Atheist trapped by his own logic

These excepts are from a discussion between Bob Enyart and Rusty Carter, when they and a group of homeschoolers visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science:

And down closer to the floor, they have artwork aimed at children..and they had a cartoon of a fish looking at a man smiling with a big set of teeth…

It [the caption] says ‘Your teeth came from scales’…

Yeah, your scales evolved into teeth…with a cartoon to children, saying to kids that this is a fact, that we know, as scientists, that scales—fish scales—evolved into teeth…

There would be enormous debate among evolutionists—there’s no way evolutionists would all agree that scales evolved into teeth; I mean, it’a wild stretch, it’s a wild theory…

And I asked Dr. Kirk Johnson [the atheistic chief curator of the museum], ‘How can you say that, as though it were a fact? How can you possibly present that?’

And his answer was, ‘Well, there’s a lot in our culture that we believe, that we don’t know to be facts’—and so it was a very unscientific answer…

And so he [Kirk Johnson] was objecting that we [Christians] believed in certainty. He didn’t like that, as a scientist. So I asked him if he believed in truth, and he was equivocating. He wouldn’t answer directly that he believed in truth.

So, I said, ‘Well, Kirk, do you believe that you exist?’ I thought that we could find some common ground and there at least, if he knew he existed, then he’d believe that was true…

He said, ‘Well, I don’t know – I think so, but I don’t know.’

And I said, ‘Kirk, if you don’t know that you exist…well, first of all,’ I said, ‘you’re being intellectually immature.’ Because no-one that doesn’t exist can assert that they don’t exist, that they doubt that they exist – I think, therefore I am…

And I pressed him, ‘Do you exist? You’re just playing a game with us?’ And he could not answer that he knew he existed.

And we pointed out, this is what atheism and evolution does – it leads people to gross ignorance. Because when you don’t have a foundation on God, you have no foundation for science or knowledge or reason.

Quote source

Enyart, B. (2006). RSR: Denver Museum Curator Says He Might Not Exist [podcast]. Available https://kgov.com/denver-museum-curator-kirk-johnston-might-not-exist. Last accessed 1st Oct 2018.

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With multiple lines of evidence, it was still wrong

Speaking in the context of evolution, David Macmillan advises:

Creationists attempt to rewrite the last two centuries of scientific progress in order to avoid dealing with the multiple lines of evidence all independently affirming common descent and deep time.

But does a claim’s support by multiple lines of evidence mean that it’s true?

Speaking in the context of deep time, Henry Morris advises:

When I first became interested in the subject of cosmogony almost 40 years ago, it was widely held that the universe was two billion years old. The most persuasive “proof” of this age was the convergence of several independent calculations on this date. The argument went like this: “Although questions can be raised about the reliability of any one method, the fact that several independent methods ‘agree’ must prove that they are all basically correct. The decay of lead into uranium, the expansion of the universe, and several other calculations all yield an age of two billion years, so this is undoubtedly the true age!”

It is now known, of course, that all these calculations were wrong. In each of the methods, certain assumptions had been made which were later proved wrong.

Quote sources

  1. Macmillan, D. (2014) Understanding creationism: An insider’s guide by a former young-Earth creationist. Panda’s Thumb. Available http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2014/05/understanding-c.html. Last accessed 11th Jul 2015.
  2. Morris, H. (1987) ‘How and When Did the World Begin?’ in What is Creation Science? [ebook]. Revised and Expanded Edition. Master Books, Green Forest, Location 3532.

Rationalism as a self-imposed blindness

The universe, let alone God’s realm, is vaster than the mind of man can comprehend. Reason is a valid perspective if it is not totalitarian. Reason now admits the facts of science, but it is hostile to the facts of faith. Rationalism thus is a form of self-imposed blindness of a most arrogant sort. It says in effect, there are no fish unless my net catches them.

Quote source

Rusdhoony, R.J. (2013) Van Til and the Limits of Reason [e-book]. Ross House Books, Vallecito, Location 940-43

Humanism’s mythology of neutrality

One of key myths of humanism is the idea of neutrality. It is held that the mind of man can be neutral with regard to facts and ideas, and that the scientific method is the way of neutrality. Man can, we are told, calmly and objectively approach and analyze facts and arrive at the truth.

Such a view presupposes neutrality in the knower and the known. With respect to the knower, man, it assumes that man is not a fallen creature, at war with his Maker. Rather, man is held to be a being capable of approaching factuality objectively and impartially, so that the basic judgments about the nature of things depend upon the mind of man.

