In this Chapter Ross gives a potted history of origin beliefs as outlined in the previous chapter and here, especially with Creationism and Inteliigent Design, I think he does a good job. He details the trials and court cases where Creation arguments were dismissed as not being scientific enough for science classrooms.
His use of statistics in the opening of the chapter are of interest. The stats show how acceptence of Evolution has declined in the US population despite increasing Education over the past decades. The reason for this, according to Ross, is that strictly naturalistic explanations are being promoted and this is unhelpful to the evolutionists cause. What is missing from the science classroom are, according to Ross, "[significant] answers to the big questions of life... Where did humans come from?...Where are we going? "(p38). Of course the answers that science gives "Random physical phenomena [and] most likely to extinction" are dismissed as being, not untrue per se, but unpallatable.
The problem here is that, if these answers are true then should we ignore them because we don't like them? The fact that we are heading for extinction when the sun burns up in millions of years time is frankly irrelevant, the fact that, if some global warming proponents are right (and that's a seperate argument) we might be headed for extinction in the next few decades is much more relevant to me and those I care about. I agree totally that the universe can be awesome, fantastic, inspiring and wonderful, I fail to see why adding another layer of unecessary religious baggage makes it more so.
Ross details why other approaches to origin studies have failed and of course he outlines his own pet idea: anIntegrative Approach.
This particular sub-section left me baffled. Here is a quote:
The magisteria of science and religion find harmony in Christian doctrine. Biblical faith is fact-based. Such faith includes confidence, based on testable evidence, in the reality of that faith's object.[my italics]
"Biblical faith is fact based"? Surely this is a contradiction. Either it is based on fact or it is faith-based. We would surely agree that faith means holding a belief either contrary to or in the absence of knowledge or expectation. For instance, take these two propositions:
1. Tomorrow the sun will rise in the east and set in the west.
2. Tomorrow the sun will rise in the west and set in the east.
We would all agree that to hold onto the second proposition "takes more faith" than the first. This is because as far as we can know the sun has risen from the East every single day and will do so tomorrow. Clearly levels of faithare related to levels of evidence and induction.
Every major Christian doctrine is either founded upon or linked to thousands of wide-ranging scientific details on the origins, structure, and history of the universe, Earth, life and humanity.
If it is fact and evidence based, why are there so many different, contradictory and frankly irrational "doctrines"? Either a wafer turns structuraly into the body of a long-dead God-man or not. Either we originated from a mud-man with a woman made from his rib in a garden, with a talking snake and a magic fruit-tree or it was myth. These are contrary positions held by major Christian doctrines.
I know Ross is trying to present the faithful with Reasons to Believe but he still has not yet given us the reasons. He does however make various assertions about the Bible:
The Palmist declared that God has revealed himself to humanity in two books, the written record and nature's record. Both are said to be completely reliable, having as their source the one who embodies truth, then one who does not lie... According to the Bible...these two books are more than merely compatible - they overlap
Ross is again showing his hand here. The Bible is true; it must be so because it says so right here...in the Bible.
Onto Chapter 4, An Objective Testing Method. Maybe now we will get some real evidence.