Complete Podcast Interview Transcript:
Welcome to the Purpose Nation Podcast. Inspiring conversations with Christians in science, technology and industries of the future. For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit PurposeNation.org.
Brad Cooper: 00:18
This is Brad Cooper with Purpose Nation and what a really great honor it is today to have with us Dr. Hugh Ross from Reasons to Believe. Dr. Ross, welcome to the Purpose Nation Podcast!
Dr. Hugh Ross: 00:18
Well, thank you for inviting me.
Brad Cooper: 00:27
Real pleasure. I have been following Dr Ross's work for over 25 years starting with his first book, Fingerprint of God, and have been just blessed by your ministry since then. So thank you for all that you do and it was great actually to meet Dr Ross for the first time here in southern California at the American Scientific Affiliation. It's a, it's a group of Christian scientists. There's others involved as well, but it's mostly Christian scientists who have been meeting and have conferences and so they had a winter meeting here in Southern California, so it was great to meet you up there at that, at that conference.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 00:57
Good to meet you too.
Brad Cooper: 00:59
Yeah and so the other thing, he allowed me to corner him at the conference and pepper him with lots and lots of questions. So, thank you for being patient with me because you've been obviously thinking about these things for I'm guessing more than 30 years and many of these issues and I and I love just talking about them and as I was telling him, you know, I could go on for hours so, but I will not, I will keep it short and, and hopefully we can continue these conversations. Dr Ross, many of our listeners will already know you just really briefly, Dr Ross is an astronomer. He's the founder and president of Reasons to Believe and it's an organization that's dedicated to integrating scientific fact and biblical faith. He's a best-selling author. His books include Why the Universe the Way that It Is, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job, Navigating Genesis, I mean there's so many different books that he's written on all of these different topics. And so I do encourage you to visit the Reasons to Believe website at Reasons.org to please check out the materials they have because again, this is a pretty short conversation on a podcast and cannot go into all of the issues that Dr Ross obviously has written about. Lots of blogs and videos and books and things there. He's in many TV appearances, some debates, he travels the globe speaking on these issues and the compatibility of advancing science and scientific discoveries with those timeless truths that we have in the Bible and in Christianity. So very thankful and he's been just dedicated to this mission for many, many years. So and also just that science and faith are not enemies, but rather that they're compatible and ally. So, um, but Dr Ross, your summary of maybe have Reasons to Believe in what you're doing and maybe has that changed or really has your mission been the same as it was 30 years ago?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 02:31
Yeah, the mission hasn't changed. I mean our mission has always been to use God's revelation, the book of nature to bring people to the book of Scripture and bring them into a relationship with Jesus Christ based on the principle that the more we learn from the record of nature or evidence, we'll see for the supernatural handiwork of God. And Moreover, God has revealed his redemptive plan through creation. So using what we see in nature as a tool to show people that there is a God, a God who desires to redeem billions of human beings.
Brad Cooper: 02:58
So now are you surprised after 30 years that we still, sort of, though need to explain to most of the public that there isn't this incompatibility with faith and science? It seems like you've still had to do that and if so, and It doesn't seem like that sort of awareness has changed. Why is that? I mean, what are some of the factors as to why you know there still is this need to go out and show folks the compatibility and beyond compatibility, but just this amazing amount of reinforcement that you have.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 03:25
Well, the Bible commands us to study the book of nature, but also commands us to study the book of scripture. We live in a day and age where people are so busy with their lives and having so much fun with the recreation that they're not reading much of either book. A lot of what we do is encourage people. They'd go outside once in a while, see what's out there, look up at the stars. Actually pick up a Bible and see what it's got to say rather than just listening to what other people say it says. Check it out for yourself and put it to the test.
Brad Cooper: 03:53
Yeah, that's a great way to describe it. And definitely when I was younger and I'm sure when you, when you were younger as well. I mean we didn't have the Internet, we didn't have all this instant access to information too then we have Alexa talking to us in our houses now and we have a question and my kids do this, you know, Hey, what's the..., you know, they'll ask me something and then they'll ask Alexa, or they go to Google. So yeah, that sort of inquiry and just finding out for yourself and like you said, going to the source too and kind of seeing for yourself what's there does seem like that's, that's missing. You agree?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 04:19
I would agree. But I also think we live in an amazing age, with everybody can get at the peer reviewed scientific literature. You don't have to be a scientist anymore. We got the Internet and so, uh, it's, it's easier. One sense it was say, 20 years ago to communicate these truths.
