Our first comment today comes from John, who is very angry at me because I believe the earth is round and have said so publicly. John refers to a podcast in which I was invited to participate as a guest. My interview was posted on YouTube, and in some cases the posters did not enable comments. John mistakenly thought I had disabled the comments and was upset about this. He also complained that I had not bothered to answer some anonymous video response that he had seen. John also criticized me for my comments on the podcast, despite the fact that he didn’t bother to listen to more than the first 15 minutes. His comments are below, with my responses in blue.
Our second comment today comes from the same critic who had previously ranted against the biblical laws regarding slavery. But of course, as a secularist, he has no rational foundation (on his professed worldview) for making any moral judgments whatsoever. His comments reveal that this critic does indeed know God, but suppresses that truth in unrighteousness, confirming Romans 1:18-22. Again, my response to his comments is interspersed in blue text.
THE FLAT EARTH
|John: Dr. Lisle, I appreciate your enthusiasm and passion for the cuase [sic] of Christ.
I’ve now been a believer in a flat earth for less than 4 weeks.
Dr. Lisle: That’s a shame. Not only does the Bible teach a round earth, but it is easy to demonstrate observationally. I have a seen many lunar eclipses, where earth’s shadow falls on the moon. It is always perfectly round, which would not be the case if the earth were a flat disk (in which case it would project as an ellipse). For years I lived in Boulder Colorado, and I loved watching the sunrises because the mountains to the West would turn bright orange before the sun was over my horizon; that wouldn’t happen on a flat earth. I grew up in Ohio, and when I moved to Texas a few years ago, I was able to see the star Canopus for the first time. It cannot be seen from Ohio due to the curvature of the earth. But on a flat earth, all stars would be visible from all “latitudes.” Some people have taken to claiming that the earth is flat, and sadly a number of Christians have been fooled by this. Don’t be fooled.
John: And I found it ironic that a secular friend sent me your video entitle, “Dr. Jason Lisle DESTROYS Flat Earth NONSENSE! | ICR – Christian Creationism”
I watched maybe 15 minutes of your video and stopped as I found your perspective rather selective, insulting, closed-minded, and very much like, shall I say, like a mainstream Chritian [sic].
Dr. Lisle: The Pharisees felt that way about Jesus. They felt that He was insulting, closed-minded, and so forth because He exposed their nonsense and didn’t tolerate it.
John: Frankly, it angered and disgusted me and I intended to post in the comment section of that video only to discover that you had disabled the comments. And I thought how convenient.
Dr. Lisle: I did NOT post the video, nor did I disable comments. I was asked to be interviewed for a podcast. What they do with it later is up to them.
John: Then off to the side I saw and watched this video in response entitled, “”Excuse me, Dr. Lisle…” [Flat Earth & the Hypocrisy of Mainstream Creationism]”
This video was published in September, 2016 and I would think by now you would have provided that author a sufficient response to his questions.
Dr. Lisle: If I responded to every absurd rant on the internet, I wouldn’t get anything done. I refute some for the sake of encouraging Christians not to be deceived by such nonsense. But I am under no obligation to try and educate every person who has an indefensible and uniformed opinion.
John: You’re not responding to that gentleman who was rather wise, eloquent, and even merciful in his response to you, only further substatiates [sic] his allegations.
Dr. Lisle: If someone makes a really stupid comment on Facebook or YouTube, and I don’t respond to it, the comment does not cease to be stupid.
John: As for me, I thought your position was unscriptural, …
Dr. Lisle: Actually, the Bible teaches that the earth is round, e.g. Job 26:10, Isaiah 40:22. Flat earth is flatly anti-biblical.
John: …arrogant, …
Dr. Lisle: I would think the arrogant position would be to say that you know better than God, that God is wrong, that He doesn’t know what shape the earth is and He was only guessing in Job and Isaiah. And, wouldn’t it be arrogant to think that you are just so much smarter than all the people who have actually researched this issue, that you don’t need to actually study the facts to conclude that they all are wrong?
