Connections 1999, Vol. 1, No. 3
- New Evidences for Faith
- Relativity Reaffirms Creation Doctrine
- Vital Poisons
- Einstein Exonerated in Breakthrough Discovery
- Blind Faith Fuels Origin-of-life Quest: A Report on ISSOL '99
- For What It's Worth
- President's Laptop
- Field Report
- For the New Millennium
Relativity Reaffirms Creation Doctrine
by Hugh Ross
Though Christians sometimes mistake relativity (a physics term) for relativism (a philosophical term), relativity powerfully testifies of divine creation.1 How? Einstein’s theory of general relativity tells us that space, time, matter and energy all have a finite beginning, a statement uniquely consistent with the biblical doctrine of creation.2 In one sense, to affirm the equations of general relativity is to affirm the Christian’s confidence in the reliability of Scripture and, thus, of its salvation message.
General relativity, already the most exhaustively tested principle in all of physics, has passed yet another test. Eight astronomers from western Europe and America closely studied the dynamics of a neutron star and its companion star.3 The dynamics they observed and recorded perfectly match a key prediction of strong-field general relativity.
If any doubt lingered, depite previously-reported proofs,4, 5 no rational excuse remains for questioning that general relativity really does govern the dynamics of the universe. And, if general relativity is true, the universe began as the biblical creation account—and only that account among all creation stories known to humanity—declares. Through scientific research, God has given us yet another evangelistic tool.
- Hugh Ross, “Another Success for General Relativity— And Biblical Reliability,” Facts & Faith, v. 12, n. 2 (1998), pp. 1-3.
- Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, second edition (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1995), pp. 71-76.
- P. Kaaret, et al, “Strong-Field Gravity and X-Ray Observations of 4U 1820-30,” Astrophysical Journal Letters, 520 (1999), pp. L37-L40.
- Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, second edition (Orange, CA: Promise, 1991), pp. 45-47.
- Hugh Ross, Beyond the Cosmos, second edition (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999), pp. 29-33.
by Hugh Ross
Perhaps you have noticed the addition of Food and Drug Administration warnings to packages of dietary supplements sold in drug and health food stores. If not, please do. These warning labels subtly announce dramatic new evidence for the divine design of life—and of the earth for sustaining life.
Research has identified many dietary essentials, in addition to the familiar one, iron, to be harmful, if not deadly, in certain amounts. Such elements as chromium, molybdenum, selenium, and vanadium, for example, are essential for building proteins, and proteins serve as life’s molecular “factories.” Yet each of these elements is toxic in any but the “just right” amount.
A finely-tuned balance of such elements in organisms’ external environment also proves necessary but risky. Molybdenum, for instance, though it can be harmful plays a crucial and unique role in “nitrogen fixation,” the process by which nitrogen from the atmosphere attaches to chemicals that can be assimilated by plants. This particular process, without which land life cannot exist, is impossible unless a certain “right amount” of molybdenum resides in the soil.
For many years, we have recognized the devastating effects of iron deficiency or iron overabundance in the diet of humans and advanced animals. Year by year, however, the list of lethal yet essential substances grows. Currently that list includes arsenic, boron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, manganese, nickel, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, tin, and zinc, in addition to the four mentioned above.1
At the same time, our astronomy research reveals that the earth’s crust differs significantly from the crusts of other solar system bodies. One difference lies in the relative abundance of various life-essential elements. Earth’s crust contains “just right” quantities of all the elements necessary for the existence and sustenance of advanced land life. This finding can be viewed as a remarkable (more accurately, an impossible) coincidence or as a wondrous indicator of design. To reach for a sound bite, I would say that the gastronomical and astronomical evidences favor purposeful planning and preparation.
- John Emsley, The Elements , third edition (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1998), pp. 24, 40, 56, 58, 60, 62, 78, 102, 106, 122, 130, 138, 152, 160, 188, 198, 214, 222, 230.
Einstein Exonerated in Breakthrough Discovery
By Hugh Ross
An international team of 31 astronomers, cooperating in what is called The Supernova Cosmology Project (SCP), has just produced the first positive identification of Einstein’s infamous cosmological constant. This discovery yields what may be the most profound evidence to date for divine design of the cosmos.1
Einstein’s cosmological constant, once widely ridiculed, represents an anti-gravity factor. It predicts that space, independent of any matter associated with it, has the property of stretching itself, and the more stretched out it becomes the faster it will continue to stretch.
