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Hugh Ross’s five best arguments from nature for the existence of God

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And some objections. Via Mark Tapscott at HillFaith, from Hugh Ross at Reason to Believe:

1. origin of space, time, matter, and energy

2. origin of life

3. human exceptionalism

4. fine-tuning of the universe, Earth, and Earth’s life to make possible the existence and redemption of billions of humans

5. Genesis 1’s predictive power to accurately describe, in chronological order, key events in Earth’s history leading to humans More.

Ross defends each one, for example,

Origin of the universe: All our observations of the present and past state of the universe are consistent with a cosmic creation event that occurred 13.8 billion years ago. Some examples include (1) maps of the cosmic microwave background radiation; (2) past cosmic temperature measures establishing the universe has cooled from a near infinitely hot, compact state; (3) observed spreading apart of galaxy clusters and galaxies; (4) measures of the cosmic expansion rates throughout the universe’s past history; (5) absence of black dwarf stars; (6) abundances of radioisotopes; (7) stellar burning time measurements; and (8) white dwarf cooling curves. Space-time theorems establish that a causal Agent beyond space and time created the universe.

But cosmologist Sean Carroll, a multiverse advocate, disagreed with this (by now old) argument in 2008:

According to Reasons to Believe, the chance of life arising on a planet within the observable universe is only 1 in 10^282 — or it would have been, if it weren’t for divine miracles. (Don’t tell them about there are 10^500 vacua in string theory, it would ruin everything.) They get this number by writing down a long list of criteria that are purportedly necessary for the existence of life (“star’s space velocity relative to Local Standard of Rest”; “molybdenum quantity in crust”; “mass distribution of Oort Cloud objects”), then they assign probabilities to each, and cheerfully multiply them together. To the non-crackpot eye, most have little if any connection to the existence of life, and let’s not even mention that many of these are highly non-independent quantities. (You cannot calculate the fraction of “Sean Carroll”s in the world by multiplying the fraction of “Sean”s by the fraction of “Carroll’s. As good Irish names, they are strongly correlated.) It’s the worst kind of flim-flam, because it tries to cover the stench of nonsense by squirting liberal doses of scientific-smelling perfume. If someone didn’t know anything about the science, and already believed in an active God who made the universe just for us, they could come away convinced that modern science had vindicated all of their beliefs. And that’s not something any of us should sit still for.

Hmmm. Given that Sean Carroll relies for his attack on Hugh Ross’s view on string theory, his argument may be in worse trouble than Ross’s.

See also: Do science and philosophy offer more relief from grief than religion does? Sometimes it becomes clear to people that there is either no meaning in life or the meaning lies beyond this life.


Post-modern physics: String theory gets over the need for evidence

20 Replies to “Hugh Ross’s five best arguments from nature for the existence of God

  1. 1 says:

    Not necessarily the best. And more importantly materialism/darwinism/atheism fail many more solid arguments. Here are just a few:
    Gradualism fails –
    Natural selection fails –
    Divergence of character fails –
    Speciation fails –
    DNA “essence of life” fails –
    Randomness fails –
    Abiogenesis fails –
    Science against Religion fails –
    etc., etc.
    And let’s test it again and make sure it fails again and again:

  2. 2

    Excellent post. Thanks, UD.

    Also, excellent additions,

  3. 3
    Latemarch says:

    I generally don’t have a problem with Hugh Ross’s first four arguments for the existence of God. I’d like to take exception to number 5.

    Ross has a strained reading of Genesis 1 that is required because of his old earth/theistic evolutionary presuppositions. Straight forward reading of the passage shows that God made (Hebrew qal) the sun and moon on day 4 not that they became visible on day 4. Also the sense of vs. 16 adds that He made the stars almost as an afterthought. “Oh yeah, while we’re at it lets make this place really big and beautiful.”