John: …dogmatic, …
Dr. Lisle: Jesus was dogmatic – so that can be a very positive thing, and I therefore thank you. When the Bible clearly states something, like the round nature of earth, we should not say that such is only “possibly” or “probably” the case. No. When the Bible states something, that settles the matter. Jesus was dogmatic when quoting Scripture: “It is written” (e.g. Matthew 4:4) and thus we should be that way as well when it comes to the Bible’s teachings.
John: …and a bit immature…
Dr. Lisle: Part of growing up and becoming mature is to become educated and to learn about the way the world really is, including its sphericity. The round nature of earth has been known since very ancient times. The Jews certainly knew it. They knew about the global flood in which all the high hills under the whole sky were covered with water (try doing that on a flat earth). By the 200’s B.C. the Greeks had not only figured out that earth is round, but had correctly computed its size from astronomy and geometrical principles. This is something students should have learned in school. So, I can understand a very young child thinking that the earth might be flat. But I must admit I am very disappointed to see that there are adults whose thinking is so immature in that area.
John: …or too mainstream Christian for me…
Dr. Lisle: That is a disturbing admission. Many people like to see how far they can get from basic Christian principles and still be called a Christian. This is unwise. God gave us the church so that we could help each other to be as biblical as possible. Creativity is to be eschewed in matters of theology.
John: …and that’s why I stopped watching at the 15 minute mark.
Dr. Lisle: That is extremely revealing because it shows that you are willing to criticize something without even bothering to really study it. Imagine a child who had been exposed to mathematics for 15 minutes. Then he becomes angry, decides that math is simply wrong, that those algebra and calculus textbooks are utter nonsense, and begins criticizing those who are educated in math. Would that be scholarly? Would it be mature?
John: In fact, within minutes of watching your video I was reminded of an old adage, “educated beyond one’s intelligence.”
Dr. Lisle: Do you have any actual evidence that I’m wrong? You haven’t listed any in this entire diatribe.
John: You obviously have a high level of intelligence but not necessarily the wisdom to match your intelligence. Hence, what you had to say sounded more like clanging cymbals to me.
Dr. Lisle: I try to keep the level very basic, but education in astronomy and geometry might help you to understand what was being said. I suggest you pick up an astronomy textbook, or maybe take a class on the topic. You will learn that there are good reasons why we know that earth is round, just as the Bible teaches.
John: I would think the last thing a true Christian (is there any other kind?) would want is to be labeled a mainstream Christian.
Dr. Lisle: Perhaps you should define what you mean by “mainstream Christian.” I tend to think that this is a Christian who has the standard biblical beliefs long held by the church as taught in the Bible. I don’t want to be a fringe Christian who claims that all the other Christians are wrong and the Bible really means something totally different from what it says. That would be unbiblical.
John: In His Name,
p.s. your disabling the comments sections on your videos and your screening comments here on your website ain’t exactly helping your cause either.
Dr. Lisle: P.s., I have not disabled comments (not that there would be anything wrong with that). Unfortunately, I must screen comments [on my blog] because some people have shown that they cannot behave themselves. So, perhaps you should consider studying an issue more carefully before drawing a hasty conclusion and criticizing others (Proverbs 18:17).
IS GOD IMMORAL?
|Critic: Lisle said:
“[Dr. Lisle: Actually, you have pretty well demonstrated that the Christian worldview alone can account for morality, logic, etc.”
Uh, no. I am only coming from the secular view. There is still the worldview of *every other religion on earth* that you’d have to refute first.
Dr. Lisle: They have exactly the same problems as your worldview. Namely, they reject the biblical God, and as such cannot rationally account for objective morality, induction, laws of logic, rationality, human dignity, etc.
Critic: Lisle said:
Dr. Lisle: Have you forgotten that all life belongs to God and He can take people when He wishes, and that our existence doesn’t end at death? But in your worldview, how could human life have any objective value at all? Aren’t we just chemical accidents in your view? Your objection seems very inconsistent.
