Examining Hugh Ross’s Navigating Genesis

Book Review

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Abstract

Dr. Hugh Ross’s Navigating Genesis: A Scientist’s Journey Through Genesis 1–11 is, sadly, a great tool for steering the uninformed and the gullible into a shipwreck of faith, not for removing stumbling blocks to faith as Dr. Ross misguidedly attempts. Guided by his devotion to the secular dating methods, Dr. Ross distorts the Bible’s claims about our origins and early history while misrepresenting much of the secular science from which he claims support. By Navigating Genesis with Dr. Hugh Ross, the casual reader—Christian or not—can be sure of emerging from his voyage laden with burdensome baggage: a chaotic mix of misapplied science, straw-man arguments, dubious apologetics, ignorance of what creation scientists actually claim, a creative but incorrect approach to reading the Word of God, and a bizarre re-interpretation of the Bible that bears little resemblance to what God actually says. In short, a reader seeking guidance from Dr. Ross, upon disembarking from Navigating Genesis, may well know less about secular science, less about the Bible, less about our history, and less about our Lord than before starting the ill-advised trip.

Reasons to Believe founder Dr. Hugh Ross, in his newest book Navigating Genesis, claims to show how the latest evidence from secular science supports “biblical creation,” though Dr. Ross’s rendering of the creation account bears little resemblance to that found in the Bible. Dr. Ross is a proponent of the day-age version of progressive creation. He professes Christian faith and claims his explication of science should inspire trust in the biblical account of creation. Sadly, as in his previous books, Dr. Ross twists the Bible to conform to his own contrived way of describing our origins.

Navigating Genesis

A Matter of Time

The guiding star of Dr. Ross’s understanding of origins is not God’s Word but secular dating methods. In his effort to make the Bible’s account of origins and earth’s early history fit onto billions of years of secular scaffolding, Ross twists God’s eyewitness account of pivotal events in our history—Creation Week during which God created the entire physical universe, and the global Noachian Flood that remodeled the earth. Ross’s distorted versions of Creation and Noah’s Flood fit neither the secular view of origins nor God’s descriptions revealed in His Word. Ross thus creates stumbling blocks to both biblical understanding and sound scientific reasoning. By the book’s conclusion the thoroughly misinformed reader will be armed with numerous nuggets of “bad science” and “bad Bible” to use when trying to “give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15) to unbelieving friends.

Hugh Ross’s views may best be described as “progressive creation” or the “day-age” view. He believes God used the big bang billions of years ago to bring the universe into existence. Dr. Ross assigns millions or billions of years to each day in Creation Week. To produce a “perfect fit” between secular science and biblical revelation, he must allow days to overlap and push some creation events out of their scriptural order. While stretching the 24-hour days of Creation Week to biblically unrecognizable proportions, Dr. Ross shrinks the global Flood recorded in Scripture to a local event in defiance of the history recorded in God’s Word.

Pre-Adamic People and Convoluted Compromises

Because Dr. Ross accepts the evolutionary view of the age of the earth and of the various fossil layers, he has a problem explaining the human footprints and fossils of various “species” of humans that appear in the fossil record at times too early—even in Dr. Ross’s estimation—for Adam and Even to have lived. Though he believes Adam and Eve were our founding parents and the first humans to be accountable for sin, Dr. Ross’s ancient world is therefore peopled with pre-Adamic races of intelligent but soul-less beings. Apparently having some capacity to understand human grief, they were worse off than animals, “people” for whom neither fellowship with their Creator nor the love and grace of Jesus Christ, the “Last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), could exist.

Why does Dr. Ross suppose God created bipedal, thinking, feeling, intelligent human-looking beings that were not made in His image? In Dr. Ross’s scripturally groundless estimation, they primarily existed to show beasts that bipedal creatures were scary. He suggests the role of pre-Adamic people was to train animals to be afraid of bipedal creatures so they wouldn’t all get hunted down and go extinct once Adam’s race came on the scene.

Where did this notion come from? Not from Scripture, and not from science, but from Ross’s imaginative musings about the fact that many animals have gone extinct. Ross says the extinction of animals is a testimony to human-kind’s mismanagement of the world. He claims that because God knew man would eventually treat the animals badly He headed off the problem by teaching animals to be fearful of bipedal beings before Adam ever was created. But, inconveniently for Dr. Ross, God’s Word clearly declares that it was God who put the fear of man into the animals, and only after the Flood (see Genesis 9:2).

Christians—people who trust Jesus Christ to save them eternally from the guilt, power, and penalty of sin—should also trust that God is capable of communicating with us and has told us the truth in His Word.

