Tuesday, 22 April 2014

What Happens When Dr Hugh Ross Visits Your Church

We've just hosted Astronomer and Astrophysicist, Dr Hugh Ross, for a five day Easter campaign. Before he arrived, after we announced he was coming to Launceston, we became aware of the campaign of opposition to his visit. I only looked at a fraction of the emails which were put in circulation among my colleagues calling for a boycott of his visit. In these emails, and printed materials, Dr Ross was accused of being "a charlatan", "a tool of Satan", "an atheist pretending to be a Christian", "divisive", "heretical", who "distorted the Bible", promoted "secular" science over the Bible, and did not take the Bible "literally". In the week he actually arrived in Launceston, one 'ministry' website declared that Dr Ross was "racist" because "he teaches that Australian aboriginals are not human!

In every instance (and I did not have time to challenge every opponent) when I asked if these opponents if they had actually read a Hugh Ross book or attended one his talks, the answer was: no. This was extremely disturbing.

Our first meeting was a Business Breakfast which was nearly sold out two weeks before the event. For those familiar with events in Tasmania, this was extraordinary! In fact, we sadly had people turned away at the door of this first event because we were fully booked out. Dr Ross was questioned about how he understood the "days" of Genesis 1-2 and gave a reasoned response showing that the expression, 'evening and morning' occurs no-where else in Scripture (and is not applied to the seventh "day") and that the Hebrew word translated "day" ('yom') has four literal meanings - (i) 24 hours ("Last Tuesday was her birthday."); (ii) Daylight hours ("While it is day, we will work.");  (iii) Part of the day ("It took us all day to drive from Launceston to Hobart."); (iv) A long period of time ("Back in the Romans' day there was a lot of bloodshed."). Of note, Dr Ross pointed out that the Hebrew word for era, long time, is the same Hebrew word, "yom" (often translated in English as "day", but the same Hebrew word used Genesis 2:4 is used to describe the entire period of creation from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 1:26).

We held an Apologetics Seminar the same day as Business Breakfast which was nearly fully subscribed - quite remarkable for a mid-week, weekday event. One of the questions which came up during the seminar was about the physical laws such as gravity, the speed of light and the second law of thermodynamics.  Dr Ross stated that God created these laws to govern what He was creating. He cited Jeremiah 31:35 and 33:25 as straightforward examples of this Biblical claim. Thus, when someone attempted to persuade him that radio-metric dating techniques are unreliable, he simply pointed to the Scriptures to show that the Bible states it is designed by God to be reliable.

On Maundy Thursday we did a Radio Breakfast Show interview, where I pressed Dr Ross with some of the things that these anonymous emailers were accusing him of. One of the issues put to him was that he was interpretting the Bible with science - that is, despite the plain reading of the Biblical text only giving us thousands of years of existence, he was reading into the Text millions and billions of years. He responded by pointing out that the Bible does not give a date for the creation of the universe and the assumption of only thousands of years was built on a calculation of the genealogies which are known to be incomplete. He showed that the Hebrew expression, "father" was the same used to describe Grand-father, Great-Grand-father, Great Great-Grand-father and so on. [Listen]

We then filmed some interviews (keep an eye out for them on my YouTube Channel), had some private meetings, then did a sold-out Dinner meeting. Dr Ross showed that from the creation of the universe, the universe has expanded at an exquisitely fine-tuned rate. If it had expanded any slower, our universe would not have come into existence. If it had initially expanded any quicker, our universe would not have been formed. The margin of error for this expansion rate is so infinitesimally small that it is like driving then accelerating your car for a million kilometres at a speed/rate that must not waver to at least the 47th decimal place. 

Good Friday morning was held in our church at Legana and was full.

