Reasons to Believe

Design Evidences in the Cosmos (1998)

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Adapted with updates from the author’s books, The Fingerprint of God, second edition (Promise, 1991), The Creator and the Cosmos, second edition (NavPress, 1995), and Beyond the Cosmos (NavPress, 1996). References may be found in these books and in the reference addendum at the end of this paper.


Table 1: Evidence for the fine-tuning of the universe

Over thirty parameters of the universe have been identified that must be carefully fixed in value for any kind of conceivable life (not just life as we know it) to exist at any time in the history of the universe. Some examples of these are given in Table 1.

  1. strong nuclear force constant
    if larger: no hydrogen; nuclei essential for life would be unstable
    if smaller: no elements other than hydrogen
  2. weak nuclear force constant
    if larger: too much hydrogen converted to helium in big bang, hence too much heavy element material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars
    if smaller: too little helium produced from big bang, hence too little heavy element material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars
  3. gravitational force constant
    if larger: stars would be too hot and would burn up quickly and unevenly|
    if smaller: stars would be so cool that nuclear fusion would not ignite, thus no heavy element production
  4. electromagnetic force constant
    if larger: insufficient chemical bonding; elements more massive than boron would be unstable to fission
    if smaller: insufficient chemical bonding
  5. ratio of electromagnetic force constant to gravitational force constant
    if larger: no stars less than 1.4 solar masses, hence short and uneven stellar burning
    if smaller: no stars more than 0.8 solar masses, hence no heavy element production
  6. ratio of electron to proton mass
    if larger: insufficient chemical bonding
    if smaller: insufficient chemical bonding
  7. ratio of number of protons to number of electrons
    if larger: electromagnetism dominates gravity preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation
    if smaller: electromagnetism dominates gravity preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation
  8. expansion rate of the universe
    if larger: no galaxy formation
    if smaller: universe collapses prior to star formation
  9. entropy level of the universe
    if larger: no star condensation within the proto-galaxies
    if smaller: no proto-galaxy formation
  10. mass density of the universe
    if larger: too much deuterium from big bang, hence stars burn too rapidly
    if smaller: insufficient helium from big bang, hence too few heavy elements forming
  11. velocity of light
    if larger: stars would be too luminous
    if smaller: stars would not be luminous enough
  12. age of the universe
    if older: no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase in the right part of the galaxy
    if younger: solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would not yet have formed
  13. initial uniformity of radiation
    if smoother: stars, star clusters, and galaxies would not have formed
    if coarser: universe by now would be mostly black holes and empty space
  14. average distance between galaxies
    if larger: insufficient gas would be infused into our galaxy to sustain star formation for a long enough time
    if smaller: the sun’s orbit would be too radically disturbed,
  15. galaxy cluster type
    if too rich: galaxy collisions and mergers would disrupt solar orbit
    if too sparse: insufficient infusion of gas to sustain star formation for a long enough time
  16. average distance between stars
    if larger: heavy element density too thin for rocky planets to form
    if smaller: planetary orbits would become destabilized
  17. fine structure constant (a number used to describe the fine structure splitting of spectral lines)
    if larger: no stars more than 0.7 solar masses
    if smaller: no stars less than 1.8 solar masses
    if larger than 0.06: matter is unstable in large magnetic fields
  18. decay rate of the proton
    if greater: life would be exterminated by the release of radiation
    if smaller: insufficient matter in the universe for life
  19. 12C to 16O nuclear energy level ratio
    if larger: insufficient oxygen
    if smaller: insufficient carbon
  20. ground state energy level for 4He
    if larger: insufficient carbon and oxygen
    if smaller: insufficient carbon and oxygen
  21. decay rate of 8Be
    if slower: heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic explosions in all the stars
    if faster: no element production beyond beryllium and, hence, no life chemistry possible
  22. mass excess of the neutron over the proton
    if greater: neutron decay would leave too few neutrons to form the heavy elements essential for life
    if smaller: proton decay would cause all stars to rapidly collapse into neutron stars or black holes
  23. initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons
    if greater: too much radiation for planets to form
    if smaller: not enough matter for galaxies or stars to form
  24. polarity of the water molecule
    if greater: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too great for life to exist
    if smaller: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too small for life; liquid water would be too inferior of solvent for life chemistry to proceed; ice would not float, leading to a runaway freeze-up
  25. supernovae eruptions
    if too close: radiation would exterminate life on the planet
    if too far: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets
    if too infrequent: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets
    if too frequent: life on the planet would be exterminated
    if too soon: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets
    if too late: life on the planet would be exterminated by radiation
  26. white dwarf binaries
    if too few: insufficient flourine produced for life chemistry to proceed
    if too many: disruption of planetary orbits from stellar density; life on the planet would be exterminated
    if too soon: not enough heavy elements made for efficient flourine production
    if too late: flourine made too late for incorporation in protoplanet
  27. ratio of the mass of exotic matter to ordinary matter
    if smaller: galaxies would not form
    if larger: universe would collapse before solar type stars can form
  28. number of effective dimensions in the early universe
    if smaller: quantum mechanics, gravity, and relativity could not coexist and life would be impossible
    if larger: quantum mechanics, gravity, and relativity could not coexist and life would be impossible
  29. number of effective dimensions in the present universe
    if smaller: electron, planet, and star orbits would become unstable
    if larger: electron, planet, and star orbits would become unstable
  30. mass of the neutrino
    if smaller: galaxy clusters, galaxies, and stars will not form
    if larger: galaxy clusters and galaxies will be too dense
  31. big bang ripples
    if smaller: galaxies will not form; universe expands too rapidly
    if larger: galaxies will be too dense; black holes will dominate; universe collapses too quickly
  32. size of the relativistic dilation factor
    if smaller: certain essential life chemistry reactions will not function properly
    if larger: certain essential life chemistry reactions will not function properly
  33. uncertainty magnitude in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
    if smaller: oxygen transport to body cells would be too small; certain life-essential elements would be unstable
    if larger: oxygen transport to body cells would be too great; certain life-essential elements would be unstable
  34. cosmological constant
    if too large: universe will expand too quickly for solar type stars too form

