Hugh Ross's scientific evidences for God

Is this based on valid science:

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…)

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.

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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.

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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

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?

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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)

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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:

Thanks, I will check it out! But just to be clear, I was refering to the second video Reggie posted:

The first one by Hugh Ross is not the one which I claimed that looked like your arguments.

I see. So basically what Ross did was to omit some numbers and possibly make up others in order to make it look like the opportunity window we had was way shorter than it actually is and thus make his arguments look stronger? Well, we don’t even now if 100 trillion years for now the universe will even still have the conditions to form life, so it is hard to apply any anthropic principle logic here.

Yeah, I also found that claim interesting and it seems reasonable at first, but then again, it probably has something wrong with it given Hugh Ross’s track record. The same thing can be said about the argument from our location within the galaxy.

I will read carefully all the links you posted (especially Krauss’s paper) so I can be better informed. Many thanks!

Thanks for clarifying.

I know well the video by Inspiring Philosophy you refer to.
I agree with many of the claims in it although I would like to formulate things more accurately.

So I suggest you read my article in arxiv.org

and then we can continue the conversation with more common ground.

Going on.

Claim: we’d be completely ignorant about the cosmic creation event if we were on the scene 5 billion years ago because the light wouldn’t have had time to reach us

I’m going to try to guess what he is referring to in more detail here. Presumably the ‘cosmic creation event’ is referring to being able to see the Cosmic Microwave Background which is constantly getting harder to measure as time goes on (not by much but say in 2 trillion years it’d be quite a bit tougher!). At first glance it would actually be easier to measure this in the past as it would be a larger signal compared to today. But since it was very unclear what he was referring, I had to pull out the book that this talk goes with and I found a section that is kind of relevant to this.

If you have the book it is in Chapter 3: Why such an old universe in the section titled “Just-Right Age for Observing.”

Claim in book: “the light of nearby objects would have blinded observers from seeing the more distant objects. Only in a universe where stars and galaxies are sufficiently spread apart can an observer potentially see everything.”

Okay there are no actual sources for this and there is no way he could know what someone could see in the universe 5 billion years ago. Not to mention, could one measure the CMB? Absolutely yes! We would measure a blackbody spectra on top of any other electromagnetic radiation and we can subtract out the background from stars. I’m gonna go with this is nonsense for this one.

Claim #2 in book: “these lights were much brighter in the past than they are today. The intensity of light emitted by the cosmos is strongly tied to the rate of star formation. This rate reached a peak when the universe was about 5 to 6 billion years old. It took additional billions of years beyond that peak for the lights of the universe to dim sufficiently so as not to impair astronomers’ viewing capacity”

Again, no sources. I’ll give one that can possibly support him although he’s wrong in the peak star formation rate (I posted a little on this above):

Sobral summarized the results: “The production of stars in the Universe as a whole has been continuously declining over the last 11 billion years; it is 30 times lower today than at its likely peak 11 billion years ago. If this trend continues, no more than 5 % more stars will exist in the Universe. We are clearly living in a Universe dominated by old stars. All of the action in the Universe occurred billions of years ago!”

In other words, if Sorbal is correct, given that there are approximately 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe, we will be producing another ~500,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars still.

But anyways, as for Hugh’s claim, it is completely speculative and no backed up by any evidence. However, in the presentation it is cited as a matter of fact.

Claim #3 in book: if humans were alive on earth during Earth’s infancy, they couldn’t have seen through our translucent atmosphere

Again no sources. Forget this. And this is a complete strawman type of comparison. Hugh is arguing that nowhere in the universe could we see the cosmic creation event and one of his reasons is that the Earth’s atmosphere was hard to see through so its unlikely any humans alive would have been interested in making telescopes to measure electromagnetic radiation from space. I’ll do a few more claims but this type of shenanigans is ALL OVER HIS MATERIAL.

Claim #4 in book: “Theoretically, the earlier in cosmic history humans arrived, compared to 13.73 billion years, the smaller fraction of cosmic history they could have observed”

There it is! The claim I’ve been looking for. Ah rats, again no sources yet in his presentation he states as a matter of fact about 5 billion years ago we’d only be able to see about 2/3rds of the universe.

One final post for me starting at 22:38

The slide reads: 99.73% of all the universe’s stuff is dark energy and dark matter

Stop right there. This might not be a big deal to anyone else, but this is wrong.

72.1% is Dark Energy
23.3% is Dark Matter
4.35% is from other matter that doesn’t shine like stars but is still regular matter
0.27% is from stars

Hugh clumps the regular matter that doesn’t shine for some reason in the category of ‘Dark Energy and Dark Matter.’ NOBODY would ever do this. No cosmology publication does this. Dark Matter specifically refers to not just stuff that doesn’t give off light. It would be completely wrong to call my wallet made of dark matter because it doesn’t give off light. But that is what he’s done here. I can’t fathom how anyone could or would ever do that, but I digress. Next!

