Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 14

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Scientific Signs of Old Age

Age

Dictionary.com defines age as “the length of time during which a being or thing has existed; length of life or existence to the time spoken of or referred to”

As we ponder this idea of age, we should also be aware that age is itself a historical concept not a scientific one. For example, if we walk into a room and see a candle burning and want to know how long it has been burning, we can employ some scientific measurements on the candle itself to make some inferences, but a conclusive answer for how long the candle has been burning would require historical evidence. Let’s investigate this candle allegory a little further.

We could use science to measure the current length of the candle, the volume of melted wax, and the current burn rate. From those measurements a guess could be made as to how long the candle has been burning. But what other factors could influence the duration of the candle’s burn time?

  • It might have been blown out and restarted several times
  • The melted wax might have been cleaned up and discarded more than once
  • It’s possible that when lighting another candle from this current one, extra melted wax could have been spilled into the discarded pile thus changing the volume of melted wax for the calculation of the burn duration of this candle
  • The burn rate could have been different in the past based on several variables
  • How long was the candle to begin with?
  • Was the candle ever cut in segments for others to have small candles for another room?
  • There are probably others which I have not thought of. Feel free to add your additional variables in the comments.

So, the length of time something has existed is clearly not ultimately a scientific one, but is resolutely a historical one. And as we read Dr. Ross’s chapter on the Scientific Signs of Old Age, we must keep in mind that the Bible is a historical account of God’s interaction with his creation and his people as (for his great glory) He works to bring redemption from the curse of sin.

Another good line of reasoning with which our candle allegory can assist is “time-limiting factors” or the maximum burn time of the candle

  • The height of the ceiling (or other overhead boundary) would limit the burn time
  • The diameter of the candle would limit the height of wax that the structural integrity of the candle could support
  • The consistency/density of the wax would be relevant to the point above
  • There are probably others which I have not thought of. Feel free to add your additional time limiting factors in the comments.

We’ll get back to the time limiting factors later

Here’s how Dr. Ross introduces his argument for the scientific signs of old age

The scientific indicators for the “old age” of creation are even more abundant and definitive than those for humans. Hundreds of reliable markers demonstrate that creation (except for the human species) is old.

Old age is an assumption based on inferences, but when we read about God’s historical revelations throughout the scriptures, and particularly Genesis, we must elevate what God has revealed as the foundation in order for scientific measurements to provide accuracy for the age of something. Historical interventions of the Creator cannot be measured with a yardstick or a barometer. We are reliant upon his revelations to know the true age. As an example since old age assumptions require extrapolations, extrapolations of erosion measurements will be blind to God’s judgment of wickedness through a worldwide flood. We’re reliant on historical accounts of the flood to produce a true knowledge of age. Having God’s revealed knowledge of the worldwide flood makes perfect sense of the observations we see today

The four most easily understood methods for age-dating the universe involve the expansion of the universe, cosmic background radiation temperatures, stellar burning processes, and the cosmic abundances of radioactive elements.

 

Expansion of the Universe

By carefully measuring how much the galaxies’ spectral lines shift toward the longer wavelength, or the red end of the spectrum, astronomers can deter mine how rapidly the space-time fabric of the universe stretches, or expands, from the creation event. They see that the farther away a given galaxy is, the faster it moves away from us. These observations tell us the universe is expanding outward from a beginning in space and time.

To be fair, I am not an astrophysicist, so my critique of this section will be as a layman. But here are a few questions I would have of Dr. Ross regarding expansion

SuperNovaRemnants

 

Cosmic Background Radiation Temperatures

Astronomers can calculate how long the universe has been expanding by measuring the degree to which radiation from the creation event (called the cosmic microwave background radiation, or CMB) has cooled down…The fact that the CMB is now so cold implies that the universe must have been cooling down for billions of years.

Stellar Burning

Because stars are such simple systems, if astronomers know the mass of a star, they can determine its age with high precision based on measurements of the star’s color and brightness.

Remember the candle allegory as you read Ross’s words “they can determine its age”. He is using extrapolation and a number of assumptions to make this strong claim. Besides extrapolation, how could Ross calibrate this? No one has ever observed 1000 years or 100,000 years or 1,000,000 years let alone 1,000,000,000s of years.

Some young-earth creationist leaders argue that God must have created all stars in a mature state. This concept manifests two problems. First, it insinuates that God created stars already partly burnt with all the ashes and decay characteristics of stars hundreds of millions of years old. God would this be deceiving us into thinking the universe is old when in fact it is young

Since God created Adam mature with the signs of age like height, ability to talk, ability to digest solid food, and the ability to reason (among others), was God deceptive?

Since Jesus turned water into wine instantaneously, with no aging, was Jesus being deceptive?

In the same way, Ross assumes incorrectly that God could not create stars at various stages of development so that his glory would be greater

Abundances of Radioactive Isotopes

Radioactive dating has many assumptions, which cannot truly provide definitive ages. Dr. Ross says that because supernova produce a fixed amount of radioactive isotopes that scientists can extrapolate the ratios and determine the age of the universe. There seems to be even MORE assumptions in this claim: like how does he know the fixed amount radioactive isotopes produced in each supernova? Since there are so many missing supernova remnants (based on old earth assumptions) how can he then measure the fixed amount of existing radioactive isotopes.

