Tag Archives: Hugh Ross

Be Like the Ostrich? … Weathering Climate Change, by Hugh Ross. A Review.

Is climate change just a hoax, or is it real? If it is real, what can be really done about it, without killing the world economy?

Hugh Ross, president of Reasons to Believe, and evangelical apologetics ministry focused on the dialogue between science and faith, tackles a topic that often generates more heat than light. However, in Weathering Climate Change: A Fresh Approach, Ross does what the subtitle says, he takes a fresh approach that will both surprise and educate readers.

Will the ostrich be able to delay the impact of global climate change? According to Christian apologist Hugh Ross, in the contentious debate over “global warming,” the ostrich may provide more help to us than draconian and unpopular carbon credit schemes.

Before reading Weathering Climate Change, I made the rather common assumption that today’s relative climate stability has been around for much of earth’s history. It is just something that we take for granted. But Hugh Ross brings up data point after data point to demonstrate that such an assumption is completely false: For most of earth’s history, the world’s climate has ranged wildly in terms of global mean temperature. In other words, climate instability has been the norm in God’s creation.

Hugh Ross takes an Old-Earth Creationist view, that the earth is some 4.34 billion years old, as opposed to the view of a 6,000 to 10,000 year old earth, advocated by Young Earth Creationists. Ross contends that during the vast length of time of earth’s multi-million year history, particularly as we approach the current age, cyclical periods of global warming followed by ice ages of global cooling have always been up and down, up and down.

What is unique is that the past 9,500 years have been an anomaly during the whole of earth’s history. During this period, the global mean temperature has remained fairly constant. Hugh Ross attributes this remarkable period of climate stability to a variety of factors, including the impact of a massive meteorite in Greenland, a particular pattern of volcanic activity, the behavior of the magnetic poles, … just to name a few.

His point is to show that the development of an advanced technological civilization would have been impossible if all of these factors had not lined up perfectly. Furthering the argument that Ross made in Improbable Planet, we live on a planet that has been fine-tuned for human existence, under the most optimal conditions. Ross attributes this to the providential hand of God, that God would provide just the right complex set of factors to make modern human civilization possible.

Did humans just get lucky with this recent 9,500 year-long anomaly of climate stability? Or was it a product of a Mind? It is difficult to imagine how all of this came together at the right time, without a Creator God superintending the whole process. In comparison, a Young Earth view of creation fails to appreciate as much the marvelous precision it took for God to give us the exact conditions necessary for human civilization to flourish, at exactly the right time in earth’s history…. and that human flourishing is good news!

The bad news is that this current period of climate stability can not last forever, according to the research that Hugh Ross summarizes for the reader. Human efforts can either accelerate the shift towards the climate instability, or slow down the transition, but human engineering alone can not make the climate stable on a permanent basis. In other words, global climate change is real. It is not a hoax. That is just the way the world is. To place our hope in this world alone is futile, as compared to putting our hope assuredly in the God of the Bible.

With that context in mind, Hugh Ross points to evidence showing that humans are primarily responsible for the current acceleration of that shift towards climate instability. Over the past 70 years, the near 1 degree in Centigrade increase in the global mean temperature, has almost wiped out the 1 degree Centigrade drop in temperature, experienced during the prior 9,500 years. Human activity, through pronounced use of carbon-based fuels, are only making a catastrophic, though quite natural situation more likely to arrive sooner, rather than later. But there is some basis for hope, in that Hugh Ross believes that certain steps can be taken to slow down this acceleration, and delay the inevitable.

But what will eventually happen, if nothing is done to slow the acceleration? Misleading information suggests that global climate change will ultimately melt nearly all of the planet’s ice and raise the typical daytime temperature across the globe to intolerable levels. Yet as Hugh Ross describes it, the global temperature will eventually hit a peak, before dropping dramatically, and plunging the earth into another ice age. In other words, in the long run, global cooling poses a greater threat than global warming. So, if you fear rising sea levels alone, you might want to rethink that. That is only part of a more difficult problem.