Dr. Ross presents God as so powerful and loving that He spent about 14 billion years preparing the universe, then earth, for Adam’s race, stepping into the cosmic mess at multiple points to create the next iteration of creatures destined to live and die in a world that could neither evolve biodiversity the way the evolutionists claim nor sustain the life forms that the Rossist “God” saw fit to deposit on it. While misrepresenting and then criticizing many biblically consistent scientific models through which Bible-believing scientists understand biodiversity, fossils, geology, and astronomy, Dr. Ross relies on his God-of-the-gaps to miraculously intervene over millions of years in times and ways the God of the Bible never claims to have done.

As a personal aside, I’d like to add that my husband (Answers in Genesis speaker and internal medicine physician Dr. Tommy Mitchell) and I represent two extremes—one of us was a scientist for many years before becoming a Bible-believer, and the other was a Bible-believer for many years before becoming a scientist. Now both of us are Bible-believing scientists who defend the Word of God without compromise. We both realize that when man’s fallible understanding of unobservable events runs afoul of God’s infallible Word, God’s Word is the source to trust. Dr. Ross wants to be an uncompromising apologist for God’s Word. However, because he anchors his faith in the fallible claims of secular scientists who seek to explain the origin of all things without God in the picture and combines this with his own imagination, the “God” Dr. Ross interjects into history is but a caricature of the holy, truth-telling, and omnipotent God of the Bible.

Inconsistencies

Just as Hugh Ross picks and chooses which parts of Scripture to believe and how he wishes to twist their meaning, so too he picks and chooses which secular scientific beliefs about origins to accept. Dr. Tommy Mitchell notes:

Dr. Ross is completely inconsistent when he appeals to “science.”

His position is that the universe is billions of years old, thus accepting that the “physical science” community (geology, astronomy, etc.) is correct in their historical science. However, in the next breath, he rejects biological evolution, which is the foundation of what the “life sciences” secular scientific community accepts and believes.

So by some mysterious criteria known only to him, Dr. Ross can determine which disciplines of “science” are right and which are wrong. If astronomers are correct about the billions of years, why aren't biologists correct about molecules-to-man evolution?

Ross more or less accepts secular evolutionary interpretations of astronomy and geology but not biological evolution. As we shall see, however, even his supposed adherence of a “scriptural” view on this point is compromised.

New and Improved?

Many excellent articles on this website explore the deficiencies and compromises in astronomer Hugh Ross’s progressive creation. Despite Dr. Ross’s claim that Navigating Genesis brings the latest convincing scientific research to bear upon his dubious apologetics, as Answers in Genesis astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner observes, the book is a re-hash of Dr. Ross’s usual ideas:

There isn’t much new in this book. He previously has written about nearly everything that he discusses here.

Dr. Terry Mortenson, who has written extensively to expose Dr. Ross’s flaws in linguistics, theology, and science, notes Ross’s persistent dependence upon faulty arguments:

In Navigating Genesis, like all his previous books, Dr. Ross reveals faulty logic, misrepresentation of what young-earth, biblical creationists believe, and a mishandling of Scripture along with truckloads of misleading if not erroneous scientific arguments. It would take several books to expose all the erroneous reasoning (both biblical and scientific) that fills this latest book by Dr. Ross.

While space permits us to explore only a few of Hugh Ross’s errors here, a few should suffice for any readers wondering where to place their trust.

Of Days and Floods and Biodiversity

Dr. Ross—unlike the mainstream evolutionary community—does not believe life came into being through natural processes. He does not believe biological evolution can explain the complexity of life in the world. Neither, however, does Dr. Ross believe God was capable of creating a world in which human beings and the plants and animals that share the earth with us could survive and thrive without billions of years of preparation.

Genesis records that God, by the power of His Word, spoke each component of our world into existence in six 24-hour days. Dr. Ross, though denying biological evolution, refuses to accept the all-knowing, holy Creator’s account, as God Himself summarized on stone many years later when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments:

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day (Exodus 20:11).

Note that God also wrote these same words—“in six days”—on the tablets of stone (Exodus 31:17–18).

Dr. Ross does not believe that Noah’s Flood could have been global, wiping out all air-breathing life on land—as the Bible says in Genesis 7:21–23—because he contends the biodiversity we see today could have never developed from the animals preserved on the Ark.

Just as Dr. Ross does not believe evolution could have produced diverse forms of life, so he does not believe that diversity in the animal kingdom could have developed after a global Flood. However, God created each kind of organism with the potential to vary enormously within the limits of its created kind, as we observe in biology. And since God selected the animals Noah took on the Ark, we can be confident that He chose suitable animals. As they reproduced and varied within their kinds after the Flood, the biodiversity we see today developed.

