Yesterday we started a two-part interview with astrophysicist and author Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe, whose books we are featuring in our nearly finished Hugh Ross / Reasons To Believe Collection (9 Vols.). If you missed the post, be sure to check it out.
As promised, here is the second half of the interview. Scroll down to start reading, or simply click on any of the questions to jump to Dr. Ross’ response. Enjoy!
- Can you tell us a little bit about the books in the Hugh Ross-Reasons To Believe Collection at Logos.com and how the material in them can help Christians?
- If someone was to pick up only one of your books to read, which book would you recommend and why?
- Do you have any new books in the works?
- What current scientific developments are you really excited about?
- At your speaking engagements on behalf of Reasons To Believe, have you seen a change in the questions people are asking now as opposed to, say, 10 or 20 years ago?
- Why has the old-earth vs. young-earth debate become such a divisive issue among evangelical Christians?
- What advice would you give to a young man or woman entering a secular university to study in a scientific field?
- In your years of studying science and faith, are there any “ah-ha!” moments that really stand out?
- Are there any questions you’re currently wrestling with?
- How can Christians better reach out to scientists, engineers, and other science-minded individuals?
Q10. Can you tell us a little bit about the books in the Hugh Ross-Reasons To Believe Collection at Logos.com and how the material in them can help Christians?
A. The Fingerprint of God was my first full-length book. It tells the story of how astronomers’ observations of the universe led them, in many cases against their will, to a theistic model of the universe. In addition to explaining the astronomical evidences for the God of the Bible, The Fingerprint of God addresses the problem of evil, the origin of life and humanity, and the Genesis 1 creation account. In many respects, The Fingerprint of God laid the foundations for the rest of my books.
My second book, The Creator and the Cosmos (now in its third edition), greatly expands upon and updates the astronomical, physical, and geological evidence for a God who transcends and creates all matter, energy, space, and time and who has supernaturally and super-intelligently designed the universe and all its constituent parts for the specific benefit of human beings. Of my books, this one has brought more people to faith in Christ than any other.
The Genesis Question addresses the most problematic passages in the Bible for skeptics, namely Genesis 1-11. This book shows how the most maligned chapters in Scripture, in fact, provide some of the strongest proofs available that the Bible is the error-free Word of God, perfectly reliable and trustworthy, not only for faith, doctrine, and life practice but also for science, history, geography, and all the rest of the academic disciplines. It documents how the Bible repeatedly and accurately predicted future scientific discoveries, laid the foundation for the scientific method, makes a biblical case for a non-global but universal Flood, and addresses such questions as the identity of the Nephilim, pre-Flood long life spans, and the origin of the races.
Beyond the Cosmos describes the scientific breakthrough of physicists discovering six dimensions of space in addition to length, width, and height and the conclusion from the space-time theorems of general relativity that the Agent responsible for creating the universe at a minimum possesses the capacity to operate in the equivalent of two time dimensions. These extra dimensions explain why the Bible alone among the world’s “holy books” contains doctrines that cannot be visualized within length, width, height, and time. It alone was inspired by the One who lives in and beyond the extra dimensions. In addition, Beyond the Cosmos describes how the transcendence of God into extra dimensions and beyond explains the great paradoxes of the Christian faith: why God is not created, how God can respond to billions of simultaneously uttered prayers, the Trinity, eternal security, human free choice and divine predestination, the atonement, heaven, hell, and the new creation. This book, more than any other from Reasons To Believe, strengthens the security and hope of the believer. It also won more awards than any other RTB book.
Because most scientists refuse to believe in the possibility of nonphysical reality, they are convinced that ETs are real and that UFOs do not exist. Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men shows how the scientific evidence warrants the opposite conclusion. While the vast majority of reported UFOs are explained by natural phenomena or human activity, there exists a provably real but nonphysical residual. This book explains that reality, describes the properties of real UFOs, and shows how only people with involvement in the occult experience close encounters with them. The occult connection also explains why these close encounters always results in harm. The proof of the book’s thesis is that anyone who takes the described steps to remove the occult connection from his or her life will be freed from such encounters. This book helps those trapped in occult activities and equips Christians to help them.
Origins of Life presents the RTB biblical model for life’s beginning in detail and compares its explanatory power and predictive success with naturalistic models. This book uses the latest scientific discoveries to demonstrate how the explanatory gaps for the naturalistic models have become dramatically larger while RTB’s model has shown remarkable success in filling in and explaining knowledge gaps. It also describes the successes and failures in the emerging discipline of astrobiology for testing competing models for the origins of life.
Who Was Adam? tells the story of how scientific advances during the past decade resulted in a paradigm shift that caused the scientific community to abandon Darwin’s descent of man hypothesis in favor of what is called in the scientific literature the Garden of Eden hypothesis. This book documents how DNA studies, the discovery of over a dozen independent narrow time windows for human existence, cultural “big bangs,” and new fossil record finds brought about this transformation. Who Was Adam? also compares the biblical content on human origins, including the date of humanity’s origin, pre-Flood life spans, the rapid post-Flood spreading out of humanity, and the birth of human civilization, with the latest scientific discoveries.
