Reasons to Believe

Connections 2001, Vol. 3, No. 1



New Evidence for Life's Rapid Origin
By Hugh Ross

Recent research indicates that the Moon suffered intense asteroid and meteoroid bombardment impacting its entire surface some 3.9 billion years ago.1, 2 Because of the Moon’s proximity to Earth and because of Earth’s greater gravity, we can reasonably infer that Earth, too, suffered heavy bombardment at that time— an assault as much as thirty times more intense.

Such bombardment would have wreaked havoc on the planet. It would have reduced Earth’s crust to a molten mass, turning its surface water to vapor. This scenario may explain the lack of marine deposits and rocks dating earlier than 3.9 billion years. Remarkably, this pelting may have played a vital role in preparing Earth for life. Along with the asteroids and meteoroids, comets (which are mostly frozen water) would have rained down in abundance. Once the barrage slowed and surface cooling began, that water would have condensed, contributing to the formation of a huge ocean. (The bombardment may also explain the moisture on Mars about 3.9 billion years ago.)3, 4

These findings underscore the miraculous rapidity of life’s origin. We know from the ratios of carbon isotopes that life was abundant on Earth as far back as 3.86 billion years ago.5 Therefore, life must have arisen in the tiny span of 40 million years (3.9 billion minus 3.86 billion = 40 million), probably less. Naturalism offers no explanation for such a rapid appearance of life. The Bible, on the other hand, does.

References:

  1. Richard A. Kerr, “Beating Up on a Young Earth, and Possibly Life,” Science 290 (2000), 1677.
  2. B. A. Cohen, T. D. Swindle, and D. A. Kring, “Support for the Lunar Cataclysm Hypothesis from Lunar Meteorite Impact Melt Ages,” Science 290 (2000), 1754-56.
  3. Richard A. Kerr, “A Dripping Wet Early Mars Emerging from New Pictures,” Science 290 (2000), 1879-80.
  4. Michael C. Malin and Kenneth S. Edgett, “Sedimentary Rocks of Early Mars,” Science 290 (2000), 1927-37.
  5. S. J. Mojzsis et al., “Evidence for Life on Earth Before 3,800 Million Years Ago,” Nature 384 (1996), 55-59.


Protein Structures Reveal More Evidence for Design
By Fuz Rana

Recent research on three proteins (RNA polymerase II, thioredoxin reductase from E. coli, and chloroplast F1-F0 ATPase) provides new evidence for design at the subcellular level.1, 2, 3 These three proteins possess, as part of their architectural make-up, components that are literally machine parts, responsible for cellular movement and other functions. They must now be added to the growing list of “molecular motors” that are direct analogs to man-made devices.4, 5, 6

Recognition that these three enzymes have machine-like domains, combined with earlier acknowledgment that enzymes (such as F1-F0 ATPase, V1-V0 ATPase, bacterial flagellar proteins and myosin) are structurally characterized as machine parts, dramatically revitalizes the watchmaker argument.7 This argument, popularized by William Paley in the 18th century, asserts that as a watch requires a maker, so too, nature’s complex systems require a Creator.

Paley’s simple, yet logical, argument has been challenged by skeptics, such as David Hume. The challenge may be summarized as follows: Analogies are compelling only if there is a high degree of similarity between the objects compared in the analogy.8 A watch and nature seem so dissimilar as to render “unsound” any conclusion drawn from the watchmaker argument.

The discovery of enzymes with domains directly analogous to man-made devices answers this challenge. The similarity between the machine parts of these enzymes and man-made devices is striking, to say the least. Furthermore, as the list of enzymes with machine parts lengthens, the conclusion of the watchmaker analogy grows even more certain. Experts in inductive thinking point out that the more objects are found comparable, the sounder are the conclusions drawn via analogical reasoning.9

References:
  1. Patrick Cramer et al., “Architecture of RNA Polymerase II and Implications for the Transcription Mechanism,” Science 288 (2000), 640-49.
  2. Brett W. Lennon et al., “Twists in Catalysis: Alternating Conformations of Escherichia coli Thioredoxin Reductase,” Science 289 (2000), 1190-94.
  3. Holger Seelert et al., “Proton-Powered Turbine of a Plant,” Nature 405 (2000), 418-19.
  4. Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge To Evolution (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 69-72.
  5. Hugh Ross, “Small Scale Evidence of Grand-Scale Design,” Facts & Faith no. 4, vol. 2 (1997), 1.
  6. Fazale Rana, and Micah Lott, “Hume Vs. Paley: These ‘Motors’ Settle the Debate,” Facts for Faith, Quarter 2 2000, 34-39.
  7. Rana and Lott, 34-39.
  8. Rana and Lott, 34-39.
  9. Patrick J. Hurley, A Concise Introduction To Logic, 6th ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1997), 494-96.


