God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Showing posts with label Hugh Ross. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hugh Ross. Show all posts

Monday, July 1, 2019

Top 5 Books on Having Productive Conversations

Introduction- How To Have Productive Discussions With Those With Whom You Disagree

In today's cultural climate, discussions of great importance, such as politics, worldview, morality, and science, often get heated. All sides are trying to convince the other sides that one view is correct and all others are incorrect. Usually, the sides reject the others due to their seeing that it does not match with the world as it is and/or that it violates some universally recognized, objective moral value. Those who strongly desire to be on the side of reality and morality have a deep conviction of the falsehood of the violating views and a deep conviction of the truth of their own views (assuming that view does not also violate reality). These deep convictions often cause discussions about which view is correct to get quite emotional. Each side accuses the others of either being unwilling to deal with reality and/or of being pure evil.

Unlike what some people may believe, the reality of the world and morality are not at odds with one another, so if all sides are truly committed to truth and morality, there is nothing to fear from discovering that our views need tweaking or are completely wrong and need to be jettisoned. But how do we get from staunchly believing that our view is the only possible true view to thinking that we could be wrong, and how do we converse with others who do hold to a wrong view and need to change their view? For Christians, we are given the command to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do so with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).

Monday, November 12, 2018

Is Genesis History?

Introduction

A couple years ago the documentary "Is Genesis History?" was released. This documentary aims to defend the truth of the Christian worldview by defending the historicity of the early chapters of the Bible from a scientific perspective. The documentary attempts to accomplish this by demonstrating evidence in support of intelligent design and a young (~6000 years old) creation. As those who follow this blog know, I do not hold to the view that the universe is 6000 years old, as Del Tackett and the other contributors to "Is Genesis History?" do, yet I affirm the historicity and scientific accuracy of the Genesis accounts of origins.

Because many people (including those in this documentary) believe that the historicity of these early chapters and a young earth interpretation of them cannot be separated, a friend has asked me to offer some comments in the way of clarifying this common misunderstanding and some other concerns in the movie. There is much unnecessary confusion and heat in the Church concerning the debate over origins, so I am hoping to provide a charitable critique in the context of Christian unity and love.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Book Review: Always Be Ready- A Call To Adventurous Faith

Introduction

Astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross is a well-known voice in the scientific and evangelical Christian communities for his scientific defenses of the Christian worldview. Over the last few decades, he has written incredible books powerfully defending the arguments for God's existence from the beginning and design of the universe. A few of my favorites have been:

The Creator and the Cosmos
Why The Universe Is The Way It Is
Improbable Planet

The primary focus of these books (and many of his others) have been on developing the arguments, presenting the evidence, and answering challenges from skeptics for the truth of Christianity. All these books contain pastoral elements that show how nature can be used to discover much about God's character and His purposes for His creation. They all provide Christians with the content to follow Peter's command in 1 Peter 3:15.

"Always Be Ready: A Call To Adventurous Faith" is Dr. Hugh Ross' latest apologetics book. Usually, Dr. Ross' published work focuses on the scientific evidence for the truth of Christianity, but this time he decided to do something different. In this book, he decided to focus on the apologetic influence of the evidences not only in his own life but in the lives of those he's evangelized. In this book, he takes stories from his decades of scientific research, evangelistic efforts, and pastoral experiences to show to the reader the breadth and depth of what Peter's command to "always be ready" means. Speaking primarily from his heart for those who are lost without Christ, Dr. Ross presents an engaging, encouraging, and essential book for those who wish to follow Peter's command to always be ready.

This review will follow my usual chapter-by-chapter format concluding with my thoughts about the book. Because Dr. Ross tells many stories that are most effective told in his own words, I have left out all spoilers. First, though let me start with a short video of Dr. Ross speaking about the book:


Always Be Ready Promo from RTB: MEDIA on Vimeo.

Now, on to the review:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Book Review: The Creator and the Cosmos

Introduction

Several years ago, when I was struggling with science/faith issues, I stumbled upon astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross' book "The Creator and the Cosmos." He had released the third edition of the book, and many people were recommending it for those with science/faith concerns. I was already somewhat familiar with Dr. Ross' name since I had read "The Fingerprint of God" in the mid-90s but had not pursued much more investigation (most of the content was way over my head at the time). I decided to pick up a copy of that new book in the mid-2000s and took the time to read through it carefully. I was astounded at the strength of the scientific case Dr. Ross presented for the existence of the God of the Bible.

The book helped me overcome my struggle with science and paved the way for a deeper and more reasonable faith that I still continue to investigate and communicate to others to help them through their intellectual struggles. Not only can I know emotionally and spiritually that Christianity is true, but I can know it intellectually and reasonably. Of course, I have been blogging for quite a few years regarding how to demonstrate the reasonableness and truth of the Christian worldview, and in doing so, I have been providing my readers with chapter-by-chapter summary-style reviews of many of the books that I read.