Brad Cooper: 04:35
Yes. I did also want to ask about. There's something called the AMP conference, which I saw that's coming up here and I wanted to ask you about that. That seemed very interesting and it's kind of in line with, with some of the conversation that's sponsored by Reasons to Believe. You are involved with that. And tell us about that a little bit.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 04:48
Yeah. We're the primary sponsor were the ones that organize this conference and uh, it's basically a 8 to 10 speakers in the Christian community that are there to equip people with the tools that they need to demonstrate to people that there's a God out there that has a plan for their life. And so, uh, we have several scientists speaking on the scientific evidence, but the God of the Bible, we also have people from other perspectives. For example, one of the speakers was raised in the gay community or I became a Christian and now as a really effective outreach or other people in the gay community. And the whole idea is you're going to meet different kinds of people that we're trying to equip you to be effective at engaging people across the spectrum.
Brad Cooper: 05:28
And that's so important. Young people especially, and this is, you've probably seen the statistics from Pew Research and Barna just recently came out with a study on generation Z Generation after Generation Y or the Millennials and the data at least it seems doesn't seem good in terms of a trend in terms of the number of young people who either leaving, leaving their faith if they have one or not believing or joining the group of NONES and that's not NUNS, it's NONES who just don't believe at all. When they come to parents, school teachers, whether it's in a Christian or a secular school and pastors. Keeping up with these things and having the ammo ready when these young people come to them. So it does seem though... (Dr. Ross injects) Go ahead.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 06:15
Yeah, I'm actually encouraged by the statistics. I mean, it does say that there is twice of atheists and agnostics and Generation Z. The follow-up question is what caused you to move in that direction and basically say, "well, when it came to engaging Christians in the church, we weren't encouraged to ask questions or questions didn't get answered and uh, you know, when we brought science issues of people panic." And so it tells me, hey, we can come up with some good scientific evidences that are willing to engage or questions, listen to them. I think we could see that completely turned around.
Brad Cooper: 06:39
Right. I agree with you. Amen to that. And one of the things you said though that going kind of back to you mentioned that there's all these pure scientific journals that are available also when you talk a lot of the things that you use or things like spacetime theorems and Big Bang cosmology and there's some of these scientific things. I'm guessing that some parents and teachers and even pastors are somewhat intimidated by that. Is that what you see and if so what have you found useful in sort of getting, getting them over that it sort of initial intimidation about being able to talk about these science issues?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 07:08
Well, they are intimidated because they lack the training in those areas and they're intimidated because most scientists have a rather intimidating demeanor. So as we're working with scientists who are Christians, we work hard on helping them develop a whole lesson, intimidating demeanor, you know, don't challenge it people all the time. That's what we do as scientists, we challenge one another, but that's something that's considered to be offensive outside the scientific community. So we're basically encouraging him to develop a more gentle, respectful way of giving people like the scientific training, take the time to explain the science that they haven't been understanding. And when you do that people are really open. So just changing your demeanor makes a huge difference to how people respond to science.
Brad Cooper: 07:55
That's a great point. If there's only two or three things that you can say or go through with a person that has questions or if they have specific questions about the origin of the universe or the origin of life or you know, these more scientific issues that you give them lots materials and someone can sort of memorize those talking points. But then if it gets beyond that or don't you feel like it's more than just sort of the talking points. And so one of the issues that we hear at Purpose Nation are concerned about is just the general scientific awareness of the population, not even just Christians, but you got into your average parishioner or a church goer and you say, Hey, can you tell me about the, a space-time theorems? Not many people wouldn't know, I'm guessing would be able to answer that. I mean, what's your, what are your thoughts on that?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 08:33
Well, I mean I'm from Canada. Coming to the United States is your average American is not as a scientifically literate, your average Canadian and especially, uh, your average Asian. So just realizing, hey, you know, we got to put the cookies on the bottom shelf. We have to explain our terms. Be kind in the way you do it. Don't be shocked at what they don't know. That gets you a long way.
