This isn’t right, this isn’t even wrong!
In his book More Than a Theory, Hugh Ross Ph.D attempts to outline a testable model for Creationism. Ross’ books are always well organized with numerous sources and this one is no exception. However, Ross’ attempt at creating a testable scientific model for Creationism falls far short of expectations. Ross is known for arguing that the discoveries of astronomy and cosmology over the past century were anticipated by various texts in the Bible. His main argument in the book hinges on two major points. First, that Big Bang Cosmology demonstrates that matter, energy, space and time all had a beginning in the finite past. And second, that the Agent or Cause of this event lies outside of the natural realm and is thus supernatural.
Ross cites the work of Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose from 1970 where they used general relativity to describe the early conditions of the universe. Ross explains:
Their theorem proved… that if the universe contains mass and if the equations reliably describe the universe’s dynamics, then its space and time dimensions must have had a beginning that coincides with the universe’s origin (1).
In their paper, Hawking and Penrose conclude that the universe must have begun as a singularity (a point in space with infinite density where the laws of nature break down). However, since that paper Hawking has spent much of his time arguing against this conclusion. In A Brief History of Time, he wrote:
It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe… it can disappear once quantum effects are taken into account (2).
In 1983 Hawking, along with James Hartle, proposed the no boundary model for the universe. In the no boundary model space and time are analogous to a sphere, like Earth, with no beginning or end (3). He explains:
The universe starts at the North Pole as a single point. As one moves south, the circles of latitude at constant distance from the North Pole get bigger, corresponding to the universe expanding with imaginary time…Even though the universe would have zero size at the North and South Poles, these points would not be singularities, any more than the North and South Poles on the earth are singular (4).
With no beginning of time Ross’ model falls apart. Furthermore, his supposition that Bible authors anticipated the discovery of time’s beginning would reveal errors that Dr. Ross, being a Bible inerrancy advocate, could not accept. Ross has repeatedly cited verses like II Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2 (5) as evidence that the Bible predicted that time is not eternal. But as Hartle and Hawking showed in the no boundary model time and space do not have a beginning any more than the North Pole can be considered the beginning of the surface of Earth. Additionally, Ross defines ‘time’ in the context of a 21st century physicist not a 1st century religious author. While some translations do render them as “before time began,” it would be presumptuous to conclude that the original authors had Big Bang Cosmology in mind when they wrote these letters.
Additionally, Dr. Ross is not clear as to how he defines time. Einstein once quipped that time is simply what you measure with a clock. If there is no objective measure with which to measure events then time would not have any useful meaning. Rather than being the beginning of time, the beginning of the universe could be seen more as the beginning of clocks.
The second piece to Ross’ model is the transcendence of the Agent or cause to the universe which according to the Bible is predicted and according to modern scientific discovery, the evidence demonstrates. Ross’ Biblical evidence for this transcendent creator is encapsulated in various sections that describe events that could only make sense in a multi-dimensional setting. One of these is the alleged Tri-une naure of the God of the Bible. Ross has described this nature of God using the example of a human being projecting himself onto a computer screen (6). If the human puts their hand onto the screen the two dimensional beings on the screen will see four different figures (the fingers) but the human would tell them that they are one person. In a similar sense the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three different aspects of one being. While such an explanation could be mathematically possible it could hardly be considered scientific. Science concerns itself with what is testable and observable not what is imaginable.
In addition to the trinity, Ross argues that God’s creation of the universe from nothing is evidence of his transcendence. Ross cites Hebrews 11:3:
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
Ross is not correct when he says that the universe was created out of nothing though. All of the positive energy contained in the matter from stars, planets and galaxies is exactly counter-balanced by the negative energy of gravity (7). This means that the total energy of the universe is zero. As the universe expanded the matter energy was generated from the gravitational energy. None of it appeared from “nothing.”
Another point that Dr. Ross uses in justifying the transcendent nature of the God of the Bible, is the episode in the New Testament where Jesus apparently walks through a wall to meet his disciples inside a house. This can be found in Luke chapter 24 and John chapter 20. According to Ross this feat demonstrated Jesus’ ability to operate in higher dimensions. He explains:
The disciples could not know at that moment they had seen an example of what is possible for someone who has access to extra space dimensions (8).
Ross explains that all Jesus would have to do is rotate His body into extra dimensions of space. He could have rotated spatial dimension one into spatial dimension four, dimension two into five and three into six. Then it would only be a matter of rotating them back to their original dimensions.
While his math may be sound his logic is severly flawed. Let’s assume that Jesus is divine and could perform such a feat. If this event is proof of his transcendence, could we not also apply this method to other legendary figures thus demonstrating their transcendence as well? Take for example the myth of the Egyptian myth of Osiris’ resurrection. At a party Osiris’ jealous brother Set fashioned a coffin that matched Osiris’ measurements and offered to give it to whomever could fit inside. Once lured inside, Set and his conspirators nailed it shut, sealed it with molten lead and tossed it in the Nile. Osiris’ sister and lover Isis rescued the coffin but while she was away, Set took Osiris’ body and cut it into fourteen pieces.
In some versions of the legend Isis retrieves all of the pieces (save the phallus) and with assistance from Amon-Ra and Anubis, puts Osiris back together and revives him (9) . While such a thing would be impossible in the three dimensions we experience, in higher dimensions an object or person could still be intact but appear to be in many pieces.