A couple years ago I decided to begin going back through some of the apologetics books that I read early on, and "The Creator and the Cosmos" was in my stack. Not too long after I made that decision, though, I found out that Dr. Ross was working on a new edition that would add the most current discoveries to his original case (making it even stronger) and address even more challenges to his case that various scientists have proposed since the book's third edition was published. I decided to hold off on my review until that new edition had been released. Well, IT IS HERE!!!!! And I cannot be more excited for it! In keeping with my usual book reviews, I will provide a chapter-by-chapter summary then provide my recommendations. If you are reading this review on the Faithful Thinkers blog, I have embedded quotes and videos to enhance the review and better communicate the content of the book. Before I get to the summary, let's start with this short video from Dr. Ross about how his investigation of the cosmos led him to the conclusion that the personal God of the Bible exists and led him to dedicate his life to Jesus Christ.




Are you ready to see how astronomers and astrophysicists are discovering every day that "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1)? 

Let's begin! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Preview: Creator And The Cosmos by Christian Astrophysicist Hugh Ross

One of the first books that I read that presented evidence for God's existence from cosmology was the third edition of astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross' book "The Creator and the Cosmos." While I had been introduced to the finetuning argument years ago, this book laid it out in detail and in a way that was easy to comprehend. Of course, in the study of cosmology, the teleological argument is not the only one that can be formulated; there is also the argument from the beginning of the universe (the cosmological argument), which Dr. Ross explained has been overwhelmingly, evidentially supported by the latest scientific discoveries, yet was already expected by the authors of the Bible thousands of years ago (thus scientifically establishing the Creator as the Author of the Bible and establishing the Bible's authority and inerrancy).

Quote by Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross from the book "The Creator and the Cosmos"- "If the universe is created, then there must be reality beyond the universe...The Creator is the source of life and establishes its meaning and purpose....To study the origin and development of the universe is, in a sense, to investigate the basis for any meaning and purpose to life. Cosmology has deep theological and philosophical ramifications." #apologetics #God #Creation #Science #ExploreTheEvidence #CreatorAndTheCosmos


About a year ago, I decided to bring the book back out to give it my full chapter-by-chapter review treatment for those interested in getting the book. However, shortly after I pulled it off my shelf, I heard that Dr. Ross was working on a fourth edition that would add a considerable amount of scientific evidence to both arguments, so I decided to put my review on hold until the new edition arrived. That new edition is coming THIS THURSDAY! And my chapter-by-chapter review will be posting in the following weeks. In the meantime, here is the trailer for the new edition, and do not forget to place your (pre-)order to get your copy as soon as possible!


I have reviewed several of Dr. Ross' other books that explore everything from the beginning of the universe to the appearance of humans, all from a perspective of Biblical historicity and inerrancy and the reliability of science to discover the truth about God's creative acts:

Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men

Introduction

Ever since I was a kid I have had a fascination with space, rockets, and Marvin the Martian. I have always been interested in knowing whether life could exist somewhere else in the universe, and if so, what kind of life. As a kid, UFOs caught my attention and fascination. I remember watching "Unsolved Mysteries," when they were presenting a story about someone's encounter with an unidentified flying object, on several occasions with my parents. Over the years, my interest in UFOs and aliens has gone down quite a bit, but it always been in the back of my mind as I see scientific stories about discoveries of extraterrestrial planets and research on the origin of life. I recalled reading an interesting book several years ago that addressed the topic of UFOs, and I decided to pick it up again to give it a proper review on my blog. The book is "Lights In The Sky and Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials" by Dr. Hugh Ross, Dr. Mark Clark, and Kenneth Samples (DVD available as well). This review will be the usual chapter-by-chapter summary and conclude with my recommendations. As always, this review leaves out a lot of information necessary to truly evaluate the authors' arguments, so if you are intrigued by the contents here, please do pick up a copy to read and analyze for yourself.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Top 5 Books On Science and Faith

One of the major challenges to the Christian worldview is the idea that science and Christianity are necessarily in conflict with one another. This general challenge is manifested in many different ways. A few months ago, I posted my Top 5 Books that address the Genesis controversy. This list will address the more general challenge. As before, I will give the list then provide a short explanation for my choices. This list will consist of two primarily philosophical books and two primarily scientific books that are bridged by one that logically connects the philosophy to the science. So, on to the list of my (currently) Top 5 Books I recommend regarding science and faith:

Top 5 Books on Science and Faith: Where the Conflict Really Lies- Alvin Plantinga; Agents Under Fire- Angus Menuge; Origin Science- Norman Geisler and Kerby Anderson; Improbable Planet- Hugh Ross; Creating Life In The Lab- Fazale Rana


Why Did I Pick These Books? 

Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism

In order for discovery and explanation (science) to even take place, a proper philosophy of knowledge (epistemology) must be established. As mentioned in the introduction, many skeptics claim that science (read "evolution") and Christianity are in direct opposition to one another, and they offer that naturalism is the only view supported by science (again, read "evolution"). In this book, philosopher Alvin Plantinga looks at the theory of evolution from a merely conceptual standpoint (not an evidential one- Plantinga does not agree or disagree with evolutionary mechanisms in this book). He makes the case that the theory of evolution, by itself, merely describes a possible mechanism to explain the diversity of life, but it does not make any claims about whether that mechanism was guided or not- philosophical naturalism has to be sneaked into evolutionary theory for guidance to be excluded. He concludes that evolution is compatible with theism, so there is no conflict. But he takes it even further. C.S. Lewis argued in "Mere Christianity" that a naturalistic origin of our brains justifies doubting its ability to reason and come to true conclusions apart from survival advantage. Plantinga builds upon Lewis' argument to place it on very strong scientific grounds. He ultimately concludes that a conflict does exist between evolution and naturalism. Not only are naturalists incorrect in claiming a conflict between Christianity and science, they are incorrect in claiming concord between science and naturalism. Naturalism is simply not a viable worldview for the person who values their ability to reason towards true conclusions despite survival disadvantages of those conclusions.

Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality Of Science

For reasoning independent of survival advantage to take place, a mind that is not subject to the survival of a physical organism must exist (an agent). Naturalism not only does away with the reliability of a brain's ability to reason independent of survival advantage, it also has no room for an agent independent of the physical organism. Naturalists have attempted to explain away agency (along with free will, intentionality, design, and other concepts we take for granted) using strong and weak agent reduction. Philosopher Angus Menuge takes the reader through the scientific and philosophical claims of these proposed solutions and shows how each of them fails the test of reality. He also takes the scientific and philosophical evidence to build the case for agency (minds) actually existing. If minds do exist, then naturalism is false, and we have discovered yet another conflict between naturalism and science. Along with that, science has actually demonstrated a key feature of the Christian worldview: more than just this physical world exists.

Origin Science: A Proposal for the Creation-Evolution Debate

The two previous books focused primarily on philosophical arguments that have scientific implications. But what about scientific evidence that has philosophical implications? Before we can get to the more science-focused evidence for Christianity, we need to establish the reliability of nature as a source of knowledge that we can observe and analyze. In their book "Origin Science" philosophers Norman Geisler and Kerby Anderson do just that. They look at the history of science and the history of science within the Church (drawing the conclusion that science and Christianity are compatible). They then look at how knowledge of how nature currently operates has been obtained: through observation. This connects our ability to accurately observe and validly analyze to draw sound conclusions about how nature operates today (observational science). But what about how nature operated in the past? Using the principle of uniformity (distinct from uniformitarianism) Geisler and Anderson demonstrate that the past can be known with deductive certainty. This makes the connection between the present and the past. If the past operated the same five days ago (verified by repeated experiments), we can keep adding five days to the past until we reach back into the distant past to discover how things operated back then (historical science). The knowledge of the present operation of nature and the truth of the principle of uniformity necessarily imply that we can know the operation of nature in the (distant) past. Thus, our ability to know and nature as a source of knowledge have been connected so that we can discover what nature reveals about its purposeful or purposeless history.

Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity's Home

For several decades, astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross has been scouring scientific journals for scientific evidence for the Christian worldview. The evidence is so frequently in the scientific literature that he has a blog entitled "Today's New Reason to Believe." He has written several books on what he has discovered, but his latest book examines history of our planet, and the hallmark of design for a purpose is difficult to miss. As scientists discover more about how stars, solar systems, and planets are formed, they see just how unique ours is. Numerous features of each are necessary for our planet to be able to support advanced life for the time that it has. For those familiar with Gantt Charts (used to track the progress of large and complex projects), through the entire time span of the project of the creation of our planet for high tech civilization, numerous series of highly orchestrated simultaneous phases begin and conclude at precisely coordinated times. The completion of the project is so dependent upon the plan being followed precisely that every phase, if not started or not completed at their precise time, ensures that the project will be a failure. While many projects must be flexible due to circumstances outside the project manager's control, the Project Manager in charge of our planet did not have that limitation; He was in complete control and could easily complete such a strict project. We know by analogy to human projects that when we see such a complex system come together with a specific end result that it is the product of a designer (project manager). While an argument against a naturalistic explanation would be obvious, Dr. Ross instead argues that the design of our planet positively identifies that it was created for a purpose, and a purpose must have a Purposer. Dr. Ross argues that the most plausible explanation for our planet's sustaining a high tech civilization is the product of the divine Project Manager (God), who's purpose was the redemption of as many of His Image bearers as possible.

Creating Life In The Lab: How New Discoveries in Synthetic Biology Make a Case for the Creator

While the previous book focused on evidence from astrophysics and geochemistry for our planet being created with a purpose (thus a Purposer was necessary), Creating Life In The Lab examines the latest work in the field of biochemistry, specifically what scientists are doing in order to create life. Dr. Rana takes the reader through the history and current state of different approaches scientists have been pursuing to create life. He explains that precisely and constantly controlled environmental conditions are necessary even for the progress that has been made today. Just like with other chemical experiments, these are highly controlled reactions, ones that would not take place outside the intervention of the scientists. And much like other chemical experiments, the reactions must be stopped at precise times to prevent destruction of the product of the reaction. Dr. Rana points out that these experiments and all success they have can only be attributed to the fact that designers (the scientists) are behind the experiments with an explicit purpose in mind. The fact that the scientists have a specific goal in mind allows them to begin chemical reactions, allow them to take their natural course (according to the laws of physics) then intervene to stop the reactions to prevent destruction of the products and set them aside to be later combined with other products of similar processes. Dr. Rana makes the point that even if there is a naturalistic pathway from non-life to life, that pathway is not one that can be traversed without designers to control the conditions, start and stop reactions, and combine products that have each been created independently. He also argues that when we see products of any other process that requires precisely controlled conditions and controlled chemical reactions (say, the device you are using to read this article), we intuitively, logically, and experientially know that it is the product of a designer. Even though life has not yet been successfully created in the lab, the current status provides powerful evidence for life being the product of a Designer. And if (when) life is created in the lab, it will present powerful, positive evidence for the creation of life absolutely requiring a designer.

