Reasons to Believe

Connections 2001, Vol. 3, No. 4



The Sun’s Stable Diameter
By Hugh Ross

The Sun has the reputation of being the most stable burning star that astronomers observe. Its extreme stability allows humans to exist on Earth. Variations in its burning, periods of significantly greater intensity followed by periods of lesser intensity would render advanced life impossible. Yet, astronomers designing detailed models of the physics of stellar interiors recognize that all stars, including the Sun, must exhibit at least some short-term fluctuations. What keeps the Sun’s Fluxuations within that “safe” range?

In principle, the Sun’s fluctuation should be easy to measure. Gravity operates to shrink the Sun while radiation works to expand it. Therefore, measuring the diameter at closely spaced intervals should reveal short-term fluctuations. In practice, however, the task of measuring the Sun’s diameter to the required degree of accuracy has been difficult.

The Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) on board the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite now overcomes the difficulty and makes these measurements possible. This amazing instrument supersedes the precision of ground-based telescopes by several hundred times. It can measure the solar diameter to an accuracy of better than one milliarcsecond (one part in 1,800,000)!

Results from the MDI-SOHO establish that the solar diameter varies by no more than 20 milliarcseconds. The findings also reveal a slight correlation between the solar diameter and the eleven-year sunspot cycle.1 Astronomers anticipated this relationship between solar diameter and sunspot activity since the sunspot cycle is driven by the Sun’s magnetic field. They expected the Sun to shrink slightly when the magnetic field is strong and to expand slightly when the magnetic field is weak.

However, the MDI-SOHO instrument recorded the opposite correlation: the solar diameter was largest when the magnetic field on the surface was strongest. The solution to this mystery comes from recognition that photons produced near the Sun’s core take nearly a million years to reach the surface. A deep-seated source for variations in the Sun’s diameter and surface magnetic field strength is consistent with the apparent out-of-sync correlation seen on the Sun’s surface. Since magnetic field disturbances travel faster through the interior than the photons arising from nuclear fusion, the magnetic field and radiation fluxuations arising from deep-seated disturbances will arrive at different times on the sun’s surface. These new findings, which verify predictions that arise from astronomers’ most detailed solar models, suggest some remarkable fine-tuning in the Sun’s make up.2

They confirm that Sun has indeed been specially designed to support life’s existence at this time. It has just the right structure, composition, interstellar environment, size, and age to produce the radiation flow necessary for the long-term maintenance of primitive life and the short-term sustenance of human life. These new results point to the God of the Bible as the maker of the Sun and Earth.

References:

  1. M. Emilio, J. R. Kuhn, R. I. Bush, and P. Scherrer, “On the Constancy of the Solar Diameter,” Astrophysical Journal 543 (2000), 1007-10; W. A. Dziembowski, P. R. Goode, A. J. Kosovichev, and J. Schou, “Signatures of the Rise of Cycle 23,” Astrophysical Journal 537 (2000), 1026-38; W. A. Dziembowski, P. R. Goode, and J. Schou, “Does the Sun Shrink with Increasing Magnetic Activity?” Astrophysical Journal 553(2001), 897-904.
  2. Emilio, Kuhn, Bush, and Scherrer, 1009.


Dietary Differences Separate Neandertals from Humans
By Fazale (Fuz) Rana, Ph.D.

You are what you eat. Paleoanthropologists from the United Kingdom and the United States recently used this principle to study the dietary habits of Neandertals and the earliest modern humans.1 By analyzing different forms (isotopes) of carbon and nitrogen from bone collagen (fibrous protein in bones), these investigators determined the sources of protein in Neandertal and early human diets. They found that the protein in the Neandertal diet came almost exclusively from the consumption of terrestrial herbivores. In contrast, the first humans (living 30,000 to 40,000 years ago) consumed a variegated diet—foods from freshwater wetlands, sea coasts, and dry terrestrial regions that included fish, mollusks, fowl, and terrestrial herbivores.

At the time of their earliest appearance, humans displayed a far greater proficiency in obtaining food from their environment than did Neandertals. The dietary difference likely reflects an important disparity in cognitive capacity. Early human capacity to access protein from a wide range of sources suggests superior intelligence. Neandertals apparently lacked the ability to adjust their diet as circumstances demanded.

