Astrophysicist Searches for Answers - Dr. Hugh Ross's Story

Astrophysicist Searches for Answers - Dr. Hugh Ross's Story
Side B Stories
Astrophysicist Searches for Answers - Dr. Hugh Ross's Story

Oct 28 2022 | 01:08:30

Episode 0 October 28, 2022 01:08:30

Hosted By

Jana Harmon

Show Notes

Former atheist Dr. Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist, began an intensive search to discover the cause of the universe, and it led him to God. Reasons to Believe – Resources by Hugh Ross: Always Be Ready:  A Call to Adverturous Faith Why the Universe is the Way it is A Matter of Days:  Resolving a Creation Controversy Improbable Planet:  How Earth Became Humanity’s Home Creator and the Cosmos:  How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God Who was Adam?  A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Humanity Episode Transcript Hello, and thanks for joining in. I’m Jana Harmon, and you’re […]
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:01 Uh, but the Ministry of Founded Reasons to Believe is founded on the two Books Principle that God has revealed himself through two books, The Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture. And it comes from the same God for whom it's impossible to lie or deceive. And so I was looking for a book that would concor with what I knew to be true, uh, in the Book of Nature. And, uh, it took me 18 months, uh, studying an hour to an hour and a half a night, but finally came to the conclusion. This is it. Speaker 2 00:00:38 Hello, and thanks for joining in. I'm Janna Harmon, and you're listening to Sipe Stories where we see how skeptics slip the record of their lives. Each podcast we listen to someone who has once been an atheist or skeptic, but who became a Christian against all odds. There are big questions about the universe we live in. How did it all begin? Why does the universe appear to be so fine tuned for life? How did humans come to be? The answers to these, and other questions are, but a few of many, that not only help us understand the bigger picture of reality, they also help us to understand ourselves. But how do we answer these big questions? Our guest today, a truly brilliant astrophysicist and theologian, Dr. Hu Ross, has spent his life carefully, meticulously studying two sources, which have helped him find the answers, the Book of Nature. Speaker 2 00:01:36 That is what we observe around us in the world and the cosmos and the book of scripture, the Bible As an atheist, he was searching for the best explanation for what he observed in the cosmos. Were naturalistic theories sufficient to account for the origin and fine tuning of the universe of life? Or did he need to look beyond purely naturalistic causes to substantively ground? What he was discovering as an analytical scientist, he felt compelled to honestly, carefully search until his curiosity was satisfied. Today, we're going to hear Dr. Ross tell his fascinating story of moving from atheism to becoming a strong proponent of the Christian worldview. We'll also hear him discuss the seeming inescapable relationship of science and belief in a creator God. He is a prolific author, thinker, and scholar. You may have heard of him or his ministry reasons to believe. I hope you'll come along and listen to his amazing story and catch a glimpse of his extraordinary intellect. Welcome to Side B's Stories, Dr. Ross, it's so great to have you with me today. Speaker 0 00:02:51 Well, thank you for inviting me, Jana. Speaker 2 00:02:53 Wonderful. As we're getting started, so the listeners know a bit of, I will say the word gravitas, um, that you bring to the table. Uh, it's such a pleasure and privilege to have you, uh, because of your expertise in so many ways. Could you just enlighten our listening audience a little bit as to your academic, uh, background? Speaker 0 00:03:19 Yeah. I have a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of British Columbia and a PhD in astronomy from the University of Toronto. And I was on the, uh, research staff of Cal Tech for five years thereafter. And, uh, while I was at Cal Tech, I got called, uh, to join the pastoral staff of a church a few miles away and have been serving on the pastoral staff of that church, uh, for the past four decades. And it was that church that helped me launch, uh, reasons to believe some 36 years ago. And, uh, we're basically a group of scientists and theologians, uh, that are developing new reasons to believe in the God of the Bible. Speaker 2 00:04:01 Hmm. And of course, that that sets off, uh, curiosity in me in terms of how science and theology go together, but I'm sure we're going to tease that out as we go. Let's back up into your story as a child. Can you give us a sense of where you grew up, um, the culture? Let's start there. We just, Where did you grow up and tell me about the culture in terms of religious belief in, in the world around you. Speaker 0 00:04:31 Yeah. Well, I was born in Montreal, Canada, and, uh, my father had a thriving hydraulics engineering business, even though you only had a 10th grade education, he had some several dozen engineers working for him. But then his financial partner, uh, saw the money and basically bankrupted the company and went to Brazil. So my dad had to lay off all the employees when I was four years of age. And, uh, basically took a little money, had left and moved us all to Vancouver, British Columbia. So I grew up in one of the poorer neighborhoods of, uh, Vancouver. Uh, but it was in Vancouver, uh, attending a public school, uh, that I really got interested in astronomy. Uh, my interest began when I was seven years of age wanting to know why the stars, uh, cause I asked my parents, Are those stars up? They're hot. And they said, They're very hot. Said, Can you tell me why they're hot? And they said, Well, you better go to the library. Speaker 2 00:05:34 Your parents, were they, did they have any faith in God? Did they have any belief that God existed at all in terms of just even your home life? Speaker 0 00:05:44 Well, uh, they believed in the morality of Christianity. And so they certainly taught me and my two sisters, uh, you know, moral principles. Uh, but they both denied eternal life. And, uh, so they just said this idea of a trinity is nonsense. There's no such thing as eternal life. Uh, so they weren't Christians. Uh, there were no Christians I knew of in our neighborhood. Uh, I really didn't get to have a spiritual conversation with a Christian. And until I arrived at Cal Tech to do my postdoctoral research, and people often ask me here in the United States, How is that possible? Well, it's different in Canada. Uh, the Christians tend to isolate themselves in suburbs outside the big cities. So for example, 60 miles away from downtown Vancouver, there's a suburb that's about 80% Christian. Uh, but where I was growing up, it was like 1%, and I had no contact with that 1%. Speaker 0 00:06:46 So yeah, I didn't really know, uh, Christians during my growing up years, Although I tell people I did see two Christians from 30 feet away when I was 11 years of age. And now these were two businessmen that came into our public school and put two boxes on her teacher's desk. They didn't say a single word, they just put two boxes on her teacher's desk and left. But in those boxes were Gideon Bibles and we were all invited to take one home. And everybody in my class took one