Hugh Ross's scientific evidences for God


(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

So I listened to this talk from Astrophysicist Hugh Ross, and I found it fascinating. But how true to reality are his evidences really?

A little thing that worried me somewhat is his statement that humans are living in the only time when civilisation could exist. It seems hard to reconcile this with evolution.


#2

Not gonna speak for or against Ross says, but I’m just going to note that Ross is an ID proponent. He thinks Genesis contains advanced scientific knowledge of things it obviously doesn’t mention, i.e. he reads a LOT of modern science into it.

EDIT: Just to note, I know this because I followed Ross for about a year constantly watching his lectures and reading his website before I became an evolutionist. I know and have agreed with his views extensively in the past.


#3

Yeah, don’t go for Ross, he also claims that U.F.O sights are actually fallen angels being seen by immoral people. Also, he is not really that much of an astrophysicist, he has like a PhD and two published papers, and never worked on that again after starting reasons to believe.


(Phil) #4

I cannot devote the time to look at the whole video, but my understanding of Ross is that he puts a lot of emphasis on the "fine tuning"of the universe for humanity. It is something that makes you shudder a bit in how it worked out, but is really not “proof of God” anymore than it is if you were to win
the lottery.

While I obviously do not agree with Hugh Ross’s interpretation in the subject of origins, he and his organization are committed to the gospel and I’ve enjoyed their fellowship and discussion.


#5

I don’t know…sometimes I think that organizations like his which claim to be scientific but fall very short on that may end up being more harmful than helping for christianity. Some of William Lane Craig’s behaviors also concern me on that matter, though in his case I ended up changing my mind about after seing more of his work (though I still don’t like the things I didn’t like about him at first).


(Luca) #6

What bothers you about him?


#7

His attitude is a little bit too provocative in some debates, which makes it look like he is trying to win rather than discuss. There is a debate with Lawrence Krauss in which he stated that science can’t prove any religion, but it can “check” claims made by religions, then he spent the whole slide attacking claims by other religions (none of christianity) just to then start pointing out where christianity got it right (the universe had a begining, etc), again, without pointing out any possible correct claims that other religions made. He also never explicitly denies ID when confronted with the question (although he doesn’t explicitly support it as well). He also makes it clear that he is against the B theory of time for the simple fact that it contradicts the Kalahm cosmological argument, which is a bad reason the disagree with a theory (that theory can’t be right, or else I’m wrong!)…(though I have seem other philosophers come up with good critiques against it). Finally, despite the fact that his site is called reasonable faith, he has already assumed that he puts faith over reason and would still uphold it even if conclusive proof against christianity could be somehow found, which is basically “starting with the conclusion and trying to rationalize it”. Nonetheless, he does have a respectable philosophical work and make very coherent and good arguments. He never really looks unprepared in a debate outside of his area (like debating cosmology and quantum physics with Krauss), which is admirable. That doesn’t change the fact that I do find the forementioned aspects of him a little displeasing to say the least, though,


#8

Do you know the Faraday Institute? They have a lot of videos from talks given in the institute here:

http://www.faraday.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/Multimedia.php

They are very selective with the people they call, so its basically all serious/reliable people here. I’m still listening Ross video to check it point by point, but they do have some videos in which they discuss some of the arguments in better detail. In fact, there is even talks by Darwin’s biographists talking about his religious beliefs and the motives for them (which is briefly discussed in the start of Ross video, and terribly oversimplified…it is not just the death of his daughter).

I highly recommend the talk "Is the universe designed? By Rodney Holder.


(Juan Romero) #9

I think Holder’s books God, the Multiverse and Everything and Big Bang, Big God are also very good.


#10

Never read them, but I’ll try to get.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #11

Better than Ross’s evidence?


