Where Science and Faith Converge
  • Why Did God Kill the Hebrews Who Worshipped the Golden Calf?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Sep 25, 2020

    Question of the week: Why did God kill all those people described in the golden calf story in Exodus 32?

    My answer: This is a very good question. Misunderstandings about this text have led many to conclude that the God of the Bible is a contradictory God and, therefore, cannot exist. Others conclude that he is not a loving God and, hence, want nothing to do with him.

    As with any text of this nature, it is critical to interpret it in the larger context and to understand some of the translation difficulties. The story in Exodus 32 must be understood in the context of God calling Abraham to leave his country and settle in Canaan and from there to be God’s messenger to the peoples of the world. Canaan is where three continents come together. The location of Canaan at the juncture of the world’s great trading routes guaranteed that the nations of the world would be exposed to Abraham’s descendants and the message God had granted to them. The message included not only the words God had taught them to speak but also their demeanor, their godly behavior, and their moral standards. Deuteronomy 4:5–8 explains, for example, that God gave the Jewish community righteous laws and statutes. And through the Jews’ obedience to these laws and statutes and the wisdom and understanding they gained through their obedience, the nations surrounding Israel would hear and receive God’s message to them.

    Another important context is that the people who left Egypt with Moses to settle in the land of Canaan were not all blood descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Exodus 12:38 indicates that many non-Jews decided to become Jews and join the blood descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the exodus from Egypt. They joined because of their great respect for the God of Moses and the morality of Moses and his followers.

    Yet another important context is that the people who worshipped before the golden calf had personally and recently witnessed some of the greatest miracles God had ever performed before human beings. Yet, in spite of these awesome numerous miracles that they had recently experienced, after just forty days of Moses’s absence from them, they doubted both the existence of God and Moses. After all they had seen, experienced, and heard, their lack of faith shouts volumes about their spiritual condition.

    Finally, the words “revelry,” “out of control,” and “intent on evil” that are typical of most English translations describing the behavior of the people who were worshipping the golden calf do not do justice to the original Hebrew text. The golden calf worshippers were engaging in nonstop sexual orgies that would make even the most godless peoples and nations around them blush in horror at what they were hearing. Medically, it is well known that people who have sexual encounters with dozens of male and female strangers over short time periods will have compromised immune systems. Such behavior may explain the plague mentioned in Exodus 32:35.

    God’s actions in bringing death to the worst offenders of the golden calf worship were critical in restoring the mission and physical health God had bestowed upon the peoples of the exodus to take his message of redemption to all the peoples of the world. As Paul explains in Romans 1:18–32, people firmly committed to reprobate behavior are beyond the possibility of redemption from their evil. Such people in Romans 1:32 are described as malignantly evil. They not only are wholly dedicated to evil, but they are also committed to spreading their evil to as many other people as possible.

    God’s actions in Exodus 32 are akin to a surgeon removing a malignant tumor. The tumor is killed in order to prevent the rest of the body from dying. Similarly, before Christians became the “salt of the earth,” and in becoming salt prevented societal reprobation, there were a few instances where God had to intervene to “surgically remove” a group of reprobates in order to prevent the reprobation from spreading throughout the entire community. Note in Exodus 32 how quickly God sent Moses and Joshua down from Mt. Sinai to put a stop to the “revelry.”

  • Which Animals Are Nephesh Animals?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Sep 18, 2020

    Question of the week: What type of animals would not be nephesh species?

    My answer: Nephesh is a Hebrew word typically translated as “soulish animals.” Genesis 1 declares that God both makes and creates nephesh animals on creation day 5. The make verb (asa) implies that there is something about these animals (their physical bodies) that is not brand new. The create verb (bara) implies that there is something (the soulishness) about these animals that is brand new.

    Nephesh refers to animals God has endowed with mind, will, and emotions, and the capacity to emotionally bond with one another and with human beings. Nephesh animals form emotionally bonded family units where the parents engage in sacrificial behavior to care for their offspring. Humans can tame nephesh animals to serve and please people. They cannot do so with non-nephesh animals. All birds and mammals are part of the nephesh. A very few reptilian species—for example, crocodiles and alligators—are part of the nephesh. All other animals are not. As both Genesis and Job state, some nephesh creatures (for example, goats and sheep) are easy tame where other nephesh creatures (for example, hippopotami and crocodiles) are difficult to tame.

    blog__inline--domestication-human-exceptionalism-1

    blog__inline--domestication-human-exceptionalism-2

    blog__inline--domestication-human-exceptionalism-3

    blog__inline--domestication-human-exceptionalism-4

    blog__inline--domestication-human-exceptionalism-5

    I took the first four photos of nephesh animals in the mountains of British Columbia. The fifth I took in Tasmania.

  • Reasons to Believe’s Position on Process Structuralism

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Sep 11, 2020

    Question of the week: What is Reasons to Believe’s position on process structuralism?

