"Creation Astronomy" by Dr. Jason Lisle

Friday, August 7, 2009 at 10:18 AM Bookmark and Share
When I heard there was going to be someone speaking about "Creation Astronomy" during my upcoming trip (in a couple of hours, actually!) to the famed Creation "Museum", I snooped around for a preview of what I was in for. Here's a taste...

Before I get into some of what he says in this talk (see the rough transcripts I've included below), lets take a moment and have a look at Jason Lisle.

While some might roll their eyes at the notion of "Creation Astronomy," Jason Lisle is no hobby-astronomer-turned-evangelist... According to his biography at Answers in Genesis he seems to know his stuff way better than the average Joe when it comes to Astronomy:
Dr. Lisle 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.
For another look into Jason Lisle's take on "Creation Astronomy" check out this critique (or this one) of his "What Does the Bible Say About Astronomy?" which contains many of the points made in the video above (and much of what I expect to hear this Friday during his talk.)

IMHO, he seems like a pretty darn smart guy who's just stuck bending the facts so that they fit his world view. Anyway, on to the video above...

According to Lisle (in the talk above, starting around 12:00) "the Bible is not an astronomy text book, but when it touches upon astronomy, it's right." What follows are some vague quotes from the Bible that in a sense (in most cases, a very loose sense) are consistent with what we know about planets, stars, and the like. This is a classic case of handpicking where the Bible gets a few things "not wrong" and jumping to the conclusion made above: "when it touches upon astronomy, it's right."

For example, the Bible allegedly gets it right that the earth is a sphere. In the video he presents that there are...
some statements the Bible makes that are sort of astrophysical in nature, they're not intended to be, you know, for, necessarily for Ph.D. scientists, they're just statements that God has made that are true, and we would all agree are true today, even though the science of the times didn't necessarily agree with these statements.

For example, the Bible talks about the earth being round in Isaiah 40:22 [760-698 B.C.], it says ... it talks about the circle of the earth [God sits `upon the circle of the earth...']. And there's some other passages in scripture as well, like in Job 26 ["Job 26:10 (-2000 B.C.)"] where it talks about the line between light and darkness being described by a circle ['He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, At the boundary of light and darkness.'].
Slam dunk, right? Earth clearly indicated as a sphere, yeah? Er, no.

First, these quotes are super vague. They just as well assert that the Earth is a circle as it is a sphere... it could be a circle in a plane or a disk-like cylinder as far I as can tell. Heck, it could even just as well refer to God sitting on the moon (I could see a poetic association between the moon and "the circle of the earth", can't you?) - it's all a matter of interpretation.

When the Biblical quotes get really iffy, he's careful with his wording. He doesn't call such statements vague or difficult, he calls them...
some beautiful poetic statements like God 'hangs the earth upon nothing.' [Job 26:7 (200-1800 BC)] which seems like a description of the earth floating there in space. And I grant you it's kind of a poetic statement, and it's made by Job not God, so we have to be a little bit careful, but it does sound like these ancient peoples new something about astronomy.
Yes, "a little bit careful" indeed. But, while these ancient peoples did know a thing or two about Astronomy, they got a few things wrong. Most notably, that the sun, moon and stars don't all revolve around a stationary Earth.

This little fact was left out of Jason's talk: the well known and very obvious fact that the Bible consistently talks about "the Heavens" in accordance with a geocentric view of astronomy.

So at this point, I'm starting to get the feeling that one could make at least as strong an argument that when creationists mention astronomy, they mostly get it wrong.

