Jason Lisle: Atheism is Irrational

It’s a rarity these days when we find something by Jason Lisle. Regular readers of this humble blog know him best from the time he was at Answers in Genesis (AIG), ol’ Hambo’s online ministry, when we wrote several posts about Jason Lisle’s “Instant Starlight” Paper.

Jason left AIG a couple of years ago to become director of whatever it is that they call research at the Institute for Creation Research. For some reason, Jason’s latest is posted at AIG’s website. But we don’t care where Jason’s stuff appears — AIG, ICR, or some website like the Time Cube. He’s always entertaining.

The title of Jason’s latest is What Is the Best Argument for the Existence of God? That topic isn’t one of the central concerns of our blog. Your Curmudgeon doesn’t care what your religion is, as long as your behavior is civilized and you don’t use your religion as an excuse to violate anyone’s rights or to interfere with science education. But to creationists like Jason, God and evolution are polar opposites, like good and evil. To understand them — and their insane war on science — we need to know how they think. So as you read this post, hold tightly onto your brain — or you’ll lose it.

Jason’s essay is a long one, so we’ll try to present the highlights — with bold font added by us for emphasis and scripture references deleted. He begins by sounding surprisingly reasonable:

There are a number of common arguments for the existence of God. But most of these arguments are not as effective as many Christians would like to think. Let’s consider a hypothetical conversation between a Christian and an atheist.

What follows, and it’s just the first section of Jason’s essay, is a series of eight exchanges, each starting with an argument by someone designated as “Christian,” followed by a counter-argument from an “Atheist.” You’ll probably want to read the whole collection, because it really is typical of what goes on in debates with such people. And it demonstrates that many creationists — certainly the professionals — have already heard all of your arguments, but they don’t accept them. We’ll give you only one of the eight exchanges:

Christian: “The living creatures of this world clearly exhibit design. Therefore, they must have a designer. And that designer is God.”

Atheist: “The living creatures only appear to be designed. Natural selection can account for this apparent design. Poorly adapted organisms tend to die off, and do not pass on their genes.”

After eight of those, Jason says:

It should be noted that all the facts used by the Christian in the above hypothetical conversation are true. Yes, God is the first cause, the designer of life, the resurrected Christ, the Author of Scripture, and the Savior of Christians. Yet the way these facts are used is not decisive. That is, none of the above arguments really prove that God exists.

[…]

Moreover, most of the atheist’s explanations are actually pretty reasonable, given his view of the world. He’s not being illogical. He is being consistent with his position. Christians and atheists have different worldviews — different philosophies of life. And we must learn to argue on the level of worldviews if we are to argue in a cogent and effective fashion.

We told you Jason begins by sounding reasonable. Regardless of his beliefs, he realizes (as the typical walking-around drooler may not) that those arguments aren’t persuasive. Let’s read on:

Thus, if we are to be effective, we must use an argument that deals with worldviews, and not simply isolated facts. The best argument for the existence of God will be a “big-picture” kind of argument.

Jason can’t remain reasonable for too long, so this is where things start to get amusing:

The Bible teaches that atheists are not really atheists. That is, those who profess to be atheists do ultimately believe in God in their heart-of-hearts. The Bible teaches that everyone knows God, because God has revealed Himself to all. In fact, the Bible tells us that God’s existence is so obvious that anyone who suppresses this truth is “without excuse.” The atheist denies with his lips what he knows in his heart. But if they know God, then why do atheists claim that they do not believe in God?

Ah, that’s the big mystery. He continues:

The answer may be found in [scripture reference]. God is angry at unbelievers for their wickedness. And an all-powerful, all-knowing God who is angry at you is a terrifying prospect. So even though many atheists might claim that they are neutral, objective observers, and that their disbelief in God is purely rational, in reality, they are strongly motivated to reject the biblical God who is rightly angry with them. So they suppress that truth in unrighteousness. They convince themselves that they do not believe in God. The atheist is intellectually schizophrenic — believing in God, but believing that he does not believe in God. Because an atheist does believe in God, but does not believe that he believes in God, he is simply a walking bundle of inconsistencies.

See there? Atheists are all a bunch of wackos in denial. Here’s more:

One type to watch for is a behavioral inconsistency; this is where a person’s behavior does not comport with what he claims to believe. For example, consider the atheist university professor who teaches that human beings are simply chemical accidents — the end result of a long and purposeless chain of biological evolution. But then he goes home and kisses his wife and hugs his children, as if they were not simply chemical accidents, but valuable, irreplaceable persons deserving of respect and worthy of love.

