Reasons to Believe

Connections 2000, Vol. 2, No. 4



Fundamental Forces Show Greater Fine-tuning
by Hugh Ross

A team of Austrian, German, and Hungarian astrophysicists has recently added evidence to the case for divine design, sweeping aside a recent challenge to the design argument I present in The Creator and the Cosmos.1 Their research focused on two of the four fundamental forces of physics: 1) electromagnetism, which governs the degree to which atomic nuclei hold on to their electrons, and 2) the strong nuclear force, which governs the degree to which protons and neutrons stick together in the nuclei of atoms.

The teams strategy was to construct mathematical models of red giant stars, altering (slightly) the values for the strong nuclear force and electromagnetic force constants. They discovered that even tiny increases or decreases cause problems. The adjusted red giants would produce too little carbon, too little oxygen, or too little of both oxygen and carbon for any kind of physical life to be possible anywhere in the universe. Specifically, they determined that if the value of the coupling constant for electromagnetism were four percent smaller or larger than what we observe, life would be impossible. In the case of the coupling constant for the strong nuclear force, if it were 0.5 percent smaller or larger, life would be impossible.

The teams achievement helps relieve a criticism of the design argument set forth in my book2 and used by others. Two years ago, (atheistic) physicist Victor Stenger commented in Skeptic magazine that not much fine-tuning at all was necessary to make long-lived stars.3 He implied that my fine-tuning claims were invalid and, thus, left me with no case for a cosmic Designer.

The new achievement discussed here establishes that rather than my design conclusion being too optimistic, it is too conservative. I might add, too, that the case for divine design never rested on just one or two features of the cosmos.

This research demonstrates how cosmic creation can be subjected to ongoing testing. If the atheists are right and Christians are wrong, the more we learn about the universe, the weaker the cosmic design evidence should become. However, if we are right and the atheists are wrong, learning about the universe should reveal more and stronger cosmic design evidence. The latter describes the trend we observe and document.4, 5.

References:

  1. H. Oberhummer, A. Cst, and H. Schlattl, Stellar Production Rates of Carbon and Its Abundance in the Universe, Science 289 (2000): 88-90.
  2. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 2d ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1995), 111-30.
  3. Victor J. Stenger, The Functional Equivalent of God: Looking at the Cosmos and Seeing God, Skeptic 6, no. 3 (1998): 91.
  4. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, 1st ed. (Orange, CA: Promise Publishing, 1989), 119-38. 5. Hugh Ross, Big Bang Refined By Fire (Pasadena, CA: Reasons To Believe, 1999), 11-30.


Feathered Dinosaur or Flightless Bird?
By Fazale (Fuz) R. Rana

A recent collaborative study by scientists from Oregon State, Purdue (at Fort Wayne), Johns-Hopkins, and the College of Charleston provides evidence that the once highly touted feathered dinosaur, Caudipteryx, was more likely a flightless bird.1

Caudipteryx first appeared in the scientific literature in 1998, when it was recovered from the Chaomidianzi Formation in the Liaoning province of China.2 At the time, the specimen (dated between 145 and 125 million years old) was described as a key transitional intermediate between the bipedal theropod dinosaurs and birds.3 This assertion was based on the fact that Caudipteryx possessed fully formed feathers identical to those found on birds.

This interpretation of the find has not been the only one, however.4 Many reasons have arisen for rejecting it. Some have been presented in previous issues of RTBs newsletter.5 The chief argument stems from what is known by paleontologists as the temporal paradox. Namely, Caudipteryx shows up in the fossil record after the oldest known bird, Archaeopteryx. 6, 7

If Caudipteryx is not a transitional intermediate leading to birds, how then do scientists account for the similarities between birds and theropods? In a word, convergence. A widely observed phenomenon in the biological realm, convergence refers to the sharing of common anatomical characteristics by unrelated organisms. Since both birds and theropods are bipeds, it is not surprising that they would possess convergent, (i.e., similar) features. Recent research on the foot structure of birds and theropods supports the case for convergence over the case for shared ancestry.