A Matter of Days seeks to resolve the controversy within the church over the age of Earth and the universe. In a context of biblical inerrancy, it explains the four different literal definitions for yôm. This Hebrew word is used for the creation days in Genesis 1. Only the definition of a long, but finite period of time permits a literal and consistent interpretation when integrating the 27 chapter-length creation accounts. A Matter of Days also reviews all the scientific age-measuring methods for the earth and universe, the constancy of the physical laws, the reliability of radiometric dating, time dilation, and the validity of young-earth scientific claims. It addresses, too, death before Adam, hyper-evolution in young-earth creationism, human origins, appearance of age, and restoration theology.
Creation as Science surveys the entirety of RTB’s testable creation model. It compares the explanatory power and predictive success of this model with three others: naturalistic materialism, theistic evolution, and young-earth creationism. It also addresses two other creation/evolution participants that have not yet produced detailed models: the intelligent design movement and directed panspermia proponents. This book proposes a new way of handling creation/evolution issues that answers concerns expressed by legislatures and the courts and offers a resolution to the science education crisis currently plaguing both secular and sectarian institutions in America.
Q11. If someone were to pick up only one of your books to read, which book would you recommend and why?
A. I frequently get asked this question. My response is that it depends on the person. For someone looking for the most rigorous scientific evidence for the God of the Bible, I recommend The Creator and the Cosmos. If an individual wants to see the entire scientific case for the God of the Bible summarized in one book, I suggest Creation as Science. This book is also useful for Christians who want to become more effective in reaching out to non-Christians. For those who struggle with the claimed scientific and historical accuracy of the Bible, I advise they read The Genesis Question. A Matter of Days helps many non-Christians, who find young-earth creationism the biggest barrier to the Christian faith. Many Christians say that’s our most liberating book. Beyond the Cosmos gives the greatest understanding of who God is and what our future holds is. This is the best book to give someone facing death. People who are caught up in the occult or who are fascinated by ETs and UFOs need to read Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men.
Q12. Do you have any new books in the works?
A. Yes. Baker Publishing Group released my latest book, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, this past October. They fast-tracked my next book, More Than a Theory, so it’s release will coincide (as closely as possible) with global celebrations of the Darwin anniversaries during 2009. Its release is scheduled for March. Right now, I am busy writing a book with the working title Answers in Job.
Why the Universe Is the Way It Is examines 12 different purposes for God creating the universe and answers challenges from atheist scientists who insist the universe is poorly designed. It also provides an answer to the problem of evil by explaining how the physical laws of the universe are optimized to help bring about a rapid, efficient, and permanent removal of evil.
More Than a Theory responds to both naturalism and theistic evolution by presenting a testable, falsifiable, and predictive biblical creation model. Rather than pointing out flaws in the evolutionary models, More Than a Theory presents a comprehensive case for creation and shows how the RTB creation model provides a more complete and consistent explanation of the natural realm and a better record in predicting future scientific discoveries.
Answers in Job will show how many of the most divisive creation/evolution issues, both inside and outside the church, find resolution in the book of Job. Answers in Job also will launch new apologetics disciplines pertaining to the origin of soulish features in birds and mammals.
Q13. What current scientific developments are you really excited about?
A. The top seven for me right now are (1) the hidden purposes in “junk DNA,” (2) testing the unique designs of our solar system through the discovery of extrasolar planets and so-called solar twins, (3) testing human origins through the discovery and analysis of Neanderthal DNA and the DNA of long-dead humans, (4) determining the location and structure of exotic dark matter and ordinary dark matter, (5) the potential discovery of axions (a leading candidate for exotic dark matter particle) through measuring the cooling of white dwarf stars, (6) the possibility of a much more accurate measure of the scalar spectral index in the cosmic microwave background radiation (which would explain exactly what kind of inflationary hot big bang creation event brought about the universe), and (7) further experiments with bacteria such as the recent one performed with E coli to test the possibility of natural occurring repeated evolutionary outcomes (proved impossible). These developments and many more are discussed in my forthcoming book, More Than a Theory.
Q14. At your speaking engagements on behalf of Reasons To Believe, have you seen a change in the questions people are asking now as opposed to, say, 10 or 20 years ago?
A. The truth is that the big questions of life people typically ask pretty much stay the same. What has changed are my answers. That’s because we live at a time in history when evidences for the Christian faith are multiplying at an astonishing rate. In taking advantage of these new reasons to believe, I try to give my audiences much more effective answers. This availability of new evidence probably explains one main difference I do see. I seem to be getting far fewer aggressive challenges from atheist skeptics, theistic evolutionists, and young-earth creationists. Many more people simply want help resolving apparent conflicts between the record of nature and the words of the Bible.
Q15. Why has the old-earth vs. young-earth debate become such a divisive issue among evangelical Christians?
