Hugh Ross: Creationist Oddity

IT’S A SLOW news day, so we’ll introduce you to Hugh Ross, an astronomer and astrophysicist, who is also an Old Earth creationist (OEC) and operator of the OEC website Reasons to Believe.

As you can see from the foregoing, Ross is a true curiosity in the creationist world. Ross is featured in an article at the National Center for Science Education website: Old Earth Creationism. That same website has an extensive review of a Ross book, Creation as Science. The review is respectful, but ultimately dismissive. It’s well worth reading if you find Ross as fascinating as we do.

All of that should give you enough background to appreciate an article by Ross, which appears in the Christian Examiner. The title is Creation will be viable science as believers develop testable models. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Perhaps you’ve already observed that “evolution bashing” tends to backfire. Claims that creation or intelligent design must be right because of flaws and shortcomings in the evolution scenario typically go nowhere, and for good reason. Scientists freely acknowledge that no theory comes forth perfect and complete. The investigation of flaws and weaknesses is the process that propels science forward toward more precise understandings of the natural world.

What’s more, researchers and theoreticians interpret such complaints as a smoke screen, an attempt to cover up a lack of tangible, valid evidence for creation or, equally bad, an attempt to shield the biblical creation scenario from any meaningful evaluation and critique.

This is an amazing start to a creationist article. Let’s read on:

To gain a voice in the public arena, we cannot and need not stay “religiously neutral.” We cannot ask for recognition of an unidentified intelligent designer who played an undefined role in bringing about the observable history of life on Earth. This lack of definition will prevent us from being taken seriously as scientists.

The way forward requires development of comprehensive creation “models” (explanatory scenarios or theories). These are the core of the scientific enterprise. Creation can be and will be considered as a credible alternative to evolution only if and when we creationists put forth our own testable models to describe and explain the origin and history of the universe and life.

When creationists propose specific details of what took place “in the beginning,” creation can be scientifically tested. By providing the means to either verify or falsify (through observations and experiments) creation, we can effectively demonstrate that “creation is science.”

This is the sort of thing we routinely tell creationists, but here they’re being told the same thing by one of their own. We continue:

It’s important to remember that a shift in scientific thinking occurs only as the most talented and well-trained scientists become convinced of the need for change, not as students and politicians clamor for it. Eventually, new developments at the top research level trickle down to the classroom and the broader culture.

At this point you’ve got to be wondering — If Ross sees things this clearly, why is he a creationist? Bear with us:

For more than 20 years, my colleagues and I have been developing a radically different tactic to counter barriers to belief in creation. This strategy is not new. We simply returned to the biblically derived scientific method, the same one that sparked the scientific revolution.

Okay. Now he’s sounding more like a creationist. Let’s see where this is taking us:

Applying that method to the rapidly emerging discoveries in both the physical and life sciences has brought forth an astounding weight of evidence in favor of biblical creation.

We like to keep an open mind, but at this point we’re not aware of Ross’s evidence. Frankly, we doubt that such evidence exists. It’s possible, however, that we’ve overlooked it. It’s also possible — quite likely, in our opinion — that Ross is just another creationist with impossible dreams.

We have no way of knowing whether Ross has found happiness with his unique combination of beliefs, or whether he’s living each day in the throes of what we called The Agony of Evolution vs. Creationism — being scientifically educated, yet emotionally unable to fully accept what he knows.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Hugh Ross: Creationist Oddity

  1. The redoubtable Ross wrote:

    Creation can be and will be considered as a credible alternative to evolution only if and when we creationists put forth our own testable models to describe and explain the origin and history of the universe and life.

    Well, almost right. The ‘testable models’ have to actually pass empirical tests to count as a ‘credible’ alternative. The creationists have yet to produce anything other than ‘incredible’ alternatives

  2. John Phillips, FCD

    And I can almost guarantee that if you point creationists/IDiots at Ross’s post they will ignore everything except where he says;

    Applying that method to the rapidly emerging discoveries in both the physical and life sciences has brought forth an astounding weight of evidence in favor of biblical creation.

  3. A quick review of his site reveals how he can be so close to being a rational scientist.

    He points out that experiments were intelligently designed by humans proving that only an intelligent designer could account for the original system, that combined with chicken and egg scenarios allow him to self deceive.

    He misses ( unconsciously or intentionally) the point that a experiment is designed to verify a process is possible by controlling all the mitigating factors, in essence he confuses the methodology of good experiment design with a necessity for design to accomplish what is being studied.

    I have been seeing this put forward more and more by ID and creationists, as they see it as a very effective means to confound the lay public.

  4. gingerbeard, that’s standard creationist stuff. An observation made in the wild doesn’t count, because it has to be “proven” in the lab. But anything done in the lab is “intelligently designed,” so it “proves” their theory. Heads, tails. It’s all ID, all the time.

  5. retiredsciguy

    Ross said:
    “…has brought forth an astounding weight of evidence in favor of biblical creation.”

    He wishes to be taken seriously, and yet he doesn’t cite the evidence. Could it be that all the evidence in favor of biblical creation is found only in The Bible?

  6. “…has brought forth an astounding weight of evidence in favor of biblical creation.”

    It’s being stored at Area 51, along with the 100 mpg carburetor, the truth about the Kennedy assassination, and Obama’s birth certificate.

  7. Jacob Stuckey

    From what I’ve observed, old-Earth creationists like Hugh Ross seem to be the target of more young-Earth creationist ire than straightforward theistic evolutionists.

  8. Michael Wallace

    —– begin quote from article
    We have no way of knowing whether Ross has found happiness with his unique combination of beliefs, or whether he’s living each day in the throes of what we called The Agony of Evolution vs. Creationism — being scientifically educated, yet emotionally unable to fully accept what he knows.
    —– end quote from article

    I worked for Dr. Ross for eight years as a network administrator and web developer. I knew him personally. He came to faith through his experience with science, not the other way around. He fully accepts what astrophysics has taught him. He is quite genuine in that respect.

    For him, science is a friend to the biblical account. He does not see the progression of scientific understanding as undermining the biblical account. Quite the contrary, he sees science continually offering an ever growing body of evidence for the biblical account, via testable data, explanatory power, and predictability. He knows the difference between a falsifiable experiment, and one that is not. Further, he does not do interpretive damage to biblical languages, or the scientific paradigm, as many have done. He is not one to leave stones unturned, either scientific or biblical, as some in the creationist realm do.

    The testable model he uses is derived from data presented in scientific journals, and is fully documented. He has a team of scholars that have earned doctorates in astrophysics, biology, geology, and radio astronomy (the last having worked at JPL, and recently written a work on antenna array techniques learned while working on the Galileo Program). The organization is no slouch, and is easily ahead of other creationist groups in terms of hard evidence, enhancing its credibility.

    I think you all are serious thinkers. Unless you assume atheism as a brute posit, this organization is a serious contender, and worth a closer look.

  9. Journey Pastor

    Jacob Stuckey is correct: Old Earth Creationists do bear the enmity of their Creationist brethren more than do people like Francis Collins or John Walton, who affirm evolution and interpret Genesis symbolically. I’ve been in these various circles for 30 years and have a good insider’s view. Old Earth Creationism differs from all other views in their “all or nothing” approach–any variance from their views is “heresy.” By contrast, other Christian attempts to understand science & creation are much more fluid and porous.