Both organisms have three elongated digits that point forward, one digit that points backward, and one digit that is greatly diminished in size. Though these parallels initially suggest a bird-dinosaur ancestral relationship, careful analysis reveals fundamental differences. For example, theropods forward pointing digits are I-II-III, whereas birds are II-III-IV.8, 9 Analysis of footprints shows significant differences between the two types of creatures with respect to digit I function, foot posture, and hindlimb excursion.10

To these differences in foot structure, scientists can now add the differences identified by Terry Jones and his research team.11, 12 This group compared the center of mass and the hindlimb length to body-length ratio for flightless birds and bipedal dinosaurs. The differences were marked. The teams analysis also revealed significant differences in the bipedalism of theropods and flightless birds. When flightless birds walk, they leave their upper leg relatively stationary while swinging the lower leg (below the knee). This description fits Caudipteryx, too. By contrast, bipedal dinosaurs used their entire leg to walk.

Jones's analysis indicates that Caudipteryx is more likely a flightless bird that appeared on earth after Archaeopteryx. Caudipteryx can no longer be considered a dinosaur-bird transitional intermediate, nor does it appear that Caudipteryx is a feathered theropod that happens to possess convergent features with birds. The next step will be to determine if the other feathered theropods, such as Protarchaeopteryx, possessed bipedalism similar to that of flightless birds.

The evolutionary paradigm simply cannot explain the origin of birds. Meanwhile, the biblical account of bird origins found in Genesis 1:20-21 best matches the record of nature.

References:
  1. Terry D. Jones, et al., Cursoriality in Bipedal Archosaurs, Nature 406 (2000): 716-18.
  2. Ji Qiang et al., Two Feathered Dinosaurs from Northeastern China, Nature 393 (1998): 753-61.
  3. Ann Gibbons, Dinosaur Fossils, in Fine Feather, Show Link to Birds, Science 280 (1998): 2051.
  4. R. Monastersky, Feathered Dinosaurs Found in China, Science News 153 (1998): 404.
  5. Hugh Ross, Darwinisms Fine Feathered FriendsA Matter of Interpretation, Facts and Faith 12, no. 3 (1998): 1-3.
  6. Alan Feduccia, The Origin and Evolution of Birds, 2d ed. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), 382.
  7. Fazale (Fuz) R. Rana, New Challenge to the Bird-Dinosaur Link, Connections 2, no. 2 (2000): 3.
  8. Richard Hinchliffe, The Forward March of Bird-Dinosaurs Halted? Science 278 (1997): 596-97.
  9. Ann C. Burke and Alan Feduccia, Developmental Patterns and Identification of Homologies in the Avian Hand, Science 278 (1997): 666-68.
  10. Stephen M. Gatesy, Three-Dimensional Preservation of Foot Movements in Triassic Theropod Dinosaurs, Nature 399 (1999): 141-44.
  11. Jones, 716-18.
  12. S. Perkins, Feathered Fossil Still Stirs Debate, Science News 158 (2000): 119.


Cosmic Acceleration Narrows Life's Time Window
By Hugh Ross

Recent discoveries about the universes expansion rate significantly impact the case for divine design. Past research revealed that only after a certain period of expansion would the universe be ready to support physical life. The latest findings show that the expansion will soon be too great for life support. The narrowness of this life window has led some researchers to acknowledge the necessity of intelligent design.1, 2

Rather than continuing to slow down, as it did for the first nine billion years, the cosmic expansion is now speeding up. Why? The self-stretching property of the universes space fabric propelling expansion has caught up with and overtaken the force of gravity, the braking effect.3, 4

From now on, the expansion rate will increase exponentially. This runaway acceleration means that galaxy, star, and planet formation will eventually shut down. This shut down will occur when cosmic matter becomes too thinly dispersed for galaxies, stars, and planets to coalesce (or condense). Even before the total shut down, however, the conditions allowing formation of solar-type stars, i.e., stars capable of developing into stable planetary systems, are lost.

Low density galaxies begin with the formation of super-giant stars, and before any solar-type stars have the chance to form, these supergiants undergo the massive explosion sequence we call supernova. The effect of a supernova is devastating. A supernova blasts away all other gases in a low-density galaxy; no material is left for further star or planet formation.