Table 2: Evidence for the fine-tuning of the galaxy-sun-earth-moon system for life support

It is not just the universe that bears evidence for design. The sun and the earth also reveal such evidence. Some sample parameters sensitive for the support of life are listed in Table 2.

The following parameters of a planet, its moon, its star, and its galaxy must have values falling within narrowly defined ranges for life of any kind to exist. Characteristics #2 and #3 have been repeated from Table 4 since they apply to both the universe and the galaxy.

  1. galaxy size
    if too large: infusion of gas and stars would disturb sun’s orbit and ignite too many galactic eruptions.
    if too small: insufficient infusion of gas to sustain star formation for long enough time.
  2. galaxy type
    if too elliptical: star formation would cease before sufficient heavy element build-up for life chemistry.
    if too irregular: radiation exposure on occasion would be too severe and heavy elements for life chemistry would not be available.
  3. galaxy location
    if too close to a rich galaxy cluster: galaxy would be gravitationally disrupted
    if too close to very large galaxy(ies): galaxy would be gravitationally disrupted.
  4. supernovae eruptions
    if too close: life on the planet would be exterminated by radiation
    if too far: not enough heavy element ashes would exist for the formation of rocky planets.
    if too infrequent: not enough heavy element ashes present for the formation of rocky planets.
    if too frequent: life on the planet would be exterminated.
    if too soon: not enough heavy element ashes would exist for the formation of rocky planets.
    if too late: life on the planet would be exterminated by radiation.
  5. white dwarf binaries
    if too few: insufficient flourine would be produced for life chemistry to proceed.
    if too many: planetary orbits disrupted by stellar density; life on planet would be exterminated.
    if too soon: not enough heavy elements would be made for efficient flourine production.
    if too late: flourine would be made too late for incorporation in protoplanet.
  6. proximity of solar nebula to a supernova eruption
    if farther: insufficient heavy elements for life would be absorbed.
    if closer: nebula would be blown apart.
  7. timing of solar nebula formation relative to supernova eruption
    if earlier: nebula would be blown apart.
    if later:: nebula would not absorb enough heavy elements.
  8. parent star distance from center of galaxy
    if farther: quantity of heavy elements would be insufficient to make rocky planets.
    if closer: galactic radiation would be too great; stellar density would disturb planetary orbits
  9. parent star distance from closest spiral arm
    if farther: quantity of heavy elements would be insufficient to make rocky planets.
    if closer: radiation from other stars would be too great; stellar density would disturb planetary orbits.
  10. z-axis heights of star’s orbit
    if too large: exposure to harmful radiation from galactic core would be too great.
  11. number of stars in the planetary system
    if more than one: tidal interactions would disrupt planetary orbits.
    if less than one: heat produced would be insufficient for life.
  12. parent star birth date
    if more recent: star would not yet have reached stable burning phase; stellar system would contain too many heavy elements.
    if less recent: stellar system would not contain enough heavy elements.
  13. parent star age
    if older: luminosity of star would change too quickly.
    if younger: luminosity of star would change too quickly.
  14. parent star mass
    if greater: luminosity of star would change too quickly; star would burn too rapidly.
    if less: luminosity of star would change too slowly; range of planet distances for life would be too narrow; tidal forces would disrupt the life planet’s rotational period; uv radiation would be inadequate for plants to make sugars and oxygen.
  15. parent star metallicity
    if too small: insufficient heavy elements for life chemistry would exist.
    if too large: radioactivity would be too intense for life; life would be poisoned by heavy element concentrations.
  16. parent star color
    if redder: photosynthetic response would be insufficient.
    if bluer: photosynthetic response would be insufficient.
  17. H3+ production
    if too small: simple molecules essential to planet formation and life chemistry will not form.
    if too large: planets will form at wrong time and place for life.
  18. parent star luminosity relative to speciation
