232 of 258 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2005
This book ended up mysteriously on the desk of a colleague of mine, an X-ray astronomer. Knowing that I was a Christian - though scarcely any of the reviewers here would agree with that assessment, since I have no doubt that Darwin was right, a criterion that seems to matter more these days than relying on the blood of Christ for salvation - he passed it along to me.
Ross didn't change my mind about anything. He has a good grasp of astronomy, and explains it pretty well, but I would suggest he's out of his depth in those rare passages when he argues directly against evolution. I'm not his intended audience, obviously. He wants to speak to those who adhere to young-earth creationism, or to those who are wavering in their faith because they have been told you that you can't be a Christian and also believe the universe is more than a few thousand years old.
Nevertheless, he won me over. This is someone I would be proud to worship with: he approaches his subject, and his adversaries (be they secular or young-earth creationists) with civility, "gentleness, meekness, self-control". Attributes not uncommon in my experience among biblical inerrantists, but rarely on display from any side when creationism is the topic.
Ross's central concern is what the Bible has to say about creation. Of his 23 chapters, only four deal with the astronomical evidence for an old universe. One of those, and a couple of others, deal with arguments for intelligent design drawn from astronomy (and as one who's delved deeply into both astronomy and biology, I think those are the most solid ID arguments at the moment.) Most, however, deal with general issues of biblical interpretation, and with the biblical evidence for an old universe. This is a man who is serious about placing his trust in the Bible.
That the book displays the fruits of the Spirit is the most important reason for my 4 stars. But it also displays considerable freshness of insight. Since I take all of Genesis 1 to be metaphorical, I have no dog in the "day-age/ 24 hour day" fight. It seems to me both sides have pretty good knock-'em-down prooftexts, which would lead to a draw if it weren't for the fact that a certain spirit of conformity in the church makes people prefer to go with the crowd rather than to play Berean and dig deep. But Ross offers a raft of biblical arguments for day-age that I hadn't seen before, as well as new links between 20th century cosmology and the language of the Bible. (For example, the passage about God "stretching the heavens like a tent" has been a trifle embarrassing to biblical literalists, since it seems to suggest the stars and planets sit in a two-dimensional sheet over the earth. But as Ross points out, something very like this is an analogy frequently used to explain the Big Bang: the 3-dimensional universe expands as the surface of a 4-dimensional sphere, and students are often encouraged to picture a stretching 2-dimensional sheet as a guide to understanding the theory.)
Ross's chief motivation - other than a respect for truth, and a desire to set forth the truth as he understands it - is evangelical. Many millions of people, having been exposed to and convinced by the overwhelming physical evidence for the great age of the universe, will think of Christianity as just a pack of irrelevant nonsense, if they are told that one must reject essentially all of science in order to accept Christ. There is an offense of the Cross - but this isn't it. If the day-age interpretation of Genesis is correct, then rather than the offence of the Cross, this is just a fence around the Cross, placed there by Christians too stubborn to distinguish tithes and cummin from "the weightier things of the law"; and Ross fears its effect will be to keep sinners from crossing over into life. ("Too stubborn" is my phrasing; I think Ross would find a kinder way to say it.)
In my own judgment, the insistence on discarding the theory of evolution is another such fence. Most of those who can't get past the "six literal days" fence won't be able to get past that one either. But many may; and this makes Ross's contribution a valuable one.
One final word of my own. Those who insist that the Bible "plainly" speaks of 24-hour days in Genesis (and for that matter, those who insist that it "plainly" speaks of age-long days, or that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are "plainly" to be taken as literal history) are not merely reading what's in front of them. They are accepting what other men have told them about how the Bible "must" be read. Whenever you hear someone say: "God said it, I believe it, that settles it," what they are actually saying is, "I say God said it, I believe it, and I say that settles it." It may masquerade as humility before "God's word", but it is more often pride, or a fearful conformity to churchified traditions of men.
Everyone who picks up the Bible and reads is placing an interpretation on what he sees. The only protection against mistaking one's own, or one's congregation's, ideas for "what God says" is prayerful humility before God, and a loving openness to what fellow Christians everywhere find when they look in His word, and when they look into the new hearts He has given them. That's what I found in this book, and that's why I can heartily recommend it to creationists of all stripes.
