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A Crusade of Arrogance
By Mark Perakh
First posted on December 12, 1999. Updated on May 9, 2002.
Ross as a scientist
Ross and non-Christians
War on two fronts
Ross interprets Hebrew
Some specific incorrect statements in Ross's books
A crusade of arrogance
Hugh Ross is a very prolific author of books, web postings, etc., all
dedicated to but one goal – to prove the complete compatibility of modern
science with the word of the Bible, and, more specifically, with his particular
brand of the Christian faith. In this article we will discuss some features of
Ross's books to see if he has successfully accomplished his goal in a way
sufficiently convincing for skeptics.
1. Ross as a scientist
We learn from the information provided in Ross's books that he is the
head of an organization named Reason to Believe. This organization adheres to the "doctrinal
statements of the National Association of Evangelicals and of the International
Council on Biblical Inerrancy." Ross has also served as a minister of
evangelism. Hence Ross's credentials as a proponent and defender of the
Christian faith (in its non-Catholic and non-Mormonic version) are quite
On the other hand, the readers of Ross' books are advised that he has a
Ph.D. degree in astronomy from the University of Toronto and that he had been a
post-doctoral fellow at Caltech, studying quasars and galaxies. Indeed, in his Curriculum Vitae 
we find a list of only five published papers on certain astrophysical matters in
which Ross is either the author (in two of them) or a co-author (the last such publication dated
1977). However, in order to judge
Ross's competence as a scientist we do not need to study these five short papers with
their rather narrow topics. We can gain a rather good understanding of Ross the
scientist by relying on what we can read in his books on the "Bible vs.
Let us look, for example, at Ross's book titled "The Fingerprint of
God" . In that book Ross reviews many
cosmological theories, thus showing his familiarity with the relevant
literature. It is hard, though, to figure out who are meant to be the readers of
that book. On the one hand, Ross seems to explain the cosmological theories
briefly and in a simplified manner, such as would be natural if the book were
written for laymen. On the other hand, Ross's presentation is full of
references to rather sophisticated scientific concepts which can only confuse a
layman. For example, on pages 42 and especially 44, Ross provides mathematical
equations of the theory of relativity which obviously would be incomprehensible
for laymen, more so since they are not explained in the text and do not actually
add any useful information.
The overall style of Ross' presentation of scientific theories, in which
he, on the one hand mentions dozens of scientific terms hardly familiar to
non-experts, but which, on the other hand is often utterly lacking in clarity,
makes one wonder how well he himself understands those theories. It is hard to
avoid the feeling that the above equations and terms are presented for the sole
reason of impressing the readers with Ross's scientific qualifications and
On page 66 of his book Creation and Time  there is a box titled "Decay and Work,"
where Ross offers a simplified explanation of the laws of thermodynamics. While
some imprecision inherent in that explanation can be forgiven if we assume that
it is addressed to laymen, there is one item in it which stands out as a sign of
Ross's own possible insufficient understanding of the subject. Let us quote
Ross: "Because of the principle of pervasive decay, heat energy can be
transformed into mechanical energy (or work) ... The maximum amount of heat
energy that can be transformed into work is proportional to the difference
between the temperature of the hot body and the temperature of the cold body
divided by the temperature of the hot body..."
We see in that quotation the assertion, repeated twice, that heat energy
can be transformed into work. Such a statement makes a physicist pause because,
if accepted literally, it is contrary to basic concepts of thermodynamics. One
such basic concept holds that energy can be transformed from any specific form
into any other form. For example, chemical energy can be transformed into
electric energy, mechanical energy can be transformed into thermal energy, etc.
However, the quantity named work is not considered in thermodynamics as a form
of energy, which a body can possess, but rather as a quantity which measures the
amount of energy transformed from one form into another form or transferred from
one body to another body. While a body can possess a certain amount of energy in
any specific form, it cannot "possess work." Work can be performed in
a process, wherein a transformation (or transfer) of energy occurs, but as soon
as the process is completed the work is nowhere to be found. If some energy were
"transformed into work" it would mean this amount of energy has
disappeared. Actually the fact that some work was indeed performed can only be
established by comparing the total amounts of energy in its various forms before
and after the process. Therefore the statement by Ross about "heat energy
transforming into work" in its literal interpretation is meaningless.
Still, we might consider the above statement by Ross as a display of a
sloppy style rather than of misunderstanding. However, such a benevolent
interpretation falls apart when we continue reading the book in question
On page 135 of that book we read: "As the universe expands from the
creation event, it cools, like any other system obeying the laws of
thermodynamics. When the heat energy of a system fills a greater volume, there
is less energy per unit volume to go around."
The quoted statement by Ross confirms the suspicion that he has an
insufficient understanding of some fundamentals of physics.