Critic: And no, Lisle. You can *not* say that those babies had it coming, even if you can convince yourself that the adults did.
Dr. Lisle: In your worldview, babies are just chemical accidents of nature. So your moral objection makes no sense. It shows that in your heart-of-hearts you do know that people are made in God’s image and therefore have objective value. Otherwise, your entire argument boils down to this: “I don’t like what God does; therefore, He doesn’t exist.” But that would be intellectually preposterous. I may not like everything you do. But that doesn’t cause you to cease to exist. Your objections to the Bible could only be meaningful if the Bible is true.
Critic: Lisle said: “Asserting that emotions/feelings are important isn’t justification.”
Dr. Lisle: In the Christian worldview, we should have some degree of concern about the feelings of others because they are made in the image of God and therefore have objective value. But in your worldview, pain and suffering are just chemical reactions in a brain – an accident of chemistry. So why should I be morally obligated to a chemical accident? Why should death have any objective meaning to you, since it is just a change in the type of chemistry that occurs? If you shoot a person in the heart, he no longer functions as a person, but chemistry continues; if you neutralize acid with a strong base, it no longer functions as acid. Is it therefore morally wrong to neutralize acid? Should I avoid taking an antacid for my heartburn?
Critic: If that’s the case then, what are your god’s “justifications” for laying down various *ahem* “moral” rules? What criteria does your god use to justify if something is right or wrong?
Dr. Lisle: God bases morality on his own eternal, unchanging, omni-present, sovereign nature. This is why moral laws are objective – the same for all people – and do not change with time or location. And it is by God’s law that we will be judged. So we have a good, rational, objective reason to obey God’s law.
Critic: As I’ve said before: You just reject out of hand any explanation or justification for morality that doesn’t involve your god as a basis.
Dr. Lisle: Respectfully, you haven’t been paying attention if you really think that. Rather, I have pointed out that the non-biblical explanations are unable to rationally justify objective morality, and its universal, unchanging properties. In a chance universe, what happens simply happens. There is no right or wrong about it. How could it logically be any other way?
Critic: Lisle said:
Dr. Lisle: No, God never lies because He is truth. We live in a fallen world with wicked people who do wicked things. God curtails human wickedness because He is good. Therefore, He does allow the wicked to be deceived. God can use a lying spirit to bring about the destruction of the wicked, as He did in the first two verses you list. What is supposedly wrong with that?
Critic: 1 Kings 22:23
Dr. Lisle: When the third example is read in context, we see that God allows people to be deluded who have already rejected the truth of His salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:10). It is logically necessary that those who reject the truth must be deceived by a lie. But that doesn’t mean God is lying.
Critic: I’m sure you’ll come up with some excuse that those god deceived were already predisposed to disbelieve, but that is not relevant.
Dr. Lisle: This is so ironic because you are complaining about the very freedom you are currently using to rant against God. Namely, you are upset that God allows people to lie and be deceived, and yet you are lying and trying to deceive people into believing that God doesn’t exist. Was that wrong of God to allow you such freedom? Of course, “wrong” has no meaning in an atheistic universe.
Critic: You said that “god is truth” and that lying is against his nature. An absolute statement like that leaves you no wiggle room and no excuses.
Dr. Lisle: That is a sweeping generalization fallacy. Actually, I said, “Lying is wrong in general because it is contrary to the nature of God who is truth.” God is also life; and we are made in His image. So, in general, we should not take a human life. But God does authorize exceptions. God commands the legal execution of a violent murderer because overall it preserves life – namely, the lives of any future potential victims. So God’s law is much wiser that your simplistic misrepresentation of it.
Critic: Besides, even if lying is “against god’s nature”, so what? What does that make it automatically wrong?
Dr. Lisle: Because we were created to emulate God’s character (Ephesians 5:1, Isaiah 55:7-8). We therefore should be characterized by truth. God will judge us accordingly. So I have a very good, rational, objective reason to obey God’s law.