    My answer: Process or biological structuralism is a school of biological evolutionary theory that holds that natural selection, mutations, and gene exchange inadequately explains the history of life. Biological structuralists argue that additional naturalistic processes are needed to complement natural selection, mutations, genetic drift, and gene exchange. Specifically, they assert that one or more natural physical forces shape and direct the development of the bodies of plants and animals. Typically, they claim that these physical forces play a more dominant role in shaping the history of life than do natural selection, mutations, genetic drift, and gene exchange. For example, Günter Wagner argued that physical forces constrain embryonic development. Stuart Kauffman and Michael Denton claimed that within the forces of physics lie as yet undiscovered self-organizing principles that impact biological development.

    blog__inline--reasons-to-believes-position-on-process-structuralism

    Figure: Proposed Naturalistic Process Evolution for Vertebrate Species
    Image credit: Petter Bockman, public domain

    Reasons to Believe’s position is that strictly natural processes (see figure) are inadequate to explain either the origin of life or the developmental history of life. While not denying the operation of natural processes, the RTB position is that multiple direct supernatural interventions by the God of the Bible are necessary to fully explain both the origin and history of life. RTB authors have written several books describing and documenting the extensive scientific evidence that establish the necessity for these supernatural interventions. While RTB sees and acknowledges evidence for natural selection, mutations, genetic drift, and gene exchange influencing the history of life, we have yet to see any credible scientific evidence for biological structuralism to play a significant role in life’s history. We also explain why the natural forces and self-organizing principles to which biological structuralists appeal would be impossible to remain hidden from the view of modern-day scientists. Relevant RTB resources include the following books: Origins of Life; Creating Life in the Lab; The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed.; Improbable Planet; More Than a Theory. Anyone can get free chapters of these books at reasons.org/ross and reasons.org/fuz. The books can be purchased at https://shop.reasons.org/category/format/books.

  • Was Jesus Really Dead for Three Days and Three Nights?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Aug 28, 2020

    Question of the week: How do you reconcile Jesus being in the grave three days and three nights with Jesus dying on the cross the day before the Sabbath and being raised from the dead the morning after the Sabbath?

    My answer: Jesus was crucified the day after he celebrated Passover with his disciples (Matthew 26:36–27:2, Mark 14:16, 32, 15:25, Luke 22:40–54). During Passover week there can be a second Sabbath. Leviticus 23:5 commands the Jews to celebrate the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month on their calendar and, for the seven days immediately after Passover, to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first day and the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are special Sabbaths, also known as High Sabbaths. Unlike the weekly Sabbaths that start every Friday evening and end the following Saturday evening, the High Sabbaths can fall on any day of the week. Therefore, if during the year that Jesus was crucified the day after Passover—the High Sabbath—fell on a Thursday, Jesus would have died on Wednesday and been raised from the dead on Sunday. That is, Jesus would have died just before the start of the High Sabbath and been raised from the dead just after the weekly Sabbath. Jesus would have been in the grave three days and three nights just like he had predicted he would (Matthew 12:40, Mark 10:34, Luke 18:33).

  • Will Astronomers Ever Find Life Elsewhere in the Solar System?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Aug 21, 2020

    Question of the week: Will astronomers ever find life elsewhere in the solar system?

    My answer: I have been on public record since the 1980s that it is simply a matter of time before planetary astronomers discover the remains of life on another solar system body besides Earth. The reason why is that meteoritic bombardment of Earth has exported Earth’s microbes throughout the solar system. For example, astronomers calculated that meteoritic bombardment has delivered an average of 20,000 kilograms of Earth soil to every 100 square kilometers of the Moon’s surface.1 For Mars, the calculated delivery is 200 kilograms per 100 square kilometers. For the upper atmosphere of Venus, it is approximately 1,000 kilograms per 100 square kilometers. For all other solar system bodies, besides the Sun, the delivery rate is less than a kilogram per 100 square kilometers.

    One ton of Earth soil contains about 100 quadrillion microbes. Given the 3.8-billion-year history of abundant microbial life on Earth, a lot of Earth’s life has been exported throughout the solar system. Given that Earth was bombarded much more heavily during the first billion years of life history than it is now, most of the life exported from Earth will be the first microbes that existed on Earth.

    Back in 2007 and 2009 I wrote two articles, “Why We Need to Go Back to the Moon,”2 and “Where to Look for Earth’s First Life.”3 In those articles I cited research demonstrating that previous to 3.5 billion years ago most of Earth’s microbes delivered to the Moon as a result of meteoritic impacts arrived via low-velocity, oblique-angle trajectories.4 Hence, there is an excellent chance that future lunar explorer missions could capture pristine fossils of Earth’s first life and determine who got the origin-of-life model right: the theists or nontheists. These fossils will never be found on Earth. Earth’s geological activity has destroyed them. However, the lack of geological activity on the Moon implies that the fossils of Earth’s first life will be there in an undisturbed state.

    I had the opportunity to speak to the astronomers and astronauts at NASA Houston shortly after I wrote my article in which I encouraged them to return to the Moon with a different mission—to find the fossils of Earth’s first life. I explained that public support for such a mission should be very high since 100 percent of the U.S. taxpayer base is either a theist or a nontheist.

    Will we ever find viable Earth life on other solar system bodies? I am convinced the answer is no with the possible exception of the upper clouds in Venus’s atmosphere. The conditions in interplanetary space and on other solar system bodies, besides Earth, are extremely hostile for the long-term viability of any Earth microbe. We could be lucky enough to find microbes from Earth on other solar system bodies that very recently arrived there in such a very brief time period (less than several years) that they are still viable. However, the probability of this happening is extremely remote.

