Jason Lisle Can Think and You Can’t

Most of you know about 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), the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom, where he is now “Director of Physical Sciences.”

He often claims that Oogity Boogity is the only way to think clearly, and we’ve written about that a few times, for example: Jason Lisle — Materialism Is Irrational, and also Jason Lisle: Faith vs. Reason, and before that Jason Lisle Tells Us How To Think, and we’ll never forget this one — Mathematics is Creationist.

Jason is once again beating that same drum. His latest at the ICR website is The Beginning of Knowledge. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and his scripture references omitted:

How do we know that God exists and the Bible is His Word? Many people think God’s existence is just like any other truth claim — a hypothesis we can confirm or falsify by proper reasoning from more certain knowledge. Commonly, people start with the things they know for sure by their own experiences and then reach a conclusion about God’s existence. Perhaps their experience with cause-and-effect leads them to reason that the universe must have a cause and maybe that cause is God. Perhaps the intricate design of the human body prompts some to believe in the biblical God. In all such cases a person begins with what he knows to be true from his observations of the world and then applies his rational faculties to draw a conclusion about God’s existence.

Jason is describing the fallacy known as God of the gaps. According to Wikipedia:

“God of the gaps” is a term used to describe observations of theological perspectives in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence or proof of God’s existence.

Don’t assume that Jason is a typical god-gapper. He’s more sophisticated than that. He says:

But there is a problem for skeptics. If God did not exist, there would be no reason to trust that our observations correspond to reality or that the human mind is capable of rational thought. After all, if our sensory organs were merely the unplanned result of evolution, then there would be no reason to presume that they truly sense the universe. … After all, why trust a mindlessly produced accident to be right about anything? So, if God did not design us, then we would have no rational reason to think that our own reasoning is rational.

[*Groan*] If we couldn’t perceive reality, wouldn’t be here. Without functioning sensory organs, we’d eat rocks, walk off cliffs, run toward predators, and leap into fires. Our existence validates the adequacy of our senses.

Ah well, that was Jason’s strongest argument. Now it gets silly. He tells us:

On the other hand, if God created us in His image, after His likeness, then we would have a very good reason to expect that our minds are capable of rational reasoning. We have a good reason to trust that our sensory organs perceive reality since God designed them to do just that. We can have knowledge of things if, and only if, the Bible is true in what it says about God.

[…]

Therefore, God is not simply the conclusion of a chain of reasoning; rather, He is the foundation for all reasoning. So, the existence of God is not a mere hypothesis to be tested but is the foundational truth that makes it possible for us to test hypotheses about anything else.

In other words, if you begin by assuming Oogity Boogity, then you can go on to being a great creation scientist, like Jason. He continues:

If the atheist were successful in arguing against God, he would lose the only rational basis for trusting his own thoughts and perceptions.

Got that? If you somehow win the argument, then you lose. And you’ll end up in the Lake of Fire too. This is Jason’s final sentence:

There can be no doubt that God exists; any alternative is self-refuting.

ICR is fortunate to have a clear thinker like Jason on the payroll. With him around, they’ll never be wrong. You doubt that? You fool! You’re obviously incapable of thinking.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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40 responses to “Jason Lisle Can Think and You Can’t

  1. Charles Deetz ;)

    Trump would never lie to us, therefor everything he says is true, AND therefor whatever Hillary says must be a lie. Or logic to that effect.

  2. Michael Fugate

    If God supposedly made humans in his image, then what does that say about God? God isn’t very impressive, no? That’s the best this God can do?Given this, why should we think that being created by this God would be more likely to result in intelligence than being created by nature?

  3. Lisle is remarkably quiet these days about his pet anisotropic universe model (touted as the solution to the light travel-time problem for YEC cosmology). Since it was fatally rebutted a few years ago, he sticks to theology as far as I can make out. The YEC community in general is keeping very schtum about those nasty distant galaxies, in the absence of any technical-sounding means of explaining them away. A situation well worth milking whenever a YEC raises their voice.

  4. OK, let me see if I’ve got this straight. If we think we arose from a material universe, we have no reason to trust our senses. But if we arose through the magic of an invisible wizard who can control our very thoughts and experiences, then we have reason to trust our perceptions of the world around us? How does this asshat tie his shoes in the morning?