Critic: Lisle said:
Dr. Lisle: Fallacy of special pleading. That answer isn’t even remotely rational for several reasons. First, sentience does not automatically equate to morality. Murderers are sentient, but they are not moral. Rapists are sentient, but they are not moral. Second, there isn’t any logical chain of reasoning by which you can get from the premise “some creatures are sentient” to “objective morality exists.” It isn’t there. Some creatures can make choices. But it doesn’t follow logically that therefore there must exist an objective law that creatures are morally obligated to follow. Indeed, in a chance universe, there can be no such moral obligation. Who would decide what it is, and how would you know?
Third, in your view, sentience is just a chemical reaction. But so is the rusting of metal. For some reason, you have arbitrarily singled out one particular class of chemical reactions and just declared “therefore morality.” But this makes about as much sense as someone saying, “Metal rusts. Therefore, there is an objective moral code.” I could equally well say, “Not every chemical reaction gives rise to rusting. But some do. Therefore, morality.” Now how does that even remotely make any sense?
Fourth, chemistry is deterministic. Chemicals have no choice, but necessarily react as they do based on the laws of physics. You react an acid with a base, you’ll get salt water every time. Chemistry has no choice. Therefore, if sentience is just chemistry, then creatures have no choice. And if there is no choice, then how could we be obligated to a moral code. After all, morality is about what people should choose to do. If people have no choice, then moral decisions are not possible. Free choice does not require morality, but morality does require free choice.
Critic: That is not value at all. it’s just a reflection of the “value” that your god has.
Dr. Lisle: If God values people (which He does) then people have value to God. That shouldn’t be hard for you to understand. God does value people. Thus people have value. And that value is objective because God is the same for all people.
Critic: The moon reflects light from the sun. Would the moon shine if the sun did not?
Dr. Lisle: You’ve made my point for me. Apart from God, people could have no objective value.
Critic: Your worldview doesn’t truly place any value on people at all.
Dr. Lisle: Just the opposite. In my worldview, the sovereign God of all truth declares that people are made in His image, and thus have inherent value. God values people to the point that He was willing to die for them. But in your worldview, people are just chemical accidents, no different in principle from a mud puddle. Tell me again which worldview doesn’t value people?
Critic: You have compared the complex biochemical reactions that give rise to the ability to think, reason, and feel pain, and have equated them with chemical reactions that do not.
Dr. Lisle: First, you have begged the question by assuming that mere chemical reactions can give rise to thinking and reasoning. Rationality requires the ability to consciously consider the various options and choose the best. But no chemical reaction has any choice; and therefore no combination of chemical reactions can have any choice. Rationality cannot be reduced to mere chemistry.
Second, for argument’s sake, let’s suppose that thinking, reasoning, and feeling are simply chemical reactions. If so, then it is the fallacy of special pleading to arbitrarily insist that these types of chemical reactions have some sort of objective moral value whereas others do not. That is completely arbitrary. Photosynthesis is a complex chemical reaction. Why do you not insist that it has as much moral value as “feelings”?
I could do the same with rust. Suppose I said, “You have compared the chemical reactions that give rise to rusting metal, and have equated them with chemical reactions that do not. Obviously, rusting metal proves morality.” Would that make any sense?
Critic: Seriously, do you need your god to be able to tell the difference between fizzing pop and the neurochemical reactions that give people the ability to think and reason?
Dr. Lisle: Chemical reactions do not give people the ability to think and reason. This should be obvious because chemical reactions have no choice in anything, but people do. In the Christian worldview, God has created humans with a non-material component and a material body. These work together. Our mind does use the chemistry in our brain, but it cannot be reduced to chemistry in the brain, or there could be no rational choices, or any choices at all.
Critic: Do you really think that because our ability to think has a physical instead of a “spiritual” basis, that means that we have no more choice than the chemical reaction of water forming?