In order to clarify our statement, we have to talk about some concepts of
thermodynamics. Necessarily, this discussion must be somewhat technical, even
though still omitting, for the sake of simplification, some subtle points of
The fundamentals of thermodynamics are expressed as the four "Laws of
Thermodynamics," which are postulates based on the generalization of the
observed behavior of macroscopic bodies. They describe the behavior of systems
which contain a very large number of constituent elements (molecules, atoms,
ions, etc.) The real meaning of the four laws is revealed in another part of
physics, statistical physics, which shows that the laws of thermodynamics are
not absolute but only express the most probable way the systems behave.
The law of thermodynamics that is relevant to the above quotation from
Ross, is the First Law. The First Law of thermodynamics is actually the law of
energy conservation for macroscopic systems. It deals with three quantities,
named internal energy, heat, and work. It states that in a thermodynamic process
the change of a system's internal energy equals the algebraic sum of work and
heat. The "heat" in that law, like work, is not considered a form of
energy per se, which a body can possess. It is a measure of such energy
transfer to or from the system which occurs via random interactions of the
system's constituent particles with particles in the system's surrounding.
If a system expands (for example, a piston in a cylinder moves up, lifting
some load) the system (in this example the gas in the cylinder) performs certain
work. If a work is done, the internal energy of the gas decreases (it transforms into the increased gravitational potential energy
of the lifted load). The decrease of the internal energy may be, either
partially or fully, compensated for by a heat influx from the surrounding medium
into the system. If the compensation is only partial, or is completely absent,
the internal energy of the system decreases.
The part of the internal energy which is relevant to the problem in
question is the thermal energy. Essentially it is the kinetic energy of the
randomly moving constituent particles of the system. The measure of that thermal
energy is called temperature. Hence, if the decrease of the thermal energy
which was caused by the work done by the system is not fully compensated for by the heat
influx, temperature of the system drops.
The important point here is that it is not the expansion itself which is
the reason for the temperature drop. There are at least two situations when
expansion is not accompanied by a temperature drop. One is the situation when
the heat influx from the surrounding medium completely compensates for the decrease
of internal energy caused by performing work (such as lifting a load). Moreover,
if the heat influx from the surrounding medium exceeds the amount of work, the
temperature of the system increases, despite the system's expansion. One more
situation where expansion does not result in a temperature drop is an expansion
in which no work is done. A well known example of the latter is the expansion
into vacuum. Imagine a box divided by a partition into two compartments, one
compartment containing gas at some pressure and temperature and the other being
empty. If we remove the partition, the gas will expand into the empty
compartment. Since gas expands into vacuum, i.e. without resistance, no work is
done in this expansion.
If we believed Ross, the temperature of the expanding gas would drop
because, as he said, "when the heat energy of the system fills the larger
volume, there is less energy per unit volume to go around." This expression
is meaningless. In reality, as has been established, both theoretically and
experimentally, in thermodynamics, the described expansion into vacuum is an isothermal
process in which the temperature of the gas remains constant.
The concept of heat as a substance which is diluted when the volume
increases has been abandoned by physics, as incorrect, since Rumford (1796).
Ross seems not to know that. His explanation assumes that temperature drop is
caused by the expansion itself, which is contrary to thermodynamics.
In another Ross's book, we find again
a similar explanation of the universe's cooling at expansion. On page 103 of
that book we read: "In the standard big bang model, the universe expands
smoothly and adiabatically from the beginning onward." Ross provides a
following footnote to the quoted sentence: "Under adiabatic expansion the
temperature will drop due to the expansion alone without loss of heat from the
The term "adiabatic" denotes a process in which there is no
exchange of thermal energy between the system and its surrounding. The situation
we discussed earlier, in which a gas expanded into an empty compartment, was
both adiabatic and isothermal, so there was no temperature drop,
contrary to Ross's assertion. Ross, again, seems not to know that the
temperature drop occurs only if the expansion is accompanied by work done by the
system against external forces, while "expansion alone" causes no
In regard to the reason for universe's cooling in the process of its
expansion, thermodynamics, contrary to Ross's assertion, can't provide a
direct explanation. The main problem is the uncertainty as to how thermodynamics
can be applied to the behavior of the universe as a whole, as the expansion of the universe occurs into "nothing," i.e., the universe is not surrounded by another medium as the adiabatic systems studied in thermodynamics are. If we accept the
theory of big bang, we have to realize that thermodynamics is not applicable to
the big bang itself (actually to anything that occurred within the so-called Planck time which is 10-43 sec). The laws of physics may though be legitimately applied to anything that occurred after the Planck time. This includes the four laws of thermodynamics, in particular the First and the Second Laws.
