Reasons to Believe

Connections 2001, Vol. 3, No. 2



Extinct Shell Fish Speaks Today
By Fuz Rana

A recent study of Isoxys (marine crustacean) fossils from the Maotianshan Shale of China provides important new evidence for creation. The study reveals that a complex and expansive ecology existed in the period known as the Cambrian Explosion, the time when advanced multicellular animals suddenly appeared on Earth.1 The natural process of biological evolution cannot explain the concurrent appearance of a highly advanced ecology in conjunction with the explosive introduction of the first true multicellular animals. On the other hand, the biblical creation model readily accommodates this feature of the fossil record.

The Cambrian Explosion, a dramatic event in life’s history (about 540 million years ago) occurred over an extremely narrow window of geological time, 2-3 million years or narrower. At the time of the Cambrian Explosion, nearly every animal phyla ever to exist on Earth (more than 70) suddenly appeared.2 Since that time, arguably no new animal phyla have arisen. Evolutionary biologists find the Cambrian Explosion one of biology’s greatest enigmas.3

In 1986 Simon Conway Morris identified an additional problem. The ecology of the Cambrian fauna apparently resembled that of modern marine ecosystems, including identifiable predator-prey relationships.4, 5 The evolutionary paradigm predicts a restricted and loosely-woven ecology at that early time. Further, the evolutionary model predicts the appearance of bottom dwelling (benthic) animals long before the first animals that occupy open waters (pelagic).6 To exploit the open sea for survival, organisms must develop biomechanical specializations that allow for buoyancy and locomotion. And they need adequate concentrations of nutrients in the open sea.

According to the evolutionary model, benthic animals should have appeared during the early Cambrian, followed much later by pelagic organisms. Increased predation of bottom dwellers was, presumably, the “evolutionary” driving force behind marine creatures’ transition to the open sea. The open-sea environment allows for greater safety and avoidance of predatory attacks. Moreover, the activity of benthic organisms, over time, would have increased the nutrient levels in the open sea, eventually making way for occupation of this niche.

A duo of paleontologists from France and China have published findings that stand in sharp contrast to these evolutionary expectations.7 By examining newly available fossil specimens of a long-extinct marine crustacean (Isoxys) having unusually well preserved soft-body parts, the French and Chinese paleontologists found that Isoxys occupied an open-sea environment. The Isoxys specimens revealed swimming appendages, visual organs, and shell design all consistent with those expected of an organism living in the open sea.

The recovery of Isoxys from early Cambrian rocks makes this discovery even more remarkable. Pelagic lifestyles could not have evolved from benthic lifestyles. Rather, the fossil record shows that exploitation of both the open sea and sea floor occurred simultaneously. Moreover, the shell design of Ixosys displays long spines extending from the anterior and posterior ends. These spines would not have contributed to Isoxys buoyancy, and therefore, must have served as defensive structures in the face of open-sea predatory threats—again, an unexpected finding.

As paleontologists develop an increased understanding of the Cambrian ecology, they find more and more evidence that the ecosystems of that time were complex, expansive, and highly integrated. The first complex animals possessed surprisingly advanced capabilities, enabling them to exploit the full range of ecological niches. The Cambrian fossil record supports the conclusion that advanced multicellular life resulted from the activity of the biblical Creator.

References:

  1. Jean Vannier and Jun-Yuan Chen, “The Early Cambrian Colonization of Pelagic Niches Exemplified by Isoxys (Arthropoda),” Lethaia 33 (2000): 295-311.
  2. Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, “The Cambrian ‘Explosion’ and Why It Means So Much for Christians,” Facts for Faith (Q2 2000), 15-17.
  3. Simon Conway Morris, “The Cambrian ‘Explosion’: Slow Fuse or Megatonnage?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 97 (2000): 4426-29.
  4. Simon Coway Morris,“The Community Structure of the Middle Cambrian Phyllopod Bed (Burgess Shale),” Paleontology 29 (1986): 423-67.
  5. Steven J. Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (New York: W. W. Norton, 1989), 222-24.
  6. Philip W. Signor and Geeret J. Vermeij, “The Plankton and the Benthos: Origins and Early History of an Evolving Relationship,” Paleobiology 20 (1994): 297-319.
  7. Vannier and Chen, 295-311.