#12

More reliable, I would say, I watched halfway through Ross evidence, and what I can say is basically that his astronomical/cosmological data is basically right, but whenever he steps out of that a little bit (biography of Darwin, philosophy, biology, etc) he starts making some very biased simplifications to favor his view or even getting the whole thing wrong. The evidence itself is not that much different, they talk a lot about fine tuning and stuff like that, but they are more reliable and explicitly clarify when they are giving a personal opinion and when they are talking about science, which is a little blurried in Ross’s talk. One thing I actually liked about this talk however, is that even though he never explicitely states that, it is actually a talk against the weak anthropic principle used by atheists to justify the fine tuning (I.E. Of course the universe is suitable for human life! If it was not, there wouldn’t be anyone here to make this claim), he does that by showing that there are an infinity of ways in which we could still “be here” but be totally unable to understand the universe (the one about the galaxies being too far apart I know it is right, I’ve heard many physicists talking about, the other ones seem to be ok, but I’m not sure), which is actually a pretty good argument if you couple it with the Copernican principle.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #13

Is this based on valid science:


(Joshua Hedlund) #14

I would love to verify some of these claims from the first half of this video! Ex. That the sun, in the middle of its life cycle, is at the bottom of a bell curve for unstable solar output, and even further that it is halfway through its 100,000-year extremely maximally stable period. Also, that the sun is halfway between two major spiral arms, which it traverses every billion years, so that if we were in the middle of one now the other stars would be too bright to do any worthwhile astronomy. (I tried to google some of this but couldn’t find anything… it thinks I just want to know about the 11-year sunspot cycle, etc…)


(Matthew Pevarnik) #15

Let me just look at how this thing begins, let’s say starting at 3:15 I see a slide that is titled 'Darwin: his pain --> his theory."

Dr. Ross says about Darwin (we will examine each of these claims later down in this post):

  • His theory came from personal pain
  • His daughter died at age two
  • This was a young gal he was very much attached to
  • His daughter’s death is what led him to conclude as he said in Origins of Species “the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel works of nature” could not be God’s creation
  • So Darwin abandoned God and substituted his theory of evolution in God’s place cause Darwin couldn’t think of any other reason for why this God would allow his daughter to experience death at the age of two if indeed God was in control of all creation

Claim: Darwin’s Theory was inspired by his personal pain

Even if it was, so what? What does that have anything to do with the massive pile of evidence that exists for the theory of evolution. A clever trick from apologists and creationists would be something like what is done here. If you can link Darwin’s idea of evolution to someone who was just mad at God, then the ENTIRE model of common descent from genetics to fossils (which similarities creationists pretend don’t exist) can be dismissed in the minds of Christians. This is misleading at best and dare I say quite dishonest at worst.

Let’s first though look at this particular claim. Here is a summary on Wikipedia of the development of Darwin’s theory if you will (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_Darwin’s_theory). What Darwin’s problem was… was scientific. As the Wikipedia page notes as early as 1836 Darwin began investigating the problems with the equivalent of today’s creationism. His first child wasn’t even born until 5 years later! Note: Darwin’s theory was inspired by the fact that special creationism accounts fail to describe the natural world.

A nice summary later in life would be this quote (from 1861):

I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or the cat should play with mice.

To Darwin, not only was it a better scientific explanation, but this was ultimately a much more satisfying conclusion that being forced to argue that God created really nasty creatures like these parasitic Ichneumonidae wasps.

Claim: His daughter died at age two

Well, let’s look at Darwin’s children: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin#Children.

He had ten. Which, if any died at the age of 2? Only one, his last which was a boy. Okay so obviously this is a factual error.

Claim: He was very much attached to this daughter that died at the age of two:

Presumably Hugh got this confused with Anne Darwin who died at the age of ten: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Darwin. Yes, Darwin was very impacted by the death of his ten year old daughter, his firstborn. I would be devastated too. Darwin write after her death:

We have lost the joy of the household, and the solace of our old age… Oh that she could now know how deeply, how tenderly we do still & and shall ever love her dear joyous face

He was comforted however by the healthy birth of son just a few weeks later. None the less, this is probably what Dr. Ross was referring to, and his claim is that the death of Anne, led Darwin to reject God and reject special creation. Again, let’s turn to some sources from Wikipedia which can lead to further study: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Charles_Darwin#Darwin’s_loss_of_faith. It was not a single event that led to Darwin’s loss of faith but he had already stopped going to church long before Anne’s death and had lots and lots of questions before this event.

Claim: His daughter’s death led him to conclude in the Origin of Species (see quote above)

Okay let’s check where this quote came from. Here is a searchable text of the entire Origin of Species: https://archive.org/stream/originofspecies00darwuoft/originofspecies00darwuoft_djvu.txt

Hmm don’t see the quote there. How about a more general internet search, what will it tell us?

It actually appears in a letter in 1856! Okay, so that’s about 5 years after Anne died and it’s certainly not in the origin of species. Now, Darwin did have a new boy born in 1856! And that boy happened to die (his only child that died at the age of two) in 1858 but that’s two years after he wrote this quote about ‘the cruel works of nature.’