Dr. Ross claims that the biodiversity we see in the world since the time of the Flood “contradicts firmly established biological limitations” (pages 170–171 in Navigating Genesis). Yet a number of so-called “firmly established” ideas in biology, closely held by evolutionary thinkers, have been shattered by actual biological discoveries. The latest scientific discoveries about “junk” DNA and dangerously naïve views on “vestigial” organs come to mind. In answer to Dr. Ross’s reliance on “firmly established” limits on biological diversification, Dr. Jean Lightner (creationist veterinarian, academic researcher, and author of scholarly papers about “baraminology”—the study of created kinds) points out that his claims about biological limitations are based on insufficient information:

How do we know this? The truth is that we don't! We have not made sufficiently appropriate observations to reasonably come to such a dogmatic conclusion. Instead, it is a belief based on evolutionary presuppositions. In fact, evolutionists have constantly had to revise their beliefs to acknowledge that adaptive changes can happen much more rapidly than they had once believed.

Dr. Ross asserts that those who believe the Flood was actually global, as the Bible indicates, know that Noah could not stuff millions of animals on the Ark and therefore claim Noah took representatives from which all kinds of land animals today developed. He writes, “The entire cat family—tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, panthers, bobcats, and more, including the ancestors of housecats—likewise are claimed to have evolved from a single cat pair on the Ark. These proposals would seem to trade one implausible hypothesis for another.” Answers in Genesis molecular geneticist Dr. Georgia Purdom notes he is ignoring an obvious model of observable and speedy diversification:

Dr. Ross states that believing all species of horses or cats today came from representative pairs of the horse and cat kinds on the Ark is an “implausible hypothesis.” He seemingly fails to recognize that there is an observable example of this level of speciation and diversification in recent times. Most dog breeds, from teacup poodles to Great Danes, have only come into existence in the past few centuries by means of artificial selection.

The breeds did not come about through the addition of novel genetic information (required for molecules-to-man evolution) but rather through the expression and/or alteration of pre-existing genetic information in a very short period of time. If this level of diversification can occur in only a few hundred years, it is entirely plausible that a much greater diversity could be achieved in the thousands of years since the Flood.

Geneticists are learning more all the time about mechanisms by which variations develop within each kind of organism, and God is the one that created all those processes by which genes are sorted and expressed. Thus while biological evolution cannot account for either biological diversity or for life itself, God’s creation of the many kinds in the beginning (with genetic information for a tremendous amount of potential diversity within each kind) and the preservation of representatives of each kind on the Ark does not strain credulity. (Read more about how we determine the kinds and numbers of animals on the Ark in “Lumping or Splitting?”)

Fossils and God-of-the-Gaps

Because he doesn’t accept either biological evolution or a biblical timeframe for biblical creation, Dr. Ross is stuck when he must explain the fossil record containing billions of dead things within the evolutionary timeframe to which he clings. Therefore, he pictures God jumping into history after every supposed “mass extinction” evolutionary scientists claim to see in the fossil record in order to create a bunch of creatures suitable for the new conditions prevailing on our unstable planet.

From God’s Word in Genesis we see He created each kind of animal to reproduce after its kind and later chose pairs of each kind of air-breathing land animal to be preserved on the Ark. Most of the macroscopic fossil-bearing layers in the rock record were deposited during the global Flood and during Flood-related local post-diluvian events and are the record of the order of catastrophic burial of countless creatures. While it is commendable that Dr. Ross does not, like evolutionists, propose the layers represent the evolutionary appearance and extinction of animals, he buys into evolutionary ideas about mass extinctions and millions of years. Having thus compromised, he invokes a “God-of-the-gaps” solution. Dr. Ross attributes actions to God that God never claimed to have done while discounting that which God plainly says He did.

Dr. Ross’s claim that God had to keep creating new batches of organisms over millions of years is an example of how his rejection of biological evolution while clinging to evolutionary timescales leaves him far from scriptural truth.

Scripture Turned Upside-Down

Dr. Ross attempts to explain away the global Flood by supporting his position from Scripture, claiming (quite incorrectly!) that God’s Word demonstrates the Flood was not global! Dr. Mortenson calls attention to these biblical gymnastics in which Dr. Ross confuses Scriptures that apply to Creation and the Flood:

In his treatment of both the Fall and Noah’s Flood (which he argues was only localized in the Mesopotamian Valley of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers), he cites Psalm 104 and Job 38 (pp. 113 and 147). But he erroneously thinks these passages describe creation from the very beginning. He uses Psalm 104:21 and Job 38:39-41 to argue for millions of years of animal predation in Genesis 1 before Adam. He says that Psalm 104:9 and Job 38:8–10 refer to Day 3 when God removed the original global ocean to make dry land and therefore the verses show that Noah’s Flood was local, not global.