Extinction Risks For Birds
By Hugh Ross

One of the complex challenges facing evolutionists can be described in simple terms. It is the problem of time. For naturalistic evolution to work, the rate of speciation (introduction of new species) must, by nature alone, exceed the rate of extinction. Observed reality says it does not. In fact, extinction is accelerating (for some obvious reasons) while speciation has virtually stalled.

The implications point to supernatural involvement in speciation, and a number of recently published findings support such a conclusion.1-4 Field studies on birds have been especially fruitful. One study shows that for birds encountering human and other new predators, the greater its body size and the longer its generation time, the more rapid the bird’s movement toward extinction.5 Apparently, larger body size makes a bird more desirable to predators and more troublesome to human economic activity, such as agriculture. Longer generation time, of course, means slower response to environmental threats.

The same study shows that when the size of a bird’s habitat shrinks, the rate of extinction increases according to the specialization of that species’ food and other needs. In this situation, smaller body size hinders survival. Small birds have more difficulty surviving the move from one ruined or overcrowded habitat to another. In other words, both small body size and large body size mean trouble for survival.

Roughly half the bird species alive on Earth when humans appeared no longer exist, and more than a tenth of those that remain face imminent extinction.6 While evolutionary theory offers no explanation for this change from proliferation of bird species to diminution, the Bible does. Genesis says that in the era before God created humans, He introduced (and reintroduced) various creatures, including birds. With the creation of humans, however, God ceased creating new species.7

God’s plan for humans, a plan for redemption, has moved into its next phase. God still creates new life—spiritual life, in physically-alive but spiritually-dead humans. Observations affirm this on-going creative activity.

References:
  1. Jonathan B. Losos and Dolph Schluter, “Analysis of an Evolutionary Species-Area Relationship,” Nature 408 (2000), 847-50.
  2. Stephen R. Beissinger, “Ecological Mechanisms of Extinction,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 97 (2000): 11688-89.
  3. Ian P. F. Owens and Peter M. Bennett, “Ecological Basis of Extinction Risk in Birds: Habitat Loss Versus Human Persecution and Introduced Predators,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 97 (2000): 12144-48.
  4. Kevin Higgins and Michael Lynch, “Metapopulation Extinction Caused by Mutation Accumulations,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 98 (2001): 2928-33.
  5. Owens and Bennett, 12144-48.
  6. Robert M. May, John H. Lawton, and Nigel E. Stork, “Assessing Extinction Rates,” in Extinction Rates, eds. John H. Lawton and Robert M. May (New York: Oxford University, 1995), 10-21.
  7. Gen. 1:20-23, The Holy Bible.


Cosmic Cool Down — What Does It Mean?
By Hugh Ross

Not one but five writers of Scripture describe God’s “stretching out” of the heavens. From a scientist’s perspective, these ancient writers predict the twentieth-century discovery of continual cosmic expansion.1 The book of Romans tells readers that the entire creation is subject to the law of decay. Again, a scientist would see this statement as an obvious reference to the second law of thermodynamics.2

The apologetics importance of these two points cannot be overstated. They demonstrate that the Bible—long before scientific observation and experimentation—identified the basic features of the big bang universe; expansion (from a beginning point) and cooling.

Until recently, scientific confirmation of cosmic cooling, though persuasive, came from indirect measurements. The situation has changed, however, with the advent of optical telescopes like the 400-inch Keck. Such instruments have the capacity to detect the temperature of the cosmic background radiation (the radiation left over from the creation event) in very distant gas clouds. Because the light (temperature indicator) from these clouds began its journey to Earth so long ago, detecting it represents a look far back into the history of the universe.

In 1994, the Keck telescope enabled astronomers to determine (via spectral lines of carbon) the temperature of gas clouds when the universe was about one-third its present age. The hot big bang model predicts that at this early epoch the cosmic temperature was almost three times higher than the temperature of nearby regions of space. Specifically, the background radiation in the distant clouds observed should be 7.58 kelvin (that is, 7.58° Centigrade above absolute zero, or –446.05° Fahrenheit) compared to the 2.726 kelvin that astronomers see in nearby space.