Sure there are a lot of details here, but virtually all of them are wrong and mixed up and thrown together in incorrect ways.

Last Claim: Darwin replaced God with his theory

Okay let me ask, why would a Christian apologist who rejects virtually the entire theory of evolution make the claim that Darwin replaced God with a scientific theory? Should we even try to evaluate if this is a true claim or not?

Ok fine, let’s just look at an actual quote from the Origin of Species:
I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one. It is satisfactory, as showing how transient such impressions are, to remember that the greatest discovery ever made by man, namely, the law of the attraction of gravity, was also attacked by Leibnitz, “as subversive of natural, and inferentially of revealed, religion.” A celebrated author and divine has written to me that “he has gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws.”

Concluding Thoughts

I don’t have any. I only made it 45 seconds. This 45 second clip however reminds me of something I read over at @sfmatheson’s blog from 2008: http://sfmatheson.blogspot.com/2008/03/hugh-ross-shocking-fairy-tale.html.

If there’s anything you’d be interested in specifically taking a look at in greater detail from the video, I’d be willing to help out but this is all I can do for now.


#16

Well, like I said, the physics in the video SEEMED (Edit: Sorry, now I re-read my post and saw that I actually said “is basically right to me”, which I don’t have the scientific background to state, instead of "seems basically right, my bad for that) ok to me, and I have listened other more serious physicists talk about some of the things he said, however, I’m not a physicist, just an enthusiast, so it is totally possible that I may have let major mistakes of his pass by unnoticed. His claims about biology, Darwin and even philosophy are atrocious, though, and that is why I wouldn’t really trust him even in his claims about physics, even though it is an area which he tecnically has the appropriate background to speak of (he did study astrophysics and cosmology seriously, even though he dropped that carrier) and probably is not commiting errors in the same level as he is in other areas, but I prefer to listen to more reliable people.

EDIT: What I mean is basically: Since I’m not planning on taking Ross seriously anyway (because of other things he said), I didn’t bother to check his sources, they seemed ok to me but I prefer to read about the fine-tuning arguments from more reliable people than taking my time checking if I can take him seriously about physics or not.


#17

My amateur opinion is: It is an untestable metaphysical interpretation based on actual science, but not science on and in itself. It does look a little bit with some arguments Antoine Suarez make, and he is an actual quantum physicist who likes to deal with these metaphysical/philosophical interpreations, I think asking his opinion about that would be interesting. @AntoineSuarez


#18

The arguments he makes from 12:45 to 33:10 are the ones which seemed interesting to me regarding the fine-tuning vs weak anthropic principle thing, and it was basically the part of the talk in which it looked to me like he actually knew what he was talking about instead of saying nonsense, but I don’t trust him and he could be distorting it, and I don’t have the level of knowledge in physics to be sure of that, could you give us some help on that?


(Matthew Pevarnik) #19

20 minutes! It took me 30 minutes to comment on 45 seconds!

Krauss’ Paper from 1999
First Krauss’ paper: https://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/9902189.pdf. It’s very interesting but if you want to read the abstract and conclusion feel free. To evaluate any claims beyond that will require a more technical reading of the paper.

Dark Energy Side Note

Wikipedia summarizes the evidence for this acceleration in our expansion along with some possible models that cosmologists are trying to measure: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerating_expansion_of_the_universe

Claim: The field of astronomical observation will shrink within the relatively near future. “And as Lawrence Krauss points out in his paper, more and more of the universe will cease to be visible and if you wait long enough the sun will be moving away from us greater than the velocity of light”

Okay’s let’s look at the paper. What Krauss writes is regarding the future lack of ability to measure cosmological phenomena:

This time-scale is remarkably short, at least compared to the times we shall shortly discuss. It implies that when the universe is less than two-hundred times its present age, comparable to the lifetime of very low mass stars, any remaining intelligent life will no longer be able to obtain new empirical data on the state of large scale structure on scales we can now observe.

Interesting. Hugh implies that we really are in this perfect window to observe the entire universe. What Krauss actually wrote is that yes, the timescale is short compared to other times he presented… BUT the time when we will no longer be able to obtain any new information is approximately when the universe is 200 times its present age (or ~2 trillion years from now!!!)