    if increases too soon: runaway green house effect would develop.
    if increases too late: runaway glaciation would develop.
  19. surface gravity (escape velocity)
    if stronger: planet’s atmosphere would retain too much ammonia and methane.
    if weaker: planet’s atmosphere would lose too much water.
  20. distance from parent star
    if farther: planet would be too cool for a stable water cycle.
    if closer: planet would be too warm for a stable water cycle.
  21. inclination of orbit
    if too great: temperature differences on the planet would be too extreme.
  22. orbital eccentricity
    if too great: seasonal temperature differences would be too extreme.
  23. axial tilt
    if greater: surface temperature differences would be too great.
    if less: surface temperature differences would be too great.
  24. rate of change of axial tilt
    if greater: climatic changes would be too extreme; surface temperature differences would become too extreme.
  25. rotation period
    if longer: diurnal temperature differences would be too great.
    if shorter: atmospheric wind velocities would be too great.
  26. rate of change in rotation period
    if longer: surface temperature range necessary for life would not be sustained.
    if shorter: surface temperature range necessary for life would not be sustained.
  27. age
    if too young: planet would rotate too rapidly.
    if too old: planet would rotate too slowly.
  28. magnetic field
    if stronger: electromagnetic storms would be too severe.
    if weaker: ozone shield would be inadequately protected from hard stellar and solar radiation.
  29. thickness of crust
    if thicker: too much oxygen would be transferred from the atmosphere to the crust.
    if thinner: volcanic and tectonic activity would be too great.
  30. albedo (ratio of reflected light to total amount falling on surface)
    if greater: runaway glaciation would develop.
    if less: runaway greenhouse effect would develop.
  31. asteroidal and cometary collision rate
    if greater: too many species would become extinct.
    if less: crust would be too depleted of materials essential for life.
  32. mass of body colliding with primordial earth
    if smaller: Earth’s atmosphere would be too thick; moon would be too small.
    if greater: Earth’s orbit and form would be too greatly disturbed.
  33. timing of body colliding with primordial earth.
    if earlier: Earth’s atmosphere would be too thick; moon would be too small.
    if later: sun would be too luminous at epoch for advanced life.
  34. oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere
    if larger: advanced life functions would proceed too quickly.
    if smaller: advanced life functions would proceed too slowly.
  35. carbon dioxide level in atmosphere
    if greater: runaway greenhouse effect would develop.
    if less: plants would be unable to maintain efficient photosynthesis.
  36. water vapor level in atmosphere
    if greater: runaway greenhouse effect would develop.
    if less: rainfall would be too meager for advanced life on the land.
  37. atmospheric electric discharge rate
    if greater: too much fire destruction would occur.
    if less: too little nitrogen would be fixed in the atmosphere.
  38. ozone level in atmosphere
    if greater: surface temperatures would be too low.
    if less: surface temperatures would be too high; there would be too much uv radiation at the surface.
  39. oxygen quantity in atmosphere
    if greater: plants and hydrocarbons would burn up too easily.
    if less: advanced animals would have too little to breathe.
  40. seismic activity
    if greater: too many life-forms would be destroyed.
    if less: nutrients on ocean floors from river runoff would not be recycled to continents through tectonics.
  41. oceans-to-continents ratio
    if greater: diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited.
    if smaller: diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited.
  42. rate of change in oceans-to-continents ratio
    if smaller: advanced life will lack the needed land mass area.
    if greater: advanced life would be destroyed by the radical changes.
  43. global distribution of continents (for Earth)
    if too much in the southern hemisphere: seasonal differences would be too severe for advanced life.
  44. frequency and extent of ice ages
    if smaller: insufficient fertile, wide, and well-watered valleys produced for diverse and advanced life forms; insufficient mineral concentrations occur for diverse and advanced life.
    if greater: planet inevitably experiences runaway freezing.