Bringing It All Together

I would like to add also that these last two books offer such powerful cases for design that if naturalism were true, they would actually bolster Alvin Plantinga's argument in "Where The Conflict Really Lies" with scientific evidence. If the "design" we see in the history of our planet and the creation of life is merely an appearance of design (as many naturalists contend), then arguments for true design break down. And as Dr. Angus Menuge argued in "Agents Under Fire" that breakdown is in the very concept of design- it does not exist if naturalism is true. Everything that we experience and believe to be designed (even human inventions and projects) are not truly designed; the belief that they are designed is merely a useful fiction. And since believing these useful fictions is necessary for us to even get out of bed and eat breakfast (not to mention driving [or walking] to work to perform a series of tasks designed to accomplish several purposes) there is no reason whatsoever to think that our brains were selected for by natural selection to believe what is true- they haven't been and they won't be...interestingly, if we cannot trust our brains to believe what is true (possess knowledge), then what is the point of science in the first place? If God does not exist, neither does knowledge, and every knowledge discipline that we enjoy is the product of yet another series of useful fictions forced on us by our (naive?) desire to survive.

Check Out More Top 5 Books Lists

Monday, July 31, 2017

More Than Water Is Required for Life

A New Habitable Zone Discovered

The other day I saw an interesting article posted on PHYS.org entitled "More To Life Than The Habitable Zone." The "Habitable Zone" is the area around a star where a planet may exist with water in all three states. This is crucial for life's existence. In the article the team of scientists studying a particular star for habitable planets recognizes that the zone where water can exist is not the only area that limits where a life-destined planet may be found. The scientists explain that another factor that further limits that "habitable zone" is the amount of ultraviolet radiation emitted from the host star. Similar to the water habitable zone, the UV habitable zone is the area where the UV radiation is within the maximum and minimum bounds that permits life to exist. Both zones are necessary, so the only area where life can exist is the area where the two zones overlap each other. This area is so tiny that the team of scientists conclude that while a large portion of stars (red dwarfs) scientists have been investigating for habitable worlds are not completely off the table, it would be more prudent for scientists to focus efforts on the relatively few stars that more closely match our sun. Such a star would allow, presumably, for a larger overlapping area of the water habitable zone and the UV habitable zone.

Narrowing the Options

Astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe describes these two habitable zones in his latest book "Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity's Home." He also describes three other habitable zones that have been discovered. Not only is earth located in the water habitable zone and the UV habitable zone, but zones for photosynthesis, ozone, and tides also exist. This means that not only must the water and UV zones overlap, these other three must overlap as well. The only areas where overlap of all five exists are where a planet must exist around its host star to be a candidate for life.

A quick internet search reveals that red dwarfs make up roughly 70% of the stars in the universe. If the team of astrobiologists are saying that the recognition of just one more habitable zone limits the candidate sites in the universe (practically rules out an entire class of stars) by 70%, then how much more will the recognition of these extra three zones limit the possible locations for life? Even though research is revealing a more precise target for where life can exist (thus focusing expensive research time and resources), the number of physical locations available for life to originate are being dramatically reduced. While the universe is huge and scientists already recognize that the majority of it is not viable for life's existence (nowhere near a star), this team of scientists has ruled out 70% of the space already left.

But that's not all. To further focus our research efforts (but reduce the areas for life), two more (non-location) habitable zones exist: the planet's rotation rate and obliquity. Each of these affect the other five zones in different ways, so while one zone may be widened or move closer to the star, another may be narrowed or move further from the star. When the planet's rotation rate and obliquity are taken into account as well, the actual area where a planet may exist and support life becomes even smaller or disappears completely for even more stars.

An Ancient Universe and Evidence for Design

As research continues, the history of our planet is becoming more of a problem for anyone who thinks that life is ubiquitous in the universe. Not only that, the more research continues, the more the history of our planet resembles a complicated project executed for a purpose- a project that includes numerous phases with numerous concurrent and necessary events that, if not started and finished at the proper time, would doom the project to failure. The longer the history of our planet, the longer the project and the more of these complicated phases there are. While many people think that an ancient universe provides naturalists a legitimate reason to deny the need for a Designer, the evidence provided by this ancient universe is revealing the exact opposite: that a Designer is necessary to explain why our planet and its history appear to be designed. The ancient universe is quickly becoming an unstoppable evidential force, declaring the glory of its Creator (Psalm 19:1) and leaving educated unbelievers with even less excuse for rejection (Romans 1).