The Keck observations indicated a temperature of 7.4 ± 0.8 kelvin in the two distant gas clouds observed.5 In the words of David Meyer, Northwestern University astrophysicist, these measurements were “strikingly consistent with the big bang theory,”6

In 1996 the same team of astronomers made a second set of measurements using the identical technique on a more distant gas cloud. The measured temperature matched the predicted temperature, 8.105 kelvin.7 In December of 2000 a different team measured a still more distant gas cloud, one that shows us the universe at about one-sixth its present age. The detected background radiation temperature of just above 9 kelvin again aligned with the predicted temperature.8

These temperature readings show a pattern: the universe is progressively cooling from 9 to 8 to 7 to just under 3 kelvin. The data establish, simply and directly, that we live in a universe that behaves just as the Bible described thousands of years ago.

References:
  1. Job 9:8, Ps. 104:2, Isa. 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13, Jer. 10:12; 51:15, Zech. 12:1, The Holy Bible.
  2. Rom. 8:19-22, The Holy Bible.
  3. Gen. 1:1-18, The Holy Bible.
  4. Hugh Ross and John Rea, “Big Bang—The Bible Taught It First!” Facts for Faith 3 (Q3 2000), 26-32.
  5. Antoinette Songaila et al., “Measurement of the Microwave Background Temperature at Redshift 1.776,” Nature 371 (1994), 43-45.
  6. David M. Meyer, “A Distant Space Thermometer,” Nature 371 (1994), 13.
  7. K. C. Roth et al., “C I Fine-Structure Excitation by the CMBR at z = 1.973,” American Astronomical Society Meeting, 189, 122.17 (December, 1996).
  8. R. Srianand, P. Petitjean, and C. Leadoux, “The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation Temperature at a Redshift of 2.34,” Nature 408 (2000), 931-35.Cosmic Cool Down — What Does It Mean?


PRESIDENT’S LAPTOP

Dear Friends,

Perhaps you have come across (or heard about) the claim that I am a “danger” to evangelical Christianity, that I am part of the great deception of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. I prefer to be known as a danger to deceivers.

I see a dangerous push within the church today, a push to legislate away doctrinal disputes rather than to encourage open inquiry, respectful dialogue, rigorous testing, and resolution. In the words of Zondervan’s Jonathan Petersen, “One of Satan’s favorite lies is that you can’t consider someone else’s point of view and still remain faithful.”

This lie, experience tells me, interferes with evangelism. As Petersen says, “Unbelievers sometimes hesitate to commit their lives to Christ because they think believers are lock-step lookalikes who are too narrow-minded to allow diversity.”

With this problem in mind, I have developed a talk on “How to Discuss Genesis Without Starting a Fight.” As it turns out, many churches won’t even permit any teaching on Genesis 1-11 for fear of splitting the congregation.

One reason for trouble is that the teaching rarely extends beyond Genesis 1 to other creation passages that shed light on the subject. If you’re a student of Scripture you know that the Bible contains ten major creation accounts plus many additional verses on creation.

Using an approach that integrates these verses, I challenge audiences (and so do Fuz Rana and other RTB speakers) to look first at the big picture of creation. A look at God’s plan in creating this universe exposes some of the key differences between Christian theology and all other belief systems.

This integrated big-picture-first approach serves as an effective, easy-to-use evangelistic tool. At the same time, it significantly lowers the hostility level. Typically, audiences (including non-Christians) begin to see the differences among creation views as opportunities for further research, deeper study and understanding of revealed truth.

Hank Hanegraaff described Reasons To Believe scholars as “always thinking,” always looking for creative new ways to resolve theological and scientific problems. (I would add that we urge others to do the same.) I cherish Hank’s comment as one of the best compliments I have ever received.

Sincerely in Christ,

Hugh Ross


FIELD REPORT
By Kathy Ross

Despite escalating opposition from within the Christian community, opportunities for outreach still abound, and people are coming to faith in Christ. Ask the pastor of Desert Vista Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. When Hugh Ross came to his church and to Arizona State University, the fruitfulness made facing down the intimidation worthwhile. One of those whose life turned around came from an atheistic background.

When Hank Hanegraaff of Christian Research Institute (CRI) announced plans to dialogue with Hugh on “The Bible Answer Man,” he was deluged with acrid criticism. However, Hank kept his commitment. The discussion went so well he carried it over to a second day’s program. The day after those two shows aired, Hank again faced hostile callers. The encouraging feedback to RTB has made us thankful for Hank’s courage.