Dr. Lisle: That should be obvious. If our ability to “think” were really just a complex chemical reaction, then our “thinking” would necessarily be irrational. Rationality requires the ability to choose the best option. But chemicals cannot choose. Therefore, no combination of chemicals has any freedom of choice whatsoever. Your professed worldview simply cannot make sense of rational thought, or objective morality.
Critic: Didn’t you take any biochemical/neuro-chemistry courses?
Dr. Lisle: I must have missed the part where they explained how deterministic chemistry can magically lead to non-deterministic genuine choice, and rational thought, and a moral code.
Critic: What does it matter where sentience came from?
Dr. Lisle: That’s not my question. My question is: how is sentience even possible in your worldview? If the universe is just a bunch of complex chemistry with no mind behind it, how can you have self-aware blobs of chemicals that are able to make free choices when no aspect of them has any free choice?
Critic: Why does one need *your* god to make it special?
Dr. Lisle: In the biblical worldview, I can make sense of sentient beings that are capable of making free choices. God after all is a sentient being capable of making free choices, and His mind upholds the entire universe. So, naturally, those finite beings He has made in His image have a limited capacity to think and make free choices. In my worldview, the universe is not limited to chemistry.
Critic: Every time you talk about *my* worldview not having any reason to value people or have any “justification for morality” because they’re just “chemical reactions”, you are *admitting* that without your god belief, YOU would see nothing wrong with lying, stealing, etc. You are just too blinded by your dogma to see it.
Dr. Lisle: Actually, apart from the biblical God, there could be nothing objectively wrong with lying, stealing, etc. These actions might emotionally bother you. But that’s subjective. The person committing these actions might enjoy them very much. So how can you say that there is some overarching objective moral principle that is being violated? Where do moral laws come from? Who decides what they are? And why am I obligated to follow them, particularly if I can get away with breaking them? Your professed worldview just cannot make any rational sense of any of these things.
Critic: In a supreme act of irony, while you keep decrying non-believers for not having a source of “morality”, and being “immoral”, YOU on the other hand, have admitted that even if your god commanded babies to be killed, that such an action would be moral!
Dr. Lisle: Ironically, your comment here demonstrates the truth of the biblical worldview. You see, in an atheistic universe, babies are just chemical accidents of nature with no objective value. So there could be nothing wrong with killing them; it would have the same moral implications as neutralizing an acid with a base – none.
Of course, you really do know that human life has objective value because you really do know in your heart-of-hearts the biblical God. And so you confirm the truth of Romans 1:18-25. This passage teaches that God has made Himself inescapably known to all people, but people suppress that truth. There is no excuse for this, yet they deny the very God who gave them life and are not thankful, but become futile and foolish in their thinking.
Critic: And to top it off, you say this:
Dr. Lisle: God has only ordered the execution of those who were hopelessly wicked; murderers, rapists, kidnappers, and so forth, and societies that were characterized by such wickedness (Leviticus 18:1-30, 20:1-24). You say this is wrong, thereby showing that you are wicked because you would allow such wickedness to continue unfettered. But in your professed worldview, words like “right” and “wrong” have no objective meaning anyway. So, again, your objections to the biblical God only make sense if the Bible is true.
Critic: …forced slavery (and no, the people the ancient Isrealites enslaved did *not* “usurp” the Isrealites “god-given land”, the isrealites had never even been there yet! How could the others living there have known?)
Dr. Lisle: Wrong again. Abraham lived in the land of Canaan (Genesis 13:12) and God had promised the entire land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants long before the Exodus. Furthermore, God knew that the people who would usurp Canaan from the Israelites would act wickedly, which is the reason why He gave the land to Israel. The Bible specifically says this in Leviticus 18:3,25-28. And God has made His law known to everyone (Romans 2:14-15). The Canaanites were to be expelled for their wickedness, not for simply “not knowing any better.” I mentioned this last time, so you need to read more carefully.
Critic: It is not my “sin” that makes me upset at this moral quagmire that theists like you are in, it’s that you can’t see the glaringly obvious moral contradictions in your stance, and this is the kind of thinking that you’re trying to propagate.