Imagine a two dimensional world which is just a simple plane of length and width. A two dimensional person, lets call him Hugh, lives in his flatland universe and knows nothing of directions like up and down. From our 3D perspective we can look down on Hugh and see him inside and out while he is none the wiser. If we were to grab an end of Hugh and peel him up with only a small piece of him still showing in his dimension, Hugh’s family would think that Hugh was savagely cut into pieces. Now what if we were able to bend Hugh’s universe like a piece of paper and curl it into an ‘S’ shape. We could position Hugh where pieces were showing on the bottom, middle and top section of the S. The whole thing would look like a dollar sign to us but Hugh’s family would see pieces of Hugh in three different places. We could then grab the top and bottom of the S and pull on each end straightening the 2D universe in our perspective and making Hugh whole again in his world.
So have I just demonstrated that the myth of Osiris is evidence for the multi-dimensional nature of the Egyptian gods? Hardly. All I have done is interpret an ancient tale through the prism of 21st century science. And that is exactly what Ross is doing when he uses this example.
Returning to More Than a Theory, Dr. Ross cites the following verses (Job 9:8; Psa 104:2; Isa 40:22;42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jer 10:12; 51:15 & Zech 12:1) and argues that they anticipated the Inflationary Big Bang model of the universe. In each of these verses God is portrayed as stretching out the heavens. To Ross this is a description of the expanding universe after the Big Bang. To say this is a stretch would be both ironic and and an understatement. Ross ignores the ancient mindset and how they viewed Earth and the heavens (i.e. the sky and space).
To the ancient mind the sky was wrapped around Earth like a blanket. I am reminded of the movie Highlander when Ramirez (Sean Connery) asks, “Are the stars just pinholes in the curtain of night?” This quote aptly illustrates this ancient belief as do the passages to which Dr. Ross refers. For instance Psalms 104:2 reads,
The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent.
The author of Isaiah repeats this in Isa 40:22,
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in
Both of these verses depict the heavens as a tangible object that is stretched out and wrapped around Earth. But space is not wrapped around Earth, Earth is immersed in it. The ancient mind had no conception of this nor could we expect them to.
Furthermore, no theologian writing before the development of the Big Bang model interpreted these verses the way Dr. Ross has. Once again he is interpreting texts based on the perspective of 21st century science. Take for example John Calvin’s (1509-1564) commentary on Psalms 104,
When it is said that the heavens are a curtain, it is not meant that under them God hides himself, but that by them his majesty and glory are displayed; being, as it were, his royal pavilion (10).
Or theologian Matthew Henry’s (1662-1714) commentary on the same verse,
He stretches out the heavens like a curtain… The regions of the air are stretched out about the earth, like a curtain about a bed, to keep it warm, and drawn between us and the upper world, to break its dazzling light; for, though God covers himself with light, yet, in compassion to us, he makes darkness his pavilion (11).
Another favorite of Ross’ is from the book of Job (12). In chapter 38 verse 31 God rebukes Job and explains His dominance over nature and Job’s lack of power. God asks Job,
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, Or loose the cords of Orion?
Ross argues that Job’s author predicted gravity in this verse because the Pleiades are a gravitationally bound star cluster. In that he is correct but the cords (belt) of Orion is not. Orion’s belt is comprised of three stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka (also known as zeta, episilon and delta Orionis respectively). Each of these stars exists in their own system independent of each other. If Ross wishes to argue that the author is correct in identifying gravity in Pleiades, he must also admit the author is incorrect in regards to Orion’s belt.
While Dr. Ross is an enormous improvement from the young-earth creationists, in my opinion he is still doing a tremendous injustice to science. Ross repeatedly interprets ancient text through the prism of modern physics and cosmology. In his debate with Ross young-earth creationist Kent Hovind pointed out that without Ross’ background in science a typical reader of the Bible would not come to the same conclusions as Dr. Ross (13). Hovind is correct in this and its clear that Ross is not only injecting science where there is none, but he is also not interpreting the Bible critically.
- Ross, Hugh More Than a Theory: Revealing a Testable Model for Creation (2009) pp. 96-97
- Hawking, Stephen A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (1988) p. 50
- Hartle, J.; Hawking, S. (1983). “Wave function of the Universe” Physical Review D 28 (12): 2960.
- Hawking (1988) p. 137
- Ross The fingerprint of God: recent scientific discoveries reveal the unmistakable identity of the Creator (1991) p.180; The creator and the cosmos: how the greatest scientific discoveries of the century reveal God (1993) p.78; Beyond the Cosmos: What Recent Discoveries in Astrophysics Reveal about the Glory and Love of God (1996) p.42; More Than a Theory: Revealing a Testable Model for Creation (2009) p.98
- Ross (1996) pp. 89-102
- Hawking, Stephen The Universe in a Nutshell (2001) p. 91
- Ross (1996) p.45
- Frazer, Sir James The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (Wordsworth:1993) pp.362-368
- Calvin, John Commentary on Psalms: Volume 4, Psalms chapter CIV
- Henry, Matthew Commentary on the Whole Bible: Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon), Psalms chapter CIV
- Ross, Hugh Biblical Forecasts of Scientific Discoveries (1976) http://www.reasons.org/biblical-forecasts-scientific-discoveries