Reasons to Believe

Connections 1999, Vol. 1, No. 1

Compiled by Hugh Ross, Ph.D. in Astronomy, University of Toronto

Wheat Tells a Story of Beginnings

DNA “fingerprinting” helps with investigations beyond the criminal courtroom. In one recent case, this research technique was applied to the study of agriculture’s origin, and the results provide a significant corroboration of biblical historicity. According to that study, which compared the genes of wild wheat to those of cultivated wheat, the earliest domestication of grain occurred near the Karacadag Mountains, in southeast Turkey, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers run close together.1

Does that location ring any bells? For anyone who has studied geography and archeology it does. This site is identified by physical anthropologists and historians as the cradle of civilization. Biblical scholars identify it as the most likely location for the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2:10-14) and, thus, for the post-Flood population. Herein lies the possibility for engaging skeptics in conversation. Both the site and the date this study suggests for the launch of agriculture align closely with the biblical location and dates for the dawning of human culture after the Flood, roughly between 8,000 and 9,000 B.C.2 The same DNA analysis also outlines the spread of agriculture throughout Mesopotamia’s fertile crescent and beyond. As the accompanying map shows, this spread fits consistently with the biblical record (see Genesis 10-11).

A Second Opinion on the Giant Panda’s Thumb

If you have encountered Stephen Gould’s famous critique of Christianity, you will be glad to know that it has been contradicted in recent months by the work of six Japanese biologists. Gould once argued that the giant panda’s thumb represents a clumsily adapted wrist bone, not the work of a divine Designer.3 A number of rebuttals to Gould’s assertion have been published since the mid-1980s when it appeared,4 but the most rigorous to date comes from a Japanese study published early in 1999.

Using three-dimensional computed tomography (CAT scans) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scans), the Japanese research team determined that certain bones of the giant panda’s “hand” (specifically the radial sesamoid and accessory carpal) form a double pincer-like apparatus that allows the panda to “manipulate objects with great dexterity.”5 Field observations of three giant pandas confirm that wrist flexion and manipulation of the double-pincer serve as essential aspects of the panda’s food gathering and feeding capacity. The Japanese researchers’ paper modestly concludes, “The hand of the giant panda has a much more refined grasping mechanism than has been suggested in previous morphological models.”6 The more we learn about a creature, the more wonders we uncover. The trend line favors divine design.

The Heavens Resound with a Message for Mankind

Three astronomers have discovered yet another of the many delicate balances operating in our solar system, balances that protect life on this planet. Their investigation of planetary resonances (the intensification of gravitational effects resulting from orbital patterns and repeated, regular planetary alignments) indicates that without an Earth-Moon system just like ours, the solar system’s inner planets (planets between Jupiter and the sun) would be destabilized by the huge and intensifying push-pull of Jupiter and Saturn in their orbits.7 Our massive, single moon locked in orbit with our even more massive Earth “interferes” with the “whip effect” caused by Jupiter and Saturn, which may be likened to heavy stones in a whirling slingshot.

The team is still analyzing the extent of the damage that would be done, but already they have learned that it would send Venus and Mercury either smashing into the sun or whizzing—perhaps catastrophically close to Earth—clear out of the system altogether. Mars would be impacted as well, but ongoing research will have to tell us by how much. Even if the disruptions to these planets’ orbits were less profound, they would result in a destabilization of the entire system, including Earth, and the effects on life would be major. Living creatures of any complexity cannot withstand even a 1% variation in Earth’s orbital pattern.

In the words of the three astronomers, “ Design in the solar system [is needed] to ensure long-term stability”8 (emphasis added). Once again, a deeper understanding of the solar system amplifies the evidence for God’s purposeful, powerful involvement in shaping both the Earth and the solar system.9

Art’s Own Big Bang Affirms Special Creation

If the naturalists and Darwinists were right about the evolution of humankind, we would expect both the quantity and quality of human artwork to increase gradually over time. New research, however, shows that the opposite is the case. Anthropologists have discovered what they call the “big bang” of artistic expression. Previous to about 40,000 years ago, art appears to have been both rare and “rough,” or crude.10 Such “art” (if it can really be called that) reflects the expressive ability we see in some advanced mammalian and avian species. After that date, art becomes suddenly ubiquitous and intricate, art that only humans—spiritual creatures—can produce.