Dr. Hugh Ross has also posted on this discovery: Inability of Planets Orbiting Red Dwarfs


To Go Deeper, I Recommend These Books:


Monday, April 17, 2017

Top 5 Books on the Bible, Creation, and Science

Scientific Challenges to Christianity

Challenges to the Christian worldview come from many different directions, but one of the most common that I see is from the direction of the sciences. Many skeptics see the claims of creation in the beginning pages of the Bible and dismiss all its contents. It is important that we, as Christian case-makers, defend the proper view of these first chapters to remove the stumbling block from the scientifically-minded skeptic. Unfortunately, there is a heated controversy among Christians on the proper interpretation of these initial chapters and the proper interpretation of scientific discoveries. This list of books that I recommend is targeted at those Christians who are interested in the sciences and/or often speak to skeptics who raise scientific challenges against the Christian worldview. They will help think through the controversy and help remove scientific stumbling blocks when challenged by skeptics. Combined, they provide the Christian with a consistent view of creation that takes into account the sciences and remains faithful to the original intentions of the biblical authors. If you have never read these books, I do recommend reading them in the order presented. For your convenience, I have linked the book titles to my chapter-by-chapter reviews and provided a short reason why I chose the books for this list, but if you really want the details and wish to be blessed by the content of the books, you will need to pick up a copy (remember to check your local library!). Now, on to the list!

Top 5 Books for Discussing the Bible, Creation, and Science:   Origin Science: A Proposal for the Creation/Evolution Controversy- Norman Geisler; The Bible Among The Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature- John N. Oswalt; Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth- Mark S. Whorton; Navigating Genesis: A Scientist's Journey Through Genesis 1-11- Hugh Ross; A Matter of Days: Resolving A Christian Controversy- Hugh Ross

Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review: Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity's Home

Book Review: Improbable Planet- How Earth Became Humanity's Home by astrophysicist Hugh Ross

Introduction

Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity's Home is the highly anticipated "sequel" to Dr. Hugh Ross' book Why The Universe Is The Way It Is. In the first work, Dr. Ross examined several biblical purposes God has for this creation and how these purposes are evidenced in the history of the universe. In this new book, Dr. Ross zooms in from the perspective of the entire universe and multiple purposes to the earth and God's purpose of redemption. His goal in this volume is to demonstrate how the history of our planet is not merely some naturalistic "just so story" but rather a complex, multi-stage project with an explicit purpose as its end-goal. He intends to marshal the latest scientific discoveries from numerous scientific disciplines to make his case for the design of our planet. Did he successfully make his case? Let's find out...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hugh Ross: Purposeful Cambrian Explosion Argues for God's Existence

Introduction

I love watching illusionists. They perform feats that seem to defy the very laws of physics- cutting people in half (who live to tell about it), disappearing and reappearing, escapes, and many, many others. It is interesting that we see all these things "magically" happen, but we know that they could not happen unless the illusionist was involved. The illusionist has a purpose for making something "appear" or "disappear." They wish to impress and entertain their audience. They usually pick an object with a certain level of complexity that is easily recognizable- a ball, a playing card, or dove or rabbit for instance. They carefully prepare the environment for the illusion; often the audience is a witness to this setup. Now, if any of those objects just appeared on stage (or in the street for that matter), we would not think for a moment that it "just happened" with no explanation. We would immediately look for a cause, a purposeful agent who designed and orchestrated the stunt.

Appearing Acts in Nature

The Cambrian and Avalon explosions are quite analogous to the appearance of an object by an illusionist. These acts were complete with the setup of the environment and everything. In his book "Navigating Genesis" Dr. Hugh Ross explains what has been discovered in nature and how it argues for a purposeful agent behind the setup and execution of the appearances:
"Only through billions of years of photosynthetic activity could Earth's atmosphere and oceans build up sufficient oxygen to support animal life. The very moment oxygen reached appropriate levels, the Avalon and Cambrian explosions occurred. The lack of any appreciable gap between the time of oxygen's rise to minimum life-sustaining levels and the appearance of animals argues strongly for the involvement of a purposeful Creator."

"Only through billions of years of photosynthetic activity could Earth's atmosphere and oceans build up sufficient oxygen to support animal life. The very moment oxygen reached appropriate levels, the Avalon and Cambrian explosions occurred. The lack of any appreciable gap between the time of oxygen's rise to minimum life-sustaining levels and the appearance of animals argues strongly for the involvement of a purposeful Creator."- Dr. Hugh Ross- "Navigating Genesis: A Scientist's Journey Through Genesis 1-11"