Careful attention to the text shows otherwise. Psalm 104:1–4 speaks of God’s present activities and verses 5 and 19–20 refer to events in Genesis 1. But verses 6–9 refer to the Flood of Genesis 6–9, evidenced by that fact that Psalm 104:9 (like Isaiah 54:9) is reminiscent of Genesis 9:11 where God promises to never flood the earth again, which God did not promise at the end of Day 3 in Genesis 1. By the way, this promise is another evidence that the Flood was global. If the Flood was local, then God lied because there have been many local floods since Noah that have killed some animals, birds, and people and destroyed some of the land.

The rest of the psalm refers to things that the psalmist saw in the days that he lived: things such as rain, wine, oil, Lebanon, ships, sinners, and carnivorous animals, none of which existed in Genesis 1. Similarly, in Job 38:1–3 when God begins to challenge Job, verses 4–7 refer to Creation Week (Genesis 1), and verses 8–11 refer to the Flood (with the same promise as Psalm 104:9). But in the rest of the Job 38–41 God is asking Job questions about things he saw in the world in his day, including death, snow, rain, hail, war, wicked, threshing floor, city, quiver, trumpet, battle, slain people, spear, javelin, and carnivorous animal behavior, none of which existed during Creation Week.

You can read more about Dr. Ross’s claims about the Flood of Noah in “Defense—A Local Flood?” from Old Earth Creationism on Trial.

Cambrian Confusion and Cold Times

The Cambrian explosion, which defies evolutionary explanation, is readily understood in terms of the global Flood, which would have buried billions of creatures, particularly the marine invertebrates that dominate the Cambrian fossil record, during its initial upheavals. But since Dr. Ross doesn’t believe in a global Flood, he recites the classic evolutionary explanation that oxygen levels1 on the early earth had to attain a certain level for billions of complex life forms to appear. Thus, even though Dr. Ross would give God credit for seeding the early earth with these creatures, he does so while firmly embracing the evolutionary worldview.

To fit the appearance of early forms of life—whether created or evolved—into an evolutionary timeframe, both secular scientists and Dr. Ross must grapple with not only oxygen levels but also temperature issues. Dr. Ross assumes that rather than making the sun and moon on the Day 4 of Creation Week as Genesis 1:14–19 records, God actually made them billions of years earlier. He maintains that the early earth was shrouded in a dense translucent atmosphere that only cleared on the fourth “day.” During the earlier “days” he maintains, as do many evolutionists, that the sun was very faint. Such a faint sun would have been too cool to get earth’s temperature above freezing in time to sustain life 3.8 billion years ago, the time when some evolutionists say life evolved (and when Ross says life appeared).2

Evolutionists admit there is no evidence for a cool early earth. Therefore, they try to explain the resulting “young faint sun paradox” using greenhouse gases. All proposals to solve the paradox have, according to Answers in Genesis astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner, been inadequate. Dr. Ross enthusiastically alters the secular version of the sun’s luminosity history to produce a “solution” that agrees with his estimates of “the exquisitely fine-tuned timing of first life’s arrival, the rate and timing of subsequent life forms’ introduction, and the diversity of life-forms introduced” (Navigating Genesis, p. 43). By “introduced,” recall, Dr. Ross is referring to those times when he says God jumped into history to resupply the earth’s animal population after our inhospitable planet supposedly turned into a snowball and froze everything to death. (Multiple ice ages are another evolutionary belief that Dr. Ross accepts.)

Dr. Faulkner observes that the contrivance upon which Dr. Ross relies to make his origins story fit the evolutionary timing of life’s milestones fits neither Scripture nor mainstream secular science:

His explanation of the young faint sun paradox is an extreme minority viewpoint. It relies upon a much higher initial mass for the sun, followed by much mass loss through solar wind. However, for this to be a significant contributor in solving the young faint sun paradox, the mass loss must happen over much more than a billion years. But nearly all astronomers believe that significant mass loss from the sun lasted at most a hundred million years, far short of what is required.

