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The Dishonesty of Jason Lisle

Dr. Jason Lisle, who really should know better, claims the consensus age of the universe is based on circular reasoning.

Many times, the circular reasoning can be cross-disciplinary. A geologist may feel assured that the earth is billions of years old since most astronomers believe that the solar system is billions of years old. However, an astronomer may feel confident that the solar system is billions of years old since the majority of geologists accept this for the age of the earth. Of course, the majority opinion can be wrong. In fact, many scientific discoveries have gone against the majority. Nonetheless, the psychological pressure to agree with the majority is a very powerful and well-documented phenomenon.

I have a hard time believing that someone as educated and obviously intelligent as Dr. Lisle actually believes what he writes. While studying all the way through a PhD in astrophysics at the University of Colorado, he surely must have been exposed to scientific techniques for measuring and calculating the age of the universe, going back to Edwin Hubble's discovery that the vast majority of galaxies are moving away from ours.

Being interested in the subject, Lisle surely is aware of the recent results from the WMAP and Planck spacecraft, measuring the cosmic microwave background radiation. The universe is about 13.8 billion years old, and while there is a margin of error, it's less than half a percent.

None of this requires astronomers to rely on geologists' best guess of the earth (which is only about 4.5 billion years), and certainly none of it requires astronomers to increase the age of the universe to accomodate evolution (which began a mere 3.5 billion years ago).

And yet that's immediately where Lisle goes in his attempt to undermine modern cosmology.

It is noteworthy that most (though not all) of the scientists who believe in billions of years also believe in particles-to-people evolution. Evolution requires vast ages.

Actual measurements are not relevant. For Lisle, this is simply "an example of how worldviews can affect a person’s interpretation of evidence. Evolutionists must believe in vast ages."

Lisle also alleges that the "big bang is a secular speculation about the origin of the universe; it is an alternative to the Bible." Again, it's hard to imagine he obtained a PhD without being exposed to the history of the Big Bang theory, starting with Jesuit priest Georges Lemaître, who took Hubble's discovery of the expanding universe, imagined the implications if we looked back in time, and proposed a "cosmic egg"—all the mass of the universe contained in a small space. At a particular point in time—the beginning of time—something caused this mass to begin to expand.

Far from being an "alternative to the Bible," this concept was an alternative to the standard scientific view of the universe as infinite. Many secular cosmologists derided Lemaître for proposing a universe with a beginning, subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) suggesting he was getting his science from the Bible. Among Lemaître's biggest critics was Fred Hoylewho, ironically, is often quoted today by creationists for his opposition to the big bang. It was Hoyle who coined "big bang" as a term of derision for Lemaître's cosmic egg.

Lisle ignores this history in his own derisive dismissal of the big bang.

Sadly, a lot of Christians have bought into the idea of the big bang, without realizing that it is based on the anti-biblical philosophy of naturalism (there is no God, nature is all there is or ever was).

Lisle goes on like this throughout the article, sounding much more like an armchair theologian than the trained astrophysicist he is.

Which is the more reasonable deduction: A) Jason Lisle got a PhD in astrophysics without learning about scientific techniques for measuring the age of the universe, or B) Lisle is dishonestly portraying scientists as being nothing more than naturalistic philosophers who are just as ignorant about science as the young earth creationists who eagerly lap up everything Lisle feeds them?

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