On the 23rd of June 2012, Premier Christian Radio broadcast the debate "Is there evidence for a cosmic creator?" on the Unbelievable radio show hosted by Justin Brierley.
The Theological combatants were:
|Dr Hugh Ross - Astrophysicist - Astronomer, Christian Apologist|
He has worked at Caltech, MIT, Yale, Fermi Labs, JPL
He is the founder of the "Reasons to Believe" Organization.
|Prof Lewis Wolpert - Cellular Biologist|
University College London
He is Vice President of the British Humanist Association
The debate was hosted by the Imperial College Christian Union and was moderated by Monya Zard of Imperial College.
Dr Hugh Ross opened with the claim that The Bible has 10 times more cosmology than all the other religion's holy books combined.
He presented an example of where the Bible clearly states the universe began from a Space/Time Singularity - "In the Beginning God created the heavens and the Earth." He goes on to explain that the Hebrew word for "Create" [bara] means: "to bring into existence that which did not exist before."
This is incorrect. The translation of [bara] can be: to Shape, Fashion, Create or Transform.
This is exactly what most bronze age cultures believed... that their particular God created everything. There is no mention of a Space/Time Singularity and there is no way this passage in the Bible predicts or describes (implicitly or explicitly) a Cosmic Singularity. In fact, if this is the standard of evidence required by a professional Astrophysicist then I propose that the story of Goldilocks predicts a singularity, Space/Time and the Holy Trinity with: "Once upon a time, there where three bears". Such an analogy my sound flippant but both interpretations are equally tenuous and contrived.
I would have liked to have asked Dr Ross for his scientific evidence as to why the first law of thermodynamics is not violated by his claim. Remembering that he is presenting Scientific evidence and not Supernatural evidence.
I let this pass, It is nothing more that the standard technique of re-interpreting scripture to match that which is known. Scripture supported a geocentric universe until science discovered we lived in a Heliocentric system. Now the same scripture supports a Heliocentric system.
He held up a document, the document was a scientific paper by Roger Penrose and Steven Hawking entitled "The singularities of gravitational collapse and cosmology."
Dr Ross read out the conclusion of the paper from the final paragraph:
"If mass exists in the universe and if general relativity reliably predicts the movement of bodies in the universe then space and time must be created by a causal agent who transcends space and time."
This is either a deliberate Lie or he has been fooled into believing a document modified by Creationists containing that paragraph.
But, he was holding the document and apparently quoting verbatim from the final paragraph.
The paper he is referring to is archived at the Royal Society and is available free of charge to the public. It can be downloaded from here:
I have studied the paper in it's entirety. The document does not contain the paragraph quoted by Dr Ross or make any conclusion even vaguely resembling his quote.
Read the concluding paragraph yourself and see if you can crowbar in an interpretation that in any way resembles the quotation.
If Dr Ross really had that paper in his hand and had read the final paragraph, he would know what he was saying was not true.
There are only 2 possibilities.
- Dr Ross deliberately and knowingly lied.
- Dr Ross was deceived into believing a fake Creationist version.
If the former then he has some serious explaining to do. If the latter then he is incompetent and does not bother to fact-check anything that agrees with his preconceived beliefs.
This is epitome of intellectual dishonesty. Dr Ross knew Prof Wolpert (A Biologist) would not have read that paper nor anyone else at the Christian Union. He knew Prof Wolpert could not rebut that quote because the quote does not exist and could not be verified during the debate.
Dr Ross claims the Bible shows us that God is the author of the 2nd Law of thermodynamics in the following verse:-
NIV Romans 8:21 - "that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God."Call me Mr Pedantic but everyone else I know interprets Romans 8 as an explanation of salvation from death if you live in accordance with the Spirit and do not follow a sinful nature which leads to death. It takes a major effort of self deception to interpret this passage as Gods promulgation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Why would Paul be writing to the Romans explaining the gift of salvation freely given to all... and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?
Things now go from bad to worse.
Dr Ross states that the Bible gives us a testable numeric entropy curve for the cooling of the universe. He displays a classic entropy curve supposedly predicted by the Bible overlaid with 13 data points representing temperatures measured by scientific observation. The Biblically predicted entropy curve precisely matches the curve measured by modern science.
During the Q&A period Dr Ross was asked to state where in the Bible this precise, quantified entropy curve was defined. Dr Ross attempted to sidestep this question, he evaded the question, tried to answer a different question and pretended not to understand the question even though it was re-phrased clearly and succinctly by the moderator.