    Will we ever find indigenous life on other solar system bodies? Here, I am even more confident that the answer must be no. I addressed the possibility of life originating on another solar system body besides Earth in the book Fazale Rana and I wrote, Origins of Life, chapters 14–16.4 In that book, I explain why it is not possible for life to originate and survive on any other solar system body besides Earth.

     

    Endnotes
    1. John C. Armstrong, Llyd E. Wells, and Guillermo Gonzales, “Rummaging through Earth’s Attic for Remains of Ancient Life,” Icarus 160, no. 1 (November 2002): 183–96, doi:10.1006/icar.2002.6957; John Armstrong, “Distribution of Impact Locations and Velocities of Earth Meteorites on the Moon,” Astrobiology 8, no. 2 (April 1, 2008): 306, doi:10.1089/ast.2008.1228.
    2. Hugh Ross, “Why We Need to Return to the Moon,” TNRTB (May 28, 2007), https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2007/05/28/why-we-need-to-return-to-the-moon.
    3. Hugh Ross, “Where to Look for Earth’s First Life,” NRTB E-ZINE (January 1, 2009), https://reasons.org/explore/publications/nrtb-e-zine/read/nrtb-e-zine/2009/01/01/where-to-look-for-earth’s-first-life.
    4. Ian A. Crawford et al., “On the Survivability of Detectability of Terrestrial Meteorites on the Moon,” Astrobiology 8, no. 2 (April 1, 2008): 242–52, doi:10.1089/ast.2007.0215.
    5. Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Origins of Life, 2nd ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2014), 183–208, https://shop.reasons.org/product/278/origins-of-life.
  • Is Life Possible in the Upper Clouds of Venus?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Aug 14, 2020

    Question of the Week: What are your thoughts on the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus?

    My Answer: The atmospheric pressure on Venus’s surface is 93 times greater than the atmospheric pressure on Earth’s surface. Venus’s atmosphere is composed of 96.5% carbon dioxide, 3.5% nitrogen, and trace amounts of sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, and hydrogen sulfide. This thick atmosphere of largely carbon dioxide explains why the surface temperature of Venus is 863° Fahrenheit (462° Centigrade), more than hot enough to melt lead. However, somewhere between 50 and 65 km above Venus’s surface, the atmospheric temperature and pressure roughly equal those of Earth’s surface. Consequently, this part of the upper atmosphere of Venus ranks as the most Earth-like environment of any region in the solar system beyond Earth. It is this “Earth-like” quality that has caused some to speculate that life might exist in this part of Venus’ upper atmosphere.

    I believe that if astronomers search diligently enough they will find the remains of microbial life 50­–65 km above the surface of Venus. I take this position not because I believe there is a possibility of indigenous life in the upper atmosphere of Venus. Rather, I hold this position because I believe it is inevitable that the remains of Earth life have been transported to Venus’s upper atmosphere by natural means.

    There is scientific evidence establishing that diatoms and other microorganisms are wafted up into Earth’s upper stratosphere and beyond 25–100 km above Earth’s surface.1 From there, passing dust particles will transport a few of these microorganisms to the upper atmosphere of Venus. Another transport route would be large meteoroids bombarding Earth with sufficient force to export Earth rocks and soil into interplanetary space. For example, astronomers have calculated that meteoroids have deposited about 20,000 kg of Earth material on average on every 100 square km of the Moon’s surface.2

    I believe that only the remains of Earth life, not viable Earth life, will be found in the upper atmosphere of Venus. Both the transport route from Earth to Venus and the upper atmosphere of Venus are hostile for even the hardiest of Earth’s microbes. Both the transport route and Venus’s upper atmosphere lack the resources to sustain microbial metabolism and offer no protection from deadly solar and cosmic radiation.

    Endnotes
    1. Alexa R. Van Eaton, Margaret A. Harper, and Colin J. N. Wilson, “High-Flying Diatoms: Widespread Dispersal of Microorganisms in an Explosive Volcanic Eruption,” Geology 41, no. 11 (November 2013): 1187–90, doi:10.1130/G24829.1; Milton Wainwright et al., “Isolation of a Diatom Frustule Fragment from the Lower Stratosphere (22–27 Km)-Evidence for a Cosmic Origin,” Journal of Cosmology 2013, volume 22 (August 9, 2013): 10183–10188.
    2. Hugh Ross, “Why We Need to Return to the Moon,” Today’s New Reason To Believe (blog), May 28, 2007, https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2007/05/28/why-we-need-to-return-to-the-moon.
  • How Old Was Jesus When He Died on the Cross?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Aug 07, 2020

    Question of the Week: How old do you think Jesus was when he died on the cross? I hear many say he was 33. Is that accurate?

    My Answer: No one has an accurate date for Jesus’s age when he died on the cross. However, an approximate age can be discerned from Old and New Testament texts.

    Jesus submitted himself to the Old Testament law, which states that one cannot serve in the temple, and by implication cannot serve as a teaching rabbi, until one has lived thirty years. See, for example, Numbers 4:3. In the New Testament Gospel of Luke we learn that Jesus was “about thirty years old” when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23). Many Bible scholars interpret the four Gospels as implying that the ministry of Jesus lasted three years. However, several scholars have pointed out that an easier way to make all four Gospels consistent in their chronology is to presume that the ministry of Jesus lasted four years.1 Therefore, Jesus would have been at least 33 years of age when he was crucified, likely 34, but not older than 36.