His Figure 4 on p. 43 illustrates what Dr. Ross claims, but notice that the credit for this plot is “RTB” (Reasons to Believe). Thus, this plot doesn’t come from the scientific literature, but from Hugh Ross. This plot is specious, because it seriously underestimates the problem or overestimates his solution. There still ought to be a 25% increase in solar luminosity between 1 billion and 4.5 billion year age, but his plot shows at best a 10% increase.

Furthermore, Hugh acknowledges in his discussion that there have been several solutions to the young faint sun paradox over the years. During this time, I have followed each one with interest. Each time a new proposal comes along, nearly everyone applauds the solution to the problem, only to be followed a few years later by the recognition that the current solution doesn’t work, which then results in the new solution, after which the cycle repeats. I suspect that the process will continue with Ross’s “solution” too.

“Let There Be (Sun)Light”?

Genesis 1:14–19 documents that God created the sun, moon,3 and stars on the fourth day of Creation Week, three days after He created light and instituted the earth’s day/night cycles. In the evolutionary view—the part that Dr. Ross accepts—the sun was formed before the earth. Dr. Faulkner describes the creative manipulation Dr. Ross had to impose on the earth’s atmosphere to reconcile the evolutionary story with Genesis and how Dr. Ross’s theories have failed to keep up with the conventional mainstream science he extols:

While on the topic of the supposed early history of the earth’s atmosphere, Hugh believes that the earth’s atmosphere went from opaque (Genesis 1:1–2) to translucent (Genesis 1:3–4) to transparent (Genesis 1:14–19). A century ago most scientists thought that the earth’s early atmosphere was translucent for an extended length of time, but for many years most scientists have believed that the earth’s atmosphere became transparent very early and remained so throughout most of its history.4

A century ago the scientific consensus that the earth’s atmosphere was once obscuring led many Christians who believed the day-age theory to identify the events of Day Four not with creative acts, but with a clearing of the earth’s atmosphere so that the sun, moon, and stars became visible on the earth’s surface for the first time. This boxed in those, such as Hugh Ross, who believe the day-age theory, to continue believing this sort of thing, though scientific consensus long ago turned against this idea.

Dry Land Appears

Once God finally decided—in Dr. Ross’s unbiblical view—to create an earth with an atmosphere and a water cycle, some 750 million years (two Ross-ist “days”) after setting things in motion, Dr. Ross claims that God made the continental land mass grow at an unprecedented rate to build a place for life to live in “only” a few billion years. He misapplies Psalm 104’s poetic description of the Flood and post-Flood changes in the earth to his “Day 3” and claims earth’s crust surged up above sea level in three stages 2.7, 1.9, and 1.2 billion years ago respectively. He bases these dates on radiometric dating5 of the earth’s crust using osmium isotopes—“the latest geophysical research” (Navigating Genesis, p. 49). He creates a chart harmonizing his version of what God did on “Day 3”—creation of the dry land—with these dates.

Answers in Genesis geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling contrasts Dr. Ross’s “scientific support” of his version of the earth’s third day with what the Bible says, showing how the biblical account is reflected in the geologic record:

All his pontifications about the growth of the continental crust are superfluous, as any reader of Genesis chapter 1 can understand that on Day 3 of the Creation Week God made the dry land by raising crustal rocks from under the universal ocean of Days 1 and 2. Creation geologists refer to this event as the “Great Upheaval,” which was followed by the “Great Regression” as the waters drained off the emerging land surface, eroding it and carrying sediments offshore to deposit them there in non-fossil-bearing sedimentary layers, all within less than a literal normal day under God’s command and direction.

In the rock record this is clearly seen in that the earliest so-called Precambrian rocks, at the bottom of all local geologic “columns” on the continental land surfaces today, or even outcropping in some areas today, are composed of crystalline granites and metamorphics. These are often overlain by non-fossil-bearing Precambrian sedimentary layers, just as to be expected, as reasoned above from reading Genesis 1.

Dr. Ross simply “muddies the waters” by trying to equate the secular geologic claims of several episodes of continental crustal growth during a multi-billion year Precambrian era as “established” by radioisotopic dating and isotopic studies of those rocks. Thus he is totally ignoring the unprovable assumptions on which radioisotopic dating is based.

Dr. Ross is completely committed to acceptance of secular interpretations of radiometric dates. Dr. Snelling observes that Dr. Ross discounts all documentation by creation scientists demonstrating the inconsistency of those secular interpretations and the problems with the many underlying assumptions:

How can any finite, fallible scientist unable to observe the past be sure of how many radioactive parent and daughter atoms were present in the earth’s rocks when they formed, that those rocks haven’t suffered from contamination in the supposed billions of years since, and that the rates of decay have remained constant at today’s rates for those billions of years? The truth is that God likely created all the elements in the first rocks, so parent and daughter atoms existed from the beginning, the latter not due to any radioactive decay!