According to the First Law the total energy of the universe remains constant regardless of any processes taking place in the course of the universe’s expansion. (There are good reasons to believe that the net energy of the universe is zero.) According to the Second Law, the entropy of the universe increases along with the latter’s expansion. The rate of expansion exceeds the rate of the creation of order (i.e. of stars and galaxies, etc.), so despite the emergence of gradually increasing order, which is accompanied by the local decrease of entropy, the overall entropy of the universe increases in agreement with the Second law of thermodynamics (see, for example books [5,6]).
The temperature drop occurs because the initial thermal energy of the universe gradually converts into, first, the rest mass of the emerging stars, and, second, into the kinetic energy of the motion of those clumps of emerging matter moving away from the initial seed of the university. Judging from Ross’s preposterous statement about the temperature drop being the result of energy diluted in ever increasing volume, he has a rather nebulous understanding of elementary concepts of physics and cosmology.
Having thus established Ross’s actual level of scientific competence, we can judge all of his ideas in regard to the compatibility of the Bible with science with that knowledge in mind.
2. Ross and non-Christians
As mentioned before, Ross's discussion is always from the viewpoint of a
believing Christian. There are many books treating the same problem as Ross
does, offering arguments in favor of compatibility of the Bible with science,
but written from different standpoints. Some such books have been written from
the vantage point of Judaism, for example, books by Gerald L. Schroeder  and by
Nathan Aviezer  (both reviewed in this site). It is interesting to note that Ross and the
mentioned other authors often use identical arguments and
sometimes share the same errors.
For example, Schroeder and Ross discuss the nature of pre-Adam
"hominids" in very similar terms. Both assert that the humanlike
creatures who roamed the earth for many thousand years before the date when,
according to the Bible, Adam was created by God from dust, were really not human
since they did not possess "soul."
Both Ross and Schroeder show very similar misunderstanding of some basic
concepts of thermodynamics. Both suggest the same incorrect explanation of the
universe's cooling after the big bang as being due to "heat dilution in
ever increasing volumes" (Schroeder's term) or, in Ross's terms, saying
that "when the heat energy of a system fills a greater volume, there is
less energy per unit volume to go around."
Since books by Ross and Schroeder appeared during the same period of time,
it is hard to judge whether Ross borrowed his incorrect statement from
Schroeder, or Schroeder borrowed his absurd explanation from Ross, or whether
they both came up with the same naïve idea independently from each other by sheer chance. What is of interest, though, is that neither Schroeder nor Aviezer
make any reference to Ross, and Ross never mentions Schroeder or Aviezer. Of
course this can be understood in view of different agendas of Ross on the one
hand, and Schroeder or Aviezer, on the other. As we will see, though, Ross goes
much further than Schroeder or Aviezer in his obvious aversion to acknowledging
the contribution of writers who do not share his religious beliefs.
While Schroeder and Aviezer ignore the books by Christian writers even though they share the same attitude to the question of compatibility of the Bible and
science, they, however, do not denigrate non-Jewish writers of such books. As to
Ross' attitude, it can be determined if we look at some quotations from his
On page 129 of Ross's book Creation and Time  we read, "The beginning occurred only a few billion years ago and places the cause
of the universe outside, that is, independent of, matter, energy, space, and
time. Theologically this means that the Cause of the universe is independent of
and transcendent to the universe. The Christian faith is the only one religion
among the belief systems of humankind that teaches such a doctrine about the
Creator. (Several religions like Judaism, Islam, and Mormonism accept as valid
at least portions of the Old and New Testaments but every one of them, outside
of Christianity, denies, at least in part, God's transcendence and
It is easy to imagine the possible reaction of, say, adherents of Judaism
to the above statement which alleges that faithful Jews accept only parts of
their own Scriptures.
There is little doubt that Moslems, Jews, or Mormons, listed by Ross as
inadequately interpreting the notion of the Creator, would just shrug off his
remarks about their beliefs, as ranting of a religious bigot. I offer the
readers a choice between two interpretations of the above statement. One is that
Ross's knowledge of religions other than Christianity is not much better than
his understanding of thermodynamics. The other is that Ross's religious
arrogance blinds him to anything beyond his extremely narrow field of vision.
Ross's contempt of beliefs other than of his own narrowly-interpreted
Christianity is evident also from some lines on page 144 in that book. On that
page, Ross described how he read the Bible for the first time and how he was
impressed by it. He compares the biblical story with stories accepted in other
religions in the following words: "In my study of the history of astronomy,
I had read dozens of creation stories from the world religions, and I wondered
if this one would be like the rest. The others were good for a few laughs, with
their ludicrous descriptions and inventive disordering of events."
Of course, each religion claims the monopoly on the ultimate truth. It is
easy to imagine an adherent, say, of Buddhism or of Hinduism who finds the
Biblical story being good for a few laughs. However gaily they or Ross laugh at
each other, somebody else who will as gaily laugh at both can always be found.
