even more wonders.

    Stephen Kennedy:” I believe “creationists” more accurately and more inclusively describes people who not only deny Darwin’s Theory of Evolution but also call into question the findings of nearly all of the Natural Sciences.”

    I’d be behind that 100+% if most people defined “creationist(s)” as we do, namely those who implicitly reject all of science (and reason) by demanding a double standard for their (increasingly vague) alternatives. In other words, those activists who refuse to accept what 1000s of scientists have concluded from decades of “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated” of multiple lines of evidence, yet insist that they don’t need to even give the vaguest account of what their designer did, when, let alone test it and reject any hypothesis that fails the test. These people, if not their trained parrots. know that they’re peddling a false dichotomy, baiting-and-switching definitions and concepts (evolution with abiogenesis, proximate with ultimate causes, etc.) and misrepresenting scientists.

    Unfortunately 99+% of the public, including most of the ~25% that do accept evolution and understand that its not fair to teach “both sides” (earned and unearned) in science class, define “creationist(s)” in a way that is much more forgiving, whether they agree with them or not.

    I don’t care if we use their definition, or get them to use ours. But it can’t be both.

  33. Reposted kind of, from previous link:

    When it comes to things like lies of omission is where Lisle ticked me off. He starts accusing Christopher Sharp of doing it. Of course Lisle did his own lie of omission by saying that Chris, as an “evolutionist” would have no reason not to lie.

    Too bad that Chris Sharp was also a christian which Lisle did not mention! It was right in the link that I had given to Lisle.

  34. @Tomato Addict and TomS:

    Rats, I didn’t think about that. Yes, you’d have to factor in relativistic effects, of course. At least if you care about science and things that are true. If you’re a creationist, though, you can just declare procreation to be a miracle, and proceed on with the unmodified calculation.