    Endnotes
    1. Johnston M. Cheney, The Life of Christ in Stereo: The Four Gospels Combined As One (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 1984).
  • Did God Or Evolution Create Plants on Creation Day 3?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jul 31, 2020

    Question of the week: In Genesis 1:11 when God brought forth the grass, herbs yielding seed, and the fruit trees, etc., why is the biblical Hebrew word for create, “bara,” not used here? I had thought God literally created these things, so why would “bara” not be used? Or does this leave it open that God may have used natural means to bring them about?

    My answer: The Hebrew nouns used in Genesis 1:11 are much more generic than the English nouns found in English translations. These more generic meanings should come as no surprise since, if one does not count the names of people, cities, and towns, modern English has thousands of more nouns than biblical Hebrew.

    Genesis 1:11 begins with “Let the land produce vegetation.” The biblical Hebrew word for vegetation, deshe, encompasses all photosynthetic life. Genesis 1:11 follows with four examples of the vegetation: zera, eseb, es, and peri. The definitions of these four Hebrew nouns are semen or the embryos of any vegetation species; photosynthetic plants; plants with stalks, cellulose, or wood; and fruit, that is, nourishment for the embryos or seeds. These four examples are not intended to be a complete list and they are not intended to be in any order of appearance.

    The Hebrew verb for produce in Genesis 1:11 is dasha. It means to sprout, shoot, or become green. The verb is sufficiently generic to include both natural and supernatural means of coming into existence. This breadth of definition is consistent with scientific evidence for the history of photosynthetic life on Earth. Natural process changes in Earth’s vegetation allow for a much broader range of adaptation than what is possible for animals. Nevertheless, natural process changes cannot explain the entire history of Earth’s photosynthetic life. Some supernatural interventions are required.

    Readers who want a more thorough answer to this question of the week with documentation and citations will find it in my book, Navigating Genesis.1 A free chapter is available at reasons.org/ross.

    blog__inline--did-god-or-evolution-create-plantsFeatured image: Artistic Rendition of the Devonian Period (public domain)

    Endnotes
    1. Hugh Ross, Navigating Genesis (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2014), 49–52, https://shop.reasons.org/product/279/navigating-genesis.
  • Did God Create Birds and Sea Mammals But Not Land Mammals?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jul 24, 2020

    Question of the week: Why is the Hebrew verb bara (for create) used in Genesis 1:21 when the Bible talks about God creating the sea creatures and birds but then not used in Genesis 1:25 where the Bible talks about God making the beasts of the earth, etc.? Since God created all the animals, why is bara not used in both Genesis 1:21 and Genesis 1:25?

    My answer: Bara is used exclusively in Genesis 1 for God creating something brand new that did not exist previously. It is used in Genesis 1:1 for God creating the physical universe. It is used in Genesis 1:21 for God creating the first sea mammals and the first birds. Birds and mammals are distinct from microbes, insects, fish, and amphibians in that they are not just physical creatures, but creatures that are both physical and soulish. They are soulish in that God endowed them with mind, will, and emotions and the capacity to relate to and serve and please higher life-forms, namely human beings.

    In Genesis 1, bara is used finally in Genesis 1:27 for God creating the first animals on Earth that are not just physical and soulish, like birds and other mammals, but also spiritual. These spiritual animals are human beings whom God endows with the capacity to discover, relate to, and to serve and please a higher Being, namely God himself.

    Bara is not used in Genesis 1:25 because the different kinds of land mammals described in Genesis 1:24–25 are not the first land mammals that God made. Rather, Genesis 1:24–25 describes three subcategories of land mammals, the subcategories that would prove crucial for enabling human beings to launch and sustain civilization. A much longer description of the features and roles in serving human beings for many of these animals is described in Job 38:39–39:30. God created the three subcategories of land mammals mentioned in Genesis 1:24–25 long after he created the first land mammals. Hence, the different kinds of land mammals described in Genesis 1:24–25 are not brand new.

    I provide a multi-chapter description and analysis of what God did during the six creation days of Genesis 1 in my book Navigating Genesis.1 A free chapter of that book is available to anyone at reasons.org/ross.

    Endnotes
    1. Hugh Ross, Navigating Genesis (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2014): 37–80, https://shop.reasons.org/product/279/navigating-genesis.
  • Examples of the Bible’s Predictive Power

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jul 17, 2020

    Question of the week: You have said that the Bible is unique in that it possesses predictive power. Can you give a couple of examples?

    My answer: There are hundreds of examples in the Bible where it predicts either future events in human affairs/civilization or it predicts future scientific discoveries. Most of these predictions have since been fulfilled. The Bible has never been proven wrong in its predictions.

    The Book of Daniel gives many specific predictions about the rise and fall of future empires. For example, Daniel 8 records a vision Daniel received while in Babylon during the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign. The recorded interpretation of the vision that Daniel receives states that an alliance of Media (base of the Medes) and Persia will establish an empire that will replace the Babylonian empire and become much larger. Later, a powerful king from the west, in Greece, will conquer the Median-Persian empire. However, at the height of his power his empire will be divided into four kingdoms. History reveals that these events were fulfilled exactly as predicted in the Book of Daniel. Skeptics of the Bible do not deny any of this but try to claim that Daniel was written in the fifth or sixth century AD and not during the sixth century BC reign of the Babylonian king, Belshazzar. However, the words and style of writing in Daniel 8 are the same as that of sixth century Babylonian literature and radically different from fifth or sixth century AD literature. Furthermore, portions of the Book of Daniel appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls and all of Daniel is present in the Septuagint, affirming that the Book of Daniel must predate the second century BC by several centuries.

