"Dr Jason Lisle is a research scientist and speaker with Answers in Genesis Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Dr Lisle is currently planetarium director at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, and written a number of books and journal articles, as well as the programs currently being used in the planetarium."
I was able to see his talk on this same subject while visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky run by AiG. I know PZ has covered the first chapter but I wanted to take a shot at, especially after hearing Lisle's speech. Chapter 1 of his book is available online here. I will be using part of this book in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws within the United States of America.
Worldviews - the heart and soul of Lisle's argument and consequently AiG's argument
"Most people today have not given much thought to their own worldview. In fact, many people do not even realize they have a worldview. Such people tend to think that all knowledge is acquired by unbiased observation of the evidence around us. This view is called “empiricism” and is itself a kind of worldview. We cannot help but have some beliefs about how the world works, how we attain knowledge, and how we should live. Even if we believe that we have no such beliefs — this is itself a belief. So there’s no escaping it. A worldview is inevitable. A rational worldview is not."
Because I never trust a liar even when they tell me what day it is, empiricism is a theory of knowledge which asserts that knowledge arises from sense experience. So observing the world and trying to understand it by observation is a worldview.
So what is a worldview? Lisle actually defines it: "Worldview: a network of our most basic beliefs about reality in light of which all observations are interpreted." These are also called presuppositions. In the sake of argument, I will grant Lisle that everyone has a worldview and that some knowledge is derived from this worldview. I will also grant him that not all worldviews are rational. His semantic game with belief is just that semantics. He is trying to set up a 'see all scientists believe in it that makes it a religion therefor creationism should be taught in school also'. I plan to show why this won't stand.
"Our worldview is a bit like mental glasses. It affects the way we view things. In the same way that a person wearing red glasses sees red everywhere, a person wearing “evolution” glasses sees evolution everywhere. The world is not really red everywhere, nor is there evolution everywhere, but glasses do affect our perception of the world and the conclusions we draw. We will find in this book that the Bible is a bit like corrective lenses. Without “biblical glasses,” the world appears fuzzy and unclear. But when our thinking is based on the Bible, the world snaps into focus: it makes sense."
This is just Ken Ham's regular garbage and you can see him say the same thing countless times on any number of videos on YouTube.
The idea of seeing evolution everywhere because of one's worldview is completely wrong. If we only interpreted everything through a worldview then evolution would have never existed, the world would be flat, the sun would travel around the Earth and Gods throwing lightning would all still be widely held beliefs. You see something happened. Someone started to investigate things and found real facts. These facts went against what that person knew or against their worldview. Instead of trying to explain away these facts, they followed them to find out real truth.
Copernicus and Galileo both grew up knowing that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the sun, moon and all the stars orbited around the Earth. That was the worldview. Yet they both discovered facts that proved their worldview wrong. Instead of hiding these facts away, they looked into it more. What they both discovered was that the Earth orbited the sun. The solar system was not geocentric but heliocentric.
In the same way, Charles Darwin joined the crew of the Beagle as a naturalist to study the geology of South America. He collected many samples and started to notice things that did not fit with special creation or Lamarckian evolution. Things like animals on islands more closely resemble animals from the mainland they are closest too rather than animals on other similar islands. It seemed as if the island animals and plants descended from the mainland animals and plants. This amongst his many other discoveries caused Darwin to doubt special creation and helped him to develop the first Theory of Evolution by means of Natural Selection.
I could show even more examples through out the history of science all the way to modern day examples of Albert Einstein and Relativity. None of these men started off thinking that their worldview was 100% correct. Instead each of them found facts that went against their worldview and they adjusted what they thought according to the facts, not the other way around. What Lisle is implying is that everyone just changes the facts to fit their worldview. He is projecting, because that is exactly what he and all creationists and Intelligent Design advocates do. This is also just a giant straw man and he knows it to be so. I can say that because Lisle has a PhD in astrophysics from a reputable school. There is no way he could have gone through his degree without learning this. He is a charlatan and con artist in the name of religion. He joins a long line of charlatans for religion including his boss Ken Ham.