  5. I once had an impromptu, one-on-one online debate with Jason Lisle about his The Ultimate Proof of God book. His argument was very little more than “Logic exists. The universe is logical. Therefore, God created it. Science and logic is only possible in a universe which God created.”

    Apparently, according to Lisle, in a universe NOT created by God, 2+2 would equal 5 or maybe even 6 depending on the day of the week, and a baseball might sometimes fall UP instead of down—because, you know, a godless universe would be illogical and irrational. Jason Lisle didn’t like it when I pointed out his hypocrisy in often making the traditional YEC argument against Uniformitarianism. That is, YECs claim that scientists can’t make any assumptions about the speed of light in the past or the half-life of carbon-14 before the flood because “Nobody knows if the fundamental constants in physics textbooks had the same values in the past.” Many YECs even state that the laws of physics were different in the past, especially before the flood and before the fall. They even claim that the speed of light might be very different in other parts of the universe, and therefore that thereby solves the Distant Starlight Problem! Thus, in other words, Young Earth Creationists usually argue that the universe is NOT LOGICAL and is NOT CONSISTENT! Jason, does that “disprove” God’s existence?

    So I asked Lisle, “So which is it? Is a universe that was created by God consistent, logical and rational so that Science is possible—or is it inconsistent, illogical, and irrational to where Science can’t be relied upon, physics is pointless, and nobody can understand much of anything about the history of the world, just as Young Earth Creationist ministries regularly preach?

    He accused me of “not getting it” and, of course, NOT being a True Christian™. No surprise there.

    I asked him: Have you compared a God-created universe with a universe not created by God so that you can be certain of the differences? Also, if some universe exists, won’t it be “rational” and “logical” by definition? After all, logic and rationality reflect that which conforms to reality. So if a universe exists, surely it MUST be logical and rational—and how would we know if it weren’t? Lisle had no response other than to say that True Christians™ were applauding his book.

    I asked Lisle why none of the logic textbooks and Christian apologetics textbooks used at evangelical universities in the USA had added his “Ultimate Proof of God” logic-argument to their Proofs for God chapters. You know, surely they would include Lisle’s amazing discovery right there alongside the Ontological Argument for God and the Kalam Cosmological Argument. After all, if even evangelical Christian academics like me aren’t impressed by his arguments, why should non-theists? I asked him why he hadn’t, at the very least, first submitted his hypothesis for peer-review at a major evangelical theological journal (e.g., The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.)

    Of course, by that point in our discussion, Lisle had already picked up his toys and gone home. He prefers preaching to the choir, the always-affirming YECs who will approve of anything and everything coming from one of their own. So why bother with peer-review, even from the friendly theists at the evangelical Christian Philosophy academy, when one can bypass such pesky obstacles and simply publish another book? Young Earth Creationists are certainly efficient. They don’t like to waste time. They love shortcuts.

  6. Michael Fugate

    Isn’t this just a very bad reframing of Plantinga’s EAAN?
    http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2012/12/plantingas-evolutionary-argument.html

  7. I considered publishing my discussion with Jason Lisle as a screenplay with a title in tribute to the quintessential cosmopolitan culture film by Wallace Shawn & Andre Gregory, My Dinner with Jason, but I fear that the send-up might be confused with a not-so-esoteric and much more popular cinematic series.

    I could make other comparisons–but some reflections write themselves.

  8. Michael Fugate

    It is as if YECs made the sequel to The House on East 88th Street and named it Lisle the Crocoduck. I am sure they can contrive it so that it makes sense to their crowds.

  9. Mike Elzinga

    Professor Tertius asks of Lisle:

    So I asked Lisle, “So which is it? Is a universe that was created by God consistent, logical and rational so that Science is possible—or is it inconsistent, illogical, and irrational to where Science can’t be relied upon, physics is pointless, and nobody can understand much of anything about the history of the world, just as Young Earth Creationist ministries regularly preach?

    Two examples from Lisle’s illogical world view are sufficient to demonstrate Lisle’s tortured thinking : he claims that (1) the speed of light is c/(1-cos(θ)), and (2) the rate of the orbital recession (Note: moving away!) of the Moon is dr/dt = k/r^6.