[…]

The concepts that human beings are valuable, are not simply animals, are not simply chemicals, have genuine freedom to make choices, are responsible for their actions, and are bound by a universal objective moral code all stem from a Christian worldview. Such things simply do not make sense in an atheistic view of life.

Many atheists behave morally and expect others to behave morally as well. But absolute morality simply does not comport with atheism. Why should there be an absolute, objective standard of behavior that all people should obey if the universe and the people within it are simply accidents of nature? Of course, people can assert that there is a moral code. But who is to say what that moral code should be? … Any standard of our own creation would necessarily be subjective and arbitrary.

Now, some atheists might respond, “That’s right! Morality is subjective. We each have the right to create our own moral code. And therefore, you cannot impose your personal morality on other people!” But of course, this statement is self-refuting, because when they say, “you cannot impose your personal morality on other people” they are imposing their personal moral code on other people. When push comes to shove, no one really believes that morality is merely a subjective, personal choice.

That’s not a great argument, but what’s interesting about it is Jason’s recognition that many atheists aren’t wicked. To the rational mind, that’s a clear contradiction of Jason’s claim about theism’s monopoly on goodness. But Jason brushes aside the contradiction by asserting that if someone behaves like a virtuous pagan, his virtue is a manifestation of his problem. Then he makes an argument that we’ve heard him make before:

Another inconsistency occurs when atheists attempt to be rational. Rationality involves the use of laws of logic. … Laws of logic stem from God’s sovereign nature; they are a reflection of the way He thinks. They are immaterial, universal, invariant, abstract entities, because God is an immaterial (Spirit), omnipresent, unchanging God who has all knowledge. Thus, all true statements will be governed by God’s thinking — they will be logical.

[…]

However, the atheist cannot account for laws of logic. He cannot make sense of them within his own worldview. How could there be immaterial, universal, invariant, abstract laws in a chance universe formed by a big bang? Why should there be an absolute standard of reasoning if everything is simply “molecules in motion”? … If atheistic materialism is true, then there could be no laws of logic, since they are immaterial. Thus, logical reasoning would be impossible!

We’ve already discussed that a few times, most recently here: Jason Lisle: The Logic of Faith, so we won’t repeat ourselves. But when confronted with a logical atheist, as with a virtuous atheist, Jason brushes aside the fact that their existence is an obvious contradiction to his position:

No one is denying that atheists are able to reason and use laws of logic. The point is that if atheism were true, the atheist would not be able to reason or use laws of logic because such things would not be meaningful. The fact that the atheist is able to reason demonstrates that he is wrong. By using that which makes no sense given his worldview, the atheist is being horribly inconsistent. He is using God’s laws of logic, while denying the biblical God that makes such laws possible.

Aaaargh!! When Jason’s “reasoning” is contradicted by undeniable facts, he claims that the contradictions are proof that he is correct!

This is getting rather long, so we’ll give you only one more excerpt, from near the end:

Atheists are strongly motivated to not believe in the biblical God — a God who is rightly angry at them for their treason against Him. But the atheist’s denial of God is an emotional reaction, not a logical one. … Atheists deny (with their lips) the biblical God, not for logical reasons, but for psychological reasons. We must also keep in mind that the unbeliever’s problem is not simply an emotional issue, but a deep spiritual problem. It is the Holy Spirit that must give him the ability to repent.

So there you are, dear reader. Did Jason persuade you? No? That’s because you have emotional and spiritual problems. Jason has none.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

35 responses to “Jason Lisle: Atheism is Irrational

  1. Charles Deetz ;)

    Making if-then assumptions like a Greek philosopher. And does he make a point of how to talk to a evilutionist in their world view, or did he run out of steam?

  2. Laws of logic stem from God’s sovereign nature; they are a reflection of the way He thinks.

    Errm, but logically, an Omnimax god cannot do illogical things, such as create a stone so heavy it cannot lift it, so logic evidently precedes the Omnimax fellow, who is, therefore, subject to its rules… and therefore not Omni.

  3. i think Ken Ham just ripped a chapter out of a book in 2010 that Lisle had written in and post it on the internet

  4. Basically he is saying if you take my world view and run it through his and then give it back to me, it doesn’t make any sense. True, and neither does his. He says that logic is God’s rules (his world view) and then we atheists can be logical because we don’t believe in God, but Look! we are logical therefore we do believe in God!

    Absolutely effing amazing. High school reasoning! Those folks have moved up a notch.

  5. “… God’s laws of logic, while denying the biblical God that makes such laws possible.” I seem to recall from a logic course I took many years ago that the rules of logic were developed in China, India, and particularly Greece, long before anyone thought of the biblical god.

