The Journey of a Skeptic, Step 4, Dr. Hugh Ross and the Day-Age View of Creation:

A pastor suggested that I examine the writings of Dr. Hugh Ross.  He also suggested that I examine the Framework Interpretation of creation.  This post will cover Dr. Ross and his Reasons to Believe ministry.  The following post will deal with the Framework Interpretation.

Dr. Ross (b. 1945) founded the Reasons to Believe ministry in 1986.  He is an astronomer and the current chief spokesperson for the Day-Age view of creation.  The Day-Age view is sometimes called “Progressive creationism” and “Old Earth Creationism.”   The Day-Age view originated in the 1830’s.  It was an attempt to reconcile the Bible to the long ages of uniformitarian geology.  The Day-Age View is termed a “Concordant View” because effort is made minimize reinterpretation of the Bible to match the positions of the scientific consensus (1).  The Day-Age View was once popular in conservative Christian circles and it is listed as an acceptable view of creation in the PCA Report (2).

The Genesis Question – By Dr. Hugh Ross

In his book, The Genesis Question (1989, Nav Press) Dr. Ross basically restates the Day-Age View in contemporary terms including an emphasis on “Big Bang” cosmology.  The Day-Age view considers the days listed in Genesis 1 to be indefinite periods of time.  Like the Traditional View, The Day-Age View considers Adam and Eve to be real historical people who were God’s special creation rather than a result of evolution. The Genesis Question is an interesting book because covers the first 11 chapters of Genesis to provide a complete chronology of event from creation to the times of the patriarchs.  These chapters include the Biblical accounts of creation, marriage, sin, the Flood, and the table of nations. 

Dr. Ross’s theorizes that the Genesis Flood to be a local event within the Tigress-Euphrates drainage basin.  He states this was “global” in extent since it eliminated all human and animal life except for those on the ark. My questions concerning Dr. Ross’ version of the Genesis Flood include:

  • Why would all live only in the Tigress-Euphrates drainage basin?
  • What depth and extent of flooding could be generated from rainfall and groundwater available for the Genesis Flood in the Tigress-Euphrates drainage basin using available hydrology, hydraulic, and groundwater modeling tools?
  • How could all the ground water in the rocks of the Tigress-Euphrates drainage basin be suddenly released “… by certain well-timed geologic events.” Just what were these “…these geologic events”? And how could the liberated ground water return to the sedimentary rocks after the flood?
  • How could the flood waters of the local flood drain remain in place for about a year without draining into the Persian Gulf?  Could this be documented using available hydraulic modeling tools?

As a result of my education and experience in hydrology, geology, ground water hydrology and hydraulics, I was unimpressed with Dr. Ross’ local food theory. The Genesis Question gave me an introduction to the tone of the contemporary creation discussion and the techniques used by those who oppose the church’s Traditional View of creation.

Dr. Ross’s book Creation and Time (Nav Press 1984) shows just how harsh and bitter this opposition to the Traditional View of creation can be.  In Creation and Time, Dr. Ross basically argues that teaching the Traditional View of creation hinders evangelism, and this “stumbling block” needs to be removed.   Dr. Ross’ tone is that of an attorney making closing arguments in a high-profile case.  As might be expected with an attorney making closing arguments, some facts are ignored, other facts are distorted and misrepresented, opponents are accused of wrongdoing, and the destruction of the opponent’s position is sought.

Dr. Ross begins his arguments with his version of the history of the creation discussion.  He distorts the position of the early church on creation and the flood.  He also ignores the position of the reformers.  He blames the “Young Earth Creationists” for providing faulty scientific evidence to support the church’s Traditional View of creation.  Those who want a reliable history of the creation discussion may find it in the “PCA Report (2).

Dr. Ross then provides his Biblical and theological arguments for long creation days.  He goes on to argue that long creation days do not imply evolution or affect faith or morality.  Dr. Ross then uses a series of “straw man” arguments to discredit the work of scientists who support the church’s Traditional View of creation.

Dr. Ross spends some time commenting on the work of the International Conference on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI).  At the 1982 summit, the IBCI took a position that adherence to the church’s Traditional View of creation was a non-essential to the inerrancy of Scripture.  Thus, today advocates for any view of creation may claim that they believe in the “inerrancy” of Scripture.  However, the work of the ICBI 1982 summit did not go far enough for Dr. Ross. He concludes his book with a call for Christians to come together to form a consensus that would result in the elimination of the church’s Traditional View of creation.

Dr. Ross does not believe in evolution.  His reasons for this include: 1) the transition from inorganic chemicals to life is impossible; 2) evolution by natural section does work, and 3) evolution through mutations does not work.  Dr. Ross considers the creation of Adam and Eve to be God’s special work in a time range of 6,000 to 60,000 years ago (page 140 of Creation and Time).  Dr. Ross has provided arguments for the “fine tuning “of the universe.  This “fine tuning” points to a creator rather than chance.  These positions are outside the scientific consensus (1) as well as the consensus of Christians who believe in theistic evolution.

The Day-Age View of creation was once widely accepted and popular.  However, today this view is in decline.  In terms of the creation discussion Dr. Ross and the Reasons to Believe ministry occupy a limited and shrinking middle ground between the church’s Traditional View of creation and theistic evolution.

I had issues with a lot of other aspects of both the content and tone of the Genesis Question and Creation and Time.  However, I will not comment on these here. Dr. Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International has done that very well in his excellent book, Refuting Compromise – A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of “Progressive Creationism” Billions of Years) As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross” (Refuting Compromise).

  1. Scientific Consensus – In basic terms, the scientific consensus is an official position of the scientific community as it relates to a subject.  Most within the scientific community are in general agreement with this consensus.  However, this consensus is not unanimous. Presently, the scientific consensus supports the naturalism, the “Big Bang”, uniformitarianism, and evolution.   The scientific consensus on a subject can change; however, any change in the scientific consensus is slow and deliberate. The scientific consensus is based on a presupposition of naturalism.  Thus, any view of creation that considers God is considered unscientific.
  2. The Report of the Creation Study Committee (PCA Report) was presented to the 28th General Assembly (2001) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). 

Next, we will look at the Framework View of creation. 

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