We then hired the largest hall in Launceston for our Good Friday evening service as part of the Launceston Easter Community Festival. Around 900 attended this meeting where Dr Hugh Ross gave the scientific evidences for the existence of the God of the Bible. He was quizzed on the law of decay (mentioned in Romans 8). He pointed out that this was a necessary component to God's good creation of the world. Dying, ageing, wearing-out, decay, running down, are all an essential part of life and without it life itself could not be. When a star, such as our Sun, gives off light, it is decaying. When we eat food, our stomach breaks down the food in order to draw the necessary nutrients for our bodies. We know that both of these aspects of decay were in play before the Fall of Man.

One of the comments from an attender was that Dr Ross had presented him with a problem. When I asked "How so?" He replied, "My vision of God was far too small - now I need a bigger one!" Another attender told me that they had previously been taught that science was corrupted because of the Fall and couldn't be trusted, but he could now see that this was utterly wrong and that God had decreed science to observe what He has done and to receive glory as we admire His works in the Book of Nature.

The night was made even more memorable by the presence of so many ministers of the churches of Launceston being in attendance. Bishop John Harrower even drove up from Hobart just to lend his support to the evening! While Dr Ross appealed to the head, I summed up his address and appealed to people's souls, Sonia Bowen and the assembled worship team appealed to the hearts of those present. This is partly why we referred to the Festival as a Festival of Art - Music - and, Thought.

Resurrection Sunday was full in the morning. This was quite a change in pace. Rather than have Dr Ross speak, I interviewed him. Because I knew Dr Ross, and some of the personal struggles he has had to overcome, I was able to draw these out in the interview. For many people this was the highlight of Dr Ross's ministry with us. People were particularly enthralled by his position on supernatural gifts and miracles.

Then Sunday night we nearly filled the Tailrace Centre. I interviewed Dr Ross so that people got a broad idea of where he was coming from, and then we took Q & A.  One of the questions, which was quite aggressive, related to the Old Testament genealogies and the ages of the fathers. Dr Ross attempted several times to answer the question without the freedom to do so by the listener. Here is some background information from Doug Ward about this issue-
Have you ever added up the numbers in the genealogies of Gen. 5 and 11 to compute the number of years from Adam to the Flood, and from the Flood to Abraham? I know that I have, at least a couple of times. I can remember my grandmother doing this sum on the back of an envelope when I was boy. She may have even assigned it to me as an exercise in arithmetic. 
If you have carried out this computation, you are certainly not alone. Bishop Usher's famous seventeenth-century estimate that Adam was created in 4004 B.C. was partially based upon it. The numbers are just sitting there, waiting to be added up. 
But is there any significance to the fact that the biblical text itself does not list the totals? The Bible does periodically give chronological information-e.g., Ex. 12:40 mentions that the Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years, I Kings 6:1 gives a figure of 480 years from the Exodus to the building of Solomon's temple, and Judges 11:26 states that 300 years elapsed between Israel's arrival in the Promised Land and the time of the judge Jephthah-but it is silent about the total time from Creation to the Flood and from the Flood to Abraham. 
The answer may be that the genealogies in Gen. 5 and 11 were not intended to give an unabridged record of the time before Abraham. In fact, an examination of other biblical genealogies reveals that these lists often skip generations. 