  6. Jackass Liar lies—

    “The atheist denies with his lips what he knows in his heart.”

    Where does one begin to enumerate all the logical flaws and presumptions inherent in this gem?

    Jackass Liar admonishes—

    “And an all-powerful, all-knowing God who is angry…”

    … is an unintelligible notion, worthy, as per Jefferson, only of ridicule.

    Jackass Liar gushes—

    “But absolute morality simply does not comport with atheism.”

    ¿Que? Absolute confabulation simply does not comport with fact. Tricky guy, you assume “absolute morality” without first demonstrating its actuality! And you needn’t strain your brain not only to see that there are at least some moral precepts that all humans (and indeed all living things) can agree on without having to invoke absolutism, but also that many tenets of morality are given validity by consensus. No divine moral decrees are necessary for societies to function reasonably well.

    Jackass Liar blurts—

    “Laws of logic stem from God’s sovereign nature; they are a reflection of the way He thinks. … Thus, all true statements will be governed by God’s thinking — they will be logical.”

    I see, and the idea of omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence and omnibenevolence all rolled into a single package is entirely comprehensible and logical. Has Ol’ Grandy forgiven, among others, Epicurus and Descartes their heresies in this context?

    Jackass Liar lets slip—

    “The point is that if atheism were true, the atheist would not be able to reason or use laws of logic because such things would not be meaningful.”

    Again: Where does one begin to enumerate all the logical flaws and presumptions inherent in this other gem?

    Jackass Liar ejects—

    “Atheists are strongly motivated persuaded to not believe in the biblical God unsubstantiated fanciful whimsy…”

    TFIFY.

  7. Jason Lisle is the ultimate religious zealot. He spent years studying Astronomy, something he clearly has no interest in, just to get a degree that he believed would make him a more credible creationist on scientific issues.

    He seems to be obsessed with the “laws of logic” and somehow is convinced that humans are incapable of developing laws of logic on their own and could only have received them from revelation by the Christian god. He believes that only Christians are capable of logic and reason. I spent a number of years in Japan, a country that has less than 1% of its population Christian, and observed a society that was very logical and rational. I am almost sure Jason has never been outside the U.S. since he seems to be unaware that their are countries that function perfectly well despite the lack of any Christian influence.

  8. Anyone who starts the argument ‘But the buyBull says…..’
    Has lost the argument because most of us DON’T CARE what your book of fairy tales has to say about anything. Show us experimental evidence that can be done by others that prove what you say; otherwise your a psychotically delusional dimwit who essentially KNOWS NOTHING of any importance.

  9. Another social parasite betrays a complete absence of depth in theology. New world christianity spin offs grow more similar to a box of childrens wooden blocks every day. No thought required, just stack the blocks of cherry picked phrases until you reach a comfort zone and then show everyone how your stack of blocks defends the faith. Pitiful at best.

  10. A dumpster full of industrial grade BS…

  11. And that is the simple reason why there are no atheists in foxholes.

  12. It is very difficult impossible to understand how a person can get a doctorate in a field such as astrophysics and yet completely ignore the scientific method in his reasoning.

    One thought for Jason Lisle, PhD. — you don’t have to be an atheist to accept the idea that there may be causes for things we don’t yet fully understand about the universe besides “Goddidit”. Of course, the word “agnostic” doesn’t carry the same negative connotation as “atheist”, and Jason is writing for political impact, not for scientific enlightenment.

  13. @abeastwood
    Yes, the laws of logic were enunciated in “pagan” cultures, before there was a Bible, and moreover, the Bible doesn’t give us any guidance on logic. What we find in the Bible is something accepting the truth of the “liar’s paradox” (Titus 1:12), seemingly not recognizing it being self-contradictory. We don’t find any help in determining the truth or falsehood of the Axiom of Choice, or how to solve Zeno’s paradoxes.

    What this argument is advocating is some sort of god, maybe pantheistic, maybe something like Aristotle’s god, but any god we find in the Bible is more interested in the drapery in his temple than in syllogisms. Or, to be more fair about it, more interested in “love your neighbor” than in “what is the rational square root of 2”.

  14. Logic? Jason Lisle has apparently never heard of the Epicurean paradox:
    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

  15. “consider the atheist university professor who teaches that human beings are simply chemical accidents — the end result of a long and purposeless chain of biological evolution. But then he goes home and kisses his wife and hugs his children, as if they were not simply chemical accidents, but valuable, irreplaceable persons deserving of respect and worthy of love.”
    I may be intellectually schizophrenic, Jason dances a peculiar version of the micro-macro mambo. That versions makes him end in pit called false dichotomy. Micro: chemical reactions. Macro: valuable, irreplaceable persons.

