Jason Lisle — Materialism Is Irrational

Today we have an oldie-goldie from Jason Lisle, the creationist astrophysicist who used to be employed by Answers in Genesis (AIG), ol’ Hambo’s online ministry.

For reasons which have never been explained, Jason left AIG a few years ago to go to the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), where he is now “Director of Physical Sciences.” Nevertheless, AIG sometimes re-prints his old essays, which is what they’ve done today. This one is titled Atheism: An Irrational Worldview.

We’ve written about a few of Jason’s essays on the same subject — for example: Jason Lisle: The Logic of Faith — but the one AIG has republished today was originally dated 10 October 2007. That was before your Curmudgeon started this humble blog, so what we’re seeing now may be the beginning of Jason’s exploration of this bizarre concept. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

By embracing materialism, the atheist has destroyed the possibility of knowledge, as well as science and technology.

That may be the most astonishing opening sentence we’ve ever encountered while exploring the fantasy-land of creationism. And Jason is just getting started. Sit back, dear reader. This is going to be fun. Then he says:

Materialistic atheism is one of the easiest worldviews to refute. A materialistic atheist believes that nature is all that there is. He believes that there is no transcendent God who oversees and maintains creation. Many atheists believe that their worldview is rational — and scientific. However, by embracing materialism, the atheist has destroyed the possibility of knowledge, as well as science and technology. In other words, if atheism were true, it would be impossible to prove anything!

At this point we should remind you of something we’ve often said before: This isn’t an atheist blog. Your Curmudgeon is easy to get along with, and we’re never troubled by anyone’s religion — as long as he doesn’t use it as a license to interfere with the rights of anyone else — and that certainly includes the right to conduct scientific research and to teach science. The National Center for Science Education has a list of Statements from Religious Organizations that support evolution. We have no problem with any of those. That probably makes your Curmudgeon a rarity in The Controversy between evolution and creationism, but we’re used that. Anyway, let’s read on to see what else Jason says:

Reasoning involves using the laws of logic. These include the law of non-contradiction which says that you can’t have A and not-A at the same time and in the same relationship. For example, the statement “My car is in the parking lot, and it is not the case that my car is in the parking lot” is necessarily false by the law of non-contradiction. Any rational person would accept this law. But why is this law true? Why should there be a law of non-contradiction, or for that matter, any laws of reasoning?

Why should there be any laws of reasoning? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! How could there not be? Jason continues:

The Christian can answer this question. For the Christian there is an absolute standard for reasoning; we are to pattern our thoughts after God’s. The laws of logic are a reflection of the way God thinks. The law of non-contradiction is not simply one person’s opinion of how we ought to think, rather it stems from God’s self-consistent nature. God cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13), and so, the way God upholds the universe will necessarily be non-contradictory.

Oh. That explains why the universe looks old, but creationists insist that it isn’t. Okay. Here’s more:

The materialistic atheist can’t have laws of logic. He believes that everything that exists is material — part of the physical world. But laws of logic are not physical. You can’t stub your toe on a law of logic. Laws of logic cannot exist in the atheist’s world, yet he uses them to try to reason. This is inconsistent. He is borrowing from the Christian worldview to argue against the Christian worldview. The atheist’s view cannot be rational because he uses things (laws of logic) that cannot exist according to his profession.

Your humble Curmudgeon can try to defend logic. The universe is what it is. It can’t also be what it is not. Because we are part of the universe, logic is an essential premise for all rational thought. A premise like that isn’t held by faith, but by necessity. Religious doctrines, in contrast, are entirely optional. The doctrines of one religion can and do contradict those of another, yet they all have fervent adherents, despite their incompatible dogmas. That means logical thinking is the only universally effective way to think about and deal with the reality in which we exist.

But that won’t have any effect on Jason. Moving along, he tells us:

The atheist might say, “Well, I can reason just fine, and I don’t believe in God.” But this is no different than the critic of air saying, “Well, I can breathe just fine, and I don’t believe in air.” This isn’t a rational response. Breathing requires air, not a profession of belief in air. Likewise, logical reasoning requires God, not a profession of belief in Him. Of course the atheist can reason; it’s because God has made his mind and given him access to the laws of logic — and that’s the point. It’s because God exists that reasoning is possible. The atheist can reason, but within his own worldview he cannot account for his ability to reason.

Skipping a few paragraphs with more of the same, here’s another excerpt:

As a last resort, the atheist may give up a strictly materialistic view and agree that there are immaterial, universal laws. This is a huge concession; after all, if a person is willing to concede that immaterial, universal, unchanging entities can exist, then he must consider the possibility that God exists. But this concession does not save the atheist’s position. He must still justify the laws of logic. Why do they exist? And what is the point of contact between the material physical world and the immaterial world of logic? In other words, why does the material universe feel compelled to obey immaterial laws? The atheist cannot answer these questions. His worldview cannot be justified; it is arbitrary and thus irrational.