    As well a straight forward reading of Gen 1 with the statements of “evening and morning” pretty much demands 24 hour days not long ages. So what Hugh is trying to do with statement number 5 is convince with much hand waving and strained interpretation that the Bible agrees with his position when clearly it does not. (Read it yourself, it’s not hard)

    Here at UD those of us that are comfortable with ID have pretty much given up on Evolution. Random mutation and natural selection accomplish nothing. There are no millions of intermediate forms. Animals and plants adapt forming new species (however you want to define that) but stay generally within either genus or family boundaries. Once you look at it critically you see that it, in fact, explains nothing.

    I’d like to encourage you to look at the concept of an old earth the same way. Look at it critically. Does it have to be old? What if I am at least open to the possibility that it isn’t? Are there evidences that it is young? Come on….doesn’t the presence of soft tissue in dinosaur bones at least give you pause? There’s lots more if you will just look.

  4. 4
    daveS says:


    My “knowledge” of young-Earth vs. old-Earth issues derives almost solely from reading internet debates on the subject, so I obviously don’t claim any expertise.

    However, one theme I have observed is that if a YEC proponent is actually willing to specify at least approximate dates for events such as Creation Week, the Flood, and so forth, it becomes practically impossible to put together a coherent theory consistent with these dates, which accounts for observations from across the scientific disciplines. For this reason, I believe the days in which YEC is taken seriously are numbered. And in fact, perhaps they ended sometime in the 19th century.

  5. 5
    Silver Asiatic says:


    Come on….doesn’t the presence of soft tissue in dinosaur bones at least give you pause?

    It gives me pause. I’ve never seen a convincing response to those findings.

    Science works from the assumption that what we see today results from factors that have been constant and consistent always.

    There is no way to prove that. It’s an assumption. The speed at which the universe expands, for example – is assumed to be at a predictable rate.

  6. 6
    Latemarch says:


    Odd. That has not been my experience.
    I’ve been involved in the field since the early 70’s and have noticed that the number and caliber of people involved continues to increase. And increase across numerous scientific fields without the alleged conflict you describe.
    Of course if one only reads from skeptic sites one only has one side of the argument.

    To paraphrase Twain: Rumors of YEC’s imminent death would appear to be greatly exaggerated.

  7. 7
    daveS says:


    It’s certainly possible that you’re correct. Perhaps I’m engaging in wishful thinking. I know that YEC is going strong among members of my wife’s church, for example.

    Via Wikipedia, apparently researchers working in an old-Earth framework have settled on about 4.54 billion years (plus or minus 1%) for the age of the Earth, and about 13.799 billion years (plus or minus 0.15%) for the age of the universe.

    Are you willing to commit to some specific values for the ages of the Earth and of the universe?

  8. 8
    Latemarch says:


    7,000 K or so for the earth.
    14 B or so for the universe.

    Big fan of Humphrey’s Relativistic Cosmology
    I don’t assume that this is necessarily the final answer. There are other cosmologies with similar ideas that might turn out to be better. I’ll only add that since Einstein time is not a constant.

    That’s probably a little over technical. Here’s a more approachable explanation White Hole Cosmology

  9. 9
    daveS says:


    Thanks for the links. What do you make of evidence coming from tree rings, varves, and ice cores, which suggest dates much earlier than 7000 years ago?

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:


    What do you make of evidence coming from tree rings …

    I’m not familiar with this but are there tree rings indicating an age older than 7,000 years?

  11. 11
    daveS says:


    Yes, although there is no known single specimen which contains 7000 rings. The rings of two trees whose lifetimes overlap can sometimes be matched up, however, extending the known record. As a result, these trees can be dated to something over 10000 years BP I believe.

  12. 12
    Latemarch says:


    Here’s an article about tree rings.
    Multiple Ring Growth per Year in Bristlecone Pines

    Turns out there is lots of slop in the counting of tree rings.

    There are similar articles about Varves and Ice Cores. Same story.