Dr. Lisle: Why in your worldview would contradictions have to be wrong? The law of non-contradiction is a biblical principle. All truth is in God (Colossians 2:3), and God does not deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Therefore, truth cannot contradict truth. This principle will be true at all times in all places with no exceptions because God is unchanging, omni-present, and sovereign over all truth. But apart from the Christian worldview, how could there be any justification for the law of non-contradiction and its properties. Can you justify this? Again you show that you do know God.
Second, again you bring up morality, which is a biblical principle. Objective morality makes no sense in an atheistic universe. Your objections to Scripture could only be meaningful if the Bible is true.
Critic: If a member of any other religion fed you the lines of “reasoning” that you gave me, how would you react?
Dr. Lisle: No other religion can or would give cogent reasons for objective morality because morality is based upon the Christian God, which other religions reject.
Critic: Lisle said:
Dr. Lisle: Exodus 22:27, 33:19, 34:6, 2 Kings 13:23, 2 Chronicles 30:9, Nehemiah 9:17,31, Psalm 86:15, 103:8, 111:4, 116:5, 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Ephesians 2:8, 2:4, Psalm 84:11, John 1:14, Acts 11:23, Romans 3:24, 5:15, 1 Corinthians 15:10, 2 Corinthians 2:12, 4:15, 6:1, 8:1,9, 9:14, to name a few. God continues to maintain your existence, giving you life and breath, even as you rant against Him. I would say that is pretty gracious.
Critic: Lisle said:
Dr. Lisle: Christ’s life is more valuable than yours, and infinitely so because He is the infinite God, whereas you are a finite creature. Thus, Christ’s death is sufficient to pay for all sin – He died once for all (1 Peter 3:18, Romans 6:10, Hebrews 7:27, 9:12, 10:10, Isaiah 53:6). Christ did pay the penalty for sin on the cross and said so. This is the meaning of “It is finished” (John 19:30) which can also be translated “paid in full.”
Critic: Think about it: A god who has supposedly lived forever spends 3 days (not really, but close enough!) dead, versus mortal people who live a short time, but burn *forever* in hell. And that *one-time* “sacrifice” is supposed to cover not just one person, but all of them?
Dr. Lisle: We have committed high treason against an infinitely holy God. And so it would take all eternity for us as finite beings to pay an infinite penalty. But Christ is God, and therefore His life is of infinite value. Since His death is worth infinity it immediately pays any penalty to which it is applied. Think about it: a poor man who can pay only $1 per day would take 1000 days to pay a $1000 dollar fine. But a rich man can pay that fine instantly.
Critic: In what universe does that math for that balance out?
Dr. Lisle: In this one. An infinite payment can pay any debt immediately.
Critic: Problem 2: You need to come up with better evidence for your god’s existence than by asserting that I already know that he, she, or it exists. That is begging the question.
Dr. Lisle: Respectfully, you just haven’t been paying attention. You have demonstrated that you do know God because you are aware of moral principles, logic, mathematics, and so on – all things that make no sense apart from the biblical God. I don’t need to assert anything. You have demonstrated that God exists and that you do know Him.
Critic: Of course: Your “holy book” says so. And in your worldview, you dare not admit that it might be wrong, otherwise, your entire reason for living goes down in flames.
Dr. Lisle: Actually, you haven’t provided any logical reasons why I should reconsider my worldview. About all you’ve said is that you don’t like God. What He does makes you emotionally uncomfortable. But how is that in any way rationally relevant to the truth of the biblical worldview?
Critic: So people like you are able to judge someone as “knowing that god exists, but just loving sin too much to admit it”, even *without* having a long internet debate with them!
Dr. Lisle: Actually, God is the one who says that everyone knows Him, but they love their sin too much to admit it (Romans 1:18-20, John 3:19-20). If you disagree, take it up with Him. In any case, your comments here have certainly confirmed this truth.