Brad Cooper: 08:55
I guess it doesn't address the underlying problem which is a bigger one. We obviously don't have time to solve that problem on this phone call or even through either one of our organizations. But it does seem like sort of in the backdrop of the challenge we have. So I mean, we're just in general encouraging parents, especially in encouraging their kids if their kids seem to like science to just tell them to go for it.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 09:16
Yeah, tell them to go for it, it's a biblical principal. Everybody should be studying the book of nature, not just those of us who are professional scientists. I tell people that when they go into church, the Bible tells you must be a theologian. Don't leave it up to your pastor. Bible also tells you to be a scientist. Don't leave it up to people like you and me. It's too much fun. Get involve, ask questions and dialogue. I think what I'm seeing too, particularly with the younger generations, they want dialogue and engagement. They don't want lectures and sermons.
Brad Cooper: 09:44
Dr. Hugh Ross: 09:44
So just allowing for that kind of a give and take.
Brad Cooper: 09:47
Yeah, that's absolutely the case. Start one of our sons right now, it's kind of in a in a youth group kind of conversation and the conversations that they have sometimes, you know, 15 minute conversation among themselves is way more than, you know him hearing me for three hours about some issue. And speaking of young people. So just talking a little bit about yourself when you were younger in your testimony. It seemed like you had a pretty scientific and curious mind from a very early age. What sort of sparked the interest in science for you?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 10:13
Well, when I was seven years of age and I looked up and saw the stars and asked my parents, are those stars hot? And they said, yeah, they are. Can you tell me why? And they said no, but they told me to go to the library. I did and I came home with five books on the subject had I got so fascinated by that. Every Saturday I'd bring home another five books from the age of eight. All words. I knew that astrophysics would be my future career.
Brad Cooper: 10:37
That's amazing. Yeah, very early age. And was any of anyone else in your family, parents or siblings scientifically minded or were you sort of the black sheep of the family in that regard?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 10:47
Yeah, I was the black sheep Brad. Although what happened is once I got interested, other family members got interested. See I was the first to pursue it.
Brad Cooper: 10:55
And you went from there later on to be, you know, to pursuing an astronomy career with a PhD and then you ended up, I believe, with a postdoc at Caltech, but you sort of diverted from there. Can you talk about what sort of diverted you from, from what might have been a full time, not to say that you're obviously what you do at Reasons to Believe lots of in-depth research and things there, but just in terms of like at a university or for private business, what sort of took you off of what could have been that kind of a path to, to the ministry that right now?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 11:28
My study in astronomy that persuaded that the universe had to have a beginning. I began a two year search to try to find that beginner and uh, eventually recognize, hey, it's the God of the Bible and, uh, you'll sign my name on the back of a Gideon Bible giving my life to Christ when I was a sophomore at the university. Realize that being a Christian meant I needed to talk to other people about my Christian faith. And began to do that. And when I showed up at CalTech, I had to share an office with an atheist astronomer, and he began to ask me questions. He, after about a year and a half period, he gave his life to Christ. And what I discovered it when I was at Caltech is that all the research I was doing and quasars and galaxies, those objects only last for billions of years, but a human being is eternal. And I realized that that's much more significant to transform a human life than it is to discover quasars at the edge of the universe. And so I began to consider the possibility of a career shift where I could use my science to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. And so I'm on the pastoral staff of a church, has a couple of miles from Caltech. We're, we're kind of sandwiched between Caltech and GPO, Fuller Seminary and the headquarters of the Skeptic Society. Kind of been the perfect place to take advantage of all the training that I've had.
Brad Cooper: 12:40
A lot of brainpower there thinking about things in that area.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 12:43
The class I teach every Sunday, there's always a debate going on. (Brad laughs) And, uh, it's fun.
Brad Cooper: 12:53
Must be some fun conversations at Starbucks up there, just real quickly going back a little bit in your evaluation of Christianity versus the other faiths because that's the other one that I found fascinating and sort of applying the scientific rigor that you might in looking at a scientific issue, it seems like you did that with the different religions and the different books of those relate religions. Is that right?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 13:09
That's exactly right. I mean, in, uh, you know, I first began looking at the great philosophical writing, Immanuel Kant and Descartes and others. Realized their own concepts of space and time. So I began to look at the holy books that undergirds the world's religions, discover for example, that Hinduism promotes a reincarnating universe. So we astronomers call the oscillating universe theory and just recognize that the universe, that entropy measure that simply wouldn't permit that. And so after several years of study, realize that Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, they all have a wrong view of cosmology. Christianity's view is totally in sync. In fact, what impressed me when I picked up the Bible, it actually predicted all the fundamental features of Big Bang cosmology thousands of years before any astronomer even had a hint that the universe had those characteristics. So seeing that consistent predictive power ability to predict future scientific discoveries thousands of years ahead of time persuaded me that this book, rather than the other books, hadn't been inspired by the Creator who did all the deeds.