    But lets move into an area a little more concrete. Carbon 14. Did you know that there is C-14 found in almost all geologic layers. It’s in fossils supposedly millions of years old. Often attributed to contamination but lets check out something that’s really hard to contaminate…diamond.
    Here’s an article in the scientific literature. Abstract only as the rest is behind Elseveir’s paywall. Use of natural diamonds to monitor 14C AMS instrument backgrounds Notice that even in diamond supposedly 100Ma there is radiocarbon indicating dates in the 64 to 80Ka range. I agree that’s not 7Ka but it certainly suggests that there is something radically wrong in the radio-dating of the earth.

    There’s lots more where that came from.

    Edited for clarity.

  13. 13
    daveS says:


    To your first point, if there is a lot of “slop” in tree ring, varve, and ice core measurements, it is interesting how closely they correlate with 14C abundance and each other, isn’t it? I suspect you’ve seen this image before.

    Regarding that paper by Taylor and Southon, it doesn’t look like the authors are concluding that there actually is C14 in the diamond itself. They are measuring machine background, correct?

    They say:

    To examine and monitor the level of machine background in the University of California, Irvine Keck Carbon Cycle AMS spectrometer [8], we have obtained a series of measurements on a set of natural diamonds. Because of their great geologic age, we view it as a reasonable assumption that these gem-carbon samples contain no measurable 14C and that their unique physical characteristics significantly reduce or eliminate exogenous contamination from more recent carbon sources. On this basis, we propose that we have eliminated the major sources of mass 14 ion with the exception of that contributed from various components of instrument or machine background signal and perhaps that contributed from the sample holder itself.

  14. 14
    daveS says:

    Correction: The image above doesn’t show any ice core data.

  15. 15
    Latemarch says:


    Notice the assumption.

    Because of their great geologic age, we view it as a reasonable assumption that these gem-carbon samples contain no measurable 14C….

    Yet they measure C14 then assume that it must be contamination. Would it ever occur to them that the problem of measurable C14 might be in the sample and not the machine?

  16. 16
    daveS says:

    Yes, they are making their assumptions clear. You’ll have to ask them whether they considered that the diamond actually might contain measurable C14.

    Keep in mind that the level they found is right about where you expect C14 dating to stop working due to background problems.

    Edit: Here’s a thread on reddit about this very issue. No guarantee of quality, but it looks like a couple posters at least know what they’re talking about.

  17. 17
    Latemarch says:

    Love the Reddit thread. Really. It does tell you about the problems of older machines. Yes they really do accumulate junk and then the background must be accounted for. All true. In fact there is a lot of finagling that goes into turning C14 levels into a reasonable date. Marine vs land, plant vs animal…even which hemisphere….but….

    The article I referenced is about setting up a brand new machine. These are some of its very first runs.

    My position doesn’t live or die on this data point. What I find is that there are a lot of anomalous facts that point to a young earth and young solar system (lots of geothermal activity in moons and dwarf planets that should have been frozen solid a billion years ago).

    I’m not going to try and continue to run through all the various arguments in all the various fields. I started out as an old earth, God directed evolution and after many years have arrived here. I think my view is at least plausible. Not so far out there that it should be dismissed out of hand. And as a scientist you should know that it’s a huge mistake to explain away or ignore odd data points.

    In the back of your mind you should always consider the possibility that you might be wrong. I know that I do.

  18. 18
    aarceng says:

    Latemarch @8
    “7,000 K or so for the earth.”

    Is that ~7 Million years?
    That’s too old for a YEC and too young for an Evolutionist.

  19. 19
    Latemarch says:


    Noticed that too late. Was going to write 7K then thought I’d just write it out but forgot to edit out the K.

    Ehh….maybe we should just consider it a random mutation in the message which we hope natural selection will delete.

  20. 20
    daveS says:


    In the back of your mind you should always consider the possibility that you might be wrong. I know that I do.

    Yes, I have to agree with this. Especially in cases such as this, where I have only a rudimentary understanding of the facts.

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