Quote source

Rushdoony, R.J. cited in Fernandez, J & Gunn, C. (2012). IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America. Master Books, Green Forest, p. 364

Atheists know that theology was the midwife of science

You [the atheist Phillip Adams] are quite right that theology was the midwife of science. Again this is a matter of historical fact. That’s no surprise because the Christian religion that dominated Europe in the seventeenth century had a long tradition of scholarly enquiry.

Theologians such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas set out their thinking in a rational and rigorous way. They formulated very deep ideas about physical existence, about nature and the order in nature, about creation and about God, and God’s qualities, and so on. They constructed a sort of systematic theology, much like the Greeks constructed a systematic geometry.

It was from this tradition that early scientists like Newton and Kepler began their investigations of nature, applying the sorts of principles and the type of reasoning that theologians had already developed. As a result, they made all kinds of discoveries that would never have emerged from alternative modes of investigation like mysticism and shamanism.

Quote source

Davies, P. (1998). More Big Questions: Paul Davies in Conversation with Phillip Adams. ABC Books, Sydney, pp. 29-30

Reason flies like a turkey; faith like an eagle

RationalWiki wrote a sometimes dubious FAQ for people who have converted to atheism. An excerpt reads:

If you found this article, you very well might have recently lost faith in your god or particular religious teaching. Some people have been raised to think that life without religion is utterly unthinkable, so a loss of faith can be difficult and trying, especially when deeply ingrained in our thoughts…

Well, how did things come to be? What was before the Big Bang? If God didn’t create the universe, how did it happen?

Apart from “there is no before” as time did not exist, the only answer is “we don’t know.” Is that so terrible? We’re trying to work it out though, which is better than accepting the unsupported claims of ancient writers.

Regarding the “unsupported claims of ancient writers” line, it sounds authoritative on the surface, but it’s a loaded statement that carries epistemological baggage. A more transcendent view is this:

What did make itself clear to me was that reason is limited by its own experience, whereas the universe is far vaster than the mind of man. Moreover, God’s realm which transcends man’s narrow vision is far greater than man’s mind can comprehend. The rationalist limits understanding to reason; faith is for him a blind belief, whereas the Bible tells us, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). Faith is thus a higher form of understanding, one which does not limit its perspective to the scope of man’s mind.

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2013). RationalWiki Atheism FAQ for the Newly Deconverted. Available http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/RationalWiki_Atheism_FAQ_for_the_Newly_Deconverted. Last accessed 24th Jan 2015.
  2. Rushdoony, R. J. (2013) Van Til and the Limits of Reason. (Ebook). Ross House Books. Location 935-939.

The pretended neutrality fallacy made by RationalWiki

According to RationalWiki:

Also, the idea that there is no “neutral” choice between creationism and evolution is absurd; AiG [Answers in Genesis] admits that they start with the assumption that the Bible is literally true. Clearly, not starting with locked-in beliefs about the world is the neutral starting point.

But RationalWiki starts with locked-in beliefs about epistemology—and then pretends to have a neutral starting point on origins. This is an example of the pretended neutrality fallacy. As explained by Jason Lisle:

But anyway, a lot of Christians are fooled by this, they think, “Well yeah, we have to leave the Bible out of the discussion, just stick to science, because that’s all he believes in, let’s meet on neutral ground.”

The problem is there is no neutral ground. The Bible makes that clear. Jesus says “who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

You’re with Christ or you’re against him, you see.

And, “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God.” It’s not neutral toward God, it’s hostile toward God. Do you know that friendship toward the world is? What, neutrality toward God? No, it’s hostility toward God.

Get the picture? You’re God’s friend or his enemy. You’re with or against him; You’re gathering or you’re scattering. There is no neutral.

And so Dr [Greg] Bahnsen liked to call that the pretended neutrality fallacy, the idea that we can sort of pretend to be neutral. But the Bible says there’s no such thing.

And so, the claim of neutrality is itself unbiblical—because it contradicts Scripture.

See, the Bible says there’s no neutral when it comes to an ultimate standard.

And if you say “oh yes, there is neutral and I’m neutral,” well you’ve just said the Bible’s wrong. In which case, you’re not being neutral; you’ve taken a position.

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2014). 12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid. Available http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/12_Arguments_Evolutionists_Should_Avoid. Last accessed 1st Jan 2015.
  2. Lisle, J. (2013). The Ultimate Proof of Creation – Dr. Jason Lisle. Available https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvRy6AjeyLc. Last accessed 1st Jan 2015.