    An example of the Bible correctly predicting future scientific discoveries are its repeated statements about the fundamental features of big bang cosmology. Different Bible authors state that the universe has a beginning, that it expands from its cosmic beginning, that the physical laws governing the universe have not changed, and that one of those laws is a pervasive law of ongoing decay. I and Old Testament scholar John Rea cite the Bible passages and provide an exposition of them in the context of the word definitions and grammar of the original languages in this article.1

    Another example of the Bible correctly predicting future scientific discoveries is the stated order and description of creation events in Genesis 1. I have written an entire book documenting the Bible’s predictive power in describing future scientific discoveries in the first few chapters of Genesis. That book is Navigating Genesis.2 Anyone can get a free chapter of the book at reasons.org/ross. I also have since written two blogs, here and here, describing new scientific discoveries that provide additional evidence for the Bible’s predictive success in describing future scientific discoveries.3

    Years ago, I debated the religion editor for Skeptic magazine, Tim Callahan, on the subject, Does the Bible Have Predictive Powers? You can listen to an unabridged recording of the debate here: https://shop.reasons.org/product/566/does-the-bible-have-predictive-powers-downloadable-mp3.

    Endnotes
    1. Hugh Ross and John Rea, “Big Bang—the Bible Taught It First!” Facts for Faith, quarter 3, 2000: 26–32, https://reasons.org/explore/publications/facts-for-faith/read/facts-for-faith/2000/07/01/big-bang-the-bible-taught-it-first!
    2. Hugh Ross, Navigating Genesis (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2014), https://shop.reasons.org/product/279/navigating-genesis.
    3. Hugh Ross, “Rapid Landmass Emergence Affirms Creation Day 3,” Today’s New Reason To Believe (blog), June 11, 2018, https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2018/06/11/rapid-landmass-emergence-affirms-creation-day-3; Hugh Ross, “Hazy Early Earth: More Affirmation of Creation Day 4,” Today’s New Reason To Believe (blog), June 18, 2018, https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2018/06/18/hazy-early-earth-more-affirmation-of-creation-day-4.
  • What Is the First Prophecy of the Coming of the Messiah in the Bible?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jul 10, 2020

    Question of the week: What is the first direct prophecy of the coming of the Messiah in the Bible?

    My answer: The first direct prophecy is by Moses in one of his last sermons. It is recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15–19:

    The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.

    That God will provide a Redeemer appears hundreds of years earlier in the oldest book in the Bible. Job declares to his three friends:

    • “I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin” (Job 14:14–17).
    • “Even now my witness is in heaven; my Advocate is on high. My Intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend” (Job 16:19–21).
    • “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me?” (Job 17:3)
    • “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25–27)

    Arguably the first direct prophecy to the coming of the Messiah came from God in the Garden of Eden when he spoke to Satan after Satan tempted Eve: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

  • How Do We Know the Bible Is 100% Accurate?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jul 03, 2020

    Question of the week: The Bible is a great book that has many important lessons in it but how can we be 100% certain that EVERYTHING in it is truly accurate and totally represents the Word of God? There could be parts of the Bible that don’t hold water. The only information in the Bible that I know of that came directly from God himself were the Ten Commandments as God wrote these on two stone tablets which he gave to Moses. The rest of the information in the Bible came from other people that God somehow allegedly communicated with. Also, the words that Jesus spoke were communicated to us via other people years after Jesus said them. The only other time when God may have communicated with us directly is when Jesus was baptized but I’m not certain.

    My answer: I have yet to find a provable error or contradiction in the Bible, except when Satan or humans are being quoted. That is certainly not the case for the other holy books that undergird the world’s predominant religions. Furthermore, the Bible has demonstrated unique predictive power. It predicted future historical events and future scientific discoveries specifically, frequently, and accurately. The Holy Spirit inspired the human Bible authors to write what God intended. 1 Peter 1:10–12 and 2 Peter 3:15–16 indicate that Bible authors understood that they were inspired by the Holy Spirit and longed to understand all that the Holy Spirit had inspired them to write. Jesus himself declared that the Scriptures were inerrant in John 10:35 when he said, “Scripture cannot be broken.” Years ago, I debated the religion editor for Skeptic magazine, Tim Callahan, on the subject, “Does the Bible Have Predictive Powers?” You can listen to a recording of the debate here: https://shop.reasons.org/product/566/does-the-bible-have-predictive-powers-downloadable-mp3.

  • How Can God Be Everywhere in Space When So Much of Space Is Already Occupied?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jun 26, 2020

    Question of the week: How can God be everywhere in space when parts of space are already occupied by other things?