Confidence in the facts of science—and a caring, courageous heart—carried Fuz Rana into an evolutionary lion’s den, UC San Diego. Dr. Rana was invited to address students and faculty, many of whom were reputedly ardent defenders of naturalism, who expressed both interest in and respect for his views.

Other outreach events took place in the familiar territory of Washington, with Fuz in Everett and Hugh in Silverdale, and in the new (to RTB) territory of Wisconsin, at Crossroads Church, High Point Church, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

General Bob Stewart, former astronaut and current volunteer apologist, spoke this spring and was well received.

Open Forum sessions held at the University Club, Pasadena, and at Life Bible Fellowship, Upland, proved again people’s hunger for a chance to ask questions about scientific discoveries, biblical revelation, and the relationship between these two. Callers to RTB’s Saturday morning radio program affirm this observation.


FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH
Two Blessings, Better Than One
By David Madeira

Have you ever felt the pressure of choosing between helping a loved one and making a gift to ministry? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could help fund your grandchild’s (or another young person’s) education and make a major gift to Reasons To Believe at the same time? Well, it is possible through use of a Charitable Education Trust.

Here’s how this type of trust works: The donor simply transfers cash, stock, or other assets to a trust for a set term of years, usually beginning some years before the student beneficiary enters college and continuing until his/her anticipated graduation date. The donor indicates what percentage of the trust should be paid out each year, and these annual payments are made to the student, to the student’s parents, or directly to the school on behalf of the student for the duration of the trust’s term. When that term expires (timed to coincide with graduation), the trust’s principal goes to the ministry as a gift.

Everyone involved benefits from this giving strategy. The donors, often grandparents, help fund a child’s education with nontaxable gifts. In the year the trust is created, the donors also receive an income tax deduction for the value of the gift to ministry. And, when the trust dissolves, the designated ministry or charity receives a helpful gift.

If you would like more information about the Charitable Education Trust or other planned giving arrangements, please call the Reasons To Believe Foundation (626-335-1480). The staff will be pleased to provide you with more information and practical assistance.


RTB CHAPTERS

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

    June 4  Dr. Ross speaks to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists on the testable creation model.
    June 5  Dr. Ross addresses the Christian Business Men’s Committee. Contact Dan Brown for more information on these chapter events at (303) 777-6936.

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
Notes of Encouragement...

I am a sixteen year old from Windsor, Colorado. I have attended a few of your seminars, read a couple of your books, and seen a few of your debates on video and I just wanted to tell you that I think what you discuss is fascinating... What I got out of listening to you was this: by knowing that what we believe is true, and that it is in harmonious accordance with scientific facts, we are set free from being utterly defensive and closed-minded. We are able, instead, to listen to the opposition of others with a peace that is given to us through the knowledge that if they are truly seeking the truth, they will find it. And when they do, they will have found that the Bible is true and the God of the Bible is the only One capable of revealing that truth. That is so cool!

I just wanted to encourage you and let you know in some small way how much I appreciate your ministry. It’s got to be tough to be hard-pressed on both sides: from the young-earth Christians who don’t like what you believe about creation, and the rest of the non-believing world who don’t agree with your theology.

-- Emily, Colorado

I just wanted to thank you for your ministry and honesty. I have been a Christian for many years and until recently I have had problems regarding the creation account. Ever since high school I have believed that our universe is billions of years old and that God created it. The problem that I faced is that the community that I lived in was filled predominately with Christians who believed in the young earth account. I was not aware of RTB at this time nor any other organization that held my same creation beliefs. I did not voice my opinions to peers very often and met with hostility most of the time I did. Even though I had been taught in Church and by peers that the universe was relatively young, I could never believe it. I never believed in evolution, yet I still believed that the earth was very old. This troubled me because at the time I thought that evolution was possible with a billions of years old universe.

I have been interested in astronomy for about ten years now and that was what led me to believe that our universe was billions of years old. I had never read passages like “the heavens declare his glory” but I still could not believe that God would create a universe that had the appearance of a lie. Thanks to RTB and Hugh Ross I know have a foundation for my beliefs. I now realize that evolution is impossible, even according to science, and that the Bible is without error in all creation aspects. I now have confidence in what I believe, and I am relieved that the Bible is not in conflict with how I interpret the creation account.

-- Don, Canada

*Letters may be edited for brevity or clarity.