Dr. Snelling observes that the account of geology and radiometric dating in Navigating Genesis demonstrates Dr. Ross’s deficiencies in his understanding of both:

Adding to the further display of his geologic ignorance, Ross cites an obscure 2007 paper to support his claim that the earth experienced several episodes of continental land growth during the billions of years of the Precambrian era, which supposedly equate to the Genesis record of God’s Day 3 creation activities.

First, the paper cites hafnium isotope analyses of rare minerals and alloys as somehow representative of crustal growth events, which is dubious in itself. He echoes the paper’s reported three upper mantle “melt events” at 2.7, 1.9 and 1.2 billion years ago, but then plots the main growth of continental crust at around 2 billion years ago, contrary to the paper’s plot of the biggest growth event at 2.7 billion years ago. So he uses the paper for support at his convenience, but then distorts what the paper reports.

In actual fact the whole edifice of the paper he cites depends on the validity of the zircon uranium-lead radioisotope ages, which as detailed above are based on three unprovable assumptions.6 This method is fraught with difficulties and absurd results because of these unprovable, unreasonable assumptions.

Observational science gives geologists like Dr. Snelling plenty (literally, millions!) of reasons to question the huge dates assigned to earth history, but Dr. Ross ignores these problems:

It is well documented in the literature, for example, that modern basalt lavas observed to have erupted on ocean islands (from melting in the upper mantle to which Ross refers) consistently yield uranium-lead radioisotope ages of 1–2 billion years! Furthermore, in the same literature a Himalayan granite reported to be 21 million years old by potassium-argon radioisotope dating contained zircon grains with a uranium-lead age of 1753 million years, a southeastern Australian granite supposedly 426 million years old by rubidium-strontium radioisotope dating contained zircon grains with a uranium-lead age of 3.5 billion years, and another Himalayan granite dated at 20 million years by potassium-argon radioisotope dating contained zircon grains with a uranium-lead age of 1483 million years and monazite grains with a uranium-lead age of minus 97 million years (that would be 97 million years into the future)!

So much for Ross’s confident assertions about the formation of dry land on Day 3 of the Creation Week, instead of humbly accepting what God’s Word tells us God did in bringing it all together in less than a normal day.

What about Eden?

Dr. Ross says that once God finally got around to making Adam and Eve, He gave them the Garden of Eden. And he claims to have satellite proof of Eden’s location! This is, according to Dr. Snelling, a curiously compromised mix of biblical literalism and denial:

Ross’s geologic and geographic “gymnastic” contortions in order to somehow correlate Scripture with secular thinking are on full display when he tries to determine the location of the Garden of Eden. He takes the Bible’s literal description of four actual rivers as reliable, when previously he interpreted the days of the Creation Week as only figurative periods of millions and billions of years.

The Bible says in Genesis 2:10–14 that a river flowed from Eden and divided into four rivers.

So Ross looks for the confluence of two more rivers with today’s Tigris and Euphrates, because the latter two are specifically named in Genesis 2. He finds two dry riverbeds in Saudi Arabia that fit his criteria, and conveniently this locates for him the location of the Garden of Eden at the bottom of the Persian Gulf.

All such pontification ignores a key aspect of the description in Genesis 2 that Ross supposedly accepts as literal, namely, that the four named rivers flowed out of the Garden of Eden—not into it—as his chosen scenario entails. The Tigris and Euphrates and these two Saudi Arabian dry riverbeds “flow” into his location for the Garden of Eden in the Persian Gulf, rather than away from it!

Just a minor detail, perhaps, but it shows once again that Ross picks and chooses what is convenient for his unique contrived interpretation of Scripture.

No Bible-believer should ever expect to find the location and original rivers of the Garden of Eden. Why? Because the Bible describes a cataclysmic global Flood that would have totally destroyed the surface of the earth thereby erasing all traces of the original earthly paradise. (Of course, Star Trek writers once sent a group of alien renegades in search of Eden on a faraway planet, which, while ludicrous, is really no more absurd than trying to find traces of Eden on the earth.) But then, Dr. Ross does not believe in the Bible’s account of a global Flood!

Both Eden—wherever it was—and the original rivers associated with it were buried beneath tons of sediment during the global Flood. The modern Tigris and Euphrates Rivers bear the same names, but there is no reason to claim they are the same rivers any more than to claim that Moscow (in Idaho) is the same city as Moscow (in Russia) and that Birmingham (in Alabama) is the same city as Birmingham (in England).

