Changing My Mind | Dr Michael G Strauss


This is a WordPress repost of an excellent article recently posted by Experimental particle physicist Dr Michael G Strauss with regard to the recently updated 4th edition of The Creator and the Cosmos authored by Dr. Hugh Ross. I am reproducing Dr. Strauss’s article in its entirety for your viewing convenience.

As far back as I can remember in my life I was interested in science and technology particularly in the manned exploration of space and the human endeavour to land a person on the moon. As a teenager and young adult, this interest in science combined with my Christian faith motivated me to read books on the integration of science with Christianity. Most of the books I read during those years promoted a “young earth” view of the Bible and science stating that the universe was less than 10,000 years old and that scientists were misinterpreting the data when they proposed that the universe started with a Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago. At that time I was not aware of much material written from a Christian and biblical perspective that promoted an “old earth” view of the Bible that agreed with the scientific timescale of the universe as determined by modern observations.

However, as a Christian post-doctoral researcher at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, I decided that I should investigate in detail what the Bible said about the age of the earth and how strong the scientific evidence was for the claims made about the history of the universe. The first book I ever read that promoted the idea that the biblical account of creation was in complete agreement with the scientific observations and determination of the age of the universe was The Fingerprint of God, by Hugh Ross, published in 1989. He claimed, not only that the Bible fully supported a 14 billion year old universe, but also that the Big Bang provided amazing evidence for a transcendent creator with the characteristics of the Christian God. Since Dr. Ross is an astrophysicist and a theologian, his writings, presentation, and logical style resonated with me and caused me to want to explore his perspective in more detail. I went on to read two more books that he wrote, The Creator and the Cosmos, and Creation and Time (since updated and released as A Matter of Days.The Creator and the Cosmos presented one of the most well-researched and compelling cases for God from science that I had ever read and Creation and Time made a strong argument that the biblical record of creation fit nicely with a universe that was billions of years old.

As a scientist I tend to not accept anything at face value without investigating it myself and determining what conclusions should be drawn from the facts and evidence.  Since I had grown up believing the universe was thousands, rather than billions, of years old, I could not accept any other possibilities without investigating the facts for myself. I started my investigation by studying what the Bible said about creation. My father was a pastor with an extensive library so I had access to thousands of books written about the biblical record. I gathered resources that claimed the biblical record favored a young earth, resources that claimed the biblical record favored an old earth, and unbiased resources such as Hebrew interlinear Bibles, ancient Hebrew dictionaries, commentaries on Genesis, etc. (The original text of most of the Old Testament was written in ancient Hebrew so a proper in-depth study of the original meaning of the text requires some knowledge of Hebrew.) As I compared the different viewpoints on the age of the universe to the unbiased resource material I found that time and time again the old earth interpretation of the Bible actually fit the original text better and more closely agreed with the unbiased reference works. Contrary to the claims of many proponents of the young earth view that supposedly uses the Bible as the foundation for their beliefs, the unbiased resources showed that the biblical record actually agrees better with an old earth view rather than a young earth view. After studying this issue from a biblical perspective for a long time and in much depth, I changed my mind about what was the intent of the original authors of the Bible regarding the timeline of the creation of the universe.

Now is good time to share this significant story from my life because the 4th edition of The Creator and the Cosmos has just been released (pictured in the opening figure of this article). Its recent publication has caused me to reminisce about my search for truth and the process that I went through that ultimately led to my current beliefs. It was not primarily the scientific evidence that caused me to change my mind, but rather good and proper biblical exegesis. Of course, over the decades since I initially adopted my current position I have continued to study this issue from both a scientific and biblical perspective. My further study has only strengthened my original conclusions since both biblical theology and scientific observations fit much better into an old earth paradigm compared with a young earth one. Of course, this makes perfect sense if Christian beliefs are true and God is both the author of the Bible and the creator of the universe. Then the message of the Bible, God’s word, and the message from creation, God’s work, should be in complete agreement since they declare truth from the same source.

If you or someone you know still believes that science and Christianity are in conflict I would encourage you to investigate this subject, maybe starting with some of the same resources that I used early in my search for truth in this area. The 4th edition of The Creator and the Cosmos is about twice the length of the original edition since the evidence for God from science has only increased over the last two decades. Other material is available at the organization Dr. Hugh Ross founded over three decades ago, Reasons to Believe. I would also recommend the many excellent resources available there. An understanding of how seamlessly science and Scripture correlate can strengthen the faith of believers and encourage nonbelievers to spend time investigating the person and claims of Jesus. That is a journey well worth taking.

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