PRAY-ERS
A Timely Word From The Past
By Kathy Ross

These words, written nearly two millennia ago by a Church father, virtually jumped off the page and into my soul when I read them. Timing had something to do with the impact. The book of ancient biblical commentary in which the quotation is cited came across my desk just two days after our latest prayer-and-fasting day here at RTB.

The word “fight” grabbed me first. On that particular Saturday, like many others over the past 15 years, I had to fight just to get there for even part of the session. Everything from the kids’ schedules to writing deadlines to grocery shopping to my own mood conspired against me. At the last moment, God’s grace prevailed, and I was able to participate.

And as I did, I understood again why the word “glorious” applies to this fight called prayer. On that day, prayer allowed a dozen people, some long-time friends and some brand new acquaintances, to experience the supernatural bond Christ gives His children—a bond that at once soothes and heals, elevates and energizes, reassures and redirects.

The word “presume” hit me hard. What an exhortation! When I’m tempted to drop prayer in the juggling act of my busy life, the ancient pastor’s word reminds me that to do so would be the height of presumption. And I do hate presumption.


RTB IS COMING TO TOWN
CALIFORNIA

    ELK GROVE
        April 21 & 22  General Bob Stewart will speak at Sun Grove Community Church’s morning services. General Stewart will speak on “A Reasonable Faith in A Scientific World.” Contact: Phil Oswald (916) 685-6600
    LA MIRADA
        July 19 -22  General Bob Stewart will be speaking at the Granada Heights Friends Church annual summer event. Gen. Stewart will speak Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights as well as Sunday morning. Contact: Gary Kingsbury (562) 943-7255
    MOUNTAIN VIEW
        August 11  General Bob Stewart and Dr. Fazale Rana will speak at the First Presbyterian Church of Mountain View from 7:30 – 9:30 P.M. The team will cover a number of interesting topics during their talk and there will be an opportunity for a question and answer session. Contact: Ruth Gammons (650) 964-6680

COLORADO

    BOULDER
        June 3  Dr. Hugh Ross will speak at Calvary Bible Church of Boulder at two morning services. Topic: New scientific evidences for the God of the Bible. Contact: Nancy Williams (303) 442-3484
    LITTLETON
        June 3  Dr. Hugh Ross will speak at West Bowles Community Church in Littleton, 5:00 –7:00 P.M. Topic: New scientific evidences for the God of the Bible. Contact: Tom Williams (303) 798-8961
    DENVER CHAPTER EVENTS
        June 4  Dr. Ross speaks to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists on the testable creation model.
        June 5  Dr. Ross addresses the Christian Business Men’s Committee. Contact Dan Brown for more information on these chapter events at (303) 777-6936.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

    HANOVER
        May 15  Dr. Ross will speak at Dartmouth University for their Voces Clamantium organization from 8:00 –10:30 P.M. He will speak on new scientific evidences for the God of the Bible. Contact: Tara Wharton (603) 646-7642

RTB CONFERENCE

Announcing “Beyond Genesis 1: Building a Creation Model,” RTB’s second annual conference, June 28-30 at Grace Church, Cypress, California. Please join us for three exciting days of study and fellowship.

While last year’s conference focused on the issue of “testability,” this year’s conference focuses on the creation model itself. With Genesis 1 as an essential framework, we’ll turn to other parts of Scripture for significant insight and colorful detail. The aim of the conference is to provide you with a unique outreach tool—one that is both understandable and useful for sharing with skeptics.

Walt Russell, sought after speaker and author of Playing with Fire, John Rea, David Rogstad, and Mick Ukleja will join Hugh Ross and the RTB scholar team in leading the sessions. We’ve implemented suggestions from last year’s conference to make the 2001 event even better.

Call 1-800-482-7836 or visit our web site at reasons.org to register (the best early-bird rates apply until April 30). If you have questions about any aspect of the conference, please call (626) 335-1480, ext. 156, or e-mail at RTBconference@reasons.org.


COMING SOON IN FACTS FOR FAITH

ORIGIN OF LIFE
Fazale Rana compares evolution to a testable, biblical, origin of life model.

AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO PART 2
Kenneth Samples overviews the theological and intellectual contributions of one of the early Church Fathers.

BODY & SOUL
PART 1 J. P. Moreland explores the unity of two distinct entities—body and soul.

PROBABILITIES OF EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE
Hugh Ross weighs in on the debate over the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.


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.