78 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2004
"A Matter of Days" could also be titled, "A Matter of Interpretation" because this is what this book is really about-a matter of which interpretation of the biblical and natural record is the correct one. The hub of the controversy involves the meaning of a creation 'day' as noted in Genesis. Young earth leaders claim that each creation day was strictly a 24-hour period. Do their claims have solid proof- or does the data point to the days of creation to be long epochs? Utilizing historical, biblical, theological and scientific data, the author Dr. Hugh Ross helps the reader answer this question. Surrounding the 'hub' of the controversy are lightening strike subjects like, "Doesn't belief in an old earth equate a belief in evolution?", "Was there any kind of death before the fall of Adam?", "Does the Bible speak of a "big bang" of creation?" and "Is God's plan a restored paradise (like Eden) or a whole brand new creation?" Mindful of people's feelings about each of these subjects, the author masterfully and humbly leads the reader to logical conclusions.
I would say that the last chapter really shows how fair Dr. Ross is willing to be with such a controversial subject of 'Old Earth vs. Young Earth'. He recommends that the church and the world outside evaluate the different creation models in an objective, easy to apply and understandable way. He notes that effective models help explain how and why particular phenomenon arises and that they are capable of predicting future discoveries and anticipating breakthroughs. With this in mind, the author provides two sample, non-exhaustive models of the Young Earth view and Old Earth view respectively. This provides the reader an objective way to analyze, over time, which model best represent reality. This book is like a breath of fresh 'common sense' to anyone who has been touched in some way by the controversy. I highly recommend that you read it.
88 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2004
The latest book by Dr. Ross treats the age of the earth controversy in a way most of us cannot - with repect and charity. But this book doesn't just tell us why the old earth view is more plausible from a scientific standpoint, although it does that well. Dr. Ross does several things unique to the whole controversy.
He not only uses science to support his interpretation of Genesis, he uses the Bible itself. He takes us out of Genesis One (a stronghold for those of young earth persuasion) and into other creation accounts in the Bible showing that they too support an old earth interpretation. And he is not bound by the English translation, but goes right to the Hebrew translations of eminent world-class Hebrew scholars.
He also does the correct thing at the end of the book by laying out predictions. If the young earth interpretation of Genesis is correct, then there are many things that will be revealed in the coming years (e.g. there will be fewer and fewer scientists accepting the big bang model, or, more actual scientific evidence will support a thousand-of-years-old universe). On the other hand if the universe is old, more and more evidence will be revealed to support that (e.g. radiometric dating will prove more accurate and reliable, the big bang model will stand up even stronger under new evidence, etc.)
Here is my prediction: The dyed-in-the-wool young earth creationists will not read it, but they will reject it as heretical, never the less. Many people who are undecided will read it and because of the beautiful logic, ease of reading, and Dr Ross' general tone of reconciliation and harmony and his uncompromising love for God, will be convinced that both the Bible and what we see around us in nature are from the same One.
47 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2004
The people who rate this book low are wrong. I read the book cover-to-cover and when I look at the negative reviews, I can tell that those people definitely didn't read the book. They're just coming up with hate mail. Very sad to see Christians doing that.
But the book all by itself makes sense! Mr. Ross is a real scientist and a real Christian and he understands both science and the Bible really well. Unlike the so-called Christians who are writing all the hate mail about him, Mr. Ross doesn't attack anybody. He just sticks to the facts. I hope anyone who wants to know the TRUTH will read this book. Obviously the people who write all the wild crazy stuff in the reviews did NOT read the book. You will learn a lot about how there are other parts of the Bible that talk about creation, too. And that it isn't a compromise with the devil to believe that the creation that God made really does tell us about God. Mr. Ross tells us that the Bible is the error-free word of God. He says that God does not lie in God's creation. If we pay attention to the Bible and to God's creation, we will understand God better. The Bible doesn't make scientific statements. But Mr. Ross shows that good science that has proven true shows that the Bible is true.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Does anyone else remember 'normal' bell-curves from math class? As graphs, they used to be taught as a statistically accurate way to describe/predict the distribution of grades typically earned by students in a class (or scores earned by students taking a well-written test, etc.) wherein the majority of the students earned a more or less average sort of score (the middle of the bell, with "C" being the average and most prevalent grade, and a proportionately smaller number of "D"s and "B"s flanking the "C" students), and wherein a much smaller number of students either "F"lunked or "A"ced the exam.