For example, life-like animal drawings elaborately adorning cave walls date back to 30,000 B.C. If we consider the availability of pigments and art tools, this wall compares favorably with artwork hanging in respected galleries the world over—paintings created in relatively recent history. During the past two years, ancient art has been found in nearly a dozen French and Spanish caves with dates spanning the range from 14,000 to 32,000 years ago. The quality and quantity of art in each cave is nearly identical.

Such findings yield no hard and fast conclusions, but they do fit the inferences of a Christian worldview, in contrast to other worldviews. They support the biblical doctrine of humankind, the belief that human beings—the same species alive today—are not merely randomly-evolved animals but rather unique, recently-created (within a few tens of thousands of years) beings bearing “the image of God” and, thus, the capacity for creative expression.

  1. Manfred Heun, et al, “Site of Einkorn Wheat Domestication Identified by DNA Fingerprinting,” Science, 278 (1997), pp. 1312-1314.
  2. Jared Diamond, “Location, Location, Location: The First Farmers,” Science, 278 (1997), pp. 1243-1244.
  3. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos , second edition (Colorado Springs, NavPress, 1995), pp. 107, 110.
  4. Peter Gordon, “The Panda’s Thumb Revisited: An Analysis of Two Arguments Against Design,” Origins Research, n. 7 (1984), pp. 12-14.
  5. Hideki Endo, et al, “Role of the Giant Panda’s ’Pseudo-Thumb,’ “Nature, 397 (1999), p. 309.
  6. Endo, et al, p. 310.
  7. Kimmo Innanen, Seppo Mikkola, and Paul Wiegert, “The Earth-Moon System and the Dynamical Stability of the Inner Solar System,” Astronomical Journal, 116 (1998), pp. 2055-2057.
  8. Innanen, Mikkola, and Wiegert, p. 2057.
  9. Ross, pp. 137-138.
  10. Tim Appenzeller, “Art: Evolution or Revolution,” Science, 282 (1998), pp. 1451-1454.

"Are You Ready for Y2K?"
By Hugh Ross

In response to the frenzy many Christian organizations and noted Christian speakers have whipped up about the impending dooms of Year 2000, many RTB constituents have written, e-mailed, or phoned to inquire about both our readiness for Y2K and our perspective on the problem. In answer to the first question, I can say yes, we are. In response to the second, I offer the following comments.

My reluctance to write about the so-called “millenium bug” (the difficulty arising from some computer systems’ allotment of only two digits for noting the year, hence no distinction between the years 1900 and 2000) reflects my disdain for what I see as abuse and distortion. It may also reflect a personality trait: I tend to be slow to speak up about almost anything.

I have been using computers since they were as huge as airplane hangars and considerably more costly than airplanes. Problems akin to the Y2K bug have arisen many times in the computer industry without dire consequences. In fact, such problems often bring benefits, forcing corporations to replace or upgrade antiquated, inefficient computer software.

During the past year or so, I have noted a common denominator among doomsayers: they assume a level of pervasiveness that simply does not constitute reality. For example, they assume corporations have only one way to fix the problem, namely to reprogram all of their computer code, and that they lack the money and people to fix the problem in time. In truth, most corporations can choose among several avenues to resolution. The challenge is to find the one solution that yields the greatest economic advantage.

For many computer applications, including those for building inventory, a true Y2K disaster would have shown up already. Such applications project needs more than a year into the future. The absence of a crisis at this late date should do much to assuage fears—but it may not.

Fear itself may generate a pseudo crisis. If enough people believe that the Y2K computer bug holds dire consequences, their fear-driven behavior, e.g., panic buying of storable (but unpalatable) food, runs on banks, running up of credit card debt, flight to the mountains of Montana, etc., could touch off an economic recession.

What troubles me more deeply than an economic downturn is a spiritual one. It seems that many leaders in the Christian community have either played upon fears to propel people toward Christ or have become so distracted by this “crisis” that they have lost their focus. Jesus is Lord in fact, not just in fear. How many “foxhole conversions” are really conversions?