Thus, a universe transitioning from deceleration to acceleration, as contrasted with one that continually decelerates, offers a shorter time window not only for galaxy formation but also and especially for star and planetary system formation. The time zone in which life-supportable planets can possibly form is significantly reduced.

Another problem uncovered by cosmologists Max Tegmark and Martin Rees is that the giant gas clouds from which galaxies form will fragment into stars only if they can cool faster than they can physically collapse.5 This means that the time period for life-friendly galaxies to form is much briefer than what we thought before the discovery of the acceleration factor.

Some astrophysicists hypothesize (and hope to demonstrate soon) that the number of carbon-forming stars a galaxy can produce drops precipitously with even a slight fall off in gas density.6 Given that carbon is essential for life, we can grasp how such a drop would impact this on the possibility for life and on the time frame for life. We already knew it had limits.7, 8 Now the limits look more confining. The implication of divine planning and intervention grows stronger.

References:
  1. S. Perlmutter, et al., Measurements of W and L from 42 High-Resolution Supernovae, Astrophysical Journal 517 (1999): 565-86.
  2. Hugh Ross, Flat-Out Confirmed!: The Flatter-Universe Discovery Affirms the Bible Three Ways, Facts for Faith 1, no. 2 (2000): 27-31. Promise Publishing, 1989), 123-24.
  3. Jaume Garriga, Takahiro Tanaka, and Alexander Vilenkin, Density Parameter and the Anthropic Principle, Physical Review D 60 (1999): 5-21.
  4. Jaume Garriga and Alexander Vilenkin, On Likely Values of the Cosmological Constant, Physical Review D 61 (2000): 1462-71.
  5. Max Tegmark and Martin Rees, Why is the Cosmic Microwave Background Fluctuation Level 10-5? Astrophysical Journal 499 (1998): 526-32.
  6. Jaume Garriga, Mario Livio, and Alexander Vilenkin, Cosmological Constant and the Time of Its Dominance, Physical Review D 61 (2000): in press.
  7. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, 1st ed. (Orange, CA: Promise Publishing, 1989), 123-24.
  8. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), 115-17, 119.


Y Chromosome Analysis Confirms Biblical Account of Jewish and Arabic Origins
By Fazale (Fuz) R. Rana

A recent study carried out by an international team of researchers provides powerful evidence for the veracity of the biblical account of the descent of both the Jewish and Arab peoples from one father (Abraham), as described in the book of Genesis.1

The team compared a special region of the Y chromosome (the non-recombining region) for 1371 males. The test subjects came from 29 subpopulations of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, and of those population groups, 7 were Jewish and the other 22, non-Jewish. Sixteen of the non-Jewish populations came from the same geographic region as the 7 Jewish population groups. The Jewish and non-Jewish populations from the same geographies have co-existed for a long time in all cases, making this sampling of 1371 subjects an ideal system for evaluating origins.

The researchers found that the 7 Jewish populations (Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian), which spread across the widest geographic range of any of the population groups, had a remarkably high degree of genetic similarity even though they were geographically isolated from one another. In fact, the Jewish populations had the lowest genetic-difference-to-geographic-distance ratio of any collection of subpopulations examined. Moreover, each of the 7 Jewish populations possessed a greater degree of genetic similarity to one another than did any of these Jewish populations to their nearest geographic neighbors. These results indicate that Jewish populations emerged from a single ancestral population.

Additionally, the researchers found that Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations showed the highest degree of genetic similarity with the Jewish populations. The Syrian and Palestinian populations clustered with the 7 Jewish population groups. Saudi Arabians, Lebanese, and Druze populations were found to be the next closest, genetically. This is consistent with the Jewish populations originating from a parental population in the Middle East that also gave rise to Arab population groups.

Genesis teaches that Abraham fathered not only the nation of Israel, through Isaac, but also the Arab nations through Ishmael, who was born to Sarah's hand maiden, Hagar, the Egyptian2 (16: 1-6). After Isaac was born, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away. At that time, God consoled both Abraham and Hagar with the promise that He would make her son into a great nation (21: 11-18). Ishmael and his descendents settled in the region that spanned from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, eastward toward Asshur (25: 12-18). This area encompasses the lands of Assyria and Arabia.