Last year this group announced a “probable” detection of the cosmological constant based on their observations of just a few special types of exploding giant stars (type Ia supernovae)2, 3 Confirmation required more data.
The group now has measurements based on 42 very distant type Ia supernovae. Using models that accurately reflect the clumpiness of the universe, their measurements attest that a cosmological constant definitely exists.4, 5 This constant speeds up the expansion of the universe while the mass of the universe slows the expansion (because of gravity). When the universe was younger and, therefore, smaller, matter (thus, gravity) dominated the dynamics of the cosmos. Now that the universe is older and therefore larger, the cosmological constant (an energy factor) has superceded gravity’s effect.
The team’s results indicate that the universe transitioned from a decelerating mode (gravity dominated) to an accelerating mode (energy dominated) about six billion years ago. Any difference in either the mass density of the universe (hence the braking effect of gravity) or in the cosmological constant (the stretching effect of energy) would so dramatically change the characteristics of the universe as to render life impossible.6 For physical life to be possible at any time or place in the history of the universe, the value of the mass density of the universe must be fine-tuned to within one part in 1060. The value of the cosmological constant must be fine-tuned to within one part in 10120.7
To put these numbers in perspective, I’ll cite the best example of human engineering capability: a gravity wave telescope that can make measurements to within one part in 1023. The Creator’s engineering is at least ten trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times more precise than ours.
Look for more details on this remarkable research in the inaugural issue of our forthcoming magazine, Facts for Faith.
- S. Perlmutter et al , “Measurements of and L from 42 High-Redshift Supernovae,” Astrophysical Journal, 517 (1999), pp. 565-586.
- Hugh Ross, “Big Bang Gets New Adjectives—Open and Hot,” Facts & Faith , v. 12, n. 1 (1998), pp. 4-5.
- S. Perlmutter, et al, “Discovery of a Supernova Explosion at Half the Age of the Universe,” Nature, 391 (1998), pp. 51-54.
- S. Perlmutter, et al, Astrophysical Journal, p. 580.
- S. Perlmutter, et al , p. 581.
- S. Perlmutter, et al , pp. 579, 581.
- Lawrence M. Krauss, “The End of the Age Problem and the Case for a Cosmological Constant Revisited,” Astrophysical Journal, 501 (1998), p. 461.
Blind Faith Fuels Origin-of-life Quest: A Report on ISSOL '99
By Dr. Fazale Rana
The biological community’s mindlock on a natural-process origin of life seems to hold, but its irrationality becomes increasingly obvious with time. Hugh Ross and I made this observation as we spent time recently among some of the most distinguished scholars in the origin-of-life ranks at the combined 12th International Conference on the Origin of Life and the 9th ISSOL (International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life) meeting at the University of California, San Diego.
To our surprise, attendance was low and presentations were few, despite the attractive venue, the infrequency of these gatherings (once every three years), and vigorous attempts to draw international participation. We couldn’t help but notice the absence of young, up-and-coming researchers. Most of the attendees were veteran origins-of-life researchers, though we did see a few graduate students supported by NSCORT (NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training) in exobiology.
Through the week of the conference, we noted an air of frustration and pessimism, even a hint of despair or desperation. The realization seems to have dawned that 45 years of research into the origins of life has led to a dead end. The same old intractable problems—if not more—still exist, with no resolution in sight.
By 9:30 A.M. on the first day of the meeting, participants conceded that the most likely atmosphere for primitive earth (CO 2 + N 2 + H2O) will not support spontaneous synthesis of organic molecules.1 Given that the chemistry of Earth’s early atmosphere thwarts rather than supports production of life-essential molecules, researchers have begun to look elsewhere for the right kind of gas (rich in hydrogen and absent in oxygen). Some hold out hope that such gas was exhaled from volcanoes, with volcanic lightning as the source of energy to synthesize the essential molecules. However, on the afternoon of the first day, John Delano of NSCORT-NY and University of Albany (SUNY), reported that “volatiles” (gases) released from volcanoes as ancient as 4 billion years were identical to those exhaled today.2
Since Earth conditions consistently defy a naturalistic origin of life, researchers turned their hopes toward Mars. Early in Mars’ history, the planet was warm and wet. However, as Michael Carr of the U.S. Geological Survey reported, geological evidence and modeling studies indicate that warm early Mars rapidly transformed into cold arid Mars about 3.8 billion years ago. This change occurred right after the period of heavy bombardment, during which impacts would have effectively “sterilized” Mars, eliminating it as a candidate for the origin of life.3
Some researchers look to interstellar dust in the proto-solar system as the source of life-essential molecules. Their hope is fanned by discovery of some building blocks of molecules in nearby early-stage solar systems.4 However, no nucleotides or sugars have been found. Nor has the problem of left-handed amino acids been solved.