Anyway, it just keeps on going... again, quoting the video above:
The universe is expanding. God 'stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.' [Isaiah 40:22 (760-698 BC)] the Bible says many many times that the universe is being expanded. And it's interesting because it wasn't until the 1920s that the secular science, um, kind of caught up with that and realized that indeed the universe is being stretched out.... Really amazing. You know, this is a little more abstract, but I do believe the Bible teaches the conservation principle. That is the Conservation of Mass: the amount of stuff that is in the universe is constant. Because, we know that God - all things were made by God - furthermore God stopped making things at the end of the creation week. According to Genesis 2:2, God finished his work of creation. [All things were made by Him... John 1:3, and 'And on the seventh day God ended his work...' Genesis 2:2]. So we would not expect anything new to come into existence, you see. And, furthermore we would not expect anything to cease to exist, because God upholds all things, and by him all things consist. [God 'is upholding all things...' Hebrews 1:3, and '... by him all things consist.' Colossians 1:17]. We now call that the conservation of mass, or the conservation of energy. Einstein tells us that mass and energy are the same, really. So it wasn't really until the 1800s that was codified in terms of science, but the Bible got it right.
It seriously pains me to listen to these shaky rationalizations! Are we really to believe that from statements like "on the seventh day God ended his work", "[God] is upholding all things", and "by him all things consist" we get the conservation of mass? Seriously?

It just keeps coming...
This one again is a bit abstract: Entropy is a complicated term, sort of a measure of messed-up-ness, if you will, and, um, the Bible talks about the Universe, heaven and earth shall wax old like a garment. They're aging, they're running down - wearing out. I would say that's a consequence of the second law of thermo dynamics, unrestrained (and I'll qualify that in a minute). [The universe (heaven and earth) 'shall wax old like a garment' -No reference given.]

But, it's interesting because you could say "well it's pretty obvious that things wear out, that's not very profound." And I would say that it's obvious ON EARTH, that things wear out and run down, but is it obvious that the universe is running down? If you go out and look at the night sky tonight, or tomorrow night or whatever, it's going to look about the same. I don't think it's obvious that the universe ages. And, of course, the universe was indeed thought to be eternal and unchanging until about the time of Tycho [Tycho Brahe, astronomer 1546-1601]. So - But the Bible got it right from the beginning.

See, we now understand from the laws of physics that even if we can't see the slow decay of the universe it must be decaying. The amount of usable energy in the universe is running out. Now, I do want to make a comment on the second law of thermodynamics because there's been some misunderstanding here. It is not a consequence of the fall of man. No, the second law of thermodynamics must have existed from the beginning of creation, because we're designed around that principle.

Ok, life requires the second law of thermodynamics to function. When you digest food, that's the second law of thermodynamics, helping you out. But apparently, originally, this tendency to decay must have been balanced by God's organizing power so that ther was no net decay before sin. And we've seen examples of that in scripture where God's presence is a sustaining presence. Like in the Israelites in the wilderness, their clothes ... didn't even wear out. So apparently at the time of the fall, God removed some of that sustaining power allowing the universe to decay beyond it's original design. And now all creation suffers under that bondage of corruption and one day the universe will be restored. There will still be a second law of thermodynamics, presumably, just that God's presence is a restoring presence.

Now it's interesting because, of course, today, all scientists would agree that the Earth is spherical, and it floats in space, and that there's a conservation of mass and energy and the like, but that hasn't always been believed by secular science. But the Bible got it right you see.
Just out of plain 'ol curiousity, I searched an online Bible for words like stars, moon, heavens and other astronomical terms, just to see what else was in there that Lisle didn't mention. Fortunately for "creationist astronomers", most all of these references appear to be "poetic" enough that they're hardly capable of being disproven, and nothing so blatantly wrong that it can't just be ignored:
  • According to Job 22:12 there are a finite number of stars. (Whew! I always wondered.)
  • According to Nehemiah 9:23 there were at one point as many male Israelites as stars. Furthermore, there should be no fewer humans with Abram as an ancestor than stars: "He took [Abram] outside and said, 'Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.'" - Genesis 15:5. (Er, maybe they meant "visible" stars... yeah, they must have! Otherwise it wouldn't make sense! Right?)
  • According to Isiah 34 and Jesus himself in Mathew 24, come judgment day "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken... At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn..." This asserts that the earth will survive having all of the stars crash into it, unless when they "dissolve" (Isaiah 13) they are reduced enough in mass for this to occur and leave survivors? Either way, it should no doubt be quite a sight for any astronomers still around to see it.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:2 says "... [B]efore the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark..." and, like Jeremiah 31:35, is the norm in getting light emission from the sun and stars wrong: "This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night...".
  • In Joshua 10:13 "On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: 'O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.' So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day." Hold on, hold on - so IF they stopped as requested, since these two locales are only about 10 miles apart, shouldn't there have been an eclipse? Furthermore, if the earth suddenly stopped, wouldn't there be horrible earthquakes and crazy weather? Wouldn't it get unusually hot?
In the end, Lisle does ask a good question (although I don't think he was aiming for the answer I'd give):
"So have we learned the lessons of history? Have we learned that when the science of the day disagrees with the Bible, it's not the Bible that needs to be modified. Have we learned that lesson?
Indeed we have - perhaps it's not the Bible that needs to be modified, just how we decide to interpret it?

