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Interview with Dr. Jonathan Sarfati

by Laurie Bluedorn

Can you tell us about yourself and your work with Answers in Genesis?

I have an earned doctorate in physical chemistry and FIDE (International Chess Federation) Master title, and was New Zealand chess champion in 1988. Since 1996 I have worked as a writer and speaker for Answers in Genesis in Brisbane, Australia. I have written three books, Refuting Evolution, Refuting Evolution 2 and Refuting Compromise, which total over half a million copies in print, and co-authored the Answers Book. For more information, see the biography on the AiG website.

How did you first get interested in logic?

I have long been interested in apologetics, and was one of the founders of the Wellington Christian Apologetics Society (WCAS) in New Zealand, and was taking part in debates on Christianity in the local university student rag. Clearly logic is an important part of apologetics. So while I was working on my Ph.D., I made a proposition to a friend called Ross Powell who was keen on chess and had a Masters degree in philosophy (and degree in physics as well), specialising in logical paradoxes. This was to exchange logic lessons for chess lessons. We did this for several lunch hours per week for over a year. Later on, my younger brother was taking formal logic courses at the same university, and I was able to help him with his assignments, so clearly Mr Powell was a good teacher.

While at AiG, I wrote Loving God with all your mind: Logic and Creation which was an expansion of a talk I had given at WCAS. Last year, I gave a talk on logic and defending the faith at Creation College in Indiana.

Would the study of logic help a Christian when he is confronted with the arguments of an evolutionist?

It is essential. There are two main aspects:

First, it is important for a Christian to argue in a logically sound manner, because we are followers of the Logos (John 1). For example, the disjunctive syllogism can allow us to cut through the maze of issues and narrow the discussion down to: is there a designer or isn’t there. This can be turned back on evolutionists, who are only too happy to resort to this logic when it suits them, “God wouldn’t have done it this way, so “evolutiondidit”, e.g. Rats! A toothless argument for evolution.

And it is helpful to be able to see through both formal and informal logical fallacies of the evolutionists. For example, one of the most common fallacies of evolutionists is equivocation, where the same word is used in two different ways in the same argument. In particular, evolution is defined as any change at all, then by bait-and-switch it is applied to goo-to-you-via-the-zoo. So they set up a straw man that creationists must deny change, whereas the changes we deny are those that increase genetic information to explain the encyclopedic information content of living organisms.

Second, Christians should ask why logical reasoning should even work at all. Logical reasoning requires at least two things, which the Bible explains perfectly:

Man can initiate thoughts and actions; they are not fully determined by deterministic laws of brain chemistry. This is a deduction from the biblical teaching that man has both a material and immaterial aspect (e.g. Genesis 35:18, 1 Kings 17:21–22, Matthew 10:28). This immaterial aspect of man means that he is more than matter, so his thoughts are likewise not bound by the makeup of his brain. But if materialism were true, then ‘thought’ is just an epiphenomenon of the brain, and the results of the laws of chemistry. Thus, given their own presuppositions, materialists have not freely arrived by their conclusion, because it was predetermined by brain chemistry. But then, why should their brain chemistry be trusted over mine, since both obey the same infallible laws of chemistry? So in reality, if materialists were right, then they can’t even help what they believe (including their belief in materialism!). Yet often call themselves ‘freethinkers’, overlooking the glaring irony that their thoughts are governed by the fixed laws of chemistry! Genuine initiation of thought is an unsuperable problem for materialism, as shown by the article ‘The Origin of Consciousness’ Part 1 and Part 2.

Man can think rationally and logically, and that logic itself is objective. This is a deduction from the fact that he was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27), and from the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the logos. This ability to think logically has been impaired but not eliminated by the Fall of man into sinful rebellion against his creator. (The Fall means that sometimes the reasoning is flawed, and sometimes the reasoning is valid but from the wrong premises. So it is folly to elevate man’s reasoning above that God has revealed in Scripture.) But if evolution were true, then there would be selection only for survival advantage, not rationality.

Copyright February 18, 2005, all rights reserved. 3908 views


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