I was intrigued to read the comments of Dr Jason Lisle, who describes himself as an astrophysicist.

Of all the sciences, astrophysics looks over the longest time spans. An astrophysicist has to believe (or seem to believe) in a universe that is billions of years old, and one in which the earth is a relatively recent arrival.

Astrophysics teaches that stars are immense reactors, and that vast periods of time are needed for the heavier elements to be formed in stellar nuclear fusion and supernovas.

I cannot conceive how it is possible for an astrophysicist to believe in a young earth.

Could you tell me the title of Dr Lisle’s PhD dissertation and where I can access a copy? It would be fascinating to see how he reconciles his AIG beliefs with the contradictory fundamentals of astrophysics.

—L.C., Australia


I was intrigued to read the comments of Dr Jason Lisle, who describes himself as an astrophysicist.

First and foremost Dr. Jason Lisle describes himself as a Christian. He graduated summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University where he double-majored in physics and astronomy and minored in mathematics. He did graduate work at the University of Colorado where he earned a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. While there, Dr. Lisle used the SOHO spacecraft to investigate motions on the surface of the sun as well as solar magnetism and subsurface weather. His thesis was entitled “Probing the Dynamics of Solar Supergranulation and its Interaction with Magnetism.” He has also authored a number of papers in both secular and creation literature (some under the pen name of Robert Newton).

This is not an attempt to bolster Dr. Lisle, but to show his credentials as an astrophysicist. The phrase “describes himself as an astrophysicist” is representative of a common remark by skeptics in an attempt to discredit anything said or done by creationists. It is along the lines of saying, “You’re a creationist, so you don’t know science.” This, of course, is not a rational argument but an emotional reaction to something/someone that does not agree with your preconceived beliefs.

Of all the sciences, astrophysics looks over the longest time spans.

Learning to question

I was referred to your site about 2 weeks ago, and I've been amazed with it ever since, well done!!

It’s refreshing to hear such well debated and thoroughly thought through arguments that you are able to present in a very well written manner! You’ve led me to query many of my previous beliefs and I thank you for that! I see now that much of what I previously believed was due to education and society influences ... and not necessarily the application of my own logic!

Keep up the good work, I think it's awesome how you're able to argue intellectually through the bible.

—J., South Africa

Perhaps you meant “distances” instead of time spans. One fundamental understanding of astrophysics is the fact that a “light-year” is a measure of distance not time. We would agree that astrophysics looks over the longest distances. Astrophysicists and astronomers use operational science to measure the distance to stars and galaxies that are light-years away. Every beginning astrophysics and astronomy student should have been made aware of this fact.

An astrophysicist has to believe (or seem to believe) in a universe that is billions of years old,

So which is it? Does the astrophysicist have to believe or do they only have to seem to believe in a universe that is billions of years old? This is a logical fallacy. First an absolute statement is made, “has to believe” (an absolute statement based on what?), about what astrophysicists are supposed to believe, but then it is followed by relative statement (“seem to believe”). Something cannot be absolute and relative at the same time. This is akin to saying, “Rape has to be wrong (or at least seems to be wrong).” Rape is wrong, period (an absolute statement based on an absolute source—God’s Word). However, this way of thinking is acceptable in the evolutionary worldview.

and one in which the earth is a relatively recent arrival.

Compared to secular timescales the earth is a recent arrival, only about 6,000 years old. But something to remember is that the earth was actually made before the sun, moon, and stars; not the other way around as evolutionists believe. As Christians we rely on the Word of God to tell us what happened in the past. We have a historical document, whereas evolutionists have only debated hypotheses.

Astrophysics teaches that stars are immense reactors, and that vast periods of time are needed for the heavier elements to be formed in stellar nuclear fusion and supernovas.

Astrophysics, itself, is not an entity of any sort; it is merely a descriptive word to describe a field of study. But it is man who says that it has taken vast periods of time for heavier elements to form. But what source of information is being used to support that assertion? Were any of these astrophysicists or astronomers actually there to witness and record the time span they propose? How would they definitively know God did not create the sun (and other stars) mature and fully functional, ready to produce light? This preclusion of God in their hypotheses is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not science.1

However, it is likely that God created mature stars (i.e. fully functional; not old), and so they were already in the process of fusion when He created them.

I cannot conceive how it is possible for an astrophysicist to believe in a young earth.

This is another argument from emotion that does not address the issue at hand but, rather, distracts from the argument. This is akin to saying, “I cannot conceive how it is possible for an evolutionist to believe he is a human.” Someone’s occupation or title does not dictate what he believes about the past. However, what someone believes about the past does dictate their behavior and other beliefs.

Could you tell me the title of Dr Lisle’s PhD dissertation and where I can access a copy? It would be fascinating to see how he reconciles his AIG beliefs with the contradictory fundamentals of astrophysics.

The title of his thesis is given above and it is available by special request from the University of Colorado in Boulder. I encourage you to check out his thesis. Also, please see the quotes below from non-creationists on the big bang.2 For more on how the “fundamentals of astrophysics” and other scientific and mathematical disciplines relate to Dr. Lisle’s beliefs, see God & Natural Law.

In His name and for His glory,

David Wright

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Footnotes

  1. “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” (emphasis original)
    —Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, 9 January 1997, p. 31. Back
  2. “Big bang cosmology is probably as widely believed as has been any theory of the universe in the history of Western civilization. It rests, however, on many untested, and in some cases untestable, assumptions. Indeed, big bang cosmology has become a bandwagon of thought that reflects faith as much as objective truth.”
    —G. Burbidge, Why only one big bang? Scientific American, 266(2):96, 1992.

    “A story logically begins at the beginning. But this story is about the universe, and unfortunately there are no data for the Very Beginning. None, zero. We don’t know anything about the universe until it reaches the mature age of a billionth of a trillionth of a second—that is, some very short time after creation in the Big Bang. When you read or hear anything about the birth of the universe, someone is making it up. We are in the realm of philosophy.” (emphasis original)
    —Lederman, Leon. The God Particle. Dell Publishing, New York: 1993. pg. 1.

    “... I suspect that the assumption of uniformity of the universe reflects a prejudice born of a sequence of overthrows of geocentric ideas. ... It would be embarrassing to find, after stating that we live in an ordinary planet about an ordinary star in an ordinary galaxy, that our place in the universe is extraordinary ... To avoid embarrassment we cling to the hypothesis of uniformity.”
    —R.P. Feynman, F.B. Morinigo, and W.G. Wagner, Feynman Lectures on Gravitation, Penguin Books, London, 1999.

    “At the beginning, equal amounts of matter and antimatter were created [in the “big bang”]. Now there seems to be only matter. There have been theoretical speculations about the disappearance of antimatter, but no experimental support.”
    —Antia, M., Ready to takeoff, antimatter experiment takes some flak, Science, 280:1339, 1998.

    “... warning given by [physicist and philosopher] Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker ... namely that a society which accepts the idea that the origin of the cosmos could be explained in terms of an explosion, reveals more about the society itself than about the universe. Nevertheless, the many observations made during the past 25 years or so which contradict the standard model, are simply ignored. When fact and theory contradict each other, one of them has to yield.”
    —E.P. Fischer (Ed.), Neue Horizonte 92/93—Ein Forum der Naturwissenschaften—Piper-Verlag, München, Germany, pp. 112–173, 1993.

    “In my opinion the observations speak a different language; they call for a different view of the universe. I believe that the big bang theory should be replaced, because it is no longer a valid theory.”
    —E.P. Fischer (Ed.), Neue Horizonte 92/93—Ein Forum der Naturwissenschaften—Piper-Verlag, München, Germany, p. 118.

    Back