(Oh, by the way, if you enjoy this kind of irony, wait and see how long it takes Jason Lisle to tell us about all the logical fallacies creationists make in talks like this!)


Posted by: David Steen | 8/07/2009 4:26 PM

Waiting for updates...

Posted by: Paul | 8/16/2009 2:16 AM

I should add that in his talk at the "museum" the day I visited, he actually started off his talk with a list of 5 common tactics people try and use to win the debate over origins:

1. "Rhetoric"
2. Appeal to majority/athority
3. Appeal to ignorance
4. "Persuasion" (e.g. if you're not persuaded, that doesn't mean it isn't true.)
5. Scientific Evidence

For each, commenting on the logical fallacies as such, and pointing out the limitations of science.

He then proceeded to use pretty much all of them in his talk. Logical fallacies and all...

Posted by: Elijahovah at BAS forum | 2/11/2010 9:33 AM

Abram's 427 years from Flood to his disowning the city Ur (2370-1943 BC) is the same 36 orbits of Jova (Jupiter) as the 427 years from temple foundation to destruction of it by Babylon (1034-607 BC). This is astronomy. The Veuns texts of Amizaduga mark Adams 2400 proven by the fact all other chronologies be it Genesis or Moslem or Mayan will use the Venus texts as 3600 years, (2256 to Flood and 1344 after Flood). In reality, 2256 is 600 after Flood, and 1344 is 600 before Flood. The difference in 600 years is January Capricorn and July Leo, clear indication that Adam woke up 6000 years ago... but the 6000 is whats been lost... 5500 BC to 500 AD? 5200 BC to 800 AD? 4025 BC to 1975 AD? 4004 BC to 1996 AD? This has NOTHING to do with earth and sun created. It is about man and how to live 900 again past adams 930 past Noahs 950 past Methuselahs 969.

Posted by: Elijah Richard Schiller | 2/11/2010 9:43 AM

Google me. Christmas comes from two years. The year people died only 240 when Noah their father our father was 940 and 8 years later when Noah died too despite all the kings saying God was with him and he would never die.
2029 BC Jan 6 (Zoroaster Adur 24 is the original Mesor 24 Xmass eve which shifted to being Mesor 29 in the global exodus armageddon 1513 BC)
This date is 9 months after Peleg's death in 2030 BC. Then 120 days later (4m) they decide a mass suicide because Ur is the first city to believe humans go to heaven.
2029 BC May 5 = Koyak 24 (Choiak 24) the kayak or 70-day boat to heaven with Sothic Anubis. (=Yezdezred Furvudin 24 which is 5 days before Zoroaster Furvurdin 24). Greeks mistake this date as Flood 2958 BC when this date Koyak 24 is Dec 24 and they base this on Payni 24 Dec 24 of 778 BC.
Then 8 years later Noah dies and a spirit claism to be him for 40 days from
2021 BC Dec 24 (starting on Dec 25 when found dead) to 2020 BC Thoth 24 (Zoroaster Deh 24 which is Yezdezred Deh 29 five days after Yezdezred Deh 24). Koyak is 10th month in Egypt. Deh or Thoth is 10th month in Persia. And December is 10th month in Greece.