Timely Appearance of Land Life Benefits Humans
By Hugh Ross

Two more pieces of evidence strengthen the case for the early appearance of land life. The significance of such findings is two-fold. First, it demonstrates the accuracy of the Genesis 1 record, which says that God created land life early, very early, in the creation week. Second, it demonstrates God’s planning and provision for the needs of advanced life, especially of humans in the development of their civilization.

Studies of ancient rocks in South Africa indicate that life existed on Earth’s land masses as far back as 2.6 billion years ago.1 (Prior to this discovery, the earliest undisputed date for land-dwelling life was 1.2 billion years ago.2) Researchers compared the ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12 isotopes found in 2.6-billion-year-old rocks with the ratio found in later-era rocks known to have been formed (on land) by cyanabacteria. The ratios matched.

The second finding also comes from rocks. Ancient (2+ billion years old) deposits of organically generated silicates and calcium-bearing minerals show signs of wind erosion. In other words, this organic (living) matter was land-based not oceanbased, for wind can only erode exposed rocks (rocks not submerged in oceans). Thus, we have further confirmation that life existed on land more than 2 billion years ago, very early in Earth’s history.

The “very good” result of this early appearance of land life is that it allows for the maximum imaginable diversity and density of life on planet Earth. God gave us a wealth of natural resources to enjoy, to care for, and to use as we fulfill our part in His eternal plan.

References:
  1. Yumiko Watanabe et al., “Geochemical Evidence for Terrestrial Ecosystems 2.6 Billion Years Ago,” Nature 408 (2000), 574-78.
  2. Sid Perkins, “Life Landed 2.6 Billion Years Ago,” Science News 158 (2000), 356.


Bacteria Help Prepare Earth for Life
By Hugh Ross

Sulfate-reducing bacteria are among the oldest life forms on Earth. They are dominant in the geologic record from 3.9 to 2.9 billion years ago, an era in which oxygen concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere were relatively low. Researchers discovered not long ago that sulfate-reducing bacteria play a critical role in Earth’s sulfur and carbon cycles, both of which are essential for life.1 More recent studies reveal bacteria’s additional contribution to life sustenance.

Apparently, sulfate-reducing bacteria participate both directly and indirectly in removing poisons from Earth’s environment. Some of these bacteria remove low but deadly zinc concentrations from water. Others assist in the formation of certain ore deposits. These ores, in turn, remove poisons from the environment and, much later, contribute to the advancement of human civilization.2 For example, bacteria form precipitates of pure sphalerite (ZnS), which form ZnS ore deposits. Researchers now recognize that sulfate-reducing bacteria helped produce much, if not all, of the concentrated (thus economic to mine) ore deposits of iron, magnesium, zinc, and lead. Ores of trace metals such as silver, arsenic, selenium, etc., may similarly owe their concentrations (and accessibility) to bacteria.

The handiwork of the Creator seems evident. God created sulfate-reducing bacteria and then gave them about a billion years to work on Earth’s environment, making it safe for more advanced life and producing ore deposits that would vault the last-created species from stone age isolation to the technological age. Despite its potential for abuse, today’s technology places fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission within the grasp of Christians alive today.

References:

  1. Crisogono Vasconcelos and Judith A. McKenzie, “Sulfate Reducers— Dominant Players in a Low-Oxygen World?” Science 290 (2000), 1711-12.
  2. Matthias Labrenz et al., “Formation of Sphalerite (ZnS) Deposits in Natural Biofilms of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria,” Science 290 (2000), 1744-47.



PRESIDENT’S LAPTOP

Dear Friends,

If you are old enough to read my words, you are experienced enough, I hope, to know that reading is not necessarily believing. My familiar exhortation to “test” truth claims applies to more than just creation controversies. Though I have been inclined to think that “beware of newsprint” goes without saying, I have been confronted recently with indications that I do need to say it.