  45. soil mineralization
    if too nutrient poor: diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited.
    if too nutrient rich: diversity and complexity of life-forms would be limited.
  46. gravitational interaction with a moon
    if greater: tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would be too severe.
    if less: orbital obliquity changes would cause climatic instabilities; movement of nutrients and life from the oceans to the continents and vice versa would be insufficient; magnetic field would be too weak.
  47. Jupiter distance
    if greater: too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth.
    if less: Earth’s orbit would become unstable.
  48. Jupiter mass
    if greater: Earth’s orbit would become unstable.
    if less: too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth.
  49. drift in major planet distances
    if greater: Earth’s orbit would become unstable.
    if less: too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth.
  50. major planet eccentricities
    if greater: orbit of life supportable planet would be pulled out of life support zone.
  51. major planet orbital instabilities
    if greater: orbit of life supportable planet would be pulled out of life support zone.
  52. atmospheric pressure
    if too small: liquid water will evaporate too easily and condense too infrequently.
    if too large: liquid water will not evaporate easily enough for land life; insufficient sunlight reaches planetary surface; insufficient uv radiation reaches planetary surface.
  53. atmospheric transparency
    if smaller: insufficient range of wavelengths of solar radiation reaches planetary surface
    if greater: too broad a range of wavelengths of solar radiation reaches planetary surface.
  54. chlorine quantity in atmosphere
    if smaller: erosion rates, acidity of rivers, lakes, and soils, and certain metabolic rates would be insufficient for most life forms.
    if greater: erosion rates, acidity of rivers, lakes, and soils, and certain metabolic rates would be too high for most life forms.
  55. iron quantity in oceans and soils
    if smaller: quantity and diversity of life would be too limited for support of advanced life;
    if very small, no life would be possible.
    if larger: iron poisoning of at least advanced life would result.
  56. tropospheric ozone quantity
    if smaller: insufficient cleansing of biochemical smogs would result.
    if larger: respiratory failure of advanced animals, reduced crop yields, and destruction of ozone-sensitive species would result.
  57. stratospheric ozone quantity
    if smaller: too much uv radiation reaches planet’s surface causing skin cancers and reduced plant growth.
    if larger: too little uv radiation reaches planet’s surface causing reduced plant growth and insufficient vitamin production for animals.
  58. mesospheric ozone quantity
    if smaller: circulation and chemistry of mesospheric gases so disturbed as to upset relative abundances of life essential gases in lower atmosphere.
    if greater: circulation and chemistry of mesospheric gases so disturbed as to upset relative abundances of life essential gases in lower atmosphere.
  59. quantity and extent of forest and grass fires
    if smaller: growth inhibitors in the soils would accumulate; soil nitrification would be insufficient; insufficient charcoal production for adequate soil water retention and absorption of certain growth inhibitors.
    if greater: too many plant and animal life forms would be destroyed
  60. quantity of soil sulfur
    if smaller: plants will become deficient in certain proteins and die.
    if larger: plants will die from sulfur toxins; acidity of water and soil will become too great for life; nitrogen cycles will be disturbed.
  61. quantity of sulfur in the life planet’s core
    if smaller: solid core formation begins too soon causing it to grow too rapidly —disrupts magnetic field.
    if larger: sold inner core never forms—disrupts magnetic field.
  62. quantity of sea salt aerosols
    if smaller: insufficient cloud formation and thus inadequate water cycle; disrupts atmospheric temperature balances.
    if larger: too much and too rapid cloud formation over the oceans disrupting the climate; disrupts atmospheric temperature balances.
  63. volcanic activity
    if lower: insufficient amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapor would be returned to the atmosphere; soil mineralization would become too degraded for life.
    if higher: advanced life, at least, would be destroyed.
  64. rate of decline in tectonic activity
    if slower: advanced life can never survive on the planet.
    if faster: advanced life can never survive on the planet.
  65. rate of decline in volcanic activity
    if slower: advanced life can never survive on the planet.
    if faster: advanced life can never survive on the planet.
  66. biomass to minicomet infall ratio
    if smaller: greenhouse gases accumulate, triggering runaway surface temperature increase.
    if larger: greenhouse gases decline, triggering a runaway freezing.

