In the previous article, we addressed some false claims made by VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer.  Phil had tried to present the idea of young earth creation as a very recent idea started by the Seventh Day Adventists.  This of course is historical revisionism.  In reality, the idea of an earth that is billions of years old is a modern one, and was not the position of the church throughout history.  The literal, historical view of Genesis (in which God created the universe in six days and rested for one day, and that this happened a few thousand years ago) has always been the consensus view of the church until recently.[1]  Phil had also made some false accusations against Ken Ham, and I challenged Phil to either back up these claims with documentation or retract them, neither of which he has done. 

Instead, Phil recorded a new podcast in which he not only repeated some of his previous errors, but made many additional false claims.  As Christians, we have an obligation to refute arguments that are contrary to the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).  In his podcast, Phil continues to demonstrate that he has not carefully studied any of these issues, and he reveals his implicit denial of the perspicuity of Scripture.  We hope that by refuting his false claims, Christians will be encouraged that the Bible really is trustworthy from the very first verse!  The podcast was co-hosted by Skye Jethani, Christian Taylor, and Jason Rugg.  Since I don’t know any of these people personally, and since I had access only to the audio, I could not always discern which of the three men was speaking.  So the below excerpts reflect my best guess.  The comments of the podcast hosts are indicated in purple, with my response in black text.

Phil: “…the denial of mainstream science, the rejection of mainstream science and I was trying to figure out what picture to put for that….  So I’ll put up a picture of Ken Ham and a dinosaur.  …  And everybody kind of looks at him as someone who doesn’t accept mainstream science.”[2] 

Dr. Lisle: I am disappointed to hear Phil repeat this false claim.  As I pointed out in my previous response, I have never heard Ken Ham say or seen him write anything that is contrary to any scientific fact.  Ken would accept, as do I, that the earth is round, that PV=nRT, that quinine relieves malaria, that gold has a density of 19.3 g/cc, that water boils at 212 °F at sea level, and any other fact that has been established by the scientific method.  If Phil believes that Ken denies some scientific fact then he needs to back up his claim with an example.  Otherwise, his claim is simply slander.

Secularists often attempt to persuade people of their beliefs about the past by simply calling such beliefs “science.”  But simply calling a speculation “science” doesn’t make it so.  Science is a method of testing certain truth claims by observation and experimentation in the present.  Darwinian evolution and deep time (the idea that the earth is billions of years old) have not been demonstrated by any observation or experiment.  So, for secularists to call evolution or deep time “science” (although this may persuade some people) is dishonest.  Of course, I expect such dishonesty from secularists.  But it is disappointing to hear people who profess to be Christians repeat such falsehoods.  In any case, I again challenge Phil to produce a single fact demonstrated by the scientific method for which he can document that Ken Ham denies.  Otherwise, he should publicly apologize for his slander.

Skye: “Mainstream science affirms things like the big bang.”[3]

Dr. Lisle: As a Ph.D. astrophysicist, I disagree. And I challenge Skye to defend his claim that “science affirms things like the big bang.”  What testable, repeatable experiments or observations in the present demonstrate that the big bang must be true?  I have studied this secular story in great detail and I am aware of the claims surrounding it, but have yet to find any experiment or observation that would demonstrate it.  On the contrary, there is overwhelming scientific evidence against a big bang (such as the baryon asymmetry problem, the horizon problem, the graceful exit problem with inflation, the singularity problem, and so on), as well as many lines of evidence that refute the big bang’s timeline (the spiral winding problem, galactic magnetic fields, planetary magnetic fields, O-type stars, etc.).  Has this speaker investigated these scientific facts, or has he simply parroted the secularists?  By the way, secular scientists also claim that resurrection from the dead is impossible – a claim that has far more scientific support than the big bang.[4]  Would Skye relegate the Gospel to a non-literal poetic device in order to accommodate that secular “scientific” claim?

Skye:  “And so for Ken Ham to reject the big bang is to reject mainstream science.  So he said, ‘I don’t reject mainstream science, I just reject mainstream science.”[5]

Dr. Lisle: Since the speaker’s first premise is demonstrably false, so is his conclusion.  Science can refer to the scientific method, or the body of knowledge acquired by the scientific method.  The big bang is neither.  If Skye thinks otherwise, then I challenge him to prove it.  Otherwise, he should retract his false claims.

So that there is no misunderstanding, the issue is not with the word “mainstream,” it is with the word “science.”  The mainstream (majority) belief or position among secular scientists is indeed the big bang and Darwinism, just as the mainstream belief or position among secular scientists is that Jesus did not rise from the dead.  But their positions on these issues cannot be established by science, and are contrary to recorded history.