It’s possible (even likely) that I do not fully understand his arguments here, but there seems to be an awful lot of unjustified speculation for him to claim that the abundance of radioactive isotopes is one of the strongest evidences for old earthism.

 

Throughout this chapter, Dr. Ross makes the claim that the universe is precisely 13.79 ± 0.06 billion years old. In 2019 new measurements reduced the age of the universe almost 1,250,000,000 years. So, the error bars were crushed by several orders of magnitude. Don’t miss the extreme inaccuracy of Ross’s claims: Suddenly, over a billion years went missing from the age of the universe and this is almost TWENTY-ONE times the size of his error bars!!!

Dr. Ross finishes the chapter thusly

In 1991 the best available measurements produced a date of 16 ± 3 billion years.

Since the best measurements available in 2019 have the universe at 12.5 billion years, we can make an extrapolation of the time when the modern academic paradigm will catch up to the Bible.

[Sarcasm font/] Approximately every 38 years, the modern academic paradigm (MAP) declares the universe to have lost about 3.5 billion years, so we can safely say that within 150 years the MAP will confirm what God has said all along in his word: In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth. [/sarcasm font]

Now, I want to go back to the time limiting factors that I mentioned at the beginning with the candle analogy. Are there limiters to how old the earth and universe can be?

And many others

As biblical creationists, we can praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. We do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.

 

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 9

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Good God, Cruel World

If there is a more distinct separation between the views of biblical creationists and old earthers, than death before sin, I don’t know what it would be. Ross agrees in his opening of chapter 8

One emotional lightning rod stands taller than all others in the creation day controversy: “Allowing for the millions of years for the fossil layers means accepting death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering before Adam’s sin.” The idea of death before the fall (of Adam and Eve) sparks heated debates. Young-earth spokespersons say an ancient fossil record “documents death, disease, suffering, cruelty, and brutality. It is a very ugly record.”? How can such “ugliness” be compatible with a powerful, loving Creator? Young-earth scholars say it cannot. Most people believe death is bad.

The Bible would agree with “most people” in this instance. I Corinthians 15:26 “The last enemy to be defeated is death.” Death is not just some benign operation that cleans up the gene pool; death is the enemy!

Let’s talk a little bit about what death means. Dr. Ross would say that anything that today’s academic paradigm declares as “alive” can experience death. So he has a BROAD range of things that can die: humans, animals, fish, insects, plants, fungus, bacteria, cells…When any of the items on that list ceases to function, he would say it dies. From his definition of death, one could make a reasonable case that there was death before the sin of mankind. Plants no longer germinating or growing. Bacteria expiring. Even the death of cells Dr Ross would consider death that would invalidate biblical creationism.

But is that what the Bible is talking about when God’s revelation refers to death? The Bible talks about creatures which possess the breath of life as being alive. Hebrew scholars realize the plants are not referred to as being alive in the original Hebrew

In Genesis 1, God specifically mandates that humans and animals are to eat only plants, seeds, and fruit. Carnivory is not permitted by God in Genesis, so to assume there was predation and carnivory is something that old earthists BRING TO the text. God does not allow human carnivory until 1500 years later…after the flood. But getting back to Dr. Ross’s claim that plants are alive is a misunderstanding of the biblical understanding of plants. A better description of plants would be that they are a self-replicating food source. The Hebrew word for living things (that could feasibly die AFTER sin entered the world) would be nephesh (H5315).

So, clearly plants, cells, and bacteria would not be considered “alive” by the author of Genesis, and while they might have come to a point prior to the fall that they failed to reproduce or persist, they would not have been seen as having “died”.

Dr. Jonathan Sarfati has this to say about death before sin

However, creationists have often pointed out that ‘no death before sin’ applies to what the Bible calls death, which is not always the way modern biologists use it. The
Bible doesn’t talk about plants dying, even though modern biologists do. Rather, the Bible talks about plants withering, for example. What is the difference? Answer: the creatures affected by death were those the Bible calls nephesh chayyâh. When it refers to man, it is often translated ‘living soul’, but, of other creatures, including fish, it is often translated ‘living creature’. However, it is never applied to plants or
invertebrates. Therefore, there is a qualitative difference between the deaths of the (vertebrate) animals called nephesh chayyâh and plant death. This is further  supported by the account of the Flood and Ark. The living creatures (nephesh chayyâh) intentionally rescued on the Ark did not include plants (or invertebrates).

When, at the bottom of pg 89, Ross speaks of the biblical creationist understanding the death came after sin, he seems ignorant of much of scripture:

At the heart of such comments lie profound questions about the advent of evil and God’s response to it. Does the blame for all ills fall rightfully on Adam’s shoulders? …In this case, Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God in the garden of Eden must be responsible for all death and extinction experienced in nature. Such a view of Adam’s sin, however seems to imply that God meted out sudden punishment on plants and animals who did nothing to deserve His wrath, or that He couldn’t or wouldn’t protect the rest of creation from man’s offense. Either possibility called God’s character and power into question.