"Just as a person wearing red glasses perceives the world differently than a person wearing clear, prescription lenses, so evolutionists “see” the world differently than creationists. We have the same facts. But what we make of those facts is colored by our worldview. Thus, creationists and evolutionists interpret the same facts differently. This point cannot be overstated. Much of the frustration in arguments over origins stems from a failure to recognize that creationists and evolutionists must interpret the same data differently due to their different worldviews."
This is a lie. How did evolution start, Lisle? Did Darwin go out and say, "Hey I have this idea of evolution. Now I just need to find evidence to prove it." OF course he didn't. Everything I said earlier, which can easily be backed up by facts, shows that worldviews do not shape evidence, unless you let them. In the case of creationists, they insist on not only reinterpreting data, but cherry picking the data that fits their ideas best. Ignoring or trying to invalidate radiometric dating, physics all together and geological strata to name a few things. These things were not built upon presuppositions or worldviews but on cold hard facts that Lisle and his ilk choose to continually ignore.
"Many people do not want to accept the fact that all evidence must be interpreted in light of prior beliefs — a faith commitment of some kind. Many believe that evidence should be approached in a neutral and unbiased fashion — without any previous beliefs. However, this is impossible. For this view is itself a belief about how evidence should be interpreted."
This is utter bullshit. Then how are new ideas brought about? If we can only interpret things from the point of view of our worldview then how did these worldviews diverge? Historically it can be shown that there was no "evolution worldview", so where did it come from if "all evidence must be interpreted in light of prior beliefs"? He has no answer except to possible say that the Devil did it. Invoking some sort of supernatural occurrence, because according to his definition, someone cannot change their mind from looking at facts. Reread if you think I am misinterpreting him, he said "all evidence must be interpreted in light of prior beliefs" and "We have the same facts. But what we make of those facts is colored by our worldview." So Lisle explain how men who started with one worldview and changed to a different and new worldview. Explain why I started with a Biblical literalistic worldview but after studying the facts myself, changed my mind to what you call an evolutionist worldview. How does that happen if I only interpret evidence according to my worldview? He has no answer for this.
"Moreover, in order for our observations of evidence to be meaningful, we would have to already believe that our senses are basically reliable. It would do no good to observe some piece of evidence if we did not believe our observations are real and reliable."
Actually no we don't. Most people understand that our senses are not perfect or entirely reliable. We are fooled all the time by magicians, optical illusions, psychological phenomena like pareidolia, confirmation bias and many more that I can't begin to list them all here. (As a side note, confirmation bias is what Lisle is talking about when he says we interpret evidence by our worldview.) This is why science relies on peer review. A single person can draw conclusions based on their own observations, but to determine if those conclusions are correct it is not left to any one single person. Instead it is tested over and over again, to make sure that the conclusion holds. Even after holding for several years, it will continually be tested until it fails or is replaced by something that better fits the data and explains why the previous explanation held so well. Scientists do not make a name for themselves by upholding current Theories, instead they make a name by replacing old Theories with new and improved ones. The incentive is for scientists to overturn Theories.
"We cannot avoid wearing “mental glasses” — having a worldview — but it is crucial to wear the right glasses. In the same way that a person wearing red glasses might erroneously conclude that everything in the world is red, so a person with a wrong worldview will draw incorrect conclusions about the universe. But a correct worldview can prevent us from drawing the wrong conclusions and can improve our understanding of the world."
Look up the definition of hubris and will find a picture of Lisle with this statement next to it. He is not only claiming that his worldview is correct but because of that he will never draw a wrong conclusion about the universe because of it. Not once will you see any science make the claim they are 100% right 100% of the time. This is a level of arrogance that only the devoutly religious can claim.
"For example, when I observe a magician cut a person in half, I conclude that it’s a trick — no one was really cut in half, regardless of what I thought I saw. I draw this conclusion not because of the evidence, but because my worldview prevents me from drawing the wrong conclusion."
Wrong. You draw the conclusion because of evidence. You know it is illegal to kill someone. You know that when someone is cut in half they will die. You know that someone would have to have a mental problem or an accident to occur for them to advertise and cut a person in half before a crowd. You know you are there expecting to be fooled, only a few performing magicians claim or do not refute to have real powers (though none will submit to the JREF million dollar challenge).
