I had the chance recently to read, or should I say endure, Dr. Jason Lisle’s book The Ultimate Proof of Creation, resolving the origins debate. Lisle’s book is little more than a rehash of Cornelius Van Til’s basic ideas about presuppositionalism, and the necessity of Christianity for one to hold a coherent worldview. Lisle’s book has been used as somewhat of a script for Presuppositionalists such as Sye Ten Bruggencate, but as a scholarly work it’s hard to take it seriously. The simple cartoonish illustrations add nothing to the text, and amount to little more than thinly veiled mockery of non-believers. This is ironic since the illustrations give the impression that Lisle’s readers somehow couldn’t grasp his concepts without turning his work into a picture book.
As mocking as the illustrations are, the book’s most glaring insults to those of us that take life’s most important questions seriously are the last two sections. Dr. Lisle devotes nearly a third of the book to “Answering the Critics”. But instead of providing commentary from notable philosophers or skeptics, Lisle races to the bottom of the intellectual heap to give us a sampling of e-mails and comments left at his Answers in Genesis website. Leaving a comment or e-mail on a website, the author would not have known that their words could end up being critiqued, analyzed and held up as substantive criticism. No doubt had they known this they may have disqualified themselves to provide a cogent critique, or at least would have more carefully constructed their criticism. Having left my share of comments on websites, I can say that I rarely used my most well crafted arguments in that type of short forum.
If answering the critics Part I was a waste of time and print, at least I had hope for the last section. Introducing Appendix C, Answering the Critics – Part II, Dr. Lisle writes “And we are now in a position to answer some of the more advanced questions that come up in apologetics.” “At last”, I thought, “he will acknowledge and try to address some of the gaping holes in his arguments.” And the very first e-mail addressed in Part II:
How can a group of individuals be so misinformed and idiotic??? How did you get the money to build this drivel and nonsense? My goodness, it is amazing that people can be so uneducated in this day and age. Incest was OK, you guys are obviously still practicing it… Very funny stuff. Some day, when you grow up, you will look back at this and laugh at yourselves.
This apparently qualifies as “advanced questions”.
Another e-mailer asks, “Are you the same people that believe the earth is flat?” and suggests that the Answers in Genesis folks should “Choke and die on your bibles already.”
That such “challenges” to his work should make it into his book suggests that there simply are no good answers to serious criticism. The e-mails selected seem more geared toward persuading the gullible that presuppositionalism can take on all comers rather than actually addressing flaws in the argument. But if guiding your flock with pseudo-intellectual nonsense is the goal, then avoiding anything deeper than ad hominem attacks is probably not so idiotic.