In other words, the results of the latest Y chromosome analysis are in agreement with Genesis 16 25. The researchers purpose in conducting this study was to evaluate the reliability of genetic analysis in tracking human migration. In the process, they provided powerful new evidence for the reliability of the Bible.

References:

  1. M. F. Hammer, et. al., Jewish and Middle Eastern Non-Jewish Populations Share a Common Pool of Y-Chromosome Biallelic Haplotypes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 97 (2000): 6769-74.
  2. Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, D. J. Wiseman, General Editor (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1967), 127.



PRESIDENT'S LAPTOP

Dear Friends,

My first job as a pastor was to take survey teams door to door, asking people about the spiritual influences in their lives and inviting them to a Bible study in their neighborhood. To my amazement, most survey respondents claimed familiarity with the Bible. Many said they had read through the Bible. However, when asked to name five books of the Bible, four of the Ten Commandments, or three of Jesus disciples they could not.

Apparently, the Bible readings people hear in church, wedding and funeral services, and spot readings here and there add up in peoples minds to reading through the Bible. This phenomenon is hardly limited to non-Christians. How many Christians have actually read through the entire Bible? How many have read it more than once or twice?

Personally, I have found a way to stay motivated and to remember what I have read. It involves setting a specific goal, something other than the general target of reading from cover to cover, and it involves reading through rapidly without breaks (about once every six months).

My goal is to investigate a particular topic or theme, and I ask for Gods direction in choosing it. Usually it is suggested by some question over which I have struggled, the answer to which will help me grow and help me help others grow. It may be finances, predestination, creation, marriage and family, government, faith, salvation, or heaven, for example. As I read I make note of every scripture verse that hits upon the theme.

As I read, I think about how these verses fit together to shape my understanding of that theme. Later, when additional personal questions about that theme arise, I can go back to my notes and prayerfully look through the listed verses once again.

In describing my approach I do NOT wish to imply that its a one-size-fits-all (a misnomer if I ever heard one). We are all different. Our learning styles, reading speeds, and retention capacities are different. I just want to encourage each reader to find a method that is challenging, fulfilling, and thus sustainable.

As I travel from place to place, I observe a growing hunger among believers and non-believers to discuss the relationship between facts and faith, to consider what we know and how we know about God and His good news. Lets all get better prepared!

Sincerely,

Hugh Ross


FIELD REPORT
by Kathy Ross

Several new fields opened to RTB this past quarter, fields extending from the Southeastern U. S. to the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest to our own back yard. With Fuz Rana working alongside Hugh, we can cover more territory and with greater impact! Their tandem presentation of the creation model seems to draw an especially enthusiastic response.

For one week this fall, the two men crisscrossed the state of Indiana, addressing both church and university audiences. One of the highlights was a faculty luncheon at Purdue. Another was meeting an Indianapolis radio station owner who interviewed them for hours and bumped regular programming to air the exchange. He began as an opponent of RTB's position on creation and ended up a wholehearted supporter. What an exciting turnaround!

Hugh made one trip to North Carolina that actually took him, via television and the internet, literally all over the world. He was invited to appear on The John Ankerberg Show, specifically to engage in a friendly debate with Kent Hovind on creation issues. The multi-episode series proved painfully unfriendly. The series is currently airing on the Inspiration Network. Those who miss it there can view it on Ankerberg's internet site or purchase the two-tape video set from RTB when it (soon) becomes available.

Kenneth Samples, Facts for Faith's editor-in-chief, and Dave Rogstad, our new executive vice president, accompanied Hugh and Fuz to the bimonthly Open Forum luncheon at the University Club in Pasadena. A number of skeptics in attendance kept the discussion lively, and ongoing dialog indicates that God is working in their lives. Other events in the Pasadena area, one at Sierra Madre Congregational Church and another at Borders bookstore, also drew outspoken challenges from different sides of the creation question. In the end, light prevailed over heat. One participant in the Borders event described it as a very dramatic encounter.

During the fall quarter, the number of callers to our weekly radio broadcast more than doubled. The Saturday program now airs on a new station in Houston and no longer airs in Atlanta. An updated radio log appears on page seven. The third issue of Facts for Faith went to post offices in early October. Subscribers can anticipate receiving issue four in December.