Recent advances in research on Neandertal genetics and morphology (body structure) indicate no evolutionary connection between Neandertals and modern humans.2 These discoveries support the view, from a Christian standpoint, that Neandertals were created as bipedal primates with some intellectual and emotional capacity.3 Though made by God, Neandertals possessed no spiritual component to their being, and thus, were not humans.

Some people are troubled by any view that regards Neandertals as spiritless primates. They tend to over-ascribe human qualities to Neandertals, as well as to other bipedal primates. They think that this view makes Neandertals a spiritless race of pre-Adamites. The stark difference between the diets and lifestyles of Neandertal and early humans, however, is one piece of evidence against any view that regards Neandertals as spiritless humans. Though possessing the capability to walk upright, Neandertals displayed an intellectual capacity qualitatively different from that of humans.

These cognitive differences reflected in human and Neandertal food acquisition are fully consistent with the morphological and genetic differences that rule out evolutionary relationships between the two. The limited cognitive capacity of Neandertals also helps properly place them within a creation framework consistent with God’s written word.

References:
  1. Michael P. Richards et al., “Stable Isotope Evidence for Increasing Dietary Breadth in the European Mid-Upper Paleolithic,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 98 (2001): 6528-32.
  2. Hugh Ross, “Neandertal Takes a One-Eighty,” Facts & Faith 11, no. 3 (1997), 4-5; Fazale R. Rana, “DNA Study Cuts Link with the Past,” Connections 2, no. 3 (2000), 3; Fazale R. Rana, “Neanderthal Genetic Diversity: From Missing Link To Special Creation,” Facts for Faith (2000, Q4), 5.
  3. Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998), 112-14.

PRESIDENT’S LAPTOP
The Sneak Preview

By Hugh Ross

People often ask what motivates me (a quiet, peace-loving person) to keep going in a ministry that stirs up so much opposition. I persevere because I strongly believe God has called me to do what I do, and He confirms that call with the personal reward of joy.

The call did not come through any kind of Damascus Road experience. In fact, it took twenty years to develop. It began when I was a nineteen-year-old Christian with a compelling desire to persuade fellow students and professors to consider the claims of Jesus Christ. Only a few did, but their response thrilled me. After arriving at Caltech, church members sought me out for help in witnessing to others. My “rare” position as a Christian and a scientist eager to share my faith prompted the leaders in my church to ask me to become their minister of evangelism. That request stunned me into realizing that a monumental transition had occurred in me: I was more excited about seeing people come to faith in Christ than I was over discovering new quasars. Though I felt sorely lacking in qualifications, my experiences, my desires, and the unanimity of support among the Christians I knew convinced me to accept the offer.

My new role as minister of evangelism proved to be more exciting than I had imagined. Instead of seeing a handful of people coming to Christ each year, I began to see many more. When that number got up into the hundreds, the leaders approached me again. They wanted to help me launch a new, specialized outreach, Reasons To Believe. Again, my heart leaped at the idea, but I felt woefully inadequate. And again, my family and fellow Christians confirmed the call.

I have learned over the past twenty-five years the “sneak preview” principle. As a way to balance the gradual loss of my youthful vitality, God supercharges me with little glimpses of the spiritual impact He’s having through my efforts. Virtually every time I speak these days He brings me one or two or more people eager to tell me that one of my books or messages helped them come to faith in Christ. Some of these stories go back 10 or 15 years! At that time, the number of RTB books and tapes in circulation was just a small percentage of what it is now.

So, be encouraged! God works through you and me even when we don’t see it or know it. And as we keep growing, so does the fruit of our labor—both the fruit of joy and the fruit of lives changed. But we will only see a little glimpse of the crowd through the curtain, a sneak preview. God’s work in us and through us is far greater than we can imagine. In Heaven we will look back in amazement at all the wonderful things God has done.

Sincerely in Christ,

Hugh Ross


FIELD REPORT
By Linda Kloth

The Ross family enjoyed some Hawaiian sunshine while Hugh spoke at outreaches hosted by Kauai Christian Fellowship on the “garden island.” Both locals and vacationers who attended said they felt encouraged by the intellectually as well as spiritually stimulating talks. As a result, RTB has been invited to return to Hawaii in the next year or two for a Testable Creation Model conference or conference series.

