Hugh Norman Ross (born July 24, 1945) is a Canadian-born Old Earth creationist and Christian apologist. An astronomer by training, he has established his own ministry called Reasons To Believe that promotes a form of Old Earth creationism known as progressive creationism. Ross accepts the scientific evidence of the age of the earth and the age of the universe, but he rejects evolution and abiogenesis as explanations for the history and origin of life.
Ross was born in Montreal and raised in Vancouver, Canada. He earned a BSc in physics from the University of British Columbia and an MSc and PhD in astronomy from the University of Toronto; and he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Caltech, studying quasars and galaxies. Ross was the youngest person ever to serve as director of observations for Vancouver’s Royal Astronomical Society, and before starting Reasons to Believe, he was on the staff of Sierra Madre Congregational Church. In addition to apologetics writing, Ross speaks regularly in academic venues and churches, as well as hosting a weekly radio webcast.
Ross' overall philosophy is that science and religion are not only compatible but complementary and, with Thomas Torrance, that the scientific method itself springs from the Reformation and the Bible. He adopts the view that there are two "books" of revelation from God – the Bible and nature – which both offer accurate knowledge and each of which can correct misunderstanding of the other. Moreover, he argues that the Bible is the only scientifically accurate religious text when interpreted consistently.
Ross and his associates are formally engaged in proposing an alternate, scientifically testable model for the formation of the universe, earth, and life itself that accounts for both scientific and religious (particularly Christian) explanations for each. The model he proposes makes certain predictions about the shape of future discoveries in cosmology, biology, and related sciences, and Ross wants his model to be judged alongside other models in its predictive success. He has not published this model in peer-reviewed scientific literature, but he outlines the basic components of the model and provides associated predictions for future scientific research in his book Origins of Life (2005, coauthored with Fazale Rana) and Creation and Science (Navpress: 2006). Richard Smalley, 1996 Nobel prize winner in chemistry, said of the former book, "Evolution has just been dealt its deathblow," but PZ Myers criticized predictions in an online summary of the model as "sublimely silly, trivial, vaguely stated, or perfectly compatible with actual evolutionary biology."
The primary apologetical method used by Ross and Reasons to Believe is evidentialist in nature and attempts to show that the probability of the universe forming in such a way as to allow it to generate life as we know it is too improbable to be due to random chance. Thus, he posits a creator outside spacetime who purposefully controlled and directed the creation of the universe and created life. (Cosmology has traditionally dealt with the idea that the universe has finely tuned parameters which cannot be significantly altered without destroying the possibility of life under the rubric of the anthropic principle.)
Ross believes in progressive creationism, which posits that while the earth is billions of years old, life did not appear by natural forces alone but that a supernatural agent formed different lifeforms in incremental (progressive) stages. He rejects the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) position that the earth is younger than 10,000 years, or that the creation "days" of Genesis 1 represent literal 24-hour periods. Ross instead asserts that these days (translated from the Hebrew word yom) are historic, distinct, and sequential, but not literally 24 hours in length nor equal in length. He agrees with the scientific community at large that the vast majority of YEC arguments are pseudoscience, and finds any version of intelligent design inadequate that doesn't provide a testable hypothesis which can make verifiable and falsifiable predictions.
Ross is criticized by YECs for his acceptance of uniformitarian geology and astronomy over what they see as a plain reading of Genesis and for promoting "fixity of species", which denies speciation. YECs use speciation to explain how present biodiversity could have arisen from the small number of "kinds" after Noah's Flood. Ross holds that Noah's Flood was local yet believes it killed all humans except for those on the ark, whereas YECs generally hold that Noah's Flood was global.
Some of Ross' ideas – particularly his criticism of evolution – are faulted by the scientific community as being little different from YEC, but Ross states his work provides a better fit for the data than either the YEC or the conventional models.
Ross' critics fall into two opposing camps, scientific naturalists, who accuse him of being pseudoscientific, and Young Earth creationists, who accuse him of compromising the teaching of the Bible about creation. His scientific critics include Mark Perakh and Eugenie Scott, and his creationist critics include Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Jonathan Sarfati, and Bolton Davidheiser.
Ross has written many articles and over 50 creationist apologetics articles, and he has written or collaborated on the following books:
* The Fingerprint of God. Orange, Calif.: Promise Publishing, 1989, 2nd ed. 1991, 3rd ed. 2005
* The Creator and the Cosmos. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1993, 2nd ed., 1995, 3rd ed. 2001
* Creation and Time. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1994
* Beyond the Cosmos. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1996, 2nd ed. 1999
* The Genesis Question, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998, 2nd ed. 2001
* The Genesis Debate, Mission Viejo, CA: Crux, 2002. (with five other authors)
* Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002
* A Matter of Days, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2004
* The Origins of Life, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2004. (with Fuz Rana)
* Who Was Adam? Colorado Springs, NavPress, 2005 (with Fuz Rana)
* Creation as Science, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006
Additionally, he has contributed to the following volumes:
* The Creation Hypothesis, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994
* Mere Creation, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998
* Why I Am a Christian, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2000
* The Day I Met God, Sisters, OR: Multnomah 2001