    There can be no universe with the first; it violates every known detail about how light behaves and interacts with matter. No refraction, no rainbows, no interferrence fringes, no atoms and molecules; nothing. It is so self-contradictory that it doesn’t work anywhere; and it is the ultimated ME-CENTERED view of the universe.

    And the second example is also totally bogus. There is no such law of physics – it doesn’t even approxmate any true calculation of the Moon’s orbital recession.

    Furthermore, Lisle is claiming that two gravitational masses, M and m, with slightly elongated shapes repel each other at a speed obtained by multiplying M/r^3 by m/r^3, which he claims is a dipole-dipole repulsion. Nobody thinks that any multipole expansion of the gravitational field repels; and nobody believes that, to get the gravitational force of attraction between M and m, we are supposed to multiply M/r^2 by m/r^2 to get Mm/r^4.

    The most cheritable interpretation of Lisle’s “physics” is that he is totally incompetent. Even high school physics students can groan at his antics.

    Lisle’s messy mind doesn’t help his case.

  10. “On the other hand, if God (The Flying Spaghetti Monster) created us in His image, after His likeness, then we would have a very good reason to expect that our minds are capable of rational reasoning. We have a good reason to trust that our sensory organs perceive reality since God (The Flying Spaghetti Monster) designed them to do just that. We can have knowledge of things if, and only if, the Bible (the Pastafarian Gospel) is true in what it says about God (The Flying Spaghetti Monster).”
    Clearly Lisle’s incapability of rational reasoning is evidence that there is no god or at least that his god did not create him.

  11. Even high school physics students can groan at his antics.

    Very well stated, Mr. Elzinga. Perhaps what irritates me most is that very recklessness and hubris in Young Earth Creationist “scholarship.”

    I have no significant training or experience in evolutionary biology or astrophysics–so I would never presume to tell the world’s evolutionary biologists or astrophysicists that they don’t know what they’re doing. Were I to dare to be so reckless, I would be sure to make a fool of myself.

    Yet, despite Lisle having no background in physics, astronomy, geology, or paleontology, he regular rants against them and consistently makes a fool of himself. He doesn’t even consider submitting to the peer review of PhD scientists within the evangelical Christian academic community because he knows that even those sharing many of his same theological presuppositions will flag his nonsense for what it is. Lisle stays safely within the YECist echo chamber. As a scientist with no significant body of science scholarship on his CV and no ongoing research in his doctoral field, financially supporting himself depends upon preaching to the YEC choir.

    I basically said to Lisle all of the above. He didn’t like it.

  12. Ah, what an exemplary, meritorious “scientific” paper by Jason Lisle. Why doesn’t he submit it for peer review (outside of the ICR of course) and earn the kudos of the scientific community? He might even get a Nobel Prize for this one.

  13. Professor Tertius says: “I basically said to Lisle all of the above. He didn’t like it.”

    Lisle must be aware of the hole he’s dug for himself. Now that he’s at ICR, there’s really nowhere else for him to go.

  14. Why do the creationists have this propensity to inconsistency?

  15. Mike Elzinga

    @Professor Tertius:

    Yet, despite Lisle having no background in physics, astronomy, …

    The irony is that Lisle has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado. That is why I said the most cheritable view of Lisle’s “physics” is that he is totally incompetent.

    I suspect that there is a bit of that “sectarian insanity” form of self-deception as well as partially conscious dishonesty going on. He’s stuck at ICR; and I suspect he has some subliminal sense that he will never be going anyhere in science.

    I don’t know how people like that can live with themselves; but he has to make money somewhere, given his extremely limited options.

  16. Lisle is a presuppositionalist. Examples of his kind of “thinking” are here:
    http://www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=103626

    Some more of his stupidity here:
    http://www.wearesmrt.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=115005#p115005

  17. What did Lisle do when you pointed out his flaws, Professor Tertius?

  18. This seems to be a variant of an argument that is quite common among creationists, and the wider Christian Apologetic community. The most ‘respectable’ form is Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN). What these arguments amount to is that (i) Christian Apologists don’t understand evolution. (ii) Therefore they don’t understand how sensory and cognitive apparatus might evolve. (iii) They further don’t understand that far from human perception and cognition being perfect (‘created in God’s image’) it contains many flaws that are predicted by their evolutionary origins.