Ross is in effect saying that the rebellion of humans CANNOT have effects beyond themselves, which is not supported by scripture. Below are many of the places in scripture where mankind’s wickedness is judged directly by God against creation, other people, animals, and plants

  • Gen 3:17-19 “Cursed is the ground because of you (Adam)”
  • Ex 7:21 Fish cursed for Pharaoh’s sin
  • Ex 8:13 Frogs cursed for Pharaoh’s sin
  • Ex 9:6 Livestock cursed for Pharaoh’s sin
  • Ex 9:10 Animals cursed for Pharaoh’s sin
  • Ex 9:25 Animals cursed for Pharaoh’s sin
  • Ex 12:29 Firstborn cursed for Pharaoh’s sin (NOTABLE: Pharaoh’s ancestor killed the Hebrew boys (Ex 1:16). Vengeance is the Lord’s, and his judgment is just.)
  • Jer 7:20 Animals/trees/fruit burned for man’s wickedness
  • Jer 9:10-12 Land cursed from sin. Animals cursed from sin
  • Jer 12:4 Land parched and animals/birds perish due to man’s wickedness
  • Jer 14:4-6 Ground, deer, jackals suffering from drought due to man’s wickedness
  • Jer 21:6 Because of Israel’s sin, God judges men and animals
  • Jer 36:29 Man and animals cut off because of wickedness
  • Isa 24:1-6 Earth punished for man’s wickedness
  • Ezekiel 36:34 Land desolate because of Israel’s wickedness
  • Rom 8:20-21 Creation subjected to frustration and in bondage to corruption because of sin

So, we can clearly see that although Ross thinks it’s unjust for other people, animals, plants, and even the ground to experience repercussions from the sin of mankind, Ross’s claims are contrary to what scripture has revealed

Just two pages previous to this one, Dr. Ross hypocritically lectures about not attributing things to God that are not scriptural. But that doesn’t stop him from attributing false characteristics to God based on his misunderstanding of scripture.

If death of any kind in any context is evil, then a loving God would never design His creatures to die.

On pg91 Ross continues

The death Adam experienced is carefully qualified in the text as being visited on “all men”-with no reference to plants and animals.

Yes, when we read Genesis 3, the curse of sin is far reaching, and Paul’s elaboration on the curse of sin shows it to be even broader.

Romans 8 “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

ALL of creation has been subjected to the bondage of corruption by Adam’s sin. It is extra-biblical to think there was death in the creation that God called “very good” since God called death “the last enemy” in I Corinthians 15. Sin was a crushing blow to all of creation

Thankfully, the curse of sin will end: Revelation 22:3 “No longer will there be any curse.”

On page 93 Dr. Ross again engages in eisegesis to protect old earthism. For old earthers there HAD to be carnivory since the emergence of predators. But since this is counter to what the Bible teaches in Genesis 1, Dr. Ross and others have to manipulate the text to make it say something more palatable.

Ch9p93

Some young-earth creation scholars dismiss the teeth, jaws, and claws of carnivores as inadequate evidence that they always killed prey.

Evidence? Dr. Ross, what evidence do you possess that can overturn what God revealed in Genesis 1 when God said that only plants are to be used for food?

Secondly, biblical creation scientists and scholars do NOT dismiss current evidence.

Thirdly, from which animals are the following skulls?

fruit-bat-skull2

The 1st is a fruit bat and the second is a panda. Both vegetarians…but you wouldn’t know that from the bones. Dr. Ross claims he knows the behavior and food preferences of all animals prior to the fall, contrary to scripture just from looking at bones or extrapolating from today.

Ross digs his giant hole even deeper with:

In the wild, carnivores actually help herbivores maintain their health and minimize their suffering…Thanks to carnivores, herbivore health is maximized and death rates minimized

Wait! Earlier, you said animal suffering & death was “very good”. Why would there be a case to be made that animal suffering and death needing to be minimized? Are you backing off the claim that animal suffering and death is “very good”? Why?

It’s a hard pill for us to swallow that the LORD of glory, who describes Himself as good would also declare suffering & death with the same Hebrew word for good, towb H2896

The Bible says carnivores receive their prey from God’s hand Psalm 104:21

Dr. Ross again takes this verse out of context. In the same Psalm, we also see the author say “But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more.”

So, we know that the Psalm was both written AFTER the fall and describes the circumstances of carnivory & wickedness after the fall. 

Humans are the beneficiaries of the remains of millions of generations of plants and animals that preceded us.

This statement assumes that Genesis was incorrect when it describes the worldwide flood. The flood created the conditions necessary for biodeposit resources. 

On pg 97 Ross perpetuates a long refuted idea that layers in ice are annual

If Antarctica and Greenland had tropical climates before and during the flood, then the models to which global flood proponents adhere would allow only 4,300 to 5,000 years for all of Antarctic ice is more than 4,770 meters

I’m sure Dr. Ross is familiar with the P-38 Lightning aircraft that had to crash land in Greenland in 1942. Only 50 years later, these aircraft were recovered buried under more than 250 feet of ice and snow. The men who recovered the aircraft say there were hundreds of layers of ice, so we know that ice layers are NOT annually deposited counter to the modern academic paradigm that is the foundation of Dr. Ross’s claims.