Ross's narrow-mindedness makes one suspect that all his arguments are so
subordinated to his agenda that they should be viewed with the utmost caution in
regard to their veracity.
3. War on two fronts
As becomes immediately evident when reading Ross's books, he is in an
unenviable position of fighting on two fronts. Ross adheres to the position of
the Bible's inerrancy, according to which everything in the Bible
is consistent and absolutely true. In promoting and defending this position,
Ross fights against skeptics who see many contradictions between various parts
of the Bible, as well as between the Bible and science. In particular, Ross and
his fellow "old universe creationists" assert that the biblical story
as told in the Book of Genesis is absolutely true, and its apparent
incompatibility with scientific data is only due to misinterpretation of the
Bible's text. On the other front, Ross also fights against the so-called "young universe creationists" who reject any attempt to
interpret the Bible in any manner other than literally.
The "young universe creationists" maintain that every word of
the Bible must be accepted in its simple literal meaning, and if it contradicts
science, that is just too bad for the science. For example, the modern
astronomical data, together with the facts established by physics (such as the
value of the speed of light) indicate the enormous dimensions of the universe
and correspondingly give its age as about fifteen billion years. This does not deter
the young universe creationists who shrug off the scientific data
and claim that the large size of the universe is just an illusion. Likewise,
according to the young universe creationists, the fossils found in various
strata of the Earth crust have been deposited by God to create an illusion of
billions of years of the earth' history. Of course, the young universe
creationists are not in the least baffled by the question as to why God would
indulge in the deception of scientists. The ways of God are unfathomable, and
the word of the Bible is not to be doubted in any manner – that is the
unshakable conviction of the young universe creationists.
Of course, the denial of the scientific data by the young universe
creationists means the extreme obscurantism, but their position, however absurd,
is fully consistent and hence logically unassailable.
Ross is of the opinion that sticking to the position of the young universe
creationists can only discredit the Bible and make it susceptible to ridicule.
Therefore he fights against young universe creationism in order to redeem the
creationists in general by proving that this viewpoint can be reconciled with the
In doing so, Ross resorts to semantic acrobatics, attempting to interpret
this or that expression in the Bible in a way allegedly proving the
compatibility between the Bible and science. In doing so, he steps out from the
pit of the extreme (but logically consistent) obscurantism only to fall into a
pit of arbitrary assertions running contrary to common sense, and thus promotes
merely another version of obscurantism, one which is, moreover, utterly
inconsistent and void of reason.
In particular, Ross' book Creation and Time  contains many
sections devoted to debunking young universe creationism. Paradoxically, in his
rejection of the young universe creationism Ross assumes the position of a
defender of science, borrowing his arguments from scientific theories.
In chapters 9 and 10 of his book Creation and Time Ross
discusses arguments forwarded by those young universe creationists who suggest
the so-called "creation science" which purports to substantiate the
young universe thesis via scientific discourse, and he correctly concludes that
the young universe creationists failed miserably to debunk the data on the
universe's age. In particular, Ross indicates (page 103) that the
argumentation of the young universe creationists involves the following
fallacies: 1) Faulty assumptions; 2) Faulty data; 3) Misapplication of
principles, laws, and equations, and 4) failure to consider opposing evidence.
Very good, Dr. Ross.
In this dispute, facts are on Ross's side. He should have, however,
likewise adhered strictly to facts when interpreting the text of the Bible.
Unfortunately, in that latter endeavor, based only on his religious beliefs
rather than on an objective consideration of facts, Ross resorts to methods also
involving the above four fallacies.
4. Ross interprets Hebrew
A considerable part of Ross's argumentation is based on his
interpretation of various phrases in the Hebrew text of the Bible. For example,
on page 46 of his book Creation and Time Ross discusses the Hebrew
words for day, evening and morning in order to prove that in the
Biblical story about the creation of the world in six days the above three words
had been used metaphorically rather than literally. The Hebrew word for
"day" is "yom" (which Ross for unexplained reasons
transliterates with a caret (^) over o - yôm). The Hebrew word
for "evening" which is "erev," Ross, also for unknown
reasons, transliterates as "ereb." In his earlier book,
The Fingerprint of God,  Ross for unfathomable reasons used another
equally odd transliteration of the Hebrew words. Ross converted the word "yom"
(in Hebrew three letters, yud, vav, mem) into the four letter word "yowm"
with a letter "w" mysteriously appearing out of thin air. The word
"adam" (in Hebrew three letters, alef, dalet, mem) meaning
"man," in Ross's creative transliteration becomes, oddly, "adham."
