An ISSUES Interview with Dr. Hugh Ross
Editor: Dr. Ross, as a scientist and as a seeker after truth, what would you want to tell our ISSUES readers about why you find the Bible to be a reliable source?
HR: There is much that I could say, but let me just deal with one area—fulfilled prophecy of the Bible. Before coming to accept the reliability of the Bible, I studied many of the holy writings of the different faiths—the Koran, the Hindu Vedas, etc. All holy books try to predict the future but the Bible is the only one that does it perfectly and does it so specifically. I began to calculate the odds that certain prophecies could be fulfilled coincidentally. Just going through a few dozen of them, I was able to demonstrate that the Bible is certainly far more reliable than our laws of physics. Since I trusted the laws of physics, rationally I had to trust the message of the Bible.
Editor: Could you give us an example of one of these messianic prophecies?
HR: Well, one that’s fairly easy to calculate is the prophecy in Micah that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. Bethlehem at that time had about 1,000 people. There were about five million Jews in the land of Israel. So, the odds of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, assuming that he would be a Jew (and I figured that there was one chance in two that he would be a Jew), but the chance that it would be Bethlehem would be one chance out of 5,000—taking 1,000 and dividing by 5 million. So, putting the two together, that’s one chance in 10,000 that that would be fulfilled as a coincidence.
But some are far more dramatic, like the prediction that the Messiah would be betrayed by a friend and sold for thirty pieces of silver, and those thirty pieces of silver would be used to buy a burial field for poor foreigners. Can you imagine all that being a coincidence?
You put a few of those prophecies and their fulfillments together and you realize you are dealing with something much more reliable than the second law of thermodynamics. (And the possibility of that being violated is one chance in 10 to the 80th power!) Since I trusted my life moment by moment to that second law, I realized that it was irrational for me not to trust the message of the Bible.
Editor: So did you come to believe in the Bible at that point?
HR: No. You see, I knew that it would take more of a commitment than I was ready to give. Also,, it meant that I would have to go public and I expected that I would receive a lot of ridicule. So for three months I did nothing. And God is a gentleman. He doesn’t force himself upon us. But it became very clear, in my reading of the Bible, that God was telling me that I did have the power to give my life to his control, but that the ball was in my court and it was going to take an act of humility on my part. So I said, Okay I’ll do it.”
But there is so much evidence, scientific as well as historical, for those who are open to believe in God.
Editor: What scientific evidence?
HR: Now that astronomers have measured the universe, we have a means for measuring the Creator. What I’m pointing out is that we are a unique generation. This is the first time in human history in which the universe has been measured.
Editor: What sort of things can you measure about the universe?
HR: We can measure how old it is, its size, the mass content, how fast it’s expanding, the constituent of the energy, how much heat energy is in the universe relative to work energy—those kinds of perimeters. And the power in that is that if you can measure the creation, that gives you a tool for describing the Creator. Astronomers, in the last two or three years, have been able to nail down very specifically some of the characteristics that must follow as a result of their scientific measurements.
For example, we can determine that God must be an independently transcendent being living apart and moving and operating in dimensions beyond length, width, height and time. That by itself establishes that the Bible is the unique word of God. Every other holy book violates that doctrine that God is independently transcendent. But we’ve been able to push on beyond that and establish that God must be a personal being.
Editor: How do you establish that God is a personal being based on measuring the universe?
HR: Well, what we’ve discovered is that as we measure a particular perimeter of the universe, it’s extremely sensitive to change. Make it ever so slightly larger or smaller and it becomes impossible for the universe at any time in its history to support life. So, we’re seeing that each of the perimeters of the universe is something that demonstrates exquisite design, and it takes a person to generate design. That’s the personality you can establish.
But you can even establish such characteristics as that God loves the human race and cares for the human race—that God is a loving being. Because what we recognize is that the total mass content of the universe is also very sensitive. That if you make the total mass of the universe slightly larger, the nuclear fusion process works too effectively and too rapidly all the mass of the universe is converted into heavy elements, heavier than iron. And you can’t make life in a universe that contains nothing but heavy elements—any kind of life.
On the other hand, if you make the universe slightly less massive, then the universe will remain forever nothing but hydrogen and helium. Again, life would be impossible.
In other words, there’s a good reason why there are a hundred, billion, trillion stars in the universe. It takes that many for life to be possible. But there’s a different perspective you can put on that.
God so loved the human race that he was prepared to construct 100 billion stars, and shape and craft those hundred, billion, trillion stars over the course of many billions of years so that at this brief moment in history we can have a pleasant place in which to live—namely planet Earth.
It takes that entire vast universe to have one planet Earth. So, how can we deny that our Creator loves and cares for us? For me, that was a complete turnaround from where I started at age seventeen when I thought that this universe was so vast that God could not possibly pay attention to us. Now what I realize is that this whole vast universe was built by God expressly for the purpose of giving us a home. So how can we deny God’s love and care for us?
Note: Hugh Ross has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of British Columbia and Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in astronomy from the University of Toronto. He was a top researcher on quasars and galaxies at the California Institute of Technology. His scientific articles have appeared in The Astronomical Journal and other scholarly periodicals.