Brad Cooper: 14:13
And so you for you with the astronomy background, and you read the Bible and to you that just jumped off the page I think is sort of the phrasing that you use to describe it, where you immediately recognized where whereas maybe if you didn't have that background, um, it wouldn't have been so apparent in terms of the, uh, the connection there.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 14:29
Well I think even for people without a scientific background. But struck me when I picked up the little holy books, how repetitious they are, how big they are. And all this appeal to intellectual snobbery and this kind of fake spirituality. When I picked up the Bible it was clear, direct, specific, and we give names, dates and places, details about geography, history, science. And so it's plain writing without any appeal to intellectual snobbery told me this is how the God of the universe, but actually want to communicate with us human beings. And then it began to go through the Bible and saying, OK, this is really from the Creator of the universe. It won't have errors and everything it says, well, prove to be correct and also expected would have predictive power. And after 18 months of studying at one or two hours a day, I realized that indeed was the case. So this has to be from the God who created everything and that's when I committed my life to Jesus Christ.
Brad Cooper: 15:24
That's great and you took the combination of your scientific gifts and gifts of even analysis and reasoning things like that and combine that with your ministry and used what you learned about the Bible to help reach out to others and hopefully bring others to Christ. For those in scientific fields, though at the same time, there's also sometimes a false choice where, at least from the people I've talked to, other scientists and other people in the workplace as well for it just in general, where people believe that they have to make that choice between the two. You sort of merged the two very, very nicely together. Other just don't have that kind of a similar option. What would you say to people who are young people or other people who are maybe thinking about even a change in career? Can't you still have a ministry? Even if you go into science and have a career in science in still bringing that faith into your work?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 16:11
Well, there's perception that science is the enemy of the Christian faith and not the ally. And a lot of it is because there is prevalent teaching with the Christian community that is not scientifically credible and people say, well, that's Christianity. Forget it and say, well, you know, actually pick up the Bible, read it for yourself and discover it's got quite a different message. It really is consistent. I keep running into scientists will say, well, Genesis is contradicted by science. I asked have you ever actually read Genesis? Pick it up yourself, see what it says, and look at the frame of reference, the initial conditions. When you do that you see that it's a perfect fit with the chronology of the record of nature, the only holy book that has the perfect fit.
Brad Cooper: 16:51
Right, let's say for people who are, you know, committed believers like you and they were curious. They were given gifts that seem to be conducive to science. When you talked about earlier. It's not only you know, something nice to do, but it's sort of God's commandment to use these two books, to learn them and to use them. You know the two greatest commandments to love and serve God and to love and to each other. It seems like through science there's a lot we can do to help each other.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 17:13
That's correct, but Bible is a revelation from God and so as a record of nature and God wants us to find them through those records. And so a lot of what we're doing so simply encouraging people look at what God is revealed and to look at it for yourself, don't just believe what someone else has told you.
Brad Cooper: 17:28
Before, you and I met, I went back through my copy of The Fingerprint of God and reading back through that, it's like, wow, all of this still applies today. Even with all these scientific discoveries we've made for, but there are obviously many new things and that's why you're sort of keeping track of them and you're keeping track of the trends. What are a couple of the things maybe since that book, even since you started that have been just kind of amazing things that have reinforced everything you've been sort of preaching from the beginning. Are there a couple of recent discoveries that you say, I've just given you lots of more ammo with just a few things were for key discussions?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 18:03
Well, The Fingerprint of God was the first book that I wrote and when I wrote it, a lot of people said, "Can you please give us a book that just focuses on the physics, the astronomy, the evidence it gives for God, and I came up with The Creator and the Cosmos. Three weeks from today we're bringing in our fourth edition of The Creator and the Cosmos. We go four additions and the reason for those four editions, every few years we see even greater scientific evidence for the God of the Bible and select this fourth edition. I got 80 new pages. I took 10 pages out because they're in other books now, but there's literally 80 pages of new content about the stuff discovered in the last several years. That makes for an even stronger scientific case for the God of the Bible and the reason we bring up these extra additions of virtually all our books at Reasons to Believe as a demonstrate the principle you see in Psalms and Job that the more we learn about nature, the more evidence policy for the handiwork of God and yeah, it blows people away when they compare, say a first and second edition to the third and fourth edition just so much stronger in case we have as something I share with skeptics that say if you're not convinced today, wait one month. In the course of a single lump, we're going to see dramatically stronger scientific evidence.