home. Uh, I took one home, but I didn't pick it off my bookshelf until six years later. Speaker 2 00:07:25 Okay. All right. So <laugh>, so it sounds like that that, you know, the Christian ethos or whatever, it was somewhat visible in your home with regard to morality, but in terms of practical practice and, and encountering Christians, that was fairly absent. So now take us back to, you said you were seven years old and you were, you were having a conversation with your parents about the, the stars. Speaker 0 00:07:54 Well, Vancouver rains a lot, but I remember one night when the rain stopped and the clouds was open and you could see these stars. And I was struck by that and just said, Hey, are those stars hot? And that's when my parents said, Yeah, they are. But they couldn't tell me why. And so I, now, the public school I attended, I was in grade two, the beginning of grade two, the teacher took us on a field trip to the Vancouver Public Library where they had 3 million volumes, huge library. And so, uh, I was fascinated by that library. And I remember that day going home with five books on physics and astronomy. That was a maximum you could check out. Uh, but I read those books in one week and, uh, went back to the library, you know, and I was back in the 1950s, uh, when parents felt, okay, cuz they just basically gave me the bus fair and by myself. Speaker 0 00:08:52 I made three transfers, uh, to, to get to the Vancouver Public Library, checked out five more books and brought them home. Uh, you know, parents today would never allow their children to do that by themselves at that age, but that was common back then. So that's how I spent my Saturdays going to the public library and bringing home four or five books. And they were always on physics and astronomy. I wasn't interested in fiction. Uh, you know, occasionally I would look at some other science books, but I basically gravitated to the physics and astronomy. And literally every year growing up, I would focus on a subdiscipline of astronomy. So, and I was at age 16, I said, I'm going to study cosmology. Speaker 2 00:09:37 Okay. Yeah. Let me, let me ask you a question, uh, before we go there. I'm sure someone's listening just a, a little bit fuddled at the idea of a 7, 8, 19 year old reading five books at that level, uh, of, at that level of physics and astronomy and all of those things, Is there something unique about you that, that, that, uh, allows you, that level of intellect, um, that we should know? Speaker 0 00:10:09 Well, I'm on the autistic spectrum and people with a high IQ that are on the autistic spectrum, uh, they tend to behave like professors. They get focused on a subject and they study that one subject, uh, to a great deal of depth. I mean, it might be dinosaurs, uh, you know, it might be fungi. Uh, for me it was stars and galaxies and a cosmology. Uh, and in one year I had read all the books on physics and astronomy in the children's section of the Vancouver Public Library. And I talked to the librarian and she gave me an adult pass. And uh, later on I was able to get a pass to the University library. So drawing up, I was reading everything and get my hands on and, uh, you know, it was easy for me to comprehend it cuz I was so motivated. Uh, and then I started to, you know, basically specialize every year, said, Okay, this year I'm gonna study stellar atmospheres this year, the interiors stars next year galaxies. And I was at age 16, I said, I'm gonna look at cosmology, looking at the different models for the origin, the history of the universe. Speaker 2 00:11:22 Mm. Was there anyone able to converse with you in, in any kind of meaningful way on these scientific issues or issues of astronomy? Or was was this something that you were completely pursuing independently? Speaker 0 00:11:36 Well, I was doing it independently until I had it age 15. Now, what happened at 15 is that there was a, a benefactor who came into the city and said he wanted to pull out the 25 top science students in the city. And so I was invited to sit for an all day, uh, exam, and it took nine hours to take the test. Uh, but I was one of the 25 that was selected to be part of this program. And that's where I got to know the science professors at the University of British Columbia. I also got involved in the astronomy club in Vancouver. And at age 16, they made me the director of observations. So I was actually giving lectures on astronomy at the university to adult audiences starting at age 16. And I then got involved in research on new forming stars in the Orion Nebula. Speaker 0 00:12:38 Uh, my dad, uh, worked with me to build a telescope. So I used that on the few nights where it wasn't raining, uh, to study these teary stars and wound up, uh, winning, uh, the British Columbia Science Fair, uh, for my research. And then when I went on to the university, uh, as a sophomore, I won the journal prize for the, uh, best, uh, science article in the Physics Society Journal. So that's kinda what it was like. Uh, but you know, my fascination was there. But I can remember when I was 11 years of age, my parents thinking that I was being obsessive about physics and astronomy. It seemed a mystery to me. Why are they worried about me that they were? And so they wanted me to read outside of physics and astronomy, they tried to get me to read novels. I had no interest in novels. Speaker 0 00:13:33 I only wanted non-fiction. And I did read a little bit of history. And so they wound up, uh, having me read this big thick book, an Evolutionary of Biology at age 11. I was the only one in the family that read it. But I said, Mom, dad, the numbers don't add up. I see all this appearance of file a orders and classes before humanity, but nothing after humanity. What's going on? They said, Well, go talk to your science teachers. They said, Go talk to those science professors. You know, nobody could give me an answer for why there was this discontinuity. Uh, but what happened at age 16, as I looked at the steady state model for the universe, the oscillating model, the Big Bang model, uh, but recognize that the evidence, the observations heavily favored big bang cosmology. And I recognize if it's Big Bang, the universe has a beginning. Speaker 0 00:14:32 If there's a beginning, there must be a cosmic beginner. And so I said, I want to find that cosmic beginner, but no one could guide me. And I says, Well, I think the best place to look will be in the philosophy textbooks of Renny Decar Emanuel Con. So I remember going through the critique of pure reason and saying, You know, there's a lot of internal contradictions in this that are not making sense. And Decar didn't really satisfy me either. Uh, and I went to a public high school where we had refugees from around the world. And so that's where people were telling me, Hey, if you're interested in this, uh, look at Hinduism, look at Buddhism. Cuz we have people from all different religious backgrounds. So I went through, uh, the Hindu betas, the Buddhist commentaries, the Quran, uh, the writings of the Zoroastrians. Uh, and finally I picked up that Gideon Bible and began to go through it. Speaker 2 00:15:36 Now, what is it about those religious texts, the Hindu, uh, the, the Buddhist, uh, the Bahai, all of these religions that you investigated, Why did they not satisfy, um, your ex your, your, your, you were seeking an explanation for the beginning of the universe, right? So why did they not satisfy that or comport with that, uh, beginning of the universe? Speaker 0 00:16:06 Well, I first read a textbook on comparative religions and I noticed that often the critiques of the world's religions, they put their holy books in the worst possible interpretive light. And I said, I'm not gonna do that. I'm gonna read these books and the best possible interpretive light given the benefit of the doubt wherever that appears. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. But what I discover with the Hindu VAs, for example, even when you put it in the best interpretive light, there are serious problems. I mean, the VAs talk about how the universe has repeated beginnings every 4.32 billion years. And I knew that the number 4.32 is wrong. Uh, we get measurements to prove that it's wrong. And this idea that the universe reincarnates, I mean, most people know that Hinduism has this belief of the reincarnation of, uh, humans and animals, but is fundamentally based on the idea that the universe reincarnates. Speaker 0 00:17:09 But I knew that the entropy of the universe was at least a hundred million times too high for there to be any possible mechanism to reincarnate the universe. So I said, Hey, this is not the pathway, uh, to the one that created universe. And I did the same thing with the Buddhist commentaries. Uh, I looked at the, uh, Quran, I looked at the Mormon writings, I looked at the high, but that was all before I Rudy looked at the Bible. But what struck me when I first picked up the Gideon Bible, going through the first page, Genesis one for six days, God creates, on the seventh day he stops creating. And I noticed that for the first six days, you have them closed out by evening was morning was day 2, 3, 4, et cetera. So I said, It's telling me each of these days has a start time and an end time. Speaker 0 00:18:10 But when I got to day seven, there's no evening, morning phrase. And that's the day when God stops creating. So I remember going through the rest of the Bible quickly and discovered Psalm 95 and Hebrews four, which basically exhort us humans to enter into God's day of rest. So I said, The day of rest is ongoing. And that explains the fossil record enigma. Why we see all these new Fila classes and orders appearing before humanity, but none whatsoever after humanity. The six days are referring to the eras before humans. The seventh day is the human era. And so for ever since I was 11, I was plagued by this enigma. And just looking at the first page of the Bible, I said, This answers the false of record enigma. And also I spent four hours going through the Genesis one creation account. And uh, and again, part of it is that I was steeped in the scientific method in the Canadian public education system. Speaker 0 00:19:23 We were taught it in grade one, grade two, all the way through to grade 12. But none of my public school teachers told me where the scientific method came from. When it began to go through that Gideon Bible looking at the creation text, I said, This is the scientific method. This is where it came from. Cuz like when you look at Genesis one, what it tells you is the frame of reference for the six days of creation. It's God hovering over the surface of the waters and it gives you the initial conditions as dark on the waters. The waters cover the whole surface. The earth is empty of life and unfit for life. While those are steps one and two of the scientific method, don't interpret into your first established the frame of reference. Don't interpret into your first established starting conditions. That's right there in Genesis one, two. Speaker 0 00:20:23 And from that point of view, you go through the six days of creation and are realize everything here is correctly stated and everything is in the correct chronological order when compared with established science. And long before that, uh, I'd looked at the, uh, Pneumo, Oia, the Babylonians, I've looked at the creation texts, uh, in the Quran, uh, in the Buddhist commentaries, in the betas. And it's like they got almost nothing. Right. The best I've found outside of the Bible, uh, was a creation text that got two outta 14, two, right 12 wrong, the Bible got everything right and put everything in the correct chronological order. And so that began an 18 month study. Now I knew my parents would be disturbed that they knew I was studying Christianity in the Bible, uh, to that degree. So I waited until midnight. Basically it was between midnight and about one or one 30 in the morning, uh, where I'd have my bedroom door close and I'd be secretly studying the Bible and did that every night for an 18 month period. Speaker 0 00:21:39 But after those 18 months, I recognize when I put the Bible in the best possible interpretive light, I cannot find a single error or contradiction. And that persuaded me this book is not just written by human beings. It must be inspired by the one that created the universe. And so it was at age 19, I signed my name in the back of a Gideon Bible c committing my life to Jesus Christ. But to be frank, it wasn't just me checking out the science, I also checked out the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible. And I think what really struck me when it first began through the Bible was the elegance and the beauty of its moral message. Cuz all the holy books have a moral message, but they pale in comparison to the elegance, the consistency, and the beauty of which you see in the Bible. Speaker 0 00:22:36 And one of the things I did during those 18 months is say, I'm gonna do everything I can to live up to this moral message. It's so beautiful. But the harder I tried, the more I realized I couldn't do it. Uh, and I need to give credit to the Gideons. They tell you exactly what you need to do Once you become persuaded that what you're reading is the inspired and error word of God. And they have a page there where they say, uh, the primary message is we humans need God. We cannot live up to his moral standard. Uh, but God is willing to do for us what we can't do for ourselves. He's willing to trade, uh, his moral perfection for our moral imperfection and also appreciated what they were saying is that the creator of the universe knows better than we do what's best for us. Speaker 0 00:23:33 So it only makes rational sense to make the creator the universe, uh, the boss of your life. And of course, they describe how the creator, the universe, came to planet earth as a human being, uh, demonstrated a life of moral perfection, proved that he was God through the miracles he performed, and yet willingly sacrifice his life so that we can be delivered from the consequences of her sin. So I remember thinking to myself, this is an offer that's too good to turn down. So I signed my name in the back of the Gideon Bible Committee of my Life to Jesus Christ. Speaker 2 00:24:12 We're gonna take a quick break from our story to tell you about some big news at the Seas Lewis Institute. They've been working very hard to develop a new website and it's gotten noticed. awards honors excellence in web, creativity and digital communication. And they've given this year's gold award to the CS Lewis Institute for their wonderful, newly designed website. I encourage you to go take a look for yourself, go to and take a look around. You'll find loads of resources and study courses to learn, study and deepen