Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Review: Discerning Truth

book cover

Discerning Truth
by Dr. Jason Lisle

Trade Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Master Books
Released: July 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover, slightly modified:
Every day Christians are faced with an increasing onslaught of criticism from evolutionists for their belief in God and His glorious creation. What do you say when your faith is challenged by those claiming to speak in the name of science or reason?

Discerning Truth provides a practical and engaging resource on the use of logic in this critical debate. It's filled with anecdotes from both creative examples and real-life illustrations that help clarify logical issues in apologetics. It'll help you become skilled at distinguishing sound arguments from emotionally-charged rhetoric and help any believer refute evolutionary perspectives.

Lisle believes that creationists need to be able to recognize and refute evolutionist arguments, and to do so in a way that both honors God and lines up with the truth of His Word (Eph. 5:1). The role of logic, the study of correct reasoning, is becoming a vanishing skill in our society. Yet it is a vital tool in assisting Christians in assessing the weaknesses in evolutionary thought. Here is the clear and concise guide for every believer in defending your faith in the face of adversity.

Discerning Truth is a Christian apologetics book about the use of logic in evaluating arguments for and against the Christian faith. It specifically focused on the arguments made in the Biblical creation versus evolution debate. While most of the examples were of faulty arguments for evolution, the author also pointed out faulty arguments that Christians sometimes use.

The author mainly focused on deductive arguments, but he also covered inductive arguments. He spent a chapter on each of the most frequent logic fallacies committed in the creation/evolution debate and then quickly covered some lesser used ones in another chapter. He explained what the fallacy was then gave some examples (both made up and common real ones) and explained why the argument didn't work. The explanations were very easy to follow and used everyday language with a sprinkling of logic terminology.

I think even just memorizing the examples would give a person the confidence to speak up in many situations. At the end, there were two practice sessions: four chapters with questions in one chapter and the answers (identifying the logic fallacy and giving the explanation of why it doesn't work) in the next. The first set was one-sentence theoretical arguments and the second used short paragraphs taken from actual pro-evolution articles.

I'd recommend reading Discerning Truth before The Ultimate Proof. I felt like I didn't have to think as hard with Discerning Truth to remember and apply them. So, if you read this first, you won't be quite as overwhelmed by all the material covered in The Ultimate Proof. If you've read The Ultimate Proof, this book will help reinforce the logic lessons given there.

I'd highly recommend this book to high schoolers and adults. Since this book had a respectful tone, I'd also feel comfortable handing this book to someone whose confidence in evolution is based on the faulty arguments covered in this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter Six

A person commits the fallacy of bifurcation when he or she claims that there are only two mutually exclusive possibilities--when, in fact, there is a third option (or more). For this reason the fallacy is also known as the either-or fallacy and the false dilemma.

A facetious example is this: "Either the traffic light is red or it is green." This is obviously fallacious, since the light could be yellow.

A more realistic example is this: "Either you have faith or you are rational." This commits the fallacy of bifurcation, since there is a third possibility: we can have faith and be rational. In fact, faith is essential in order to have rationality (e.g. to make sense of laws of logic). [He has a footnote to explain this.]

"Either the universe operates in a law-like fashion, or God is constantly performing miracles." This is also fallacious because a third possibility exists: the universe operates in a law-like fashion most of the time, and God occasionally performs miracles.

Sometimes the origins debate is framed as "faith vs. reason," "science or religion," or the "Bible vs. science." These are all false dilemmas. Faith and reason are not contrary. They go well together (since all reasoning presupposes a type of faith).

Likewise, science and religion (the Christian religion, to be specific) are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it is the Christian system that makes sense of science and the uniformity of nature. Likewise, the debate should never be framed as "the Bible vs. science," since the procedures of science are fully compatible with the Bible. In fact, science is based on the biblical worldview; science requires predictability in nature, which is only made possible by the fact that God upholds the universe in a consistent way that is congenial to human understanding. Such predictability just wouldn't make sense in a "chance" universe.

The fallacy of bifurcation may be more difficult to spot when the person implies that only two options exist, rather than explicitly stating this.

...."The Bible teaches that 'in Christ all things hold together' (Col 1:17). But we now know that the forces of gravity and electromagnetism are what hold the universe together." This is an example of the fallacy of bifurcation because the critic has implicitly assumed that either (1) God holds the universe together, or (2) gravity and electromagnetism do. However, these are not exclusive. "Gravity" and "electromagnetism" are simply the names we give to the way in which God holds the universe together. Laws of nature are not a replacement for God's power. Rather, they are an example of God's power.


Jaz.parks said...

Thank you so much for the review! I want to read the book AHORA!

hendy said...

As a Christian I find myself having to defend my faith and what others view to be the "unbelievable" side of it. This book sounds great.