Brad Cooper: 19:12
And you've talked about having a creation model as well, so almost a scientific model and it kind of. I believe one of the pieces of the model is what you just mentioned, which is if what we're saying is true, you should see increasing amounts of evidence, right? For those things that are true, is that something that's available in terms of the model? Have you, going back to the published papers, have you even published a pure scientific papers about some of this that you've been finding in terms of the trends in the amount of discoveries and how it supports a creation model?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 19:44
Well what's an interesting story cause one of the astronomer that volunteers with us, David Block from South Africa who says, let's see, we can get this in a Peer Review Journal. What was interesting is that it got rejected in every English Language Journal we submitted it to. Basically saying, this is too Christian, so what we did is we contacted a physicist in Germany. He translated our paper into German and we got it published in a German Journal and we said, you know, how come we got published in a German Journal rather than an English Journal? They said, well, here in Germany there are so few Christians. We don't consider this a threatening issue, but an English language countries evidently they're threatened by something that's too overtly Christian. However, uh, we had a couple of our books, our book Origins of Life did get Peer Reviewed in a English language journal. It was Origin of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere. One of the world's leading atheists Origin of Life researchers contacted us and said, do you mind if I do a critical review and get it published in his journal? And we said, yeah, please do it. And I said, well, I'm going to be very critical. We just said, we can only benefit for your criticism if it'll help us build a better model, but please be as critical as you can be. And so, uh, he wrote it and it got published. I can tell you the bottom line of the review, he basically said this was the most interdisciplinary treatment of the Origin of Life that the science is accurate. He said, I liked everything about the book except the Jesus Christ part.
Brad Cooper: 19:44
(Laughs) Well you can't knock that. That sounds like about as good as reviews you can get.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 21:15
That's about as good a reviews you're going to get to from an atheist. And he, he actually even encouraged our biochemist, Fuz Rana, to publish his Studies of Cellular Membranes. And so we got two additional papers published in a Peer Review Journal on the possibility and trying to get membranes evolving by natural process. And it was a David Demer who basically said, I'll hope you get it published, and he did.
Brad Cooper: 21:44
That's great. I'll love to get our listeners links, links to any of these studies that you've published even the German one. I don't know how many people can read German, but you'd probably have the English translation of that one.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 21:54
We got the English translation. Basically it's a paper for laying out the fine tuning argument. Basically say, you know, the more we learned about the universal, stronger evidence becomes for a designer who's fine tuning everything for the benefit of human beings. What I find interesting is that that claim has been published in the Peer Review Literature by astronomers and physicists who are agnostics and atheists. I think the reason we have trouble getting it published, we were, you know, overt Christians. It was very clear where we're coming from.
Brad Cooper: 22:28
Yeah that's obviously too bad. I don't know if that's good or bad that the Germans decided to publish it because there's no controversy there. That's actually sort of a bad thing as well. But it's good that it got published. Well. Yeah. And that's what we hear from talking to a lot of scientists and many of them in fact don't even because of that issue, there are sort of somewhat afraid to come forward with their faith until they're a tenure, you know, at a college or university where people take them seriously from a science standpoint and then when they do they're sort of, a little more willing to hear some of the faith aspects, I mean, is that what you've found as well?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 23:02
Yeah, but what we're discovering is that those kinds of fears are not justified. In fact one of the things we doing at Reasons to believe, we've developed a visiting scholar program where we bring science professors from secular university just spend a week or two or three with us basically equipping them to be more of outspoken about the Christian faith on their campus. And uh, you know, we don't see a lot of persecution going on as long as what you're saying is credible. As long as your demeanor is gentle and respectful, you discover you've got a lot of freedom. In fact I know a lot of science professors, what they do is they put a clipboard on their door basically inviting students who've got a spiritual questions to make an appointment and talk to them. And so I tell people, you always got the freedom to do that, then you can have a huge impact on students simply by doing that very thing.
Brad Cooper: 23:45
You're doing great work and great science. You sort of gained the respect and you have that door that's opened a little bit. It seems. I mean like with, as with you, I mean, you know, uh, you know, a PhD hand you're an astronomer and I know all the scholars on your staff. I mean they could also obviously in some of them do, I know to have very, uh, amazing careers in science. You're, you know, you're credible. You gain that credibility.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 24:08
Well part of that too, remember now I was at Caltech, the story was well when the Christian leave the telescope, they always leave them in the better shape than when they had it. So your people appreciate that so they like the work ethic, like the fact that we think of other people besides yourself.