I too would like to challenge Dr Ross' assertion that the Bible quantifies the temperature of the Universe over 14 Billion Years and that these Biblical Measurements correlate with modern scientific measurements. Dr Ross has gone to the effort of extracting enough of these measurements from the Bible to be able to plot an accurate entropy curve. It should be no problem for him to indicate which verses he used for his calculations.
Just when I thought Dr Ross' arguments had hit rock bottom... Things declined even further.
Dr Ross quotes 3 statements from a paper by 3 un-named Atheist Physicists entitled "Disturbing implications for a cosmological constant". The original paper can be downloaded from:
The 3 un-named Atheist Physicist are: L. Dyson , M. Kleban and L. Susskind of the Department of Physics at Stanford University.
The 3 quotes Dr Ross read from the paper are:-
"Arranging the universe as we think it's arranged, that is, governed by dark energy would have required a miracle."This statement does not appear anywhere in the paper. The closest I can find to this statement is in Ch6 p19 which discusses a hypothetical universe where the temperature of the CMB is 10 degrees K instead of 2.7 degrees K. The paper states that such a scenario would generate vastly more possible worlds but:
"In all of these worlds statistically miraculous (but not impossible) events would be necessary to assemble and preserve the fragile nuclei that would ordinarily be destroyed by the higher temperatures. However, although each of the corresponding histories is extremely unlikely, there are so many more of them than those that evolve without “miracles,” that they would vastly dominate the livable universes that would be created by Poincare recurrences."If the quotation does refer to this paragraph, Dr Ross has fabricated the quote, applied it to a hypothetical scenario and attributed it as a conclusion of the authors. This is a gross misrepresentation of the authors.
"An external agent, external to space and time, intervened in cosmic history for reasons of its own."This is a deliberate alteration to what was actually stated in the paper. The full text of the statement reads:
"Another possibility is an unknown agent intervened in the evolution, and for reasons of its own restarted the universe in the state of low entropy characterizing inflation. How-ever, even this does not rid the theory of the pesky recurrences."
- This is presented as a hypothetical.
- It does not mention an "External" agent.
- It does not say the hypothetical agent was "External to Space and Time".
- He fails to mention that this hypothetical scenario is rejected.
This is a complete fabrication and misrepresentation by Dr Ross or perhaps Dr Ross was again deceived by a fraudulent Creationist version of the paper and he failed to do any fact checking.... like actually read the original paper.
"the only reasonable conclusion is that we do not live in a world with a true cosmological constant."A minor point, Dr Ross omitted the first word of the conclusion: "Perhaps".
He also forgot to mention that the conclusion is given on the assumption that the scenarios discussed in the paper assume:
- There is a fundamental cosmological constant.
- We can apply the ideas of holography and complementarity to de Sitter space.
- The time evolution operator is unitary, so that phase space area is conserved.
Finally, Dr Ross argued earlier in his presentation that God created the universal constants and the laws of cosmology. He now cites a paper that speculates there is no cosmological constant.
Dr Ross claims he has studied all the major religions and they all get cosmology wrong and The Bible gets it all correct. He says that Islam states the stars are closer than the planets and that Christianity does not make this mistake.
I would like to see Dr Ross' professional opinion as an Astronomer regarding the orbital trajectory of the Star of Bethlehem which moved across the sky and then hovered over Bethlehem.
Also - Mark 13:25 - The stars will fall from the sky.
And - Revelation 6:13 - and the stars in the sky fell to earth.
I'm disappointed with Premier Christian Radio for practically making Dr Ross their poster boy on the DVD for this lecture/debate series, even titling the DVD "Reasons to Believe" after Dr Ross' Mission. At very best this debate was technically and intellectually questionable at worst, it was a showcase for dishonest debate tactics, fabricated facts and misrepresentation.
If you have a claim for Truth, that Truth will stand firm on it's own merit. Truth relishes scrutiny and examination because honest scrutiny can only make Truth stronger. If you have to resort to lies and misrepresentation to promote your claim of Truth, you don't have Truth, you only have an empty claim.
When Truth becomes inconvenient and optional for a belief, it gives me Fewer Reasons to Believe.
The Ross/Wopert Debate - Is there evidence for a cosmic creator?
Premier Christian Radio - Unbelievable