Jason Lisle’s “Ultimate Proof of God” Book: Embarrassing

I will be presumptuous and dare to speak on behalf of the entire evangelical Christian academy and emphasize this: Most of us are just as nauseated and dumbfounded by Jason Lisle’s “ultimate proof” rubbish as everybody else. Please believe me when I say that while his nonsense is certainly echoed by some within the fundamentalist Christian camp, most evangelical Christian scholars are NOT impressed by his play-to-the-peanut-gallery antics. A few years ago I read his Ultimate Proof of God book and realized that it all boiled down to “The universe can be studied and it makes sense. If God hadn’t created it, we wouldn’t be able to do that. Therefore, I have proved the existence of God.” Give me a break! (Some readers may think I’m exaggerating. No I am not. The book is just as shallow as the argument sounds.)

I always told my students that flawed “arguments for God” are usually very counter-productive because when their flaws are so obvious, they basically become arguments AGAINST the existence of God. I cite Lee Strobel’s books as prime examples. I completely understand why someone might read THE CASE FOR CHRIST and come away thinking, “Is that really the best a Christian can do in making a case for the Jesus of the Bible?” My answer is a loud NO. But I had low expectations from the beginning, because as with most mass-marketed, best-selling, pop-level Christian books, the author is neither a Biblical scholar nor an historian. For the most part, the best evangelical Christian scholars are virtually unknown to the average pew-sitter. They are busy writing weighty tomes of a much more sophisticated and technical nature and their academic conference papers eventually reach the peer-reviewed academic journals. The general public may get all excited about Strobel’s books but the evangelical academy does not. We are busy doing what all scholars do: collecting and analyzing the evidence, publishing explanations of the data, and scrutinizing the research of our academic peers. (Of course, the best evangelical scholarship appears in the same peer-review journals as the work of “secular” university religious studies professors, historians, and Ancient Near Eastern Studies scholars. Many of my colleagues earned their PhDs at the same elite academic institutions as their peers at the world’s top universities. And if you examined our C.V.’s, you would find that many of us spent many years on the faculties of those top schools and even held tenure there.)

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Jason Lisle’s “Ultimate Proof of God” Book: Embarrassing

  1. shawntheatheist

    I come across arguments like the one you outlined on a daily basis. Yes, I am an atheist. No, I don’t have faith. I look for the truth, and neither side as of yet has definitive proof. I’m going to follow your blog because it seems we are both in search of the same thing. The truth. Cheers!

  2. Thank you for commenting and welcome to the Bible.and.Science.Forum. We hope eventually to get around to dealing with more of Jason Lisle’s weak arguments.

    I am not entirely opposed to arguments supporting the existence of God. But honesty requires candor when dealing with an Internet littered with so many poor arguments for God’s existence.

    The very worst of such arguments try to claim “scientific proof” of God, which, in addition to the many obvious scientific problems with such claims, usually involves denying a fundamental doctrine of Biblical Christianity: the transcendence of God! If God is truly transcendent–and not a matter-energy entity of our universe–then how could the scientific method possibly study and explain God? Indeed, the moment a scientist succeeded in doing so, that scientists would have not only demolished the Doctrine of Divine Transcendence, but redefined “God” entirely!

    Lots of Christians fall into these same errors: They come up with arguments that sound “sciencey” because they use scientific terms (though not necessarily properly) and deal with scientific concepts (ditto), and draw conclusions that “sound” science-related. But, at best, they have proposed philosophical hypotheses, not scientific ones. Of course, this is quite easy to do when the non-scientist doesn’t understand what science is and how it operates! That is why so much of what they propose is untestable and they never say how their “theory” could potentially be falsified.

    Stephen Meyer is one of the worst offenders who comes to mind. He is a philosopher (though his own academic peers pay little attention to him because he is not known for impressive philosophy publications) who thinks he understands science–but nobody within the academy thinks he does. I have a paleontologist friend who can barely stand Meyer’s bungling of basic anatomy, taxonomy, and you-name-it. Nobody is surprised that Meyer has to publish his “science” [sarcasm intended!] books through Harper-Collins. Science publishers won’t touch his nonsense.

    {ShawnTheAtheist raises an issue so important that I’ve decided to also post this comment as its own blog article.}

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