Brad Cooper: 24:20
Yeah. And like you were saying too, and the scientists that we talked to, they say that there may be sometimes there's a perception that there's persecution or you know, some people are biased against Christians in, but when they get there and they talk to people, that's really not the case. I mean, it's really the exception and the people that are put forth in the Meta media, like the Dawkins and the Lawrence Krauss of the world are sort of an exception. Is that what you found as well?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 24:40
Yeah. Consistently about 45 percent of research scientists believe in God in an afterlife. What I found is most scientists who identify themselves as atheists, they're really deists. They do believe that there's a power beyond the universe created everything. They're just as they're just unwilling to say it's a personal being that's evaluating the way we live. You know, that's understandable based on Romans 1, but you know, we're born with a nature that rebels against God's authority so that when people tell me they're an atheist always asks what kind of atheist are you? Sorry, it's a deistic perspective.
Brad Cooper: 25:17
Just talking about some of the scientific evidence that you bring forward in terms of, especially in cosmology, you know, if you're in that field, you know, even Stephen Hawking and some of these other folks have a real tough time dealing with some of these issues. You know, fine tuning is one is one that you've mentioned many times. If you're not going to believe the fine tuning evidence, then you either have to be, uh, you know, you have to believe in a God or you are multi-verse or just come up with something else, right? I mean, some of these are just harder for them to avoid.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 25:43
It is. I've also discovered that a lot of scientists out there that would call default atheists to call themselves an atheist, but the truth of the matter is they're so occupied with or scientific research, they never take the time to think about, well, what about death? Is there life after death? Is there a purpose of the universe? I talked to one leading scientists and her comment was, you know, having so much fun doing my scientific research, I just don't think about those issues and admitted that her science was like a captivating video game, she says, "I'm distracted." But she was very eager to talk to us about science and the Christian faith. And so a lot of people think scientists are opposed to Christianity. They just simply need the opportunity.
Brad Cooper: 26:22
And that's true of probably anyone write anyone in any career. I mean, any career can be consuming, a time consuming or anything else that sort of replaces a serious thought about God. I'm sure all of us could use some more thought and study and just actually like you said just actually asked the questions and reach out.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 26:42
Well, in one context, life here in America is too good. I mean we got it so good that we basically can just live our lives in complete comfort and not think about the most important issues of life.
Brad Cooper: 26:51
And sometimes, unfortunately, it takes a sort of a tragedy or some personal change.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 26:56
Right, I tell people, don't wait for tragedy to happen. Do it now!
Brad Cooper: 27:02
That's right. Well you mentioned the one that came up to you and during the Cold War days, I know you spoke to a bunch of Russian scientists. I mean it seems like through your work and not just scientists, but I'm sure a lot of people have come to faith in part, you know, and, and due to some of the work that you've done.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 27:21
Yeah, there was a Nobel Laureate in chemistry going around the country talking about a terrible Christianity was and how it wasn't consistent was with science and discovered that he had the wrong perception of what the Bible was already teaching. So he wound up reading three of her books and gave his life to Jesus Christ. And you're mentioning Russia. I was there right at the very beginning of Perestroika and when I showed up there, they said, we're only going to let you talk to scientists. When I talked to these scientists, they were incredibly receptive, you know, 90 percent plus in some cases I would give their lives to Jesus Christ. I ask them, you know, can you explain to me why you were so receptive to the scientific messages of giving? They said, well, keep in mind that for decades we were forced to attend a two hour lecture every week on scientific atheism. And we just figured out, hey, they've got a lecturer as to this degree, there must be a God. So it was interesting how the Soviet to attempt to persuade scientists that there was no God backfired. So they said, you know, we knew there had to be a god. We didn't know what that God was and what it was all about when you told us. Yeah, that's something we've been looking for decades.
Brad Cooper: 28:22
That's amazing. And just for people who are listening, probably have heard some of these before, but what are the two or three things, if you're only going to learn what are the two or three things like hot issues that they really need to come up to speed on the Reasons to Believe.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 28:33
So I've seen a lot of atheist scholars become Christians. In consistently, It's the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of humanity, the design of the universe to make life possible, and the scientific accuracy of the first couple of chapters of Genesis that seems to have the biggest impact on persuading them to give their lives to Jesus Christ. To look at the leading atheists have become Christians, they typically name those, those evidence. So we got a whole book on each one.