No comment. Then the article has two big paragraphs which constitute Jason’s conclusion section. Here’s a bit of that:

Clearly, atheism is not a rational worldview. … Since the God of Scripture is immaterial, sovereign, and beyond time, it makes sense to have laws of logic that are immaterial, universal, and unchanging. Since God has revealed Himself to man, we are able to know and use logic. Since God made the universe and since God made our minds, it makes sense that our minds would have an ability to study and understand the universe. But if the brain is simply the result of mindless evolutionary processes that conveyed some sort of survival value in the past, why should we trust its conclusions? If the universe and our minds are simply the results of time and chance, as the atheist contends, why would we expect that the mind could make sense of the universe? How could science and technology be possible?

And now we come to the end:

An atheist is a walking bundle of contradictions. He reasons and does science, yet he denies the very God that makes reasoning and science possible. On the other hand, the Christian worldview is consistent and makes sense of human reasoning and experience.

And so, dear reader, Jason has spelled out the utter hopelessness of your position, as clearly as anyone ever has. Perhaps it’s time for you to reconsider your silly ideas and embrace his.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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30 responses to “Jason Lisle — Materialism Is Irrational

  1. Oh, great he wants us to look for knowledge in a god who thinks pi is 3, that there are immense quantities of water above our heads, and that disease is causeed by demon possession, a god who would fake his own death to gull people into donating 10% of their income to corrupt churches. Yeah, He has a plan for us, but it doesn’t look too good from the cheap seats.

  2. michaelfugate

    For example, the statement “My car is in the parking lot, and it is not the case that my car is in the parking lot” is necessarily false by the law of non-contradiction.

    What if I have two cars?

  3. Hey, let’s list all of the possibilities!
    1. Your car is actually in the street parking adjacent to the lot, an area that everyone in your office includes in “the parking lot,” but which technically isn’t.
    2. You have two cars.
    3. As you speak, your car is removed from the lot, requiring you to amend your previous statement.

  4. dweller42:
    Or, you borrowed Shroedinger’s car.

  5. Just one mistake that he makes.
    He says that one cannot borrow from an opponent’s worldview to argue against that worldview.
    Wrong.
    This is permitted as a reductio ad absurdum.

  6. I might own a quantum car, the one that appeared in the 007 movie A Quantum of Solara.

  7. We might ask Jason Lisle, PhD (or perhaps KevinC can jump in for him) to provide evidence that all religious belief is NOT a human invention designed to control the actions of others.

    The observation can be made that a person’s ethics are inversely proportional to the loudness with which they profess their religious belief.

  8. To Lisle’s statement that the laws of logic are not material — this is incorrect. They exist as the firings of neurons within one’s brain, a form of energy that certainly is material. The thoughts can be written down on paper, which is certainly material. Language is material; all thought is material.

    Lisle’s argument is absurd.

  9. Mike Elzinga

    Lisle asserts:

    ”By embracing materialism, the atheist has destroyed the possibility of knowledge, as well as science and technology.”

    So why is it that Lisle can’t do basic undergraduate physics calculations when it comes to relativity and the speed of light, or in calculating the recession of the Moon’s orbit? With “knowledge” like that, what possible technological spinoffs can – or have ever – come from the “true science” of ID/creationism?

    On the other hand, real, “materialist” science continues to produce new knowledge and new spinoffs every day; spinoffs that Lisle uses even as he types his diatribes on a computer. He just can’t recognize them even if they are pointed out to him.

    Lisle is projecting. The best way to read Lisle is to recognize that all of his long, contorted diatribes against the secular world are essays strictly about himself. They reveal the inner workings of his own mind; and what a cobbled-together mess it really is. He engages in all the logical fallacies he attributes to others as he tries to justify his own “science” bent to the service of his sectarian apologetics.

  10. i have one interesting argument: the main atheists argument against the watch argument is that watch dosent have a self replicating system or made from organic component like dna, unlike a living things. so we cant compare between them . so what if we will find a self replicating watch with dna?, according to this logic we need to conclude that this kind of watch doesnt need a designer because it have a replicating system. but we actually know that this kind of watch in this case will make the design argument even stronger because this kind of watch is more sophisticated and complex then a regular watch.

  11. I can 100 percent predict we won’t find a watch with DNA. Oh, and I know how to punctuate too.

  12. What if we found an animal that had “Inspected by Intelligent Designer #9” printed on its underside? Huh? What if?

    What if we found a watch mating with a calculator? Would it make a calculator watch? Checkmate, atheists (because only atheists argue against design, right?).

  13. Doctor Stochastic

    I assume Jason hasn’t commented on whether God uses classical or intuitionalist logic; or whether God uses first or second order logic or which version of modal logic may apply.

  14. These include the law of non-contradiction which says that you can’t have A and not-A at the same time and in the same relationship.

    Yet photons can act as both as particle and wave, but not at the same time. And too, the other particles of matter are similarly described. Does this not defy the “law of non-contradiction?”

  15. Gil
    As it turns out clocks (not watches) did evolve, and by a process that involves variation and a kind of selection for fitness, too. Read this:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_chronometer

  16. michaelfugate

    The argument from immateriality?

    Speaking of logic, can anyone parse Lisle argument?

    Logic is immaterial.
    God is immaterial.
    Therefore at least two things are immaterial?

