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Engaging the Skeptic on the Bible

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[Originally published as Is Genesis Historic and Reliable?]

Our feedback this week comes from Colin who believes that the Bible is “historized” fiction and not reliable in terms of science.  Here are his comments in bold along with my response.

Dr. Lisle: Hi Colin.  I will try to answer your questions here.

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Colin: Dr Lisle, why do you think the Bible is Scientific or reliable when most Ancient Historians know it is historized Fiction?

Dr. Lisle: Actually, ancient historians verified much of Scripture.  Consider the writings of historians like Josephus and Herodotus and how they confirmed many of the events of the Bible as literal history.  Modern archaeology has further confirmed many of the events recorded in Scripture.  The fallen walls of Jericho have been excavated.  The remnants of Sodom and Gomorrah have been found.  What gave you the impression that the Bible is historized fiction?  As a matter of procedure, how do you know what happened in the distant past so that you can check the record of the Bible?

The Bible has demonstrated itself to be God’s Word, and must therefore be accurate on all matters on which it touches.  This necessarily includes science and history.  You can easily check some of the scientific claims yourself.  For example, the Bible teaches that you will reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7).  Why not perform a scientific experiment to test the claim?  Plant some corn and see what grows.  If corns grows, then the Bible is right in its scientific claim.  But if strawberries spring from your corn kernels, then you would at least have some basis for claiming that the Bible has scientific errors.

Colin: Even other Christians don’t agree with you let alone Sceptics [sic].

Dr. Lisle: Actually, many Christians agree with me. But even if the majority of people are ignorant of history, this has no bearing on the truth of the historical events recorded in Scripture. Even most secular historians understand that the Bible contains accurate history, even if they don’t agree with all of the details. The existence of Abraham as recorded in Genesis, for example, is well established.

Colin: How do you know the Universe needs a Cause…

Dr. Lisle: It has a beginning.  Things that have a beginning require a cause. (Can you cite any counter-examples?)  Therefore, the universe requires a cause.

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Colin: that’s a fallacy of Composition…

Dr. Lisle: No. The notion that “the universe must have a cause on the basis that all things within the universe have a cause” would be the fallacy of composition. But that’s not my argument. (This is discussed in my latest textbook on Logic.) My argument for creation is the transcendental argument.  I don’t argue from causation except as confirmatory.

Colin: I will now challenge your assumptions that the Bible is true or Scientific: You,Ross and Stephen Meyer have Science Degrees but are untrained in Evolutionary Science or Statistics.

Dr. Lisle: First, this is not a challenge of my conviction that the Bible is true and scientifically accurate. Rather, it is simply a circumstantial ad hominem fallacy. This fallacy occurs when you shift the topic to the person’s biases or credentials, rather than dealing with evidence for the claim at issue.

Second, I do indeed have training in statistics. A good understanding of mathematics in general and statistics in particular is essential in astrophysics, and is part of any Ph.D. program in that field.

Third, “evolutionary science” is an oxymoron. Science and evolution are opposites – they cannot both be true. This is because science is predicated upon the biblical creation worldview as shown in my article here:  https://biblicalscienceinstitute.com/apologetics/evolution-vs-science/

Colin: Prof of Mathematical Statistics David Hand has challenged Creationists who take huge Probabilities out of context from reality.

Dr. Lisle: First, this is irrelevant to your claim that you were going to challenge my conviction that the Bible is true and scientifically reliable, because my conviction of these truths is not based on probability. If (hypothetically) some creationists made a bad argument, this does not disprove the Bible or call into question my reason for having confidence in it.

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My conviction that the Bible is reliable is that it demonstrates that it is the Word of God by the impossibility of the contrary.  Namely, if the Bible were not true, you couldn’t prove that anything is true since there would be no justification for rationality itself. By the way, this includes probability which is based on the inductive principle under the biblical presuppositional that there are universals. So, to use probability in any fashion is to rely upon the truth of the Bible. Apart from the biblical worldview, there would be no rational basis for probability.

Second, you have not shown any place where I have taken probability “out of context from reality.” Can you cite an example of where I have supposedly done this? As a Ph.D. astrophysicist, I do understand how to compute probabilities.

Colin: where in a multidimensional reality,these dependant [sic] Probabilities would be added, so the events would not be so rare or Designed as you keep claiming disingenuously!

Dr. Lisle: First, it isn’t fully clear to me what you are even trying to say. It sounds like you have heard arguments against a chance origin of life based on probability and are trying to alter the math to make it seem more probable. Good luck with that. But that’s not my argument.

Second, I have yet to see a single example of a correctly computed probability for the chance origin of life that indicates that life is actually likely to occur by chance. Even (honest) evolutionists concede that it isn’t. Yet they bring an umbrella when there is a 90% chance of rain. Inconsistent.

Third, you mention my supposedly being disingenuous. Although you didn’t provide any evidence for this claim, I have to ask, according to your professed worldview, why would that be wrong?
I mean, if we are just the unplanned product of chemistry over time as Darwin believed, then how could anything be “right” or “wrong?” Chemicals do what they must do according to the fixed laws of physics; they have no choice.

And therefore, it makes no sense to say that a chance pile of chemicals did something “wrong.”  You wouldn’t chastise baking soda for fizzing when it reacts with vinegar would you? Then why criticize a person for being disingenuous, if he or she is just a complex chemical reaction? Why not be disingenuous if it helps you survive? Of course, in the biblical worldview, God has standards that define “right” and “wrong” and people may choose to obey or disobey those standards. So my point is that your statement actually presupposes the truth of the biblical worldview.