Nevertheless, there are steps that can be taken that are “win-win” for us all, in contrast to the type of draconian solutions proposed by climate alarmists, that often elevate the young voice of activist Greta Thunberg. While such environmentalist ideas are well-meaning, public resistance to such drastic proposals will greatly impede their adoption, and only increase skepticism about climate change. Ross believes that there are a variety of solutions that humans can adopt that will simultaneously benefit the environment, while still allowing our high technology civilization to flourish. Here are just a few examples:

  • Replanting the Sahara Desert. Many find it hard to believe, but the Sahara region of North Africa once was the primary agricultural source of food; that is, the “bread basket,” for the ancient Roman empire. But deforestation of the Sahara greatly expanded it into the vast desert region that exists today. By giving North Africans incentives to stop stripping vegetation on the edge of desert and replanting those edges with vegetation, it would go a long way towards increasing the amount of carbon dioxide that could be absorbed from the earth’s atmosphere, back into living plants.
  • More efficient lumbering. Instead of clear-cutting forests in the Amazon to make for more inefficient pasture land, incentives can be given to have smarter practices of thinning out forests, allowing newer growth to absorb more carbon dioxide and taking down older growth that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as that older growth decays.
  • Replace the production of cow beef with ostrich, as a primary source of red meat. Cows inject a lot of methane into the atmosphere, whereas ostriches contribute little methane. Incentives can be given to encourage ostrich farming, which actually consumes far less pasture land than cows do. Ostriches also consume roughly a third less resources, in terms of water, as compared to cows.

These are all innovative ideas that are rarely discussed on public forums for addressing the climate change crisis. Why do we not hear more about such fresh approaches to climate change? Perhaps we need to recalibrate the conversation, and move away from endless, heated debates over carbon credits, that only the super-wealthy in the West would be willing to afford.

Kudos go to Hugh Ross for helping Christians and non-Christians alike think through new ideas that will help us to be better stewards of God’s good creation. Admittedly, ideas such as moving to an ostrich-primary meat system from a cow-primary meat system are difficult to advance when ostrich meat prices are nearly three times as much as cow meat prices. However, with the encouragement of ostrich farming, the price of ostrich meat should come down enough, that it would offset other, more-costly mechanisms designed to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint.

Instead of fixating on repeated debates about wind and solar power versus carbon consumption, what if we were to move beyond those discussions and talk more about solutions that are rarely mentioned in the international media, such as better forest management, and how to expand ostrich farming?

Hugh Ross’ fresh approach is a welcome voice to the discussion, particular as an evangelical Christian. Sadly, there are many people today, including many Christians, who reject concerns about climate change, most probably due to the nature of the highly politically charged solutions being promoted, such as regulating national economies, through various schemes of managing carbon credits. Instead, Hugh Ross offers a path forward to creatively find “win-win” solutions to the current environment crisis, thus demonstrating that care for the planet and care for human flourishing are not at fundamental odds with one another, and that such creation care embodies acts of obedience that truly honor God, as the Creator of all things.

When God created Adam, the Lord placed him in the garden to work it and to keep it (Genesis 2:15). It is very tempting for us to ignore God’s command to care for the earth, when faced with environmentalist extremism in our day that worships the creation as opposed to the Creator. When we give into that temptation, it is like being like an ostrich and putting our head in the sand.

But what if there are better solutions? What if we should be like the ostrich, in a different way? What if we were to start to eat the ostrich instead? After all, as nutritionists like to tell us, “you are what you eat.”

How should we be like the ostrich?

Dr. Hugh Ross was featured as part of a worship service at Grace Church in St. Louis, via Zoom, followed by a period of Q&A:


Does Dark Matter … Really Matter?

Did you know that astrophysicists have found the “missing baryons?”  Why would a Christian care about such a discovery?

 

As Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist and president of Reasons to Believe, put it, this discovery helps to solve the mystery of “dark matter,” supporting the modern Big Bang theory, which points to a beginning of the universe. When the Big Bang theory was first developed in the mid-20th century, a problem immediately became apparent, as the theory predicted that there should be a great mass of matter (or energy) existing between galaxies, making up to about 70% or so of the universe. The problem was that researchers could never see it; hence, roughly speaking, the term, “dark matter.”

In 2017, two independent teams of researchers were able to develop a method whereby they could detect the existence of the “missing baryons.” For those Christians who believe that the Bible affirms, or is at least not in conflict with, the idea of an ancient universe, of millions of years, this discovery appears to point towards the existence of so-called “dark matter,” helping to solve a persistent riddle, as to what was missing in the Bang Bang cosmological model. There is still a lot more to learn about so-called “dark matter,” and neither this discovery, nor the Big Bang theory necessarily “prove” the Bible. But for Christians who hold to an Old Earth Creationist interpretation of the Bible, like astrophysicist Hugh Ross, this discovery is yet another piece of evidence in favor of the truthfulness of the Christian faith.

Ironically, many Young Earth Creationists have been fighting against the notion of dark matter for decades. Why? Because if dark matter really exists, it would help to bolster the Big Bang theory, and thereby undercut their interpretation of the Bible, namely that the earth and universe is only about 6,000 years old, contrary to the consensus of modern science. Now, there are at least some Young Earth Creationists, such as Danny Faulkner at Answers in Genesis, who are saying that the question of dark matter is really irrelevant, and that Young Earth Creationists, like astronomer Faulkner, should embrace the existence of dark matter in their alternative proposals. This is quite a concession.