One may wonder what keeps origin-of-life research alive. NASA’s recent focus on the search for extraterrestrial life has artificially bolstered it for the time being, shifting from an earth-based scenario to one based elsewhere in the solar system or beyond. NASA will keep the die-hards funded for a while, but accumulating data make this possibility more and more remote. It seems that the die-hards’ search reflects only a zealous commitment to a non-supernatural explanation for the origin of life. A more detailed account of the San Diego meeting is slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Facts for Faith. For now a meeting overview may be seen on our web site (www.reasons.org).
- Francois Raulin, “Atmospheric Prebiotic Synthesis”, 12th International Conference on the Origin of Life and the 9th ISSOL (International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life) meeting, San Diego, CA (1999).
- John W. Delano, “Cr Oxygen Barometry: Oxidation State of Mantle- Derived Volatiles Through Time”, 12th International Conference on the Origin of Life and the 9th ISSOL (International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life) meeting, San Diego, CA (1999).
- Michael H. Carr, “The Habitability of Early Mars”, 12th International Conference on the Origin of Life and the 9th ISSOL (International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life) meeting, San Diego, CA (1999).
- David W. Koerner , “The Evolution of Early Solar System Analogs”, 12th International Conference on the Origin of Life and the 9th ISSOL (International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life) meeting, San Diego, CA (1999).
DR. RANA, RTB’S NEW VICE PRESIDENT AND SCIENCE APOLOGIST, HOLDS A PH.D. IN BIOCHEMISTRY FROM OHIO UNIVERSITY.
By Krista Bontrager
Two collegians, Micah Lott and Sarah McGee, gave Reasons To Believe an invaluable gift this past summer: their time, their energy, and their talents. They worked—without pay—as part of the RTB team, furthering the projects of the ministry. We thought you might enjoy learning about these young people and about their unique contributions.
KRISTA: Let’s begin by finding out your educational endeavors.
MICAH: I am a 3rd year undergraduate at the University of Georgia with a double major in history and philosophy.
SARAH: I am a graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, studying quantum physics. I haven’t made up my mind yet about going all the way to a Ph.D., but I’ll finish with a Master’s degree, at least.
KRISTA: I can tell you are really excited, Micah, about subjects many people see as boring? Where does that enthusiasm come from?
MICAH: In high school I read C. S. Lewis and other Christian philosophers and quickly figured out that philosophy is where the action is—intellectually and culturally. The realm of ideas is where a person can have a real impact in shaping society. Plus, I personally just find philosophy to be stimulating!
KRISTA: How did you become interested in quantum physics, Sarah? Many people don’t even know what that is.
SARAH: Science has always been a major part of my life. My dad is a nuclear engineer. So whenever one of us kids would ask him a question, like, “Why are leaves green?” he would give a scientific answer—one that was on our level, of course, but it would be accurate. For fun, my family would sit around and discuss quantum physics and its relationship to God. God was always an integral part of our lives and our understanding of science. Quantum physics is an exciting subject to study as a Christian because physicists are tripping over God all over the place. They just don’t know it! I like to come along and point out how quantum physics confirms the existence of God.
KRISTA: How did you learn about RTB and decide to volunteer this summer?
MICAH: I first read Dr. Ross’s books while I was in high school. Then I began RTB’s apologetics training program, which I just completed a few months ago. Last December, I wrote to RTB asking if I could come to California this summer to help out somehow. I wasn’t really sure if it was going to happen or what I would do, but it’s turned out to be a great experience.
SARAH: I also read Dr. Ross’ books for the first time while I was in high school. Then I heard Dr. Ross speak at the University of Colorado this past April. That’s when I approached him about coming out to RTB this summer. He said he would be glad to have me come.
KRISTA: What projects have you been working on during your time at RTB?
MICAH: I spent a lot of time helping with correspondence, both general correspondence and apologetics questions. I also helped to research and write a couple of articles. I’m hoping the ministry can make use of them.
SARAH: I’ve been categorizing RTB’s bibliography of faith-related science articles and programming a database so that the volunteers can more easily update the bibliography after I leave. I also wrote some “news flash” flyers which can be used in campus outreaches.
KRISTA: What are your future plans?