    “Such things simply do not make sense in an atheistic view of life.”
    And his dance partner is called Mrs. Strawwoman.

    In his pit Jason asks desperately: “but who is to say what that moral code should be?”
    We members of Homo Sapiens. Perhaps that’s why atheists with subjective morals tend to be far less judgmental than Ol’ Hambo and co.

    “you cannot impose your personal morality on other people”
    Correction: you should not impose your personal morality on other people. Guess what? Not self-refuting anymore. Not exactly a profound thinker, our Jason.

    “there could be no laws of logic, since they are immaterial”
    Where could our Jason have observed laws of logic without totally material human brains? I never have. Btw Jason – not every atheist is a materialist.

    One little nagging question though. Even if our Jason is right – how does all this refute Evolution Theory?

  16. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy teaches that Christians are not really Christians. That is, those who profess to be Christians do not ultimately believe in God in their brain-of-brains. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy teaches that no one knows God, because God has never revealed Himself to anyone. In fact, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy tells us that God’s existence is so doubtful that anyone who suppresses this truth is “without excuse.” The Christian accepts with his lips what he denies in his heart. But if they do not know God, then why do Christians claim that they believe in God?

    Bow down to my irrefutable logic!

  17. Looks like Jason Lisle has a friend in the United States Air Force.

    Aim High!

  18. The atheist is intellectually schizophrenic — believing in God, but believing that he does not believe in God.

    I believe strongly that I do not believe in Leprechauns. Does this mean that, unbeknownst to me, I actually do believe in Leprechauns?

    What is the difference between believing that you do not believe in something, and not believing in it?

    Also, do the majority of the people in the world who have other religious faiths merely believe that they do not believe in the Christian god, but actually do? I’m sure they’ll be pleased to learn that.

  19. If we want to bring up paradoxes, remember the Euthyphro Dilemma, modified to fit logic:
    Is it logical because god orders it so? Or does god obey it because it is logical?
    Is it true because god says so? Or does god say so because it is true?

    (BTW, we all know that god does not say everything that is true – the Bible says nothing of helium, this year’s World Series, or partial differential equations. So there has to be some additional reason, in addition to its being true, for god to say it.)

  20. @Mark Germano:
    Thanks for sharing the link to the article about the Air Force requiring an oath to God as a requirement for enlistment/re-enlistment. All military officers, as well as all elected officials, take an oath to uphold the Constitution, which as the article states, prohibits requiring religious tests to hold an office or public trust.

    You would think they would know better. Any officer refusing to let an airman re-enlist for refusing to say “so help me God” should lose his commission for not upholding his oath. This is inexcusable.

  21. One type to watch for is a behavioral inconsistency; this is where a person’s behavior does not comport with what he claims to believe.

    I see. So how about a creationist who swears he believes in the Bible, word for word, but routinely “interprets” Biblical prophecies because, word for word, they’re nonsense? (Take a stroll through Daniel and Revelation sometime.) Or who tippy-toes past the mention of the “sons of God,” plural, in Genesis 6. (Some translations actually have it as “sons of the gods.”) Or who exalts the Ten Commandments but routinely breaks the ones against lying, bearing false witness and coveting what belongs to others?

    This writer seems to think atheists can’t really be atheists unless they’re moral degenerates. Evidently it’s never occurred to him that decent behavior might make sense on its own terms, rather than as fearful submission to a Big Father to whom Orwell’s Big Brother would be a gnat. What a way to live.

  22. Kennard Walter

    I’m not sure if this fits in with logical contradictions or not, but it seems worth noting. God can’t be evil, because it is against his nature, and God is Supernatural. I am aware of the argument that His nature is Supernatural, and therefore not restricted to the Laws of the Nature. That still seems contradicted yet again by how we are supposed to be able to observe God in all of the natural world. I hesitate to classify these as named or specific arguments, because I don’t know who they are attributed to.

  23. As for the Air Force “so help me god” oath, Allen West, former US Congressman, Tealiban member and former war criminal, celebrated and supported the policy that non-monotheists can’t stay in the AF without hypocritically repeating an oath they don’t believe.

    Pastor Bryan Fischer on his radio show reiterated that atheists should not be permitted in the military. He has previously stated that First Amendment religious freedom only applies to Christians and that atheists can’t hold public office and should be deported from the USA.