  19. Lisle is a liar. End of story.

  20. I went searching why Lisle went from AIG to ICR. The best I could find was this:
    Steve, I have decided not to disclose the specific reasons why I left AiG. Please respect that. My decision to leave was something that I had prayed about for nearly two years; I believe I am following the Lord’s direction in going to ICR, and I am really excited about what the Lord is doing and is going to do through ICR. Furthermore, AiG is under no obligation to tell people that I have gone to a sister ministry.

    Proverbs 17:27, 10:19

    Hmmm a 2 year incubation, cagey about the reason, covers it up with a prayer band-aid. I’m guessing it was for a bigger paycheck. If it was some sort of “creative differences” (or creation differences tee hee) or any other abuse he’d be out of there in less than 2 years. Of course there are a lot of good reasons not to put down your old boss. The young earth Creation science fraternity is very small and incestuous. Not a good idea to burn bridges. (Though the Bible verses really make me think he wants to spill it)

  21. Michael Fugate

    I think he meant Proverbs 17:28…
    “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

  22. Prof. Tertius, you’ve nailed one of my own pet peeves. Creationists will happily declare that the orderly, predictable nature of the universe is proof of a theistic creator in one sentence, and in the next, they insist that the laws of physics are completely unreliable over time in order to dismiss all the various scientific dating methods.

  23. Mike Elzinga

    @ Paul D:

    It is more than just claiming the laws of physics were different. They mangle and break scientific concepts to fit with sectarian dogma, but they don’t seem to recognize that the resulting “science” no longer has anything to do with the science of the real world and all the functioning technology based on it. It functions as sectarian apologetics.

    Lisle doesn’t seem to know the consequences of his “theory” of light; but it sure “solves” his problem with distant starlight. Lisle doesn’t know that his dr/dt = k/r^6 has nothing to do with the orbital recession of the Moon, but he uses it as a “convincing argument” against a universe more than 6000 years old.

    Similarly, people like Granville Sewell have no clue what entropy and the second law of thermodynamics are all about – he can’t even get units correct when plugging his “X-entropies” into his diffusion equation – but ever since Morris and Gish, it is “proof” of The Fall because everything is decaying from perfection. lives are getting shorter, and there is now “genetic entropy” from John Sanford. The pseudoscience now fits the sectarian narative – except that it doesn’t when they all start arguing about who has the “correct” reading of their holy book.

    Dembski’s life’s work is based on Np being less than 1 for the number of complex molecules in living organisms in the lifetime of the universe. Dembski has no clue about how molecular assemblies come about or what the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry has to do with it. Dembski uses his “argument” to get everyone trying to explain where all that “information” in biomolecules comes from when in fact the real explanation is that Dembski just made it up because he learned from Morris and Gish that “entropy and the second law means that everything is coming all apart ever since The Fall.”

    So it’s dogma first; all else mangled and broken to fit. Nobody in their audiences has enough background knowledge to challenge them; and their preachers convince them not to go to college because that is where all those evil “liberal, atheist” professors are.

    Lisle and the rest apparently have captive audiences that keep the money flowing in. He probably earns more money for far less work than most real working scientists do.

    And where else can they be the revered, top-of-the heap “rock stars” with young people hanging on their every word of “advice?”

  24. As long as we’re talking about self-contradictions involving their misunderstanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics:
    A) The ordering of the fossils as due to hydrodynamic sorting in the Flood, or anything other than purposeful action for complex, specified design.
    B) The 2LOT being due to the Fall. Thus there was no law preventing the formation of life before the Fall.
    C) The Anthropic Principle tells us that the parameters of natural law were Fine Tuned for life, in particular human life. Is the 2LOT consistent with the AP?
    etc.

  25. If God created logic, he sure didn’t distribute it equally.

  26. Lisle’s argument can be fairly summarized as the philosophy toddler going through the “mine” phase.

    Lisle toddles into a room wearing his “I’ve got God” copter beanie and sees “logic,” “rationality,” “mathematics,” “reasoning,” etc. lying around. He proceeds to grab each and cram them into the crook of one arm, narrating as he goes: “This is mine. And this is mine. This is mine. And this is mine.”