People tell me all the time that the “age of the earth question” is a side issue and does not relate to the gospel. For the most part, I agree with them about the age of the earth. There are some areas though where the “age of the earth question” and the gospel intersect. Here are 2 of them

  • What does scripture teach? It is important that we trust what God has revealed in scripture. As I have shown and will continue to show, old earthers are forced to redefine the words and texts in scripture to accommodate their mantra. When, to accommodate modern academic paradigms, they insert billions of years, death, suffering, thorns, and bloodshed into scripture, it sullies the nature of the gospel. Jesus came to save sinners and defeat the curses of sin.
  • On p98 Dr. Ross teaches that Satan (not Adam) should be blamed for sin. But this is discordant with the Gospel revealed in scripture. Jesus became a human in the line of Adam to save sinners. His form as a man allowed Him to be a kindred redeemer. Satan is not eligible for redemption because there is no means for which Satan’s sins could be atoned. Romans 5 and 8 tells us that all of creation was cursed because of the sin of Adam, which Jesus is able to redeem by his sacrifice. 

Ross titled this chapter “Good God, Cruel World”. He tries to dilute the what goodness means:

In Genesis 1, the creation is called “good” and “very good” but not “ultimate perfection.”

God DOES reveal in Genesis 1 that his creation is very good. Twenty-nine times God also reveals that HE is good using the same Hebrew word with which He describes his creation prior to sin. But Dr. Ross believes and teaches that death/corruption/suffering/thorns were in creation prior to the sin of mankind. But it’s likely that Ross would inconsistently/arbitrarily flinch from attributing death/corruption as being part of the character of the Holy One. But this is the natural progression of thought into which he is bound. 

In the next paragraph, the inconsistencies of Dr. Ross continue:

In the Old Testament times, the Israelites shed animal blood as part of their worship. These sacrifices illustrated the horror of sin and the price that must be paid to undo its consequences.”

But according to Dr. Ross, animals have been dying for millions of years. To him, bloodshed is ubiquitous, common, and valueless. So, why would the death of animals somehow now be a “horror” with terrible consequences? He tries to have it both ways that animal death is both endlessly common and a horror. It’s inconsistent.

At the bottom of pg102, I find a very serious implication for the old earth view that Hugh Ross is teaching. Regarding Romans 8, Dr. Ross says

The human effect on the environment is analogous to sending a two-year-old child to clean up a closet. Just as one must wait for the two-year-old to grow up before expecting him to fully comprehend and bring order to the problem, so too God waits for the human race to mature enough to understand and obey God’s “care instructions” for the new creation.”

This is certainly incompatible with the teaching of total depravity. Ross is essentially saying that man can learn to overcome the corruption that plagues this age with greater learning and science. This again, is a terrible problem for the old earth dogma. The only hope for reversing the curse of sin’s corruption is Jesus. 

Chapter 9 ends on a very sad note as Dr. Ross continues his praise of death

A kernel of wheat cannot fulfill its destiny to become a plant bearing many seeds of wheat unless it falls to the ground and dies. Similarly, humans gain eternal life in the new creation through dying. The message of the New Testament epistles is that the pathway to life everlasting is through physical death. Why, then, should any believer in God look upon death as something that is fundamentally bad in all contexts and counter to the will of God? Only through death can evil be conquered. Death for the Christian is in one sense a gift.

It’s mind-numbingly callous to look into the eyes of a child who’s lost his mother or even the family pet and say: “death is a gift!” But this is the progression of thought for Dr. Ross.

The Bible tells a different story. Death is a result of sin. I Corinthians 15:26 “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

Death is the enemy, and the Lion of Judah who defeated death Himself will ultimately crush the final enemy to redeem his creation from corruption.

UPDATE: Here’s what scientist and apologist Dr. Jason Lisle had to say about animal death prior to the sin of mankind

As biblical creationists, we praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. We do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 8

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Guided by Theology

One would think Dr. Ross became a biblical creationist in between ch7 and ch8 as he begins this chapter with

The Bible is a harbor of truth. And yet, navigating a harbor safely often requires a guide who offers clear, specific direction around dangerous obstacles especially during a storm. God calls Christians to love Him with all of  their minds, and to do so, serious followers must explore the breadth and depth of His recorded Word. Jesus said, “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). Good theology helps direct an honest search. Wise church scholars throughout history have acknowledged that determining the precise meaning of a biblical word or passage sometimes requires more effort than a mere surface reading. Many passages that address or allude to the age of the universe and Earth are difficult to interpret. Such sections require careful consideration of both context and relevant theological points.

Failure to be cautious and thorough in analyzing them can lead to inaccurate conclusions.

Amen. Theological considerations should be ever present when reading God’s Word. In sections regarding the origin and state of the universe prior to human rebellion against the Creator is a significant question since we (in the present) see evil, death, suffering, and corruption. Creation and human plight seem somehow marred, broken, and tarnished. Has it always been so, or did something bring the corruption we now see?

