Exposing PseudoAstronomy

April 5, 2012

Thoughts on Creationist Astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross on Coast to Coast


Introduction

I expected to listen to April 1’s Coast to Coast AM broadcast and experience many head-banging moments. After all, Dr. Hugh Ross, the guest, is a creationist. And he’s an astronomer.

I think the problem is that I mixed up Hugh Ross with Russell Humphreys; the latter is a young-Earth creationist, while the former is an old-Earth creationist (both are astronomers by training).

The interview was something I found interesting and more believable than many Coast to Coast broadcasts (though that’s not saying much). I think the root reason is that I could see where Hugh was coming from, I could understand and relate to him and he wasn’t just ignoring science. He had a lot of good points that were based in the tenants of observational knowledge and I really only disagreed with him on some of his conclusions. Below, I point out two instances that stuck in my mind.

Creationism vs. Evolution

At about 14 minutes into the second hour, Dr. Ross stated, “I think one reason why there’s so much controversy over creation/evolution, is you get people taking a few verses out of the bible, and one book, and then trying to integrate that with a few facts from one scientific discipline. what you really need to do is integrate all the scientific disciplines with all the books of the bible.”

This statement is so true and it’s something that you can see almost every day in young-Earth creationist or Intelligent Design writings: They constantly refer to Darwin’s writings as if the state of the science has not changed in over 150 years. I also think this may have been a thinly veiled swipe at Answers in Genesis which, oddly enough, takes all their answers from Genesis (the first book of the Jewish and Christian bibles); with AiG, if anything conflicts with “In the beginning, God created …” then it’s wrong.

The state of scientific understanding changes. If it didn’t then every scientist would be out of a job. I don’t think that Dr. Ross would go so far as to say that Christian theology is also constantly changing, but it’s refreshing to listen to someone who is willing to work towards reconciling one small phrase in context with everything else and not just what else is in that book.

UFOs

In the first half of the third hour of the program, and throughout hour four, Noory asked Ross about UFOs. Pretty much every caller who was on during the fourth hour who disagreed with something Ross had said was disagreeing with his position on UFOs; this is likely because Coast to Coast was practically build upon the UFO=aliens phenomenon, and it is still a core part of the show.

Ross’s take on the issue is similar to many other creationist people or super-religious Christians that I’ve heard before: He thinks they’re demons trying to deceive us.

He pointed out, yet again, several things that I agree with but then we reached different conclusions. One of the main points he made is that the alleged technology that UFO spotters “see” keeps pace with Earth technology at the time. In the early 1900s it was blimps, in the mid-1900s it was biplanes, in the 1970s it was people with crazy hairdos, and now it’s typical of the science fiction of the day with disks and flashing lights that defy gravity, much like the classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind movie, or more recently, Independence Day.

He also pointed out that the alleged UFO contactees’ claims of where these beings come from has kept pace with the popular science fiction of the day — first from the Moon, then Mars, then Venus, and now other star systems.

(And yes, I realize that there will be an exception to these that someone can point to — I’m talking about the vast majority of claims at the time.)

My broad conclusion from this is hoaxters, dreams, frauds, random guessing, and other things that then borrow from the popular science fiction of the day.

Ross’s broad conclusion from this is that, because all these beings are lying (since they’re always just ahead of our technology), they’re demons (fallen angels) trying to lead us astray from the path of his god.

It’s intriguing to see this kind of disparate conclusion, and I think for once the Answers in Genesis’s cartoon of, “We look at the same evidence but have different world views” really does apply (as opposed to it applying to AiG’s claim to support young-Earth creationism … that’s a case where they may look at the same evidence but then throw it out if it doesn’t support their worldview).

Here we have a case where I look at the world in the sense that, “You need to supply convincing, unambiguous, irrefutable, testable, and repeatable evidence that shows UFOs are not unidentified, but they really are identifiable as alien craft. Until then, my default is that they are explainable through well known and understood human cognitive biases and issues.”

Ross is approaching it in the sense that, “You need to supply convincing, unambiguous, irrefutable, testable, and repeatable evidence that shows UFOs are not unidentified, but they really are identifiable as alien craft. Until then, my default is I believe what the Bible tells me and I can easily fit these into Satin’s plan for deceiving mankind.”

