An Open Letter to Dr. Hugh Ross

February 18, 1989

Hugh Ross, PhD
Reasons to Believe
P.O. Box 5978
Pasadena, California 91107


Dear Hugh,

During the past month I have been reviewing all your tapes, printed essays, and booklets. It is been a valuable and edifying process for me. Your scientific knowledge is impeccable---I feel like I have taken a refresher course in astronomy and physics. I have truly been refreshed and stimulated in my thinking as a result of going through all your material. You have provoked me to look at science and the Bible afresh and to spend more time on my own Christian world view concerning creation. Since you have sharpened my view of Genesis through your effective lectures and keen insight, I am writing in hopes I can sharpen your views in return, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." I am not exactly a Bible-and-science concordist as you are, but I am eager to support your ministry and to see your life have even deeper and continued impact on our present-day pagan culture. I agree that our observations of nature and our scientific models if they are correct must be in accord with the Bible. Our Christian faith is grounded in history and a detailed revelation from God who tells us a great deal about many subjects. I support your position against the irrationalists of our day who would throw out everything science has to say about creation. Your insights and experience have strengthened my own view of the creation which is different in some respects from yours. When I was a new Christian I held a world view more similar to yours based more strongly on modern astronomy and physics, but as I have come to know the Bible better I have moved gradually away from a belief that modern science was all that insightful. Please accept my comments and critique as encouragements and challenges, not as a fault-finding attack on your ministry or your personal beliefs. I took notes and wrote out comments as I listened to your tapes and these are not in any special order in what follows.

Astronomy and Biology: Your treatment of the consequences of a finite universe (as seen by the astronomer) as it relates to the impossibility of evolution is outstanding and needs to be given a much wider hearing in my opinion. Your personal testimony is thrilling to me and I rejoice at God's calling for your life.

Biblical Truth and Scientific Truth: Science gives us limited models and theories based on observables from the physical universe. These models are based on the uniformity of natural laws. They are also extrapolations based on available evidence. Scientific truth is relative and limited, Biblical truth is absolute and eternal. In presenting truth to non-scientific audiences I believe it is important to show that scientific theories are not absolute, and scientific truth is in a different category than Biblical truth. We should always qualify our remarks by saying something like: "According to the best and most careful scientific data (which I subscribe to), such and such appears to be true." Or, "The Bible says thus and so, but that leaves room for us to hold to several different possible views based on scientific evidence. I personally hold to the hypothesis that..." Without these kinds of qualifying remarks the lay person can get the idea that science is absolutely certain of what it talks about. The untrained listener has no way of knowing the underlying assumptions of a scientific theory, the presuppositions of the scientist, the history of science, alternate explanations and the often arbitrary ways science moves ahead by trial and error. Physics is fortunate to have had a number of Christians in its ranks, especially in the past but we need to make clear that sinful, fallen man can not hope to figure things out correctly if he ignores revelation. In your taped talks I get the impression that you hold scientific truth to be on equal footing with the Bible. I am sure this is not what you really believe but I am concerned that you could be misunderstood. Modern day rationalism starts with man, not God, and attempts to build a whole view of the universe that fits together into a cohesive whole without God being needed or necessary anywhere.

The History of Science is revealing as to man's being deceived in the past. We must guard against the possibility that modern science could also be deceived. Living in an age of advanced systems of knowledge is not necessarily the same as being closer to the truth or to Biblical wisdom. There is an increase in knowledge in our age, but regarding a clear perception of reality I Cor. 1 says "none of the rulers of this age knew it, otherwise they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." Ian Taylor (In the Minds of Men: Darwin and the New World Order) has helped me to appreciate that much of modern science was founded by men who wanted an alternate way of viewing the universe that denied Biblical creation. All science is built on an underlying philosophy. All scientific theories begin with assumptions and limitations. Usually we oversimplify things beyond what they really are to make the amount of work we have to do reasonable. Today's science is mostly naturalistic and far removed from a Biblical point of view.

Francis Schaeffer and "modern, modern science": A major change in western society has occurred in the past half century especially. Earlier, men believed in a spiritual world and the existence of a supreme being (there was a general consensus), though not many were necessarily Christians. Biblical assumptions about reality prevailed in all aspects of culture. (Western science could only come into existence in a society with underlying Biblical presuppositions---as you note). Belief in the existence of God and even of the spiritual world itself have eroded away gradually until modern man has reached a point of existential despair. Truth is seen as entirely relative. Secular humanism and naturalism prevail. Only the material aspects of creation are seen as real, the realm of the spiritual has turned into a vacuum. We must be very careful because modern science operates with the "upper story" empty, whereas in the Bible the upper store is the real, enduring, and permanent. The notion of human "progress" or social evolution is an illusion. Solomon says there is nothing new under the sun, so we must not suppose that we really know more about the universe than the ancients. Man is open to deception. Satan is always working to conceal truth that reflects to the glory of God or the liberation of man. "The whole world lies in the lap of the evil one." Any new truth from science which reflects on a truly biblical position will be vigorously resisted by the powers of evil and darkness. When man ignores God, God gives us up to believe the lie. Evolutionary theory a good example. Failure to accept light, understanding, wisdom and insight from God causes God to give man over the believe something false: "The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, (lit: "the lie") so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thessalonians 2:10-13) The nature of "the lie" is described for us in Romans 1 and consists in the delusion that man is master of his own fate, captain of his own soul, and capable of being his own God. In First Corinthians 1 and 2 Paul addresses the unbelief which especially characterizes the intellectual and scientific leaders in any age. He notes that whole systems of human thought can be wrong and that "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, and chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God".