A. Historically, the church persists in splitting over nonessentials. In the first century the circumcision issue was even more divisive, and certainly more violent. During that debate doctrine wasn’t so much at stake as was the strong desire of many Jewish Christians to keep Gentiles out of the church. Likewise, I’m convinced many evangelicals want to keep scientists out of their churches. Telling scientists that they must believe in something with no more scientific credibility than the flat-earth hypothesis is an effective means for discouraging them from getting involved.
Another reason why this debate is so divisive is that many churches tend to ignore the controversy. In the book of Acts, Luke records that not until church leaders dealt with the circumcision controversy head-on did it subside.
Q16. What advice would you give to a young man or woman entering a secular university to study in a scientific field?
A. First, try to get into the best university for your particular discipline. In choosing the best, look carefully at the faculty who will be providing instruction in your area of study. Once school starts, watch for opportunities to assist faculty and senior graduate students in their research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand something, ask. As much as possible, read the periodical literature related to your discipline. For a Christian student wanting to be an effective witness, it is important to realize that the impact of your message will be proportional first, to your degree of humility and grace; second, to how well-prepared you are to give reasons and evidences for your Christian faith; and third, to the academic excellence you display.
Q17. In your years of studying science and faith, are there any “ah-ha!” moments that really stand out?
A. At Reasons To Believe “ah-ha” moments occur quite frequently. One in the biological sciences that especially comes to mind is a study published by Michigan State researchers proving that Stephen Jay Gould was correct when he claimed that evolution would never produce a repeated outcome. The hundreds of examples of “repeated evolutionary outcomes” seen in nature’s record, thus, must be repeated creation outcomes.
A standout in the physical sciences is the recognition of how remarkably designed all the solar system planets are for the maintenance of advanced life on Earth. Another is the discovery that the laws of physics are optimally designed to facilitate a rapid and efficient conquest and removal of all evil.
An “ah-ha” moment that was a big factor in my committing my life to Christ was discovering that Genesis 1 answers the fossil record enigma: rapid and aggressive speciation before the advent of humanity and virtually none afterwards. Genesis 1 provided the answer: for six days God creates but on the seventh day, God ceased from His creation work. That day of rest began after God created Eve and will not end until evil is permanently removed. Genesis 1 also helped me understand why many scientists do not see God in their research studies. If their studies focus only on the era in which God rests, they won’t find any evidence of His miraculous interventions in the natural realm.
Q18. Are there any questions you’re currently wrestling with?
A. Yes. For my next book I am researching soulish designs. The Bible implies that all “soulish” life has been designed in distinct ways to serve and please humanity. Since these designs were established before humans even existed, no one can claim that soulish creatures (birds and mammals) naturally evolved such features. Some questions I am pursuing is to what degree can scientific evidence be developed to prove that each bird and mammal species was designed to serve and please humans? How distinct are the different means by which birds and mammals do that? And, how did different species help launch human civilization.
Questions of astronomical interest for me are what kinds of particles make up exotic dark matter and what kind of design will we uncover in their properties. In determining more precisely the geography of both exotic and ordinary dark matter, what kind of new arguments for supernatural design will be discovered? What will more accurate measurements of the universe’s scalar spectral index and geometry tell us about the cosmic creation event, the universe’s spatial size, and the universe’s future? Likewise, what will the detection and measurement of gravitational waves tell us about the beginning and end of the universe?
Biblically, a question I continue to pursue is can I, with the help of my colleagues, build a stronger, more extensive case for showing how God’s two books of revelation, the book of Scripture and the book of nature, overlap in their content and in that overlap completely agree? Can we continue to find more examples of the Bible accurately predicting future scientific discoveries and providing wisdom for guiding scientific research?
Q19. How can Christians better reach out to scientists, engineers, and other science-minded individuals?
A. For too long many American Christians have treated the scientific and engineering communities as enemies of the Christian faith rather than as mission fields to be won to Christ. What scientists tell me they want most from Christians is a positive rather than a negative overture. They want us to stop bashing scientists and “evolution.” Instead, they desire public appreciation from Christians for all the hard work scientists perform in their pursuit of truth and understanding about nature’s realm. They also would like to see us present a positive case for creation, one that can be scientifically tested.
Most scientists and engineers are not unwilling to consider creation as an alternative to their evolutionary paradigms. However, they are unwilling to abandon their evolutionary models until they see creation models that offer superior explanations of the record of nature. These models also need to demonstrate greater success in predicting future scientific discoveries. Scientists are waiting for such models to be produced. They are eager to evaluate the credibility and integrity of creation models and to suggest ways that better models can be improved and extended.
It’s through engaging scientists and engineers rather than attacking them or ignoring them that we can win many to faith in Christ. I know this from personal experience. Of all the people groups before whom I have presented evangelistic messages within the United States and Canada, engineers have demonstrated the greatest receptivity. And, scientists were not far behind.
Thank you, Dr. Ross, for taking the time to share with our readers!
If you’d like to learn more from Dr. Ross, you still have a few days left to pre-order the Hugh Ross / Reasons To Believe Collection (9 Vols.) at a nicely discounted price.