  17. I like RSG’s observation that the laws of logic are material. Logic and its cousin math have as their starting point real material objects. For example the car and not car represent either a car or maybe a parking space where a car might sit. We can toy with math and imagine the woman with 1.2 children or that we owe someone 32 apples. We can even label and contemplate infinity. But of course these are imaginary. And thus the origin of Lisle’s god is revealed, He is imaginary. Take a normal man, with our emotions good and bad, the creative impulses, as well as some normal social structures like family and tribe, imagine he is superlative in all respects and *poof!* you’ve just created the almighty. No logic required (and easier to grasp then imaginary numbers!).

  18. “I like RSG’s observation that the laws of logic are material.”
    More precise: they emerge from our very material human brains, similar to fluidity emerging from a sufficient amount of water molecules.
    So the real question is: how comes the law of non-contradiction applies to our Universe? The correct answer is not likely to be god.

  19. But if the brain is simply the result of mindless evolutionary processes that conveyed some sort of survival value in the past, why should we trust its conclusions?

    Perhaps, because the brain’s “survival value” was its ability to reason and form trustworthy conclusions.

    Lisle would not be able to form arguments like this without a brain that evolved those capabilities. Ergo, evolution is true. (Sorry, Jason, for co-opting your logic.)

  20. @Ed – and everyone else –
    May I suggest that it is more to the point that any individual would not be able to form arguments without a brain which is material, which developed from a material zygote, by physical-chemical-biological processes, which is nourished by material food. We know that that is true because, among other reasons, if the brain is injured by a material blow, or is poisoned by material poisons, or is suffering from material diseases, it will not be able to reason correctly.

  21. This is so inept I’m surprised Even Ken Ham posted it the first time.

  22. Believe it or not, TomS, I have met apologists (not necessarily creationists) who maintain that that argument says nothing. The soul remains intact – it’s not capable of proper interaction with the brain anymore. And the soul will keep on reasoning correctly just as always. Immaterial soul –> immaterial thoughts – checkmate atheist!

  23. Say for argument’s sake that immaterial things (e.g., laws of logic) exist in the universe. How, exactly, does one leap from that to the conclusion that God exists? How does one get to the assertion that “logical reasoning requires God”?

    Then there’s this:

    Since God made the universe and since God made our minds, it makes sense that our minds would have an ability to study and understand the universe. But if the brain is simply the result of mindless evolutionary processes that conveyed some sort of survival value in the past, why should we trust its conclusions? If the universe and our minds are simply the results of time and chance, as the atheist contends, why would we expect that the mind could make sense of the universe?

    How about because if the mind’s conclusions about the universe in which it exists couldn’t be trusted, and if the mind could not make sense of the universe, humanity would have died out long ago as essentially too dumb to live? Or, in other words, if the mind is the product of evolution by natural selection, why shouldn’t we expect it to be able to make sense of the universe, at least well enough to survive?

    How could science and technology be possible?

    Well, as noted above, if the mind couldn’t understand the universe well enough to reach testable, trustworthy conclusions about it, they wouldn’t–but it wouldn’t matter, because our species would have died out anyway. And yet, here we are.

  24. Most likely, Jason Lisle was indoctrinated into his faith at a very young age, before his brain had developed to the point of being able to reason. Thus, his religious views are hard-wired, impervious to re-programming regardless of the power of the logic of rational science. How else to explain how he could complete the rigorous study necessary to earn a PhD in astrophysics from a reputable university (University of Colorado) and still maintain that the universe is but 6000 years old, and that logic and thought are immaterial?

    Either that, or Jason L. has cynically decided it’s a helluva lot easier to make a buck shilling for the likes of AiG and ICR than to actually do, you know, real research.

  25. KevinC or Jason Lisle (or anyone else for that matter) —

    Still waiting for you to “provide evidence that all religious belief is NOT a human invention designed to control the actions of others.”

    It’s a warm, humid summer night here in Indiana, which might explain why I’m only hearing crickets.

  26. Holding The Line In Florida

    @ reiredsciguy. “Still waiting for you to “provide evidence that all religious belief is NOT a human invention designed to control the actions of others.” Right On Brother, Right On!!!

  27. Well, here it is the next day, and all I’m hearing now is the quiet hum of neighbors’ air conditioners and a distant lawn mower…

    To clarify my challenge to Lisle or KevinC or whomever — it is not to assert that there is no God, for we have no evidence for such a claim. I’m merely stating that the logical explanation of why there is religious belief is that it has been instilled in minds at a young age as a means of controlling the behavior of others. Absent evidence to the contrary, it seems the most likely explanation.

    And it can be a very powerful means of control. Would there be suicide bombers without the promise of an afterlife?

  28. Well, here it is the next day, and all I’m hearing now is the quiet hum of neighbors’ air conditioners and a distant lawn mower…

    If God can be your co-pilot, then God can run a lawn care service. That distant lawn mower is sending you a message.

  29. Docbill…that’s a different kind of Jesus.

  30. michaelfugate

    I have had mind-body dualists tell me that the brain is analogous to a radio receiver picking signals from a immaterial something or other….