Ozark Radio, the most powerful radio station in the U.S., with broadcasts in Alabama and Florida interviewed Hugh on a news talk show. Callers initially signaled some distrust of science but eventually gave positive feedback as Hugh explained the dynamics of the big bang.

The Dick Staub Show, a radio broadcast emanating from Seattle, hosted Hugh and Fuz Rana nightly during PBS’ weeklong television series on evolution. Dick gave RTB the chance to respond to each night’s program and to answer questions on the air.

Grizzly Adams Productions visited the RTB office in September, taping Hugh’s comments for PAX TV’s Encounters with the Unexplained, hosted by Jerry Orbach. TBN is making way for new RTB television productions. Hugh, Fuz, and Kenneth Samples have launched a new series on Psalm 104, scheduled to air through the beginning of 2002.

Dr. Rana and Marj Harman helped prepare teachers returning for service in Asia with ELIC (English Language Institute/China). Many expressed appreciation for the valuable information about science apologetics, a topic of great interest among their students.

Meanwhile, Hugh, Dave Rogstad, Fuz, and Kenneth continue to lead the open forum discussion every other month at the University Club in Pasadena, California.

By God’s providential care, Hugh had no travel plans during September, normally his busiest travel month of the year. RTB staff joins the rest of our country in praying for the victims, relief workers, and our nation’s leadership during this time of national tragedy.


FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH
Grass Roots Recognition
By Dave Madeira

Living in rural New England and having worked (my first job after graduation) at a small mid-Atlantic college, I carry a special sense of respect and appreciation for “grass roots” endeavors. Reasons To Believe, a ministry I have come to know and love, is just such an endeavor. It’s a grass roots ministry. No big sponsors, no big institutions gave it birth.

In 1986 Hugh and Kathy Ross and an enthusiastic bunch of friends and family founded Reasons To Believe (RTB). They had a message to proclaim: Christian faith and scientific truth are allies, not enemies. It was the mission of the new ministry to reach nonbelievers and fortify believers with evidence from the sciences—especially from the cutting edge of research—that God’s Word is true, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is rooted in fact, not fantasy.

The sustained commitment of friends and family enabled RTB to get established.  The ministry began to grow and thrive as its message impacted hundreds of lives. More individuals (and a few churches) added their support as they saw skeptics coming to Christ and Christians becoming more alive in their faith and effective in personal outreach.  Today, the original vision of its founders still guides RTB, as the prayers and generosity of the same faithful friends—and many more—still sustain it.

As a way to honor those of you whose support has nurtured the vision for a Christ-centered, scientifically credible apologetics ministry, and to celebrate the ministry’s fifteenth anniversary, The RTB Foundation has established donor recognition societies. Each of these societies—The Trust, The Founders, and The Associates—will promote the values and mission of RTB and encourage others to do the same as regular supporters of the ministry—at any and all levels.

If you are not yet involved in supporting the work of RTB, we invite you to join in this exciting and rewarding venture. Please call Yolanda today at (800) 482-7836 for details on the new societies, or use the attached envelope.


RTB CHAPTERS
COLORADO

    DENVER
        Third Saturday of the month
        Meetings are held at Saint John's Lutheran Church (700 S. Franklin St., Denver) from 9:00 - 11:00 AM. Speakers are often invited to give talks on various topics pertaining to science and the Christian faith. Bible studies are being offered in Arvada, Boulder, Englewood, and Littleton. Contact Dan Brown at (303) 363-7327 for details.

RTB Chapter Information (U.S.):

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: Denver@reasons.org

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

Minneapolis, Minnesota Chapter
Contact: Kyle C. Frazier
Phone: (952) 933-5578
Email: the_falconer@msn.com

Nashville, Tennessee Chapter
Contact: Mark Whorton
Phone: (615) 963-7327
Email: mark.whorton@msfc.nasa.gov
This chapter is just getting started.

Spokane, Washington Chapter
Contact: Daniel Bakken
Phone: (509) 892-1114
Email: dan@runway.net
This chapter is just getting started.
Worldwide Chapters are located in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Additional Chapter information is available on our Website.


LETTERS

First I would like to thank you for the excellent resources at Reasons To Believe. Just a few months ago I was convinced that there was no god and Christianity was a complete delusion and a hindrance to scientific progress. However, my views have changed and Reasons To Believe is partially responsible. Nevertheless, I am still very skeptical of many of the claims that Christianity makes. But I am drawing upon some of the resources at RTB to examine whether my skepticism is warranted. I find your scientific apologetics very convincing; maybe I'll be in your camp some day; soon perhaps. So, thank you for your wonderful work! I really enjoy it!