John and Ruth Duerksen, RTB representatives in Canada, are thrilled to report that since adding credit card ordering capability to their office, the number of requests for RTB materials has grown from one or two per month to one or two per day, sometimes more. An even greater surge is expected in the wake of Hugh's recent outreaches in Nanaimo and South Delta, British Columbia.


FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH
Improving Tax Benefits From Donations
By David Madeira

A little planning can greatly improve the tax benefits a person receives from charitable gifts. Two examples of such planning involve 1) appreciated securities or real estate, and 2) the sale of stocks when a loss occurs.

Generally, the most favorable tax benefits arise from contributions of appreciated securities and long-held real estate. In addition to receiving a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of such gifts, the donor also avoids taxation on the capital gain, an amount he or she would incur in selling for profit. In addition, by donating the property, the donor avoids paying any sales commissions attendant to the sale of such property.

Gifts of property can also help a person deal with certain problem situations. For example, a donor who owns a property, particularly stock, that has dropped dramatically in value can help alleviate the extent of the financial loss. If the donor sells the property or stock, he or she can generate a tax loss to reduce the taxes on total income. Then, the donor can donate the proceeds of the sale of the property or stock to a favorite charity and receive a charitable deduction as well.

For more information on how to plan your gifts and to receive greater tax benefits from your contributions, please call Reasons To Believe at 626-335-1480. If you prefer, you can write us at Reasons To Believe, P.O. Box 5978, Pasadena, CA 91117, or send an e-mail to: Donations@reasons.org.


LETTERS

Thank God (literally!) for your website!! I've been a non-believer for many years, mainly because of my perception that science and religion were irreconcilable. What a relief for me to find that they are telling us exactly the same thing, just from a slightly different perspective. I recently finished reading Creation and Time by Dr. Ross. What a wonderful book! Anyway, I wanted to send you a note of thanks for helping me resolve the turmoil that has been going on inside of me for decades...

-- Drew, Email

Having struggled with evolution vs. creation and the reliability of the Bible ever since high school (over 30 years ago), I was very much impressed with your views on these issues. I was under the impression, I now know it was a false impression, that to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, I also had to believe in a Young Earth Creation. But your view of an Old Earth Creation being consistent with a reinterpretation of the original Hebrew words in Genesis has caused me to rethink this matter. A friend of mine, who is a skeptic, could never believe in Christianity because he, like me, felt that Genesis only permitted a Young Earth view. If Genesis was wrong about Creation, then he felt the rest of the Bible could not be trusted. I sent my friend a copy of one of your books and told him to check out the other information you have on your web site. It will be very interesting to find out his reaction to all of this.

-- Frank, Email

I’ve devoured all of Dr. Ross's books. Its been a thrill for me to learn how science is confirming the Word of God, which, of course, we should know it would, and Dr. Ross has a clear, organized, terse style which I love. Its a thrill for me to hear the results of Dr. Ross's seminars and presentations, the changed minds and the changed hearts. In particular, as a member of the scientific community myself, I want scientists to know that their measurements do not contradict Scripture, and that one does not need to close his mind to become a Christian.

-- Ron, Alabama

I really love your ministry. Hugh Ross is a real warrior for Christ. I praise God for the clear and solid understanding of the Scriptures and General revelation that he has helped me to know better. I've read several of his books and listen to his broadcasts whenever possible. I get extremely excited when I get a bigger look at God. Hugh has broadened my understanding of Gods enormous majesty!

-- David, Texas


PRAY-ERSWhen God Says No
by Kathy Ross

Pets are a big deal in our house. We've had so many over the years, we had to buy a names for pets book. At one time or another certainly not all at once the menagerie has included cats, dogs, bunnies, guinea pigs, an iguana, hamsters (all have been named Houdini), green anoles, a tree frog, assorted fish, and a pink-toed tarantula. No snakes. I had to draw the line somewhere.

In addition to giving us hours of pure delight in Gods creative excellence, these creatures have taught us more life (and death) lessons than we can count. Some lessons we wish we didn't have to learn. The latest one was the toughest yet, but perhaps one of the most important. It has to do with Tiger, our orange tabby.