RTB constituents often send me clippings about which they have questions or concerns. Some I am able to respond to on the radio, but not all. One of those I missed responding to during the Christmas season serves as a glaring example of articles to ignore, “The Star of Bethlehem Shines Again.” I mention it here because so many people asked about it and because it exemplifies so many violations of journalistic credibility. Let me suggest a short list of questions for judging this (or any) article’s merit:

  • Does the author’s name appear with the article? If not, don’t bother to read the piece. If so, does the article offer a way to check the credentials of the author?
  • Are the experts cited really “experts” whose credentials can be checked? In addition to citing names, the article must also indicate degrees earned (if appropriate), from what institutions, and subsequent relevant work experience.
  • Does the article include testable and plausible details? The “Star” article referred to data from the Hubble Telescope but gave no reference to a published source. It also claimed that its astronomy “expert” was a front runner for a Nobel Prize. How could the author know that? (By the way, astronomy is not a Nobel Prize category.) How could an Earth-bound astronomer, even with the help of the Hubble, know about an exploded star days before its light reaches Earth? This claim represents a physical impossibility.

The credibility of the newspaper or magazine itself must also be taken into account. Do not expect to find a genuinely important, accurately reported news item in a publication known for sensationalism.

Because the world tends to view us Christians as gullible, naïve, and subjective, we have a special responsibility to guard against embracing and disseminating false information. Let’s work together on this task and, in doing so, enhance our opportunities for effective outreach.

Sincerely in Christ,

Hugh Ross


FIELD REPORT
By Kathy Ross

Noise rocked the sanctuary of Wheaton Bible Church, but when Hugh reached the microphone, the place grew quiet. About an hour later the Q-and-A session revealed that nearly 300 young people, mostly high school students, had been listening attentively. If you had been there to hear their questions and observe their intensity, you would be encouraged about the future.

As November’s election results hung in the balance, Fuz Rana joined Hugh in George W. Bush’s home town, Midland, Texas. Eager believers and truth seekers (including some of the new president’s friends and associates) attended the luncheon and evening outreaches sponsored by the First Baptist Church.

Despite opposition from those who disagree with RTB’s views on creation, events of the past few months have drawn bigger and more enthusiastic audiences than ever. The Christmas breakfast sponsored by the Santa Ana Christian Businessmen’s Committee fed more than 400 guests not just a tasty meal but food for the spirit as well. One man excitedly reported that every one of his guests had prayed with Hugh after his message, giving their lives to Jesus Christ.

Each bi-monthly Open Forum at the University Club, Pasadena, seems bigger and better than the one before. More than fifty men and women attended the January luncheon. RTB now sends a team of four scholars—Kenneth Samples and Dave Rogstad in addition to Hugh and Fuz—to offer their perspectives and answer questions. Plans for more frequent forums are being considered.

Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando invited Hugh to meet with faculty and has asked RTB to help develop some new courses. One course would show how to incorporate scientific methodology with biblical hermeneutics. Another would train future (and current) pastors and church leaders in the use of science apologetics. As these plans advance, Connections will report them.

Ministry opportunities continue to multiply. God is adding new radio listeners, new Facts for Faith subscribers, and new Message of the Month participants week by week. As the enclosed flyer indicates, preparations are already in full swing for RTB’s second annual conference, June 27-30, 2001, again at Grace Church in Cypress, Calif. By the time of the conference, we should be able to roll out our new editions of The Creator and the Cosmos and The Genesis Question and to announce a release date for our latest book, one on extraterrestrial intelligence and UFOs.


FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH
Charitable Trust: A Tool For Receiving and Giving
By David Madeira

Fear of future financial need often inhibits people from supporting a charity to the extent they would otherwise like to. Let me suggest an answer to this dilemma: the Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT). The beauty of CRTs is that they protect financial security while benefiting a ministry at the same time.

A Charitable Remainder Trust is a simple device which provides the donor with income for life, an income tax deduction at the time the trust is created, and a way to leave the “remainder,” or principal, to the selected charity at the time of the donor’s death. The donor simply transfers legal title of cash, stocks, bonds, or similar property to a Trust, stipulating the term of the trust and the rate of its payments. The Trustee, usually the charity/ beneficiary, manages the Trust and pays the stipulated income to the donor (or other named beneficiary) according to the Trust terms. At the end of the Trust term, the principal becomes a gift to the charity, a gift to be used for whatever purpose(s) the donor may have designated at the time of the Trust’s creation.

Over the years, Charitable Remainder Trusts have provided a convenient way for individuals to make gifts while protecting their own future. Some seniors appreciate the fact that the Trustee manages the Trust and relieves them of that responsibility as they age and face the various difficulties aging includes. Since the charitable Trustee does not charge for management service (as financial institutions would), both the donor and the charity will ultimately receive a greater financial benefit.