-- Tim, Email

I have listened to many of Dr. Ross's lectures from the Reasons To Believe Web site. I will be a senior in high school next year. . . I have always been drawn to the sciences. However, after becoming a Christian a year ago I have become distant towards that field. After discovering this Web site, I discovered the connection between Christianity and science. I feel that God is drawing me to a career where I can use sciences to prove His existence. . . . Thanks so much and God Bless.

-- Brenda Harhen, Email

Keep up the good fight. I like the solid rebuttals your work gives to humanistic/evolutionary thought. Your ministry helps my reasoning in our naturalistic society. I work as a biological technician . . . for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Too many people worship creation in idolistic folly in lieu of their Creator. . . . I’m honored to be able to cast light upon indoctrinated, deceived knowledge.

-- Victor Miller, Manns Harbor, NC

I recently received a copy of your journal, FACTS for FAITH. I enjoyed the mixture of features touching cultural apologetics, church history, the role of science in faith, and deep philosophical issues. Your journal offers something for the ordinary lay Christian and the serious scholar alike—all in a very attractive format! God bless you and your staff for your work in defense of the faith.

-- John G. Crandall, San Jacinto, CA

I want to congratulate TBN for having Reasons To Believe. . . . Your new format, the knowledgeable threesome, the rejuvenated set and the organized subject matter places your program as the best of its kind anywhere. Your wonderful teaching expands my concept of the Awesomeness of God. . . .

-- Mrs. Billie K. Alinn, Seven Hills, OH

*Letters may be edited for brevity or clarity.


PRAY-ERS
A Psalm for Today

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 46:1-7


RTB IS COMING TO TOWN
Listed are upcoming outreaches and other RTB events. Check to see if one will be held near you. For additions and updates, visit our events page..

CALIFORNIA

    SIERRA MADRE
        Sundays
            Hugh Ross leads the Paradoxes Class at Sierra Madre Congregational Church most Sundays, 11:00 A.M. Contact the church office at (626) 355-3566
    SANTA ANA
        December 11
            Hugh Ross is speaking at a Breakfast for Orange County businessmen.
    UPLAND
        January 20 thru March 24
            Fazale Rana will give a 10 week course on "Responding to Evolution" at Life Bible Fellowship. The class will be held on Sunday evenings from 7:00 - 8:30 P.M. Contact Bruce Erickson at (909) 981-4848
    SAN LUIS OBISPO
        January 24
            Hugh Ross will speak at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo “Veritas Forum.” Hugh will be speaking on new scientific evidences for the existence of God. Contact Jamey Pappas at (805) 784-9513 for details.
    PASADENA
        January 7, March 4, and May 6
            Hugh Ross, Dave Rogstad, Fazale Rana, and Kenneth Samples offer a Skeptics Forum at the University Club in Pasadena at noon. Contact Margo at (626) 796-2649

OREGON

    MEDFORD
        January 12
            Cornerstone Christian Church has invited Hugh to speak on Science vs. Genesis from 9:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M. Contact Stan Way at (541) 773-8163

ILLINOIS

    LANSING
        March 12
            Hugh Ross is scheduled to speak at Crete Reformed Church. Start time will be 7:00 P.M.  Topic to be decided, but will include Q-and-A opportunity. Contact Herman Chapman during the day at (708) 474-6166

INTERNATIONAL
AUSTRALIA TOUR

    PERTH, SYDNEY, MELBOURNE
        April 11 – 24
            More details to come later. Contact Mike McClerie at mclerie@iinet.net.au

COMING SOON in FACTS for FAITH

Anthropic Principle
You are worth more than 14 billion years and all the matter in the universe. Read about how the Anthropic Principle has overthrown the Principle of Mediocrity. Hugh Ross

Body & Soul Part 3 of 3
If a human being is “just a body,” moral choices may not be important. But awareness of a soul as distinct from that body may cause people to consider their actions more carefully. J. P. Moreland

Fine Tuning in the Genetic Code
New scientific discoveries show how fine-tuning in the rules that form the genetic code provides the surprising capacity to minimize errors. Fazale Rana


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.