Now if Lisle was going off of his worldview, then he could not know if it was a trick or not. Considering that his worldview allows for miracles and the Bible states that others will come doing miracles but not be of God (2 Thessolonians 2:9). So are miracles possible or not? Instead Lisle is using facts not his worldview to come to the conclusion it is a trick. This completely refutes his own example.
"For example, suppose that your neighbor tells you that she saw a UFO last night. Your worldview will immediately kick in and help you process and interpret this evidence. As your neighbor provides additional details, you will begin forming hypotheses based on your worldview. Perhaps she saw an alien spaceship. Perhaps it was a top secret government experimental aircraft. Maybe she had been drinking again last night. Or perhaps she merely saw the planet Venus. The conclusion you draw will be influenced not only by the evidence, but also by your general understanding of the universe. If you are convinced that extraterrestrial life does not exist, then clearly you will not draw the conclusion that your neighbor saw an alien spacecraft. Your worldview constrains and guides your interpretation of the evidence. This is true of every aspect of life. From UFOs or magic tricks to fossils and DNA, our worldview tells us what to make of the evidence."
Actually, I know of someone that claims to have seen a UFO. She thinks it was an alien ship. I have no basis to think she was lying, nor do I have anyway of refuting her claim. Personally, without any evidence but her own eye witness account, I don't think she saw an alien aircraft. I don't know what she saw. Why did I come to the conclusion that she didn't see an alien spacecraft? Evidence. I believe that there is alien life in the universe. There very well could be an alien race that is more advanced than we are. I have just seen no evidence of any contact by aliens to our planet. I am not saying that it could not happen, but that I find it very unlikely to have happened without any hard evidence. An eye witness is not always reliable, here we are getting back to our senses and their reliability. If more convergent evidence came out showing that we have been or are being visited by aliens then I will change my opinion.
"At this point, we have not yet made an argument that Christianity is the correct worldview — that it alone provides the correct way to interpret evidence in regard to origins (or any other issue). But by now it should at least be very clear that everyone interprets evidence in light of his or her worldview. And it is clear that creationists and evolutionists have different worldviews, and as a result, they interpret the same evidence differently. For this reason, evidence by itself will not cause a person to reconsider his worldview. Any scientific evidence can be interpreted in such a way as to fit into any given worldview."
Yet more projection. This is not how science works, this is how Lisle does "science". Lisle has yet to explain how a new worldview can come into being if all evidence is is interpreted based on one's worldview. The history of science shows it happening all the time. It is because science goes where the facts and evidence lead, it does not cherry pick and force facts into a predetermined view. This is even before going into falsifiability.
"A creationist looking at comets concludes that the solar system is young. An evolutionist looking at comets concludes that there must be an Oort cloud. A creationist examining the information in DNA concludes that there is a Creator. An evolutionist looking at the same information concludes that mutations or some unknown mechanism has generated such information. An evolutionist looking at the similarities in the genetic code of various organisms concludes that they must have a common ancestor. A creationist looking at those same similarities concludes that those organisms must have a common Creator."
An "evolutionist" then goes looking for evidence that will either prove them right or wrong and if wrong redetermines what the evidence is pointing towards even if it goes against their personal bias or, as Lisle calls it, worldview. A creationist just sits back and says "God did it" and never looks again. The creationist will also cherry pick quotes and findings of scientists and claim it fits creationism.
"We all interpret the facts in light of our worldview. Any evidence that seems to challenge our worldview can always be explained by invoking a rescuing device. Many debates on origins are not very effective because the opposing parties do not understand the nature of worldviews, evidence, and rescuing devices. Creationists can be frustrated that evolutionists are not persuaded by the evidence; but evolutionists feel the same way about creationists. Such frustration stems from a failure to consider the real issue: people always interpret evidence in a way that is compatible with their worldview. Thus, evidence by itself will never settle the debate."
Except scientists don't use rescuing devices, instead they have hypotheses that they test over and over again until they fail. At that point they reevaluate the evidence and let the evidence point to what is happening. Then that is tested over and over again until it fails. The testing never stops. Creationists never test and never continue beyond "God did it".
Lisle has some closing remarks about the next chapter. As I refuse to buy the book, I am not going on here. I think I am just going to go over Charles Colsen's book "The Faith" as my mom is insistent that I read it. This is another clue that my parents know of my atheism and yet don't want to talk about it.