And I’m okay with that. As long as people are willing to look at the evidence, I will admit that the conclusions you draw are likely going to be heavily influenced by your worldview. If you are a Christian biblical creationist, then you are likely going to see these as demonic deceptions because that will add less new information to your worldview than UFOs=aliens.

Final Thoughts

As I said at the beginning, I expected to have a lot to write about here. Instead, I found Dr. Ross to be a seemingly reasonable person. He seemed like the kind of guy that I could sit with at a conference and we could argue about points but it would be a reasonable discussion. As opposed to the impression I get with many young-Earth creationists or other people on Coast to Coast where I get the distinct impression that trying to talk with them would be like having a conversation with a petunia.

2 Comments »

  1. I listened to part of the C to C program on April 1 by Dr. Hugh Ross and i concur with your assessment.

    Comment by John Clark — April 7, 2012 @ 6:16 am | Reply

  2. My article here, posted on my blog at waynewade.wordpress.com sheds light on how science and the bible
    agree.

    God and Time

    Science today has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that time is relative to where we are located in the universe, and this relativity of time is based on the relative velocities of bodies in space. G.P.S. satellites periodically need their clocks reset because of this relative nature of time. But how does this recently established knowledge (within the last 100 years) line up with what the bible says about time? The bible says God created everything in six days. Science says it took billions of years. Can these two viewpoints ever be reconciled?

    I believe the bible has already reconciled these two view points, but human understanding of this truth, revealed in God’s word, has lagged behind for several reasons. One of the major reasons has to do with the non essential nature of this truth. Knowing the truth about what the bible says about time is way down the line in importance, when considered from an eternal perspective. It pales in comparison with the importance of understanding salvation, the anointing of the Holy Spirit and deliverance. Therefore, the bible does not have a lot to say about time. But what it does have to say is profound. The relativity of time is just recently been recognized, by most scientists, as an accepted fact, but the bible has already stated aspects of this truth, from God’s perspective, thousands of years ago.

    The first prerequisite for understanding how the creation could have happened in six days can be gained by understanding the meaning of the 4th verse of the ninetieth Psalm, which addresses the relativity of time from God’s viewpoint.

    The ninetieth Psalm says, “A thousand years in the sight of God is like yesterday when it is past, and, at the same time, “like a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4) Yesterday, when it has past, does not exist. A watch in the night is a few hours. Yet the scripture plainly says “In God’s sight” a thousand years can be the same as these two very different time spans. Put plainly, the author is saying “God, who exists outside of time, can view the relativity of time throughout his created universe. This ancient wording is in agreement with what man has known for less than a hundred years.

    God can have time be whatever relative expanse he wants it to be, because he created time and set its relative states, as he pleased. God, however, exists outside the parameters of time. This is one of the reasons Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am”. At first glance, this sentence seems to be grammatically incorrect, until it becomes clear, that Jesus is really saying, “I exist outside of time”. God is spirit. (John 4:24) Time is not spiritual. It is a characteristic of the material universe, which has no affect on God. His nature is the same, yesterday, today and forever. (Heb. 13:8) Although God does not have a material nature and exists outside of time, time is still in his sight. He is able to see the relative passing of time anywhere in the universe. Once again, he is the one who structured these variations before our cosmos or time existed.

    The main point, made here in the fourth verse, was made to give the reader more insight into the nature of God. The reference to time is incidental. Never the less, it does give a brief, but clear description of time. Here, as elsewhere, in the bible, truths are written, to communicate with the new heart of man, placed in him by Christ, and not his carnal intellect. What is note worthy to an objective reader, however, is how accurately the writer describes God’s relationship with time and how accurately the scientific observations of man measure up to these statements in the bible, concerning the relativity of time. Because of the relative nature of time, the first day of creation, mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis could have been anything. In one part of the universe it could have been billions of years, or it could have been a watch in the night. The first day of the genesis did not have to be absolutely equal in length to the second day, and the second day did not have to be equal in length to the third day, and so on. We know this is true because man now knows, beyond a reasonable doubt, that time is relative throughout the material universe, just as the bible indicated in verse 4 of the 90th Psalm thousands of years ago.

    There is something else that makes the 90th Psalm even more interesting. It was written by Mosses, who many bible scholars also believe wrote the book of Genesis.

    Wayne Wade

    Comment by wayne wade — August 24, 2012 @ 12:17 pm | Reply


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