MICAH: I’m not sure yet exactly what I want to do, but I’ll probably get a master’s degree, perhaps in philosophy of science. A life in academia appeals to me, but I’m also interested in advancing issues of social justice.
SARAH: One of my major life goals is to explain quantum physics on a level everyone can understand and to use physics to point people to God. I’m particularly interested in theoretical physics and quantum computing, but there aren’t many good job prospects in those areas. I also want to be a homemaker. I’m not really sure how all of these things will fit together.
KRISTA: Your friends at RTB will be praying for both of you.
Have you ever been bored in church or Sunday School? How about your kids? Yes, I have been and, yes, mine have been. I have to ask myself, “Why?” especially since God and His Word are anything but boring.
Perhaps one reason is that we stick too closely to the who, what, where, when and how questions about the Bible. I’m not saying that these questions aren’t important. As a scientist and born “fact gatherer,” I know they are. Personal application questions are important, too, of course. However, I’ve noticed that what most greatly interests and intrigues young believers, old believers, and nonbelievers are the why questions: Why are we so sure that the Bible is true? Why did God create the universe? Why does life involve pain and suffering? Why did God create parasites and carnivores? Why must plants and animals die either before or after Adam sinned? Why must the universe be so big and so old? Why would God make bipedal primates before making Adam and Eve?
I like to toss out the question, “What if things were not this way?” In my experience, everyone likes to discuss these kinds of questions. They motivate us to dig deep into God’s Word, to piece together what we know of it—and of His world—under the guidance of His Holy Spirit. If churches and Bible classes offered more opportunity for this kind of discussion and interaction, more people might discover that Christian gatherings are anything but boring.
By Kathy Ross
The police outside the auditorium in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, felt the spiritual impact of Hugh’s talks almost as much as the people inside. Authorities expected riots, which routinely erupt at public events, but instead they saw “indescribable peace and joy,” according to the police chief. The missionaries who coordinated Hugh’s visit were happy to tell him why.
These same veteran missionaries are continuing to follow up the teachers, professors, school administrators and others who responded with open minds and hearts. Their reports inspire us to praise God and to pray. The same can be said of reports from Timothy Boyle following Hugh’s outreaches at Tokyo University and at some rapidly growing churches in Japan. A spiritual breakthrough has begun in that nation, and we pray it will gain momentum.
Dr. Fuz Rana, who joined our staff this summer, has already expanded RTB’s outreach efforts through writing articles, making important contacts with scholars, and speaking. He and his wife, Amy, assisted staff and volunteers in representing RTB at the Christian Home Educators Association annual convention in Anaheim. They covered local bases while Hugh spoke at Second Baptist Church in Houston, and they are also helping plan our first RTB conference, tentatively scheduled for spring 2000.
Dr. Alejandro Field, RTB volunteer apologist in Argentina, tells of lively interaction and in-depth discussion of spiritual issues in the apologetics training course he leads at his church in Buenos Aires. Mike Wallace, our new webmaster, documents 500,000 “page hits” per month by visitors to our website.
Watch for an article by Hugh Ross and Steve Scheele in a forthcoming issue of New Man magazine and a piece on RTB in Historic Pasadena , a commemorative book slated for publication this fall. As requests for articles, interviews, and outreaches increase, progress continues in the planning and preparation of our apologetics magazine, Facts for Faith, and our radio program. You will receive details as soon as they are available.
Of Bandwagons and Squeaky Clarinets
By Kathy Ross
I tend to resist hopping on bandwagons. Usually when I have jumped aboard, I’ve ended up sooner or later feeling foolish—because I have been foolish, as in hasty or naïve or imbalanced. Bandwagons, of course, carry bands, and bands make noise. Whether pleasant noise or unpleasant, noise is what they make. And the kind of noise a band makes stirs people, inspires them to action or allegiance. (I write from experience as a former clarinet player in parades, at high school football games, and in Sunday evening church services.)
Bandwagons in the Christian community, as elsewhere, are revealing. Bandwagons tend to draw our attention to important but neglected values, truths, or themes, such as spiritual gifts, marriage seminars, inner healing, support groups, “seeker” services, worship teams, etc. This focus of attention and inspiration to action can be good unless we swing so far in one direction that we neglect equally important others.
In the context of this lengthy preamble, I invite you to consider with me how to respond to one of the latest bandwagons rolling through christendom, the “prayer movement.” You must have heard this one coming. It includes concerts of prayer, prayer walking, prayer partnerships, prayer conferences, prayer journals, and lots more. At the fearsome risk of squeaking, I’ll toot my clarinet for this one: Prayer is a part of spiritual life that “busy” Christians such as I cannot overemphasize.