Table 3: An Estimate of the Probability for Attaining the Necessary Parameters for Life Support

PARAM. NUM.

PARAMETER

PROBABILITY OF GALAXY, STAR, PLANET, PARAMETER OR MOON FALLING IN REQUIRED RANGE BY CHANCE (WITHOUT DIVINE DESIGN)

1 galaxy size 0.1
2 galaxy type 0.1
3 galaxy location 0.1
4 star location relative to galactic center 0.2
5 star distance from closest spiral arm 0.1
6 z-axis extremes of star's orbit 0.1
7 proximity of solar nebula to a supernova eruption 0.01
8 timing of solar nebula formation relative to supernova eruption 0.01
9 number of stars in system 0.2
10 star birth date 0.2
11 star age 0.4
12 star metallicity 0.05
13 star orbital eccentricity 0.1
14 star's distance from galactic plane 0.1
15 star mass 0.001
16 star luminosity relative to speciation 0.0001
17 star color 0.4
18 H3+ production 0.1
19 supernovae rates & locations 0.01
20 white dwarf binary types, rates, & locations 0.01
21 planetary distance from star 0.001
22 inclination of planetary orbit 0.5
23 axis tilt of planet 0.3
24 rate of change of axial tilt 0.01
25 planetary rotation period 0.1
26 rate of change in planetary rotation period 0.05
27 planetary orbit eccentricity 0.3
28 surface gravity (escape velocity) 0.001
29 tidal force 0.1
30 magnetic field 0.01
31 albedo 0.1
32 density 0.1
33 thickness of crust 0.01
34 oceans-to-continents ratio 0.2
35 rate of change in oceans to continents ratio 0.1
36 global distribution of continents 0.3
37 frequency & extent of ice ages 0.1
38 asteroidal & cometary collision rate 0.1
39 change in asteroidal & cometary collision rates 0.1
40 mass of body colliding with primordial earth 0.002
41 timing of body colliding with primordial earth 0.05
42 rate of change in ast. & comet collision rate 0.1
43 position & mass of Jupiter relative to Earth 0.01
44 major planet eccentricities 0.1
45 major planet orbital instabilities 0.1
46 drift and rate of drift in major planet distances 0.1
47 atmospheric transparency 0.01
48 atmospheric pressure 0.1
49 atmospheric electric discharge rate 0.1
50 atmospheric temperature gradient 0.01
51 carbon dioxide level in atmosphere 0.01
52 oxygen quantity in atmosphere 0.01
53 chlorine quantity in atmosphere 0.1
54 iron quantity in oceans 0.1
55 tropospheric ozone quantity 0.01
56 stratospheric ozone quantity 0.01
57 mesospheric ozone quantity 0.01
58 water vapor level in atmosphere 0.01
59 oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere 0.1
60 quantity of greenhouse gases in atmosphere 0.01
61 quantity of forest & grass fires 0.01
62 quantity of sea salt aerosols 0.1
63 soil mineralization 0.1
64 quantity of decomposer bacteria in soil 0.01
65 quantity of mycorrhizal fungi in soil 0.01
66 quantity of nitrifying microbes in soil 0.01
67 quantity of soil sulfur 0.1
68 quantity of sulfur in the life planet's core 0.1
69 tectonic activity 0.1
70 rate of decline in tectonic activity 0.1
71 volcanic activity 0.1
72 rate of decline in volcanic activity 0.1
73 viscosity at Earth core boundaries 0.01
74 biomass to minicomet infall ratio 0.01
75 regularity of minicometary infall 0.1