your faith as well as a place to donate if you so desire. Again, congratulations to the CSOs Institute for their outstanding new website. I do hope you'll see it for yourself. Now, back to our story. Amazing. It's, it's interesting how your curiosity, your your scientific curiosity is what drove you to the philosophies and, and the, and the religions. But I don't, I i I don't suppose that you were anticipating this kind of whole life change based upon what you were reading. You were seeking an explanation for the beginning of the universe, right? But you ended not only with an answer to that question, but also as the creator as Lord of your life. Speaker 0 00:25:42 Right? And you know, I had been exposed to little snippets. I mean, even though my parents, uh, were not Christians, didn't believe in the Christian message. I remember growing up, uh, my father, uh, when I told him this that said he had no recollection but I was about, uh, oh 10 or 11 and out came from his mouth. There is a way which seems right to a man, but the ends are up the ways of death. And, uh, he claims he had no idea where that came from. He had no idea it was in the Bible. Uh, but he said that, uh, once after a dinner conversation and I got to think about that, you know, what's gonna happen, This light here on Earth is short and I, you know, I'm pursuing this career in astrophysics. Is that really the best way I can, uh, spend my short time here on earth? Speaker 0 00:26:39 So it got me thinking. And also remember when I was about eight or nine, uh, my parents went to a department store in downtown Vancouver and, uh, they couldn't afford a babysitter. So they dragged me and my two sisters on the bus, uh, to do their shopping. And we got out the bus, there was a street preacher there with about a dozen people around them. I remember my parents saying, We gotta get away from that nut. And so they dragged us away as fast as possible, but I heard about 15 seconds of what he was saying. And it got me thinking cuz in those 15 seconds he talked about the fact that we cannot deliver ourselves from our own feelings. And uh, you know, and so that's all I heard. But it got me thinking. And now one Bible passage my dad quoted got me thinking. Speaker 2 00:27:31 Mm. So I imagine as someone listening to this and there they think that there's no way that science can be reconciled with belief in a God that for them seems rather an archaic or superstitious position. How would you respond to that? Obviously your entire work has been a response to that question, but if someone were, were to ask you that, uh, how would you answer them? Speaker 0 00:28:03 Well, it was recognizing that the universe had a beginning and that was followed up by the space time theorems. Uh, which proved that the universe not only has a beginning, but the space time dimensions also the beginning, which implies that the cause of the universe must be some entity beyond space, time matter and energy. So I recognize that in my late teens and said, There's got to be some kind of God. I need to find, uh, that God that cosmic, uh, beginner. And when I, in my studies of science, I realize the laws of physics are never violated. Uh, they're consistent. They're constant throughout the entire universe, throughout the whole history of the universe. I can really trust what I'm seeing, uh, in the world and the universe around me. It's a revelation of truth. And uh, I also realize that hey, we humans are personal capable of, uh, free will and expressing and receiving love, uh, the creator of the universe, uh, must have those characteristics as well. Speaker 0 00:29:15 So when I heard about these different, uh, philosophers and, uh, people of different religions claiming that the crater of the universe had communicated to us, I says, Well, that's within reason. Uh, but I also knew that all these different holy books contradicted one another. So I said, Okay, I'm gonna check them each out and see if any of them has, uh, any validity. Uh, so, but it made sense to me that this personal loving creator who's provided for all of our needs, uh, would want to communicate. So I began that to go, and again, I put these books in the best possible interpretive light. And that was based on the belief it makes sense that this God would want to communicate. Uh, but the ministry have founded reasons to believe is founded on the two books principle that God has revealed himself through two books, the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture. And it comes from the same God for whom it's impossible to lie or deceive. And so I was looking for a book that would concord with what I knew to be true, uh, in the Book of Nature. And, uh, it took me 18 months, uh, studying an hour to an hour and a half a night, but finally came to the conclusion this is it. Speaker 2 00:30:40 I love the, the, the both. The Book of nature and book of scripture is just such a, is a succinct but clear picture of the comprehensive unity really of a God who is the God of all truth, God of the Bible, God of the universe. Uh, for those who aren't familiar with the way that you interpret, um, the creation accounts and how you're able to marry those with what we find in current scientific study. Um, I I I'm imagining that they would want some clarification because obviously in the Christian worldview there are different interpretations. Sure. And could you explain some of that for us please? Speaker 0 00:31:31 Yes. Well you heard earlier that I'm on the autistic spectrum and everybody who's on the spectrum is different for everybody else in the spectrum. You know, as I've taught the parents who have autistic children, I say, You need to find their special unique gift and it's gonna be different for every, uh, child. And what I discovered is, uh, the gift that I seem to have is the capacity to integrate across multiple complex, uh, disciplines. And I approached the Bible the same way, uh, integrate the 66 books of the Bible. And so when it comes to the creation text of the Bible, it's like I hold off of my interpretation until I've examined all the creation texts in the Bible. And my principle is to interpret them both literally and consistently. Cuz I remember going through these creation texts and realizing they're written very differently than the creation texts you see in the Quran or the Hindu betas. Speaker 0 00:32:34 Namely that they're devoid of metaphorical language or allegorical language. And there's a strict chronology that's implied there. There's a histor. So that told me these texts are designed to be interpreted literally, but literally and consistently. And so how I help Christians with these different creation interpretations, they say, Let's go through all the creation texts, realizing this ate God for whom it's impossible to lie or deceive. So if your interpretation of Genesis one contradicts your interpretation of Hebrews or your interpretation of Romans, then you know you need to adjust your interpretation cuz God's not gonna contradict himself. So that's kind of my guiding interpretive principle. And I apply that too to my science. So for example, when I'm engaging evolutionary biologists, I say, when we look at the history of verse life, we need to not only examine it in the context of paleontology a fossil record, we also need to look at it in the context of genetics and not just genetics and, uh, paleontology when you