    My answer: Several Old Testament passages declare that God indeed is omnipresent. He is everywhere in space and beyond. Perhaps the best-known passages are:

    • Jeremiah 23:24: “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and Earth?”
    • 1 Kings 8:27: “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you.”
    • Psalm 139:8–12: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

    Even though God is omnipresent, existing everywhere in space and time, he is “beyond our reach” (Job 37:23) and it is impossible for any human to see him (1 Timothy 6:16). God not only fills the entirety of space, he transcends space and time. He is the author of space and time. He existed and functioned before space and time (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2, Hebrews 11:3). As the Bible declares and the space-time theorems prove, he created the cosmic space-time dimensions.

    Referring to God the Father, John 4:24 states that “God is Spirit.” Since God is spirit, he cannot be constrained by space and time. Since God is spirit and, thus, capable of existing and operating without a body, he can be everywhere in space without in any way disturbing the parts of space that are already occupied by physical entities.

    Many religions teach that God is transcendent; that is, outside of the cosmic space-time dimensions. Other religions teach that God is immanent; that is, manifested everywhere in the material world. Christianity and Judaism stand alone among the world’s religions in teaching that God is simultaneously and always both. I explain this biblical paradox in chapters 7 and 8 of my book, Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd edition.1 Anyone can get a free chapter at reasons.org/ross.

    blog__inline--how-can-god-be-everywhere-in-spaceFigure: Doorway to Heaven?
    Image credit: Hugh Ross

    Endnotes
    1. Hugh Ross, Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2017): 65–80, https://shop.reasons.org/product/270/beyond-the-cosmos-3rd-edition.
  • Can God Work through a Stubborn Christian?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jun 19, 2020

    Question of the week: Can God still work through a Christian even if that Christian has many stubborn tendencies?

    My brief answer: The short answer is yes. A slightly longer answer is that since all Christians have at least some stubborn tendencies and God wants to work through all Christians, God will work through a Christian even if that Christian has glaring stubborn tendencies.

    My longer answer: Christians in their lives on Earth will experience God delivering them from many of their stubborn tendencies. However, it is a process, and complete deliverance will not occur in this life. Complete deliverance happens when we are glorified in the next life. That complete deliverance is described in 1 Corinthians 3:12–15.

    The process of our being delivered from consistently insisting on our way is for us to come to God to be “tamed” by him. In the last four chapters of the Book of Job God reminds Job and his friends that it takes a higher being to tame the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field. Likewise, he tells them it takes a higher Being to bring humility to a proud human heart.

    There are many biblical examples of God working through his human servants in spite of their stubborn ways. Two prominent examples are Abraham and Moses. Probably the most dramatic example is Jonah.

     

    God not only works through believers. He also works through unbelievers. God’s common grace is poured out upon all humans. Prominent biblical examples of God working in the lives of unbelievers despite their stubbornness are Xerxes (Esther 1) and Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).

    The posed question probably has in mind the degree of stubborn tendencies. Degree is certainly important. As the Bible repeatedly declares (for example James 4:6), God grants grace to the humble but resists the proud. One of the symptoms of pride is stubbornness. Therefore, if we want God to work through us more consistently, it is important that we do what we can to put aside our stubborn tendencies.

    Most of us are blind to our stubborn tendencies. Personally, I have found one of the more effective ways of dealing with my stubbornness is to ask the people who are closest to me to point them out. When I see them especially eager to point them out, then I know I have a big problem that needs immediate attention and correction! I also know it is a big enough problem that I will need God’s help.

  • Did King Nebuchadnezzar Become a Believer in Christ?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jun 12, 2020

    Question of the week: Did King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon become a believer in Jesus Christ?

    My brief answer: Referring to Jesus, Acts 4:12 declares, “Salvation is found in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” However, the second person of the triune God has many more names than Jesus. The Old Testament alone has over 80 different names for the Advocate-Redeemer-Messiah. These names refer to the different attributes of God. Romans 1:20 states that God’s attributes have been clearly revealed from what has been made (the natural realm) so that all people are without excuse. The question then is did Nebuchadnezzar come to believe in the Advocate-Redeemer-Messiah revealed in the Old Testament and the record of nature.

    The book of Daniel records one of the most dramatic conversion stories of all time. King Nebuchadnezzar went from being a man who demanded that everyone worship him as God to a man who submitted his life to the God of the Bible. Daniel 3:28–30 and 4:34–37 declare that King Nebuchadnezzar indeed became a believer and a follower of the God of the Bible.

    Since Daniel wrote about the Trinity (Daniel 9:24–27), we can presume that Nebuchadnezzar believed, at least in part, in the doctrine of the Trinity. Nebuchadnezzar also seemed to be a student of nature. As I explained in this article,1 science only makes sense if God is triune. As I explain in Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job,2 the record of nature reveals our need for an Advocate-Redeemer, the undeniable existence of such an Advocate-Redeemer, and the means by which we can receive redemption from our sin and evil.

    Endnotes
    1. Hugh Ross, “How to Persuade a Skeptic That God Must Be Triune,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), July 13, 2016, http://www.reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2016/07/13/how-to-persuade-a-skeptic-that-god-must-be-triune.
    2. Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 201–213, https://shop.reasons.org/product/273/hidden-treasures-in-the-book-of-job.
  • Why Does God Not Need a Cause?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jun 05, 2020

    Question of the week: Why does God not need a cause?