At the close of the millennium I see an unprecedented explosion of scientific discovery, challenging the notions of secularists and post-modern “spiritualists” and affirming the Christian Gospel. (Check out the bibliography of faith-relevant research papers on our website at or write RTB for a hard copy). Along with it comes the certainty that new technological tools for research will yield even more and better evidences. My desire is to use every resource available, not just a convenient crisis, to exalt Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

NOTE: One of RTB’s volunteer apologists, Richard Deem, posts on his personal web site ( an outstanding paper on the Y2K problem. His 15-page analysis is also available for purchase in print form. Call Lucille at our office if you wish to order a copy.

Good God, Cruel World?
By Krista Kay Bontrager

A recent letter to RTB asks a familiar question: “How do you explain events like natural disasters that cause mass destruction, millions of deaths, and indiscernible suffering throughout the entire history of the world?” In other words, how does a Christian account for “natural evil” (the awful effects of natural calamity) in a universe created by the all-loving, all-powerful God of the Bible?

Moral evil in the universe seems easier to explain: Evil people make evil choices. But humankind’s choices do not account directly for all of the “bad” things that happen in the world. “Natural evil” presents a more difficult intellectual hurdle to the Christian faith. Today, for example, we may ask (or be asked) how a loving God could allow Hurricane Mitch and the Armenia earthquake to shatter countless lives? Given the occurrence of these and other horrific natural disasters, skeptics assert that the existence of an all-powerful, all-loving God makes no sense.

When faced with this question, the Christian would do well to concur that certain natural phenomena (earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tidal waves, etc.) do wreak havoc and bring suffering. Clearly, these tragedies warrant a compassionate and empathetic response, and questions about them deserve serious consideration. If we seem cold or callous about human suffering and loss, the opportunity for thoughtful discussion will most likely be lost.

We can, however, talk about natural “evil” as a misnomer, at least in one crucial sense. Phenomena such as earthquakes and hurricanes actually prove beneficial for mankind. Planetary scientists, among others, affirm that events such as hurricanes and earthquakes must occur for planet Earth to maintain the delicate balances of atmospheric and other environmental conditions mandatory for human life to exist and survive. As Hugh Ross documented in a recent article:

“[Hurricanes] counterbalance the ocean’s tendency to leach carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This leaching, if unchecked, would result in a catastrophic cooling of the planet. On the other hand, hurricanes prevent the oceans from trapping too much of the sun’s heat by helping to circulate greenhouse gases globally as they shade the ocean locally, preventing heat from building up too dramatically for the safety of certain sea creatures.”1

Likewise earthquakes play a vital role in providing for mankind’s survival. Without them, “nutrients essential for land life would erode off the continents and accumulate in the oceans. In a relatively brief time, land creatures, at least the advanced species, would starve.”2 But thanks to the movements of the Earth’s tectonic plates, these nutrients are recycled back onto the continents.3

Second, some of the suffering caused by natural disasters can be avoided if human beings act prudently in acknowledgement of nature’s awesome power. If, for example, people build homes in what proves to be a flood zone, they must prepare to deal with the floods or move somewhere else. Or, if people choose to live on or near a major earthquake fault, they must also prepare for and accept all the risks that accompany that location choice.

From a biblical standpoint, God included nature in Adam’s consequences for misuse of freedom. Adam and Eve brought trouble not only upon themselves and their descendents, but also upon the planet. As a result of their actions, God pronounced an inhospitable relationship between nature and humankind (Gen. 3:17-19). The farmer must till the ground by the sweat of his brow. No longer do its fruits come forth easily. Although the exact correlation between natural disasters and the Fall remains only partially explained, we can say with assurance that Adam’s sin did have an adverse affect on nature (not the laws of nature) and that both await full redemption at the Last Day (Rom. 8:19-25).

In the next issue, we will see how the Christian can turn the tables on the atheist by doing an internal critique of the skeptics’ own worldview assumptions. The existence of evil, far from disproving God, can actually be used as an argument in favor of the existence of God.