Charitable Remainder Trusts facilitate good stewardship. They create a fulfilling partnership between donors and charities, providing for the needs of both. The charity is motivated to ensure successful management of the Trust since doing so will ultimately benefit the charity as well as the donor. Charitable Remainder Trusts come in several varieties. Look for definitions and explanations in future issues of Connections. For more information, contact Yolanda Johnson in the Reasons To Believe Foundation office at 626-335-1480 x112. Become a regular supporter of Reasons To Believe and receive monthly updates of faith-affirming scientific discoveries and ministry events. For information call 800-482- 7836 or sign up via RTB’s website.


RTB CHAPTERS

Denver, Colorado
Contact: Dan Brown
Phone: (303) 363-7327
E-mail: Denver@reasons.org

Houston, Texas
Contact: William Bryan Darwin
Phone: (713) 639-3390
E-mail: RTB-Houston@usa.net

Seattle, Washington
Contact: Stan Lennard, M.D.
Phone: (425) 485-9712
E-mail: lennardjs@msn.com

Orlando, Florida
Contact: Phil Metzger
Phone: (407) 382-0088
E-mail: Philtill@aol.com
This chapter is just getting started.

Huntsville, Alabama
Contact: Mark Whorton
Phone: (256) 830-0996
E-mail: Huntsville@reasons.org

Raleigh, North Carolina
Contact: Don Markle
Phone: (919) 424-4555
E-mail: dmarkle120@yahoo.com
This chapter is just getting started.

Charlotte, North Carolina
Contact: Jay Hanna
E-mail: Jay.Hanna@na.clariant.com

Worldwide Chapters are located in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Additional Chapter information is available on our Website.


LETTERS
From a Scientist

I have been so encouraged and blessed by several books and presentations of yours that are spiritually uplifting and yet have incorporated a commitment to scientific soundness. Your passion is wonderfully perceptible and very tangible to me. I have recently listened to some of your “debates” on creationism and “Old Earth v. Young Earth.” I marvel at your strength in and knowledge of science and the scientific process, as well as your unabashed boldness to represent our Creator as real and personal and as One Who has “intelligent intent.”

I have also followed some of the many recent challenges you have faced from both within and without the world of theism and of Christianity, and have seen you humbly “keep the faith” in your commitment to both the scientific method and our infallible Creator. For this I commend you highly and recognize you as a wonderful standard-bearer!

You must be made aware, although I am sure you are to a great extent already so, that you are an inspiration to those of us who remain committed to shining His light within the realm of the scientific community. I would like you to be encouraged that this inspiration is not limited by any means to those in the natural or basic sciences, but is also affecting those of us who are involved in the clinical and practical sciences of Medicine and the like. I, personally, have taken great courage from your perspective in my own work.

As we further explore and understand our universe, our world and our own physical bodies, we are all becoming keenly aware of the wonderful work and undeniable brilliance and wisdom of our Creator. May we all continue to endeavor to bring glory to Him and to bring the knowledge of Him to our world as you do. Thank you, Dr. Ross, for your testimony of faithfulness and your commitment to the vision that God has given you. It is from this that we all take great courage! I continue to be committed to prayerfully and tangibly supporting you and your ministry and humbly covet your prayers for God’s continued work in the realm of medical science.

-- Daniel, California
From Participants in Last Year's Conference

I wish to thank you for a great conference on “Putting Creation to the Test.” I appreciate the scholarship and godly wisdom that was present through the two and a half days. I cannot tell you, as a chemist living in San Diego, how good it was to hear both sound scientific and sound biblical information.

-- Fred, California

We enjoyed more than we can say the Creation Model [conference]. I have been studying with you four or five years and this brought it all together. I was staying with a cousin there who claimed not to believe; so I got to put your model to the test, and the response was unbelievable. He wanted to follow up with more information, and I gave him a copy of your The Creator and the Cosmos. I believe the program was worth college credit.

-- Vince and Peggy, Georgia
*Letters may be edited for brevity or clarity.


PRAY-ERS
Walking On Water
By Kathy Ross

Like most married couples, Hugh and I seem opposite in a number of characteristics. He’s quiet; I’m noisy. He’s punctual; I’m “flexible.” He’s cautious; I’m daring. He’s deliberate; I’m spontaneous. He’s eventempered; I’m up and down. He’s a keeper; I’m a tosser. He’s frugal; I’m, well, let’s just say generous. I must add that Hugh is the more sentimental of us two, and while he enjoys slapstick humor, I prefer the dry variety.

Common wisdom says that these differences, and the attempt to balance them, make a marriage challenging. For us, though, the greatest challenges come from our similarities. For example, we are both so competitive in games that we can easily kill the fun. Both of us tend to be somewhat disorganized and overly optimistic about what we can accomplish in a given time, causing stress for us and frustration for others.