Brad Cooper: 29:04
OK, great! We'll have people go to Reasons.org to go there and to check out the resources and we'll have links on on the podcast page as well. So part of the issues it seems likely that were in the challenges that we face had come from the outside, the media, the popular culture as you were saying. And as we were discussing, you know, just how easy we have it in America and the low level of education in science. There's a lot of external things that cause issues. We also, frankly though, have some internal issues within the Christian church as well. We have no, as you said earlier, we have no shortage of things to argue about, you know, from the early days of the disciples. But then we'll also, when it comes to some of these issues, uh, on faith and science and using some of these evidences that you've talked about to support ourselves, we've also, in my opinion at least, some of the tone of the conversation I haven't been real thrilled with. And I don't know if you found this as well or if it's just sort of me reading too much into it. But you know, in debates that we have internally, it seems like that that's counter-productive I would think to bringing more people to our faith if it seems like we don't have our own act together.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 30:03
I've actually used that as a piece of evidence that there has to be a God. Notice what the Bible teaches, there's this all good God that creates, that is all good God is opposed by a supernatural evil demons that are allied with them and when you look at the way Christians treat one another, it's not rational. I mean vicious is some of the language and the debates that a personally experiences like I don't get treated that way by atheists. It's only by people within the church and it's like this is evidence. Satan's that work dividing Christians against one another. And so I had been able to explain the non-Christian, what you're seeing here doesn't make rational sense. They said, no, it doesn't. There's gotta be something stirring the pot. And so it's actually a way to communicate to people. There is something supernatural going on. Cause you know, when I meet these Christians away from an audience, they're loving towards me but put them in front of an audience and when I present my views, you know, things change and that tells me something stimulating that. But I think it's important a Christians need to engage one another as well as people outside the Christian community. So as many debates I've done with atheists, I've done just as many debates with Christians disagree with me, but again, the key point is we need to debate one another in a compassionate way with gentleness and respect for regardless of how people treat me, I try to respond that way because what does the Bible tell us? They'll know you're my disciples because of the way you express love for one another. So I think that's the counter. I don't care if you disagree with me, but let's disagree in a charitable way. And what thrills me is, especially in the last year, we've been able to participate in several debate books where that demeanor has expressed with Christians set up sharp disagreements with one another. So we've been engaging theistic evolutionists, we've been engaging the intelligent design proponents as well as younger creationist. But yeah, I really am encouraged by the change in demeanor.
Brad Cooper: 31:54
That's good. I'm glad you're saying that and I've seen it as well. In most cases you'll have somebody from Bio Logos on as well. I hope I can, but in reading their materials, I know some of the engagements that you've had as well. Yes, we disagree or you disagree with them on certain issues, evolution and others, but I almost feel like it needs to be a recognition of who the real enemy is here. We're not enemies of each other. I mean just take a look at the news, you know, or turn on the television or see what kids are seeing on the Internet with the scientists were put forward and then as well, you know, the debates between Christians and atheists about these issues. I mean, isn't that where our attention should be?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 32:32
It is. What's interesting to me is Christians fight the most viciously over issues that have no bearing on the of salvation, but it's been like that since the first century. If you look at the book of Acts Chapter Fifteen, you've got Jews and Greeks who are Christians sharply divided over the circumcision issue. That's just no bearing on salvation, but look us the way they fought one another on it and every generation of Christianity set an issue like that and we do today as well.
Brad Cooper: 32:59
I just have to appreciate your talent and demeanor when I've seen you in these debates and you do is actually, as you're saying, is treating with the other folks with respect and love as we should within Christianity and I just hope others, and it sounds like you're seeing more of it and I'm glad, but you know there are there legitimate disagreements we had. Evolution seems to be the Big One, right? That seems somewhat get people wound up from a scientific standpoint. You don't see the scientific evidence for evolution, macro evolution and we have to define our terms mean how would you describe your view on that?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 33:30
Yeah, no I definitely take the position that life started simple, complex and we see a progression from simplicity to complexity. However, I don't attribute it to strictly natural causes. In fact, I've been in debates with the evolutionists at Bio Logos making the point. Once we understand the physics of the sun and the earth, we see why the fossil record shows us progression. It's crucial in order to sustain life from planet earth for 3.8 billion years because the sun is changing and so we seek God removing light from the earth, replacing light but new life in order to perfectly compensate for the changing physics for the sun, and it's actually something stated in scripture. It's in Psalm 104, a property of all life to die off, but God recreate and renews the face of the Earth and so a lot of what we're doing and Reasons to Believe is try to settle these controversies. Interdisciplinary Studies. So I tell my friends who are Christians and evolution as it's not enough to look at the fossil record or to look at population genetics. We need to be looking at Geo physics, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry. We need to integrate across all these disciplines to actually see what kind of intervention God has done through the record of nature. I find a lot of receptivity and we do that.