  1. Hugh Ross, “Hurricanes Bring More Than Destruction,” Facts & Faith 12 (1998), pp.4-5.
  2. Hugh Ross, “Temblors Touch Off Questions,” Facts & Faith 6.3 (1992), pp. 2-3
  3. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), pp. 136-145.

Krista Kay Bontrager has recently joined the publications staff at Reasons To Believe and serves as an adjunct faculty member in Biblical Studies and Theology at Biola University.


Dear Friends,

I have a reputation for thrift (those close to me have more or less complimentary terms for this trait), so I enjoy finding ways to make resources stretch. This even applies to communications tools. For twelve years now I have taken the “one-size-fits-all”approach to communications, attempting to reach all audiences with one periodical, Facts & Faith.

This inaugural issue of Connections represents a first step toward “tailor-made” communications. This replacement for Facts & Faith is designed to keep you connected with RTB’s message, activity, and people. Its science apologetics news, “New Evidences,” comes to you in brief paragraphs and non-technical language. We aim it for those who simply want to know the theological “bottom line” on the latest discoveries.

Our second step (we’re working on it now, and will bring it to you by or before 2000, as God enables) will be a quarterly subscription-based magazine. In it subscribers will find more in-depth explanation of discoveries and discussion of apologetics issues than the newsletter can provide. It will be written for motivated lay readers, not just for the technically trained and highly educated. We want readers to be able to use the information it provides to engage skeptics in conversation and to draw them closer to the Savior.

A third step will be launching a regular radio program. Many decisions are yet to be made about the program length and format, but its goal will be to keep listeners informed of new developments in science as they relate to the case for biblical reliability and Christian faith. This program will complement the longer, less frequent reports presented on RTB’s television show. Speaking of that show, it now appears on our website. At any hour of your choosing you and your friends can watch any of the five most recent episodes.

Thanks for your interest in what we’re doing and hope to do in serving Christ.


Hugh Ross

By Kathy Ross

Another RTB branch has sprouted during the past quarter since our farewell issue of Facts & Faith . We now have a representative in beautiful New Zealand, Phil Bennett, cofounder of his country’s first Christian television network.

Outreaches before Christmas and in the first months of 1999 have given inspiration and impetus to our strategic planning process (see President’s Laptop). Hugh’s annual breakfast event in Santa Ana, several radio interviews on stations across the country, and an evening presentation at Caltech, among others, have drawn beyond-capacity audiences and reveal a level of spiritual hunger and openness that can only be described as “intense.”

Meanwhile, back at the office, another truck load of books has arrived. We are thrilled to announce the long-anticipated release of Beyond the Cosmos , updated edition, in softcover! This new “softer” priced edition will be distributed more widely, we trust, as an evangelistic and devotional tool.

The following list provides contact information for RTB international representatives. Currently, we are developing guidelines for establishing and operating U. S. chapters. Look for a list of these groups in future issues of Connections.

Mike and Linda McLerie
Riverview Church
1 Thorogood Street
Burswood 6100

Reasons to Believe (Canada)
Attn: John Duerksen
386 Davis Road
Ladysmith, BC V9G 1V2
Fax: 250-245-5889

Rev. and Mrs. Timothy Boyle
24-7 Higashi Arai
Ibaraki-ken 305-0033

Philip Bennett
85 Leinster Avenue
Raumati South
Kapiti Coast 6450
Fax: 64.4.902.2577

David and Liz Block
P.O. Box 60
WITS 2050
Fax: 27.11.672.3791

From Dance to Desks: an interview with Joanne Abu-Qartoumy

Connections: What motivates you, as a busy wife and mom, to donate your time and energy to RTB?

Joanne: This place is a kind of spiritual haven for me—and for my three kids when they help out too. Other than coming here we have so little opportunity for Christian fellowship.

Connections: Why is that?

Joanne: It’s a long story, but I can tell you a little. My husband comes from a Muslim background, and I’ve already shaken him up by becoming a Christian. He’s wants me and our kids to have nothing to do with church.

Connections: Were you born into an Islamic family too?

Joanne: No, I went to a protestant church through most of my childhood. But my dream was to become a ballerina, and the people at church didn’t think much of that goal. During my early teens I walked away from them. I’m sad to say I got involved in the occult for a while, but when I met my [future] husband, I converted to his religion, Islam.

