Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hugh Ross names the designer

Hugh Ross of is a personal hero of mine.

If you don’t know Ross, he is a Christian, an Astronomer, and an Old Earth Creationist (OEC) who has been a champion of fine-tuning-as-evidence-for-design for twenty years—and that makes him a pioneer in the field.

Ross has done so much leg work that the debt the OEC community owes him could never be repaid. There is hardly a criticism, biblical or scientific, that can be brought to bear on OEC that Ross has not anticipated, addressed, and documented in one of his books or on his web site. He has rescued me on many occasions. If you ever ask me a tough fine-tuning or OEC question and I respond “Um, I’ll get back to you on that,” I am probably turning to Ross for the answer.

When I started blogging and speaking on fine-tuning and OEC, I was mentally prepared to be called a heretic. Why? Because I already knew that Ross had been called a heretic by people like Ken Hovind. Without Ross blazing the trail—well I might have fallen over the first time someone called me a heretic for denying six day creation, ~104 years ago.

Interestingly though, there are strained relations between Ross and the high profile ID community. There have been complaints about Ross distancing himself from the famous IDers—and refusing to call himself and IDer or to identify his work as ID.

Although I am a much, much smaller player than Ross, I too am not completely at-ease with mainstream ID. It is not that I disagree with the work being done. And thankfully I have made some very good friends in the community. No, my slight self-distancing from mainstream ID stems from two philosophical deviations. The first, which will seem like the more important, really isn’t: I don’t think ID is science. I have said so since I have been writing on this subject. Some IDers actually agree, but most, I would say, firmly believe that ID, as it stands now, is science. As ID develops, I hope there will come a time when I can join them.

The second and by far the more important reason is this: I have never been comfortable with mainstream ID’s refusal to identify the designer. I understand why there is a reluctance to name names, but I never agreed with the position. To me, ID goes hand in hand with the creation account of the bible. To me the appeal of ID is the application of science to general revelation. For me, ID without God as the designer makes no sense and has no draw. I not only want to show evidence for design, I want to tie that evidence to scripture and demonstrate how science is biblically consistent and even explain that scientific research is ordained by God.

ID is the best way I know of to show my brothers and sisters in Christ that they can embrace science rather than fear it. Evolution has made many Christians hate science—and hating the study of God's creation is very bad theology. I don’t want to stay quiet about who the designer is, I want to shout it from the mountaintops.

Which brings me back to Ross. I get quasi-daily “reasons to believe” updates from his site—usually reports on current academic research. They are marvelous, understandable synopses of peer-reviewed papers showing how the result supports fine-tuning and/or design (usually without the researcher knowing it!)

The only flaw is that since I started getting these reports I rarely visit Ross’s site.

Fortunately I decided to hit it today.

On the front page, Ross holds out something of an olive branch to the mainstream ID community in the form of this essay.

Ross details his friendly disagreement with the ID community. To my delight and amazement, it’s the same as mine. He objects to their reluctance to name the designer as the God of the bible.

In his conclusion, Ross, like a laser beam, zeroes in on the truth:
Herein lies an opportunity to exemplify the freedom that exists in Christ. Truth holds no threat for the Christian. Truth in the scientific arena, which can be directly or indirectly tested, will always be consistent with truth in the spiritual arena. And, despite protestations from all sides, truth in nature must be connected with something, or Someone, beyond the natural realm—the something or Someone responsible for nature’s existence and characteristics.

The most important feature of the creation model approach is that it challenges spiritual vagueness and subjectivism head on. It demonstrates, as well as defends, the legitimacy of biblical authority and the truth-claims of Jesus Christ. The bottom line for me and for my colleagues at RTB is this: truth always points the truth-seeker to its Source, the one person in history who could make and back up the claim, “I am the truth.” That’s what makes science so fun and fascinating.
Thank you, once again, Dr. Ross.

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