Monday, August 22, 2016

Hugh Ross: Naturalistic Origin of Life Strangled by Young Universe

Introduction

One of the teleological arguments for God's existence comes from the combination of the incredible complexity and large variation of life and the cosmologically minute amount of time that is permitted by this universe to accomplish such a feat. Astrophysicist Hugh Ross explains:
"As astronomical advances proved the universe to be some 10 to 15 billions years old a majority of both scientists and Christians mistakenly assumed that billions of years allowed ample time for a naturalistic account of life. This error has been costly. Recent scholarship increasingly reveals that time boundaries as brief as only several billions years constrict evolutionary theory so tightly, particularly concerning life's origin, as to strangle it. In other words, a 14-billion-year-old universe is too young for any conceivable natural-process scenario to yield on its own, even the simplest living organism."
"As astronomical advances proved the universe to be some 10 to 15 billions years old a majority of both scientists and Christians mistakenly assumed that billions of years allowed ample time for a naturalistic account of life. This error has been costly. Recent scholarship increasingly reveals that time boundaries as brief as only several billions years constrict evolutionary theory so tightly, particularly concerning life's origin, as to strangle it. In other words, a 14-billion-year-old universe is too young for any conceivable natural-process scenario to yield on its own, even the simplest living organism."- Quote from "A Matter of Days" by Dr. Hugh Ross


Dr. Ross has spent the last few decades studying the universe and what must be in place for it to be hospitable for life's creation and thriving. It turns out that the full age of the universe is not the total amount of time available; indeed, the time is much shorter (nearer to 4 billion years). This constrains the naturalistic process even further. But even if it did have the full age of the universe, 14 billion years is several orders of magnitude too young.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: Who Was Adam?

Book Review: "Who Was Adam" by Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross and biochemist Dr. Fazale (Fuz) Rana of Reasons to Believe (reasons.org)

Introduction

Ten years ago Dr. Hugh Ross and Dr. Fazale Rana of Reasons to Believe released their book "Who Was Adam?" that presented a scientific model the posited that Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis were the original pair of humans. They examined the latest discoveries and put forth predictions for the scientific community to evaluate. That book was one of my first apologetics books I read that convinced me of the historical accuracy of the Genesis account of origins. A decade later the authors have released a second edition (softcover, Kindle, promo video) that updates the reader on the latest discoveries regarding the origins of humanity. This is one that I have been anticipating for at least two years; let's see if it lives up to it.

With this edition, Ross and Rana chose to keep the original edition intact in the first two parts of the book then evaluate the model in the third part. This review will provide a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book's contents to give the reader an idea of what to expect, but this review in no way should take the place of reading the book itself. I will conclude the book with my thoughts and recommendation.

Monday, July 20, 2015

13 Quotes From Hugh Ross on Biblical Inerrancy, Interpretation, and Authority

"Humility demands that Christians hold interpretations of controversial passages somewhat tentatively, expressing a willingness to learn more. No matter how much study anyone devotes to an issue...room still exists to improve understanding."

"Literal interpretation, properly understood, is a method of interpretation that gives full weight to all aspects of a passage's context, including the immediate textual context, the literary genre of the passage, the way words were used in the culture, the historical setting and purpose of the text, and the broader theological context."

"No single passage reveals the entire masterpiece. At best, each text uncovers an element or two. By fitting these pieces together and discovering their nuances, one can begin to see and make sense of the overall picture...Assuming a big picture from just one or two parts can lead to a distorted whole."

"To interpret the Bible literally is not enough, one must also interpret it with internal (as well as external) consistency."

"People who seem most concerned with defending biblical inerrancy may be the most resistant to any information derived outside the Bible that might help illuminate what the Bible means. Logically, taking Scripture seriously means being passionately concerned about interpreting it correctly and thus welcoming any evidence that exposes erroneous understandings of Scripture. Unfortunately, many zealous Bible believers confuse their favored interpretations of the Bible with the Word of God itself."

"The Bible teaches a dual, consistent revelation. Just as readers rightfully expect valid interpretation of Isaiah to be consistent with that of Mark, so too they can expect accurate interpretation of the facts of nature to be consistent with the message of Genesis and the rest of Scripture."

"Since God created the cosmos, there can be no contradiction between what He has made and what He has spoken through the inspired writers of Scripture. The testimony of both will always agree, and we need never back away from facts that may appear daunting to our faith. We need only study and investigate further, checking for accuracy--the accuracy of scientific interpretations and the accuracy of biblical interpretations."

"Constructive integration advocates freely acknowledge that conflicts can and do arise between theology and science. After all, theology is not the same as the words of the Bible. It is the human effort to interpret the Bible's words. Neither is science equivalent to the record of nature. It is the human attempt to interpret nature, past and present. Because human knowledge must always be incomplete and to some degree biased, both theologians and scientists sometimes arrive at incorrect conclusions about Scripture and nature, despite God's rendering these records perfectly reliable and trustworthy."

"When science appears to conflict with theology, we have no reason to reject either the facts of nature or the Bible's words. Rather, we have reason to reexamine our interpretations, because the facts of nature and Scripture will always agree."

"In no way does God's revelation via the universe detract from the importance of His written revelation. Nor does this belief in the trustworthiness of nature's message imply that God never intervenes in the natural realm by performing miracles. It does mean that when He performs such miracles God does not remove, hide, or distort physical evidence for them."

