- Creation Conversations: “Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, & Hugh Ross Debate on TBN”
Hugh Ross and Ken Ham recently faced off during a panel discussion on Trinity Broadcasting Network’s “Praise the Lord” program. (The program has already been replayed online over 34,000 times!)
They, along with others, were discussing biblical authority, creation, evolution, science, and God. Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, took an uncompromising stand on biblical authority. Hugh Ross, president of Reasons to Believe (RTB), continued to promote his ideas of progressive creationism, claiming those ideas are in agreement with Scripture. Ross suggests a return trip to the moon would uncover the proof for his views by finding microfossils of the original life on earth.
Progressive creation is Ross’s attempt to fit into Genesis the billions-of-years “history” imagined by evolutionary geologists and astrophysicists. (See “What’s Wrong with ‘Progressive Creation?’” to learn more about his model’s claims.) Ross claims that billions of years ago on the first day of Creation God’s Spirit hovered over an early earth’s dark waters and created complex unicellular microbial life. While Ross insists God “created life on Day One,” Ken Ham points out, according to Scripture, on Day One God said, “Let there be light,” not “Let there be life,” and then on Day Three God created plants.
Ross thus re-interprets Genesis 1:2 to depict God doing something the verse does not describe Him doing—creating life on Day One.
Ross thus re-interprets Genesis 1:2 to depict God doing something the verse does not describe Him doing—creating life on Day One. Ross bases this claim, he says, on the Hebrew word for “hovering.” Because this word is used metaphorically in Deuteronomy 32:11 to compare God to “a female eagle hovering over her newly hatched eggs to bring life to them, and it can protect and care for them,” Ross alters the meaning of the second verse of the Bible. Ken Ham points out that this represents a misuse of Scripture, saying, “Deuteronomy is not an account of cosmology.” Creationist astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner concurs, saying, “I fail to see how Genesis 1:2 demands the creation of complex single-celled organisms on Day One. This is a tremendous leap on Ross’s part.” Furthermore Deuteronomy 32:11 does not describe the eagle laying eggs or sitting on them to hatch them. The verse clearly indicates that the eaglets are already mature enough to start learning to fly. So the verse has absolutely no relevance to a proper interpretation of Genesis 1:2.
Ross contends that his “progressive creation” model is testable. “I’ll give you a quick example,” he says. “We can go to the moon and see who got it right.”
“The geology of the earth has destroyed earth’s first fossils,” Ross explains. “We do not have the fossils of earth’s first life. But we know at the time of the origin of life there was an efficient transport of earth life to the surface of the moon. There is literally about 20,000 tons of earth material on every 100 square kilometers on the moon. We can go to the moon, [and] recover fossils of earth’s first life.”
“You get earth’s material on the moon through meteoritic bombardment,” he explains. “If you get a big enough meteor hitting the earth it will cause earth material to leave the gravity of the earth. We will literally find the remains of life everywhere in our solar system.” Thus a return mission to the moon—the least expensive of possible destinations—could find these microfossils, proving, he claims, his interpretation of the Bible correct and disproving atheistic evolution altogether.
With emphasis, Ross repeated during the broadcast (which may be viewed online), “I’m saying earth’s first fossils are on the moon in pristine form.” He believes the presence of these microfossils would prove that young earth creationists (such as those at Answers in Genesis) are interpreting the Bible incorrectly. And he maintains that the complexity to be found in those fossils would prove evolutionary models are incorrect, since evolutionary abiogenesis demands the original life-forms be very simple.
Dr. Danny Faulkner, professor of astronomy at the University of South Carolina–Lancaster, confirms that young earth creationists (YEC) would make no such claims. Dr. Faulkner says, “Ross’s prediction differs from the YEC position in that we’d expect very few, if any, fossils on the moon.” Dr. Faulkner further explains, however, that such evidence is always subject to interpretation and, even if found, would not be accepted as proof of anything. He explains, “As with the reinterpretation that evolutionists make with blood and soft tissues found in dinosaur bones, if fossils of complex microbial life were found on the moon, evolutionists simply would claim that complex life originated much earlier than they had thought. Of course, Hugh is not likely to live long enough to see a significant number of rocks from the moon to disprove his prediction. In the future, RTB could claim that we just haven’t looked in the right places on the moon or that in retrospect Hugh was wrong about Genesis 1:2.” But the confidence with which Ross speaks about these things will lead many Christians to accept what he says because he is an astrophysicist.
NASA isn’t looking for microfossils on the moon because, based on the moon’s geology, there are simply none to be found. That’s why NASA is focusing its search for life on Mars.
Dr. Andrew Snelling, geologist at Answers in Genesis, disagrees with Ross’s contention that earth debris is on the moon. “The moon’s geology rules out debris of earth rocks, which has never been found, and therefore any contained microfossils,” Dr. Snelling explains. “It’s not just that we haven’t been looking in the right places on the moon. The moon’s geology itself totally rules out the possibility of finding any microfossils.” Therefore, the more expensive destination, Mars, makes sense. “NASA isn’t looking for microfossils on the moon because, based on the moon’s geology, there are simply none to be found,” Dr. Snelling adds. “That’s why NASA is focusing its search for life on Mars.”
There’s another problem here. Ross assumes that the dominant view on the origin of the moon (a huge asteroid, really a small planet, slammed into the earth to produce the debris that became the moon) is a proven scientific fact. But, that is simply not true. As Bob Yirka reported in March in Phys.org, new research shows that scientists “will all have to just keep on musing”1 about the moon’s origin.