"Dual Revelation: Science and the Bible": You claim a dual revelation from God is available to us, in science and in the Bible. I believe such a claim needs careful qualification. Finding beauty, harmony, design and patterns in nature is not the same thing as finding beauty in a scientific theory or model. God does not deceive by falsifying nature, but scientists are easily deceived in the ways they interpret nature. "The Gospel According to Science". To my way of thinking this statement of yours on one of your tapes could be very misleading. I suggest you consult some Bible scholars or read further on the subjects of Special vs. General Revelation. Science is a human endeavor, part of the world system which is under the dominion of Satan---the god of this world. Science is based on the efforts of fallible human beings who are easily deceived. It is quite one thing to collect data---facts and measurements about the world---and quite another matter to fit these observations into coherent theories. Nature gives some evidence but only shadows that point to the existence of God. It is going much too far to say that nature "contains the full gospel" as you suggest in one of your tapes. Nature reveals that there is a Creator, a Designer, an awesome Intelligence behind things. Nature however does not tell us abut redemption, the incarnation, eschatology, or the nature of evil. Romans 2 merely says that if a man follows what little moral light he has and responds to it, God will give him more light until he is saved. There is one way to God, but there are many ways to Christ. But, no one seeks for God, and God must come and rescue the elect, otherwise they would never turn to seek Him on their own (Romans 3). All men are born with light from God in conscience and in the spirit, (as you note), and rejection of that light and the evidence of God's power and glory in nature is cause for God's abiding and future wrath on mankind. Hebrews 1:1-4 further indicates that even the knowledge and information given in the OT by the prophets was incomplete, but now God's last and final word has come to us when God spoke through His Son who is the heir of all things. Without the Bible we would be animists or polytheists, totally confused and in great darkness about ourselves and the nature of the one, true God.

The Danger of Reductionalism---There remains Great Mystery in Creation: God's dialogs with Job show that Job hasn't figured out how God created things, and can't! Job does has a good amount of knowledge about God derived from nature. He also has a personal relationship with God and some years' experience in matters of faith. Yet when God finally speaks to Job, the LORD's response shows that man is unable to probe the mysteries of creation to any depth! This is confirmed by Solomon who says: "He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man's mind, yet so that he (man) cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Isaiah records: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts". (Isaiah 55:7-9) The passage in Ecclesiastes seems to indicate that the mystery of time can not be unraveled by man because God has hidden it. This may mean that we can not establish once and for all whether or not the universe is old or young. I believe that as history moves forward science and the Bible must come into closer agreement, otherwise we are drawing incorrect conclusions from our observations of nature. However we must not insist that God did things in a certain way unless we are given that information in Scripture. This is the difference between naturalism and supernaturalism. A supernatural view of the universe is not the same as a magical or mythical view, however.

Theistic evolution comes in two varieties: the first says that God is the First Cause who built all the necessary things into the original very low entropy of the universe and allowed all the details to unfold naturally after t=0. The second view is that the universe runs mostly by natural processes, but that God intervenes occasionally to bring about exceedingly improbable events such as the origin of life and transitions between species (punctuated equilibrium, for example). Biblical creation takes neither of these views. You claim not to believe in theistic evolution, but you don't appear to me to depart too far from the premises of the second type of theistic evolution.

"Since the fall, however, man has sought to act independently of his Creator. As one writer observes, 'Since the fall the human mind has been wholly pagan.' The pagan mind resists submitting results of its reason against Scripture as a check. It even desires to stand as a judge of Scripture. There are just two ways to approach issues. Either we view everything through the Bible, or we view the Bible through man's autonomous ideas." (Donald E. Chittick, The Controversy Roots of the Creation-Evolution Conflict, Multnomah Press, Portland, 1984---this is an excellent book and the author has a very fine reputation. He has a PhD in Chemistry).

The Physical World a World of Shadows: The spiritual is not far from the earth and outside of space and time beyond the stars. It surrounds us within and without. In fact we are immersed in spirit, and God Himself is a Spirit. When Paul the Apostle visited Athens he noted: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found an altar with this inscription, 'To an unknown God.' What you therefore worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one (man, Adam) every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hopes that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being;' as even one of your poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God over-looked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed (Jesus), and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead." (Acts 17:22-31)

The spiritual realm, which lies behind the smallest atomic particles, within the innermost part of man, and beyond the galaxies is commonly referred to as heaven, the heavenly places in the Bible. It is the source of all things, the dimension of the permanent, the eternal, the enduring: "Now faith is the assurance (hupostasis = "to stand under", i.e., support, foundation) of things not seen. For by faith the men of old gained divine approval. By faith we understand that the world (aionos = ages, or world) was created (katartizo = to fit, or render complete) by the word (rhemati = the oracles, sayings, or spoken utterances) of God, so that what is seen came into being out of that which is unseen." (Hebrews 11:3) The physical world, the material realm, is perfectly real and solid (not maya, or illusion, as Hinduism supposes), but it is the world of the fading, the transitory, the impermanent, and the perishable. Evil has disturbed our universe, interfered with both the realm of the spirit and I think also with some of the laws of physics (I agree with you that the Second Law of Thermodynamics has probably not changed since creation). But I suspect that evil (in both the angelic and human realms) has destroyed the original close and harmonious coupling between the spiritual and material dimensions of existence. What we now see and observe and experience is not the creation as it was finished at the end of the sixth day, but an aging, decaying old creation. If we choose to know God through faith in Jesus His Son, we perceive also that we are being made part of a new race, and prepared to live in a new creation which is now under construction: "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (II Corinthians 5:6-8)

Consider a group of scientists who set up to study a redwood tree. They measure the shadow of the tree cast by the sun. The watch the shadow change as the day progresses. But they never bother to touch or measure the tree itself. How much better it is in attempting to scientifically understand trees to measure real trees than merely their shadows. Thus we can not fully understand the things of our physical world without some perception of the enduring, permanent world of the spiritual. In C.S. Lewis' Great Divorce, we have a good picture of heaven. The grass there is so solid it hurts the feet of newcomers from earth who have not walked around enough yet so as to toughen themselves, and to "grow more solid" (they arrive as wisps of gray smoke from earth). The spray of a waterfall is painful, attempts to wade in a rushing stream are disastrous. Folks who have been in heaven awhile have grown more solid from climbing into the mountains in the direction of the light. The real universe includes the spiritual and the eternal. They are not isolated and independent but are closely coupled systems. These things modern science ignores.

A number of references in scripture tell us that things built by God in the spiritual world are more solid, permanent, and durable than their "shadowy" and temporary counterparts in the physical world. For example, while on Mt. Sinai, God told Moses to erect a Tabernacle and equip it with an elaborate set of furnishings: an altar, a laver, a great lampstand, a table of incense, a table for the shewbread, the Ark of the Covenant. The ark had to be built exactly as prescribed in every detail, "...And see that you (Moses) make them (all these things) after the pattern for them which is being shown to you on the mountain." (Exodus 25:40) The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament mentions the heavenly tabernacle when referring to Jesus as our Great High Priest: "Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which is set up, not by man, but by the Lord." (Hebrews 8:1-2) The writer continues: "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent, (not made with hands, that, is not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption...under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified by these rites, but the heavenly things with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." (Hebrews 9:11-12, 22-24). Yet another reference to this heavenly tabernacle or temple is given in Revelation 15:5-8. One cannot hope to learn much about reality by looking at the shadows of things instead of their real form and substance! We cannot hope to understand ourselves or the universe (the heavens and the earth) if we ignore the information God has given us about the whole package. From a Biblical standpoint we can not hope to understand the physical world if we ignore the spiritual.