Connections: How did you become a Christian?

Joanne: I stuck with Islam for 13 years, but it was an empty and angry religion for me. No Muslim I met could answer my theological questions. Once, when my husband was away on a trip to Jordan, I went back to church. This time, the Gospel made sense to me. I guess you could say my heart was ready, and I gave my life to Christ.
Connections: What happened when your husband came home?
Joanne: I told him what I had done, and he got pretty angry. Maybe furious is a more accurate word. He asked me to renounce my faith, and I said I wouldn’t because I couldn’t. As you can imagine, we went through some tough times after that, but I really believe it’s important to keep our family together.

Connections: How does he feel about your helping out here?

Joanne: He knows about it, and he allows it. He used to think that all Christians were ignorant, to use a polite term, but he’s heard enough of Hugh Ross and seen enough of Dr. Ross’s materials to know that this man does not fit that description. So, he lets me—and sometimes our kids—come here, even though he’s still pretty negative about other Christians and Christian groups.

Connections: How did you find out about Hugh Ross and RTB?

Joanne: I stumbled across some information about Dr. Ross’s Open Forum [in Pasadena]. ‘Finally,’ I thought, ‘a Christian my husband won’t object to!’ And he didn’t. He let me go. When he saw how that meeting encouraged and challenged me— and when he felt sure RTB wasn’t trying to solicit me for money or steal me and my children away from him—he let me get involved, helping out at the office. I wanted to contribute in any way I could.

Connections: What kind of work do you do here?

Joanne: Whatever needs doing. Sometimes I file, sometimes I do photocopying, sometimes I help out with the phones or with shipping. My kids help in the mailroom on some of their school holidays.

Connections: How do they feel about that?

Joanne: They like coming because they enjoy being around other Christians here. They know that Georgette, the Rosses, and some of the other staff have kids about their age, and that puts them at ease. This is not a "stuffy" kind of place.

Connections: Would you mind telling our readers about some of your other activities as an individual and as a family?

Joanne: Not at all. For about ten years I’ve been teaching dance and drama at a school in Santa Fe Springs. [Joanne once performed alongside James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer in Othello.] My own kids enjoy music and choreography, too, and the whole family makes a hobby of Dodge Vipers. We’re active in the Viper Club of America, and my husband and I race on the weekends. Right now I’m eager to tell everyone that an essay my 11-year-old son wrote got published in the Viper Quarterly . Most importantly, I’m happy to tell you that we’re growing closer as a family, and I know God is at work in our lives.



“. . . Even though I grew up in a strong Christian family, I really needed this book [The Genesis Question] . Because of the many things in Genesis that seemed to be physically impossible, i.e., extended lifespans, the flood, etc., I had drifted over to the viewpoint that Genesis was, in great part, mythical. For me, your work has moved Genesis back into its proper place as the word of God. I commend you for your efforts.”

-- Bob, Lake Forest, California

“Until I stumbled across Dr. Ross’s books, I had no firm foundation for my faith. I’m glad that groups like Reasons To Believe exist and I am grateful for your efforts.”

-- Jason, Eastpointe, Michigan


“One night after work I saw you on TV explaining how Jesus could have walked through a closed door by being extradimensional. It caught my attention and after the show I resolved to go buy my own Bible and find out myself what it was all about. What did I have to lose? I read almost the whole book from cover to cover. Your show was the catalyst that encouraged me to seriously investigate the Bible and ultimately pursue a new life as a born again Christian. I have grown a lot in my faith and have never been happier or more confident about life. I owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you for doing what is right and being an example for people such as myself.”

-- Nick, Orlando, Florida


“My eleven year old daughter has surfed the children’s section of this web-page and loved it. Thanks for all the hard work you are doing to make the gospel known to both the skeptic and the inquiring.”

-- Jerry, Delta, British Columbia, Canada

“Superb website. I have used it again and again with my five little homeschool children to give them insight into scripture and meaningful science for them to ponder. Again, this mom really appreciates what you have done to honor God.”