  24. Tomorrow, Sept. 11 is Jason Lisle Day. It’s the 2nd anniversary of Lisle writing on his blog that he would soon explain why General Relativity does not disprove his “solution” to the YEC Distant Starlight Problem, which he calls Asymmetric Synchrony Convention (ASC). The Starlight Problem (how does light get here from stars more than 6,000 lugt years away if the universe is just 6,000 years old?) has always been a big bug up the @$$ of the YECs, and Lisle’s stupid “ASC” solution is one of the dumbest, because GR applied to his math means there would be an observable gravity field. He says his model leads to no observable differences from Einsteinian conventions, but 2 years ago it was pointed out to him that GR shows that his model would entail an observable gravity field.

    Two years ago tomorrow, Sept. 11, he wrote on his blog that he would explain why GR and observation for not refute his model. We’re still waiting.

    Tomorrow I plan to post on my blog what’s wrong with Lisle’s nonsense (a lot) and hopefully cross-posted at Panda’s Thumb.

  25. Doctor Stochastic

    Which “Laws of Logic” does Lisle believe he’s following?

    A peek into the problems: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodstein's_theorem

  26. Jim Orchardist

    But… but… I don’t want to believe in God. Dammit its just not fair!!

  27. Mr Lisle’s argument dies right at the start when he states that the one god that people who don’t believe in gods do believe in just happens to be the one god he believes in. There’s no point reading beyond that, although I have (hey, I’m just an inconsistent atheist) and the rest just sinks even lower.

  28. People Don’t ask me too much if I believe in god anymore because I always come back with I’ve been a few places and seen and heard a lot. I would never deny or make fun of anyone who shows me the same respect but I always come back to I believe what I see with my own eyes and touch with my own hands. No one ever has any argument for that. Unless its a stock statement like they’ll pray for me at which point I usually just drop the subject. :-))

  29. @jack102248 I believe what I see with my own eyes and touch with my own hands.
    Just among friends, I cannot resist a little kidding by comparing:
    How do you know? Have you been there?

  30. Maybe the next time Jason Lisle should get a real atheist. There are several responses that could be better articulated. Possibly the most glaring to me is that life has too many inelegant “designs” to look intelligently created.
    As for logic being somehow transcendental. Huh? Our soulless electronic gadgets use logic gates to do just about everything. (And I’d point out in an electronic context they are not abstract). I’m still at a loss to understand the thesis of the argument that logic is beyond human understanding without being schooled into it by a creator god.

  31. Our SC will have to excuse my bad language, but this guy is effing nuts!
    When you said big picture, I didn’t realize big picture means bible and god means biblical god. Are there only two groups of people? Atheists and christians?

  32. makagutu – Perhaps in Mr Lisle’s drugged-up world, people of other religions are just atheists who claim to believe in other gods who lie when they deny believing in his god.

  33. LOL Therein lies the problem methinks.

  34. I will be presumptuous and dare to speak on behalf of the entire evangelical Christian academy and emphasize this: Most of us are just as nauseated and dumbfounded by Jason Lisle’s “ultimate proof” rubbish as you are. Please believe me when I say that while his nonsense is certainly echoed by some within the fundamentalist Christian camp, evangelical Christian scholars are NOT impressed by his play-to-the-peanut-gallery antics. A few years ago I read his Ultimate Proof of God book and realized that it all boiled down to “The universe can be studied and it makes sense. If God hadn’t created it, we wouldn’t be able to do that. Therefore, I have proved the existence of God.” Give me a break! (Some readers may think I’m exaggerating. No I am not. The book is just as shallow as the argument sounds.)

    I always told my students that flawed “arguments for God” are usually very counter-productive because when their flaws are so obvious, they basically become arguments AGAINST the existence of God. I cite Lee Strobel’s books as prime examples. I completely understand why someone might read THE CASE FOR CHRIST and come away thinking, “Is that really the best a Christian can do in making a case for the Jesus of the Bible?” My answer is a loud NO. But I had low expectations from the beginning, because as with most mass-marketed, best-selling, pop-level Christian books, the author is neither a Biblical scholar nor an historian. For the most part, the best evangelical Christian scholars are virtually unknown to the average pew-sitter. They are busy writing weighty tomes of a much more sophisticated and technical nature and their academic conference papers eventually reach the peer-reviewed academic journals. The general public may get all excited about Strobel’s books but the evangelical academy does not. We are busy doing what all scholars do: collecting and analyzing the evidence, publishing explanations of the data, and scrutinizing the research of our academic peers. (Of course, the best evangelical scholarship appears in the same peer-review journals as the work of “secular” university religious studies professors, historians, and Ancient Near Eastern Studies scholars. Many of my colleagues earned their PhDs at the same elite academic institutions as their peers at the world’s top universities. And if you examined our C.V.’s, you would find that many of us spent many years on the faculties of those top schools and even held tenure there.)