"We want to have our ideas tested. We are persuaded that our positions today are going to need adjustment as we gain more understanding...we need some diversity; we need open dialog. What I'm concerned about is that we have so much hostility in this dialog and that needs to be replaced with a more humble spirit where we say, 'Chances are we are both wrong in part, at least, and we may discover that we need to develop something new that none of us have thought of.' How are we going to discover that if we don't have open dialog without the threat of hostility?- where we say, 'we're making progress together. We're allies; we're not enemies. We're allies working together toward the common goal'."

"Truth holds no threat for the Christian. Truth in the scientific arena, which can be directly or indirectly tested, will always be consistent with truth in the spiritual arena. And, despite protestations from all sides, truth in nature must be connected with something, or Someone, beyond the natural realm—the something or Someone responsible for nature’s existence and characteristics."

"Perhaps the most tragic aspect of denying nature's scientifically established characteristics is that such a denial forces the rejection of timely, compelling evidence for the God of the Bible and for the accuracy and authority of His Word."

These quotes can all be found in Dr. Ross' books "Navigating Genesis" and "A Matter of Days" and various other resources available at Reasons to Believe.

More quotes from Dr. Ross may be found here:
10 Quotes from Dr. Hugh Ross on Why The Universe Is The Way It Is

Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy

Book Review: "A Matter of Days: Resolving A Creation Controversy" by Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe (reasons.org)

Introduction

The debate surrounding the age of the universe has been a hot topic in the Christian Church for quite some time, and it seems that the tensions grow tighter every year. As someone who loves science and who's faith in Christ was solidified by the evidence from the sciences for the inerrancy of scripture, I find it quite discouraging that there is so much emotional hostility in the Church against the sciences and even scientists, themselves. Dr. Hugh Ross is an advocate for Christ and is a practicing scientist. His desire to see growth in the Kingdom has compelled him to write several books showing how many (not all) interpretations of the record of nature demonstrate evidence for the truth of Scripture. Unfortunately, his efforts have been met with a barrage of criticism from within the Church because he believes the evidence conclusively supports the fact that the universe is billions of years old and not merely thousands.

A Matter of Days (Second Edition) is one of Dr. Ross' books that addresses this topic in a humble and gentle manner. He brings the evidence of nature and the evidence of Scripture together to show that there is no real reason to fear the fact that the universe is billions of years old, and that such evidence actually provides spectacular evidence for the God of the Bible and the inerrancy of His revelation to us. The book is divided into twenty-three chapters and is 264 pages long (not counting the almost one hundred pages of notes). This review will provide a chapter-by-chapter summary and will conclude with my thoughts and specific recommendations.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off

Book Review: "Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off" by Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross and biochemist Dr. Fazale (Fuz) Rana of Reasons to Believe (reasons.org)

Introduction

How did life begin? This question has perplexed humanity for centuries. Some people believe that it came along by natural processes. Others believe that a divine Designer is behind it all. These two options go head-to-head, tested against the latest scientific research in the book "Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off" (hardcoverKindle, Supplemental Site) by astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross and biochemist Dr. Fazale Rana. The book is divided into three sections, seventeen chapters, and 298 pages (including notes and appendices). This review provides a chapter-by-chapter summary of the contents of the book, but it must not be accepted as a replacement for reading the book, itself. The review will conclude with my thoughts and recommendation.

Drs. Ross and Rana take the position that the origin of life is by divine design. To scientifically test their hypothesis, they present their model, competing models, and the latest research; they then compare the predictions of the models to the research to build their case. Before examining the current state of origins research, it is a good idea to take a quick look at the events that led to the current state.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: Navigating Genesis

Book Review: "Navigating Genesis: A Scientist's Journey through Genesis 1-11" by Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe (reasons.org)

Introduction

I was introduced to astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross (president of Reasons to Believe) in the early 90's but did not really begin investigating his model of origins until the mid 2000's when my view of origins and my Christian worldview was beginning to be challenged by observations of scientists in many different disciplines. I was hit by the higher critics who wished to interpret Genesis in a metaphorical (and not historical) light. Some of their points seemed valid, but others were questionable. I found Dr. Ross' approach of integrating all of Scripture with all the sciences quite intellectually attractive. It offered the possibility to reconcile the findings of modern science and the research of the higher critics with the Genesis accounts. However, before I was willing to change my view of origins from young-earth (universe is 6,000 - 10,000 years old), despite the observational evidence, I had to see a proper interpretive treatment of the Genesis accounts of creation that recognized them as historical events, granted the poetic writing style, understood the ancient cultural context, and consistently preserved all the essentials of Christian theology (including original sin and Christ's atonement). All those requirements have been satisfied, and "Navigating Genesis: A Scientist's Journey Through Genesis 1-11" (paperback, Kindle, GoodReads, Small Group Study, Dr. Ross' Response to AiG) shows how it is accomplished through a careful examination of the Genesis accounts. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

10 Quotes From Dr. Hugh Ross on Why The Universe Is The Way It Is

This is a collection of my favorite quotes from the book Why The Universe Is The Way It Is by astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross. My full review of the book may be read here. For more information about the work of Dr. Ross, please visit Reasons to Believe.