120 days later

Posted by: Ricknkenosha | 2/11/2010 10:23 AM

It would seem JOshua needed the sun because there was no full moon, thus a waxing cresent moon. With an astral object such as a comet with an angular visual size to appear to be the sun, and encounter it into the Earth moon system. If the comet-mass plus moon-mass in the near same direction is greater than Earth-mass then the orbit of moon around Earth will change to Earth around moon with comet. Only math can determine whether this comet in front of the sun is beyond the orbit the early crescent moon or within that orbit of the moon. But with the added mass weight pulling the falcrum out from the surface of the Earth toward the heavier new comet-moon system, the Earth will take orbit around the moon. If the comet is closer than moon, then the Earth will orbit comet-moon for 24 hours until the balance breaks the comet free. If the comet is further than moon, then the fulcrum closer to the moon will cause comet and Earth to orbit moon on oposite sides of the moon which is in the middle near the fulcrum. This appears as daylight from the comet mistaken as the sun, and so there are no stars. Real motion is not being seen. The stars did not stand still, the sun and moon did. This may be why our world decided that the Earth-center culture had the truth versus a sun-center culture who loses in this illusion. With the sunset of Canaan changing to Canaan facing both comet and moon for 24 hours, the stars swirling a full 360 degrees behind the moon goes unnoticed in this daylight caused by a comet presumed as still being the setting sun for another 24 hours in this 360-degree event before realasing the comet.

Posted by: Paul | 2/11/2010 10:30 AM

Mr. Schiller wrote:
"Abram's 427 years from Flood to his disowning the city Ur (2370-1943 BC) is the same 36 orbits of Jova (Jupiter) as the 427 years from temple foundation to destruction of it by Babylon (1034-607 BC). This is astronomy."

No, sorry, that actually isn't astronomy -- google astronomy or the definition of astronomy and hopefully you'll see what I mean.

Speaking of google - I did google you and this was at the top of the list. Why did you want me to see that? Did you request that I google your name without having done so yourself?

Unless you have something more substantial to say (e.g. something other than long, rambling lists of factoids) this will be my one and only post responding to your comments.

Posted by: Anonymous | 10/19/2012 10:40 AM

It doesn't sound so unreal that the Kuiper belt or Oort cloud, as is often referenced by astrophysicists, could have provided the necessary factor(s) to have accomplished the magnetic 'distraction/attraction' necessary for the phenomenon recorded in a historical narrative, such as the scriptures; ergo a simple example of observer chronicling the observed.

I understand it is a characteristic of those, who reside in a world view that excludes the supernatural activity of a Creator, to superimpose their honored glossary of perspective upon the timetable of the ancients of history, as you have done in your presented perspective.

However, the Dead Sea scrolls and other documentation available for referencing are more authentic and real (even though they may include the supernatural from which so many thinkers cringe) than the above mentioned astrophysical vocabulary words which, among a myriad of others, are undocumentable and unobserved entities, yet remain in the 'tool box' of the minds trapped in denial of the evidences of a Creator (I refer to the Kuiper and Oort definitions of unobserved phenomenon, specifically).

So, while there are no observers of the Kuiper or the Oort, I will remain a person seriously discerning away from what you think you know, via your accreted system of 'faith,' and I will submit my perspective to the Omniscient (waaaay above your chemicled brain activity pay grade).


PS Please do not confuse the scriptures with any system of manipulation of them through various groups/power systems/grant-grabbers (the alpha and omega of the population pool). They were 'designed' to influence until the globe (with Moon on one side and Sun on the other) is destroyed in 'the blink of an eye.'

The blink, I think, is designed especially to meet certain criteria for a certain population of observers.

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