The Creator is the Observer in Genesis One: It is quite true that the observer is on earth starting with Genesis 1:2 and that the narrative concentrates on the earth, but perhaps it is reading something into the Scripture to say that the earth was covered with a thick cloud layer shutting out of the sun. (Job 38 does suggest clouds around the early earth). Genesis 1:1,2 may apply to the raw material of the entire universe being brought into being in darkness, not just the conditions prevailing on the earth itself. The origin of the sun before the earth is surmised by science but nowhere stated in Scripture. I believe that as responsible Christians we must always be careful not to force our current theories to fit the Bible. The Bible must sit in judgment over all of our frail and tentative ideas derived from science.

Just who is the observer in Genesis 1? It is not an angel, not Moses, not Adam. The Observer is the Creator Himself, who after creating studies His own work and pronounces it good. This is clear I think from Proverbs 8 (we know from the NT that Christ is the Wisdom of God): "The LORD possessed me (Wisdom) at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth; before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the sons of men. And now, my sons, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death."

God's creation of the universe was like the work of a master craftsman. First He brought the raw material into existence. Then He formed the raw material, fashioning it like a potter at the wheel or like an artist working from a pallet. The elements seem to have all been created first, but the building, forming, and fashioning of the creation extended over six days. I do not think the six days must necessarily be exactly 24 hour days, but to suggest long geologic ages is forcing the text in my opinion. God is imminently involved in the work of creation. Evidently, the entropy of the early universe was lowered in stages, as order and design were built into the universe by the activity of the Spirit of God.

"Literal" Interpretation of Genesis: If one sets aside for the moment all one thinks is true about creation, based on science, then Genesis says that God first created space, including the spiritual world, water and earth. Then He brought light into existence by divine fiat. All this on the first day. Now "God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all." Physical light is, however, something God created. The universe seems to have been dark up until light was created. This makes the Big Bang model highly suspect! God proceeded to mold and shape his new universe bringing the sun, moon and stars into existence on the fourth day, and so forth. If I were to develop a science of astronomy where none previously existed I would begin with Genesis as a revelation from God, then pray, then look at the evidence. This would be the only way I could hope to sort out the available data in the correct way. This is not the process that modern astronomy followed in coming to its presently-held models. No matter how elegant they are I must hold theories such as the Big Bang as highly tentative and quite possibly wrong. It is not that the facts or basic observations are all wrong, or that God has deceived me. The fault lies with the interpretation of the suite of available data. As men of God we must not give listeners the impression that we are adding to the Bible or that our own particular interpretation is superior than another point of view which other godly men subscribe to. "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2)

The Big Bang Model means a "hands off universe": The whole idea of the big bang is that the history of the universe is totally determined once the initial conditions have been fixed. No real room for subsequent intervention by God. You yourself note this eloquently in your talks. Any divine interventions would upset the delicate balance rendering the present cosmology incorrect. This contrasts with a universe formed and fashioned in every detail by a loving Craftsman. The Big Bang theory is an extrapolation into the remote past---a theory based on present observables and a set of assumptions. The non-involvement of God after t=0 is presupposed by this theory. This can not be established from Scripture as the way things really happened. "Let There Be Light" is a powerful command of God, calling light into existence. For the Son of God to merely roll back the cloud layer covering the earth so as to let the light from space shine onto the earth would be a trivial command. Likewise for most of the creative work of God to be condensed into "the creation event", i.e. the hypothetical big bang explosion, leaves God very little work to do during the ensuing six days. The Christian church has always understood God as having spoken the universe into existence by a series of commands. This is brought out in John Chapter One. If most of the important work of creating the universe is all over and done with by the end of Genesis 1:2, the commands that follow on the remaining five days are minuscule in comparison, except for the emergence of life. However the commands that bring life into being are weighted equally with the rest of the spoken words of God calling everything into being.

The Role of the angels in nature. The observed precision of the laws of physics could well be due to the precision work of angels regulating all natural process during our present epoch. We must be careful to avoid naturalism as an explanation for what we observe in the world by the limited tools of science. For example in the calming of the sea of Galilee, Jesus spoke to an angel: "On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, 'Let us go across to the other side.' And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, do you not care if we perish?' And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?' And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?'" (Mark 4:35-41) Does God bring about the events of the Book of Revelation by stepping in and changing the laws of physics, or does He merely command the angels who control all the forces of nature and they begin to move in different ways? I think the latter is probably closer to the way things work. The difference between naturalism and Biblical supernaturalism is very great, especially in our time. I must allow for the possibility that science could be seriously wrong on some issues because of deliberate exclusion of God from scientific thoughts and processes in the past 150 years. (There is a trend back towards supernaturalism in some sectors, but often it is a reversion to eastern mysticism, not a return to a Biblical view).

Astrology as you note in your printed essay is based on Nimrod's false religion from Babylon. I would agree with you as a physicist that there are no known physical mechanisms that could explain how the position of the planets at the time of one's birth could possibly influence personality. And as you state, astrology is forbidden to us by the Bible because it brings us under the influence of demonic powers in the occult realm. But if there are angels associated with the stars and planets that the influence of these angels on the quality of human life is not unreasonable from a Biblical view point. (C.S. Lewis develops this idea in the first book of his science fiction trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet). In any case we do not have a pure Hebrew astrology today but only the pagan, thoroughly corrupted version from the Babylonian mystery religion. For secular scientists to be concerned about negating astrology is understandable when the basis of modern science is naturalism and rationalism and when supernaturalism is excluded from the discussion. (See enclosure on recent research paper concerning The Mars Effect). In a sense astrology is difficult to study by the scientific method because the data tends to be mostly subjective among the community of believers in this "art."

