Review of “The Creator And The Cosmos, 4th Edition” by Hugh Ross
When I switched from young earth creationism to old earth creationism in 2003, one of the first things I read was The Creator And The Cosmos, 3rd Edition. It really helped shape my thinking and dramatically boosted my confidence that the God of the Bible really is the Creator. Published in 2001, though, it is now somewhat outdated. Not as in wrong, but just that the evidence that has accumulated since then has expanded the case exponentially.
So I was thrilled when I heard that a 4th Edition was coming out, and even more so that I was selected to receive an early review copy. It did not disappoint. Some chapters are almost completely new, others have major updates, others have minor touch-ups.
But I assume you haven’t read the book at all yet so I’ll get into what you will find. It starts with short chapters on what the night sky can help us with the big questions of life, and the personal testimony of Dr. Ross. His testimony is quite amazing, having been fascinated by stars from an extremely young age, to being convinced that a Creator God must exist from science alone, and finally landing on the Bible as God’s revelation after an exhaustive search through all the world’s holy books.
Chapter 3 makes the case that the Bible uniquely describes Big Bang cosmology, 2500 years before scientists had a clue. He notes that there are three aspects of Big Bang cosmology: the universe’s creation from nothing (a singularity), continual cosmic expansion of space, and its continual decay. I think the Biblical support of the first two are highly compelling, but as for his support for decay, I see where he’s coming from but also feel that there are perhaps more theologically significant points to the cited verses.
The next three chapters are about significant findings of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century discoveries that augment the scientific case for the Big Bang. Everything from cosmic microwave background radiation to dark energy to abundance of various elements to galaxy behavior show that Big Bang cosmology is verified time and again, beyond any reasonable doubt. How much you’ll get out of these chapters depends on your effort to understand it, as it does go over quite a bit of science. If you’re a layperson at science, some of it might be slightly difficult reading. However, I think you can go somewhat quickly through it and still get his point if you’re not too interested in details.
Some (but not all) later chapters continue in this vein. We learn about the paradigm shift from an eternal static universe (what nontheistic scientists had been assuming) to the Big Bang and its theistic implications (and the pushback it received and still does receive from those who don’t like the implications). We see why an endlessly “bouncy” universe of Big Bangs/Big Crunches can not work. We get into general relativity and how it shows that time itself had a beginning.
In a departure from pure science, we see some thinking as to how the extra dimensions that physics has discovered can help reconcile some of the supposed difficulties of belief in the Christian God, and see how He can both transcend the universe and be near to each of us. Dr. Ross truly has an amazing mind for this kind of thing. It might give theologians fodder for debate, but I don’t think his point is to tell us exactly how things are, but rather that there exist reasonable solutions.
Later in the book we come to evidences of fine-tuning, which is one of Dr. Ross’ signature talking points. He notes that the number of fine-tuned aspects of the universe has risen from 35 (in the 3rd Edition) to 140 at last count. The numbers continue to get more and more difficult from a naturalist perspective. Similar for the number of fine-tuned features of a planet where advanced life can live. Many of these are listed in appendices. He amusingly goes through some alternate attempts to explain this fine-tuning.
Each chapter has discussion questions. Most of them are not too deep and are relatively easily answered if you understand the chapter contents, but they could spring other good discussion in the right context.
Overall, this book gives the reader a wonderful look at the power, intelligence, and love of our God. It will probably blow your mind at just how much He went through to prepare a temporary home for humanity. In that sense it would be great for any Christian interested in science. But of course his real desire is to reach skeptics. If you are an atheist and read this book and come away still being convinced of atheism, I think that would be a remarkable feat. Why not give it a try?
Disclaimer: I am a member of the Reasons To Believe volunteer apologist community and am a leader in the San Antonio chapter.