He disappeared just before school started, as we were on our way home from Colorado. The last few days of that trip we pushed ourselves as far and as fast as we could because we were all missing Tiger so much. David, my younger son, was especially anxious to see his best friend, who always purred him to sleep at night.

But Tiger wasn't here to greet us. Our house-and-pet sitter told us he went out one morning as usual and never came back. While Hugh and Joel scoured the neighborhood, David and I raced to the local humane society to check the cages and record books. No sign of Tiger, anywhere.

Anguish, tears, hope, searching, and prayer, lots of prayer, carried us through the rest of that week, and the next week, and the next. You may think us crazy for all this emotion over a cat, but if you've ever really attached to a pet, in this case an extraordinary one, you'll understand.

Don't get me started on the legend of Tiger. Even avowed cat-haters liked Tiger. But when we asked God to bring him back to us, the answer was no.

No is one of those words I don't like. My parents taught me to use it, however, and I have used it against much pressure and pleading at times. Cave-ins have always led to regrets, as Joel and David can sometimes attest now that they are 15 and 12. Being able to accept no without questioning the love of the one who says it is a mark of maturity.

That's where we are with God, right now, trusting Him for the maturity to accept no for an answer. As we accept it in the case of Tiger, we can all grow a little. Meanwhile, we are grateful for the comfort God gives, more and more, day by day.


RTB IS COMING TO TOWN
CALIFORNIA

    AZUSA
        Jan. 29 - Chapel service at Azusa Pacific University, 10 A.M. For more information, contact the Office of Chapel Programs: 626-969-3434.
    PASADENA
        Jan. 8 - Hugh Ross, Fuz Rana, and Kenneth Samples lead a noon forum on science and Scripture at the University Club of Pasadena. Contact Margo for reservations: 626-796-2649.
    SANTA ANA
        Dec. 12 - The Christian Businessmen's Committee annual prayer breakfast, 7 A.M. at the Santa Ana Elks Lodge. For tickets, call Judy Kane: 714-973-8095.
    SIERRA MADRE
        Dec. 10 - Open forum for skeptics and for believers with questions in Pritchard Hall, 11 A.M.-1 P.M. at Sierra Madre Congregational Church. SMCC office: 626-355-3566.
    UPLAND
        Sunday Evenings Beginning on Oct. 22, Fuz Rana will present a 15-week series on the Testable Creation Model at Life Bible Fellowship, 7 P.M. For directions and information, call 909-981-4848.
        Feb. 4 - Hugh Ross, Fuz Rana, and Kenneth Samples will lead an Open Forum at Life Bible Fellowship, 7 P.M. For directions and information, call 909-981-4848.

ILLINOIS

    WHEATON
        Nov. 29 - Science, Evolution & Creation plus scientific evidences for the existence of the God of the Bible, Wheaton Bible Church. For more information, contact Rob Rienow: 630-588-7145.

TEXAS

    MIDLAND
        Nov. 18 - Hugh Ross and Fuz Rana present their testimonies and the testable creation model, 6:30 P.M. seminar at First Baptist Church. Church office: 915-683-0600.

WASHINGTON

    EVERETT
        Feb. 8 - Fuz Rana will hold an evening workshop, Creation or Evolution? What the fossils tell us about the origin of life at Northshore Christian Church (425-407-1119).
        Feb. 10 - Fuz Rana will conduct evening worship services at Northshore Christian Church.
        Feb. 11 - Fuz Rana will conduct morning worship services at Northshore Christian Church. Please call the church office for times and directions.

WISCONSIN

    MADISON
        Feb. 7 - Evening outreach at Crossroads Church, 7 P.M. Church office: 608-222-1159.
        Feb. 9 - Evening outreach at High Point Church. For more details on this event, contact Rod Stiling or the church office after Jan. 1, 2001: 608-836-3236.

Hear Dr. Ross and his guests every week on the Reasons To Believe radio network. If your local station does not yet carry the program, you can tune in to the web simulcast through links on our home page www.reasons.org. Tune in at 9 A.M. Pacific Time, noon Eastern Time. (See listing on page 7.)