-- Cindy, Mesa, Arizona


Hugh Ross presents an apologetics commentary on the first eleven chapters of Genesis which account for the vast majority of challenges to the credibility of Christianity. With careful integration of the scientific and theological data, Dr. Ross explains how the ongoing research into the origin and development of the universe, Earth, plant life, animal life, humans, and human civilization match our best understanding of the Hebrew texts. The book describes in colorful detail the highlights of each creation day and demonstrates the consistency of the Genesis 1 and 2 creation accounts. The Genesis Question, written with clarity and simplicity, is a book to read, study, and share with others.
Item No. B9823 (17 oz.) $20.00 + S&H


Hugh Ross agrees that God is greater than we can imagine, but he points out that advances in science have given us tools to help us expand our view of the Creator and His awesome capacities. Since the first edition of Beyond the Cosmos was published, scientists have made more discoveries strengthening the evidence for general relativity and for string theory which support our belief in a transcendent Creator and in a ten-dimensional creation event. In this second, expanded edition Dr. Ross explains these new discoveries and six others that add to the proofs for a theistic explanation for life and gives more information on what the ten dimensions of the universe look like today.

He presents what science has learned about extra dimensions and relates these findings to difficult doctrines— the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Trinity, free will and predestination, the new creation, hell, and other issues—that have perplexed believers and unbelievers for centuries.
Item No. B9601 (9 oz.) $11.00 + S&H


Listed below are Dr. Ross’ upcoming outreach engagements and other RTB events. Check to see if one will be held somewhere near you.

April 2: “Current Scientific Evidences for the Existence of God,” breakfast outreach at the La Paloma Resort, 7-9 A.M. RSVP required. Contact Brad Smith at (520) 881-3982.

March16: Community outreach at the Visalia United Methodist Church, 7 P.M.
March 17: CBMC luncheon at Visalia Convention Center. 12:00-1:30 P.M. $12 per person. RSVP required.
March 17: “Creation vs. Naturalism,” College of the Sequoias, Science
Lecture Hall, 7:00 P.M. Call Steve Hickerson at (559) 651-2000.

March 19: “An Astronomer’s Quest,” outreach at the Melilli home in Laguna Niguel, 7:30 P.M. Call Alex or Pam Metherell at (949) 494-2023 for details.

March 28: Open Forum at Sierra Madre Congregational Church. Contact the church office at (626) 335-3566.

March 29: “The Genesis Question,” Trinity Evangelical Divinity School,
7 P.M. Part of a 7-week lecture series entitled “Evolution or Creation? 140th Anniversary of Darwin’s Origin of Species.” Call Eddie Klinter at
(800) 395-0499 for further details.

April 21: Executive Academic Luncheon Series, Chapman University, Argyros Forum. 12-1:15 P.M. $15 per person. RSVP + check required. Contact Blaine Molsberry at
(714) 771-2977.

April 25: Reasons To Believe Open House, 2-4 P.M. at 731 E. Arrow Hwy. RSVP, (626) 335-1480, x118 (Lucille).

May 3: Open Forum luncheon and
discussion at the University Club. Contact Tom Delaooke at
(626) 796-2649 for reservations.


March 24: Outreach at the University of Montana, 7 P.M.
March 25: Outreaches at Valley Christian School, 1:30 and 7 P.M. Contact Eileen at (406) 549-0482 for further details.

April 11-13: Outreaches at the University of New Mexico, Hoffmantown Church, the Coronado Club, and local labs. Coordinating committee chair Kevin Westley at (505) 352-0771.

May 7: Outreach at University of Cinncinati. Contact Susanne Boys at (513) 794-0624 for details.
May 7: Luncheon at the Metropolitan Club, 12-1:30 P.M.
May 8: Banquet Fundraiser for Dr. Fuz Rana, Manor House, 11 A.M.-4 P.M. $150/table, $15/person. RSVP required. Call Cheryl Guthman at (513) 844-8001 for reservations.

Watch (or record) the “Reasons To Believe” television show Thursday mornings (3:00 A.M., PT, 6:00 A.M., ET) and on other days and times in some areas. Ask you local TBN affiliate for a schedule of broadcasts.