Your day-age arguments: The narrative in Genesis One draws on the imagery of the calendar week known to us until today. There are seven days in our weeks, by the term evening and morning we always mean 24 hour days. When the Bible means "age" it is usually so stated. The term "Day of the LORD" is obviously an extended period from the context in which it is used. For instance each of the Genesis creation days is an evening and a morning. The use of the term "evening and morning" to refer to a long period of time is not known in Scripture. In English we do say, "this is the dawning of a new age" but we mean an historical epoch or era not a geologic period. If you decide to hold to the day-age theory you should acknowledge that godly Bible scholars have many arguments for these days being 24 hour days from internal Biblical evidence. The case can not be decided on the basis of science. It may be that we have to live with considerable tension between the modern scientific view and the Biblical picture of things. Have you seen the excellent discussion featuring both sides (the day-age and the 24 hour day) featured in The Genesis Debate, Ronald Youngblood, Ed., (Thos. Nelson Publishers, 1986)?

Events on the Sixth Day: Creation of the higher animals and man. The text does not say that Adam studied, analyzed and named the animals on the sixth day. The creation of man as male/female occurred on the sixth day, but the separation of Adam/Eve into Adam and Eve evidently came later. The best explanation is that Eve was taken out of Adam months or years after the creation of Adam. Before Eve was presented to him, Adam had ample time to study and name the animals. Likewise we do not know how many months or years elapsed before the fall. Adam died at age 930 so we can set some limits on when he was created. Adam was created as an adult, evidently, so his body would carry an appearance of initial age, perhaps 30 years or so.

"The Seventh Day is still open": Scripture does not say this. Please note that the Scripture says "God rested on the seventh day", not "God is resting". All this means is that God's creative activity ceased at a certain point of time. God did not rest from other activities such as the daily sustenance of the old creation, nor the building of the new creation through the Last Adam. The absence of an evening on the seventh day is not a proof for the day-age theory, but would tend to deny continuous creation models. The rest we are all to enter into by faith is described in Hebrews 4. It may be compared to God's rest on the seventh day, rest from wilderness wanderings under Joshua, rest from warfare under King David,etc. The pattern of the seven days of creation is a repeated pattern remembered in the Jewish calendar week.

The Eighth Day: The millennium is nowhere called the "eighth day" in Scripture. In a literal sense there is no eighth day in the Bible. In a symbolic sense the eight day, the day of new beginnings, began with the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Whenever the Bible talks about the eighth day it is always the first day of the week after the Sabbath. I do not feel that the symbolism of the 8th day fits the millennium very well. The 1000 year reign of Christ on earth is more of a fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles I think.

A Local or Universal Flood? Either there is no evidence for a world-wide flood, as you claim, or the evidence is so overwhelming it is everywhere. The topography of the earth before the flood was probably radically different from now. I believe that there was one land mass (continent) before the flood. If the present continents were flattened with a bulldozer one could cover everything to considerable depth with presently existing water. A drastic change in land mass distribution, mountains, valleys, topography at the time of the flood seems most reasonable to me. To give just one example, the isostatic loading and unloading of a great amount of water over the land would be a major impact in subsequent mountain building. The present Mt. Ararat (16,900 feet) is a volcano and may be of recent origin. The ark may have landed on relatively low hills. Mt. Everest may have been elevated subsequent to the flood, for example during the Days of Peleg when accelerated continental drift may have occurred. A different land-mass distribution in and of itself would soon change the climate and weather patterns world wide. I seem to be less of a uniformitarian than you. The Bible uses vivid language to describe the destruction of all of mankind and a great natural disaster at the time of the flood. This inclines me strongly to believe the flood was a great and terrible world-wide catastrophe which changed our present earth drastically.

Satan's domain and power: Evil in the universe is not confined to man. Satan may have been the greatest of all the angels, his revolt with one third of the angelic host, may have disrupted things radically throughout the universe since his fall. There is good reason to suppose that Satan and his angels have wreaked havoc in creation, marring and scarring it in attempts to destroy what God made.

Miracles are a Complex Subject. Are these outside energy inputs from the spiritual world, or are they mere arrangements of things within our space-time domain? Did the resurrection of Jesus affect the natural order? Science does not ordinarily investigate one-of-a-kind events. The daily sustenance of the universe by God's power may be one continuous miracle which we see as a set of immutable laws of nature.

Frequency of earthquakes increasing? I have never seen any data on this frequent claim by TV evangelists. Is it only that earthquakes are now recorded and studied more diligently and carefully? I assume the increase of natural disturbances in the tribulation period is a result of God's intervening judgments? If earthquakes are now more frequent, what is the causal mechanism? Especially in a universe 1010 years old why would earthquakes soar in the last 100 years (only one part in 108 years of history)? My reading of the Olivet Discourse suggests to me that escalating earthquakes and natural disasters characterize the Great Tribulation period (3.5 years), not the "last days", i.e. not the last 2000 years. I would be most grateful for any references you might have on earthquake frequency.

"Universe A can Never Interact with Universe B": This is surely true only for material universes. Our universe is surrounded by an unseen spiritual realm which is the source of all things. God sustains the universe from the realm of the spirit, interacting with the physical world in ways not known to us. "How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out."

Jesus' role in sustaining the universe by His mighty word of power: To assume that God wound up the universe at the start of the Big Bang and made a few creative additions afterwards (in the six days of creation) leans towards naturalism or theistic evolution. God is more than a First Cause. The Bible says a lot about His day by day involvement in the world. He did not create the universe and then depart to play the role of a spectator observer. Note for example Colossians 1:16-17 "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Also, Hebrews 1:1-4: "In many separate revelations - each of which set forth a portion of the Truth - and in different ways God spoke of old to [our] forefathers in and by the prophets, [But] in the last of these days He has spoken to us in [the person of a] Son, Whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things, also by and through Whom He created the worlds and the reaches of space and the ages of time - (that is) He made, produced, built, operated and arranged them in order. He is the sole expression of the glory of God - the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine - and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God's] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power..."

Jesus governs all things: C.S. Lewis says that all science can really say is that Humpty Dumpty is falling down, (Miracles, 1947, Macmillan Publishers---this book has an excellent discussion of the difference between a naturalistic and a supernaturalistic view of the universe). The Bible knows nothing of natural law. Instead God regulates everything in perfect harmony. He rules over every facet of nature through His angels. All His workings are in perfect balance and harmony. He rules from the spiritual world into the physical. Some angels may well be "unstable governors" producing unusual events in the heavens such as novas and supernovas. Again we must be careful to avoid reductionism and naturalism! The angels are more than observers.

Vapor Canopy Model: Translating "mist" as normal rainfall seems very strained. How can rain come up out of the ground to water the earth? A lot of scientific work has been done on a vapor canopy model and much of what I have seen is quite reasonable science. Genesis 2:6 does seem to describe a period before which there was no rain on the earth. The Ice Canopy Model. Donald Patten in general is far out, like Velikovsky was. I agree with you that there seems to be no real substance to Patten's models. I have his books but keep them in my pseudoscience collection.