Of course, the mentioned odd transliterations are not very important in
themselves, but they give rise to a suspicion that Ross's cognizance of the
Hebrew language is not much better than his understanding of thermodynamics.
This suspicion becomes even stronger when the reader encounters a statement Ross
repeats more than once, asserting that the Hebrew language has only three
grammatical forms corresponding to English tenses. This assertion is made, for
example, in the footnote on page 165 of The Fingerprint of God and
repeated elsewhere. Ross seems not to know about the seven forms of the Hebrew
verbs, such as Paal, Piel, Hitpael, etc. each having variations for expressing
past, present and future, serving for completed as well as for incomplete
actions, in the transitive as well as in the intransitive form, in the active as
well as in the passive form, etc. While the readers not familiar with Hebrew
grammar and vocabulary may be impressed by Ross's use of several Hebrew words,
any average Hebrew speaker would immediately recognize that Ross possesses, at
best, a very rudimentary knowledge of that language.
With such dubious expertise in Hebrew, Ross does not seem to be equipped
for those convoluted interpretations of Hebrew words to which he resorts to
convince readers in the validity of his thesis about the agreement between the
Bible and science.
One example of Ross's less than convincing attempt to reconcile the
story about the six days of creation with modern scientific estimates of the age
of the universe is found on pages 145-146 of his book Creation and
Time. He writes: "I was beginning to discern that the original
language of the Old Testament (Hebrew) had fewer nouns than English." Ross's
opinion, expressed on that page, is that the word "yom" in the
Book of Genesis was used to mean different time intervals in different verses
because the Hebrew language, unlike English, lacks words describing such
different time intervals.
Any Israeli second grader would be able to tell Ross that the Hebrew
language has enough words to denote any time interval, and even sometimes more
than one word to express subtle differences in regard to the same time interval. Ross apparently is not familiar with such words. In particular, the word epoch
has more than one synonym in Hebrew. The most common Hebrew word for epoch is tkufa.
A less common synonyms for this word are sfira and idan (the later
is of the Aramaic origin but was used in the biblical Hebrew as well). There
also other expressions in Hebrew which can be used for epoch. Since author of the Book of Genesis had all those and
many other words at his disposal, the notion of the shortage of Hebrew words for
denoting various time intervals is simply ludicrous. (Note that according to
Christian beliefs the real author of the Book of Genesis was God Himself. Does Ross's explanation mean that God knew fewer Hebrew words than an
average Hebrew-speaking kid does?)
In his desire to prove his point regardless of the means Ross goes to such
length as to bluntly distort the meaning of some Hebrew words. For example, on
page 152 of his book Creation and Time Ross attempts to explain away
one of the inconsistencies in the Book of Genesis according to which
invertebrates were created by God after mammals and just before the creation of
man. To do so, Ross provides his own translation of the word remes (in
Hebrew three letters, resh, mem, sin). He writes, "The Hebrew word
in question is remes, and its broad definition encompasses rapidly moving
vertebrates, such as rodents, hares and lizards."
That whole quotation is
fantasy. The Hebrew word remes
is a noun derived from the root meaning "to crawl." Hence it has nothing to do with "rapidly moving" animals. Moreover, the correct translation of remes is invertebrate, as can easily be verified by looking this word up in any good Hebrew dictionary (for example in the authoritative "Hamilon Haivri Hamerukaz" by A. Even-Shoshan  ).
Equally unsubstantiated are Ross's attempts (also on page 152) to
suggest his own interpretation of some other Hebrew words such as zera (zayin,
resh, ayin) meaning seed, etz peri (ayin, tzade - pey, resh, yud)
meaning fruit tree and other.
Here is what Ross wrote, "The Hebrew phrase translated as 'seeds,
trees, and fruit' (Genesis 1:11-12) has been taken by some as a reference to
deciduous plants. However, the respective Hebrew nouns, zera, 'ets,
and periy are generic terms that easily can be applied to plant species
as primitive as those that appeared at the beginning of the Cambrian era."
To start with, there is no phrase "seeds, trees, and fruit" in
Genesis 1:11-12. The actual text of Genesis 1:11 is in Hebrew as follows, "Veyomar
elohim tadshe haaretz deshe eshev mazriah zera etz peri ose pri lemino asher
zaro bo." There are several translations of that verse into English. For
example, the King James version translates the above passage as follows,
"And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and
the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself." A
slightly different translation is found in "The Holy Scriptures"
published by the Menora Press of Chicago, "And God said, 'Let the earth
put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and tree bearing fruit, wherein is the seed
thereof, after its kind."
Despite the slight difference between the two quoted translations, both
are reasonably close to the Hebrew original which, as can be seen, provides
quite specific definitions of the plants in question and leaves no room
whatsoever for any arbitrary interpretation like that by Ross.
In continuation of his alleged explanation of the meaning of some Hebrew
words, Ross asserts, on page 147 of Creation and Time that if any
person "with a scientific or analytical bent ... gets through the first
chapter of Genesis, ... that person will become a believer."
While Ross obviously wants the readers to believe that he himself is a
person of a "scientific and analytical bent," the impression gained
from his writings is actually of somebody who is either a very gullible person
completely lacking any analytical faculty, and prone to interpreting facts in
any way which would supposedly confirm his preconceived notions, or just a
person driven by something other than the pursuit of truth. There are scores of
people of "scientific and analytical bent" whose skepticism emerged
unscathed from reading and re-reading the Book of Genesis and who continue
viewing it just as a beautiful piece of literature reflecting a naïve effort by
our distant ancestors who, at the dawn of history, tried to answer the questions
which have been and will continue to puzzle the humans and which will probably
never be answered with any certainty.
Ross's book titled The Genesis Question  is
his most recent publication. It contains many detailed discussions of the
controversy between the Book of Genesis and scientific data. Unlike the two
books we discussed until now, in which Ross usually tried to prove the
compatibility of this or that statement in the Bible with the facts established
by science, in this new book his presentation assumes that the compatibility in
question has already been firmly established, the Bible story is accepted as
unerringly true and his task is only to clarify how to properly understand the
It is in vain that a reader would look for any proofs of Ross's
categorical statements in this book. In fact, all those statements are blatantly
unsubstantiated and glaringly arbitrary.
In particular, Ross continues in that book his misinterpretations of Hebrew words. Ross repeats the same assertion that Hebrew has a very limited vocabulary.
On page 65 Ross writes: "Hebrew, however, with its tiny vocabulary (more
than thousand times smaller than English) must manifest more flexibility."
The full unabridged edition of the Random House Dictionary of the English
Language (1987) comprises 315,00 entries. The largest multi-volume Oxford
Dictionary of the English language comprises close to 700,000 entries. Hence,
if we believe Ross, the vocabulary of Hebrew must comprise not more than about
700 words. In fact, even the abridged one-volume version of the Hebrew
dictionary "HaMilon Haivri Hamerukaz" by Even-Shoshan  contains over
70,000 entries. Its full seven-volume version is of course much larger. As to the vocabulary of the Hebrew Bible, the vocabulary of the Torah (Pentateuch) alone comprises 14,691 different Hebrew words, among them 7,361 nouns. (The computerized counts were performed by Dr. James Price and by Dr. Brendan McKay, whose private communications on that subject are appreciated).
On the same page Ross asserts that Hebrew, unlike English, has no words
for epoch, era, and age. He maintains that in Hebrew "no
other word besides yom carries the meaning of a long period of
time." As we discussed earlier, such statements amply demonstrate Ross's
ignorance of Hebrew coupled with his arrogance in counting on the equal or even
larger ignorance of his readers.
In that book we see again odd transliterations of Hebrew words, testifying
to Ross very limited knowledge of that language. For example, the Hebrew word gavoah
(meaning "high") in Ross's version becomes gaboah, and
the expression hagvohim (meaning "the high" in plural) becomes
almost unrecognizable "hugebohim" (page 145).
Here is one telltale example of Ross' ignorance of Hebrew (and of some
general facts of grammar as well). On page 48 Ross tells the readers that the
word behema is a plural form for the word behemoth. This statement
would cause a fit of laughs in the first grade of any school in Israel.
Apparently, Ross does not know the difference between the plural form of a noun
and collective nouns. Behema (in Hebrew four letters, bet, hey, mem,
hey, which also can be transliterated as b'hemah) means cattle,
and exactly like in English, it is a collective noun in the singular form. Behema
is not a plural form of behemoth (as Ross suggests) but, on the contrary,
the Hebrew word behemot (bet, hey, mem, vav, tav) is the intensive plural of behemah.
This word also serves as a noun in the singular form denoting the
hippopotamus. Hebrew nouns in the plural form end either with "im"
(if they are masculine) of with "ot" (feminine). In particular, the
correct plural form for behemot is b'hemotim and for behemah
(or b'hemah) it is b'hemot (in the contemporary colloquial
Hebrew b'hemot is often used as a generic word to denote animals).
Likewise, Ross pretends to clarify the meaning of a number of other Hebrew
words, such as sheres (a cumulative name for many small animals whose
correct transliteration should be sheretz), op (fowl, the correct
transliteration should be either of or ohf), nefesh and
others, in his habitually arbitrary manner, twisting the alleged translation of
those words to fit his thesis.