But for those who believe that the evidence supporting the modern scientific consensus for the Big Bang is, at least, in some sense, consistent with what the Bible teaches, namely, that the universe had a beginning (“In the beginning”…. see Genesis 1:1), dark matter is not a problem at all. For if the universe had a beginning, it stands to reason that you will also have a Beginner!

Now, with a God who works miracles, a Young Earth Creation is still possible. Many of my dear Christian friends are Young Earth Creationists, and they have several thoughtful reasons for holding to their position. But the story of dark matter raises a good question: As a Christian, what is easier to defend when talking with a non-believer? The idea that science coheres with the Bible, or that science is in conflict with the Bible?


Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design: A Book Review

If I had to pick one book that concisely gives an overview of the controversy over human origins, Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design would be it. Part of Zondervan’s Counterpoint series, this book manages to pull together four of the leading Christian thinkers, about science and faith issues, to have them dialogue with one another in a spirit of charity and mutual respect (…for the most part).

I have been looking forward to this book for some time, as the writers are the most visible representatives of their respective positions in the evangelical Christian world today. Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum and Kentucky’s Ark Encounter, defends a Young Earth Creationist position. Hugh Ross, president of Reasons to Believe, defends an Old Earth Creationist position. Deborah Haarsma, president of Biologos, defends an Evolutionary Creationist position. Stephen C. Meyer, a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, defends an Intelligent Design position. Each contributor wrote an essay for the book, and the other three contributors wrote a response to that essay, followed by a rejoinder, by the original essayist.

There is simply no other book resource available today that gathers these differing points of view together in one volume, on this difficult topic. That, in and of itself, is a major accomplishment. A verse in Proverbs makes the point: The first to state his case seems right, until another comes and cross-examines him (Proverbs 18:17 CSB). Sadly, many Christians only hear one point of view, failing to consider other perspectives, leading to mistrust of other believers who might see things somewhat differently.

This is not to say all points of view are correct. They are not. There is but one truth. But it is difficult to properly uphold the truth, if you have not taken the time to consider other biblically responsible options. Proverbs suggests that we should hear one another out before making a firm judgment. Continue reading


Genesis: Paradise Lost, the Big Bang, … and Dogs Who Eat Homework

Some Christian friends of mine are all abuzz about Genesis: Paradise Lost, a new movie being shown in select theaters across America, November 13 and 16, 2017. Should Christians go see this film? (SEE MY DISCLAIMER at the bottom of the post, updated AFTER I first published this post).

In a promotional video for the movie, Dr. Charles Jackson, a professor of Creation Science at Liberty University, explains that the Big Bang Theory, of how the universe expanded from a single point, some 13 billion years ago, is part of a secular mythology, at odds with the Bible. As Dr. Jackson goes onto say, “there are all of these ‘dog ate my homework’ stories” that “atheist evolution theory” proposes to explain how stars were formed, in the wake of the Big Bang. Jackson argues that such explanations are “impossible” and “can not happen.”

The conclusion? Christians should reject Big Bang cosmology. Instead, they should embrace a Young Earth proposal, that the universe was created only some 6,000 years ago, based on a particular interpretation of the Bible. The film’s primary concern is to help Christians have a greater confidence in their Bibles, and to win those who have doubts, to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, which are critically important aims, that all believers can boldly affirm.  Genesis: Paradise Lost is endorsed by Answers in Genesis, the apologetics organization behind the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, located in Kentucky. Just based on this brief presentation, without any further knowledge, Dr. Jackson’s argument might sound fairly compelling.

But is what Dr. Jackson saying true?

Does Big Bang cosmology really contradict the Bible? It seems like the modern scientific consensus agrees with the Big Bang. If the Bible is out of step with the Big Bang, what does that mean?

What if, indeed, the opposite were the case? What if the Bible, written a few thousand years before scientists in the 20th century confirmed the evidence, aligns with the Big Bang? What if the Bible, accurately describes the scientifically-observed expansion of the universe? What is the likelihood of ancient, pre-modern Israelite prophets, perfectly articulating the precise nature of the universe, in a manner that exactly coincides with what modern scientists, have only recently seen in nature?

As I blogged about several months ago, Dr. Hugh Ross, of the apologetics ministry, Reasons to Believe, makes this very case.  Dr. Ross goes onto explain that the Big Bang was actually a fine-tuned expansion of the universe, and not a chaotic explosion.

But here is the kicker.