For the old earther, death, suffering, cancer, corruption, and thorns have always been a part of the creation despite God calling his creation “very good”

Is cancer, suffering, death and corruption very good? The old earth would be forced to say ‘YES!’

Dr. Ross continues well when he says,

According to the Bible, God is truthful and He expresses Himself truthfully all His works and words, both in the creation of the physical world and in the inspiration of His written Word. When Jesus, the visible expression of the Visible God, said to His disciples, “I am…the truth,” He identified one of His divine attributes (John 14:6). Many familiar Bible verses declare that God is truthful and He does not lie in word or in deed.’

God is indeed truthful and trustworthy, and I’m starting to think Dr. Ross has matured into a biblical creationist since his next two paragraphs sound like this:

The Bible clearly affirms the God’s handiwork displays His character…According to Christian theology, then, an honest investigation of nature leads to discovery of truths

But sadly, in the very next paragraph Dr. Ross devolves back to his old earth arguments and unsuccessfully tries to make the case that because the modern paradigm disagrees with the text of Genesis that the Bible needs to be reinterpreted to accommodate

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

Dr. Ross continues to make clear that when there appears to be a discrepancy between the modern academic paradigm and the Bible, he’s ready to change the definition in the Bible, so it has not problem accommodating the interpretation of observations. So, while he talks about scripture having the highest authority, in practice, he surrenders the Biblical text to academia. 

Suddenly, Dr. Ross takes a dark turn on page 82 when he writes:

The accelerating expansion of the universe due to the effect of dark energy will eventually cause the radiation  from the cosmic creation event [13.8 billions years ago] to move away from us at greater then the velocity of light.

There’s some serious SERIOUS problems with dark energy and the Big Bang model upon which Dr. Ross hangs all of his theory. If the Big Bang or dark energy/dark matter fail as explanations, old earthism loses all of its foundation.

Let’s look at some recent crushing blows to the foundation of the Rossians.

Ross inadvertently hampers his own argument when he writes,

Writers of scripture compared the number of God’s children with the number of stars in the sky and the number of grains of sand on the seashore – a ‘countless’ number. Hebrew and Greek numbering systems included numbers up to billions. ‘Countless’ suggests at least an order of magnitude greater than billions: tens of billions.

So, when God revealed to Moses how long it took from the creation until He created mankind, God said 6 days. Why did God not use these “Countless” numbering analogies or the simile He used with Abraham: number of days like the number of grains of sand on the seashore. But God chose instead to use definite boundaries and ordinal numbers of the word day to very specifically limit the creation time periods.

p83

In the above inset, Dr. Ross sneers at the old young earth model that proposed light might have been faster in the past and has decayed to its present rate. Unfortunately, he forgets that his own sandy foundation has a light time travel problem. For the universe to exhibit such uniform temperatures as is observed, light would have had to travel much fast in the past or the universe be much older than his error bars could apologize for. Ooops. 

Pg 83 turns out to be a rough page for Dr. Ross because he finishes this page with some very poor logic

God’s fourth commandment says the seventh day of each week is to be honored as holy: “Six days you shall labor…but the seventh day is a Sabbath….For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth…but he rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 20:9, 11). Young-earth creationist leaders often cite this passage as proof positive for the 24-hour creation-day interpretation. However, this passage is just one of five in the Pentateuch (the books of Moses) that address the fourth commandment. For three of these passages (Exodus 35:2; Leviticus 23:3; Deuteronomy 5:12-15), no connection at all is drawn between God’s work week and humanity’s. For the remaining two passages, the “proof” would hold only if neither the word for “day” nor the word for “Sabbath” were ever used with reference to any time period other than 24 hours.

Conveniently, Hugh Ross leaves out Exodus 31:17 which (along with Exodus 20) ties the creation week to the weekly cycle that God’s people are to observe. 

Six days you shall labor
For in
Six days the LORD made

The seventh day is a Sabbath
For on
The seventh day the LORD (SHABATH – Gen 2:2) abstained from work

It is made perfectly clear in Exodus that the days of creation week were not only a pattern for God’s people, but the same time duration. Were Dr. Ross’s interpretation valid, then the expectation would be for God’s people to work for 6 epochs of time (upwards of 13 billion years or whatever the current academic paradigm declares the age of the universe to be) and then rest for a single epoch before repeating it all again. Poor logic, Dr. Ross, but he continues

The seven days of our calendar week follow God’s established pattern. His “work week” gives us a humanlike picture we can grasp.

Exactly! So day ≠  billions of years

This communication tool is common in the Bible. Scripture frequently speaks of God’s hand, eyes, arm, even wings.The context in each case makes clear that these descriptions are not to be taken concretely.

But Dr. Ross, the context of Ex 20 and Ex 31 are not figurative or poetic in nature like Psalm 104. The text in question gives no openness to smuggle in your old earthism. There clearly are passages that are poetic in nature, and we honor the LORD because of them by their context. We also honor the LORD when He reveals historic and commandment passages. The context here in both Genesis and Exodus are not figurative, therefore, we must exercise proper exegesis and put the 24 hour boundaries on the days just as God says.