During this panel discussion, Ken Ham warned that Satan has been using the same method he used on Eve in Genesis 3 to get people ever since to disbelieve the things of God. Satan, the father of lies, whispers, “
Yea, hath God said?” (Genesis 3:1), ever questioning God’s Word. Today that attack often takes the form of adding millions of years to the Bible and then reinterpreting God’s Word, stretching it unnaturally to accommodate what man’s fallible ideas have added.
When Ken Ham challenged Ross for misinterpreting and misapplying Scripture early in this discussion, Ross, apparently suggesting we don’t really know what God’s Word says, replied, “The real issue is, ‘What does God’s Word say?’” He said, “We’re all human beings. We have different interpretations, which is why I believe we have to put our beliefs to the test. God gave us 66 books, not just one book. Let’s look at all 66 books. Let’s take it literally. Let’s take it consistently, and let’s put our beliefs to the test,” and then he proposed his return to the moon for proof. Ross’s desire to use the moon-proof to figure out what the Bible really says is an example of what he has called “the 67th book of the Bible.”2
Ross has long maintained—that the Bible itself is not the complete revelation of God. He has written, “The facts of nature may be likened to a sixty-seventh book of the Bible.”3 But his “facts” are actually interpretations based on his acceptance of the unverified, indeed unverifiable, naturalistic assumptions underlying big bang cosmology and radiometric dating methods. While claiming to accept all 66 books of the Bible, therefore, Ross places the secular worldview-based assumptions and interpretations above the plain reading of Scripture. Though Ross denies biological evolution per se, his old-earth position requires him to compromise and deny the clear truths of God’s Word regarding creation, the Fall and death, the Flood and the age of the creation even while claiming to defend many of the truths of God’s Word regarding the gospel.
Besides misapplying the written Word of God, as we have described here, we see that Ross also reaches for extra-bibilical information in nature. And he places “nature”—or rather his interpretation of it—on an equal footing with Scripture. Ken Ham explained, however, that nature has been perverted and cursed by sin. While Romans 1:19–20 make clear that the witness of Creation declares to all people that there is a God, only through God’s Word can we truly understand God’s character and the gospel. Hence, compromising Scripture can keep people from coming to Christ by teaching them that God’s Word cannot really be trusted.
Ross, in his closing remarks, makes clear that he believes we can only understand God’s truth by integrating our fallible interpretations of the Bible with the truth discoverable in nature by all the disciplines of science. He says, “God has given us two books. Let’s use both books in the fullest sense of the word. Let’s look at all 66 books of the Bible. Let’s look at all the disciplines in the record of nature—realize that we’re all worshiping a God that can’t lie, that can’t deceive. Everything He communicates to us is truth and nothing but truth. We do have our fallen human interpretations both in the book of Scripture and in the book of nature, but that’s the beauty of God giving us 66 books and all these disciplines [of science]. By integrating across all of them we can ferret out where we made our faulty human interpretation, figure out where our biases are, figure out where we need to learn more, and that’s the beauty of it all. God wants us to have the joy of discovering more and more truth.” He concludes, “We’ll know we’re on the pathway to truth when we see the consistency getting greater and greater as we learn more.”
But as Ken Ham points out, when people look at a sin-cursed degenerated world full of death and suffering, they are not looking at the 67th book of the Bible. The Apostle Paul, by saying, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17), informs us of the sufficiency of Scripture.
On the other hand, according to Romans 8:22, Ross’s “book of nature”—the whole creation—suffers under the curse of sin. His “book of nature” is also deeply affected by Satan, called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11), the “prince of the power of the air,” (Ephesians 2:2), and the father of lies (John 8:44). Therefore, why would any Christian urge people to place the fallen “book of nature” and man’s fallible interpretations of it on equal par with the Bible? The Bible’s history enables us to understand what we see in the world, but the “nature” should never be used to compromise and reinterpret the Word of God.
Faith in Christ is built and strengthened through God’s Word. Romans 10:17 states, “
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” By thus undermining God’s Word, which clearly teaches that God created the earth about 6,000 years ago, and creatively re-interpreting it to fit man’s fallible ideas, those like Ross who compromise God’s Word create stumbling blocks that cause people to distrust the rest of the Bible and ultimately keep people from really trusting Jesus Christ and His gospel of salvation.
Be sure to watch the video (which has already been watched an amazing 34,000 times in the TBN web archives as we post this article) as Ken Ham takes a real stand for God’s Word on this and many other origins-related issues.
- What’s Wrong with “Progressive Creation?”
- The Dubious Apologetics of Hugh Ross
- Could God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days?
- TBN to Promote Genesis Compromise and Undermine Biblical Authority
- Over 6,000 and Rising
- The claims of old-earth creationists like Ross are systematically evaluated in the chapters of Old-Earth Creationism on Trial, now available free on-line.
- For a more in-depth defense of the literal truth of Genesis, read Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth, which includes Richard Mayhue’s chapter “Is Nature the 67th Book of the Bible?” providing a thorough explanation and refutation of Ross’s incorrect view of general and special revelation.
- (Incidentally, PhD astronomer Danny Faulkner, currently a professor at the University of South Carolina Lancaster, will soon be joining the full-time staff of the Research Department at Answers in Genesis.)
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