A Geocentric Universe? Science does not know where the center of the universe is. The fact that earth as inhabitable is so incredibly unlikely in all the known universe is suspicious. Earth is the moral center of the universe. We can't prove the earth is not the center of the universe! The Son of God appears to have created the universe from the earth as a vantage point. Presumably the center of the universe is located where the throne room of God is located, but that is in the heavenlies. As far as the physical universe is concerned earth emerges as mighty important and completely unique according to your own very fine analysis of the improbability of another planet like ours in the known universe.

An Aesthetic Argument. The universe has existed for 1010 years but man for only 104 years? To me this does not seem reasonable for a universe created by the Logos of God. To have an empty universe before man for great periods of time seems strange: "For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): 'I am the LORD, and there is no other.'" (Isaiah 45:18). The Anthropic Principle is not quite right, however the Creator made man most like Himself and made the universe as a home for man, and man given the charge to have dominion. Beauty and harmony in nature are evidence of God's handiwork, but beauty and elegance in science may not be! Since Jesus, the Logos of God created the universe, it is not unreasonable that the creation should have some features which remind man of himself. Also, Satanic counterfeits are as close to the truth as possible, so we need to be especially cautious about new theories that appear to give all the right answers at first.. Intuitively I would expect the creation events to follow one another in rapid order. God is a God of beauty and harmony. He is the Supreme Architect and the Master Builder.

Absolute Time. We must be careful not to claim our clocks run on the same standard as God's clocks! The writer of Genesis can only make a record when someone tells him how to keep time. Modern science assumes time is an absolute, and that man has that clock in his hands. The clock we are given for keeping time by in Genesis is the motion of sun, moon and stars for an observer on earth.

Constancy of Atomic Constants: At least four careful statistical analyses by competent statisticians in the last two years claim that the available data on measurements of the velocity of light give confidence levels of 90-95% that c is not a fixed constant. These findings can not be now dismissed so lightly. Quite independent of this statistical information, it is perfectly possible to hypothesize that c is not a constant and examine the consequences in various equations and phenomena of physics. Barry Setterfield claims the results of doing this very thing are quite realistic and that the resulting model is better than the existing one and more consistent with the Bible. There is no a priori reason why c should be a fixed constant, either in physics or in theology. It is very easy for science to overlook things, and to oversimplify according to Occam's Razor. The new science of chaos is a good example. Lo and behold even in chaos there is often order emerging from the noise if one looks for it in the right way. God's actions in controlling the universe and regulating its every detail could be entirely in the noise level---"O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?' 'Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?' For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen." (Romans 11:33-36)

Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin: A strong view of man's total depravity leads one to conclude that the effects of human evil have a big effect on nature. I believe human evil has had such a big effect on nature.

"Death" in the Bible: Normally the word "death" in the Bible carries with it extremely negative connotations. Primarily there are three kinds of death (1) physical death, (2) spiritual death, and (3) the Second Death. Metaphors as such as being "dead to sin" or "dead to the law" do not carry the same weight as death which "enters the world through Adam's sin." Genesis 2:17 is very emphatic in Hebrew, "dying you shall die." Death is our great enemy, "the last enemy to be destroyed is death..." "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage." (Hebrews 2). I agree that there might have been a form of animal death in the world before the fall. But death is viewed as man's great and final enemy: "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned--sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come." (Romans 5:12-14). It is reasonable to suppose that the animals multiplied and died before the fall---I don't know of any Scripture that specifically states this however. Possibly natural birth control prevailed among animals and men in the early days so that conception was much rarer or the sexual urge more easily controlled. Even if the animals died before the fall, they evidently were not subject to disease and violent destruction (not as we have now, "nature red in tooth and claw"). Isaiah speaks of the wolf lying down with the lamb and nature being subdued. I take this to mean a return to conditions that prevailed before the fall. Even so, death entered the human race as a result of sin and is not natural for our race. I think it is misleading to claim that death is "beneficial." I believe the battle between good and evil is fiercely pitched and that very powerful forces are at work to keep man ignorant of who God really is, or to throw us onto tangents once we do come to know Him. The devil would overthrow God Himself if he could, and destroy all life in the universe at the same time. The devil is not only a liar, he is a murderer from the beginning.

"Species go extinct naturally all the time". It is pure speculation on your part to suppose this is the way things always have been in the past. This is what we now observe, but we have no way of knowing that this is the way things always have been. Adam was given dominion over creation. It was his job to tend the garden and subdue the earth. In yielding himself to the enemy Adam lost the power and the title deed to the earth, plunging the created order into disarray. It is entirely possible that species die-offs are a result of the fall and the bondage all creation has been subject to as a result of the fall: "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration (douleia=bondage), not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8)

"Our Bodies Are Made from Ashes of Dead Stars". This is also speculation---you are relying on the "authority" of a scientific model, and science has no real authority from God. We do not know where the dust of the earth was actually brought into existence through stellar nuclear reactions, or whether the present distribution of the elements appeared abruptly by fiat creation. We must be careful to avoid causality---suggesting that God was constrained or is constrained to act only in certain ways. It seems to me from Genesis that God directly created the earth. No mechanism or intermediate stages for the formation of the earth are given in the Bible and we must be careful not add to Scripture, or to read into the Bible thinks that aren't there. On matters where Scripture is silent, we must be silent, or state clearly that we are speculating!

Pre-Adamic hominids. There is no hint of such in the Bible. You should state this clearly as a matter of your own personal belief based on science but not supported by the Bible. This reminds one of the Gap Theory which is now widely discredited, as you yourself believe. We must be careful in our desires to harmonize science and the Bible not to be dogmatic about scientific truth or even the set of facts available for our interpretation. "Let God be true though every man be false, as it is written..."

Longevity of the Patriarchs. The mechanism for reduced human longevity after the flood is not known, however a number of scientists have commented that increased flux of harmful cosmic rays probably would not account for the full amount of the decrease. Perhaps we need a biologist to tell us more about the aging processes, genetic damage, and possible causal mechanisms.