    My answer: I provide a comprehensive answer to this question in my book, Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd edition. My briefest answer to this question is that every entity constrained to a single time dimension where time cannot be reversed must have a cause and must be created. This limitation applies to the universe and to every component and body that is subject to the laws of physics and the cosmic space-time dimensions. However, the God of the Bible is in a different category. He is not subject to such a dimension of time. He created that dimension and all the cosmic space dimensions and he established the laws of physics.

    The space-time theorems and several Scripture passages establish that the cosmic Creator is capable of cause-and-effect operations independent of the universe’s time dimension. This property implies that the cosmic Creator, at a minimum, has the power to operate in the equivalent of two independent time dimensions. Using diagrams that I illustrate in Beyond the Cosmos (both in the book and in the DVD by the same title), I show how such a Creator would have no beginning, no ending, and no creation or cause. The Bible repeatedly declares that God has no beginning and no ending and that he is neither created or caused.

    Resource

  • What Is the Best Evidence for the Big Bang?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | May 22, 2020

    Question of the week: What is the strongest physical evidence for the big bang?

    My answer: I frequently get asked this question by people who lack formal education in physics and astronomy. I tell them that the strongest physical evidences for the big bang creation model are technical and need careful explanation for laypeople to understand and appreciate. I have provided those explanations with extensive documentation in my book, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th edition.1 I find, however, that most people who ask me this question are satisfied with me giving them one or two visual demonstrations that we must be living in a universe that has been continuously expanding from a big bang beginning.

    A big bang universe is one in which the universe starts off near infinitely hot and cools down from that initial hot state as the universe continues to expand throughout its history. Astronomers possess the tools to measure the present temperature of the radiation left over from the cosmic creation event and also the past temperatures at different look back times. (The look back time is the time it takes light to travel from a galaxy—in which the temperature of the radiation remaining from the cosmic creation event is measured—to the astronomer’s telescope.) Figure 1 shows the expected cooling curve of a big bang universe that is 13.8 billion years old overlapped with actual measurements astronomers have made of the present and past temperatures of the radiation left over from the cosmic creation event. The most accurate of the past measurements is the one in the middle of the cooling curve. This measurement fits the curve predicted by the big bang creation model to better than the thickness of the plotted curve.

    blog__inline--what-is-the-best-evidence-for-the-big-bang-1

    Figure 1: Evidence of Cooling from the Big Bang Creation Event
    Credit: Hugh Ross

    Hubble Space Telescope images of distant galaxies provide a different visual demonstration that we must be living in a universe that arose from a big bang creation event. The photo at left in figure 2 shows galaxies located 12 billion light years away, meaning that we are seeing them as they were 12 billion years ago. The photo at right in figure 2 shows galaxies 2 billion light years away, meaning that we are seeing them as they were 2 billion years ago. Both images have the same spatial scale. In the photo to the left galaxies are jammed so tightly together that it is common for them to tear spiral arms off from one other. In the photo at right, thanks to the expansion of the universe predicted by the big bang, galaxies have spread so far apart from one another that the ripping off of spiral arms is a relatively rare phenomenon.

    blog__inline--what-is-the-best-evidence-for-the-big-bang-2

    Figure 2: Galaxy Separations at Two Different Distances
    Image credits: NASA/ESA/ACS Science Team, N. Benitez and H. Ford (JHU), T. Broadhurst (Racah Institute of Physics, Hebrew University, M. Clampin and G Hartig (STScI), G. Illinworth (UCD/Lick Observatory)

    Laypeople seem especially impressed that we can actually watch the big bang phenomenon of the universe. These visual demonstrations typically motivate them to examine the even stronger physical evidences.

    Endnotes
    1. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018).
  • Impact of Satan’s Rebellion on the Very Good Creation

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | May 08, 2020

    Question of the week: If everything God created by the end of the sixth creation day was “very good,” does that mean that Satan had not yet rebelled against God? If Satan already was in a spiritually fallen state, where was he and what impact did he have on the environment where he was and upon our environment?

    My long answer is in two of my books: Why the Universe Is the Way It Is; Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd edition.

    Here is my highly abbreviated answer: The Bible tells us (Job 38:7) that the angels were witnesses to God laying down the foundations of Earth. So, the angels have existed for a lot longer than have we human beings. The Bible, however, is silent on exactly when Satan’s rebellion against God occurred. Clearly, Satan was in rebellion against God when he entered the Garden of Eden. However, his rebellion could have occurred much earlier, conceivably before God created the earth and even before God created the universe.

    While God does declare the present creation “very good” at the end of the sixth creation day, he does not declare it to be the ultimate, perfect creation. The new creation is the ultimate perfect creation where evil will not exist nor will there even be the possibility that it could ever exist in spite of the fact that all the angels and humans there fully retain their free-will capacities.

    The present creation is “very good” in that it is the best possible creation for God to conquer and eradicate evil and suffering while enhancing the free-will capabilities of humans who choose to accept God’s redemptive offer. It is the perfect creation for doing so. In the context of God’s purpose for creating and designing the universe the way he did it does not matter when or where before entering Eden Satan chose to rebel against God. In that context, the present creation remains “very good.”

    It is important to add that the physics and dimensions of the universe did not change either at the time and place of Satan’s rebellion or at the time and place of Adam’s rebellion. As Jeremiah 33 and Romans 8 make clear, the laws governing the heavens and earth have been and are fixed; that is, changeless. Astronomical measurements affirm that there has been no change in the laws of physics over the past 12 billion years. What changed was humanity: “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17). Because of the sinful state of humanity, the ground does not produce like it would if humans had remained sinless.