Dependency Factors Estimate: 100,000,000,000.

Longevity Requirements Estimate: .00001

Probability for occurrence of all 75 parameters: approx. 10 -99

Maximum possible number of planets in universe: approx. 10 22

Much less than 1 chance in a hundred thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion exists that even one such planet would occur anywhere in the universe.


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  54. Hugh Ross, "Rescued From Freeze Up," Facts & Faith 11, no. 2 (1997): p.3.
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  66. Hugh Ross, "Earth Design Update: One Amazing Dynamo," Facts & Faith 11, no. 4 (1997): p. 4.
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  68. Weiji Kuang and Jeremy Bloxham, "An Earth-Like Numerical Dynamo Model," Nature 389 (1997): pp. 371-374.
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  71. Hugh Ross, "Earth Design Update: Ozone Times Three," Facts & Faith 11, no. 4 (1997): pp. 4-5.
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  77. Hugh Ross, "Mass Mystery Nearly Solved," Facts & Faith 11, no. 4 (1997): pp. 6-7.
  78. James Glanz, "New Light on Fate of the Universe," Science 278 (1997): pp. 799-800.
  79. S. Perlmutter et al., "Discovery of a Supernova Explosion at Half the Age of the Universe," Nature 391 (1998): pp. 51-54.
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  82. David Deming, "Extraterrestrial Accretion and Earth’s Climate," Geology, in press.
  83. T. A. Muller and G. J. MacDonald, "Simultaneous Presence of Orbital Inclination and Eccentricity in Prozy Climate Records from Ocean Drilling Program Site 806," Geology 25 (1997): pp. 3-6.
  84. P. Jonathan Patchett, "Scum of the Earth After All," Nature 382 (1996): p. 758.
  85. Andrew Watson, "Case for Neutrino Mass Gathers Weight," Science 277 (1997): pp. 30-31.
  86. Dennis Normile, "New Experiments Step Up Hunt for Neutrino Mass," Science 276 (1997): p. 1795.
  87. Hugh Ross, "Case for an Open Hot Big Bang Creation Strenthens," Facts & Faith 12, no. 1 (1998): pp. 1-2.
  88. D. M. Murphy et al., "Influence of Sea-Salt on Aerosol Radiative Properties in the Southern Ocean Marine Boundary Layer," Nature 392 (1998): pp. 62-65.
  89. M. H. Acuna et al., "Magnetic Field and Plasma Observation at Mars: Initial Results of the Mars Global Surveyor Mission," Science 279 (1998): pp. 1676-1680.

Subjects: Earth/Moon Design, Galaxy Design, Solar System Design, Universe Design

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. Read more about Dr. Hugh Ross.