Missing Gaps in the Genealogies of the Bible. As far as I am able to determine the gaps in some of the genealogies in the Bible are almost all filled in elsewhere. The gaps are all minor in any case and the actual history of the gap-periods is usually known from elsewhere in the Biblical text. It is thus very difficult (I believe) to move Adam earlier than 5000 to 6000 B.C. Henry Morris concedes 10,000 years maximum. We must always be careful not to try and force the Scriptures to fit a contemporary science model of the fossil record. Chronologies are given for the line which leads from the First Adam to the Last Adam, so the Holy Spirit seems to have gone to extra trouble to give as an unbroken record of the blood line to Messiah. Your analysis of the apparent gaps would be helpful to see how you reach 10,000 to 25,000 years B.P. for Adam.

The Thomas Gold model for origin of petroleum and coal deposits is probably much better than the old model. Far too much gas, oil and coal has been found already to be attributed to a biogenic origin. These resources usually found along crustal found zones. Gold's deep earth methane model is consistent with a cold, accretionary formation of the earth. The old model of petroleum genesis is well over 100 years old and sadly outdated. For example the old model holds to a hot-molten-glob formation of the earth and all oil resources a result of biogenesis. (See T. Gold, Power from the Earth, 1987, $24.95). Regarding the formation of the earth note that Peter says the earth was "formed (compacted) out of water and by means of water." The Hebrew root word of erets means "to compact together."

Pleochroic halos. This topic needs more study and comment. The work of Robert Gentry is too thorough and too careful than to be lightly dismissed. Either the earth was formed suddenly, or radioactive decay did not start up until after the earth was formed. I can not see any way around the basic evidence from these halos at the present time. I assume you have Gentry's book?

The Gospel and Modern Man. I believe that apologetics generally has its greatest value among those who are already believers. The Gospel makes its appeal to conscience. Man's obstacle is pride and unbelief. The fact that the usual Genesis 1-11 interpretations impede modern man from coming to Christ does not mean these men will not be saved. Men will be saved by God if they are elected to salvation and have been chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world. Moral issues are more dominant. We must let the Bible govern our thinking whether or not the Bible is in accord with modern scientific views. Over long periods of time the scientific view should be more consistent with the Bible, but not necessarily in a short time frame, say 100 years. Entire civilizations have been misled in the past. Satan comes as an angel of light. Ancient Egypt had a very advanced science and effective, convincing magic arts and sorcery during the times of Joseph and Moses. Antichrist will evidently have a credible, convincing cosmology to support his view about the naturalistic origin of the universe. If, as you say, most modern astronomers are now deists I would still not expect dozens of them to flood into the church and be saved because of the impediment of intellectual pride, "For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God."

Creation and the Supreme Court: You claim the real issue causing opposition to the teaching of creation in schools is really over the age of the universe. I disagree! I think that opposition to God and to the gospel is what is happening on such front-line engagements as the Supreme Court disputes about origins. I feel certain that the real tension these days is between naturalism and supernaturalism. As Frances Schaeffer has noted, modern man with his insistence on the materialistic universe being all there is, is threatened when He gets any hint that God might not be dead after all. Spiritual warfare is what's going on, and that struggle is not much dependent on the details of the belief system of the two sides. You'll find the same heated disputes in the abortion issue. The Christian side rightly values every individual life as a creation of God. The pro-abortionists insist they have a right to do as they please with their own bodies, not only with regard to abortion, but also including freedom to engage in casual sex without benefit of marriage. The first group believes man must be subject to God to be free and whole, the second group subscribes to the notion than man can be autonomous.

The Earth's Magnetic Field. No dynamo mechanism has ever been found to explain the postulated energy inputs needed to sustain the field. The measured field appears to be decreasing exponentially with a half life of only a few thousand years. The reversals before the current epoch certainly seem to be real---see Russ Humphreys' article in latest CRSQ for recent discussion of field reversals in the past. The early work of Thomas Barnes on the decay of the earth's field is perfectly credible even if his current work concerning relativity seems less so.

Psalm 104:30 and the "recreation" of life: "When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth." This whole Psalm is concerned with the worship of the God of creation. It does not suggest to me that God "recreated" anything after the close of creation week. The idea that God "recreates" anything does not correspond to anything I know about from Scripture.

Your UFO treatment is excellent, careful and thorough, except that Richard Haines (former NASA scientist and fellow member of Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto) says UFO sightings seem to fall into two classes: positive and malevolent. I sent Dick your UFO tapes as he is keenly interested in getting to know you.

The Universe is a Home for Man. Jesus said, "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (John 14:1-3) Here "the Father's house" is clearly the universe we live in, the whole universe, which is made up of both the visible and the invisible. The universe, Jesus implied, is to be compared to a house having many rooms, all made to live in. Like the homes we live in, the various rooms serve various purposes. We have living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and perhaps a library-study. The first helpful thing about this passage is that it teaches us that heaven is a better and more pleasant home than the best we know here. This is not fiction or myth; Jesus was describing the way things really are. Further clues about the universe as a "house" designed to be lived in can be found elsewhere in the Bible. For example Yahweh says in Isaiah: "For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it); he did not create it a chaos, he formed it (to be inhabited!): I am the LORD, and there is no other." (Isaiah 45:18) "Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house which you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the LORD. But this is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit and who trembles at my word." (Isaiah 66:1,2) If we know now only that God's house contains a living room chair and its accompanying footstool, we nevertheless can infer the existence of kitchens, closets, banquet halls and libraries. For example, God's library must surely contain books in four-dimensional living color that contain in minute detail the history of the world as it really happened. Surely we shall find video tapes there containing the lives of all who have ever lived with thoughts, motives, and actual facts in open-books before us. After visiting the library, we might like to move outdoors and investigate the gardens in heaven after which Eden was patterned. In contrast with these statements the universe as seen by the astronomer's limited eyesight seems to me to be cold, sterile, impersonal and limited. The astronomer is looking at shadows that pale in comparison with the real. Reality is perceived accurately only through the eyes of faith.

Uniformitarianism is Specifically Denied in Scripture. In spite of a renewal of interest in catastrophism in recent years, man's belief in some form of uniformitarianism has characterized society since the beginning. Modern science is still quite uniformitarian in its ideas. Surely this deeply embedded notion in our minds that things never really have changed since creation is the reason the Apostle Peter left us such a clear word in his second epistle: "First of all you must understand this, that skeptics will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.' They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. (2 Peter 3)

Truth is a Person. "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except by me." Paul says, "In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Solomon writes in Proverbs, "It is the glory of God to conceal things; it is the glory of kings to seek them out." The person who does know Christ or is ignorant on how to search out hidden truth be unlikely to discover an accurate cosmological model. "The natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit of God, indeed they are foolishness to him, and he can not know them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man understands all things..."

