Astronomy fascinates me. I started studying it at age seven when I visited the library to find out why stars are hot. Once I found the answer to that question, I continued reading every physics and astronomy book I could get my hands on. With my dad’s help and the money I saved from collecting pop bottles, I built my first telescope at age sixteen.
That’s the year I turned my attention to cosmology, the origin and structure of the universe. I saw that the big bang was emerging as the most plausible explanation for the history of the universe, and because the big bang implies a cosmic beginning, it also implies a Beginner, a Causal Agent outside or beyond the universe. Thus, I became convinced that belief in God was reasonable, but the immensity of the cosmos made me doubt that a Creator of such awesome magnitude had communicated—in words—to mere humans on this tiny speck called Earth.
It occurred to me, however, that if this Being had communicated through language, the message would be as clear and consistent and inviting as the universe itself. My curiosity about this cosmic Beginner was now engaged. Armed with knowledge from studies in science and history, I began an investigation of the world’s so-called holy books. I reasoned that if men invent a religion, its teachings would reflect human perspectives and, of course, human error. But if the writing were free of such limitations and errors, it must have come from a supernatural source.
Studying Sacred Texts
At age seventeen, while beginning to serve as director of observations for Vancouver’s Royal Astronomical Society, I also began a very private study of the world’s sacred texts, testing them for accuracy. My non-religious upbringing freed me from emotional attachment to any particular book or set of beliefs. So I started with the books revered by my neighbors, Eastern religious texts, and worked my way westward.
One by one each book failed the factuality test, and I gained confidence that my initial skepticism would be affirmed—until I picked up a Bible. From page one, this book proved an exception. Not only did it provide hundreds of statements that could be tested for accuracy, it also anticipated—thousands of years in advance—many facts of socio-political history and of nature that research would one day confirm. For example, it anticipated the history and current tensions in the Middle East. It also described the four fundamental features of big bang cosmology: 1) the beginning of space and time coincident with the beginning of matter and energy; 2) continual expansion of the universe from the cosmic beginning; 3) the constancy of physical laws; and 4) the pervasiveness of entropy (decay).
Through nearly two years of study this book’s predictive power persuaded me that it must have been inspired by One who knows and guides the past, present, and future. I had essentially proven to myself that the Bible is more reliable than the laws of physics I focused on in my university courses. The only reasonable conclusion I could see was that the Bible must be the inspired Word of God.
Making A Decision
However, I delayed making a personal commitment of my life to Christ. Although I knew God with my mind, I struggled to surrender my will to him. What if God changed the direction of my life? What if the people around me found out about my new beliefs? As I continued to wrestle with the decision, my grades began to drop, and I discovered the meaning of Romans 1:21, which warns that rejecting God’s truth results in a darkening of the mind. After two months of vacillation, I finally turned my whole self to God and signed the “decision statement” at the back of my now well-worn Bible, acknowledging my life now belonged to Jesus Christ, my Creator and Savior.
With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, I went on to complete my undergraduate degree in physics at the University of British Columbia and my graduate degrees in astronomy at the University of Toronto.
Growing in Faith
Through those years I experienced the joy of sharing my faith with several of my fellow students. When the NRC eventually sent me to the United States for postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology, I finally met other sincere followers of Christ.
The first was Dr. Dave Rogstad, a Christian and a physicist. Dave invited me to Bible studies, introduced me to other believers (including my future wife, Kathy), and challenged me to tell my story and share my faith-building research not only with the nonbelievers around me but also fellow Christians.
Reasons to Believe
Encouraged by their response, I began to accept invitations to speak and write about how the growing body of scientific evidence supported belief in Scripture, including its account of creation. In 1986, Kathy and I founded a science apologetics ministry, Reasons To Believe (RTB). We started with a staff of three, one computer, and a tiny office at the back of our church in Sierra Madre, California. But with a lot of prayer and absolute dependence on God, RTB has grown. Twenty-five years later, with more than 25 staff members and thousands of volunteers across the globe, our mission remains the same: to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating to both skeptics and believers that sound reason and scientific research consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature.
Discoveries in astronomy first alerted me to the existence of God, and to this day the Bible’s unfathomable depths, predictive power, and remarkable applicability to life rank as major reasons for my faith. I never tire of sharing this news with others or of seeing the joy that shines from the face of someone who has just opened his or her heart to new life in Jesus Christ.
At age 17, Dr. Hugh Ross became the youngest person yet to serve as director of observations for Vancouver's Royal Astronomical Society. Between writing dozens of books and articles and founding the Reasons to Believe website, Dr Ross travels the world challenging high school and university audiences, churches and professional groups to consider what they believe and why.