Sunday, September 25, 2016

Improbable Planet by Hugh Ross

Is Earth special or is it just one of many similar planets? Is the fact that various life forms thrive on Earth a happy coincidence or evidence that the planet was specially designed?

Ross presents recent and new information on the number and complexity of the features essential to human existence, originating in a variety of scientific disciplines. He shows that Earth is an exceptional planet with an exceptional history, resulting in an abundance of life and a variety of species.

Ross goes into detail about the formation of the moon and the solar system, the requirements of habitability on Earth, the precise timing of the required gases and tectonic movements, the amount of sunlight required at various stages, and much more. There are nearly 40 pages of footnotes, showing how many scientific articles Ross has used.

I found that some of what I was taught in my youth is no longer considered true. Ross writes, studies “indicate that Earth never carried a rich, or even a dilute, supply of prebiotics.” (97) There was no such thing as a “primordial soup” that was taught decades ago. Another issue that has been misrepresented in the past is the complexity of the stages of life development. Ross reports, “The difference in structural complexity between simple anaerobic bacteria and photosynthetic bacteria employing a phycobilisome antenna may be compared to the difference between a bicycle and an automobile.” (110)

Ross suggests it is no accident that Earth is in the best possible location in the cosmic neighborhood for life's existence and survival. The number of factors that had to come together, the sheer difficulty of life developing on earth, is amazing. That God planned and prepared Earth for humans seems a reasonable explanation. Ross argues that a power and intelligence beyond nature is the most reasonable response to the question of the leap from nonlife to life.

The information in this book may be a bit technical for some readers. Nonetheless, this is an important book on the continuing developments in the investigation of the origin and survival of life on Earth. Ross makes it clear that when one truly investigates all of the scientific literature available, it is reasonable to conclude that something or someone beyond ourselves had a hand in the formation of Earth and the development of life. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in origins.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Hugh Ross (PhD, University of Toronto) is founder and president of Reasons to Believe ( He is an astronomer and a member of the pastoral staff of a church near Caltech. He has addressed students and faculty on over 300 campuses in the United States and abroad on a wide variety of science-faith topics. He is the author of several books and lives in the Los Angeles area.

Baker Books, 285 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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