Though your Christian faith and theology seems orthodox, my world view is a bit different from yours based on your presentations to date. Your dual-revelation ideas trouble me. I do not believe modern astronomers have arrived at absolute knowledge concerning the age of the universe or the methodology of God's creative hand, for instance through the Big Bang hypothesis. In general I like to put more emphasis on the importance of the spiritual realm in understanding creation than you do. I am concerned that you err in the direction of naturalism, progressive creationism, and scientism. I have less confidence in modern scientific models and am willing to live with considerable tension between science and the Bible. I believe the most important creative activity of God took place on the Six Days rather than being limited to Genesis 1:1,2. I believe the Six Days were relatively short periods of time, not long geologic ages. I believe in a universal, not local, flood. I place time of Adam and the time of the flood more recently than you, and I therefore suspect radio-dating methods may be in error. I suspect the present interpretation of the fossil record is in error on some key points. I believe the topography of the earth and the climate changed radically at the time of the flood. I think there is every likelihood the universe has been seriously disrupted since it was created. This is a result of the cosmic rebellion among the angels under Lucifer, and the fall of man. I believe death came into the human race through the sin of Adam and that death is our great enemy. I do not believe there were any hominids on earth before Adam, and that the higher animals and Adam all came into being in the same time frame on the Sixth Day. I believe so-called "cave men" are degenerate branches of the race descended from Adam. Thus conventional dating schemes are suspect. I am convinced that scientific theories developed by sinful man (under the control of Satan, a deceiver and a murderer from the beginning) are frequently incomplete and tentative and need to be treated that way. "For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away...For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood."

Your presentations as they now stand seem to me like a half-way station between the world of the modern secular scientist and Biblical Christianity. I am sure you can continue to have a major impact in academic environments where science dominates thinking and discussions. My greatest concern is that you seem to me to be taking your own secular scientific world-view and attempting to force-fit it to the Scripture. I suppose this is partly what a good harmonist seeks to do in any generation. But if you are too dogmatic and opinionated about matters of science now, you may find yourself "obsolete" in a few years time. I think you would improve your presentations greatly if you made a clearer distinction concerning matters of scientific opinion and statements of belief based on the Bible. Perhaps you might want to mention that many godly men, Bible scholars and scientists who are Christians differ in their view of creation from your position yet that may not mean they are wrong and you are right. These issues seem to me to resemble the story of three blind Indians who discover their first elephant. One says elephants are like thin ropes, another says they are like walls, a third says they resemble tree trunks. Yet all are correct though each is complete by itself. In matters of science and the Bible it is not always a question of "either/or" but of "both/and"---holding what appear to be irreconcilable forms of information in tension until a way of resolution is found later on. My caution to you as your brother in Christ is that we all need to approach the Bible with open, uncluttered minds and let the Word of God enlighten us and constantly judge our understanding of things. In that process I think it is important to set aside temporarily what we think to be true from science and human experience. Being a good apologist you will I'm sure you want to revise your scientific material every year as so to keep current with our changing scientific understanding of things. And I am sure you and I will continue to grow in Christ so that we gain further light on the marvelous creation and our place in it. As scientists I do not think we really have a head start on truth, in fact we may be more easily impeded in our search for truth because of the danger of being puffed up by our own worldly accomplishments. "If any thinks himself wise in this world let him become a fool, that he might be truly wise." May our God bless you richly, beyond all your hopes and expectations.

Sincerely, your brother in Christ,

Lambert Dolphin

Explanatory notes added 3/20/99


Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2001 Saturday, California; Part 2; Page 14

Religion: Seeing Faith Through Science

Scientist on a Quest for Proof of His Faith: Hugh Ross, an astronomer and evangelical minister, looks to science to prove the Bible's truth. Almost nobody agrees with him.

An astronomer and minister looks to biology, physics and other fields in an effort to prove the Bible's truth. He draws fire from scientists and fundamentalists alike.


Almost nobody agrees with Hugh Ross.

During his university talks, Ross--both astronomer and evangelical minister--often comes under friendly fire from Christian fundamentalist students. They want to shoot down his scientific approach to faith. Ross, president of Reasons to Believe, a Christian think tank in Glendora, believes that creationism should never be taught in public schools.

"There's no science or Scripture to back it up," he says. He argues that the universe was created in six consecutive long, unspecified periods of time. "The problem with some Christians is they don't get far enough away from the creationists."

Armed with the latest discoveries in astronomy, physics and biology and backed by a small army of scholars, Ross is on a quest to scientifically prove that the Scriptures are true and that the God of the Bible is the designer of the universe.

In doing so he has alienated both ends of the evolutionary debate, from fundamentalists to scientific advocates of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Scientists affiliated with Reasons to Believe will unveil their latest findings at a four-day conference beginning Thursday at Grace Church in Cypress. Last year's event drew more than 750 scientists, theologians, doctors, engineers, pastors and laity.

The nonprofit organization is the radical cousin of the more widely known "intelligent design" movement, which seeks to detect intelligence behind the universe's formation but doesn't speculate on the nature of that force. Though both movements try to dispel Darwin, Ross rejects the intelligent design strategy as too "pessimistic and defeatist."

"The intelligent design theory uses a big-tent approach," Ross said. "It says, 'Let's first get in this thin wedge of truth' [that there's a legitimate alternative to Darwinism]. I really worry that we will win the battle of proving an intelligent designer but lose the war of convincing society that the designer is Christ."

Ross, 55, founded Reasons to Believe 16 years ago after working as a research fellow at Caltech and as a minister. He resembles actor John Malkovich and looks the part of a college professor, especially on casual Fridays when he comes to work in blue jeans, a button-down shirt and running shoes.

He has a paid staff of 35, thanks to private donations, fees from speeches and the sales of books, videos and magazines. He has also attracted scores of scientists who volunteer their time. They comb through the latest scientific research to find evidence of God.

For example, Ross sees the intricate, rotary motor of the flagellum of bacteria as a mirror of engines built by human hands, and therefore a reflection of an intelligent designer.

That, like most of Ross' ideas, is at odds with most evolutionary scholars. "It's hard not to laugh," said UC Irvine genetics professor Francisco Ayala, a former Catholic priest, who hadn't heard of Ross' work but dismisses anything along the lines of intelligent design. Ayala believes God simply lets nature take its course.