I grant that starting in the 1970s U.S. high schools and colleges began to teach and grade toward a different standard of accomplishment (the self-esteem of the student), rather than mastery of the material being tested, but unless the graphing process itself is tampered with in some underhanded way [e.g., my college eliminated "F" altogether, substituting "NFT" (i.e., 'not for transcript') instead, but I honestly think the students who earned "NFT" for a course they had taken were not fooled into feeling 'nifty' by the grade they received (unless, perhaps, they misunderstood that to be the correct spelling of the word)] such graphs still prove informative.
Well, 'grade-inflation,' properly graphed using the same scale and left-right labeling orientation as the old 'normal bell-curves,' shows up as a plotted line (wavy or straight, as the case may be) that ascends when viewed from left ("F) to right ("A"). And, other things being equal, the relative steepness of the slope gives a general sense of the degree of grade inflation, etc.
As of the writing of my review, the Amazon tally of reviews for this book shows 25 five-star reviews ("A), 3 four-star reviews ("B"), 1 three-star review ("C"), and 31 one-stars ("F"). I don't know about the graphical perceptions of others, but that tally looks most like an INVERTED bell-curve to me. (Tilt your head toward your right shoulder, remembering that the highest grade is shown to the LEFT, and look again if you need to.)
I personally understand the 'star'-rating system used here to be a form of grading. (Anyone disagree?) If that's true, then perhaps we might reasonably expect something like a 'normal' bell-curve in the review totals, but we do not see that. And so, if normal bell-curves show a fair and representative grade distribution, and ascending lines reveal the effects of grade inflation, WHAT does an inverted bell-curve indicate? Surely, it indicates 'skewed' results.
There are at least several possible reasons for these obviously 'skewed' results: (1) No persons of average intelligence and knowledge of the topic(s) covered in this book reviewed it; only geniuses/topic scholars and ignoramuses/simpletons reviewed it, and none of them found it of average quality. [This is not my personal explanation.] (2) The book is actually very ordinary/average, but slightly less than half the reviewers ALL wanted to extol the book for no reason having to do with honesty/fairness, while at the same time slightly more than half the reviewers ALL wanted to trash the book for no reason having to do with honesty/fairness. [I've read the book myself, am very aware of the literature on this topic, and do not consider it to be of ordinary/average quality; likewise, I've read the reviews of it posted here and none of the reviewers strikes me as being INCAPABLE of knowing what either 'average quality' or honesty/fairness is, though perhaps I'm mistaken about that.] (3) The book is either EXCELLENT or ATROCIOUS, and approximately half the reviewers are either incapable of recognizing the difference (for whatever reason), or they are being disingenuous. (I have read the book carefully, found it to be excellent, and am not lying about that opinion here.)
Without quoting my fellow reviewers individually to contradict them, let me state the following information that I know to be true about Dr. Ross, as demonstrated by this book:
1. He is a competent and well-informed scientist.
2. He is a competent and well-informed Bible exegete.
3. He constructs and integrates his interpretive models of both the data of nature and of the data of scripture fairly, and consistently seeks to integrate ALL the available relevant facts of nature and ALL the relevant passages of scripture.
4. He provides his REASONING for favoring his models over those proposed by others, and critiques the MODELS of others without resorting to name-calling or the use of overgeneralizing/hasty dismissals. (Read: He is a gentleman, and he shoots down faulty interpretive models, not people, using sound reasoning.)
5. He attends fairly to the data sets of nature and scripture in forming his argumentation, rather than resorting to 'cheerleading.'
6. A Christian, he believes in the inerrancy of scripture and his theology is biblical and orthodox. At the same time, he does not require nonChristians to ASSUME the inerrancy of scripture as a ground rule, but provides evidence that supports the inerrancy of scripture as a conclusion to which the relevant data leads, and which it ultimately requires. (His models are not exercises in 'circular reasoning.')
7. He believes, both as a scientist and as a Christian, in the special creation of life-forms, including humans, by God, just as they are described in the Bible, which he understands to be relating true history.
8. He believes that scientists (as interpreters of the data of nature) and theologians (as interpreters of the data of scripture) are not infallible, himself included, and he consistently argues for the acceptance of adequate explanatory models that satisfy the most data, and that demonstrate the best predictive power (i.e., they mesh with new data as it is discovered).
9. Coming from a Christian standpoint, he recognizes that God neither lies in what He says (the Bible) or in what He does (the laws and historical artifacts of nature).
10. He proposes resolution of the conflict between young-earth and old-earth creationist views on the basis of the comparative soundness of the two models, as borne out by their explanatory and predictive power ALONE. (He is willing to follow data/truth wherever it leads.)
(Yes I do remember that this is supposed to be a review of A MATTER OF DAYS....)
So my review is: Ross' book is fabulous, scientifically and exegetically sound, well-informed, well-written, courteous (almost to a fault), and well worth your time. Get a copy, mull it over at length, and decide for yourselves, folks.
45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2004
Young-earthism is primarily based on two fallacies: 1. Old-age = evolution & 2. Genesis indicates 24 hr days.
Both assumptions are unequivically untrue.
The 13 billion year old universe is not long enough for evolution to work. In fact, the old age is a pointer to design. We could NOT exist in a world younger or older: We exist at the percise age at which is necessary for life to exist.
Genesis does NOT explicitly say 24 hour days. Many YECs will even admit that the Hebrew for day can be literally translated more than one way. More importantly, it does not specifically say 24 hour days, so one HAS to look at contextual issues. All such issues point to an old-earth interpretation, none to young-earth.
While young-earthers have chosen a path of emotionalism and unchristian attacks, Hugh Ross has once again provided a rational, well-researched defense of old-earthism, which is at the core of the modern intellient design movement. Young-earthism is a stumbling block to nonbelievers (and believers) and is a prime target for skeptics. Let's rid this example of the lack of critical thought from Christianity.
41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2004
As a former member of the YEC camp, I highly recommend this book. It presents the scientific and biblical evidence in a clear understandable manner. Very importantly, Dr. Ross holds to the inerrancy of the Bible and communicates the harmony between the Scripture and what we observe in nature. Also Dr. Ross' desire for peace and reconciliation among believers, over the age of the earth issue, truly reflects the heart of Christ. The written and verbal accusations hurled at Dr. Ross by some in the dwindling YEC movement are uncalled for. I highly recommend this book.
33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2004
In this outstanding book, Dr. Hugh Ross gently yet firmly responds to the young earth community's (YEC) strange Biblical exegesis, and even stranger "flat earth" science approach to the creation of the universe. Without compromising Biblical inerrancy, the author makes the Biblical and scientific case for the "big bang" and long creation days, and at the same time responds to every major YEC claim. Absolutely outstanding! At last, the Christian community has an authoritative, well documented response to this huge YEC embarrassment.
38 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2004
If the young-earth fanatics used real science and real Bible intepretation, they wouldn't have such a problem with this book. This book is good. It uses real science and real Bible interpretation. The young-earth people who still can't figure out that the earth isn't 6,000 years old are appealing to pseudo-science that only their prejudice can support. This book matches good science to good Bible interpretation. And it gives good support.
If you are a closed-minded young-earth fanatic, and you don't read this book, don't write lame reviews. Leave the reviews to people like me who did read it.
This book deserves all 5 stars. The scientist who wrote the book didn't invent the ideas. The science is commonly known throughout the world. It's the same science that makes all sorts of technologies work. At least this guy's candid and puts everything on the table. To bad the young-earth fanatics who don't even read the book cant figure that out.
Spend a night with this book. You will love God more and you will see why learning about science is good. God expects us to learn about how He made the universe. I love the young-earth fanatics but I wish they would grow up and start using their heads. Reading this book would be a good start.
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2004
This is a superbly written defense of the 'old earth' interpretation of the biblical creation passages. The tone throughout the book is one of reconciliation and integrity as well as an openness to 'put to the test' the claims of Scripture. 'A Matter of Days' is well documented, clearly written, and a must for the science-minded Christian and skeptic alike. I highly recommend it.