On pg 85, Dr Ross attacks a clear reading of Mark 10:6 in favor of his old earthism

Jesus said, “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). Ken Ham, Henry Morris, and John Morris have claimed this statement implies that virtually no time transpired between the creation of the universe and the creation of Adam and Eve.” Henry Morris asserted that “Jesus Christ…who was there at the beginning of the creation, said that man and woman were there, too!” Morris used this passage to assert that Jesus was a young-earth creationist.”

Jesus IS a biblical creationist 

However, even from a young-earth perspective on the creation week, this interpretation of Mark 10:6 cannot be correct. Adam and Eve were not created until the sixth creation day, after the creation of the universe and the earth. Therefore, Adam and Eve could not have been present at the beginning of the Universe.

Let’s look at the 2 opposing timelines of old earthism vs. biblical creation.

Timeline

ReasonsTimeline

 

You can see from the biblical creation timeline on top, that mankind was created during the creation week…at the beginning. Jesus was not speaking about the initial nanosecond of the creation, but the creation week as has been established in Genesis 1 and confirmed in Exodus 20/31. The word that Jesus used:“beginning” now makes sense because both from the perspective of Moses (who wrote Genesis) and Jesus (who spoke 4000 years after creation) the 7 days of creation week very clearly were the beginning.

Conversely, when we analyze the old earther timeline (which is from Hugh Ross’s website reasons.org), we see humans did not emerge until the very END of time…almost 14,000,000,000 years after creation. In this case, it makes no sense to refer to male and female being created at the beginning since from their perspective, it is at the end.

We can combine the differing perspectives into a single timeline to further highlight the distinctions

TimelineCompareYEtoOE

 

Ross makes a similarly futile attempt to discredit the passage in Mark 10:6 as having an anchor in history when he says:

The question asked of Jesus was about marriage. Thus, the context suggests that He was referring to the is beginning of humanity’s story, the story of the first husband and wife. On that basis, the Mark 10:6 “beginning of creation” most likely refers to the beginning of marriage.

Notice, how Ross inserts his own thoughts and words intermixed with Jesus’s words. This is called eisegesis and is a no-no when interpreting scripture. Rather than being content with the actual words Jesus spoke, Dr. Ross changes “the beginning of creation” to “the beginning of marriage”

The chapter is winding down when Dr. Ross adds to the bad logic with:

He (God) will replace this present universe with new heavens, a new Earth, and a new Jerusalem, all having new physical laws and dimensions to make possible our eternal life and rewards in His presence.

Dr. Ross, will the new heavens and earth take 14,000,000,000 years of death, suffering, cancer and bloodshed like you think this creation experienced, before it’s ready for resurrected humans? Why do you assume the current creation took that time to get to where it is in spite of the Bible rejecting that view?

To finish chapter 8 on pg 86 Dr. Ross makes a point that is in strong contention with biblical creationists because of the nature of God.

The clearest evidence of different physics in the new creation comes from the promise  of “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” As Romans 8:21-23 further amplifies, the universe “will be liberated from its bondage to decay.” 

Dr. Ross has defined “bondage to decay” as the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The text in Romans does not support this as we read in Romans 8:20

“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

Creation was SUBJECTED to futility and its corruption by the curse of sin. Creation has not always been corrupted with death/disease/suffering/bloodshed/evil/thorns as Dr. Ross would have us believe because the passages in Genesis and here in Romans forbid his model of thinking. Dr. Ross, thinking that corruption was part of God’s initial creation is “very good”, but here in Romans we see that God calls it bondage. 

Even though Dr. Ross calls this chapter “Guided by Theology”, we see that his theology is poor, and we don’t want to be guided by poor theology. We want to be guided by biblical theology with a proper understanding of scripture rather than eisegesis. 

Praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. As Christians, we do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.

Back to the Table of Contents

Is Hugh Ross Teaching Inaccuracies?

This past week, I ran across a great blog article about how to handle disagreements among Christians. It is very much what I have been learning in my Ephesians class about maintaining Christian unity. Christians should be united in love.

So, how do we handle it when, according to the best of our knowledge, someone is teaching against God’s Word? Hugh Ross is an astrophysicist and Christian teacher, who advocates old earthism. So, the writer, Bruce, of the blog post that I mentioned above asked me to present some of the things that Hugh Ross teaches that are exegetically inaccurate.

A quick note on exegesis. Where interpretation is needed in scripture, scripture should be used as the principal interpreting tool. If there are other scriptures that can be used to aid in the interpretation, then that scripture should be used to help guide the interpretation.