  27. “After all, why trust a mindlessly produced accident to be right about anything?”

    Excellent question. I’ve often wondered how water knows it should flow downhill? Don’t get me started on magnets.

  28. How can a mirror know to reverse right from left, but leave top and bottom the same? How does a Thermos bottle keep hot things hot and cold things cold? How can photons calculate the shortest path that they need to take, and electrons calculate the complicated Schrodinger equation in a molecule?
    Einstein said, “Subtle is the Lord, but malicious he is not.”
    But it takes a purposeful agency to be malicious. Dumb Nature cannot deliberately mislead us.

  29. The irony is that Lisle has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado.

    My brain really failed me! I realize that I somehow confused Lisle with Jeanson, another clueless YEC. Jeanson has his doctorate in cell physiology, if I recall correctly—and somehow I substituted his skimpy CV with Lisle’s.

    Take my advice. Do NOT get old. The brain doesn’t do well.

  30. Re “There can be no doubt that God exists; any alternative is self-refuting.” There can be no doubt that God exists in the minds of men wishing to control you; the alternative is they would need to go out and get a real job.

  31. What did Lisle do when you pointed out his flaws, Professor Tertius?

    As I recall, he accused me of “ad hominems” and went silent. Like so many YECs, he thinks anything which makes him feel insulted is an ad hominem.

  32. I went searching why Lisle went from AIG to ICR. The best I could find was this:

    The story I heard from mutual friends (ALLEGED mutual friends) was that Lisle was frustrated that Ken Ham wouldn’t spend any of AIG’s many millions of dollars on ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH. Instead, Ham wants his staff of scientists to always be on the road speaking and going on Christian talk radio to sing the blessings of the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum—you know, telling the public that a real PhD says it is good science. Ham has no interest in building a lab or giving the scientists big budgets for a library and scientific journals. Ya know, like real professors have at universities.

    Of course, Lisle won’t find any of that at ICR but at least they promised him that they would make an effort to find such funds from donors. That’s more than Ham will ever promise.

    Is all of that true? I don’t know. But it sounds credible to me.

  33. By the way, if I ever miss any of your questions here, feel free to message me at the Bible.and.Science.Forum address at the Gmail domain.

  34. I just have to ask Professor Tertius how much brain bleach did you have use after that conversation with Jason Lisle?

  35. Like so many YECs, he thinks anything which makes him feel insulted is an ad hominem.
    I found the same thing in my dealings with him

  36. I just have to ask Professor Tertius how much brain bleach did you have use after that conversation with Jason Lisle?

    That’s how I came to lose so many brain cells. I lost warp engines and have forever been relegated to impulse power.

  37. But there is a problem for skeptics. If God did not exist, there would be no reason to trust that our observations correspond to reality or that the human mind is capable of rational thought. After all, if our sensory organs were merely the unplanned result of evolution, then there would be no reason to presume that they truly sense the universe. … After all, why trust a mindlessly produced accident to be right about anything? So, if God did not design us, then we would have no rational reason to think that our own reasoning is rational.

    Actually, we know that our senses don’t always correspond with reality; has this idiot never heard of optical illusions? And we know that our senses don’t perceive all of reality: seen any gamma rays lately?

    As for rational reasons to think that our own reasoning is rational? Assuming he means “correct,” here’s one: if in a Godless universe our reasoning were completely undependable, we wouldn’t survive–but note that “if.” What proof is there that our reasoning actually would be undependable? Saying so doesn’t make it so.

  38. The same applies to sensory perception: if in a Godless universe our senses couldn’t be relied on at least most of the time, we wouldn’t be here–but “blind” evolution, by way natural selection among individuals and species differing from one another, would be expected to weed out those whose senses couldn’t be depended upon.

    Apparently it takes longer to weed out the entirely senseless, since there are still creationists.

  39. The argument against evolution applies with at least as much force as an argument against reproduction.
    If my and your sensory organs are the result of biological processes of development, how can we trust them?
    If we depend upon divine intervention to make sure that the process of reproduction works right, does that invalidate the scientific study of reproduction?

  40. Another opportunity to quote Willard van Orman Quine’s excellent observation: “Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind.”