Yes, that is literally what Krauss wrote. But the implication by Hugh Ross is that we are running out of time to learn of this ‘cosmic creation event.’ To which I say, yeah sure, 2 trillion years from now.

Claim: Krauss says there are more troublesome things to be concerned about. We’re gonna see star formation ceasing

I think what Hugh is referring to is this quote from the conclusion of the paper:

We can take solace from two facts. The constraints we provide here are ultimate constraints on eternal life which may be of more philosophical than practical interest. The actual time frames of interest which limit the longevity of civilization on physical grounds, are extremely long, in excess of 10^50−10^100 years, depending upon cosmological and biological issues. On such time-scales much more pressing issues, including the death of stars, and the possible ultimate instability of matter, may determine the evolution of life.

This is summarized by the wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_an_expanding_universe

In an expanding universe star formation will cease ~100 trillion years from now. That’s perhaps mildly depressing but that’s 100 trillion years. I don’t know how to fathom quite how long that is from now.

Claim: We astronomers observe that star formation has already shut down in more than 90% of galaxies in the universe

I’m not entirely sure where the claim that 90% of galaxies are done with star formation (i.e. dead) is coming from, but I was familiar with a 2012 paper on star formation rate in general that RTB wrote about: http://old.reasons.org/articles/end-of-star-formation-signals-new-beginning. The RTB article cites one study that noted that star formation rates (when looking at galaxies that are quite far away and hence we are seeing them as they were when the universe was younger) were over 30 times higher at greater redshifts compared to current rates.

An interesting critique of the paper used to support the RTB article I linked can be found here. http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2012/11/07/every-galaxy-will-have-new-stars-for-trillions-of-years/

Yes, it’s interesting that the star formation rate has declined, and it’s interesting that it’s declined at the rate we’ve observed. But it’s not going to drop to zero any time soon, and if you sum up the total number of stars in our Universe’s future, it’s actually far greater than the number of stars that have already existed up until this point in time, a far cry from the “only 5% more than we have now” figure you may have read.

Poking around more articles on their website, perhaps this could be what Hugh is referring to? http://www.reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2017/06/27/dead-galaxy-gives-more-proof-of-big-bang-creation-model

I don’t know. Let’s just move on.

Claim: Ours is one of the few galaxies where star formation is still continuing

Okay. This is IMPOSSIBLE to measure or know. Why? Because we see all things as they once were, NOT as they presently are. Anytime we see galaxies merging, guess what happens? Lots of new stars! Wahoo! Here’s one list of 100 galaxies merging: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0067-0049/181/1/233/pdf.

There are 2 trillion galaxies out there. (https://arxiv.org/pdf/1607.03909v2.pdf) If a galaxy is 2 billion light years away, we are measuring whatever it was doing 2 billion years ago. Maybe it died since then. Maybe it merged with something else. We don’t know and can’t know what it is presently doing for another 2+ billion years.

Claim: Gaining knowledge will become increasingly impossible beyond a certain point

Krauss actually notes that this will be occurring ~10^50 years from now. 10 to the 50th!!! Note: you’d never actually get that from Hugh’s presentation but would have the impression that we are in this EXTREMELY small window. But so far, the window for various things has ranged from 2 trillion years to 10^50th years.

Claim: With the end of all consciousness is the end of all hope, purpose, or destiny

This is the end of Hugh’s summary of cosmic heat death. While not entirely clear, these words were not part of Krauss’ paper but were added as a commentary to his paper. However, anyone watching might naturally think that this is the logical conclusion of the rightfully shocking idea of cosmic heat death! But Krauss is actually more optimistic in his actual paper which you can read in the conclusion if you like.

Claim: We can’t appear any earlier than 13.7 billion years to see this cosmic creation event. For example if we showed up 5 billion years ago, we’d only see about 2/3rd of the universe. If we would have shown up about 5 billion years into the future, we’d again only see about 2/3rd of the universe.

To be honest, I have no idea what Hugh’s talking about here, but it’s certainly an interesting claim. I have to admit I initially am quite skeptical of such a claim. I gotta stop. I will have to look at the corresponding book that goes along with the teaching. (for personal note I’m at around 20-21 minutes into the video)


(Antoine Suarez) #20

Many thanks for referring to me.

For this thread and in particular regarding Krauss’ claim
"assuming that consciousness has a physical computational basis, life cannot be eternal"
you may be interested in looking at Section IX in this article: