But what was going on before the beginning, before 24-hour days were established? According to Hugh Ross, quite a bit for quite a long time.
Time is a relatively new concept (an aside)
John 1:1-3 declares boldly and clearly that, “(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (ESV).
Without a doubt, God, through Christ, created everything. Including time.
Whether or not you believe that the earth and all it contains was created during six literal 24-hour days followed by a one day break, or that the “days” are figurative periods of varying time, time did not exist previously.
Time is a God-given construct for the benefit of His creation. God always was, always is, and always will be -- a sort of eternal now -- all above or outside of time, however you wish to think about it.
When someone refers to billions or millions of years, in a sense they are trying to quantify timelessness and interpret it in a manner we finite humans can comprehend.
We are not an accident
Which brings us back to Dr. Hugh Ross and his new book, Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity’s Home (Baker Books).
In a nutshell, Ross explains how over billions and billions of years the entire universe was put in place, layer by layer, specifically to create the possibility of life on earth. He goes on to explain that right now we are in a “window” of 10,000 years where everything’s just right for life. For now.
Variations of the phrase “just right” occur frequently through the book as Ross carefully lays out the scientific evidence for the perfect balance of all that is that allows all that is to be.
He says, “Earth’s preserved record of past and physical biological events reveals an unanticipated synergy. While scientists expected the Earth’s physical history would play a role in determining life’s history, it was a surprise for them to recently discover that for the physical history of Earth to be the way it is, certain kinds and quantities of life must exist in just-right locations at just-right times.”
He states further that “Spirit-possessing life cannot survive without all the other different kinds of life simultaneously thriving on Earth, and it demands an extremely fine-tuned physical environment.”
But not only must conditions be just-right on earth, but also all around the earth in space, throughout our galaxy and even the entire universe. Kind of like a really big Jenga puzzle where every block is needed and must be exactly where it is or everything comes crashing down. However, unlike assembling a Jenga puzzle, in creation while some elements came into place sequentially, many others came into being simultaneously.
In other words, Ross reveals how every planet, every meteor, every star, and more is part of a finely tuned, intentional creation that contributes to us living, moving, and having our being here and now.
He explains, “The panoply of advanced life on Earth also requires a universe with an extraordinary history for there to be any possibility for the kind of spiral galaxy in which such an exceptional planet can exist. Furthermore, that planet must reside in a planetary system that experiences a highly specified birth and journey within its extraordinary galaxy.”
Building our just-right home with just-right stuff & just-right timing
Using the analogy of building construction, Ross lays out the necessary astronomical, physical, geological, chemical, and biologic pre-Genesis 1:3 history of our universe and planet, all based on known scientific evidence.
Just as with a complex building project, the viability of our earthly home is dependent upon a rich history as well as crucial balance in the universe.
For example, Ross says “If the universe contained a slightly lower mass density of protons and neutrons, then nuclear fusion in stellar furnaces would have yielded no elements as heavy as carbon or heavier; if slightly greater mass density, then star burning would have yielded only elements as heavy as iron or heavier. Either way, the universe would have lacked the elements most critical for our planet and its life -- carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and more. For life to be possible, the universe must be no more or less massive than it is.”
Timing is important in the success of any large, complex building project. The land must be acquired and assessed, plans drawn up, materials ordered, models created, designs tested, all before any construction can begin. Each step requires proper timing. Rushing any phase can lead to eventual problems, even disaster.
The same is true for the building of our earthly home. Before we could be, Ross explains how nine billion years of preparation was needed. “This lengthy wait,” explains Ross, “would be better characterized as an active preparation period....” that produced the just-right materials needed to ensure viable life in the beginning and now.
Why we’re here
Ross seeks to show how everything about our amazing existence is laced with intention and purpose. The how and why of us being here cannot be explained by coincidence, happenstance, or random events. Even our technology is dependent upon the universe evolving exactly as it did to provide us with the raw materials.
Ross concludes stating, “Even with so much still to discover and learn about the way the world is and how it came to be this way, an abundance of evidence suggests an answer to the why question: we are here to seek and to find God and then to use the resources he has so painstakingly and generously provided, within the amazingly stable and optimal climate epoch he established, to receive God’s redemptive offer. God’s desire to bring redemption to a vast and variegated population explains why the history of the Milky Way Galaxy, the solar system, Earth, and life looks as it does. In other words, the world is the way it is so that we can be here, and we are here so we can be agents of blessing to every tribe on the planet for as long as his divine power holds this Earth and its life together. Then at the just-right moment, Jesus Christ will whisk us into a new residence...the home beyond the space-time confines of this universe, the place he is preparing for us -- and preparing us for -- at this very moment.”
A very big idea of a book
This is not light reading. While the information presented is accessible, getting to it does require wide-wake engagement (Have the coffee handy!). The book could have benefited by having more graphics and timelines to visually break-up the book and illustrate the concepts presented a little more clearly.
But it is a worthwhile read that should bolster the confidence and faith of every believer. Ross uses science to underscore how big, creative, loving, and amazing our God is.
NOTE: To comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: I selected this book to review and received it free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Do you believe in a literal six 24-hour days creation? Why or why not? Does it matter to you what science reveals about our earth and the universe? Why or why not? What are other books you’ve read that explain science from a biblical perspective? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
BONUS: In these three videos Dr. Hugh Ross talks about his book, what he believe UFOs to be, and goes head-to-head with Ken Ham.