  • Death before sin – Ross teaches that death, disease, and bloodshed have been present among God’s creation for millions of years prior to Adam’s sin.
    • Genesis 3 – Death is a result of Adam’s sin
    • Romans 5 – Man brought death into the world
    • Romans 8 – The sin of mankind brought a bondage of decay to all of creation such that creation would groan as it awaits liberation from its frustration.
    • I Corinthians 15 – Man brought death into the world. The final enemy to be defeated is death
    • Genesis 1 – When God had finished his creative work, he declared his creation “very good.” Ross claims that Adam’s sin caused only human death and that animal death has been happening for millions of years. If animal death is “very good” as Ross claims, then why would Almighty God demand that the picture of the death of his Son be represented by the death of an animal without blemish? The unjust death of the Son of God on a cruel cross was represented for thousands of years by the sacrifice of a lamb. According to Ross, lambs must not have value since they have been dying upon their emergence (Ross does not teach evolution) and that Adam’s sin had no effect on the bloodshed that has existed for millions of years.
    • Genesis 1:29-30 – God clearly intended man and animals to be vegetarian. Prior to the sin of Adam and Eve, man and animals ate plants, and yet Ross teaches that predatory behavior existed for millions of years prior to the curse of sin.
  • The Days of creation are not literal days – Redefining the biblical account, Ross teaches the same cosmic evolution as Dawkins, De Grasse, Bill Nye, and Stephen Hawkings: Big Bang Cosmology. Ross does not teach that the cosmos emerged from gravitational disturbances like Hawkings. Ross does teach that God began the universe by his great power, but after God created the universe, Ross teaches that the forces of the universe constructed stars, galaxies, and planets over billions of years. Ross claims that the Bible teaches the big bang cosmology by explaining expansion when God stretched out the heavens.
    • Genesis 1 – The Hebrew word for day is “yom.” This word can be used similar to our English word for day in that it can mean 24 hour day or a period of time. Never have we found a usage of the word “yom” that means billions of years. Context is key, and in this context, the days are clearly limited to 24 hour periods. Each day is given an ordinal (the 1st day, the second day, the third day…) Each day is also bounded by evening and morning in a typical way that we understand 24-hour days to work. This is counter to what Ross teaches.
    • There are Hebrew words for long periods of time, but none of them are used in this context. The only Hebrew word used in this passage is the word that means 24 hour day.
    • Genesis 1:14-20 – Ross claims that the cosmos emerged from the big bang prior to the creation of earth, plants, fish and birds. This is opposite what the Bible teaches. He claims that the Hebrew word for day, “yom” is flexible enough to mean millions of years. Yet in Gen 1:14-20 the word day is being wildly stretched by Ross to mean both 24 hours (Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day (yom) from the night) and billions of years (and there was evening and there was morning – the fourth day (yom)). Is the word for day (yom) really so flexible to mean both 24 hours and billions of years in the same paragraph? This is a radical misinterpretation of the text that is counter to author’s intent.
    • Exodus 20:11 – The Hebrews were told to work and rest in the same pattern as God performed his creative work. “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the seas, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” The Hebrews were not commanded to work for six eras (billions of years) and then rest for an era as Ross would teach.
    • Exodus 31:17 – This is further confirmation of the six day pattern that God established for his chosen people. It’s not just a pattern of ratios as Ross might ascribe. If it were just a pattern of ratios, God could have used a different word like he does in Daniel 9. It is clearly a pattern of days as the scripture reiterates.
    • Mark 10:6 – Jesus declared that God created man and woman at the beginning of creation. According to atheists and Ross, the timeline of the universe is billions of years and mankind has only been present at the very end of this timeline. Jesus declared the opposite in his teaching to the Pharisees.
    • Luke 11:49-51 – Jesus again declares that the beginning of the world was not billions of years prior to the creation of mankind. “Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel…”
  • The Flood of Genesis 6-9 was a local flood – Ross says that the flood of Noah’s day was “universal.” What he means when he teaches this is that the flood was universal to Noah’s perspective…not global. Ross gets his radical interpretation from his understanding of Psalm 104:6. He assumes that the poetic context of Psalms 104 is ONLY about the creation week. Should we really use poetic accounts to re-interpret historical accounts? Poor exegesis.
    • Genesis 6 and 7 – There are 20 superlatives (all, only, every, entire, everything…) describing the extent of the flood. To say that the flood is local, Ross has to bring his own interpretation to the text rather than letting the text speak for itself.
    • Genesis 7:17-20 – “The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.” The only mountains mentioned in the Genesis text are the mountains of Ararat. We know that the highest point in the mountains of Ararat is almost 17,000 feet high and if the ONLY mountains mentioned in the text were completely covered as said in verse 19, then we know that at a minimum the water level had to be at least 17,000 feet high. There is no basin in the middle east that can contain water levels over 17,000 feet high. So, to say that there was a local flood in the Mesopotamian basin that covered the mountains of Ararat but was not global is biased to the point of re-interpreting scripture for one’s own radical view.
    • Genesis 9 – God promised never to flood the earth again like he did in the days of Noah. If Ross’s teaching of localized flood is true, how does that make God’s promise look? There have been countless devastating local floods since Noah’s day, but there has never been another global flood.
    • Psalm 104:6 – Ross teaches that this poetic text is only about the creation week, so that waters could not cover the earth again during the flood. But the language of Psalm 104:6-9 has language that is closely tied to Noah’s account in Genesis 8 and 9 where God rebukes the waters back to the ocean basins. You can see later on in the passage of Psalm 104 that the lions roar for their prey, so this is clearly after the Fall (which is after the creation week) since God says, “to all the beasts of the earth… I give every green plants for food.” Predatory behavior is a post-fall result of the curse, so Psalm 104:6 cannot restrict the flood to local Mesopotamian basin. So, Ross’s assumption that Psalm 104 is only about the creation week is demonstrably wrong.
    • Isaiah 54:9 – “To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.” The Hebrew word for earth is the same word for earth as in Genesis 1:1. If we use scripture as our guide to determine the depth and breadth of the flood, the way that Genesis uses the word “earth” is not in a regional manner…it is global.
    • Genesis 6 – If it was a local flood, why did Noah have to spend over 100 years building a big boat? In 100 years, he could have moved anywhere on earth he wanted to avoid the localized storm. It only makes sense if the flood were global.
    • 1 Peter 3:21 – The worldwide covering of the earth by water symbolizes baptism. If the flood was a local flood, does baptism just need to be partial covering of water? The symbolism of Jesus’ death (which was complete) and the complete covering of the earth by water, is strongly recognized in the complete submersion by water in baptism. Ross would have to disagree with this or create another “epicycle” to accommodate his teachings.