But busy Christians may need help in organizing their prayer time. I know, for example, that Scripture tells me to “pray for those in authority,” but I must admit that my prayers for such people on a national and global scale have been irregular and haphazard, at best. Have you noticed how much easier it is to pray (in quantity and quality) for self, for family members, for friends, for anyone with whom you have direct contact? I’m not even as consistent as I want to be in praying for these.
I suggest that you join me in considering a recently-published prayer guide entitled Praying for the World’s 365 Most Influential People (see p. 7). Even if you just glance at it in a bookstore then make up your own list of 365 people, you may find that it moves you forward in this part of your prayer life. One of the helpful features of this book is its set of suggestions for praying for God’s enemies, as well for His friends. This sounds like a good idea to me.
About Dr. Ross's Lectures...
I am a chemistry and premed student at the University of Montana. I really enjoyed your lecture and I hope that you will return once again. This lecture you gave created waves in many students’ perception of evolution and creationism. One of my personal friends came to know Christ as a product of your efforts!
-- DAN, MONTANA
It was nice to meet you in Mongolia and I was so impressed by your talk. I hope you remember me who was talking much to you and receiving your wonderful book and video movie about our galaxy...I liked very much your theory and hope to improve my knowledge about God and galaxy with your help which I appreciate very much.
-- RENTSEN, MONGOLIAN STATE UNIVERSITY
About Salvation and Encouragement...
...I was a non-believer who was beginning to really consider God. I had two young daughters, and I did not believe I could prepare them for life in this society without the morality and guidance of the Bible. I also knew they would not embrace the God of the Bible if I had not already done so. My problem was that I have always needed to see evidence before I can accept something, and the Bible was no exception. What about Darwin? Did God really create in 6 days? What about the dinosaurs and cavemen? What I knew from school did not agree with what the Bible said. Then I bought a copy of The Creator and the Cosmos, by Dr. Ross. Finally, there was the evidence I needed, laid out logically and factually. I devoured the book, and came to the conclusion that not only does God exist, but that the Bible is His word and is accurate. I now believe that God prompted me to buy that book, and I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior shortly after reading it. Not only did the book enable me to believe, but now I have the tools to help others see the truth as well...
-- BOB, ARIZONA
About the Web Site and Reasons To Believe's Television Program...
I just wanted to add my voice to the many who must be thanking you for the rebroadcasts [of the Reasons To Believe television program] on your web site. Excellent material and now universally available.
-- JOHN, E-MAIL
FOR FURTHER STUDY
Recent research in quantum mechanics has led some scientists to speculate that the cosmos created itself. Some of the scientists’ statements caused turmoil not only in science but in philosophy and theology as well. In this video Hugh Ross and Dr. Mark Clark discuss some of the implications of quantum mechanics with two individuals who have studied that field in some depth. As these four help the lay person to develop an informed opinion on the topic, they underscore the fact that our growing knowledge about quantum mechanics only increases the body of evidence for the presence, power, and activity of a Divine Creator.
LEVEL: AGE 16 AND UP. COLOR. 55 MINUTES.
Item No. V9902 (7 oz.) $19.00 +s/h
Praying for the World's 365 Most Influential People
The Pray 365 Project and Harvest House Publishers offer readers (and pray-ers) an opportunity to influence the lives of some of the most prominent people in the world. This book prompts the reader to pray each day for someone who helps shape our world and provides the pray-er with valuable information on the person’s background and sphere of influence. A great idea, an inspiring gift! (P. S. Hugh Ross, featured on page 168, gratefully accepts prayers offered on his behalf.)
LEVEL: ALL READERS. PAPERBACK
Item No. B9921 (16 oz.) $12.99 +s/h
A Guide to the Elements
Albert Stwertka devotes his book to making information about the elements available and understandable. He begins by explaining some of the basic concepts of chemistry and traces the history and development of the periodic table. He presents each of the 112 elements in a separate article with accompanying photographs. Using historical anecdotes and everyday examples, Stwertka makes complex ideas come to life in a way that will interest high school students and adults, even those with no background in chemistry. He provides a superb introduction to chemistry and good beginning steps on the road to chemical literacy.
LEVEL: AGE 14 AND UP. HARDCOVER
Item No. B9904 (43 oz.) $35.00 +s/h