look at it in the context of solar astrophysics. Speaker 0 00:33:51 And whenever I do that with biologists, I say, What on earth does a son have to do with this? And I says, Well, is an astronomer, I can tell you that the sun gets brighter and brighter as it fuses hydrogen to helium. And therefore, unless you have the creator intervening and removing life from planet earth and replacing with new life on a regular basis throughout the history of life and planet earth, the surface of the earth would become so hot, uh, that it would, uh, bring about the sterilization of all life on planet earth. Uh, but in fact the crater is done is by removing life and replacing with new light that's more efficient in pulling greenhouse gases outta the atmosphere as a sun gets brighter and brighter. We have God by creating just the right life on planet earth, at just the right time, pulling the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere down to perfectly compensate for the increasing brightness of the sun. Speaker 0 00:34:56 And so I say, yes, you can look at the genetics and think there's no God involved there, but only a mind that knows the future physics of the sun would know which life to remove from planet earth and which new life to replace it with. And then that also brings up the issue of integrating the biblical text cuz they'll say there's nothing like that in Genesis. I says, Yes, I agree with you, but it's in Psalm 1 0 4, the longest of the creation psalms in the Bible. And if you go to verses 29 and 30, it says, it's the property of all life to die off. But God recreates and renews the face of the earth. He's constantly removing life from planet Earth and replacing the new life. And I say, look at the fossil record. What you can easily document is that it's filled with mass speciation, uh, mass extinction events quickly followed by mass speciation events as his notice. Speaker 0 00:35:58 King David said it first 3000 years ago, only now in the 21st century have we discovered that indeed, uh, the fossil record is ified by these mass extinction events followed by mass speciation events, but is exactly what needs to be done to compensate for the increasing luminosity the sun. So that's kind of what I've dedicated my life to integrating all these complex scientific disciplines and integrating them with the 66 books of the Bible to basically show people this is the pathway to truth and this is the pathway to receiving truth, life and love from the creator of the universe. Speaker 2 00:36:43 Uh, I've heard you speak also in terms of the pre predictive value of, of, uh, scripture and that that was in some ways convincing to you that there actually was a creator or a mind outside of the universe itself. Could you speak to some of that? Speaker 0 00:37:01 Well, you heard me say it took me about 18 months to get from Genesis to the end of the Book of Revelation. And that's because I was checking out all the predictions I saw in the Bible. And there's two categories of predictions. The Bible predicts future scientific discoveries, it also predicts future events in the history of humanity. So I would read these in the Bible, uh, go to the University library and basically see whether or not these statements in the Bible really were correct. Really it accurately predicted future scientific discoveries and future historical events. And that during that 18 month period, I had a notebook where I was actually collecting all the places where the Bible had correctly predicted and I was committed, said, if I find one, uh, where I can clearly say the Bible got it wrong, that's enough for me to say this is not the word of God. Speaker 0 00:37:59 By the end of 18 months, I couldn't find a single place where the Bible got it provably incorrect. Now I'll admit this, I found passages I didn't understand, but the ones I did understand, everything was accurate, incorrect. So I already shared how going through Genesis one, I realize all the creation events are correctly described and the correct chronological order, which was way beyond the science of Moses. Some of these things have only been verified in our lifetime. I also discovered that the Bible had accurately predicted the four fundamental features of Big Bang cosmology. And again, recognized, uh, no one even at a hint that the universe had these characteristics until the 20th century. And that was also captured by fulfilled human, uh, prophecy. I mean, you read the book of Daniel and that Daniel speaks how there'll be four major world empires that'll arise upon the face of the earth. Speaker 0 00:39:03 And he was a contemporary, the Babylonian empire, but he predicted the rise of the Greek Empire and of the ray of the Roman Empire and in great detail. And so I said, Hey, this is an example where he got it right and then the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah, there's over a hundred that were fulfilled by the life of Jesus of Nazareth and even prophecies about the modern nation Israel. I remember going through the book of Ezekiel and saying, I gotta check this stuff out. I literally spent two days with a physics, uh, friend of mine. He was my lab partner. He was not a believer, I was not a believer. But we went through these microfiche of newspapers, uh, published in 46 and 47 and 48 and realized we had just demonstrated that the Bible had precisely predicted and defenses, uh, that we now recognize as the rebirth of the nation of Israel. So that's what brought me to faith in Christ, seeing that predictive power. Speaker 2 00:40:10 And that's amazing. There are a lot of skeptics who push back against a biblical creation, um, because they say that or they, I believe that they conflate all creation, uh, models because they don't seem to tease out the fact that there are, there are some who believe in a literal 24, uh, hour day in, in Genesis. And there are some who, who, who interpret the word day in a different way mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, but still allow for special creation of Adam and Eve. That, that the histor of the text is not lost in that way. Could you tease that out a little bit, especially for even the Christian who might be confused or are hearing this for the first time or even for the skeptic? Speaker 0 00:41:05 Well, I run into skeptical scientists and engineers very frequently, as you can imagine. And what I hear all the time is how can you possibly believe this Bible when even on the first page it gets everything dead wrong? And I said, Well, from what point of view are you interpreting that text? And what I hear is I say, Well, God above is telling us a story of what he claims to have done here on planet Earth. And I said, Well, uh, you have the right frame of reference for the universe. Genesis one, one, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and a lot of them say, Hey, the Bible got a dead wrong there. We know the universe was first and the earth later. And says, Well you are aware this was not written in English. Right. It was written in Hebrew and in biblical Hebrew there is no word for universe. Speaker 0 00:41:59 They use an idiom for the universe instead. And the idiom is the heavens and the earth. It's used 13 times in the Old Testament, always referring to the totality of physical reality. So that helps him. But I said, notice this, the frame of reference that text changes it from the universe in Genesis