Dr. Ross makes the stunning claim that the Bible anticipates the discovery of the Big Bang by several thousands of years. Here is a quick sample of some of these Bible verses: Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; and Zechariah 12:1. Look them up at BibleGateway.com, where ancient Israelite prophets wrote about how God “stretched out the heavens,” a description consistent with modern Big Bang cosmology.

Is this merely a coincidence? Do Christians need to come up with other “dog ate my homework” stories, to explain features like this in the Bible, or are there better explanations that exist? Think about it.

Should a Christian go see Genesis: Paradise Lost? Sure, consider the evidence that the film presents, as Dr. Jackson does raise some good questions, and the film makers have a genuine, rightly-motivated interest, in presenting the Gospel message to non-believers. Amen to that! But do yourself a favor, and also consider a different viewpoint, from another Christian perspective.

Or better yet, read and study what the Bible itself says, and then come to your own conclusion.

As Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

Below is the Dr. Charles Jackson clip, from the Genesis: Paradise Lost film, being used to promote the movie, then followed by an 8-minute presentation by Jeff Zweerink, an astronomer with Reasons To Believe , explaining what the Bible has to say about the Big Bang. Zweerink is part of the scholar team, along with Hugh Ross, at Reasons to Believe. Genesis: Paradise Lost should not be confused with an earlier film this year, Is Genesis History?, by Del Tackett and Thomas Purifoy, Jr. The earlier film has pretty much the same message, but the outdoor cinematography in Is Genesis History?, is spectacular, whereas Genesis: Paradise Lost relies more on 3D computer-generated graphics.

UPDATE (November 11, 2017): Though I published the above post a few days ago, I just learned something about “Doctor” Charles Jackson. Yes, Charles Jackson does have a doctorate. This is true. However, it is not in any particular science field. Rather, he earned his doctorate in the field of education, from the University of Virginia (UVA). He is not a practicing scientist, but rather he is a grade school science educator. This type of sleight of hand is not outright deception, but it is not entirely truthful either. At least, Is Genesis History? featured credentialed PhD-level scientists, having done doctoral work in their specific scientific field. Genesis: Paradise Lost relies on experts, that lack the level of expertise, as comparatively found in Is Genesis History?.  Eric Hovind, the producer of the latest film, should be embarrassed. Let the viewer of the film beware!!

 


Noah’s Ark Comes to Kentucky

There is a good chance that you might be hearing quite a bit about Noah’s Ark in the near future…

Today, Answers in Genesis, will be opening a brand new museum, ArkEncounter, in Williamstown, Kentucky. Ken Ham, the visionary behind the project, believes that the story of the Bible teaches that a global flood cataclysm enveloped the earth less than 6,000 years ago. To drive home this interpretation of the Bible, Ham’s team has built a full-sized replica of the original ark, as a type of educational, Christian-themed amusement park.

Contrary to the quaint, Sunday-School description of cute giraffes sticking their heads out of the top of the ark, the primary message behind Noah and the flood is deadly serious. Humanity is sick with sin and rebellion against a holy and loving God, and apart from the Good News of Jesus Christ, we all deserve to perish underneath the waves of His holy judgment. While those who believe the Bible embrace these truths, not every believer interprets the scientific details of the flood in the same, precise manner as presented by ArkEncounter.

For example, ArkEncounter promotes the interpretation that the great mountains of the world, such as Mount Everest, were a great deal shorter just a few thousand years ago, prior to Noah’s flood. Therefore, God would not have needed five miles high of water to envelope the planet. Nor would have the animals required oxygen at such a great height, aboard the ark. This presupposes that once the great flood began to recede, a rapid series of plate tectonic movements resulted in the creation of mountains, like Everest, even though no such event is clearly described in the Bible, and no scientific evidence of such catastrophic tectonic movements has been found. Other Christians, on the other hand, believe that Noah’s flood was more local in scope to the Mesopotamian area, though sufficient enough to wipeout the then known, “world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5). Such a large scale flooding event, though not global, does find support within current scientific research.

Several years ago, John Paine and I put together a bunch of posts examining the flood from a biblical point of view:

  • Noah, featuring the ministry of Hugh Ross and Reasons to Believe
  • Flood, Faith and Russell Crowe, a look at how different Christians view the biblical teaching on the flood.
  • Noah vs. Noah, more on the flood, and how Hollywood often gets the story wrong.

Also, Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman has a few blog posts, at Biologos.org, looking at the question of what is the ancient and proper literary genre of Genesis 6-9, as the key to understanding Noah and the flood. His answer, briefly? The flood story is “neither literal history nor myth.” It is something far more interesting.

Here is a flyover of the ArkEncounter exhibit:


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