The Ongoing Seventh Day

In addition to stretching the six days of Creation Week completely out of biblical history to imaginative proportions, Dr. Ross imagines, as he emphasized in a recent interview on 100 Huntley Street, that we are still living in the seventh day. Dr. Terry Mortenson explains some of the biblical and scientific problems with this notion:

Ross says the seventh day of Creation Week is still continuing. But there is no biblical support for such a statement. Genesis 2:1–3 does not teach that. Hebrews 4:3–4 does not teach it either. Both passage teach that God’s rest from His Creation Week activities has continued. God never resumed creating in the Genesis 1 sense. Genesis 2:1–3 is emphatic that God finished His Creation work. He continues His work of providence and redemption to this day, but not His work of Creation. The lack of the refrain like the first six days (i.e., there was evening and there was morning, the seventh day) doesn’t mean that the seventh day is still continuing. Exodus 20:8–11 makes it clear that the first seven days of history were all completed in the past and were identical in length to the seven days of the week at the time God gave the 10 Commandments to the Jews. The lack of the refrain is emphatic reinforcing the clear teaching of Genesis 2:1–3 that God was finished creating and did not resume creation on Day 8 of history.

But there is also a scientific problem with Ross’s claim that the seventh day is still continuing. If so, then the processes that scientists study today are not the processes that God used to create the world in the first six days. They are rather the processes He uses to providentially sustain His creation. But the big bang model and the millions of years that Ross accepts as proven fact are based on secular scientists’ interpretations of presently observed processes. So the big bang model is false; it is not the way God created. And the millions of years is false; they are not how long God took to create.

Water Shortage?

Dr. Ross’s denial of the global Flood includes the assertion that there is not enough water on the earth to have covered the highest mountain, which is in the Himalayas. According to Genesis 7:11 and 8:2, the water for the Noachian Flood came not just from above but also from below the earth— “the fountains of the great deep.” Recent research has produced excellent evidence that water—vast amounts of it—could have been accommodated deep beneath the earth’s surface because there is still more water in the earth’s upper mantle than in today’s oceans. (We wrote about it in “Diamond with Ringwoodite Reveals Water Deep in Earth’s Mantle.”) Dr. Snelling points out several shortfalls in Dr. Ross’s claim that there wasn’t enough water to cover the highest mountains:

Dr. Ross’s claim on page 159 that “global flood models face a serious water shortage” is almost laughable, because it is based on several false straw-man premises, and totally ignores the relevant findings (or he is likely just unaware of them) of the secular scholarship he unquestioningly accepts.

First, he is looking for the record of the Flood in the wrong place in the geologic record, after the formation of the Himalayas. So he subtly accuses global Flood models of requiring enough water to cover today’s Himalayas, a straw-man claim that has been repeatedly refuted by creation geologists.

The pre-Flood mountains were eroded away during the Flood because they were covered by the Floodwaters as God describes in Genesis 7:20, and the Himalayas are composed of folded marine-fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks (which Dr. Ross acknowledges) produced by the Flood. So the Himalayas are a catastrophic product of the global Flood cataclysm, and not of millions of years of slow-and-gradual geologic processes before some local flood in the Middle East, as advocated by Dr. Ross contrary to God’s Word.

In any case, Dr. Ross’s claim completely evaporates in the light of secular research reported over the last two decades, and reiterated recently with much media fanfare, that there is more water in the earth’s upper mantle than in all the world’s current oceans combined.

Creation geologists have always said, based on the Bible’s description of the “fountains of the great deep” being the primary water source for the Flood, that hot waters fountained from the upper mantle to flood the earth, and then when the Flood ended those waters retreated and settled into today’s ocean basins. After all, if the earth’s surface were topographically leveled, today’s ocean waters would cover the earth’s surface by a depth of over 1.5 miles. So much for there being a shortage of water for a global Flood!

Origin of “Races”

Another startling position put forth by Dr. Ross concerns the origin of people of varied skin tones and other so-called “racial” characteristics. Dr. Ross deals with extinct people groups by considering them to be soul-less pre-Adamic hominids. But how does he explain the superficial variety we see among people today—characteristics like variations in skin tone and eye shape that are related to ethnicity? Ross insists that natural selection could never have produced these so-called “racial” differences. His solution—that God changed the way people look when He confused their languages at Babel to further encourage their separation—is according to Answers in Genesis speaker and internal medicine physician Dr. Tommy Mitchell, “plainly a ‘God-of-the-gaps’ solution”:

Ross is reading into the situation a supernatural action by God that is not directly stated in Scripture. Dr. Ross’s claim that natural selection works too slowly to give an answer here does not take into account the variability that would have still existed in the genomes of the people living soon after the Flood. Having descended from Noah’s family, they had not yet dispersed into the many isolated groups that, over the years, allowed much of this variability to be lost.

