Thursday, June 28, 2012

#339: Hugh Ross

Hugh Ross (not to be confused with Marcus Ross) is an astrophysicist and creationist Christian apologist. According to reliable sources he is Canadian-born, but at least he lives in California and is thus qualified for inclusion in our encyclopedia. He is president of “Reasons to Believe” (that’s Fuz Rana’s home organization as well) and may be related to the vice president of that organization, one Kathy Ross.

Hugh Ross has a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics, and appears to know what he is talking about – to his credit he has avidly criticized young earth creationists such as Russell Humphreys for their utterly delusional, ad hoc approaches to the distant starlightproblem. On the other hand, his own theologically inspired ramblings aren’t quite founded on science either.

His attempts to reconcile an old universe with a literal interpretation of Genesis itself engenders some ad hoc hypotheses (the Flood was local, day-age, and so on). Young earth creationist critics of course latches on to that like fleas, failing to realize that ad hoc hypotheses concerning religious beliefs are – for obvious reasons – more easily sustained than scientific ones.

Ross has even granted that Intelligent Design per today is not a scientific hypothesis and should not be taught in schools. Luckily, he does have his own “testable” version at hand. His view of testability is peculiar, by the way: He claims that “UFO's come from the Devil”, and points out that it can be tested as follows: “according to the Bible” demons only attack people who dip into the occult and make themsleves vulnerable. Hence, “[a]ll that is necessary to further prove the conclusions of demonic involvement […] is to continue surveying people to ascertain who has encounters with residual UFO's and who does not. If the demonic idenficiation of the RUFO phenomenon is correct, researchers should continue to observe a correlation between the degree of invitations in a person's life to demonic attacks (for example, participation in seances, Uija games, astrology, spiritualism, witchcraft, palm reading, and psychicreading) and the proximity of their residual UFO encounters.” (more here). If you fail to see the problems here, you don’t know enough about scientific methodology.

Ross, however, thinks there are reasons to wonder why scientists won’t test his hypothesis. Oh, of course we know: “One reason why research scientists and others may be reluctant to say that demons exist behind residual UFO's is because such an answer points too directly to a Christian interpretation of the problem.” Since scientists are atheists, they wouldn’t want to do that, would they? Seems that Ross has borrowed the UFO idea from Norm Geisler; our old friend Gary Bates also has something to say.

Ross claims that evolution is impossible in anything but bacteria. So how does Ross explain the transitional fossils for large animals? “God loves horses and whales. He knows because of their huge size and small populations that they will go extinct rapidly. When they do, he makes new ones.” That, apparently, is the testable hypothesis supposed to replace evolution. At least Martin Gaskell is a fan.

Worthwhile responses to Rusty Lopez’s strongly Ross-inspired “testable creation hypothesis” are here and here.

Diagnosis: The fact that Ross, by comparison to most young earth creationists, comes across as eminently reasonable should not be allowed to obscure the fact that he is a loon. It just tells you more about the profundity of young earth lunacy.

1 comment:

  1. The acumen of Hugh Ross and company is brilliantly on display here.