One similarity that makes our life both thrilling and chilling is our capacity to envision what God could do through Reasons To Believe if we had the people and financial resources to make our dreams come true. The thrilling part is that we have seen Him at work, transforming ideas to tangible realities, most importantly, into changed lives. He has surrounded us with a team whose character, commitment, and capability exceed our expectations.

The chilling part comes when we look down at our weaknesses and limitations and wonder, as Peter did, how human beings can walk on water. God’s answer to us, of course, is the same as it was to Peter: Look up! With our eyes on Jesus, we can go anywhere He calls us, even out into—or onto—places where human strength, desire, or will, alone, cannot sustain us.

With this picture in mind, please pray for us. God alone knows how much we need and appreciate your prayers.


RTB IS COMING TO TOWN
ARIZONA

    SCOTTSDALE
        Feb. 18  Hugh Ross to give the morning message at Desert Vista Church, 10:30 A.M., and an open forum at 6:00 p.m. For more information call (480) 368-0888.

CALIFORNIA

    PASADENA
        Mar. 5  Open forum with RTB panel at noon at the University Club. Call Margo at (626) 796-2649 for reservations.
        SIERRA MADRE
        Sundays  Paradoxes Class, led by Hugh Ross and sponsored by Sierra Madre Congregational Church, meets at 154 West Sierra Madre Blvd., 11:00 A.M. Contact the SMCC office for more details (626) 355-3566.

WASHINGTON

    EVERETT
        Feb. 9  Dr. Rana to present “Creation or Evolution? What Fossils Tell us about the Origin of Life,” an evening talk, at Northshore Christian Church, (425) 407-1119.
        SILVERDALE
        Mar. 16  Evening presentation with Dr. Ross. Call Carl Johnson for location and information, (360) 692-2945.
        Mar. 17  Saturday morning workshop and Q&A session, 9:00 A.M. with Dr. Ross. Call Carl Johnson for location and information, (360) 692-2945.

WISCONSIN

    MADISON
        Feb. 6  Dr. Ross to speak on “Resolving Creation Controversies,” 7:30-9:00 P.M. at Crossroads Church. For more information, contact Bobbyjon Bauman at (608) 222-1159.
        Feb. 7  Campus Crusade for Christ at University of Wisconsin, to host Dr. Ross as he speaks on his personal journey of faith and presents new scientific discoveries about origins. For location and time, call Scott Roe at (608) 273-4835.
        Feb. 9  Dr. Ross to give an evening talk on compelling reasons to believe, at High Point Church. For more information contact Rod Stiling at (608) 835-3236.

CALLING ALL ADVENTURERS!

No man-made theme park can duplicate the thrills of a white-water expedition on the Salmon River, Idaho. Last year’s adventurers were rewarded with an up-close look at bighorn sheep, a mother eagle teaching her young to fly, river otters, elk, and even a few minks! The fishermen in the group caught several varieties of trout, some unique to this part of the world.

Featured speaker for this year’s trip, August 7-13, is Dr. Mark Clark, RTB’s television co-host and political science chairman at Cal State. Longtime friends of RTB, both Mark and his wife, Mara, are avid outdoor enthusiasts and veterans of last summer’s trip. They can report from experience that the food, the scenery, and the fellowship are unsurpassed! Space is limited, so make your reservations right away. Last year’s trip filled up several months in advance. Call Margaret at 888-201-3638.


COMING SOON IN FACTS FOR FAITH

IN PROFILE: ONE OF CHRISTIANITY’S GREATEST THINKERS
Kenneth Samples explains the contributions of St. Augustine, one of the most influential Christian thinkers of all time.

CRITIQUE OF THE GAP THEORY
Does the Bible teach a “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:3? Scientific and biblical analyses provide some answers.

PLAUSIBILITY OF LONG LIFE SPANS
Advances in the biochemistry of aging add to the growing weight of evidence that makes the long life spans in Genesis 5 scientifically rational.

CHALLENGES TO THE BIG BANG BEGINNING
Hugh Ross demonstrates that recent attempts to discount the cosmic creation event—and thus, the biblical God—do not withstand the rigors of scientific testing.


MESSAGE OF THE MONTH
Providing New Reasons

Join the team! Help meet RTB’s vital need for consistency and expansion by giving a monthly gift. In return, you’ll receive a timely message on scientific discoveries and ministry events. Call 800-482-7836 for information, or sign up via the Web.