"Drawing parallels with machines is nothing new," Ayala said. The flagellum and the engine "look like machines because they are functional." Both humans and the natural selection process always will create the most functional form, Ayala said, which means they will look similar.

Ross says the jump from a generic intelligent designer to Christ as the designer is a logical one. His argument is this: Scriptures closely parallel what science now knows. The universe had a beginning. Ross believes that beginning had to be brought about by a transcendent being who operates beyond matter, energy, space and time--the same as described in the Bible.

Then, the high degree of fine-tuning that scientists are discovering throughout the universe must have been carried out by a loving and caring God, who mostly closely matches Jesus Christ.

"He's a God who's concerned with providing optimally for all of his creation," Ross said.

UC Berkeley professor Phillip Johnson, a leader of the intelligent design movement and the author of "Darwin on Trial," said Ross' critique is "intelligent and not unfriendly," but wrong.

"He thinks we don't go far enough, and we think he goes a little too far," Johnson said. "That's what you'd expect in a debate like this."

Mike Strauss, an associate professor of particle physics at the University of Oklahoma, volunteers his expertise to Reasons to Believe. He said he was drawn to the organization by its reputation for scientific and theological integrity.

"Hugh Ross is credible. He does a good job integrating science and faith," Strauss said. "Many people claim to integrate the two, but they don't."

Ross said he grew up in a moral but secular household. At 17, he began to secretly study the great philosophers and religions, trying to figure out who God was. After six months, he said, he quickly discarded other faiths because he found them too illogical. But he kept researching the Bible.

"There's so much ridicule heaped upon serious Christians. I had strong motivation to keep it secret--until I could figure out how to defend it."

He said he found the Bible to be scientifically and historically accurate, and the only holy book to invite objective testing.

After two years of self-study, Ross signed his name in the back of the Gideon Bible he had used, marking his conversion.

Ross is a Christian apologist, someone who uses evidence from sciences of all kinds to defend Christian doctrine. "God's fingerprint can be seen through all the disciplines," he says. He tries to distance himself from many of today's apologists, who he says can be divided into three categories: "Top, pop and slop--and only 10% are in the top category."

He says his most receptive audiences are scholars who attend his presentations at major universities such as Princeton, MIT and UCLA. "Hugh is somewhat controversial" among fundamentalists, said Gregory Koukl, president of Stand to Reason, another apologist group. "But he's much less controversial on the scientific side. He's careful, he's honest, and he's very happy to put his ideas against peer review. This is the acid test of scientific analysis of intelligent design."

Ross knows his complex interpretations are difficult for most non-scientists to understand, and tough for most secular scholars to agree with.

"Both scientists and Christians are trying to find an easy way through this, and that doesn't exist," Ross said. "I think it's fun. God left us with unsolved problems so we can have the joy of discovery."

GRAPHIC: PHOTO: Hugh Ross, with Bible and telescope, looks skyward near his San Dimas home. His Reasons to Believe think tank takes the "intelligent design" theory a step further. PHOTOGRAPHER: DON BARTLETTI / Los Angeles Times PHOTOGRAPHER: DON BARTLETTI / Los Angeles Times

June 25, 2001

Problems Emerging with Big Bang Cosmology

Hugh Ross defends that Big Bang theory as if it were the proven process by which our universe was brought into existence a long time ago. Astronomer Tom Van Flandern, who is neither a creationist nor a believer in a recent origin for the universe, nevertheless is not afraid of challenging the prevailing secular orthodoxy in astronomy. In his latest Meta Research Bulletin news section (12/15/97) he lists:

Ten Problems with the Big Bang

For a recent chat discussion on MSN, we prepared a list of the leading problems faced by the big bang in its struggle for viability as a theory:

(1) Static universe models fit the data better than expanding universe models.

(2) The microwave "background" makes more sense as the limiting temperature of space heated by starlight than as the remnant of a fireball.

(3) Element abundance predictions using the big bang require too many adjustable parameters to make them work.

(4) The universe has too much large scale structure (interspersed "walls" and voids) to form in a time as short as 10-20 billion years.

(5) The average luminosity of quasars must decrease with time in just the right way so that their mean apparent brightness is the same at all redshifts, which is exceedingly unlikely.

(6) The ages of globular clusters appear older than the universe.

(7) The local streaming motions of galaxies are too high for a finite universe that is supposed to be everywhere uniform.

(8) Invisible dark matter of an unknown but non-baryonic nature must be the dominant ingredient of the entire universe.

(9) The most distant galaxies in the Hubble Deep Field show insufficient evidence of evolution, with some of them apparently having higher redshifts (z = 6-7) than the faintest quasars.

(l0) If the open universe we see today is extrapolated back near the beginning, the ratio of the actual density of matter in the universe to the critical density must differ from unity by just a part in 10^59. My larger deviation would result in a universe already collapsed on itself or already dissipated.

A Strong New Big Bang Falsification Test

Is the redshift of galaxy light due to the expansion of the universe, or due to energy loss? If redshift were due to cosmological expansion, then all galaxies within a cluster would have the same cosmological redshift plus a small add-on contribution due to local motion within the cluster. The average dispersion of velocities within clusters would be independent of their distance from us except for possible evolutionary effects. On the other hand, if light redshifts with distance traveled because it loses energy, small dispersions at small redshifts would become larger dispersions at larger redshifts. The dispersion in redshift within clusters would increase linearly with distance. To be safe, corrections for Malmquist bias must be applied because we see only the most massive clusters at great distances. Of course, if velocity dispersion is shown to increase linearly with distance, someone might propose that cluster masses increase with the square of distance as one looks back toward the big bang, because this would give the same effect. However, such a proposal would contradict the mass-luminosity relationship. It therefore appears that such a test result would definitively falsify the big bang. Preliminary results in AJ, 857-867 (1994), ApJ 423, L89-L92 (1994), ApJ 478, 39-48 (1997) and AJ 114 1293-1296 (1997) rather suggest that this test will in fact falsify the big bang. In the last of these, an X-ray emitting cluster at redshift z = 0.813 was reported with a velocity dispersion of 1892 km/s. This dispersion is so great that it makes the cluster appear to be spread into a filament shape along the line of sight. The only alternative is that "velocity" dispersions in galaxy clusters do increase with distance.

(More interesting news from Tom Van Flandern will be found at his web site, at Recent Article: What about the 'big bang'?, by Werner Gitt, Creation Ex Nihilo 20(3):42-44, June-August 1998