The genetic variance between any two human beings—even two human beings with different skin tones—is minuscule. That is why we can talk about the human genome and not genomes. All human beings—extinct varieties of people that anthropologists assign to various Homo “species” and the ethnic-associated variations we see today are all simply variations produced among the descendants of Noah’s family’s descendants after they dispersed from the Tower of Babel.

Death, Digestion, and the Second Law

While Dr. Ross accepts the idea of an Adam who sinned and our need for a Savior, he confuses the origin of suffering and death by divorcing life’s grimmest realities from the consequences of Adam’s sin. Dr. Ross believes that billions of animals and even soul-less people suffered and died during the millions of years that God spent designing and re-designing our world to get it ready for us long before Adam or the sin of Adam’s “race” was ever on the scene.

Decay and even digestion are processes that break down materials for further use or recycling. They are manifestations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Though we cannot know everything about the way the world would have worked if man had never sinned, there is no reason to assume that catabolic microorganisms and metabolic processes were nonexistent in the good and perfect world before sin. Dr. Ross—erroneously presuming that “young earth creationists” claim the Second Law resulted from sin’s curse—lumps all manifestations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics together as the “law of decay.” Because fuel burns in the sun, dead plants decay into fertile recyclables, and digestive processes are necessary for life, he assumes that all manifestations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics must have always gone on just like today—including the death of animals and people.

But as physician Dr. Tommy Mitchell points out, Dr. Ross is employing an oversimplified straw-man argument:

The Second Law of Thermodynamics—the tendency of systems to become more disordered unless energy is used to maintain order—is not a manifestation of sin’s curse. It is a law of nature that God created to make the world work as it should. The breaking down of food into simpler molecules we can use, breathing with the movement of air from high pressure areas into low pressure areas, the recycling of autumn’s crisp leaves into the soil, the burning of fuel in the sun to warm the earth—all these processes are manifestations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In a perfect world unaffected by sin’s curse, the laws of nature would still function.

But neither human death nor animal death is caused by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Dr. Ross’s so-called “law of decay”—a gross oversimplification of the physics involved in the Second Law—comes into play once death has occurred and breaks down the dead body’s components, in effect cleaning up the mess that death has left on our sin-marred world.

Dr. Ross considers death to be our friend. The Bible, however, says the Last Enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26). In this cursed world, death, like decay, is part of the natural order of things. But was it always so? Could not God have created a world in which animals and people were able to live and thrive without eating each other? Of course He could, and He did.

You can read more about the scriptural conflicts and theological problems created by stuffing millions of years of natural evil into the days of Genesis 1–2 in “Death Is Not Good” and “The Fall and the Problem of Millions of Years of Natural Evil.”)

Conclusion

Dr. Ross claims to defend Scripture using science but instead he distorts it to fit evolutionary claims about the past. He uses secular dating methods as a timeline on which the Creation of all things and Flood of Noah’s day, described in Genesis 1–11, must be placed. He occasionally accepts the literal truth of some bits of Scripture but misinterprets or misapplies most of the Scripture he discusses. He includes some true statements with his false ones, creating the illusion that his teachings are reliable. He rearranges the biblical order of events, crams millions of years into each creation day, and assumes we are now living in the seventh day. His distortions of the Bible are dangerous because some Christian leaders and laypersons—whether through ignorance, laziness, or faithlessness—fail to look at what God actually says in His Word and will accept Dr. Ross’s fairy tale explanations that twist God’s Words into a caricature in which even the reason Jesus Christ came into the world is obscured.

Observable science—unlike Ross’s interpretation of science—does affirm what the Bible records in the first eleven chapters of Genesis about our origins, our history, and our world. Christians—people who trust Jesus Christ to save them eternally from the guilt, power, and penalty of sin—should also trust that God is capable of communicating with us and has told us the truth in His Word. Though Dr. Ross claims to be bringing God glory by revealing that God spent nearly 14 billion years preparing the earth for us, those who imbibe these beliefs from Dr. Ross’s word instead of God’s Word will be guilty of calling God a liar (or at best a very poor communicator that needs 21st century discoveries and PhD interpreters) just as much as popular atheists do—even if, like Dr. Ross, they profess faith in Jesus Christ. Refusing to believe what God plainly said He did does not glorify God but impugns His character.

Further Reading

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2014 Volume 9

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