Investigating Reality
"Humans...wonder about everything: tangible and intangible, tiny and huge, near and far, the past and the future as well as the present- the how and why of everything both in this universe and beyond. Human curiosity knows no boundaries, and many individuals will pay any price, even lose their own lives, to satisfy it."

"I'm firmly convinced we can know enough. Not enough to end all questions, but enough to make sense of our lives. We can build a cosmic perspective solid enough to remain firm yet flexible enough to absorb the impact of new discoveries."

Problem of Evil
"Nothing seems to perplex humanity as much as the subject of evil. Some say the existence of evil is a paradox wrapped in an enigma enshrouded in mystery embedded in riddle implanted in a puzzle inside a giant maze."

"From the moment spiritual death (autonomy from God) invaded creation physical death became a blessing, an avenue through which God could temper the outbreak of evil and suffering."

Teleology (Design)
"Astronomers' observations show that in the context of the laws of physics, the Earth, Moon, solar system, Milky Way Galaxy, and Local Group- indeed the entire universe are all perfectly designed to provide a wonderful, bountiful home for humanity."

"Many conditions necessary for human existence and beneficial to quality of life are also time critical. The fact that these features...all converge simultaneously at the moment human beings arrive on the planet defies realistic probability. One favorable time window's alignment with even one other window might be considered an astounding coincidence. But the lineup of so many independent time windows with the brief human moment on the cosmic calendar speaks powerfully of purpose."

"The optimization of cosmic darkness and of Earth's location within the dark universe that sacrifices neither the material needs of human beings nor their capacity to gain knowledge about the universe reflects masterful engineering at a level far beyond human capability-  and even imagination. It testifies of a supernatural, superintelligent, superpowerful, fully deliberate Creator."

"If the universe were any smaller or larger, younger or older, brighter or darker, more or less efficient as a radiator, and if human observers were located where most stars and planets reside, the view would be so blocked as to give few (if any) clues about what lies beyond."

"This degree of fine-tuning is so great that it's as if right after the universe's beginning someone could have destroyed the possibility of life within it by subtracting a single dime's mass from the whole of the observable universe or adding a single dime's mass to it."

"Innumerable conditions must be exquisitely optimized for the support of humanity and of civilization. Many of them are highly time variable. Evidence showing that a wide variety of independent conditions all reached optimality during the identical narrow epoch when human beings appeared on the cosmic and terrestrial scene testifies of supernatural design and purpose rather than mere coincidence."

More quotes from Dr. Ross may be found here:
13 Quotes From Hugh Ross on Biblical Inerrancy, Interpretation, and Authority

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: Why The Universe Is The Way It Is

Book Review: "Why The Universe Is The Way It Is" by Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe (reasons.org)

Introduction

Why The Universe Is The Way It Is, (hardcover, Kindle) was written by astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross (Reasons to Believe) a few years ago to address several common questions that he receives from atheists and Christians when he presents his case for the existence of God. The book is 240 pages, divided into thirteen chapters, five appendices, and an index. Dr. Ross recorded a podcast describing the material of each chapter. A link will be provided at the end of each chapter's summary of this review. Dr. Ross also has a lecture and a Q&A session on YouTube.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review: Hidden Treasures In The Book of Job

"Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job: How The Oldest Book in the Bible Answers Today's Scientific Questions" by Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross

Introduction

 Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job: How The Oldest Book in the Bible Answers Today's Scientific Questions by Hugh Ross is a book that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. Dr. Ross is one of my favorite authors when it comes to integrating science and the Bible. He wrote this book to demonstrate that from a scientist's perspective, it is amazing just how much accurate information about nature is recorded in the oldest book of the Bible. Not only does this provide much evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible but it also provides solutions to much of the issues we see today regarding the planet. In the interest of "full disclosure", this is a review copy provided by Reasons to Believe. My review will be of the typical chapter-by-chapter summary format with my thoughts to follow. But before I get to the review, check out the trailer for the book:

 
Hidden Treasures from RTB: MEDIA on Vimeo.

Prologue & Chapter 1: Answers For Today's Issues

Dr. Ross begins the book telling of his experiences throughout the writing process of this book. He explains that his friends warned him that suffering in his life might increase and the current suffering would be highlighted by the study of Job. He shows how their warnings proved true, and how such a study helped him through those times. He states that even though his study started out as a study of strictly the scientific aspects of Job, he was forced to focus also on the questions of suffering. Because of all this, Dr. Ross decided to combine the two in this book. His focus is on exploring the many other aspects of Job in the context of modern scientific discoveries. He states:
At no other time in history have such spectacular and widespread increases in affluence, technology, education, and communication occurred. These advances have yielded a wealth of new knowledge. All this knowledge, however, has done little to satisfy people's deepest longings and to answer their most pressing questions...God's wisdom embedded in Job seems to have anticipated not only knowledge advances but also the anxiety and insecurity future generations would face as their knowledge and technology progressed. (pg 16)
He lays out the different topics he wishes to cover in the book and challenges the reader to see the book of Job as speaking on more than just man's dealings with suffering, but that those dealings with suffering highlight the awesomeness of God's creation, God's power, God's love, God's justice, God's mercy, and God's sovereignty.