one one to the surface of the earth in Genesis one, two. And I agree with you that the frame of references above the clouds of the earth, then the Texas teaching nothing but scientific nonsense. But if you put the frame of reference on the surface of the earth, everything is a perfect fit with the established scientific record. And for many of the skeptics I run into, that's a mindblower for them. But I also try to remind them was Galileo has said, The biggest mistake you can make Bible interpretation is to get the wrong frame of reference. Speaker 0 00:42:56 And here's a perfect example right in the first page, get the wrong frame of reference. It's teaching nothing but scientific nonsense, but with this stated frame of reference, it's a perfect fit. And as far as a day is a creation, go again. I say, you know the challenge, notice there's 40 really good translations of the Bible in the English language says the reason for that. Biblical Hebrew has only 3000 words in a vocabulary if you don't count the names of people in cities, English is the biggest vocabulary language. It's more than 4 million words. So naturally we're gonna need multiple translations to try to communicate what's in that original Hebrew. And so I encourage people, if you got questions, don't just look at one translation. One translation will not be adequate. You need to look at multiple translations. Uh, but it said, look, even without any knowledge of Hebrew, when you look at Genesis one, it's clear that this word day must have at least three distinct literal definitions cuz three are used in the text on creation. Speaker 0 00:44:11 Day one, it uses the word day for the daylight hours on creation. Day four, it uses the word day, uh, for one rotation period of the earth. But in Genesis two, four, it uses that same word day to refer to the entirety of creation history. So that's day is a long period of time. And you heard me just say earlier, when you go through the seven days of creation, the first six days are bracketed by an evening in a morning, implying they have a start time and an end time. But there is no such statement for day seven, we're still in the seventh day and if we're still in this seventh day, uh, then these days of creation must be long periods of time. And I take the point, I do translate that God created in six literal days recognizing there's four distinct literal definitions of the Hebrew word y uh, that's, uh, translated as day. Speaker 0 00:45:12 And to my scientists skeptical friends, I said, I know you interpret science from a purity naturalistic perspective. And that makes sense if you're doing your science in the human era, cuz the Bible says God is rested from his work of creation. So when you're doing research in the human era, you're only going to see naturalistic processes. But it's an error to think that that applies all the way back to the beginning of the universe. Previous to the human era, naturalistic process is not adequate to explain what we've we've see revealed and the record of nature, it's a combination of naturalistic processes and divine miraculous intervention. And that explains why so few biologists, uh, are Christians because most of them focus their research on the human era. It explains why so many astronomers are Christians because their data comes from deep time. It takes time for the lightest stars and galaxies to reach our telescopes. So most of what we do as an astronomy is looking into the six days of creation. Most of what biologists are doing is looking at day seven. And so it explains why there's a theological and philosophical distinction for what you see in people in the social sciences, the life sciences and the, uh, physical sciences, social science. It's a hundred percent the human era. So no wonder that the number of believers in the social sciences as low as it is, uh, they're focused on the wrong day. Speaker 2 00:46:54 I'd like to pause for a moment and tell you about our new side B Stories website. Perhaps you or someone you know is questioning whether or not belief in God is even possible or credible, whether or not Christianity is worthy of belief. The trouble is in our culture today, Christianity is viewed largely as a belief system for the week delusional and uneducated. It can be extremely difficult to break through the negativity and stereotypes to explore authentic historic Christianity. If you're a skeptic or atheist, what would it take for you to consider the reality of God or the truth of Christianity? Or if you're a Christian, how can you better understand or engage with skeptics in a meaningful way? Our new side B Stories website was created with you in mind. In addition to housing our podcast stories, it also features short video testimonies from former atheists and resources. Speaker 2 00:47:53 They have recommended or written about their own journeys to believe. And you'll hear their advice to skeptics on how to pursue a search for God and advice to Christians on how to engage with those who don't believe. We offer these stories from former skeptics on the Sibe stories website because there is no bigger question that affects your life than whether or not God is real or true, good or relevant. In a culture where Christianity is sometimes viewed unworthy of belief, Sibe stories shows what it did and does take for skeptics to become believers. You can find all of this by going to our new website, side b We hope you'll take a look and share this wonderful resource with skeptics and Christians alike. Now, back to our story that makes sense to me. You're, you're getting a context of the whole, not just the part, you're not conflating the part to the whole, right? You're seeing the big picture and I love that. Uh, one other clarification and that is sometimes I think that there's a presumption if you believe in a, in an older ancient universe, in an older earth, that somehow you, um, uh, don't believe in this special creation of man, that you are an evolutionist. But that's not necessarily the case, uh, again for our listeners to provide clarity. Um, could you talk, talk about that for just a moment? Speaker 0 00:49:30 Yeah, I sure can. I mean, our position at reasons to believe is that we acknowledge that all of humanity is descended from one man and one woman that God specially created, uh, in a garden in the Persian Gulf region. I mean, Genesis two tells us, uh, that four known rivers, uh, the Pon, the Gean, the Tigris and the Aras come close together in the Garden of Eden. And, uh, two of those rivers are flowing today. Two are dry river beds. And uh, that tells me, uh, that this must be an Ice age event cuz only during an ice age, but all four rivers be flowing. And then where they come together is in the southeastern part of the Persian Gulf, which today is more than 200 feet below sea level. But during the last ice age, it was above sea level. So I think, think Genesis two is implying that God created Adam and Eve sometime during the last Ice age, which would be 15,000 to about 120,000 years ago. Speaker 0 00:50:39 Scientists have come up with a date for the origin of humanity based on genetics. Uh, but the date isn't very accurate. It's 150,000 years ago, plus or minus 150,000 years. And a lot of popular literature, they'll say scientific evidence proves that humans originated 300,000 years ago. But they're simply taking you to the very far edge of the air bar. The