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Book Review – Improbable Planet by Hugh Ross

September 19, 2016

I thought this book would be a good spiritual and mental “stretch” for me as the promotional material indicated, “This fascinating book helps nonscientists understand the countless miracles that undergird the exquisitely fine-tuned planet we call home–as if Someone had us in mind all along.” It definitely was both – a mental stretch and a faith challenge.

Dr Hugh Ross is a brilliant scholar and has taken the time to sift through countless articles on astrophysics, geology, biology, and anthropological articles (aka reading that leaves 99% of the world’s population either confused or sleeping) and described how planet earth is uniquely and intricately, and perfectly created for life, beyond any reasonable “coincidence.” Comparing the development of the universe to plans for building a house, Ross methodically sets forth how different aspects of science demonstrate how the necessary construction materials were available (chapter 3) for planet earth to be built in the right neighborhood (ch. 4), with proper cite preparation (ch. 5), at the proper time (ch. 6), with the right foundation (ch. 7). He continues to show how the “dwelling space” developed below (ch. 8) and at ground level (ch. 8) with air-conditioning (ch. 10), heating and ventilation (ch. 11), even to the finishing touches (ch. 14), and was made ready for occupancy (ch. 15). All this is overwhelming evidence of a Master Designer orchestrating the creation of planet earth.

To say that Ross’ work is a compelling argument for Intelligent Design theory is stating the obvious. Nonetheless, to say that his arguments are for “nonscientists” is slightly deceiving… nonscientists like myself can grasp the general structure of his argument because of the chapter headings and guess at the structure and flow of the argument because he uses effective and clear transitions between paragraphs. However, the  plethora of scientific details are overwhelming, bordering on incomprehensible. For example, after discussing the Kuiper Belt, Saturn’s rings and moons and some facet also related to Neptune’s in chapter 6, he concludes one section by saying,

“In relation to Earth, the LHB did more than just load up our planet with more of the highly siderophile elements (HSEs). It altered the tilt of the Earth’s rotation axis by as much as 10 degrees… In other words, it reconfigured earth’s atmosphere, crust, mantle, outer core, and inner core so as to enable Earth’s surface to eventually support advanced life.” (p. 69).

I understood the last eight words of the sentence and so could get the general argument, but I was lost wading through the precluding details. So, while on the whole, I was able to grasp the argument and structure of the book and see that Ross achieved his thesis, to say that a nonscientist could understand the book is overstating the point. For the serious scientist considering Intelligent Design, I believe this would be a beneficial and invigorating read. I believe it is too technical for the nonscientist to truly enjoy.

I mistakenly (ignorantly?) thought the book would also deal with the earth’s age and history, not only the universe’s design. I’m not sure there were any references to Scripture throughout the whole book, something one might have expected, even as a footnote.

Book was provided to the reviewer courtesy of Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an unbiased review.

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