Some Examples of Omissions
A prime example is the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. When Matt. 1:8 mentions ``Joram begat Ozias''(KJV), three generations are omitted: Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:25), Joash (2 Kings 12:1), and Amaziah (I Kings 14:1). Later, in verse 11, Jehoiakim is left out (2 Kings 23:34). Here Matthew's purpose is not to give an exhaustive account of Jesus' ancestry; rather, he is establishing that Jesus was a descendant of David, as the Messiah was prophesied to be. The numerical equivalents of the Hebrew consonants in David's name add up to 14, and Matthew is emphasizing Jesus' Davidic ancestry by listing his genealogy in three groups of fourteen notable individuals (Matt. 1:17). 
Matthew gives an even more striking abridgment in the opening sentence of his genealogy: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.'' In [2], Walter Kaiser comments that if Matt. 1:1 were written in the style of Genesis 5, it might read something like,``And Abraham was 100 years old, and he begat David. And David was 40 years old, and he begat Jesus Christ.'' After all, Matthew 1 is intended to trace the messianic line, and Abraham was 100 when he begat Isaac, through whom this line continued on to David. Similarly, David was about 40 when Solomon, the next occupant of his throne, was born. 
Comparisons of other biblical genealogies reveal further omissions in a number of them, as Green documents in [1]. For instance, a comparison of Ezra 7:1-5 and I Chron. 6:3-14 shows that six names are left out in Ezra 7:3. Another example of apparent omissions occurs in Exodus 6:16-20, where four generations are given from Levi to Moses. There are several reasons to suspect that this account is condensed: 
(a) I Chron. 7:23-27 lists 11 generations (many more than four) between Levi's brother Joseph and Moses' successor Joshua. 
(b) Numbers 3:19,27 lists the total number of males in the Kohath clans at 8600 one year after the Exodus, including 2750 between the ages of 30and 50 (Num. 4:36). If there were only two generations from Kohath to the Exodus, then Kohath must have been very prolific indeed! 
(c) Kohath was born before the Israelites settled in Egypt (Gen. 46:11), so Kohath was at least 350 years older than Moses. There is room for many more than two generations in these 350 years. 
These examples and others suggest that the Gen. 5 and 11 may themselves contain omissions. The structure of the lists in Genesis also implies that the names could have been carefully chosen, as in Matthew 1. Both the Gen.5 and 11 lists include ten names, and each ends with a father having three sons. Enoch, the key name in the Gen. 5 list, is seventh in the list, paralleling Lamech, the seventh in the list of the generations of Cain's descendants (Gen. 4:17-19).  
But if the numbers in Gen. 5 and 11 are not meant to be added, why are they mentioned in the text? Green and Kaiser suggest that these numbers may be meant to show the effects of sin on the long lifespans that God apparently originally intended for man. Abraham's life of 175 years and Moses' life of 120 were significantly shorter than the lifespans of over 900 years recorded by Adam, Methusaleh, and Noah.

And more great articles at-

Lots of people contributed to making Dr Ross's visit to Launceston such a success. Without the efforts of several key people, this enormous event could not have happened. The feedback we received from seekers, struggling Christians, and non-Christians was incredibly encouraging. Many people stated that they now had good reasons to believe in the God of the Bible and to put their faith in Jesus Christ as Creator, Lord and Saviour.

Andrew Corbett


  1. So very encouraging. Thank you for sharing about Dr. Ross's visit there and how God used him (and all of you) to touch the hearts, minds, and souls of those in attendance. I had chills as I read this and was incredibly blessed. Blessings to you all as you follow Him.

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  3. Very exciting. I was going to fly down from Melbourne for it, but was already booked when I heard he was coming. The two pieces of feedback from people really give me heart. If people you Dr. Ross, you and I keep presenting science as a testable, unbiased way of examining Gods creation then hopefully we can break down this crazy idea that science and reason are somehow only for non-Christians.  Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Stuart. You're right. And this is why RTB's ministry is urgently needed in Australia, and vitally important that it is promoted here.

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  5. To all concerned readers, on April 25th 2014, I posted a comment (since deleted) about an alleged threat made against a university faculty member.
    My post named a science-faith ministry at whom the accusers had seemingly pointed their finger as being the ones responsible.
    To clarify, it firstly seems likely that the ministry concerned was not even the one being accused, (though that seemed to be so from the accusers’ comments), as it was not the organiser of the meeting in question.
    Secondly, neither I nor the RTB Chapter member who heard this allegation believed for a moment that the ministry concerned would do such a thing.

    I regret that upon reflection my post was worded in such a way as to imply that I believed that this unsubstantiated allegation was actually factual.
    I had no intention of impugning the ministry, which has already accepted my sincere apology, which I extend to any readers who also had concerns over my post.

  6. Dr. Ross is outtasight!

    Lovin' me some RTB over here! [Denver, Co.]