Of course, Ross is not under obligation to be fluent in Hebrew. However,
pretending to be an expert in that language while hardly being familiar with
even its simplest features is one of the most appalling peculiarities of Ross's
Like many other writers of books in that genre, Ross is selective in his
interpretation of the controversies in the Genesis story. For example, he
discusses at length the story of the creation of living creatures according to
Genesis 1, trying to show that the seemingly odd order of creation (insects
created after mammals, etc.) stems simply from an incorrect translation of
Hebrew words. At the same time, he seems not to notice, for example, some
glaring contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, in regard to that order
of creation. For example, in Genesis 1 we are told that man (adam) was
created after all the plants and animals. However, in Genesis 2 the creation of
animals is reported to have happened after that of adam. Indeed, the
creation of adam is reported in Genesis 2.7. In the next few verses the
creation of the Garden of Eden is described (which appears to have possibly been
created after Adam). Only after that does Genesis 2 report on the creation of
animals. Here are the corresponding lines in Genesis 2.18 –2.19 in English
translation (quoted from ): "And the Lord God said: 'It is not good that the man
should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.' And out of the ground
the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and
brought them unto the man to see what he would call them."
Apparently, even with all his creative interpretation of Hebrew words, in
this case Ross was not able to come up with such an alleged translation of the
Hebrew text which would make the controversy seem to disappear. Hence, he chose
not to notice it.
5. Some specific incorrect statements in Ross's books
In this section I will discuss a few assorted examples of unsubstantiated
statements in Ross's books.
1. On page 141 of his book Creation and Time  Ross wrote,
"Bipedal, tool-using, large-brained primates (called hominids by
anthropologists) may have roamed the earth as long ago as one million years,
but religious relics and altars date back only 8,000 to 24,000 years. Thus,
the secular archeological date for the first spirit creature is in complete
agreement with the biblical date."
Indeed, Dr. Ross? What, then, about the biblical chronology which tells
us that Adam was created from dust only about 6,000 years ago? In your view, are
6,000 and 24,000 the same number?
2. On page 133 of the same book we read: "What astronomers and
physicists are discovering in these new measurements is that the Being who
brought the universe into existence is not only personal, creative, powerful,
and intelligent to an unimaginable degree, but He is also aware of and
sensitive to the needs of humanity."
The quoted paragraph demonstrates Ross's typical arrogance. Have
astronomers and physicists voted to authorize Ross to speak for them? Whereas
the discoveries by astronomers and physicists do not exclude the possible
existence of a Creator of the universe, they also provide no direct
indications whatsoever for such Creator's existence. To believe or not to
believe in the supernatural Being mentioned by Ross is a matter of personal
choice. Both views are equally legitimate but neither of them has any direct
connection to any scientific discoveries. As to Ross's assertion attributing
to the possible supernatural Being such qualities as caring about the needs of
humanity, based on discoveries in astronomy and physics, the obvious lack of
any substantiation for that notion is just another evidence of Ross's
propensity to substitute the desired for the actual.
Moreover, Ross asserts that the work of secular scientists not only
provides evidence in favor of his beliefs in the Creator, but also
specifically supports his particular version of Christian faith. For example,
on page 131 of Creation and Time he writes, "...even some
atheists are more able to acknowledge that the big bang implies Jesus Christ
than are our young-universe creationist friends." For atheists and
believers alike, the big bang theory implies Jesus Christ not more than a
sunset implies that some sorcerer has grabbed the sun and pulled it down from
the sky. Ross does not provide a shred of evidence which would show how
any scientific discoveries support his specific belief in Jesus the Savior.
The reason for that is quite simple. There is no such evidence either for or
against Ross's thesis anywhere in physics and/or astronomy.
3. On page 102 of The Genesis Question Ross suggests an
interpretation of those few lines in the Genesis which describe the murder of
Abel by Cain and the subsequent dialog between Cain and God. In that
interpretation, which is not based on any specific information given in the
Genesis, Ross appears to think that he can read God's mind. Of course, if
Ross knows the unspoken thoughts of God, there is no wonder he so confidently
elsewhere judges the ideas and motivations of regular mortals. From a skeptic's
viewpoint, however, all those discussions by Ross appear to be just "obscurum
perobscuribus" if we take the liberty of using that ancient Latin
4. In his book The Genesis Question, Ross allocates several
sections to the discussion of the Flood and Noah's activities. In these
sections, true to form, Ross provides a number of dubious considerations in
order to rationalize the obvious implausibility of the story about a wooden
ark accommodating pairs of all living creatures, etc. Without discussing these
pseudo-explanations, let us point out just one odd contradiction in Ross
treatment of that subject. On page 173 Ross tells us that, according to some
astronomical data (such as the Vela supernova explosion) the Flood occurred
between thirty thousand and fourteen thousand years ago. Look, however, at the
biblical chronology according to which there were ten generations between Adam
and Noah. The duration of life of every one of those generations as well as
the ages when Adam and each of his descendants had their first-born sons, are
explicitly listed in the Genesis. Accounting for the Biblical assertion that
Adam was created about 6,000 years ago, it is easy to calculate that the Biblical
date for the flood is about 4,000 years ago. Ross does not say a word about
the contradiction between the biblical data and his calculation based on the
Vela supernova. What, then, about the Bible's inerrancy, which Ross claims
to believe in?