Brad Cooper: 34:38
I couldn't agree more and you know, again, even just from me talking on the podcast with scientists from different disciplines, you and I actually talked about this up at the ASA meeting when we were kind of chatting with each other is that it does seem like we've become so specialized in our sciences now that we have blinders on it. Yeah. It seems like we need even within the sciences, more cross-disciplinary work.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 34:59
Well I argue that we need that in theology as well because seminary theology professors are focused on just one or two books of the Bible.
Brad Cooper: 35:07
Yeah. There's so much you can gain and learn. And again, the two books are pretty big.
Dr. Hugh Ross: 35:14
Each book is big and we need to integrate the two books.
Brad Cooper: 35:16
That's right. You know, just, for young people out there, I'm Dr Ross, who are, you know, seeing these sort of discussions and they have questions. They do have an interest in science and they're thinking about maybe how has God calling me to use these gifts or this interest that I have. And what would you say to encourage them to, to pursue that calling, if that's something that they feel, uh, that they have interested in? What W, what kind of advice would you give them?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 35:39
Well, for one, it's something God wants him to do. So yeah, it's very much a God honoring profession to go into scientific research. So we here at Reasons to Believe really working hard to encourage young people to go in that direction just as much as I would encourage people to study the Bible. And it's also a great way to become equipped to become effective in bringing other people to faith in Christ. Now, what I've noticed in the Christian community, they're trying to raise up all these apologists, evangelists through studies of philosophy and theology, but to me the really ripe harvest field is in the scientific disciplines and we need to get a lot more Christians involved in that.
Brad Cooper: 36:17
One of the reasons I brought up the AMP Conferences, it seems like at least there's some of that material, seems to be integrating some of that into it. But are you being called in? I think you mentioned seminaries. I mean, where were some of the other places where there's more opportunity to do that?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 36:32
I'm an adjunct faculty member for different seminaries and yeah, that's encouraging because decades ago seminaries were saying we don't need science. We can do it all with theology and philosophy, but I think the challenge that they're getting from a secular atheist is basically alerting that the fact, no, we're going to make any headway. We've got to look at the book of nature as well as the book of scripture, so yeah, I've been encouraged us to open a seminaries are to that kind of a study.
Brad Cooper: 36:57
That's great. With reasons to believe over in the next two months to year and what do you have coming up this year?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 37:03
Well, in a few weeks ago, I got the fourth edition Creator and the Cosmos to because what's coming out. Then in the fall, I've got a book based on First Peter 3:15, if you will prepare good reasons for your hope in Jesus Christ, God will supernaturally send people to you to hear those reasons, and so I get into the theology that basically focusing the Book of Acts and several of the Epistles, but also load the book up with all kinds of stories of truly supernatural encounters that God brought about, not just some of my life, but the lives of many people associated with us here at Reasons to Believe, basically encouraging people. God's given us emission. It's really a very enjoyable mission. Don't miss out.
Brad Cooper: 37:42
Sounds like a great book!. Yeah, and I've heard that from you and others on our podcasts that you know that God has put lots of people in their lives, so that's great. That sounds like and what was the title of the new book again?
Dr. Hugh Ross: 37:42
Book will be titled, Always Be Ready.
Brad Cooper: 37:59
Always Be Ready. That's great! Love that one. And the Creator and the Cosmos. And then so we'll have links to these books on our podcast page as well and please do visit Reasons.org. Dr Hugh Ross. Thank you so much. It's been a blessing and I hope we have you on the show again. Like I said before, I could go on for hours and just appreciate listening to you and thank you for all that you do!
Dr. Hugh Ross: 38:15
You're very welcome.
Brad Cooper: 38:15
God bless. Uh, and we'll talk to you soon. Thank you for joining!
Dr. Hugh Ross: 38:15
You're welcome. This was fun!
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