Today I was asked about my views on the work of Christian apologist Hugh Ross. While there is much I appreciate about Dr. Ross’s work and ministry, I also have some significant concerns. Some of those concerns are summarized in some comments Dr. Ross made a few years ago when I heard him speak here in Edmonton. At the end of his talk he pointed the audience to his website http://www.reasons.org/. He then promised the audience that if any scientific evidence becomes public which supports Christianity, it will be on their website within eight hours. (While I have the time period of “eight hours” in my memory, it is possible I am mistaken and it was really 10 or 12 hours, but I do know he promised it would be within the day.)
This raised two concerns for me.
First, can the theological significance of some scientific data really be appraised within a matter of hours? On my shelf I have a book called Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature. It is a collection of interdisciplinary essays written by philosophers, theologians and physicists and jointly published by Vatican Observatory Publications and The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley, California. In the book the essayists wrestle with a number of questions including this one: is t=0 (the moment of the Big Bang) equivalent to the moment of creation described in Genesis 1? What is striking about the discussions is that the essayists are very careful about making overly simplistic leaps, for they recognize the complexity with interpreting ancient Hebrew texts and bringing those texts into live discussion with the ever changing frontier of scientific advance. Contrast this with the promise that in a matter of hours a smattering of professional apologists will render a judgment as to the theological relevance of scientific data and you can hopefully appreciate my skepticism.
Second, Dr. Ross’s comment was a blushing demonstration of the confirmation bias unadorned. Assuming that he and his fellow apologists do interpret scientific data with the appropriate theological acumen, why do they only post the data that supports Christianity? What about the data that might not seem to support Christianity?
These two reasons summarize two big concerns I have with Dr. Ross’s ministry.