Phil: “I did a little tweet thread on, (and it wasn’t to Ken, I wasn’t talking directly to Ken), but like here is, you know, I think the history of the side of creationism that Ken Ham represents, and how it’s really not a very old thing.  It’s actually a rather new thing.”[6]

Dr. Lisle: And that is false as I demonstrated previously.  Phil is engaging in historical revisionism.  Ken Ham’s “side of creationism” is that Genesis is recording the literal history of events, that God really did create in six days, and that this was a few thousand years ago.  Phil seems to think that is a very recent position introduced by the Seventh Day Adventists (SDA).  It isn’t.  It was the dominant view of the church since the inception of the church!  The SDA was formally established in 1863.  Yet, most Christians affirmed the six days of creation and a recent creation long before that. 

A few examples should suffice to illustrate this.  The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) affirms that God was pleased “in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.” [underline added][7],[8]  Likewise, the 1689 Baptist Confession affirms that it pleased God “to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.” [underline added][9]  As I demonstrated previously, even Augustine (A.D. 354 – 430) affirmed a “recent” creation when he said, “Unbelievers are also deceived by false documents which ascribe to history many thousand years, although we can calculate from Sacred Scripture that not 6,000 years have passed since the creation of man.”[10]  And that was from the 5th century!  

It should also be obvious that the Scriptures themselves do not even hint at anything resembling millions of years or Darwinian evolution.  There is no evidence that any believer in Scripture believed anything other than a literal six-day creation.  Indeed, it was God Himself who wrote with His own finger in stone “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:11, 31:18).  The text explicitly states that these six days of creation and one day of rest are the basis for our seven-day work week (Exodus 20:8-11).  The same word for “days” (“yamim”) is used for both our work days and the days of creation; and “yamim” has no other meaning than literal days.  Since the Jews worked six (literal) days and rested for one, there is no doubt that they accepted the literal history of Genesis including its six-day timescale.  

Phil: “[Young Earth] It’s a newer belief.”[11]

Dr. Lisle: Again, this is demonstrably false.  How can Phil defend that claim in light of Augustine’s fifth century statement that “we can calculate from Sacred Scripture that not 6000 years have passed since the creation of man?”[12]  If Augustine (and he is simply one example among many) defended a young earth in the A.D. 400s, how can it possibly be a “newer belief?”

Phil seems to be suggesting that a belief in a “young” earth is more recent than the 1910-1915 essays called The Fundamentals.  However, Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656) estimated the age of the universe from Scripture at less than 6000 years (at the time of his computation), and this was centuries before the essays of The Fundamentals.  The astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) also computed the age of the universe from Scripture, and similarly arrived at less than 7000 years.

By the way, even James Orr who argued against a young earth in The Fundamentals admitted that the 6000 years view is the older position.  Orr states, “But things, as in the case of astronomy, are now better understood, and few are disquieted in reading their Bibles because it is made certain that the world is immensely older than the 6,000 years which the older chronology gave it.” [underline added][13]  So, Orr would disagree with Phil’s claim that 6,000 years is a “newer” position; the opposite is true.  A recent creation (thousands, not billions of years ago) was the overwhelming majority position of the church throughout history until the last two centuries.  And no amount of historical revisionism can change that fact.

More to come.

[1] That’s not to say that everyone in history agreed with this.  Those who have studied church history know that pretty much every major Christian doctrine has been challenged by someone at some point.  Nevertheless, old earth creationism was never a significant view within the church until the last two centuries.  And the shift did not occur due to better exegesis of the text, but rather eisegesis in an attempt to accommodate secular views of geology, and (by the late 1800s) Darwinian evolution. 

[2] Podcast 2:18

[3] Podcast 3:55

[4] It is not the case that science can disprove the resurrection of Christ.  But science can and has established that today, it is generally the case that dead people stay dead. 

[5] Podcast 4:00

[6] Podcast 4:27

[7] Westminster Confession, Chapter IV. Section I.

[8] Note that this was written long before George Stanley Faber (1773-1854) or Arnold Guyot (1807 – 1884) proposed that the days of creation might not be literal days but cosmic ages.  

[9] 1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 4, Section 1.

[10] Augustine. The City of God, translated by G. G. Walsh and G. Monahan (1952), Book 12, Chapter 11, p. 263. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press.

[11] Podcast 5:36

[12] Augustine. The City of God, translated by G. G. Walsh and G. Monahan (1952), Book 12, Chapter 11, p. 263. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press.

[13] Orr, J, The Fundamentals, Vol. 4 Chapter 4, p. 100