  • Is the Bible a Flat-Earth Book?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | May 01, 2020

    Question of the week: How can one refute the claim made by atheists, skeptics, and even some Christians that the Bible is a flat-earth book?

    My answer: First of all, the idea that the Bible promotes a flat-earth doctrine presupposes that people living 2–3 thousand years ago lacked the capacity to determine the true shape of Earth. That presupposition is incorrect. The fact that at different locations on Earth different stellar constellations are seen and they are seen at different orientations was sufficient to persuade ancient peoples that they were living on a spherical body. Aristotle writing in the 4th century BC cited this evidence as proof that Earth is spherical. However, documented mentions of a spherical Earth by Greek philosophers date back to the 6th century BC. Eratosthenes in the 3rd century BC used the sunlight lines at summer solstice in wells at different latitudes to determine the diameter of Earth to 1% precision. Both ancient Greek and Egyptian astronomers pointed to the semi-circular shadow of Earth on the Moon during lunar eclipses as evidence for the sphericity of Earth.

    The biblical texts most often cited in the claim that the Bible teaches a flat Earth are Job 38:5, 12-14, Isaiah 11:12, 40:22, and Revelation 7:1, 20:7. Of these passages, the most cited is Isaiah 40:22. The relevant part of Isaiah 40:22, referring to God, states, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.” Whether the “circle of the earth” refers to a human on Earth or God looking down on Earth from above, in both cases the phrase would be consistent with a spherically shaped Earth. It is worth noting that only a sphere always looks like a circle when seen from above.

    The Isaiah 11:12 and Revelation 7:1, 20:7 verses all refer to the “four corners of the earth.” However, even today, astronomers, physicists, and educated people around the world recognize and use the “four corners of the earth” as phenomenalogical language referring to the most distant parts of Earth from the standpoint of an observer at a specific location on Earth. It is clear from an examination of the context for all three of these passages that the most distant parts of Earth is the intent implied by the use of the idiom, the four corners of the earth. As the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament points out, the Hebrew word for “corners” used in Isaiah 11:12, kanap, in most of its appearances in the Old Testament is used figuratively.

    The passage in Job 38:5 referring to Earth states, “Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?” The inference made by those claiming that the Bible is a flat-earth book is that the “measuring line” is a straight line which would be suitable for measuring a flat disk but not a sphere. This is an overinterpretation. Lines can be straight or curved. Also, it is customary to measure the diameter of a sphere with a straightedge ruler.

    Job 38:12-14 refers to the dawn seizing “the edges [or ends] of the earth” and Earth taking “shape like clay under a seal.” What is interesting here is that for a spherical
    Earth the arrival of dawn first shows up at the most distant horizon, end, or edge of the point of view of a human at a fixed point upon Earth’s surface. The taking shape like clay under a seal would apply to either a disk or a sphere and may be saying more about Earth’s rotation or its manufacture than its actual shape.

    The irony of choosing Job 38:5, 12-14, Isaiah 11:12, 40:22, and Revelation 7:1, 20:7 to sustain the claim that the Bible is a flat-earth book is that these biblical texts better fit a spherical Earth than they do a flat Earth. While it would be an overinterpretation to conclude that these texts explicitly teach that Earth is a sphere, nowhere in the Bible do we find any text saying that Earth is flat. The Bible remains the only holy book for which we can say that it contains no provable errors or contradictions.

  • Where Is the Ark of the Covenant?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Apr 24, 2020

    Question of the week: Where is the ark of the covenant? Will it ever be recovered and used again?

    My very brief answer: Ask Indiana Jones.

    My slightly longer answer: The last time the ark of the covenant is described in the Bible as an existing object is in 2 Kings 23:21–23 and 2 Chronicles 35:1–6. In those texts, Judah’s King Josiah asks the Levites to return the ark of the covenant to the temple in Jerusalem. In this context, Jeremiah prophesies that the ark would soon cease to be a significant item of worship and implies that the ark would be destroyed and not remade. According to Jeremiah 3:16, “This is the Lord’s declaration—no one will say again, ‘The ark of the Lord’s covenant.’ It will never come to mind, and no one will remember or miss it. Another one will not be made.” This text is not saying that no one will ever again mention the ark of the covenant. Clearly, the context indicates that it was mentioned. Rather, this text is saying that never again will the ark of the covenant or a reconstruction of the ark of the covenant play a significant role in Jewish worship.

About Reasons to Believe

RTB's mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

Support Reasons to Believe

Your support helps more people find Christ through sharing how the latest scientific discoveries affirm our faith in the God of the Bible.

Donate Now

U.S. Mailing Address
818 S. Oak Park Rd.
Covina, CA 91724
  • P (855) 732-7667
  • P (626) 335-1480
  • Fax (626) 852-0178
Reasons to Believe logo

Reasons to Believe is a nonprofit organization designated as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)3 by the Internal Revenue Service. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Our tax ID is #33-0168048. All Transactions on our Web site are safe and secure.

Copyright 2020. Reasons to Believe. All rights reserved. Use of this website constitutes acceptance of our Privacy Policy.