If it is so important that Christians remain united, why should we “create” controversy by identifying someone specifically for teaching differently? If someone claims to be a teacher of God’s Word, we should expect them to remain consistent with their exegesis. With Ross, we have found that many words have to be re-defined to fit his old earthism.

  • Day = billions of years
  • Literal = figurative
  • Universal = small localized
  • All = some
  • Very Good = billions of years of death, disease, bloodshed
  • Beginning of creation = billions of years after creation

So, it is the plasticity with which Ross interprets scripture that necessitates a scriptural rebuke. With interpretations like his, we get liberal churches ordaining gay ministers and other ignoring scriptures that do not fit their pre-conceived notions of political correctness. So, I invite Dr. Ross and those who have followed his teachings to return to unity in the teachings of the Bible.

With the exception of bringing in the scientifically verified height of the highest point in the mountains of Ararat, all of these points show problems with Ross’s biblical exegesis. There are also bountiful scientific evidences that corroborate the teachings of scripture and are in opposition to Ross’s teachings. Ross likes to say that nature is the 67th book of the Bible, and while this is wildly inaccurate, creation does verify the teachings of scripture and bring glory to God (Romans 1).

Since we can trust God’s revealed Word about the past, we can trust him with our future.

 

EXTRA CREDIT: Do a little thought experiment with me.

If God intended to reveal something like what Ross teaches about creation and the flood, I can think of thousands of revisions that would make it more clearly stated that the earth is billions of years old, that animals have suffered and died for millions of years, and there was a small flood in the middle east.

But how would you change the Bible to show that God intended to reveal that his creative works took 6 literal days about 6000 years ago and that he judged the entire world with a flood?

Hitch Your Wagon to a Star

Just make sure it is the right star. I first heard this phrase (Hitch your wagon to a star) in Kenny Tamplin’s 90’s release, Get Out of My Sun. At least now you know some of my obscure musical tastes. Anyway, the idea is that if you know someone who is rich or smart or famous, then maybe you can get something that you didn’t necessarily earn. I’m going to take this on to a logical conclusion with the recognition that if you got your riches, fame, or information based on a falling star, then you too are doomed.

If you’ve hitched up to a falling star (or foundation) then your wagon (or worldview) is also bound to fail.

Titanic_OldEarth

Old Earth Creationists have been shouting the mantra of the necessity for Christians to embrace Big Bang Cosmology and other naturalistic-based ideas (evolution, deep time…) One of the more famous groups to have done this is Hugh Ross’s outfit, reasons.org. They claim that the Bible introduced the Big Bang cosmology to the world. One of the many problems with the idea of the old earth creationists is that the Bible does not have anything at all to do with the Big Bang. As noted in Genesis 1, God created dry land on day 2, plants on day 3, stars/planets on day 4, birds/fish on day 5, and land creatures on day 6 (including mankind). But the Big Bang theory describes something totally different in a totally different order in a totally different time frame. The two creation stories are completely different.

Despite the obvious differences, the old earth creationists continue to hang onto the idea that naturalistic assumptions about the universe should form the basis by which Christians should interpret scripture, and from a cursory look at their websites, they have grown adept at this method of interpreting the Bible.

Unfortunately, for them, like phlogiston, abiogenesis, and leech-blood-letting before, the Big Bang model has been tossed aside by secular scientists. In this article, the naturalistic thinkers no longer want the universe to have a beginning because this would seem to imply that there were a Higher Power, to whom they might be responsible.

Big Bang? What Big Bang? In a new theory, researchers suggest that the start of the universe may have involved no bang at all.

There’s no need for Christians to compromise the revealed Word of God to try to accommodate naturalistic assumptions about creation…especially as they have a tendency to be discarded as more information is discovered.  You can trust God’s Word as revealed in the Bible to be true and unchanging.

UPDATE:

“The science is settled! It is beyond dispute that the Big Bang never happened.”

“What?! New evidence is in, and the Big Bang never happened?”

“The science is settled! The universe is eternal. The Big Bang never happened. Those who cling to the Big Bang are science deniers!”

http://www.glennbeck.com/2015/02/10/watch-the-big-bang-never-happened/