Claim: if the dark stuff were changed by just one part in 10^122 no life would be possible

In the book, there’s actually a citation for this claim! It’s a miracle! The citation is: ‘Lawrence M., Krauss, Quintessence: The Mystery of the Missing Mass (New York: Basic, 2000), 103-5; Krauss, “End of the Age Problem,” 461, 465. I don’t have the book, but here is Krauss’ paper on End of the Age Problem:
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1086/305846/pdf

You can find the reference to the 120 orders of magnitude on the first page and in the conclusion. It is an interesting question but understanding where this comes from is very important before arguing for what the unsolved question truly is. A youtube helps demonstrate the origin of this extreme apparent fine tuning:

But, from my perspective, the best ‘fine-tuning’ is based upon a lack of knowledge. Others here may disagree, but until we have a comprehensive theory of quantum gravity, I’m not going to be raving about how this is knock-out evidence for God. From my perspective… it is a very dangerous thing for a Christian to say 'the best evidence for divine design is in the darkness of the universe simply because we may find out that there is really no fine-tuning at all!

Claim: the designer is therefore 10 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion… etc. times smarter and better funded

This is a nonsensical claim. Let’s compare humans today to humans oh two hundred years ago. We are able to measure something as small as 10^-24 meters today (very small with the LIGO detector and gravitational waves). The smallest thing anyone could measure 200 years ago would be let’s say a micrometer (or about the width of a human hair). Does that mean that humans today are a billion billion times smarter? No, not by any means which makes this a ridiculous argument only put in perhaps to cause oohs and aahs from Christian audiences.

Claim: the planet earth resides in the darkest life habitable location within this dark universe

Well I think if pressed, Hugh might agree that he believes the earth is the only habitable location in the entire universe so by default, we win! But there’s absolutely no way whatsoever to possibly know this at all! And then he claims if we were anywhere else we couldn’t really know anything. Yeah… An actual cool study is describe in this short youtube video of where we are cosmically.

Let me go on…

Now at 36:30 The abundance of Uranium and Thorium reaches a peak at 9.2 billion years after creation

There is a graph he shows where the graph of abundance of uranium and thorium increases and peaks when the MWG is formed. In the book (Figure 3.1)… THERE IS NO CITATION. Are you kidding me? This is HUGE and there is no citation. Well no worries, I’ve got several of his books that also mention Thorium. He uses the exact same graph in his book “More than a Theory” (fig 7.5). Again no citation.

Okay fair enough, maybe it is just so obvious that it doesn’t even need a citation! He does write in more than a theory:

“based on measurements of the cosmic expansion rate, astronomers have determined that the cosmic abundance of these elements (uranium and thorium) peaked when the universe was two-thirds its present age, some 4.57 billion years ago.”

Okay. Well I can’t find any sources anywhere. I’m sure astronomers have done just that but nobody bothered to write it down ever.

Final claim: The solar flare activity being at a minimum presently

Alright, lets go for one more round. This one also appears in the Why the Universe is book as Figure 3.2! Hey, there’s a citation here right after the phrase “the sun’s flaring subsided to a minimum level when the Sun reached about 4.5 to 4.6 billion years of age.” Holy cow! There are seven citations just for this one claim! And yeah, I’m going to list all seven.

  1. Evidence in metoerites for an active early sun (1987)–yeah this looks promising to support the idea that the sun’s solar flare activity was higher at first
  2. Irradiation records in meteorites (1988)
  3. A slightly more massive young sun as an explanation for warm temperatures on early mars (1995)
  4. Solar wind composition and implications about the history of the solar system (1973)
  5. Long time variations in solar wind properties: possible causes versus observations (1991)
  6. Long-term changes in composition of solar particles implanted in extraterrestrial materials (1991)–the abstract notes: There is good evidence for a long-term decrease in the solar-wind flux.
  7. Observation estimates for the mass-loss rates of alpha-centauri and proxima centauri using Hubble Space Telescope Ly-alpha spectra (2001)

Well, what did I learn. I learned that yeah our sun most likely had greater solar flaring in the past. But what of this amazing dip in the curve at EXACTLY when human beings are here? I don’t know. I can’t verify this one beyond looking at flaring activity being higher in the past than today. My problem is just that nothing close to this curve has ever been published but yet it is touted out as amazing evidence of the providential window of God.

Concluding thoughts
I’m done with this presentation. Watch at your own risk!

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I’m a bit rusty when it comes to science, can you explain what the article is arguing using layman’s terminology?

I must say it is even worse than I thought it would be, I was expecting something like “very sloppy but the overall idea is ok”, haha. Thanks for your patience going through all that! And yeah, don’t bother watching the rest of the talk, that segment is the “best” (or less terrible) part of the talk, it really hits rock bottom in the rest.

Creationists have the excuse of not having enough knowledge in biology to know what they are talking about, but Ross should in theory have enough study and education in physics to know what he is doing wrong.

It is gonna take a little bit of time since it is 18 pages long and I’m not used to the subject, but I’m enjoying it so far!

With pleasure. Nonetheless I would prefer to do it in another thread to avoid confusion with Hugh Ross’s claims.

We could do it in this thread, where quantum physics is also discussed, or you can open a new specific thread.

New thread please

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