truth is it's between zero and 300,000. Take your pick. Although radiometric carbon dating would tell us that humans have been here on earth for at least the past 40,000 years. So somewhere between 40 and 300,000. But the Bible gives you a narrower timeframe. Uh, it would be previous to about 120,000 years ago. Uh, but at a time, uh, when the Garden of Eden would've been above a sea level. And geneticists will say, Well, if we look at the genetics, it seems to indicate that humans are descended, not from two people, but a population of several hundred, maybe even a few thousand. Speaker 0 00:51:50 I mean, Francis Collins wrote in his book 10,000 Individuals, but that same genetic data also has, uh, large systematic errors which would permit, uh, the human species from being descended from a maximum of 10,000 individuals to a minimum of two. So two is certainly, uh, within the range of scientific, uh, credibility. Uh, and what I, you know, in fact you were mentioning earlier before we got started about a debate I had with the President of BioLogos, Deborah Harsman. And uh, you know, I was sharing with her, well, uh, you know, when I was growing up, they were saying the ancestral population was 1 million. Uh, and then when I got into my twenties, they said a hundred thousand. Francis Collins says 10,000 a debate by colleague Zoran. I had what Dennis Venema, they said, somewhere between 800 and 1200. And she says, Well, we have bio logos could go as low as 132. Speaker 0 00:52:54 And I said, Well Deborah, how about if we plot a graph to see where it's been going, 1 million a hundred thousand 10,000 800 132. If we extrapolate, it seems to be hitting towards the Biblical two. So I'm, I'm just saying let's wait and see. But my experience in my lifetime is the more we study the Book of nature, the more evidence we uncover for the supernatural handy work of God. And I personally model that every week I write a 1000 to 1500 word article on our website. It's called Today's New Reason to Believe. So literally just combing the scientific literature, I'm able to produce an article on a weekly basis, show showing of more we learn about nature, the stronger becomes a case for the God of the Bible. And I can tell you this, if I had time, I could write six articles every day. That's how much is being published in the scientific literature. But I'm only one person. So I pick one of those discoveries and write one article a week. Speaker 2 00:54:04 Now you have written several books. Are there, if someone, this has really peaked someone's interest in their wanting to take a look, I know you've written in several different areas, but could you highlight a few books that might be good for our listeners to know? Speaker 0 00:54:19 Yeah, I just finished my 23rd book, uh, but a lot of my books focus on this two books model and how the more we learn about nature, the more evidence we get for the incy of the Bible and the Christian faith. Uh, my best selling book is the Creator and the Cosmos now in its fourth edition, but one book that uh, lay people like cuz it's short and it's easy to read why the Universe is the way it is. And another one would be Improbable Planet. And just this month we're releasing a brand new book designed to the core. So yeah, I got lots of books on this subject. Uh, and you can get free chapters of my books at Speaker 2 00:55:05 That's wonderful. That's great. So again, at the end of the day, at 19, you signed your name in this Gideon Bible. And it sounds like, um, from an intellectual point of view as well as a spiritual point of view, it sounds like the world started to make a sense and a, in a, in a comprehensive way, that all of the pieces came together, that you were able to put together the Book of Nature and the book of Scripture and that that it informs now perhaps everything that you do. Speaker 0 00:55:38 Well it was a turning point my life cuz you know, I just finished my sophomore year at university, uh, with going into my junior year. Uh, but I saw my academic career catapult in the sense that once I gave my life to Jesus Christ, suddenly my ability to comprehend what was in the Bible, uh, was much greater than it was before. And likewise, my grades began to catapult. And, uh, so, uh, I saw much greater success in my studies in science. Research became much more fun for me. I remember after becoming a Christian, I got offered a job to be a research assistant in the spectroscopy lab at the University of British Columbia. Then got offered a posa after my junior year, uh, to work at the Radio Observatory in the British Columbia. And so I got to work with these and they could tell that I was really enjoying this scientific research, you know, able to make discoveries that others are overlooking. And something I've noticed, especially amongst my peers or scientists and engineers, when they develop that strong emotional bond with their creator, their ability to perform catapults, uh, their abilities to, uh, do things becomes, uh, greatly enhanced through that relationship. The same thing is true of as human beings, uh, that our capacities and abilities, uh, become much greater once we have that bond, uh, with a higher being. Speaker 2 00:57:17 That's extraordinary. It sounds like a, um, again, your life and your work has been just prolific and so many lives have been touched by your faithful dedication and obvious passion, um, to discover more and more about the truth of the creator, the truth of creation and um, and also your passion for Christ and that Christ is known by all. Uh, as we're turning the page here and thinking about the skeptics who are listening it, what would you advise them in terms of perhaps they can look in a meaningful way? I think one of the things that impresses me about reasons to believe is that you, uh, put forth a biblical creation model that is testable and predictive, right? And, and that might be surprising, um, to someone who's listening that, that anything about, you know, the a biblical or creation model could be, um, testable and predictive. Uh, Speaker 0 00:58:27 Well thank you for the opening because what we've done at Reasons to Believe is go to secular university campuses and we will briefly present an outline of our testable biblical creation model. And then we invite a panel of science professors who are not believers to critique our model. And then we open it up for, uh, q and a, uh, with the students and the faculty. And every time we've done that, uh, the critique we get is not about the data, it's not about our interpretation. They tend to drift off into the philosophy of science, you know, and can we really apply this, uh, to this? But the audience picks up on it right away. They had an opportunity to critique the model and they didn't provide any, uh, scientific critique of the model. It was only philosophy that they responded with. And so it's opened a door for us. Speaker 0 00:59:26 And what I've been doing recently, uh, with scientists is say, look, so I read my Bible, it says that God begins his works of redemption before he creates anything at all. And my newest book designed to the core, I basically demonstrate the fine tuning evidence for the God of the Bible as most spectacular in the context of what's necessary for billions of human beings to be redeemed from their sin and evil. So what I've been sharing with my, uh, colleagues who are not yet believers, Look, I know you're not a Christian, I know you don't believe in God, but why don't you try this experiment, do your scientific research from a biblical redemptive perspective and see if it doesn't make you a more successful scientist. Put it to the test and see what happens. So that's kind of a new way I'm developed, uh, for sharing my faith, uh, with skeptical scientists and engineers. Uh, just challenge 'em, you know, try this and see what it does for you, but makes you a more successful scientist if you're able to be, uh, more productive in your scientific discoveries. But maybe you need to pick up a Bible and, uh, look and study its message or what it means for you. Speaker 2 01:00:43 Hmm, that's good advice. And for the Christians who are listening in, I know that there are probably many who have, um, skeptics who push back who are scientists that, that they don't think you know that that religion has any part of their world. Um, how could you advise Christians to meaningfully engage with those who are skeptical around them? Speaker 0 01:01:12 Well, you know, I've been a pastor for more than four decades in a church that's sandwich between, uh, Caltech and the Jeff Propulsion of the laboratory. And what I've discovered is a primary reason why people don't share their faith with adults. They don't feel that they're prepared. And I see that in one Peter three 15, Always be ready to share the reasons for the faith and hope you have in Jesus Christ with gentleness, respect and a clear conscience. So my advice is step one, get prepared. And, uh, that's what our mission at Reasons to Believe is all about. We write articles, we do books, we do video, uh, all designed to prepare believers to be able to share their faith. And I say, you know, a lot of our material is designed to persuade those that are highly educated, either in science or theology or philosophy or all three, but it said, get those books. Speaker 0 01:02:13 You can skim them, get an idea of what they're all about. And then when you run into people that are skeptics, say, I got something I want to give to you, but at least skim it so that you have an opportunity after they've read the book to say, Hey, how about we have lunch together and talk about what you uh, found in that book. And hey, if you get stuck, we're here to back you up. And so I know one lady who is sharing with a scientist gave him a couple of my books. He had a ton of questions. They wound up having lunch and I was way over ahead, but she says, I think I can set up a Zoom meeting for you, uh, with a scientist at reasons to believe. And that was very productive. So I know one lady who hasn't read any of my books, but she's given away more than 250 of my books, uh, to people who are not yet believers. And she keeps sending me notes of how those books have brought people to faith in Christ. Speaker 2 01:03:10 That's extraordinary. I think sometimes half of the work is just knowing what's available, knowing the, the resources. I mean, not all of us can be astrophysicists, not, you know, but we, we can be familiar with, uh, what's available for, from those who are and, and, uh, can make connections. And it's, it sounds extraordinary to me too that you would offer your, your expertise on a Zoom meeting, for example, or, or someone on your staff to be able to talk through or walk through issues with people who are genuinely curious and, and asking those questions. Speaker 0 01:03:50 Well, I think that's crucial. It's not just resources that people need. They need that human contact. Yes. I mean, one example happened where there was this bunch of professors at a university in the United Kingdom and they were part of a book club and there was only one Christian in the book club, but they said, How about have we look at this book? And they said, Well, that's quite different from what we normally look at, but they gave it a go. But they invited me in after they had read the book. So I spent two hours just answering their questions. Uh, and yeah, it was very fruitful in the sense that they all said, you know, we need to seriously consider this. This is serious stuff. It's not fluff. Speaker 2 01:04:31 It is. I I think oftentimes, um, the Christian story or narrative is just written off as a, a myth, just like everything else, that it's not substantive. But as you've seen and you've shown, um, through your extraordinary journey of investigation through, through not only the religious texts, but also the scientific texts, this is the worldview that that substance resides. It, it is where, where things come together, where things make sense, that it's the comprehensive worldview, it's integrated, it's explanatory. Like you say, it's predictive. Um, there's so much there to be known. And, and I think that there are so many who would be surprised if they're willing to take a look. Um, like you have. I so appreciate your, even your example as well as your story. Of course, you're a genius. Um, but, but I think what, what is one of the most pressing things, impressive things to me is that you were willing to investigate until you found the answers that were satisfying to you. The answers that seemed to match with reality, with what you were seeing in the world and in, in the, the textbooks and what you were observing in the cosmos. And, and that it, it made sense to you. Um, and also of course, that you love to share what you know being, which the hard, we're all benefiting from the hard work and investigation and from your genius <laugh>. Um, so thank you so, so much. Speaker 0 01:06:21 Well, yeah. You're very welcome. Uh, but I think one of the unique features of human beings compared to all of their life we're compulsively curious. Mm. Not just about where we're gonna get our daily food. We're curious about those distant black holes and quasars and creatures that exist on the other side of the world. And, uh, it's fun. And what I notice in the Bible, it says, we are to study both the Book of Nature and the book of Scripture. So what I share with people is that do not leave it up to the theologians to study the book of scripture. It's way too much fun. Everybody needs to be involved and don't leave it up to the scientists to study the book of nature. It's way too much fun. You need to get involved and pull together, uh, both books. So God wants us to be engaged. Uh, let's have fun. Speaker 2 01:07:17 Yes. And of course, the more you know about his world, you know, the more you know about him. Right. Right, Speaker 0 01:07:24 Right. Speaker 2 01:07:24 So, uh, thank you again Dr. Ross for coming on today. It's been nothing but pure pleasure. Speaker 0 01:07:30 Well, thank you. Speaker 2 01:07:31 Thanks for tuning into Side B'S stories. To hear Dr. Ross's story, you can find out more about his books writing and speaking through his website, which I'll post in the episode notes. He's also written a book with regard to his story of conversion called Always Be Ready. You can access a complimentary chapter also on his website For questions and feedback about this episode, you can contact me through our website, side b I hope you enjoyed it, and that you'll follow rate, review and share this podcast with your friends and social network. In the meantime, I'll be looking forward to seeing you next time, where we'll see how another skeptic flips the record of their life.

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