Colin: If you believe in the Supernatural, study this: The Improbability Principle: Why coincidences, miracles and rare events happen all the time

Dr. Lisle: This would seem to be straw-man fallacy, because my argument for creation is not based on probability. As an astrophysicist I do know how to compute probability. And, while improbable events do occur, they occur at a statistically predictable rate. Hence, something has a 0.1% chance of occurring will occasionally occur, about 1 time per 1000 events. That’s what probability means.

One problem that evolutionists face is that no matter how generous the conditions—an entire universe of amino acids reacting over billions of years—the probability of just one of the many proteins needed for life is absurdly small—

less than one in the total number of events in the universe.

This is to say nothing of all the other requirements for the simplest possible living organism. But again, this isn’t really my argument.

Colin: Why do people laugh at creationists?

Dr. Lisle: Proverbs 29:9. When you cannot answer your opponent rationally, mockery and laughter are often substituted. People laughed at Copernicus for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun, and at Galileo for his belief that the moon had craters. This is utterly irrelevant to any rational consideration at all.

Incidentally, you will either be laughed at and mocked by people, or you will be laughed at and mocked by the God of Truth (Psalm 2:4). It’s your decision.

[Here Colin posted various atheistic / non-peer-reviewed websites]
Colin: That’s a great deal of evidence against you.

Dr. Lisle: What evidence? You presented no evidence, just opinions and internet references to more opinions. Do you have any evidence at all for your position?

Colin: so I suggest you stop debating Scientists…

Dr. Lisle: Actually, I have found very few scientists who are willing to debate me. However, since I am a scientist, if I am going to debate someone, I would prefer it to be another Ph.D. scientist so that he or she is able to understand my arguments and evaluate data. It wouldn’t make a for a good debate if I were to debate someone who lacks sufficient education to understand my arguments. Many people have the mistaken impression that neo-Darwinian evolution is somehow supported by scientific evidence. Debates can be a good way to expose the absurdity of such a belief.

Colin: or OECs…

Dr. Lisle: Old Earth Creationism is as scientifically, biblically, and logically bankrupt as neo-Darwinian evolution. Don’t I have a moral obligation (in the Christian worldview) to expose such errors? Of course, in an evolutionary worldview, there can be no such thing as moral obligation for anything.

Colin: and debate Philosophers or Ancient Historians.

Dr. Lisle: I wouldn’t mind debating a philosopher or historian, but since I am a Ph.D. scientist, I prefer to debate someone who has some knowledge of science so that he or she can better understand and evaluate my arguments.

Colin: because you are in the minority.

Dr. Lisle: So what? Surely you are not going to commit the fallacy of appeal to majority by arguing that something is likely to be true just because a lot of people believe it, are you? When Aristarchus proposed the heliocentric solar system, he was in the minority. His belief did not catch on until two millennia later.

But he was right.

And his reasoning was cogent. The history of science is replete with examples of people who discovered scientific truths that we would now accept almost universally, and yet they were the minority at the time. In fact, just about every major scientific discovery went against the majority opinion at the time—otherwise it would not have been a discovery.

Colin: you clearly have enough Brains to do Physics but not enough courage or honesty to refute yourself…

Dr. Lisle: First, courage and honesty are very good moral traits—if the Bible is true. However, on the evolutionary worldview, why should I (an unplanned bundle of chemicals) be honest or courageous? Indeed, careful lying and cowardice are far more likely to benefit my survival than honesty and courage.
But again, if I am just chemistry, I really don’t have any choice in my actions anyway since chemistry is determined by the laws of physics. So your statement makes no sense in an evolutionary worldview.

Second, in order to rationally refute my convictions, they would have to be false, and there would have to be good evidence that they were false. But I see no evidence of either of these things.

Colin: as you have a fear of a godless World…

Dr. Lisle: This is another ad hominem fallacy as you are now guessing at my psychological motivations rather than providing any actual evidence against my position. But my reasons for articulating my position are utterly irrelevant to the truth of my position. That is why arguments directed against the person are not rational; they are a fallacy because they do not deal with actual issue.

Colin: a Cognitive Bias for myths not facts.

Dr. Lisle: Actually, doesn’t that fit your position better than mine? I believe in the facts of recorded history. You have rejected the facts of recorded history in favor of myths like particles-to-people evolution. And you haven’t provided any rational reasons, so it seems your position is just a cognitive bias for myth rather than facts.

Colin: remember Presuppositional Apologetics and semantic nonsense are not facts.

Dr. Lisle: Do you actually have an answer to the challenge of presuppositional apologetics? Simply asserting that it is nonsense isn’t an argument, although it may suggest that you have not understood the argument. The presuppositional claim is that only the Christian worldview can provide the preconditions of intelligibility of for human experience and reasoning.
All you have to do to refute this is to come up with some other worldview that that can rationally justify such preconditions while remaining internally consistent. I would love to see you take up the challenge and answer this question.  Are you up to it?

Colin: All the best, Colin

All the best,

– Dr. Lisle

Written by Dr. Jason Lisle

Dr. Jason Lisle is a Christian astrophysicist who researches issues pertaining to science and the Christian Faith. You can find his ministry at Biblical Science Institute.com.
Dr. Lisle double-majored in physics and astronomy with a minor in mathematics at Ohio Wesleyan University. He then went on to obtain a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. There, he used the SOHO spacecraft to analyze the surface of the sun, and made a number of interesting discoveries, including the detection of giant cell boundaries.
Since then, Lisle has worked in full-time apologetics ministry. He wrote a number of planetarium shows for the Creation Museum, including the popular “Created Cosmos.” Dr. Lisle has authored a number of best-selling books on the topic of creation, including: Taking Back Astronomy, Stargazer’s Guide to the Night Sky, the Ultimate Proof of Creation, Discerning Truth, and Understanding Genesis.

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