6. A crusade of arrogance
As we read Ross's books, we encounter time and time again endless
categorical assertions that this or that conclusion of science indicates the
existence of the Creator. Each time he makes such an assertion, Ross provides no
logical grounds for it. Whatever this or that scientific theory concludes, it
never points either to or against the hypothesis of a Creator at work.
For example, the theory of the inflationary big bang, which Ross favors as
allegedly leading to the inevitable conclusion that there must be a Creator of
the universe, actually has nothing to do with such a proposition. The theory in
question may be correct or wrong, but in either case the existence of a Creator
may be either hypothesized or denied, the grounds for both propositions being
beyond scientific consideration.
As a believer Ross is entitled to interpret this or any other theory as
confirming his beliefs, as a skeptic is entitled to doubt it. Nothing in the
scientific theory itself provides any arguments in favor of any of those
If a scientific theory were to assert that the universe is eternal, it
would not in any way contradict the hypothesis that there is God who is
transcendental, who has established the laws of physics and who rules the
universe. Equally, it would not contradict the hypothesis that there is no
transcendent entity beyond the universe, or that there is a transcendent
supernatural entity which does not care at all about the universe. Science is
not equipped to solve that problem and is not supposed to.
If science asserts that the universe had a beginning, it does not either
prove or disprove the existence of a Creator, or any views as to what kind of a
Creator it could be. Ross's assertions to the contrary are completely
arbitrary and lack any logical or factual foundation.
The question whether or not scientific theories confirm the particular
image of God, for example God as referred to in the Bible, is another story. It
is rather obvious that even if we accept the assertion that there is a Creator
of the universe, an assertion which neither contradicts nor agrees with science,
it does not mean that the Creator necessarily meets the description given in the
Bible. Ross, while asserting time and time again that science proves the
existence of a Creator, also each time asserts that this Creator is exactly He
who is presented in the Bible, meeting, moreover, the tenets of Ross's
specific brand of faith. These assertions are forwarded without the slightest
attempt to logically justify them.
Ross is entitled to his beliefs. Everybody else is entitled to either
share or reject his beliefs. His persistent head-hammering with unsubstantiated
conclusions has no chance to convince a skeptic or an adherent of some religion
other than Ross's brand of Christianity.
Religious beliefs are by and large not based on rational arguments. It seems rather
obvious that religious faith most often is due to indoctrination at an early
age. Indeed, children of Moslems are overwhelmingly Moslems. Children of
Buddhists are overwhelmingly Buddhists. As the experience of the Soviet Union has shown, if the parents
are atheists, children generally grow up as atheists.
Another factor affecting a person's religion is the social pressure.
There are almost no so-called "Jews for Jesus" in Israel, but this
denomination has a measure of success in the USA where the overwhelmingly
Christian surrounding creates a strong social pressure conducive to Jews'
adoption of a faith which is closer to the majority.
Whatever the reasons for one's religious beliefs are, they have nothing
to do with rational arguments and scientific proofs.
Ross's persistent assertions of science being in full agreement with his
particular beliefs, without any factual evidence, is a display of arrogance,
revealing his books as propaganda tools having little to do with either science
or the question of the existence of God.
 Hugh Ross, [online],
Curriculum Vitae, accessed on November 22, 2001.
 Hugh Ross, The
Fingerprint of God (Orange, CA: Promise Publishing Company, 1989).
 Hugh Ross, Creation and
Time (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994).
 David Halliday and Robert
Resnick, Fundamentals of Physics (New York: Wiley, 1988).
 Victor Stenger, The
Unconscious Quantum, Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology (Amherst,
NY: Prometheus, 1995).
 Victor J. Stenger, Not
By Design. The Origin of the Universe. (Amherst, NY: Prometheus: 1988).
 Gerald L. Scroeder, Genesis and the Big Bang. The Discovery of Harmony Between Modern Science And the Bible (New York: Bantam Books, 1990).
 Nathan Aviezer, In the Beginning. Biblical Creation and Science (Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing House, 1990).
 Avraham Even-Shoshan,
Hamilon Haivri Hamerukaz, ("The Abridged Hebrew Dictionary") (Jerusalem:
Kriyat Sefer publishers, 1974).
 Hugh Ross, The Genesis
Question (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1998).
 The Holy Scriptures
(Chicago, IL: The Menora Press, 1973).
Mark Perakh's main page.